C o p y r i g h t 1943 by P. L . T r a v e r s C o p y r i g h t renewed 1971 by P. L . T r a v e r s A l l rights reserved.

N o p a r t of this publication m a y be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by a n y means, electronic or m e c h a n i c a l , including photocopy, recording, or any information storage a n d retrieval system, without permission in w r i t i n g from the publisher. Requests for permission to m a k e copies of a n y part of the w o r k should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions D e p a r t m e n t , H a r c o u r t , I n c . , 6277 S e a H a r b o r D r i v e , O r l a n d o , F l o r i d a 32887-6777. www.HarcourtBooks.com F i r s t H a r c o u r t Y o u n g C l a s s i c / O d y s s e y C l a s s i c editions 1997 F i r s t published 1943 T h e L i b r a r y of Congress has cataloged a n earlier edition as follows: T r a v e r s , P. L . , 1899-1996. M a r y Poppins opens the door/P. L . T r a v e r s . p. cm. S u m m a r y : M a r y Poppins returns to the B a n k s family in a rocket a n d involves the B a n k s children i n more m a g i c a l adventures, including those w i t h P e p p e r m i n t H o r s e s , the M a r b l e Boy, a n d the C a t T h a t L o o k e d at the K i n g . [1. F a n t a s y ] I. Shepard, Mary, 1909PZ7-T689Matio [Fic] ISBN -13: 978-0-15-201722-4 ill. I I . S i m s , Agnes. 1997 I S B N - I O : 0-15-201722-4 I I I . Title.

7S-30697

T e x t set in O l d Style 7 D i s p l a y type hand-lettered by G e o r g i a D e a v e r Designed by A p r i l W a r d Printed in the U n i t e d States of A m e r i c a K M N L

C H A P T E R

I
THE F I F T H OF NOVEMBER*

I

T WAS one of those bleak a n d c h i l l y m o r n i n g s t h a t r e m i n d you w i n t e r is coming. Cherry-Tree Lane

was quiet a n d still. T h e mist h u n g over the Park like a shadow. A l l the houses looked exactly alike as the grey fog w r a p p e d t h e m r o u n d . A d m i r a l Boom's flagstaff, w i t h the telescope at the top of i t , had en-

tirely disappeared. T h e M i l k m a n , as he t u r n e d into the Lane, could h a r d l y see his way. " M i l k Be-l-o-o-ow!" he called, outside the A d m i ral's door. A n d his voice sounded so queer a n d hollow t h a t i t gave h i m quite a fright. " I ' l l go 'ome t i l l the fog lifts," he said to himself. " ' E r e ! L o o k where you're goin'!" he w e n t on, as a shape loomed suddenly out of the mist a n d b u m p e d against his shoulder. " B u m b l e , b u m b l e , b u m - b u r - u m - b u m b l e , " said a gentle, muffled voice.

*See opposite

page. I

2

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

" O h , it's y o u ! " said the M i l k m a n , w i t h a sigh o f relief. " B u m b l e , " r e m a r k e d the Sweep again. H e moustache dry. " O u t early, aren't you?" the M i l k m a n said. T h e Sweep gave a j e r k of his black t h u m b towards Miss L a r k ' s house. " H a d to do the chimbley before the dogs had breakfast. I n case the soot gave t h e m a cough," he explained. T h e M i l k m a n laughed rudely. For t h a t was w h a t everybody d i d w h e n Miss L a r k ' s t w o dogs were mentioned. T h e m i s t w e n t w r e a t h i n g t h r o u g h the air. T h e r e was n o t a sound i n the Lane. " U g h ! " said the M i l k m a n , shivering. " T h i s quiet gives me the ' O r r o r s ! " A n d as he said t h a t , the L a n e w o k e up. A sudden roar came f r o m one of the houses a n d the sound of stamping feet. " T h a t ' s N u m b e r Seventeen!" said the Sweep. " E x cuse me, o l d chap. I t h i n k I ' m needed." H e cautiously felt his w a y to the gate a n d w e n t u p the garden path. . . . Inside the house, M r . Banks was m a r c h i n g u p a n d d o w n , k i c k i n g the h a l l f u r n i t u r e . was h o l d i n g his brushes i n f r o n t o f his face to keep his

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

3

" I ' v e h a d about a l l I can stand!" he shouted, wavi n g his arms wildly. " Y o u keep on saying that," M r s . Banks cried. " B u t you w o n ' t tell me w h a t ' s the matter." She looked at M r . B a n k s anxiously. " E v e r y t h i n g ' s the matter!" he roared. " L o o k at this!" H e waggled his right foot at her. " A n d this!" he w e n t o n , as he waggled his left. M r s . Banks peered closely at the feet. She was rather short-sighted a n d the hall was misty. " I — e r — d o n ' t see a n y t h i n g w r o n g , " she timidly. " O f course y o u don't!" he said, sarcastically. " I t ' s only i m a g i n a t i o n , of course, t h a t makes me t h i n k Robertson A y has given me one black shoe a n d one b r o w n ! " A n d again he waggled his feet. " O h ! " said M r s . B a n k s hurriedly. For n o w she saw clearly w h a t the trouble was. " Y o u m a y w e l l say ' O h ! ' So w i l l Robertson A y w h e n I give h i m the sack t o n i g h t . " " I t ' s not his fault, D a d d y ! " cried Jane, f r o m the stairs. " H e c o u l d n ' t see—because of the fog. Besides, he's not strong." "He's strong enough to make m y life a misery!" said M r . Banks angrily. " H e needs rest, D a d d y ! " M i c h a e l r e m i n d e d h i m , h u r r y i n g d o w n after Jane. began

