A MATTER OF IMPORTANCE
T happened one day that the Angel-who-attends-to-things
was hastening along the street, with his wings tucked in and
his robes tucked up, for he was in a hurry, when a Duke
looked out of his
castle window and called to him.
"Stop a moment, please!" said the Duke. "I wish to
consult you about the succession to my dukedom. You know my
grandfather, the Archduke—"
"I cannot attend to you this morning!" said the Angel. "I am
engaged on business of importance: your affair must wait
till another time." And he passed on.
"Dear me!" said the Duke. "What can be more
important than the succession? I really must
follow him, and see what this great matter is."
So he followed the Angel.
 The Angel hurried along, and presently he passed by a
Bishop's palace, and the Bishop put his head out of the
window and called to him.
"Please come in a moment!" said the Bishop. "I wish to
consult you about the Great Synod which is to be held—"
The Angel shook his head.
"I am on business of importance," he said. "I cannot
attend to trifles this morning." And he passed on.
The Bishop looked after him. "What mighty business can this
be," he said, "that makes the Great Synod seem a trifle?
I really think I must go and see."
And he followed the Angel
and the Duke.
Presently the Angel passed by a King's palace, and the King
looked out of the window and called to him.
"Please come in here!" said the King. "The enemy's forces
have crossed the border, and threaten to besiege the
I wish to consult you at once on the steps to be taken."
"By and by!" said the Angel. "I am on business of
importance now, and cannot stop for trifles." And he
 The King looked after him. "It must be something of
world-wide importance," he said, "which can make the
invasion of my kingdom seem a trifle. I must really
go and see what it is." And he followed the Angel and the
Duke and the Bishop.
The Angel turned from the wide
street, and passed down a narrow lane, and into a dingy
court, where poor clothes hung drying. In the middle of the
court stood a little child, with its eyes tight shut and its
mouth wide open, crying and roaring as if its heart would
The Angel ran to the child, and knelt down and took it in
"Hush! hush!" he cried. "It is all
right, dear. You took the wrong turning,
that was all. She is just round the corner.
Quick, let me wipe the tears away! Look! there she
comes this minute."
A woman came flying round the corner, wild-eyed and panting.
The Angel put the child into her arms, and the two melted
together, and sobbed and laughed themselves away out of
The Angel drew a long breath, and rustled his wings a
little, and turned to
 go back; and as he turned, he saw the Duke and the
Bishop and the King, all out of breath and crimson, and
staring with big round eyes.
"Oh! are you there?" said the Angel. "well, now I
can attend to your little matters.