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Title: Sylvie and Bruno (Illustrated)
Author: Carroll, Lewis
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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(This file was produced from images generously made


                            SYLVIE AND BRUNO


                                   BY
                             LEWIS CARROLL

                     _WITH FORTY-SIX ILLUSTRATIONS
                                   BY
                             HARRY FURNISS_


                                _London_
                           MACMILLAN AND CO.
                              AND NEW YORK
                                  1890
        _The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved_

                   Presswork by John Wilson and Son,
                           University Press.


  Is all our Life, then, but a dream
  Seen faintly in the golden gleam
  Athwart Time’s dark resistless stream?

  Bowed to the earth with bitter woe,
  Or laughing at some raree-show,
  We flutter idly to and fro.

  Man’s little Day in haste we spend,
  And, from its merry noontide, send
  No glance to meet the silent end.



                                PREFACE.


One little picture in this book, the Magic Locket, at p. 77, was drawn
by ‘Miss Alice Havers.’ I did not state this on the title-page, since it
seemed only due, to the artist of all these (to my mind) _wonderful_
pictures, that his name should stand there alone.


The descriptions, at pp. 386, 387, of Sunday as spent by children of the
last generation, are quoted _verbatim_ from a speech made to me by a
child-friend and a letter written to me by a lady-friend.


The Chapters, headed ‘Fairy Sylvie’ and ‘Bruno’s Revenge,’ are a
reprint, with a few alterations, of a little fairy-tale which I wrote in
the year 1867, at the request of the late Mrs. Gatty, for ‘Aunt Judy’s
Magazine,’ which she was then editing.

It was in 1874, I believe, that the idea first occurred to me of making
it the nucleus of a longer story. As the years went on, I jotted down,
at odd moments, all sorts of odd ideas, and fragments of dialogue, that
occurred to me—who knows how?—with a transitory suddenness that left me
no choice but either to record them then and there, or to abandon them
to oblivion. Sometimes one could trace to their source these random
flashes of thought—as being suggested by the book one was reading, or
struck out from the ‘flint’ of one’s own mind by the ‘steel’ of a
friend’s chance remark—but they had also a way of their own, of
occurring, _à propos_ of nothing—specimens of that hopelessly illogical
phenomenon, ‘an effect without a cause.’ Such, for example, was the last
line of ‘The Hunting of the Snark,’ which came into my head (as I have
already related in ‘The Theatre’ for April, 1887) quite suddenly, during
a solitary walk: and such, again, have been passages which occurred in
_dreams_, and which I cannot trace to any antecedent cause whatever.
There are at least _two_ instances of such dream-suggestions in this
book—one, my Lady’s remark, ‘it often runs in families, just as a love
for pastry does’, at p. 88; the other, Eric Lindon’s _badinage_ about
having been in domestic service, at p. 332.

And thus it came to pass that I found myself at last in possession of a
huge unwieldy mass of litterature—if the reader will kindly excuse the
spelling—which only needed stringing together, upon the thread of a
consecutive story, to constitute the book I hoped to write. Only! The
task, at first, seemed absolutely hopeless, and gave me a far clearer
idea, than I ever had before, of the meaning of the word ‘chaos’: and I
think it must have been ten years, or more, before I had succeeded in
classifying these odds-and-ends sufficiently to see what sort of a story
they indicated: for the story had to grow out of the incidents, not the
incidents out of the story.

I am telling all this, in no spirit of egoism, but because I really
believe that some of my readers will be interested in these details of
the ‘genesis’ of a book, which looks so simple and straight-forward a
matter, when completed, that they might suppose it to have been written
straight off, page by page, as one would write a letter, beginning at
the beginning and ending at the end.

It is, no doubt, _possible_ to write a story in that way: and, if it be
not vanity to say so, I believe that I could, myself,—if I were in the
unfortunate position (for I do hold it to be a real misfortune) of being
obliged to produce a given amount of fiction in a given time,—that I
could ‘fulfil my task,’ and produce my ‘tale of bricks,’ as other slaves
have done. One thing, at any rate, I could guarantee as to the story so
produced—that it should be utterly commonplace, should contain no new
ideas whatever, and should be very very weary reading!

This species of literature has received the very appropriate name of
‘padding’—which might fitly be defined as ‘that which all can write and
none can read.’ That the present volume contains _no_ such writing I
dare not avow: sometimes, in order to bring a picture into its proper
place, it has been necessary to eke out a page with two or three extra
lines: but I can honestly say I have put in no more than I was
absolutely compelled to do.

My readers may perhaps like to amuse themselves by trying to detect, in
a given passage, the one piece of ‘padding’ it contains. While arranging
the ‘slips’ into pages, I found that the passage, which now extends from
the top of p. 35 to the middle of p. 38, was 3 lines too short. I
supplied the deficiency, not by interpolating a word here and a word
there, but by writing in 3 consecutive lines. Now can my readers guess
_which_ they are?

A harder puzzle—if a harder be desired—would be to determine, as to the
Gardener’s Song, in _which_ cases (if any) the stanza was adapted to the
surrounding text, and in _which_ (if any) the text was adapted to the
stanza.


Perhaps the hardest thing in all literature—at least _I_ have found it
so: by no voluntary effort can I accomplish it: I have to take it as it
comes—is to write anything _original_. And perhaps the easiest is, when
once an original line has been struck out, to follow it up, and to write
any amount more to the same tune. I do not know if ‘Alice in Wonderland’
was an _original_ story—I was, at least, no _conscious_ imitator in
writing it—but I do know that, since it came out, something like a dozen
story-books have appeared, on identically the same pattern. The path I
timidly explored—believing myself to be ‘the first that ever burst into
that silent sea’—is now a beaten high-road: all the way-side flowers
have long ago been trampled into the dust: and it would be courting
disaster for me to attempt that style again.

Hence it is that, in ‘Sylvie and Bruno,’ I have striven—with I know not
what success—to strike out yet another new path: be it bad or good, it
is the best I can do. It is written, not for money, and not for fame,
but in the hope of supplying, for the children whom I love, some
thoughts that may suit those hours of innocent merriment which are the
very life of Childhood; and also in the hope of suggesting, to them and
to others, some thoughts that may prove, I would fain hope, not wholly
out of harmony with the graver cadences of Life.


If I have not already exhausted the patience of my readers, I would like
to seize this opportunity—perhaps the last I shall have of addressing so
many friends at once—of putting on record some ideas that have occurred
to me, as to books desirable to be written—which I should much like to
_attempt_, but may not ever have the time or power to carry through—in
the hope that, if _I_ should fail (and the years are gliding away _very_
fast) to finish the task I have set myself, other hands may take it up.


First, a Child’s Bible. The only real _essentials_ of this would be,
carefully selected passages, suitable for a child’s reading, and
pictures. One principle of selection, which I would adopt, would be that
Religion should be put before a child as a revelation of _love_—no need
to pain and puzzle the young mind with the history of crime and
punishment. (On such a principle I should, for example, omit the history
of the Flood.) The supplying of the pictures would involve no great
difficulty: no new ones would be needed: hundreds of excellent pictures
already exist, the copyright of which has long ago expired, and which
simply need photo-zincography, or some similar process, for their
successful reproduction. The book should be handy in size—with a pretty
attractive-looking cover—in a clear legible type—and, above all, with
abundance of pictures, pictures, pictures!


Secondly, a book of pieces selected from the Bible—not single texts, but
passages of from 10 to 20 verses each—to be committed to memory. Such
passages would be found useful, to repeat to one’s-self and to ponder
over, on many occasions when reading is difficult, if not impossible:
for instance, when lying awake at night—on a railway-journey—when taking
a solitary walk—in old age, when eye-sight is failing or wholly
lost—and, best of all, when illness, while incapacitating us for reading
or any other occupation, condemns us to lie awake through many weary
silent hours: at such a time how keenly one may realise the truth of
David’s rapturous cry ‘_O how sweet are thy words unto my throat: yea,
sweeter than honey unto my mouth!_’

I have said ‘passages,’ rather than single texts, because we have no
means of _recalling_ single texts: memory needs _links_, and here are
none: one may have a hundred texts stored in the memory, and not be able
to recall, at will, more than half-a-dozen—and those by mere chance:
whereas, once get hold of any portion of a _chapter_ that has been
committed to memory, and the whole can be recovered: all hangs together.


Thirdly, a collection of passages, both prose and verse, from books
other than the Bible. There is not perhaps much, in what is called
‘un-inspired’ literature (a misnomer, I hold: if Shakespeare was not
inspired, one may well doubt if any man ever was), that will bear the
process of being pondered over, a hundred times: still there _are_ such
passages—enough, I think, to make a goodly store for the memory.

These two books—of sacred, and secular, passages for memory—will serve
other good purposes besides merely occupying vacant hours: they will
help to keep at bay many anxious thoughts, worrying thoughts,
uncharitable thoughts, unholy thoughts. Let me say this, in better words
than my own, by copying a passage from that most interesting book,
Robertson’s Lectures on the Epistles to the Corinthians, Lecture XLIX.
“If a man finds himself haunted by evil desires and unholy images, which
will generally be at periodical hours, let him commit to memory passages
of Scripture, or passages from the best writers in verse or prose. Let
him store his mind with these, as safe-guards to repeat when he lies
awake in some restless night, or when despairing imaginations, or
gloomy, suicidal thoughts, beset him. Let these be to him the sword,
turning everywhere to keep the way of the Garden of Life from the
intrusion of profaner footsteps.”


Fourthly, a “Shakespeare” for girls: that is, an edition in which
everything, not suitable for the perusal of girls of (say) from 10 to
17, should be omitted. Few children under 10 would be likely to
understand or enjoy the greatest of poets: and those, who have passed
out of girlhood, may safely be left to read Shakespeare, in any edition,
‘expurgated’ or not, that they may prefer: but it seems a pity that so
many children, in the intermediate stage, should be debarred from a
great pleasure for want of an edition suitable to them. Neither
Bowdler’s, Chambers’s, Brandram’s, nor Cundell’s ‘Boudoir’ Shakespeare,
seems to me to meet the want: they are not sufficiently ‘expurgated.’
Bowdler’s is the most extraordinary of all: looking through it, I am
filled with a deep sense of wonder, considering what he has left in,
that he should have cut _anything_ out! Besides relentlessly erasing all
that is unsuitable on the score of reverence or decency, I should be
inclined to omit also all that seems too difficult, or not likely to
interest young readers. The resulting book might be slightly
fragmentary: but it would be a real treasure to all British maidens who
have any taste for poetry.


If it be needful to apologize to any one for the new departure I have
taken in this story—by introducing, along with what will, I hope, prove
to be acceptable nonsense for children, some of the graver thoughts of
human life—it must be to one who has learned the Art of keeping such
thoughts wholly at a distance in hours of mirth and careless ease. To
him such a mixture will seem, no doubt, ill-judged and repulsive. And
that such an Art _exists_ I do not dispute: with youth, good health, and
sufficient money, it seems quite possible to lead, for years together, a
life of unmixed gaiety—with the exception of one solemn fact, with which
we are liable to be confronted at _any_ moment, even in the midst of the
most brilliant company or the most sparkling entertainment. A man may
fix his own times for admitting serious thought, for attending public
worship, for prayer, for reading the Bible: all such matters he can
defer to that ‘convenient season’, which is so apt never to occur at
all: but he cannot defer, for one single moment, the necessity of
attending to a message, which may come before he has finished reading
this page, ‘_this night shall thy soul be required of thee_.’

The ever-present sense of this grim possibility has been, in all
ages,[1] an incubus that men have striven to shake off. Few more
interesting subjects of enquiry could be found, by a student of history,
than the various weapons that have been used against this shadowy foe.
Saddest of all must have been the thoughts of those who saw indeed an
_existence_ beyond the grave, but an existence far more terrible than
annihilation—an existence as filmy, impalpable, all but invisible
spectres, drifting about, through endless ages, in a world of shadows,
with nothing to do, nothing to hope for, nothing to love! In the midst
of the gay verses of that genial ‘bon vivant’ Horace, there stands one
dreary word whose utter sadness goes to one’s heart. It is the word
‘_exilium_’ in the well-known passage

  Omnes eodem cogimur, omnium
  Versatur urnâ serius ocius
    Sors exitura et nos in æternum
      Exilium impositura cymbæ.

Yes, to him this present life—spite of all its weariness and all its
sorrow—was the only life worth having: all else was ‘exile’! Does it not
seem almost incredible that one, holding such a creed, should ever have
smiled?

And many in this day, I fear, even though believing in an existence
beyond the grave far more real than Horace ever dreamed of, yet regard
it as a sort of ‘exile’ from all the joys of life, and so adopt Horace’s
theory, and say ‘let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.’

We go to entertainments, such as the theatre—I say ‘we’, for _I_ also go
to the play, whenever I get a chance of seeing a really good one—and
keep at arm’s length, if possible, the thought that we may not return
alive. Yet how do you know—dear friend, whose patience has carried you
through this garrulous preface—that it may not be _your_ lot, when mirth
is fastest and most furious, to feel the sharp pang, or the deadly
faintness, which heralds the final crisis—to see, with vague wonder,
anxious friends bending over you—to hear their troubled whispers—perhaps
yourself to shape the question, with trembling lips, “Is it serious?”,
and to be told “Yes: the end is near” (and oh, how different all Life
will look when those words are said!)—how do you know, I say, that all
this may not happen to _you_, this night?

And _dare_ you, knowing this, say to yourself “Well, perhaps it _is_ an
immoral play: perhaps the situations _are_ a little too ‘risky’, the
dialogue a little too strong, the ‘business’ a little too suggestive. I
don’t say that conscience is _quite_ easy: but the piece is so clever, I
must see it this once! I’ll begin a stricter life to-morrow.”
_To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow!_

  “Who sins in hope, who, sinning, says,
  ‘Sorrow for sin God’s judgement stays!’
  Against God’s Spirit he lies; quite stops
  Mercy with insult; dares, and drops,
  Like a scorch’d fly, that spins in vain
  Upon the axis of its pain,
  Then takes its doom, to limp and crawl,
  Blind and forgot, from fall to fall.”


Let me pause for a moment to say that I believe this thought, of the
possibility of death—if calmly realised, and steadily faced—would be one
of the best possible tests as to our going to any scene of amusement
being right or wrong. If the thought of sudden death acquires, for
_you_, a special horror when imagined as happening in a _theatre_, then
be very sure the theatre is harmful for _you_, however harmless it may
be for others; and that _you_ are incurring a deadly peril in going. Be
sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to _live_ in any scene
in which we dare not _die_.

But, once realise what the true object _is_ in life—that it is _not_
pleasure, _not_ knowledge, _not_ even fame itself, ‘that last infirmity
of noble minds’—but that it _is_ the development of _character_, the
rising to a higher, nobler, purer standard, the building-up of the
perfect _Man_—and then, so long as we feel that this is going on, and
will (we trust) go on for evermore, death has for us no terror; it is
not a shadow, but a light; not an end, but a beginning!


One other matter may perhaps seem to call for apology—that I should have
treated with such entire want of sympathy the British passion for
‘Sport’, which no doubt has been in by-gone days, and is still, in some
forms of it, an excellent school for hardihood and for coolness in
moments of danger. But I am not entirely without sympathy for _genuine_
‘Sport’: I can heartily admire the courage of the man who, with severe
bodily toil, and at the risk of his life, hunts down some ‘man-eating’
tiger: and I can heartily sympathize with him when he exults in the
glorious excitement of the chase and the hand-to-hand struggle with the
monster brought to bay. But I can but look with deep wonder and sorrow
on the hunter who, at his ease and in safety, can find pleasure in what
involves, for some defenceless creature, wild terror and a death of
agony: deeper, if the hunter be one who has pledged himself to preach to
men the Religion of universal Love: deepest of all, if it be one of
those ‘_tender and delicate_’ beings, whose very name serves as a symbol
of Love—‘_thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of
women_’—whose mission here is surely to help and comfort all that are in
pain or sorrow!

  ‘Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
    To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
  He prayeth well, who loveth well
    Both man and bird and beast.

  He prayeth best, who loveth best
    All things both great and small;
  For the dear God who loveth us,
    He made and loveth all.’



                               CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                                                            PAGE
  I. LESS BREAD! MORE TAXES!                                            1
  II. L’AMIE INCONNUE                                                  16
  III. BIRTHDAY-PRESENTS                                               29
  IV. A CUNNING CONSPIRACY                                             43
  V. A BEGGAR’S PALACE                                                 56
  VI. THE MAGIC LOCKET                                                 73
  VII. THE BARON’S EMBASSY                                             87
  VIII. A RIDE ON A LION                                              100
  IX. A JESTER AND A BEAR                                             113
  X. THE OTHER PROFESSOR                                              129
  XI. PETER AND PAUL                                                  143
  XII. A MUSICAL GARDENER                                             156
  XIII. A VISIT TO DOGLAND                                            171
  XIV. FAIRY-SYLVIE                                                   187
  XV. BRUNO’S REVENGE                                                 207
  XVI. A CHANGED CROCODILE                                            222
  XVII. THE THREE BADGERS                                             234
  XVIII. QUEER STREET, NUMBER FORTY                                   255
  XIX. HOW TO MAKE A PHLIZZ                                           271
  XX. LIGHT COME, LIGHT GO                                            287
  XXI. THROUGH THE IVORY DOOR                                         304
  XXII. CROSSING THE LINE                                             325
  XXIII. AN OUTLANDISH WATCH                                          345
  XXIV. THE FROGS’ BIRTHDAY-TREAT                                     361
  XXV. LOOKING EASTWARD                                               383
  Index                                                               396



                           SYLVIE AND BRUNO.



                               CHAPTER I.
                        LESS BREAD! MORE TAXES!


—and then all the people cheered again, and one man, who was more
excited than the rest, flung his hat high into the air, and shouted (as
well as I could make out) “Who roar for the Sub-Warden?” _Everybody_
roared, but whether it was for the Sub-Warden, or not, did not clearly
appear: some were shouting “Bread!” and some “Taxes!”, but no one seemed
to know what it was they really wanted.

All this I saw from the open window of the Warden’s breakfast-saloon,
looking across the shoulder of the Lord Chancellor, who had sprung to
his feet the moment the shouting began, almost as if he had been
expecting it, and had rushed to the window which commanded the best view
of the market-place.

“What _can_ it all mean?” he kept repeating to himself, as, with his
hands clasped behind him, and his gown floating in the air, he paced
rapidly up and down the room. “I never heard such shouting before—and at
this time of the morning, too! And with such unanimity! Doesn’t it
strike _you_ as very remarkable?”

I represented, modestly, that to _my_ ears it appeared that they were
shouting for different things, but the Chancellor would not listen to my
suggestion for a moment. “They all shout the same words, I assure you!”
he said: then, leaning well out of the window, he whispered to a man who
was standing close underneath, “Keep ’em together, ca’n’t you? The
Warden will be here directly. Give ’em the signal for the march up!” All
this was evidently not meant for _my_ ears, but I could scarcely help
hearing it, considering that my chin was almost on the Chancellor’s
shoulder.

[Illustration: THE MARCH-UP]

The ‘march up’ was a very curious sight: a straggling procession of men,
marching two and two, began from the other side of the market-place, and
advanced in an irregular zig-zag fashion towards the Palace, wildly
tacking from side to side, like a sailing vessel making way against an
unfavourable wind—so that the head of the procession was often further
from us at the end of one tack than it had been at the end of the
previous one.

Yet it was evident that all was being done under orders, for I noticed
that all eyes were fixed on the man who stood just under the window, and
to whom the Chancellor was continually whispering. This man held his hat
in one hand and a little green flag in the other: whenever he waved the
flag the procession advanced a little nearer, when he dipped it they
sidled a little farther off, and whenever he waved his hat they all
raised a hoarse cheer. “Hoo-roah!” they cried, carefully keeping time
with the hat as it bobbed up and down. “Hoo-roah! Noo! Consti! Tooshun!
Less! Bread! More! Taxes!”

“That’ll do, that’ll do!” the Chancellor whispered. “Let ’em rest a bit
till I give you the word. He’s not here yet!” But at this moment the
great folding-doors of the saloon were flung open, and he turned with a
guilty start to receive His High Excellency. However it was only Bruno,
and the Chancellor gave a little gasp of relieved anxiety.

“Morning!” said the little fellow, addressing the remark, in a general
sort of way, to the Chancellor and the waiters. “Doos oo know where
Sylvie is? I’s looking for Sylvie!”

“She’s with the Warden, I believe, y’reince!” the Chancellor replied
with a low bow. There was, no doubt, a certain amount of absurdity in
applying this title (which, as of course you see without my telling you,
was nothing but ‘your Royal Highness’ condensed into one syllable) to a
small creature whose father was merely the Warden of Outland: still,
large excuse must be made for a man who had passed several years at the
Court of Fairyland, and had there acquired the almost impossible art of
pronouncing five syllables as one.

But the bow was lost upon Bruno, who had run out of the room, even while
the great feat of The Unpronounceable Monosyllable was being
triumphantly performed.

Just then, a single voice in the distance was understood to shout “A
speech from the Chancellor!” “Certainly, my friends!” the Chancellor
replied with extraordinary promptitude. “You shall have a speech!” Here
one of the waiters, who had been for some minutes busy making a
queer-looking mixture of egg and sherry, respectfully presented it on a
large silver salver. The Chancellor took it haughtily, drank it off
thoughtfully, smiled benevolently on the happy waiter as he set down the
empty glass, and began. To the best of my recollection this is what he
said.

“Ahem! Ahem! Ahem! Fellow-sufferers, or rather suffering fellows——”
(“Don’t call ’em names!” muttered the man under the window. “I didn’t
say _felons_!” the Chancellor explained.) “You may be sure that I always
sympa——” (“’Ear, ’ear!” shouted the crowd, so loudly as quite to drown
the orator’s thin squeaky voice) “—that I always sympa——” he repeated.
(“Don’t simper quite so much!” said the man under the window. “It makes
yer look a hidiot!” And, all this time, “’Ear, ’ear!” went rumbling
round the market-place, like a peal of thunder.) “That I always
_sympathise_!” yelled the Chancellor, the first moment there was
silence. “But your _true_ friend is the _Sub-Warden_! Day and night he
is brooding on your wrongs—I should say your _rights_—that is to say
your _wrongs_—no, I mean your _rights_——” (“Don’t talk no more!” growled
the man under the window. “You’re making a mess of it!”) At this moment
the Sub-Warden entered the saloon. He was a thin man, with a mean and
crafty face, and a greenish-yellow complexion; and he crossed the room
very slowly, looking suspiciously about him as if he thought there might
be a savage dog hidden somewhere. “Bravo!” he cried, patting the
Chancellor on the back. “You did that speech very well indeed. Why,
you’re a born orator, man!”

“Oh, that’s nothing!” the Chancellor replied, modestly, with downcast
eyes. “Most orators are _born_, you know.”

The Sub-Warden thoughtfully rubbed his chin. “Why, so they are!” he
admitted. “I never considered it in that light. Still, you did it very
well. A word in your ear!”

The rest of their conversation was all in whispers: so, as I could hear
no more, I thought I would go and find Bruno.

I found the little fellow standing in the passage, and being addressed
by one of the men in livery, who stood before him, nearly bent double
from extreme respectfulness, with his hands hanging in front of him like
the fins of a fish. “His High Excellency,” this respectful man was
saying, “is in his Study, y’reince!” (He didn’t pronounce this quite so
well as the Chancellor.) Thither Bruno trotted, and I thought it well to
follow him.

The Warden, a tall dignified man with a grave but very pleasant face,
was seated before a writing-table, which was covered with papers, and
holding on his knee one of the sweetest and loveliest little maidens it
has ever been my lot to see. She looked four or five years older than
Bruno, but she had the same rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes, and the same
wealth of curly brown hair. Her eager smiling face was turned upwards
towards her father’s, and it was a pretty sight to see the mutual love
with which the two faces—one in the Spring of Life, the other in its
late Autumn—were gazing on each other.

“No, you’ve never seen him,” the old man was saying: “you couldn’t, you
know, he’s been away so long—traveling from land to land, and seeking
for health, more years than you’ve been alive, little Sylvie!”

Here Bruno climbed upon his other knee, and a good deal of kissing, on a
rather complicated system, was the result.

“He only came back last night,” said the Warden, when the kissing was
over: “he’s been traveling post-haste, for the last thousand miles or
so, in order to be here on Sylvie’s birthday. But he’s a very early
riser, and I dare say he’s in the Library already. Come with me and see
him. He’s always kind to children. You’ll be sure to like him.”

“Has the Other Professor come too?” Bruno asked in an awe-struck voice.

“Yes, they arrived together. The Other Professor is—well, you won’t like
him quite so much, perhaps. He’s a little more _dreamy_, you know.”

“I wiss _Sylvie_ was a little more dreamy,” said Bruno.

“What _do_ you mean, Bruno?” said Sylvie.

Bruno went on addressing his father. “She says she _ca’n’t_, oo know.
But I thinks it isn’t _ca’n’t_, it’s _wo’n’t_.”

“Says she _ca’n’t_ dream!” the puzzled Warden repeated.

“She _do_ say it,” Bruno persisted. “When I says to her ‘Let’s stop
lessons!’, she says ‘Oh, I ca’n’t _dream_ of letting oo stop yet!’”

“He always wants to stop lessons,” Sylvie explained, “five minutes after
we begin!”

“Five minutes’ lessons a day!” said the Warden. “You won’t learn much at
_that_ rate, little man!”

“That’s just what Sylvie says,” Bruno rejoined. “She says I _wo’n’t_
learn my lessons. And I tells her, over and over, I _ca’n’t_ learn ’em.
And what doos oo think she says? She says ‘It isn’t _ca’n’t_, it’s
_wo’n’t_!’”

“Let’s go and see the Professor,” the Warden said, wisely avoiding
further discussion. The children got down off his knees, each secured a
hand, and the happy trio set off for the Library—followed by me. I had
come to the conclusion by this time that none of the party (except, for
a few moments, the Lord Chancellor) was in the least able to see me.

“What’s the matter with him?” Sylvie asked, walking with a little extra
sedateness, by way of example to Bruno at the other side, who never
ceased jumping up and down.

[Illustration: VISITING THE PROFESSOR]

“What _was_ the matter—but I hope he’s all right now—was lumbago, and
rheumatism, and that kind of thing. He’s been curing _himself_, you
know: he’s a very learned doctor. Why, he’s actually _invented_ three
new diseases, besides a new way of breaking your collar-bone!”

“Is it a nice way?” said Bruno.

“Well, hum, not _very_,” the Warden said, as we entered the Library.
“And here _is_ the Professor. Good morning, Professor! Hope you’re quite
rested after your journey!”

A jolly-looking, fat little man, in a flowery dressing-gown, with a
large book under each arm, came trotting in at the other end of the
room, and was going straight across without taking any notice of the
children. “I’m looking for Vol. Three,” he said. “Do you happen to have
seen it?”

“You don’t see my _children_, Professor!” the Warden exclaimed, taking
him by the shoulders and turning him round to face them.

The Professor laughed violently: then he gazed at them through his great
spectacles, for a minute or two, without speaking.

At last he addressed Bruno. “I hope you have had a good night, my
child?”

Bruno looked puzzled. “I’s had the same night _oo’ve_ had,” he replied.
“There’s only been _one_ night since yesterday!”

It was the Professor’s turn to look puzzled now. He took off his
spectacles, and rubbed them with his hankerchief. Then he gazed at them
again. Then he turned to the Warden. “Are they bound?” he enquired.

“No, we aren’t,” said Bruno, who thought himself quite able to answer
_this_ question.

The Professor shook his head sadly. “Not even half-bound?”

“Why _would_ we be half-bound?” said Bruno. “We’re not prisoners!”

But the Professor had forgotten all about them by this time, and was
speaking to the Warden again. “You’ll be glad to hear,” he was saying,
“that the Barometer’s beginning to move——”

“Well, which way?” said the Warden—adding to the children, “Not that _I_
care, you know. Only _he_ thinks it affects the weather. He’s a
wonderfully clever man, you know. Sometimes he says things that only the
Other Professor can understand. Sometimes he says things that _nobody_
can understand! Which way is it, Professor? Up or down?”

“Neither!” said the Professor, gently clapping his hands. “It’s going
sideways—if I may so express myself.”

“And what kind of weather does _that_ produce?” said the Warden.
“Listen, children! Now you’ll hear something worth knowing!”

“Horizontal weather,” said the Professor, and made straight for the
door, very nearly trampling on Bruno, who had only just time to get out
of his way.

“_Isn’t_ he learned?” the Warden said, looking after him with admiring
eyes. “Positively he runs over with learning!”

“But he needn’t run over _me_!” said Bruno.

The Professor was back in a moment: he had changed his dressing-gown for
a frock-coat, and had put on a pair of very strange-looking boots, the
tops of which were open umbrellas. “I thought you’d like to see them,”
he said. “_These_ are the boots for horizontal weather!”

“But what’s the use of wearing umbrellas round one’s knees?”

“In _ordinary_ rain,” the Professor admitted, “they would _not_ be of
much use. But if ever it rained _horizontally_, you know, they would be
invaluable—simply invaluable!”

“Take the Professor to the breakfast-saloon, children,” said the Warden.
“And tell them not to wait for me. I had breakfast early, as I’ve some
business to attend to.” The children seized the Professor’s hands, as
familiarly as if they had known him for years, and hurried him away. I
followed respectfully behind.

[Illustration: BOOTS FOR HORIZONTAL WEATHER]



                              CHAPTER II.
                            L’AMIE INCONNUE.


As we entered the breakfast-saloon, the Professor was saying “—and he
had breakfast by himself, early: so he begged you wouldn’t wait for him,
my Lady. This way, my Lady,” he added, “this way!” And then, with (as it
seemed to me) most superfluous politeness, he flung open the door of my
compartment, and ushered in “—a young and lovely lady!” I muttered to
myself with some bitterness. “And this is, of course, the opening scene
of Vol. I. _She_ is the Heroine. And _I_ am one of those subordinate
characters that only turn up when needed for the development of her
destiny, and whose final appearance is outside the church, waiting to
greet the Happy Pair!”

“Yes, my Lady, change at Fayfield,” were the next words I heard (oh that
too obsequious Guard!), “next station but one.” And the door closed, and
the lady settled down into her corner, and the monotonous throb of the
engine (making one feel as if the train were some gigantic monster,
whose very circulation we could feel) proclaimed that we were once more
speeding on our way. “The lady had a perfectly formed nose,” I caught
myself saying to myself, “hazel eyes, and lips——” and here it occurred
to me that to see, for myself, what “the lady” was really like, would be
more satisfactory than much speculation.

I looked round cautiously, and—was entirely disappointed of my hope. The
veil, which shrouded her whole face, was too thick for me to see more
than the glitter of bright eyes and the hazy outline of what _might_ be
a lovely oval face, but might also, unfortunately, be an equally
_un_lovely one. I closed my eyes again, saying to myself “—couldn’t have
a better chance for an experiment in Telepathy! I’ll _think out_ her
face, and afterwards test the portrait with the original.”

At first, no result at all crowned my efforts, though I ‘divided my
swift mind,’ now hither, now thither, in a way that I felt sure would
have made Æneas green with envy: but the dimly-seen oval remained as
provokingly blank as ever—a mere Ellipse, as if in some mathematical
diagram, without even the Foci that might be made to do duty as a nose
and a mouth. Gradually, however, the conviction came upon me that I
could, by a certain concentration of thought, _think the veil away_, and
so get a glimpse of the mysterious face—as to which the two questions,
“is she pretty?” and “is she plain?”, still hung suspended, in my mind,
in beautiful equipoise.

Success was partial—and fitful—still there _was_ a result: ever and
anon, the veil seemed to vanish, in a sudden flash of light: but, before
I could fully realise the face, all was dark again. In each such
glimpse, the face seemed to grow more childish and more innocent: and,
when I had at last _thought_ the veil entirely away, it was,
unmistakeably, the sweet face of little Sylvie!

“So, either I’ve been dreaming about Sylvie,” I said to myself, “and
this is the reality. Or else I’ve really been with Sylvie, and this is a
dream! Is Life itself a dream, I wonder?”

To occupy the time, I got out the letter, which had caused me to take
this sudden railway-journey from my London home down to a strange
fishing-town on the North coast, and read it over again:—

  “_Dear old Friend_,

  “_I’m sure it will be as great a pleasure to me, as it can possibly be
  to you, to meet once more after so many years: and of course I shall
  be ready to give you all the benefit of such medical skill as I have:
  only, you know, one mustn’t violate professional etiquette! And you
  are already in the hands of a first-rate London doctor, with whom it
  would be utter affectation for me to pretend to compete. (I make no
  doubt he is right in saying the heart is affected: all your symptoms
  point that way.) One thing, at any rate, I have already done in my
  doctorial capacity—secured you a bedroom on the ground-floor, so that
  you will not need to ascend the stairs at all._

  “_I shall expect you by last train on Friday, in accordance with your
  letter: and, till then, I shall say, in the words of the old song, ‘Oh
  for Friday nicht! Friday’s lang a-coming!’_

                              “_Yours always_,
                                                     “_Arthur Forester_.

“_P.S. Do you believe in Fate?_”

This Postscript puzzled me sorely. “He is far too sensible a man,” I
thought, “to have become a Fatalist. And yet what else can he mean by
it?” And, as I folded up the letter and put it away, I inadvertently
repeated the words aloud. “Do you believe in Fate?”

The fair ‘Incognita’ turned her head quickly at the sudden question.
“No, I don’t!” she said with a smile. “Do you?”

“I—I didn’t mean to ask the question!” I stammered, a little taken aback
at having begun a conversation in so unconventional a fashion.

The lady’s smile became a laugh—not a mocking laugh, but the laugh of a
happy child who is perfectly at her ease. “Didn’t you?” she said. “Then
it was a case of what you Doctors call ‘unconscious cerebration’?”

“I am no Doctor,” I replied. “Do I look so like one? Or what makes you
think it?”

She pointed to the book I had been reading, which was so lying that its
title, “Diseases of the Heart,” was plainly visible.

“One needn’t be a _Doctor_,” I said, “to take an interest in medical
books. There’s another class of readers, who are yet more deeply
interested——”

“You mean the _Patients_?” she interrupted, while a look of tender pity
gave new sweetness to her face. “But,” with an evident wish to avoid a
possibly painful topic, “one needn’t be _either_, to take an interest in
books of _Science_. Which contain the greatest amount of Science, do you
think, the books, or the minds?”

“Rather a profound question for a lady!” I said to myself, holding, with
the conceit so natural to Man, that Woman’s intellect is essentially
shallow. And I considered a minute before replying. “If you mean
_living_ minds, I don’t think it’s possible to decide. There is so much
_written_ Science that no living person has ever _read_: and there is so
much _thought-out_ Science that hasn’t yet been _written_. But, if you
mean the whole human race, then I think the _minds_ have it: everything,
recorded in _books_, must have once been in some _mind_, you know.”

“Isn’t that rather like one of the Rules in Algebra?” my Lady enquired.
(“_Algebra_ too!” I thought with increasing wonder.) “I mean, if we
consider thoughts as _factors_, may we not say that the Least Common
Multiple of all the _minds_ contains that of all the _books_; but not
the other way?”

“Certainly we may!” I replied, delighted with the illustration. “And
what a grand thing it would be,” I went on dreamily, thinking aloud
rather than talking, “if we could only _apply_ that Rule to books! You
know, in finding the Least Common Multiple, we strike out a quantity
wherever it occurs, except in the term where it is raised to its highest
power. So we should have to erase every recorded thought, except in the
sentence where it is expressed with the greatest intensity.”

My Lady laughed merrily. “_Some_ books would be reduced to blank paper,
I’m afraid!” she said.

“They would. Most libraries would be terribly diminished in _bulk_. But
just think what they would gain in _quality_!”

“When will it be done?” she eagerly asked. “If there’s any chance of it
in _my_ time, I think I’ll leave off reading, and wait for it!”

“Well, perhaps in another thousand years or so——”

“Then there’s no use waiting!” said my Lady. “Let’s sit down. Uggug, my
pet, come and sit by me!”

“Anywhere but by _me_!” growled the Sub-Warden. “The little wretch
always manages to upset his coffee!”

I guessed at once (as perhaps the reader will also have guessed, if,
like myself, he is _very_ clever at drawing conclusions) that my Lady
was the Sub-Warden’s wife, and that Uggug (a hideous fat boy, about the
same age as Sylvie, with the expression of a prize-pig) was their son.
Sylvie and Bruno, with the Lord Chancellor, made up a party of seven.

[Illustration: A PORTABLE PLUNGE-BATH]

“And you actually got a plunge-bath every morning?” said the Sub-Warden,
seemingly in continuation of a conversation with the Professor. “Even at
the little roadside-inns?”

“Oh, certainly, certainly!” the Professor replied with a smile on his
jolly face. “Allow me to explain. It is, in fact, a very simple problem
in Hydrodynamics. (That means a combination of Water and Strength.) If
we take a plunge-bath, and a man of great strength (such as myself)
about to plunge into it, we have a perfect example of this science. I am
bound to admit,” the Professor continued, in a lower tone and with
downcast eyes, “that we need a man of _remarkable_ strength. He must be
able to spring from the floor to about twice his own height, gradually
turning over as he rises, so as to come down again head first.”

“Why, you need a _flea_, not a _man_!” exclaimed the Sub-Warden.

“Pardon me,” said the Professor. “This particular kind of bath is _not_
adapted for a flea. Let us suppose,” he continued, folding his
table-napkin into a graceful festoon, “that this represents what is
perhaps _the_ necessity of this Age—the Active Tourist’s Portable Bath.
You may describe it briefly, if you like,” looking at the Chancellor,
“by the letters A. T. P. B.”

The Chancellor, much disconcerted at finding everybody looking at him,
could only murmur, in a shy whisper, “Precisely so!”

“One great advantage of this plunge-bath,” continued the Professor, “is
that it requires only half-a-gallon of water——”

“I don’t call it a _plunge_-bath,” His Sub-Excellency remarked, “unless
your Active Tourist goes _right under_!”

“But he _does_ go right under,” the old man gently replied. “The A. T.
hangs up the P. B. on a nail—_thus_. He then empties the water-jug into
it—places the empty jug below the bag—leaps into the air—descends
head-first into the bag—the water rises round him to the top of the
bag—and there you are!” he triumphantly concluded. “The A. T. is as much
under water as if he’d gone a mile or two down into the Atlantic!”

“And he’s drowned, let us say, in about four minutes——”

“By no means!” the Professor answered with a proud smile. “After about a
minute, he quietly turns a tap at the lower end of the P. B.—all the
water runs back into the jug—and there you are again!”

“But how in the world is he to get _out_ of the bag again?”

“_That_, I take it,” said the Professor, “is the most beautiful part of
the whole invention. All the way up the P. B., inside, are loops for the
thumbs; so it’s something like going up-stairs, only perhaps less
comfortable; and, by the time the A. T. has risen out of the bag, all
but his head, he’s sure to topple over, one way or the other—the Law of
Gravity secures _that_. And there he is on the floor again!”

“A little bruised, perhaps?”

“Well, yes, a little bruised; but _having had his plunge-bath_: that’s
the great thing.”

“Wonderful! It’s almost beyond belief!” murmured the Sub-Warden. The
Professor took it as a compliment, and bowed with a gratified smile.

“_Quite_ beyond belief!” my Lady added—meaning, no doubt, to be more
complimentary still. The Professor bowed, but he didn’t smile _this_
time.

“I can assure you,” he said earnestly, “that, _provided the bath was
made_, I used it every morning. I certainly _ordered_ it—_that_ I am
clear about—my only doubt is, whether the man ever finished making it.
It’s difficult to remember, after so many years——”

At this moment the door, very slowly and creakingly, began to open, and
Sylvie and Bruno jumped up, and ran to meet the well-known footstep.



                              CHAPTER III.
                           BIRTHDAY-PRESENTS.


“It’s my brother!” the Sub-Warden exclaimed, in a warning whisper.
“Speak out, and be quick about it!”

The appeal was evidently addressed to the Lord Chancellor, who instantly
replied, in a shrill monotone, like a little boy repeating the alphabet,
“As I was remarking, your Sub-Excellency, this portentous movement——”

“You began too soon!” the other interrupted, scarcely able to restrain
himself to a whisper, so great was his excitement. “He couldn’t have
heard you. Begin again!”

“As I was remarking,” chanted the obedient Lord Chancellor, “this
portentous movement has already assumed the dimensions of a Revolution!”

“And what _are_ the dimensions of a Revolution?” The voice was genial
and mellow, and the face of the tall dignified old man, who had just
entered the room, leading Sylvie by the hand, and with Bruno riding
triumphantly on his shoulder, was too noble and gentle to have scared a
less guilty man: but the Lord Chancellor turned pale instantly, and
could hardly articulate the words “The dimensions—your—your High
Excellency? I—I—scarcely comprehend!”

“Well, the length, breadth, and thickness, if you like it better!” And
the old man smiled, half-contemptuously.

The Lord Chancellor recovered himself with a great effort, and pointed
to the open window. “If your High Excellency will listen for a moment to
the shouts of the exasperated populace——” (“of the exasperated
populace!” the Sub-Warden repeated in a louder tone, as the Lord
Chancellor, being in a state of abject terror, had dropped almost into a
whisper)“—you will understand what it is they want.”

And at that moment there surged into the room a hoarse confused cry, in
which the only clearly audible words were “Less—bread—More—taxes!” The
old man laughed heartily. “What in the world——” he was beginning: but
the Chancellor heard him not. “Some mistake!” he muttered, hurrying to
the window, from which he shortly returned with an air of relief. “_Now_
listen!” he exclaimed, holding up his hand impressively. And now the
words came quite distinctly, and with the regularity of the ticking of a
clock, “More—bread—Less—taxes!”

“More bread!” the Warden repeated in astonishment. “Why, the new
Government Bakery was opened only last week, and I gave orders to sell
the bread at cost-price during the present scarcity! What _can_ they
expect more?”

“The Bakery’s closed, y’reince!” the Chancellor said, more loudly and
clearly than he had spoken yet. He was emboldened by the consciousness
that _here_, at least, he had evidence to produce: and he placed in the
Warden’s hands a few printed notices, that were lying ready, with some
open ledgers, on a side-table.

“Yes, yes, _I_ see!” the Warden muttered, glancing carelessly through
them. “Order countermanded by my brother, and supposed to be _my_ doing!
Rather sharp practice! It’s all right!” he added in a louder tone. “My
name is signed to it: so I take it on myself. But what do they mean by
‘Less Taxes’? How _can_ they be less? I abolished the last of them a
month ago!”

“It’s been put on again, y’reince, and by y’reince’s own orders!”, and
other printed notices were submitted for inspection.

The Warden, whilst looking them over, glanced once or twice at the
Sub-Warden, who had seated himself before one of the open ledgers, and
was quite absorbed in adding it up; but he merely repeated “It’s all
right. I accept it as my doing.”

“And they do say,” the Chancellor went on sheepishly—looking much more
like a convicted thief than an Officer of State, “that a change of
Government, by the abolition of the Sub-Warden—I mean,” he hastily
added, on seeing the Warden’s look of astonishment, “the abolition of
the _office_ of Sub-Warden, and giving the present holder the right to
act as _Vice_-Warden whenever the Warden is absent—would appease all
this seedling discontent. I mean,” he added, glancing at a paper he held
in his hand, “all this _seething_ discontent!”

“For fifteen years,” put in a deep but very harsh voice, “my husband has
been acting as Sub-Warden. It is too long! It is much too long!” My Lady
was a vast creature at all times: but, when she frowned and folded her
arms, as now, she looked more gigantic than ever, and made one try to
fancy what a haystack would look like, if out of temper.

