Sylvie and Bruno  

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"And then came the grandest idea of all ! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!" "Have you used it much?" I enquired. "It has never been spread out, yet," said Mein Herr: "the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well."--Sylvie and Bruno (1893) by Lewis Carroll

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Sylvie and Bruno, first published in 1889, and its 1893 second volume Sylvie and Bruno Concluded form the last novel by Lewis Carroll published during his lifetime. Both volumes were illustrated by Harry Furniss.

The novel has two main plots; one set in the real world at the time the book was published (the Victorian era), the other in the fantasy world of Fairyland. While the latter plot is a fairytale with many nonsense elements and poems, similar to Carroll's Alice books, the story set in Victorian Britain is a social novel, with its characters discussing various concepts and aspects of religion, society, philosophy and morality.


Plot summary

There are two strands:

  • the conspiracy against the Warden of Outland, instigated by the Sub-Warden and Chancellor, and
  • the love of a young doctor, Arthur, for Lady Muriel

Volume 1, Sylvie and Bruno

Conspiracy in Outland; Arthur and Lady Muriel

Chapter 1
The narrator finds himself in a high room overlooking a public square filled with people. The room is the Warden's breakfast-saloon. The Chancellor has organised a "spontaneous" demonstration (by a rent-a-mob which seems to be confused about whether to chant "More bread, less taxes" or "Less bread, more taxes"). Bruno enters briefly, looking for Sylvie. The Chancellor delivers a speech. The narrator follows Bruno into the study, where he climbs on to the Warden's knee, next to Sylvie. The Warden tells them that the Professor has finally returned from his long wanderings in search of health. They set off for the Library, where the Professor tells them about his concerns with the barometer and with "horizontal weather". The Professor then leads the children back to the saloon.
Chapter 2
The narrator finds himself in a train compartment, which a veiled young lady has just entered. He is on his way to see Arthur, a doctor friend, for a consultation; he rereads Arthur's letter, and absent-mindedly repeats out loud its last line, "Do you believe in Fate?" The lady laughs, and a conversation ensues. The scene changes abruptly to the breakfast-saloon, in which the Professor is explaining his plunge-bath invention to the Sub-Warden, his wife, her son, the Chancellor, Warden, Sylvie, and Bruno.
Chapter 3
The Chancellor tries to persuade the Warden to elevate the Sub-Warden to Vice-Warden. The Warden asks the Sub-Warden for a private talk. The Sub-Warden's wife asks the Professor about his Lecture, suggesting a Fancy Dress Ball. He gives Sylvie a birthday present: a pincushion. Uggug throws butter over Sylvie. The Sub-Warden distracts his wife by saying a pig is in the garden; the Chancellor drags Uggug out by his ear.
Chapter 4
The Warden agrees to the changes. After he has signed the Agreement and left (to become Monarch of Fairyland), the Chancellor, Vice-Warden and his wife laugh about how they have deceived him, the document having been altered at the last minute to give the Vice-Warden dictatorial powers. A beggar appears beneath the window; Uggug and his mother throw water over him. Bruno tries to throw him some food, but he has gone.
Chapter 5
The narrator wakes up, and he and the lady discuss ghosts. They change trains at Fayfield Junction; he notices her name on her luggage: Lady Muriel Orme. An old tramp is sent on his way. The narrator falls asleep again, and hears the first stanza of the Mad Gardener's Song. The Gardener directs Sylvie and Bruno after the beggar. They give him cake, and he leads them to an underground octagonal room lined with creepers bearing fruit and flowers. His clothes transform, and they find it is their father.
Chapter 6
He says they are in Elfland. Bruno tries to eat the fruit (Phlizz) but it has no taste. Their father shows Sylvie two lockets, one blue ("All will love Sylvie") and one red ("Sylvie will love all"). She chooses the red. The narrator finds himself at the railway station of his destination, Elveston. On arriving at Arthur's house, he tells him of Lady Muriel Orme, and it turns out that Arthur knows her and is in love with her. The narrator falls asleep again, and hears the Chancellor warn the Vice-Warden that the Ambassador of Elfland has arrived and that they will need to convince him that Uggug is Bruno, or as able as Bruno.
Chapter 7
The Ambassador, Baron Doppelgeist, is given demonstrations of Uggug's abilities which always happen when he is looking the other way. Finding his guestroom full of frogs, he leaves in anger.
Chapter 8
The narrator visits Lady Muriel and her father, the Earl, in the company of Arthur. They discuss weightlessness. Later, Arthur and the narrator visit the beach. Arthur goes home. Sylvie and Bruno go in search of the Beggar, their father. She rubs the red amulet, and a mouse is transformed into a lion, which they ride. Their father listens to their account of the Ambassador's visit; he cannot rectify the situation, but casts a spell.
Chapter 9
Uggug refuses to learn his lessons. The Vice-Warden and his wife try on disguises: jester and dancing bear. Uggug sees them and runs off to fetch the Professor. When he arrives, they are dressed normally, and they tell him that the people wish to elect an Emperor—the Vice-Warden.


Chapter 10
The Professor takes Sylvie and Bruno to see the Other Professor. The Professor asks him about the Pig-Tale, which he promised to give after the Professor's Lecture. Bruno asks what "inconvenient" means.
Chapter 11
By way of illustration, the Other Professor recites Peter and Paul, 208 lines of verse.
Chapter 12
After a discussion, the Other Professor vanishes. Sylvie and Bruno complain to the Professor about their treatment, and ask him to tell the Gardener to open the garden door for them, so they can go to Fairyland to see their father.
Chapter 13
They walk a long way, stopping briefly to visit the King of Dogland, before entering the gate of Fairyland. Arthur tells the narrator that he has discovered that he has more wealth than he thought, and that marriage with Lady Muriel is at least possible.
Chapter 14
The narrator spends a month at London; when he returns, he finds that Arthur has still not yet declared his intentions. The narrator sets off to speak to the Earl; on the way he encounters first Sylvie (who is helping a Beetle) and then Bruno (who is spoiling Sylvie's garden). He persuades Bruno to help weed it instead.
Chapter 15
Bruno weeds the garden with the narrator's help.


Chapter 16
The Earl invites Arthur to a picnic in ten days' time. On the day, walking to their house, the narrator encounters Sylvie and Bruno again.
Chapter 17
The party leave the Earl's Hall and travel to a ruined castle, the site of the picnic. Muriel sings, but the narrator falls asleep, and her song becomes that of Bruno.
Chapter 18
Muriel introduces Captain Eric Lindon, a highly presentable young man. Arthur is in despair, and declines to return with the party in the same carriage. The narrator falls asleep again, and there is a meeting between Lindon, Sylvie, Bruno, and the Professor.
Chapter 19
A week later, Arthur and the narrator go to church. They discuss religion with Muriel, condemning High Church affectations, and moralising which relies on Pascal's Wager. The narrator helps carry a lame little girl upstairs at the railway station, and buys a posy in the street. The girl turns out to be Sylvie.
Chapter 20
He brings Sylvie and Bruno to the Earl's Hall. The Earl is astonished by the flowers, none of which are English. Muriel sings a new song. A couple of days later, the flowers have vanished. The narrator, Muriel, and the Earl idly sketch an alternative scheme for the animal kingdom.
Chapter 21
Sylvie asks the Professor for advice. He unlocks the Ivory Door for the two of them, and they meet Bruno. The Professor boasts of having devised the Emperor's new Money Act, doubling the value of every coin to make everyone twice as rich, and shows the narrator an "Outlandish" watch (essentially a kind of time machine). Sylvie finds a dead hare, and is horrified to learn that human beings hunt them.
Chapter 22
Arthur is even more discouraged. Muriel is surprised to discover that Eric has met Sylvie and Bruno. Eric saves Bruno from being run down by a train.
Chapter 23
The narrator tries to use the Outlandish watch to prevent an accident, but fails. He then uses it to witness, in reverse, some scenes of family life. Later, the narrator is talking to the Earl when he learns, and Arthur overhears, that Muriel is engaged to Eric.
Chapter 24
Sylvie and Bruno present a variety show to an audience of frogs, including "Bits of Shakespeare", and Bruno tells them a long rambling story.
Chapter 25
A week after discovering that Muriel is engaged, Arthur and the narrator go for the "last" time to the Earl's Hall. They discuss with Muriel how the Sabbath should best be kept, and the nature of free will. Arthur informs the narrator that he is leaving for India.

Volume 2, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded

A clean slate

Chapter 1
Several weeks pass in London. The narrator sees Eric Lindon at a club, and learns that Eric's engagement to Muriel is over, and that Arthur is still at Elveston. The narrator meets Bruno in a park; Sylvie gives Bruno his lessons. A thunderstorm drives the narrator home, where he finds a telegram from Arthur, asking him to come.
Chapter 2
As before, the narrator meets Lady Muriel while changing trains at Fayfield Junction. She is giving money to the old tramp (vol. 1, ch. 5). On their way to Elveston she says that Eric broke off their engagement because of her evident discomfort with Eric's lukewarm faith. Arthur does not know this.
Chapter 3
The next morning, on a walk, Arthur discusses his anti-socialist views, and condemns charity bazaars as "half charity, half self-pleasing". Sylvie and Bruno contrive that he should meet Muriel, who is also out walking.
Chapter 4
The narrator presses on without him to Hunter's farm to order milk. On his way he meets the farmer, who is talking to a woman about her hard-drinking husband, Willie. At the farm, the dog Nero (who is the Dog King from vol. 1, ch. 13) catches a boy who is stealing apples.
Chapter 5
The three of them meet the farmer's wife, daughter Bessie, and Bessie's doll, Matilda-Jane. On their way back to Elveston they pass the Golden Lion, a new public house.
Chapter 6
Willie comes walking down the road; Sylvie and Bruno invisibly drag him away from the pub. He delivers his wages to his wife, and swears off drink. The narrator walks back to the house, and learns that Arthur is now engaged to Muriel.
Chapter 7
At the Hall, the narrator finds Muriel with a man called "Mein Herr", who has a beard and a German accent. He bears a remarkable resemblance to the Professor. He shows them Fortunatus's Purse, and describes a gravity-powered train, a method of storing up extra time so that nobody ever gets bored, a carriage with oval wheels (with the end of one wheel corresponding to the side of the wheel opposite it, so that the carriage rises, falls, rolls, and pitches, and so anybody in the carriage gets vomitingly sick) He also describes a carriage designed to prevent runaway horses from getting anywhere. Oddly enough, nobody seems to remember where they first met "Mein Herr", nor what his real name is, nor where he lives, nor where he's from. Lady Muriel admits that she never realised what a mysterious man he is until she met the narrator. A party is planned.
Chapter 8
Ten days pass. The day before the party, Arthur, Muriel and the narrator have tea at the Hall. Arthur argues that the gravity of a sin must be judged by the temptation preceding it. The Earl returns from the harbour-town with news of the spread of a fever.

A brief marriage

Chapter 9
At the party, conversation ranges over sanity and insanity, cheating at croquet versus cheating at whist, rational honeymoons, teetotalism, and keeping dinner parties interesting.
Chapter 10
An interlude, with the arrival of Sylvie and Bruno, the discussion of wine (which is transformed into a discussion of jam) and an unsatisfying musical performance.
Chapter 11
Another interlude, with "Mein Herr" telling tall tales about his country. He describes how nobody in his kingdom ever drowns, because they have been eugenically bred for dozens of generations to weigh less and less until everybody is lighter than water. He also hears that the largest map considered really useful would be six inches to the mile; although his country had learnt map-making from his host Nation, it had carried it much further, having gone through maps that are six feet to the mile, then six yards to the mile, next a hundred yards to the mile—finally, a mile to the mile (the farmers said that if such a map was to be spread out, it would block out the sun and crops would fail, so the project was abandoned). He goes on to portray some devices similar to modern planetary engineering or terraforming, and paint-balls. Finally, he describes a system of government where there are thousands of kings and one subject, instead of the other way around.
Chapter 12
Sylvie plays the piano for the assembled company. Mein Herr discusses incomprehensibility by describing how, in the days when he worked at a school in his country, there was an old professor who lectured to pupils, and, although his speeches were incomprehensible, the pupils were so impressed that they memorised the speeches. Many of these pupils got jobs as lecturers in schools, and repeated the speeches made by the first professor, and the pupils were impressed by the speeches and memorised them, getting jobs as lecturers in schools later on, until a day came when everyone realised that nobody understood what the speeches meant. Another craze was that of competitive examinations, when teachers motivated students by giving them money if the answers are correct, until eventually, the bright students in school make more money than the teachers do. The most insane craze was the Scholarship Hunts, when any principal that wanted a student in his college had to hunt them in the streets and the first principal to catch the student wins. One principal, theorising how bullets have accelerated velocity because they're spherical, becomes perfectly spherical, in an attempt to catch the brightest scholar. Unfortunately, the Principal runs too fast and soon finds himself going at 100 MPH and only stops after he crashes into a haybale. It is implied that if he hadn't deliberately run into a haybale, he would have run off the planet.
Chapter 13
A continuation of the Scholar Hunters story of chapter 12. Mein Herr explains how the Scholarship Hunts evolves into a more 'civilised' method of catching scholars; the children are offered more and more money for a scholarship in an event that amounts to auctioning them off. One day, a linguist finds an old African Legend (although the nature of the story appears to be stereotypically Ottoman) in which a village that stands in the heart of Africa is inhabited by people for whom a beverage made for eggs is a necessity. A merchant arrives at the town with eggs and auctions them off for large blocks of money, as the natives very badly need their eggs. He returns each week with eggs, pricing them higher, and the natives end up giving him fortunes for the eggs, until one day, when they realise how they are letting the merchant get rich off of their gullibility, and cheat the system by having only one man (who requests 10 piastres for the whole cartload) appear at the next auction. The principals realise how they are having the same problems with their students that the Africans had with the eggs, and this system is abolished. Mein Herr's speech is interrupted for the narrator by stanzas of What Tottles Meant.
Chapters 14–15
Sylvie tells the story "Bruno's Picnic".
Chapter 16
Sylvie and Bruno have vanished. The guests, after a brief search, go home; Muriel, Arthur and the Earl discuss what pursuits might be followed in the Afterlife.
Chapter 17
Muriel sings To a Lark (which is replaced, for the dreaming narrator, by a different song). Arthur is called away to the harbour to treat cases of the deadly fever, and he leaves immediately after his wedding the next morning.
Chapter 18
An item in the Fayfield Chronicle reports the death of Arthur Forester.

The return

Chapter 19
In December of the same year, the narrator returns to Elveston, and visits Arthur's grave in the company of Muriel. They have tea with the Earl, and discuss whether animals have souls. Lady Muriel walks the narrator part of the way home, and they meet Sylvie and Bruno, who are singing A Song of Love.
Chapter 20
Back in Outland, the Professor welcomes Sylvie and Bruno back to the palace in time for Uggug's birthday celebrations. They hear the last verse of the Gardener's Song, then hurry to the Saloon.
Chapter 21
The Professor delivers his Lecture. It includes Axioms, Specimens, and Experiments. Part of the Specimens involve shrinking an elephant to the size of a mouse with the use of a Megaloscope, and reversing the Megaloscope to enlarge a flea to the size of a horse. One experiment involves the subject of Black Light by taking a candle and pouring black ink over the flame and turning the flame's yellow light to black light, which admittedly looks no different than no light at all.
Chapter 22
(The narrator visits the tramp mentioned in vol. 2, ch. 2.) The Banquet takes place.
Chapter 23
The Other Professor recites The Pig-Tale. The Emperor is in the process of making a speech when a mysterious "hurricane" causes him and his wife to regret all of their previous intrigues against the Warden. (No attempt is made to justify this in the terms of the story.)
Chapter 24
The Beggar returns to the palace, and is revealed to be the Warden. Uggug, who has turned into a giant porcupine, is put into a cage. Sylvie and Bruno visit the ill Professor in the company of the Empress.
Chapter 25
In the "real" world, the narrator is called urgently to the Hall. Eric Lindon has found Arthur Forester still living—he had been unconscious or delirious for several months, and went unrecognised as the doctor. On returning to his own lodgings, the narrator witnesses his last scene from Outland: Bruno and Sylvie discover that the two Jewels (vol. 1, ch. 6) are in fact one.

Full text of part I[1]


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.































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

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

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

I represented, modestly, that to my ears it appeared that they were shouting for different things, but the Chancellor would not listen to my suggestion for a moment. “They all shout the same words, I assure you!”

he said: then, leaning well out of the window, he whispered to a man who

was standing close underneath, “Keep'em together, ca'n't you? The Warden will be here directly. Give'em the signal for the march up!” All this was evidently not meant for my ears, but I could scarcely help hearing it, considering that my chin was almost on the Chancellor's shoulder.

The 'march up' was a very curious sight:

{Image...The march-up}

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just then, a single voice in the distance was understood to shout “A speech from the Chancellor!” “Certainly, my friends!” the Chancellor replied with extraordinary promptitude. “You shall have a speech!”

Here one of the waiters, who had been for some minutes busy making a

queer-looking mixture of egg and sherry, respectfully presented it on a large silver salver. The Chancellor took it haughtily, drank it off thoughtfully, smiled benevolently on the happy waiter as he set down the empty glass, and began. To the best of my recollection this is what he said.

“Ahem! Ahem! Ahem! Fellow-sufferers, or rather suffering fellows--”

(“Don't call 'em names!” muttered the man under the window. “I didn't

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, you've never seen him,” the old man was saying: “you couldn't, you know, he's been away so long--traveling from land to land, and seeking for health, more years than you've been alive, little Sylvie!” Here Bruno climbed upon his other knee, and a good deal of kissing, on a rather complicated system, was the result.

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

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

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

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

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

Bruno went on addressing his father. “She says she ca'n't, oo know. But I thinks it isn't ca'n't, it's wo'n't.”

“Says she ca'n't dream!” the puzzled Warden repeated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

{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 this question.

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

“Why would we be half-bound?” said Bruno.

“We're not prisoners!”

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

“Well, which way?” said the Warden--adding, to the children, “Not that I care, you know. Only he thinks it affects the weather. He's a wonderfully clever man, you know. Sometimes he says things that only the Other Professor can understand. Sometimes he says things that nobody can understand! Which way is it, Professor? Up or down?”

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

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

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

“Isn't he learned?” the Warden said, looking after him with admiring eyes. “Positively he runs over with learning!”

“But he needn't run over me!” said Bruno.

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

he said. “These are the boots for horizontal weather!”

{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 invaluable--simply invaluable!”

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


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 original.”

At first, no result at all crowned my efforts, though I 'divided my swift mind,' now hither, now thither, in a way that I felt sure would have made 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:--

   “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!'
   “Yours always,
   “P.S.  Do you believe in Fate?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{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 movement--”

“You began too soon!” the other interrupted, scarcely able to restrain himself to a whisper, so great was his excitement. “He couldn't have heard you. Begin again!” “As I was remarking,” chanted the obedient Lord Chancellor, “this portentous movement has already assumed the dimensions of a Revolution!”

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

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

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

And at that moment there surged into the room a hoarse confused cry, in which the only clearly audible words were “Less--bread--More--taxes!”

The old man laughed heartily. “What in the world--” he was beginning:

but the Chancellor heard him not. “Some mistake!” he muttered, hurrying to the window, from which he shortly returned with an air of relief. “Now listen!” he exclaimed, holding up his hand impressively. And now the words came quite distinctly, and with the regularity of the ticking of a clock, “More--bread--Less taxes!'”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“--and seven makes a hundred and ninety-four, which is sixteen and 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 room together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, yes, my Lady, I know! Perhaps next Tuesday or Tuesday week--”

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

“I think not, my Lady?” the Professor said with some hesitation. “You see, he always stands with his back to the audience. It does very well for reciting; but for lecturing--”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It's not for nothing!” growled the angry father. “Are you aware, Madam, that I pay the house-bills, out of a fixed annual sum? The loss of all that wasted butter falls on me! Do you hear, Madam!”

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

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

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

At this moment Bruno re-entered the room, and passing Uggug (who was blubbering his loudest, in the hope of attracting notice) as if he was quite used to that sort of thing, he ran up to Sylvie and threw his arms round her. “I went to my toy-cupboard,” he said with a very sorrowful face, “to see if there were somefin fit for a present for oo! And there isn't nuffin! They's all broken, every one! And I haven't got no money left, to buy oo a birthday-present! And I ca'n't give oo nuffin but this!” (“This” was a very earnest hug and a kiss.)

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

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

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

The Sub-Warden glared angrily at his weeping son. “Leave the room, Sirrah!” he said, as loud as he dared. His wife was still leaning out of the window, and kept repeating “I ca'n't see that pig! Where is it?”

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

{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 startled husband.

“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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I hope so!” the Warden smilingly replied.

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

“Hear, hear!” cried the Sub-Warden.

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

“No, not remarkable at all!” her husband anxiously explained. “Nothing is remarkable that you say, sweet one!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

All this time the Sub-Warden was busy, with the Chancellor's help, shifting the papers from side to side, and pointing out to the Warden the place 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 room.

{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 Agreements.

“'Item, that he shall exercise the authority of Warden, in the Warden's absence.' Why, that's been changed into 'shall be absolute governor for life, with the title of Emperor, if elected to that office by the people.' What! Are you Emperor, darling?”

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

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

“Course it is!” said her husband. “We're not going to bother about the wretches!”

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

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

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

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

“And when will the Conspiracy--”

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

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

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

For the second time the door opened--or rather was burst open, this time, as Uggug rushed violently into the room, shouting “that old 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.

{Image...'Drink this!'}

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 Sylvie's arms.

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

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

“By the way, there was something about Bruno succeeding to the 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 amused surprise.


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

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

“You said 'Uggug indeed!'” the young lady replied, with quivering lips that would curve themselves into a smile, in spite of all her efforts to look grave. “At least--you didn't say it--you shouted it!”

“I'm very sorry,” was all I could say, feeling very penitent and helpless. “She has Sylvie's eyes!” I thought to myself, half-doubting whether, even now, I were fairly awake. “And that sweet look of innocent wonder is all Sylvie's too. But Sylvie hasn't got that calm resolute mouth nor that far-away look of dreamy sadness, like one that has had some deep sorrow, very long ago--” And the thick-coming fancies almost prevented my hearing the lady's next words.

“If you had had a 'Shilling Dreadful' in your hand,” she proceeded, “something about Ghosts or Dynamite or Midnight Murder--one could understand it: those things aren't worth the shilling, unless they give one a Nightmare. But really--with only a medical treatise, you know--”

and she glanced, with a pretty shrug of contempt, at the book over which

I had fallen asleep.

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

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

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

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

“I think not,” the lady readily replied--quite as if she had thought it out, long ago. “It has to be something thick. For instance, you might welter in bread-sauce. That, being white, would be more suitable for a Ghost, supposing it wished to welter!”

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

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

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

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

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

The lady looked puzzled and thoughtful for a moment: then she almost clapped her hands. “Yes, yes, he does!” she cried. “He makes Hamlet say 'Rest, rest, perturbed Spirit!”'

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

“An American rocking-chair, I think--”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, no!” she broke in merrily. “I didn't mean our Literature! We are quite abnormal. But the booklets--the little thrilling romances, where the Murder comes at page fifteen, and the Wedding at page forty--surely they are due to Steam?”

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

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

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

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

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

{Image....The gardener}

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

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

“And who's that other thing?', said the Gardener.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To which Bruno wisely replied “Oo don't want a face to tell fibs wiz--only a mouf.”

Sylvie discreetly changed the subject. “And did you plant all these flowers?” she said.

“What a lovely garden you've made! Do you know, I'd like to live here always!”

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

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

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

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

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

We hurried down the road, and very soon caught sight of the old Beggar, about a quarter of a mile ahead of us, and the children at once set off running to overtake him.

Lightly and swiftly they skimmed over the ground, and I could not in the least understand how it was I kept up with them so easily. But the unsolved problem did not worry me so much as at another time it might have done, there were so many other things to attend to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{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.


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

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

“But I thought Elfland was ever so far from Outland: and we've come such a tiny little way!”

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

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

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

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

“Eat a mile, little rogue?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They're all like that to you, darling, because you don't belong to Elfland--yet. But to me they are real.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now you see the difference,” said the old man: “different colours and different words.”

“Choose one of them, darling. I'll give you 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, Father?”

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

“Yes, I'll remember,” said Sylvie.

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

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

   He thought he saw a Buffalo
   Upon the chimney-piece:
   He looked again, and found it was
   His 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, followed him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The name was Lady Muriel Orme. As to what she was like--well, I thought her very beautiful. Do you know her?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Idiot, indeed!” cried my Lady. “He's no more an idiot than I am!”

“You're right, my dear,” the Vice-Warden soothingly 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?” she inquired.

“In the Library, Madam.”

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

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

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

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

“You go and receive him,” my Lady said to the Vice-Warden, “and I'll attend to the children.”


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It's only the Gardener!” the Vice-Warden replied in an encouraging tone. “Quite harmless, I assure you. Hark, he's singing! 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
   A Hippopotamus:
   '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 mouth open.

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

“Allow me to present my son,” said the Vice-warden; adding, in a whisper, “one of the best and cleverest boys that ever lived! I'll contrive for you to see some of his cleverness. He knows everything that other boys don't know; and in archery, in fishing, in painting, and in music, his skill is--but you shall judge for yourself. You see that target over there? He shall shoot an arrow at it. Dear boy,” he went on aloud, “his Adiposity would like to see you shoot. Bring his Highness' bow and arrows!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Sonata that His Highness plays so charmingly,” said the Vice-Warden. “His Highness haf not--” the music-master began, but was sharply stopped by the Vice-warden.

“Silence, Sir! Go and turn over the music for his Highness. My dear,”

(to the Wardeness) “will you show him what to do? And meanwhile, Baron,

I'll just show you a most interesting map we have--of Outland, and Fairyland, and that sort of thing.”

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 carried down!”

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

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

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


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

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

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

“How convenient it would be,” Lady Muriel laughingly remarked, 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 it.”

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

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

We all granted that.

“Well, now, if I take this book, and hold it out at 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 London?”

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

We sat down among the rocks, by a little pool, so rich in animal, vegetable, and 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 song.

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

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

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

{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 dusty high-road.

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

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

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

“Which is the wrong way?”, Sylvie most reasonably enquired. The obvious plan was to try both ways.

Rubbing from left to right had no visible effect whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

{Image...The mouse-lion}

“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, Sylvie!”

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

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

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


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

“What's all this noise about?” the Vice-warden angrily enquired, as he strode into the room. “And who put the hat-stand here?”

And he hung his hat up on Bruno, who was standing in the middle of the room, too much astonished by the sudden change of scene to make any attempt at removing it, though it came down to his shoulders, making him look something like a small candle with a large extinguisher over it.

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

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

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

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

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

{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 out again.”

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

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

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

{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 to bed.

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

No, it was a female voice. Also the figure half-hidden by the cupboard-door--was a female figure, massive, and in flowing robes.

Could it be the landlady? The door opened, and a strange man entered the room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It's part of the Conspiracy, Love! One must have an alias, you know--”

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

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

“For what, Madam!”

“Well, for eighteenpence, if you must know, dearest! That's what I got it for, on my--”

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

“On my birthday,” my Lady concluded in a meek whisper. “One must have a dagger, you know. It's part of the--”

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

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

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

The Fool smiled a doubtful smile. He was not quite clear whether it was a compliment or not, to express it so plainly. “You mean a Jester? Yes, that's what I intended. And what do you think your disguise is to be?”

And he proceeded to unfold the parcel, the lady watching him in rapture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

{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 Outland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not another Professor!” the poor old man exclaimed in horror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Professor clasped his hands on the top of his head, and groaned. “Go? I should think it did go! Why, it's gone? And where ever it's gone to--that's what I ca'n't find out! I've done my best--I've read all the article 'Rabbit' in the great dictionary--Come in!”

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

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

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

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

“I don't know as I'd care about being a King,” the man said thoughtfully. “But it dew sound a powerful sight o' money! Well, I think I'll wait--”

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

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

“Never, my child!” the Professor replied emphatically. “He'll go on doubling it, till he dies. You see it's always worth while waiting another year, to get twice as much money! And now what would you like to do, my little friends? Shall I take you to see the Other Professor? This would be an excellent opportunity for a visit,” he said to himself, glancing at his watch: “he generally takes a short rest--of fourteen minutes and a half--about this time.”

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

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

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

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

Near the end of the passage the Professor stopped. “This is his room,”

he said, pointing to the solid wall.

“We ca'n't get in through there!” Bruno exclaimed.

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

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

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 Bruno.

“If he's always as sleepy as that,” Bruno remarked, “a course he's dreamy!”

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

“Suppose oo shuts the book?” Bruno suggested.

“That's it!” cried the delighted Professor. “Of course that'll do it!”

And he shut up the book so quickly that he caught the Other Professor's

nose between the leaves, and gave it a severe pinch.

The Other Professor instantly rose to his feet, and carried the book away to the end of the room, where he put it back in its place in the book-case. “I've been reading for eighteen hours and three-quarters,”

he said, “and now I shall rest for fourteen minutes and a half. Is the

Lecture all ready?”

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

“And Banquet, I think you said?”

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

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

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

“Yes, that's the right order. First the Meeting: then the Eating: then the Treating--for I'm sure any Lecture you give us will be a treat!”

said the Other Professor, who had been standing with his back to us all

this time, occupying himself in taking the books out, one by one, and turning them upside-down. An easel, with a black board on it, stood near him: and, every time that he turned a book upside-down, he made a mark on the board with a piece of chalk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It isn't very beautiful,” Sylvie said, hesitatingly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Three times,” said the Professor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“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,
   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
   Extremely inconvenient!
   'No Nobleness of soul have I,
   Like some that in this Age are found!'
   (Paul blushed in sheer humility,
   And cast his eyes upon the ground)
   'This debt will simply swallow all,
   And make my life a life of woe!'
   'Nay, nay, 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,
   However inconvenient!'
   “Tis true, 'said Peter,' I'm alive:
   I keep my station in the world:
   Once in the week I just contrive
   To get my whiskers oiled and curled.
   But my assets are very low:
   My little income's overspent:
   To trench on capital, you know,
   Is always inconvenient!'
   'But pay your debts!' cried honest Paul.
   'My gentle Peter, pay your debts!
   What matter if it swallows all
   That you describe as your “assets”?
   Already you're an hour behind:
   Yet Generosity is best.
   It pinches me--but never mind!
   '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
   Remarkably convenient!'
   Said Peter 'Though I cannot sound
   The depths of such a man as you,
   Yet in your character I've found
   An inconsistency or two.
   You seem to have long years to spare
   When there's a promise to fulfil:
   And yet how punctual you were
   In calling with that little bill!'
   'One can't be too deliberate,'
   Said Paul, 'in parting with one's pelf.
   With bills, as you correctly state,
   I'm punctuality itself:
   A man may surely claim his dues:
   But, when there's money to be lent,
   A man must be allowed to choose
   Such times as are convenient!'
   It chanced one day, as Peter sat
   Gnawing a crust--his usual meal--
   Paul bustled in to have a chat,
   And grasped his hand with friendly zeal.
   'I knew,' said he, 'your frugal ways:
   So, that I might not wound your pride
   By bringing strangers in to gaze,
   I've left my legal friend outside!
   'You well remember, I am sure,
   When first your wealth began to go,
   And people sneered at one so poor,
   I never used my Peter so!
   And when you'd lost your little all,
   And found yourself a thing despised,
   I need not ask you to recall
   How tenderly I sympathised!
   'Then the advice I've poured on you,
   So full of wisdom and of wit:
   All given gratis, though 'tis true
   I might have fairly charged for it!
   But I refrain from mentioning
   Full many a deed I might relate
   For boasting is a kind of thing
   That I particularly hate.

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

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

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


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

“Why at once?” said the Professor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It's like this,” said the Other Professor, hastily drawing a long line upon the black board, and marking the letters 'A,' 'B,' at the two ends, and 'C' in the middle: “let me explain it to you. If AB were to be divided into two parts at C--”

“It would be drownded,” Bruno pronounced confidently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I'm sorry you don't like lessons,” I said.

“You should copy Sylvie. She's always as busy as the day is long!”

“Well, so am I!” said Bruno.

“No, no!” Sylvie corrected him. “You're as busy as the day is short!”

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

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

The children were on their feet in a moment.

“Where shall we look?” said Sylvie.

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

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

“He ca'n't be there, Bruno!” Sylvie said indignantly.

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

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

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

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

“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 plainly audible:--

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

{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, you know.”

“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 empty watering-can.

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

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

    “The nights are very damp!”

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

“Never!” shouted the Gardener, so loudly and violently that we all drew back in alarm. “There ain't such a thing!”

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

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

The Professor put the request, very humbly and courteously.

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

The Professor cautiously produced a couple of shillings.

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

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

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

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

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

The Professor shook his head. “You are acting by Rule,” he explained, “in opening the door for me. And now it's open, we are going out by Rule--the Rule of Three.”

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

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

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

But the children still kept fast hold of his hands. “Do come with us!”

Sylvie entreated with tears in her eyes.

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

“Won't that be very tiring, to carry yourself?” Sylvie enquired.

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

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


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

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

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

{Image...The mastiff-sentinel}

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

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

“We don't belong to a Dog!” Bruno began, in Doggee. (“Peoples never belongs to Dogs!” he whispered to Sylvie.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{Image...The dog-king}

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

Sylvie gently explained matters. “I'm afraid we ca'n't manage it,”

she said in a low voice. “I'm very sorry: but our ears haven't got the

right--” she wanted to say “machinery” in Doggee: but she had forgotten the word, and could only think of “steam-engine.”

The Sentinel repeated Sylvie's explanation to the King.

“Can't prick up their ears without a steam-engine!” His Majesty exclaimed. “They must be curious creatures! I must have a look at them!”

And he came out of his Kennel, and walked solemnly up to the children.

What was the amazement--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 feet.

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

“Time for bed!” he said with a sleepy yawn. “The attendants will show you your room,” he added, aside, to Sylvie and Bruno. “Bring lights!”

And, with a dignified air, he held out his paw for them to kiss.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvie was too much astonished to do anything for a moment: it sounded such a monstrous impossibility that a King should wish to run after a stick. But Bruno was equal to the occasion, and with a glad shout of “Hi then! Fetch it, good Doggie!” he hurled it over a clump of bushes. The next moment the Monarch of Dogland had bounded over the bushes, and picked up the stick, and came galloping back to the children with it in his mouth. Bruno took it from him with great decision. “Beg for it!”

he insisted; and His Majesty begged. “Paw!” commanded Sylvie; and His

Majesty gave his paw. In short, the solemn ceremony of escorting the travelers to the boundaries of Dogland became one long uproarious game of play!

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

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

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

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

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

And with such a bang! “It never will shut like any other cupboard-door,”

Arthur explained. “There's something wrong with the hinge. However,

here's the cake and wine. And you've had your forty winks. So you really must get off to bed, old man! You're fit for nothing else. Witness my hand, Arthur Forester, M.D.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“It is 'faint heart,' perhaps. But really I dare not speak just yet.”

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

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

“That is all very beautiful sentiment,” I said, “but it is not practical. It is not like you.

   He either fears his fate too much,
   Or his desert is small,
   Who dares not put it to the touch,
   To win or lose it all.”

“I dare not ask the question whether there is another!” he said passionately. “It would break my heart to know it!”

“Yet is it wise to leave it unasked? You must not waste your life upon an 'if'!”

“I tell you I dare not!,”

“May I find it out for you?” I asked, with the freedom of an old friend.

“No, no!” he replied with a pained look. “I entreat you to say nothing. Let it wait.”

“As you please,” I said: and judged it best to say no more just then. “But this evening,” I thought, “I will call on the Earl. I may be able to see how the land lies, without so much as saying a word!”

It was a very hot afternoon--too hot to go for a walk or do anything--or else it wouldn't have happened, I believe.

In the first place, I want to know--dear Child who reads this!--why Fairies should always be teaching us to do our duty, and lecturing us when we go wrong, and we should never teach them anything? You can't mean to say that Fairies are never greedy, or selfish, or cross, or deceitful, because that would be nonsense, you know. Well then, don't you think they might be all the better for a little lecturing and punishing now and then?

I really don't see why it shouldn't be tried, and I'm almost sure that, if you could only catch a Fairy, and put it in the corner, and give it nothing but bread and water for a day or two, you'd find it quite an improved character--it would take down its conceit a little, at all events.

The next question is, what is the best time for seeing Fairies? I believe I can tell you all about that.

The first rule is, that it must be a very hot day--that we may consider as settled: and you must be just a little sleepy--but not too sleepy to keep your eyes open, mind. Well, and you ought to feel a little--what one may call “fairyish “--the Scotch call it “eerie,” and perhaps that's a prettier word; if you don't know what it means, I'm afraid I can hardly explain it; you must wait till you meet a Fairy, and then you'll know.

And the last rule is, that the crickets should not be chirping. I can't stop to explain that: you must take it on trust for the present.

So, if all these things happen together, you have a good chance of seeing a Fairy--or at least a much better chance than if they didn't.

The first thing I noticed, as I went lazily along through an open place in the wood, was a large Beetle lying struggling on its back, and I went down upon one knee to help the poor thing to its feet again. In some things, you know, you 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 again.

So, as I was saying, I had gone down upon one knee, and was just reaching out a little stick to turn the Beetle over, when I saw a sight that made me draw back hastily and hold my breath, for fear of making any noise and frightening the little creature 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 over them.

Think of any pretty little boy you know, with rosy cheeks, large dark eyes, and tangled brown hair, and then fancy him made small enough to go comfortably into a coffee-cup, and you'll have a very fair idea of him.

“What's your name, little one?” I began, in as soft a voice as I could manage. And, by the way, why is it we always begin by asking little children their names? Is it because we fancy a name will help to make them a little bigger? You never thought of asking a real large man his name, now, did you? But, however that may be, I felt it quite necessary to know his name; so, as he didn't answer my question, I asked it again a little louder. “What's your name, my little man?”

“What's oors?” he said, without looking up.

I told him my name quite gently, for he was much too small to be angry with.

“Duke of Anything?” he asked, just looking at me for a moment, and then going on with his work.

“Not Duke at all,” I said, a little ashamed of having to confess it.

“Oo're big enough to be two Dukes,” said the little creature. “I suppose oo're Sir Something, then?”

“No,” I said, feeling more and more ashamed. “I haven't got any title.”

The Fairy seemed to think that in that case I really wasn't worth the trouble of talking to, for he quietly went on digging, and tearing the flowers to pieces.

After a few minutes I tried again. “Please tell me what your name is.”

“Bruno,” the little fellow answered, very readily. “Why didn't oo say 'please' before?”

“That's something like what we used to be taught in the nursery,” I thought to myself, looking back through the long years (about a hundred of them, since you ask the question), to the time when I was a little child. And here an idea came into my head, and I asked him “Aren't you one of the Fairies that teach children to be good?”

“Well, we have to do that sometimes,” said Bruno, “and a dreadful bother it is.” As he said this, he savagely tore a heartsease in two, and trampled on the pieces.

“What are you doing there, Bruno?” I said.

“Spoiling Sylvie's garden,” was all the answer Bruno would give at first. But, as he went on tearing up the flowers, he muttered to himself “The nasty cross thing wouldn't let me go and play this morning,--said I must finish my lessons first--lessons, indeed! I'll vex her finely, though!”

“Oh, Bruno, you shouldn't do that!” I cried. “Don't you know that's revenge? And revenge is a wicked, cruel, dangerous thing!”

“River-edge?” said Bruno. “What a funny word! I suppose oo call it cruel and dangerous 'cause, if oo wented too far and tumbleded in, oo'd get drownded.”

“No, not river-edge,” I explained: “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, re-venge.”

But Bruno only tossed his little head, and said he couldn't; that his mouth wasn't the right shape for words of that kind. And the more I laughed, the more sulky the little fellow got about it.

“Well, never mind, my little man!” I said. “Shall I help you with that job?”

“Yes, please,” Bruno said, quite pacified.

“Only I wiss I could think of somefin to vex her more than this. Oo don't know how hard it is to make her angry!”

“Now listen to me, Bruno, and I'll teach you quite a splendid kind of revenge!”

“Somefin that'll vex her finely?” he asked with gleaming eyes.

“Something that will vex her finely. First, we'll get up all the weeds in her garden. See, there are a good many at this end quite hiding the flowers.”

“But that won't vex her!” said Bruno.

“After that,” I said, without noticing the remark, “we'll water this highest bed--up here. You see it's getting quite dry and dusty.”

Bruno looked at me inquisitively, but he said nothing this time.

“Then after that,” I went on, “the walks want sweeping a bit; and I think you might cut down that tall nettle--it's so close to the garden that it's quite in the way--”

“What is oo talking about?” Bruno impatiently interrupted me. “All that won't vex her a bit!”