4

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

" H e ' l l get i t ! " promised M r . Banks, as he snatched u p his bag. " W h e n I t h i n k of the things I c o u l d have done i f I h a d n ' t gone a n d got m a r r i e d ! L i v e d alone i n a Cave, perhaps. O r I m i g h t have gone R o u n d the World." " A n d w h a t w o u l d we have done, then?" asked Michael. " Y o u w o u l d have h a d to fend for yourselves. A n d serve y o u right! Where's m y overcoat?" "You meekly. "Yes!" he retorted. " A n d o n l y one b u t t o n ! B u t anyt h i n g 's good enough for me\ I'm o n l y the m a n w h o Pays the B i l l s . I shall n o t be home for dinner." A w a i l of protest w e n t up f r o m the children. "But it's G u y Fawkes' Day," wheedled M r s . Banks. " A n d y o u so good at l e t t i n g off rockets." " N o rockets for me!" cried M r . Banks. " N o t h i n g b u t trouble f r o m m o r n i n g t i l l n i g h t ! " H e shook M r s . B a n k s ' h a n d f r o m his a r m a n d dashed o u t of the house. "Shake, sir!" said the Sweep i n a f r i e n d l y voice as M r . B a n k s k n o c k e d into h i m , " I t ' s lucky, y o u k n o w , to shake hands w i t h a Sweep." "Away, away!" said M r . B a n k s w i l d l y . " T h i s is not m y l u c k y day!" have i t o n , George," said M r s . Banks,

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

5

T h e Sweep looked after h i m for a moment. T h e n he smiled to himself a n d rang the door-bell. . . . " H e doesn't mean i t , does he, M o t h e r ? H e will come home for the fireworks!" Jane and M i c h a e l rushed at M r s . Banks and tugged at her skirt. " O h , I can't promise a n y t h i n g , c h i l d r e n ! " she

6

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

sighed, as she looked at her face i n the f r o n t hall mirror. A n d she t h o u g h t to herself—Yes, I ' m getting t h i n ner. One of m y dimples has gone already a n d soon I shall lose the second. N o one w i l l look at me any more. A n d i t ' s all her fault! B y her, M r s . B a n k s meant M a r y Poppins, w h o had been the children's nurse. As long as M a r y Poppins was i n the house, e v e r y t h i n g h a d gone smoothly. B u t since t h a t day w h e n she h a d left t h e m — s o suddenly a n d w i t h o u t a W o r d o f W a r n i n g — t h e f a m i l y h a d gone f r o m B a d to Worse. Here a m I , t h o u g h t M r s . B a n k s miserably, w i t h five w i l d c h i l d r e n a n d no one to help me. I ' v e advertised. I ' v e asked m y friends. B u t n o t h i n g seems to happen. A n d George is getting crosser a n d crosser; a n d Annabel's teething; a n d Jane a n d M i c h a e l a n d the T w i n s are so naughty, n o t to m e n t i o n t h a t a w f u l Income Tax She watched a tear r u n over the spot where the d i m p l e h a d once been. " I t ' s no good," she said, w i t h sudden decision. " I shall have to send for Miss A n d r e w . " A c r y w e n t u p f r o m a l l four children. A w a y i n the Nursery, A n n a b e l screamed. For Miss A n d r e w had once been their Father's governess a n d they k n e w h o w f r i g h t f u l she was.

THE FIFTH OF

NOVEMBER

7

" I w o n ' t speak to her!" shouted Jane, i n a rage. " I ' l l spit on her shoes i f she comes!" threatened Michael. " N o , no!" w a i l e d John and B a r b a r a miserably. M r s . Banks clapped her hands to her ears. " C h i l dren, have mercy!" she cried i n despair. "Beg p a r d o n , m a ' a m , " said E l l e n the housemaid, as she tapped M r s . Banks on the shoulder. "The Sweep is 'ere for the D r a w i n g - r o o m Chimbley. B u t I w a r n y o u , m a ' a m , it's m y D a y O u t ! A n d I can't clean up after ' i m . So there!" She blew her nose w i t h a t r u m p e t i n g sound. "Excuse me!" said the Sweep cheerfully, as he dragged i n his bags a n d brushes. ' " O o ' s t h a t ? " came the voice of M r s . B r i l l as she h u r r i e d u p f r o m the kitchen. " T h e Sweep? O n B a k ing Day? N o , you don't! I ' m sorry to give you notice, m a ' a m . B u t i f t h a t H o t t e n t o t goes into the chimney, / shall go out o f the door." M r s . Banks glanced r o u n d desperately. " I d i d n ' t ask h i m to come!" she declared. " I d o n ' t even k n o w i f the chimney wants sweeping!" "A chimbley's always glad of a brush." T h e Sweep stepped calmly into the D r a w i n g - r o o m a n d began to spread o u t his sheet. M r s . Banks looked nervously at M r s . B r i l l . "Perhaps Robertson A y could h e l p — " she began.

