'Sing of romantic palaces In cities set by gilded seas, Slenderly mimicking in waves The lace of spires and balconies, The oriels and the architraves, - Dreams! dreams! where lead such dreams as these?'
To Arthur Ransome
At a day school in London the girls had just been let out from their classrooms and were preparing to go home for tea.
None of them heard the whisper at midnight, when, whisking into gutters and hedge-bottoms, settling on lamp-posts and branches, very softly the snow came down.
“This is about four ordinary, quite nice, quite nasty children. They are cousins and know each other well, though two live in London and two in the country. They don't catch spies, or find treasure, or camp alone, or do anything at all extraordinary. They do go to school during the term and come home in the holidays, and go to bed at night and get up in the morning. Live everyone else they talk a lot, and often imagine impossible things when they are in the midst of possible ones..... The four cousins meet on Boxing Day when their Grandmother gives a party. In this world of crackers and balloons and Christmas trees they have to behave in the normal way with everyone else, but when they are alone they can take each other into the world which is in their minds and become there crowned kings and queens and do exactly as they like.”