“Won't it?” I said, innocently. “Then, after that, suppose we put in some of these coloured pebbles--just to mark the divisions between the different kinds of flowers, you know. That'll have a very pretty effect.”

Bruno turned round and had another good stare at me. At last there came an odd little twinkle into his eyes, and he said, with quite a new meaning in his voice, “That'll do nicely. Let's put 'em in rows--all the red together, and all the blue together.”

“That'll do capitally,” I said; “and then--what kind of flowers does Sylvie like best?”

Bruno had to put his thumb in his mouth and consider a little before he could answer. “Violets,” he said, at last.

“There's a beautiful bed of violets down by the brook--”

“Oh, let's fetch 'em!” cried Bruno, giving a little skip into the air. “Here! Catch hold of my hand, and I'll help oo along. The grass is rather thick down that way.”

I couldn't help laughing at his having so entirely forgotten what a big creature he was talking to. “No, not yet, Bruno,” I said: “we must consider what's the right thing to do first. You see we've got quite a business before us.”

“Yes, let's consider,” said Bruno, putting his thumb into his mouth again, and sitting down upon a dead mouse.

“What do you keep that mouse for?” I said. “You should either bury it, or else throw it into the brook.”

“Why, it's to measure with!” cried Bruno. “How ever would oo do a garden without one? We make each bed three mouses and a half long, and two mouses wide.”

I stopped him, as he was dragging it off by the tail to show me how it was used, for I was half afraid the 'eerie' feeling might go off before we had finished the garden, and in that case I should see no more of him or Sylvie. “I think the best way will be for you to weed the beds, while I sort out these pebbles, ready to mark the walks with.”

“That's it!” cried Bruno. “And I'll tell oo about the caterpillars while we work.”

“Ah, let's hear about the caterpillars,” I said, as I drew the pebbles together into a heap and began dividing them into colours.

And Bruno went on in a low, rapid tone, more as if he were talking to himself. “Yesterday I saw two little caterpillars, when I was sitting by the brook, just where oo go into the wood. They were quite green, and they had yellow eyes, and they didn't see me. And one of them had got a moth's wing to carry--a great brown moth's wing, oo know, all dry, with feathers. So he couldn't want it to eat, I should think--perhaps he meant to make a cloak for the winter?”

“Perhaps,” I said, for Bruno had twisted up the last word into a sort of question, and was looking at me for an answer.

One word was quite enough for the little fellow, and he went on merrily. “Well, and so he didn't want the other caterpillar to see the moth's wing, oo know--so what must he do but try to carry it with all his left legs, and he tried to walk on the other set. Of course he toppled over after that.”

“After what?” I said, catching at the last word, for, to tell the truth, I hadn't been attending much.

“He toppled over,” Bruno repeated, very gravely, “and if oo ever saw a caterpillar topple over, oo'd know it's a welly serious thing, and not sit grinning like that--and I sha'n't tell oo no more!”

“Indeed and indeed, Bruno, I didn't mean to grin. See, I'm quite grave again now.”

But Bruno only folded his arms, and said “Don't tell me. I see a little twinkle in one of oor eyes--just like the moon.”

“Why do you think I'm like the moon, Bruno?” I asked.

“Oor face is large and round like the moon,” Bruno answered, looking at me thoughtfully. “It doosn't shine quite so bright--but it's more cleaner.”

I couldn't help smiling at this. “You know I sometimes wash my face, Bruno. The moon never does that.”

“Oh, doosn't she though!” cried Bruno; and he leant forwards and added in a solemn whisper, “The moon's face gets dirtier and dirtier every night, till it's black all across. And then, when it's dirty all over--so--” (he passed his hand across his own rosy cheeks as he spoke) “then she washes it.”

“Then it's all clean again, isn't it?”

“Not all in a moment,” said Bruno. “What a deal of teaching oo wants! She washes it little by little--only she begins at the other edge, oo know.”

By this time he was sitting quietly on the dead mouse with his arms folded, and the weeding wasn't getting on a bit: so I had to say “Work first, pleasure afterwards: no more talking till that bed's finished.”


After that we had a few minutes of silence, while I sorted out the pebbles, and amused myself with watching Bruno's plan of gardening. It was quite a new plan to me: he always measured each bed before he weeded it, as if he was afraid the weeding would make it shrink; and once, when it came out longer than he wished, he set to work to thump the mouse with his little fist, crying out “There now! It's all gone wrong again! Why don't oo keep oor tail straight when I tell oo!”

“I'll tell you what I'll do,” Bruno said in a half-whisper, as we worked. “Oo like Fairies, don't oo?”

“Yes,” I said: “of course I do, or I shouldn't have come here. I should have gone to some place where there are no Fairies.”

Bruno laughed contemptuously. “Why, oo might as well say oo'd go to some place where there wasn't any air--supposing oo didn't like air!”

This was a rather difficult idea to grasp. I tried a change of subject. “You're nearly the first Fairy I ever saw. Have you ever seen any people besides me?”

“Plenty!” said Bruno. “We see'em when we walk in the road.”

“But they ca'n't see you. How is it they never tread on you?”

“Ca'n't tread on us,” said Bruno, looking amused at my ignorance. “Why, suppose oo're walking, here--so--” (making little marks on the ground) “and suppose there's a Fairy--that's me--walking here. Very well then, oo put one foot here, and one foot here, so oo doosn't tread on the Fairy.”

This was all very well as an explanation, but it didn't convince me. “Why shouldn't I put one foot on the Fairy?” I asked.

“I don't know why,” the little fellow said in a thoughtful tone. “But I know oo wouldn't. Nobody never walked on the top of a Fairy. Now I'll tell oo what I'll do, as oo're so fond of Fairies. I'll get oo an invitation to the Fairy-King's dinner-party. I know one of the head-waiters.”

I couldn't help laughing at this idea. “Do the waiters invite the guests?” I asked.

“Oh, not to sit down!” Bruno said. “But to wait at table. Oo'd like that, wouldn't oo? To hand about plates, and so on.”

“Well, but that's not so nice as sitting at the table, is it?”

“Of course it isn't,” Bruno said, in a tone as if he rather pitied my ignorance; “but if oo're not even Sir Anything, oo ca'n't expect to be allowed to sit at the table, oo know.”

I said, as meekly as I could, that I didn't expect it, but it was the only way of going to a dinner-party that I really enjoyed. And Bruno tossed his head, and said, in a rather offended tone that I might do as I pleased--there were many he knew that would give their ears to go.

“Have you ever been yourself, Bruno?”

“They invited me once, last week,” Bruno said, very gravely. “It was to wash up the soup-plates--no, the cheese-plates I mean that was grand enough. And I waited at table. And I didn't hardly make only one mistake.”

“What was it?” I said. “You needn't mind telling me.”

“Only bringing scissors to cut the beef with,” Bruno said carelessly. “But the grandest thing of all was, I fetched the King a glass of cider!”

“That was grand!” I said, biting my lip to keep myself from laughing.

“Wasn't it?” said Bruno, very earnestly. “Oo know it isn't every one that's had such an honour as that!”

This set me thinking of the various queer things we call “an honour” in this world, but which, after all, haven't a bit more honour in them than what Bruno enjoyed, when he took the King a glass of cider.

I don't know how long I might not have dreamed on in this way, if Bruno hadn't suddenly roused me. “Oh, come here quick!” he cried, in a state of the wildest excitement. “Catch hold of his other horn! I ca'n't hold him more than a minute!”

He was struggling desperately with a great snail, clinging to one of its horns, and nearly breaking his poor little back in his efforts to drag it over a blade of grass.

I saw we should have no more gardening if I let this sort of thing go on, so I quietly took the snail away, and put it on a bank where he couldn't reach it. “We'll hunt it afterwards, Bruno,” I said, “if you really want to catch it. But what's the use of it when you've got it?”

“What's the use of a fox when oo've got it?” said Bruno. “I know oo big things hunt foxes.”

I tried to think of some good reason why “big things” should hunt foxes, and he should not hunt snails, but none came into my head: so I said at last, “Well, I suppose one's as good as the other. I'll go snail-hunting myself some day.”

“I should think oo wouldn't be so silly,” said Bruno, “as to go snail-hunting by oor-self. Why, oo'd never get the snail along, if oo hadn't somebody to hold on to his other horn!”

“Of course I sha'n't go alone,” I said, quite gravely. “By the way, is that the best kind to hunt, or do you recommend the ones without shells?”

“Oh, no, we never hunt the ones without shells,” Bruno said, with a little shudder at the thought of it. “They're always so cross about it; and then, if oo tumbles over them, they're ever so sticky!”

By this time we had nearly finished the garden. I had fetched some violets, and Bruno was just helping me to put in the last, when he suddenly stopped and said “I'm tired.”

“Rest then,” I said: “I can go on without you, quite well.”

Bruno needed no second invitation: he at once began arranging the dead mouse as a kind of sofa. “And I'll sing oo a little song,” he said, as he rolled it about.

“Do,” said I: “I like songs very much.”

“Which song will oo choose?” Bruno said, as he dragged the mouse into a place where he could get a good view of me. “'Ting, ting, ting' is the nicest.”

There was no resisting such a strong hint as this: however, I pretended to think about it for a moment, and then said “Well, I like 'Ting, ting, ting,' best of all.”

{Image...Bruno's revenge}

“That shows oo're a good judge of music,” Bruno said, with a pleased look. “How many hare-bells would oo like?” And he put his thumb into his mouth to help me to consider.

As there was only one cluster of hare-bells within easy reach, I said very gravely that I thought one would do this time, and I picked it and gave it to him. Bruno ran his hand once or twice up and down the flowers, like a musician trying an instrument, producing a most delicious delicate tinkling as he did so. I had never heard flower-music before--I don't think one can, unless one's in the 'eerie' state and I don't know quite how to give you an idea of what it was like, except by saying that it sounded like a peal of bells a thousand miles off. When he had satisfied himself that the flowers were in tune, he seated himself on the dead mouse (he never seemed really comfortable anywhere else), and, looking up at me with a merry twinkle in his eyes, he began. By the way, the tune was rather a curious one, and you might like to try it for yourself, so here are the notes.

{Image...Music for hare-bells}

   “Rise, oh, rise!  The daylight dies:
    The owls are hooting, ting, ting, ting!
    Wake, oh, wake!  Beside the lake
    The elves are fluting, ting, ting, ting!
    Welcoming our Fairy King,
    We sing, sing, sing.”

He sang the first four lines briskly and merrily, making the hare-bells chime in time with the music; but the last two he sang quite slowly and gently, and merely waved the flowers backwards and forwards. Then he left off to explain. “The Fairy-King is Oberon, and he lives across the lake--and sometimes he comes in a little boat--and we go and meet him and then we sing this song, you know.”

“And then you go and dine with him?” I said, mischievously.

“Oo shouldn't talk,” Bruno hastily said: “it interrupts the song so.”

I said I wouldn't do it again.

“I never talk myself when I'm singing,” he went on very gravely: “so oo shouldn't either.” Then he tuned the hare-bells once more, and sang:---

   “Hear, oh, hear!  From far and near
   The music stealing, ting, ting, ting!
   Fairy belts adown the dells
   Are merrily pealing, ting, ting, ting!
   Welcoming our Fairy King,
   We ring, ring, ring.
   “See, oh, see!  On every tree
   What lamps are shining, ting, ting, ting!
   They are eyes of fiery flies
   To light our dining, ting, ting, ting!
   Welcoming our Fairy King
   They swing, swing, swing.
   “Haste, oh haste, to take and taste
   The dainties waiting, ting, ting, ting!
   Honey-dew is stored--”

“Hush, Bruno!” I interrupted in a warning whisper. “She's coming!”

Bruno checked his song, and, as she slowly made her way through the long grass, he suddenly rushed out headlong at her like a little bull, shouting “Look the other way! Look the other way!”

“Which way?” Sylvie asked, in rather a frightened tone, as she looked round in all directions to see where the danger could be.

“That way!” said Bruno, carefully turning her round with her face to the wood. “Now, walk backwards walk gently--don't be frightened: oo sha'n't trip!”

But Sylvie did trip notwithstanding: in fact he led her, in his hurry, across so many little sticks and stones, that it was really a wonder the poor child could keep on her feet at all. But he was far too much excited to think of what he was doing.

I silently pointed out to Bruno the best place to lead her to, so as to get a view of the whole garden at once: it was a little rising ground, about the height of a potato; and, when they had mounted it, I drew back into the shade, that Sylvie mightn't see me.

I heard Bruno cry out triumphantly “Now oo may look!” and then followed a clapping of hands, but it was all done by Bruno himself. Sylvie: was silent--she only stood and gazed with her hands clasped together, and I was half afraid she didn't like it after all.

Bruno too was watching her anxiously, and when she jumped down off the mound, and began wandering up and down the little walks, he cautiously followed her about, evidently anxious that she should form her own opinion of it all, without any hint from him. And when at last she drew a long breath, and gave her verdict--in a hurried whisper, and without the slightest regard to grammar--“It's the loveliest thing as I never saw in all my life before!” the little fellow looked as well pleased as if it had been given by all the judges and juries in England put together.

“And did you really do it all by yourself, Bruno?” said Sylvie. “And all for me?”

“I was helped a bit,” Bruno began, with a merry little laugh at her surprise. “We've been at it all the afternoon--I thought oo'd like--”

and here the poor little fellow's lip began to quiver, and all in a

moment he burst out crying, and running up to Sylvie he flung his arms passionately round her neck, and hid his face on her shoulder.

There was a little quiver in Sylvie's voice too, as she whispered “Why, what's the matter, darling?” and tried to lift up his head and kiss him.

But Bruno only clung to her, sobbing, and wouldn't be comforted till he had confessed. “I tried--to spoil oor garden--first--but I'll never--never--” and then came another burst of tears, which drowned the rest of the sentence. At last he got out the words “I liked--putting in the flowers--for oo, Sylvie--and I never was so happy before.” And the rosy little face came up at last to be kissed, all wet with tears as it was.

Sylvie was crying too by this time, and she said nothing but “Bruno, dear!” and “I never was so happy before,” though why these two children who had never been so happy before should both be crying was a mystery to me.

I felt very happy too, but of course I didn't cry: “big things” never do, you know we leave all that to the Fairies. Only I think it must have been raining a little just then, for I found a drop or two on my cheeks.

After that they went through the whole garden again, flower by flower, as if it were a long sentence they were spelling out, with kisses for commas, and a great hug by way of a full-stop when they got to the end.

“Doos oo know, that was my river-edge, Sylvie?” Bruno solemnly began.

Sylvie laughed merrily. “What do you mean?” she said. And she pushed back her heavy brown hair with both hands, and looked at him with dancing eyes in which the big teardrops were still glittering.

Bruno drew in a long breath, and made up his mouth for a great effort. “I mean revenge,” he said: “now oo under'tand.” And he looked so happy and proud at having said the word right at last, that I quite envied him. I rather think Sylvie didn't “under'tand” at all; but she gave him a little kiss on each cheek, which seemed to do just as well.

So they wandered off lovingly together, in among the buttercups, each with an arm twined round the other, whispering and laughing as they went, and never so much as once looked back at poor me. Yes, once, just before I quite lost sight of them, Bruno half turned his head, and nodded me a saucy little good-bye over one shoulder. And that was all the thanks I got for my trouble. The very last thing I saw of them was this--Sylvie was stooping down with her arms round Bruno's neck, and saying coaxingly in his ear, “Do you know, Bruno, I've quite forgotten that hard word. Do say it once more. Come! Only this once, dear!”

But Bruno wouldn't try it again.


The Marvellous--the Mysterious--had quite passed out of my life for the moment: and the Common-place reigned supreme. I turned in the direction of the Earl's house, as it was now 'the witching hour' of five, and I knew I should find them ready for a cup of tea and a quiet chat.

Lady Muriel and her father gave me a delightfully warm welcome. They were not of the folk we meet in fashionable drawing-rooms who conceal all such feelings as they may chance to possess beneath the impenetrable mask of a conventional placidity. 'The Man with the Iron Mask' was, no doubt, a rarity and a marvel in his own age: in modern London no one would turn his head to give him a second look! No, these were real people. When they looked pleased, it meant that they were pleased: and when Lady Muriel said, with a bright smile, “I'm very glad to see you again!”, I knew that it was true.

Still I did not venture to disobey the injunctions--crazy as I felt them to be--of the lovesick young Doctor, by so much as alluding to his existence: and it was only after they had given me full details of a projected picnic, to which they invited me, that Lady Muriel exclaimed, almost as an after-thought, “and do, if you can, bring Doctor Forester with you! I'm sure a day in the country would do him good. I'm afraid he studies too much--”

It was 'on the tip of my tongue' to quote the words “His only books are woman's looks!” but I checked myself just in time--with something of the feeling of one who has crossed a street, and has been all but run over by a passing 'Hansom.'

“--and I think he has too lonely a life,” she went on, with a gentle earnestness that left no room whatever to suspect a double meaning. “Do get him to come! And don't forget the day, Tuesday week. We can drive you over. It would be a pity to go by rail----there is so much pretty scenery on the road. And our open carriage just holds four.”

“Oh, I'll persuade him to come!” I said with confidence--thinking “it would take all my powers of persuasion to keep him away!”

The picnic was to take place in ten days: and though Arthur readily accepted the invitation I brought him, nothing that I could say would induce him to call--either with me or without me on the Earl and his daughter in the meanwhile. No: he feared to “wear out his welcome,” he said: they had “seen enough of him for one while”: and, when at last the day for the expedition arrived, he was so childishly nervous and uneasy that I thought it best so to arrange our plans that we should go separately to the house--my intention being to arrive some time after him, so as to give him time to get over a meeting.

With this object I purposely made a considerable circuit on my way to the Hall (as we called the Earl's house): “and if I could only manage to lose my way a bit,” I thought to myself, “that would suit me capitally!”

In this I succeeded better, and sooner, than I had ventured to hope for. The path through the wood had been made familiar to me, by many a solitary stroll, in my former visit to Elveston; and how I could have so suddenly and so entirely lost it--even though I was so engrossed in thinking of Arthur and his lady-love that I heeded little else--was a mystery to me. “And this open place,” I said to myself, “seems to have some memory about it I cannot distinctly recall--surely it is the very spot where I saw those Fairy-Children! But I hope there are no snakes about!” I mused aloud, taking my seat on a fallen tree. “I certainly do not like snakes--and I don't suppose Bruno likes them, either!”

“No, he doesn't like them!” said a demure little voice at my side. “He's not afraid of them, you know. But he doesn't like them. He says they're too waggly!”

Words fail me to describe the beauty of the little group--couched on a patch of moss, on the trunk of the fallen tree, that met my eager gaze: Sylvie reclining with her elbow buried in the moss, and her rosy cheek resting in the palm of her hand, and Bruno stretched at her feet with his head in her lap.

{Image...Fairies resting}

“Too waggly?” was all I could say in so sudden an emergency.

“I'm not praticular,” Bruno said, carelessly: “but I do like straight animals best--”

“But you like a dog when it wags its tail,” Sylvie interrupted. “You know you do, Bruno!”

“But there's more of a dog, isn't there, Mister Sir?” Bruno appealed to me. “You wouldn't like to have a dog if it hadn't got nuffin but a head and a tail?”

I admitted that a dog of that kind would be uninteresting.

“There isn't such a dog as that,” Sylvie thoughtfully remarked.

“But there would be,” cried Bruno, “if the Professor shortened it up for us!”

“Shortened it up?” I said. “That's something new. How does he do it?”

“He's got a curious machine,” Sylvie was beginning to explain.

“A welly curious machine,” Bruno broke in, not at all willing to have the story thus taken out of his mouth, “and if oo puts in--some-finoruvver--at one end, oo know and he turns the handle--and it comes out at the uvver end, oh, ever so short!”

“As short as short!” Sylvie echoed.

“And one day when we was in Outland, oo know--before we came to Fairyland me and Sylvie took him a big Crocodile. And he shortened it up for us. And it did look so funny! And it kept looking round, and saying 'wherever is the rest of me got to?' And then its eyes looked unhappy--”

“Not both its eyes,” Sylvie interrupted.

“Course not!” said the little fellow. “Only the eye that couldn't see wherever the rest of it had got to. But the eye that could see wherever--”

“How short was the crocodile?” I asked, as the story was getting a little complicated.

“Half as short again as when we caught it--so long,” said Bruno, spreading out his arms to their full stretch.

I tried to calculate what this would come to, but it was too hard for me. Please make it out for me, dear Child who reads this!

“But you didn't leave the poor thing so short as that, did you?”

“Well, no. Sylvie and me took it back again and we got it stretched to--to--how much was it, Sylvie?”

“Two times and a half, and a little bit more,” said Sylvie.

“It wouldn't like that better than the other way, I'm afraid?”

“Oh, but it did though!” Bruno put in eagerly. “It were proud of its new tail! Oo never saw a Crocodile so proud! Why, it could go round and walk on the top of its tail, and along its back, all the way to its head!”

{Image...A changed crocodile}

“Not quite all the way,” said Sylvie. “It couldn't, you know.”

“Ah, but it did, once!” Bruno cried triumphantly. “Oo weren't looking--but I watched it. And it walked on tippiety-toe, so as it wouldn't wake itself, 'cause it thought it were asleep. And it got both its paws on its tail. And it walked and it walked all the way along its back. And it walked and it walked on its forehead. And it walked a tiny little way down its nose! There now!”

This was a good deal worse than the last puzzle. Please, dear Child, help again!

“I don't believe no Crocodile never walked along its own forehead!”

Sylvie cried, too much excited by the controversy to limit the number of

her negatives.

“Oo don't know the reason why it did it!” Bruno scornfully retorted. “It had a welly good reason. I heerd it say 'Why shouldn't I walk on my own forehead?' So a course it did, oo know!”

“If that's a good reason, Bruno,” I said, “why shouldn't you get up that tree?”

“Shall, in a minute,” said Bruno: “soon as we've done talking. Only two peoples ca'n't talk comfably togevver, when one's getting up a tree, and the other isn't!”

It appeared to me that a conversation would scarcely be 'comfable' while trees were being climbed, even if both the 'peoples' were doing it: but it was evidently dangerous to oppose any theory of Bruno's; so I thought it best to let the question drop, and to ask for an account of the machine that made things longer.

This time Bruno was at a loss, and left it to Sylvie. “It's like a mangle,” she said: “if things are put in, they get squoze--”

“Squeezeled!” Bruno interrupted.

“Yes.” Sylvie accepted the correction, but did not attempt to pronounce the word, which was evidently new to her. “They get--like that--and they come out, oh, ever so long!”

“Once,” Bruno began again, “Sylvie and me writed--”

“Wrote!” Sylvie whispered.

“Well, we wroted a Nursery-Song, and the Professor mangled it longer for us. It were 'There was a little Man, And he had a little gun, And the bullets--'”

“I know the rest,” I interrupted. “But would you say it long I mean the way that it came out of the mangle?”

“We'll get the Professor to sing it for you,” said Sylvie. “It would spoil it to say it.”

“I would like to meet the Professor,” I said. “And I would like to take you all with me, to see some friends of mine, that live near here. Would you like to come?”

“I don't think the Professor would like to come,” said Sylvie. “He's very shy. But we'd like it very much. Only we'd better not come this size, you know.”

The difficulty had occurred to me already: and I had felt that perhaps there would be a slight awkwardness in introducing two such tiny friends into Society. “What size will you be?” I enquired.

“We'd better come as--common children,” Sylvie thoughtfully replied. “That's the easiest size to manage.”

“Could you come to-day?” I said, thinking “then we could have you at the picnic!”

Sylvie considered a little. “Not to-day,” she replied. “We haven't got the things ready. We'll come on--Tuesday next, if you like. And now, really Bruno, you must come and do your lessons.”

“I wiss oo wouldn't say 'really Bruno!'” the little fellow pleaded, with pouting lips that made him look prettier than ever. “It always show's there's something horrid coming! And I won't kiss you, if you're so unkind.”

“Ah, but you have kissed me!” Sylvie exclaimed in merry triumph.

“Well then, I'll unkiss you!” And he threw his arms round her neck for this novel, but apparently not very painful, operation.

“It's very like kissing!” Sylvie remarked, as soon as her lips were again free for speech.

“Oo don't know nuffin about it! It were just the conkery!” Bruno replied with much severity, as he marched away.

Sylvie turned her laughing face to me. “Shall we come on Tuesday?” she said.

“Very well,” I said: “let it be Tuesday next. But where is the Professor? Did he come with you to Fairyland?”

“No,” said Sylvie. “But he promised he'd come and see us, some day. He's getting his Lecture ready. So he has to stay at home.”

“At home?” I said dreamily, not feeling quite sure what she had said.

“Yes, Sir. His Lordship and Lady Muriel are at home. Please to walk this way.”


Still more dreamily I found myself following this imperious voice into a room where the Earl, his daughter, and Arthur, were seated. “So you're come at last!” said Lady Muriel, in a tone of playful reproach.

“I was delayed,” I stammered. Though what it was that had delayed me I should have been puzzled to explain! Luckily no questions were asked.

The carriage was ordered round, the hamper, containing our contribution to the Picnic, was duly stowed away, and we set forth.

There was no need for me to maintain the conversation. Lady Muriel and Arthur were evidently on those most delightful of terms, where one has no need to check thought after thought, as it rises to the lips, with the fear 'this will not be appreciated--this will give' offence--this will sound too serious--this will sound flippant': like very old friends, in fullest sympathy, their talk rippled on.

“Why shouldn't we desert the Picnic and go in some other direction?” she suddenly suggested. “A party of four is surely self-sufficing? And as for food, our hamper--”

“Why shouldn't we? What a genuine lady's argument!” laughed Arthur. “A lady never knows on which side the onus probandi--the burden of proving--lies!”

“Do men always know?” she asked with a pretty assumption of meek docility.

“With one exception--the only one I can think of Dr. Watts, who has asked the senseless question,

   'Why should I deprive my neighbour
   Of his goods against his will?'

Fancy that as an argument for Honesty! His position seems to be 'I'm only honest because I see no reason to steal.' And the thief's answer is of course complete and crushing. 'I deprive my neighbour of his goods because I want them myself. And I do it against his will because there's no chance of getting him to consent to it!'”

“I can give you one other exception,” I said: “an argument I heard only to-day---and not by a lady. 'Why shouldn't I walk on my own forehead?'”

“What a curious subject for speculation!” said Lady Muriel, turning to me, with eyes brimming over with laughter. “May we know who propounded the question? And did he walk on his own forehead?”

“I ca'n't remember who it was that said it!” I faltered. “Nor where I heard it!”

“Whoever it was, I hope we shall meet him at the Picnic!” said Lady Muriel. “It's a far more interesting question than 'Isn't this a picturesque ruin?' Aren't those autumn-tints lovely?' I shall have to answer those two questions ten times, at least, this afternoon!”

“That's one of the miseries of Society!” said Arthur. “Why ca'n't people let one enjoy the beauties of Nature without having to say so every minute? Why should Life be one long Catechism?”

“It's just as bad at a picture-gallery,” the Earl remarked. “I went to the R.A. last May, with a conceited young artist: and he did torment me! I wouldn't have minded his criticizing the pictures himself: but I had to agree with him--or else to argue the point, which would have been worse!”

“It was depreciatory criticism, of course?” said Arthur.

“I don't see the 'of course' at all.”

“Why, did you ever know a conceited man dare to praise a picture? The one thing he dreads (next to not being noticed) is to be proved fallible! If you once praise a picture, your character for infallibility hangs by a thread. Suppose it's a figure-picture, and you venture to say 'draws well.' Somebody measures it, and finds one of the proportions an eighth of an inch wrong. You are disposed of as a critic! 'Did you say he draws well?' your friends enquire sarcastically, while you hang your head and blush. No. The only safe course, if any one says 'draws well,' is to shrug your shoulders. 'Draws well?' you repeat thoughtfully. 'Draws well? Humph!' That's the way to become a great critic!”

Thus airily chatting, after a pleasant drive through a few miles of beautiful scenery, we reached the rendezvous--a ruined castle--where the rest of the picnic-party were already assembled. We spent an hour or two in sauntering about the ruins: gathering at last, by common consent, into a few random groups, seated on the side of a mound, which commanded a good view of the old castle and its surroundings.

The momentary silence, that ensued, was promptly taken possession of or, more correctly, taken into custody--by a Voice; a voice so smooth, so monotonous, so sonorous, that one felt, with a shudder, that any other conversation was precluded, and that, unless some desperate remedy were adopted, we were fated to listen to a Lecture, of which no man could foresee the end!

The speaker was a broadly-built man, whose large, flat, pale face was bounded on the North by a fringe of hair, on the East and West by a fringe of whisker, and on the South by a fringe of beard--the whole constituting a uniform halo of stubbly whitey-brown bristles. His features were so entirely destitute of expression that I could not help saying to myself--helplessly, as if in the clutches of a night-mare--“they are only penciled in: no final touches as yet!” And he had a way of ending every sentence with a sudden smile, which spread like a ripple over that vast blank surface, and was gone in a moment, leaving behind it such absolute solemnity that I felt impelled to murmur “it was not he: it was somebody else that smiled!”

“Do you observe?” (such was the phrase with which the wretch began each sentence) “Do you observe the way in which that broken arch, at the very top of the ruin, stands out against the clear sky? It is placed exactly right: and there is exactly enough of it. A little more, or a little less, and all would be utterly spoiled!”

{Image...A lecture, on art}

“Oh gifted architect!” murmured Arthur, inaudibly to all but Lady Muriel and myself. “Foreseeing the exact effect his work would have, when in ruins, centuries after his death!”

“And do you observe, where those trees slope down the hill,” (indicating them with a sweep of the hand, and with all the patronising air of the man who has himself arranged the landscape), “how the mists rising from the river fill up exactly those intervals where we need indistinctness, for artistic effect? Here, in the foreground, a few clear touches are not amiss: but a back-ground without mist, you know! It is simply barbarous! Yes, we need indistinctness!”

The orator looked so pointedly at me as he uttered these words, that I felt bound to reply, by murmuring something to the effect that I hardly felt the need myself--and that I enjoyed looking at a thing, better, when I could see it.

“Quite so!” the great man sharply took me up. “From your point of view, that is correctly put. But for anyone who has a soul for Art, such a view is preposterous. Nature is one thing. Art is another. Nature shows us the world as it is. But Art--as a Latin author tells us--Art, you know the words have escaped my memory--”

“Ars est celare Naturam,” Arthur interposed with a delightful promptitude.

“Quite so!” the orator replied with an air of relief. “I thank you! Ars est celare Naturam but that isn't it.” And, for a few peaceful moments, the orator brooded, frowningly, over the quotation. The welcome opportunity was seized, and another voice struck into the silence.

“What a lovely old ruin it is!” cried a young lady in spectacles, the very embodiment of the March of Mind, looking at Lady Muriel, as the proper recipient of all really original remarks. “And don't you admire those autumn-tints on the trees? I do, intensely!”

Lady Muriel shot a meaning glance at me; but replied with admirable gravity. “Oh yes indeed, indeed! So true!”

“And isn't strange,” said the young lady, passing with startling suddenness from Sentiment to Science, “that the mere impact of certain coloured rays upon the Retina should give us such exquisite pleasure?”

“You have studied Physiology, then?” a certain young Doctor courteously enquired.

“Oh, yes! Isn't it a sweet Science?”

Arthur slightly smiled. “It seems a paradox, does it not,” he went on, “that the image formed on the Retina should be inverted?”

“It is puzzling,” she candidly admitted. “Why is it we do not see things upside-down?”

“You have never heard the Theory, then, that the Brain also is inverted?”

“No indeed! What a beautiful fact! But how is it proved?”

“Thus,” replied Arthur, with all the gravity of ten Professors rolled into one. “What we call the vertex of the Brain is really its base: and what we call its base is really its vertex: it is simply a question of nomenclature.”

This last polysyllable settled the matter.

“How truly delightful!” the fair Scientist exclaimed with enthusiasm. “I shall ask our Physiological Lecturer why he never gave us that exquisite Theory!”

“I'd give something to be present when the question is asked!” Arthur whispered to me, as, at a signal from Lady Muriel, we moved on to where the hampers had been collected, and devoted ourselves to the more substantial business of the day.

We 'waited' on ourselves, as the modern barbarism (combining two good things in such a way as to secure the discomforts of both and the advantages of neither) of having a picnic with servants to wait upon you, had not yet reached this out-of-the-way region--and of course the gentlemen did not even take their places until the ladies had been duly provided with all imaginable creature-comforts. Then I supplied myself with a plate of something solid and a glass of something fluid, and found a place next to Lady Muriel.

It had been left vacant--apparently for Arthur, as a distinguished stranger: but he had turned shy, and had placed himself next to the young lady in spectacles, whose high rasping voice had already cast loose upon Society such ominous phrases as “Man is a bundle of Qualities!”, “the Objective is only attainable through the Subjective!”. Arthur was bearing it bravely: but several faces wore a look of alarm, and I thought it high time to start some less metaphysical topic.

“In my nursery days,” I began, “when the weather didn't suit for an out-of-doors picnic, we were allowed to have a peculiar kind, that we enjoyed hugely. The table cloth was laid under the table, instead of upon it: we sat round it on the floor: and I believe we really enjoyed that extremely uncomfortable kind of dinner more than we ever did the orthodox arrangement!”

“I've no doubt of it,” Lady Muriel replied. “There's nothing a well-regulated child hates so much as regularity. I believe a really healthy boy would thoroughly enjoy Greek Grammar--if only he might stand on his head to learn it! And your carpet-dinner certainly spared you one feature of a picnic, which is to me its chief drawback.”

“The chance of a shower?” I suggested.

“No, the chance--or rather the certainty of live things occurring in combination with one's food! Spiders are my bugbear. Now my father has no sympathy with that sentiment--have you, dear?” For the Earl had caught the word and turned to listen.

“To each his sufferings, all are men,” he replied in the sweet sad tones that seemed natural to him: “each has his pet aversion.”

“But you'll never guess his!” Lady Muriel said, with that delicate silvery laugh that was music to my ears.

I declined to attempt the impossible.

“He doesn't like snakes!” she said, in a stage whisper. “Now, isn't that an unreasonable aversion? Fancy not liking such a dear, coaxingly, clingingly affectionate creature as a snake!”

“Not like snakes!” I exclaimed. “Is such a thing possible?”

“No, he doesn't like them,” she repeated with a pretty mock-gravity. “He's not afraid of them, you know. But he doesn't like them. He says they're too waggly!”

I was more startled than I liked to show. There was something so uncanny in this echo of the very words I had so lately heard from that little forest-sprite, that it was only by a great effort I succeeded in saying, carelessly, “Let us banish so unpleasant a topic. Won't you sing us something, Lady Muriel? I know you do sing without music.”

“The only songs I know--without music--are desperately sentimental, I'm afraid! Are your tears all ready?”

“Quite ready! Quite ready!” came from all sides, and Lady Muriel--not being one of those lady-singers who think it de rigueur to decline to sing till they have been petitioned three or four times, and have pleaded failure of memory, loss of voice, and other conclusive reasons for silence--began at once:--

{Image...'Three badgers on a mossy stone'}

    “There be three Badgers on a mossy stone,
    Beside a dark and covered way:
    Each dreams himself a monarch on his throne,
    And so they stay and stay
    Though their old Father languishes alone,
    They stay, and stay, and stay.
    “There be three Herrings loitering around,
    Longing to share that mossy seat:
    Each Herring tries to sing what she has found
    That makes Life seem so sweet.
    Thus, with a grating and uncertain sound,
    They bleat, and bleat, and bleat,
    “The Mother-Herring, on the salt sea-wave,
    Sought vainly for her absent ones:
    The Father-Badger, writhing in a cave,
    Shrieked out 'Return, my sons!
    You shalt have buns,' he shrieked, 'if you'll behave!
    Yea, buns, and buns, and buns!'
    “'I fear,' said she, 'your sons have gone astray?
    My daughters left me while I slept.'
    'Yes 'm,' the Badger said: 'it's as you say.'
    'They should be better kept.'
    Thus the poor parents talked the time away,
    And wept, and wept, and wept.”

Here Bruno broke off suddenly. “The Herrings' Song wants anuvver tune, Sylvie,” he said. “And I ca'n't sing it not wizout oo plays it for me!”

{Image...'Three badgers, writhing in a cave'}

Instantly Sylvie seated herself upon a tiny mushroom, that happened to grow in front of a daisy, as if it were the most ordinary musical instrument in the world, and played on the petals as if they were the notes of an organ. And such delicious tiny music it was! Such teeny-tiny music!

Bruno held his head on one side, and listened very gravely for a few moments until he had caught the melody. Then the sweet childish voice rang out once more:--

    “Oh, dear beyond our dearest dreams,
    Fairer than all that fairest seems!
    To feast the rosy hours away,
    To revel in a roundelay!
    How blest would be
    A life so free---
    Ipwergis-Pudding to consume,
    And drink the subtle Azzigoom!
    “And if in other days and hours,
    Mid other fluffs and other flowers,
    The choice were given me how to dine---
    'Name what thou wilt: it shalt be thine!'
    Oh, then I see
    The life for me
    Ipwergis-Pudding to consume,
    And drink the subtle Azzigoom!”

“Oo may leave off playing now, Sylvie. I can do the uvver tune much better wizout a compliment.”

“He means 'without accompaniment,'” Sylvie whispered, smiling at my puzzled look: and she pretended to shut up the stops of the organ.

   “The Badgers did not care to talk to Fish:
   They did not dote on Herrings' songs:
   They never had experienced the dish
   To which that name belongs:
   And oh, to pinch their tails,' (this was their wish,)
   'With tongs, yea, tongs, and tongs!'”

I ought to mention that he marked the parenthesis, in the air, with his finger. It seemed to me a very good plan. You know there's no sound to represent it--any more than there is for a question.

Suppose you have said to your friend “You are better to-day,” and that you want him to understand that you are asking him a question, what can be simpler than just to make a “?”. in the air with your finger? He would understand you in a moment!

{Image...'Those aged one waxed gay'}

    “'And are not these the Fish,' the Eldest sighed,
    'Whose Mother dwells beneath the foam'
    'They are the Fish!' the Second one replied.
    'And they have left their home!'
    'Oh wicked Fish,' the Youngest Badger cried,
    'To roam, yea, roam, and roam!'
    “Gently the Badgers trotted to the shore
    The sandy shore that fringed the bay:
    Each in his mouth a living Herring bore--
    Those aged ones waxed gay:
    Clear rang their voices through the ocean's roar,
    'Hooray, hooray, hooray!'”

“So they all got safe home again,” Bruno said, after waiting a minute to see if I had anything to say: he evidently felt that some remark ought to be made. And I couldn't help wishing there were some such rule in Society, at the conclusion of a song--that the singer herself should say the right thing, and not leave it to the audience. Suppose a young lady has just been warbling ['with a grating and uncertain sound') Shelley's exquisite lyric 'I arise from dreams of thee': how much nicer it would be, instead of your having to say “Oh, thank you, thank you!” for the young lady herself to remark, as she draws on her gloves, while the impassioned words 'Oh, press it to thine own, or it will break at last!' are still ringing in your ears, “--but she wouldn't do it, you know. So it did break at last.”

“And I knew it would!” she added quietly, as I started at the sudden crash of broken glass. “You've been holding it sideways for the last minute, and letting all the champagne run out! Were you asleep, I wonder? I'm so sorry my singing has such a narcotic effect!”


Lady Muriel was the speaker. And, for the moment, that was the only fact I could clearly realise. But how she came to be there and how I came to be there--and how the glass of champagne came to be there--all these were questions which I felt it better to think out in silence, and not commit myself to any statement till I understood things a little more clearly.

'First accumulate a mass of Facts: and then construct a Theory.' That, I believe, is the true Scientific Method. I sat up, rubbed my eyes, and began to accumulate Facts.

A smooth grassy slope, bounded, at the upper end, by venerable ruins half buried in ivy, at the lower, by a stream seen through arching trees--a dozen gaily-dressed people, seated in little groups here and there--some open hampers--the debris of a picnic--such were the Facts accumulated by the Scientific Researcher. And now, what deep, far-reaching Theory was he to construct from them? The Researcher found himself at fault. Yet stay! One Fact had escaped his notice. While all the rest were grouped in twos and in threes, Arthur was alone: while all tongues were talking, his was silent: while all faces were gay, his was gloomy and despondent. Here was a Fact indeed! The Researcher felt that a Theory must be constructed without delay.

Lady Muriel had just risen and left the party. Could that be the cause of his despondency? The Theory hardly rose to the dignity of a Working Hypothesis. Clearly more Facts were needed.