8

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

"Robertson is asleep i n the pantry, w r a p p e d i n your best lace shawl. A n d n o t h i n g w i l l w a k e h i m , " said M r s . B r i l l , " b u t the sound of the Last Trombone. So, i f you please, I ' l l be p a c k i n g m y bag. ' O w ! L e t me go, you H i n d o o ! " For the Sweep h a d seized M r s . B r i l l ' s h a n d a n d was shaking i t vigorously. A reluctant smile spread over her face. " W e l l — j u s t this once!" she r e m a r k e d cheerfully. A n d she w e n t d o w n the kitchen stairs. T h e Sweep t u r n e d to E l l e n w i t h a g r i n . " D o n ' t touch me, you black heathen!" she screamed in a terrified voice. B u t he took her h a n d i n a firm grip and she, too, began to smile. " W e l l , no messing u p the carpet!" she w a r n e d h i m , a n d h u r r i e d off to her w o r k . "Shake!" said the Sweep, as he t u r n e d to the c h i l dren. " I t ' s sure to b r i n g you l u c k ! " H e left a black m a r k on each of their palms a n d they all felt suddenly better. T h e n he p u t o u t his h a n d to M r s . Banks. A n d as she took his w a r m black fingers her courage came flowing back. "We m u s t make the best of things, darlings," she said. " I shall advertise for another nurse. A n d perhaps something good w i l l happen."

THE

FIFTH

OF NOVEMBER

9

Jane a n d M i c h a e l sighed w i t h relief. A t least she was not going to send for Miss A n d r e w . " W h a t do you do when yon need luck?" asked Jane, as she followed the Sweep to the D r a w i n g - r o o m . "Oh, I j u s t shake 'ands w i t h meself," he said, cheerfully, pushing his brush u p the chimney. A l l day long the c h i l d r e n w a t c h e d h i m and argued over w h o should h a n d h i m the brushes. N o w and again M r s . Banks came i n , to c o m p l a i n of the noise and h u r r y the Sweep. And a l l day long, beyond the w i n d o w s , the mist crept t h r o u g h the Lane. E v e r y sound was muffled. T h e birds were gone. Except for an o l d and m o u l t i n g Starling w h o kept on peering t h r o u g h the cracks i n the blinds as i f he were l o o k i n g for someone. A t last the Sweep crept o u t of the chimney and smiled at his h a n d i w o r k . "So home k i n d of y o u ! " said M r s . Banks hurriedly. " " N o w , I ' m sure y o u must w a n t to pack up a n d go "/'m i n no ' U r r y , " remarked the Sweep. " M e Tea isn't ready t i l l six o'clock and I ' v e got an hour to fill in " " W e l l , you can't b a n d comes home!" fill i t i n here!" M r s . Banks

shrieked. " I have to t i d y up this r o o m before m y hus-

io

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

" I tell y o u w h a t — " the Sweep said calmly. " I f y o u ' v e got a rocket or t w o about y o u , I c o u l d take t h e m children into the P a r k a n d show 'em a few firew o r k s . I t ' d give y o u a rest a n d meself a TVeat. I ' v e always been v e r y p a r t i a l to rockets, ever since a b o y — a n d before!" A yell of delight w e n t u p f r o m the children. M i c h a e l r a n to a w i n d o w a n d lifted the b l i n d . " O h , l o o k w h a t ' s happened!" he cried i n t r i u m p h . For a change h a d come to Cherry-TVee Lane. T h e c h i l l grey mist h a d cleared away. T h e houses were l i t w i t h w a r m soft lights. A n d a w a y i n the West shone a g l i m m e r of sunset, rosy a n d clear a n d b r i g h t . "Remember y o u r coats!" cried M r s . Banks, as the children d a r t e d away. T h e n she r a n to the c u p b o a r d under the staircase a n d b r o u g h t o u t a n o b b l y parcel. "Here y o u are!" she said breathlessly to the Sweep. " A n d , m i n d , be careful of sparks!" "Sparks?" said the Sweep. " W h y , sparks is m y 'Obby. T h e m a n d the soot w o t comes after!" T h e children leapt like puppies about h i m as he w e n t d o w n the garden path. M r s . B a n k s sat d o w n for t w o m i n u t e s ' rest on one of the sheet-covered chairs. T h e Starling looked i n at her for a m o m e n t . T h e n he shook his head disappointedly a n d flew away again....

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

D a y l i g h t was f a d i n g as they crossed the road. B y the Park railings Bert, the M a t c h m a n , was spreading out his tray. H e l i t a candle w i t h one of his matches a n d began to d r a w pictures on the pavement. H e nodded gaily to the children as they h u r r i e d t h r o u g h the Gates. " N o w , all we need," the Sweep said fussily, "is a clear patch of grass " " W h i c h you w o n ' t get!" said a voice b e h i n d them. " T h e Park is closed at 5:30." O u t f r o m the shadows came the Park Keeper, l o o k i n g v e r y belligerent. " B u t it's G u y Fawkes' D a y — t h e F i f t h of N o v e m ber!" the c h i l d r e n answered quickly. "Orders is orders!" he retorted, " a n d all days are alike to me." "Well, where can we let off the fireworks?" M i c h a e l demanded impatiently. A greedy look leapt to the Keeper's eyes. " Y o u got some fireworks?" he said hungrily. " W e l l , w h y n o t say so before!" A n d he snatched the parcel from the Sweep a n d began to untie the string. " M a t c h e s — t h a t ' s w h a t we need!" he w e n t on, panting w i t h excitement. " H e r e , " said the M a t c h m a n ' s quiet voice. H e had