“He would distinguish himself as a Vice!” my Lady proceeded, being far
too stupid to see the double meaning of her words. “There has been no
such Vice in Outland for many a long year, as he would be!”

“What course would _you_ suggest, Sister?” the Warden mildly enquired.

My Lady stamped, which was undignified: and snorted, which was
ungraceful. “This is no _jesting_ matter!” she bellowed.

“I will consult my brother,” said the Warden. “Brother!”

“—and seven makes a hundred and ninety-four, which is sixteen and
twopence,” the Sub-Warden replied. “Put down two and carry sixteen.”

The Chancellor raised his hands and eyebrows, lost in admiration.
“_Such_ a man of business!” he murmured.

“Brother, could I have a word with you in my Study?” the Warden said in
a louder tone. The Sub-Warden rose with alacrity, and the two left the
room together.

My Lady turned to the Professor, who had uncovered the urn, and was
taking its temperature with his pocket-thermometer. “Professor!” she
began, so loudly and suddenly that even Uggug, who had gone to sleep in
his chair, left off snoring and opened one eye. The Professor pocketed
his thermometer in a moment, clasped his hands, and put his head on one
side with a meek smile.

“You were teaching my son before breakfast, I believe?” my Lady loftily
remarked. “I hope he strikes you as having talent?”

“Oh, very much so indeed, my Lady!” the Professor hastily replied,
unconsciously rubbing his ear, while some painful recollection seemed to
cross his mind. “I was very forcibly struck by His Magnificence, I
assure you!”

“He is a charming boy!” my Lady exclaimed. “Even his snores are more
musical than those of other boys!”

If that _were_ so, the Professor seemed to think, the snores of _other_
boys must be something too awful to be endured: but he was a cautious
man, and he said nothing.

“And he’s so clever!” my Lady continued. “No one will enjoy your Lecture
more—by the way, have you fixed the time for it yet? You’ve never given
one, you know: and it was promised years ago, before you——”

“Yes, yes, my Lady, _I_ know! Perhaps next Tuesday—or Tuesday week——”

“That will do very well,” said my Lady, graciously. “Of course you will
let the Other Professor lecture as well?”

“I think _not_, my Lady,” the Professor said with some hesitation. “You
see, he always stands with his back to the audience. It does very well
for _reciting_; but for _lecturing_——”

“You are quite right,” said my Lady. “And, now I come to think of it,
there would hardly be time for more than _one_ Lecture. And it will go
off all the better, if we begin with a Banquet, and a Fancy-dress
Ball——”

“It will indeed!” the Professor cried, with enthusiasm.

“I shall come as a Grass-hopper,” my Lady calmly proceeded. “What shall
_you_ come as, Professor?”

The Professor smiled feebly. “I shall come as—as early as I can, my
Lady!”

“You mustn’t come in before the doors are opened,” said my Lady.

“I ca’n’t,” said the Professor. “Excuse me a moment. As this is Lady
Sylvie’s birthday, I would like to——” and he rushed away.

Bruno began feeling in his pockets, looking more and more melancholy as
he did so: then he put his thumb in his mouth, and considered for a
minute: then he quietly left the room.

He had hardly done so before the Professor was back again, quite out of
breath. “Wishing you many happy returns of the day, my dear child!” he
went on, addressing the smiling little girl, who had run to meet him.
“Allow me to give you a birthday-present. It’s a second-hand pincushion,
my dear. And it only cost fourpence-halfpenny!”

“Thank you, it’s _very_ pretty!” And Sylvie rewarded the old man with a
hearty kiss.

“And the _pins_ they gave me for nothing!” the Professor added in high
glee. “Fifteen of em, and only _one_ bent!”

“I’ll make the bent one into a _hook_!” said Sylvie. “To catch Bruno
with, when he runs away from his lessons!”

“You ca’n’t guess what _my_ present is!” said Uggug, who had taken the
butter-dish from the table, and was standing behind her, with a wicked
leer on his face.

“No, I ca’n’t guess,” Sylvie said without looking up. She was still
examining the Professor’s pincushion.

“It’s _this_!” cried the bad boy, exultingly, as he emptied the dish
over her, and then, with a grin of delight at his own cleverness, looked
round for applause.

Sylvie coloured crimson, as she shook off the butter from her frock: but
she kept her lips tight shut, and walked away to the window, where she
stood looking out and trying to recover her temper.

Uggug’s triumph was a very short one: the Sub-Warden had returned, just
in time to be a witness of his dear child’s playfulness, and in another
moment a skilfully-applied box on the ear had changed the grin of
delight into a howl of pain.

“My darling!” cried his mother, enfolding him in her fat arms. “Did they
box his ears for nothing? A precious pet!”

“It’s not for _nothing_!” growled the angry father. “Are you aware,
Madam, that _I_ pay the house-bills, out of a fixed annual sum? The loss
of all that wasted butter falls on _me_! Do you hear, Madam!”

“Hold your tongue, Sir!” My Lady spoke very quietly—almost in a whisper.
But there was something in her _look_ which silenced him. “Don’t you see
it was only a _joke_? And a very clever one, too! He only meant that he
loved nobody _but_ her! And, instead of being pleased with the
compliment, the spiteful little thing has gone away in a huff!”

The Sub-Warden was a very good hand at changing a subject. He walked
across to the window. “My dear,” he said, “is that a _pig_ that I see
down below, rooting about among your flower-beds?”

“A _pig_!” shrieked my Lady, rushing madly to the window, and almost
pushing her husband out, in her anxiety to see for herself. “Whose pig
is it? How did it get in? Where’s that crazy Gardener gone?”

At this moment Bruno re-entered the room, and passing Uggug (who was
blubbering his loudest, in the hope of attracting notice) as if he was
quite used to that sort of thing, he ran up to Sylvie and threw his arms
round her. “I went to my toy-cupboard,” he said with a very sorrowful
face, “to see if there were _somefin_ fit for a present for oo! And
there isn’t _nuffin_! They’s _all_ broken, every one! And I haven’t got
_no_ money left, to buy oo a birthday-present! And I ca’n’t give oo
nuffin but _this_!” (“_This_” was a very earnest hug and a kiss.)

“Oh, thank you, darling!” cried Sylvie. “I like _your_ present best of
all!” (But if so, why did she give it back so quickly?)

His Sub-Excellency turned and patted the two children on the head with
his long lean hands. “Go away, dears!” he said. “There’s business to
talk over.”

Sylvie and Bruno went away hand in hand: but, on reaching the door,
Sylvie came back again and went up to Uggug timidly. “I don’t mind about
the butter,” she said, “and I—I’m sorry he hurt you!” And she tried to
shake hands with the little ruffian: but Uggug only blubbered louder,
and wouldn’t make friends. Sylvie left the room with a sigh.

The Sub-Warden glared angrily at his weeping son. “Leave the room,
Sirrah!” he said, as loud as he dared. His wife was still leaning out of
the window, and kept repeating “I _ca’n’t_ see that pig! Where _is_ it?”

“It’s moved to the right—now it’s gone a little to the left,” said the
Sub-Warden: but he had his back to the window, and was making signals to
the Lord Chancellor, pointing to Uggug and the door, with many a cunning
nod and wink.

[Illustration: REMOVAL OF UGGUG]

The Chancellor caught his meaning at last, and, crossing the room, took
that interesting child by the ear—the next moment he and Uggug were out
of the room, and the door shut behind them: but not before one piercing
yell had rung through the room, and reached the ears of the fond mother.

“What _is_ that hideous noise?” she fiercely asked, turning upon her
startled husband.

“It’s some hyæna—or other,” replied the Sub-Warden, looking vaguely up
to the ceiling, as if that was where they usually were to be found. “Let
us to business, my dear. Here comes the Warden.” And he picked up from
the floor a wandering scrap of manuscript, on which I just caught the
words ‘after which Election duly holden the said Sibimet and Tabikat his
wife may at their pleasure assume Imperial——’ before, with a guilty
look, he crumpled it up in his hand.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                         A CUNNING CONSPIRACY.


The Warden entered at this moment: and close behind him came the Lord
Chancellor, a little flushed and out of breath, and adjusting his wig,
which appeared to have been dragged partly off his head.

“But where is my precious child?” my Lady enquired, as the four took
their seats at the small side-table devoted to ledgers and bundles and
bills.

“He left the room a few minutes ago—with the Lord Chancellor,” the
Sub-Warden briefly explained.

“Ah!” said my Lady, graciously smiling on that high official. “Your
Lordship has a very _taking_ way with children! I doubt if any one could
_gain the ear_ of my darling Uggug so quickly as _you_ can!” For an
entirely stupid woman, my Lady’s remarks were curiously full of meaning,
of which she herself was wholly unconscious.

The Chancellor bowed, but with a very uneasy air. “I think the Warden
was about to speak,” he remarked, evidently anxious to change the
subject.

But my Lady would not be checked. “He is a clever boy,” she continued
with enthusiasm, “but he needs a man like your Lordship to _draw him
out_!”

The Chancellor bit his lip, and was silent. He evidently feared that,
stupid as she looked, she understood what she said _this_ time, and was
having a joke at his expense. He might have spared himself all anxiety:
whatever accidental meaning her _words_ might have, she _herself_ never
meant anything at all.

“It is all settled!” the Warden announced, wasting no time over
preliminaries. “The Sub-Wardenship is abolished, and my brother is
appointed to act as Vice-Warden whenever I am absent. So, as I am going
abroad for a while, he will enter on his new duties at once.”

“And there will really be a Vice after all?” my Lady enquired.

“I hope so!” the Warden smilingly replied.

My Lady looked much pleased, and tried to clap her hands: but you might
as well have knocked two feather-beds together, for any noise it made.
“When my husband is Vice,” she said, “it will be the same as if we had a
_hundred_ Vices!”

“Hear, hear!” cried the Sub-Warden.

“You seem to think it very remarkable,” my Lady remarked with some
severity, “that your wife should speak the truth!”

“No, not _remarkable_ at all!” her husband anxiously explained.
“_Nothing_ is remarkable that _you_ say, sweet one!”

My Lady smiled approval of the sentiment, and went on. “And am I
Vice-Wardeness?”

“If you choose to use that title,” said the Warden: “but ‘Your
Excellency’ will be the proper style of address. And I trust that both
‘_His_ Excellency’ and ‘_Her_ Excellency’ will observe the Agreement I
have drawn up. The provision I am _most_ anxious about is this.” He
unrolled a large parchment scroll, and read aloud the words “‘_item_,
that we will be kind to the poor.’ The Chancellor worded it for me,” he
added, glancing at that great Functionary. “I suppose, now, that word
‘_item_’ has some deep legal meaning?”

“Undoubtedly!” replied the Chancellor, as articulately as he could with
a pen between his lips. He was nervously rolling and unrolling several
other scrolls, and making room among them for the one the Warden had
just handed to him. “These are merely the rough copies,” he explained:
“and, as soon as I have put in the final corrections—” making a great
commotion among the different parchments, “—a semi-colon or two that I
have accidentally omitted—” here he darted about, pen in hand, from one
part of the scroll to another, spreading sheets of blotting-paper over
his corrections, “all will be ready for signing.”

“Should it not be read out, first?” my Lady enquired.

“No need, no need!” the Sub-Warden and the Chancellor exclaimed at the
same moment, with feverish eagerness.

“No need at all,” the Warden gently assented. “Your husband and I have
gone through it together. It provides that he shall exercise the full
authority of Warden, and shall have the disposal of the annual revenue
attached to the office, until my return, or, failing that, until Bruno
comes of age: and that he shall then hand over, to myself or to Bruno as
the case may be, the Wardenship, the unspent revenue, and the contents
of the Treasury, which are to be preserved, intact, under his
guardianship.”

All this time the Sub-Warden was busy, with the Chancellor’s help,
shifting the papers from side to side, and pointing out to the Warden
the place where he was to sign. He then signed it himself, and my Lady
and the Chancellor added their names as witnesses.

“Short partings are best,” said the Warden. “All is ready for my
journey. My children are waiting below to see me off.” He gravely kissed
my Lady, shook hands with his brother and the Chancellor, and left the
room.

[Illustration: ‘WHAT A GAME!’]

The three waited in silence till the sound of wheels announced that the
Warden was out of hearing: then, to my surprise, they broke into peals
of uncontrollable laughter.

“What a game, oh, what a game!” cried the Chancellor. And he and the
Vice-Warden joined hands, and skipped wildly about the room. My Lady was
too dignified to skip, but she laughed like the neighing of a horse, and
waved her handkerchief above her head: it was clear to her very limited
understanding that _something_ very clever had been done, but what it
_was_ she had yet to learn.

“You said I should hear all about it when the Warden had gone,” she
remarked, as soon as she could make herself heard.

“And so you shall, Tabby!” her husband graciously replied, as he removed
the blotting-paper, and showed the two parchments lying side by side.
“This is the one he read but didn’t sign: and this is the one he signed
but didn’t read! You see it was all covered up, except the place for
signing the names——”

“Yes, yes!” my Lady interrupted eagerly, and began comparing the two
Agreements. “‘_Item_, that he shall exercise the authority of Warden, in
the Warden’s absence.’ Why, that’s been changed into ‘shall be absolute
governor for life, with the title of Emperor, if elected to that office
by the people.’ What! Are you _Emperor_, darling?”

“Not yet, dear,” the Vice-Warden replied. “It won’t do to let this paper
be seen, just at present. All in good time.”

My Lady nodded, and read on. “‘_Item_, that we will be kind to the
poor.’ Why, that’s omitted altogether!”

“Course it is!” said her husband. “_We’re_ not going to bother about the
wretches!”

“_Good_,” said my Lady, with emphasis, and read on again. “‘_Item_, that
the contents of the Treasury be preserved intact.’ Why, that’s altered
into ‘shall be at the absolute disposal of the Vice-Warden’! Well,
Sibby, that _was_ a clever trick! _All_ the Jewels, only think! May I go
and put them on directly?”

“Well, not _just_ yet, Lovey,” her husband uneasily replied. “You see
the public mind isn’t quite _ripe_ for it yet. We must feel our way. Of
course we’ll have the coach-and-four out, at once. And I’ll take the
title of Emperor, as soon as we can safely hold an Election. But they’ll
hardly stand our using the _Jewels_, as long as they know the Warden’s
alive. We must spread a report of his death. A little Conspiracy——”

“A Conspiracy!” cried the delighted lady, clapping her hands. “Of all
things, I _do_ like a Conspiracy! It’s so interesting!”

The Vice-Warden and the Chancellor interchanged a wink or two. “Let her
conspire to her heart’s content!” the cunning Chancellor whispered.
“It’ll do no harm!”

“And when will the Conspiracy——”

“Hist!” her husband hastily interrupted her, as the door opened, and
Sylvie and Bruno came in, with their arms twined lovingly round each
other—Bruno sobbing convulsively, with his face hidden on his sister’s
shoulder, and Sylvie more grave and quiet, but with tears streaming down
her cheeks.

“Mustn’t cry like that!” the Vice-Warden said sharply, but without any
effect on the weeping children. “Cheer ’em up a bit!” he hinted to my
Lady.

“_Cake!_” my Lady muttered to herself with great decision, crossing the
room and opening a cupboard, from which she presently returned with two
slices of plum-cake. “Eat, and don’t cry!” were her short and simple
orders: and the poor children sat down side by side, but seemed in no
mood for eating.

For the second time the door opened—or rather was _burst_ open, this
time, as Uggug rushed violently into the room, shouting “that old
Beggar’s come again!”

“He’s not to have any food——” the Vice-Warden was beginning, but the
Chancellor interrupted him. “It’s all right,” he said, in a low voice:
“the servants have their orders.”

“He’s just under here,” said Uggug, who had gone to the window, and was
looking down into the court-yard.

“Where, my darling?” said his fond mother, flinging her arms round the
neck of the little monster. All of us (except Sylvie and Bruno, who took
no notice of what was going on) followed her to the window. The old
Beggar looked up at us with hungry eyes. “Only a crust of bread, your
Highness!” he pleaded. He was a fine old man, but looked sadly ill and
worn. “A crust of bread is what I crave!” he repeated. “A single crust,
and a little water!”

[Illustration: ‘DRINK THIS!’]

“Here’s some water, drink this!” Uggug bellowed, emptying a jug of water
over his head.

“Well done, my boy!” cried the Vice-Warden. “That’s the way to settle
such folk!”

“Clever boy!” the Wardeness chimed in. “_Hasn’t_ he good spirits?”

“Take a stick to him!” shouted the Vice-Warden, as the old Beggar shook
the water from his ragged cloak, and again gazed meekly upwards.

“Take a red-hot poker to him!” my Lady again chimed in.

Possibly there was no red-hot poker handy: but some _sticks_ were
forthcoming in a moment, and threatening faces surrounded the poor old
wanderer, who waved them back with quiet dignity. “No need to break my
old bones,” he said. “I am going. Not even a crust!”

“Poor, _poor_ old man!” exclaimed a little voice at my side, half choked
with sobs. Bruno was at the window, trying to throw out his slice of
plum-cake, but Sylvie held him back.

“He _shall_ have my cake!” Bruno cried, passionately struggling out of
Sylvie’s arms.

“Yes, yes, darling!” Sylvie gently pleaded. “But don’t _throw_ it out!
He’s gone away, don’t you see? Let’s go after him.” And she led him out
of the room, unnoticed by the rest of the party, who were wholly
absorbed in watching the old Beggar.

The Conspirators returned to their seats, and continued their
conversation in an undertone, so as not to be heard by Uggug, who was
still standing at the window.

“By the way, there was something about Bruno succeeding to the
Wardenship,” said my Lady. “How does _that_ stand in the new Agreement?”

The Chancellor chuckled. “Just the same, word for word,” he said, “with
_one_ exception, my Lady. Instead of ‘Bruno,’ I’ve taken the liberty to
put in——” he dropped his voice to a whisper, “—to put in ‘Uggug,’ you
know!”

“Uggug, indeed!” I exclaimed, in a burst of indignation I could no
longer control. To bring out even that one word seemed a gigantic
effort: but, the cry once uttered, all effort ceased at once: a sudden
gust swept away the whole scene, and I found myself sitting up, staring
at the young lady in the opposite corner of the carriage, who had now
thrown back her veil, and was looking at me with an expression of amused
surprise.



                               CHAPTER V.
                           A BEGGAR’S PALACE.


That I had said _something_, in the act of waking, I felt sure: the
hoarse stifled cry was still ringing in my ears, even if the startled
look of my fellow-traveler had not been evidence enough: but what could
I possibly say by way of apology?

“I hope I didn’t frighten you?” I stammered out at last. “I have no idea
what I said. I was dreaming.”

“You said ‘_Uggug indeed!_’” the young lady replied, with quivering lips
that _would_ curve themselves into a smile, in spite of all her efforts
to look grave. “At least—you didn’t _say_ it—you _shouted_ it!”

“I’m very sorry,” was all I could say, feeling very penitent and
helpless. “She _has_ Sylvie’s eyes!” I thought to myself, half-doubting
whether, even now, I were fairly awake. “And that sweet look of innocent
wonder is all Sylvie’s, too. But Sylvie _hasn’t_ got that calm resolute
mouth—nor that far-away look of dreamy sadness, like one that has had
some deep sorrow, very long ago——” And the thick-coming fancies almost
prevented my hearing the lady’s next words.

“If you had had a ‘Shilling Dreadful’ in your hand,” she proceeded,
“something about Ghosts—or Dynamite—or Midnight Murder—one could
understand it: those things aren’t worth the shilling, unless they give
one a Nightmare. But really—with only a _medical treatise_, you know——”
and she glanced, with a pretty shrug of contempt, at the book over which
I had fallen asleep.

Her friendliness, and utter unreserve, took me aback for a moment; yet
there was no touch of forwardness, or boldness, about the child—for
child, almost, she seemed to be: I guessed her at scarcely over
twenty—all was the innocent frankness of some angelic visitant, new to
the ways of earth and the conventionalisms—or, if you will, the
barbarisms—of Society. “Even so,” I mused, “will _Sylvie_ look and
speak, in another ten years.”

“You don’t care for Ghosts, then,” I ventured to suggest, “unless they
are really terrifying?”

“Quite so,” the lady assented. “The regular Railway-Ghosts—I mean the
Ghosts of ordinary Railway-literature—are very poor affairs. I feel
inclined to say, with Alexander Selkirk, ‘Their tameness is shocking to
me’! And they never do any Midnight Murders. They couldn’t ‘welter in
gore,’ to save their lives!”

“‘Weltering in gore’ is a very expressive phrase, certainly. Can it be
done in _any_ fluid, I wonder?”

“I think _not_,” the lady readily replied—quite as if she had thought it
out, long ago. “It has to be something _thick_. For instance, you might
welter in bread-sauce. That, being _white_, would be more suitable for a
Ghost, supposing it wished to welter!”

“You have a real good _terrifying_ Ghost in that book?” I hinted.

“How _could_ you guess?” she exclaimed with the most engaging frankness,
and placed the volume in my hands. I opened it eagerly, with a not
unpleasant thrill (like what a good ghost-story gives one) at the
‘uncanny’ coincidence of my having so unexpectedly divined the subject
of her studies.

It was a book of Domestic Cookery, open at the article ‘Bread Sauce.’

I returned the book, looking, I suppose, a little blank, as the lady
laughed merrily at my discomfiture. “It’s far more exciting than some of
the modern ghosts, I assure you! Now there was a Ghost last month—I
don’t mean a _real_ Ghost in—in Supernature—but in a Magazine. It was a
perfectly _flavourless_ Ghost. It wouldn’t have frightened a mouse! It
wasn’t a Ghost that one would even offer a chair to!”

“Three score years and ten, baldness, and spectacles, have their
advantages after all!” I said to myself. “Instead of a bashful youth and
maiden, gasping out monosyllables at awful intervals, here we have an
old man and a child, quite at their ease, talking as if they had known
each other for years! Then you think,” I continued aloud, “that we ought
_sometimes_ to ask a Ghost to sit down? But have we any authority for
it? In Shakespeare, for instance—there are plenty of ghosts _there_—does
Shakespeare ever give the stage-direction ‘_hands chair to Ghost_’?”

The lady looked puzzled and thoughtful for a moment: then she _almost_
clapped her hands. “Yes, yes, he _does_!” she cried. “He makes Hamlet
say ‘_Rest, rest, perturbed Spirit!_’”

“And that, I suppose, means an easy-chair?”

“An American rocking-chair, I _think_——”

“Fayfield Junction, my Lady, change for Elveston!” the guard announced,
flinging open the door of the carriage: and we soon found ourselves,
with all our portable property around us, on the platform.

The accommodation, provided for passengers waiting at this Junction, was
distinctly inadequate—a single wooden bench, apparently intended for
three sitters only: and even this was already partially occupied by a
very old man, in a smock frock, who sat, with rounded shoulders and
drooping head, and with hands clasped on the top of his stick so as to
make a sort of pillow for that wrinkled face with its look of patient
weariness.

“Come, you be off!” the Station-master roughly accosted the poor old
man. “You be off, and make way for your betters! This way, my Lady!” he
added in a perfectly different tone. “If your Ladyship will take a seat,
the train will be up in a few minutes.” The cringing servility of his
manner was due, no doubt, to the address legible on the pile of luggage,
which announced their owner to be “Lady Muriel Orme, passenger to
Elveston, _viâ_ Fayfield Junction.”

As I watched the old man slowly rise to his feet, and hobble a few paces
down the platform, the lines came to my lips:—

  “From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,
    With toil his stiffen’d limbs he rear’d;
  A hundred years had flung their snows
    On his thin locks and floating beard.”

[Illustration: ‘COME, YOU BE OFF!’]

But the lady scarcely noticed the little incident. After one glance at
the ‘banished man,’ who stood tremulously leaning on his stick, she
turned to me. “This is _not_ an American rocking-chair, by any means!
Yet may I say,” slightly changing her place, so as to make room for me
beside her, “may I say, in Hamlet’s words, ‘Rest, rest——’” she broke off
with a silvery laugh.

“‘—perturbed Spirit!’” I finished the sentence for her. “Yes, that
describes a railway-traveler _exactly_! And here is an instance of it,”
I added, as the tiny local train drew up alongside the platform, and the
porters bustled about, opening carriage-doors—one of them helping the
poor old man to hoist himself into a third-class carriage, while another
of them obsequiously conducted the lady and myself into a first-class.

She paused, before following him, to watch the progress of the other
passenger. “Poor old man!” she said. “How weak and ill he looks! It was
a shame to let him be turned away like that. I’m very sorry——” At this
moment it dawned on me that these words were not addressed to _me_, but
that she was unconsciously thinking aloud. I moved away a few steps, and
waited to follow her into the carriage, where I resumed the
conversation.

“Shakespeare _must_ have traveled by rail, if only in a dream:
‘perturbed Spirit’ is such a happy phrase.”

“‘Perturbed’ referring, no doubt,” she rejoined, “to the sensational
booklets peculiar to the Rail. If Steam has done nothing else, it has at
least added a whole new Species to English Literature!”

“No doubt of it,” I echoed. “The true origin of all our medical
books—and all our cookery-books——”

“No, no!” she broke in merrily. “I didn’t mean _our_ Literature! _We_
are quite abnormal. But the booklets—the little thrilling romances,
where the Murder comes at page fifteen, and the Wedding at page
forty—surely _they_ are due to Steam?”

“And when we travel by Electricity—if I may venture to develop your
theory—we shall have leaflets instead of booklets, and the Murder and
the Wedding will come on the same page.”

“A development worthy of Darwin!” the lady exclaimed enthusiastically.
“Only _you_ reverse his theory. Instead of developing a mouse into an
elephant, you would develop an elephant into a mouse!” But here we
plunged into a tunnel, and I leaned back and closed my eyes for a
moment, trying to recall a few of the incidents of my recent dream.

“I thought I saw——” I murmured sleepily: and then the phrase insisted on
conjugating itself, and ran into “you thought you saw—he thought he
saw——” and then it suddenly went off into a song:—

  “He thought he saw an Elephant,
    That practised on a fife:
  He looked again, and found it was
    A letter from his wife.
  ‘At length I realise,’ he said,
    ‘The bitterness of Life!’”

And what a wild being it was who sang these wild words! A Gardener he
seemed to be—yet surely a mad one, by the way he brandished his
rake—madder, by the way he broke, ever and anon, into a frantic
jig—maddest of all, by the shriek in which he brought out the last words
of the stanza!

It was so far a description of himself that he had the _feet_ of an
Elephant: but the rest of him was skin and bone: and the wisps of loose
straw, that bristled all about him, suggested that he had been
originally stuffed with it, and that nearly all the stuffing had come
out.

[Illustration: THE GARDENER]

Sylvie and Bruno waited patiently till the end of the first verse. Then
Sylvie advanced alone (Bruno having suddenly turned shy) and timidly
introduced herself with the words “Please, I’m Sylvie!”

“And who’s that other thing?” said the Gardener.

“What thing?” said Sylvie, looking round. “Oh, that’s Bruno. He’s my
brother.”

“Was he your brother yesterday?” the Gardener anxiously enquired.

“Course I were!” cried Bruno, who had gradually crept nearer, and didn’t
at all like being talked about without having his share in the
conversation.

“Ah, well!” the Gardener said with a kind of groan. “Things change so,
here. Whenever I look again, it’s sure to be something different! Yet I
does my duty! I gets up wriggle-early at five——”

“If I was _oo_,” said Bruno, “I wouldn’t wriggle so early. It’s as bad
as being a worm!” he added, in an undertone to Sylvie.

“But you shouldn’t be lazy in the morning, Bruno,” said Sylvie.
“Remember, it’s the _early_ bird that picks up the worm!”

“It may, if it likes!” Bruno said with a slight yawn. “I don’t like
eating worms, one bit. I always stop in bed till the early bird has
picked them up!”

“I wonder you’ve the face to tell me such fibs!” cried the Gardener.

To which Bruno wisely replied “Oo don’t want a _face_ to tell fibs
wiz—only a _mouf_.”

Sylvie discreetly changed the subject. “And did you plant all these
flowers?” she said. “What a lovely garden you’ve made! Do you know, I’d
like to live here _always_!”

“In the winter-nights——” the Gardener was beginning.

“But I’d nearly forgotten what we came about!” Sylvie interrupted.
“Would you please let us through into the road? There’s a poor old
beggar just gone out—and he’s very hungry—and Bruno wants to give him
his cake, you know!”

“It’s as much as my place is worth!” the Gardener muttered, taking a key
from his pocket, and beginning to unlock a door in the garden-wall.

“How much _are_ it wurf?” Bruno innocently enquired.

But the Gardener only grinned. “That’s a secret!” he said. “Mind you
come back quick!” he called after the children, as they passed out into
the road. I had just time to follow them, before he shut the door again.

We hurried down the road, and very soon caught sight of the old Beggar,
about a quarter of a mile ahead of us, and the children at once set off
running to overtake him. Lightly and swiftly they skimmed over the
ground, and I could not in the least understand how it was I kept up
with them so easily. But the unsolved problem did not worry me so much
as at another time it might have done, there were so many other things
to attend to.

The old Beggar must have been very deaf, as he paid no attention
whatever to Bruno’s eager shouting, but trudged wearily on, never
pausing until the child got in front of him and held up the slice of
cake. The poor little fellow was quite out of breath, and could only
utter the one word “Cake!”—not with the gloomy decision with which Her
Excellency had so lately pronounced it, but with a sweet childish
timidity, looking up into the old man’s face with eyes that loved ‘all
things both great and small.’

The old man snatched it from him, and devoured it greedily, as some
hungry wild beast might have done, but never a word of thanks did he
give his little benefactor—only growled “More, more!” and glared at the
half-frightened children.

“There _is_ no more!” Sylvie said with tears in her eyes. “I’d eaten
mine. It was a shame to let you be turned away like that. I’m very
sorry——”

I lost the rest of the sentence, for my mind had recurred, with a great
shock of surprise, to Lady Muriel Orme, who had so lately uttered these
very words of Sylvie’s—yes, and in Sylvie’s own voice, and with Sylvie’s
gentle pleading eyes!

“Follow me!” were the next words I heard, as the old man waved his hand,
with a dignified grace that ill suited his ragged dress, over a bush,
that stood by the road side, which began instantly to sink into the
earth. At another time I might have doubted the evidence of my eyes, or
at least have felt some astonishment: but, in _this_ strange scene, my
whole being seemed absorbed in strong curiosity as to what would happen
next.

When the bush had sunk quite out of our sight, marble steps were seen,
leading downwards into darkness. The old man led the way, and we eagerly
followed.

The staircase was so dark, at first, that I could only just see the
forms of the children, as, hand-in-hand, they groped their way down
after their guide: but it got lighter every moment, with a strange
silvery brightness, that seemed to exist in the air, as there were no
lamps visible; and, when at last we reached a level floor, the room, in
which we found ourselves, was almost as light as day.

It was eight-sided, having in each angle a slender pillar, round which
silken draperies were twined. The wall between the pillars was entirely
covered, to the height of six or seven feet, with creepers, from which
hung quantities of ripe fruit and of brilliant flowers, that almost hid
the leaves. In another place, perchance, I might have wondered to see
fruit and flowers growing together: here, my chief wonder was that
neither fruit nor flowers were such as I had ever seen before. Higher
up, each wall contained a circular window of coloured glass; and over
all was an arched roof, that seemed to be spangled all over with jewels.

With hardly less wonder, I turned this way and that, trying to make out
how in the world we had come in: for there was no door: and all the
walls were thickly covered with the lovely creepers.

“We are safe here, my darlings!” said the old man, laying a hand on
Sylvie’s shoulder, and bending down to kiss her. Sylvie drew back
hastily, with an offended air: but in another moment, with a glad cry of
“Why, it’s _Father_!”, she had run into his arms.

[Illustration: A BEGGAR’S PALACE]

“Father! Father!” Bruno repeated: and, while the happy children were
being hugged and kissed, I could but rub my eyes and say “Where, then,
are the rags gone to?”; for the old man was now dressed in royal robes
that glittered with jewels and gold embroidery, and wore a circlet of
gold around his head.



                              CHAPTER VI.
                           THE MAGIC LOCKET.


“Where are we, father?” Sylvie whispered, with her arms twined closely
around the old man’s neck, and with her rosy cheek lovingly pressed to
his.

“In Elfland, darling. It’s one of the provinces of Fairyland.”

“But I thought Elfland was _ever_ so far from Outland: and we’ve come
such a _tiny_ little way!”

“You came by the Royal Road, sweet one. Only those of royal blood can
travel along it: but _you’ve_ been royal ever since I was made King of
Elfland—that’s nearly a month ago. They sent _two_ ambassadors, to make
sure that their invitation to me, to be their new King, should reach me.
One was a Prince; so _he_ was able to come by the Royal Road, and to
come invisibly to all but me: the other was a Baron; so _he_ had to come
by the common road, and I dare say he hasn’t even _arrived_ yet.”

“Then how far have we come?” Sylvie enquired.

“Just a thousand miles, sweet one, since the Gardener unlocked that door
for you.”

“A thousand miles!” Bruno repeated. “And may I eat one?”

“Eat a _mile_, little rogue?”

“No,” said Bruno. “I mean may I eat one of that fruits?”

“Yes, child,” said his father: “and then you’ll find out what _Pleasure_
is like—the Pleasure we all seek so madly, and enjoy so mournfully!”

Bruno ran eagerly to the wall, and picked a fruit that was _shaped_
something like a banana, but had the _colour_ of a strawberry.

He ate it with beaming looks, that became gradually more gloomy, and
were very blank indeed by the time he had finished.

“It hasn’t got no taste at all!” he complained. “I couldn’t feel nuffin
in my mouf! It’s a—what’s that hard word, Sylvie?”

“It was a _Phlizz_,” Sylvie gravely replied. “Are they _all_ like that,
father?”

“They’re all like that to _you_, darling, because you don’t belong to
Elfland—yet. But to _me_ they are real.”

Bruno looked puzzled. “I’ll try anuvver kind of fruits!” he said, and
jumped down off the King’s knee. “There’s some lovely striped ones, just
like a rainbow!” And off he ran.

Meanwhile the Fairy-King and Sylvie were talking together, but in such
low tones that I could not catch the words: so I followed Bruno, who was
picking and eating other kinds of fruit, in the vain hope of finding
_some_ that had a taste. I tried to pick some myself—but it was like
grasping air, and I soon gave up the attempt and returned to Sylvie.

“Look well at it, my darling,” the old man was saying, “and tell me how
you like it.”

“It’s just _lovely_,” cried Sylvie, delightedly. “Bruno, come and look!”
And she held up, so that he might see the light through it, a
heart-shaped Locket, apparently cut out of a single jewel, of a rich
blue colour, with a slender gold chain attached to it.

“It are welly pretty,” Bruno more soberly remarked: and he began
spelling out some words inscribed on it. “All—will—love—Sylvie,” he made
them out at last. “And so they doos!” he cried, clasping his arms round
her neck. “_Everybody_ loves Sylvie!”

“But _we_ love her best, don’t we, Bruno?” said the old King, as he took
possession of the Locket. “Now, Sylvie, look at _this_.” And he showed
her, lying on the palm of his hand, a Locket of a deep crimson colour,
the same shape as the blue one and, like it, attached to a slender
golden chain.

“Lovelier and lovelier!” exclaimed Sylvie, clasping her hands in
ecstasy. “Look, Bruno!”

“And there’s words on this one, too,” said Bruno.
“Sylvie—will—love—all.”

“Now you see the difference,” said the old man: “different colours and
different words. Choose one of them, darling. I’ll give you whichever
you like best.”

[Illustration: THE CRIMSON LOCKET]

Sylvie whispered the words, several times over, with a thoughtful smile,
and then made her decision. “It’s _very_ nice to be loved,” she said:
“but it’s nicer to love other people! May I have the red one, Father?”

The old man said nothing: but I could see his eyes fill with tears, as
he bent his head and pressed his lips to her forehead in a long loving
kiss. Then he undid the chain, and showed her how to fasten it round her
neck, and to hide it away under the edge of her frock. “It’s for you to
_keep_, you know,” he said in a low voice, “not for other people to
_see_. You’ll remember how to use it?”

“Yes, I’ll remember,” said Sylvie.

“And now, darlings, it’s time for you to go back, or they’ll be missing
you, and then that poor Gardener will get into trouble!”

Once more a feeling of wonder rose in my mind as to how in the world we
were to _get_ back again—since I took it for granted that, wherever the
children went, _I_ was to go—but no shadow of doubt seemed to cross
_their_ minds, as they hugged and kissed him, murmuring, over and over
again, “Good-bye, darling Father!” And then, suddenly and swiftly, the
darkness of midnight seemed to close in upon us, and through the
darkness harshly rang a strange wild song:—

  “He thought he saw a Buffalo
    Upon the chimney-piece:
  He looked again, and found it was
    His Sisters Husband’s Niece.
  ‘Unless you leave this house,’ he said,
    ‘I’ll send for the Police!’”

[Illustration: ‘HE THOUGHT HE SAW A BUFFALO’]

“That was _me_!” he added, looking out at us, through the half-opened
door, as we stood waiting in the road. “And that’s what I’d have done—as
sure as potatoes aren’t radishes—if she hadn’t have tooken herself off!
But I always loves my _pay-rints_ like anything.”

“Who are oor _pay-rints_?” said Bruno.

“Them as pay _rint_ for me, a course!” the Gardener replied. “You can
come in now, if you like.”

He flung the door open as he spoke, and we got out, a little dazzled and
stupefied (at least _I_ felt so) at the sudden transition from the
half-darkness of the railway-carriage to the brilliantly-lighted
platform of Elveston Station.

A footman, in a handsome livery, came forwards and respectfully touched
his hat. “The carriage is here, my Lady,” he said, taking from her the
wraps and small articles she was carrying: and Lady Muriel, after
shaking hands and bidding me “Good-night!” with a pleasant smile,
followed him.

It was with a somewhat blank and lonely feeling that I betook myself to
the van from which the luggage was being taken out: and, after giving
directions to have my boxes sent after me, I made my way on foot to
Arthur’s lodgings, and soon lost my lonely feeling in the hearty welcome
my old friend gave me, and the cozy warmth and cheerful light of the
little sitting-room into which he led me.

“Little, as you see, but quite enough for us two. Now, take the
easy-chair, old fellow, and let’s have another look at you! Well, you
_do_ look a bit pulled down!” and he put on a solemn professional air.
“I prescribe Ozone, _quant. suff._ Social dissipation, _fiant pilulæ
quam plurimæ_: to be taken, feasting, three times a day!”

“But, Doctor!” I remonstrated. “Society doesn’t ‘receive’ three times a
day!”

“That’s all _you_ know about it!” the young Doctor gaily replied. “At
home, lawn-tennis, 3 P.M. At home, kettledrum, 5 P.M. At home, music
(Elveston doesn’t give dinners), 8 P.M. Carriages at 10. There you are!”

It sounded very pleasant, I was obliged to admit. “And I know some of
the _lady_-society already,” I added. “One of them came in the same
carriage with me.”

“What was she like? Then perhaps I can identify her.”

“The _name_ was Lady Muriel Orme. As to what she was _like_—well, _I_
thought her very beautiful. Do you know her?”

“Yes—I do know her.” And the grave Doctor coloured slightly as he added
“Yes, I agree with you. She _is_ beautiful.”

“_I_ quite lost my heart to her!” I went on mischievously. “We talked——”

“Have some supper!” Arthur interrupted with an air of relief, as the
maid entered with the tray. And he steadily resisted all my attempts to
return to the subject of Lady Muriel until the evening had almost worn
itself away. Then, as we sat gazing into the fire, and conversation was
lapsing into silence, he made a hurried confession.

“I hadn’t meant to tell you anything about her,” he said (naming no
names, as if there were only one ‘she’ in the world!) “till you had seen
more of her, and formed your own judgment of her: but somehow you
surprised it out of me. And I’ve not breathed a word of it to any one
else. But I can trust _you_ with a secret, old friend! Yes! It’s true of
_me_, what I suppose _you_ said in jest.”

“In the merest jest, believe me!” I said earnestly. “Why, man, I’m three
times her age! But if she’s _your_ choice, then I’m sure she’s all that
is good and——”

“—and sweet,” Arthur went on, “and pure, and self-denying, and
true-hearted, and—” he broke off hastily, as if he could not trust
himself to say more on a subject so sacred and so precious. Silence
followed: and I leaned back drowsily in my easy-chair, filled with
bright and beautiful imaginings of Arthur and his lady-love, and of all
the peace and happiness in store for them.

I pictured them to myself walking together, lingeringly and lovingly,
under arching trees, in a sweet garden of their own, and welcomed back
by their faithful gardener, on their return from some brief excursion.

It seemed natural enough that the gardener should be filled with
exuberant delight at the return of so gracious a master and mistress—and
how strangely childlike they looked! I could have taken them for Sylvie
and Bruno—less natural that he should show it by such wild dances, such
crazy songs!

  “He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
      That questioned him in Greek:
  He looked again, and found it was
      The Middle of Next Week.
  ‘The one thing I regret,’ he said,
      ‘Is that it cannot speak!’”

—least natural of all that the Vice-Warden and ‘my Lady’ should be
standing close beside me, discussing an open letter, which had just been
handed to him by the Professor, who stood, meekly waiting, a few yards
off.

“If it were not for those two brats,” I heard him mutter, glancing
savagely at Sylvie and Bruno, who were courteously listening to the
Gardener’s song, “there would be no difficulty whatever.”

“Let’s hear that bit of the letter again,” said my Lady. And the
Vice-Warden read aloud:—

“——and we therefore entreat you graciously to accept the Kingship, to
which you have been unanimously elected by the Council of Elfland: and
that you will allow your son Bruno—of whose goodness, cleverness, and
beauty, reports have reached us—to be regarded as Heir-Apparent.”

“But what’s the difficulty?” said my Lady.

“Why, don’t you see? The Ambassador, that brought this, is waiting in
the house: and he’s sure to see Sylvie and Bruno: and then, when he sees
Uggug, and remembers all that about ‘goodness, cleverness, and beauty,’
why, he’s sure to——”

“And _where_ will you find a better boy than _Uggug_?” my Lady
indignantly interrupted. “Or a wittier, or a lovelier?”

To all of which the Vice-Warden simply replied “Don’t you be a great
blethering goose! Our only chance is to keep those two brats out of
sight. If _you_ can manage _that_, you may leave the rest to _me_.
_I’ll_ make him believe Uggug to be a model of cleverness and all that.”

“We must change his name to Bruno, of course?” said my Lady.

The Vice-Warden rubbed his chin. “Humph! No!” he said musingly.
“Wouldn’t do. The boy’s such an utter idiot, he’d never learn to answer
to it.”

“_Idiot_, indeed!” cried my Lady. “He’s no more an idiot than _I_ am!”

“You’re right, my dear,” the Vice-Warden soothingly replied. “He isn’t,
indeed!”

My Lady was appeased. “Let’s go in and receive the Ambassador,” she
said, and beckoned to the Professor. “Which room is he waiting in?” she
inquired.

“In the Library, Madam.”

“And _what_ did you say his name was?” said the Vice-Warden.

The Professor referred to a card he held in his hand. “His Adiposity the
Baron Doppelgeist.”

“Why does he come with such a funny name?” said my Lady.

“He couldn’t well change it on the journey,” the Professor meekly
replied, “because of the luggage.”

“_You_ go and receive him,” my Lady said to the Vice-Warden, “and _I’ll_
attend to the children.”



                              CHAPTER VII.
                          THE BARON’S EMBASSY.


I was following the Vice-Warden, but, on second thoughts, went after my
Lady, being curious to see how she would manage to keep the children out
of sight.