The Researcher looked round him once more: and now the Facts accumulated in such bewildering profusion, that the Theory was lost among them. For Lady Muriel had gone to meet a strange gentleman, just visible in the distance: and now she was returning with him, both of them talking eagerly and joyfully, like old friends who have been long parted: and now she was moving from group to group, introducing the new hero of the hour: and he, young, tall, and handsome, moved gracefully at her side, with the erect bearing and firm tread of a soldier. Verily, the Theory looked gloomy for Arthur! His eye caught mine, and he crossed to me.

“He is very handsome,” I said.

“Abominably handsome!” muttered Arthur: then smiled at his own bitter words. “Lucky no one heard me but you!”

“Doctor Forester,” said Lady Muriel, who had just joined us, “let me introduce to you my cousin Eric Lindon Captain Lindon, I should say.”

Arthur shook off his ill-temper instantly and completely, as he rose and gave the young soldier his hand. “I have heard of you,” he said. “I'm very glad to make the acquaintance of Lady Muriel's cousin.”

“Yes, that's all I'm distinguished for, as yet!” said Eric (so we soon got to call him) with a winning smile. “And I doubt,” glancing at Lady Muriel, “if it even amounts to a good-conduct-badge! But it's something to begin with.”

“You must come to my father, Eric,” said Lady Muriel. “I think he's wandering among the ruins.” And the pair moved on.

The gloomy look returned to Arthur's face: and I could see it was only to distract his thoughts that he took his place at the side of the metaphysical young lady, and resumed their interrupted discussion.

“Talking of Herbert Spencer,” he began, “do you really find no logical difficulty in regarding Nature as a process of involution, passing from definite coherent homogeneity to indefinite incoherent heterogeneity?”

Amused as I was at the ingenious jumble he had made of Spencer's words, I kept as grave a face as I could.

“No physical difficulty,” she confidently replied: “but I haven't studied Logic much. Would you state the difficulty?”

“Well,” said Arthur, “do you accept it as self-evident? Is it as obvious, for instance, as that 'things that are greater than the same are greater than one another'?”

“To my mind,” she modestly replied, “it seems quite as obvious. I grasp both truths by intuition. But other minds may need some logical--I forget the technical terms.”

“For a complete logical argument,” Arthur began with admirable solemnity, “we need two prim Misses--”

“Of course!” she interrupted. “I remember that word now. And they produce--?”

“A Delusion,” said Arthur.

“Ye--es?” she said dubiously. “I don't seem to remember that so well. But what is the whole argument called?”

“A Sillygism?

“Ah, yes! I remember now. But I don't need a Sillygism, you know, to prove that mathematical axiom you mentioned.”

“Nor to prove that 'all angles are equal', I suppose?”

“Why, of course not! One takes such a simple truth as that for granted!”

Here I ventured to interpose, and to offer her a plate of strawberries and cream. I felt really uneasy at the thought that she might detect the trick: and I contrived, unperceived by her, to shake my head reprovingly at the pseudo-philosopher. Equally unperceived by her, Arthur slightly raised his shoulders, and spread his hands abroad, as who should say “What else can I say to her?” and moved away, leaving her to discuss her strawberries by 'involution,' or any other way she preferred.

By this time the carriages, that were to convey the revelers to their respective homes, had begun to assemble outside the Castle-grounds: and it became evident--now that Lady Muriel's cousin had joined our party that the problem, how to convey five people to Elveston, with a carriage that would only hold four, must somehow be solved.

The Honorable Eric Lindon, who was at this moment walking up and down with Lady Muriel, might have solved it at once, no doubt, by announcing his intention of returning on foot. Of this solution there did not seem to be the very smallest probability.

The next best solution, it seemed to me, was that I should walk home: and this I at once proposed.

“You're sure you don't mind?” said the Earl. “I'm afraid the carriage wont take us all, and I don't like to suggest to Eric to desert his cousin so soon.”

“So far from minding it,” I said, “I should prefer it. It will give me time to sketch this beautiful old ruin.”

“I'll keep you company,” Arthur suddenly said. And, in answer to what I suppose was a look of surprise on my face, he said in a low voice, “I really would rather. I shall be quite de trop in the carriage!”

“I think I'll walk too,” said the Earl. “You'll have to be content with Eric as your escort,” he added, to Lady Muriel, who had joined us while he was speaking.

“You must be as entertaining as Cerberus--'three gentlemen rolled into one'--” Lady Muriel said to her companion. “It will be a grand military exploit!”

“A sort of Forlorn Hope?” the Captain modestly suggested.

“You do pay pretty compliments!” laughed his fair cousin. “Good day to you, gentlemen three--or rather deserters three!” And the two young folk entered the carriage and were driven away.

“How long will your sketch take?” said Arthur.

“Well,” I said, “I should like an hour for it. Don't you think you had better go without me? I'll return by train. I know there's one in about an hour's time.”

“Perhaps that would be best,” said the Earl. “The Station is quite close.”

So I was left to my own devices, and soon found a comfortable seat, at the foot of a tree, from which I had a good view of the ruins.

“It is a very drowsy day,” I said to myself, idly turning over the leaves of the sketch-book to find a blank page. “Why, I thought you were a mile off by this time!” For, to my surprise, the two walkers were back again.

“I came back to remind you,” Arthur said, “that the trains go every ten minutes--”

“Nonsense!” I said. “It isn't the Metropolitan Railway!”

“It is the Metropolitan Railway,” the Earl insisted. “'This is a part of Kensington.”

“Why do you talk with your eyes shut?” said Arthur. “Wake up!”

“I think it's the heat makes me so drowsy,” I said, hoping, but not feeling quite sure, that I was talking sense. “Am I awake now?”

“I think not,” the Earl judicially pronounced. “What do you think, Doctor? He's only got one eye open!”

“And he's snoring like anything!” cried Bruno. “Do wake up, you dear old thing!” And he and Sylvie set to work, rolling the heavy head from side to side, as if its connection with the shoulders was a matter of no sort of importance.

And at last the Professor opened his eyes, and sat up, blinking at us with eyes of utter bewilderment. “Would you have the kindness to mention,” he said, addressing me with his usual old-fashioned courtesy, “whereabouts we are just now and who we are, beginning with me?”

I thought it best to begin with the children. “This is Sylvie. Sir; and this is Bruno.”

“Ah, yes! I know them well enough!” the old man murmured. “Its myself I'm most anxious about. And perhaps you'll be good enough to mention, at the same time, how I got here?”

“A harder problem occurs to me,” I ventured to say: “and that is, how you're to get back again.”

“True, true!” the Professor replied. “That's the Problem, no doubt. Viewed as a Problem, outside of oneself, it is a most interesting one. Viewed as a portion of one's own biography, it is, I must admit, very distressing!” He groaned, but instantly added, with a chuckle, “As to myself, I think you mentioned that I am--”

“Oo're the Professor!” Bruno shouted in his ear. “Didn't oo know that? Oo've come from Outland! And it's ever so far away from here!”

The Professor leapt to his feet with the agility of a boy. “Then there's no time to lose!” he exclaimed anxiously. “I'll just ask this guileless peasant, with his brace of buckets that contain (apparently) water, if he'll be so kind as to direct us. Guileless peasant!” he proceeded in a louder voice. “Would you tell us the way to Outland?”

The guileless peasant turned with a sheepish grin. “Hey?” was all he said.

“The way--to--Outland!” the Professor repeated.

The guileless peasant set down his buckets and considered. “Ah dunnot--”

“I ought to mention,” the Professor hastily put in, “that whatever you say will be used in evidence against you.”

The guileless peasant instantly resumed his buckets. “Then ah says nowt!” he answered briskly, and walked away at a great pace.

The children gazed sadly at the rapidly vanishing figure. “He goes very quick!” the Professor said with a sigh. “But I know that was the right thing to say. I've studied your English Laws. However, let's ask this next man that's coming. He is not guileless, and he is not a peasant--but I don't know that either point is of vital importance.”

It was, in fact, the Honourable Eric Lindon, who had apparently fulfilled his task of escorting Lady Muriel home, and was now strolling leisurely up and down the road outside the house, enjoying; a solitary cigar.

“Might I trouble you, Sir, to tell us the nearest way to Outland!”

Oddity as he was, in outward appearance, the Professor was, in that

essential nature which no outward disguise could conceal, a thorough gentleman.

And, as such, Eric Lindon accepted him instantly. He took the cigar from his mouth, and delicately shook off the ash, while he considered. “The name sounds strange to me,” he said. “I doubt if I can help you?'

“It is not very far from Fairyland,” the Professor suggested.

Eric Lindon's eye-brows were slightly raised at these words, and an amused smile, which he courteously tried to repress, flitted across his handsome face: “A trifle cracked!” he muttered to himself. “But what a jolly old patriarch it is!” Then he turned to the children. “And ca'n't you help him, little folk?” he said, with a gentleness of tone that seemed to win their hearts at once. “Surely you know all about it?

   'How many miles to Babylon?
   Three-score miles and ten.
   Can I get there by candlelight?
   Yes, and back again!'”

To my surprise, Bruno ran forwards to him, as if he were some old friend of theirs, seized the disengaged hand and hung on to it with both of his own: and there stood this tall dignified officer in the middle of the road, gravely swinging a little boy to and fro, while Sylvie stood ready to push him, exactly as if a real swing had suddenly been provided for their pastime.

“We don't want to get to Babylon, oo know!” Bruno explained as he swung.

“And it isn't candlelight: it's daylight!” Sylvie added, giving the swing a push of extra vigour, which nearly took the whole machine off its balance.

By this time it was clear to me that Eric Lindon was quite unconscious of my presence. Even the Professor and the children seemed to have lost sight of me: and I stood in the midst of the group, as unconcernedly as a ghost, seeing but unseen.

“How perfectly isochronous!” the Professor exclaimed with enthusiasm. He had his watch in his hand, and was carefully counting Bruno's oscillations. “He measures time quite as accurately as a pendulum!”

{Image...'How perfectly isochronous!'}

“Yet even pendulums,” the good-natured young soldier observed, as he carefully released his hand from Bruno's grasp, “are not a joy for ever! Come, that's enough for one bout, little man!' Next time we meet, you shall have another. Meanwhile you'd better take this old gentleman to Queer Street, Number--”

“We'll find it!” cried Bruno eagerly, as they dragged the Professor away.

“We are much indebted to you!” the Professor said, looking over his shoulder.

“Don't mention it!” replied the officer, raising his hat as a parting salute.

“What number did you say!” the Professor called from the distance.

The officer made a trumpet of his two hands. “Forty!” he shouted in stentorian tones. “And not piano, by any means!” he added to himself. “It's a mad world, my masters, a mad world!” He lit another cigar, and strolled on towards his hotel.

“What a lovely evening!” I said, joining him as he passed me.

“Lovely indeed,” he said. “Where did you come from? Dropped from the clouds?”

“I'm strolling your way,” I said; and no further explanation seemed necessary.

“Have a cigar?”

“Thanks: I'm not a smoker.”

“Is there a Lunatic Asylum near here?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Thought there might be. Met a lunatic just now. Queer old fish as ever I saw!”

And so, in friendly chat, we took our homeward ways, and wished each other 'good-night' at the door of his hotel.

Left to myself, I felt the 'eerie' feeling rush over me again, and saw, standing at the door of Number Forty, the three figures I knew so well.

“Then it's the wrong house?” Bruno was saying.

“No, no! It's the right house,” the Professor cheerfully replied: “but it's the wrong street. That's where we've made our mistake! Our best plan, now, will be to--”

It was over. The street was empty, Commonplace life was around me, and the 'eerie' feeling had fled.


The week passed without any further communication with the 'Hall,' as Arthur was evidently fearful that we might 'wear out our welcome'; but when, on Sunday morning, we were setting out for church, I gladly agreed to his proposal to go round and enquire after the Earl, who was said to be unwell.

Eric, who was strolling in the garden, gave us a good report of the invalid, who was still in bed, with Lady Muriel in attendance.

“Are you coming with us to church?” I enquired.

“Thanks, no,” he courteously replied. “It's not--exactly in my line, you know. It's an excellent institution--for the poor. When I'm with my own folk, I go, just to set them an example. But I'm not known here: so I think I'll excuse myself sitting out a sermon. Country-preachers are always so dull!”

Arthur was silent till we were out of hearing. Then he said to himself, almost inaudibly, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

“Yes,” I assented: “no doubt that is the principle on which church-going rests.”

“And when he does go,” he continued (our thoughts ran so much together, that our conversation was often slightly elliptical), “I suppose he repeats the words 'I believe in the Communion of Saints'?”

But by this time we had reached the little church, into which a goodly stream of worshipers, consisting mainly of fishermen and their families, was flowing.

The service would have been pronounced by any modern aesthetic religionist--or religious aesthete, which is it?--to be crude and cold: to me, coming fresh from the ever-advancing developments of a London church under a soi-disant 'Catholic' Rector, it was unspeakably refreshing.

There was no theatrical procession of demure little choristers, trying their best not to simper under the admiring gaze of the congregation: the people's share in the service was taken by the people themselves, unaided, except that a few good voices, judiciously posted here and there among them, kept the singing from going too far astray.

There was no murdering of the noble music, contained in the Bible and the Liturgy, by its recital in a dead monotone, with no more expression than a mechanical talking-doll.

No, the prayers were prayed, the lessons were read, and best of all the sermon was talked; and I found myself repeating, as we left the church, the words of Jacob, when he 'awaked out of his sleep.' “'Surely the Lord is in this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.'”

“Yes,” said Arthur, apparently in answer to my thoughts, “those 'high' services are fast becoming pure Formalism. More and more the people are beginning to regard them as 'performances,' in which they only 'assist' in the French sense. And it is specially bad for the little boys. They'd be much less self-conscious as pantomime-fairies. With all that dressing-up, and stagy-entrances and exits, and being always en evidence, no wonder if they're eaten up with vanity, the blatant little coxcombs!”

When we passed the Hall on our return, we found the Earl and Lady Muriel sitting out in the garden. Eric had gone for a stroll.

We joined them, and the conversation soon turned on the sermon we had just heard, the subject of which was 'selfishness.'

“What a change has come over our pulpits,” Arthur remarked, “since the time when Paley gave that utterly selfish definition of virtue, 'the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness'!”

Lady Muriel looked at him enquiringly, but she seemed to have learned by intuition, what years of experience had taught me, that the way to elicit Arthur's deepest thoughts was neither to assent nor dissent, but simply to listen.

“At that time,” he went on, “a great tidal wave of selfishness was sweeping over human thought. Right and Wrong had somehow been transformed into Gain and Loss, and Religion had become a sort of commercial transaction. We may be thankful that our preachers are beginning to take a nobler view of life.”

“But is it not taught again and again in the Bible?” I ventured to ask.

“Not in the Bible as a whole,” said Arthur. “In the Old Testament, no doubt, rewards and punishments are constantly appealed to as motives for action. That teaching is best for children, and the Israelites seem to have been, mentally, utter children. We guide our children thus, at first: but we appeal, as soon as possible, to their innate sense of Right and Wrong: and, when that stage is safely past, we appeal to the highest motive of all, the desire for likeness to, and union with, the Supreme Good. I think you will find that to be the teaching of the Bible, as a whole, beginning with 'that thy days may be long in the land,' and ending with 'be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'”

We were silent for awhile, and then Arthur went off on another tack. “Look at the literature of Hymns, now. How cankered it is, through and through, with selfishness! There are few human compositions more utterly degraded than some modern Hymns!”

I quoted the stanza

   “Whatever, Lord, we tend to Thee,
   Repaid a thousandfold shall be,
   Then gladly will we give to Thee,
   Giver of all!'

“Yes,” he said grimly: “that is the typical stanza. And the very last charity-sermon I heard was infected with it. After giving many good reasons for charity, the preacher wound up with 'and, for all you give, you will be repaid a thousandfold!' Oh the utter meanness of such a motive, to be put before men who do know what self-sacrifice is, who can appreciate generosity and heroism! Talk of Original Sin!” he went on with increasing bitterness. “Can you have a stronger proof of the Original Goodness there must be in this nation, than the fact that Religion has been preached to us, as a commercial speculation, for a century, and that we still believe in a God?”

“It couldn't have gone on so long,” Lady Muriel musingly remarked, “if the Opposition hadn't been practically silenced--put under what the French call la cloture. Surely in any lecture-hall, or in private society, such teaching would soon have been hooted down?”

“I trust so,” said Arthur: “and, though I don't want to see 'brawling in church' legalised, I must say that our preachers enjoy an enormous privilege--which they ill deserve, and which they misuse terribly. We put our man into a pulpit, and we virtually tell him 'Now, you may stand there and talk to us for half-an-hour. We won't interrupt you by so much as a word! You shall have it all your own way!' And what does he give us in return? Shallow twaddle, that, if it were addressed to you over a dinner-table, you would think 'Does the man take me for a fool?'”

The return of Eric from his walk checked the tide of Arthur's eloquence, and, after a few minutes' talk on more conventional topics, we took our leave. Lady Muriel walked with us to the gate. “You have given me much to think about,” she said earnestly, as she gave Arthur her hand. “I'm so glad you came in!” And her words brought a real glow of pleasure into that pale worn face of his.

On the Tuesday, as Arthur did not seem equal to more walking, I took a long stroll by myself, having stipulated that he was not to give the whole day to his books, but was to meet me at the Hall at about tea-time. On my way back, I passed the Station just as the afternoon-train came in sight, and sauntered down the stairs to see it come in. But there was little to gratify my idle curiosity: and, when the train was empty, and the platform clear, I found it was about time to be moving on, if I meant to reach the Hall by five.

As I approached the end of the platform, from which a steep irregular wooden staircase conducted to the upper world, I noticed two passengers, who had evidently arrived by the train, but who, oddly enough, had entirely escaped my notice, though the arrivals had been so few. They were a young woman and a little girl: the former, so far as one could judge by appearances, was a nursemaid, or possibly a nursery-governess, in attendance on the child, whose refined face, even more than her dress, distinguished her as of a higher class than her companion.

The child's face was refined, but it was also a worn and sad one, and told a tale (or so I seemed to read it) of much illness and suffering, sweetly and patiently borne. She had a little crutch to help herself along with: and she was now standing, looking wistfully up the long staircase, and apparently waiting till she could muster courage to begin the toilsome ascent.

There are some things one says in life--as well as things one does--which come automatically, by reflex action, as the physiologists say (meaning, no doubt, action without reflection, just as lucus is said to be derived 'a non lucendo'). Closing one's eyelids, when something seems to be flying into the eye, is one of those actions, and saying “May I carry the little girl up the stairs?” was another. It wasn't that any thought of offering help occurred to me, and that then I spoke: the first intimation I had, of being likely to make that offer, was the sound of my own voice, and the discovery that the offer had been made. The servant paused, doubtfully glancing from her charge to me, and then back again to the child. “Would you like it, dear?” she asked her. But no such doubt appeared to cross the child's mind: she lifted her arms eagerly to be taken up. “Please!” was all she said, while a faint smile flickered on the weary little face. I took her up with scrupulous care, and her little arm was at once clasped trustfully round my neck.

{Image...The lame child}

She was a very light weight--so light, in fact, that the ridiculous idea crossed my mind that it was rather easier going up, with her in my arms, than it would have been without her: and, when we reached the road above, with its cart-ruts and loose stones--all formidable obstacles for a lame child--I found that I had said “I'd better carry her over this rough place,” before I had formed any mental connection between its roughness and my gentle little burden. “Indeed it's troubling you too much, Sir!” the maid exclaimed. “She can walk very well on the flat.”

But the arm, that was twined about my neck, clung just an atom more

closely at the suggestion, and decided me to say “She's no weight, really. I'll carry her a little further. I'm going your way.”

The nurse raised no further objection: and the next speaker was a ragged little boy, with bare feet, and a broom over his shoulder, who ran across the road, and pretended to sweep the perfectly dry road in front of us. “Give us a 'ap'ny!” the little urchin pleaded, with a broad grin on his dirty face.

“Don't give him a 'ap'ny!” said the little lady in my arms. The words sounded harsh: but the tone was gentleness itself. “He's an idle little boy!” And she laughed a laugh of such silvery sweetness as I had never yet heard from any lips but Sylvie's. To my astonishment, the boy actually joined in the laugh, as if there were some subtle sympathy between them, as he ran away down the road and vanished through a gap in the hedge.

But he was back in a few moments, having discarded his broom and provided himself, from some mysterious source, with an exquisite bouquet of flowers. “Buy a posy, buy a posy! Only a 'ap'ny!” he chanted, with the melancholy drawl of a professional beggar.

“Don't buy it!” was Her Majesty's edict as she looked down, with a lofty scorn that seemed curiously mixed with tender interest, on the ragged creature at her feet.

But this time I turned rebel, and ignored the royal commands. Such lovely flowers, and of forms so entirely new to me, were not to be abandoned at the bidding of any little maid, however imperious. I bought the bouquet: and the little boy, after popping the halfpenny into his mouth, turned head-over-heels, as if to ascertain whether the human mouth is really adapted to serve as a money-box.

With wonder, that increased every moment, I turned over the flowers, and examined them one by one: there was not a single one among them that I could remember having ever seen before. At last I turned to the nursemaid. “Do these flowers grow wild about here? I never saw--” but the speech died away on my lips. The nursemaid had vanished!

“You can put me down, now, if you like,” Sylvie quietly remarked.

I obeyed in silence, and could only ask myself “Is this a dream?”, on finding Sylvie and Bruno walking one on either side of me, and clinging to my hands with the ready confidence of childhood.

“You're larger than when I saw you last!” I began. “Really I think we ought to be introduced again! There's so much of you that I never met before, you know.”

“Very well!” Sylvie merrily replied. “This is Bruno. It doesn't take long. He's only got one name!”

“There's another name to me!” Bruno protested, with a reproachful look at the Mistress of the Ceremonies. “And it's--' Esquire'!”

“Oh, of course. I forgot,” said Sylvie. “Bruno--Esquire!”

“And did you come here to meet me, my children?” I enquired.

“You know I said we'd come on Tuesday,” Sylvie explained. “Are we the proper size for common children?”

“Quite the right size for children,” I replied, (adding mentally “though not common children, by any means!”) “But what became of the nursemaid?”

“It are gone!” Bruno solemnly replied.

“Then it wasn't solid, like Sylvie and you?”

“No. Oo couldn't touch it, oo know. If oo walked at it, oo'd go right froo!”

“I quite expected you'd find it out, once,” said Sylvie. “Bruno ran it against a telegraph post, by accident. And it went in two halves. But you were looking the other way.”

I felt that I had indeed missed an opportunity: to witness such an event as a nursemaid going 'in two halves' does not occur twice in a life-time!

“When did oo guess it were Sylvie?” Bruno enquired.

{Image...'It went in two halves'}

“I didn't guess it, till it was Sylvie,” I said. “But how did you manage the nursemaid?”

“Bruno managed it,” said Sylvie. “It's called a Phlizz.”

“And how do you make a Phlizz, Bruno?”

“The Professor teached me how,” said Bruno. “First oo takes a lot of air--”

“Oh, Bruno!” Sylvie interposed. “The Professor said you weren't to tell!”

“But who did her voice?” I asked.

“Indeed it's troubling you too much, Sir! She can walk very well on the flat.”

Bruno laughed merrily as I turned hastily from side to side, looking in all directions for the speaker. “That were me!” he gleefully proclaimed, in his own voice.

“She can indeed walk very well on the flat,” I said. “And I think I was the Flat.”

By this time we were near the Hall. “This is where my friends live,” I said. “Will you come in and have some tea with them?”

Bruno gave a little jump of joy: and Sylvie said “Yes, please. You'd like some tea, Bruno, wouldn't you? He hasn't tasted tea,” she explained to me, “since we left Outland.”

“And that weren't good tea!” said Bruno. “It were so welly weak!”


Lady Muriel's smile of welcome could not quite conceal the look of surprise with which she regarded my new companions.

I presented them in due form. “This is Sylvie, Lady Muriel. And this is Bruno.”

“Any surname?” she enquired, her eyes twinkling with fun.

“No,” I said gravely. “No surname.”

She laughed, evidently thinking I said it in fun; and stooped to kiss the children a salute to which Bruno submitted with reluctance: Sylvie returned it with interest.

While she and Arthur (who had arrived before me) supplied the children with tea and cake, I tried to engage the Earl in conversation: but he was restless and distrait, and we made little progress. At last, by a sudden question, he betrayed the cause of his disquiet.

“Would you let me look at those flowers you have in your hand?”

“Willingly!” I said, handing him the bouquet. Botany was, I knew, a favourite study of his: and these flowers were to me so entirely new and mysterious, that I was really curious to see what a botanist would say of them.

They did not diminish his disquiet. On the contrary, he became every moment more excited as he turned them over. “These are all from Central India!” he said, laying aside part of the bouquet. “They are rare, even there: and I have never seen them in any other part of the world. These two are Mexican--This one--” (He rose hastily, and carried it to the window, to examine it in a better light, the flush of excitement mounting to his very forehead) “--is, I am nearly sure--but I have a book of Indian Botany here--” He took a volume from the book-shelves, and turned the leaves with trembling fingers. “Yes! Compare it with this picture! It is the exact duplicate! This is the flower of the Upas-tree, which usually grows only in the depths of forests; and the flower fades so quickly after being plucked, that it is scarcely possible to keep its form or colour even so far as the outskirts of the forest! Yet this is in full bloom! Where did you get these flowers?” he added with breathless eagerness.

I glanced at Sylvie, who, gravely and silently, laid her finger on her lips, then beckoned to Bruno to follow her, and ran out into the garden; and I found myself in the position of a defendant whose two most important witnesses have been suddenly taken away. “Let me give you the flowers!” I stammered out at last, quite 'at my wit's end' as to how to get out of the difficulty. “You know much more about them than I do!”

“I accept them most gratefully! But you have not yet told me--” the Earl was beginning, when we were interrupted, to my great relief, by the arrival of Eric Lindon.

To Arthur, however, the new-comer was, I saw clearly, anything but welcome. His face clouded over: he drew a little back from the circle, and took no further part in the conversation, which was wholly maintained, for some minutes, by Lady Muriel and her lively cousin, who were discussing some new music that had just arrived from London.

“Do just try this one!” he pleaded. “The music looks easy to sing at sight, and the song's quite appropriate to the occasion.”

“Then I suppose it's

   'Five o'clock tea!
   Ever to thee
   Faithful I'll be,
   Five o'clock tea!”'

laughed Lady Muriel, as she sat down to the piano, and lightly struck a few random chords.

“Not quite: and yet it is a kind of 'ever to thee faithful I'll be!' It's a pair of hapless lovers: he crosses the briny deep: and she is left lamenting.”

“That is indeed appropriate!” she replied mockingly, as he placed the song before her. “And am I to do the lamenting? And who for, if you please?”

She played the air once or twice through, first in quick, and finally in slow, time; and then gave us the whole song with as much graceful ease as if she had been familiar with it all her life:--

   “He stept so lightly to the land,
   All in his manly pride:
   He kissed her cheek, he pressed her hand,
   Yet still she glanced aside.
   'Too gay he seems,' she darkly dreams,
   'Too gallant and too gay
   To think of me--poor simple me---
   When he is far away!'
   'I bring my Love this goodly pearl
   Across the seas,' he said:
   'A gem to deck the dearest girl
   That ever sailor wed!'
   She clasps it tight: her eyes are bright:
   Her throbbing heart would say
   'He thought of me--he thought of me---
   When he was far away!'
   The ship has sailed into the West:
   Her ocean-bird is flown:
   A dull dead pain is in her breast,
   And she is weak and lone:
   Yet there's a smile upon her face,
   A smile that seems to say
   'He'll think of me he'll think of me---
   When he is far away!
   'Though waters wide between us glide,
   Our lives are warm and near:
   No distance parts two faithful hearts
   Two hearts that love so dear:
   And I will trust my sailor-lad,
   For ever and a day,
   To think of me--to think of me---
   When he is far away!'”

The look of displeasure, which had begun to come over Arthur's face when the young Captain spoke of Love so lightly, faded away as the song proceeded, and he listened with evident delight. But his face darkened again when Eric demurely remarked “Don't you think 'my soldier-lad' would have fitted the tune just as well!”

“Why, so it would!” Lady Muriel gaily retorted. “Soldiers, sailors, tinkers, tailors, what a lot of words would fit in! I think 'my tinker-lad' sounds best. Don't you?”

To spare my friend further pain, I rose to go, just as the Earl was beginning to repeat his particularly embarrassing question about the flowers.

“You have not yet--'

“Yes, I've had some tea, thank you!” I hastily interrupted him. “And now we really must be going. Good evening, Lady Muriel!” And we made our adieux, and escaped, while the Earl was still absorbed in examining the mysterious bouquet.

Lady Muriel accompanied us to the door. “You couldn't have given my father a more acceptable present!” she said, warmly. “He is so passionately fond of Botany. I'm afraid I know nothing of the theory of it, but I keep his Hortus Siccus in order. I must get some sheets of blotting-paper, and dry these new treasures for him before they fade.

“That won't be no good at all!” said Bruno, who was waiting for us in the garden.

“Why won't it?” said I. “You know I had to give the flowers, to stop questions?”

“Yes, it ca'n't be helped,” said Sylvie: “but they will be sorry when they find them gone!”

“But how will they go?”

“Well, I don't know how. But they will go. The nosegay was only a Phlizz, you know. Bruno made it up.”

These last words were in a whisper, as she evidently did not wish Arthur to hear. But of this there seemed to be little risk: he hardly seemed to notice the children, but paced on, silent and abstracted; and when, at the entrance to the wood, they bid us a hasty farewell and ran off, he seemed to wake out of a day-dream.

The bouquet vanished, as Sylvie had predicted; and when, a day or two afterwards, Arthur and I once more visited the Hall, we found the Earl and his daughter, with the old housekeeper, out in the garden, examining the fastenings of the drawing-room window.

“We are holding an Inquest,” Lady Muriel said, advancing to meet us: “and we admit you, as Accessories before the Fact, to tell us all you know about those flowers.”

“The Accessories before the Fact decline to answer any questions,” I gravely replied. “And they reserve their defence.”

“Well then, turn Queen's Evidence, please! The flowers have disappeared in the night,” she went on, turning to Arthur, “and we are quite sure no one in the house has meddled with them. Somebody must have entered by the window--”

“But the fastenings have not been tampered with,” said the Earl.

“It must have been while you were dining, my Lady,” said the housekeeper.

“That was it,” said the Earl. “The thief must have seen you bring the flowers,” turning to me, “and have noticed that you did not take them away. And he must have known their great value--they are simply priceless!” he exclaimed, in sudden excitement.

“And you never told us how you got them!” said Lady Muriel.

“Some day,” I stammered, “I may be free to tell you. Just now, would you excuse me?”

The Earl looked disappointed, but kindly said “Very well, we will ask no questions.”

{Image...Five o'clock tea}

“But we consider you a very bad Queen's Evidence,” Lady Muriel added playfully, as we entered the arbour. “We pronounce you to be an accomplice: and we sentence you to solitary confinement, and to be fed on bread and butter. Do you take sugar?”

“It is disquieting, certainly,” she resumed, when all 'creature-comforts' had been duly supplied, “to find that the house has been entered by a thief in this out-of-the-way place. If only the flowers had been eatables, one might have suspected a thief of quite another shape--”

“You mean that universal explanation for all mysterious disappearances, 'the cat did it'?” said Arthur.

“Yes,” she replied. “What a convenient thing it would be if all thieves had the same shape! It's so confusing to have some of them quadrupeds and others bipeds!”

“It has occurred to me,” said Arthur, “as a curious problem in Teleology--the Science of Final Causes,” he added, in answer to an enquiring look from Lady Muriel.

“And a Final Cause is--?”

“Well, suppose we say--the last of a series of connected events--each of the series being the cause of the next--for whose sake the first event takes place.”

“But the last event is practically an effect of the first, isn't it? And yet you call it a cause of it!”

Arthur pondered a moment. “The words are rather confusing, I grant you,”

he said. “Will this do? The last event is an effect of the first: but

the necessity for that event is a cause of the necessity for the first.”

“That seems clear enough,” said Lady Muriel. “Now let us have the problem.”

“It's merely this. What object can we imagine in the arrangement by which each different size (roughly speaking) of living creatures has its special shape? For instance, the human race has one kind of shape--bipeds. Another set, ranging from the lion to the mouse, are quadrupeds. Go down a step or two further, and you come to insects with six legs--hexapods--a beautiful name, is it not? But beauty, in our sense of the word, seems to diminish as we go down: the creature becomes more--I won't say 'ugly' of any of God's creatures--more uncouth. And, when we take the microscope, and go a few steps lower still, we come upon animalculae, terribly uncouth, and with a terrible number of legs!”

“The other alternative,” said the Earl, “would be a diminuendo series of repetitions of the same type. Never mind the monotony of it: let's see how it would work in other ways. Begin with the race of men, and the creatures they require: let us say horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs--we don't exactly require frogs and spiders, do we, Muriel?”

Lady Muriel shuddered perceptibly: it was evidently a painful subject. “We can dispense with them,” she said gravely.

“Well, then we'll have a second race of men, half-a-yard high--”

“--who would have one source of exquisite enjoyment, not possessed by ordinary men!” Arthur interrupted.

“What source?” said the Earl.

“Why, the grandeur of scenery! Surely the grandeur of a mountain, to me, depends on its size, relative to me? Double the height of the mountain, and of course it's twice as grand. Halve my height, and you produce the same effect.”

“Happy, happy, happy Small!” Lady Muriel murmured rapturously. “None but the Short, none but the Short, none but the Short enjoy the Tall!”

“But let me go on,” said the Earl. “We'll have a third race of men, five inches high; a fourth race, an inch high--”

“They couldn't eat common beef and mutton, I'm sure!” Lady Muriel interrupted.

“True, my child, I was forgetting. Each set must have its own cattle and sheep.”

“And its own vegetation,” I added. “What could a cow, an inch high, do with grass that waved far above its head?”

“That is true. We must have a pasture within a pasture, so to speak. The common grass would serve our inch-high cows as a green forest of palms, while round the root of each tall stem would stretch a tiny carpet of microscopic grass. Yes, I think our scheme will work fairly well. And it would be very interesting, coming into contact with the races below us. What sweet little things the inch-high bull-dogs would be! I doubt if even Muriel would run away from one of them!”

“Don't you think we ought to have a crescendo series, as well?” said Lady Muriel. “Only fancy being a hundred yards high! One could use an elephant as a paper-weight, and a crocodile as a pair of scissors!”

“And would you have races of different sizes communicate with one another?” I enquired. “Would they make war on one another, for instance, or enter into treaties?”

“War we must exclude, I think. When you could crush a whole nation with one blow of your fist, you couldn't conduct war on equal terms. But anything, involving a collision of minds only, would be possible in our ideal world--for of course we must allow mental powers to all, irrespective of size. Perhaps the fairest rule would be that, the smaller the race, the greater should be its intellectual development!”

“Do you mean to say,” said Lady Muriel, “that these manikins of an inch high are to argue with me?”

“Surely, surely!” said the Earl. “An argument doesn't depend for its logical force on the size of the creature that utters it!”

She tossed her head indignantly. “I would not argue with any man less than six inches high!” she cried. “I'd make him work!”

“What at?” said Arthur, listening to all this nonsense with an amused smile.

“Embroidery!” she readily replied. “What lovely embroidery they would do!”

“Yet, if they did it wrong,” I said, “you couldn't argue the question. I don't know why: but I agree that it couldn't be done.”

“The reason is,” said Lady Muriel, “one couldn't sacrifice one's dignity so far.”

“Of course one couldn't!” echoed Arthur. “Any more than one could argue with a potato. It would be altogether--excuse the ancient pun--infra dig.!”

“I doubt it,” said I. “Even a pun doesn't quite convince me.”

“Well, if that is not the reason,” said Lady Muriel, “what reason would you give?”

I tried hard to understand the meaning of this question: but the persistent humming of the bees confused me, and there was a drowsiness in the air that made every thought stop and go to sleep before it had got well thought out: so all I could say was “That must depend on the weight of the potato.”

I felt the remark was not so sensible as I should have liked it to be. But Lady Muriel seemed to take it quite as a matter of course. “In that case--” she began, but suddenly started, and turned away to listen. “Don't you hear him?” she said. “He's crying. We must go to him, somehow.”

And I said to myself “That's very strange.” I quite thought it was Lady Muriel talking to me. “Why, it's Sylvie all the while!” And I made another great effort to say something that should have some meaning in it. “Is it about the potato?”


“I don't know,” said Sylvie. “Hush! I must think. I could go to him, by myself, well enough. But I want you to come too.”

“Let me go with you,” I pleaded. “I can walk as fast as you can, I'm sure.”

Sylvie laughed merrily. “What nonsense!” she cried. “Why, you ca'n't walk a bit! You're lying quite flat on your back! You don't understand these things.”

“I can walk as well as you can,” I repeated. And I tried my best to walk a few steps: but the ground slipped away backwards, quite as fast as I could walk, so that I made no progress at all. Sylvie laughed again.

“There, I told you so! You've no idea how funny you look, moving your feet about in the air, as if you were walking! Wait a bit. I'll ask the Professor what we'd better do.” And she knocked at his study-door.

The door opened, and the Professor looked out. “What's that crying I heard just now?” he asked. “Is it a human animal?”

“It's a boy,” Sylvie said.

“I'm afraid you've been teasing him?”

“No, indeed I haven't!” Sylvie said, very earnestly. “I never tease him!”

“Well, I must ask the Other Professor about it.” He went back into the study, and we heard him whispering “small human animal--says she hasn't been teasing him--the kind that's called Boy--”

“Ask her which Boy,” said a new voice. The Professor came out again.

“Which Boy is it that you haven't been teasing?”

Sylvie looked at me with twinkling eyes. “You dear old thing!” she exclaimed, standing on tiptoe to kiss him, while he gravely stooped to receive the salute. “How you do puzzle me! Why, there are several boys I haven't been teasing!”

The Professor returned to his friend: and this time the voice said “Tell her to bring them here--all of them!”

“I ca'n't, and I won't!” Sylvie exclaimed, the moment he reappeared. “It's Bruno that's crying: and he's my brother: and, please, we both want to go: he ca'n't walk, you know: he's--he's dreaming, you know”

(this in a whisper, for fear of hurting my feelings). “Do let's go

through the Ivory Door!”

“I'll ask him,” said the Professor, disappearing again. He returned directly. “He says you may. Follow me, and walk on tip-toe.”

The difficulty with me would have been, just then, not to walk on tip-toe. It seemed very hard to reach down far enough to just touch the floor, as Sylvie led me through the study.

The Professor went before us to unlock the Ivory Door. I had just time to glance at the Other Professor, who was sitting reading, with his back to us, before the Professor showed us out through the door, and locked it behind us. Bruno was standing with his hands over his face, crying bitterly.

{Image...'What's the matter, darling?'}

“What's the matter, darling?” said Sylvie, with her arms round his neck.

“Hurted mine self welly much!” sobbed the poor little fellow.

“I'm so sorry, darling! How ever did you manage to hurt yourself so?”

“Course I managed it!” said Bruno, laughing through his tears. “Doos oo think nobody else but oo ca'n't manage things?”

Matters were looking distinctly brighter, now Bruno had begun to argue. “Come, let's hear all about it!” I said.

“My foot took it into its head to slip--” Bruno began.

“A foot hasn't got a head!” Sylvie put in, but all in vain.

“I slipted down the bank. And I tripted over a stone. And the stone hurted my foot! And I trod on a Bee. And the Bee stinged my finger!”

Poor Bruno sobbed again. The complete list of woes was too much for his

feelings. “And it knewed I didn't mean to trod on it!” he added, as the climax.

“That Bee should be ashamed of itself!” I said severely, and Sylvie hugged and kissed the wounded hero till all tears were dried.

“My finger's quite unstung now!” said Bruno. “Why doos there be stones? Mister Sir, doos oo know?”

“They're good for something,” I said: “even if we don't know what. What's the good of dandelions, now?”

“Dindledums?” said Bruno. “Oh, they're ever so pretty! And stones aren't pretty, one bit. Would oo like some dindledums, Mister Sir?”

“Bruno!” Sylvie murmured reproachfully. “You mustn't say 'Mister' and 'Sir,' both at once! Remember what I told you!”

“You telled me I were to say Mister' when I spoked about him, and I were to say 'Sir' when I spoked to him!”

“Well, you're not doing both, you know.”

“Ah, but I is doing bofe, Miss Praticular!” Bruno exclaimed triumphantly. “I wishted to speak about the Gemplun--and I wishted to speak to the Gemplun. So a course I said 'Mister Sir'!”

“That's all right, Bruno,” I said.

“Course it's all right!” said Bruno. “Sylvie just knows nuffin at all!”