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

followed the children i n t o the Park and was standing b e h i n d t h e m w i t h his lighted candle. T h e P a r k Keeper opened a bundle of Squibs. " T h e y ' r e ours, y o u k n o w ! " M i c h a e l r e m i n d e d h i m . "Ah, let me help y o u — d o ! " said the Keeper. " I ' v e never 'ad f u n on G u y Fawkes' D a y — n e v e r since I was a boy!" A n d w i t h o u t w a i t i n g for permission, he l i t the Squibs at the Matchman's candle. The hissing streams of fire poured out, a n d pop, pop, pop, w e n t the crackers. T h e Park Keeper seized a Catherine Wheel a n d stuck i t on a branch. T h e rings of l i g h t began to t u r n and sparkled on the air. A n d after t h a t he was so excited t h a t n o t h i n g could stop h i m . H e went on l i g h t i n g fuse after fuse as t h o u g h he h a d gone mad. F l o w e r Pots streamed f r o m the dewy grass a n d Golden R a i n flowed d o w n t h r o u g h the darkness. Top H a t s b u r n e d for a b r i g h t short moment; went floating u p to the branches; Balloons and Firesnakes

w r i t h e d i n the shadows. T h e children j u m p e d and squeaked a n d shouted. The Park Keeper r a n about among t h e m like a large frenzied dog. A n d a m i d the noise and the s p a r k l i n g lights the M a t c h m a n w a i t e d quietly. T h e flame o f his candle never wavered they l i t their fuses f r o m i t . as

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

13

" N o w ! " cried the Keeper, w h o was hoarse shouting. " N o w we come to the rockets!" A l l the other sticks. fireworks

with

h a d gone. N o t h i n g re-

m a i n e d i n the n o b b l y parcel except three long black " N o you d o n ' t ! " said the Sweep, as the Keeper snatched them. "Share a n d share. T h a t ' s fair!" H e gave the Keeper one rocket a n d kept the others for himself a n d the c h i l d r e n . " M a k e way, make way!" said the Keeper i m p o r tantly, as he l i t the fuse at the candle flame a n d stuck the stick i n the g r o u n d . Hissing a n d g u t t e r i n g , the spark ran d o w n like a little golden thread. T h e n — w h o o p ! w e n t the stick as i t shot away. U p i n the sky the children heard a small faraway "Oh!" bang. A n d a s w i r l of red-and-blue stars broke o u t a n d rained u p o n the Park. cried the children. A n d " O h ! " cried the Sweep. For t h a t is the only w o r d anyone can say w h e n a rocket's stars break out. T h e n i t was the Sweep's t u r n . T h e candle-light gleamed on his black face as he l i t the fuse of his rocket. T h e n came a w h o o p a n d another bang a n d white-and-green stars spread over the sky like the ribs of a b r i g h t u m b r e l l a . A n d again the watchers all cried " O h ! " a n d sighed for sheer joy.

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

" I t ' s our t u r n n o w ! " cried Jane a n d M i c h a e l . A n d their fingers t r e m b l e d as they l i t the fuse. T h e y pressed the stick d o w n i n t o the e a r t h a n d stepped back to w a t c h . T h e t h r e a d o f golden fire r a n d o w n . Whe-e-e-ew! U p went the stick with a singing sound, u p to the v e r y t o p o f the sky. A n d Jane a n d M i c h a e l held their breath as they w a i t e d for i t to burst.

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

15

A t last, far away a n d very faint, they heard the little bang. N o w for the stars, they t h o u g h t to themselves. B u t — a l a s ! — n o t h i n g happened. " O h ! " said everyone a g a i n — n o t for j o y this time, but for disappointment. For no stars broke f r o m the t h i r d rocket. There was n o t h i n g b u t darkness a n d the e m p t y sky. " T r i c k s y — t h a t ' s w h a t they are!" said the Sweep. "There are some as j u s t doesn't go off! Well, come on home, a l l . There's no good staring. N o t h i n g w i l l come down now!" "Closing T i m e ! Everyone o u t of the Park!" cried the Park Keeper i m p o r t a n t l y . B u t Jane a n d M i c h a e l took no notice. T h e y stood there w a t c h i n g , h a n d i n hand. For their hopeful eyes had noticed something t h a t nobody else h a d seen. U p i n the sky a t i n y spark hovered a n d swayed i n the darkness. W h a t could i t be? N o t the stick of the rocket, for t h a t m u s t have fallen long ago. A n d cert a i n l y n o t a star, they thought, for the little spark was moving. "Perhaps it's a special k i n d of rocket t h a t has only one spark," said M i c h a e l . "Perhaps," Jane answered quietly, as she watched the t i n y light.

16

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

T h e y stood together, gazing u p w a r d s . E v e n i f there was only one spark they w o u l d w a t c h t i l l i t w e n t out. B u t , strangely enough, i t d i d n o t go out. I n fact, i t was g r o w i n g larger. "Let's get a move on!" urged the Sweep. A n d again the Park Keeper cried: "Closing T i m e ! " B u t still they w a i t e d . A n d still the spark grew ever larger a n d brighter. T h e n suddenly Jane caught her breath. A n d M i c h a e l gave a gasp. O h , was i t possible—? other. D o w n came the spark, g r o w i n g longer a n d wider. A n d as i t came, i t took on a shape t h a t was strange and also familiar. O u t of the g l o w i n g core of l i g h t emerged a curious figure—a figure i n a black straw hat a n d a blue coat t r i m m e d w i t h silver b u t t o n s — a figure t h a t carried i n one h a n d something t h a t looked like a carpet bag, a n d i n the o t h e r — o h , could i t be t r u e ? — a parrot-headed u m b r e l l a . B e h i n d t h e m the M a t c h m a n gave a c r y a n d r a n t h r o u g h the Park Gates. T h e curious figure was d r i f t i n g n o w to the tops of the naked trees. I t s feet touched the highest bough o f an oak a n d stepped down daintily t h r o u g h the branches. I t stood for a m o m e n t on the lowest bough and balanced itself neatly. C o u l d i t b e — ? they silently asked each