I found her holding Sylvie’s hand, and with her other hand stroking
Bruno’s hair in a most tender and motherly fashion: both children were
looking bewildered and half-frightened.

“My own darlings,” she was saying, “I’ve been planning a little treat
for you! The Professor shall take you a long walk into the woods this
beautiful evening: and you shall take a basket of food with you, and
have a little picnic down by the river!”

Bruno jumped, and clapped his hands. “That _are_ nice!” he cried.
“Aren’t it, Sylvie?”

Sylvie, who hadn’t quite lost her surprised look, put up her mouth for a
kiss. “Thank you _very_ much,” she said earnestly.

My Lady turned her head away to conceal the broad grin of triumph that
spread over her vast face, like a ripple on a lake. “Little simpletons!”
she muttered to herself, as she marched up to the house. I followed her
in.

“Quite so, your Excellency,” the Baron was saying as we entered the
Library. “All the infantry were under _my_ command.” He turned, and was
duly presented to my Lady.

“A _military_ hero?” said my Lady. The fat little man simpered. “Well,
yes,” he replied, modestly casting down his eyes. “My ancestors were all
famous for military genius.”

My Lady smiled graciously. “It often runs in families,” she remarked:
“just as a love for pastry does.”

The Baron looked slightly offended, and the Vice-Warden discreetly
changed the subject. “Dinner will soon be ready,” he said. “May I have
the honour of conducting your Adiposity to the guest-chamber?”

“Certainly, certainly!” the Baron eagerly assented. “It would never do
to keep _dinner_ waiting!” And he almost trotted out of the room after
the Vice-Warden.

He was back again so speedily that the Vice-Warden had barely time to
explain to my Lady that her remark about “a love for pastry” was
“unfortunate. You might have seen, with half an eye,” he added, “that
that’s _his_ line. Military genius, indeed! Pooh!”

“Dinner ready yet?” the Baron enquired, as he hurried into the room.

“Will be in a few minutes,” the Vice-Warden replied. “Meanwhile, let’s
take a turn in the garden. You were telling me,” he continued, as the
trio left the house, “something about a great battle in which you had
the command of the infantry——”

“True,” said the Baron. “The enemy, as I was saying, far outnumbered us:
but I marched my men right into the middle of—what’s that?” the Military
Hero exclaimed in agitated tones, drawing back behind the Vice-Warden,
as a strange creature rushed wildly upon them, brandishing a spade.

“It’s only the Gardener!” the Vice-Warden replied in an encouraging
tone. “Quite harmless, I assure you. Hark, he’s singing! It’s his
favorite amusement.”

And once more those shrill discordant tones rang out:—

  “He thought he saw a Banker’s Clerk
    Descending from the bus:
  He looked again, and found it was
    A Hippopotamus:
  ‘If this should stay to dine,’ he said,
    ‘There won’t be much for us!’”

Throwing away the spade, he broke into a frantic jig, snapping his
fingers, and repeating, again and again

  “There won’t be much for us!
  There won’t be much for us!”

[Illustration: ‘IT WAS A HIPPOPOTAMUS’]

Once more the Baron looked slightly offended, but the Vice-Warden
hastily explained that the song had no allusion to _him_, and in fact
had no meaning at all. “You didn’t mean anything by it, now _did_ you?”
He appealed to the Gardener, who had finished his song, and stood,
balancing himself on one leg, and looking at them, with his mouth open.

“I never means nothing,” said the Gardener: and Uggug luckily came up at
the moment, and gave the conversation a new turn.

“Allow me to present my son,” said the Vice-Warden; adding, in a
whisper, “one of the best and cleverest boys that ever lived! I’ll
contrive for you to see some of his cleverness. He knows everything that
other boys _don’t_ know; and in archery, in fishing, in painting, and in
music, his skill is—but you shall judge for yourself. You see that
target over there? He shall shoot an arrow at it. Dear boy,” he went on
aloud, “his Adiposity would like to see you shoot. Bring his Highness’
bow and arrows!”

Uggug looked very sulky as he received the bow and arrow, and prepared
to shoot. Just as the arrow left the bow, the Vice-Warden trod heavily
on the toe of the Baron, who yelled with the pain.

“Ten thousand pardons!” he exclaimed. “I stepped back in my excitement.
See! It is a bull’s-eye!”

The Baron gazed in astonishment. “He held the bow so awkwardly, it
seemed impossible!” he muttered. But there was no room for doubt: there
was the arrow, right in the centre of the bull’s-eye!

“The lake is close by,” continued the Vice-Warden. “Bring his Highness’
fishing-rod!” And Uggug most unwillingly held the rod, and dangled the
fly over the water.

“A beetle on your arm!” cried my Lady, pinching the poor Baron’s arm
worse than if ten lobsters had seized it at once. “_That_ kind is
poisonous,” she explained. “But _what_ a pity! You missed seeing the
fish pulled out!”

An enormous dead cod-fish was lying on the bank, with the hook in its
mouth.

“I had always fancied,” the Baron faltered, “that cod were _salt_-water
fish?”

“Not in _this_ country,” said the Vice-Warden. “Shall we go in? Ask my
son some question on the way—_any_ subject you like!” And the sulky boy
was violently shoved forwards, to walk at the Baron’s side.

“Could your Highness tell me,” the Baron cautiously began, “how much
seven times nine would come to?”

“Turn to the left!” cried the Vice-Warden, hastily stepping forwards to
show the way—so hastily, that he ran against his unfortunate guest, who
fell heavily on his face.

“_So_ sorry!” my Lady exclaimed, as she and her husband helped him to
his feet again. “My son was in the act of saying ‘sixty-three’ as you
fell!”

The Baron said nothing: he was covered with dust, and seemed much hurt,
both in body and mind. However, when they had got him into the house,
and given him a good brushing, matters looked a little better.

Dinner was served in due course, and every fresh dish seemed to increase
the good-humour of the Baron: but all efforts, to get him to express his
opinion as to Uggug’s cleverness, were in vain, until that interesting
youth had left the room, and was seen from the open window, prowling
about the lawn with a little basket, which he was filling with frogs.

“So fond of Natural History as he is, dear boy!” said the doting mother.
“Now _do_ tell us, Baron, what you think of him!”

“To be perfectly candid,” said the cautious Baron, “I would like a
_little_ more evidence. I think you mentioned his skill in——”

“Music?” said the Vice-Warden. “Why, he’s simply a prodigy! You shall
hear him play the piano.” And he walked to the window. “Ug——I mean my
boy! Come in for a minute, _and bring the music-master with you_! To
turn over the music for him,” he added as an explanation.

Uggug, having filled his basket with frogs, had no objection to obey,
and soon appeared in the room, followed by a fierce-looking little man,
who asked the Vice-Warden “Vot music vill you haf?”

“The Sonata that His Highness plays so charmingly,” said the
Vice-Warden.

“His Highness haf not——” the music-master began, but was sharply stopped
by the Vice-Warden.

“Silence, Sir! Go and turn over the music for his Highness. My dear,”
(to the Wardeness) “will you show him what to do? And meanwhile, Baron,
I’ll just show you a most interesting map we have—of Outland, and
Fairyland, and that sort of thing.”

[Illustration: THE MAP OF FAIRYLAND]

By the time my Lady had returned, from explaining things to the
music-master, the map had been hung up, and the Baron was already much
bewildered by the Vice-Warden’s habit of pointing to one place while he
shouted out the name of another.

My Lady joining in, pointing out other places, and shouting other names,
only made matters worse; and at last the Baron, in despair, took to
pointing out places for himself, and feebly asked “Is that great yellow
splotch _Fairyland_?”

“Yes, that’s Fairyland,” said the Vice-Warden: “and you might as well
give him a hint,” he muttered to my Lady, “about going back to-morrow.
He eats like a shark! It would hardly do for _me_ to mention it.”

His wife caught the idea, and at once began giving hints of the most
subtle and delicate kind. “Just see what a short way it is back to
Fairyland! Why, if you started to-morrow morning, you’d get there in
very little more than a week!”

The Baron looked incredulous. “It took me a full month to _come_,” he
said.

“But it’s ever so much shorter, going _back_, you know!”

The Baron looked appealingly to the Vice-Warden, who chimed in readily.
“You can go back _five_ times, in the time it took you to come here
_once_—if you start to-morrow morning!”

All this time the Sonata was pealing through the room. The Baron could
not help admitting to himself that it was being magnificently played:
but he tried in vain to get a glimpse of the youthful performer. Every
time he had nearly succeeded in catching sight of him, either the
Vice-Warden or his wife was sure to get in the way, pointing out some
new place on the map, and deafening him with some new name.

He gave in at last, wished a hasty good-night, and left the room, while
his host and hostess interchanged looks of triumph.

“Deftly done!” cried the Vice-Warden. “Craftily contrived! But what
means all that tramping on the stairs?” He half-opened the door, looked
out, and added in a tone of dismay, “The Baron’s boxes are being carried
down!”

“And what means all that rumbling of wheels?” cried my Lady. She peeped
through the window curtains. “The Baron’s carriage has come round!” she
groaned.

At this moment the door opened: a fat, furious face looked in: a voice,
hoarse with passion, thundered out the words “My room is full of frogs—I
leave you!”: and the door closed again.

And still the noble Sonata went pealing through the room: but it was
_Arthur’s_ masterly touch that roused the echoes, and thrilled my very
soul with the tender music of the immortal ‘Sonata Pathetique’: and it
was not till the last note had died away that the tired but happy
traveler could bring himself to utter the words “good-night!” and to
seek his much-needed pillow.



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                           A RIDE ON A LION.


The next day glided away, pleasantly enough, partly in settling myself
in my new quarters, and partly in strolling round the neighbourhood,
under Arthur’s guidance, and trying to form a general idea of Elveston
and its inhabitants. When five o’clock arrived, Arthur proposed—without
any embarrassment this time—to take me with him up to ‘the Hall,’ in
order that I might make acquaintance with the Earl of Ainslie, who had
taken it for the season, and renew acquaintance with his daughter Lady
Muriel.

My first impressions of the gentle, dignified, and yet genial old man
were entirely favourable: and the _real_ satisfaction that showed itself
on his daughter’s face, as she met me with the words “this is indeed an
unlooked-for pleasure!”, was very soothing for whatever remains of
personal vanity the failures and disappointments of many long years, and
much buffeting with a rough world, had left in me.

Yet I noted, and was glad to note, evidence of a far deeper feeling than
mere friendly regard, in her meeting with Arthur—though this was, as I
gathered, an almost daily occurrence—and the conversation between them,
in which the Earl and I were only occasional sharers, had an ease and a
spontaneity rarely met with except between _very_ old friends: and, as I
knew that they had not known each other for a longer period than the
summer which was now rounding into autumn, I felt certain that ‘Love,’
and Love alone, could explain the phenomenon.

“How convenient it would be,” Lady Muriel laughingly remarked, _à
propos_ of my having insisted on saving her the trouble of carrying a
cup of tea across the room to the Earl, “if cups of tea had no weight at
all! Then perhaps ladies would _sometimes_ be permitted to carry them
for short distances!”

“One can easily imagine a situation,” said Arthur, “where things would
_necessarily_ have no weight, relatively to each other, though each
would have its usual weight, looked at by itself.”

“Some desperate paradox!” said the Earl. “Tell us how it could be. We
shall never guess it.”

“Well, suppose this house, just as it is, placed a few billion miles
above a planet, and with nothing else near enough to disturb it: of
course it falls _to_ the planet?”

The Earl nodded. “Of course—though it might take some centuries to do
it.”

“And is five-o’clock-tea to be going on all the while?” said Lady
Muriel.

“That, and other things,” said Arthur. “The inhabitants would live their
lives, grow up and die, and still the house would be falling, falling,
falling! But now as to the relative weight of things. Nothing can be
_heavy_, you know, except by _trying_ to fall, and being prevented from
doing so. You all grant that?”

We all granted that.

“Well, now, if I take this book, and hold it out at arms length, of
course I feel its _weight_. It is trying to fall, and I prevent it. And,
if I let go, it falls to the floor. But, if we were all falling
together, it couldn’t be _trying_ to fall any quicker, you know: for, if
I let go, what more could it do than fall? And, as my hand would be
falling too—at the same rate—it would never leave it, for that would be
to get ahead of it in the race. And it could never overtake the falling
floor!”

“I see it clearly,” said Lady Muriel. “But it makes one dizzy to think
of such things! How _can_ you make us do it?”

“There is a more curious idea yet,” I ventured to say. “Suppose a cord
fastened to the house, from below, and pulled down by some one on the
planet. Then of course the _house_ goes faster than its natural rate of
falling: but the furniture—with our noble selves—would go on falling at
their old pace, and would therefore be left behind.”

“Practically, we should rise to the ceiling,” said the Earl. “The
inevitable result of which would be concussion of brain.”

“To avoid that,” said Arthur, “let us have the furniture fixed to the
floor, and ourselves tied down to the furniture. Then the
five-o’clock-tea could go on in peace.”

“With one little drawback!” Lady Muriel gaily interrupted. “We should
take the _cups_ down with us: but what about the _tea_?”

“I had forgotten the _tea_,” Arthur confessed. “_That_, no doubt, would
rise to the ceiling—unless you chose to drink it on the way!”

“Which, I think, is _quite_ nonsense enough for one while!” said the
Earl. “What news does this gentleman bring us from the great world of
London?”

This drew _me_ into the conversation, which now took a more conventional
tone. After a while, Arthur gave the signal for our departure, and in
the cool of the evening we strolled down to the beach, enjoying the
silence, broken only by the murmur of the sea and the far-away music of
some fishermen’s song, almost as much as our late pleasant talk.

We sat down among the rocks, by a little pool, so rich in animal,
vegetable, and zoöphytic—or whatever is the right word—life, that I
became entranced in the study of it, and, when Arthur proposed returning
to our lodgings, I begged to be left there for a while, to watch and
muse alone.

The fishermen’s song grew ever nearer and clearer, as their boat stood
in for the beach; and I would have gone down to see them land their
cargo of fish, had not the microcosm at my feet stirred my curiosity yet
more keenly.

One ancient crab, that was for ever shuffling frantically from side to
side of the pool, had particularly fascinated me: there was a vacancy in
its stare, and an aimless violence in its behaviour, that irresistibly
recalled the Gardener who had befriended Sylvie and Bruno: and, as I
gazed, I caught the concluding notes of the tune of his crazy song.

The silence that followed was broken by the sweet voice of Sylvie.
“Would you please let us out into the road?”

“What! After that old beggar again?” the Gardener yelled, and began
singing:—

  “He thought he saw a Kangaroo
    That worked a coffee-mill:
  He looked again, and found it was
    A Vegetable-Pill.
  ‘Were I to swallow this,’ he said,
    ‘I should be very ill!’”

“We don’t want him to swallow _anything_,” Sylvie explained. “He’s not
hungry. But we want to see him. So will you please——”

[Illustration: ‘HE THOUGHT HE SAW A KANGAROO’]

“Certainly!” the Gardener promptly replied. “I _always_ please. Never
displeases nobody. There you are!” And he flung the door open, and let
us out upon the dusty high-road.

We soon found our way to the bush, which had so mysteriously sunk into
the ground: and here Sylvie drew the Magic Locket from its hiding-place,
turned it over with a thoughtful air, and at last appealed to Bruno in a
rather helpless way. “What _was_ it we had to do with it, Bruno? It’s
all gone out of my head!”

“Kiss it!” was Bruno’s invariable recipe in cases of doubt and
difficulty. Sylvie kissed it, but no result followed.

“Rub it the wrong way,” was Bruno’s next suggestion.

“Which _is_ the wrong way?” Sylvie most reasonably enquired. The obvious
plan was to try _both_ ways.

Rubbing from left to right had no visible effect whatever.

From right to left—“Oh, stop, Sylvie!” Bruno cried in sudden alarm.
“Whatever _is_ going to happen?”

For a number of trees, on the neighbouring hillside, were moving slowly
upwards, in solemn procession: while a mild little brook, that had been
rippling at our feet a moment before, began to swell, and foam, and
hiss, and bubble, in a truly alarming fashion.

[Illustration: THE MOUSE-LION]

“Rub it some other way!” cried Bruno. “Try up-and-down! Quick!”

It was a happy thought. Up-and-down did it: and the landscape, which had
been showing signs of mental aberration in various directions, returned
to its normal condition of sobriety—with the exception of a small
yellowish-brown mouse, which continued to run wildly up and down the
road, lashing its tail like a little lion.

“Let’s follow it,” said Sylvie: and this also turned out a happy
thought. The mouse at once settled down into a business-like jog-trot,
with which we could easily keep pace. The only phenomenon, that gave me
any uneasiness, was the rapid increase in the _size_ of the little
creature we were following, which became every moment more and more like
a real lion.

Soon the transformation was complete: and a noble lion stood patiently
waiting for us to come up with it. No thought of fear seemed to occur to
the children, who patted and stroked it as if it had been a
Shetland-pony.

“Help me up!” cried Bruno. And in another moment Sylvie had lifted him
upon the broad back of the gentle beast, and seated herself behind him,
pillion-fashion. Bruno took a good handful of mane in each hand, and
made believe to guide this new kind of steed. “Gee-up!” seemed quite
sufficient by way of _verbal_ direction: the lion at once broke into an
easy canter, and we soon found ourselves in the depths of the forest. I
say ‘_we_,’ for I am certain that _I_ accompanied them—though _how_ I
managed to keep up with a cantering lion I am wholly unable to explain.
But I was certainly one of the party when we came upon an old beggar-man
cutting sticks, at whose feet the lion made a profound obeisance, Sylvie
and Bruno at the same moment dismounting, and leaping into the arms of
their father.

“From bad to worse!” the old man said to himself, dreamily, when the
children had finished their rather confused account of the Ambassador’s
visit, gathered no doubt from general report, as they had not seen him
themselves. “From bad to worse! That is their destiny. I see it, but I
cannot alter it. The selfishness of a mean and crafty man—the
selfishness of an ambitious and silly woman—the selfishness of a
spiteful and loveless child—all tend one way, from bad to worse! And
you, my darlings, must suffer it awhile, I fear. Yet, when things are at
their worst, you can come to me. I can do but little as yet——”

Gathering up a handful of dust and scattering it in the air, he slowly
and solemnly pronounced some words that sounded like a charm, the
children looking on in awe-struck silence:—

  “Let craft, ambition, spite,
  Be quenched in Reason’s night,
  Till weakness turn to might,
  Till what is dark be light,
  Till what is wrong be right!”

The cloud of dust spread itself out through the air, as if it were
alive, forming curious shapes that were for ever changing into others.

“It makes letters! It makes words!” Bruno whispered, as he clung,
half-frightened, to Sylvie. “Only I _ca’n’t_ make them out! Read them,
Sylvie!”

“I’ll try,” Sylvie gravely replied. “Wait a minute—if only I could see
that word——”

“I should be very ill!” a discordant voice yelled in our ears.

  “‘Were I to swallow this,’ he said,
    ‘I should be very ill!’”



                              CHAPTER IX.
                          A JESTER AND A BEAR.


Yes, we were in the garden once more: and, to escape that horrid
discordant voice, we hurried indoors, and found ourselves in the
library—Uggug blubbering, the Professor standing by with a bewildered
air, and my Lady, with her arms clasped round her son’s neck, repeating,
over and over again, “and _did_ they give him nasty lessons to learn? My
own pretty pet!”

“What’s all this noise about?” the Vice-Warden angrily enquired, as he
strode into the room. “And who put the hat-stand here?” And he hung his
hat up on Bruno, who was standing in the middle of the room, too much
astonished by the sudden change of scene to make any attempt at removing
it, though it came down to his shoulders, making him look something like
a small candle with a large extinguisher over it.

The Professor mildly explained that His Highness had been graciously
pleased to say he wouldn’t do his lessons.

“Do your lessons this instant, you young cub!” thundered the
Vice-Warden. “And take _this_!” and a resounding box on the ear made the
unfortunate Professor reel across the room.

“Save me!” faltered the poor old man, as he sank, half-fainting, at my
Lady’s feet.

“Shave you? Of course I will!” my Lady replied, as she lifted him into a
chair, and pinned an anti-macassar round his neck. “Where’s the razor?”

The Vice-Warden meanwhile had got hold of Uggug, and was belabouring him
with his umbrella. “Who left this loose nail in the floor?” he shouted.
“Hammer it in, I say! Hammer it in!” Blow after blow fell on the
writhing Uggug, till he dropped howling to the floor.

[Illustration: ‘HAMMER IT IN!’]

Then his father turned to the ‘shaving’ scene which was being enacted,
and roared with laughter. “Excuse me, dear, I ca’n’t help it!” he said
as soon as he could speak. “You _are_ such an utter donkey! Kiss me,
Tabby!”

And he flung his arms round the neck of the terrified Professor, who
raised a wild shriek, but whether he received the threatened kiss or not
I was unable to see, as Bruno, who had by this time released himself
from his extinguisher, rushed headlong out of the room, followed by
Sylvie; and I was so fearful of being left alone among all these crazy
creatures that I hurried after them.

“We must go to Father!” Sylvie panted, as they ran down the garden. “I’m
_sure_ things are at their worst! I’ll ask the Gardener to let us out
again.”

“But we ca’n’t _walk_ all the way!” Bruno whimpered. “How I _wiss_ we
had a coach-and-four, like Uncle!”

And, shrill and wild, rang through the air the familiar voice:—

  “He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
    That stood beside his bed:
  He looked again, and found it was
    A Bear without a Head.
  ‘Poor thing,’ he said, ‘poor silly thing!
    It’s waiting to be fed!’”

[Illustration: A BEAR WITHOUT A HEAD]

“No, I ca’n’t let you out again!” he said, before the children could
speak. “The Vice-Warden gave it me, he did, for letting you out last
time! So be off with you!” And, turning away from them, he began digging
frantically in the middle of a gravel-walk, singing, over and over
again,

  “‘Poor thing,’ he said, ‘poor silly thing!
    It’s waiting to be fed!’”

but in a more musical tone than the shrill screech in which he had
begun.

The music grew fuller and richer at every moment: other manly voices
joined in the refrain: and soon I heard the heavy thud that told me the
boat had touched the beach, and the harsh grating of the shingle as the
men dragged it up. I roused myself, and, after lending them a hand in
hauling up their boat, I lingered yet awhile to watch them disembark a
goodly assortment of the hard-won ‘treasures of the deep.’

When at last I reached our lodgings I was tired and sleepy, and glad
enough to settle down again into the easy-chair, while Arthur hospitably
went to his cupboard, to get me out some cake and wine, without which,
he declared, he could not, as a doctor, permit my going to bed.

And how that cupboard-door _did_ creak! It surely could not be _Arthur_,
who was opening and shutting it so often, moving so restlessly about,
and muttering like the soliloquy of a tragedy-queen!

No, it was a _female_ voice. Also the figure—half-hidden by the
cupboard-door—was a _female_ figure, massive, and in flowing robes.
Could it be the landlady? The door opened, and a strange man entered the
room.

“What _is_ that donkey doing?” he said to himself, pausing, aghast, on
the threshold.

The lady, thus rudely referred to, was his wife. She had got one of the
cupboards open, and stood with her back to him, smoothing down a sheet
of brown paper on one of the shelves, and whispering to herself “So, so!
Deftly done! Craftily contrived!”

Her loving husband stole behind her on tiptoe, and tapped her on the
head. “Boh!” he playfully shouted at her ear. “Never tell me again I
ca’n’t say ‘boh’ to a goose!”

My Lady wrung her hands. “Discovered!” she groaned. “Yet no—he is one of
us! Reveal it not, oh Man! Let it bide its time!”

“Reveal _what_ not?” her husband testily replied, dragging out the sheet
of brown paper. “What are you hiding here, my Lady? I insist upon
knowing!”

My Lady cast down her eyes, and spoke in the littlest of little voices.
“Don’t make fun of it, Benjamin!” she pleaded. “It’s—it’s—don’t you
understand? It’s a DAGGER!”

“And what’s _that_ for?” sneered His Excellency. “We’ve only got to make
people _think_ he’s dead! We haven’t got to _kill_ him! And made of tin,
too!” he snarled, contemptuously bending the blade round his thumb.
“Now, Madam, you’ll be good enough to explain. First, what do you call
me _Benjamin_ for?”

“It’s part of the Conspiracy, Love! One _must_ have an alias, you
know——”

“Oh, an _alias_, is it? Well! And next, what did you get this dagger
for? Come, no evasions! You ca’n’t deceive _me_!”

“I got it for—for—for——” the detected Conspirator stammered, trying her
best to put on the assassin-expression that she had been practising at
the looking-glass. “For——”

“For _what_, Madam!”

“Well, for eighteenpence, if you _must_ know, dearest! That’s what I got
it for, on my——”

“Now _don’t_ say your Word and Honour!” groaned the other Conspirator.
“Why, they aren’t worth half the money, put together!”

“On my _birthday_,” my Lady concluded in a meek whisper. “One _must_
have a dagger, you know. It’s part of the——”

“Oh, don’t talk of Conspiracies!” her husband savagely interrupted, as
he tossed the dagger into the cupboard. “You know about as much how to
manage a Conspiracy as if you were a chicken. Why, the first thing is to
get a disguise. Now, just look at this!”

And with pardonable pride he fitted on the cap and bells, and the rest
of the Fool’s dress, and winked at her, and put his tongue in his cheek.
“Is _that_ the sort of thing, now?” he demanded.

My Lady’s eyes flashed with all a Conspirator’s enthusiasm. “The very
thing!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands. “You do look, oh, such a
_perfect_ Fool!”

The Fool smiled a doubtful smile. He was not quite clear whether it was
a compliment or not, to express it so plainly. “You mean a Jester? Yes,
that’s what I intended. And what do you think _your_ disguise is to be?”
And he proceeded to unfold the parcel, the lady watching him in rapture.

“Oh, how lovely!” she cried, when at last the dress was unfolded. “What
a _splendid_ disguise! An Esquimaux peasant-woman!”

“An Esquimaux peasant, indeed!” growled the other. “Here, put it on, and
look at yourself in the glass. Why, it’s a _Bear_, ca’n’t you use your
eyes?” He checked himself suddenly, as a harsh voice yelled through the
room

  “He looked again, and found it was
    A Bear without a Head!”

But it was only the Gardener, singing under the open window. The
Vice-Warden stole on tip-toe to the window, and closed it noiselessly,
before he ventured to go on. “Yes, Lovey, a _Bear_: but not without a
_head_, I hope! You’re the Bear, and me the Keeper. And if any one knows
us, they’ll have sharp eyes, that’s all!”

“I shall have to practise the steps a bit,” my Lady said, looking out
through the Bear’s mouth: “one ca’n’t help being rather human just at
first, you know. And of course you’ll say ‘Come up, Bruin!’, won’t you?”

“Yes, of course,” replied the Keeper, laying hold of the chain, that
hung from the Bear’s collar, with one hand, while with the other he
cracked a little whip. “Now go round the room in a sort of a dancing
attitude. Very good, my dear, very good. Come up, Bruin! Come up, I
say!”

[Illustration: ‘COME UP, BRUIN!’]

He roared out the last words for the benefit of Uggug, who had just come
into the room, and was now standing, with his hands spread out, and eyes
and mouth wide open, the very picture of stupid amazement. “Oh, my!” was
all he could gasp out.

The Keeper pretended to be adjusting the bear’s collar, which gave him
an opportunity of whispering, unheard by Uggug, “_my_ fault, I’m afraid!
Quite forgot to fasten the door. Plot’s ruined if _he_ finds it out!
Keep it up a minute or two longer. Be savage!” Then, while seeming to
pull it back with all his strength, he let it advance upon the scared
boy: my Lady, with admirable presence of mind, kept up what she no doubt
intended for a savage growl, though it was more like the purring of a
cat: and Uggug backed out of the room with such haste that he tripped
over the mat, and was heard to fall heavily outside—an accident to which
even his doting mother paid no heed, in the excitement of the moment.

The Vice-Warden shut and bolted the door. “Off with the disguises!” he
panted. “There’s not a moment to lose. He’s sure to fetch the Professor,
and we couldn’t take _him_ in, you know!” And in another minute the
disguises were stowed away in the cupboard, the door unbolted, and the
two Conspirators seated lovingly side-by-side on the sofa, earnestly
discussing a book the Vice-Warden had hastily snatched off the table,
which proved to be the City-Directory of the capital of Outland.

The door opened, very slowly and cautiously, and the Professor peeped
in, Uggug’s stupid face being just visible behind him.

“It is a beautiful arrangement!” the Vice-Warden was saying with
enthusiasm. “You see, my precious one, that there are fifteen houses in
Green Street, _before_ you turn into West Street.”

“_Fifteen_ houses! Is it _possible_?” my Lady replied. “I thought it was
fourteen!” And, so intent were they on this interesting question, that
neither of them even looked up till the Professor, leading Uggug by the
hand, stood close before them.

My Lady was the first to notice their approach. “Why, here’s the
Professor!” she exclaimed in her blandest tones. “And my precious child
too! Are lessons over?”

“A strange thing has happened!” the Professor began in a trembling tone.
“His Exalted Fatness” (this was one of Uggug’s many titles) “tells me he
has just seen, in this very room, a Dancing-Bear and a Court-Jester!”

The Vice-Warden and his wife shook with well-acted merriment.

“Not in _this_ room, darling!” said the fond mother. “We’ve been sitting
here this hour or more, reading——,” here she referred to the book lying
on her lap, “—reading the—the City-Directory.”

“Let me feel your pulse, my boy!” said the anxious father. “Now put out
your tongue. Ah, I thought so! He’s a little feverish, Professor, and
has had a bad dream. Put him to bed at once, and give him a cooling
draught.”

“I ain’t been dreaming!” his Exalted Fatness remonstrated, as the
Professor led him away.

“Bad grammar, Sir!” his father remarked with some sternness. “Kindly
attend to _that_ little matter, Professor, as soon as you have corrected
the feverishness. And, by the way, Professor!” (The Professor left his
distinguished pupil standing at the door, and meekly returned.) “There
is a rumour afloat, that the people wish to elect an—in point of fact,
an—you understand that I mean an——”

“Not _another Professor_!” the poor old man exclaimed in horror.

“No! Certainly not!” the Vice-Warden eagerly explained. “Merely an
_Emperor_, you understand.”

“An _Emperor_!” cried the astonished Professor, holding his head between
his hands, as if he expected it to come to pieces with the shock. “What
will the Warden——”

“Why, the _Warden_ will most likely _be_ the new Emperor!” my Lady
explained. “Where could we find a better? Unless, perhaps——” she glanced
at her husband.

“Where indeed!” the Professor fervently responded, quite failing to take
the hint.

The Vice-Warden resumed the thread of his discourse. “The reason I
mentioned it, Professor, was to ask _you_ to be so kind as to preside at
the Election. You see it would make the thing _respectable_—no suspicion
of anything underhand——”

“I fear I ca’n’t, your Excellency!” the old man faltered. “What will the
Warden——”

“True, true!” the Vice-Warden interrupted. “Your position, as
Court-Professor, makes it awkward, I admit. Well, well! Then the
Election shall be held without you.”

“Better so, than if it were held _within_ me!” the Professor murmured
with a bewildered air, as if he hardly knew what he was saying. “Bed, I
think your Highness said, and a cooling-draught?” And he wandered
dreamily back to where Uggug sulkily awaited him.

I followed them out of the room, and down the passage, the Professor
murmuring to himself, all the time, as a kind of aid to his feeble
memory, “C, C, C; Couch, Cooling-Draught, Correct-Grammar,” till, in
turning a corner, he met Sylvie and Bruno, so suddenly that the startled
Professor let go of his fat pupil, who instantly took to his heels.



                               CHAPTER X.
                          THE OTHER PROFESSOR.


“We were looking for you!” cried Sylvie, in a tone of great relief. “We
_do_ want you so much, you ca’n’t think!”

“What is it, dear children?” the Professor asked, beaming on them with a
very different look from what Uggug ever got from him.

“We want you to speak to the Gardener for us,” Sylvie said, as she and
Bruno took the old man’s hands and led him into the hall.

“He’s ever so unkind!” Bruno mournfully added. “They’s _all_ unkind to
us, now that Father’s gone. The Lion were _much_ nicer!”

“But you must explain to me, please,” the Professor said with an anxious
look, “_which_ is the Lion, and _which_ is the Gardener. It’s _most_
important not to get two such animals confused together. And one’s very
liable to do it in their case—both having mouths, you know——”

“Doos oo _always_ confuses two animals together?” Bruno asked.

“Pretty often, I’m afraid,” the Professor candidly confessed. “Now, for
instance, there’s the rabbit-hutch and the hall-clock.” The Professor
pointed them out. “One gets a little confused with _them_—both having
doors, you know. Now, only yesterday—would you believe it?—I put some
lettuces into the clock, and tried to wind up the rabbit!”

“Did the rabbit _go_, after oo wounded it up?” said Bruno.

The Professor clasped his hands on the top of his head, and groaned.
“Go? I should think it _did_ go! Why, it’s _gone_! And where ever it’s
gone to—that’s what I _ca’n’t_ find out! I’ve done my best—I’ve read all
the article ‘Rabbit’ in the great dictionary—— Come in!”

“Only the tailor, Sir, with your little bill,” said a meek voice outside
the door.

“Ah, well, I can soon settle _his_ business,” the Professor said to the
children, “if you’ll just wait a minute. How much is it, this year, my
man?” The tailor had come in while he was speaking.

“Well, it’s been a doubling so many years, you see,” the tailor replied,
a little gruffly, “and I think I’d like the money now. It’s two thousand
pound, it is!”

“Oh, that’s nothing!” the Professor carelessly remarked, feeling in his
pocket, as if he always carried at least _that_ amount about with him.
“But wouldn’t you like to wait just another year, and make it _four_
thousand? Just think how rich you’d be! Why, you might be a _King_, if
you liked!”

“I don’t know as I’d care about being a _King_,” the man said
thoughtfully. “But it _dew_ sound a powerful sight o’ money! Well, I
think I’ll wait——”

“Of course you will!” said the Professor. “There’s good sense in _you_,
I see. Good-day to you, my man!”

“Will you ever have to pay him that four thousand pounds?” Sylvie asked
as the door closed on the departing creditor.

“_Never_, my child!” the Professor replied emphatically. “He’ll go on
doubling it, till he dies. You see it’s _always_ worth while waiting
another year, to get twice as much money! And now what would you like to
do, my little friends? Shall I take you to see the Other Professor? This
would be an excellent opportunity for a visit,“ he said to himself,
glancing at his watch: “he generally takes a short rest—of fourteen
minutes and a half—about this time.”

Bruno hastily went round to Sylvie, who was standing at the other side
of the Professor, and put his hand into hers. “I _thinks_ we’d like to
go,” he said doubtfully: “only please let’s go all together. It’s best
to be on the safe side, oo know!”

“Why, you talk as if you were _Sylvie_!” exclaimed the Professor.

“I know I did,” Bruno replied very humbly. “I quite forgotted I wasn’t
Sylvie. Only I fought he might be rarver fierce!”

The Professor laughed a jolly laugh. “Oh, he’s quite tame!” he said. “He
never bites. He’s only a little—a little _dreamy_, you know.” He took
hold of Bruno’s other hand, and led the children down a long passage I
had never noticed before—not that there was anything remarkable in
_that_: I was constantly coming on new rooms and passages in that
mysterious Palace, and very seldom succeeded in finding the old ones
again.

Near the end of the passage the Professor stopped. “This is his room,”
he said, pointing to the solid wall.

“We ca’n’t get in through _there_!” Bruno exclaimed.

Sylvie said nothing, till she had carefully examined whether the wall
opened anywhere. Then she laughed merrily: “You’re playing us a trick,
you dear old thing!” she said. “There’s no _door_ here!”

“There isn’t any door to the room,” said the Professor. “We shall have
to climb in at the window.”

[Illustration: THE OTHER PROFESSOR]

So we went into the garden, and soon found the window of the Other
Professor’s room. It was a ground-floor window, and stood invitingly
open: the Professor first lifted the two children in, and then he and I
climbed in after them.

The Other Professor was seated at a table, with a large book open before
him, on which his forehead was resting: he had clasped his arms round
the book, and was snoring heavily. “He usually reads like that,” the
Professor remarked, “when the book’s very interesting: and then
sometimes it’s very difficult to get him to attend!”

This seemed to be one of the difficult times: the Professor lifted him
up, once or twice, and shook him violently: but he always returned to
his book the moment he was let go of, and showed by his heavy breathing
that the book was as interesting as ever.

“How dreamy he is!” the Professor exclaimed. “He must have got to a
_very_ interesting part of the book!” And he rained quite a shower of
thumps on the Other Professor’s back, shouting “Hoy! Hoy!” all the time.
“Isn’t it _wonderful_ that he should be so dreamy?” he said to Bruno.

“If he’s always as _sleepy_ as that,” Bruno remarked, “a _course_ he’s
dreamy!”

“But what are we to _do_?” said the Professor. “You see he’s quite
wrapped up in the book!”

“Suppose oo _shuts_ the book?” Bruno suggested.

“That’s it!” cried the delighted Professor. “Of course that’ll do it!”
And he shut up the book so quickly that he caught the Other Professor’s
nose between the leaves, and gave it a severe pinch.

The Other Professor instantly rose to his feet, and carried the book
away to the end of the room, where he put it back in its place in the
book-case. “I’ve been reading for eighteen hours and three-quarters,” he
said, “and now I shall rest for fourteen minutes and a half. Is the
Lecture all ready?”

“Very nearly,” the Professor humbly replied. “I shall ask you to give me
a hint or two—there will be a few little difficulties——”

“And a Banquet, I think you said?”

“Oh, yes! The Banquet comes _first_, of course. People never enjoy
Abstract Science, you know, when they’re ravenous with hunger. And then
there’s the Fancy-Dress-Ball. Oh, there’ll be lots of entertainment!”

“Where will the Ball come in?” said the Other Professor.

“I _think_ it had better come at the beginning of the Banquet—it brings
people together so nicely, you know.”

“Yes, that’s the right order. First the Meeting: then the Eating: then
the Treating—for I’m sure any Lecture _you_ give us will be a treat!”
said the Other Professor, who had been standing with his back to us all
this time, occupying himself in taking the books out, one by one, and
turning them upside-down. An easel, with a black board on it, stood near
him: and, every time that he turned a book upside-down, he made a mark
on the board with a piece of chalk.

“And as to the ‘Pig-Tale’—which _you_ have so kindly promised to give
us—” the Professor went on, thoughtfully rubbing his chin. “I think that
had better come at the _end_ of the Banquet: then people can listen to
it quietly.”

“Shall I _sing_ it?” the Other Professor asked, with a smile of delight.

“If you _can_,” the Professor replied, cautiously.

“Let me try,” said the Other Professor, seating himself at the
pianoforte. “For the sake of argument, let us assume that it begins on A
flat.” And he struck the note in question. “La, la, la! I think that’s
within an octave of it.” He struck the note again, and appealed to
Bruno, who was standing at his side. “Did I sing it like _that_, my
child?”

“No, oo didn’t,” Bruno replied with great decision. “It were more like a
duck.”

“Single notes are apt to have that effect,” the Other Professor said
with a sigh. “Let me try a whole verse.

  There was a Pig, that sat alone,
    Beside a ruined Pump.
  By day and night he made his moan:
  It would have stirred a heart of stone
  To see him wring his hoofs and groan,
    Because he could not jump.

Would you call that a tune, Professor?” he asked, when he had finished.

The Professor considered a little. “Well,” he said at last, “some of the
notes are the same as others—and some are different—but I should hardly
call it a _tune_.”

“Let me try it a bit by myself,” said the Other Professor. And he began
touching the notes here and there, and humming to himself like an angry
bluebottle.

“How do you like his singing?” the Professor asked the children in a low
voice.

“It isn’t very _beautiful_,” Sylvie said, hesitatingly.

“It’s very extremely _ugly_!” Bruno said, without any hesitation at all.

“All extremes are bad,” the Professor said, very gravely. “For instance,
Sobriety is a very good thing, when practised _in moderation_: but even
Sobriety, when carried to an _extreme_, has its disadvantages.”

“What are its disadvantages?” was the question that rose in my mind—and,
as usual, Bruno asked it for me. “What _are_ its lizard bandages?”

“Well, this is _one_ of them,” said the Professor. “When a man’s tipsy
(that’s one extreme, you know), he sees one thing as two. But, when he’s
_extremely_ sober (that’s the other extreme), he sees two things as one.
It’s equally inconvenient, whichever happens.”

“What does ‘illconvenient’ mean?” Bruno whispered to Sylvie.

“The difference between ‘convenient’ and ‘inconvenient’ is best
explained by an example,” said the Other Professor, who had overheard
the question. “If you’ll just think over any Poem that contains the two
words—such as——”

The Professor put his hands over his ears, with a look of dismay. “If
you once let him begin a _Poem_,” he said to Sylvie, “he’ll never leave
off again! He never does!”

“Did he ever begin a Poem and not leave off again?” Sylvie enquired.

“Three times,” said the Professor.

Bruno raised himself on tiptoe, till his lips were on a level with
Sylvie’s ear. “What became of them three Poems?” he whispered. “Is he
saying them all, now?”

“Hush!” said Sylvie. “The Other Professor is speaking!”

“I’ll say it very quick,” murmured the Other Professor, with downcast
eyes, and melancholy voice, which contrasted oddly with his face, as he
had forgotten to leave off smiling. (“At least it wasn’t exactly a
_smile_,” as Sylvie said afterwards: “it looked as if his mouth was made
that shape.”)

“Go on then,” said the Professor. “_What must be must be._”

“Remember that!” Sylvie whispered to Bruno, “It’s a very good rule for
whenever you hurt yourself.”

“And it’s a very good rule for whenever I make a noise,” said the saucy
little fellow. “So _you_ remember it too, Miss!”

“Whatever _do_ you mean?” said Sylvie, trying to frown, a thing she
never managed particularly well.

“Oftens and oftens,” said Bruno, “haven’t oo told me ‘There mustn’t be
so much noise, Bruno!’ when I’ve tolded oo ‘There _must_!’ Why, there
isn’t no rules at all about ‘There mustn’t’! But oo never believes
_me_!”

“As if any one _could_ believe _you_, you wicked wicked boy!” said
Sylvie. The _words_ were severe enough, but I am of opinion that, when
you are really _anxious_ to impress a criminal with a sense of his
guilt, you ought not to pronounce the sentence with your lips _quite_
close to his cheek—since a kiss at the end of it, however accidental,
weakens the effect terribly.



                              CHAPTER XI.
                            PETER AND PAUL.


“As I was saying,” the Other Professor resumed, “if you’ll just think
over any Poem, that contains the words—such as

  ‘Peter is poor,’ said noble Paul,
    ‘And I have always been his friend:
  And, though my means to give are small,
    At least I can afford to _lend._
  How few, in this cold age of greed,
    Do good, except on selfish grounds!
  But I can feel for Peter’s need,
    And _I will lend him fifty pounds_!’

  How great was Peter’s joy to find
    His friend in such a genial vein!
  How cheerfully the bond he signed,
    To pay the money back again!
  ‘We ca’n’t,’ said Paul, ‘be too precise:
    ’Tis best to fix the very day:
  So, by a learned friend’s advice,
    I’ve made it Noon, the Fourth of May.’

[Illustration: ‘HOW CHEERFULLY THE BOND HE SIGNED!’]

  ‘But this is April!’ Peter said.
    ‘The First of April, as I think.
  Five little weeks will soon be fled:
    One scarcely will have time to wink!
  Give me a year to speculate—
    To buy and sell—to drive a trade—’
  Said Paul ‘I cannot change the date.
    On May the Fourth it must be paid.’

