When Diamond went home to breakfast,
he found his father and mother already seated at the
They were both busy with their bread and
butter, and Diamond sat himself down in his usual place.
His mother looked up at him, and, after watching him
for a moment, said:
“I don’t think the boy is looking well,
I don’t know.
I think he looks pretty bobbish.
How do you feel yourself, Diamond, my boy?”
“Quite well, thank you, father;
at least, I think I’ve got a little headache.”
I told you,”
said his father and mother both at once.
“The child’s very poorly” added
“The child’s quite well,” added
And then they both laughed.
“You see,” said his mother,
“I’ve had a letter from my sister at Sandwich.”
“Sleepy old hole!” said his father.
“Don’t abuse the place; there’s
good people in it,” said his mother.
“Right, old lady,” returned
his father; “only I don’t believe there
are more than two pair of carriage-horses in the whole
“Well, people can get to heaven
without carriages or coachmen either, husband.
Not that I should like to go without my coachman, you
But about the boy?”
“That boy, there, staring at you with his goggle-eyes.”
“Have I got goggle-eyes, mother?” asked
Diamond, a little dismayed.
“Not too goggle,” said
his mother, who was quite proud of her boy’s
eyes, only did not want to make him vain.
“Not too goggle; only you need not stare so.”
“Well, what about him?” said his father.
“I told you I had got a letter.”
“Yes, from your sister; not from Diamond.”
“La, husband! you’ve got
out of bed the wrong leg first this morning, I do
“I always get out with both at once,”
said his father, laughing.
“Well, listen then.
His aunt wants the
boy to go down and see her.”
“And that’s why you want to make out that
he ain’t looking well.”
“No more he is.
I think he had better go.”
“Well, I don’t care, if you can find the
money,” said his father.
“I’ll manage that,”
said his mother; and so it was agreed that Diamond
should go to Sandwich.
I will not describe the preparations
You would have thought he had been
going on a three months’ voyage.
I describe the journey, for our business is now at
He was met at the station by his aunt,
a cheerful middle-aged woman, and conveyed in safety
to the sleepy old town, as his father called it.
And no wonder that it was sleepy, for it was nearly
dead of old age.
Diamond went about staring with his
beautiful goggle-eyes, at the quaint old streets,
and the shops, and the houses.
very strange, indeed; for here was a town abandoned
by its nurse, the sea, like an old oyster left on
the shore till it gaped for weariness.
to be one of the five chief seaports in England, but
it began to hold itself too high, and the consequence
was the sea grew less and less intimate with it, gradually
drew back, and kept more to itself, till at length
it left it high and dry:
Sandwich was a seaport
no more; the sea went on with its own tide-business
a long way off, and forgot it.
Of course it went
to sleep, and had no more to do with ships.
what comes to cities and nations, and boys and girls,
who say, “I can do without your help.
enough for myself.”
Diamond soon made great friends with
an old woman who kept a toyshop, for his mother had
given him twopence for pocket-money before he left,
and he had gone into her shop to spend it, and she
got talking to him.
She looked very funny, because
she had not got any teeth, but Diamond liked her,
and went often to her shop, although he had nothing
to spend there after the twopence was gone.
One afternoon he had been wandering
rather wearily about the streets for some time.
It was a hot day, and he felt tired.
As he passed
the toyshop, he stepped in.
“Please may I sit down for a
minute on this box?” he said, thinking the old
woman was somewhere in the shop.
But he got no
answer, and sat down without one.
were a great many toys of all prices, from a penny
up to shillings.
All at once he heard a gentle
whirring somewhere amongst them.
It made him
start and look behind him.
There were the sails
of a windmill going round and round almost close to
He thought at first it must be one of
those toys which are wound up and go with clockwork;
but no, it was a common penny toy, with the windmill
at the end of a whistle, and when the whistle blows
the windmill goes.
But the wonder was that there
was no one at the whistle end blowing, and yet the
sails were turning round and round now faster,
now slower, now faster again.
“What can it mean?” said Diamond, aloud.
“It means me,” said the tiniest voice
he had ever heard.
“Who are you, please?” asked Diamond.
“Well, really, I begin to be
ashamed of you,” said the voice.
wonder how long it will be before you know me; or
how often I might take you in before you got sharp
enough to suspect me.
You are as bad as a baby
that doesn’t know his mother in a new bonnet.”