“There never was an impertinenter boy!” said Sylvie, frowning till her bright eyes were nearly invisible.

“And there never was an ignoranter girl!” retorted Bruno. “Come along and pick some dindledums. That's all she's fit for!” he added in a very loud whisper to me.

“But why do you say 'Dindledums,' Bruno? Dandelions is the right word.”

“It's because he jumps about so,” Sylvie said, laughing.

“Yes, that's it,” Bruno assented. “Sylvie tells me the words, and then, when I jump about, they get shooken up in my head--till they're all froth!”

I expressed myself as perfectly satisfied with this explanation. “But aren't you going to pick me any dindledums, after all?”

“Course we will!” cried Bruno. “Come along, Sylvie!” And the happy children raced away, bounding over the turf with the fleetness and grace of young antelopes.

“Then you didn't find your way back to Outland?” I said to the Professor.

“Oh yes, I did!” he replied, “We never got to Queer Street; but I found another way. I've been backwards and forwards several times since then. I had to be present at the Election, you know, as the author of the new Money-act. The Emperor was so kind as to wish that I should have the credit of it. 'Let come what come may,' (I remember the very words of the Imperial Speech) 'if it should turn out that the Warden is alive, you will bear witness that the change in the coinage is the Professor's doing, not mine!' I never was so glorified in my life, before!” Tears trickled down his cheeks at the recollection, which apparently was not wholly a pleasant one.

“Is the Warden supposed to be dead?”

“Well, it's supposed so: but, mind you, I don't believe it! The evidence is very weak--mere hear-say. A wandering Jester, with a Dancing-Bear (they found their way into the Palace, one day) has been telling people he comes from Fairyland, and that the Warden died there. I wanted the Vice-Warden to question him, but, most unluckily, he and my Lady were always out walking when the Jester came round. Yes, the Warden's supposed to be dead!” And more tears trickled down the old man's cheeks.

“But what is the new Money-Act?”

The Professor brightened up again. “The Emperor started the thing,” he said. “He wanted to make everybody in Outland twice as rich as he was before just to make the new Government popular. Only there wasn't nearly enough money in the Treasury to do it. So I suggested that he might do it by doubling the value of every coin and bank-note in Outland. It's the simplest thing possible. I wonder nobody ever thought of it before! And you never saw such universal joy. The shops are full from morning to night. Everybody's buying everything!”

“And how was the glorifying done?”

A sudden gloom overcast the Professor's jolly face. “They did it as I went home after the Election,” he mournfully replied. “It was kindly meant but I didn't like it! They waved flags all round me till I was nearly blind: and they rang bells till I was nearly deaf: and they strewed the road so thick with flowers that I lost my way!” And the poor old man sighed deeply.

“How far is it to Outland?” I asked, to change the subject.

“About five days' march. But one must go back--occasionally. You see, as Court-Professor, I have to be always in attendance on Prince Uggug. The Empress would be very angry if I left him, even for an hour.”

“But surely, every time you come here, you are absent ten days, at least?”

“Oh, more than that!” the Professor exclaimed. “A fortnight, sometimes. But of course I keep a memorandum of the exact time when I started, so that I can put the Court-time back to the very moment!” “Excuse me,” I said. “I don't understand.”

Silently the Professor drew front his pocket a square gold watch, with six or eight hands, and held it out for my inspection. “This,” he began, “is an Outlandish Watch--”

“So I should have thought.”

“--which has the peculiar property that, instead of its going with the time, the time goes with it. I trust you understand me now?”

“Hardly,” I said.

“Permit me to explain. So long as it is let alone, it takes its own course. Time has no effect upon it.”

“I have known such watches,” I remarked.

“It goes, of course, at the usual rate. Only the time has to go with it. Hence, if I move the hands, I change the time. To move them forwards, in advance of the true time, is impossible: but I can move them as much as a month backwards---that is the limit. And then you have the events all over again--with any alterations experience may suggest.”

“What a blessing such a watch would be,” I thought, “in real life! To be able to unsay some heedless word--to undo some reckless deed! Might I see the thing done?”

“With pleasure!” said the good natured Professor. “When I move this hand back to here,” pointing out the place, “History goes back fifteen minutes!”

Trembling with excitement, I watched him push the hand round as he described.

“Hurted mine self welly much!”

Shrilly and suddenly the words rang in my ears, and, more startled than I cared to show, I turned to look for the speaker.

Yes! There was Bruno, standing with the tears running down his cheeks, just as I had seen him a quarter of an hour ago; and there was Sylvie with her arms round his neck!

I had not the heart to make the dear little fellow go through his troubles a second time, so hastily begged the Professor to push the hands round into their former position. In a moment Sylvie and Bruno were gone again, and I could just see them in the far distance, picking 'dindledums.'

“Wonderful, indeed!” I exclaimed.

“It has another property, yet more wonderful,” said the Professor. “You see this little peg? That is called the 'Reversal Peg.' If you push it in, the events of the next hour happen in the reverse order. Do not try it now. I will lend you the Watch for a few days, and you can amuse yourself with experiments.”

“Thank you very much!” I said as he gave me the Watch. “I'll take the greatest care of it--why, here are the children again!”

“We could only but find six dindledums,” said Bruno, putting them into my hands, “'cause Sylvie said it were time to go back. And here's a big blackberry for ooself! We couldn't only find but two!”

“Thank you: it's very nice,” I said. “And I suppose you ate the other, Bruno?”

“No, I didn't,” Bruno said, carelessly. “Aren't they pretty dindledums, Mister Sir?”

“Yes, very: but what makes you limp so, my child?”

“Mine foot's come hurted again!” Bruno mournfully replied. And he sat down on the ground, and began nursing it.

The Professor held his head between his hands--an attitude that I knew indicated distraction of mind. “Better rest a minute,” he said. “It may be better then--or it may be worse. If only I had some of my medicines here! I'm Court-Physician, you know,” he added, aside to me.

“Shall I go and get you some blackberries, darling?” Sylvie whispered, with her arms round his neck; and she kissed away a tear that was trickling down his cheek.

Bruno brightened up in a moment. “That are a good plan!” he exclaimed. “I thinks my foot would come quite unhurted, if I eated a blackberry--two or three blackberries--six or seven blackberries--”

Sylvie got up hastily. “I'd better go,” she said, aside to me, “before he gets into the double figures!”

“Let me come and help you,” I said. “I can reach higher up than you can.”

“Yes, please,” said Sylvie, putting her hand into mine: and we walked off together.

“Bruno loves blackberries,” she said, as we paced slowly along by a tall hedge, “that looked a promising place for them, and it was so sweet of him to make me eat the only one!”

“Oh, it was you that ate it, then? Bruno didn't seem to like to tell me about it.”

“No; I saw that,” said Sylvie. “He's always afraid of being praised. But he made me eat it, really! I would much rather he--oh, what's that?” And she clung to my hand, half-frightened, as we came in sight of a hare, lying on its side with legs stretched out just in the entrance to the wood.

“It's a hare, my child. Perhaps it's asleep.”

“No, it isn't asleep,” Sylvie said, timidly going nearer to look at it: “it's eyes are open. Is it--is it--her voice dropped to an awestruck whisper, is it dead, do you think?”

“Yes, it's quite dead,” I said, after stooping to examine it. “Poor thing! I think it's been hunted to death. I know the harriers were out yesterday. But they haven't touched it. Perhaps they caught sight of another, and left it to die of fright and exhaustion.”

“Hunted to death?” Sylvie repeated to herself, very slowly and sadly. “I thought hunting was a thing they played at like a game. Bruno and I hunt snails: but we never hurt them when we catch them!”

“Sweet angel!” I thought. “How am I to get the idea of Sport into your innocent mind?” And as we stood, hand-in-hand, looking down at the dead hare, I tried to put the thing into such words as she could understand. “You know what fierce wild-beasts lions and tigers are?” Sylvie nodded. “Well, in some countries men have to kill them, to save their own lives, you know.”

“Yes,” said Sylvie: “if one tried to kill me, Bruno would kill it if he could.”

“Well, and so the men--the hunters--get to enjoy it, you know: the running, and the fighting, and the shouting, and the danger.”

“Yes,” said Sylvie. “Bruno likes danger.”

“Well, but, in this country, there aren't any lions and tigers, loose: so they hunt other creatures, you see.” I hoped, but in vain, that this would satisfy her, and that she would ask no more questions.

“They hunt foxes,” Sylvie said, thoughtfully. “And I think they kill them, too. Foxes are very fierce. I daresay men don't love them. Are hares fierce?”

“No,” I said. “A hare is a sweet, gentle, timid animal--almost as gentle as a lamb.”

“But, if men love hares, why--why--” her voice quivered, and her sweet eyes were brimming over with tears.

“I'm afraid they don't love them, dear child.”

“All children love them,” Sylvie said. “All ladies love them.”

“I'm afraid even ladies go to hunt them, sometimes.”

Sylvie shuddered. “Oh, no, not ladies!” she earnestly pleaded. “Not Lady Muriel!”

“No, she never does, I'm sure--but this is too sad a sight for you, dear. Let's try and find some--”

But Sylvie was not satisfied yet. In a hushed, solemn tone, with bowed head and clasped hands, she put her final question. “Does GOD love hares?”

“Yes!” I said. “I'm sure He does! He loves every living thing. Even sinful men. How much more the animals, that cannot sin!”

“I don't know what 'sin' means,” said Sylvie. And I didn't try to explain it.

“Come, my child,” I said, trying to lead her away. “Wish good-bye to the poor hare, and come and look for blackberries.”

“Good-bye, poor hare!” Sylvie obediently repeated, looking over her shoulder at it as we turned away. And then, all in a moment, her self-command gave way. Pulling her hand out of mine, she ran back to where the dead hare was lying, and flung herself down at its side in such an agony of grief as I could hardly have believed possible in so young a child.

“Oh, my darling, my darling!” she moaned, over and over again. “And God meant your life to be so beautiful!”

Sometimes, but always keeping her face hidden on the ground, she would reach out one little hand, to stroke the poor dead thing, and then once more bury her face in her hands, and sob as if her heart would break. {Image...The dead hare}

I was afraid she would really make herself ill: still I thought it best to let her weep away the first sharp agony of grief: and, after a few minutes, the sobbing gradually ceased, and Sylvie rose to her feet, and looked calmly at me, though tears were still streaming down her cheeks.

I did not dare to speak again, just yet; but simply held out my hand to her, that we might quit the melancholy spot.

Yes, I'll come now, she said. Very reverently she kneeled down, and kissed the dead hare; then rose and gave me her hand, and we moved on in silence.

A child's sorrow is violent but short; and it was almost in her usual voice that she said after a minute “Oh stop stop! Here are some lovely blackberries!”

We filled our hands with fruit and returned in all haste to where the Professor and Bruno were seated on a bank awaiting our return.

Just before we came within hearing-distance Sylvie checked me. “Please don't tell Bruno about the hare!” she said.

Very well, my child. But why not?

Tears again glittered in those sweet eyes and she turned her head away so that I could scarcely hear her reply. “He's--he's very fond of gentle creatures you know. And he'd--he'd be so sorry! I don't want him to be made sorry.”

And your agony of sorrow is to count for nothing, then, sweet unselfish child! I thought to myself. But no more was said till we had reached our friends; and Bruno was far too much engrossed, in the feast we had brought him, to take any notice of Sylvie's unusually grave manner.

“I'm afraid it's getting rather late, Professor?” I said.

“Yes, indeed,” said the Professor. “I must take you all through the Ivory Door again. You've stayed your full time.”

“Mightn't we stay a little longer!” pleaded Sylvie.

“Just one minute!” added Bruno.

But the Professor was unyielding. “It's a great privilege, coming through at all,” he said. “We must go now.” And we followed him obediently to the Ivory Door, which he threw open, and signed to me to go through first.

“You're coming too, aren't you?” I said to Sylvie.

“Yes,” she said: “but you won't see us after you've gone through.”

“But suppose I wait for you outside?” I asked, as I stepped through the doorway.

“In that case,” said Sylvie, “I think the potato would be quite justified in asking your weight. I can quite imagine a really superior kidney-potato declining to argue with any one under fifteen stone!”

With a great effort I recovered the thread of my thoughts. “We lapse very quickly into nonsense!” I said.


“Let us lapse back again,” said Lady Muriel. “Take another cup of tea? I hope that's sound common sense?”

“And all that strange adventure,” I thought, “has occupied the space of a single comma in Lady Muriel's speech! A single comma, for which grammarians tell us to 'count one'!” (I felt no doubt that the Professor had kindly put back the time for me, to the exact point at which I had gone to sleep.)

When, a few minutes afterwards, we left the house, Arthur's first remark was certainly a strange one. “We've been there just twenty minutes,” he said, “and I've done nothing but listen to you and Lady Muriel talking: and yet, somehow, I feel exactly as if I had been talking with her for an hour at least!”

And so he had been, I felt no doubt: only, as the time had been put back to the beginning of the tete-a-tete he referred to, the whole of it had passed into oblivion, if not into nothingness! But I valued my own reputation for sanity too highly to venture on explaining to him what had happened.

For some cause, which I could not at the moment divine, Arthur was unusually grave and silent during our walk home. It could not be connected with Eric Lindon, I thought, as he had for some days been away in London: so that, having Lady Muriel almost 'all to himself'--for I was only too glad to hear those two conversing, to have any wish to intrude any remarks of my own--he ought, theoretically, to have been specially radiant and contented with life. “Can he have heard any bad news?” I said to myself. And, almost as if he had read my thoughts, he spoke.

“He will be here by the last train,” he said, in the tone of one who is continuing a conversation rather than beginning one.

“Captain Lindon, do you mean?”

“Yes--Captain Lindon,” said Arthur: “I said 'he,' because I fancied we were talking about him. The Earl told me he comes tonight, though to-morrow is the day when he will know about the Commission that he's hoping for. I wonder he doesn't stay another day to hear the result, if he's really so anxious about it as the Earl believes he is.”

“He can have a telegram sent after him,” I said: “but it's not very soldier-like, running away from possible bad news!”

“He's a very good fellow,” said Arthur: “but I confess it would be good news for me, if he got his Commission, and his Marching Orders, all at once! I wish him all happiness--with one exception. Good night!” (We had reached home by this time.) “I'm not good company to-night--better be alone.”

It was much the same, next day. Arthur declared he wasn't fit for Society, and I had to set forth alone for an afternoon-stroll. I took the road to the Station, and, at the point where the road from the 'Hall' joined it, I paused, seeing my friends in the distance, seemingly bound for the same goal.

“Will you join us?” the Earl said, after I had exchanged greetings with him, and Lady Muriel, and Captain Lindon. “This restless young man is expecting a telegram, and we are going to the Station to meet it.”

“There is also a restless young woman in the case,” Lady Muriel added.

“That goes without saying, my child,” said her father. “Women are always restless!”

“For generous appreciation of all one's best qualities,” his daughter impressively remarked, “there's nothing to compare with a father, is there, Eric?”

“Cousins are not 'in it,'” said Eric: and then somehow the conversation lapsed into two duologues, the younger folk taking the lead, and the two old men following with less eager steps.

“And when are we to see your little friends again?” said the Earl. “They are singularly attractive children.”

“I shall be delighted to bring them, when I can,” I said! “But I don't know, myself, when I am likely to see them again.”

“I'm not going to question you,” said the Earl: “but there's no harm in mentioning that Muriel is simply tormented with curiosity! We know most of the people about here, and she has been vainly trying to guess what house they can possibly be staying at.”

“Some day I may be able to enlighten her: but just at present--”

“Thanks. She must bear it as best she can. I tell her it's a grand opportunity for practising patience. But she hardly sees it from that point of view. Why, there are the children!”

So indeed they were: waiting (for us, apparently) at a stile, which they could not have climbed over more than a few moments, as Lady Muriel and her cousin had passed it without seeing them. On catching sight of us, Bruno ran to meet us, and to exhibit to us, with much pride, the handle of a clasp-knife--the blade having been broken off--which he had picked up in the road.

“And what shall you use it for, Bruno?” I said.

“Don't know,” Bruno carelessly replied: “must think.”

“A child's first view of life,” the Earl remarked, with that sweet sad smile of his, “is that it is a period to be spent in accumulating portable property. That view gets modified as the years glide away.” And he held out his hand to Sylvie, who had placed herself by me, looking a little shy of him.

But the gentle old man was not one with whom any child, human or fairy, could be shy for long; and she had very soon deserted my hand for his--Bruno alone remaining faithful to his first friend. We overtook the other couple just as they reached the Station, and both Lady Muriel and Eric greeted the children as old friends--the latter with the words “So you got to Babylon by candlelight, after all?”

“Yes, and back again!” cried Bruno.

Lady Muriel looked from one to the other in blank astonishment. “What, you know them, Eric?” she exclaimed. “This mystery grows deeper every day!”

“Then we must be somewhere in the Third Act,” said Eric. “You don't expect the mystery to be cleared up till the Fifth Act, do you?”

“But it's such a long drama!” was the plaintive reply. “We must have got to the Fifth Act by this time!”

“Third Act, I assure you,” said the young soldier mercilessly. “Scene, a railway-platform. Lights down. Enter Prince (in disguise, of course) and faithful Attendant. This is the Prince--” (taking Bruno's hand) “and here stands his humble Servant! What is your Royal Highness next command?” And he made a most courtier-like low bow to his puzzled little friend.

“Oo're not a Servant!” Bruno scornfully exclaimed. “Oo're a Gemplun!”

“Servant, I assure your Royal Highness!” Eric respectfully insisted. “Allow me to mention to your Royal Highness my various situations--past, present, and future.”

“What did oo begin wiz?” Bruno asked, beginning to enter into the jest. “Was oo a shoe-black?”

“Lower than that, your Royal Highness! Years ago, I offered myself as a Slave--as a 'Confidential Slave,' I think it's called?” he asked, turning to Lady Muriel.

But Lady Muriel heard him not: something had gone wrong with her glove, which entirely engrossed her attention.

“Did oo get the place?” said Bruno.

“Sad to say, Your Royal Highness, I did not! So I had to take a situation as--as Waiter, which I have now held for some years haven't I?” He again glanced at Lady Muriel.

“Sylvie dear, do help me to button this glove!” Lady Muriel whispered, hastily stooping down, and failing to hear the question.

“And what will oo be next?” said Bruno.

“My next place will, I hope, be that of Groom. And after that--”

“Don't puzzle the child so!” Lady Muriel interrupted. “What nonsense you talk!”

“--after that,” Eric persisted, “I hope to obtain the situation of Housekeeper, which--Fourth Act!” he proclaimed, with a sudden change of tone. “Lights turned up. Red lights. Green lights. Distant rumble heard. Enter a passenger-train!”

And in another minute the train drew up alongside of the platform, and a stream of passengers began to flow out from the booking office and waiting-rooms.

“Did you ever make real life into a drama?” said the Earl. “Now just try. I've often amused myself that way. Consider this platform as our stage. Good entrances and exits on both sides, you see. Capital background scene: real engine moving up and down. All this bustle, and people passing to and fro, must have been most carefully rehearsed! How naturally they do it! With never a glance at the audience! And every grouping is quite fresh, you see. No repetition!”

It really was admirable, as soon as I began to enter into it from this point of view. Even a porter passing, with a barrow piled with luggage, seemed so realistic that one was tempted to applaud. He was followed by an angry mother, with hot red face, dragging along two screaming children, and calling, to some one behind, “John! Come on!” Enter John, very meek, very silent, and loaded with parcels. And he was followed, in his turn, by a frightened little nursemaid, carrying a fat baby, also screaming. All the children screamed.

“Capital byplay!” said the old man aside. “Did you notice the nursemaid's look of terror? It was simply perfect!”

“You have struck quite a new vein,” I said. “To most of us Life and its pleasures seem like a mine that is nearly worked out.”

“Worked out!” exclaimed the Earl. “For any one with true dramatic instincts, it is only the Overture that is ended! The real treat has yet to begin. You go to a theatre, and pay your ten shillings for a stall, and what do you get for your money? Perhaps it's a dialogue between a couple of farmers--unnatural in their overdone caricature of farmers' dress--more unnatural in their constrained attitudes and gestures--most unnatural in their attempts at ease and geniality in their talk. Go instead and take a seat in a third-class railway-carriage, and you'll get the same dialogue done to the life! Front-seats--no orchestra to block the view--and nothing to pay!”

“Which reminds me,” said Eric. “There is nothing to pay on receiving a telegram! Shall we enquire for one?” And he and Lady Muriel strolled off in the direction of the Telegraph-Office.

“I wonder if Shakespeare had that thought in his mind,” I said, “when he wrote 'All the world's a stage'?”

The old man sighed. “And so it is,” he said, “look at it as you will. Life is indeed a drama; a drama with but few encores--and no bouquets!”

he added dreamily. “We spend one half of it in regretting the things we

did in the other half!”

“And the secret of enjoying it,” he continued, resuming his cheerful tone, “is intensity!”

“But not in the modern aesthetic sense, I presume? Like the young lady, in Punch, who begins a conversation with 'Are you intense?'”

“By no means!” replied the Earl. “What I mean is intensity of thought--a concentrated attention. We lose half the pleasure we might have in Life, by not really attending. Take any instance you like: it doesn't matter how trivial the pleasure may be--the principle is the same. Suppose A and B are reading the same second-rate circulating-library novel. A never troubles himself to master the relationships of the characters, on which perhaps all the interest of the story depends: he 'skips' over all the descriptions of scenery, and every passage that looks rather dull: he doesn't half attend to the passages he does read: he goes on reading merely from want of resolution to find another occupation--for hours after he ought to have put the book aside: and reaches the 'FINIS' in a state of utter weariness and depression! B puts his whole soul into the thing--on the principle that 'whatever is worth doing is worth doing well': he masters the genealogies: he calls up pictures before his 'mind's eye' as he reads about the scenery: best of all, he resolutely shuts the book at the end of some chapter, while his interest is yet at its keenest, and turns to other subjects; so that, when next he allows himself an hour at it, it is like a hungry man sitting down to dinner: and, when the book is finished, he returns to the work of his daily life like 'a giant refreshed'!”

“But suppose the book were really rubbish--nothing to repay attention?”

“Well, suppose it,” said the Earl. “My theory meets that case, I assure you! A never finds out that it is rubbish, but maunders on to the end, trying to believe he's enjoying himself. B quietly shuts the book, when he's read a dozen pages, walks off to the Library, and changes it for a better! I have yet another theory for adding to the enjoyment of Life--that is, if I have not exhausted your patience? I'm afraid you find me a very garrulous old man.”

“No indeed!” I exclaimed earnestly. And indeed I felt as if one could not easily tire of the sweet sadness of that gentle voice.

“It is, that we should learn to take our pleasures quickly, and our pains slowly.”

“But why? I should have put it the other way, myself.”

“By taking artificial pain--which can be as trivial as you please--slowly, the result is that, when real pain comes, however severe, all you need do is to let it go at its ordinary pace, and it's over in a moment!”

“Very true,” I said, “but how about the pleasure?”

“Why, by taking it quick, you can get so much more into life. It takes you three hours and a half to hear and enjoy an opera. Suppose I can take it in, and enjoy it, in half-an-hour. Why, I can enjoy seven operas, while you are listening; to one!”

“Always supposing you have an orchestra capable of playing them,” I said. “And that orchestra has yet to be found!”

The old man smiled. “I have heard an 'air played,” he said, “and by no means a short one--played right through, variations and all, in three seconds!”

“When? And how?” I asked eagerly, with a half-notion that I was dreaming again.

“It was done by a little musical-box,” he quietly replied. “After it had been wound up, the regulator, or something, broke, and it ran down, as I said, in about three seconds. But it must have played all the notes, you know!”

“Did you enjoy it? I asked, with all the severity of a cross-examining barrister.

“No, I didn't!” he candidly confessed. “But then, you know, I hadn't been trained to that kind of music!”

“I should much like to try your plan,” I said, and, as Sylvie and Bruno happened to run up to us at the moment, I left them to keep the Earl company, and strolled along the platform, making each person and event play its part in an extempore drama for my especial benefit. “What, is the Earl tired of you already?” I said, as the children ran past me.

“No!” Sylvie replied with great emphasis. “He wants the evening-paper. So Bruno's going to be a little news-boy!”

“Mind you charge a good price for it!” I called after them.

Returning up the platform, I came upon Sylvie alone. “Well, child,”

I said, “where's your little news-boy? Couldn't he get you an


“He went to get one at the book-stall at the other side,” said Sylvie; “and he's coming across the line with it--oh, Bruno, you ought to cross by the bridge!” for the distant thud, thud, of the Express was already audible.

Suddenly a look of horror came over her face. “Oh, he's fallen down on the rails!” she cried, and darted past me at a speed that quite defied the hasty effort I made to stop her.

But the wheezy old Station-Master happened to be close behind me: he wasn't good for much, poor old man, but he was good for this; and, before I could turn round, he had the child clasped in his arms, saved from the certain death she was rushing to. So intent was I in watching this scene, that I hardly saw a flying figure in a light grey suit, who shot across from the back of the platform, and was on the line in another second. So far as one could take note of time in such a moment of horror, he had about ten clear seconds, before the Express would be upon him, in which to cross the rails and to pick up Bruno. Whether he did so or not it was quite impossible to guess: the next thing one knew was that the Express had passed, and that, whether for life or death, all was over. When the cloud of dust had cleared away, and the line was once more visible, we saw with thankful hearts that the child and his deliverer were safe.

“All right!” Eric called to us cheerfully, as he recrossed the line. “He's more frightened than hurt!”

{Image...Crossing the line}

He lifted the little fellow up into Lady Muriel's arms, and mounted the platform as gaily as if nothing had happened: but he was as pale as death, and leaned heavily on the arm I hastily offered him, fearing he was about to faint. “I'll just--sit down a moment--” he said dreamily: “--where's Sylvie?”

Sylvie ran to him, and flung her arms round his neck, sobbing as if her heart would break. “Don't do that, my darling!” Eric murmured, with a strange look in his eyes. “Nothing to cry about now, you know. But you very nearly got yourself killed for nothing!”

“For Bruno!” the little maiden sobbed. “And he would have done it for me. Wouldn't you, Bruno?”

“Course I would!” Bruno said, looking round with a bewildered air.

Lady Muriel kissed him in silence as she put him down out of her arms. Then she beckoned Sylvie to come and take his hand, and signed to the children to go back to where the Earl was seated. “Tell him,” she whispered with quivering lips, “tell him--all is well!” Then she turned to the hero of the day. “I thought it was death,” she said. “Thank God, you are safe! Did you see how near it was?”

“I saw there was just time,” Eric said lightly.

“A soldier must learn to carry his life in his hand, you know. I'm all right now. Shall we go to the telegraph-office again? I daresay it's come by this time.”

I went to join the Earl and the children, and we waited--almost in silence, for no one seemed inclined to talk, and Bruno was half-asleep on Sylvie's lap--till the others joined us. No telegram had come.

“I'll take a stroll with the children,” I said, feeling that we were a little de trop, “and I'll look in, in the course of the evening.”

“We must go back into the wood, now,” Sylvie said, as soon as we were out of hearing. “We ca'n't stay this size any longer.”

“Then you will be quite tiny Fairies again, next time we meet?”

“Yes,” said Sylvie: “but we'll be children again some day--if you'll let us. Bruno's very anxious to see Lady Muriel again.”

“She are welly nice,” said Bruno.

“I shall be very glad to take you to see her again,” I said. “Hadn't I better give you back the Professor's Watch? It'll be too large for you to carry when you're Fairies, you know.”

Bruno laughed merrily. I was glad to see he had quite recovered from the terrible scene he had gone through. “Oh no, it won't!” he said. “When we go small, it'll go small!”

“And then it'll go straight to the Professor,” Sylvie added, “and you won't be able to use it anymore: so you'd better use it all you can, now. We must go small when the sun sets. Good-bye!”

“Good-bye!” cried Bruno. But their voices sounded very far away, and, when I looked round, both children had disappeared.

“And it wants only two hours to sunset!” I said as I strolled on. “I must make the best of my time!”


As I entered the little town, I came upon two of the fishermen's wives interchanging that last word “which never was the last”: and it occurred to me, as an experiment with the Magic Watch, to wait till the little scene was over, and then to 'encore' it.

“Well, good night t'ye! And ye winna forget to send us word when your Martha writes?”

“Nay, ah winna forget. An' if she isn't suited, she can but coom back. Good night t'ye!”

A casual observer might have thought “and there ends the dialogue!” That casual observer would have been mistaken.

“Ah, she'll like 'em, I war'n' ye! They'll not treat her bad, yer may depend. They're varry canny fowk. Good night!”

“Ay, they are that! Good night!”

“Good night! And ye'll send us word if she writes?”

“Aye, ah will, yer may depend! Good night t'ye!”

And at last they parted. I waited till they were some twenty yards apart, and then put the Watch a minute back. The instantaneous change was startling: the two figures seemed to flash back into their former places.

“--isn't suited, she can but coom back. Good night t'ye!” one of them was saying: and so the whole dialogue was repeated, and, when they had parted for the second time, I let them go their several ways, and strolled on through the town.

“But the real usefulness of this magic power,” I thought, “would be to undo some harm, some painful event, some accident--”

I had not long to wait for an opportunity of testing this property also of the Magic Watch, for, even as the thought passed through my mind, the accident I was imagining occurred. A light cart was standing at the door of the 'Great Millinery Depot' of Elveston, laden with card-board packing-cases, which the driver was carrying into the shop, one by one. One of the cases had fallen into the street, but it scarcely seemed worth while to step forward and pick it up, as the man would be back again in a moment. Yet, in that moment, a young man riding a bicycle came sharp round the corner of the street and, in trying to avoid running over the box, upset his machine, and was thrown headlong against the wheel of the spring-cart. The driver ran out to his assistance, and he and I together raised the unfortunate cyclist and carried him into the shop. His head was cut and bleeding; and one knee seemed to be badly injured; and it was speedily settled that he had better be conveyed at once to the only Surgery in the place. I helped them in emptying the cart, and placing in it some pillows for the wounded man to rest on; and it was only when the driver had mounted to his place, and was starting for the Surgery, that I bethought me of the strange power I possessed of undoing all this harm.

“Now is my time!” I said to myself, as I moved back the hand of the Watch, and saw, almost without surprise this time, all things restored to the places they had occupied at the critical moment when I had first noticed the fallen packing-case.

Instantly I stepped out into the street, picked up the box, and replaced it in the cart: in the next moment the bicycle had spun round the corner, passed the cart without let or hindrance, and soon vanished in the distance, in a cloud of dust.

“Delightful power of magic!” I thought. “How much of human suffering I have--not only relieved, but actually annihilated!” And, in a glow of conscious virtue, I stood watching the unloading of the cart, still holding the Magic Watch open in my hand, as I was curious to see what would happen when we again reached the exact time at which I had put back the hand.

The result was one that, if only I had considered the thing carefully, I might have foreseen: as the hand of the Watch touched the mark, the spring-cart--which had driven off, and was by this time half-way down the street, was back again at the door, and in the act of starting, while--oh woe for the golden dream of world-wide benevolence that had dazzled my dreaming fancy!--the wounded youth was once more reclining on the heap of pillows, his pale face set rigidly in the hard lines that told of pain resolutely endured.

“Oh mocking Magic Watch!” I said to myself, as I passed out of the little town, and took the seaward road that led to my lodgings. “The good I fancied I could do is vanished like a dream: the evil of this troublesome world is the only abiding reality!”

And now I must record an experience so strange, that I think it only fair, before beginning to relate it, to release my much-enduring reader from any obligation he may feel to believe this part of my story. I would not have believed it, I freely confess, if I had not seen it with my own eyes: then why should I expect it of my reader, who, quite possibly, has never seen anything of the sort?

I was passing a pretty little villa, which stood rather back from the road, in its own grounds, with bright flower-beds in front---creepers wandering over the walls and hanging in festoons about the bow-windows--an easy-chair forgotten on the lawn, with a newspaper lying near it--a small pug-dog “couchant” before it, resolved to guard the treasure even at the sacrifice of life--and a front-door standing invitingly half-open. “Here is my chance,” I thought, “for testing the reverse action of the Magic Watch!” I pressed the 'reversal-peg' and walked in. In another house, the entrance of a stranger might cause surprise--perhaps anger, even going so far as to expel the said stranger with violence: but here, I knew, nothing of the sort could happen. The ordinary course of events first, to think nothing about me; then, hearing my footsteps to look up and see me; and then to wonder what business I had there--would be reversed by the action of my Watch. They would first wonder who I was, then see me, then look down, and think no more about me. And as to being expelled with violence, that event would necessarily come first in this case. “So, if I can once get in,” I said to myself, “all risk of expulsion will be over!”

{Image...'The pug-dog sat up'}

The pug-dog sat up, as a precautionary measure, as I passed; but, as I took no notice of the treasure he was guarding, he let me go by without even one remonstrant bark. “He that takes my life,” he seemed to be saying, wheezily, to himself, “takes trash: But he that takes the Daily Telegraph--!” But this awful contingency I did not face.

The party in the drawing-room--I had walked straight in, you understand, without ringing the bell, or giving any notice of my approach--consisted of four laughing rosy children, of ages from about fourteen down to ten, who were, apparently, all coming towards the door (I found they were really walking backwards), while their mother, seated by the fire with some needlework on her lap, was saying, just as I entered the room, “Now, girls, you may get your things on for a walk.”

To my utter astonishment--for I was not yet accustomed to the action of the Watch “all smiles ceased,” (as Browning says) on the four pretty faces, and they all got out pieces of needle-work, and sat down. No one noticed me in the least, as I quietly took a chair and sat down to watch them.

When the needle-work had been unfolded, and they were all ready to begin, their mother said “Come, that's done, at last! You may fold up your work, girls.” But the children took no notice whatever of the remark; on the contrary, they set to work at once sewing--if that is the proper word to describe an operation such as I had never before witnessed. Each of them threaded her needle with a short end of thread attached to the work, which was instantly pulled by an invisible force through the stuff, dragging the needle after it: the nimble fingers of the little sempstress caught it at the other side, but only to lose it again the next moment. And so the work went on, steadily undoing itself, and the neatly-stitched little dresses, or whatever they were, steadily falling to pieces. Now and then one of the children would pause, as the recovered thread became inconveniently long, wind it on a bobbin, and start again with another short end.

At last all the work was picked to pieces and put away, and the lady led the way into the next room, walking backwards, and making the insane remark “Not yet, dear: we must get the sewing done first.” After which, I was not surprised to see the children skipping backwards after her, exclaiming “Oh, mother, it is such a lovely day for a walk!”

In the dining-room, the table had only dirty plates and empty dishes on it. However the party--with the addition of a gentleman, as good-natured, and as rosy, as the children--seated themselves at it very contentedly.

You have seen people eating cherry-tart, and every now and then cautiously conveying a cherry-stone from their lips to their plates? Well, something like that went on all through this ghastly--or shall we say 'ghostly'?---banquet. An empty fork is raised to the lips: there it receives a neatly-cut piece of mutton, and swiftly conveys it to the plate, where it instantly attaches itself to the mutton already there. Soon one of the plates, furnished with a complete slice of mutton and two potatoes, was handed up to the presiding gentleman, who quietly replaced the slice on the joint, and the potatoes in the dish.

Their conversation was, if possible, more bewildering than their mode of dining. It began by the youngest girl suddenly, and without provocation, addressing her eldest sister. “Oh, you wicked story-teller!” she said.

I expected a sharp reply from the sister; but, instead of this, she turned laughingly to her father, and said, in a very loud stage-whisper, “To be a bride!”

The father, in order to do his part in a conversation that seemed only fit for lunatics, replied “Whisper it to me, dear.”

But she didn't whisper (these children never did anything they were told): she said, quite loud, “Of course not! Everybody knows what Dotty wants!”

And little Dolly shrugged her shoulders, and said, with a pretty pettishness, “Now, Father, you're not to tease! You know I don't want to be bride's-maid to anybody!”

“And Dolly's to be the fourth,” was her father's idiotic reply.

Here Number Three put in her oar. “Oh, it is settled, Mother dear, really and truly! Mary told us all about it. It's to be next Tuesday four weeks--and three of her cousins are coming; to be bride's-maids--and--”

“She doesn't forget it, Minnie!” the Mother laughingly replied. “I do wish they'd get it settled! I don't like long engagements.”

And Minnie wound up the conversation--if so chaotic a series of remarks deserves the name--with “Only think! We passed the Cedars this morning, just exactly as Mary Davenant was standing at the gate, wishing good-bye to Mister---I forget his name. Of course we looked the other way.”

By this time I was so hopelessly confused that I gave up listening, and followed the dinner down into the kitchen.

But to you, O hypercritical reader, resolute to believe no item of this weird adventure, what need to tell how the mutton was placed on the spit, and slowly unroasted--how the potatoes were wrapped in their skins, and handed over to the gardener to be buried--how, when the mutton had at length attained to rawness, the fire, which had gradually changed from red-heat to a mere blaze, died down so suddenly that the cook had only just time to catch its last flicker on the end of a match--or how the maid, having taken the mutton off the spit, carried it (backwards, of course) out of the house, to meet the butcher, who was coming (also backwards) down the road?

The longer I thought over this strange adventure, the more hopelessly tangled the mystery became: and it was a real relief to meet Arthur in the road, and get him to go with me up to the Hall, to learn what news the telegraph had brought. I told him, as we went, what had happened at the Station, but as to my further adventures I thought it best, for the present, to say nothing.

The Earl was sitting alone when we entered. “I am glad you are come in to keep me company,” he said. “Muriel is gone to bed--the excitement of that terrible scene was too much for her--and Eric has gone to the hotel to pack his things, to start for London by the early train.”

“Then the telegram has come?” I said.

“Did you not hear? Oh, I had forgotten: it came in after you left the Station. Yes, it's all right: Eric has got his commission; and, now that he has arranged matters with Muriel, he has business in town that must be seen to at once.”

“What arrangement do you mean?” I asked with a sinking heart, as the thought of Arthur's crushed hopes came to my mind. “Do you mean that they are engaged?”

“They have been engaged--in a sense--for two years,” the old man gently replied: “that is, he has had my promise to consent to it, so soon as he could secure a permanent and settled line in life. I could never be happy with my child married to a man without an object to live for--without even an object to die for!”

“I hope they will be happy,” a strange voice said. The speaker was evidently in the room, but I had not heard the door open, and I looked round in some astonishment. The Earl seemed to share my surprise. “Who spoke?” he exclaimed.

“It was I,” said Arthur, looking at us with a worn, haggard face, and eyes from which the light of life seemed suddenly to have faded. “And let me wish you joy also, dear friend,” he added, looking sadly at the Earl, and speaking in the same hollow tones that had startled us so much.

“Thank you,” the old man said, simply and heartily.

A silence followed: then I rose, feeling sure that Arthur would wish to be alone, and bade our gentle host 'Good night': Arthur took his hand, but said nothing: nor did he speak again, as we went home till we were in the house and had lit our bed-room candles. Then he said more to himself than to me, “The heart knoweth its own bitterness. I never understood those words till now.”

The next few days passed wearily enough. I felt no inclination to call by myself at the Hall; still less to propose that Arthur should go with me: it seemed better to wait till Time--that gentle healer of our bitterest sorrows should have helped him to recover from the first shock of the disappointment that had blighted his life.

Business however soon demanded my presence in town; and I had to announce to Arthur that I must leave him for a while. “But I hope to run down again in a month,” I added. “I would stay now, if I could. I don't think it's good for you to be alone.”

“No, I ca'n't face solitude, here, for long,” said Arthur. “But don't think about me. I have made up my mind to accept a post in India, that has been offered me. Out there, I suppose I shall find something to live for; I ca'n't see anything at present. 'This life of mine I guard, as God's high gift, from scathe and wrong, Not greatly care to lose!'”

“Yes,” I said: “your name-sake bore as heavy a blow, and lived through it.”

“A far heavier one than mine,” said Arthur. “The woman he loved proved false. There is no such cloud as that on my memory of--of--” He left the name unuttered, and went on hurriedly. “But you will return, will you not?”

“Yes, I shall come back for a short time.”

“Do,” said Arthur: “and you shall write and tell me of our friends. I'll send you my address when I'm settled down.”


And so it came to pass that, just a week after the day when my Fairy-friends first appeared as Children, I found myself taking a farewell-stroll through the wood, in the hope of meeting them once more. I had but to stretch myself on the smooth turf, and the 'eerie' feeling was on me in a moment.

“Put oor ear welly low down,” said Bruno, “and I'll tell oo a secret! It's the Frogs' Birthday-Treat--and we've lost the Baby!”

“What Baby?” I said, quite bewildered by this complicated piece of news.

“The Queen's Baby, a course!” said Bruno. “Titania's Baby. And we's welly sorry. Sylvie, she's--oh so sorry!”