  ‘Well, well!’ said Peter, with a sigh.
    ‘Hand me the cash, and I will go.
  I’ll form a Joint-Stock Company,
    And turn an honest pound or so.’
  ‘I’m grieved,’ said Paul, ‘to seem unkind:
    The money shall of course be lent:
  But, for a week or two, I find
    It will not be convenient.’

  So, week by week, poor Peter came
    And turned in heaviness away;
  For still the answer was the same,
    ‘I cannot manage it to-day.’
  And now the April showers were dry—
    The five short weeks were nearly spent—
  Yet still he got the old reply,
    ‘It is not quite convenient!’

  The Fourth arrived, and punctual Paul
    Came, with his legal friend, at noon.
  ‘I thought it best,’ said he, ‘to call:
    One cannot settle things too soon.’
  Poor Peter shuddered in despair:
    His flowing locks he wildly tore:
  And very soon his yellow hair
    Was lying all about the floor.

  The legal friend was standing by,
    With sudden pity half unmanned:
  The tear-drop trembled in his eye,
    The signed agreement in his hand:
  But when at length the legal soul
    Resumed its customary force,
  ‘The Law,’ he said, ‘we ca’n’t control:
    Pay, or the Law must take its course!’

  Said Paul, ‘How bitterly I rue
    That fatal morning when I called!
  Consider, Peter, what you do!
    You won’t be richer when you’re bald!
  Think you, by rending curls away,
    To make your difficulties less?
  Forbear this violence, I pray:
    You do but add to my distress!’

[Illustration: ‘POOR PETER SHUDDERED IN DESPAIR’]

  ‘Not willingly would I inflict,’
    Said Peter, ‘on that noble heart
  One needless pang. Yet why so strict?
    Is _this_ to act a friendly part?
  However legal it may be
    To pay what never has been lent,
  This style of business seems to me
    Extremely inconvenient!

  ‘No Nobleness of soul have I,
    Like _some_ that in this Age are found!’
  (Paul blushed in sheer humility,
    And cast his eyes upon the ground.)
  ‘This debt will simply swallow all,
    And make my life a life of woe!’
  ‘Nay, nay, my Peter!’ answered Paul.
    ‘You must not rail on Fortune so!

  ‘You have enough to eat and drink:
    You are respected in the world:
  And at the barber’s, as I think,
    You often get your whiskers curled.
  Though Nobleness you ca’n’t attain—
    To any very great extent—
  The path of Honesty is plain,
    However inconvenient!’

  ‘’Tis true,’ said Peter, ‘I’m alive:
    I keep my station in the world:
  Once in the week I just contrive
    To get my whiskers oiled and curled.
  But my assets are very low:
    My little income’s overspent:
  To trench on capital, you know,
    Is always inconvenient!’

  ‘But pay your debts!’ cried honest Paul.
    ‘My gentle Peter, pay your debts!
  What matter if it swallows all
    That you describe as your “assets”?
  Already you’re an hour behind:
    Yet Generosity is best.
  It pinches me—but never mind!
    _I will not charge you interest!_’

  ‘How good! How great!’ poor Peter cried.
    ‘Yet I must sell my Sunday wig—
  The scarf-pin that has been my pride—
    My grand piano—and my pig!’
  Full soon his property took wings:
    And daily, as each treasure went,
  He sighed to find the state of things
    Grow less and less convenient.

  Weeks grew to months, and months to years:
    Peter was worn to skin and bone:
  And once he even said, with tears,
    ‘Remember, Paul, that promised Loan!’
  Said Paul ‘I’ll lend you, when I can,
    All the spare money I have got—
  Ah, Peter, you’re a happy man!
    Yours is an enviable lot!

[Illustration: ‘SUCH BOOTS AS THESE YOU SELDOM SEE’]

  ‘I’m getting stout, as you may see:
    It is but seldom I am well:
  I cannot feel my ancient glee
    In listening to the dinner-bell:
  But you, you gambol like a boy,
    Your figure is so spare and light:
  The dinner-bell’s a note of joy
    To such a healthy appetite!’

  Said Peter ‘I am well aware
    Mine is a state of happiness:
  And yet how gladly could I spare
    Some of the comforts I possess!
  What _you_ call healthy appetite
    _I_ feel as Hunger’s savage tooth:
  And, when no dinner is in sight,
    The dinner-bell’s a sound of ruth!

  ‘No scare-crow would accept this coat:
    Such boots as these you seldom see.
  Ah, Paul, a single five-pound-note
    Would make another man of me!’
  Said Paul ‘It fills me with surprise
    To hear you talk in such a tone:
  I fear you scarcely realise
    The blessings that are all your own!

  ‘You’re safe from being overfed:
    You’re sweetly picturesque in rags:
  You never know the aching head
    That comes along with money-bags:
  And you have time to cultivate
    That best of qualities, Content—
  For which you’ll find your present state
    Remarkably convenient!’

  Said Peter ‘Though I cannot sound
    The depths of such a man as you,
  Yet in your character I’ve found
    An inconsistency or two.
  You seem to have long years to spare
    When there’s a promise to fulfil:
  And yet how punctual you were
    In calling with that little bill!’

  ‘One can’t be too deliberate,’
    Said Paul, ‘in parting with one’s pelf.
  With bills, as you correctly state,
    I’m punctuality itself.
  A man may surely claim his dues:
    But, when there’s money to be _lent_,
  A man must be allowed to choose
    Such times as are convenient!’

  It chanced one day, as Peter sat
    Gnawing a crust—his usual meal—
  Paul bustled in to have a chat,
    And grasped his hand with friendly zeal.
  ‘I knew,’ said he, ‘your frugal ways:
    So, that I might not wound your pride
  By bringing strangers in to gaze,
    I’ve left my legal friend outside!

  ‘You well remember, I am sure,
    When first your wealth began to go,
  And people sneered at one so poor,
    _I_ never used my Peter so!
  And when you’d lost your little all,
    And found yourself a thing despised,
  I need not ask you to recall
    How tenderly I sympathised!

  ‘Then the advice I’ve poured on you,
    So full of wisdom and of wit:
  All given gratis, though ’tis true
    I might have fairly charged for it!
  But I refrain from mentioning
    Full many a deed I might relate—
  For boasting is a kind of thing
  That I particularly hate.

[Illustration: ‘I WILL LEND YOU FIFTY MORE!’]

  ‘How vast the total sum appears
    Of all the kindnesses I’ve done,
  From Childhood’s half-forgotten years
    Down to that Loan of April One!
  That Fifty Pounds! You little guessed
    How deep it drained my slender store:
  But there’s a heart within this breast,
    And _I will lend you fifty more_!’

  ‘Not so,’ was Peter’s mild reply,
    His cheeks all wet with grateful tears:
  ‘No man recalls, so well as I,
    Your services in bygone years:
  And this new offer, I admit,
    Is very very kindly meant—
  Still, to avail myself of it
    Would not be quite convenient!’

You’ll see in a moment what the difference is between ‘convenient’ and
‘inconvenient.’ You quite understand it now, don’t you?” he added,
looking kindly at Bruno, who was sitting, at Sylvie’s side, on the
floor.

“Yes,” said Bruno, very quietly. Such a short speech was very unusual,
for him: but just then he seemed, I fancied, a little exhausted. In
fact, he climbed up into Sylvie’s lap as he spoke, and rested his head
against her shoulder. “What a many verses it was!” he whispered.



                              CHAPTER XII.
                          A MUSICAL GARDENER.


The Other Professor regarded him with some anxiety. “The smaller animal
ought to go to bed _at once_,” he said with an air of authority.

“Why _at once_?” said the Professor.

“Because he can’t go at twice,” said the Other Professor.

The Professor gently clapped his hands. “Isn’t he _wonderful_!” he said
to Sylvie. “Nobody else could have thought of the reason, so quick. Why,
_of course_ he ca’n’t go at twice! It would hurt him to be divided.”

This remark woke up Bruno, suddenly and completely. “I don’t want to be
_divided_,” he said decisively.

“It does very well on a _diagram_,” said the Other Professor. “I could
show it you in a minute, only the chalk’s a little blunt.”

“Take care!” Sylvie anxiously exclaimed, as he began, rather clumsily,
to point it. “You’ll cut your finger off, if you hold the knife so!”

“If oo cuts it off, will oo give it to _me_, please?” Bruno thoughtfully
added.

“It’s like this,” said the Other Professor, hastily drawing a long line
upon the black board, and marking the letters ‘_A_,’ ‘_B_,’ at the two
ends, and ‘_C_’ in the middle: “let me explain it to you. If _AB_ were
to be divided into two parts at _C_——”

“It would be drownded,” Bruno pronounced confidently.

The Other Professor gasped. “_What_ would be drownded?”

“Why the bumble-bee, of course!” said Bruno. “And the two bits would
sink down in the sea!”

Here the Professor interfered, as the Other Professor was evidently too
much puzzled to go on with his diagram.

“When I said it would _hurt_ him, I was merely referring to the action
of the nerves——”

The Other Professor brightened up in a moment. “The action of the
nerves,” he began eagerly, “is curiously slow in some people. I had a
friend, once, that, if you burnt him with a red-hot poker, it would take
years and years before he felt it!”

“And if you only _pinched_ him?” queried Sylvie.

“Then it would take ever so much longer, of course. In fact, I doubt if
the man _himself_ would ever feel it, at all. His grandchildren might.”

“I wouldn’t like to be the grandchild of a pinched grandfather, would
_you_, Mister Sir?” Bruno whispered. “It might come just when you wanted
to be happy!”

That would be awkward, I admitted, taking it quite as a matter of course
that he had so suddenly caught sight of me. “But don’t you _always_ want
to be happy, Bruno?”

“Not _always_,” Bruno said thoughtfully. “Sometimes, when I’s _too_
happy, I wants to be a little miserable. Then I just tell Sylvie about
it, oo know, and Sylvie sets me some lessons. Then it’s all right.”

“I’m sorry you don’t like lessons,” I said. “You should copy Sylvie.
_She’s_ always as busy as the day is long!”

“Well, so am _I_!” said Bruno.

“No, no!” Sylvie corrected him. “_You’re_ as busy as the day is
_short_!”

“Well, what’s the difference?” Bruno asked. “Mister Sir, isn’t the day
as short as it’s long? I mean, isn’t it the _same_ length?”

Never having considered the question in this light, I suggested that
they had better ask the Professor; and they ran off in a moment to
appeal to their old friend. The Professor left off polishing his
spectacles to consider. “My dears,” he said after a minute, “the day is
the same length as anything that is the same length as _it_.” And he
resumed his neverending task of polishing.

The children returned, slowly and thoughtfully, to report his answer.
“_Isn’t_ he wise?” Sylvie asked in an awestruck whisper. “If _I_ was as
wise as _that_, I should have a head-ache all day long. I _know_ I
should!”

“You appear to be talking to somebody—that isn’t here,” the Professor
said, turning round to the children. “Who is it?”

Bruno looked puzzled. “I never talks to nobody when he isn’t here!” he
replied. “It isn’t good manners. Oo should always wait till he comes,
before oo talks to him!”

The Professor looked anxiously in my direction, and seemed to look
through and through me without seeing me. “Then who are you talking to?”
he said. “There isn’t anybody here, you know, except the Other
Professor—and _he_ isn’t here!” he added wildly, turning round and round
like a teetotum. “Children! Help to look for him! Quick! He’s got lost
again!”

The children were on their feet in a moment.

“Where shall we look?” said Sylvie.

“Anywhere!” shouted the excited Professor. “Only be quick about it!” And
he began trotting round and round the room, lifting up the chairs, and
shaking them.

Bruno took a very small book out of the bookcase, opened it, and shook
it in imitation of the Professor. “He isn’t _here_,” he said.

“He _ca’n’t_ be there, Bruno!” Sylvie said indignantly.

“Course he ca’n’t!” said Bruno. “I should have shooked him out, if he’d
been in there!”

“Has he ever been lost before?” Sylvie enquired, turning up a corner of
the hearth-rug, and peeping under it.

“Once before,” said the Professor: “he once lost himself in a wood——”

“And couldn’t he find his-self again?” said Bruno. “Why didn’t he shout?
He’d be sure to hear his-self, ’cause he couldn’t be far off, oo know.”

“Let’s try shouting,” said the Professor.

“What shall we shout?” said Sylvie.

“On second thoughts, _don’t_ shout,” the Professor replied. “The
Vice-Warden might hear you. He’s getting awfully strict!”

This reminded the poor children of all the troubles, about which they
had come to their old friend. Bruno sat down on the floor and began
crying. “He _is_ so cruel!” he sobbed. “And he lets Uggug take away
_all_ my toys! And such horrid meals!”

“What did you have for dinner to-day?” said the Professor.

“A little piece of a dead crow,” was Bruno’s mournful reply.

“He means rook-pie,” Sylvie explained.

“It _were_ a dead crow,” Bruno persisted. “And there were a
apple-pudding—and Uggug ate it all—and I got nuffin but a crust! And I
asked for a orange—and—didn’t get it!” And the poor little fellow buried
his face in Sylvie’s lap, who kept gently stroking his hair, as she went
on. “It’s all true, Professor dear! They _do_ treat my darling Bruno
very badly! And they’re not kind to _me_ either,” she added in a lower
tone, as if _that_ were a thing of much less importance.

The Professor got out a large red silk handkerchief, and wiped his eyes.
“I wish I could help you, dear children!” he said. “But what _can_ I
do?”

“We know the way to Fairyland—where Father’s gone—quite well,” said
Sylvie: “if only the Gardener would let us out.”

“Won’t he open the door for you?” said the Professor.

“Not for _us_,” said Sylvie: “but I’m sure he would for _you_. Do come
and ask him, Professor dear!”

“I’ll come this minute!” said the Professor.

Bruno sat up and dried his eyes. “_Isn’t_ he kind, Mister Sir?”

“He is _indeed_,” said I. But the Professor took no notice of my remark.
He had put on a beautiful cap with a long tassel, and was selecting one
of the Other Professor’s walking-sticks, from a stand in the corner of
the room. “A thick stick in one’s hand makes people respectful,” he was
saying to himself. “Come along, dear children!” And we all went out into
the garden together.

“I shall address him, first of all,” the Professor explained as we went
along, “with a few playful remarks on the weather. I shall then question
him about the Other Professor. This will have a double advantage. First,
it will open the conversation (you can’t even drink a bottle of wine
without opening it first): and secondly, if he’s seen the Other
Professor, we shall find him that way: and, if he hasn’t, we sha’n’t.”

On our way, we passed the target, at which Uggug had been made to shoot
during the Ambassador’s visit.

“See!” said the Professor, pointing out a hole in the middle of the
bull’s-eye. “His Imperial Fatness had only _one_ shot at it; and he went
in just _here_!”

Bruno carefully examined the hole. “Couldn’t go in _there_,” he
whispered to me. “He are too _fat_!”

We had no sort of difficulty in _finding_ the Gardener. Though he was
hidden from us by some trees, that harsh voice of his served to direct
us; and, as we drew nearer, the words of his song became more and more
plainly audible:—

  “He thought he saw an Albatross
    That fluttered round the lamp:
  He looked again, and found it was
    A Penny-Postage-Stamp.
  ‘You’d best be getting home,’ he said:
    ‘The nights are very damp!’”

[Illustration: ‘HE THOUGHT HE SAW AN ALBATROSS’]

“Would it be afraid of catching cold?” said Bruno.

“If it got _very_ damp,” Sylvie suggested, “it might stick to something,
you know.”

“And _that_ somefin would have to go by the post, whatever it was!”
Bruno eagerly exclaimed. “Suppose it was a cow! Wouldn’t it be
_dreadful_ for the other things!”

“And all these things happened to _him_,” said the Professor. “That’s
what makes the song so interesting.”

“He must have had a very curious life,” said Sylvie.

“You may say that!” the Professor heartily rejoined.

“Of course she may!” cried Bruno.

By this time we had come up to the Gardener, who was standing on one
leg, as usual, and busily employed in watering a bed of flowers with an
empty watering-can.

“It hasn’t got no water in it!” Bruno explained to him, pulling his
sleeve to attract his attention.

“It’s lighter to hold,” said the Gardener. “A lot of water in it makes
one’s arms ache.” And he went on with his work, singing softly to
himself

  “The nights are very damp!”

“In digging things out of the ground—which you probably do now and
then,” the Professor began in a loud voice; “in making things into
heaps—which no doubt you often do; and in kicking things about with one
heel—which you seem never to leave off doing; have you ever happened to
notice another Professor, something like me, but different?”

“Never!” shouted the Gardener, so loudly and violently that we all drew
back in alarm.

“There ain’t such a thing!”

“We will try a less exciting topic,” the Professor mildly remarked to
the children. “You were asking——”

“We asked him to let us through the garden-door,” said Sylvie: “but he
wouldn’t: but perhaps he would for _you_!”

The Professor put the request, very humbly and courteously.

“I wouldn’t mind letting _you_ out,” said the Gardener. “But I mustn’t
open the door for _children_. D’you think I’d disobey the _Rules_? Not
for one-and-sixpence!”

The Professor cautiously produced a couple of shillings.

“That’ll do it!” the Gardener shouted, as he hurled the watering-can
across the flower-bed, and produced a handful of keys—one large one, and
a number of small ones.

“But look here, Professor dear!” whispered Sylvie. “He needn’t open the
door for _us_, at all. We can go out with _you_.”

“True, dear child!” the Professor thankfully replied, as he replaced the
coins in his pocket. “That saves two shillings!” And he took the
children’s hands, that they might all go out together when the door was
opened. This, however, did not seem a very likely event, though the
Gardener patiently tried all the small keys, over and over again.

At last the Professor ventured on a gentle suggestion. “Why not try the
_large_ one? I have often observed that a door unlocks _much_ more
nicely with its _own_ key.”

The very first trial of the large key proved a success: the Gardener
opened the door, and held out his hand for the money.

The Professor shook his head. “You are acting by _Rule_,” he explained,
“in opening the door for _me_. And now it’s open, we are going out by
_Rule_—the Rule of _Three_.”

The Gardener looked puzzled, and let us go out; but, as he locked the
door behind us, we heard him singing thoughtfully to himself

  “He thought he saw a Garden-Door
    That opened with a key:
  He looked again, and found it was
    A Double Rule of Three:
  ‘And all its mystery,’ he said,
    ‘Is clear as day to me!’”

“I shall now return,” said the Professor, when we had walked a few
yards: “you see, it’s impossible to read _here_, for all my books are in
the house.”

But the children still kept fast hold of his hands. “_Do_ come with us!”
Sylvie entreated with tears in her eyes.

“Well, well!” said the good-natured old man. “Perhaps I’ll come after
you, some day soon. But I _must_ go back _now_. You see I left off at a
comma, and it’s so awkward not knowing how the sentence finishes!
Besides, you’ve got to go through Dogland first, and I’m always a little
nervous about dogs. But it’ll be quite easy to come, as soon as I’ve
completed my new invention—for carrying one’s-_self_, you know. It wants
just a _little_ more working-out.”

“Won’t that be very tiring, to carry _yourself_?” Sylvie enquired.

“Well, no, my child. You see, whatever fatigue one incurs by _carrying_,
one saves by _being carried_! Good-bye, dears! Good-bye, Sir!” he added
to my intense surprise, giving my hand an affectionate squeeze.

“Good-bye, Professor!” I replied: but my voice sounded strange and far
away, and the children took not the slightest notice of our farewell.
Evidently they neither saw me nor heard me, as, with their arms lovingly
twined round each other, they marched boldly on.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                          A VISIT TO DOGLAND.


“There’s a house, away there to the left,” said Sylvie, after we had
walked what seemed to me about fifty miles. “Let’s go and ask for a
night’s lodging.”

“It looks a very comfable house,” Bruno said, as we turned into the road
leading up to it. “I doos hope the Dogs will be kind to us, I _is_ so
tired and hungry!”

A Mastiff, dressed in a scarlet collar, and carrying a musket, was
pacing up and down, like a sentinel, in front of the entrance. He
started, on catching sight of the children, and came forwards to meet
them, keeping his musket pointed straight at Bruno, who stood quite
still, though he turned pale and kept tight hold of Sylvie’s hand, while
the Sentinel walked solemnly round and round them, and looked at them
from all points of view.

[Illustration: THE MASTIFF-SENTINEL]

“Oobooh, hooh boohooyah!” He growled at last. “Woobah yahwah oobooh! Bow
wahbah woobooyah? Bow wow?” he asked Bruno, severely.

Of course _Bruno_ understood all this, easily enough. All Fairies
understand Doggee—that is, Dog-language. But, as _you_ may find it a
little difficult, just at first, I had better put it into English for
you. “Humans, I verily believe! A couple of stray Humans! What Dog do
you belong to? What do you want?”

“We don’t belong to a _Dog_!” Bruno began, in Doggee. (“Peoples _never_
belongs to Dogs!” he whispered to Sylvie.)

But Sylvie hastily checked him, for fear of hurting the Mastiff’s
feelings. “Please, we want a little food, and a night’s lodging—if
there’s room in the house,” she added timidly. Sylvie spoke Doggee very
prettily: but I think it’s almost better, for _you_, to give the
conversation in English.

“The _house_, indeed!” growled the Sentinel. “Have you never seen a
_Palace_ in your life? Come along with me! His Majesty must settle
what’s to be done with you.”

They followed him through the entrance-hall, down a long passage, and
into a magnificent Saloon, around which were grouped dogs of all sorts
and sizes. Two splendid Blood-hounds were solemnly sitting up, one on
each side of the crown-bearer. Two or three Bull-dogs—whom I guessed to
be the Body-Guard of the King—were waiting in grim silence: in fact the
only voices at all plainly audible were those of two little dogs, who
had mounted a settee, and were holding a lively discussion that looked
very like a quarrel.

“Lords and Ladies in Waiting, and various Court Officials,” our guide
gruffly remarked, as he led us in. Of _me_ the Courtiers took no notice
whatever: but Sylvie and Bruno were the subject of many inquisitive
looks, and many whispered remarks, of which I only distinctly caught
_one_—made by a sly-looking Dachshund to his friend—“Bah wooh wahyah
hoobah Oobooh, _hah_ bah?” (“She’s not such a bad-looking Human, _is_
she?”)

Leaving the new arrivals in the centre of the Saloon, the Sentinel
advanced to a door, at the further end of it, which bore an inscription,
painted on it in Doggee, “Royal Kennel—Scratch and Yell.”

Before doing this, the Sentinel turned to the children, and said “Give
me your names.”

“We’d rather not!” Bruno exclaimed, pulling Sylvie away from the door.
“We want them ourselves. Come back, Sylvie! Come quick!”

“Nonsense!” said Sylvie very decidedly: and gave their names in Doggee.

Then the Sentinel scratched violently at the door, and gave a yell that
made Bruno shiver from head to foot.

“Hooyah wah!” said a deep voice inside. (That’s Doggee for “Come in!”)

“It’s the King himself!” the Mastiff whispered in an awestruck tone.
“Take off your wigs, and lay them humbly at his paws.” (What _we_ should
call “at his _feet_.”)

Sylvie was just going to explain, very politely, that really they
_couldn’t_ perform _that_ ceremony, because their wigs wouldn’t come
off, when the door of the Royal Kennel opened, and an enormous
Newfoundland Dog put his head out. “Bow wow?” was his first question.

“When His Majesty speaks to you,” the Sentinel hastily whispered to
Bruno, “you should prick up your ears!”

Bruno looked doubtfully at Sylvie. “I’d rather not, please,” he said.
“It would hurt.”

[Illustration: THE DOG-KING]

“It doesn’t hurt a bit!” the Sentinel said with some indignation. “Look!
It’s like this!” And he pricked up his ears like two railway signals.

Sylvie gently explained matters. “I’m afraid we ca’n’t manage it,” she
said in a low voice. “I’m very sorry: but our ears haven’t got the
right—” she wanted to say “machinery” in Doggee: but she had forgotten
the word, and could only think of “steam-engine.”

The Sentinel repeated Sylvie’s explanation to the King.

“Can’t prick up their ears without a steam-engine!” His Majesty
exclaimed. “They _must_ be curious creatures! I must have a look at
them!” And he came out of his Kennel, and walked solemnly up to the
children.

What was the amazement—not to say the horror—of the whole assembly, when
Sylvie actually _patted His Majesty on the head_, while Bruno seized his
long ears and pretended to tie them together under his chin!

The Sentinel groaned aloud: a beautiful Greyhound—who appeared to be one
of the Ladies in Waiting—fainted away: and all the other Courtiers
hastily drew back, and left plenty of room for the huge Newfoundland to
spring upon the audacious strangers, and tear them limb from limb.

Only—he didn’t. On the contrary his Majesty actually _smiled_—so far as
a Dog _can_ smile—and (the other Dogs couldn’t believe their eyes, but
it was true, all the same) his Majesty _wagged his tail_!

“Yah! Hooh hahwooh!” (that is “Well! I never!”) was the universal cry.

His Majesty looked round him severely, and gave a slight growl, which
produced instant silence. “Conduct _my friends_ to the banqueting-hall!”
he said, laying such an emphasis on “_my friends_” that several of the
dogs rolled over helplessly on their backs and began to lick Bruno’s
feet.

A procession was formed, but I only ventured to follow as far as the
_door_ of the banqueting-hall, so furious was the uproar of barking dogs
within. So I sat down by the King, who seemed to have gone to sleep, and
waited till the children returned to say good-night, when His Majesty
got up and shook himself.

“Time for bed!” he said with a sleepy yawn. “The attendants will show
you your room,” he added, aside, to Sylvie and Bruno. “Bring lights!”
And, with a dignified air, he held out his paw for them to kiss.

But the children were evidently not well practised in Court-manners.
Sylvie simply stroked the great paw: Bruno hugged it: the Master of the
Ceremonies looked shocked.

All this time Dog-waiters, in splendid livery, were running up with
lighted candles: but, as fast as they put them upon the table, other
waiters ran away with them, so that there never seemed to be one for
_me_, though the Master kept nudging me with his elbow, and repeating “I
ca’n’t let you sleep _here_! You’re not in _bed_, you know!”

I made a great effort, and just succeeded in getting out the words “I
know I’m not. I’m in an arm-chair.”

“Well, forty winks will do you no harm,” the Master said, and left me. I
could scarcely hear his words: and no wonder: he was leaning over the
side of a ship, that was miles away from the pier on which I stood. The
ship passed over the horizon, and I sank back into the arm-chair.

The next thing I remember is that it was morning: breakfast was just
over: Sylvie was lifting Bruno down from a high chair, and saying to a
Spaniel, who was regarding them with a most benevolent smile, “Yes,
thank you, we’ve had a _very_ nice breakfast. Haven’t we, Bruno?”

“There was too many bones in the——” Bruno began, but Sylvie frowned at
him, and laid her finger on her lips, for, at this moment, the travelers
were waited on by a very dignified officer, the Head-Growler, whose duty
it was, first to conduct them to the King to bid him farewell, and then
to escort them to the boundary of Dogland. The great Newfoundland
received them most affably, but, instead of saying “good-bye,” he
startled the Head-Growler into giving three savage growls, by announcing
that he would escort them himself.

“It is a most unusual proceeding, your Majesty!” the Head-Growler
exclaimed, almost choking with vexation at being set aside, for he had
put on his best Court-suit, made entirely of cat-skins, for the
occasion.

“I shall escort them myself,” his Majesty repeated, gently but firmly,
laying aside the Royal robes, and changing his crown for a small
coronet, “and you may stay at home.”

“I _are_ glad!” Bruno whispered to Sylvie, when they had got well out of
hearing. “He were so _welly_ cross!” And he not only patted their Royal
escort, but even hugged him round the neck in the exuberance of his
delight.

His Majesty calmly wagged the Royal tail. “It’s quite a relief,” he
said, “getting away from that Palace now and then! Royal Dogs have a
dull life of it, I can tell you! Would you mind” (this to Sylvie, in a
low voice, and looking a little shy and embarrassed) “would you mind the
trouble of just throwing that stick for me to fetch?”

Sylvie was too much astonished to do anything for a moment: it sounded
such a monstrous impossibility that a _King_ should wish to run after a
stick. But _Bruno_ was equal to the occasion, and with a glad shout of
“Hi then! Fetch it, good Doggie!” he hurled it over a clump of bushes.
The next moment the Monarch of Dogland had bounded over the bushes, and
picked up the stick, and came galloping back to the children with it in
his mouth. Bruno took it from him with great decision. “Beg for it!” he
insisted; and His Majesty begged. “Paw!” commanded Sylvie; and His
Majesty gave his paw. In short, the solemn ceremony of escorting the
travelers to the boundaries of Dogland became one long uproarious game
of play!

“But business is business!” the Dog-King said at last. “And I must go
back to mine. I couldn’t come any further,” he added, consulting a
dog-watch, which hung on a chain round his neck, “not even if there were
a _Cat_ in sight!”

They took an affectionate farewell of His Majesty, and trudged on.

“That _were_ a dear dog!” Bruno exclaimed. “Has we to go far, Sylvie?
I’s tired!”

“Not much further, darling!” Sylvie gently replied. “Do you see that
shining, just beyond those trees? I’m almost _sure_ it’s the gate of
Fairyland! I know it’s all golden—Father told me so—and so bright, so
bright!” she went on dreamily.

“It dazzles!” said Bruno, shading his eyes with one little hand, while
the other clung tightly to Sylvie’s hand, as if he were half-alarmed at
her strange manner.

For the child moved on as if walking in her sleep, her large eyes gazing
into the far distance, and her breath coming and going in quick pantings
of eager delight. I knew, by some mysterious mental light, that a great
change was taking place in my sweet little friend (for such I loved to
think her) and that she was passing from the condition of a mere Outland
Sprite into the true Fairy-nature.

Upon Bruno the change came later: but it was completed in both before
they reached the golden gate, through which I knew it would be
impossible for _me_ to follow. I could but stand outside, and take a
last look at the two sweet children, ere they disappeared within, and
the golden gate closed with a bang.

And with _such_ a bang! “It never _will_ shut like any other
cupboard-door,” Arthur explained. “There’s something wrong with the
hinge. However, here’s the cake and wine. And you’ve had your forty
winks. So you really _must_ get off to bed, old man! You’re fit for
nothing else. Witness my hand, Arthur Forester, M.D.”

By this time I was wide-awake again. “Not _quite_ yet!” I pleaded.
“Really I’m not sleepy now. And it isn’t midnight yet.”

“Well, I did want to say another word to you,” Arthur replied in a
relenting tone, as he supplied me with the supper he had prescribed.
“Only I thought you were too sleepy for it to-night.”

We took our midnight meal almost in silence; for an unusual nervousness
seemed to have seized on my old friend.

“What kind of a night is it?” he asked, rising and undrawing the
window-curtains, apparently to change the subject for a minute. I
followed him to the window, and we stood together, looking out, in
silence.

“When I first spoke to you about——” Arthur began, after a long and
embarrassing silence, “that is, when we first talked about her—for I
think it was _you_ that introduced the subject—my own position in life
forbade me to do more than worship her from a distance: and I was
turning over plans for leaving this place finally, and settling
somewhere out of all chance of meeting her again. That seemed to be my
only chance of usefulness in life.”

“Would that have been wise?” I said. “To leave yourself no hope at all?”

“There _was_ no hope to leave,” Arthur firmly replied, though his eyes
glittered with tears as he gazed upwards into the midnight sky, from
which one solitary star, the glorious ‘Vega,’ blazed out in fitful
splendour through the driving clouds. “She was like that star to
me—bright, beautiful, and pure, but out of reach, out of reach!”

He drew the curtains again, and we returned to our places by the
fireside.

“What I wanted to tell you was this,” he resumed. “I heard this evening
from my solicitor. I can’t go into the details of the business, but the
upshot is that my worldly wealth is much more than I thought, and I am
(or shall soon be) in a position to offer marriage, without imprudence,
to any lady, even if she brought nothing. I doubt if there would be
anything on _her_ side: the Earl is poor, I believe. But I should have
enough for both, even if health failed.”

“I wish you all happiness in your married life!” I cried. “Shall you
speak to the Earl to-morrow?”

“Not yet awhile,” said Arthur. “He is very friendly, but I dare not
think he means more than that, as yet. And as for—as for Lady Muriel,
try as I may, I _cannot_ read her feelings towards me. If there _is_
love, she is hiding it! No, I must wait, I must wait!”

I did not like to press any further advice on my friend, whose judgment,
I felt, was so much more sober and thoughtful than my own; and we parted
without more words on the subject that had now absorbed his thoughts,
nay, his very life.

The next morning a letter from _my_ solicitor arrived, summoning me to
town on important business.



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                             FAIRY-SYLVIE.


For a full month the business, for which I had returned to London,
detained me there: and even then it was only the urgent advice of my
physician that induced me to leave it unfinished and pay another visit
to Elveston.

Arthur had written once or twice during the month; but in none of his
letters was there any mention of Lady Muriel. Still, I did not augur ill
from his silence: to me it looked like the natural action of a lover,
who, even while his heart was singing “She is mine!”, would fear to
paint his happiness in the cold phrases of a written letter, but would
wait to tell it by word of mouth. “Yes,” I thought, “I am to hear his
song of triumph from his own lips!”

The night I arrived we had much to say on other matters: and, tired with
the journey, I went to bed early, leaving the happy secret still untold.
Next day, however, as we chatted on over the remains of luncheon, I
ventured to put the momentous question. “Well, old friend, you have told
me nothing of Lady Muriel—nor when the happy day is to be?”

“The happy day,” Arthur said, looking unexpectedly grave, “is yet in the
dim future. We need to know—or, rather, _she_ needs to know _me_ better.
I know _her_ sweet nature, thoroughly, by this time. But I dare not
speak till I am sure that my love is returned.”

“Don’t wait too long!” I said gaily. “Faint heart never won fair lady!”

“It _is_ ‘faint heart,’ perhaps. But really I _dare_ not speak just
yet.”

“But meanwhile,” I pleaded, “you are running a risk that perhaps you
have not thought of. Some other man——”

“No,” said Arthur firmly. “She is heart-whole: I am sure of that. Yet,
if she loves another better than me, so be it! I will not spoil her
happiness. The secret shall die with me. But she is my first—and my
_only_ love!”

“That is all very beautiful _sentiment_,” I said, “but it is not
_practical_. It is not like _you_.

  He either fears his fate too much,
    Or his desert is small,
  Who dares not put it to the touch,
    To win or lose it all.”

“I _dare_ not ask the question whether there is another!” he said
passionately. “It would break my heart to know it!”

“Yet is it wise to leave it unasked? You must not waste your life upon
an ‘if’!”

“I tell you I _dare_ not!”

“May _I_ find it out for you?” I asked, with the freedom of an old
friend.

“No, no!” he replied with a pained look. “I entreat you to say nothing.
Let it wait.”

“As you please,” I said: and judged it best to say no more just then.
“But this evening,” I thought, “I will call on the Earl. I may be able
to _see_ how the land lies, without so much as saying a word!”

It was a very hot afternoon—too hot to go for a walk or do anything—or
else it wouldn’t have happened, I believe.

In the first place, I want to know—dear Child who reads this!—why
Fairies should always be teaching _us_ to do our duty, and lecturing
_us_ when we go wrong, and we should never teach _them_ anything? You
can’t mean to say that Fairies are never greedy, or selfish, or cross,
or deceitful, because that would be nonsense, you know. Well then, don’t
you think they might be all the better for a little lecturing and
punishing now and then?

I really don’t see why it shouldn’t be tried, and I’m almost sure that,
if you could only catch a Fairy, and put it in the corner, and give it
nothing but bread and water for a day or two, you’d find it quite an
improved character—it would take down its conceit a little, at all
events.

The next question is, what is the best time for seeing Fairies? I
believe I can tell you all about that.

The first rule is, that it must be a _very_ hot day—that we may consider
as settled: and you must be just a _little_ sleepy—but not too sleepy to
keep your eyes open, mind. Well, and you ought to feel a little—what one
may call “fairyish”—the Scotch call it “eerie,” and perhaps that’s a
prettier word; if you don’t know what it means, I’m afraid I can hardly
explain it; you must wait till you meet a Fairy, and then you’ll know.

And the last rule is, that the crickets should not be chirping. I can’t
stop to explain that: you must take it on trust for the present.

So, if all these things happen together, you have a good chance of
seeing a Fairy—or at least a much better chance than if they didn’t.

The first thing I noticed, as I went lazily along through an open place
in the wood, was a large Beetle lying struggling on its back, and I went
down upon one knee to help the poor thing to its feet again. In some
things, you know, you can’t be quite sure what an insect would like: for
instance, I never could quite settle, supposing I were a moth, whether I
would rather be kept out of the candle, or be allowed to fly straight in
and get burnt—or again, supposing I were a spider, I’m not sure if I
should be _quite_ pleased to have my web torn down, and the fly let
loose—but I feel quite certain that, if I were a beetle and had rolled
over on my back, I should always be glad to be helped up again.

So, as I was saying, I had gone down upon one knee, and was just
reaching out a little stick to turn the Beetle over, when I saw a sight
that made me draw back hastily and hold my breath, for fear of making
any noise and frightening the little creature away.

Not that she looked as if she would be easily frightened: she seemed so
good and gentle that I’m sure she would never expect that any one could
wish to hurt her. She was only a few inches high, and was dressed in
green, so that you really would hardly have noticed her among the long
grass; and she was so delicate and graceful that she quite seemed to
belong to the place, almost as if she were one of the flowers. I may
tell you, besides, that she had no wings (I don’t believe in Fairies
with wings), and that she had quantities of long brown hair and large
earnest brown eyes, and then I shall have done all I can to give you an
idea of her.

[Illustration: FAIRY-SYLVIE]

Sylvie (I found out her name afterwards) had knelt down, just as I was
doing, to help the Beetle; but it needed more than a little stick for
_her_ to get it on its legs again; it was as much as she could do, with
both arms, to roll the heavy thing over; and all the while she was
talking to it, half scolding and half comforting, as a nurse might do
with a child that had fallen down.

“There, there! You needn’t cry so much about it. You’re not killed
yet—though if you were, you couldn’t cry, you know, and so it’s a
general rule against crying, my dear! And how did you come to tumble
over? But I can see well enough how it was—I needn’t ask you
that—walking over sand-pits with your chin in the air, as usual. Of
course if you go among sand-pits like that, you must expect to tumble.
You should look.”

The Beetle murmured something that sounded like “I _did_ look,” and
Sylvie went on again.

“But I know you didn’t! You never do! You always walk with your chin
up—you’re so dreadfully conceited. Well, let’s see how many legs are
broken this time. Why, none of them, I declare! And what’s the good of
having six legs, my dear, if you can only kick them all about in the air
when you tumble? Legs are meant to walk with, you know. Now don’t begin
putting out your wings yet; I’ve more to say. Go to the frog that lives
behind that buttercup—give him my compliments—Sylvie’s compliments—can
you say ‘compliments’?”

The Beetle tried and, I suppose, succeeded.

“Yes, that’s right. And tell him he’s to give you some of that salve I
left with him yesterday. And you’d better get him to rub it in for you.
He’s got rather cold hands, but you mustn’t mind that.”

I think the Beetle must have shuddered at this idea, for Sylvie went on
in a graver tone. “Now you needn’t pretend to be so particular as all
that, as if you were too grand to be rubbed by a frog. The fact is, you
ought to be very much obliged to him. Suppose you could get nobody but a
toad to do it, how would you like _that_?”

There was a little pause, and then Sylvie added “Now you may go. Be a
good beetle, and don’t keep your chin in the air.” And then began one of
those performances of humming, and whizzing, and restless banging about,
such as a beetle indulges in when it has decided on flying, but hasn’t
quite made up its mind which way to go. At last, in one of its awkward
zig-zags, it managed to fly right into my face, and, by the time I had
recovered from the shock, the little Fairy was gone.

I looked about in all directions for the little creature, but there was
no trace of her—and my ‘eerie’ feeling was quite gone off, and the
crickets were chirping again merrily—so I knew she was really gone.

And now I’ve got time to tell you the rule about the crickets. They
always leave off chirping when a Fairy goes by—because a Fairy’s a kind
of queen over them, I suppose—at all events it’s a much grander thing
than a cricket—so whenever you’re walking out, and the crickets suddenly
leave off chirping, you may be sure that they see a Fairy.

I walked on sadly enough, you may be sure. However, I comforted myself
with thinking “It’s been a very wonderful afternoon, so far. I’ll just
go quietly on and look about me, and I shouldn’t wonder if I were to
come across another Fairy somewhere.”

Peering about in this way, I happened to notice a plant with rounded
leaves, and with queer little holes cut in the middle of several of
them. “Ah, the leafcutter bee!” I carelessly remarked—you know I am very
learned in Natural History (for instance, I can always tell kittens from
chickens at one glance)—and I was passing on, when a sudden thought made
me stoop down and examine the leaves.

Then a little thrill of delight ran through me—for I noticed that the
holes were all arranged so as to form letters; there were three leaves
side by side, with “B,” “R,” and “U” marked on them, and after some
search I found two more, which contained an “N” and an “O.”

And then, all in a moment, a flash of inner light seemed to illumine a
part of my life that had all but faded into oblivion—the strange visions
I had experienced during my journey to Elveston: and with a thrill of
delight I thought “Those visions are destined to be linked with my
waking life!”

By this time the ‘eerie’ feeling had come back again, and I suddenly
observed that no crickets were chirping; so I felt quite sure that
“Bruno” was somewhere very near.

And so indeed he was—so near that I had very nearly walked over him
without seeing him; which would have been dreadful, always supposing
that Fairies _can_ be walked over—my own belief is that they are
something of the nature of Will-o’-the-Wisps: and there’s no walking
over _them_.

Think of any pretty little boy you know, with rosy cheeks, large dark
eyes, and tangled brown hair, and then fancy him made small enough to go
comfortably into a coffee-cup, and you’ll have a very fair idea of him.

“What’s your name, little one?” I began, in as soft a voice as I could
manage. And, by the way, why is it we always begin by asking little
children their names? Is it because we fancy a name will help to make
them a little bigger? You never thought of asking a real large man his
name, now, did you? But, however that may be, I felt it quite necessary
to know _his_ name; so, as he didn’t answer my question, I asked it
again a little louder. “What’s your name, my little man?”

“What’s oors?” he said, without looking up.

I told him my name quite gently, for he was much too small to be angry
with.

“Duke of Anything?” he asked, just looking at me for a moment, and then
going on with his work.

“Not Duke at all,” I said, a little ashamed of having to confess it.

“Oo’re big enough to be two Dukes,” said the little creature. “I suppose
oo’re Sir Something, then?”

“No,” I said, feeling more and more ashamed. “I haven’t got any title.”

The Fairy seemed to think that in that case I really wasn’t worth the
trouble of talking to, for he quietly went on digging, and tearing the
flowers to pieces.

After a few minutes I tried again. “_Please_ tell me what your name is.”

“Bruno,” the little fellow answered, very readily. “Why didn’t oo say
‘please’ before?”

“That’s something like what we used to be taught in the nursery,” I
thought to myself, looking back through the long years (about a hundred
of them, since you ask the question), to the time when I was a little
child. And here an idea came into my head, and I asked him “Aren’t you
one of the Fairies that teach children to be good?”

“Well, we have to do that sometimes,” said Bruno, “and a dreadful bother
it is.” As he said this, he savagely tore a heartsease in two, and
trampled on the pieces.

“What _are_ you doing there, Bruno?” I said.

“Spoiling Sylvie’s garden,” was all the answer Bruno would give at
first. But, as he went on tearing up the flowers, he muttered to himself
“The nasty cross thing—wouldn’t let me go and play this morning,—said I
must finish my lessons first—lessons, indeed! I’ll vex her finely,
though!”

