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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #26

"One day Aunt Martha, when she came to bring eggs for the store, brought also The Cuckoo Clock and said Nancy might keep it for a week.

"Nancy was delighted and didn't even stay to hear what Grandma and Aunt Martha might have to say while they were drinking their coffee. Instead she took the book and went out into the front hall to sit halfway up the stairs to read. Nancy loved this hall, principally because high up over the stairs was a colored glass window, rather like a church window. It had a pane of frosted glass in the middle and smaller panes of color in a border around the frosted part. Blue and gold and violet, green and crimson were the colors. Nancy thought it was beautiful.

"And now she discovered something enchanting. She made herself comfortable on the landing, where the stairway turned, and opened her book to read. She chose her favorite part -- where Griselda, dressed in her nightgown, enters the cuckoo clock for the first time, and the cuckoo, thinking she may be cold, gives her a little cloak to wear. A little cloak made of feathers and lined with red velvet.

"'... feathers of every shade and colour, but beautifully worked in, somehow, so as to lie quite smoothly and evenly, one colour melting away into another like those in a prism, so that you could hardly tell where one began and another ended.'

"And just as Nancy was reading this, the sun, which had hidden behind the clouds most of the day, suddenly burst forth, and, shining through the window, colored the pages of the book. It was a little old book with small type and hardly any pictures, but now it had become enchanted. By moving a little Nancy could change the colors so that the pages became blue and golden, crimson and green and violet as she read. It was like reading a book in Fairyland. She had never imagined any book so lovely. And to think this had happened to her favorite, Cuckoo Clock! It was as if the cuckoo had enchanted her as well as Griselda.

"When Aunt Martha called to say good-bye, Nancy was as startled as if she had suddenly been called out of Fairyland.

"Over and over again that week, when the sun was shining, Nancy took The Cuckoo Clock to read on the stairs. She never read any other book there; she never told anyone else about the wonder of the adventure. There seemed to be no words to tell it -- it belonged to her and to Griselda and the cuckoo.

"And so the days went by and most of them were happy. But years later, as Nancy looked back on that spring and summer, she realized that five enchanted days stood out more clearly in her memory than did any of the others. It was as if the sunlight had played on them as it did on The Cuckoo Clock through the colored panes of the window."

-Jennie D. Lindquist, The Golden Name Day (1955), pp. 92-97

Photographs: Upper right, by Page Morahan, Lower left, by Liz Kufs

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