“How sorry is she?” I asked, mischievously.

“Three-quarters of a yard,” Bruno replied with perfect solemnity. “And I'm a little sorry too,” he added, shutting his eyes so as not to see that he was smiling.

“And what are you doing about the Baby?”

“Well, the soldiers are all looking for it--up and down everywhere.”

“The soldiers?” I exclaimed.

“Yes, a course!” said Bruno. “When there's no fighting to be done, the soldiers doos any little odd jobs, oo know.”

I was amused at the idea of its being a 'little odd job' to find the Royal Baby. “But how did you come to lose it?” I asked.

“We put it in a flower,” Sylvie, who had just joined us, explained with her eyes full of tears. “Only we ca'n't remember which!”

“She says us put it in a flower,” Bruno interrupted, “'cause she doosn't want I to get punished. But it were really me what put it there. Sylvie were picking Dindledums.”

{Image...The queen's baby}

“You shouldn't say 'us put it in a flower',” Sylvie very gravely remarked.

“Well, hus, then,” said Bruno. “I never can remember those horrid H's!”

“Let me help you to look for it,” I said. So Sylvie and I made a 'voyage of discovery' among all the flowers; but there was no Baby to be seen.

“What's become of Bruno?” I said, when we had completed our tour.

“He's down in the ditch there,” said Sylvie, “amusing a young Frog.”

I went down on my hands and knees to look for him, for I felt very curious to know how young Frogs ought to be amused. After a minute's search, I found him sitting at the edge of the ditch, by the side of the little Frog, and looking rather disconsolate.

“How are you getting on, Bruno?” I said, nodding to him as he looked up.

“Ca'n't amuse it no more,” Bruno answered, very dolefully, “'cause it won't say what it would like to do next! I've showed it all the duck-weeds--and a live caddis-worm----but it won't say nuffin! What--would oo like?'” he shouted into the ear of the Frog: but the little creature sat quite still, and took no notice of him. “It's deaf, I think!” Bruno said, turning away with a sigh. “And it's time to get the Theatre ready.”

“Who are the audience to be?”

“Only but Frogs,” said Bruno. “But they haven't comed yet. They wants to be drove up, like sheep.”

“Would it save time,” I suggested, “if I were to walk round with Sylvie, to drive up the Frogs, while you get the Theatre ready?”

“That are a good plan!” cried Bruno. “But where are Sylvie?”

“I'm here!” said Sylvie, peeping over the edge of the bank. “I was just watching two Frogs that were having a race.”

“Which won it?” Bruno eagerly inquired.

Sylvie was puzzled. “He does ask such hard questions!” she confided to me.

“And what's to happen in the Theatre?” I asked.

“First they have their Birthday-Feast,” Sylvie said: “then Bruno does some Bits of Shakespeare; then he tells them a Story.”

“I should think the Frogs like the Feast best. Don't they?”

“Well, there's generally very few of them that get any. They will keep their mouths shut so tight! And it's just as well they do,” she added, “because Bruno likes to cook it himself: and he cooks very queerly. Now they're all in. Would you just help me to put them with their heads the right way?”

We soon managed this part of the business, though the Frogs kept up a most discontented croaking all the time.

“What are they saying?” I asked Sylvie.

“They're saying 'Fork! Fork!' It's very silly of them! You're not going to have forks!” she announced with some severity. “Those that want any Feast have just got to open their mouths, and Bruno 'll put some of it in!”

At this moment Bruno appeared, wearing a little white apron to show that he was a Cook, and carrying a tureen full of very queer-looking soup. I watched very carefully as he moved about among the Frogs; but I could not see that any of them opened their mouths to be fed--except one very young one, and I'm nearly sure it did it accidentally, in yawning. However Bruno instantly put a large spoonful of soup into its mouth, and the poor little thing coughed violently for some time.

So Sylvie and I had to share the soup between us, and to pretend to enjoy it, for it certainly was very queerly cooked.

I only ventured to take one spoonful of it (“Sylvie's Summer-Soup,”

Bruno said it was), and must candidly confess that it was not at all

nice; and I could not feel surprised that so many of the guests had kept their mouths shut up tight.

“What's the soup made of, Bruno?” said Sylvie, who had put a spoonful of it to her lips, and was making a wry face over it.

And Bruno's answer was anything but encouraging. “Bits of things!”

The entertainment was to conclude with “Bits of Shakespeare,” as Sylvie expressed it, which were all to be done by Bruno, Sylvie being fully engaged in making the Frogs keep their heads towards the stage: after which Bruno was to appear in his real character, and tell them a Story of his own invention.

“Will the Story have a Moral to it?” I asked Sylvie, while Bruno was away behind the hedge, dressing for the first 'Bit.'

“I think so,” Sylvie replied doubtfully. “There generally is a Moral, only he puts it in too soon.”

“And will he say all the Bits of Shakespeare?”

“No, he'll only act them,” said Sylvie. “He knows hardly any of the words. When I see what he's dressed like, I've to tell the Frogs what character it is. They're always in such a hurry to guess! Don't you hear them all saying 'What? What?'” And so indeed they were: it had only sounded like croaking, till Sylvie explained it, but I could now make out the “Wawt? Wawt?” quite distinctly.

“But why do they try to guess it before they see it?”

“I don't know,” Sylvie said: “but they always do. Sometimes they begin guessing weeks and weeks before the day!”

(So now, when you hear the Frogs croaking in a particularly melancholy way, you may be sure they're trying to guess Bruno's next Shakespeare 'Bit'. Isn't that interesting?)

However, the chorus of guessing was cut short by Bruno, who suddenly rushed on from behind the scenes, and took a flying leap down among the Frogs, to re-arrange them.

For the oldest and fattest Frog--who had never been properly arranged so that he could see the stage, and so had no idea what was going on--was getting restless, and had upset several of the Frogs, and turned others round with their heads the wrong way. And it was no good at all, Bruno said, to do a 'Bit' of Shakespeare when there was nobody to look at it (you see he didn't count me as anybody). So he set to work with a stick, stirring them up, very much as you would stir up tea in a cup, till most of them had at least one great stupid eye gazing at the stage.

“Oo must come and sit among them, Sylvie,” he said in despair, “I've put these two side-by-side, with their noses the same way, ever so many times, but they do squarrel so!”

So Sylvie took her place as 'Mistress of the Ceremonies,' and Bruno vanished again behind the scenes, to dress for the first 'Bit.'

“Hamlet!” was suddenly proclaimed, in the clear sweet tones I knew so well. The croaking all ceased in a moment, and I turned to the stage, in some curiosity to see what Bruno's ideas were as to the behaviour of Shakespeare's greatest Character.

According to this eminent interpreter of the Drama, Hamlet wore a short black cloak (which he chiefly used for muffling up his face, as if he suffered a good deal from toothache), and turned out his toes very much as he walked. “To be or not to be!” Hamlet remarked in a cheerful tone, and then turned head-over-heels several times, his cloak dropping off in the performance.

I felt a little disappointed: Bruno's conception of the part seemed so wanting in dignity. “Won't he say any more of the speech?” I whispered to Sylvie.

“I think not,” Sylvie whispered in reply. “He generally turns head-over-heels when he doesn't know any more words.”

Bruno had meanwhile settled the question by disappearing from the stage; and the Frogs instantly began inquiring the name of the next Character.

“You'll know directly!” cried Sylvie, as she adjusted two or three young Frogs that had struggled round with their backs to the stage. “Macbeth!”

she added, as Bruno re-appeared.

Macbeth had something twisted round him, that went over one shoulder and under the other arm, and was meant, I believe, for a Scotch plaid. He had a thorn in his hand, which he held out at arm's length, as if he were a little afraid of it. “Is this a dagger?” Macbeth inquired, in a puzzled sort of tone: and instantly a chorus of “Thorn! Thorn!” arose from the Frogs (I had quite learned to understand their croaking by this time).

“It's a dagger!” Sylvie proclaimed in a peremptory tone. “Hold your tongues!” And the croaking ceased at once.

Shakespeare has not told us, so far as I know, that Macbeth had any such eccentric habit as turning head-over-heels in private life: but Bruno evidently considered it quite an essential part of the character, and left the stage in a series of somersaults. However, he was back again in a few moments, having tucked under his chin the end of a tuft of wool (probably left on the thorn by a wandering sheep), which made a magnificent beard, that reached nearly down to his feet.

“Shylock!” Sylvie proclaimed. “No, I beg your pardon!” she hastily corrected herself, “King Lear! I hadn't noticed the crown.” (Bruno had very cleverly provided one, which fitted him exactly, by cutting out the centre of a dandelion to make room for his head.)

King Lear folded his arms (to the imminent peril of his beard) and said, in a mild explanatory tone, “Ay, every inch a king!” and then paused, as if to consider how this could best be proved. And here, with all possible deference to Bruno as a Shakespearian critic, I must express my opinion that the poet did not mean his three great tragic heroes to be so strangely alike in their personal habits; nor do I believe that he would have accepted the faculty of turning head-over-heels as any proof at all of royal descent. Yet it appeared that King Lear, after deep meditation, could think of no other argument by which to prove his kingship: and, as this was the last of the 'Bits' of Shakespeare (“We never do more than three,” Sylvie explained in a whisper), Bruno gave the audience quite a long series of somersaults before he finally retired, leaving the enraptured Frogs all crying out “More! More!” which I suppose was their way of encoring a performance. But Bruno wouldn't appear again, till the proper time came for telling the Story.

{Image...The frogs' birthday-treat}

When he appeared at last in his real character, I noticed a remarkable change in his behaviour.

He tried no more somersaults. It was clearly his opinion that, however suitable the habit of turning head-over-heels might be to such petty individuals as Hamlet and King Lear, it would never do for Bruno to sacrifice his dignity to such an extent. But it was equally clear that he did not feel entirely at his ease, standing all alone on the stage, with no costume to disguise him: and though he began, several times, “There were a Mouse--,” he kept glancing up and down, and on all sides, as if in search of more comfortable quarters from which to tell the Story. Standing on one side of the stage, and partly overshadowing it, was a tall foxglove, which seemed, as the evening breeze gently swayed it hither and thither, to offer exactly the sort of accommodation that the orator desired. Having once decided on his quarters, it needed only a second or two for him to run up the stem like a tiny squirrel, and to seat himself astride on the topmost bend, where the fairy-bells clustered most closely, and from whence he could look down on his audience from such a height that all shyness vanished, and he began his Story merrily.

“Once there were a Mouse and a Crocodile and a Man and a Goat and a Lion.” I had never heard the 'dramatis personae' tumbled into a story with such profusion and in such reckless haste; and it fairly took my breath away. Even Sylvie gave a little gasp, and allowed three of the Frogs, who seemed to be getting tired of the entertainment, to hop away into the ditch, without attempting to stop them.

“And the Mouse found a Shoe, and it thought it were a Mouse-trap. So it got right in, and it stayed in ever so long.”

“Why did it stay in?” said Sylvie. Her function seemed to be much the same as that of the Chorus in a Greek Play: she had to encourage the orator, and draw him out, by a series of intelligent questions.

“'Cause it thought it couldn't get out again,” Bruno explained. “It were a clever mouse. It knew it couldn't get out of traps!”

“But why did it go in at all?” said Sylvie.

“--and it jamp, and it jamp,” Bruno proceeded, ignoring this question, “and at last it got right out again. And it looked at the mark in the Shoe. And the Man's name were in it. So it knew it wasn't its own Shoe.”

“Had it thought it was?” said Sylvie.

“Why, didn't I tell oo it thought it were a Mouse-trap?” the indignant orator replied. “Please, Mister Sir, will oo make Sylvie attend?” Sylvie was silenced, and was all attention: in fact, she and I were most of the audience now, as the Frogs kept hopping away, and there were very few of them left.

“So the Mouse gave the Man his Shoe. And the Man were welly glad, cause he hadn't got but one Shoe, and he were hopping to get the other.”

Here I ventured on a question. “Do you mean 'hopping,' or 'hoping'?”

“Bofe,” said Bruno. “And the Man took the Goat out of the Sack.” (“We haven't heard of the sack before,” I said. “Nor you won't hear of it again,” said Bruno). “And he said to the Goat, 'Oo will walk about here till I comes back.' And he went and he tumbled into a deep hole. And the Goat walked round and round. And it walked under the Tree. And it wug its tail. And it looked up in the Tree. And it sang a sad little Song. Oo never heard such a sad little Song!”

“Can you sing it, Bruno?” I asked.

“Iss, I can,” Bruno readily replied. “And I sa'n't. It would make Sylvie cry--”

“It wouldn't!,” Sylvie interrupted in great indignation. “And I don't believe the Goat sang it at all!”

“It did, though!” said Bruno. “It singed it right froo. I sawed it singing with its long beard--”

“It couldn't sing with its beard,” I said, hoping to puzzle the little fellow: “a beard isn't a voice.”

“Well then, oo couldn't walk with Sylvie!” Bruno cried triumphantly. “Sylvie isn't a foot!”

I thought I had better follow Sylvie's example, and be silent for a while. Bruno was too sharp for us.

“And when it had singed all the Song, it ran away--for to get along to look for the Man, oo know. And the Crocodile got along after it--for to bite it, oo know. And the Mouse got along after the Crocodile.”

“Wasn't the Crocodile running?” Sylvie enquired. She appealed to me. “Crocodiles do run, don't they?”

I suggested “crawling” as the proper word.

“He wasn't running,” said Bruno, “and he wasn't crawling. He went struggling along like a portmanteau. And he held his chin ever so high in the air--”

“What did he do that for?” said Sylvie.

“'cause he hadn't got a toofache!” said Bruno. “Ca'n't oo make out nuffin wizout I 'splain it? Why, if he'd had a toofache, a course he'd have held his head down--like this--and he'd have put a lot of warm blankets round it!”

“If he'd had any blankets,” Sylvie argued.

“Course he had blankets!” retorted her brother. “Doos oo think Crocodiles goes walks wizout blankets? And he frowned with his eyebrows. And the Goat was welly flightened at his eyebrows!”

“I'd never be afraid of eyebrows!” exclaimed Sylvie.

“I should think oo would, though, if they'd got a Crocodile fastened to them, like these had! And so the Man jamp, and he jamp, and at last he got right out of the hole.”

Sylvie gave another little gasp: this rapid dodging about among the characters of the Story had taken away her breath.

“And he runned away for to look for the Goat, oo know. And he heard the Lion grunting---”

“Lions don't grunt,” said Sylvie.

“This one did,” said Bruno. “And its mouth were like a large cupboard. And it had plenty of room in its mouth. And the Lion runned after the Man for to eat him, oo know. And the Mouse runned after the Lion.”

“But the Mouse was running after the Crocodile,” I said: “he couldn't run after both!”

Bruno sighed over the density of his audience, but explained very patiently. “He did runned after bofe: 'cause they went the same way! And first he caught the Crocodile, and then he didn't catch the Lion. And when he'd caught the Crocodile, what doos oo think he did--'cause he'd got pincers in his pocket?”

“I ca'n't guess,” said Sylvie.

{Image...'He wrenched out that crocodile's toof!'}

“Nobody couldn't guess it!” Bruno cried in high glee. “Why, he wrenched out that Crocodile's toof!”

“Which tooth?” I ventured to ask.

But Bruno was not to be puzzled. “The toof he were going to bite the Goat with, a course!”

“He couldn't be sure about that,” I argued, “unless he wrenched out all its teeth.”

Bruno laughed merrily, and half sang, as he swung himself backwards and forwards, “He did--wrenched--out--all its teef!”

“Why did the Crocodile wait to have them wrenched out?” said Sylvie.

“It had to wait,” said Bruno.

I ventured on another question. “But what became of the Man who said 'You may wait here till I come back'?”

“He didn't say 'Oo may,'” Bruno explained. “He said, 'Oo will.' Just like Sylvie says to me 'Oo will do oor lessons till twelve o'clock.' Oh, I wiss,” he added with a little sigh, “I wiss Sylvie would say 'Oo may do oor lessons'!”

This was a dangerous subject for discussion, Sylvie seemed to think. She returned to the Story. “But what became of the Man?”

“Well, the Lion springed at him. But it came so slow, it were three weeks in the air--”

“Did the Man wait for it all that time?” I said.

“Course he didn't!” Bruno replied, gliding head-first down the stem of the fox-glove, for the Story was evidently close to its end. “He sold his house, and he packed up his things, while the Lion were coming. And he went and he lived in another town. So the Lion ate the wrong man.”

This was evidently the Moral: so Sylvie made her final proclamation to the Frogs. “The Story's finished! And whatever is to be learned from it,” she added, aside to me, “I'm sure I don't know!”

I did not feel quite clear about it myself, so made no suggestion: but the Frogs seemed quite content, Moral or no Moral, and merely raised a husky chorus of “Off! Off!” as they hopped away.


“It's just a week,” I said, three days later, to Arthur, “since we heard of Lady Muriel's engagement. I think I ought to call, at any rate, and offer my congratulations. Won't you come with me?”

A pained expression passed over his face.

“When must you leave us?” he asked.

“By the first train on Monday.”

“Well--yes, I will come with you. It would seem strange and unfriendly if I didn't. But this is only Friday. Give me till Sunday afternoon. I shall be stronger then.”

Shading his eyes with one hand, as if half-ashamed of the tears that were coursing down his cheeks, he held the other out to me. It trembled as I clasped it.

I tried to frame some words of sympathy; but they seemed poor and cold, and I left them unspoken. “Good night!” was all I said.

“Good night, dear friend!” he replied. There was a manly vigour in his tone that convinced me he was wrestling with, and triumphing over, the great sorrow that had so nearly wrecked his life--and that, on the stepping-stone of his dead self, he would surely rise to higher things!

There was no chance, I was glad to think, as we set out on Sunday afternoon, of meeting Eric at the Hall, as he had returned to town the day after his engagement was announced. His presence might have disturbed the calm--the almost unnatural calm--with which Arthur met the woman who had won his heart, and murmured the few graceful words of sympathy that the occasion demanded.

Lady Muriel was perfectly radiant with happiness: sadness could not live in the light of such a smile: and even Arthur brightened under it, and, when she remarked “You see I'm watering my flowers, though it is the Sabbath-Day,” his voice had almost its old ring of cheerfulness as he replied “Even on the Sabbath-Day works of mercy are allowed. But this isn't the Sabbath-Day. The Sabbath-day has ceased to exist.”

“I know it's not Saturday,” Lady Muriel replied; “but isn't Sunday often called 'the Christian Sabbath'?”

“It is so called, I think, in recognition of the spirit of the Jewish institution, that one day in seven should be a day of rest. But I hold that Christians are freed from the literal observance of the Fourth Commandment.”

“Then where is our authority for Sunday observance?”

“We have, first, the fact that the seventh day was 'sanctified', when God rested from the work of Creation. That is binding on us as Theists. Secondly, we have the fact that 'the Lord's Day' is a Christian institution. That is binding on us as Christians.”

“And your practical rules would be--?”

“First, as Theists, to keep it holy in some special way, and to make it, so far as is reasonably possible, a day of rest. Secondly, as Christians, to attend public worship.”

“And what of amusements?”

“I would say of them, as of all kinds of work, whatever is innocent on a week-day, is innocent on Sunday, provided it does not interfere with the duties of the day.”

“Then you would allow children to play on Sunday?”

“Certainly I should. Why make the day irksome to their restless natures?”

“I have a letter somewhere,” said Lady Muriel, “from an old friend, describing the way in which Sunday was kept in her younger days. I will fetch it for you.”

“I had a similar description, viva voce, years ago,” Arthur said when she had left us, “from a little girl. It was really touching to hear the melancholy tone in which she said 'On Sunday I mustn't play with my doll! On Sunday I mustn't run on the sands! On Sunday I mustn't dig in the garden!' Poor child! She had indeed abundant cause for hating Sunday!”

“Here is the letter,” said Lady Muriel, returning. “Let me read you a piece of it.”

“When, as a child, I first opened my eyes on a Sunday-morning, a feeling of dismal anticipation, which began at least on the Friday, culminated. I knew what was before me, and my wish, if not my word, was 'Would God it were evening!' It was no day of rest, but a day of texts, of catechisms (Watts'), of tracts about converted swearers, godly charwomen, and edifying deaths of sinners saved.

“Up with the lark, hymns and portions of Scripture had to be learned by heart till 8 o'clock, when there were family-prayers, then breakfast, which I was never able to enjoy, partly from the fast already undergone, and partly from the outlook I dreaded.

“At 9 came Sunday-School; and it made me indignant to be put into the class with the village-children, as well as alarmed lest, by some mistake of mine, I should be put below them.

“The Church-Service was a veritable Wilderness of Zin. I wandered in it, pitching the tabernacle of my thoughts on the lining of the square family-pew, the fidgets of my small brothers, and the horror of knowing that, on the Monday, I should have to write out, from memory, jottings of the rambling disconnected extempore sermon, which might have had any text but its own, and to stand or fall by the result.

“This was followed by a cold dinner at 1 (servants to have no work), Sunday-School again from 2 to 4, and Evening-Service at 6. The intervals were perhaps the greatest trial of all, from the efforts I had to make, to be less than usually sinful, by reading books and sermons as barren as the Dead Sea. There was but one rosy spot, in the distance, all that day: and that was 'bed-time,' which never could come too early!”

“Such teaching was well meant, no doubt,” said Arthur; “but it must have driven many of its victims into deserting the Church-Services altogether.”

“I'm afraid I was a deserter this morning,” she gravely said. “I had to write to Eric. Would you--would you mind my telling you something he said about prayer? It had never struck me in that light before.”

“In what light?” said Arthur.

“Why, that all Nature goes by fixed, regular laws--Science has proved that. So that asking God to do anything (except of course praying for spiritual blessings) is to expect a miracle: and we've no right to do that. I've not put it as well as he did: but that was the outcome of it, and it has confused me. Please tell me what you can say in answer to it.”

“I don't propose to discuss Captain Lindon's difficulties,” Arthur gravely replied; “specially as he is not present. But, if it is your difficulty,” (his voice unconsciously took a tenderer tone) “then I will speak.”

“It is my difficulty,” she said anxiously.

“Then I will begin by asking 'Why did you except spiritual blessings?' Is not your mind a part of Nature?”

“Yes, but Free-Will comes in there--I can choose this or that; and God can influence my choice.”

“Then you are not a Fatalist?”

“Oh, no!” she earnestly exclaimed.

“Thank God!” Arthur said to himself, but in so low a whisper that only I heard it. “You grant then that I can, by an act of free choice, move this cup,” suiting the action to the word, “this way or that way?”

“Yes, I grant it.”

“Well, let us see how far the result is produced by fixed laws. The cup moves because certain mechanical forces are impressed on it by my hand. My hand moves because certain forces--electric, magnetic, or whatever 'nerve-force' may prove to be--are impressed on it by my brain. This nerve-force, stored in the brain, would probably be traceable, if Science were complete, to chemical forces supplied to the brain by the blood, and ultimately derived from the food I eat and the air I breathe.”

“But would not that be Fatalism? Where would Free-Will come in?”

“In choice of nerves,” replied Arthur. “The nerve-force in the brain may flow just as naturally down one nerve as down another. We need something more than a fixed Law of Nature to settle which nerve shall carry it. That 'something' is Free-Will.”

Her eyes sparkled. “I see what you mean!” she exclaimed. “Human Free-Will is an exception to the system of fixed Law. Eric said something like that. And then I think he pointed out that God can only influence Nature by influencing Human Wills. So that we might reasonably pray 'give us this day our daily bread,' because many of the causes that produce bread are under Man's control. But to pray for rain, or fine weather, would be as unreasonable as--” she checked herself, as if fearful of saying something irreverent.

In a hushed, low tone, that trembled with emotion, and with the solemnity of one in the presence of death, Arthur slowly replied “Shalt he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? Shall we 'the swarm that in the noontide beam were born,' feeling in ourselves the power to direct, this way or that, the forces of Nature--of Nature, of which we form so trivial a part--shall we, in our boundless arrogance, in our pitiful conceit, deny that power to the Ancient of Days? Saying, to our Creator, 'Thus far and no further. Thou madest, but thou canst not rule!'?”

Lady Muriel had covered her face in her hands, and did not look up. She only murmured “Thanks, thanks!” again and again.

We rose to go. Arthur said, with evident effort, “One word more. If you would know the power of Prayer--in anything and everything that Man can need try it. Ask, and it shall be given you. I--have tried it. I know that God answers prayer!”

Our walk home was a silent one, till we had nearly reached the lodgings: then Arthur murmured--and it was almost an echo of my own thoughts--“What knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?”

The subject was not touched on again. We sat on, talking, while hour after hour, of this our last night together, glided away unnoticed. He had much to tell me about India, and the new life he was going to, and the work he hoped to do. And his great generous soul seemed so filled with noble ambition as to have no space left for any vain regret or selfish repining.

“Come, it is nearly morning! Arthur said at last, rising and leading the way upstairs.

“The sun will be rising in a few minutes: and, though I have basely defrauded you of your last chance of a night's rest here, I'm sure you'll forgive me: for I really couldn't bring myself to say 'Good night' sooner. And God knows whether you'll ever see me again, or hear of me!”

“Hear of you I am certain I shall!” I warmly responded, and quoted the concluding lines of that strange poem 'Waring':--

   “Oh, never star
   Was lost here, but it rose afar
   Look East, where whole new thousands are!
   In Vishnu-land what Avatar?”

“Aye, look Eastward!” Arthur eagerly replied, pausing at the stair-case window, which commanded a fine view of the sea and the eastward horizon. “The West is the fitting tomb for all the sorrow and the sighing, all the errors and the follies of the Past: for all its withered Hopes and all its buried Loves! From the East comes new strength, new ambition, new Hope, new Life, new Love! Look Eastward! Aye, look Eastward!”

His last words were still ringing in my ears as I entered my room, and undrew the window-curtains, just in time to see the sun burst in glory from his ocean-prison, and clothe the world in the light of a new day.

“So may it be for him, and me, and all of us!” I mused. “All that is evil, and dead, and hopeless, fading with the Night that is past! All that is good, and living, and hopeful, rising with the dawn of Day!

“Fading, with the Night, the chilly mists, and the noxious vapours, and the heavy shadows, and the wailing gusts, and the owl's melancholy hootings: rising, with the Day, the darting shafts of light, and the wholesome morning breeze, and the warmth of a dawning life, and the mad music of the lark! Look Eastward!

“Fading, with the Night, the clouds of ignorance, and the deadly blight of sin, and the silent tears of sorrow: and ever rising, higher, higher, with the Day, the radiant dawn of knowledge, and the sweet breath of purity, and the throb of a world's ecstasy! Look Eastward!

{Image...'Look eastward!'}

“Fading, with the Night, the memory of a dead love, and the withered leaves of a blighted hope, and the sickly repinings and moody regrets that numb the best energies of the soul: and rising, broadening, rolling upward like a living flood, the manly resolve, and the dauntless will, and the heavenward gaze of faith--the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!

“Look Eastward! Aye, look Eastward!”


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

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

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

It was in 1874, I believe, that the idea first occurred to me of making it the nucleus of a longer story. As the years went on, I jotted down, at odd moments, all sorts of odd ideas, and fragments of dialogue, that occurred to me--who knows how?--with a transitory suddenness that left me no choice but either to record them then and there, or to abandon them to oblivion. Sometimes one could trace to their source these random flashes of thought--as being suggested by the book one was reading, or struck out from the 'flint' of one's own mind by the 'steel' of a friend's chance remark but they had also a way of their own, of occurring, a propos of nothing--specimens of that hopelessly illogical phenomenon, 'an effect without a cause.' Such, for example, was the last line of 'The Hunting of the Snark,' which came into my head (as I have already related in 'The Theatre' for April, 1887) quite suddenly, during a solitary walk: and such, again, have been passages which occurred in dreams, and which I cannot trace to any antecedent cause whatever. There are at least two instances of such dream-suggestions in this book--one, my Lady's remark, 'it often runs in families, just as a love for pastry does', at p. 88; the other, Eric Lindon's badinage about having been in domestic service, at p. 332. And thus it came to pass that I found myself at last in possession of a huge unwieldy mass of litterature--if the reader will kindly excuse the spelling--which only needed stringing together, upon the thread of a consecutive story, to constitute the book I hoped to write. Only! The task, at first, seemed absolutely hopeless, and gave me a far clearer idea, than I ever had before, of the meaning of the word 'chaos': and I think it must have been ten years, or more, before I had succeeded in classifying these odds-and-ends sufficiently to see what sort of a story they indicated: for the story had to grow out of the incidents, not the incidents out of the story I am telling all this, in no spirit of egoism, but because I really believe that some of my readers will be interested in these details of the 'genesis' of a book, which looks so simple and straight-forward a matter, when completed, that they might suppose it to have been written straight off, page by page, as one would write a letter, beginning at the beginning; and ending at the end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ever-present sense of this grim possibility has been, in all ages,*

    Note... At the moment, when I had written these words, there
    was a knock at the door, and a telegram was brought me,
    announcing the sudden death of a dear friend.

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

   Omnes eodem cogimur, omnium
   Versatur urna serius ocius
   Sors exitura et nos in aeternum
   Exilium impositura cymbae.

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

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

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

And dare you, knowing this, say to yourself “Well, perhaps it is an immoral play: perhaps the situations are a little too 'risky', the dialogue a little too strong, the 'business' a little too suggestive. I don't say that conscience is quite easy: but the piece is so clever, I must see it this once! I'll begin a stricter life to-morrow.” To-morrow, and to-morrow, and tomorrow!

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

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

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

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

  'Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
  To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
  He prayeth well, who loveth well
  Both man and bird and beast.
  He prayeth best, who loveth best
  All things both great and small;
  For the dear God who loveth us,
  He made and loveth all.'

Full text of volume II

                           SYLVIE AND BRUNO

                            LEWIS CARROLL
                            HARRY FURNISS_

                              _New York_
                          MACMILLAN AND CO.
                              AND LONDON
       _The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved_

 Dreams, that elude the Waker’s frenzied grasp—
 Hands, stark and still, on a dead Mother’s breast,
 Which nevermore shall render clasp for clasp,
 Or deftly soothe a weeping Child to rest—
 In suchlike forms me listeth to portray
 My Tale, here ended. Thou delicious Fay—
 The guardian of a Sprite that lives to tease thee—
 Loving in earnest, chiding but in play
 The merry mocking Bruno! Who, that sees thee,
 Can fail to love thee, Darling, even as I?—
 My sweetest Sylvie, we must say ‘Good-bye!’


I must begin with the same announcement as in the previous Volume (which I shall henceforward refer to as “Vol. I.,” calling the present Volume “Vol. II.”), viz. that the Locket, at p. 405, was drawn by ‘Miss Alice Havers.’ And my reason, for not stating this on the title-page—that it seems only due, to the artist of these wonderful pictures, that his name should stand there alone—has, I think, even greater weight in Vol. II. than it had in Vol. I. Let me call especial attention to the three “Little Birds” borders, at pp. 365, 371, 377. The way, in which he has managed to introduce the most minute details of the stanzas to be illustrated, seems to me a triumph of artistic ingenuity.

Let me here express my sincere gratitude to the many Reviewers who have noticed, whether favorably or unfavorably, the previous Volume. Their unfavorable remarks were, most probably, well-deserved; the favorable ones less probably so. Both kinds have no doubt served to make the book known, and have helped the reading Public to form their opinions of it. Let me also here assure them that it is not from any want of respect for their criticisms, that I have carefully forborne from reading _any_ of them. I am strongly of opinion that an author had far better _not_ read any reviews of his books: the unfavorable ones are almost certain to make him cross, and the favorable ones conceited; and _neither_ of these results is desirable.

Criticisms have, however, reached me from private sources, to some of which I propose to offer a reply.

One such critic complains that Arthur’s strictures, on sermons and on choristers, are too severe. Let me say, in reply, that I do _not_ hold myself responsible for _any_ of the opinions expressed by the characters in my book. They are simply opinions which, it seemed to me, might probably be held by the persons into whose mouths I put them, and which were worth consideration.

Other critics have objected to certain innovations in spelling, such as “ca’n’t,” “wo’n’t,” “traveler.” In reply, I can only plead my firm conviction that the popular usage is _wrong_. As to “ca’n’t,” it will not be disputed that, in all _other_ words ending in “n’t,” these letters are an abbreviation of “not”; and it is surely absurd to suppose that, in this solitary instance, “not” is represented by “’t”! In fact “can’t” is the _proper_ abbreviation for “can it,” just as “is’t” is for “is it.” Again, in “wo’n’t,” the first apostrophe is needed, because the word “would” is here _abridged_ into “wo”: but I hold it proper to spell “don’t” with only _one_ apostrophe, because the word “do” is here _complete_. As to such words as “traveler,” I hold the correct principle to be, to _double_ the consonant when the accent falls on that syllable; otherwise to leave it _single_. This rule is observed in most cases (e.g. we double the “r” in “preferred,” but leave it single in “offered”), so that I am only extending, to other cases, an existing rule. I admit, however, that I do not spell “parallel,” as the rule would have it; but here we are constrained, by the etymology, to insert the double “l”.

In the Preface to Vol. I. were two puzzles, on which my readers might exercise their ingenuity. One was, to detect the 3 lines of “padding,” which I had found it necessary to supply in the passage extending from the top of p. 35 to the middle of p. 38. They are the 14th, 15th, and 16th lines of p. 37. The other puzzle was, to determine which (if any) of the 8 stanzas of the Gardener’s Song (see pp. 65, 78, 83, 90, 106, 116, 164, 168) were adapted to the context, and which (if any) had the context adapted to them. The last of them is the only one that was adapted to the context, the “Garden-Door that opened with a key” having been substituted for some creature (a Cormorant, I think) “that nestled in a tree.” At pp. 78, 106, and 164, the context was adapted to the stanza. At p. 90, neither stanza nor context was altered: the connection between them was simply a piece of good luck.

In the Preface to Vol. I., at pp. ix., x., I gave an account of the making-up of the story of “Sylvie and Bruno.” A few more details may perhaps be acceptable to my Readers.

It was in 1873, as I _now_ believe, that the idea first occurred to me that a little fairy-tale (written, in 1867, for “Aunt Judy’s Magazine,” under the title “Bruno’s Revenge”) might serve as the nucleus of a longer story. This I surmise, from having found the original draft of the last paragraph of Vol. II., dated 1873. So that this paragraph has been waiting 20 years for its chance of emerging into print—more than twice the period so cautiously recommended by Horace for ‘repressing’ one’s literary efforts!

It was in February, 1885, that I entered into negotiations, with Mr. Harry Furniss, for illustrating the book. Most of the substance of _both_ Volumes was then in existence in manuscript: and my original intention was to publish the _whole_ story at once. In September, 1885, I received from Mr. Furniss the first set of drawings—the four which illustrate “Peter and Paul” (see I. pp. 144, 147, 150, 154): in November, 1886, I received the second set—the three which illustrate the Professor’s song about the “little man” who had “a little gun” (Vol. II. pp. 265, 266, 267): and in January, 1887, I received the third set—the four which illustrate the “Pig-Tale.”

So we went on, illustrating first one bit of the story, and then another, without any idea of sequence. And it was not till March, 1889, that, having calculated the number of pages the story would occupy, I decided on dividing it into _two_ portions, and publishing it half at a time. This necessitated the writing of a _sort_ of conclusion for the first Volume: and _most_ of my Readers, I fancy, regarded this as the _actual_ conclusion, when that Volume appeared in December, 1889. At any rate, among all the letters I received about it, there was only _one_ which expressed _any_ suspicion that it was not a _final_ conclusion. This letter was from a child. She wrote “we were so glad, when we came to the end of the book, to find that there was no ending-up, for that shows us that you are going to write a sequel.”

It may interest some of my Readers to know the _theory_ on which this story is constructed. It is an attempt to show what might _possibly_ happen, supposing that Fairies really existed; and that they were sometimes visible to us, and we to them; and that they were sometimes able to assume human form: and supposing, also, that human beings might sometimes become conscious of what goes on in the Fairy-world—by actual transference of their immaterial essence, such as we meet with in ‘Esoteric Buddhism.’

I have supposed a Human being to be capable of various psychical states, with varying degrees of consciousness, as follows:—

(_a_) the ordinary state, with no consciousness of the presence of Fairies;

(_b_) the ‘eerie’ state, in which, while conscious of actual surroundings, he is _also_ conscious of the presence of Fairies;

(_c_) a form of trance, in which, while _un_conscious of actual surroundings, and apparently asleep, he (i.e. his immaterial essence) migrates to other scenes, in the actual world, or in Fairyland, and is conscious of the presence of Fairies.

I have also supposed a Fairy to be capable of migrating from Fairyland into the actual world, and of assuming, at pleasure, a Human form; and also to be capable of various psychical states, viz.

(_a_) the ordinary state, with no consciousness of the presence of Human beings;

(_b_) a sort of ‘eerie’ state, in which he is conscious, if in the actual world, of the presence of actual Human beings; if in Fairyland, of the presence of the immaterial essences of Human beings.

I will here tabulate the passages, in both Volumes, where abnormal states occur.

 Historian’s Locality and State.                  Other characters.
  Vol. I.
 pp. 1-16 In train                         _c_    Chancellor (_b_) p. 2.
    33-55 do.                              _c_
    65-79 do.                              _c_
    83-99 At lodgings                      _c_
  105-117 On beach                         _c_
  119-183 At lodgings                      _c_    S. and B. (_b_) pp. 158-163.
                                                  Professor (_b_) p. 169.
  190-221 In wood                    _b_          Bruno (_b_) pp. 198-220.
  225-233 do. sleep-walking                _c_    S. and B. (_b_).
  247-253 Among ruins                      _c_    do. (_b_).
 262, 263 do. dreaming         _a_
  263-269 do. sleep-walking                _c_    S. B. and Professor in Human
      270 In street                  _b_
  279-294 At station, &c.            _b_          S. and B. (_b_).
  304-323 In garden                        _c_    S. B. and Professor (_b_).
  329-344 On road, &c.         _a_                S. and B. in Human form.
  345-356 In street, &c.       _a_
  361-382 In wood                    _b_          S. and B. (_b_).
 Vol. II.
 pp. 4-18 In garden                  _b_          S. and B (_b_).
    47-52 On road                    _b_          do. (_b_).
    53-78 do.                        _b_          do. in Human form.
    79-92 do                         _b_          do. (_b_).
  152-211 In drawing-room      _a_                do. in Human form.
  212-246 do.                              _c_    do. (_b_).
  262-270 In smoking-room                  _c_    do. (_b_).
  304-309 In wood                    _b_          do. (_a_); Lady Muriel (_b_).
  311-345 At lodgings                      _c_
  351-399 do.                              _c_
 407-end. do.                        _b_

In the Preface to Vol. I., at p. x., I gave an account of the _origination_ of some of the ideas embodied in the book. A few more such details may perhaps interest my Readers:—

I. p. 203. The very peculiar use, here made of a dead mouse, comes from real life. I once found two very small boys, in a garden, playing a microscopic game of ‘Single-Wicket.’ The bat was, I think, about the size of a table-spoon; and the utmost distance attained by the ball, in its most daring flights, was some 4 or 5 yards. The _exact_ length was of course a matter of _supreme_ importance; and it was always carefully measured out (the batsman and the bowler amicably sharing the toil) with a dead mouse!

I. p. 259. The two quasi-mathematical Axioms, quoted by Arthur at p. 259 of Vol. I., (“Things that are greater than the same are greater than one another,” and “All angles are equal”) were actually enunciated, in all seriousness, by undergraduates at a University situated not 100 miles from Ely.

II. p. 10. Bruno’s remark (“I can, if I like, &c.”) was actually made by a little boy.

II. p. 12. So also was his remark (“I know what it _doesn’t_ spell.”) And his remark (“I just twiddled my eyes, &c.”) I heard from the lips of a little girl, who had just solved a puzzle I had set her.

II. p. 57. Bruno’s soliloquy (“For its father, &c.”) was actually spoken by a little girl, looking out of the window of a railway-carriage.

II. p. 138. The remark, made by a guest at the dinner-party, when asking for a dish of fruit (“I’ve been wishing for them, &c.”) I heard made by the great Poet-Laureate, whose loss the whole reading-world has so lately had to deplore.

II. p. 163. Bruno’s speech, on the subject of the age of ‘Mein Herr,’ embodies the reply of a little girl to the question “Is your grandmother an _old_ lady?” “I don’t know if she’s an _old_ lady,” said this cautious young person; “she’s _eighty-three_.”

II. p. 203. The speech about ‘Obstruction’ is no mere creature of my imagination! It is copied _verbatim_ from the columns of the Standard, and was spoken by Sir William Harcourt, who was, at the time, a member of the ‘Opposition,’ at the ‘National Liberal Club,’ on July the 16th, 1890.

