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The Country Called Nonamia

Ever so long ago, in the wonderful country of Nonamia, there lived an absent-minded magician. It is not usual, of course, for a magician to be absent-minded; but then, if it were usual it would not have happened in Nonamia. Nobody knew very much about this particular magician, for he lived in his castle in the air, and it is not easy to visit any one who lives in the air. He did not want to be visited, however; visitors always meant conversation, and he could not endure conversation. This, by the way, was not surprising, for he was so absent-minded that he always forgot the end of his sentence before he was half-way through the beginning of it; and as for his visitors' remarks—well, if he had had any visitors, he would never have heard their remarks at all. So, when some one did call on him, one day,—and that was when he had been living in his castle in the air for seven hundred and seventy-seven years and had almost forgotten who he was and why he was there,—the magician was so astonished that he could not think of anything to say.

"How did you get here?" he asked at last; for even an absent-minded magician cannot remain altogether silent, when he looks out of his castle in the air and sees a Princess in a gold and silver frock, with a bright little crown on her head, floating about on a soft white cloud.

"Well, I just came, that's all," answered the Princess, with a particularly friendly smile. "You see, I have never been able to find my own castle in the air, so when the West Wind told me about yours I asked him to blow me here. May I come in and see what it is like?"

"Certainly not," said the magician, hastily. "It is not like anything; and even if it were, I should not let you come in. Don't you know that, if you were to enter another person's castle in the air, it would vanish away like a puff of smoke?"

"Oh, dear!" sighed the Princess. "I did so want to know what a real castle in the air was like. I wonder if yours is at all like mine!"

"Tell me about yours," said the magician. "I may be able to help you to find it." Of course, he only said this in order to prevent her from coming inside his own castle. At the same time, a little conversation with a friendly Princess in a gold and silver gown is not at all unpleasant, when one has lived in a castle in the air for seven hundred and seventy-seven years.

"My castle in the air is much bigger than yours," she explained. "It has ever so many rooms in it,—a large room to laugh in and a small room to cry in—"

"To cry in?" interrupted the magician. "Why, no one ever thinks of crying in a castle in the air!"

"One never knows," answered the Princess, gravely. "Supposing I were to prick my finger, what should I do if there was n't a room to cry in? Then, there is a middling-sized room to be serious in; for there is just a chance that I might want to be serious sometimes, and it would be as well to have a room, in case."

"Perhaps it would," observed the magician, who had never listened so attentively to a conversation in the whole of his long life. "What else will you have in your castle?"....

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