Sylvie and Bruno
Part 1 out of 5
SYLVIE and BRUNO by LEWIS CARROLL
Is all our Life, then but a dream
Seen faintly in the goldern 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 [Moved to the end]
CHAPTER 1 Less Bread! More Taxes!
CHAPTER 2 L'amie Inconnue
CHAPTER 3 Birthday Presents
CHAPTER 4 A Cunning Conspiracy
CHAPTER 5 A Beggar's Palace
CHAPTER 6 The Magic Locket
CHAPTER 7 The Barons Embassy
CHAPTER 8 A Ride on a Lion
CHAPTER 9 A Jester and a Bear
CHAPTER 10 The Other Professor
CHAPTER 11 Peter and Paul
CHAPTER 12 A Musical Gardener
CHAPTER 13 A Visit to Dogland
CHAPTER 14 Fairy-Sylvie
CHAPTER 15 Bruno's Revenge
CHAPTER 16 A Changed Crocodile
CHAPTER 17 The Three Badgers
CHAPTER 18 Queer Street, number forty
CHAPTER 19 How to make a Phlizz
CHAPTER 20 Light come, light go
CHAPTER 21 Through the Ivory Door
CHAPTER 22 Crossing the Line
CHAPTER 23 An outlandish watch
CHAPTER 24 The Frogs' Birthday-treat
CHAPTER 25 Looking Easward
Preface [Moved to the end]
SYLVIE AND BRUNO
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
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
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
"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 be 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
"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.
[Image...Visiting the profesor]
"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 handkerchief.
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
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!"
[Image...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
"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.
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 unlovely 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
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 AEneas 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 shalt expect you by last train on Friday, in accordance with your
letter: and, till then, I shalt say, in the words of the old song,
'Oh for Friday nicht! Friday's lang a-coming!'
"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
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
"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,
"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
"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
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.
[Image...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.
"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
"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
"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
two-pence," 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
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,
"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
"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,
"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
"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.
[Image...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
"It's some hyaena--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.
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
"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
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
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
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 whew 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
[Image...'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
"'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
"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
"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 Beggars 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!"
"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 shalt have my cake!" Bruno cried, passionately struggling out of
"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
Wrardenship," 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
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
"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
"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, via 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."
[Image...'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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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 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.
[Image...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.
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
"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
"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
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,
"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 so me myself--but it
was like grasping air, and I soon gave up the attempt and returned to
"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
"Lovelier and lovelier!" exclaimed Sylvie, clasping her hands in
ecstasy. "Look, Bruno!"
"And there's words on this one, too," said Bruno.
"Now you see the difference," said the old man: "different colours and
Choose one of them, darling. I'll give you which ever you like best."
[Image...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,
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 Sister's Husband's Niece.
'Unless you leave this house,' he said,
'I'll send for the Police!'
[Image...'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,
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 pilulae
quam plurimae: to be taken, feasting, three times a day!"
"But, Doctor!" I remonstrated. "Society doesn't 'receive' three times a
"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
"Idiot, indeed!" cried my Lady. "He's no more an idiot than I am!"
"You're right, my dear," the Vice-Warden soothingly I 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?"
"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."
THE BARONS 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
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
"It's only the Gardener!" the Vice-Warden replied in an encouraging tone.
"Quite harmless, I assure you. Hark, he's singing!
Its 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
'If this should stay to dine,' he said,
'There won't be mutch 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!"
[Image...It was a hippoptamus]
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
"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
"I had always fancied," the Baron faltered, "that cod were salt-water
"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
"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
"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."
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.
[Image...The map of fairyland]
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
"And what means all that rumbling of wheels?" cried my Lady. She peeped
through the window curtains. "The Baron's carriage has come round!"
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.
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
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
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