II. p. 329. The Professor’s remark, about a dog’s tail, that “it doesn’t bite at _that_ end,” was actually made by a child, when warned of the danger he was incurring by pulling the dog’s tail.

II. p. 374. The dialogue between Sylvie and Bruno, which occupies lines 6 to 15, is a _verbatim_ report (merely substituting “cake” for “penny”) of a dialogue overheard between two children.

One story in this Volume—‘Bruno’s Picnic’—I can vouch for as suitable for telling to children, having tested it again and again; and, whether my audience has been a dozen little girls in a village-school, or some thirty or forty in a London drawing-room, or a hundred in a High School, I have always found them earnestly attentive, and keenly appreciative of such fun as the story supplied.

May I take this opportunity of calling attention to what I flatter myself was a successful piece of name-coining, at p. 42 of Vol. I. Does not the name ‘Sibimet’ fairly embody the character of the Sub-Warden? The gentle Reader has no doubt observed what a singularly useless article in a house a brazen trumpet is, if you simply leave it lying about, and never blow it!

Readers of the first Volume, who have amused themselves by trying to solve the two puzzles propounded at pp. xi., xii. of the Preface, may perhaps like to exercise their ingenuity in discovering which (if any) of the following parallelisms were intentional, and which (if any) accidental.

 “Little Birds.”  Events, and Persons.
 Stanza       1.  Banquet.
              2.  Chancellor.
              3.  Empress and Spinach (II. 325).
              4.  Warden’s Return.
              5.  Professor’s Lecture (II. 339).
              6.  Other Professor’s song (I. 138).
              7.  Petting of Uggug.
              8.  Baron Doppelgeist.
              9.  Jester and Bear (I. 119). Little Foxes.
             10.  Bruno’s Dinner-Bell; Little Foxes.

I will publish the answer to this puzzle in the Preface to a little book of “Original Games and Puzzles,” now in course of preparation.

I have reserved, for the last, one or two rather more serious topics.

I had intended, in this Preface, to discuss more fully, than I had done in the previous Volume, the ‘Morality of Sport’, with special reference to letters I have received from lovers of Sport, in which they point out the many great advantages which men get from it, and try to prove that the suffering, which it inflicts on animals, is too trivial to be regarded.

But, when I came to think the subject out, and to arrange the whole of the arguments ‘pro’ and ‘con’, I found it much too large for treatment here. Some day, I hope to publish an essay on this subject. At present, I will content myself with stating the net result I have arrived at.

It is, that God has given to Man an absolute right to take the _lives_ of other animals, for _any_ reasonable cause, such as the supply of food: but that He has _not_ given to Man the right to inflict _pain_, unless when _necessary_: that mere pleasure, or advantage, does not constitute such a necessity: and, consequently, that pain, inflicted for the purposes of _Sport_, is cruel, and therefore wrong. But I find it a far more complex question than I had supposed; and that the ‘case’, on the side of the Sportsman, is a much stronger one than I had supposed. So, for the present, I say no more about it.

Objections have been raised to the severe language I have put into the mouth of ‘Arthur’, at p. 277, on the subject of ‘Sermons,’ and at pp. 273, 274, on the subjects of Choral Services and ‘Choristers.’

I have already protested against the assumption that I am ready to endorse the opinions of characters in my story. But, in these two instances, I admit that I am much in sympathy with ‘Arthur.’ In my opinion, far too many sermons are expected from our preachers; and, as a consequence, a great many are preached, which are not worth listening to; and, as a consequence of _that_, we are very apt _not_ to listen. The reader of this paragraph probably heard a sermon last Sunday morning? Well, let him, if he can, name the text, and state how the preacher treated it!

Then, as to ‘Choristers,’ and all the other accessories—of music, vestments, processions, &c.,—which have come, along with them, into fashion—while freely admitting that the ‘Ritual’ movement was sorely needed, and that it has effected a vast improvement in our Church-Services, which had become dead and dry to the last degree, I hold that, like many other desirable movements, it has gone too far in the opposite direction, and has introduced many new dangers.

For the Congregation this new movement involves the danger of learning to think that the Services are done _for_ them; and that their bodily _presence_ is all they need contribute. And, for Clergy and Congregation alike, it involves the danger of regarding these elaborate Services as _ends in themselves_, and of forgetting that they are simply _means_, and the very hollowest of mockeries, unless they bear fruit in our _lives_.

For the Choristers it seems to involve the danger of self-conceit, as described at p. 274, the danger of regarding those parts of the Service, where their help is not required, as not worth attending to, the danger of coming to regard the Service as a mere outward form—a series of postures to be assumed, and of words to be said or sung, while the _thoughts_ are elsewhere—and the danger of ‘familiarity’ breeding ‘contempt’ for sacred things.

Let me illustrate these last two forms of danger, from my own experience. Not long ago, I attended a Cathedral-Service, and was placed immediately behind a row of men, members of the Choir; and I could not help noticing that they treated the _Lessons_ as a part of the Service to which they needed not to give _any_ attention, and as affording them a convenient opportunity for arranging music-books, &c., &c. Also I have frequently seen a row of little choristers, after marching in procession to their places, kneel down, as if about to pray, and rise from their knees after a minute spent in looking about them, it being but too evident that the attitude was a mere mockery. Surely it is very dangerous, for these children, to thus accustom them to _pretend_ to pray? As an instance of irreverent treatment of holy things, I will mention a custom, which no doubt many of my readers have noticed in Churches where the Clergy and Choir enter in procession, viz. that, at the end of the private devotions, which are carried on in the vestry, and which are of course inaudible to the Congregation, the final “Amen” is _shouted_, loud enough to be heard all through the Church. This serves as a signal, to the Congregation, to prepare to rise when the procession appears: and it admits of no dispute that it is for this purpose that it is thus shouted. When we remember to Whom that “Amen” is _really_ addressed, and consider that it is here _used_ for the same purpose as one of the Church-bells, we must surely admit that it is a piece of gross irreverence? To _me_ it is much as if I were to see a Bible used as a footstool.

As an instance of the dangers, for the Clergy themselves, introduced by this new movement, let me mention the fact that, according to _my_ experience, Clergymen of this school are _specially_ apt to retail comic anecdotes, in which the most sacred names and words—sometimes actual texts from the Bible—are used as themes for jesting. Many such things are repeated as having been originally said by _children_, whose utter ignorance of evil must no doubt acquit _them_, in the sight of God, of all blame; but it must be otherwise for those who _consciously_ use such innocent utterances as material for their unholy mirth.

Let me add, however, _most_ earnestly, that I fully believe that this profanity is, in many cases, _un_conscious: the ‘environment’ (as I have tried to explain at p. 123) makes all the difference between man and man; and I rejoice to think that many of these profane stories—which _I_ find so painful to listen to, and should feel it a sin to repeat—give to _their_ ears no pain, and to _their_ consciences no shock; and that _they_ can utter, not less sincerely than myself, the two prayers, “_Hallowed be Thy Name_” and “_from hardness of heart, and contempt of Thy Word and Commandment, Good Lord, deliver us!_” To which I would desire to add, for their sake and for my own, Keble’s beautiful petition, “_help us, this and every day, To live more nearly as we pray!_” It is, in fact, for its _consequences_—for the grave dangers, both to speaker and to hearer, which it involves—rather than for what it is _in itself_, that I mourn over this clerical habit of profanity in social talk. To the _believing_ hearer it brings the danger of loss of reverence for holy things, by the mere act of listening to, and enjoying, such jests; and also the temptation to retail them for the amusement of others. To the _unbelieving_ hearer it brings a welcome confirmation of his theory that religion is a fable, in the spectacle of its accredited champions thus betraying their trust. And to the speaker himself it must surely bring the danger of _loss of faith_. For surely such jests, if uttered with no consciousness of harm, must necessarily be also uttered with no consciousness, at the moment, of the _reality_ of God, as a _living being_, who hears all we say. And he, who allows himself the habit of thus uttering holy words, with no thought of their meaning, is but too likely to find that, for him, God has become a myth, and heaven a poetic fancy—that, for him, the light of life is gone, and that he is at heart an atheist, lost in “_a darkness that may be felt_.”

There is, I fear, at the present time, an increasing tendency to irreverent treatment of the name of God and of subjects connected with religion. Some of our theatres are helping this downward movement by the gross caricatures of clergymen which they put upon the stage: some of our clergy are themselves helping it, by showing that they can lay aside the spirit of reverence, along with their surplices, and can treat as jests, when _outside_ their churches, names and things to which they pay an almost superstitious veneration when _inside_: the “Salvation Army” has, I fear, with the best intentions, done much to help it, by the coarse familiarity with which they treat holy things: and surely every one, who desires to _live_ in the spirit of the prayer “_Hallowed be thy Name_,” ought to do what he can, however little that may be, to check it. So I have gladly taken this unique opportunity, however unfit the topic may seem for the Preface to a book of this kind, to express some thoughts which have weighed on my mind for a long time. I did not expect, when I wrote the Preface to Vol. I, that it would be read to any appreciable extent: but I rejoice to believe, from evidence that has reached me, that it _has_ been read by many, and to hope that this Preface will also be so: and I think that, among them, some will be found ready to sympathise with the views I have put forwards, and ready to help, with their prayers and their example, the revival, in Society, of the waning spirit of reverence.

                                                     _Christmas_, 1893.


 CHAPTER                                                            PAGE
 I. BRUNO’S LESSONS                                                    1
 II. LOVE’S CURFEW                                                    20
 III. STREAKS OF DAWN                                                 36
 IV. THE DOG-KING                                                     52
 V. MATILDA JANE                                                      67
 VI. WILLIE’S WIFE                                                    82
 VII. FORTUNATUS’ PURSE                                               96
 VIII. IN A SHADY PLACE                                              110
 IX. THE FAREWELL-PARTY                                              128
 X. JABBERING AND JAM                                                147
 XI. THE MAN IN THE MOON                                             162
 XII. FAIRY-MUSIC                                                    175
 XIII. WHAT TOTTLES MEANT                                            194
 XIV. BRUNO’S PICNIC                                                 212
 XV. THE LITTLE FOXES                                                233
 XVI. BEYOND THESE VOICES                                            247
 XVII. TO THE RESCUE!                                                262
 XVIII. A NEWSPAPER-CUTTING                                          282
 XIX. A FAIRY-DUET                                                   287
 XX. GAMMON AND SPINACH                                              310
 XXI. THE PROFESSOR’S LECTURE                                        329
 XXII. THE BANQUET                                                   346
 XXIII. THE PIG-TALE                                                 363
 XXIV. THE BEGGAR’S RETURN                                           381
 XXV. LIFE OUT OF DEATH                                              400
 General Index                                                       413
 List of Works                                                       426

                       ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOL. I.

 THE MARCH-UP                                                          3
 VISITING THE PROFESSOR                                               11
 BOOTS FOR HORIZONTAL WEATHER                                         15
 A PORTABLE PLUNGE-BATH                                               24
 REMOVAL OF UGGUG                                                     41
 ‘WHAT A GAME!’                                                       48
 ‘DRINK THIS!’                                                        53
 ‘COME, YOU BE OFF!’                                                  62
 THE GARDENER                                                         66
 A BEGGAR’S PALACE                                                    72
 THE CRIMSON LOCKET                                                   77
 ‘HE THOUGHT HE SAW A BUFFALO’                                        79
 ‘IT WAS A HIPPOPOTAMUS’                                              91
 THE MAP OF FAIRYLAND                                                 96
 ‘HE THOUGHT HE SAW A KANGAROO’                                      106
 THE MOUSE-LION                                                      108
 ‘HAMMER IT IN!’                                                     115
 A BEAR WITHOUT A HEAD                                               117
 ‘COME UP, BRUIN!’                                                   123
 THE OTHER PROFESSOR                                                 135
 ‘HOW CHEERFULLY THE BOND HE SIGNED!’                                144
 ‘POOR PETER SHUDDERED IN DESPAIR’                                   147
 ‘SUCH BOOTS AS THESE YOU SELDOM SEE’                                150
 ‘I WILL LEND YOU FIFTY MORE!’                                       154
 ‘HE THOUGHT HE SAW AN ALBATROSS’                                    165
 THE MASTIFF-SENTINEL                                                172
 THE DOG-KING                                                        176
 FAIRY-SYLVIE                                                        193
 BRUNO’S REVENGE                                                     213
 FAIRIES RESTING                                                     226
 A CHANGED CROCODILE                                                 229
 A LECTURE ON ART                                                    240
 ‘THREE BADGERS ON A MOSSY STONE’                                    247
 ‘THE FATHER-BADGER, WRITHING IN A CAVE’                             249
 ‘THOSE AGED ONES WAXED GAY’                                         252
 ‘HOW PERFECTLY ISOCHRONOUS!’                                        268
 THE LAME CHILD                                                      280
 ‘IT WENT IN TWO HALVES’                                             285
 FIVE O’CLOCK TEA                                                    296
 ‘WHAT’S THE MATTER, DARLING?’                                       307
 THE DEAD HARE                                                       321
 CROSSING THE LINE                                                   341
 ‘THE PUG-DOG SAT UP’                                                351
 THE QUEEN’S BABY                                                    363
 THE FROGS’ BIRTHDAY-TREAT                                           373
 ‘HE WRENCHED OUT THAT CROCODILE’S TOOF!’                            380
 ‘LOOK EASTWARD!’                                                    395

                      ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOL. II.

 SYLVIE’S TRUANT-PUPIL                                                 8
 KING FISHER’S WOOING                                                 15
 ‘SPEND IT ALL FOR MINNIE’                                            22
 ‘ARE NOT THOSE ORCHISES?’                                            50
 A ROYAL THIEF-TAKER                                                  62
 ‘SUMMAT WRONG WI’ MY SPECTACLES!’                                    64
 BESSIE’S SONG                                                        75
 THE RESCUE OF WILLIE                                                 83
 WILLIE’S WIFE                                                        88
 FORTUNATUS’ PURSE                                                   103
 ‘I AM SITTING AT YOUR FEET’                                         119
 MEIN HERR’S FAIRY-FRIENDS                                           163
 ‘HOW CALL YOU THE OPERA?’                                           178
 SCHOLAR-HUNTING: THE PURSUED                                        188
 SCHOLAR-HUNTING: THE PURSUERS                                       189
 THE EGG-MERCHANT                                                    197
 STARTING FOR BRUNO’S PICNIC                                         230
 ‘ENTER THE LION’                                                    236
 ‘WHIHUAUCH! WHIHUAUCH!’                                             242
 ‘NEVER!’ YELLED TOTTLES                                             248
 BRUNO’S BED-TIME                                                    265
 ‘LONG CEREMONIOUS CALLS’                                            266
 THE VOICES                                                          267
 ‘HIS SOUL SHALL BE SAD FOR THE SPIDER’                              268
 LORDS OF THE CREATION                                               271
 ‘WILL YOU NOT SPARE ME?’                                            277
 IN THE CHURCH-YARD                                                  291
 A FAIRY-DUET                                                        304
 THE OTHER PROFESSOR FOUND                                           317
 ‘HER IMPERIAL HIGHNESS IS SURPRISED!’                               326
 ‘HE THOUGHT HE SAW AN ELEPHANT’                                     335
 AN EXPLOSION                                                        345
 ‘A CANNOT SHAK’ HANDS WI’ THEE!’                                    350
 THE OTHER PROFESSOR’S FALL                                          352
 ‘TEACHING TIGRESSES TO SMILE’                                       365
 ‘HORRID WAS THAT PIG’S DESPAIR!’                                    367
 THE FATAL JUMP                                                      369
 ‘BATHING CROCODILES IN CREAM’                                       371
 ‘THAT PIG LAY STILL AS ANY STONE’                                   372
 ‘STILL HE SITS IN MISERIE’                                          373
 ‘BLESSED BY HAPPY STAGS’                                            377
 THE OLD BEGGAR’S RETURN                                             382
 ‘PORCUPINE!’                                                        388
 ‘GOOD-NIGHT, PROFESSOR!’                                            398
 ‘HIS WIFE KNELT DOWN AT HIS SIDE’                                   404
 THE BLUE LOCKET                                                     409
 ‘IT IS LOVE!’                                                       411

                           SYLVIE AND BRUNO

                              CHAPTER I.
                           BRUNO’S LESSONS.

During the next month or two my solitary town-life seemed, by contrast, unusually dull and tedious. I missed the pleasant friends I had left behind at Elveston—the genial interchange of thought—the sympathy which gave to one’s ideas a new and vivid reality: but, perhaps more than all, I missed the companionship of the two Fairies—or Dream-Children, for I had not yet solved the problem as to who or what they were—whose sweet playfulness had shed a magic radiance over my life.

In office-hours—which I suppose reduce most men to the mental condition of a coffee-mill or a mangle—time sped along much as usual: it was in the pauses of life, the desolate hours when books and newspapers palled on the sated appetite, and when, thrown back upon one’s own dreary musings, one strove—all in vain—to people the vacant air with the dear faces of absent friends, that the real bitterness of solitude made itself felt.

One evening, feeling my life a little more wearisome than usual, I strolled down to my Club, not so much with the hope of meeting any friend there, for London was now ‘out of town,’ as with the feeling that here, at least, I should hear ‘sweet words of human speech,’ and come into contact with human thought.

However, almost the first face I saw there _was_ that of a friend. Eric Lindon was lounging, with rather a ‘bored’ expression of face, over a newspaper; and we fell into conversation with a mutual satisfaction which neither of us tried to conceal.

After a while I ventured to introduce what was just then the main subject of my thoughts. “And so the Doctor” (a name we had adopted by a tacit agreement, as a convenient compromise between the formality of ‘Doctor Forester’ and the intimacy—to which Eric Lindon hardly seemed entitled—of ‘Arthur’) “has gone abroad by this time, I suppose? Can you give me his present address?”

“He is still at Elveston—I believe,” was the reply. “But I have not been there since I last met you.”

I did not know which part of this intelligence to wonder at most. “And might I ask—if it isn’t taking too much of a liberty—when your wedding-bells are to—or perhaps they _have_ rung, already?”

“No,” said Eric, in a steady voice, which betrayed scarcely a trace of emotion: “_that_ engagement is at an end. I am still ‘Benedick the _un_married man.’”

After this, the thick-coming fancies—all radiant with new possibilities of happiness for Arthur—were far too bewildering to admit of any further conversation, and I was only too glad to avail myself of the first decent excuse, that offered itself, for retiring into silence.

The next day I wrote to Arthur, with as much of a reprimand for his long silence as I could bring myself to put into words, begging him to tell me how the world went with him.

Needs must that three or four days—possibly more—should elapse before I could receive his reply; and never had I known days drag their slow length along with a more tedious indolence.

To while away the time, I strolled, one afternoon, into Kensington Gardens, and, wandering aimlessly along any path that presented itself, I soon became aware that I had somehow strayed into one that was wholly new to me. Still, my elfish experiences seemed to have so completely faded out of my life that nothing was further from my thoughts than the idea of again meeting my fairy-friends, when I chanced to notice a small creature, moving among the grass that fringed the path, that did not seem to be an insect, or a frog, or any other living thing that I could think of. Cautiously kneeling down, and making an _ex tempore_ cage of my two hands, I imprisoned the little wanderer, and felt a sudden thrill of surprise and delight on discovering that my prisoner was no other than _Bruno_ himself!

Bruno took the matter _very_ coolly, and, when I had replaced him on the ground, where he would be within easy conversational distance, he began talking, just as if it were only a few minutes since last we had met.

“Doos oo know what the _Rule_ is,” he enquired, “when oo catches a Fairy, withouten its having tolded oo where it was?” (Bruno’s notions of English Grammar had certainly _not_ improved since our last meeting.)

“No,” I said. “I didn’t know there was any Rule about it.”

“I _think_ oo’ve got a right to _eat_ me,” said the little fellow, looking up into my face with a winning smile. “But I’m not pruffickly sure. Oo’d better not do it wizout asking.”

It did indeed seem reasonable not to take so irrevocable a step as _that_, without due enquiry. “I’ll certainly _ask_ about it, first,” I said. “Besides, I don’t know yet whether you would be _worth_ eating!”

“I guess I’m _deliciously_ good to eat,” Bruno remarked in a satisfied tone, as if it were something to be rather proud of.

“And what are you doing here, Bruno?”

“_That’s_ not my name!” said my cunning little friend. “Don’t oo know my name’s ‘Oh Bruno!’? That’s what Sylvie always calls me, when I says mine lessons.”

“Well then, what are you doing here, oh Bruno?”

“Doing mine lessons, a-course!” With that roguish twinkle in his eye, that always came when he knew he was talking nonsense.

“Oh, _that’s_ the way you do your lessons, is it? And do you remember them well?”

“Always can ’member _mine_ lessons,” said Bruno. “It’s _Sylvie’s_ lessons that’s so _dreffully_ hard to ’member!” He frowned, as if in agonies of thought, and tapped his forehead with his knuckles. “I _ca’n’t_ think enough to understand them!” he said despairingly. “It wants _double_ thinking, I believe!”

“But where’s Sylvie gone?”

“That’s just what _I_ want to know!” said Bruno disconsolately. “What ever’s the good of setting me lessons, when she isn’t here to ’splain the hard bits?”

“_I’ll_ find her for you!” I volunteered; and, getting up, I wandered round the tree under whose shade I had been reclining, looking on all sides for Sylvie. In another minute I _again_ noticed some strange thing moving among the grass, and, kneeling down, was immediately confronted with Sylvie’s innocent face, lighted up with a joyful surprise at seeing me, and was accosted, in the sweet voice I knew so well, with what seemed to be the _end_ of a sentence whose beginning I had failed to catch.

“—and I think he ought to have _finished_ them by this time. So I’m going back to him. Will you come too? It’s only just round at the other side of this tree.”

It was but a few steps for _me_; but it was a great many for Sylvie; and I had to be very careful to walk slowly, in order not to leave the little creature so far behind as to lose sight of her.

To find Bruno’s _lessons_ was easy enough: they appeared to be neatly written out on large smooth ivy-leaves, which were scattered in some confusion over a little patch of ground where the grass had been worn away; but the pale student, who ought by rights to have been bending over them, was nowhere to be seen: we looked in all directions, for some time, in vain; but at last Sylvie’s sharp eyes detected him, swinging on a tendril of ivy, and Sylvie’s stern voice commanded his instant return to _terra firma_ and to the business of Life.


“Pleasure first and business afterwards” seemed to be the motto of these tiny folk, so many hugs and kisses had to be interchanged before anything else could be done.

“Now, Bruno,” Sylvie said reproachfully, “didn’t I tell you you were to go on with your lessons, unless you heard to the contrary?”

“But I _did_ heard to the contrary!” Bruno insisted, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

“_What_ did you hear, you wicked boy?”

“It were a sort of noise in the air,” said Bruno: “a sort of a scrambling noise. Didn’t _oo_ hear it, Mister Sir?”

“Well, anyhow, you needn’t go to _sleep_ over them, you lazy-lazy!” For Bruno had curled himself up, on the largest ‘lesson,’ and was arranging another as a pillow.

“I _wasn’t_ asleep!” said Bruno, in a deeply-injured tone. “When I shuts mine eyes, it’s to show that I’m _awake_!”

“Well, how much have you learned, then?”

“I’ve learned a little tiny bit,” said Bruno, modestly, being evidently afraid of overstating his achievement. “_Ca’n’t_ learn no more!”

“Oh Bruno! You know you _can_, if you like.”

“Course I can, if I _like_,” the pale student replied; “but I ca’n’t if I _don’t_ like!”

Sylvie had a way—which I could not too highly admire—of evading Bruno’s logical perplexities by suddenly striking into a new line of thought; and this masterly stratagem she now adopted.

“Well, I must say _one_ thing——”

“Did oo know, Mister Sir,” Bruno thoughtfully remarked, “that Sylvie ca’n’t count? Whenever she says ‘I must say _one_ thing,’ I _know_ quite well she’ll say _two_ things! And she always doos.”

“Two heads are better than one, Bruno,” I said, but with no very distinct idea as to what I meant by it.

“I shouldn’t mind having two _heads_,” Bruno said softly to himself: “one head to eat mine dinner, and one head to argue wiz Sylvie—doos oo think oo’d look prettier if oo’d got _two_ heads, Mister Sir?”

The case did not, I assured him, admit of a doubt.

“The reason why Sylvie’s so cross——” Bruno went on very seriously, almost sadly.

Sylvie’s eyes grew large and round with surprise at this new line of enquiry—her rosy face being perfectly radiant with good humour. But she said nothing.

“Wouldn’t it be better to tell me after the lessons are over?” I suggested.

“Very well,” Bruno said with a resigned air: “only she wo’n’t be cross then.”

“There’s only three lessons to do,” said Sylvie. “Spelling, and Geography, and Singing.”

“Not _Arithmetic_?” I said.

“No, he hasn’t a head for Arithmetic——”

“Course I haven’t!” said Bruno. “Mine head’s for _hair_. I haven’t got a _lot_ of heads!”

“—and he ca’n’t learn his Multiplication-table——”

“I like _History_ ever so much better,” Bruno remarked. “Oo has to _repeat_ that Muddlecome table——”

“Well, and you have to repeat——”

“No, oo hasn’t!” Bruno interrupted. “History repeats itself. The Professor said so!”

Sylvie was arranging some letters on a board——E—V—I—L. “Now, Bruno,” she said, “what does _that_ spell?”

Bruno looked at it, in solemn silence, for a minute. “I knows what it _doosn’t_ spell!” he said at last.

“That’s no good,” said Sylvie. “What _does_ it spell?”

Bruno took another look at the mysterious letters. “Why, it’s ‘LIVE,’ backwards!” he exclaimed. (I thought it was, indeed.)

“How _did_ you manage to see that?” said Sylvie.

“I just twiddled my eyes,” said Bruno, “and then I saw it directly. Now may I sing the King-fisher Song?”

“Geography next,” said Sylvie. “Don’t you know the Rules?”

“I thinks there oughtn’t to be such a lot of Rules, Sylvie! I thinks——”

“Yes, there _ought_ to be such a lot of Rules, you wicked, wicked boy! And how dare you _think_ at all about it? And shut up that mouth directly!”

So, as ‘that mouth’ didn’t seem inclined to shut up of itself, Sylvie shut it for him—with both hands—and sealed it with a kiss, just as you would fasten up a letter.

“Now that Bruno is fastened up from talking,” she went on, turning to me, “I’ll show you the Map he does his lessons on.”

And there it was, a large Map of the World, spread out on the ground. It was so large that Bruno had to crawl about on it, to point out the places named in the ‘King-fisher Lesson.’

“When a King-fisher sees a Lady-bird flying away, he says ‘_Ceylon_, if you _Candia_!’ And when he catches it, he says ‘Come to _Media_! And if you’re _Hungary_ or thirsty, I’ll give you some _Nubia_!’ When he takes it in his claws, he says ‘_Europe!_’ When he puts it into his beak, he says ‘_India!_’ When he’s swallowed it, he says ‘_Eton!_’ That’s all.”

“That’s _quite_ perfect,” said Sylvie. “Now you may sing the King-fisher Song.”

“Will _oo_ sing the chorus?” Bruno said to me.

I was just beginning to say “I’m afraid I don’t know the _words_,” when Sylvie silently turned the map over, and I found the words were all written on the back. In one respect it was a _very_ peculiar song: the chorus to each verse came in the _middle_, instead of at the _end_ of it. However, the tune was so easy that I soon picked it up, and managed the chorus as well, perhaps, as it is possible for _one_ person to manage such a thing. It was in vain that I signed to Sylvie to help me: she only smiled sweetly and shook her head.

 “King Fisher courted Lady Bird—
 _Sing Beans, sing Bones, sing Butterflies!_
   ‘Find me my match,’ he said,
   ‘With such a noble head—
 With such a beard, as white as curd—
   With such expressive eyes!’
 “‘Yet pins have heads,’ said Lady Bird—
 _Sing Prunes, sing Prawns, sing Primrose-Hill!_
   ‘And, where you stick them in,
   They stay, and thus a pin
 Is very much to be preferred
   To one that’s never still!’
 “‘Oysters have beards,’ said Lady Bird—
 _Sing Flies, sing Frogs, sing Fiddle-strings!_
   ‘I love them, for I know
   _They_ never chatter so:
 They would not say one single word—
   Not if you crowned them Kings!’
 “‘Needles have eyes,’ said Lady Bird—
 _Sing Cats, sing Corks, sing Cowslip-tea!_
     ‘And they are sharp—just what
     Your Majesty is _not:_
 So get you gone—’tis too absurd
     To come a-courting _me_!’”

[Illustration: KING FISHER’S WOOING]

“So he went away,” Bruno added as a kind of postscript, when the last note of the song had died away. “Just like he always did.”

“Oh, my _dear_ Bruno!” Sylvie exclaimed, with her hands over her ears. “You shouldn’t say ‘like’: you should say ‘_what_.’”

To which Bruno replied, doggedly, “I only says ‘what!’ when oo doosn’t speak loud, so as I can hear oo.”

“Where did he go to?” I asked, hoping to prevent an argument.

“He went more far than he’d never been before,” said Bruno.

“You should never say ‘more far,’” Sylvie corrected him: “you should say ‘_farther_.’”

“Then _oo_ shouldn’t say ‘more broth,’ when we’re at dinner,” Bruno retorted: “oo should say ‘_brother_’!”

This time Sylvie evaded an argument by turning away, and beginning to roll up the Map. “Lessons are over!” she proclaimed in her sweetest tones.

“And has there been no _crying_ over them?” I enquired. “Little boys _always_ cry over their lessons, don’t they?”

“I never cries after twelve o’clock,” said Bruno: “’cause then it’s getting so near to dinner-time.”

“Sometimes, in the morning,” Sylvie said in a low voice; “when it’s Geography-day, and when he’s been disobe——”

“_What_ a fellow you are to talk, Sylvie!” Bruno hastily interposed. “Doos oo think the world was _made_ for oo to talk in?”

“Why, where would you _have_ me talk, then?” Sylvie said, evidently quite ready for an argument.

But Bruno answered resolutely. “I’m not going to argue about it, ’cause it’s getting late, and there wo’n’t be time—but oo’s as ’ong as ever oo can be!” And he rubbed the back of his hand across his eyes, in which tears were beginning to glitter.

_Sylvie’s_ eyes filled with tears in a moment. “I didn’t mean it, Bruno, _darling_!” she whispered; and the rest of the argument was lost ‘amid the tangles of Neæra’s hair,’ while the two disputants hugged and kissed each other.

But this new form of argument was brought to a sudden end by a flash of lightning, which was closely followed by a peal of thunder, and by a torrent of rain-drops, which came hissing and spitting, almost like live creatures, through the leaves of the tree that sheltered us.

“Why, it’s raining cats and dogs!” I said.

“And all the _dogs_ has come down _first_,” said Bruno: “there’s nothing but _cats_ coming down now!”

In another minute the pattering ceased, as suddenly as it had begun. I stepped out from under the tree, and found that the storm was over; but I looked in vain, on my return, for my tiny companions. They had vanished with the storm, and there was nothing for it but to make the best of my way home.

On the table lay, awaiting my return, an envelope of that peculiar yellow tint which always announces a telegram, and which must be, in the memories of so many of us, inseparably linked with some great and sudden sorrow—something that has cast a shadow, never in this world to be wholly lifted off, on the brightness of Life. No doubt it has _also_ heralded—for many of us—some sudden news of joy; but this, I think, is less common: human life seems, on the whole, to contain more of sorrow than of joy. And yet the world goes on. Who knows why?

This time, however, there was no shock of sorrow to be faced: in fact, the few words it contained (“Could not bring myself to write. Come soon. Always welcome. A letter follows this. Arthur.”) seemed so like Arthur himself speaking, that it gave me quite a thrill of pleasure, and I at once began the preparations needed for the journey.

                             CHAPTER II.
                            LOVE’S CURFEW.

“Fayfield Junction! Change for Elveston!”

What subtle memory could there be, linked to these commonplace words, that caused such a flood of happy thoughts to fill my brain? I dismounted from the carriage in a state of joyful excitement for which I could not at first account. True, I had taken this very journey, and at the same hour of the day, six months ago; but many things had happened since then, and an old man’s memory has but a slender hold on recent events: I sought ‘the missing link’ in vain. Suddenly I caught sight of a bench—the only one provided on the cheerless platform—with a lady seated on it, and the whole forgotten scene flashed upon me as vividly as if it were happening over again.

“Yes,” I thought. “This bare platform is, for me, rich with the memory of a dear friend! She was sitting on that very bench, and invited me to share it, with some quotation from Shakespeare—I forget what. I’ll try the Earl’s plan for the Dramatisation of Life, and fancy that figure to be Lady Muriel; and I won’t undeceive myself too soon!”

So I strolled along the platform, resolutely ‘making-believe’ (as children say) that the casual passenger, seated on that bench, was the Lady Muriel I remembered so well. She was facing away from me, which aided the elaborate cheatery I was practising on myself: but, though I was careful, in passing the spot, to look the other way, in order to prolong the pleasant illusion, it was inevitable that, when I turned to walk back again, I should see who it was. It was Lady Muriel herself!

[Illustration: ‘SPEND IT ALL FOR MINNIE’]

The whole scene now returned vividly to my memory; and, to make this repetition of it stranger still, there was the same old man, whom I remembered seeing so roughly ordered off, by the Station-Master, to make room for his titled passenger. The same, but ‘with a difference’: no longer tottering feebly along the platform, but actually seated at Lady Muriel’s side, and in conversation with her! “Yes, put it in your purse,” she was saying, “and remember you’re to spend it all for _Minnie_. And mind you bring her something nice, that’ll do her real good! And give her my love!” So intent was she on saying these words, that, although the sound of my footstep had made her lift her head and look at me, she did not at first recognise me.

I raised my hat as I approached, and then there flashed across her face a genuine look of joy, which so exactly recalled the sweet face of Sylvie, when last we met in Kensington Gardens, that I felt quite bewildered.

Rather than disturb the poor old man at her side, she rose from her seat, and joined me in my walk up and down the platform, and for a minute or two our conversation was as utterly trivial and commonplace as if we were merely two casual guests in a London drawing-room. Each of us seemed to shrink, just at first, from touching on the deeper interests which linked our lives together.

The Elveston train had drawn up at the platform, while we talked; and, in obedience to the Station-Master’s obsequious hint of “This way, my Lady! Time’s up!”, we were making the best of our way towards the end which contained the sole first-class carriage, and were just passing the now-empty bench, when Lady Muriel noticed, lying on it, the purse in which her gift had just been so carefully bestowed, the owner of which, all unconscious of his loss, was being helped into a carriage at the other end of the train. She pounced on it instantly. “Poor old man!” she cried. “He mustn’t go off, and think he’s lost it!”

“Let _me_ run with it! I can go quicker than you!” I said. But she was already half-way down the platform, flying (‘running’ is much too mundane a word for such fairy-like motion) at a pace that left all possible efforts of _mine_ hopelessly in the rear.

She was back again before I had well completed my audacious boast of speed in running, and was saying, quite demurely, as we entered our carriage, “and you really think _you_ could have done it quicker?”

“No indeed!” I replied. “I plead ‘Guilty’ of gross exaggeration, and throw myself on the mercy of the Court!”

“The Court will overlook it—for this once!” Then her manner suddenly changed from playfulness to an anxious gravity.

“You are not looking your best!” she said with an anxious glance. “In fact, I think you look _more_ of an invalid than when you left us. I very much doubt if London agrees with you?”

“It _may_ be the London air,” I said, “or it may be the hard work—or my rather lonely life: anyhow, I’ve _not_ been feeling very well, lately. But Elveston will soon set me up again. Arthur’s prescription—he’s my doctor, you know, and I heard from him this morning—is ‘plenty of ozone, and new milk, and _pleasant society_’!”

“Pleasant society?” said Lady Muriel, with a pretty make-believe of considering the question. “Well, really I don’t know where we can find _that_ for you! We have so few neighbours. But new milk we _can_ manage. Do get it of my old friend Mrs. Hunter, up there, on the hill-side. You may rely upon the _quality_. And her little Bessie comes to school every day, and passes your lodgings. So it would be very easy to send it.”

“I’ll follow your advice, with pleasure,” I said; “and I’ll go and arrange about it tomorrow. I know Arthur will want a walk.”

“You’ll find it quite an easy walk—under three miles, I think.”

“Well, now that we’ve settled that point, let me retort your own remark upon yourself. I don’t think _you’re_ looking quite your best!”

“I daresay not,” she replied in a low voice; and a sudden shadow seemed to overspread her face. “I’ve had some troubles lately. It’s a matter about which I’ve been long wishing to consult you, but I couldn’t easily write about it. I’m _so_ glad to have this opportunity!”

“Do you think,” she began again, after a minute’s silence, and with a visible embarrassment of manner most unusual in her, “that a promise, deliberately and solemnly given, is _always_ binding—except, of course, where its fulfilment would involve some actual _sin_?”

“I ca’n’t think of any other exception at this moment,” I said. “That branch of casuistry is usually, I believe, treated as a question of truth and untruth——”

“Surely that _is_ the principle?” she eagerly interrupted. “I always thought the Bible-teaching about it consisted of such texts as ‘_lie not one to another_’?”

“I have thought about that point,” I replied; “and it seems to me that the essence of _lying_ is the intention of _deceiving_. If you give a promise, fully _intending_ to fulfil it, you are certainly acting truthfully _then_; and, if you afterwards break it, that does not involve any _deception_. I cannot call it _untruthful_.”

Another pause of silence ensued. Lady Muriel’s face was hard to read: she looked pleased, I thought, but also puzzled; and I felt curious to know whether her question had, as I began to suspect, some bearing on the breaking off of her engagement with Captain (now Major) Lindon.

“You have relieved me from a great fear,” she said; “but the thing is of course _wrong_, somehow. What texts would _you_ quote, to prove it wrong?”

“Any that enforce the payment of _debts_. If _A_ promises something to _B_, _B_ has a claim upon _A_. And _A_’s sin, if he breaks his promise, seems to me more analogous to _stealing_ than to _lying_.”

“It’s a new way of looking at it—to me,” she said; “but it seems a _true_ way, also. However, I won’t deal in generalities, with an old friend like you! For we _are_ old friends, somehow. Do you know, I think we _began_ as old friends?” she said with a playfulness of tone that ill accorded with the tears that glistened in her eyes.

“Thank you very much for saying so,” I replied. “I like to think of you as an _old_ friend,” (“—though you don’t look it!” would have been the almost necessary sequence, with any other lady; but she and I seemed to have long passed out of the time when compliments, or any such trivialities, were possible.)

Here the train paused at a station, where two or three passengers entered the carriage; so no more was said till we had reached our journey’s end.

On our arrival at Elveston, she readily adopted my suggestion that we should walk up together; so, as soon as our luggage had been duly taken charge of—hers by the servant who met her at the station, and mine by one of the porters—we set out together along the familiar lanes, now linked in my memory with so many delightful associations. Lady Muriel at once recommenced the conversation at the point where it had been interrupted.

“You knew of my engagement to my cousin Eric. Did you also hear——”

“Yes,” I interrupted, anxious to spare her the pain of giving any details. “I heard it had all come to an end.”

“I would like to tell you how it happened,” she said; “as that is the very point I want your advice about. I had long realised that we were not in sympathy in religious belief. His ideas of Christianity are very shadowy; and even as to the existence of a God he lives in a sort of dreamland. But it has not affected his life! I feel sure, now, that the most absolute Atheist _may_ be leading, though walking blindfold, a pure and noble life. And if you knew half the good deeds——” she broke off suddenly, and turned away her head.

“I entirely agree with you,” I said. “And have we not our Saviour’s own promise that such a life shall surely lead to the light?”

“Yes, I know it,” she said in a broken voice, still keeping her head turned away. “And so I told him. He said he would believe, for _my_ sake, if he could. And he wished, for _my_ sake, he could see things as I did. But that is all wrong!” she went on passionately. “God _cannot_ approve such low motives as that! Still it was not _I_ that broke it off. I knew he loved me; and I had _promised_; and——”

“Then it was _he_ that broke it off?”

“He released me unconditionally.” She faced me again now, having quite recovered her usual calmness of manner.

“Then what difficulty remains?”

“It is _this_, that I don’t believe he did it of his own free will. Now, supposing he did it _against_ his will, merely to satisfy my scruples, would not his claim on me remain just as strong as ever? And would not my promise be as binding as ever? My father says ‘no’; but I ca’n’t help fearing he is biased by his love for me. And I’ve asked no one else. I have many friends—friends for the bright sunny weather; not friends for the clouds and storms of life; not _old_ friends like you!”