“Oh, Bruno, you shouldn’t do that!” I cried. “Don’t you know that’s
revenge? And revenge is a wicked, cruel, dangerous thing!”

“River-edge?” said Bruno. “What a funny word! I suppose oo call it cruel
and dangerous ’cause, if oo wented too far and tumbleded in, oo’d get
drownded.”

“No, not river-edge,” I explained: “re-venge” (saying the word very
slowly). But I couldn’t help thinking that Bruno’s explanation did very
well for either word.

“Oh!” said Bruno, opening his eyes very wide, but without trying to
repeat the word.

“Come! Try and pronounce it, Bruno!” I said, cheerfully. “Re-venge,
re-venge.”

But Bruno only tossed his little head, and said he couldn’t; that his
mouth wasn’t the right shape for words of that kind. And the more I
laughed, the more sulky the little fellow got about it.

“Well, never mind, my little man!” I said. “Shall I help you with that
job?”

“Yes, please,” Bruno said, quite pacified. “Only I wiss I could think of
somefin to vex her more than this. Oo don’t know how hard it is to make
her angry!”

“Now listen to me, Bruno, and I’ll teach you quite a splendid kind of
revenge!”

“Somefin that’ll vex her finely?” he asked with gleaming eyes.

“Something that will vex her finely. First, we’ll get up all the weeds
in her garden. See, there are a good many at this end—quite hiding the
flowers.”

“But _that_ won’t vex her!” said Bruno.

“After that,” I said, without noticing the remark, “we’ll water this
highest bed—up here. You see it’s getting quite dry and dusty.”

Bruno looked at me inquisitively, but he said nothing this time.

“Then after that,” I went on, “the walks want sweeping a bit; and I
think you might cut down that tall nettle—it’s so close to the garden
that it’s quite in the way——”

“What _is_ oo talking about?” Bruno impatiently interrupted me. “All
that won’t vex her a bit!”

“Won’t it?” I said, innocently. “Then, after that, suppose we put in
some of these coloured pebbles—just to mark the divisions between the
different kinds of flowers, you know. That’ll have a very pretty
effect.”

Bruno turned round and had another good stare at me. At last there came
an odd little twinkle into his eyes, and he said, with quite a new
meaning in his voice, “That’ll do nicely. Let’s put ’em in rows—all the
red together, and all the blue together.”

“That’ll do capitally,” I said; “and then—what kind of flowers does
Sylvie like best?”

Bruno had to put his thumb in his mouth and consider a little before he
could answer. “Violets,” he said, at last.

“There’s a beautiful bed of violets down by the brook——”

“Oh, let’s fetch ’em!” cried Bruno, giving a little skip into the air.
“Here! Catch hold of my hand, and I’ll help oo along. The grass is
rather thick down that way.”

I couldn’t help laughing at his having so entirely forgotten what a big
creature he was talking to. “No, not yet, Bruno,” I said: “we must
consider what’s the right thing to do first. You see we’ve got quite a
business before us.”

“Yes, let’s consider,” said Bruno, putting his thumb into his mouth
again, and sitting down upon a dead mouse.

“What do you keep that mouse for?” I said. “You should either bury it,
or else throw it into the brook.”

“Why, it’s to measure with!” cried Bruno. “How ever would oo do a garden
without one? We make each bed three mouses and a half long, and two
mouses wide.”

I stopped him, as he was dragging it off by the tail to show me how it
was used, for I was half afraid the ‘eerie’ feeling might go off before
we had finished the garden, and in that case I should see no more of him
or Sylvie. “I think the best way will be for _you_ to weed the beds,
while _I_ sort out these pebbles, ready to mark the walks with.”

“That’s it!” cried Bruno. “And I’ll tell oo about the caterpillars while
we work.”

“Ah, let’s hear about the caterpillars,” I said, as I drew the pebbles
together into a heap and began dividing them into colours.

And Bruno went on in a low, rapid tone, more as if he were talking to
himself. “Yesterday I saw two little caterpillars, when I was sitting by
the brook, just where oo go into the wood. They were quite green, and
they had yellow eyes, and they didn’t see _me_. And one of them had got
a moth’s wing to carry—a great brown moth’s wing, oo know, all dry, with
feathers. So he couldn’t want it to eat, I should think—perhaps he meant
to make a cloak for the winter?”

“Perhaps,” I said, for Bruno had twisted up the last word into a sort of
question, and was looking at me for an answer.

One word was quite enough for the little fellow, and he went on merrily.
 “Well, and so he didn’t want the other caterpillar to see the moth’s
wing, oo know—so what must he do but try to carry it with all his left
legs, and he tried to walk on the other set. Of course he toppled over
after that.”

“After what?” I said, catching at the last word, for, to tell the truth,
I hadn’t been attending much.

“He toppled over,” Bruno repeated, very gravely, “and if _oo_ ever saw a
caterpillar topple over, oo’d know it’s a welly serious thing, and not
sit grinning like that—and I sha’n’t tell oo no more!”

“Indeed and indeed, Bruno, I didn’t mean to grin. See, I’m quite grave
again now.”

But Bruno only folded his arms, and said “Don’t tell _me_. I see a
little twinkle in one of oor eyes—just like the moon.”

“Why do you think I’m like the moon, Bruno?” I asked.

“Oor face is large and round like the moon,” Bruno answered, looking at
me thoughtfully. “It doosn’t shine quite so bright—but it’s more
cleaner.”

I couldn’t help smiling at this. “You know I sometimes wash _my_ face,
Bruno. The moon never does that.”

“Oh, doosn’t she though!” cried Bruno; and he leant forwards and added
in a solemn whisper, “The moon’s face gets dirtier and dirtier every
night, till it’s black all across. And then, when it’s dirty all
over—_so_—” (he passed his hand across his own rosy cheeks as he spoke)
“then she washes it.”

“Then it’s all clean again, isn’t it?”

“Not all in a moment,” said Bruno. “What a deal of teaching oo wants!
She washes it little by little—only she begins at the other edge, oo
know.”

By this time he was sitting quietly on the dead mouse with his arms
folded, and the weeding wasn’t getting on a bit: so I had to say “Work
first, pleasure afterwards: no more talking till that bed’s finished.”



                              CHAPTER XV.
                            BRUNO’S REVENGE.


After that we had a few minutes of silence, while I sorted out the
pebbles, and amused myself with watching Bruno’s plan of gardening. It
was quite a new plan to me: he always measured each bed before he weeded
it, as if he was afraid the weeding would make it shrink; and once, when
it came out longer than he wished, he set to work to thump the mouse
with his little fist, crying out “There now! It’s all gone wrong again!
Why don’t oo keep oor tail straight when I tell oo!”

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” Bruno said in a half-whisper, as we
worked. “Oo like Fairies, don’t oo?”

“Yes,” I said: “of course I do, or I shouldn’t have come here. I should
have gone to some place where there are no Fairies.”

Bruno laughed contemptuously. “Why, oo might as well say oo’d go to some
place where there wasn’t any air—supposing oo didn’t like air!”

This was a rather difficult idea to grasp. I tried a change of subject.
“You’re nearly the first Fairy I ever saw. Have _you_ ever seen any
people besides me?”

“Plenty!” said Bruno. “We see ’em when we walk in the road.”

“But they ca’n’t see _you_. How is it they never tread on you?”

“Ca’n’t _tread_ on us,” said Bruno, looking amused at my ignorance.
“Why, suppose oo’re walking, here—so—” (making little marks on the
ground) “and suppose there’s a Fairy—that’s me—walking _here_. Very well
then, oo put one foot here, and one foot here, so oo doosn’t tread on
the Fairy.”

This was all very well as an explanation, but it didn’t convince me.
“Why shouldn’t I put one foot _on_ the Fairy?” I asked.

“I don’t know _why_,” the little fellow said in a thoughtful tone. “But
I know oo _wouldn’t_. Nobody never walked on the top of a Fairy. Now
I’ll tell oo what I’ll do, as oo’re so fond of Fairies. I’ll get oo an
invitation to the Fairy-King’s dinner-party. I know one of the
head-waiters.”

I couldn’t help laughing at this idea. “Do the waiters invite the
guests?” I asked.

“Oh, not _to sit down_!” Bruno said. “But to wait at table. Oo’d like
that, wouldn’t oo? To hand about plates, and so on.”

“Well, but that’s not so nice as sitting at the table, is it?”

“Of course it isn’t,” Bruno said, in a tone as if he rather pitied my
ignorance; “but if oo’re not even Sir Anything, oo ca’n’t expect to be
allowed to sit at the table, oo know.”

I said, as meekly as I could, that I didn’t expect it, but it was the
only way of going to a dinner-party that I really enjoyed. And Bruno
tossed his head, and said, in a rather offended tone, that I might do as
I pleased—there were many he knew that would give their ears to go.

“Have you ever been yourself, Bruno?”

“They invited me once, last week,” Bruno said, very gravely. “It was to
wash up the soup-plates—no, the cheese-plates I mean—that was grand
enough. And I waited at table. And I didn’t hardly make only _one_
mistake.”

“What was it?” I said. “You needn’t mind telling _me_.”

“Only bringing scissors to cut the beef with,” Bruno said carelessly.
“But the grandest thing of all was, _I_ fetched the King a glass of
cider!”

“That _was_ grand!” I said, biting my lip to keep myself from laughing.

“Wasn’t it?” said Bruno, very earnestly. “Oo know it isn’t every one
that’s had such an honour as _that_!”

This set me thinking of the various queer things we call “an honour” in
this world, but which, after all, haven’t a bit more honour in them than
what Bruno enjoyed, when he took the King a glass of cider.

I don’t know how long I might not have dreamed on in this way, if Bruno
hadn’t suddenly roused me. “Oh, come here quick!” he cried, in a state
of the wildest excitement. “Catch hold of his other horn! I ca’n’t hold
him more than a minute!”

He was struggling desperately with a great snail, clinging to one of its
horns, and nearly breaking his poor little back in his efforts to drag
it over a blade of grass.

I saw we should have no more gardening if I let this sort of thing go
on, so I quietly took the snail away, and put it on a bank where he
couldn’t reach it. “We’ll hunt it afterwards, Bruno,” I said, “if you
really want to catch it. But what’s the use of it when you’ve got it?”

“What’s the use of a fox when oo’ve got it?” said Bruno. “I know oo big
things hunt foxes.”

I tried to think of some good reason why “big things” should hunt foxes,
and he should not hunt snails, but none came into my head: so I said at
last, “Well, I suppose one’s as good as the other. I’ll go snail-hunting
myself some day.”

“I should think oo wouldn’t be so silly,” said Bruno, “as to go
snail-hunting by oorself. Why, oo’d never get the snail along, if oo
hadn’t somebody to hold on to his other horn!”

“Of course I sha’n’t go _alone_,” I said, quite gravely. “By the way, is
that the best kind to hunt, or do you recommend the ones without
shells?”

“Oh, no, we never hunt the ones without shells,” Bruno said, with a
little shudder at the thought of it. “They’re always so cross about it;
and then, if oo tumbles over them, they’re ever so sticky!”

By this time we had nearly finished the garden. I had fetched some
violets, and Bruno was just helping me to put in the last, when he
suddenly stopped and said “I’m tired.”

“Rest then,” I said: “I can go on without you, quite well.”

Bruno needed no second invitation: he at once began arranging the dead
mouse as a kind of sofa. “And I’ll sing oo a little song,” he said, as
he rolled it about.

“Do,” said I: “I like songs very much.”

“Which song will oo choose?” Bruno said, as he dragged the mouse into a
place where he could get a good view of me. “‘Ting, ting, ting’ is the
nicest.”

There was no resisting such a strong hint as this: however, I pretended
to think about it for a moment, and then said “Well, I like ‘Ting, ting,
ting,’ best of all.”

[Illustration: BRUNO’S REVENGE]

“That shows oo’re a good judge of music,” Bruno said, with a pleased
look. “How many hare-bells would oo like?” And he put his thumb into his
mouth to help me to consider.

As there was only one cluster of hare-bells within easy reach, I said
very gravely that I thought one would do _this_ time, and I picked it
and gave it to him. Bruno ran his hand once or twice up and down the
flowers, like a musician trying an instrument, producing a most
delicious delicate tinkling as he did so. I had never heard flower-music
before—I don’t think one can, unless one’s in the ‘eerie’ state—and I
don’t know quite how to give you an idea of what it was like, except by
saying that it sounded like a peal of bells a thousand miles off. When
he had satisfied himself that the flowers were in tune, he seated
himself on the dead mouse (he never seemed really comfortable anywhere
else), and, looking up at me with a merry twinkle in his eyes, he began.
By the way, the tune was rather a curious one, and you might like to try
it for yourself, so here are the notes.

[Illustration: “TING, TING, TING”]

  “Rise, oh, rise! The daylight dies:
    The owls are hooting, ting, ting, ting!
  Wake, oh, wake! Beside the lake
    The elves are fluting, ting, ting, ting!
  Welcoming our Fairy King,
    We sing, sing, sing.”

He sang the first four lines briskly and merrily, making the hare-bells
chime in time with the music; but the last two he sang quite slowly and
gently, and merely waved the flowers backwards and forwards. Then he
left off to explain. “The Fairy-King is Oberon, and he lives across the
lake—and sometimes he comes in a little boat—and we go and meet him—and
then we sing this song, you know.”

“And then you go and dine with him?” I said, mischievously.

“Oo shouldn’t talk,” Bruno hastily said: “it interrupts the song so.”

I said I wouldn’t do it again.

“I never talk myself when I’m singing,” he went on very gravely: “so
_oo_ shouldn’t either.” Then he tuned the hare-bells once more, and
sang:—

  “Hear, oh, hear! From far and near
    The music stealing, ting, ting, ting!
  Fairy bells adown the dells
    Are merrily pealing, ting, ting, ting!
  Welcoming our Fairy King,
    We ring, ring, ring.

  “See, oh, see! On every tree
    What lamps are shining, ting, ting, ting!
  They are eyes of fiery flies
    To light our dining, ting, ting, ting!
  Welcoming our Fairy King
    They swing, swing, swing.

  “Haste, oh haste, to take and taste
    The dainties waiting, ting, ting, ting!
  Honey-dew is stored——”

“Hush, Bruno!” I interrupted in a warning whisper. “She’s coming!”

Bruno checked his song, and, as she slowly made her way through the long
grass, he suddenly rushed out headlong at her like a little bull,
shouting “Look the other way! Look the other way!”

“Which way?” Sylvie asked, in rather a frightened tone, as she looked
round in all directions to see where the danger could be.

“_That_ way!” said Bruno, carefully turning her round with her face to
the wood. “Now, walk backwards—walk gently—don’t be frightened: oo
sha’n’t trip!”

But Sylvie _did_ trip notwithstanding: in fact he led her, in his hurry,
across so many little sticks and stones, that it was really a wonder the
poor child could keep on her feet at all. But he was far too much
excited to think of what he was doing.

I silently pointed out to Bruno the best place to lead her to, so as to
get a view of the whole garden at once: it was a little rising ground,
about the height of a potato; and, when they had mounted it, I drew back
into the shade, that Sylvie mightn’t see me.

I heard Bruno cry out triumphantly “_Now_ oo may look!” and then
followed a clapping of hands, but it was all done by Bruno himself.
Sylvie was silent—she only stood and gazed with her hands clasped
together, and I was half afraid she didn’t like it after all.

Bruno too was watching her anxiously, and when she jumped down off the
mound, and began wandering up and down the little walks, he cautiously
followed her about, evidently anxious that she should form her own
opinion of it all, without any hint from him. And when at last she drew
a long breath, and gave her verdict—in a hurried whisper, and without
the slightest regard to grammar—“It’s the loveliest thing as I never saw
in all my life before!” the little fellow looked as well pleased as if
it had been given by all the judges and juries in England put together.

“And did you really do it all by yourself, Bruno?” said Sylvie. “And all
for me?”

“I was helped a bit,” Bruno began, with a merry little laugh at her
surprise. “We’ve been at it all the afternoon—I thought oo’d like—” and
here the poor little fellow’s lip began to quiver, and all in a moment
he burst out crying, and running up to Sylvie he flung his arms
passionately round her neck, and hid his face on her shoulder.

There was a little quiver in Sylvie’s voice too, as she whispered “Why,
what’s the matter, darling?” and tried to lift up his head and kiss him.

But Bruno only clung to her, sobbing, and wouldn’t be comforted till he
had confessed. “I tried—to spoil oor garden—first—but I’ll never—never—”
and then came another burst of tears, which drowned the rest of the
sentence. At last he got out the words “I liked—putting in the
flowers—for _oo_, Sylvie—and I never was so happy before.” And the rosy
little face came up at last to be kissed, all wet with tears as it was.

Sylvie was crying too by this time, and she said nothing but “Bruno,
dear!” and “_I_ never was so happy before,” though why these two
children who had never been so happy before should both be crying was a
mystery to _me_.

_I_ felt very happy too, but of course I didn’t cry: “big things” never
do, you know—we leave all that to the Fairies. Only I think it must have
been raining a little just then, for I found a drop or two on my cheeks.

After that they went through the whole garden again, flower by flower,
as if it were a long sentence they were spelling out, with kisses for
commas, and a great hug by way of a full-stop when they got to the end.

“Doos oo know, that was my river-edge, Sylvie?” Bruno solemnly began.

Sylvie laughed merrily. “What _do_ you mean?” she said. And she pushed
back her heavy brown hair with both hands, and looked at him with
dancing eyes in which the big tear-drops were still glittering.

Bruno drew in a long breath, and made up his mouth for a great effort.
“I mean re-venge,” he said: “now oo under’tand.” And he looked so happy
and proud at having said the word right at last, that I quite envied
him. I rather think Sylvie didn’t “under’tand” at all; but she gave him
a little kiss on each cheek, which seemed to do just as well.

So they wandered off lovingly together, in among the buttercups, each
with an arm twined round the other, whispering and laughing as they
went, and never so much as once looked back at poor me. Yes, once, just
before I quite lost sight of them, Bruno half turned his head, and
nodded me a saucy little good-bye over one shoulder. And that was all
the thanks I got for _my_ trouble. The very last thing I saw of them was
this—Sylvie was stooping down with her arms round Bruno’s neck, and
saying coaxingly in his ear, “Do you know, Bruno, I’ve quite forgotten
that hard word. Do say it once more. Come! Only this once, dear!”

But Bruno wouldn’t try it again.



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                          A CHANGED CROCODILE.


The Marvellous—the Mysterious—had quite passed out of my life for the
moment: and the Common-place reigned supreme. I turned in the direction
of the Earl’s house, as it was now ‘the witching hour’ of five, and I
knew I should find them ready for a cup of tea and a quiet chat.

Lady Muriel and her father gave me a delightfully warm welcome. They
were not of the folk we meet in fashionable drawing-rooms—who conceal
all such feelings as they may chance to possess beneath the impenetrable
mask of a conventional placidity. ‘The Man with the Iron Mask’ was, no
doubt, a rarity and a marvel in his own age: in modern London no one
would turn his head to give him a second look! No, these were _real_
people. When they _looked_ pleased, it meant that they _were_ pleased:
and when Lady Muriel said, with a bright smile, “I’m _very_ glad to see
you again!”, I knew that it was _true_.

Still I did not venture to disobey the injunctions—crazy as I felt them
to be—of the love-sick young Doctor, by so much as alluding to his
existence: and it was only after they had given me full details of a
projected picnic, to which they invited me, that Lady Muriel exclaimed,
almost as an after-thought, “and _do_, if you can, bring Doctor Forester
with you! I’m sure a day in the country would do him good. I’m afraid he
studies too much——”

It was ‘on the tip of my tongue’ to quote the words “His only books are
woman’s looks!” but I checked myself just in time—with something of the
feeling of one who has crossed a street, and has been all but run over
by a passing ‘Hansom.’

“—and I think he has too lonely a life,” she went on, with a gentle
earnestness that left no room whatever to suspect a double meaning.
“_Do_ get him to come! And don’t forget the day, Tuesday week. We can
drive you over. It would be a pity to go by rail—there is so much pretty
scenery on the road. And our open carriage just holds four.”

“Oh, _I’ll_ persuade him to come!” I said with confidence—thinking “it
would take all _my_ powers of persuasion to keep him away!”

The picnic was to take place in ten days: and though Arthur readily
accepted the invitation I brought him, nothing that I could say would
induce him to call—either with me or without me—on the Earl and his
daughter in the meanwhile. No: he feared to “wear out his welcome,” he
said: they had “seen enough of him for one while”: and, when at last the
day for the expedition arrived, he was so childishly nervous and uneasy
that I thought it best so to arrange our plans that we should go
separately to the house—my intention being to arrive some time after
him, so as to give him time to get over a meeting.

With this object I purposely made a considerable circuit on my way to
the Hall (as we called the Earl’s house): “and if I could only manage to
lose my way a bit,” I thought to myself, “that would suit me capitally!”

In this I succeeded better, and sooner, than I had ventured to hope for.
The path through the wood had been made familiar to me, by many a
solitary stroll, in my former visit to Elveston; and how I could have so
suddenly and so entirely lost it—even though I _was_ so engrossed in
thinking of Arthur and his lady-love that I heeded little else—was a
mystery to me. “And this open place,” I said to myself, “seems to have
some memory about it I cannot distinctly recall—surely it is the very
spot where I saw those Fairy-Children! But I hope there are no snakes
about!” I mused aloud, taking my seat on a fallen tree. “I certainly do
_not_ like snakes—and I don’t suppose _Bruno_ likes them, either!”

“No, he _doesn’t_ like them!” said a demure little voice at my side.
“He’s not _afraid_ of them, you know. But he doesn’t _like_ them. He
says they’re too waggly!”

Words fail me to describe the beauty of the little group—couched on a
patch of moss, on the trunk of the fallen tree, that met my eager gaze:
Sylvie reclining with her elbow buried in the moss, and her rosy cheek
resting in the palm of her hand, and Bruno stretched at her feet with
his head in her lap.

[Illustration: FAIRIES RESTING]

“Too waggly?” was all I could say in so sudden an emergency.

“I’m not praticular,” Bruno said, carelessly: “but I _do_ like straight
animals best——”

“But you like a dog when it wags its tail,” Sylvie interrupted. “You
_know_ you do, Bruno!”

“But there’s more of a dog, isn’t there, Mister Sir?” Bruno appealed to
me. “_You_ wouldn’t like to have a dog if it hadn’t got nuffin but a
head and a tail?”

I admitted that a dog of that kind would be uninteresting.

“There _isn’t_ such a dog as that,” Sylvie thoughtfully remarked.

“But there _would_ be,” cried Bruno, “if the Professor shortened it up
for us!”

“Shortened it up?” I said. “That’s something new. How does he do it?”

“He’s got a curious machine——” Sylvie was beginning to explain.

“A _welly_ curious machine,” Bruno broke in, not at all willing to have
the story thus taken out of his mouth, “and if oo puts
in—somefinoruvver—at _one_ end, oo know—and he turns the handle—and it
comes out at the uvver end, oh, ever so short!”

“As short as short!” Sylvie echoed.

“And one day—when we was in Outland, oo know—before we came to
Fairyland—me and Sylvie took him a big Crocodile. And he shortened it up
for us. And it _did_ look so funny! And it kept looking round, and
saying ‘wherever _is_ the rest of me got to?’ And then its eyes looked
unhappy——”

“Not _both_ its eyes,” Sylvie interrupted.

“Course not!” said the little fellow. “Only the eye that _couldn’t_ see
wherever the rest of it had got to. But the eye that _could_ see
wherever——”

“How short _was_ the crocodile?” I asked, as the story was getting a
little complicated.

“Half as short again as when we caught it—_so_ long,” said Bruno,
spreading out his arms to their full stretch.

I tried to calculate what this would come to, but it was too hard for
me. Please make it out for me, dear Child who reads this!

“But you didn’t leave the poor thing so short as that, did you?”

“Well, no. Sylvie and me took it back again and we got it stretched
to—to—how much was it, Sylvie?”

“Two times and a half, and a little bit more,” said Sylvie.

“It wouldn’t like that better than the other way, I’m afraid?”

“Oh, but it did though!” Bruno put in eagerly. “It _were_ proud of its
new tail! Oo never saw a Crocodile so proud! Why, it could go round and
walk on the top of its tail, and along its back, all the way to its
head!”

[Illustration: A CHANGED CROCODILE]

“Not _quite_ all the way,” said Sylvie. “It couldn’t, you know.”

“Ah, but it _did_, once!” Bruno cried triumphantly. “Oo weren’t
looking—but _I_ watched it. And it walked on tipplety-toe, so as it
wouldn’t wake itself, ’cause it thought it were asleep. And it got both
its paws on its tail. And it walked and it walked all the way along its
back. And it walked and it walked on its forehead. And it walked a tiny
little way down its nose! There now!”

This was a good deal worse than the last puzzle. Please, dear Child,
help again!

“I don’t believe no Crocodile never walked along its own forehead!”
Sylvie cried, too much excited by the controversy to limit the number of
her negatives.

“Oo don’t know the _reason_ why it did it!” Bruno scornfully retorted.
“It had a welly good reason. I _heerd_ it say ‘Why _shouldn’t_ I walk on
my own forehead?’ So a course it _did_, oo know!”

“If _that’s_ a good reason, Bruno,” I said, “why shouldn’t _you_ get up
that tree?”

“_Shall_, in a minute,” said Bruno: “soon as we’ve done talking. Only
two peoples _ca’n’t_ talk comfably togevver, when one’s getting up a
tree, and the other isn’t!”

It appeared to me that a conversation would scarcely be ‘comfable’ while
trees were being climbed, even if _both_ the ‘peoples’ were doing it:
but it was evidently dangerous to oppose any theory of Bruno’s; so I
thought it best to let the question drop, and to ask for an account of
the machine that made things _longer_.

This time Bruno was at a loss, and left it to Sylvie. “It’s like a
mangle,” she said: “if things are put in, they get squoze——”

“Squeezeled!” Bruno interrupted.

“Yes.” Sylvie accepted the correction, but did not attempt to pronounce
the word, which was evidently new to her. “They get—like that—and they
come out, oh, ever so long!”

“Once,” Bruno began again, “Sylvie and me writed——”

“Wrote!” Sylvie whispered.

“Well, we _wroted_ a Nursery-Song, and the Professor mangled it longer
for us. It were ‘_There was a little Man, And he had a little gun, And
the bullets——_’”

“I know the rest,” I interrupted. “But would you say it _long_—I mean
the way that it came _out_ of the mangle?”

“We’ll get the Professor to _sing_ it for you,” said Sylvie. “It would
spoil it to _say_ it.”

“I would like to meet the Professor,” I said. “And I would like to take
you all with me, to see some friends of mine, that live near here. Would
you like to come?”

“I don’t think the _Professor_ would like to come,” said Sylvie. “He’s
_very_ shy. But _we’d_ like it very much. Only we’d better not come
_this_ size, you know.”

The difficulty had occurred to me already: and I had felt that perhaps
there _would_ be a slight awkwardness in introducing two such tiny
friends into Society. “What size will you be?” I enquired.

“We’d better come as—common _children_,” Sylvie thoughtfully replied.
“That’s the easiest size to manage.”

“Could you come to-day?” I said, thinking “then we could have you at the
picnic!”

Sylvie considered a little. “Not _to-day_,” she replied. “We haven’t got
the things ready. We’ll come on—Tuesday next, if you like. And now,
_really_, Bruno, you must come and do your lessons.”

“I _wiss_ oo wouldn’t say ‘_really_ Bruno!’” the little fellow pleaded,
with pouting lips that made him look prettier than ever. “It _always_
shows there’s something horrid coming! And I won’t kiss you, if you’re
so unkind.”

“Ah, but you _have_ kissed me!” Sylvie exclaimed in merry triumph.

“Well then, I’ll _un_kiss you!” And he threw his arms round her neck for
this novel, but apparently not _very_ painful, operation.

“It’s _very_ like _kissing_!” Sylvie remarked, as soon as her lips were
again free for speech.

“Oo don’t know _nuffin_ about it! It were just the _conkery_!” Bruno
replied with much severity, as he marched away.

Sylvie turned her laughing face to me. “Shall we come on Tuesday?” she
said.

“Very well,” I said: “let it be Tuesday next. But where _is_ the
Professor? Did he come with you to Fairyland?”

“No,” said Sylvie. “But he promised he’d come and see us, _some_ day.
He’s getting his Lecture ready. So he has to stay at home.”

“At home?” I said dreamily, not feeling quite sure what she had said.

“Yes, Sir. His Lordship and Lady Muriel _are_ at home. Please to walk
this way.”



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                           THE THREE BADGERS.


Still more dreamily I found myself following this imperious voice into a
room where the Earl, his daughter, and Arthur, were seated. “So you’re
come _at last_!” said Lady Muriel, in a tone of playful reproach.

“I was delayed,” I stammered. Though _what_ it was that had delayed me I
should have been puzzled to explain! Luckily no questions were asked.

The carriage was ordered round, the hamper, containing our contribution
to the Picnic, was duly stowed away, and we set forth.

There was no need for _me_ to maintain the conversation. Lady Muriel and
Arthur were evidently on those most delightful of terms, where one has
no need to check thought after thought, as it rises to the lips, with
the fear ‘_this_ will not be appreciated—_this_ will give offence—_this_
will sound too serious—this will sound flippant’: like very old friends,
in fullest sympathy, their talk rippled on.

“Why shouldn’t we desert the Picnic and go in some other direction?” she
suddenly suggested. “A party of four is surely self-sufficing? And as
for _food_, our hamper——”

“Why _shouldn’t_ we? What a genuine _lady’s_ argument!” laughed Arthur.
“A lady never knows on which side the _onus probandi_—the burden of
proving—lies!”

“Do _men_ always know?” she asked with a pretty assumption of meek
docility.

“With _one_ exception—the only one I can think of—Dr. Watts, who has
asked the senseless question

  ‘Why should I deprive my neighbour
  Of his goods against his will?’

Fancy _that_ as an argument for Honesty! His position seems to be ‘I’m
only honest because I see no reason to steal.’ And the _thief’s_ answer
is of course complete and crushing. ‘I deprive my neighbour of his goods
because I want them myself. And I do it against his will because there’s
no chance of getting him to consent to it!’”

“I can give you one other exception,” I said: “an argument I heard only
to-day—and _not_ by a lady. ‘Why shouldn’t I walk on my own forehead?’”

“What a curious subject for speculation!” said Lady Muriel, turning to
me, with eyes brimming over with laughter. “May we know who propounded
the question? And _did_ he walk on his own forehead?”

“I ca’n’t remember _who_ it was that said it!” I faltered. “Nor _where_
I heard it!”

“Whoever it was, I hope we shall meet him at the Picnic!” said Lady
Muriel. “It’s a _far_ more interesting question than ‘_Isn’t_ this a
picturesque ruin?’ ‘_Aren’t_ those autumn-tints lovely?’ I shall have to
answer those two questions _ten_ times, at least, this afternoon!”

“That’s one of the miseries of Society!” said Arthur. “Why ca’n’t people
let one enjoy the beauties of Nature without having to _say_ so every
minute? Why should Life be one long Catechism?”

“It’s just as bad at a picture-gallery,” the Earl remarked. “I went to
the R.A. last May, with a conceited young artist: and he _did_ torment
me! I wouldn’t have minded his criticizing the pictures _himself_: but
_I_ had to agree with him—or else to argue the point, which would have
been worse!”

“It was _depreciatory_ criticism, of course?” said Arthur.

“I don’t see the ‘of course’ at all.”

“Why, did you ever know a conceited man dare to _praise_ a picture? The
one thing he dreads (next to not being noticed) is _to be proved
fallible_! If you once _praise_ a picture, your character for
_infallibility_ hangs by a thread. Suppose it’s a figure-picture, and
you venture to say ‘draws well.’ Somebody measures it, and finds one of
the proportions an eighth of an inch wrong. _You_ are disposed of as a
critic! ‘Did you say he draws _well_?’ your friends enquire
sarcastically, while you hang your head and blush. No. The only _safe_
course, if any one says ‘draws well,’ is to shrug your shoulders.
‘_Draws_ well?’ you repeat thoughtfully. ‘Draws _well_? Humph!’ That’s
the way to become a great critic!”

Thus airily chatting, after a pleasant drive through a few miles of
beautiful scenery, we reached the _rendezvous_—a ruined castle—where the
rest of the picnic-party were already assembled. We spent an hour or two
in sauntering about the ruins: gathering at last, by common consent,
into a few random groups, seated on the side of a mound, which commanded
a good view of the old castle and its surroundings.

The momentary silence, that ensued, was promptly taken possession of—or,
more correctly, taken into custody—by a Voice; a voice so smooth, so
monotonous, so sonorous, that one felt, with a shudder, that any other
conversation was precluded, and that, unless some desperate remedy were
adopted, we were fated to listen to a Lecture, of which no man could
foresee the end!

The speaker was a broadly-built man, whose large, flat, pale face was
bounded on the North by a fringe of hair, on the East and West by a
fringe of whisker, and on the South by a fringe of beard—the whole
constituting a uniform halo of stubbly whitey-brown bristles. His
features were so entirely destitute of expression that I could not help
saying to myself—helplessly, as if in the clutches of a night-mare—“they
are only penciled in: no final touches as yet!” And he had a way of
ending every sentence with a sudden smile, which spread like a ripple
over that vast blank surface, and was gone in a moment, leaving behind
it such absolute solemnity that I felt impelled to murmur “it was not
_he_: it was somebody else that smiled!”

“Do you observe?” (such was the phrase with which the wretch began each
sentence) “Do you observe the way in which that broken arch, at the very
top of the ruin, stands out against the clear sky? It is placed
_exactly_ right: and there is _exactly_ enough of it. A little more, or
a little less, and all would be utterly spoiled!”

[Illustration: A LECTURE ON ART]

“Oh gifted architect!” murmured Arthur, inaudibly to all but Lady Muriel
and myself. “Foreseeing the exact effect his work would have, when in
ruins, centuries after his death!”

“And do you observe, where those trees slope down the hill,” (indicating
them with a sweep of the hand, and with all the patronising air of the
man who has himself arranged the landscape), “how the mists rising from
the river fill up _exactly_ those intervals where we _need_
indistinctness, for artistic effect? Here, in the foreground, a few
clear touches are not amiss: but a _back_-ground without mist, you know!
It is simply barbarous! Yes, we _need_ indistinctness!”

The orator looked so pointedly at _me_ as he uttered these words, that I
felt bound to reply, by murmuring something to the effect that I hardly
felt the need _myself_—and that I enjoyed looking at a thing, better,
when I could _see_ it.

“Quite so!” the great man sharply took me up. “From _your_ point of
view, that is correctly put. But for any one who has a soul for _Art_,
such a view is preposterous. _Nature_ is one thing. _Art_ is another.
_Nature_ shows us the world as it _is_. But _Art_—as a Latin author
tells us—_Art_, you know—the words have escaped my memory——”

“_Ars est celare Naturam_,” Arthur interposed with a delightful
promptitude.

“Quite so!” the orator replied with an air of relief. “I thank you! _Ars
est celare Naturam_—but that isn’t it.” And, for a few peaceful moments,
the orator brooded, frowningly, over the quotation. The welcome
opportunity was seized, and _another_ voice struck into the silence.

“What a _lovely_ old ruin it is!” cried a young lady in spectacles, the
very embodiment of the March of Mind, looking at Lady Muriel, as the
proper recipient of all really _original_ remarks. “And _don’t_ you
admire those autumn-tints on the trees? _I_ do, _intensely_!”

Lady Muriel shot a meaning glance at me; but replied with admirable
gravity. “Oh yes indeed, indeed! _So_ true!”

“And isn’t it strange,” said the young lady, passing with startling
suddenness from Sentiment to Science, “that the mere impact of certain
coloured rays upon the Retina should give us such exquisite pleasure?”

“You have studied Physiology, then?” a certain young Doctor courteously
enquired.

“Oh, _yes_! Isn’t it a _sweet_ Science?”

Arthur slightly smiled. “It seems a paradox, does it not,” he went on,
“that the image formed on the Retina should be inverted?”

“It _is_ puzzling,” she candidly admitted. “Why is it we do not _see_
things upside-down?”

“You have never heard the Theory, then, that the _Brain_ also is
inverted?”

“No _indeed_! What a _beautiful_ fact! But how is it _proved_?”

“_Thus_,” replied Arthur, with all the gravity of ten Professors rolled
into one. “What we call the _vertex_ of the Brain is really its _base_:
and what we call its _base_ is really its _vertex_: it is simply a
question of _nomenclature_.”

This last polysyllable settled the matter. “How truly delightful!” the
fair Scientist exclaimed with enthusiasm. “I shall ask our Physiological
Lecturer why he never gave us that _exquisite_ Theory!”

“I’d give something to be present when the question is asked!” Arthur
whispered to me, as, at a signal from Lady Muriel, we moved on to where
the hampers had been collected, and devoted ourselves to the more
_substantial_ business of the day.

We ‘waited’ on ourselves, as the modern barbarism (combining two good
things in such a way as to secure the discomforts of both and the
advantages of neither) of having a picnic with servants to wait upon
you, had not yet reached this out-of-the-way region—and of course the
gentlemen did not even take their places until the ladies had been duly
provided with all imaginable creature-comforts. Then I supplied myself
with a plate of something solid and a glass of something fluid, and
found a place next to Lady Muriel.

It had been left vacant—apparently for Arthur, as a distinguished
stranger: but he had turned shy, and had placed himself next to the
young lady in spectacles, whose high rasping voice had already cast
loose upon Society such ominous phrases as “Man is a bundle of
Qualities!”, “the Objective is only attainable through the Subjective!”.
Arthur was bearing it bravely: but several faces wore a look of alarm,
and I thought it high time to start some less metaphysical topic.

“In my nursery days,” I began, “when the weather didn’t suit for an
out-of-doors picnic, we were allowed to have a peculiar kind, that we
enjoyed hugely. The table cloth was laid _under_ the table, instead of
upon it: we sat round it on the floor: and I believe we really enjoyed
that extremely uncomfortable kind of dinner more than we ever did the
orthodox arrangement!”

“I’ve no doubt of it,” Lady Muriel replied. “There’s nothing a
well-regulated child hates so much as regularity. I believe a really
healthy boy would thoroughly enjoy Greek Grammar—if only he might stand
on his head to learn it! And your carpet-dinner certainly spared you
_one_ feature of a picnic, which is to me its chief drawback.”

“The chance of a shower?” I suggested.

“No, the chance—or rather the certainty—of _live_ things occurring in
combination with one’s food! _Spiders_ are _my_ bugbear. Now my father
has _no_ sympathy with that sentiment—_have_ you, dear?” For the Earl
had caught the word and turned to listen.

“To each his sufferings, all are men,” he replied in the sweet sad tones
that seemed natural to him: “each has his pet aversion.”

“But you’ll never guess _his_!” Lady Muriel said, with that delicate
silvery laugh that was music to my ears.

I declined to attempt the impossible.

“He doesn’t like _snakes_!” she said, in a stage whisper. “Now, isn’t
_that_ an unreasonable aversion? Fancy not liking such a dear,
coaxingly, _clingingly_ affectionate creature as a snake!”

“Not like _snakes_!” I exclaimed. “Is such a thing possible?”

“No, he _doesn’t_ like them,” she repeated with a pretty mock-gravity.
“He’s not _afraid_ of them, you know. But he doesn’t _like_ them. He
says they’re too waggly!”

I was more startled than I liked to show. There was something so
_uncanny_ in this echo of the very words I had so lately heard from that
little forest-sprite, that it was only by a great effort I succeeded in
saying, carelessly, “Let us banish so unpleasant a topic. Won’t you sing
us something, Lady Muriel? I know you _do_ sing without music.”

“The only songs I know—without music—are _desperately_ sentimental, I’m
afraid! Are your tears all ready?”

“Quite ready! Quite ready!” came from all sides, and Lady Muriel—not
being one of those lady-singers who think it _de rigueur_ to decline to
sing till they have been petitioned three or four times, and have
pleaded failure of memory, loss of voice, and other conclusive reasons
for silence—began at once:—

[Illustration: ‘THREE BADGERS ON A MOSSY STONE’]

  “There be three Badgers on a mossy stone,
    Beside a dark and covered way:
  Each dreams himself a monarch on his throne,
        And so they stay and stay——
  Though their old Father languishes alone,
        They stay, and stay, and stay.

  “There be three Herrings loitering around,
    Longing to share that mossy seat:
  Each Herring tries to sing what she has found
        That makes Life seem so sweet.
  Thus, with a grating and uncertain sound,
        They bleat, and bleat, and bleat.

  “The Mother-Herring, on the salt sea-wave,
    Sought vainly for her absent ones:
  The Father-Badger, writhing in a cave,
        Shrieked out ‘Return, my sons!
  You shall have buns,’ he shrieked, ‘if you’ll behave!
        Yea, buns, and buns, and buns!’

  “‘I fear,’ said she, ‘your sons have gone astray?
    My daughters left me while I slept.’
  ‘Yes ’m,’ the Badger said: ‘it’s as you say.’
        ‘They should be better kept.’
  Thus the poor parents talked the time away,
        And wept, and wept, and wept.”

Here Bruno broke off suddenly. “The Herrings’ Song wants anuvver tune,
Sylvie,” he said. “And I ca’n’t sing it—not wizout oo plays it for me!”

[Illustration: ‘THE FATHER-BADGER, WRITHING IN A CAVE’]

Instantly Sylvie seated herself upon a tiny mushroom, that happened to
grow in front of a daisy, as if it were the most ordinary musical
instrument in the world, and played on the petals as if they were the
notes of an organ. And such delicious _tiny_ music it was! Such
teeny-tiny music!

Bruno held his head on one side, and listened very gravely for a few
moments until he had caught the melody. Then the sweet childish voice
rang out once more:—

  “Oh, dear beyond our dearest dreams,
  Fairer than all that fairest seems!
  To feast the rosy hours away,
  To revel in a roundelay!
        How blest would be
        A life so free——
  Ipwergis-Pudding to consume,
  And drink the subtle Azzigoom!

  “And if, in other days and hours,
  Mid other fluffs and other flowers,
  The choice were given me how to dine——
  ‘Name what thou wilt: it shall be thine!’
        Oh, then I see
        The life for me——
  Ipwergis-Pudding to consume,
  And drink the subtle Azzigoom!”

“Oo may leave off playing _now_, Sylvie. I can do the uvver tune much
better wizout a compliment.”

“He means ‘without _accompaniment_,’” Sylvie whispered, smiling at my
puzzled look: and she pretended to shut up the stops of the organ.

  “The Badgers did not care to talk to Fish:
    They did not dote on Herrings’ songs:
  They never had experienced the dish
        To which that name belongs:
  ‘And oh, to pinch their tails,’ (this was their wish,)
        ‘With tongs, yea, tongs, and tongs!’”

I ought to mention that he marked the parenthesis, in the air, with his
finger. It seemed to me a very good plan. You know there’s no _sound_ to
represent it—any more than there is for a question.

Suppose you have said to your friend, “You are better to-day,” and that
you want him to understand that you are asking him a _question_, what
can be simpler than just to make a ‘?’ in the air with your finger? He
would understand you in a moment!

  “‘And are not these the Fish,’ the Eldest sighed,
    ‘Whose Mother dwells beneath the foam?’
  ‘They _are_ the Fish!’ the Second one replied.
      ‘And they have left their home!’
  ‘Oh wicked Fish,’ the Youngest Badger cried,
      ‘To roam, yea, roam, and roam!’

[Illustration: ‘THOSE AGED ONES WAXED GAY’]

  “Gently the Badgers trotted to the shore——
    The sandy shore that fringed the bay:
  Each in his mouth a living Herring bore——
        Those aged ones waxed gay:
  Clear rang their voices through the ocean’s roar,
        ‘Hooray, hooray, hooray!’”