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

17

Jane a n d M i c h a e l began to r u n a n d their breath broke f r o m t h e m i n a happy shout. " M a r y Poppins! M a r y Poppins! M a r y Poppins!" H a l f - l a u g h i n g , half-weeping, they upon her. " Y o u ' v e c-come b-back, at l-last!" stammered M i chael excitedly, as he clutched her neatly shod foot. I t was w a r m and bony a n d quite real a n d i t smelt of B l a c k Boot-polish. "We knew y o u ' d come back. We trusted y o u ! " Jane seized M a r y Poppins' other foot a n d dragged at her cotton stocking. M a r y Poppins' m o u t h c r i n k l e d w i t h the ghost of a smile. T h e n she looked at the children fiercely. " I ' l l t h a n k you to let go m y shoes!" she snapped. " I am not an object i n a B a r g a i n Basement!" She shook t h e m off and stepped d o w n f r o m the tree, as John a n d Barbara, m e w i n g like kittens, rushed over the grass towards her. "Hyenas!" she said w i t h an angry glare, as she loosened their c l u t c h i n g fingers. " A n d w h a t , m a y I ask, are y o u all d o i n g — r u n n i n g about i n the Park at n i g h t a n d l o o k i n g like Blackamoors?" Q u i c k l y they p u l l e d out handkerchiefs a n d began to r u b their cheeks. " M y fault, Miss Poppins," the Sweep apologised. " I been sweeping the D r a w i n g - r o o m chimbley." flung themselves

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MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

"Somebody w i l l be sweeping you, i f y o u d o n ' t look out!" she retorted. "But-but! Speechless Glog-glog! with Er-rumph! the Glug-glug!" Park Keeper Poppins, astonishment,

blocked their path. " O u t of m y way, dren i n f r o n t of her. " T h i s is the Second T i m e ! " he gasped, suddenly finding his voice. " F i r s t it's a K i t e a n d n o w it's a— Y o u can't do things like this, I tell y o u ! I t ' s against the L a w . A n d , furthermore, it's a l l against N a t u r e . " please!" said M a r y haughtily brushing h i m aside as she pushed the c h i l -

Out of the glowing core of light emerged a curious figure

20

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

H e flung out his h a n d i n a w i l d gesture a n d M a r y Poppins popped i n t o i t a small piece of cardboard. "Wot's this?" he demanded, t u r n i n g i t over. " M y R e t u r n T i c k e t , " she c a l m l y replied. A n d Jane and M i c h a e l looked at each other and nodded wisely together. " T i c k e t — w o t ticket? Buses have tickets and so do trains. B u t you came d o w n on I - d o n ' t - k n o w - w h a t ! Where d i d you come from? ' O w d i d y o u get 'ere? T h a t ' s w h a t I w a n t to k n o w ! " "Curiosity K i l l e d a Cat!" said Mary Poppins p r i m l y . She pushed the Park Keeper to one side and left h i m staring at the little green ticket as though i t were a ghost. T h e children danced and leapt about her as they came to the Park Gates. " W a l k quietly, please," she t o l d t h e m crossly. " Y o u are n o t a School of Porpoises! A n d w h i c h of y o u , I ' d like to k n o w , has been p l a y i n g w i t h lighted candles?" T h e M a t c h m a n scrambled u p f r o m his knees. " I l i t i t , M a r y , " he said eagerly. " I w a n t e d to w r i t e you a " He w a v e d his hands. A n d there on the pavement, n o t quite finished, was the one w o r d
WELCOM

Mary

Poppins

smiled at the coloured

letters.

" T h a t ' s a lovely greeting, B e r t , " she said softly.

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

T h e M a t c h m a n seized her black-gloved h a n d , and looked at her eagerly. "Shall I see you on Thursday, M a r y ? " he asked. She nodded. "Thursday, B e r t , " she said. T h e n she flung a w i t h e r i n g look at the c h i l d r e n . " N o d a w d l i n g , i f you please!" she commanded, as she h u r r i e d t h e m across the Lane to N u m b e r Seventeen. U p i n the N u r s e r y A n n a b e l was screaming her head off. M r s . Banks was r u n n i n g along the hall, calling out soothing phrases. As the c h i l d r e n opened the F r o n t Door, she gave one look at M a r y Poppins, a n d collapsed upon the stairs. "Can i t be you, M a r y Poppins?" she gasped. " I t can, m a ' a m , " M a r y Poppins said calmly. " B u t — w h e r e d i d y o u spring f r o m ? " M r s . Banks cried. "She sprang r i g h t out of a " M i c h a e l was j u s t about to explain w h e n he felt M a r y Poppins' eyes upon h i m . H e k n e w v e r y w e l l w h a t t h a t look meant. H e stammered a n d was silent.

