“Purple and azure, white and green and golden, and they whirl
Over each other with a thousand motions.”
He dreamt that he awoke, and found himself not in his comfortable bed in his own room, but in an equally comfortable but much more uncommon bed in a very different place. Out on the moor! He opened his eyes and stared about him in surprise; there were the stars, up overhead, all blinking and winking at him as if asking what business a little boy had out there among them all in the middle of the night. And when he did find out where he was, he felt still more surprised at being so warm and cozy. For he felt perfectly so, even though he had neither blankets nor sheets nor pillow, but instead of all these a complete nest of the softest moss all about him. He was lying on it, and it covered him over as perfectly as a bird is covered by its feathers.
“Dear me,” he said to himself, “this is very funny. How have I got here, and who has covered me up like this?”
But still he did not feel so excessively surprised as if he had been awake; for in dreams, as everybody knows, any surprise one feels quickly disappears, and one is generally very ready to take things as they come. So he lay still, just quietly gazing about him. And gradually a murmur of approaching sound caught his ears. It was like soft voices and fluttering garments and breezes among trees, all mixed together, till as it came nearer the voices detached themselves from the other sounds, and he heard what they were saying.
“Yes, he deserves a treat, poor child,” said one in very gentle caressing tones; “you have teased him enough, sisters.”
“Teased him!” exclaimed another voice, and this time it seemed a familiar one to him; “I tease him! Why, as you well know, it is my mission in life to comfort and console. I don’t believe in petting and praising to the same extent as you do, perhaps—still you cannot say I ever tease. Laugh at him a little now and then, I may. But that does no harm.”
“I never pet and praise except when it is deserved,” murmured the first voice—and as he heard its soft tones a sort of delicious languor seemed to creep over Gratian—”never. But I beg your pardon, sister, if I misjudged you. You can be rigorous sometimes, you know, and——”
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