“So they all got safe home again,” Bruno said, after waiting a minute to
see if _I_ had anything to say: he evidently felt that _some_ remark
ought to be made. And I couldn’t help wishing there were some such rule
in Society, at the conclusion of a song—that the singer _herself_ should
say the right thing, and not leave it to the audience. Suppose a young
lady has just been warbling (‘with a grating and uncertain sound’)
Shelley’s exquisite lyric ‘_I arise from dreams of thee_’: how much
nicer it would be, instead of _your_ having to say “Oh, _thank_ you,
_thank_ you!” for the young lady herself to remark, as she draws on her
gloves, while the impassioned words ‘_Oh, press it to thine own, or it
will break at last!_’ are still ringing in your ears, “—but she wouldn’t
do it, you know. So it _did_ break at last.”

“And I _knew_ it would!” she added quietly, as I started at the sudden
crash of broken glass. “You’ve been holding it sideways for the last
minute, and letting all the champagne run out! Were you asleep, I
wonder? I’m _so_ sorry my singing has such a narcotic effect!”



                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                      QUEER STREET, NUMBER FORTY.


Lady Muriel was the speaker. And, for the moment, that was the only fact
I could clearly realise. But how she came to be there—and how _I_ came
to be there—and how the glass of champagne came to be there—all these
were questions which I felt it better to think out in silence, and not
commit myself to any statement till I understood things a little more
clearly.

‘First accumulate a mass of Facts: and _then_ construct a Theory.’
_That_, I believe, is the true Scientific Method. I sat up, rubbed my
eyes, and began to accumulate Facts.

A smooth grassy slope, bounded, at the upper end, by venerable ruins
half buried in ivy, at the lower, by a stream seen through arching
trees—a dozen gaily-dressed people, seated in little groups, here and
there—some open hampers—the _débris_ of a picnic—such were the _Facts_
accumulated by the Scientific Researcher. And now, what deep,
far-reaching _Theory_ was he to construct from them? The Researcher
found himself at fault. Yet stay! One Fact had escaped his notice. While
all the rest were grouped in twos and in threes, _Arthur_ was alone:
while all tongues were talking, _his_ was silent: while all faces were
gay, _his_ was gloomy and despondent. Here was a _Fact_ indeed! The
Researcher felt that a _Theory_ must be constructed without delay.

Lady Muriel had just risen and left the party. Could _that_ be the cause
of his despondency? The Theory hardly rose to the dignity of a Working
Hypothesis. Clearly more Facts were needed.

The Researcher looked round him once more: and now the Facts accumulated
in such bewildering profusion, that the Theory was lost among them. For
Lady Muriel had gone to meet a strange gentleman, just visible in the
distance: and now she was returning with him, both of them talking
eagerly and joyfully, like old friends who have been long parted: and
now she was moving from group to group, introducing the new hero of the
hour: and he, young, tall, and handsome, moved gracefully at her side,
with the erect bearing and firm tread of a soldier. Verily, the Theory
looked gloomy for Arthur! His eye caught mine, and he crossed to me.

“He is very handsome,” I said.

“Abominably handsome!” muttered Arthur: then smiled at his own bitter
words. “Lucky no one heard me but you!”

“Doctor Forester,” said Lady Muriel, who had just joined us, “let me
introduce to you my cousin Eric Lindon—_Captain_ Lindon, I should say.”

Arthur shook off his ill-temper instantly and completely, as he rose and
gave the young soldier his hand. “I have heard of you,” he said. “I’m
very glad to make the acquaintance of Lady Muriel’s cousin.”

“Yes, that’s all I’m distinguished for, _as yet_!” said Eric (so we soon
got to call him) with a winning smile. “And I doubt,” glancing at Lady
Muriel, “if it even amounts to a good-conduct-badge! But it’s something
to begin with.”

“You must come to my father, Eric,” said Lady Muriel. “I think he’s
wandering among the ruins.” And the pair moved on.

The gloomy look returned to Arthur’s face: and I could see it was only
to distract his thoughts that he took his place at the side of the
metaphysical young lady, and resumed their interrupted discussion.

“Talking of Herbert Spencer,” he began, “do you really find no _logical_
difficulty in regarding Nature as a process of involution, passing from
definite coherent homogeneity to indefinite incoherent heterogeneity?”

Amused as I was at the ingenious jumble he had made of Spencer’s words,
I kept as grave a face as I could.

“No _physical_ difficulty,” she confidently replied: “but I haven’t
studied _Logic_ much. Would you _state_ the difficulty?”

“Well,” said Arthur, “do you accept it as self-evident? Is it as
obvious, for instance, as that ‘things that are greater than the same
are greater than one another’?”

“To _my_ mind,” she modestly replied, “it seems _quite_ as obvious. I
grasp _both_ truths by intuition. But _other_ minds may need some
logical—I forget the technical terms.”

“For a _complete_ logical argument,” Arthur began with admirable
solemnity, “we need two prim Misses——”

“Of course!” she interrupted. “I remember that word now. And they
produce——?”

“A Delusion,” said Arthur.

“Ye—es?” she said dubiously. “I don’t seem to remember that so well. But
what is the _whole_ argument called?”

“A Sillygism.”

“Ah, yes! I remember now. But I don’t need a Sillygism, you know, to
prove that mathematical axiom you mentioned.”

“Nor to prove that ‘all angles are equal’, I suppose?”

“Why, of course not! One takes such a simple truth as that for granted!”

Here I ventured to interpose, and to offer her a plate of strawberries
and cream. I felt really uneasy at the thought that she _might_ detect
the trick: and I contrived, unperceived by her, to shake my head
reprovingly at the pseudo-philosopher. Equally unperceived by her,
Arthur slightly raised his shoulders, and spread his hands abroad, as
who should say “What else can I say to her?” and moved away, leaving her
to discuss her strawberries by ‘involution,’ or any other way she
preferred.

By this time the carriages, that were to convey the revelers to their
respective homes, had begun to assemble outside the Castle-grounds: and
it became evident—now that Lady Muriel’s cousin had joined our
party—that the problem, how to convey five people to Elveston, with a
carriage that would only hold four, must somehow be solved.

The Honorable Eric Lindon, who was at this moment walking up and down
with Lady Muriel, might have solved it at once, no doubt, by announcing
his intention of returning on foot. Of _this_ solution there did not
seem to be the very smallest probability.

The next best solution, it seemed to me, was that _I_ should walk home:
and this I at once proposed.

“You’re sure you don’t mind?” said the Earl. “I’m afraid the carriage
won’t take us all, and I don’t like to suggest to Eric to desert his
cousin so soon.”

“So far from minding it,” I said, “I should prefer it. It will give me
time to sketch this beautiful old ruin.”

“I’ll keep you company,” Arthur suddenly said. And, in answer to what I
suppose was a look of surprise on my face, he said in a low voice, “I
_really_ would rather. I shall be quite _de trop_ in the carriage!”

“I think I’ll walk too,” said the Earl. “You’ll have to be content with
_Eric_ as your escort,” he added, to Lady Muriel, who had joined us
while he was speaking.

“You must be as entertaining as Cerberus—‘three gentlemen rolled into
one’—” Lady Muriel said to her companion. “It will be a grand military
exploit!”

“A sort of Forlorn Hope?” the Captain modestly suggested.

“You _do_ pay pretty compliments!” laughed his fair cousin. “Good day to
you, gentlemen three—or rather deserters three!” And the two young folk
entered the carriage and were driven away.

“How long will your sketch take?” said Arthur.

“Well,” I said, “I should like an hour for it. Don’t you think you had
better go without me? I’ll return by train. I know there’s one in about
an hour’s time.”

“Perhaps that _would_ be best,” said the Earl. “The Station is quite
close.”

So I was left to my own devices, and soon found a comfortable seat, at
the foot of a tree, from which I had a good view of the ruins.

“It is a very drowsy day,” I said to myself, idly turning over the
leaves of the sketch-book to find a blank page. “Why, I thought you were
a mile off by this time!” For, to my surprise, the two walkers were back
again.

“I came back to remind you,” Arthur said, “that the trains go every ten
minutes——”

“Nonsense!” I said. “It isn’t the Metropolitan Railway!”

“It _is_ the Metropolitan Railway,” the Earl insisted. “This is a part
of Kensington.”

“Why do you talk with your eyes shut?” said Arthur. “Wake up!”

“I think it’s the heat makes me so drowsy,” I said, hoping, but not
feeling quite sure, that I was talking sense. “Am I awake now?”

“I think _not_,” the Earl judicially pronounced. “What do _you_ think,
Doctor? He’s only got one eye open!”

“And he’s snoring like anything!” cried Bruno. “Do wake up, you dear old
thing!” And he and Sylvie set to work, rolling the heavy head from side
to side, as if its connection with the shoulders was a matter of no sort
of importance.

And at last the Professor opened his eyes, and sat up, blinking at us
with eyes of utter bewilderment. “Would you have the kindness to
mention,” he said, addressing me with his usual old-fashioned courtesy,
“whereabouts we are just now—and _who_ we are, beginning with me?”

I thought it best to begin with the children. “This is Sylvie, Sir; and
_this_ is Bruno.”

“Ah, yes! I know _them_ well enough!” the old man murmured. “It’s
_myself_ I’m most anxious about. And perhaps you’ll be good enough to
mention, at the same time, how I got here?”

“A harder problem occurs to _me_,” I ventured to say: “and that is, how
you’re to get back again.”

“True, true!” the Professor replied. “That’s _the_ Problem, no doubt.
Viewed _as_ a Problem, outside of oneself, it is a _most_ interesting
one. Viewed as a portion of one’s own biography, it is, I must admit,
very distressing!” He groaned, but instantly added, with a chuckle, “As
to _myself_, I think you mentioned that I am——”

“Oo’re the _Professor_!” Bruno shouted in his ear. “Didn’t oo know
_that_? Oo’ve come from _Outland_! And it’s _ever_ so far away from
here!”

The Professor leapt to his feet with the agility of a boy. “Then there’s
no time to lose!” he exclaimed anxiously. “I’ll just ask this guileless
peasant, with his brace of buckets that contain (apparently) water, if
he’ll be so kind as to direct us. Guileless peasant!” he proceeded in a
louder voice. “Would you tell us the way to Outland?”

The guileless peasant turned with a sheepish grin. “Hey?” was all he
said.

“The—way—to—Outland!” the Professor repeated.

The guileless peasant set down his buckets and considered. “Ah dunnot——”

“I ought to mention,” the Professor hastily put in, “that whatever you
say will be used in evidence against you.”

The guileless peasant instantly resumed his buckets. “Then ah says
nowt!” he answered briskly, and walked away at a great pace.

The children gazed sadly at the rapidly vanishing figure. “He goes very
quick!” the Professor said with a sigh. “But I _know_ that was the right
thing to say. I’ve studied your English Laws. However, let’s ask this
next man that’s coming. He is _not_ guileless, and he is _not_ a
peasant—but I don’t know that either point is of vital importance.”

It was, in fact, the Honourable Eric Lindon, who had apparently
fulfilled his task of escorting Lady Muriel home, and was now strolling
leisurely up and down the road outside the house, enjoying a solitary
cigar.

“Might I trouble you, Sir, to tell us the nearest way to Outland!”
Oddity as he was, in outward appearance, the Professor was, in that
essential nature which no outward disguise could conceal, a thorough
gentleman.

And, as such, Eric Lindon accepted him instantly. He took the cigar from
his mouth, and delicately shook off the ash, while he considered. “The
name sounds strange to me,” he said. “I doubt if I can help you.”

“It is not _very_ far from _Fairyland_,” the Professor suggested.

Eric Lindon’s eye-brows were slightly raised at these words, and an
amused smile, which he courteously tried to repress, flitted across his
handsome face. “A trifle _cracked_!” he muttered to himself. “But what a
jolly old patriarch it is!” Then he turned to the children. “And ca’n’t
_you_ help him, little folk?” he said, with a gentleness of tone that
seemed to win their hearts at once. “Surely _you_ know all about it?

  ‘How many miles to Babylon?
    Three-score miles and ten.
  Can I get there by candlelight?
    Yes, and back again!’”

To my surprise, Bruno ran forwards to him, as if he were some old friend
of theirs, seized the disengaged hand and hung on to it with both of his
own: and there stood this tall dignified officer in the middle of the
road, gravely swinging a little boy to and fro, while Sylvie stood ready
to push him, exactly as if a real swing had suddenly been provided for
their pastime.

“We don’t want to get to _Babylon_, oo know!” Bruno explained as he
swung.

“And it isn’t _candlelight_: it’s _daylight_!” Sylvie added, giving the
swing a push of extra vigour, which nearly took the whole machine off
its balance.

By this time it was clear to me that Eric Lindon was quite unconscious
of my presence. Even the Professor and the children seemed to have lost
sight of me: and I stood in the midst of the group, as unconcernedly as
a ghost, seeing but unseen.

“How perfectly isochronous!” the Professor exclaimed with enthusiasm. He
had his watch in his hand, and was carefully counting Bruno’s
oscillations. “He measures time quite as accurately as a pendulum!”

[Illustration: ‘HOW PERFECTLY ISOCHRONOUS!’]

“Yet even pendulums,” the good-natured young soldier observed, as he
carefully released his hand from Bruno’s grasp, “are not a joy _for
ever_! Come, that’s enough for one bout, little man! Next time we meet,
you shall have another. Meanwhile you’d better take this old gentleman
to Queer Street, Number——”

“_We’ll_ find it!” cried Bruno eagerly, as they dragged the Professor
away.

“We are much indebted to you!” the Professor said, looking over his
shoulder.

“Don’t mention it!” replied the officer, raising his hat as a parting
salute.

“_What_ number did you say!” the Professor called from the distance.

The officer made a trumpet of his two hands. “Forty!” he shouted in
stentorian tones. “And not _piano_, by any means!” he added to himself.
“It’s a mad world, my masters, a mad world!” He lit another cigar, and
strolled on towards his hotel.

“What a lovely evening!” I said, joining him as he passed me.

“Lovely indeed,” he said. “Where did _you_ come from? Dropped from the
clouds?”

“I’m strolling your way,” I said; and no further explanation seemed
necessary.

“Have a cigar?”

“Thanks: I’m not a smoker.”

“Is there a Lunatic Asylum near here?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Thought there might be. Met a lunatic just now. Queer old fish as ever
I saw!”

And so, in friendly chat, we took our homeward ways, and wished each
other ‘good-night’ at the door of his hotel.

Left to myself, I felt the ‘eerie’ feeling rush over me again, and saw,
standing at the door of Number Forty, the three figures I knew so well.

“Then it’s the wrong house?” Bruno was saying.

“No, no! It’s the right _house_,” the Professor cheerfully replied: “but
it’s the wrong _street_. _That’s_ where we’ve made our mistake! Our best
plan, now, will be to——”

It was over. The street was empty. Commonplace life was around me, and
the ‘eerie’ feeling had fled.



                              CHAPTER XIX.
                         HOW TO MAKE A PHLIZZ.


The week passed without any further communication with the ‘Hall,’ as
Arthur was evidently fearful that we might ‘wear out our welcome’; but
when, on Sunday morning, we were setting out for church, I gladly agreed
to his proposal to go round and enquire after the Earl, who was said to
be unwell.

Eric, who was strolling in the garden, gave us a good report of the
invalid, who was still in bed, with Lady Muriel in attendance.

“Are you coming with us to church?” I enquired.

“Thanks, no,” he courteously replied. “It’s not—exactly—in my line, you
know. It’s an excellent institution—for the _poor_. When I’m with my own
folk, I go, just to set them an example. But I’m not known _here_: so I
think I’ll excuse myself sitting out a sermon. Country-preachers are
always so dull!”

Arthur was silent till we were out of hearing. Then he said to himself,
almost inaudibly, “_Where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them._”

“Yes,” I assented: “no doubt that _is_ the principle on which
church-going rests.”

“And when he _does_ go,” he continued (our thoughts ran so much
together, that our conversation was often slightly elliptical), “I
suppose he repeats the words ‘_I believe in the Communion of Saints_’?”

But by this time we had reached the little church, into which a goodly
stream of worshipers, consisting mainly of fishermen and their families,
was flowing.

The service would have been pronounced by any modern æsthetic
religionist—or religious æsthete, which is it?—to be crude and cold: to
me, coming fresh from the ever-advancing developments of a London church
under a _soi-disant_ ‘Catholic’ Rector, it was unspeakably refreshing.

There was no theatrical procession of demure little choristers, trying
their best not to simper under the admiring gaze of the congregation:
the people’s share in the service was taken by the people themselves,
unaided, except that a few good voices, judiciously posted here and
there among them, kept the singing from going too far astray.

There was no murdering of the noble music, contained in the Bible and
the Liturgy, by its recital in a dead monotone, with no more expression
than a mechanical talking-doll.

No, the prayers were _prayed_, the lessons were _read_, and—best of
all—the sermon was _talked_; and I found myself repeating, as we left
the church, the words of Jacob, when he ‘_awaked out of his sleep_.’
“‘_Surely the Lord is in this place! This is none other but the house of
God, and this is the gate of heaven._’”

“Yes,” said Arthur, apparently in answer to my thoughts, “those ‘high’
services are fast becoming pure Formalism. More and more the people are
beginning to regard them as ‘performances,’ in which they only ‘assist’
in the French sense. And it is _specially_ bad for the little boys.
They’d be much less self-conscious as pantomime-fairies. With all that
dressing-up, and stage-entrances and exits, and being always _en
evidence_, no wonder if they’re eaten up with vanity, the blatant little
coxcombs!”

When we passed the Hall on our return, we found the Earl and Lady Muriel
sitting out in the garden. Eric had gone for a stroll.

We joined them, and the conversation soon turned on the sermon we had
just heard, the subject of which was ‘selfishness.’

“What a change has come over our pulpits,” Arthur remarked, “since the
time when Paley gave that utterly selfish definition of virtue, ‘_the
doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, and for the sake
of everlasting happiness_’!”

Lady Muriel looked at him enquiringly, but she seemed to have learned by
intuition, what years of experience had taught _me_, that the way to
elicit Arthur’s deepest thoughts was neither to assent nor dissent, but
simply to _listen_.

“At that time,” he went on, “a great tidal wave of selfishness was
sweeping over human thought. Right and Wrong had somehow been
transformed into Gain and Loss, and Religion had become a sort of
commercial transaction. We may be thankful that our preachers are
beginning to take a nobler view of life.”

“But is it not taught again and again in the _Bible_?” I ventured to
ask.

“Not in the Bible as a _whole_,” said Arthur. “In the Old Testament, no
doubt, rewards and punishments are constantly appealed to as motives for
action. That teaching is best for _children_, and the Israelites seem to
have been, mentally, _utter_ children. We guide our children thus, at
first: but we appeal, as soon as possible, to their innate sense of
Right and Wrong: and, when _that_ stage is safely past, we appeal to the
highest motive of all, the desire for likeness to, and union with, the
Supreme Good. I think you will find that to be the teaching of the
Bible, _as a whole_, beginning with ‘_that thy days may be long in the
land_,’ and ending with ‘_be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in
heaven is perfect_.’”

We were silent for awhile, and then Arthur went off on another tack.
“Look at the literature of Hymns, now. How cankered it is, through and
through, with selfishness! There are few human compositions more utterly
degraded than some modern Hymns!”

I quoted the stanza

  “Whatever, Lord, we lend to Thee,
  Repaid a thousandfold shall be,
  Then gladly will we give to Thee,
                      Giver of all!”

“Yes,” he said grimly: “that is the typical stanza. And the very last
charity-sermon I heard was infected with it. After giving many good
reasons for charity, the preacher wound up with ‘and, for all you give,
you will be repaid a thousandfold!’ Oh the utter meanness of such a
motive, to be put before men who _do_ know what self-sacrifice is, who
_can_ appreciate generosity and heroism! Talk of Original _Sin_!” he
went on with increasing bitterness. “Can you have a stronger proof of
the Original Goodness there must be in this nation, than the fact that
Religion has been preached to us, as a commercial speculation, for a
century, and that we still believe in a God?”

“It couldn’t have gone on so long,” Lady Muriel musingly remarked, “if
the Opposition hadn’t been practically silenced—put under what the
French call _la clôture_. Surely in any lecture-hall, or in private
society, such teaching would soon have been hooted down?”

“I trust so,” said Arthur: “and, though I don’t want to see ‘brawling in
church’ legalised, I must say that our preachers enjoy an _enormous_
privilege—which they ill deserve, and which they misuse terribly. We put
our man into a pulpit, and we virtually tell him ‘Now, you may stand
there and talk to us for half-an-hour. We won’t interrupt you by so much
as a _word_! You shall have it all your own way!’ And what does he give
us in return? Shallow twaddle, that, if it were addressed to you over a
dinner-table, you would think ‘Does the man take me for a _fool_?’”

The return of Eric from his walk checked the tide of Arthur’s eloquence,
and, after a few minutes’ talk on more conventional topics, we took our
leave. Lady Muriel walked with us to the gate. “You have given me much
to think about,” she said earnestly, as she gave Arthur her hand. “I’m
so glad you came in!” And her words brought a real glow of pleasure into
that pale worn face of his.

On the Tuesday, as Arthur did not seem equal to more walking, I took a
long stroll by myself, having stipulated that he was not to give the
_whole_ day to his books, but was to meet me at the Hall at about
tea-time. On my way back, I passed the Station just as the
afternoon-train came in sight, and sauntered down the stairs to see it
come in. But there was little to gratify my idle curiosity: and, when
the train was empty, and the platform clear, I found it was about time
to be moving on, if I meant to reach the Hall by five.

As I approached the end of the platform, from which a steep irregular
wooden staircase conducted to the upper world, I noticed two passengers,
who had evidently arrived by the train, but who, oddly enough, had
entirely escaped my notice, though the arrivals had been so few. They
were a young woman and a little girl: the former, so far as one could
judge by appearances, was a nursemaid, or possibly a nursery-governess,
in attendance on the child, whose refined face, even more than her
dress, distinguished her as of a higher class than her companion.

The child’s face was refined, but it was also a worn and sad one, and
told a tale (or so I seemed to read it) of much illness and suffering,
sweetly and patiently borne. She had a little crutch to help herself
along with: and she was now standing, looking wistfully up the long
staircase, and apparently waiting till she could muster courage to begin
the toilsome ascent.

There are some things one _says_ in life—as well as things one
_does_—which come automatically, by _reflex action_, as the
physiologists say (meaning, no doubt, action _without_ reflection, just
as _lucus_ is said to be derived ‘_a non lucendo_’). Closing one’s
eyelids, when something seems to be flying into the eye, is one of those
actions, and saying “May I carry the little girl up the stairs?” was
another. It wasn’t that any thought of offering help occurred to me, and
that _then_ I spoke: the first intimation I had, of being likely to make
that offer, was the sound of my own voice, and the discovery that the
offer had been made. The servant paused, doubtfully glancing from her
charge to me, and then back again to the child. “Would you like it,
dear?” she asked her. But no such doubt appeared to cross the child’s
mind: she lifted her arms eagerly to be taken up. “Please!” was all she
said, while a faint smile flickered on the weary little face. I took her
up with scrupulous care, and her little arm was at once clasped
trustfully round my neck.

[Illustration: THE LAME CHILD]

She was a _very_ light weight—so light, in fact, that the ridiculous
idea crossed my mind that it was rather easier going up, with her in my
arms, than it would have been without her: and, when we reached the road
above, with its cart-ruts and loose stones—all formidable obstacles for
a lame child—I found that I had said “I’d better carry her over this
rough place,” before I had formed any _mental_ connection between its
roughness and my gentle little burden. “Indeed it’s troubling you too
much, Sir!” the maid exclaimed. “She can walk very well on the flat.”
But the arm, that was twined about my neck, clung just an atom more
closely at the suggestion, and decided me to say “She’s no weight,
really. I’ll carry her a little further. I’m going your way.”

The nurse raised no further objection: and the next speaker was a ragged
little boy, with bare feet, and a broom over his shoulder, who ran
across the road, and pretended to sweep the perfectly dry road in front
of us. “Give us a ‘ap’ny!” the little urchin pleaded, with a broad grin
on his dirty face.

“_Don’t_ give him a ‘ap’ny!” said the little lady in my arms. The
_words_ sounded harsh: but the _tone_ was gentleness itself. “He’s an
_idle_ little boy!” And she laughed a laugh of such silvery sweetness as
I had never yet heard from any lips but Sylvie’s. To my astonishment,
the boy actually _joined_ in the laugh, as if there were some subtle
sympathy between them, as he ran away down the road and vanished through
a gap in the hedge.

But he was back in a few moments, having discarded his broom and
provided himself, from some mysterious source, with an exquisite bouquet
of flowers. “Buy a posy, buy a posy! Only a ‘ap’ny!” he chanted, with
the melancholy drawl of a professional beggar.

“_Don’t_ buy it!” was Her Majesty’s edict, as she looked down, with a
lofty scorn that seemed curiously mixed with tender interest, on the
ragged creature at her feet.

But this time I turned rebel, and ignored the royal commands. Such
lovely flowers, and of forms so entirely new to me, were not to be
abandoned at the bidding of any little maid, however imperious. I bought
the bouquet: and the little boy, after popping the halfpenny into his
mouth, turned head-over-heels, as if to ascertain whether the human
mouth is really adapted to serve as a money-box.

With wonder, that increased every moment, I turned over the flowers, and
examined them one by one: there was not a single one among them that I
could remember having ever seen before. At last I turned to the
nursemaid. “Do these flowers grow wild about here? I never saw——” but
the speech died away on my lips. The nursemaid had vanished!

“You can put me down, _now_, if you like,” Sylvie quietly remarked.

I obeyed in silence, and could only ask myself “Is this a _dream_?”, on
finding Sylvie and Bruno walking one on either side of me, and clinging
to my hands with the ready confidence of childhood.

“You’re larger than when I saw you last!” I began. “Really I think we
ought to be introduced again! There’s so much of you that I never met
before, you know.”

“Very well!” Sylvie merrily replied. “This is _Bruno_. It doesn’t take
long. He’s only got one name!”

“There’s _another_ name to me!” Bruno protested, with a reproachful look
at the Mistress of the Ceremonies. “And it’s—‘_Esquire_’!”

“Oh, of course. I forgot,” said Sylvie. “Bruno—_Esquire_!”

“And did you come here to meet _me_, my children?” I enquired.

“You know I _said_ we’d come on Tuesday,” Sylvie explained. “Are we the
proper size for common children?”

“Quite the right size for _children_,” I replied, (adding mentally
“though not _common_ children, by any means!”) “But what became of the
nursemaid?”

“It are _gone_!” Bruno solemnly replied.

“Then it wasn’t solid, like Sylvie and you?”

“No. Oo couldn’t _touch_ it, oo know. If oo walked _at_ it, oo’d go
right froo!”

“I quite expected you’d find it out, once,” said Sylvie. “Bruno ran it
against a telegraph post, by accident. And it went in two halves. But
you were looking the other way.”

I felt that I had indeed missed an opportunity: to witness such an event
as a nursemaid going ‘in two halves’ does not occur twice in a
life-time!

“When did oo guess it were Sylvie?” Bruno enquired.

[Illustration: ‘IT WENT IN TWO HALVES’]

“I didn’t guess it, till it _was_ Sylvie,” I said. “But how did you
manage the nursemaid?”

“_Bruno_ managed it,” said Sylvie. “It’s called a Phlizz.”

“And how do you make a Phlizz, Bruno?”

“The Professor teached me how,” said Bruno. “First oo takes a lot of
air——”

“Oh, _Bruno_!” Sylvie interposed. “The Professor said you weren’t to
tell!”

“But who did her _voice_?” I asked.

“Indeed it’s troubling you too much, Sir! She can walk very well on the
flat.”

Bruno laughed merrily as I turned hastily from side to side, looking in
all directions for the speaker. “That were _me_!” he gleefully
proclaimed, in his own voice.

“She can indeed walk very well on the flat,” I said. “And I think _I_
was the Flat.”

By this time we were near the Hall. “This is where my friends live,” I
said. “Will you come in and have some tea with them?”

Bruno gave a little jump of joy: and Sylvie said “Yes, please. You’d
like some tea, Bruno, wouldn’t you? He hasn’t tasted _tea_,” she
explained to me, “since we left Outland.”

“And _that_ weren’t _good_ tea!” said Bruno. “It were so _welly_ weak!”



                              CHAPTER XX.
                         LIGHT COME, LIGHT GO.


Lady Muriel’s smile of welcome could not _quite_ conceal the look of
surprise with which she regarded my new companions.

I presented them in due form. “This is _Sylvie_, Lady Muriel. And this
is _Bruno_.”

“Any surname?” she enquired, her eyes twinkling with fun.

“No,” I said gravely. “No surname.”

She laughed, evidently thinking I said it in fun; and stooped to kiss
the children—a salute to which _Bruno_ submitted with reluctance:
_Sylvie_ returned it with interest.

While she and Arthur (who had arrived before me) supplied the children
with tea and cake, I tried to engage the Earl in conversation: but he
was restless and _distrait_, and we made little progress. At last, by a
sudden question, he betrayed the cause of his disquiet.

“_Would_ you let me look at those flowers you have in your hand?”

“Willingly!” I said, handing him the bouquet. Botany was, I knew, a
favourite study of his: and these flowers were to me so entirely new and
mysterious, that I was really curious to see what a botanist would say
of them.

They did _not_ diminish his disquiet. On the contrary, he became every
moment more excited as he turned them over. “_These_ are all from
Central India!” he said, laying aside part of the bouquet. “They are
rare, even there: and I have never seen them in any other part of the
world. _These_ two are Mexican—_This_ one—” (He rose hastily, and
carried it to the window, to examine it in a better light, the flush of
excitement mounting to his very forehead) “—is, I am nearly sure—but I
have a book of Indian Botany here—” He took a volume from the
book-shelves, and turned the leaves with trembling fingers. “Yes!
Compare it with this picture! It is the exact duplicate! This is the
flower of the Upas-tree, which usually grows only in the depths of
forests; and the flower fades so quickly after being plucked, that it is
scarcely possible to keep its form or colour even so far as the
outskirts of the forest! Yet this is in full bloom! _Where_ did you get
these flowers?” he added with breathless eagerness.

I glanced at Sylvie, who, gravely and silently, laid her finger on her
lips, then beckoned to Bruno to follow her, and ran out into the garden;
and I found myself in the position of a defendant whose two most
important witnesses have been suddenly taken away. “Let me give you the
flowers!” I stammered out at last, quite ‘at my wit’s end’ as to how to
get out of the difficulty. “You know much more about them than I do!”

“I accept them most gratefully! But you have not yet told me—” the Earl
was beginning, when we were interrupted, to my great relief, by the
arrival of Eric Lindon.

To _Arthur_, however, the new-comer was, I saw clearly, anything but
welcome. His face clouded over: he drew a little back from the circle,
and took no further part in the conversation, which was wholly
maintained, for some minutes, by Lady Muriel and her lively cousin, who
were discussing some new music that had just arrived from London.

“Do just try this one!” he pleaded. “The music looks easy to sing at
sight, and the song’s quite appropriate to the occasion.”

“Then I suppose it’s

  ‘Five o’clock tea!
  Ever to thee
  Faithful I’ll be,
  Five o’clock tea!’”

laughed Lady Muriel, as she sat down to the piano, and lightly struck a
few random chords.

“Not quite: and yet it _is_ a kind of ‘ever to thee faithful I’ll be!’
It’s a pair of hapless lovers: _he_ crosses the briny deep: and _she_ is
left lamenting.”

“That is _indeed_ appropriate!” she replied mockingly, as he placed the
song before her.

“And am _I_ to do the lamenting? And who for, if you please?”

She played the air once or twice through, first in quick, and finally in
slow, time; and then gave us the whole song with as much graceful ease
as if she had been familiar with it all her life:—

  “He stept so lightly to the land,
    All in his manly pride:
  He kissed her cheek, he pressed her hand,
    Yet still she glanced aside.
  ‘Too gay he seems,’ she darkly dreams,
    ‘Too gallant and too gay
  To think of me—poor simple me—
    When he is far away!’

  ‘I bring my Love this goodly pearl
    Across the seas,’ he said:
  ‘A gem to deck the dearest girl
    That ever sailor wed!’
  She clasps it tight: her eyes are bright:
    Her throbbing heart would say
  ‘He thought of me—he thought of me—
    When he was far away!’

  The ship has sailed into the West:
    Her ocean-bird is flown:
  A dull dead pain is in her breast,
    And she is weak and lone;
  Yet there’s a smile upon her face,
    A smile that seems to say
  ‘He’ll think of me—he’ll think of me—
    When he is far away!

  ‘Though waters wide between us glide,
    Our lives are warm and near:
  No distance parts two faithful hearts—
    Two hearts that love so dear:
  And I will trust my sailor-lad,
    For ever and a day,
  To think of me—to think of me—
    When he is far away!’”

The look of displeasure, which had begun to come over Arthur’s face when
the young Captain spoke of Love so lightly, faded away as the song
proceeded, and he listened with evident delight. But his face darkened
again when Eric demurely remarked “Don’t you think ‘my _soldier_-lad’
would have fitted the tune just as well!”

“Why, so it would!” Lady Muriel gaily retorted. “Soldiers, sailors,
tinkers, tailors, what a lot of words would fit in! I think ‘my
_tinker_-lad’ sounds best. Don’t _you_?”

To spare my friend further pain, I rose to go, just as the Earl was
beginning to repeat his particularly embarrassing question about the
flowers.

“You have not yet——”

“Yes, I’ve _had_ some tea, thank you!” I hastily interrupted him. “And
now we really _must_ be going. Good evening, Lady Muriel!” And we made
our adieux, and escaped, while the Earl was still absorbed in examining
the mysterious bouquet.

Lady Muriel accompanied us to the door. “You _couldn’t_ have given my
father a more acceptable present!” she said, warmly. “He is so
passionately fond of Botany. I’m afraid _I_ know nothing of the _theory_
of it, but I keep his _Hortus Siccus_ in order. I must get some sheets
of blotting-paper, and dry these new treasures for him before they
fade.”

“_That_ won’t be no good at all!” said Bruno, who was waiting for us in
the garden.

“Why won’t it?” said I. “You know I _had_ to give the flowers, to stop
questions.”

“Yes, it ca’n’t be helped,” said Sylvie: “but they _will_ be sorry when
they find them gone!”

“But how will they go?”

“Well, I don’t know _how_. But they _will_ go. The nosegay was only a
_Phlizz_, you know. Bruno made it up.”

These last words were in a whisper, as she evidently did not wish Arthur
to hear. But of this there seemed to be little risk: he hardly seemed to
notice the children, but paced on, silent and abstracted; and when, at
the entrance to the wood, they bid us a hasty farewell and ran off, he
seemed to wake out of a day-dream.

The bouquet vanished, as Sylvie had predicted; and when, a day or two
afterwards, Arthur and I once more visited the Hall, we found the Earl
and his daughter, with the old housekeeper, out in the garden, examining
the fastenings of the drawing-room window.

“We are holding an Inquest,” Lady Muriel said, advancing to meet us:
“and we admit you, as Accessories before the Fact, to tell us all you
know about those flowers.”

“The Accessories before the Fact decline to answer _any_ questions,” I
gravely replied. “And they reserve their defence.”

“Well then, turn Queen’s Evidence, please! The flowers have disappeared
in the night,” she went on, turning to Arthur, “and we are _quite_ sure
no one in the house has meddled with them. Somebody must have entered by
the window——”

“But the fastenings have not been tampered with,” said the Earl.

“It must have been while you were dining, my Lady,” said the
housekeeper.

“That was it,” said the Earl. “The thief must have seen you bring the
flowers,” turning to me, “and have noticed that you did _not_ take them
away. And he must have known their great value—they are simply
_priceless_!” he exclaimed, in sudden excitement.

“And you never told us how you got them!” said Lady Muriel.

“Some day,” I stammered, “I may be free to tell you. Just now, would you
excuse me?”

The Earl looked disappointed, but kindly said “Very well, we will ask no
questions.”

[Illustration: FIVE O’CLOCK TEA]

“But we consider you a _very_ bad Queen’s Evidence,” Lady Muriel added
playfully, as we entered the arbour. “We pronounce you to be an
accomplice: and we sentence you to solitary confinement, and to be fed
on bread and—butter. Do you take sugar?”

“It is disquieting, certainly,” she resumed, when all
‘creature-comforts’ had been duly supplied, “to find that the house has
been entered by a thief—in this out-of-the-way place. If only the
flowers had been _eatables_, one might have suspected a thief of quite
another shape——”

“You mean that universal explanation for all mysterious disappearances,
‘the _cat_ did it’?” said Arthur.

“Yes,” she replied. “What a convenient thing it would be if all thieves
had the same shape! It’s so confusing to have some of them quadrupeds
and others bipeds!”

“It has occurred to me,” said Arthur, “as a curious problem in
Teleology—the Science of Final Causes,” he added, in answer to an
enquiring look from Lady Muriel.

“And a Final Cause is——?”

“Well, suppose we say—the last of a series of connected events—each of
the series being the cause of the next—for whose sake the first event
takes place.”

“But the last event is practically an _effect_ of the first, isn’t it?
And yet you call it a _cause_ of it!”

Arthur pondered a moment. “The words are rather confusing, I grant you,”
he said. “Will this do? The last event is an effect of the first: but
the _necessity_ for that event is a cause of the _necessity_ for the
first.”

“That seems clear enough,” said Lady Muriel. “Now let us have the
problem.”

“It’s merely this. What object can we imagine in the arrangement by
which each different size (roughly speaking) of living creatures has its
special shape? For instance, the human race has one kind of
shape—bipeds. Another set, ranging from the lion to the mouse, are
quadrupeds. Go down a step or two further, and you come to insects with
six legs—hexapods—a beautiful name, is it not? But beauty, in our sense
of the word, seems to diminish as we go down: the creature becomes
more—I won’t say ‘ugly’ of any of God’s creatures—more uncouth. And,
when we take the microscope, and go a few steps lower still, we come
upon animalculæ, terribly uncouth, and with a terrible number of legs!”

“The other alternative,” said the Earl, “would be a _diminuendo_ series
of repetitions of the same type. Never mind the monotony of it: let’s
see how it would work in other ways. Begin with the race of men, and the
creatures they require: let us say horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs—we
don’t exactly require frogs and spiders, do we, Muriel?”

Lady Muriel shuddered perceptibly: it was evidently a painful subject.
“We can dispense with _them_,” she said gravely.

“Well, then we’ll have a second race of men, half-a-yard high——”

“—who would have _one_ source of exquisite enjoyment, not possessed by
ordinary men!” Arthur interrupted.

“_What_ source?” said the Earl.

“Why, the grandeur of scenery! Surely the grandeur of a mountain, to
_me_, depends on its _size_, relative to me? Double the height of the
mountain, and of course it’s twice as grand. Halve _my_ height, and you
produce the same effect.”

“Happy, happy, happy Small!” Lady Muriel murmured rapturously. “None but
the Short, none but the Short, none but the Short enjoy the Tall!”

“But let me go on,” said the Earl. “We’ll have a third race of men, five
inches high; a fourth race, an inch high——”

“They couldn’t eat common beef and mutton, I’m sure!” Lady Muriel
interrupted.

“True, my child, I was forgetting. Each set must have its own cattle and
sheep.”

“And its own vegetation,” I added. “What could a cow, an inch high, do
with grass that waved far above its head?”

“That is true. We must have a pasture within a pasture, so to speak. The
common grass would serve our inch-high cows as a green forest of palms,
while round the root of each tall stem would stretch a tiny carpet of
microscopic grass. Yes, I think our scheme will work fairly well. And it
would be very interesting, coming into contact with the races below us.
What sweet little things the inch-high bull-dogs would be! I doubt if
even _Muriel_ would run away from one of them!”

“Don’t you think we ought to have a _crescendo_ series, as well?” said
Lady Muriel. “Only fancy being a hundred yards high! One could use an
elephant as a paper-weight, and a crocodile as a pair of scissors!”

“And would you have races of different sizes communicate with one
another?” I enquired. “Would they make war on one another, for instance,
or enter into treaties?”

“_War_ we must exclude, I think. When you could crush a whole nation
with one blow of your fist, you couldn’t conduct war on equal terms. But
anything, involving a collision of _minds_ only, would be possible in
our ideal world—for of course we must allow _mental_ powers to all,
irrespective of size. Perhaps the fairest rule would be that, the
_smaller_ the race, the _greater_ should be its intellectual
development!”

“Do you mean to say,” said Lady Muriel, “that these manikins of an inch
high are to _argue_ with me?”

“Surely, surely!” said the Earl. “An argument doesn’t depend for its
logical force on the _size_ of the creature that utters it!”

She tossed her head indignantly. “I would _not_ argue with any man less
than six inches high!” she cried. “I’d make him _work_!”

“What at?” said Arthur, listening to all this nonsense with an amused
smile.

“_Embroidery!_” she readily replied. “What _lovely_ embroidery they
would do!”

“Yet, if they did it wrong,” I said, “you couldn’t _argue_ the question.
I don’t know _why_: but I agree that it couldn’t be done.”

“The reason is,” said Lady Muriel, “one couldn’t sacrifice one’s
_dignity_ so far.”

“Of course one couldn’t!” echoed Arthur. “Any more than one could argue
with a potato. It would be altogether—excuse the ancient pun—_infra
dig._!”

“I doubt it,” said I. “Even a pun doesn’t _quite_ convince me.”

“Well, if that is _not_ the reason,” said Lady Muriel, “what reason
would you give?”

I tried hard to understand the meaning of this question: but the
persistent humming of the bees confused me, and there was a drowsiness
in the air that made every thought stop and go to sleep before it had
got well thought out: so all I could say was “That must depend on the
_weight_ of the potato.”

I felt the remark was not so sensible as I should have liked it to be.
But Lady Muriel seemed to take it quite as a matter of course. “In that
case——” she began, but suddenly started, and turned away to listen.
“Don’t you hear him?” she said. “He’s crying. We must go to him,
somehow.”

And I said to myself “That’s very strange! I quite thought it was _Lady
Muriel_ talking to me. Why, it’s _Sylvie_ all the while!” And I made
another great effort to say something that should have some meaning in
it. “Is it about the potato?”



                              CHAPTER XXI.
                        THROUGH THE IVORY DOOR.


“I don’t know,” said Sylvie. “Hush! I must think. I could go to him, by
myself, well enough. But I want _you_ to come too.”

“Let me go with you,” I pleaded. “I can walk as fast as _you_ can, I’m
sure.”

Sylvie laughed merrily. “What nonsense!” she cried. “Why, you ca’n’t
walk a bit! You’re lying quite flat on your back! You don’t understand
these things.”

“I can walk as well as _you_ can,” I repeated. And I tried my best to
walk a few steps: but the ground slipped away backwards, quite as fast
as I could walk, so that I made no progress at all. Sylvie laughed
again.

“There, I told you so! You’ve no idea how funny you look, moving your
feet about in the air, as if you were walking! Wait a bit. I’ll ask the
Professor what we’d better do.” And she knocked at his study-door.

The door opened, and the Professor looked out. “What’s that crying I
heard just now?” he asked. “Is it a human animal?”

“It’s a boy,” Sylvie said.

“I’m afraid you’ve been teasing him?”

“No, _indeed_ I haven’t!” Sylvie said, very earnestly. “I _never_ tease
him!”

“Well, I must ask the Other Professor about it.” He went back into the
study, and we heard him whispering “small human animal—says she hasn’t
been teasing him—the kind that’s called Boy——”

“Ask her _which_ Boy,” said a new voice. The Professor came out again.