“Not quite so bad as that, dear
North Wind,” said Diamond, “for I didn’t
see you at all, and indeed I don’t see you yet,
although I recognise your voice.
Do grow a little,
“Not a hair’s-breadth,”
said the voice, and it was the smallest voice that
“What are you doing here?”
“I am come to see my aunt.
But, please, North Wind, why didn’t you come
back for me in the church that night?”
I carried you safe
All the time you were dreaming about the
glass Apostles, you were lying in my arms.”
“I’m so glad,” said
“I thought that must be it, only
I wanted to hear you say so.
Did you sink the
“And drown everybody?”
One boat got away with six
or seven men in it.”
“How could the boat swim when the ship couldn’t?”
“Of course I had some trouble
I had to contrive a bit, and manage
the waves a little.
When they’re once thoroughly
waked up, I have a good deal of trouble with them
They’re apt to get stupid with
tumbling over each other’s heads.
when they’re fairly at it.
boat got to a desert island before noon next day.”
“And what good will come of that?”
“I don’t know.
I obeyed orders.
“Oh! stay, North Wind, do stay!”
cried Diamond, dismayed to see the windmill get slower
“What is it, my dear child?”
said North Wind, and the windmill began turning again
so swiftly that Diamond could scarcely see it.
“What a big voice you’ve got! and what
a noise you do make with it?
What is it you want?
I have little to do, but that little must be done.”
“I want you to take me to the country at the
back of the north wind.”
“That’s not so easy,”
said North Wind, and was silent for so long that Diamond
thought she was gone indeed.
But after he had
quite given her up, the voice began again.
“I almost wish old Herodotus
had held his tongue about it.
Much he knew of
“Why do you wish that, North Wind?”
“Because then that clergyman
would never have heard of it, and set you wanting
But we shall see.
We shall see.
You must go home now, my dear, for you don’t
seem very well, and I’ll see what can be done
Don’t wait for me.
got to break a few of old Goody’s toys; she’s
thinking too much of her new stock.
Two or three
There! go now.”
Diamond rose, quite sorry, and without
a word left the shop, and went home.
It soon appeared that his mother had
been right about him, for that same afternoon his
head began to ache very much, and he had to go to bed.
He awoke in the middle of the night.
The lattice window of his room had blown open, and
the curtains of his little bed were swinging about
in the wind.
“If that should be North Wind now!” thought
But the next moment he heard some
one closing the window, and his aunt came to his bedside.
She put her hand on his face, and said
“How’s your head, dear?”
“Better, auntie, I think.”
“Would you like something to drink?”
I should, please.”
So his aunt gave him some lemonade,
for she had been used to nursing sick people, and
Diamond felt very much refreshed, and laid his head
down again to go very fast asleep, as he thought.
And so he did, but only to come awake again, as a
fresh burst of wind blew the lattice open a second
The same moment he found himself in a cloud
of North Wind’s hair, with her beautiful face,
set in it like a moon, bending over him.
“Quick, Diamond!” she said.
have found such a chance!”
“But I’m not well,” said Diamond.
“I know that, but you will be
better for a little fresh air.
You shall have
plenty of that.”
“You want me to go, then?”
“Yes, I do.
It won’t hurt you.”
“Very well,” said Diamond;
and getting out of the bed-clothes, he jumped into
North Wind’s arms.
“We must make haste before your
aunt comes,” said she, as she glided out of
the open lattice and left it swinging.
The moment Diamond felt her arms fold
around him he began to feel better.
It was a
moonless night, and very dark, with glimpses of stars
when the clouds parted.
“I used to dash the waves about
here,” said North Wind, “where cows and
sheep are feeding now; but we shall soon get to them.
There they are.”
And Diamond, looking down, saw the
white glimmer of breaking water far below him.
“You see, Diamond,” said
North Wind, “it is very difficult for me to
get you to the back of the north wind, for that country
lies in the very north itself, and of course I can’t
“Why not?” asked Diamond.
“You little silly!” said
“Don’t you see that if
I were to blow northwards I should be South Wind,
and that is as much as to say that one person could
be two persons?”
“But how can you ever get home at all, then?”
“You are quite right that
is my home, though I never get farther than the outer
I sit on the doorstep, and hear the voices
I am nobody there, Diamond.”
“I’m very sorry.”
