Sylvie and Bruno
Part 2 out of 5
certain that 'Love,' and Love alone, could explain the phenomenon.
"How convenient it would be," Lady Muriel laughingly remarked,
a 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
"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 arm's length,
of course I feel its weight. It is trying to fall, and I prevent it.
And, if I let go, it fails 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 failing 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
failing 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
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 zoophytic --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
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
"He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
'Were I to swallow this,' he said,
'I should be very ill!'"
[Image...He thought he saw a kangaroo]
"We don't want him to swallow anything," Sylvie explained.
"He's not hungry. But we want to see him. So Will you please--"
"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
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.
"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
"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 in to 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,
"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!'"
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
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
"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.
[Image...'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
"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!'"
[Image...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
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
"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
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
"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!"
[Image...'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
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
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
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,
"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
"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
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."
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.
[Image...The other professor]
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
"If he's always as sleepy as that," Bruno remarked, "a course he's
"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 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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.
[Image...'How cheefully 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 shalt 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!'
[Image...'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
'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, nay 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,
"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!
[Image...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
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.
[Image...'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
"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.
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
"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 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 never-ending 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
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,
"Lets 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
"He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
'You'd best be getting home,' he said:
'The nights are very damp!'"
[Image...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,
"And that somefin would have to go by the post, what ever 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
"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
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.
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
"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.
"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."
"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--nor 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
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
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
"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 insight!"
They took an affectionate farewell of His Majesty, and trudged on.
"That were a dear dog!" Bruno exclaimed. "Has we to go far, Sylvie?
"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,
"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
"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.
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
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
"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
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
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 ca'n'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
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 a way.
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.
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 zigzags, 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
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
"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 as king 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
"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
"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,
"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: "revenge" (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,
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
"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
"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.
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