“_Which_ Boy is it that you haven’t been teasing?”

Sylvie looked at me with twinkling eyes. “You dear old thing!” she
exclaimed, standing on tiptoe to kiss him, while he gravely stooped to
receive the salute. “How you _do_ puzzle me! Why, there are _several_
boys I haven’t been teasing!”

The Professor returned to his friend: and this time the voice said “Tell
her to bring them here—_all_ of them!”

“I ca’n’t, and I won’t!” Sylvie exclaimed, the moment he reappeared.
“It’s _Bruno_ that’s crying: and he’s my brother: and, please, we _both_
want to go: he ca’n’t walk, you know: he’s—he’s _dreaming_, you know”
(this in a whisper, for fear of hurting my feelings). “_Do_ let’s go
through the Ivory Door!”

“I’ll ask him,” said the Professor, disappearing again. He returned
directly. “He says you may. Follow me, and walk on tip-toe.”

The difficulty with me would have been, just then, _not_ to walk on
tip-toe. It seemed very hard to reach down far enough to just touch the
floor, as Sylvie led me through the study.

The Professor went before us to unlock the Ivory Door. I had just time
to glance at the Other Professor, who was sitting reading, with his back
to us, before the Professor showed us out through the door, and locked
it behind us. Bruno was standing with his hands over his face, crying
bitterly.

[Illustration: ‘WHAT’S THE MATTER, DARLING?’]

“What’s the matter, darling?” said Sylvie, with her arms round his neck.

“Hurted mine self _welly_ much!” sobbed the poor little fellow.

“I’m _so_ sorry, darling! How ever _did_ you manage to hurt yourself
so?”

“Course I managed it!” said Bruno, laughing through his tears. “Doos oo
think nobody else but _oo_ ca’n’t manage things?”

Matters were looking distinctly brighter, now Bruno had begun to argue.
“Come, let’s hear all about it!” I said.

“My foot took it into its head to slip——” Bruno began.

“A foot hasn’t got a head!” Sylvie put in, but all in vain.

“I slipted down the bank. And I tripted over a stone. And the stone
hurted my foot! And I trod on a Bee. And the Bee stinged my finger!”
Poor Bruno sobbed again. The complete list of woes was too much for his
feelings. “And it knewed I didn’t _mean_ to trod on it!” he added, as
the climax.

“That Bee should be ashamed of itself!” I said severely, and Sylvie
hugged and kissed the wounded hero till all tears were dried.

“My finger’s quite unstung now!” said Bruno. “Why doos there be stones?
Mister Sir, doos oo know?”

“They’re good for _something_,” I said: “even if we don’t know _what_.
What’s the good of _dandelions_, now?”

“Dindledums?” said Bruno. “Oh, they’re ever so pretty! And stones aren’t
pretty, one bit. Would oo like some dindledums, Mister Sir?”

“Bruno!” Sylvie murmured reproachfully. “You mustn’t say ‘Mister’ and
‘Sir,’ both at once! Remember what I told you!”

“You telled me I were to say ‘Mister’ when I spoked _about_ him, and I
were to say ‘Sir’ when I spoked _to_ him!”

“Well, you’re not doing _both_, you know.”

“Ah, but I _is_ doing bofe, Miss Praticular!” Bruno exclaimed
triumphantly. “I wishted to speak _about_ the Gemplun—and I wishted to
speak _to_ the Gemplun. So a course I said ‘Mister Sir’!”

“That’s all right, Bruno,” I said.

“_Course_ it’s all right!” said Bruno. “Sylvie just knows nuffin at
all!”

“There never _was_ an impertinenter boy!” said Sylvie, frowning till her
bright eyes were nearly invisible.

“And there never was an ignoranter girl!” retorted Bruno. “Come along
and pick some dindledums. _That’s all she’s fit for!_” he added in a
very loud whisper to me.

“But why do you say ‘Dindledums,’ Bruno? _Dandelions_ is the right
word.”

“It’s because he jumps about so,” Sylvie said, laughing.

“Yes, that’s it,” Bruno assented. “Sylvie tells me the words, and then,
when I jump about, they get shooken up in my head—till they’re all
froth!”

I expressed myself as perfectly satisfied with this explanation. “But
aren’t you going to pick me any dindledums, after all?”

“Course we will!” cried Bruno. “Come along, Sylvie!” And the happy
children raced away, bounding over the turf with the fleetness and grace
of young antelopes.

“Then you didn’t find your way back to Outland?” I said to the
Professor.

“Oh yes, I did!” he replied, “We never got to Queer Street; but I found
another way. I’ve been backwards and forwards several times since then.
I had to be present at the Election, you know, as the author of the new
Money-Act. The Emperor was so kind as to wish that _I_ should have the
credit of it. ‘Let come what come may,’ (I remember the very words of
the Imperial Speech) ‘if it _should_ turn out that the Warden _is_
alive, _you_ will bear witness that the change in the coinage is the
_Professor’s_ doing, not _mine_!’ I never was so glorified in my life,
before!” Tears trickled down his cheeks at the recollection, which
apparently was not _wholly_ a pleasant one.

“Is the Warden supposed to be _dead_?”

“Well, it’s _supposed_ so: but, mind you, _I_ don’t believe it! The
evidence is _very_ weak—mere hear-say. A wandering Jester, with a
Dancing-Bear (they found their way into the Palace, one day) has been
telling people he comes from Fairyland, and that the Warden died there.
_I_ wanted the Vice-Warden to question him, but, most unluckily, he and
my Lady were always out walking when the Jester came round. Yes, the
Warden’s supposed to be dead!” And more tears trickled down the old
man’s cheeks.

“But what is the new Money-Act?”

The Professor brightened up again. “The Emperor started the thing,” he
said. “He wanted to make everybody in Outland twice as rich as he was
before—just to make the new Government popular. Only there wasn’t nearly
enough money in the Treasury to do it. So _I_ suggested that he might do
it by doubling the value of every coin and bank-note in Outland. It’s
the simplest thing possible. I wonder nobody ever thought of it before!
And you never saw such universal joy. The shops are full from morning to
night. Everybody’s buying everything!”

“And how was the glorifying done?”

A sudden gloom overcast the Professor’s jolly face. “They did it as I
went home after the Election,” he mournfully replied. “It was kindly
meant—but I didn’t like it! They waved flags all round me till I was
nearly blind: and they rang bells till I was nearly deaf: and they
strewed the road so thick with flowers that I lost my way!” And the poor
old man sighed deeply.

“How far is it to Outland?” I asked, to change the subject.

“About five days’ march. But one _must_ go back—occasionally. You see,
as Court-Professor, I have to be _always_ in attendance on Prince Uggug.
The Empress would be _very_ angry if I left him, even for an hour.”

“But surely, every time you come here, you are absent ten days, at
least?”

“Oh, more than that!” the Professor exclaimed. “A fortnight, sometimes.
But of course I keep a memorandum of the exact time when I started, so
that I can put the Court-time back to the very moment!”

“Excuse me,” I said. “I don’t understand.”

Silently the Professor drew from his pocket a square gold watch, with
six or eight hands, and held it out for my inspection. “This,” he began,
“is an Outlandish Watch——”

“So I should have thought.”

“—which has the peculiar property that, instead of _its_ going with the
_time_, the _time_ goes with _it_. I trust you understand me now?”

“Hardly,” I said.

“Permit me to explain. So long as it is let alone, it takes its own
course. Time has _no_ effect upon it.”

“I have known such watches,” I remarked.

“It _goes_, of course, at the usual rate. Only the time has to go _with_
it. Hence, if I move the hands, I change the time. To move them
_forwards_, in _advance_ of the true time, is impossible: but I can move
them as much as a month _backwards_—that is the limit. And then you have
the events all over again—with any alterations experience may suggest.”

“_What_ a blessing such a watch would be,” I thought, “in real life! To
be able to unsay some heedless word—to undo some reckless deed! Might I
see the thing done?”

“With pleasure!” said the good natured Professor. “When I move _this_
hand back to _here_,” pointing out the place, “History goes back fifteen
minutes!”

Trembling with excitement, I watched him push the hand round as he
described.

“Hurted mine self _welly_ much!”

Shrilly and suddenly the words rang in my ears, and, more startled than
I cared to show, I turned to look for the speaker.

Yes! There was Bruno, standing with the tears running down his cheeks,
just as I had seen him a quarter of an hour ago; and there was Sylvie
with her arms round his neck!

I had not the heart to make the dear little fellow go through his
troubles a second time, so hastily begged the Professor to push the
hands round into their former position. In a moment Sylvie and Bruno
were gone again, and I could just see them in the far distance, picking
‘dindledums.’

“Wonderful, indeed!” I exclaimed.

“It has another property, yet more wonderful,” said the Professor. “You
see this little peg? That is called the ‘Reversal Peg.’ If you push it
in, the events of the next hour happen in the reverse order. Do not try
it now. I will lend you the Watch for a few days, and you can amuse
yourself with experiments.”

“Thank you very much!” I said as he gave me the Watch. “I’ll take the
greatest care of it—why, here are the children again!”

“We could only but find _six_ dindledums,” said Bruno, putting them into
my hands, “’cause Sylvie said it were time to go back. And here’s a big
blackberry for _ooself_! We couldn’t only find but _two_!”

“Thank you: it’s _very_ nice,” I said. “And I suppose _you_ ate the
other, Bruno?”

“No, I didn’t,” Bruno said, carelessly. “_Aren’t_ they pretty
dindledums, Mister Sir?”

“Yes, very: but what makes you limp so, my child?”

“Mine foot’s come _hurted_ again!” Bruno mournfully replied. And he sat
down on the ground, and began nursing it.

The Professor held his head between his hands—an attitude that I knew
indicated distraction of mind. “Better rest a minute,” he said. “It may
be better then—or it may be worse. If only I had some of my medicines
here! I’m Court-Physician, you know,” he added, aside to me.

“Shall I go and get you some blackberries, darling?” Sylvie whispered,
with her arms round his neck; and she kissed away a tear that was
trickling down his cheek.

Bruno brightened up in a moment. “That _are_ a good plan!” he exclaimed.
“I thinks my foot would come _quite_ unhurted, if I eated a
blackberry—two or three blackberries—six or seven blackberries—”

Sylvie got up hastily. “I’d better go,” she said, aside to me, “before
he gets into the double figures!”

“Let me come and help you,” I said. “I can reach higher up than you
can.”

“Yes, please,” said Sylvie, putting her hand into mine: and we walked
off together.

“Bruno _loves_ blackberries,” she said, as we paced slowly along by a
tall hedge, that looked a promising place for them, “and it was so
_sweet_ of him to make me eat the only one!”

“Oh, it was _you_ that ate it, then? Bruno didn’t seem to like to tell
me about it.”

“No; I saw that,” said Sylvie. “He’s always afraid of being praised. But
he _made_ me eat it, really! I would much rather he—oh, what’s that?”
And she clung to my hand, half-frightened, as we came in sight of a
hare, lying on its side with legs stretched out, just in the entrance to
the wood.

“It’s a _hare_, my child. Perhaps it’s asleep.”

“No, it isn’t asleep,” Sylvie said, timidly going nearer to look at it:
“it’s eyes are open. Is it—is it—” her voice dropped to an awestruck
whisper, “is it _dead_, do you think?”

“Yes, it’s quite dead,” I said, after stooping to examine it. “Poor
thing! I think it’s been hunted to death. I know the harriers were out
yesterday. But they haven’t touched it. Perhaps they caught sight of
another, and left it to die of fright and exhaustion.”

“Hunted to _death_?” Sylvie repeated to herself, very slowly and sadly.
“I thought hunting was a thing they _played_ at—like a game. Bruno and I
hunt snails: but we never hurt them when we catch them!”

“Sweet angel!” I thought. “How am I to get the idea of _Sport_ into your
innocent mind?” And as we stood, hand-in-hand, looking down at the dead
hare, I tried to put the thing into such words as she could understand.
“You know what fierce wild-beasts lions and tigers are?” Sylvie nodded.
“Well, in some countries men _have_ to kill them, to save their own
lives, you know.”

“Yes,” said Sylvie: “if one tried to kill _me_, Bruno would kill _it_—if
he could.”

“Well, and so the men—the hunters—get to enjoy it, you know: the
running, and the fighting, and the shouting, and the danger.”

“Yes,” said Sylvie. “Bruno likes danger.”

“Well, but, in _this_ country, there aren’t any lions and tigers, loose:
so they hunt other creatures, you see.” I hoped, but in vain, that this
would satisfy her, and that she would ask no more questions.

“They hunt _foxes_,” Sylvie said, thoughtfully. “And I think they _kill_
them, too. Foxes are very fierce. I daresay men don’t love them. Are
hares fierce?”

“No,” I said. “A hare is a sweet, gentle, timid animal—almost as gentle
as a lamb.”

“But, if men _love_ hares, why—why—” her voice quivered, and her sweet
eyes were brimming over with tears.

“I’m afraid they _don’t_ love them, dear child.”

“All _children_ love them,” Sylvie said. “All ladies love them.”

“I’m afraid even _ladies_ go to hunt them, sometimes.”

Sylvie shuddered. “Oh, no, not _ladies_!” she earnestly pleaded. “Not
Lady Muriel!”

“No, _she_ never does, I’m sure—but this is too sad a sight for _you_,
dear. Let’s try and find some—”

But Sylvie was not satisfied yet. In a hushed, solemn tone, with bowed
head and clasped hands, she put her final question. “Does God love
hares?”

“Yes!” I said. “I’m _sure_ He does! He loves every living thing. Even
sinful _men_. How much more the animals, that cannot sin!”

“I don’t know what ‘sin’ means,” said Sylvie. And I didn’t try to
explain it.

“Come, my child,” I said, trying to lead her away. “Wish good-bye to the
poor hare, and come and look for blackberries.”

“Good-bye, poor hare!” Sylvie obediently repeated, looking over her
shoulder at it as we turned away. And then, all in a moment, her
self-command gave way. Pulling her hand out of mine, she ran back to
where the dead hare was lying, and flung herself down at its side in
such an agony of grief as I could hardly have believed possible in so
young a child.

“Oh, my darling, my darling!” she moaned, over and over again. “And God
meant your life to be so beautiful!”

Sometimes, but always keeping her face hidden on the ground, she would
reach out one little hand, to stroke the poor dead thing, and then once
more bury her face in her hands, and sob as if her heart would break.

[Illustration: THE DEAD HARE]

I was afraid she would really make herself ill: still I thought it best
to let her weep away the first sharp agony of grief: and, after a few
minutes, the sobbing gradually ceased, and Sylvie rose to her feet, and
looked calmly at me, though tears were still streaming down her cheeks.

I did not dare to speak again, just yet; but simply held out my hand to
her, that we might quit the melancholy spot.

“Yes, I’ll come now,” she said. Very reverently she kneeled down, and
kissed the dead hare; then rose and gave me her hand, and we moved on in
silence.

A child’s sorrow is violent, but short; and it was almost in her usual
voice that she said, after a minute, “Oh stop, stop! Here are some
_lovely_ blackberries!”

We filled our hands with fruit, and returned in all haste to where the
Professor and Bruno were seated on a bank, awaiting our return.

Just before we came within hearing-distance, Sylvie checked me. “Please
don’t tell _Bruno_ about the hare!” she said.

“Very well, my child. But why not?”

Tears again glittered in those sweet eyes, and she turned her head away,
so that I could scarcely hear her reply. “He’s—he’s very _fond_ of
gentle creatures, you know. And he’d—he’d be so sorry! I don’t want him
to be made sorry.”

“And _your_ agony of sorrow is to count for nothing, then, sweet
unselfish child!” I thought to myself. But no more was said till we had
reached our friends; and Bruno was far too much engrossed, in the feast
we had brought him, to take any notice of Sylvie’s unusually grave
manner.

“I’m afraid it’s getting rather late, Professor?” I said.

“Yes, indeed,” said the Professor. “I must take you all through the
Ivory Door again. You’ve stayed your full time.”

“Mightn’t we stay a _little_ longer!” pleaded Sylvie.

“Just _one_ minute!” added Bruno.

But the Professor was unyielding. “It’s a great privilege, coming
through at all,” he said. “We must go now.” And we followed him
obediently to the Ivory Door, which he threw open, and signed to me to
go through first.

“You’re coming too, aren’t you?” I said to Sylvie.

“Yes,” she said: “but you won’t see us after you’ve gone through.”

“But suppose I wait for you outside?” I asked, as I stepped through the
doorway.

“In that case,” said Sylvie, “I think the potato would be _quite_
justified in asking _your_ weight. I can quite imagine a really
_superior_ kidney-potato declining to argue with any one under _fifteen
stone_!”

With a great effort I recovered the thread of my thoughts. “We lapse
very quickly into nonsense!” I said.



                             CHAPTER XXII.
                           CROSSING THE LINE.


“Let us lapse back again,” said Lady Muriel. “Take another cup of tea? I
hope _that’s_ sound common sense?”

“And all that strange adventure,” I thought, “has occupied the space of
a single comma in Lady Muriel’s speech! A single comma, for which
grammarians tell us to ‘count _one_’!” (I felt no doubt that the
Professor had kindly put back the time for me, to the exact point at
which I had gone to sleep.)

When, a few minutes afterwards, we left the house, Arthur’s first remark
was certainly a strange one. “We’ve been there just _twenty minutes_,”
he said, “and I’ve done nothing but listen to you and Lady Muriel
talking: and yet, somehow, I feel exactly as if _I_ had been talking
with her for an _hour_ at least!”

And so he _had_ been, I felt no doubt: only, as the time had been put
back to the beginning of the tête-à-tête he referred to, the whole of it
had passed into oblivion, if not into nothingness! But I valued my own
reputation for sanity too highly to venture on explaining to _him_ what
had happened.

For some cause, which I could not at the moment divine, Arthur was
unusually grave and silent during our walk home. It could not be
connected with Eric Lindon, I thought, as he had for some days been away
in London: so that, having Lady Muriel almost ‘all to himself’—for _I_
was only too glad to hear those two conversing, to have any wish to
intrude any remarks of my own—he _ought_, theoretically, to have been
specially radiant and contented with life. “Can he have heard any bad
news?” I said to myself. And, almost as if he had read my thoughts, he
spoke.

“He will be here by the last train,” he said, in the tone of one who is
continuing a conversation rather than beginning one.

“Captain Lindon, do you mean?”

“Yes—Captain Lindon,” said Arthur: “I said ‘he,’ because I fancied we
were talking about him. The Earl told me he comes to-night, though
_to-morrow_ is the day when he will know about the Commission that he’s
hoping for. I wonder he doesn’t stay another day to hear the result, if
he’s really so anxious about it as the Earl believes he is.”

“He can have a telegram sent after him,” I said: “but it’s not very
soldier-like, running away from possible bad news!”

“He’s a very good fellow,” said Arthur: “but I confess it would be good
news for _me_, if he got his Commission, and his Marching Orders, all at
once! I wish him all happiness—with _one_ exception. Good night!” (We
had reached home by this time.) “I’m not good company to-night—better be
alone.”

It was much the same, next day. Arthur declared he wasn’t fit for
Society, and I had to set forth alone for an afternoon-stroll. I took
the road to the Station, and, at the point where the road from the
‘Hall’ joined it, I paused, seeing my friends in the distance, seemingly
bound for the same goal.

“Will you join us?” the Earl said, after I had exchanged greetings with
him, and Lady Muriel, and Captain Lindon. “This restless young man is
expecting a telegram, and we are going to the Station to meet it.”

“There is also a restless young woman in the case,” Lady Muriel added.

“That goes without saying, my child,” said her father. “Women are
_always_ restless!”

“For generous appreciation of all one’s _best_ qualities,” his daughter
impressively remarked, “there’s nothing to compare with a father, is
there, Eric?”

“Cousins are not ‘in it,’” said Eric: and then somehow the conversation
lapsed into two duologues, the younger folk taking the lead, and the two
old men following with less eager steps.

“And when are we to see your little friends again?” said the Earl. “They
are singularly attractive children.”

“I shall be delighted to bring them, when I can,” I said. “But I don’t
know, myself, when I am likely to see them again.”

“I’m not going to question you,” said the Earl: “but there’s no harm in
mentioning that Muriel is simply tormented with curiosity! We know most
of the people about here, and she has been vainly trying to guess what
house they can possibly be staying at.”

“Some day I may be able to enlighten her: but just at present——”

“Thanks. She must bear it as best she can. _I_ tell her it’s a grand
opportunity for practising _patience_. But she hardly sees it from that
point of view. Why, there _are_ the children!”

So indeed they were: waiting (for _us_, apparently) at a stile, which
they could not have climbed over more than a few moments, as Lady Muriel
and her cousin had passed it without seeing them. On catching sight of
us, Bruno ran to meet us, and to exhibit to us, with much pride, the
handle of a clasp-knife—the blade having been broken off—which he had
picked up in the road.

“And what shall you use it for, Bruno?” I said.

“Don’t know,” Bruno carelessly replied: “must think.”

“A child’s first view of life,” the Earl remarked, with that sweet sad
smile of his, “is that it is a period to be spent in accumulating
portable property. That view gets modified as the years glide away.” And
he held out his hand to Sylvie, who had placed herself by me, looking a
little shy of him.

But the gentle old man was not one with whom any child, human or fairy,
could be shy for long; and she had very soon deserted my hand for
his—Bruno alone remaining faithful to his first friend. We overtook the
other couple just as they reached the Station, and both Lady Muriel and
Eric greeted the children as old friends—the latter with the words “So
you got to Babylon by candlelight, after all?”

“Yes, and back again!” cried Bruno.

Lady Muriel looked from one to the other in blank astonishment. “What,
_you_ know them, Eric?” she exclaimed. “This mystery grows deeper every
day!”

“Then we must be somewhere in the Third Act,” said Eric. “You don’t
expect the mystery to be cleared up till the Fifth Act, do you?”

“But it’s such a _long_ drama!” was the plaintive reply. “We _must_ have
got to the Fifth Act by this time!”

“_Third_ Act, I assure you,” said the young soldier mercilessly. “Scene,
a railway-platform. Lights down. Enter Prince (in disguise, of course)
and faithful Attendant. _This_ is the Prince—” (taking Bruno’s hand)
“and here stands his humble Servant! What is your Royal Highness’s next
command?” And he made a most courtier-like low bow to his puzzled little
friend.

“Oo’re _not_ a Servant!” Bruno scornfully exclaimed. “Oo’re a
_Gemplun_!”

“_Servant_, I assure your Royal Highness!” Eric respectfully insisted.
“Allow me to mention to your Royal Highness my various situations—past,
present, and future.”

“What did oo begin wiz?” Bruno asked, beginning to enter into the jest.
“Was oo a shoe-black?”

“Lower than that, your Royal Highness! Years ago, I offered myself as a
_Slave_—as a ‘_Confidential_ Slave,’ I think it’s called?” he asked,
turning to Lady Muriel.

But Lady Muriel heard him not: something had gone wrong with her glove,
which entirely engrossed her attention.

“Did oo get the place?” said Bruno.

“Sad to say, Your Royal Highness, I did _not_! So I had to take a
situation as—as _Waiter_, which I have now held for some years—haven’t
I?” He again glanced at Lady Muriel.

“Sylvie dear, _do_ help me to button this glove!” Lady Muriel whispered,
hastily stooping down, and failing to hear the question.

“And what will oo be _next_?” said Bruno.

“My next place will, I hope, be that of _Groom_. And after that——”

“Don’t puzzle the child so!” Lady Muriel interrupted. “What nonsense you
talk!”

“—after that,” Eric persisted, “I hope to obtain the situation of
_Housekeeper_, which—_Fourth Act!_” he proclaimed, with a sudden change
of tone. “Lights turned up. Red lights. Green lights. Distant rumble
heard. Enter a passenger-train!”

And in another minute the train drew up alongside of the platform, and a
stream of passengers began to flow out from the booking office and
waiting-rooms.

“Did you ever make _real_ life into a drama?” said the Earl. “Now just
try. I’ve often amused myself that way. Consider this platform as our
stage. Good entrances and exits on _both_ sides, you see. Capital
background scene: real engine moving up and down. All this bustle, and
people passing to and fro, must have been most carefully rehearsed! How
naturally they do it! With never a glance at the audience! And every
grouping is quite fresh, you see. No repetition!”

It really was admirable, as soon as I began to enter into it from this
point of view. Even a porter passing, with a barrow piled with luggage,
seemed so realistic that one was tempted to applaud. He was followed by
an angry mother, with hot red face, dragging along two screaming
children, and calling, to some one behind, “John! Come on!” Enter John,
very meek, very silent, and loaded with parcels. And he was followed, in
his turn, by a frightened little nursemaid, carrying a fat baby, also
screaming. All the children screamed.

“Capital byplay!” said the old man aside. “Did you notice the
nursemaid’s look of terror? It was simply _perfect_!”

“You have struck quite a new vein,” I said. “To most of us Life and its
pleasures seem like a mine that is nearly worked out.”

“Worked out!” exclaimed the Earl. “For any one with true dramatic
instincts, it is only the Overture that is ended! The real treat has yet
to begin. You go to a theatre, and pay your ten shillings for a stall,
and what do you get for your money? Perhaps it’s a dialogue between a
couple of farmers—unnatural in their overdone caricature of farmers’
dress—more unnatural in their constrained attitudes and gestures—most
unnatural in their attempts at ease and geniality in their talk. Go
instead and take a seat in a third-class railway-carriage, and you’ll
get the same dialogue done _to the life_! Front-seats—no orchestra to
block the view—and nothing to pay!”

“Which reminds me,” said Eric. “There is nothing to pay on receiving a
telegram! Shall we enquire for one?” And he and Lady Muriel strolled off
in the direction of the Telegraph-Office.

“I wonder if Shakespeare had that thought in his mind,” I said, “when he
wrote ‘All the world’s a stage’?”

The old man sighed. “And so it is,” he said, “look at it as you will.
Life is indeed a drama; a drama with but few _encores_—and no
_bouquets_!” he added dreamily. “We spend one half of it in regretting
the things we did in the other half!”

“And the secret of _enjoying_ it,” he continued, resuming his cheerful
tone, “is _intensity_!”

“But not in the modern æsthetic sense, I presume? Like the young lady,
in Punch, who begins a conversation with ‘Are you _intense_?’”

“By no means!” replied the Earl. “What I mean is intensity of
_thought_—a concentrated _attention_. We lose half the pleasure we might
have in Life, by not really _attending_. Take any instance you like: it
doesn’t matter _how_ trivial the pleasure may be—the principle is the
same. Suppose _A_ and _B_ are reading the same second-rate
circulating-library novel. _A_ never troubles himself to master the
relationships of the characters, on which perhaps all the interest of
the story depends: he ‘skips’ over all the descriptions of scenery, and
every passage that looks rather dull: he doesn’t half attend to the
passages he does read: he goes on reading—merely from want of resolution
to find another occupation—for hours after he ought to have put the book
aside: and reaches the ‘FINIS’ in a state of utter weariness and
depression! _B_ puts his whole soul _into_ the thing—on the principle
that ‘whatever is worth doing is worth doing _well_’: he masters the
genealogies: he calls up pictures before his ‘mind’s eye’ as he reads
about the scenery: best of all, he resolutely shuts the book at the end
of some chapter, while his interest is yet at its keenest, and turns to
other subjects; so that, when next he allows himself an hour at it, it
is like a hungry man sitting down to dinner: and, when the book is
finished, he returns to the work of his daily life like ‘a giant
refreshed’!”

“But suppose the book were really _rubbish_—nothing to repay attention?”

“Well, suppose it,” said the Earl. “My theory meets _that_ case, I
assure you! _A_ never finds out that it _is_ rubbish, but maunders on to
the end, trying to believe he’s enjoying himself. _B_ quietly shuts the
book, when he’s read a dozen pages, walks off to the Library, and
changes it for a better! I have yet _another_ theory for adding to the
enjoyment of Life—that is, if I have not exhausted your patience? I’m
afraid you find me a very garrulous old man.”

“No indeed!” I exclaimed earnestly. And indeed I felt as if one _could_
not easily tire of the sweet sadness of that gentle voice.

“It is, that we should learn to take our pleasures _quickly_, and our
pains _slowly_.”

“But why? I should have put it the other way, myself.”

“By taking _artificial_ pain—which can be as trivial as you
please—_slowly_, the result is that, when _real_ pain comes, however
severe, all you need do is to let it go at its _ordinary_ pace, and it’s
over in a moment!”

“Very true,” I said, “but how about the _pleasure_?”

“Why, by taking it quick, you can get so much more into life. It takes
_you_ three hours and a half to hear and enjoy an opera. Suppose _I_ can
take it in, and enjoy it, in half-an-hour. Why, I can enjoy _seven_
operas, while you are listening to _one_!”

“Always supposing you have an orchestra capable of _playing_ them,” I
said. “And that orchestra has yet to be found!”

The old man smiled. “I have heard an air played,” he said, “and by no
means a short one—played right through, variations and all, in three
seconds!”

“When? And how?” I asked eagerly, with a half-notion that I was dreaming
again.

“It was done by a little musical-box,” he quietly replied. “After it had
been wound up, the regulator, or something, broke, and it ran down, as I
said, in about three seconds. But it _must_ have played all the notes,
you know!”

“Did you _enjoy_ it?” I asked, with all the severity of a
cross-examining barrister.

“No, I didn’t!” he candidly confessed. “But then, you know, I hadn’t
been trained to that kind of music!”

“I should much like to _try_ your plan,” I said, and, as Sylvie and
Bruno happened to run up to us at the moment, I left them to keep the
Earl company, and strolled along the platform, making each person and
event play its part in an _extempore_ drama for my especial benefit.
“What, is the Earl tired of you already?” I said, as the children ran
past me.

“No!” Sylvie replied with great emphasis. “He wants the evening-paper.
So Bruno’s going to be a little news-boy!”

“Mind you charge a good price for it!” I called after them.

Returning up the platform, I came upon Sylvie alone. “Well, child,” I
said, “where’s your little news-boy? Couldn’t he get you an
evening-paper?”

“He went to get one at the book-stall at the other side,” said Sylvie;
“and he’s coming across the line with it—oh, Bruno, you ought to cross
by the bridge!” for the distant thud, thud, of the Express was already
audible. Suddenly a look of horror came over her face. “Oh, he’s fallen
down on the rails!” she cried, and darted past me at a speed that quite
defied the hasty effort I made to stop her.

But the wheezy old Station-Master happened to be close behind me: he
wasn’t good for much, poor old man, but he was good for this; and,
before I could turn round, he had the child clasped in his arms, saved
from the certain death she was rushing to. So intent was I in watching
this scene, that I hardly saw a flying figure in a light grey suit, who
shot across from the back of the platform, and was on the line in
another second. So far as one could take note of time in such a moment
of horror he had about ten clear seconds, before the Express would be
upon him, in which to cross the rails and to pick up Bruno. Whether he
did so or not it was quite impossible to guess: the next thing one knew
was that the Express had passed, and that, whether for life or death,
all was over. When the cloud of dust had cleared away, and the line was
once more visible, we saw with thankful hearts that the child and his
deliverer were safe.

“All right!” Eric called to us cheerfully, as he recrossed the line.
“He’s more frightened than hurt!”

[Illustration: CROSSING THE LINE]

He lifted the little fellow up into Lady Muriel’s arms, and mounted the
platform as gaily as if nothing had happened: but he was as pale as
death, and leaned heavily on the arm I hastily offered him, fearing he
was about to faint. “I’ll just—sit down a moment—” he said dreamily:
“—where’s Sylvie?”

Sylvie ran to him, and flung her arms round his neck, sobbing as if her
heart would break. “Don’t do that, my darling!” Eric murmured, with a
strange look in his eyes. “Nothing to cry about now, you know. But you
very nearly got yourself killed for nothing!”

“For Bruno!” the little maiden sobbed. “And he would have done it for
me. Wouldn’t you, Bruno?”

“Course I would!” Bruno said, looking round with a bewildered air.

Lady Muriel kissed him in silence as she put him down out of her arms.
Then she beckoned Sylvie to come and take his hand, and signed to the
children to go back to where the Earl was seated. “Tell him,” she
whispered with quivering lips, “tell him—all is well!” Then she turned
to the hero of the day. “I thought it was _death_,” she said. “Thank
God, you are safe! Did you see how near it was?”

“I saw there was just time,” Eric said lightly. “A soldier must learn to
carry his life in his hand, you know. I’m all right now. Shall we go to
the telegraph-office again? I daresay it’s come by this time.”

I went to join the Earl and the children, and we waited—almost in
silence, for no one seemed inclined to talk, and Bruno was half-asleep
on Sylvie’s lap—till the others joined us. No telegram had come.

“I’ll take a stroll with the children,” I said, feeling that we were a
little _de trop_, “and I’ll look in, in the course of the evening.”

“We must go back into the wood, now,” Sylvie said, as soon as we were
out of hearing. “We ca’n’t stay this size any longer.”

“Then you will be quite tiny Fairies again, next time we meet?”

“Yes,” said Sylvie: “but we’ll be children again some day—if you’ll let
us. Bruno’s very anxious to see Lady Muriel again.”

“She are _welly_ nice,” said Bruno.

“I shall be very glad to take you to see her again,” I said. “Hadn’t I
better give you back the Professor’s Watch? It’ll be too large for you
to carry when you’re Fairies, you know.”

Bruno laughed merrily. I was glad to see he had quite recovered from the
terrible scene he had gone through. “Oh no, it won’t!” he said. “When
_we_ go small, _it’ll_ go small!”

“And then it’ll go straight to the Professor,” Sylvie added, “and you
won’t be able to use it any more: so you’d better use it all you can,
_now_. We _must_ go small when the sun sets. Good-bye!”

“Good-bye!” cried Bruno. But their voices sounded very far away, and,
when I looked round, both children had disappeared.

“And it wants only two hours to sunset!” I said as I strolled on. “I
must make the best of my time!”



                             CHAPTER XXIII.
                          AN OUTLANDISH WATCH.


As I entered the little town, I came upon two of the fishermen’s wives
interchanging that last word “which never was the last”: and it occurred
to me, as an experiment with the Magic Watch, to wait till the little
scene was over, and then to ‘encore’ it.

“Well, good night t’ye! And ye winna forget to send us word when your
Martha writes?”

“Nay, ah winna forget. An’ if she isn’t suited, she can but coom back.
Good night t’ye!”

A casual observer might have thought “and there ends the dialogue!” That
casual observer would have been mistaken.

“Ah, she’ll like ’em, I war’n’ ye! _They’ll_ not treat her bad, yer may
depend. They’re varry canny fowk. Good night!”

“Ay, they _are_ that! Good night!”

“Good night! And ye’ll send us word if she writes?”

“Aye, ah will, yer may depend! Good night t’ye!”

And at last they parted. I waited till they were some twenty yards
apart, and then put the Watch a minute back. The instantaneous change
was startling: the two figures seemed to flash back into their former
places.

“—isn’t suited, she can but coom back. Good night t’ye!” one of them was
saying: and so the whole dialogue was repeated, and, when they had
parted for the second time, I let them go their several ways, and
strolled on through the town.

“But the real usefulness of this magic power,” I thought, “would be to
undo some harm, some painful event, some accident——” I had not long to
wait for an opportunity of testing _this_ property also of the Magic
Watch, for, even as the thought passed through my mind, the accident I
was imagining occurred. A light cart was standing at the door of the
‘Great Millinery Depôt’ of Elveston, laden with card-board
packing-cases, which the driver was carrying into the shop, one by one.
One of the cases had fallen into the street, but it scarcely seemed
worth while to step forward and pick it up, as the man would be back
again in a moment. Yet, in that moment, a young man riding a bicycle
came sharp round the corner of the street and, in trying to avoid
running over the box, upset his machine, and was thrown headlong against
the wheel of the spring-cart. The driver ran out to his assistance, and
he and I together raised the unfortunate cyclist and carried him into
the shop. His head was cut and bleeding; and one knee seemed to be badly
injured; and it was speedily settled that he had better be conveyed at
once to the only Surgery in the place. I helped them in emptying the
cart, and placing in it some pillows for the wounded man to rest on; and
it was only when the driver had mounted to his place, and was starting
for the Surgery, that I bethought me of the strange power I possessed of
undoing all this harm.

“Now is my time!” I said to myself, as I moved back the hand of the
Watch, and saw, almost without surprise this time, all things restored
to the places they had occupied at the critical moment when I had first
noticed the fallen packing-case.

Instantly I stepped out into the street, picked up the box, and replaced
it in the cart: in the next moment the bicycle had spun round the
corner, passed the cart without let or hindrance, and soon vanished in
the distance, in a cloud of dust.

“Delightful power of magic!” I thought. “How much of human suffering I
have—not only relieved, but actually annihilated!” And, in a glow of
conscious virtue, I stood watching the unloading of the cart, still
holding the Magic Watch open in my hand, as I was curious to see what
would happen when we again reached the exact time at which I had put
back the hand.

The result was one that, if only I had considered the thing carefully, I
might have foreseen: as the hand of the Watch touched the mark, the
spring-cart—which had driven off, and was by this time half-way down the
street, was back again at the door, and in the act of starting, while—oh
woe for the golden dream of world-wide benevolence that had dazzled my
dreaming fancy!—the wounded youth was once more reclining on the heap of
pillows, his pale face set rigidly in the hard lines that told of pain
resolutely endured.

“Oh mocking Magic Watch!” I said to myself, as I passed out of the
little town, and took the seaward road that led to my lodgings. “The
good I fancied I could do is vanished like a dream: the evil of this
troublesome world is the only abiding reality!”

And now I must record an experience so strange, that I think it only
fair, before beginning to relate it, to release my much-enduring reader
from any obligation he may feel to believe this part of my story. _I_
would not have believed it, I freely confess, if I had not seen it with
my own eyes: then why should I expect it of my reader, who, quite
possibly, has never seen anything of the sort?

I was passing a pretty little villa, which stood rather back from the
road, in its own grounds, with bright flower-beds in front—creepers
wandering over the walls and hanging in festoons about the
bow-windows—an easy-chair forgotten on the lawn, with a newspaper lying
near it—a small pug-dog “couchant” before it, resolved to guard the
treasure even at the sacrifice of life—and a front-door standing
invitingly half-open. “Here is my chance,” I thought, “for testing the
reverse action of the Magic Watch!” I pressed the ‘reversal-peg’ and
walked in. In _another_ house, the entrance of a stranger might cause
surprise—perhaps anger, even going so far as to expel the said stranger
with violence: but _here_, I knew, nothing of the sort could happen. The
_ordinary_ course of events—first, to think nothing about me; then,
hearing my footsteps to look up and see me; and then to wonder what
business I had there—would be reversed by the action of my Watch. They
would _first_ wonder who I was, _then_ see me, then look down, and think
no more about me. And as to being expelled with violence, _that_ event
would necessarily come _first_ in this case. “So, if I can once get
_in_,” I said to myself, “all risk of _expulsion_ will be over!”

[Illustration: ‘THE PUG-DOG SAT UP’]

The pug-dog sat up, as a precautionary measure, as I passed; but, as I
took no notice of the treasure he was guarding, he let me go by without
even one remonstrant bark. “He that takes my life,” he seemed to be
saying, wheezily, to himself, “takes trash: But he that takes the _Daily
Telegraph_——!” But this awful contingency I did not face.

The party in the drawing-room—I had walked straight in, you understand,
without ringing the bell, or giving any notice of my approach—consisted
of four laughing rosy children, of ages from about fourteen down to ten,
who were, apparently, all coming towards the door (I found they were
really walking _backwards_), while their mother, seated by the fire with
some needlework on her lap, was saying, just as I entered the room,
“Now, girls, you may get your things on for a walk.”

To my utter astonishment—for I was not yet accustomed to the action of
the Watch—“all smiles ceased” (as Browning says) on the four pretty
faces, and they all got out pieces of needle-work, and sat down. No one
noticed _me_ in the least, as I quietly took a chair and sat down to
watch them.

When the needle-work had been unfolded, and they were all ready to
begin, their mother said “Come, _that’s_ done, at last! You may fold up
your work, girls.” But the children took no notice whatever of the
remark; on the contrary, they set to work at once sewing—if that is the
proper word to describe an operation such as _I_ had never before
witnessed. Each of them threaded her needle with a short end of thread
attached to the work, which was instantly pulled by an invisible force
through the stuff, dragging the needle after it: the nimble fingers of
the little sempstress caught it at the other side, but only to lose it
again the next moment. And so the work went on, steadily undoing itself,
and the neatly-stitched little dresses, or whatever they were, steadily
falling to pieces. Now and then one of the children would pause, as the
recovered thread became inconveniently long, wind it on a bobbin, and
start again with another short end.

At last all the work was picked to pieces and put away, and the lady led
the way into the next room, walking backwards, and making the insane
remark “Not yet, dear: we _must_ get the sewing done first.” After
which, I was not surprised to see the children skipping backwards after
her, exclaiming “Oh, mother, it _is_ such a lovely day for a walk!”

In the dining-room, the table had only dirty plates and empty dishes on
it. However the party—with the addition of a gentleman, as good-natured,
and as rosy, as the children—seated themselves at it very contentedly.

You have seen people eating cherry-tart, and every now and then
cautiously conveying a cherry-stone from their lips to their plates?
Well, something like that went on all through this ghastly—or shall we
say ‘ghostly’?—banquet. An empty fork is raised to the lips: there it
receives a neatly-cut piece of mutton, and swiftly conveys it to the
plate, where it instantly attaches itself to the mutton already there.
Soon one of the plates, furnished with a complete slice of mutton and
two potatoes, was handed up to the presiding gentleman, who quietly
replaced the slice on the joint, and the potatoes in the dish.

Their conversation was, if possible, more bewildering than their mode of
dining. It began by the youngest girl suddenly, and without provocation,
addressing her eldest sister. “Oh, you _wicked_ story-teller!” she said.

I expected a sharp reply from the sister; but, instead of this, she
turned laughingly to her father, and said, in a very loud stage-whisper,
“To be a bride!”

The father, in order to do _his_ part in a conversation that seemed only
fit for lunatics, replied “Whisper it to me, dear.”

But she _didn’t_ whisper (these children never did anything they were
told): she said, quite loud, “Of course not! Everybody knows what
_Dolly_ wants!”

And little Dolly shrugged her shoulders, and said, with a pretty
pettishness, “Now, Father, you’re not to tease! You know I don’t want to
be bride’s-maid to _anybody_!”

“And Dolly’s to be the fourth,” was her father’s idiotic reply.

Here Number Three put in her oar. “Oh, it _is_ settled, Mother dear,
really and truly! Mary told us all about it. It’s to be next Tuesday
four weeks—and three of her cousins are coming to be
bride’s-maids—and——”

“_She_ doesn’t forget it, Minnie!” the Mother laughingly replied. “I do
wish they’d get it settled! I don’t like long engagements.”

And Minnie wound up the conversation—if so chaotic a series of remarks
deserves the name—with “Only think! We passed the Cedars this morning,
just exactly as Mary Davenant was standing at the gate, wishing good-bye
to Mister—I forget his name. Of course we looked the other way.”

By this time I was so hopelessly confused that I gave up listening, and
followed the dinner down into the kitchen.

But to you, O hypercritical reader, resolute to believe no item of this
weird adventure, what need to tell how the mutton was placed on the
spit, and slowly unroasted—how the potatoes were wrapped in their skins,
and handed over to the gardener to be buried—how, when the mutton had at
length attained to rawness, the fire, which had gradually changed from
red-heat to a mere blaze, died down so suddenly that the cook had only
just time to catch its last flicker on the end of a match—or how the
maid, having taken the mutton off the spit, carried it (backwards, of
course) out of the house, to meet the butcher, who was coming (also
backwards) down the road?

