THE CUCKOO IN THE CLOCK-HOUSE
under the strain of responsibility, and a heavy weight it was.
So, as one could not summon the Cuckoo at will, the only thing to do was to wait and see it when it chose to appear, and then—as likely as not, if nobody was about—Robert would seize the opportunity to take pot-shots at it with his pea-shooter. So far he had invariably missed. Sometimes it kept an appointment with him punctually at the hour, sometimes it didn't. Occasionally, it came out at odd times, and then remained indoors altogether. When that happened for a more than usually long period, it was sure to be because the poor Cuckoo felt indisposed in its bellows; and when it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the inmate of the Clock-House, an entrance had to be effected by the back door and a dose of oil administered. Whereupon the front door would fly open and the Cuckoo appear again on the threshold—it never ventured further—bow to the multitude, or to empty space, and pipe " Cue—koo!" just as many times as it felt inclined at the moment.
One fine afternoon in spring, when the Cuckoo came out punctually, and went through its performance of three bows with a Cuckoo call after each salutation, there happened to be a fresh inmate all alone in the nursery. This was