“That you should be nobody.”
“Oh, I don’t mind it.
Dear little man! you will be very glad some day to
be nobody yourself.
But you can’t understand
that now, and you had better not try; for if you do,
you will be certain to go fancying some egregious
nonsense, and making yourself miserable about it.”
“Then I won’t,” said Diamond.
“There’s a good boy.
It will all
come in good time.”
“But you haven’t told me how you get to
the doorstep, you know.”
“It is easy enough for me.
I have only to consent to be nobody, and there I am.
I draw into myself and there I am on the doorstep.
But you can easily see, or you have less sense than
I think, that to drag you, you heavy thing, along
with me, would take centuries, and I could not give
the time to it.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” said Diamond.
“What for now, pet?”
“That I’m so heavy for
I would be lighter if I could, but I don’t
“You silly darling!
I could toss you a hundred miles from me if I liked.
It is only when I am going home that I shall find you
“Then you are going home with me?”
Did I not come to fetch you
just for that?”
“But all this time you must be going southwards.”
Of course I am.”
“How can you be taking me northwards, then?”
“A very sensible question.
But you shall see.
I will get rid of a few of
these clouds only they do come up so fast!
It’s like trying to blow a brook dry.
What do you see now?”
“I think I see a little boat, away there, down
“A little boat, indeed!
She’s a yacht of two hundred tons;
and the captain of it is a friend of mine; for he
is a man of good sense, and can sail his craft well.
I’ve helped him many a time when he little thought
I’ve heard him grumbling at me, when
I was doing the very best I could for him.
I’ve carried him eighty miles a day, again and
again, right north.”
“He must have dodged for that,”
said Diamond, who had been watching the vessels, and
had seen that they went other ways than the wind blew.
“Of course he must.
don’t you see, it was the best I could do?
I couldn’t be South Wind.
And besides it
gave him a share in the business.
It is not good
at all mind that, Diamond to
do everything for those you love, and not give them
a share in the doing.
It’s not kind.
It’s making too much of yourself, my child.
If I had been South Wind, he would only have smoked
his pipe all day, and made himself stupid.”
“But how could he be a man of
sense and grumble at you when you were doing your
best for him?”
“Oh! you must make allowances,”
said North Wind, “or you will never do justice
to anybody. You do understand, then, that
a captain may sail north ”
“In spite of a north wind yes,”
“Now, I do think you must be
stupid, my dear” said North Wind.
the north wind did not blow where would he be then?”
“Why then the south wind would carry him.”
“So you think that when the
north wind stops the south wind blows.
If I didn’t blow, the captain couldn’t
sail his eighty miles a day.
No doubt South Wind
would carry him faster, but South Wind is sitting
on her doorstep then, and if I stopped there would
be a dead calm.
So you are all wrong to say he
can sail north in spite of me; he sails north by my
help, and my help alone.
You see that, Diamond?”
“Yes, I do, North Wind.
I am stupid, but I don’t want to be stupid.”
I am going to
blow you north in that little craft, one of the finest
that ever sailed the sea.
Here we are, right over
I shall be blowing against you; you will
be sailing against me; and all will be just as we
The captain won’t get on so fast
as he would like, but he will get on, and so shall
I’m just going to put you on board.
Do you see in front of the tiller that thing
the man is working, now to one side, now to the other a
round thing like the top of a drum?”
“Yes,” said Diamond.
“Below that is where they keep
their spare sails, and some stores of that sort.
I am going to blow that cover off.
The same moment
I will drop you on deck, and you must tumble in.
Don’t be afraid, it is of no depth, and you
will fall on sail-cloth.
You will find it nice
and warm and dry-only dark; and you will know I am
near you by every roll and pitch of the vessel.
Coil yourself up and go to sleep.
The yacht shall
be my cradle and you shall be my baby.”
“Thank you, dear North Wind.
I am not a bit afraid,” said Diamond.
In a moment they were on a level with
the bulwarks, and North Wind sent the hatch of the
after-store rattling away over the deck to leeward.
The next, Diamond found himself in the dark, for he
had tumbled through the hole as North Wind had told
him, and the cover was replaced over his head.
Away he went rolling to leeward, for the wind began
all at once to blow hard.
He heard the call of
the captain, and the loud trampling of the men over
his head, as they hauled at the main sheet to get the
boom on board that they might take in a reef in the
Diamond felt about until he had found
what seemed the most comfortable place, and there
he snuggled down and lay.