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MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

" I came f r o m the Park, m a ' a m , " said M a r y Poppins, w i t h the patient air of a m a r t y r . " T h a n k goodness!" breathed M r s . Banks f r o m her heart. T h e n she remembered all t h a t had happened since M a r y Poppins had left t h e m . I m u s t n ' t seem too pleased, she thought. O r she'll be more uppish t h a n ever! " Y o u left me W i t h o u t a W o r d , M a r y Poppins," she said w i t h an air of dignity. " I t h i n k y o u m i g h t tell me w h e n y o u ' r e c o m i n g a n d going. I never k n o w where I am." " N o b o d y does, m a ' a m , " said M a r y Poppins, as she calmly u n b u t t o n e d her gloves. " D o n ' t you, M a r y Poppins?" asked M r s . Banks, i n a very w i s t f u l voice. " O h , she k n o w s , " M i c h a e l answered daringly. Banks M a r y Poppins gave h i m an angry glare. " W e l l , you're here now, anyway!" M r s . neither advertise nor send for Miss A n d r e w . "Yes, m a ' a m . Excuse me," said M a r y Poppins. A n d she neatly stepped past M r s . Banks a n d p u t her carpet bag on the bannisters. I t slid up s w i f t l y w i t h a w h i s t l i n g sound a n d bounced into the N u r s ery. T h e n she gave the u m b r e l l a a little toss. I t spread its black silk wings like a b i r d a n d flew u p after the carpet bag w i t h a p a r r o t - l i k e squawk. cried. She felt extremely relieved. For n o w she need

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

T h e c h i l d r e n gave an astonished gasp a n d t u r n e d to see i f their M o t h e r h a d noticed. B u t M r s . B a n k s h a d no t h o u g h t for a n y t h i n g b u t to get to the telephone. " T h e D r a w i n g - r o o m chimney has been cleaned. We are h a v i n g L a m b Chops a n d peas for dinner. A n d M a r y Poppins is back!" she cried, breathlessly. " I d o n ' t believe i t ! " crackled M r . B a n k s ' voice. " I shall come a n d see for myself!" M r s . Banks smiled h a p p i l y as she h u n g u p the receiver. . . . M a r y Poppins w e n t p r i m l y u p the stairs a n d the children tore past her i n t o the Nursery. There on the hearth lay the carpet bag. A n d standing i n its usual corner was the parrot-headed u m b r e l l a . T h e y had a settled, satisfied air as t h o u g h they h a d been there for years. I n the cradle, A n n a b e l , blue i n the face, was t y i n g herself into knots. She stared i n surprise at M a r y Poppins, a n d smiled a toothless smile. T h e n she p u t on her Innocent Angel look a n d began to play tunes on her toes. " H u m p h ! " said M a r y Poppins grimly, as she p u t her straw h a t i n its paper bag. She took off her coat and h u n g i t u p on the hook b e h i n d the door. T h e n she glanced at herself i n the N u r s e r y m i r r o r a n d stooped to u n l o c k the carpet bag.

24

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

I t was quite e m p t y except for a curled-up Tape Measure. " W h a t ' s t h a t for, M a r y Poppins?" asked Jane. "To measure y o u , " she replied quickly. "To see how you've grown." "You needn't bother," M i c h a e l i n f o r m e d her. "We've a l l g r o w n t w o inches. D a d d y measured us." "Stand straight, please!" M a r y Poppins said calmly, ignoring the remark. She measured h i m f r o m his head to his feet a n d gave a l o u d sniff. "I m i g h t have k n o w n i t ! " she said, snorting. " Y o u ' v e g r o w n Worse a n d Worse." M i c h a e l stared. "Tape Measures d o n ' t tell words, they tell inches," he said, protestingly. "Since when?" she demanded haughtily, as she t h r u s t i t under his nose. There on the Tape were the tell-tale w o r d s i n b i g blue letters:

W - O R - S - E A-N-D W-O-R-S-E

"Oh!"

he said, i n a horrified whisper.

" H e a d u p , please!" said M a r y Poppins, stretching the Tape against Jane. "Jane has g r o w n i n t o a W i l f u l , Lazy, Selfish c h i l d , " she read o u t i n t r i u m p h . T h e tears came p r i c k i n g i n t o Jane's eyes. " O h ,

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

I haven't, M a r y Poppins!" she cried. For, f u n n i l y enough, she only remembered the times w h e n she had been good. M a r y Poppins slipped the Tape r o u n d the T w i n s . "Quarrelsome" was their measurement. " F r e t f u l a n d Spoilt," was Annabel's. " I t h o u g h t so!" M a r y Poppins said, sniffing. " I ' v e only got to t u r n m y back Menagerie!" She d r e w the Tape r o u n d her o w n waist; a n d a satisfied smile spread over her face. "Better T h a n Ever. Practically Perfect," her o w n measurement read. " N o more t h a n I expected," she preened. A n d added, w i t h a furious glare, " N o w , spit-spot i n t o the Bathroom!" T h e y h u r r i e d eagerly to obey her. For n o w that M a r y Poppins was back, e v e r y t h i n g w e n t w i t h a swing. T h e y undressed and bathed i n the w i n k of an eye. N o b o d y d a w d l e d over Supper, nobody left a c r u m b or a d r o p . T h e y pushed i n their chairs, folded their n a p k i n s a n d scrambled into bed. U p a n d d o w n the N u r s e r y w e n t M a r y Poppins, t u c k i n g t h e m all i n . T h e y could smell her o l d f a m i l iar smell, a m i x t u r e o f toast a n d starchy aprons. T h e y could feel her o l d f a m i l i a r shape, solid a n d real for you to become a