“Let me think a little,” I said: and for some minutes we walked on in silence, while, pained to the heart at seeing the bitter trial that had come upon this pure and gentle soul, I strove in vain to see my way through the tangled skein of conflicting motives.

“If she loves him truly,” (I seemed at last to grasp the clue to the problem) “is not _that_, for her, the voice of God? May she not hope that she is sent to him, even as Ananias was sent to Saul in his blindness, that he may receive his sight?” Once more I seemed to hear Arthur whispering “_What knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?_” and I broke the silence with the words “If you still love him truly——”

“I do _not_!” she hastily interrupted. “At least—not in _that_ way. I _believe_ I loved him when I promised; but I was very young: it is hard to know. But, whatever the feeling was, it is dead _now_. The motive on _his_ side is Love: on _mine_ it is—Duty!”

Again there was a long silence. The whole skein of thought was tangled worse than ever. This time _she_ broke the silence. “Don’t misunderstand me!” she said. “When I said my heart was not _his_, I did not mean it was any one else’s! At present I feel bound to _him_; and, till I know I am absolutely free, in the sight of God, to love any other than him, I’ll never even _think_ of any one else—in _that_ way, I mean. I would die sooner!” I had never imagined my gentle friend capable of such passionate utterances.

I ventured on no further remark until we had nearly arrived at the Hall-gate; but, the longer I reflected, the clearer it became to me that no call of Duty demanded the sacrifice—possibly of the happiness of a life—which she seemed ready to make. I tried to make this clear to _her_ also, adding some warnings on the dangers that surely awaited a union in which mutual love was wanting. “The only argument for it, worth considering,” I said in conclusion, “seems to be his supposed _reluctance_ in releasing you from your promise. I have tried to give to that argument its _full_ weight, and my conclusion is that it does _not_ affect the rights of the case, or invalidate the release he has given you. My belief is that you are _entirely_ free to act as _now_ seems right.”

“I am _very_ grateful to you,” she said earnestly. “Believe it, please! I ca’n’t put it into proper words!” and the subject was dropped by mutual consent: and I only learned, long afterwards, that our discussion had really served to dispel the doubts that had harassed her so long.

We parted at the Hall-gate, and I found Arthur eagerly awaiting my arrival; and, before we parted for the night, I had heard the whole story—how he had put off his journey from day to day, feeling that he _could_ not go away from the place till his fate had been irrevocably settled by the wedding taking place: how the preparations for the wedding, and the excitement in the neighbourhood, had suddenly come to an end, and he had learned (from Major Lindon, who called to wish him good-bye) that the engagement had been broken off by mutual consent: how he had instantly abandoned all his plans for going abroad, and had decided to stay on at Elveston, for a year or two at any rate, till his newly-awakened hopes should prove true or false; and how, since that memorable day, he had avoided all meetings with Lady Muriel, fearing to betray his feelings before he had had any sufficient evidence as to how she regarded him. “But it is nearly six weeks since all that happened,” he said in conclusion, “and we can meet in the ordinary way, now, with no need for any painful allusions. I would have written to tell you all this: only I kept hoping from day to day, that—that there would be _more_ to tell!”

“And how should there be _more_, you foolish fellow,” I fondly urged, “if you never even go near her? Do you expect the offer to come from _her_?”

Arthur was betrayed into a smile. “No,” he said, “I hardly expect _that_. But I’m a desperate coward. There’s no doubt about it!”

“And what _reasons_ have you heard of for breaking off the engagement?”

“A good many,” Arthur replied, and proceeded to count them on his fingers. “First, it was found that she was dying of—something; so _he_ broke it off. Then it was found that _he_ was dying of—some other thing; so _she_ broke it off. Then the Major turned out to be a confirmed gamester; so the _Earl_ broke it off. Then the Earl insulted him; so the _Major_ broke it off. It got a good deal broken off, all things considered!”

“You have all this on the very best authority, of course?”

“Oh, certainly! And communicated in the strictest confidence! Whatever defects Elveston society suffers from, _want of information_ isn’t one of them!”

“Nor _reticence_, either, it seems. But, seriously, do you know the real reason?”

“No, I’m quite in the dark.”

I did not feel that I had any right to enlighten him; so I changed the subject, to the less engrossing one of “new milk,” and we agreed that I should walk over, next day, to Hunter’s farm, Arthur undertaking to set me part of the way, after which he had to return to keep a business-engagement.

                             CHAPTER III.
                           STREAKS OF DAWN.

Next day proved warm and sunny, and we started early, to enjoy the luxury of a good long chat before he would be obliged to leave me.

“This neighbourhood has more than its due proportion of the _very_ poor,” I remarked, as we passed a group of hovels, too dilapidated to deserve the name of “cottages.”

“But the few rich,” Arthur replied, “give more than their due proportion of help in charity. So the balance is kept.”

“I suppose the _Earl_ does a good deal?”

“He _gives_ liberally; but he has not the health or strength to do more. Lady Muriel does more in the way of school-teaching and cottage-visiting than she would like me to reveal.”

“Then _she_, at least, is not one of the ‘idle mouths’ one so often meets with among the upper classes. I have sometimes thought they would have a hard time of it, if suddenly called on to give their _raison d’être_, and to show cause why they should be allowed to live any longer!”

“The whole subject,” said Arthur, “of what we may call ‘idle mouths’ (I mean persons who absorb some of the material _wealth_ of a community—in the form of food, clothes, and so on—without contributing its equivalent in the form of productive _labour_) is a complicated one, no doubt. I’ve tried to think it out. And it seemed to me that the simplest form of the problem, to start with, is a community without _money_, who buy and sell by _barter_ only; and it makes it yet simpler to suppose the food and other things to be capable of _keeping_ for many years without spoiling.”

“Yours is an excellent plan,” I said. “What is your solution of the problem?”

“The commonest type of ‘idle mouths,’” said Arthur, “is no doubt due to money being left by parents to their own children. So I imagined a man—either exceptionally clever, or exceptionally strong and industrious—who had contributed so much valuable labour to the needs of the community that its equivalent, in clothes, &c., was (say) five times as much as he needed for himself. We cannot deny his _absolute_ right to give the superfluous wealth as he chooses. So, if he leaves _four_ children behind him (say two sons and two daughters), with enough of all the necessaries of life to last them a life-time, I cannot see that the _community_ is in any way wronged if they choose to do nothing in life but to ‘eat, drink, and be merry.’ Most certainly, the community could not fairly say, in reference to _them_, ‘_if a man will not work, neither let him eat_.’ Their reply would be crushing. ‘The labour has already been _done_, which is a fair equivalent for the food we are eating; and you have had the benefit of it. On what principle of justice can you demand _two_ quotas of work for _one_ quota of food?’”

“Yet surely,” I said, “there is something wrong _somewhere_, if these four people are well able to do useful work, and if that work is actually _needed_ by the community, and they elect to sit idle?”

“I think there _is_,” said Arthur: “but it seems to me to arise from a Law of God—that every one shall do as much as he can to help others—and not from any _rights_, on the part of the community, to exact labour as an equivalent for food that has already been fairly earned.”

“I suppose the _second_ form of the problem is where the ‘idle mouths’ possess _money_ instead of _material_ wealth?”

“Yes,” replied Arthur: “and I think the simplest case is that of _paper_-money. _Gold_ is itself a form of material wealth; but a bank-note is merely a _promise_ to hand over so much _material_ wealth when called upon to do so. The father of these four ‘idle mouths,’ had done (let us say) five thousand pounds’ worth of useful work for the community. In return for this, the community had given him what amounted to a written promise to hand over, whenever called upon to do so, five thousand pounds’ worth of food, &c. Then, if he only uses _one_ thousand pounds’ worth himself, and leaves the rest of the notes to his children, surely they have a full right to _present_ these written promises, and to say ‘hand over the food, for which the equivalent labour has been already done.’ Now I think _this_ case well worth stating, publicly and clearly. I should like to drive it into the heads of those Socialists who are priming our ignorant paupers with such sentiments as ‘Look at them bloated haristocrats! Doing not a stroke o’ work for theirselves, and living on the sweat of _our_ brows!’ I should like to _force_ them to see that the _money_, which those ‘haristocrats’ are spending, represents so much labour _already done_ for the community, and whose equivalent, in _material_ wealth, is _due from the community_.”

“Might not the Socialists reply ‘Much of this money does not represent _honest_ labour _at all_. If you could trace it back, from owner to owner, though you might begin with several legitimate steps, such as gift, or bequeathing by will, or ‘value received,’ you would soon reach an owner who had no moral right to it, but had got it by fraud or other crimes; and of course his successors in the line would have no better right to it than _he_ had.”

“No doubt, no doubt,” Arthur replied. “But surely that involves the logical fallacy of _proving too much_? It is _quite_ as applicable to _material_ wealth, as it is to _money_. If we once begin to go back beyond the fact that the _present_ owner of certain property came by it honestly, and to ask whether any previous owner, in past ages, got it by fraud, would _any_ property be secure?”

After a minute’s thought, I felt obliged to admit the truth of this.

“My general conclusion,” Arthur continued, “from the mere standpoint of human _rights_, man against man, was this—that if some wealthy ‘idle mouth,’ who has come by his money in a lawful way, even though not one atom of the labour it represents has been his own doing, chooses to spend it on his own needs, without contributing any labour to the community from whom he buys his food and clothes, that community has no _right_ to interfere with him. But it’s quite another thing, when we come to consider the _divine_ law. Measured by _that_ standard, such a man is undoubtedly doing wrong, if he fails to use, for the good of those in need, the strength or the skill, that God has given him. That strength and skill do _not_ belong to the community, to be paid to _them_ as a _debt_: they do _not_ belong to the man _himself_, to be used for his _own_ enjoyment: they _do_ belong to God, to be used according to _His_ will; and we are not left in doubt as to what that will is. ‘_Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again._’”

“Anyhow,” I said, “an ‘idle mouth’ very often gives away a great deal in charity.”

“In _so-called_ ‘charity,’” he corrected me. “Excuse me if I seem to speak _un_charitably. I would not dream of _applying_ the term to any _individual_. But I would say, _generally_, that a man who gratifies every fancy that occurs to him—denying himself in _nothing_—and merely gives to the poor some part, or even _all_, of his _superfluous_ wealth, is only deceiving himself if he calls it _charity_.”

“But, even in giving away _superfluous_ wealth, he _may_ be denying himself the miser’s pleasure in hoarding?”

“I grant you that, gladly,” said Arthur. “Given that he _has_ that morbid craving, he is doing a good deed in restraining it.”

“But, even in spending on _himself_,” I persisted, “our typical rich man often does good, by employing people who would otherwise be out of work: and that is often better than pauperising them by _giving_ the money.”

“I’m glad you’ve said that!” said Arthur. “I would not like to quit the subject without exposing the _two_ fallacies of that statement—which have gone so long uncontradicted that Society now accepts it as an axiom!”

“What are they?” I said. “I don’t even see _one_, myself.”

“One is merely the fallacy of _ambiguity_—the assumption that ‘_doing good_’ (that is, benefiting somebody) is necessarily _a good thing to do_ (that is, a _right_ thing). The other is the assumption that, if one of two specified acts is _better_ than another, it is necessarily a _good_ act in itself. I should like to call this the fallacy of _comparison_—meaning that it assumes that what is _comparatively_ good is therefore _positively_ good.”

“Then what is _your_ test of a good act?”

“That it shall be _our best_,” Arthur confidently replied. “And even _then_ ‘_we are unprofitable servants_.’ But let me illustrate the two fallacies. Nothing illustrates a fallacy so well as an extreme case, which fairly comes under it. Suppose I find two children drowning in a pond. I rush in, and save one of the children, and then walk away, leaving the other to drown. Clearly I have ‘_done good_,’ in saving a child’s life? But——. Again, supposing I meet an inoffensive stranger, and knock him down, and walk on. Clearly that is ‘_better_’ than if I had proceeded to jump upon him and break his ribs? But——”

“Those ‘buts’ are quite unanswerable,” I said. “But I should like an instance from _real_ life.”

“Well, let us take one of those abominations of modern Society, a Charity-Bazaar. It’s an interesting question to think out—how much of the money, that reaches the object in view, is _genuine_ charity; and whether even _that_ is spent in the _best_ way. But the subject needs regular classification, and analysis, to understand it properly.”

“I should be glad to _have_ it analysed,” I said: “it has often puzzled me.”

“Well, if I am really not boring you. Let us suppose our Charity-Bazaar to have been organised to aid the funds of some Hospital: and that A, B, C _give_ their services in making articles to sell, and in acting as salesmen, while X, Y, Z buy the articles, and the money so paid goes to the Hospital.

“There are two distinct species of such Bazaars: one, where the payment exacted is merely the _market-value_ of the goods supplied, that is, exactly what you would have to pay at a shop: the other, where _fancy-prices_ are asked. We must take these separately.

“First, the ‘market-value’ case. Here A, B, C are exactly in the same position as ordinary shopkeepers; the only difference being that they give the proceeds to the Hospital. Practically, they are _giving their skilled labour_ for the benefit of the Hospital. This seems to me to be genuine charity. And I don’t see how they could use it better. But X, Y, Z, are exactly in the same position as any ordinary purchasers of goods. To talk of ‘charity’ in connection with _their_ share of the business, is sheer nonsense. Yet they are very likely to do so.

“Secondly, the case of ‘fancy-prices.’ Here I think the simplest plan is to divide the payment into two parts, the ‘market-value’ and the excess over that. The ‘market-value’ part is on the same footing as in the first case: the _excess_ is all we have to consider. Well, A, B, C do not _earn_ it; so we may put _them_ out of the question: it is a _gift_, from X, Y, Z, to the Hospital. And my opinion is that it is not given in the best way: far better buy what they choose to _buy_, and give what they choose to _give_, as two _separate_ transactions: then there is _some_ chance that their motive in giving may be real charity, instead of a mixed motive—half charity, half self-pleasing. ‘The trail of the serpent is over it all.’ And _therefore_ it is that I hold all such spurious ‘Charities’ in _utter_ abomination!” He ended with unusual energy, and savagely beheaded, with his stick, a tall thistle at the road-side, behind which I was startled to see Sylvie and Bruno standing. I caught at his arm, but too late to stop him. Whether the stick reached them, or not, I could not feel sure: at any rate they took not the smallest notice of it, but smiled gaily, and nodded to me; and I saw at once that they were only visible to _me_: the ‘eerie’ influence had not reached to _Arthur_.

“Why did you try to save it?” he said. “_That’s_ not the wheedling Secretary of a Charity-Bazaar! I only wish it were!” he added grimly.

“Doos oo know, that stick went right froo my head!” said Bruno. (They had run round to me by this time, and each had secured a hand.) “Just under my chin! I _are_ glad I aren’t a thistle!”

“Well, we’ve threshed _that_ subject out, anyhow!” Arthur resumed. “I’m afraid I’ve been talking too much, for _your_ patience and for my strength. I must be turning soon. This is about the end of my tether.”

 “Take, O boatman, thrice thy fee;
 Take, I give it willingly;
 For, invisible to thee,
 Spirits twain have crossed with me!”

I quoted, involuntarily.

“For utterly inappropriate and irrelevant quotations,” laughed Arthur, “you are ‘ekalled by few, and excelled by none’!” And we strolled on.

As we passed the head of the lane that led down to the beach, I noticed a single figure, moving slowly along it, seawards. She was a good way off, and had her back to us: but it was Lady Muriel, unmistakably. Knowing that Arthur had not seen her, as he had been looking, in the other direction, at a gathering rain-cloud, I made no remark, but tried to think of some plausible pretext for sending him back by the sea.

The opportunity instantly presented itself. “I’m getting tired,” he said. “I don’t think it would be prudent to go further. I had better turn here.”

I turned with him, for a few steps, and as we again approached the head of the lane, I said, as carelessly as I could, “Don’t go back by the road. It’s too hot and dusty. Down this lane, and along the beach, is nearly as short; and you’ll get a breeze off the sea.”

“Yes, I think I will,” Arthur began; but at that moment we came into sight of Lady Muriel, and he checked himself. “No, it’s too far round. Yet it certainly _would_ be cooler——” He stood, hesitating, looking first one way and then the other—a melancholy picture of utter infirmity of purpose!

How long this humiliating scene would have continued, if _I_ had been the only external influence, it is impossible to say; for at this moment Sylvie, with a swift decision worthy of Napoleon himself, took the matter into her own hands. “You go and drive _her_, up this way,” she said to Bruno. “I’ll get _him_ along!” And she took hold of the stick that Arthur was carrying, and gently pulled him down the lane.

He was totally unconscious that any will but his own was acting on the stick, and appeared to think it had taken a horizontal position simply because he was pointing with it. “Are not those _orchises_ under the hedge there?” he said. “I think that decides me. I’ll gather some as I go along.”

[Illustration: ‘ARE NOT THOSE ORCHISES?’]

Meanwhile Bruno had run on beyond Lady Muriel, and, with much jumping about and shouting (shouts audible to no one but Sylvie and myself), much as if he were driving sheep, he managed to turn her round and make her walk, with eyes demurely cast upon the ground, in our direction.

The victory was ours! And, since it was evident that the lovers, thus urged together, _must_ meet in another minute, I turned and walked on, hoping that Sylvie and Bruno would follow my example, as I felt sure that the fewer the spectators the better it would be for Arthur and his good angel.

“And what sort of meeting was it?” I wondered, as I paced dreamily on.

                             CHAPTER IV.
                            THE DOG-KING.

“They shooked hands,” said Bruno, who was trotting at my side, in answer to the unspoken question.

“And they looked _ever_ so pleased!” Sylvie added from the other side.

“Well, we must get on, now, as quick as we can,” I said. “If only I knew the best way to Hunter’s farm!”

“They’ll be sure to know in this cottage,” said Sylvie.

“Yes, I suppose they will. Bruno, would you run in and ask?”

Sylvie stopped him, laughingly, as he ran off. “Wait a minute,” she said. “I must make you _visible_ first, you know.”

“And _audible_ too, I suppose?” I said, as she took the jewel, that hung round her neck, and waved it over his head, and touched his eyes and lips with it.

“Yes,” said Sylvie: “and _once_, do you know, I made him _audible_, and forgot to make him _visible_! And he went to buy some sweeties in a shop. And the man _was_ so frightened! A voice seemed to come out of the air, ‘Please, I want two ounces of barley-sugar drops!’ And a shilling came _bang_ down upon the counter! And the man said ‘I ca’n’t _see_ you!’ And Bruno said ‘It doosn’t sinnify seeing _me_, so long as oo can see the _shilling_!’ But the man said he never sold barley-sugar drops to people he couldn’t _see_. So we had to—_Now_, Bruno, you’re ready!” And away he trotted.

Sylvie spent the time, while we were waiting for him, in making _herself_ visible also. “It’s rather awkward, you know,” she explained to me, “when we meet people, and they can see _one_ of us, and ca’n’t see the _other_!”

In a minute or two Bruno returned, looking rather disconsolate. “He’d got friends with him, and he were _cross_!” he said. “He asked me who I were. And I said ‘I’m Bruno: who is _these_ peoples?’ And he said ‘One’s my half-brother, and t’other’s my half-sister: and I don’t want no more company! Go along with yer!’ And I said ‘I ca’n’t go along _wizout_ mine self!’ And I said ‘Oo shouldn’t have _bits_ of peoples lying about like that! It’s welly untidy!’ And he said ‘Oh, don’t talk to _me_!’ And he pushted me outside! And he shutted the door!”

“And you never asked where Hunter’s farm was?” queried Sylvie.

“Hadn’t room for any questions,” said Bruno. “The room were so crowded.”

“Three people _couldn’t_ crowd a room,” said Sylvie.

“They _did_, though,” Bruno persisted. “_He_ crowded it most. He’s such a welly _thick_ man—so as oo couldn’t knock him down.”

I failed to see the drift of Bruno’s argument. “Surely _anybody_ could be knocked down,” I said: “thick or thin wouldn’t matter.”

“Oo couldn’t knock _him_ down,” said Bruno. “He’s more wider than he’s high: so, when he’s lying down, he’s more higher than when he’s standing: so a-course oo couldn’t knock him _down_!”

“Here’s another cottage,” I said: “_I’ll_ ask the way, _this_ time.”

There was no need to go in, this time, as the woman was standing in the doorway, with a baby in her arms, talking to a respectably dressed man—a farmer, as I guessed—who seemed to be on his way to the town.

“—and when there’s _drink_ to be had,” he was saying, “he’s just the worst o’ the lot, is your Willie. So they tell me. He gets fairly mad wi’ it!”

“I’d have given ’em the lie to their faces, a twelvemonth back!” the woman said in a broken voice. “But a’ canna noo! A’ canna noo!” She checked herself, on catching sight of us, and hastily retreated into the house, shutting the door after her.

“Perhaps you can tell me where Hunter’s farm is?” I said to the man, as he turned away from the house.

“I can _that_, Sir!” he replied with a smile. “I’m John Hunter hissel, at your sarvice. It’s nobbut half a mile further—the only house in sight, when you get round bend o’ the road yonder. You’ll find my good woman within, if so be you’ve business wi’ _her_. Or mebbe I’ll do as well?”

“Thanks,” I said. “I want to order some milk. Perhaps I had better arrange it with your wife?”

“Aye,” said the man. “_She_ minds all _that_. Good day t’ye, Master—and to your bonnie childer, as well!” And he trudged on.

“He should have said ‘_child_,’ not ‘_childer_’,” said Bruno. “Sylvie’s not a _childer_!”

“He meant _both_ of us,” said Sylvie.

“No, he didn’t!” Bruno persisted. “’cause he said ‘bonnie’, oo know!”

“Well, at any rate he _looked_ at us both,” Sylvie maintained.

“Well, then he _must_ have seen we’re not _both_ bonnie!” Bruno retorted. “A-_course_ I’m much uglier than _oo_! Didn’t he mean _Sylvie_, Mister Sir?” he shouted over his shoulder, as he ran off.

But there was no use in replying, as he had already vanished round the bend of the road. When we overtook him he was climbing a gate, and was gazing earnestly into the field, where a horse, a cow, and a kid were browsing amicably together. “For its father, a _Horse_,” he murmured to himself. “For its mother, a _Cow_. For their dear little child, a _little_ Goat, is the most curiousest thing I ever seen in my world!”

“Bruno’s World!” I pondered. “Yes, I suppose every child has a world of his own—and every man, too, for the matter of that. I wonder if _that’s_ the cause for all the misunderstanding there is in Life?”

“That _must_ be Hunter’s farm!” said Sylvie, pointing to a house on the brow of the hill, led up to by a cart-road. “There’s no other farm in sight, _this_ way; and you _said_ we must be nearly there by this time.”

I had _thought_ it, while Bruno was climbing the gate, but I couldn’t remember having _said_ it. However, Sylvie was evidently in the right. “Get down, Bruno,” I said, “and open the gate for us.”

“It’s a good thing we’s with oo, _isn’t_ it, Mister Sir?” said Bruno, as we entered the field. “That big dog might have bited oo, if oo’d been alone! Oo needn’t be _flightened_ of it!” he whispered, clinging tight to my hand to encourage me. “It aren’t fierce!”

“Fierce!” Sylvie scornfully echoed, as the dog—a magnificent Newfoundland—that had come galloping down the field to meet us, began curveting round us, in gambols full of graceful beauty, and welcoming us with short joyful barks. “Fierce! Why, it’s as gentle as a lamb! It’s—why, Bruno, don’t you know it? It’s——”

“So it _are_!” cried Bruno, rushing forwards and throwing his arms round its neck. “Oh, you _dear_ dog!” And it seemed as if the two children would never have done hugging and stroking it.

“And how _ever_ did he get _here_?” said Bruno. “Ask him, Sylvie. I doosn’t know how.”

And then began an eager talk in Doggee, which of course was lost upon _me_; and I could only _guess_, when the beautiful creature, with a sly glance at me, whispered something in Sylvie’s ear, that _I_ was now the subject of conversation. Sylvie looked round laughingly.

“He asked me who you are,” she explained. “And I said ‘He’s our _friend_.’ And he said ‘What’s his name?’ And I said ‘It’s _Mister Sir_.’ And he said ‘Bosh!’”

“What is ‘Bosh!’ in Doggee?” I enquired.

“It’s the same as in English,” said Sylvie. “Only, when a _dog_ says it, it’s a sort of a whisper, that’s half a _cough_ and half a _bark_. Nero, say ‘_Bosh!_’”

And Nero, who had now begun gamboling round us again, said “_Bosh!_” several times; and I found that Sylvie’s description of the sound was perfectly accurate.

“I wonder what’s behind this long wall?” I said, as we walked on.

“It’s the _Orchard_,” Sylvie replied, after a consultation with Nero. “See, there’s a boy getting down off the wall, at that far corner. And now he’s running away across the field. I do believe he’s been stealing the apples!”

Bruno set off after him, but returned to us in a few moments, as he had evidently no chance of overtaking the young rascal.

“I couldn’t catch him!” he said. “I wiss I’d started a little sooner. His pockets _was_ full of apples!”

The Dog-King looked up at Sylvie, and said something in Doggee.

“Why, of _course_ you can!” Sylvie exclaimed. “How stupid not to think of it! _Nero_’ll hold him for us, Bruno! But I’d better make him invisible, first.” And she hastily got out the Magic Jewel, and began waving it over Nero’s head, and down along his back.

“That’ll do!” cried Bruno, impatiently. “After him, good Doggie!”

“Oh, Bruno!” Sylvie exclaimed reproachfully. “You shouldn’t have sent him off so quick! I hadn’t done the tail!”

Meanwhile Nero was coursing like a greyhound down the field: so at least I concluded from all _I_ could see of him—the long feathery tail, which floated like a meteor through the air—and in a very few seconds he had come up with the little thief.

“He’s got him safe, by one foot!” cried Sylvie, who was eagerly watching the chase. “Now there’s no hurry, Bruno!”

So we walked, quite leisurely, down the field, to where the frightened lad stood. A more curious sight I had seldom seen, in all my ‘eerie’ experiences. Every bit of him was in violent action, except the left foot, which was apparently glued to the ground—there being nothing visibly holding it: while, at some little distance, the long feathery tail was waving gracefully from side to side, showing that Nero, at least, regarded the whole affair as nothing but a magnificent game of play.

“What’s the matter with you?” I said, as gravely as I could.

“Got the crahmp in me ahnkle!” the thief groaned in reply. “An’ me fut’s gone to sleep!” And he began to blubber aloud.

“Now, look here!” Bruno said in a commanding tone, getting in front of him. “Oo’ve got to give up those apples!”

The lad glanced at me, but didn’t seem to reckon _my_ interference as worth anything. Then he glanced at Sylvie: _she_ clearly didn’t count for very much, either. Then he took courage. “It’ll take a better man than any of _yer_ to get ’em!” he retorted defiantly.

[Illustration: A ROYAL THIEF-TAKER]

Sylvie stooped and patted the invisible Nero. “A _little_ tighter!” she whispered. And a sharp yell from the ragged boy showed how promptly the Dog-King had taken the hint.

“What’s the matter _now_?” I said. “Is your ankle worse?”

“And it’ll get worse, and worse, and worse,” Bruno solemnly assured him, “till oo gives up those apples!”

Apparently the thief was convinced of this at last, and he sulkily began emptying his pockets of the apples. The children watched from a little distance, Bruno dancing with delight at every fresh yell extracted from Nero’s terrified prisoner.

“That’s all,” the boy said at last.

“It _isn’t_ all!” cried Bruno. “There’s three more in that pocket!”

Another hint from Sylvie to the Dog-King—another sharp yell from the thief, now convicted of lying also—and the remaining three apples were surrendered.

“Let him go, please,” Sylvie said in Doggee, and the lad limped away at a great pace, stooping now and then to rub the ailing ankle, in fear, seemingly, that the ‘crahmp’ might attack it again.


Bruno ran back, with his booty, to the orchard wall, and pitched the apples over it one by one. “I’s welly afraid _some_ of them’s gone under the wrong trees!” he panted, on overtaking us again.

“The _wrong_ trees!” laughed Sylvie. “Trees _ca’n’t_ do wrong! There’s no such things as _wrong_ trees!”

“Then there’s no such things as _right_ trees, neither!” cried Bruno. And Sylvie gave up the point.

“Wait a minute, please!” she said to me. “I must make Nero _visible_, you know!”

“No, _please_ don’t!” cried Bruno, who had by this time mounted on the Royal back, and was twisting the Royal hair into a bridle. “It’ll be _such_ fun to have him like this!”

“Well, it _does_ look funny,” Sylvie admitted, and led the way to the farm-house, where the farmer’s wife stood, evidently much perplexed at the weird procession now approaching her. “It’s summat gone wrong wi’ my spectacles, I doubt!” she murmured, as she took them off, and began diligently rubbing them with a corner of her apron.

Meanwhile Sylvie had hastily pulled Bruno down from his steed, and had just time to make His Majesty wholly visible before the spectacles were resumed.

All was natural, now; but the good woman still looked a little uneasy about it. “My eyesight’s getting bad,” she said, “but I see you _now_, my darlings! You’ll give me a kiss, wo’n’t you?”

Bruno got behind me, in a moment: however Sylvie put up _her_ face, to be kissed, as representative of _both_, and we all went in together.

                              CHAPTER V.
                            MATILDA JANE.

“Come to me, my little gentleman,” said our hostess, lifting Bruno into her lap, “and tell me everything.”

“I ca’n’t,” said Bruno. “There wouldn’t be time. Besides, I don’t _know_ everything.”

The good woman looked a little puzzled, and turned to Sylvie for help. “Does he like _riding_?” she asked.

“Yes, I _think_ so,” Sylvie gently replied. “He’s just had a ride on _Nero_.”

“Ah, Nero’s a grand dog, isn’t he? Were you ever outside a _horse_, my little man?”

“_Always!_” Bruno said with great decision. “Never was _inside_ one. Was _oo_?”

Here I thought it well to interpose, and to mention the business on which we had come, and so relieved her, for a few minutes, from Bruno’s perplexing questions.

“And those dear children will like a bit of cake, _I’ll_ warrant!” said the farmer’s hospitable wife, when the business was concluded, as she opened her cupboard, and brought out a cake. “And don’t you waste the crust, little gentleman!” she added, as she handed a good slice of it to Bruno. “You know what the poetry-book says about wilful waste?”

“No, I don’t,” said Bruno. “What doos he say about it?”

“Tell him, Bessie!” And the mother looked down, proudly and lovingly, on a rosy little maiden, who had just crept shyly into the room, and was leaning against her knee. “What’s that your poetry-book says about wilful waste?”

“_For wilful waste makes woeful want_,” Bessie recited, in an almost inaudible whisper: “_and you may live to say ‘How much I wish I had the crust that then I threw away!’_”

“Now try if _you_ can say it, my dear! _For wilful_——”

“_For wifful_—sumfinoruvver—” Bruno began, readily enough; and then there came a dead pause. “Ca’n’t remember no more!”

“Well, what do you _learn_ from it, then? You can tell us _that_, at any rate?”

Bruno ate a little more cake, and considered: but the moral did not seem to him to be a very obvious one.

“Always to——” Sylvie prompted him in a whisper.

“Always to——” Bruno softly repeated: and then, with sudden inspiration, “always to look where it goes to!”

“Where _what_ goes to, darling?”

“Why the _crust_, a course!” said Bruno. “Then, if I lived to say ‘_How much I wiss I had the crust_—’ (and all that), I’d know where I frew it to!”

This new interpretation quite puzzled the good woman. She returned to the subject of ‘Bessie.’ “Wouldn’t you like to see Bessie’s doll, my dears! Bessie, take the little lady and gentleman to see Matilda Jane!”

Bessie’s shyness thawed away in a moment. “Matilda Jane has just woke up,” she stated, confidentially, to Sylvie. “Wo’n’t you help me on with her frock? Them strings _is_ such a bother to tie!”

“I can tie _strings_,” we heard, in Sylvie’s gentle voice, as the two little girls left the room together. Bruno ignored the whole proceeding, and strolled to the window, quite with the air of a fashionable gentleman. Little girls, and dolls, were not at all in his line.

And forthwith the fond mother proceeded to tell me (as what mother is not ready to do?) of all Bessie’s virtues (and vices too, for the matter of that) and of the many fearful maladies which, notwithstanding those ruddy cheeks and that plump little figure, had nearly, time and again, swept her from the face of the earth.

When the full stream of loving memories had nearly run itself out, I began to question her about the working men of that neighbourhood, and specially the ‘Willie,’ whom we had heard of at his cottage. “He was a good fellow once,” said my kind hostess: “but it’s the drink has ruined him! Not that I’d rob them of the drink—it’s good for the most of them—but there’s some as is too weak to stand agin’ temptations: it’s a thousand pities, for _them_, as they ever built the Golden Lion at the corner there!”

“The Golden Lion?” I repeated.

“It’s the new Public,” my hostess explained. “And it stands right in the way, and handy for the workmen, as they come back from the brickfields, as it might be to-day, with their week’s wages. A deal of money gets wasted that way. And some of ’em gets drunk.”

“If only they could have it in their own houses—” I mused, hardly knowing I had said the words out loud.

“That’s it!” she eagerly exclaimed. It was evidently a solution, of the problem, that she had already thought out. “If only you could manage, so’s each man to have his own little barrel in his own house—there’d hardly be a drunken man in the length and breadth of the land!”

And then I told her the old story—about a certain cottager who bought himself a little barrel of beer, and installed his wife as bar-keeper: and how, every time he wanted his mug of beer, he regularly paid her over the counter for it: and how she never would let him go on ‘tick,’ and was a perfectly inflexible bar-keeper in never letting him have more than his proper allowance: and how, every time the barrel needed refilling, she had plenty to do it with, and something over for her money-box: and how, at the end of the year, he not only found himself in first-rate health and spirits, with that undefinable but quite unmistakeable air which always distinguishes the sober man from the one who takes ‘a drop too much,’ but had quite a box full of money, all saved out of his own pence!

“If only they’d all do like that!” said the good woman, wiping her eyes, which were overflowing with kindly sympathy. “Drink hadn’t need to be the curse it is to some——”

“Only a _curse_,” I said, “when it is used wrongly. Any of God’s gifts may be turned into a curse, unless we use it wisely. But we must be getting home. Would you call the little girls? Matilda Jane has seen enough of company, for _one_ day, I’m sure!”

“I’ll find ’em in a minute,” said my hostess, as she rose to leave the room. “Maybe that young gentleman saw which way they went?”

“Where are they, Bruno?” I said.

“They ain’t in the field,” was Bruno’s rather evasive reply, “’cause there’s nothing but _pigs_ there, and Sylvie isn’t a pig. Now don’t imperrupt me any more, ’cause I’m telling a story to this fly; and it won’t attend!”

“They’re among the apples, I’ll warrant ’em!” said the Farmer’s wife. So we left Bruno to finish his story, and went out into the orchard, where we soon came upon the children, walking sedately side by side, Sylvie carrying the doll, while little Bess carefully shaded its face, with a large cabbage-leaf for a parasol.

As soon as they caught sight of us, little Bess dropped her cabbage-leaf and came running to meet us, Sylvie following more slowly, as her precious charge evidently needed great care and attention.

“I’m its Mamma, and Sylvie’s the Head-Nurse,” Bessie explained: “and Sylvie’s taught me ever such a pretty song, for me to sing to Matilda Jane!”

“Let’s hear it once more, Sylvie,” I said, delighted at getting the chance I had long wished for, of hearing her sing. But Sylvie turned shy and frightened in a moment. “No, _please_ not!” she said, in an earnest ‘aside’ to me. “Bessie knows it quite perfect now. Bessie can sing it!”

“Aye, aye! Let Bessie sing it!” said the proud mother. “Bessie has a bonny voice of her own,” (this again was an ‘aside’ to me) “though I say it as shouldn’t!”

Bessie was only too happy to accept the ‘encore.’ So the plump little Mamma sat down at our feet, with her hideous daughter reclining stiffly across her lap (it was one of a kind that wo’n’t sit down, under _any_ amount of persuasion), and, with a face simply beaming with delight, began the lullaby, in a shout that _ought_ to have frightened the poor baby into fits. The Head-Nurse crouched down behind her, keeping herself respectfully in the back-ground, with her hands on the shoulders of her little mistress, so as to be ready to act as Prompter, if required, and to supply ‘_each gap in faithless memory void_.’

[Illustration: BESSIE’S SONG]

The shout, with which she began, proved to be only a momentary effort. After a very few notes, Bessie toned down, and sang on in a small but very sweet voice. At first her great black eyes were fixed on her mother, but soon her gaze wandered upwards, among the apples, and she seemed to have quite forgotten that she had any other audience than her Baby, and her Head-Nurse, who once or twice supplied, almost inaudibly, the right note, when the singer was getting a little ‘flat.’

 “Matilda Jane, you never look
 At any toy or picture-book:
 I show you pretty things in vain—
 You must be blind, Matilda Jane!
 “I ask you riddles, tell you tales,
 But _all_ our conversation fails:
 You _never_ answer me again—
 I fear you’re dumb, Matilda Jane!
 “Matilda, darling, when I call,
 You never seem to hear at all:
 I shout with all my might and main—
 But you’re _so_ deaf, Matilda Jane!
 “Matilda Jane, you needn’t mind;
 For, though you’re deaf, and dumb, and blind,
 There’s _some one_ loves you, it is plain—
 And that is _me,_ Matilda Jane!”

She sang three of the verses in a rather perfunctory style, but the last stanza evidently excited the little maiden. Her voice rose, ever clearer and louder: she had a rapt look on her face, as if suddenly inspired, and, as she sang the last few words, she clasped to her heart the inattentive Matilda Jane.

“Kiss it now!” prompted the Head-Nurse. And in a moment the simpering meaningless face of the Baby was covered with a shower of passionate kisses.

“What a bonny song!” cried the Farmer’s wife. “Who made the words, dearie?”

“I—I think I’ll look for Bruno,” Sylvie said demurely, and left us hastily. The curious child seemed always afraid of being praised, or even noticed.

“Sylvie planned the words,” Bessie informed us, proud of her superior information: “and Bruno planned the music—and _I_ sang it!” (this last circumstance, by the way, we did not need to be told).

So we followed Sylvie, and all entered the parlour together. Bruno was still standing at the window, with his elbows on the sill. He had, apparently, finished the story that he was telling to the fly, and had found a new occupation. “Don’t imperrupt!” he said as we came in. “I’m counting the Pigs in the field!”

“How many are there?” I enquired.

“About a thousand and four,” said Bruno.

“You mean ‘about a thousand,’” Sylvie corrected him. “There’s no good saying ‘_and four_’: you _ca’n’t_ be sure about the four!”

“And you’re as wrong as ever!” Bruno exclaimed triumphantly. “It’s just the _four_ I _can_ be sure about; ’cause they’re here, grubbling under the window! It’s the _thousand_ I isn’t pruffickly sure about!”

“But some of them have gone into the sty,” Sylvie said, leaning over him to look out of the window.

“Yes,” said Bruno; “but they went so slowly and so fewly, I didn’t care to count _them_.”

“We must be going, children,” I said. “Wish Bessie good-bye.” Sylvie flung her arms round the little maiden’s neck, and kissed her: but Bruno stood aloof, looking unusually shy. (“I never kiss _nobody_ but Sylvie!” he explained to me afterwards.) The farmer’s wife showed us out: and we were soon on our way back to Elveston.

“And that’s the new public-house that we were talking about, I suppose?” I said, as we came in sight of a long low building, with the words ‘The Golden Lion’ over the door.

“Yes, that’s it,” said Sylvie. “I wonder if _her_ Willie’s inside? Run in, Bruno, and see if he’s there.”

I interposed, feeling that Bruno was, in a sort of way, in _my_ care. “That’s not a place to send a child into.” For already the revelers were getting noisy: and a wild discord of singing, shouting, and meaningless laughter came to us through the open windows.

“They wo’n’t _see_ him, you know,” Sylvie explained. “Wait a minute, Bruno!” She clasped the jewel, that always hung round her neck, between the palms of her hands, and muttered a few words to herself. What they were I could not at all make out, but some mysterious change seemed instantly to pass over us. My feet seemed to me no longer to press the ground, and the dream-like feeling came upon me, that I was suddenly endowed with the power of floating in the air. I could still just _see_ the children: but their forms were shadowy and unsubstantial, and their voices sounded as if they came from some distant place and time, they were so unreal. However, I offered no further opposition to Bruno’s going into the house. He was back again in a few moments. “No, he isn’t come yet,” he said. “They’re talking about him inside, and saying how drunk he was last week.”

While he was speaking, one of the men lounged out through the door, a pipe in one hand and a mug of beer in the other, and crossed to where we were standing, so as to get a better view along the road. Two or three others leaned out through the open window, each holding his mug of beer, with red faces and sleepy eyes. “Canst see him, lad?” one of them asked.

