I must not go on describing what cannot
be described, for nothing is more wearisome.
Before they reached the sea, Diamond
felt North Wind’s hair just beginning to fall
“Is the storm over, North Wind?” he called
I am only
waiting a moment to set you down.
You would not
like to see the ship sunk, and I am going to give you
a place to stop in till I come back for you.”
“Oh! thank you,” said
“I shall be sorry to leave you,
North Wind, but I would rather not see the ship go
And I’m afraid the poor people will
cry, and I should hear them.
“There are a good many passengers
on board; and to tell the truth, Diamond, I don’t
care about your hearing the cry you speak of.
I am afraid you would not get it out of your little
head again for a long time.”
“But how can you bear it then,
For I am sure you are kind.
shall never doubt that again.”
“I will tell you how I am able
to bear it, Diamond:
I am always hearing, through
every noise, through all the noise I am making myself
even, the sound of a far-off song.
I do not exactly
know where it is, or what it means; and I don’t
hear much of it, only the odour of its music, as it
were, flitting across the great billows of the ocean
outside this air in which I make such a storm; but
what I do hear is quite enough to make me able to
bear the cry from the drowning ship.
So it would
you if you could hear it.”
“No, it wouldn’t,”
returned Diamond, stoutly.
“For they wouldn’t
hear the music of the far-away song; and if they did,
it wouldn’t do them any good.
You see you
and I are not going to be drowned, and so we might
“But you have never heard the
psalm, and you don’t know what it is like.
Somehow, I can’t say how, it tells me that all
is right; that it is coming to swallow up all cries.”
“But that won’t do them
any good the people, I mean,” persisted
said North Wind, hurriedly.
be the song it seems to be if it did not swallow up
all their fear and pain too, and set them singing
it themselves with the rest.
I am sure it will.
And do you know, ever since I knew I had hair, that
is, ever since it began to go out and away, that song
has been coming nearer and nearer.
Only I must
say it was some thousand years before I heard it.”
“But how can you say it was
coming nearer when you did not hear it?” asked
doubting little Diamond.
“Since I began to hear it, I
know it is growing louder, therefore I judge it was
coming nearer and nearer until I did hear it first.
I’m not so very old, you know a few
thousand years only and I was quite a baby
when I heard the noise first, but I knew it must come
from the voices of people ever so much older and wiser
than I was.
I can’t sing at all, except
now and then, and I can never tell what my song is
going to be; I only know what it is after I have sung
it. But this will never do.
“I can’t see anywhere
to stop,” said Diamond.
is all down like a darkness, and I can’t see
through it if I knock my eyes into it ever so much.”
“Look, then,” said North
Wind; and, with one sweep of her great white arm,
she swept yards deep of darkness like a great curtain
from before the face of the boy.
And lo! it was a blue night, lit up
Where it did not shine with stars
it shimmered with the milk of the stars, except where,
just opposite to Diamond’s face, the grey towers
of a cathedral blotted out each its own shape of sky
“Oh! what’s that?”
cried Diamond, struck with a kind of terror, for he
had never seen a cathedral, and it rose before him
with an awful reality in the midst of the wide spaces,
conquering emptiness with grandeur.
“A very good place for you to
wait in,” said North Wind.
shall go in, and you shall judge for yourself.”
There was an open door in the middle
of one of the towers, leading out upon the roof, and
through it they passed.
Then North Wind set Diamond
on his feet, and he found himself at the top of a stone
stair, which went twisting away down into the darkness
for only a little light came in at the door.
It was enough, however, to allow Diamond to see that
North Wind stood beside him.
He looked up to find
her face, and saw that she was no longer a beautiful
giantess, but the tall gracious lady he liked best
She took his hand, and, giving him the
broad part of the spiral stair to walk on, led him
down a good way; then, opening another little door,
led him out upon a narrow gallery that ran all round
the central part of the church, on the ledges of the
windows of the clerestory, and through openings in
the parts of the wall that divided the windows from
It was very narrow, and except when
they were passing through the wall, Diamond saw nothing
to keep him from falling into the church.
lay below him like a great silent gulf hollowed in
stone, and he held his breath for fear as he looked
“What are you trembling for,
little Diamond?” said the lady, as she walked
gently along, with her hand held out behind her leading
him, for there was not breadth enough for them to
walk side by side.
“I am afraid of falling down
there,” answered Diamond.
“It is so
“Yes, rather,” answered
North Wind; “but you were a hundred times higher
a few minutes ago.”
“Ah, yes, but somebody’s
arm was about me then,” said Diamond, putting
his little mouth to the beautiful cold hand that had
a hold of his.
“What a dear little warm mouth
you’ve got!” said North Wind.
is a pity you should talk nonsense with it.
you know I have a hold of you?”
“Yes; but I’m walking
on my own legs, and they might slip.
trust myself so well as your arms.”
“But I have a hold of you, I tell you, foolish
“Yes, but somehow I can’t feel comfortable.”
“If you were to fall, and my
hold of you were to give way, I should be down after
you in a less moment than a lady’s watch can
tick, and catch you long before you had reached the
“I don’t like it though,” said Diamond.
“Oh! oh! oh!” he screamed
the next moment, bent double with terror, for North
Wind had let go her hold of his hand, and had vanished,
leaving him standing as if rooted to the gallery.
She left the words, “Come after me,” sounding
in his ears.
But move he dared not.
In a moment
more he would from very terror have fallen into the
church, but suddenly there came a gentle breath of
cool wind upon his face, and it kept blowing upon
him in little puffs, and at every puff Diamond felt
his faintness going away, and his fear with it.