The longer I thought over this strange adventure, the more hopelessly
tangled the mystery became: and it was a real relief to meet Arthur in
the road, and get him to go with me up to the Hall, to learn what news
the telegraph had brought. I told him, as we went, what had happened at
the Station, but as to my further adventures I thought it best, for the
present, to say nothing.

The Earl was sitting alone when we entered. “I am glad you are come in
to keep me company,” he said. “Muriel is gone to bed—the excitement of
that terrible scene was too much for her—and Eric has gone to the hotel
to pack his things, to start for London by the early train.”

“Then the telegram has come?” I said.

“Did you not hear? Oh, I had forgotten: it came in after you left the
Station. Yes, it’s all right: Eric has got his commission; and, now that
he has arranged matters with Muriel, he has business in town that must
be seen to at once.”

“What arrangement do you mean?” I asked with a sinking heart, as the
thought of Arthur’s crushed hopes came to my mind. “Do you mean that
they are _engaged_?”

“They have been engaged—in a sense—for two years,” the old man gently
replied: “that is, he has had my promise to consent to it, so soon as he
could secure a permanent and settled line in life. I could never be
happy with my child married to a man without an object to live
for—without even an object to die for!”

“I hope they will be happy,” a strange voice said. The speaker was
evidently in the room, but I had not heard the door open, and I looked
round in some astonishment. The Earl seemed to share my surprise. “Who
spoke?” he exclaimed.

“It was I,” said Arthur, looking at us with a worn, haggard face, and
eyes from which the light of life seemed suddenly to have faded. “And
let me wish _you_ joy also, dear friend,” he added, looking sadly at the
Earl, and speaking in the same hollow tones that had startled us so
much.

“Thank you,” the old man said, simply and heartily.

A silence followed: then I rose, feeling sure that Arthur would wish to
be alone, and bade our gentle host ‘Good night’: Arthur took his hand,
but said nothing: nor did he speak again, as we went home, till we were
in the house and had lit our bed-room candles. Then he said, more to
himself than to me, “_The heart knoweth its own bitterness_. I never
understood those words till now.”

The next few days passed wearily enough. I felt no inclination to call
again, by myself, at the Hall; still less to propose that Arthur should
go with me: it seemed better to wait till Time—that gentle healer of our
bitterest sorrows—should have helped him to recover from the first shock
of the disappointment that had blighted his life.

Business, however, soon demanded my presence in town; and I had to
announce to Arthur that I must leave him for a while. “But I hope to run
down again in a month,” I added. “I would stay now, if I could. I don’t
think it’s good for you to be alone.”

“No, I ca’n’t face solitude, _here_, for long,” said Arthur. “But don’t
think about _me_. I have made up my mind to accept a post in India, that
has been offered me. Out there, I suppose I shall find something to live
for; I can’t see _anything_ at present. ‘_This life of mine I guard, as
God’s high gift, from scathe and wrong, Not greatly care to lose!_’”

“Yes,” I said: “your name-sake bore as heavy a blow, and lived through
it.”

“A far heavier one than _mine_,” said Arthur. “The woman _he_ loved
proved false. There is no such cloud as _that_ on my memory of—of——” He
left the name unuttered, and went on hurriedly. “But _you_ will return,
will you not?”

“Yes, I shall come back for a short time.”

“Do,” said Arthur: “and you shall write and tell me of our friends. I’ll
send you my address when I’m settled down.”



                             CHAPTER XXIV.
                       THE FROGS’ BIRTHDAY-TREAT.


And so it came to pass that, just a week after the day when my
Fairy-friends first appeared as Children, I found myself taking a
farewell-stroll through the wood, in the hope of meeting them once more.
I had but to stretch myself on the smooth turf, and the ‘eerie’ feeling
was on me in a moment.

“Put oor ear _welly_ low down,” said Bruno, “and I’ll tell oo a secret!
It’s the Frogs’ Birthday-Treat—and we’ve lost the Baby!”

“_What_ Baby?” I said, quite bewildered by this complicated piece of
news.

“The _Queen’s_ Baby, a course!” said Bruno. “Titania’s Baby. And we’s
_welly_ sorry. Sylvie, she’s—oh so sorry!”

“_How_ sorry is she?” I asked, mischievously.

“Three-quarters of a yard,” Bruno replied with perfect solemnity. “And
_I’m_ a little sorry too,” he added, shutting his eyes so as not to see
that he was smiling.

“And what are you doing about the Baby?”

“Well, the _soldiers_ are all looking for it—up and down—everywhere.”

“The _soldiers_?” I exclaimed.

“Yes, a course!” said Bruno. “When there’s no fighting to be done, the
soldiers doos any little odd jobs, oo know.”

I was amused at the idea of its being a ‘little odd job’ to find the
Royal Baby. “But how did you come to lose it?” I asked.

“We put it in a flower,” Sylvie, who had just joined us, explained with
her eyes full of tears. “Only we ca’n’t remember _which_!”

“She says _us_ put it in a flower,” Bruno interrupted, “’cause she
doosn’t want _I_ to get punished. But it were really _me_ what put it
there. _Sylvie_ were picking Dindledums.”

[Illustration: THE QUEEN’S BABY]

“You shouldn’t say ‘_us_ put it in a flower’,” Sylvie very gravely
remarked.

“Well, _hus_, then,” said Bruno. “I never _can_ remember those horrid
H’s!”

“Let me help you to look for it,” I said. So Sylvie and I made a ‘voyage
of discovery’ among all the flowers; but there was no Baby to be seen.

“What’s become of Bruno?” I said, when we had completed our tour.

“He’s down in the ditch there,” said Sylvie, “amusing a young Frog.”

I went down on my hands and knees to look for him, for I felt very
curious to know how young Frogs _ought_ to be amused. After a minute’s
search, I found him sitting at the edge of the ditch, by the side of the
little Frog, and looking rather disconsolate.

“How are you getting on, Bruno?” I said, nodding to him as he looked up.

“Ca’n’t amuse it no more,” Bruno answered, very dolefully, “’cause it
won’t say what it would like to do next! I’ve showed it all the
duck-weeds—and a live caddis-worm—but it won’t say nuffin! What—would
oo—like?” he shouted into the ear of the Frog: but the little creature
sat quite still, and took no notice of him. “It’s deaf, I think!” Bruno
said, turning away with a sigh. “And it’s time to get the Theatre
ready.”

“Who are the audience to be?”

“Only but Frogs,” said Bruno. “But they haven’t comed yet. They wants to
be drove up, like sheep.”

“Would it save time,” I suggested, “if _I_ were to walk round with
Sylvie, to drive up the Frogs, while _you_ get the Theatre ready?”

“That _are_ a good plan!” cried Bruno. “But where _are_ Sylvie?”

“I’m here!” said Sylvie, peeping over the edge of the bank. “I was just
watching two Frogs that were having a race.”

“Which won it?” Bruno eagerly inquired.

Sylvie was puzzled. “He _does_ ask such hard questions!” she confided to
me.

“And what’s to happen in the Theatre?” I asked.

“First they have their Birthday-Feast,” Sylvie said: “then Bruno does
some Bits of Shakespeare; then he tells them a Story.”

“I should think the Frogs like the Feast best. Don’t they?”

“Well, there’s generally very few of them that get any. They _will_ keep
their mouths shut so tight! And it’s just as well they _do_,” she added,
“because Bruno likes to cook it himself: and he cooks _very_ queerly.
Now they’re all in. Would you just help me to put them with their heads
the right way?”

We soon managed this part of the business, though the Frogs kept up a
most discontented croaking all the time.

“What _are_ they saying?” I asked Sylvie.

“They’re saying ‘Fork! Fork!’ It’s very silly of them! You’re not going
to _have_ forks!” she announced with some severity. “Those that want any
Feast have just got to open their mouths, and Bruno’ll put some of it
in!”

At this moment Bruno appeared, wearing a little white apron to show that
he was a Cook, and carrying a tureen full of very queer-looking soup. I
watched very carefully as he moved about among the Frogs; but I could
not see that _any_ of them opened their mouths to be fed—except one very
young one, and I’m nearly sure it did it accidentally, in yawning.
However Bruno instantly put a large spoonful of soup into its mouth, and
the poor little thing coughed violently for some time.

So Sylvie and I had to share the soup between us, and to _pretend_ to
enjoy it, for it certainly was _very_ queerly cooked.

I only ventured to take _one_ spoonful of it (“Sylvie’s Summer-Soup,”
Bruno said it was), and must candidly confess that it was not _at all_
nice; and I could not feel surprised that so many of the guests had kept
their mouths shut up tight.

“What’s the soup _made_ of, Bruno?” said Sylvie, who had put a spoonful
of it to her lips, and was making a wry face over it.

And Bruno’s answer was anything but encouraging. “Bits of things!”

The entertainment was to conclude with “Bits of Shakespeare,” as Sylvie
expressed it, which were all to be done by Bruno, Sylvie being fully
engaged in making the Frogs keep their heads towards the stage: after
which Bruno was to appear in his real character, and tell them a Story
of his own invention.

“Will the Story have a Moral to it?” I asked Sylvie, while Bruno was
away behind the hedge, dressing for the first ‘Bit.’

“I _think_ so,” Sylvie replied doubtfully. “There generally _is_ a
Moral, only he puts it in too soon.”

“And will he _say_ all the Bits of Shakespeare?”

“No, he’ll only _act_ them,” said Sylvie. “He knows hardly any of the
words. When I see what he’s dressed like, I’ve to tell the Frogs what
character it is. They’re always in such a hurry to guess! Don’t you hear
them all saying ‘What? What?’” And so indeed they were: it had only
sounded like croaking, till Sylvie explained it, but I could now make
out the “Wawt? Wawt?” quite distinctly.

“But why do they try to guess it before they see it?”

“I don’t know,” Sylvie said: “but they always _do_. Sometimes they begin
guessing weeks and weeks before the day!”

(So now, when you hear the Frogs croaking in a particularly melancholy
way, you may be sure they’re trying to guess Bruno’s next Shakespeare
‘Bit’. Isn’t _that_ interesting?)

However, the chorus of guessing was cut short by Bruno, who suddenly
rushed on from behind the scenes, and took a flying leap down among the
Frogs, to re-arrange them.

For the oldest and fattest Frog—who had never been properly arranged so
that he could see the stage, and so had no idea what was going on—was
getting restless, and had upset several of the Frogs, and turned others
round with their heads the wrong way. And it was no good at all, Bruno
said, to do a ‘Bit’ of Shakespeare when there was nobody to look at it
(you see he didn’t count _me_ as anybody). So he set to work with a
stick, stirring them up, very much as you would stir up tea in a cup,
till most of them had at least _one_ great stupid eye gazing at the
stage.

“_Oo_ must come and sit among them, Sylvie,” he said in despair, “I’ve
put these two side-by-side, with their noses the same way, ever so many
times, but they _do_ squarrel so!”

So Sylvie took her place as ‘Mistress of the Ceremonies,’ and Bruno
vanished again behind the scenes, to dress for the first ‘Bit.’

“Hamlet!” was suddenly proclaimed, in the clear sweet tones I knew so
well. The croaking all ceased in a moment, and I turned to the stage, in
some curiosity to see what Bruno’s ideas were as to the behaviour of
Shakespeare’s greatest Character.

According to this eminent interpreter of the Drama, Hamlet wore a short
black cloak (which he chiefly used for muffling up his face, as if he
suffered a good deal from toothache), and turned out his toes very much
as he walked. “To be or not to be!” Hamlet remarked in a cheerful tone,
and then turned head-over-heels several times, his cloak dropping off in
the performance.

I felt a little disappointed: Bruno’s conception of the part seemed so
wanting in dignity. “Won’t he say any more of the speech?” I whispered
to Sylvie.

“I _think_ not,” Sylvie whispered in reply. “He generally turns
head-over-heels when he doesn’t know any more words.”

Bruno had meanwhile settled the question by disappearing from the stage;
and the Frogs instantly began inquiring the name of the next Character.

“You’ll know directly!” cried Sylvie, as she adjusted two or three young
Frogs that had struggled round with their backs to the stage. “Macbeth!”
she added, as Bruno re-appeared.

Macbeth had something twisted round him, that went over one shoulder and
under the other arm, and was meant, I believe, for a Scotch plaid. He
had a thorn in his hand, which he held out at arm’s length, as if he
were a little afraid of it. “Is this a _dagger_?” Macbeth inquired, in a
puzzled sort of tone: and instantly a chorus of “Thorn! Thorn!” arose
from the Frogs (I had quite learned to understand their croaking by this
time).

“It’s a _dagger_!” Sylvie proclaimed in a peremptory tone. “Hold your
tongues!” And the croaking ceased at once.

Shakespeare has not told us, so far as I know, that Macbeth had any such
eccentric habit as turning head-over-heels in private life: but Bruno
evidently considered it quite an essential part of the character, and
left the stage in a series of somersaults. However, he was back again in
a few moments, having tucked under his chin the end of a tuft of wool
(probably left on the thorn by a wandering sheep), which made a
magnificent beard, that reached nearly down to his feet.

“Shylock!” Sylvie proclaimed. “No, I beg your pardon!” she hastily
corrected herself, “King Lear! I hadn’t noticed the crown.” (Bruno had
very cleverly provided one, which fitted him exactly, by cutting out the
centre of a dandelion to make room for his head.)

King Lear folded his arms (to the imminent peril of his beard) and said,
in a mild explanatory tone, “Ay, every _inch_ a king!” and then paused,
as if to consider how this could best be proved. And here, with all
possible deference to Bruno as a Shakespearian critic, I _must_ express
my opinion that the poet did _not_ mean his three great tragic heroes to
be so strangely alike in their personal habits; nor do I believe that he
would have accepted the faculty of turning head-over-heels as any proof
at all of royal descent. Yet it appeared that King Lear, after deep
meditation, could think of no other argument by which to prove his
kingship: and, as this was the last of the ‘Bits’ of Shakespeare (“We
never do more than _three_,” Sylvie explained in a whisper), Bruno gave
the audience quite a long series of somersaults before he finally
retired, leaving the enraptured Frogs all crying out “More! More!” which
I suppose was their way of encoring a performance. But Bruno wouldn’t
appear again, till the proper time came for telling the Story.

[Illustration: THE FROGS’ BIRTHDAY-TREAT]

When he appeared at last in his _real_ character, I noticed a remarkable
change in his behaviour. He tried no more somersaults. It was clearly
his opinion that, however suitable the habit of turning head-over-heels
might be to such petty individuals as Hamlet and King Lear, it would
never do for _Bruno_ to sacrifice his dignity to such an extent. But it
was equally clear that he did not feel entirely at his ease, standing
all alone on the stage, with no costume to disguise him: and though he
began, several times, “There were a Mouse—,” he kept glancing up and
down, and on all sides, as if in search of more comfortable quarters
from which to tell the Story. Standing on one side of the stage, and
partly overshadowing it, was a tall fox-glove, which seemed, as the
evening breeze gently swayed it hither and thither, to offer exactly the
sort of accommodation that the orator desired. Having once decided on
his quarters, it needed only a second or two for him to run up the stem
like a tiny squirrel, and to seat himself astride on the topmost bend,
where the fairy-bells clustered most closely, and from whence he could
look down on his audience from such a height that all shyness vanished,
and he began his Story merrily.

“Once there were a Mouse and a Crocodile and a Man and a Goat and a
Lion.” I had never heard the ‘dramatis personæ’ tumbled into a story
with such profusion and in such reckless haste; and it fairly took my
breath away. Even Sylvie gave a little gasp, and allowed three of the
Frogs, who seemed to be getting tired of the entertainment, to hop away
into the ditch, without attempting to stop them.

“And the Mouse found a Shoe, and it thought it were a Mouse-trap. So it
got right in, and it stayed in ever so long.”

“Why did it _stay_ in?” said Sylvie. Her function seemed to be much the
same as that of the Chorus in a Greek Play: she had to encourage the
orator, and draw him out, by a series of intelligent questions.

“’Cause it thought it couldn’t get out again,” Bruno explained. “It were
a clever mouse. It knew it couldn’t get out of traps!”

“But why did it go in at all?” said Sylvie.

“—and it jamp, and it jamp,” Bruno proceeded, ignoring this question,
“and at last it got right out again. And it looked at the mark in the
Shoe. And the Man’s name were in it. So it knew it wasn’t its own Shoe.”

“Had it thought it _was_?” said Sylvie.

“Why, didn’t I tell oo it thought it were a _Mouse-trap_?” the indignant
orator replied. “Please, Mister Sir, will oo make Sylvie attend?” Sylvie
was silenced, and was all attention: in fact, she and I were most of the
audience now, as the Frogs kept hopping away, and there were very few of
them left.

“So the Mouse gave the Man his Shoe. And the Man were welly glad, ’cause
he hadn’t got but one Shoe, and he were hopping to get the other.”

Here I ventured on a question. “Do you mean ‘hopping,’ or ‘hoping’?”

“Bofe,” said Bruno. “And the Man took the Goat out of the Sack.” (“We
haven’t heard of the _sack_ before,” I said. “Nor you won’t hear of it
again,” said Bruno). “And he said to the Goat, ‘Oo will walk about here
till I comes back.’ And he went and he tumbled into a deep hole. And the
Goat walked round and round. And it walked under the Tree. And it wug
its tail. And it looked up in the Tree. And it sang a sad little Song.
Oo never heard such a sad little Song!”

“Can you sing it, Bruno?” I asked.

“Iss, I can,” Bruno readily replied. “And I sa’n’t. It would make Sylvie
cry——”

“It wouldn’t!” Sylvie interrupted in great indignation. “And I don’t
believe the Goat sang it at all!”

“It did, though!” said Bruno. “It singed it right froo. I _sawed_ it
singing with its long beard——”

“It couldn’t sing with its _beard_,” I said, hoping to puzzle the little
fellow: “a beard isn’t a _voice_.”

“Well then, _oo_ couldn’t walk with Sylvie!” Bruno cried triumphantly.
“Sylvie isn’t a _foot_!”

I thought I had better follow Sylvie’s example, and be silent for a
while. Bruno was too sharp for us.

“And when it had singed all the Song, it ran away—for to get along to
look for the Man, oo know. And the Crocodile got along after it—for to
bite it, oo know. And the Mouse got along after the Crocodile.”

“Wasn’t the Crocodile _running_?” Sylvie enquired. She appealed to me.
“Crocodiles do run, don’t they?”

I suggested “crawling” as the proper word.

“He wasn’t running,” said Bruno, “and he wasn’t crawling. He went
struggling along like a portmanteau. And he held his chin ever so high
in the air——”

“What did he do _that_ for?” said Sylvie.

“’Cause he hadn’t got a toofache!” said Bruno. “Ca’n’t oo make out
_nuffin_ wizout I ’splain it? Why, if he’d had a toofache, a course he’d
have held his head down—like this—and he’d have put a lot of warm
blankets round it!”

“If he’d _had_ any blankets,” Sylvie argued.

“Course he _had_ blankets!” retorted her brother. “Doos oo think
Crocodiles goes walks wizout blankets? And he frowned with his eyebrows.
And the Goat was welly flightened at his eyebrows!”

“I’d never be afraid of _eyebrows_!” exclaimed Sylvie.

“I should think oo _would_, though, if they’d got a Crocodile fastened
to them, like these had! And so the Man jamp, and he jamp, and at last
he got right out of the hole.”

Sylvie gave another little gasp: this rapid dodging about among the
characters of the Story had taken away her breath.

“And he runned away—for to look for the Goat, oo know. And he heard the
Lion grunting——”

“Lions don’t grunt,” said Sylvie.

“This one did,” said Bruno. “And its mouth were like a large cupboard.
And it had plenty of room in its mouth. And the Lion runned after the
Man—for to eat him, oo know. And the Mouse runned after the Lion.”

“But the Mouse was running after the _Crocodile_,” I said: “he couldn’t
run after _both_!”

Bruno sighed over the density of his audience, but explained very
patiently. “He _did_ runned after _bofe_: ’cause they went the same way!
And first he caught the Crocodile, and then he didn’t catch the Lion.
And when he’d caught the Crocodile, what doos oo think he did—’cause
he’d got pincers in his pocket?”

“I ca’n’t guess,” said Sylvie.

[Illustration: ‘HE WRENCHED OUT THAT CROCODILE’S TOOF!’]

“Nobody couldn’t guess it!” Bruno cried in high glee. “Why, he wrenched
out that Crocodile’s toof!”

“_Which_ tooth?” I ventured to ask.

But Bruno was not to be puzzled. “The toof he were going to bite the
Goat with, a course!”

“He couldn’t be sure about that,” I argued, “unless he wrenched out
_all_ its teeth.”

Bruno laughed merrily, and half sang, as he swung himself backwards and
forwards, “He did—wrenched—out—_all_ its teef!”

“Why did the Crocodile wait to have them wrenched out?” said Sylvie.

“It had to wait,” said Bruno.

I ventured on another question. “But what became of the Man who said
‘You may wait here till I come back’?”

“He didn’t say ‘Oo _may_,’” Bruno explained. “He said, ‘Oo _will_.’ Just
like Sylvie says to me ‘Oo will do oor lessons till twelve o’clock.’ Oh,
I _wiss_,” he added with a little sigh, “I _wiss_ Sylvie would say ‘Oo
_may_ do oor lessons’!”

This was a dangerous subject for discussion, Sylvie seemed to think. She
returned to the Story. “But what became of the Man?”

“Well, the Lion springed at him. But it came so slow, it were three
weeks in the air——”

“Did the Man wait for it all that time?” I said.

“Course he didn’t!” Bruno replied, gliding head-first down the stem of
the fox-glove, for the Story was evidently close to its end. “He sold
his house, and he packed up his things, while the Lion were coming. And
he went and he lived in another town. So the Lion ate the wrong man.”

This was evidently the Moral: so Sylvie made her final proclamation to
the Frogs. “The Story’s finished! And whatever is to be _learned_ from
it,” she added, aside to me, “I’m sure _I_ don’t know!”

I did not feel _quite_ clear about it myself, so made no suggestion: but
the Frogs seemed quite content, Moral or no Moral, and merely raised a
husky chorus of “Off! Off!” as they hopped away.



                              CHAPTER XXV.
                           LOOKING EASTWARD.


“It’s just a week,” I said, three days later, to Arthur, “since we heard
of Lady Muriel’s engagement. I think _I_ ought to call, at any rate, and
offer my congratulations. Won’t you come with me?”

A pained expression passed over his face. “When must you leave us?” he
asked.

“By the first train on Monday.”

“Well—yes, I _will_ come with you. It would seem strange and unfriendly
if I didn’t. But this is only Friday. Give me till Sunday afternoon. I
shall be stronger then.”

Shading his eyes with one hand, as if half-ashamed of the tears that
were coursing down his cheeks, he held the other out to me. It trembled
as I clasped it.

I tried to frame some words of sympathy; but they seemed poor and cold,
and I left them unspoken. “Good night!” was all I said.

“Good night, dear friend!” he replied. There was a manly vigour in his
tone that convinced me he was wrestling with, and triumphing over, the
great sorrow that had so nearly wrecked his life—and that, on the
stepping-stone of his dead self, he would surely rise to higher things!

There was no chance, I was glad to think, as we set out on Sunday
afternoon, of meeting _Eric_ at the Hall, as he had returned to town the
day after his engagement was announced. _His_ presence might have
disturbed the calm—the almost unnatural calm—with which Arthur met the
woman who had won his heart, and murmured the few graceful words of
sympathy that the occasion demanded.

Lady Muriel was perfectly radiant with happiness: sadness could not live
in the light of such a smile: and even Arthur brightened under it, and,
when she remarked “You see I’m watering my flowers, though it _is_ the
Sabbath-Day,” his voice had almost its old ring of cheerfulness as he
replied “Even on the Sabbath-Day works of mercy are allowed. But this
_isn’t_ the Sabbath-Day. The Sabbath-Day has ceased to exist.”

“I know it’s not _Saturday_,” Lady Muriel replied: “but isn’t Sunday
often called ‘the Christian Sabbath’?”

“It is so called, I think, in recognition of the _spirit_ of the Jewish
institution, that one day in seven should be a day of _rest_. But I hold
that Christians are freed from the _literal_ observance of the Fourth
Commandment.”

“Then where is our _authority_ for Sunday observance?”

“We have, first, the fact that the seventh day was ‘sanctified’, when
God rested from the work of Creation. That is binding on us as
_Theists_. Secondly, we have the fact that ‘the Lord’s Day’ is a
_Christian_ institution. That is binding on us as _Christians_.”

“And your practical rules would be——?”

“First, as Theists, to keep it _holy_ in some special way, and to make
it, so far as is reasonably possible, a day of _rest_. Secondly, as
_Christians_, to attend public worship.”

“And what of _amusements_?”

“I would say of them, as of all kinds of _work_, whatever is innocent on
a week-day, is innocent on Sunday, provided it does not interfere with
the duties of the day.”

“Then you would allow children to _play_ on Sunday?”

“Certainly I should. Why make the day irksome to their restless
natures?”

“I have a letter somewhere,” said Lady Muriel, “from an old friend,
describing the way in which Sunday was kept in her younger days. I will
fetch it for you.”

“I had a similar description, _vivâ voce_, years ago,” Arthur said when
she had left us, “from a little girl. It was really touching to hear the
melancholy tone in which she said ‘On Sunday I mustn’t play with my
doll! On Sunday I mustn’t run on the sands! On Sunday I mustn’t dig in
the garden!’ Poor child! She had indeed abundant cause for hating
Sunday!”

“Here is the letter,” said Lady Muriel, returning. “Let me read you a
piece of it.”

  “_When, as a child, I first opened my eyes on a Sunday-morning, a
  feeling of dismal anticipation, which began at least on the Friday,
  culminated. I knew what was before me, and my wish, if not my word,
  was ‘Would God it were evening!’ It was no day of rest, but a day of
  texts, of catechisms (Watts’), of tracts about converted swearers,
  godly char-women, and edifying deaths of sinners saved._

  “_Up with the lark, hymns and portions of Scripture had to be learned
  by heart till 8 o’clock, when there were family-prayers, then
  breakfast, which I was never able to enjoy, partly from the fast
  already undergone, and partly from the outlook I dreaded._

  “_At 9 came Sunday-School; and it made me indignant to be put into the
  class with the village-children, as well as alarmed lest, by some
  mistake of mine, I should be put below them._

  “_The Church-Service was a veritable Wilderness of Zin. I wandered in
  it, pitching the tabernacle of my thoughts on the lining of the square
  family-pew, the fidgets of my small brothers, and the horror of
  knowing that, on the Monday, I should have to write out, from memory,
  jottings of the rambling disconnected extempore sermon, which might
  have had any text but its own, and to stand or fall by the result._

  “_This was followed by a cold dinner at 1_ (_servants to have_ no
  _work_), _Sunday-School again from 2 to 4, and Evening-Service at 6.
  The intervals were perhaps the greatest trial of all, from the efforts
  I had to make, to be less than usually sinful, by reading books and
  sermons as barren as the Dead Sea. There was but one rosy spot, in the
  distance, all that day: that was ‘bed-time,’ which never could come
  too early!_”

“Such teaching was well meant, no doubt,” said Arthur; “but it must have
driven many of its victims into deserting the Church-Services
altogether.”

“I’m afraid _I_ was a deserter this morning,” she gravely said. “I had
to write to Eric. Would you—would you mind my telling you something he
said about _prayer_? It had never struck me in that light before.”

“In what light?” said Arthur.

“Why, that all Nature goes by fixed, regular laws—Science has proved
_that_. So that asking God to _do_ anything (except of course praying
for _spiritual_ blessings) is to expect a miracle: and we’ve no right to
do _that_. I’ve not put it as well as _he_ did: but that was the outcome
of it, and it has confused me. Please tell me what you can say in answer
to it.”

“I don’t propose to discuss _Captain Lindon’s_ difficulties,” Arthur
gravely replied; “specially as he is not present. But, if it is _your_
difficulty,” (his voice unconsciously took a tenderer tone) “then I will
speak.”

“It _is_ my difficulty,” she said anxiously.

“Then I will begin by asking ‘Why did you except _spiritual_ blessings?’
Is not your mind a part of Nature?”

“Yes, but Free-Will comes in there—I can _choose_ this or that; and God
can influence my choice.”

“Then you are not a Fatalist?”

“Oh, no!” she earnestly exclaimed.

“Thank God!” Arthur said to himself, but in so low a whisper that only
_I_ heard it. “You grant then that I can, by an act of free choice, move
this cup,” suiting the action to the word, “_this_ way or _that_ way?”

“Yes, I grant it.”

“Well, let us see how far the result is produced by fixed laws. The
_cup_ moves because certain mechanical forces are impressed on it by my
_hand_. My _hand_ moves because certain forces—electric, magnetic, or
whatever ‘nerve-force’ may prove to be—are impressed on it by my
_brain_. This nerve-force, stored in the brain, would probably be
traceable, if Science were complete, to chemical forces supplied to the
brain by the blood, and ultimately derived from the food I eat and the
air I breathe.”

“But would not that be Fatalism? Where would Free-Will come in?”

“In _choice_ of nerves,” replied Arthur. “The nerve-force in the brain
may flow just as naturally down one nerve as down another. We need
something more than a fixed Law of Nature to settle _which_ nerve shall
carry it. That ‘something’ is Free-Will.”

Her eyes sparkled. “I see what you mean!” she exclaimed. “Human
Free-Will is an exception to the system of fixed Law. Eric said
something like that. And then I think he pointed out that God can only
influence Nature by influencing Human Wills. So that we _might_
reasonably pray ‘_give us this day our daily bread_,’ because many of
the causes that produce bread are under Man’s control. But to pray for
rain, or fine weather, would be as unreasonable as—” she checked
herself, as if fearful of saying something irreverent.

In a hushed, low tone, that trembled with emotion, and with the
solemnity of one in the presence of death, Arthur slowly replied “_Shall
he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him?_ Shall we, ‘the swarm
that in the noontide beam were born,’ feeling in ourselves the power to
direct, this way or that, the forces of Nature—of _Nature_, of which we
form so trivial a part—shall we, in our boundless arrogance, in our
pitiful conceit, _deny_ that power to the Ancient of Days? Saying, to
our Creator, ‘Thus far and no further. Thou madest, but thou canst not
rule!’?”

Lady Muriel had covered her face in her hands, and did not look up. She
only murmured “Thanks, thanks!” again and again.

We rose to go. Arthur said, with evident effort, “One word more. If you
would _know_ the power of Prayer—in anything and everything that Man can
need—_try_ it. _Ask, and it shall be given you._ I—_have_ tried it. I
_know_ that God answers prayer!”

Our walk home was a silent one, till we had nearly reached the lodgings:
then Arthur murmured—and it was almost an echo of my own thoughts—“_What
knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?_”

The subject was not touched on again. We sat on, talking, while hour
after hour, of this our last night together, glided away unnoticed. He
had much to tell me about India, and the new life he was going to, and
the _work_ he hoped to do. And his great generous soul seemed so filled
with noble ambition as to have no space left for any vain regret or
selfish repining.

“Come, it is nearly morning!” Arthur said at last, rising and leading
the way upstairs. “The sun will be rising in a few minutes: and, though
I _have_ basely defrauded you of your last chance of a night’s rest
here, I’m sure you’ll forgive me: for I really _couldn’t_ bring myself
to say ‘Good night’ sooner. And God knows whether you’ll ever see me
again, or hear of me!”

“_Hear_ of you I am certain I shall!” I warmly responded, and quoted the
concluding lines of that strange poem ‘Waring’:—

                “Oh, never star
  Was lost here, but it rose afar!
  Look East, where whole new thousands are!
  In Vishnu-land what Avatar?”

“Aye, look Eastward!” Arthur eagerly replied, pausing at the stair-case
window, which commanded a fine view of the sea and the eastward horizon.
“The West is the fitting tomb for all the sorrow and the sighing, all
the errors and the follies of the Past: for all its withered Hopes and
all its buried Loves! From the East comes new strength, new ambition,
new Hope, new Life, new Love! Look Eastward! Aye, look Eastward!”

His last words were still ringing in my ears as I entered my room, and
undrew the window-curtains, just in time to see the sun burst in glory
from his ocean-prison, and clothe the world in the light of a new day.

“So may it be for him, and me, and all of us!” I mused. “All that is
evil, and dead, and hopeless, fading with the Night that is past! All
that is good, and living, and hopeful, rising with the dawn of Day!

“Fading, with the Night, the chilly mists, and the noxious vapours, and
the heavy shadows, and the wailing gusts, and the owl’s melancholy
hootings: rising, with the Day, the darting shafts of light, and the
wholesome morning breeze, and the warmth of a dawning life, and the mad
music of the lark! Look Eastward!

“Fading, with the Night, the clouds of ignorance, and the deadly blight
of sin, and the silent tears of sorrow: and ever rising, higher, higher,
with the Day, the radiant dawn of knowledge, and the sweet breath of
purity, and the throb of a world’s ecstasy! Look Eastward!

[Illustration: ‘LOOK EASTWARD!’]

“Fading, with the Night, the memory of a dead love, and the withered
leaves of a blighted hope, and the sickly repinings and moody regrets
that numb the best energies of the soul: and rising, broadening, rolling
upward like a living flood, the manly resolve, and the dauntless will,
and the heavenward gaze of faith—_the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen_!

“Look Eastward! Aye, look Eastward!”


                                THE END.



                               FOOTNOTES


[1]At the moment, when I had written these words, there was a knock at
    the door, and a telegram was brought me, announcing the sudden death
    of a dear friend.



                                 INDEX.


                                   A
  Artistic effect dependent on indistinctness (!); 241

                                   B
  Barometer, sideways motion of; 13
  Bath, portable, for Tourists; 25
  Books or minds. Which contain most Science? 21
  Boots for horizontal weather; 14
  Brain, inverted position of; 243
  Bread-sauce. What appropriate for? 58

                                   C
  Carrying one’s-_self_. Why not fatiguing? 169
  Child’s view of purpose of Life; 330
  Choristers’ life, danger of; 274
  Church-going, principle of; 272
  Conceited people always _depreciate_ others; 237
  Content, opportunity for cultivating; 152
  Conversation, how to indicate parentheses in; 251
      ”    ”    ”    questions in; 251
      ‘Convenient’ and ‘Inconvenient,’ different meanings; 140
  Critic, conceited, always _depreciates_; 237
      ”    how to gain reputation of; 238
  Crocodiles, logic of; 230

                                   D
  Darwinism reversed; 64
  Day, shortness of, and length of, compared; 159
      ”    true length of; 159
  Debt, how to avoid payment of; 131
  Dreaminess, certain cure for; 136

                                   E
  Electricity, influence of, on Literature; 64
  Enjoyment of life, secret of; 335
  Events in reversed order; 350
  Extreme sobriety, inconvenience of; 140
  Eye, images inverted by; 242

                                   F
  Fairies, how to improve character of; 190
      ”    ”    recognise presence of; 191
  Falling house, life in a; 100
  Final Causes, problem in; 297
  Free-will and nerve-force; 390
  Frog, young, how to amuse; 364

                                   G
  Gardener’s Song;
      Elephant; 65.
      Buffalo; 78.
      Rattlesnake; 83.
      Banker’s Clerk; 90.
      Kangaroo; 106.
      Coach-and-Four; 116.
      Albatross; 164.
      Garden-Door; 168
  Ghosts, treatment of, by Shakespeare; 60
      ”    ”    in Railway-Literature; 58
      ”    weltering, appropriate fluid for; 58
  Graduated races of men; 299

                                   H
  Happiness, excessive, how to moderate; 159
  Honesty, Dr. Watts’ argument for; 235
  Horizontal rain, boots for; 14
  House falling through Space, life in a; 100
  Hymns appealing to selfishness; 276

                                   I
  ‘Inconvenient’ and ‘Convenient’, different meanings; 140
  Indistinctness necessary for artistic effect (!); 241
  Inversion of Brain; 243
      ”    images on Retina; 242

                                   L
  Ladies, logic of; 235
  Least Common Multiple, rule of, applied to Literature; 22
  Life, how to enjoy; 335
      ”    in falling house; 100
      ”    in reversed order; 350
      ”    purpose of, as viewed by Child; 330
      ”    regarded as a Drama; 333
  Literature, development of, due to Steam; 64
      ”    ”    ”    Electricity; 64
      ”    for Railway; 58
      ”    treated by Rule of Least Common Multiple; 22
  Little man, privilege of being a; 299
  Liturgy, chanted, effect of; 273
  Logic of Crocodiles; 230
      ”    Dr. Watts; 235
      ”    ladies; 235
      ”    requisites for complete argument in; 259
  Loving or being loved. Which is best? 77

                                   M
  Men, graduated races of; 299
      ”    little, privileges of; 299
  Minds or books. Which contain most Science? 21
  Money, effect of doubling value of; 312
  Music, how to get the largest amount of; 338

                                   N
  Nerve-force and free-will; 390
  Nerves, curiously slow action of; 158
  Novel-reading, how to enjoy; 336

                                   O
  _Onus probandi_ misplaced by Crocodiles; 230
      ”    ”    Dr. Watts; 235
      ”    ”    ladies; 235
  Order of events reversed; 250

                                   P
  Pain, how to minimise; 337
  Paley’s definition of Virtue; 274
  Parentheses in conversation, how to indicate; 251
  ‘Phlizz’, a visionary flower; 282
      ”    ”    fruit; 75
      ”    ”    nurse-maid; 283
  Pictures, how to criticize; 238
  Pleasure, how to maximise; 335
  Plunge-bath, portable; 25
  Poor people, simple method for enriching; 312
  Portable bath for tourists; 25
  Poverty, the blessings of; 152
  Prayer for temporal blessings, effect of; 391
  Preachers, exceptional privileges of; 277
      ”    appealing to selfishness; 276
  Proof, burden of, misplaced by Crocodiles; 230
      ”    ”    ”    Dr. Watts; 235
      ”    ”    ”    ladies; 235

                                   Q
  Questions in conversation, how to indicate; 251

                                   R
  Railway-literature; 58
      ”    scenes regarded as dramatic; 333
  Rain, horizontal, boots for; 14
  Retina, images inverted on; 242
  Reversed order of events; 350

                                   S
  Scenery, enjoyment of, by little men; 299
  Science. Do books, or minds, contain most? 21
  Selfishness appealed to in hymns; 276
      ”    ”    religious teaching; 275
      ”    ”    sermons; 276
  Sermons appealing to selfishness; 276
  Shakespeare, passages treated of:—
      ‘All the world’s a stage’; 335
      ‘Aye, every inch a king!’; 373
      ‘Is this a dagger that I see before me?’; 371
      ‘Rest, rest, perturbed Spirit!’; 60
      ‘To be, or not to be’; 370
  Shakespeare’s treatment of ghosts; 60
  Short man, privilege of being a; 299
  Sillygism, requisites for a; 259
  Sobriety, extreme, inconvenience of; 140
  Spencer, Herbert, difficulties in; 258
  Sport, false and true; 318
  Steam, influence of, on Literature; 64
  Sunday, as spent by children of last generation; 387
      ”    observance of; 385

                                   T
  Time, how to put back; 314, 347
      ”    ”    reverse; 350
  Tourists’ portable bath; 25

                                   V
  Virtue, Paley’s definition of; 274

                                   W
  Watts, Dr., weak logic of; 235
  Weather, horizontal, boots for; 14
  Weight, relative, conceivably non-existent; 100
  Weltering, appropriate fluids for; 58



                        WORKS OF LEWIS CARROLL.


                     _Published by Macmillan & Co._


                   ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND.

With 42 Illustrations by Tenniel. 12mo, cloth, gilt, $1.00.

  Lewis Carroll’s immortal story.—_Academy._

  An excellent piece of nonsense.—_Times._

  That most delightful of children’s stories.—_Saturday Review._

  Elegant and delicious nonsense.—_Guardian._


         THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS AND WHAT ALICE FOUND THERE.

With 50 Illustrations by Tenniel. 12mo, cloth, gilt, $1.00.

  Will fairly rank with the tale of her previous experience.—_Daily
  Telegraph._

  Many of Mr. Tenniel’s designs are masterpieces of wise
  absurdity.—_Athenæum._

  Whether as regarding author or illustrator, this book is a jewel
  rarely to be found nowadays.—_Echo._

  Not a whit inferior to its predecessor in grand extravagance of
  imagination, and delicious allegorical nonsense.—_Quarterly Review._


ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, and THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS AND WHAT
                           ALICE FOUND THERE.

Printed in one volume, with all the Illustrations. 12mo, cloth, plain,
$1.25.


                           SYLVIE AND BRUNO.

With 46 Illustrations by Harry Furniss. 12mo, cloth, gilt, $1.50.


                           RHYME? AND REASON?

With 65 Illustrations by Arthur B. Frost, and 9 by Henry Holiday. 12mo,
cloth, gilt, $1.50.

  This book is a reprint, with additions, of the comic portions of
  “Phantasmagoria, and other Poems,” and of the “Hunting of the Snark.”


                            A TANGLED TALE.

Reprinted from the _Monthly Packet_, with Illustrations. $1.50.


                    ALICE’S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND.

Being a fac-simile of the original MS. Book, afterward developed into
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” With 37 Illustrations by the author.
12mo, cloth, gilt, $1.50.


                           THE GAME OF LOGIC.

With envelope containing card and counters. 12mo, cloth, $1.00.



                           MRS. MOLESWORTH’S
                       Story Books for Children.


                     _Published by Macmillan & Co._


                         THE RECTORY CHILDREN.

With Illustrations by Walter Crane. 16mo, cloth, extra, $1.25.

  It is a book written for children in just the way that is best adapted
  to please them.—_Morning Post._

  Mrs. Molesworth has written, in “The Rectory Children,” one of those
  delightful volumes which we always look for at Christmas
  time.—_Athenæum._

  A delightful Christmas book for children; a racy, charming home story
  full of good impulses and bright suggestions.—_Boston Traveller._

  Quiet, sunny, interesting, and thoroughly winning and
  wholesome.—_Boston Journal._


                NEW EDITION OF MRS. MOLESWORTH’S WORKS.

With Illustrations by Walter Crane. 16mo, cloth, extra, $1.00 each.

  FOUR WINDS FARM.
  “US.” An Old-Fashioned Story.
  CHRISTMAS TREE LAND.
  TWO LITTLE WAIFS.
  THE TAPESTRY ROOM.
  A CHRISTMAS CHILD.
  GRANDMOTHER DEAR.
  “CARROTS.”
  THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
  TELL ME A STORY.
  THE ADVENTURES OF HERR BABY ROSY.
  LITTLE MISS PEGGY.
  A CHRISTMAS POSY.

  There is no more acceptable writer for children than Mrs.
  Molesworth.—_Literary World._

  No English writer of stories for children has a better reputation than
  Mrs. Molesworth, and none whose stories we are familiar with deserves
  it better.—_New York Mail and Express._

  Mistress of the art of writing for children.—_Spectator._


                            MACMILLAN & CO.,
                      112 Fourth Avenue, New York.

[Illustration: Book back cover.]



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--This is part of an illustrated set also including "Sylvie and Bruno
  Concluded", also available at Doctrine Publishing Corporation with numerous
  hyperlinked references to this volume.

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Corrected a typo based on the note in the companion volume: ‘(N.B.
  “stagy-entrances” is a misprint for “stage-entrances”)’.

--Silently corrected a few other palpable typos; left non-standard
  spellings and dialect unchanged.

--Moved the frontispiece illustration to the corresponding place in the
  text.

--Collated the table of illustrations from the companion volume
  (correcting a few page number), and added its captions to the
  illustrations.

--Only in the text versions, delimited italicized text (or
  non-italicized text within poetry) in _underscores_ (the HTML version
  reproduces the font form of the printed book.)





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