The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, October 1913
One of My Books
One of My Books.
"The Harlequin Set,"
It came to me in the spring, just two years ago-my Cuckoo Book. It was born in England in the green May-time, and over the seas it journeyed and came to me when Spring was waking the daisies here in New Zealand grass. Sweet as the song of early nesting birds, bright as the dew m a daffodil's cup, innocent as a primrose flower, tender as the flush of dawn, and dainty as fairies' feet, it came to me. Sometimes it is sad with the world's sorrows, but it is rich, too, in human jovs, and ever and anon children's laughter rings through page 12 it. Now I am taking it up to read again. Just as at Christmas I read the Christmas Carol to strengthen my sometimes failing feelings of "Peace on earth, goodwill towards men!", so do I now take my Cuckoo Book to drive away Spring sadness (for it comes as sure as the wild winds blow) and fill myself with dancing joy and sweet thoughts.
If you read the Cuckoo Book you will know that it is very wise to be light of heart and absolutely silly sometimes. When you feel like that, just bid good-day to Harlequin and Columbine, Clown and Pantaloon-they will amuse you. They all live in the quaintest little house, with a butterfly hive in the garden. They don't live quite at the top of Olympus, but they are a good way up the slope, and far above the everyday world. They look down a well to the earth to see how things are progressing, and it is they who manage the seasons and let the first cuckoo down to herald Spring. Spring is a darling baby boy, who woke too early one year and cried, with his wilted flowers in his chubby fists, when the sharp winds blew too coldly on him. Then there is the Weather Hen, whom Columbine finds very hard to manage when she wants the bad weather to change into good.
But the Cuckoo Book talks about other people beside "The Harlequin Set." One could never say about the people in it—
"Towered cities please them then,
And the busy hum of men."
They are lovers of the Open Road. They tell us of the wandering scamp Pierrot, who seeks in a fair garden for a rose one day, and does not find out until too late that the finest rose in the world is the Rose of Love. Nevertheless, there is plenty of talk about cities, and the quaint little wise Hobgoblin, who perches himself on a grain of dust and moralizes over London, with its grime and its roar, and its closely packed people spending their lives, not living them. It tells of men who toil in the smoky town, of women whose voices grow sharp, of children whose eyes are dulled. But though it does not like big cities, my Cuckoo Book can find plenty of fun page 13 there, nevertheless. For there are babies in London, and the people in the Cuckoo Book love babies. There are plenty in the Park, where Peter Pan lives, and they are very entertaining babies. They talk very wisely, about such things as fathers and mothers, nurses and passers-by. The smallest babies are the wisest of all, for they say nothing-or just some nice goo-goo word that nobody understands-and go on playing with their rag rabbits. "Carpe diem" is their motto.
Now the city Hobgoblin has cousins in the country-the fairies-and Fairyland, or Country-land, is what the Cuckoo Book loves best. There it would bring everyone who is tired, who is dispirited, who has forgotten to look for the beauty of life. "There," says the Cuckoo Book, "they will find it." There it is lurking out on the hills among the brown bracken, or the yellow gorse, or the dry heather; down in the valleys where the clear brooks run in the green meadow lands, in the quiet villages, and most of all by the home fireside, where the slow clock ticks and the kettle sings on the hob. Maybe, as Kipling says—
"Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne.
He travels fastest who travels alone."
Maybe, as many tell, the wanderlust is strong when the winds call and the world calls but, better than fast travel, better than the long searching, is the life that finds fulfilment in the making and perfecting of a home. Some must roam and wander, seeking they know not what-and seldom do they reach happiness. Some never seek at all-they may be happy, but they know not joy. Some stay at home to seek happiness, and find it there, and to them comes joy as well. Once upon a time there were two brothers, one of whom journeyed through the world, while the other made himself a home. And when many years had passed the wanderer returned, knowing only that life was sad and bitter, and the world full of weariness. But when he saw his brother's cottage, with the garden full of sweet flowers, bordered by a high hedge, over which the yellow harvest moon was peeping, he knew at last that life was full of sweet page 14 things. Then he whispered to his brother, "The world lies here-the garden, the home, wife, children, Nature."
Of the little, everyday things of the dreams that make life sweet of poets, of lovers, of mothers-of all such as these does the Cuckoo Book tell-so, mind you all read it.