Courage was reviving in his little heart, and still
the cool wafts of the soft wind breathed upon him,
and the soft wind was so mighty and strong within
its gentleness, that in a minute more Diamond was marching
along the narrow ledge as fearless for the time as
North Wind herself.
He walked on and on, with the windows
all in a row on one side of him, and the great empty
nave of the church echoing to every one of his brave
strides on the other, until at last he came to a little
open door, from which a broader stair led him down
and down and down, till at last all at once he found
himself in the arms of North Wind, who held him close
to her, and kissed him on the forehead.
nestled to her, and murmured into her bosom, “Why
did you leave me, dear North Wind?”
“Because I wanted you to walk alone,”
“But it is so much nicer here!” said Diamond.
“I daresay; but I couldn’t
hold a little coward to my heart.
It would make
me so cold!”
“But I wasn’t brave of
myself,” said Diamond, whom my older readers
will have already discovered to be a true child in
this, that he was given to metaphysics.
was the wind that blew in my face that made me brave.
Wasn’t it now, North Wind?”
I know that.
You had to be taught what courage was.
couldn’t know what it was without feeling it:
therefore it was given you.
But don’t you
feel as if you would try to be brave yourself next
“Yes, I do.
But trying is not much.”
“Yes, it is a very
great deal, for it is a beginning.
And a beginning
is the greatest thing of all.
To try to be brave
is to be brave.
The coward who tries to be brave
is before the man who is brave because he is made
so, and never had to try.”
“How kind you are, North Wind!”
“I am only just.
All kindness is but justice.
We owe it.”
“I don’t quite understand that.”
“Never mind; you will some day.
There is no hurry about understanding it now.”
“Who blew the wind on me that made me brave?”
“I didn’t see you.”
“Therefore you can believe me.”
“Yes, yes; of course.
how was it that such a little breath could be so strong?”
“That I don’t know.”
“But you made it strong?”
I only blew it.
I knew it would make you strong, just as it did the
man in the boat, you remember.
But how my breath
has that power I cannot tell.
It was put into
it when I was made.
That is all I know.
really I must be going about my work.”
“Ah! the poor ship!
you would stop here, and let the poor ship go.”
“That I dare not do.
Will you stop here
till I come back?”
You won’t be long?”
“Not longer than I can help.
Trust me, you shall get home before the morning.”
In a moment North Wind was gone, and
the next Diamond heard a moaning about the church,
which grew and grew to a roaring.
The storm was
up again, and he knew that North Wind’s hair
The church was dark.
Only a little
light came through the windows, which were almost
all of that precious old stained glass which is so
much lovelier than the new.
But Diamond could
not see how beautiful they were, for there was not
enough of light in the stars to show the colours of
He could only just distinguish them from
the walls, He looked up, but could not see the gallery
along which he had passed.
He could only tell
where it was far up by the faint glimmer of the windows
of the clerestory, whose sills made part of it.
The church grew very lonely about him, and he began
to feel like a child whose mother has forsaken it.
Only he knew that to be left alone is not always to
He began to feel his way about the
place, and for a while went wandering up and down.
His little footsteps waked little answering echoes
in the great house.
It wasn’t too big to
It was as if the church knew he was
there, and meant to make itself his house.
it went on giving back an answer to every step, until
at length Diamond thought he should like to say something
out loud, and see what the church would answer.
But he found he was afraid to speak.
not utter a word for fear of the loneliness.
Perhaps it was as well that he did not, for the sound
of a spoken word would have made him feel the place
yet more deserted and empty.
But he thought he
He was fond of singing, and at home
he used to sing, to tunes of his own, all the nursery
rhymes he knew.
So he began to try `Hey diddle
diddle’, but it wouldn’t do.
he tried `Little Boy Blue’, but it was no better.
Neither would `Sing a Song of Sixpence’ sing
itself at all.
Then he tried `Poor old Cockytoo’,
but he wouldn’t do.
They all sounded so
silly! and he had never thought them silly before.
So he was quiet, and listened to the echoes that came
out of the dark corners in answer to his footsteps.
At last he gave a great sigh, and
said, “I’m so tired.”
did not hear the gentle echo that answered from far
away over his head, for at the same moment he came
against the lowest of a few steps that stretched across
the church, and fell down and hurt his arm.
cried a little first, and then crawled up the steps
on his hands and knees.
At the top he came to
a little bit of carpet, on which he lay down; and there
he lay staring at the dull window that rose nearly
a hundred feet above his head.
Now this was the eastern window of
the church, and the moon was at that moment just on
the edge of the horizon.
The next, she was peeping
And lo! with the moon, St. John and
St. Paul, and the rest of them, began to dawn in the
window in their lovely garments.
Diamond did not
know that the wonder-working moon was behind, and he
thought all the light was coming out of the window
itself, and that the good old men were appearing to
help him, growing out of the night and the darkness,
because he had hurt his arm, and was very tired and
lonely, and North Wind was so long in coming.
So he lay and looked at them backwards over his head,
wondering when they would come down or what they would
They were very dim, for the moonlight
was not strong enough for the colours, and he had
enough to do with his eyes trying to make out their
So his eyes grew tired, and more and more
tired, and his eyelids grew so heavy that they would
keep tumbling down over his eyes.
He kept lifting
them and lifting them, but every time they were heavier
than the last.
It was no use:
they were too
much for him.
Sometimes before he had got them
half up, down they were again; and at length he gave
it up quite, and the moment he gave it up, he was fast