PART II – OUR VACATION
CHAPTER ONE: WE GREET THE SEA
Our homecoming (for that is what we called it) gave us the keenest pleasure. The first thing we did was to hurry off to our own little house. Janet cried out in delight when she saw the pink chestnut drooping over the slatted green roof. We stood looking at it all wordlessly.
There was the green on which the children had played at our first coming, and where we had gathered to greet our King. There was the gleaming iridescent “stone” of the houses, with the verandahs on which the people sat to entertain their guests. And there was the sea…
We walked down to the beach hand-in-hand. How sweet it was to hear again that soft whispering as the waves foamed over the pebbles, and the sibilant “hush-hush” as they receded. The great expanse of ocean twinkled with myriads of tiny lights “as though fairies with golden slippers danced upside down,” Janet said.
We knew that we would want to stay here for a long time, that when we were tired we would retire to our little house and lie down on the downy softness within, to sleep and sleep.
“Do you know,” Janet said, “I had forgotten the very existence of this place of joy.”
”Yet it was waiting for its all the time,” I told her, ”and will be waiting for ever.”
“Do you think we will always want to come here from time to time ?’
“Yes, I do. He who is the King of Love knows that we cannot he always growing, that we need to play-”
“Just as the baby angels do!” Janet chuckled. “Little darlings –were ever children so sweet?”
“They fulfill His picture of childhood,” I said. “We of earth have fallen short.”
“Except when He was born,” Janet amended.
We stood there thinking of it all and then Janet cried gaily: “I am going to swim!”
She plunged into the foam and struck out, calling to me to follow. For a moment I, who had disliked the water on earth (except to be on it in a boat) held back. Then I stepped gingerly in, expecting every moment to retire in confusion. To my intense joy, I found it good! I swam, diving after Janet and thoroughly enjoying the kiss of the water and the thrill of it all.
Far, far out we swam, side by side, talking lazily together or lying on our backs to drift and look up at the hazy sky. We forgot all about the picnic until shouts from the beach recalled us, and then, as we began to swim ashore, our friends plunged in to meet us.
What a meeting that was Stephen swam to us at once and was the first to reach my side. He gripped my shoulder with his cool, wet hand and was then thrust away by James. They splashed one another, calling gay greetings to Janet. Then I was almost thrown into the air as Reg, who had been swimming under water, suddenly bobbed up beneath me. His face was alight with laughter and I had no need to enquire after his (or indeed, anyone’s) happiness. Robbie made his appearance next, closely followed by David and Arthur.
“Where are Greig and Rose?” I asked.
“Need you ask?” Reg laughed. “Remember that they are but newly united. They have no thought for us!” There was a general shout at this and I followed Reg’s glance. There they were, quite absorbed in each other, swimming far out upon the crystal sea.
“Bless them,” Janet said maternally, and then joined in the laughter at her expense.
What a happy group we were as we stepped on to the beach, shaking ourselves like terriers and all talking at once.
We found our tunics and while we donned them, Janet said:
“How strange that we should ever have thought that these changed. Why, they are plain white and it is only when we wear them that the colours gleam through.”
“Once we know the truth,” Stephen said, “it is always strange to us that we had not known it before.”