Hours after hours, a great many of
them, went by; and still Diamond lay there.
never felt in the least tired or impatient, for a strange
pleasure filled his heart.
The straining of the
masts, the creaking of the boom, the singing of the
ropes, the banging of the blocks as they put the vessel
about, all fell in with the roaring of the wind above,
the surge of the waves past her sides, and the thud
with which every now and then one would strike her;
while through it all Diamond could hear the gurgling,
rippling, talking flow of the water against her planks,
as she slipped through it, lying now on this side,
now on that like a subdued air running
through the grand music his North Wind was making
about him to keep him from tiring as they sped on towards
the country at the back of her doorstep.
How long this lasted Diamond had no
He seemed to fall asleep sometimes, only
through the sleep he heard the sounds going on.
At length the weather seemed to get worse.
confusion and trampling of feet grew more frequent
over his head; the vessel lay over more and more on
her side, and went roaring through the waves, which
banged and thumped at her as if in anger.
at once arose a terrible uproar.
The hatch was
blown off; a cold fierce wind swept in upon him; and
a long arm came with it which laid hold of him and
lifted him out.
The same moment he saw the little
vessel far below him righting herself.
taken in all her sails and lay now tossing on the waves
like a sea-bird with folded wings.
A short distance
to the south lay a much larger vessel, with two or
three sails set, and towards it North Wind was carrying
It was a German ship, on its way to the
“That vessel down there will
give us a lift now,” said North Wind; “and
after that I must do the best I can.”
She managed to hide him amongst the
flags of the big ship, which were all snugly stowed
away, and on and on they sped towards the north.
At length one night she whispered in his ear, “Come
on deck, Diamond;” and he got up at once and
crept on deck.
Everything looked very strange.
Here and there on all sides were huge masses of floating
ice, looking like cathedrals, and castles, and crags,
while away beyond was a blue sea.
“Is the sun rising or setting?” asked
“Neither or both, which you
I can hardly tell which myself.
he is setting now, he will be rising the next moment.”
“What a strange light it is!”
“I have heard that the sun
doesn’t go to bed all the summer in these parts.
Miss Coleman told me that.
I suppose he feels
very sleepy, and that is why the light he sends out
looks so like a dream.”
“That will account for it well
enough for all practical purposes,” said North
Some of the icebergs were drifting
northwards; one was passing very near the ship.
North Wind seized Diamond, and with a single bound
lighted on one of them a huge thing, with
sharp pinnacles and great clefts.
The same instant
a wind began to blow from the south.
hurried Diamond down the north side of the iceberg,
stepping by its jags and splintering; for this berg
had never got far enough south to be melted and smoothed
by the summer sun.
She brought him to a cave near
the water, where she entered, and, letting Diamond
go, sat down as if weary on a ledge of ice.
Diamond seated himself on the other
side, and for a while was enraptured with the colour
of the air inside the cave.
It was a deep, dazzling,
lovely blue, deeper than the deepest blue of the sky.
The blue seemed to be in constant motion, like the
blackness when you press your eyeballs with your fingers,
boiling and sparkling.
But when he looked across
to North Wind he was frightened; her face was worn
“What is the matter with you, dear North Wind?”
I feel very
But you mustn’t mind it, for I can
bear it quite well.
South Wind always blows me
If it were not for the cool of the thick
ice between me and her, I should faint altogether.
Indeed, as it is, I fear I must vanish.”
Diamond stared at her in terror, for
he saw that her form and face were growing, not small,
but transparent, like something dissolving, not in
water, but in light.
He could see the side of
the blue cave through her very heart.
melted away till all that was left was a pale face,
like the moon in the morning, with two great lucid
eyes in it.
“I am going, Diamond,” she said.
“Does it hurt you?” asked Diamond.
“It’s very uncomfortable,”
she answered; “but I don’t mind it, for
I shall come all right again before long.
I should be able to go with you all the way, but I
You must not be frightened though.
Just go straight on, and you will come all right.
You’ll find me on the doorstep.”
As she spoke, her face too faded quite
away, only Diamond thought he could still see her
eyes shining through the blue.
When he went closer,
however, he found that what he thought her eyes were
only two hollows in the ice.
