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Puck of Pook’s Hill, Rudyard Kipling ‘Very good stuff it was too,’ said Parnesius, calmly. ‘We mended three shoulder-straps here and had a spear-head riveted. The forge was rented from the Government by a one-eyed smith from Carthage. I remember we called him Cyclops. He sold me a beaver-skin rug for my sister’s room.’ ‘But it couldn’t have been here,’ Dan insisted. ‘But it was! From the Altar of Victory at Anderida to the First Forge in the Forest here is twelve miles seven hundred paces. It is all in the Road Book. A man doesn’t forget his first march. I think I could tell you every station between this and——’ He leaned forward, but his eye was caught by the setting sun. It had come down to the top of Cherry Clack Hill, and the light poured in between the tree trunks so that you could see red and gold and black deep into the heart of Far Wood; and Parnesius in his armour shone as though he had been afire. ‘Wait,’ he said, lifting a hand, and the sunlight jinked on his glass bracelet. ‘Wait! I pray to Mithras!’ He rose and stretched his arms westward, with deep, splendid-sounding words. Then Puck began to sing too, in a voice like bells tolling, and as he sang he slipped from ‘Volaterrae’ to the ground, and beckoned the children to follow. They obeyed; it seemed as though the voices were pushing them along; and through the goldy-brown light on the beech leaves they walked, while Puck between them chanted something like this:— Cur mundus militat sub vana gloria Cujus prosperitas est transitoria? Tam cito labitur ejus potentia Quam vasa figuli quГ¦ sunt fragilia.


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