26

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

beneath her clothes. T h e y w a t c h e d her i n a d o r i n g silence, d r i n k i n g her i n . M i c h a e l , as she passed his bed, peered over the edge a n d under i t . There was n o t h i n g there except dust a n d slippers. T h e n he peeped under Jane's bed. N o t h i n g there, either. " B u t where are y o u going to sleep, M a r y Poppins?" he enquired curiously. As he spoke, she touched the door o f the clothes cupboard. I t burst open noisily a n d o u t o f i t , w i t h a graceful sweep, came the o l d c a m p bed. I t was made u p , ready to be slept i n . A n d u p o n i t , i n a neat pile, were M a r y Poppins' possessions. There were the Sun-light Soap a n d the hairpins, the bottle of scent, the f o l d i n g armchair, the toothbrush a n d the lozenges. T h e nightgowns, cotton, a n d flannel as w e l l , were t i d i l y l a i d on the p i l l o w . A n d beside t h e m were the boots a n d the dominoes, a n d the bathing-caps a n d the postcard a l b u m . T h e c h i l d r e n sat u p i n a gaping row. " B u t h o w d i d i t get i n there?" demanded M i c h a e l . "There wasn't a sign o f i t today. I k n o w , 'cos I h i d there f r o m E l l e n ! " H e dared not go on w i t h his questions, however, for M a r y Poppins looked so h a u g h t y t h a t the w o r d s froze on his lips. W i t h a sniff, she t u r n e d away f r o m h i m a n d unfolded a flannel n i g h t g o w n .

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

27

Jane a n d M i c h a e l looked at each other. A n d their eyes said all t h a t their tongues could not: I t ' s no good expecting her to explain, they t o l d each other silently. T h e y watched her comical scarecrow movements as she undressed beneath the n i g h t g o w n . C l i p , c l i p — the buttons flew apart. O f f w e n t her p e t t i c o a t — s w i s h , swish, swish! A peaceful feeling stole into the c h i l dren. A n d they k n e w t h a t i t came f r o m M a r y Poppins. D r e a m i l y w a t c h i n g the w r i g g l i n g n i g h t g o w n , they t h o u g h t of a l l t h a t had happened. H o w she had first a r r i v e d at the house, b l o w n by the West W i n d . H o w her u m b r e l l a h a d carried her off w h e n the w i n d w e n t r o u n d to the East. T h e y t h o u g h t h o w she had come back to t h e m on the day w h e n they flew the Kite; and h o w she had ridden away once more and left t h e m lonely for her c o m f o r t i n g presence. Well, n o w — t h e y sighed h a p p i l y — s h e was again, a n d j u s t the same as ever. H e r e she back was,

settling d o w n i n the Nursery, as calmly as t h o u g h she had never left i t . T h e thoughts he was t h i n k i n g rose up i n M i c h a e l like bubbles i n soda water. A n d before he could stop t h e m , they burst r i g h t out. " O h , M a r y Poppins," he cried, eagerly, "it's been just awful without you!" H e r l i p quivered. I t seemed as though a smile m i g h t break out. B u t i t changed its m i n d a n d d i d n ' t . "You've been a w f u l — t h a t ' s more like i t ! T h i s

28

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

house is n o t h i n g b u t a Bear Garden. I wonder anyone stays i n i t ! " " B u t you w i l l , w o n ' t you?" he said wheedlingly. " W e ' l l be good as gold, i f o n l y y o u ' l l stay!" Jane promised solemnly. She looked f r o m one to the other calmly, seeing right d o w n inside their hearts a n d understanding everything. " I ' l l stay " she said, after a little pause. " I ' l l stay t i l l the door opens." A n d as she spoke she gazed t h o u g h t f u l l y at the door of the Nursery. Jane gave a little anxious cry. " O h , d o n ' t say that, M a r y Poppins!" she wailed. " T h a t door is always opening!" M a r y Poppins glared. " I meant the Other Door," she said, as she b u t toned u p her n i g h t g o w n . " W h a t can she mean?" Jane whispered to M i c h a e l . " I k n o w w h a t she means," he answered cleverly. "There isn't any other door. A n d a door t h a t isn't there, can't open. So she's going to stay forever." H e hugged himself h a p p i l y at the thought. Jane, however, was not so sure. I wonder, she t h o u g h t to herself. B u t M i c h a e l w e n t on cheerfully b a b b l i n g . " I ' m glad I shook hands w i t h the Sweep," he said.

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

" I t b r o u g h t us w o n d e r f u l luck. Perhaps h e ' l l Poppins!"

do

the N u r s e r y next a n d shake hands w i t h you, M a r y "Pooh!" she replied, w i t h a toss of her head. " I don't need any luck, t h a n k y o u ! " " N o , " he said thoughtfully, " I suppose y o u don't. Anyone w h o can come out of a r o c k e t — a s y o u d i d ton i g h t — m u s t be b o r n lucky. I m e a n — e r — o h , d o n ' t look at me!" He gave a little beseeching cry, for M a r y Poppins was glaring at h i m i n a w a y t h a t made h i m shudder. Standing there i n her flannel n i g h t g o w n , she seemed to freeze h i m i n his cosy bed. " I wonder i f I heard you correctly?" she enquired i n an icy voice. " D i d I understand you to m e n t i o n Me—in connection w i t h a Rocket?" She said the w o r d "Rocket" i n such a w a y as to make i t seem quite shocking. I n terror, M i c h a e l glanced about h i m . B u t no help came f r o m the other children. A n d he k n e w he w o u l d have to go t h r o u g h w i t h i t . "But you did, Mary Poppins!" he protested bravely. " T h e rocket went pop! a n d there y o u were, c o m i n g o u t of i t d o w n the sky!" She seemed to g r o w larger as she came towards him.