North Wind was quite
gone; and Diamond would have cried, if he had not
trusted her so thoroughly.
So he sat still in
the blue air of the cavern listening to the wash and
ripple of the water all about the base of the iceberg,
as it sped on and on into the open sea northwards.
It was an excellent craft to go with the current, for
there was twice as much of it below water as above.
But a light south wind was blowing too, and so it
After a little while Diamond went
out and sat on the edge of his floating island, and
looked down into the ocean beneath him.
sides of the berg reflected so much light below the
water, that he could see far down into the green abyss.
Sometimes he fancied he saw the eyes of North Wind
looking up at him from below, but the fancy never lasted
beyond the moment of its birth.
And the time passed
he did not know how, for he felt as if he were in
When he got tired of the green water,
he went into the blue cave; and when he got tired of
the blue cave he went out and gazed all about him
on the blue sea, ever sparkling in the sun, which
kept wheeling about the sky, never going below the
But he chiefly gazed northwards, to see
whether any land were appearing.
All this time
he never wanted to eat.
He broke off little bits
of the berg now and then and sucked them, and he thought
them very nice.
At length, one time he came out of
his cave, he spied far off on the horizon, a shining
peak that rose into the sky like the top of some tremendous
iceberg; and his vessel was bearing him straight towards
As it went on the peak rose and rose higher
and higher above the horizon; and other peaks rose
after it, with sharp edges and jagged ridges connecting
Diamond thought this must be the place he
was going to; and he was right; for the mountains
rose and rose, till he saw the line of the coast at
their feet and at length the iceberg drove into a
little bay, all around which were lofty precipices
with snow on their tops, and streaks of ice down their
The berg floated slowly up to a projecting
Diamond stepped on shore, and without looking
behind him began to follow a natural path which led
windingly towards the top of the precipice.
When he reached it, he found himself
on a broad table of ice, along which he could walk
without much difficulty.
Before him, at a considerable
distance, rose a lofty ridge of ice, which shot up
into fantastic pinnacles and towers and battlements.
The air was very cold, and seemed somehow dead, for
there was not the slightest breath of wind.
In the centre of the ridge before
him appeared a gap like the opening of a valley.
But as he walked towards it, gazing, and wondering
whether that could be the way he had to take, he saw
that what had appeared a gap was the form of a woman
seated against the ice front of the ridge, leaning
forwards with her hands in her lap, and her hair hanging
down to the ground.
“It is North Wind on her doorstep,”
said Diamond joyfully, and hurried on.
He soon came up to the place, and
there the form sat, like one of the great figures
at the door of an Egyptian temple, motionless, with
drooping arms and head.
Then Diamond grew frightened,
because she did not move nor speak.
He was sure
it was North Wind, but he thought she must be dead
Her face was white as the snow, her eyes
were blue as the air in the ice-cave, and her hair
hung down straight, like icicles.
She had on
a greenish robe, like the colour in the hollows of
a glacier seen from far off.
He stood up before her, and gazed
fearfully into her face for a few minutes before he
ventured to speak.
At length, with a great effort
and a trembling voice, he faltered out
“Well, child?” said the form, without
lifting its head.
“Are you ill, dear North Wind?”
I am waiting.”
“Till I’m wanted.”
“You don’t care for me any more,”
said Diamond, almost crying now.
“Yes I do.
Only I can’t
All my love is down at the bottom of
But I feel it bubbling there.”
“What do you want me to do next,
dear North Wind?” said Diamond, wishing to show
his love by being obedient.
“What do you want to do yourself?”
“I want to go into the country at your back.”
“Then you must go through me.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“I mean just what I say.
You must walk on as if I were an open door, and go
right through me.”
“But that will hurt you.”
“Not in the least.
It will hurt you, though.”
“I don’t mind that, if you tell me to
“Do it,” said North Wind.
Diamond walked towards her instantly.
When he reached her knees, he put out his hand to
lay it on her, but nothing was there save an intense
He walked on.
Then all grew white about
him; and the cold stung him like fire.
on still, groping through the whiteness.
At last, it got into his heart, and
he lost all sense.
I would say that he fainted only
whereas in common faints all grows black about you,
he felt swallowed up in whiteness.
It was when
he reached North Wind’s heart that he fainted
But as he fell, he rolled over the
threshold, and it was thus that Diamond got to the
back of the north wind.