30

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

"Pop?" she repeated, furiously. " I p o p p e d — a n d came o u t of a rocket?" H e shrank back feebly against the pillow. " W e l l — that's w h a t i t looked l i k e — d i d n ' t i t , Jane?" " H u s h ! " whispered Jane, w i t h a shake of her head. She k n e w i t was no good arguing. " I have to say i t , M a r y Poppins! We saw y o u ! " M i c h a e l wailed. " A n d i f you d i d n ' t come out of the rocket, w h a t d i d ! There weren't any stars!" "Pop!" said M a r y Poppins again. " O u t of a rocket w i t h a pop! Y o u have often insulted me, M i c h a e l Banks, b u t this is the Very Worst. I f I hear any more about P o p s — o r Rockets "Wee-twee! Wee-twee!" " She d i d not tell h i m w h a t she w o u l d do b u t he knew i t w o u l d be dreadful. A small voice sounded f r o m the w i n d o w - s i l l . A n o l d Starling peered i n t o the N u r s e r y a n d flapped his wings excitedly. M a r y Poppins bounded to the w i n d o w . "Be off, y o u sparrer!" she said fiercely. A n d as the Starling d a r t e d away she switched o u t the light a n d pounced into bed. T h e y heard her angrily m u t t e r i n g "Pop!" as she pulled the blankets up. T h e n silence settled over t h e m l i k e a soft c o m f o r t i n g cloud. I t had almost folded t h e m to sleep w h e n the faintest m u r m u r came f r o m Jane's bed.

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

31

" M i c h a e l ! " she said, i n a careful whisper. H e sat u p cautiously a n d looked i n the direction o f her p o i n t i n g finger. F r o m the corner b y the fireplace came a little glow of l i g h t . A n d they saw t h a t the folds of the parrot u m b r e l l a were f u l l of coloured s t a r s — t h e k i n d of stars y o u expect to see w h e n a rocket breaks i n the sky. T h e i r eyes grew w i d e w i t h astonishment as the p a r r o t ' s head bent d o w n . T h e n , one b y one, its beak p l u c k e d the stars f r o m the silken folds a n d t h r e w t h e m on the floor. T h e y gleamed for a m o ment, gold a n d silver, then faded a n d w e n t out. T h e n the p a r r o t head straightened u p o n the handle, a n d M a r y Poppins' black u m b r e l l a stood stiff a n d still i n its corner.

MARY POPPINS OPENS T H E DOOR

T h e c h i l d r e n looked at each other a n d smiled. B u t they said n o t h i n g . T h e y could only wonder a n d be silent. T h e y k n e w there were not enough words i n the D i c t i o n a r y for the things t h a t happened to M a r y Poppins. " T i c k - t o c k ! " said the clock on the mantelpiece. "Go to sleep, children! T i c k , tock, t i c k ! " T h e n they closed their eyes on the h a p p y day a n d the clock kept time w i t h their quiet breathing. M r . Banks sat a n d snored i n his study w i t h a newspaper over his face. M r s . B a n k s was sewing new black buttons on his o l d overcoat. "Are y o u still t h i n k i n g w h a t y o u m i g h t have done i f y o u h a d n ' t got married?" she asked. " E h , w h a t ? " said M r . Banks, w a k i n g up. "Well, no. I t ' s m u c h too m u c h trouble. A n d n o w that M a r y Poppins is back, I shan't have to t h i n k about a n y t h i n g . " " G o o d , " said M r s . Banks, sewing briskly. " A n d I ' l l t r y and teach Robertson Ay." "Teach h i m w h a t ? " M r . Banks said, sleepily. " N o t to give you one black a n d one b r o w n , of course!" " Y o u ' l l do n o t h i n g of the k i n d , " M r . B a n k s i n sisted. " T h e m i x t u r e was m u c h a d m i r e d at the Office. I shall always wear t h e m t h a t w a y i n f u t u r e . "

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

"Indeed?" said M r s . Banks, s m i l i n g happily. O n the whole, she felt glad M r . Banks had m a r r i e d . A n d n o w t h a t M a r y Poppins was back, she w o u l d tell h i m so more often. . . . D o w n s t a i r s i n the k i t c h e n sat M r s . B r i l l . T h e Policem a n h a d j u s t b r o u g h t Ellen home a n d was staying for a C u p of Tea. " T h a t M a r y Poppins!" he said, sipping. "She's 'ere today a n d gone tomorrer, j u s t like t h e m W i l l y - t h e Wisps!" " O w ! D o n ' t say that!" said E l l e n , sniffling. " I t h o u g h t she was come to stay." T h e Policeman gave her his handkerchief. " M a y b e she w i l l ! " he t o l d her fondly. " Y o u never can tell, y o u k n o w . " " W e l l , I ' m sure I hope so," sighed M r s . B r i l l . " T h i s 'ouse is a M o d e l Residence whenever she's i n i t . " " I hope so, too. I need a rest," said Robertson A y to the brooms. A n d he snuggled d o w n under M r s . B a n k s ' shawl a n d w e n t to sleep again. B u t w h a t M a r y Poppins hoped, none of t h e m knew. For M a r y Poppins, as everyone knows, never t o l d anyone a n y t h i n g . . . .

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