“I dunnot know,” the man said, taking a step forwards, which brought us nearly face to face. Sylvie hastily pulled me out of his way. “Thanks, child,” I said. “I had forgotten he couldn’t see us. What would have happened if I had staid in his way?”

“I don’t know,” Sylvie said gravely. “It wouldn’t matter to _us_; but _you_ may be different.” She said this in her usual voice, but the man took no sort of notice, though she was standing close in front of him, and looking up into his face as she spoke.

“He’s coming now!” cried Bruno, pointing down the road.

“He be a-coomin noo!” echoed the man, stretching out his arm exactly over Bruno’s head, and pointing with his pipe.

“Then _chorus_ agin!” was shouted out by one of the red-faced men in the window: and forthwith a dozen voices yelled, to a harsh discordant melody, the refrain:—

 “There’s him, an’ yo’ an’ me,
           Roarin’ laddies!
 We loves a bit o spree,
 Roarin’ laddies we,
           Roarin’ laddies
           Roarin’ laddies!”

The man lounged back again to the house, joining lustily in the chorus as he went: so that only the children and I were in the road when ‘Willie’ came up.

                             CHAPTER VI.
                            WILLIE’S WIFE.

He made for the door of the public-house, but the children intercepted him. Sylvie clung to one arm; while Bruno, on the opposite side, was pushing him with all his strength, with many inarticulate cries of “Gee-up! Gee-back! Woah then!” which he had picked up from the waggoners.

‘Willie’ took not the least notice of them: he was simply conscious that _something_ had checked him: and, for want of any other way of accounting for it, he seemed to regard it as his own act.

[Illustration: THE RESCUE OF WILLIE]

“I wunnut coom in,” he said: “not to-day.”

“A mug o’ beer wunnut hurt ’ee!” his friends shouted in chorus. “_Two_ mugs wunnut hurt ’ee! Nor a dozen mugs!”

“Nay,” said Willie. “I’m agoan whoam.”

“What, withouten thy drink, Willie man?” shouted the others. But ‘Willie man’ would have no more discussion, and turned doggedly away, the children keeping one on each side of him, to guard him against any change in his sudden resolution.

For a while he walked on stoutly enough, keeping his hands in his pockets, and softly whistling a tune, in time to his heavy tread: his success, in appearing entirely at his ease, was _almost_ complete; but a careful observer would have noted that he had forgotten the second part of the air, and that, when it broke down, he instantly began it again, being too nervous to think of another, and too restless to endure silence.

It was not the old fear that possessed him now—the old fear, that had been his dreary companion every Saturday night he could remember, as he had reeled along, steadying himself against gates and garden-palings, and when the shrill reproaches of his wife had seemed to his dazed brain only the echo of a yet more piercing voice within, the intolerable wail of a hopeless remorse: it was a wholly new fear that had come to him now: life had taken on itself a new set of colours, and was lighted up with a new and dazzling radiance, and he did not see, as yet, how his home-life, and his wife and child, would fit into the new order of things: the very novelty of it all was, to his simple mind, a perplexity and an overwhelming terror.

And now the tune died into sudden silence on the trembling lips, as he turned a sharp corner, and came in sight of his own cottage, where his wife stood, leaning with folded arms on the wicket-gate, and looking up the road with a pale face, that had in it no glimmer of the light of hope—only the heavy shadow of a deep stony despair.

“Fine an’ early, lad! Fine an’ early!” The words might have been words of welcoming, but oh, the bitterness of the tone in which she said it! “What brings thee from thy merry mates, and all the fiddling and the jigging? Pockets empty, I doubt? Or thou’st come, mebbe, for to see thy little one die? The bairnie’s clemmed, and I’ve nor bite nor sup to gie her. But what does _thou_ care?” She flung the gate open, and met him with blazing eyes of fury.

The man said no word. Slowly, and with downcast eyes, he passed into the house, while she, half terrified at his strange silence, followed him in without another word; and it was not till he had sunk into a chair, with his arms crossed on the table and with drooping head, that she found her voice again.

It seemed entirely natural for us to go in with them: at another time one would have asked leave for this, but I felt, I knew not why, that we were in some mysterious way invisible, and as free to come and to go as disembodied spirits.

The child in the cradle woke up, and raised a piteous cry, which in a moment brought the children to its side: Bruno rocked the cradle, while Sylvie tenderly replaced the little head on the pillow from which it had slipped. But the mother took no heed of the cry, nor yet of the satisfied ‘coo’ that it set up when Sylvie had made it happy again: she only stood gazing at her husband, and vainly trying, with white quivering lips (I believe she thought he was mad), to speak in the old tones of shrill upbraiding that he knew so well.

“And thou’st spent all thy wages—I’ll swear thou hast—on the devil’s own drink—and thou’st been and made thysen a beast again—as thou allus dost——”

“Hasna!” the man muttered, his voice hardly rising above a whisper, as he slowly emptied his pockets on the table. “There’s th’ wage, Missus, every penny on’t.”

The woman gasped, and put one hand to her heart, as if under some great shock of surprise. “Then _how_’s thee gotten th’ drink?”

“_Hasna_ gotten it,” he answered her, in a tone more sad than sullen. “I hanna touched a drop this blessed day. No!” he cried aloud, bringing his clenched fist heavily down upon the table, and looking up at her with gleaming eyes, “nor I’ll never touch another drop o’ the cursed drink—till I die—so help me God my Maker!” His voice, which had suddenly risen to a hoarse shout, dropped again as suddenly: and once more he bowed his head, and buried his face in his folded arms.

[Illustration: WILLIE’S WIFE]

The woman had dropped upon her knees by the cradle, while he was speaking. She neither looked at him nor seemed to hear him. With hands clasped above her head, she rocked herself wildly to and fro. “Oh my God! Oh my God!” was all she said, over and over again.

Sylvie and Bruno gently unclasped her hands and drew them down—till she had an arm round each of them, though she took no notice of them, but knelt on with eyes gazing upwards, and lips that moved as if in silent thanksgiving. The man kept his face hidden, and uttered no sound: but one could _see_ the sobs that shook him from head to foot.

After a while he raised his head—his face all wet with tears. “Polly!” he said softly; and then, louder, “Old Poll!”

Then she rose from her knees and came to him, with a dazed look, as if she were walking in her sleep. “Who was it called me old Poll?” she asked: her voice took on it a tender playfulness: her eyes sparkled; and the rosy light of Youth flushed her pale cheeks, till she looked more like a happy girl of seventeen than a worn woman of forty. “Was that my own lad, my Willie, a-waiting for me at the stile?”

His face too was transformed, in the same magic light, to the likeness of a bashful boy: and boy and girl they seemed, as he wound an arm about her, and drew her to his side, while with the other hand he thrust from him the heap of money, as though it were something hateful to the touch. “Tak it, lass,” he said, “tak it all! An’ fetch us summat to eat: but get a sup o’ milk, first, for t’ bairn.”

“My _little_ bairn!” she murmured as she gathered up the coins. “My own little lassie!” Then she moved to the door, and was passing out, but a sudden thought seemed to arrest her: she hastily returned—first to kneel down and kiss the sleeping child, and then to throw herself into her husband’s arms and be strained to his heart. The next moment she was on her way, taking with her a jug that hung on a peg near the door: we followed close behind.

We had not gone far before we came in sight of a swinging sign-board bearing the word ‘DAIRY’ on it, and here she went in, welcomed by a little curly white dog, who, not being under the ‘eerie’ influence, saw the children, and received them with the most effusive affection. When I got inside, the dairyman was in the act of taking the money. “Is’t for thysen, Missus, or for t’ bairn?” he asked, when he had filled the jug, pausing with it in his hand.

“For t’ _bairn_!” she said, almost reproachfully. “Think’st tha I’d touch a drop _mysen_, while as _she_ hadna got her fill?”

“All right, Missus,” the man replied, turning away with the jug in his hand. “Let’s just mak sure it’s good measure.” He went back among his shelves of milk-bowls, carefully keeping his back towards her while he emptied a little measure of cream into the jug, muttering to himself “mebbe it’ll hearten her up a bit, the little lassie!”

The woman never noticed the kind deed, but took back the jug with a simple “Good evening, Master,” and went her way: but the children had been more observant, and, as we followed her out, Bruno remarked “That were _welly_ kind: and I loves that man: and if I was welly rich I’d give him a hundred pounds—and a bun. That little grummeling dog doosn’t know its business!” He referred to the dairyman’s little dog, who had apparently quite forgotten the affectionate welcome he had given us on our arrival, and was now following at a respectful distance, doing his best to ‘_speed the parting guest_’ with a shower of little shrill barks, that seemed to tread on one another’s heels.

“What _is_ a dog’s business?” laughed Sylvie. “Dogs ca’n’t keep shops and give change!”

“Sisters’ businesses _isn’t_ to laugh at their brothers,” Bruno replied with perfect gravity. “And dogs’ businesses is to _bark_—not like that: it should finish one bark before it begins another: and it should—Oh Sylvie, there’s some dindledums!”

And in another moment the happy children were flying across the common, racing for the patch of dandelions.

While I stood watching them, a strange dreamy feeling came upon me: a railway-platform seemed to take the place of the green sward, and, instead of the light figure of Sylvie bounding along, I seemed to see the flying form of Lady Muriel; but whether Bruno had also undergone a transformation, and had become the old man whom she was running to overtake, I was unable to judge, so instantaneously did the feeling come and go.

When I re-entered the little sitting-room which I shared with Arthur, he was standing with his back to me, looking out of the open window, and evidently had not heard me enter. A cup of tea, apparently just tasted and pushed aside, stood on the table, on the opposite side of which was a letter, just begun, with the pen lying across it: an open book lay on the sofa: the London paper occupied the easy chair; and on the little table, which stood by it, I noticed an unlighted cigar and an open box of cigar-lights: all things betokened that the Doctor, usually so methodical and so self-contained, had been trying every form of occupation, and could settle to none!

“This is very unlike _you_, Doctor!” I was beginning, but checked myself, as he turned at the sound of my voice, in sheer amazement at the wonderful change that had taken place in his appearance. Never had I seen a face so radiant with happiness, or eyes that sparkled with such unearthly light! “Even thus,” I thought, “must the herald-angel have looked, who brought to the shepherds, watching over their flocks by night, that sweet message of ‘_peace on earth, good-will to men_’!”

“Yes, dear friend!” he said, as if in answer to the question that I suppose he read in my face. “It is true! It is true!”

No need to ask _what_ was true. “God bless you both!” I said, as I felt the happy tears brimming to my eyes. “You were made for each other!”

“Yes,” he said, simply, “I believe we were. And _what_ a change it makes in one’s Life! This isn’t the same world! That isn’t the sky I saw yesterday! Those clouds—I never saw such clouds in all my life before! They look like troops of hovering angels!”

To _me_ they looked very ordinary clouds indeed: but then _I_ had not fed ‘_on honey-dew, And drunk the milk of Paradise_’!

“She wants to see you—at once,” he continued, descending suddenly to the things of earth. “She says _that_ is the _one_ drop yet wanting in her cup of happiness!”

“I’ll go at once,” I said, as I turned to leave the room. “Wo’n’t you come with me?”

“No, Sir!” said the Doctor, with a sudden effort—which proved an utter failure—to resume his professional manner. “Do I _look_ like coming with you? Have you never heard that two is company, and——”

“Yes,” I said, “I _have_ heard it: and I’m painfully aware that_ I_ am _Number Three_! But, _when_ shall we three meet again?”

“_When the hurly-burly’s done!_” he answered with a happy laugh, such as I had not heard from him for many a year.

                             CHAPTER VII.
                              MEIN HERR.

So I went on my lonely way, and, on reaching the Hall, I found Lady Muriel standing at the garden-gate waiting for me.

“No need to _give_ you joy, or to _wish_ you joy?” I began.

“None _whatever_!” she replied, with the joyous laugh of a child. “We _give_ people what they haven’t got: we _wish_ for something that is yet to come. For _me_, it’s all _here_! It’s all _mine_! Dear friend,” she suddenly broke off, “do you think Heaven ever begins on _Earth_, for any of us?”

“For _some_,” I said. “For some, perhaps, who are simple and childlike. You know He said ‘of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.’”

Lady Muriel clasped her hands, and gazed up into the cloudless sky, with a look I had often seen in Sylvie’s eyes. “I feel as if it had begun for _me_,” she almost whispered. “I feel as if _I_ were one of the happy children, whom He bid them bring near to Him, though the people would have kept them back. Yes, He has seen me in the throng. He has read the wistful longing in my eyes. He has beckoned me to Him. They have _had_ to make way for me. He has taken me up in His arms. He has put His hands upon me and blessed me!” She paused, breathless in her perfect happiness.

“Yes,” I said. “I think He has!”

“You must come and speak to my father,” she went on, as we stood side by side at the gate, looking down the shady lane. But, even as she said the words, the ‘eerie’ sensation came over me like a flood: I saw the dear old Professor approaching us, and also saw, what was stranger still, that he was visible to _Lady Muriel_!

What was to be done? Had the fairy-life been merged in the real life? Or was Lady Muriel ‘eerie’ also, and thus able to enter into the fairy-world along with me? The words were on my lips (“I see an old friend of mine in the lane: if you don’t know him, may I introduce him to you?”) when the strangest thing of all happened: Lady Muriel spoke.

“I see an old friend of mine in the lane,” she said: “if you don’t know him, may I introduce him to you?”

I seemed to wake out of a dream: for the ‘eerie’ feeling was still strong upon me, and the figure outside seemed to be changing at every moment, like one of the shapes in a kaleidoscope: now he was the _Professor_, and now he was somebody else! By the time he had reached the gate, he certainly was somebody else: and I felt that the proper course was for _Lady Muriel_, not for _me_, to introduce him. She greeted him kindly, and, opening the gate, admitted the venerable old man—a German, obviously—who looked about him with dazed eyes, as if _he_, too, had but just awaked from a dream!

No, it was certainly _not_ the Professor! My old friend _could_ not have grown that magnificent beard since last we met: moreover, he would have recognised _me_, for I was certain that _I_ had not changed much in the time.

As it was, he simply looked at me vaguely, and took off his hat in response to Lady Muriel’s words “Let me introduce Mein Herr to you”; while in the words, spoken in a strong German accent, “proud to make your acquaintance, Sir!” I could detect no trace of an idea that we had ever met before.

Lady Muriel led us to the well-known shady nook, where preparations for afternoon tea had already been made, and, while she went in to look for the Earl, we seated ourselves in two easy-chairs, and ‘Mein Herr’ took up Lady Muriel’s work, and examined it through his large spectacles (one of the adjuncts that made him so provokingly like the Professor). “Hemming pocket-handkerchiefs?” he said, musingly. “So _that_ is what the English miladies occupy themselves with, is it?”

“It is the one accomplishment,” I said, “in which Man has never yet rivaled Woman!”

Here Lady Muriel returned with her father; and, after he had exchanged some friendly words with ‘Mein Herr,’ and we had all been supplied with the needful ‘creature-comforts,’ the newcomer returned to the suggestive subject of Pocket-handkerchiefs.

“You have heard of Fortunatus’s Purse, Miladi? Ah, so! Would you be surprised to hear that, with three of these leetle handkerchiefs, you shall make the Purse of Fortunatus, quite soon, quite easily?”

“Shall I indeed?” Lady Muriel eagerly replied, as she took a heap of them into her lap, and threaded her needle. “_Please_ tell me how, Mein Herr! I’ll make one before I touch another drop of tea!”

“You shall first,” said Mein Herr, possessing himself of two of the handkerchiefs, spreading one upon the other, and holding them up by two corners, “you shall first join together these upper corners, the right to the right, the left to the left; and the opening between them shall be the _mouth_ of the Purse.”

A very few stitches sufficed to carry out _this_ direction. “Now, if I sew the other three edges together,” she suggested, “the bag is complete?”

“Not so, Miladi: the _lower_ edges shall _first_ be joined—ah, not so!” (as she was beginning to sew them together). “Turn one of them over, and join the _right_ lower corner of the one to the _left_ lower corner of the other, and sew the lower edges together in what you would call _the wrong way_.”

“_I_ see!” said Lady Muriel, as she deftly executed the order. “And a very twisted, uncomfortable, uncanny-looking bag it makes! But the _moral_ is a lovely one. Unlimited wealth can only be attained by doing things _in the wrong way_! And how are we to join up these mysterious—no, I mean _this_ mysterious opening?” (twisting the thing round and round with a puzzled air.) “Yes, it _is_ one opening. I thought it was _two_, at first.”

“You have seen the puzzle of the Paper Ring?” Mein Herr said, addressing the Earl. “Where you take a slip of paper, and join its ends together, first twisting one, so as to join the _upper_ corner of _one_ end to the _lower_ corner of the _other_?”

“I saw one made, only yesterday,” the Earl replied. “Muriel, my child, were you not making one, to amuse those children you had to tea?”

“Yes, I know that Puzzle,” said Lady Muriel. “The Ring has only _one_ surface, and only _one_ edge. It’s very mysterious!”

“The _bag_ is just like that, isn’t it?” I suggested. “Is not the _outer_ surface of one side of it continuous with the _inner_ surface of the other side?”

“So it is!” she exclaimed. “Only it _isn’t_ a bag, just yet. How shall we fill up this opening, Mein Herr?”

“Thus!” said the old man impressively, taking the bag from her, and rising to his feet in the excitement of the explanation. “The edge of the opening consists of _four_ handkerchief-edges, and you can trace it continuously, round and round the opening: down the right edge of _one_ handkerchief, up the left edge of the _other_, and then down the left edge of the _one_, and up the right edge of the _other_!”

“So you can!” Lady Muriel murmured thoughtfully, leaning her head on her hand, and earnestly watching the old man. “And that _proves_ it to be only _one_ opening!”

[Illustration: FORTUNATUS’ PURSE]

She looked so strangely like a child, puzzling over a difficult lesson, and Mein Herr had become, for the moment, so strangely like the old Professor, that I felt utterly bewildered: the ‘eerie’ feeling was on me in its full force, and I felt almost _impelled_ to say “Do you understand it, Sylvie?” However I checked myself by a great effort, and let the dream (if indeed it _was_ a dream) go on to its end.

“Now, this _third_ handkerchief,” Mein Herr proceeded, “has _also_ four edges, which you can trace continuously round and round: all you need do is to join its four edges to the four edges of the opening. The Purse is then complete, and its outer surface——”

“_I_ see!” Lady Muriel eagerly interrupted. “Its _outer_ surface will be continuous with its _inner_ surface! But it will take time. I’ll sew it up after tea.” She laid aside the bag and resumed her cup of tea. “But why do you call it Fortunatus’s Purse, Mein Herr?”

The dear old man beamed upon her, with a jolly smile, looking more exactly like the Professor than ever. “Don’t you see, my child—I should say Miladi? Whatever is _inside_ that Purse, is _outside_ it; and whatever is _outside_ it, is _inside_ it. So you have all the wealth of the world in that leetle Purse!”

His pupil clapped her hands, in unrestrained delight. “I’ll certainly sew the third handkerchief in—_some_ time,” she said: “but I wo’n’t take up your time by trying it now. Tell us some more wonderful things, please!” And her face and her voice so _exactly_ recalled Sylvie, that I could not help glancing round, half-expecting to see _Bruno_ also!

Mein Herr began thoughtfully balancing his spoon on the edge of his teacup, while he pondered over this request. “Something wonderful—like

Fortunatus’s Purse? _That_ will give you—when it is made—wealth beyond

your wildest dreams: but it will not give you _Time_!”

A pause of silence ensued—utilised by Lady Muriel for the very practical purpose of refilling the teacups.

“In _your_ country,” Mein Herr began with a startling abruptness, “what becomes of all the wasted Time?”

Lady Muriel looked grave. “Who can tell?” she half-whispered to herself. “All one knows is that it is gone—past recall!”

“Well, in _my_—I mean in a country _I_ have visited,” said the old man, “they store it up: and it comes in _very_ useful, years afterwards! For example, suppose you have a long tedious evening before you: nobody to talk to: nothing you care to do: and yet hours too soon to go to bed. How do _you_ behave then?”

“I get _very_ cross,” she frankly admitted: “and I want to throw things about the room!”

“When that happens to—to the people I have visited, they never act _so_. By a short and simple process—which I cannot explain to you—they store up the useless hours: and, on some _other_ occasion, when they happen to _need_ extra time, they get them out again!”

The Earl was listening with a slightly incredulous smile. “Why cannot you _explain_ the process?” he enquired.

Mein Herr was ready with a quite unanswerable reason. “Because you have no _words_, in _your_ language, to convey the ideas which are needed. I could explain it in—in—but you would not understand it!”

“No indeed!” said Lady Muriel, graciously dispensing with the _name_ of the unknown language. “I never learnt it—at least, not to speak it _fluently_, you know. _Please_ tell us some more wonderful things!”

“They run their railway-trains without any engines—nothing is needed but machinery to _stop_ them with. Is _that_ wonderful enough, Miladi?”

“But where does the _force_ come from?” I ventured to ask.

Mein Herr turned quickly round, to look at the new speaker. Then he took off his spectacles, and polished them, and looked at me again, in evident bewilderment. I could see he was thinking—as indeed _I_ was also—that we _must_ have met before.

“They use the force of _gravity_,” he said. “It is a force known also in _your_ country, I believe?”

“But that would need a railway going _down-hill_,” the Earl remarked. “You ca’n’t have _all_ your railways going down-hill?”

“They _all_ do,” said Mein Herr.

“Not from _both_ ends?”

“From _both_ ends.”

“Then I give it up!” said the Earl.

“Can you explain the process?” said Lady Muriel. “Without using that language, that I ca’n’t speak fluently?”

“Easily,” said Mein Herr. “Each railway is in a long tunnel, perfectly straight: so of course the _middle_ of it is nearer the centre of the globe than the two ends: so every train runs half-way _down_-hill, and that gives it force enough to run the _other_ half _up_-hill.”

“Thank you. I understand that perfectly,” said Lady Muriel. “But the velocity, in the _middle_ of the tunnel, must be something _fearful_!”

‘Mein Herr’ was evidently much gratified at the intelligent interest Lady Muriel took in his remarks. At every moment the old man seemed to grow more chatty and more fluent. “You would like to know our methods of _driving_?” he smilingly enquired. “To us, a run-away horse is of no import at all!”

Lady Muriel slightly shuddered. “To _us_ it is a very real danger,” she said.

“That is because your carriage is wholly _behind_ your horse. Your horse runs. Your carriage follows. Perhaps your horse has the bit in his teeth. Who shall stop him? You fly, ever faster and faster! Finally comes the inevitable upset!”

“But suppose _your_ horse manages to get the bit in his teeth?”

“No matter! We would not concern ourselves. Our horse is harnessed in the very centre of our carriage. Two wheels are in front of him, and two behind. To the roof is attached one end of a broad belt. This goes under the horse’s body, and the other end is attached to a leetle—what you call a ‘windlass,’ I think. The horse takes the bit in his teeth. He runs away. We are flying at ten miles an hour! We turn our little windlass, five turns, six turns, seven turns, and—poof! Our horse is off the ground! _Now_ let him gallop in the air, as much as he pleases: our _carriage_ stands still. We sit round him, and watch him till he is tired. Then we let him down. Our horse is glad, very much glad, when his feet once more touch the ground!”

“Capital!” said the Earl, who had been listening attentively. “Are there any other peculiarities in your carriages?”

“In the _wheels_, sometimes, my Lord. For your health, _you_ go to sea: to be pitched, to be rolled, occasionally to be drowned. _We_ do all that on land: we are pitched, as you; we are rolled, as you; but _drowned_, no! There is no water!”

“What are the wheels like, then?”

“They are _oval_, my Lord. Therefore the carriages rise and fall.”

“Yes, and pitch the carriage backwards and forwards: but how do they make it _roll_?”

“They do not match, my Lord. The _end_ of one wheel answers to the _side_ of the opposite wheel. So first one side of the carriage rises, then the other. And it pitches all the while. Ah, you must be a good sailor, to drive in our boat-carriages!”

“I can easily believe it,” said the Earl.

Mein Herr rose to his feet. “I must leave you now, Miladi,” he said, consulting his watch. “I have another engagement.”

“I only wish we had stored up some extra time!” Lady Muriel said, as she shook hands with him. “Then we could have kept you a little longer!”

“In _that_ case I would gladly stay,” replied Mein Herr. “As it is—I fear I must say good-bye!”

“Where did you first meet him?” I asked Lady Muriel, when Mein Herr had left us. “And where does he live? And what is his real name?”

“We first—met—him——” she musingly replied, “really, I ca’n’t remember _where_! And I’ve no idea where he lives! And I never heard any other name! It’s very curious. It never occurred to me before to consider what a mystery he is!”

“I hope we shall meet again,” I said: “he interests me very much.”

“He will be at our farewell-party, this day fortnight,” said the Earl. “Of course you will come? Muriel is anxious to gather all our friends around us once more, before we leave the place.”

And then he explained to me—as Lady Muriel had left us together—that he was so anxious to get his daughter away from a place full of so many painful memories connected with the now-canceled engagement with Major Lindon, that they had arranged to have the wedding in a months time, after which Arthur and his wife were to go on a foreign tour.

“Don’t forget Tuesday week!” he said as we shook hands at parting. “I only wish you could bring with you those charming children, that you introduced to us in the summer. Talk of the mystery of Mein Herr! That’s _nothing_ to the mystery that seems to attend _them_! I shall never forget those marvellous flowers!”

“I will bring them if I possibly can,” I said. But how to _fulfil_ such a promise, I mused to myself on my way back to our lodgings, was a problem entirely beyond my skill!

                            CHAPTER VIII.
                          IN A SHADY PLACE.

The ten days glided swiftly away: and, the day before the great party was to take place, Arthur proposed that we should stroll down to the Hall, in time for afternoon-tea.

“Hadn’t you better go _alone_?” I suggested. “Surely _I_ shall be very much _de trop_?”

“Well, it’ll be a kind of _experiment_,” he said. “_Fiat experimentum in corpore vili!_” he added, with a graceful bow of mock politeness towards the unfortunate victim. “You see I shall have to bear the sight, to-morrow night, of my lady-love making herself agreable to everybody _except_ the right person, and I shall bear the agony all the better if we have a dress-rehearsal beforehand!”

“_My_ part in the play being, apparently, that of the sample _wrong_ person?”

“Well, no,” Arthur said musingly, as we set forth: “there’s no such part in a regular company. ‘Heavy Father’? _That_ won’t do: that’s filled already. ‘Singing Chambermaid’? Well, the ‘First Lady’ doubles _that_ part. ‘Comic Old Man’? You’re not comic enough. After all, I’m afraid there’s no part for you but the ‘Well-dressed Villain’: only,” with a critical side-glance, “I’m a _leetle_ uncertain about the dress!”

We found Lady Muriel alone, the Earl having gone out to make a call, and at once resumed old terms of intimacy, in the shady arbour where the tea-things seemed to be always waiting. The only novelty in the arrangements (one which Lady Muriel seemed to regard as _entirely_ a matter of course), was that two of the chairs were placed _quite_ close together, side by side. Strange to say, _I_ was not invited to occupy _either_ of them!

“We have been arranging, as we came along, about letter-writing,” Arthur began. “He will want to know how we’re enjoying our Swiss tour: and of course we must pretend we _are_?”

“Of course,” she meekly assented.

“And the skeleton-in-the-cupboard——” I suggested.

“—is always a difficulty,” she quickly put in, “when you’re traveling about, and when there are no cupboards in the hotels. However, _ours_ is a _very_ portable one; and will be neatly packed, in a nice leather case——”

“But please don’t think about _writing_,” I said, “when you’ve anything more attractive on hand. I delight in _reading_ letters, but I know well how tiring it is to _write_ them.”

“It _is_, sometimes,” Arthur assented. “For instance, when you’re very shy of the person you have to write to.”

“Does that show itself in the _letter_?” Lady Muriel enquired. “Of course, when I hear any one _talking_—_you_, for instance—I can see how _desperately_ shy he is! But can you see that in a _letter_?”

“Well, of course, when you hear any one talk _fluently_—_you_, for instance—you can see how desperately _un_-shy she is—not to say saucy! But the shyest and most intermittent talker must _seem_ fluent in letter-writing. He may have taken half-an-hour to _compose_ his second sentence; but there it is, close after the first!”

“Then letters don’t express all that they _might_ express?”

“That’s merely because our system of letter-writing is incomplete. A shy writer _ought_ to be able to show that he is so. Why shouldn’t he make _pauses_ in writing, just as he would do in speaking? He might leave blank spaces—say half a page at a time. And a _very_ shy girl—if there _is_ such a thing—might write a sentence on the _first_ sheet of her letter—then put in a couple of _blank_ sheets—then a sentence on the _fourth_ sheet: and so on.”

“I quite foresee that _we_—I mean this clever little boy and myself—” Lady Muriel said to me, evidently with the kind wish to bring me into the conversation, “—are going to become famous—of course all our inventions are common property now—for a new Code of Rules for Letter-writing! Please invent some more, little boy!”

“Well, another thing _greatly_ needed, little girl, is some way of expressing that we _don’t_ mean anything.”

“Explain yourself, little boy! Surely _you_ can find no difficulty in expressing a _total_ absence of meaning?”

“I mean that you should be able, when you _don’t_ mean a thing to be taken seriously, to express that wish. For human nature is so constituted that whatever you write seriously is taken as a joke, and whatever you mean as a joke is taken seriously! At any rate, it is so in writing to a _lady_!”

“Ah! you’re not used to writing to ladies!” Lady Muriel remarked, leaning back in her chair, and gazing thoughtfully into the sky. “You should try.”

“Very good,” said Arthur. “How many ladies may I begin writing to? As many as I can count on the fingers of both hands?”

“As many as you can count on the _thumbs_ of _one_ hand!” his lady-love replied with much severity. “What a _very_ naughty little boy he is! _Isn’t_ he?” (with an appealing glance at me).

“He’s a little fractious,” I said. “Perhaps he’s cutting a tooth.” While to myself I said “How _exactly_ like Sylvie talking to Bruno!”

“He wants his tea.” (The naughty little boy volunteered the information.) “He’s getting very tired, at the mere _prospect_ of the great party to-morrow!”

“Then he shall have a good rest beforehand!” she soothingly replied. “The tea isn’t made yet. Come, little boy, lean well back in your chair, and think about nothing—or about _me_, whichever you prefer!”

“All the same, all the same!” Arthur sleepily murmured, watching her with loving eyes, as she moved her chair away to the tea table, and began to make the tea. “Then he’ll wait for his tea, like a good, patient little boy!”

“Shall I bring you the London Papers?” said Lady Muriel. “I saw them lying on the table as I came out, but my father said there was nothing in them, except that horrid murder-trial.” (Society was just then enjoying its daily thrill of excitement in studying the details of a specially sensational murder in a thieves’ den in the East of London.)

“I have no appetite for horrors,” Arthur replied. “But I hope we have learned the lesson they should teach us—though we are very apt to read it backwards!”

[Illustration: ‘I AM SITTING AT YOUR FEET’]

“You speak in riddles,” said Lady Muriel. “Please explain yourself. See now,” suiting the action to the word, “I am sitting at your feet, just as if you were a second Gamaliel! Thanks, no.” (This was to me, who had risen to bring her chair back to its former place.) “Pray don’t disturb yourself. This tree and the grass make a very nice easy-chair. _What_ is the lesson that one always reads wrong?”

Arthur was silent for a minute. “I would like to be clear what it _is_ I mean,” he said, slowly and thoughtfully, “before I say anything to _you_—because you _think_ about it.”

Anything approaching to a compliment was so unusual an utterance for Arthur, that it brought a flush of pleasure to her cheek, as she replied “It is _you_, that give me the ideas to think about.”

“One’s first thought,” Arthur proceeded, “in reading of anything specially vile or barbarous, as done by a fellow-creature, is apt to be that we see a new depth of Sin revealed _beneath_ us: and we seem to gaze down into that abyss from some higher ground, far apart from it.”

“I think I understand you now. You mean that one ought to think—not ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are’—but ‘God, be merciful to me also, who might be, but for Thy grace, a sinner as vile as he!’”

“No,” said Arthur. “I meant a great deal more than that.”

She looked up quickly, but checked herself, and waited in silence.

“One must begin further back, I think. Think of some other man, the same age as this poor wretch. Look back to the time when they both began life—before they had sense enough to know Right from Wrong. _Then_, at any rate, they were equal in God’s sight?”

She nodded assent.

“We have, then, two distinct epochs at which we may contemplate the two men whose lives we are comparing. At the first epoch they are, so far as moral responsibility is concerned, on precisely the same footing: they are alike incapable of doing right or wrong. At the second epoch the one man—I am taking an extreme case, for contrast—has won the esteem and love of all around him: his character is stainless, and his name will be held in honour hereafter: the other man’s history is one unvaried record of crime, and his life is at last forfeited to the outraged laws of his country. Now what have been the causes, in each case, of each man’s condition being what it is at the second epoch? They are of two kinds—one acting from within, the other from without. These two kinds need to be discussed separately—that is, if I have not already tired you with my prosing?”

“On the contrary,” said Lady Muriel, “it is a special delight to me to have a question discussed in this way—analysed and arranged, so that one can understand it. Some books, that profess to argue out a question, are to me intolerably wearisome, simply because the ideas are all arranged hap-hazard—a sort of ‘first come, first served.’”

“You are very encouraging,” Arthur replied, with a pleased look. “The causes, acting from _within_, which make a man’s character what it is at any given moment, are his successive acts of volition—that is, his acts of choosing whether he will do this or that.”

“We are to assume the existence of Free-Will?” I said, in order to have that point made quite clear.

“If not,” was the quiet reply, “_cadit quaestio_: and I have no more to say.”

“We _will_ assume it!” the rest of the audience—the majority, I may say, looking at it from Arthur’s point of view—imperiously proclaimed. The orator proceeded.

“The causes, acting from _without_, are his surroundings—what Mr. Herbert Spencer calls his ‘environment.’ Now the point I want to make clear is this, that a man is responsible for his acts of choosing, but _not_ responsible for his environment. Hence, if these two men make, on some given occasion, when they are exposed to equal temptation, equal efforts to resist and to choose the right, their condition, in the sight of God, must be the same. If He is pleased in the one case, so will He be in the other; if displeased in the one case, so also in the other.”

“That is so, no doubt: I see it quite clearly,” Lady Muriel put in.

“And yet, owing to their different environments, the one may win a great victory over the temptation, while the other falls into some black abyss of crime.”

“But surely you would not say those men were equally guilty in the sight of God?”

“Either that,” said Arthur, “or else I must give up my belief in God’s perfect justice. But let me put one more case, which will show my meaning even more forcibly. Let the one man be in a high social position—the other, say, a common thief. Let the one be tempted to some trivial act of unfair dealing—something which he can do with the absolute certainty that it will never be discovered—something which he can with perfect ease forbear from doing—and which he distinctly knows to be a sin. Let the other be tempted to some terrible crime—as men would consider it—but under an almost overwhelming pressure of motives—of course not _quite_ overwhelming, as that would destroy all responsibility. Now, in this case, let the second man make a _greater_ effort at resistance than the first. Also suppose _both_ to fall under the temptation—I say that the second man is, in God’s sight, _less_ guilty than the other.”

Lady Muriel drew a long breath. “It upsets all one’s ideas of Right and Wrong—just at first! Why, in that dreadful murder-trial, you would say, I suppose, that it was possible that the least guilty man in the Court was the murderer, and that possibly the judge who tried him, by yielding to the temptation of making one unfair remark, had committed a crime outweighing the criminal’s whole career!”

“Certainly I should,” Arthur firmly replied. “It sounds like a paradox, I admit. But just think what a grievous sin it must be, in God’s sight, to yield to some very slight temptation, which we could have resisted with perfect ease, and to do it deliberately, and in the full light of God’s Law. What penance can atone for a sin like _that_?”

“I ca’n’t reject your theory,” I said. “But how it seems to widen the possible area of Sin in the world!”

“Is that so?” Lady Muriel anxiously enquired.

“Oh, not so, not so!” was the eager reply. “To me it seems to clear away much of the cloud that hangs over the world’s history. When this view first made itself clear to me, I remember walking out into the fields, repeating to myself that line of Tennyson ‘_There seemed no room for sense of wrong!_’ The thought, that perhaps the real guilt of the human race was infinitely less than I fancied it—that the millions, whom I had thought of as sunk in hopeless depths of sin, were perhaps, in God’s sight, scarcely sinning at all—was more sweet than words can tell! Life seemed more bright and beautiful, when once that thought had come! ‘_A livelier emerald twinkles in the grass, A purer sapphire melts into the sea!_’” His voice trembled as he concluded, and the tears stood in his eyes.

Lady Muriel shaded her face with her hand, and was silent for a minute. “It is a beautiful thought,” she said, looking up at last. “Thank you—Arthur, for putting it into my head!”

The Earl returned in time to join us at tea, and to give us the very unwelcome tidings that a fever had broken out in the little harbour-town that lay below us—a fever of so malignant a type that, though it had only appeared a day or two ago, there were already more than a dozen down in it, two or three of whom were reported to be in imminent danger.

In answer to the eager questions of Arthur—who of course took a deep scientific interest in the matter—he could give very few _technical_ details, though he had met the local doctor. It appeared, however, that it was an almost _new_ disease—at least in _this_ century, though it _might_ prove to be identical with the ‘Plague’ recorded in History—_very_ infectious, and frightfully rapid in its action. “It will not, however, prevent our party to-morrow,” he said in conclusion. “None of the guests belong to the infected district, which is, as you know, exclusively peopled by fishermen: so you may come without any fear.”

Arthur was very silent, all the way back, and, on reaching our lodgings, immediately plunged into medical studies, connected with the alarming malady of whose arrival we had just heard.

                             CHAPTER IX.
                         THE FAREWELL-PARTY.

On the following day, Arthur and I reached the Hall in good time, as only a few of the guests—it was to be a party of eighteen—had as yet arrived; and these were talking with the Earl, leaving us the opportunity of a few words apart with our hostess.

“Who is that _very_ learned-looking man with the large spectacles?” Arthur enquired. “I haven’t met him here before, have I?”

“No, he’s a new friend of ours,” said Lady Muriel: “a German, I believe. He _is_ such a dear old thing! And quite the most learned man I ever met—with _one_ exception, of course!” she added humbly, as Arthur drew himself up with an air of offended dignity.

“And the young lady in blue, just beyond him, talking to that foreign-looking man. Is _she_ learned, too?”

“I don’t know,” said Lady Muriel. “But I’m told she’s a wonderful piano-forte-player. I hope you’ll hear her to-night. I asked that foreigner to take her in, because _he’s_ very musical, too. He’s a French Count, I believe; and he sings _splendidly_!”

“Science—music—singing—you have indeed got a complete party!” said Arthur. “I feel quite a privileged person, meeting all these stars. I _do_ love music!”

“But the party isn’t _quite_ complete!” said Lady Muriel. “You haven’t brought us those two beautiful children,” she went on, turning to me. “He brought them here to tea, you know, one day last summer,” again addressing Arthur; “and they _are_ such darlings!”

“They are, _indeed_,” I assented.

“But why haven’t you brought them with you? You promised my father you _would_.”

“I’m very sorry,” I said; “but really it was impossible to bring them with me.” Here I most certainly _meant_ to conclude the sentence: and it was with a feeling of utter amazement, which I cannot adequately describe, that I heard myself _going on speaking_. “—but they are to join me here in the course of the evening” were the words, uttered in _my_ voice, and seeming to come from _my_ lips.

“I’m _so_ glad!” Lady Muriel joyfully replied. “I _shall_ enjoy introducing them to some of my friends here! When do you expect them?”

I took refuge in silence. The only _honest_ reply would have been “That was not _my_ remark. _I_ didn’t say it, and _it isn’t true_!” But I had not the moral courage to make such a confession. The character of a ‘lunatic’ is not, I believe, very difficult to _acquire_: but it is amazingly difficult to _get rid of_: and it seemed quite certain that any such speech as _that_ would _quite_ justify the issue of a writ ‘_de lunatico inquirendo_.’

Lady Muriel evidently thought I had failed to hear her question, and turned to Arthur with a remark on some other subject; and I had time to recover from my shock of surprise—or to awake out of my momentary ‘eerie’ condition, whichever it was.

When things around me seemed once more to be real, Arthur was saying “I’m afraid there’s no help for it: they _must_ be finite in number.”

“I should be sorry to have to believe it,” said Lady Muriel. “Yet, when one comes to think of it, there _are_ no new melodies, now-a-days. What people talk of as ‘the last new song’ always recalls to _me_ some tune I’ve known as a child!”

“The day must come—if the world lasts long enough——” said Arthur, “when every possible tune will have been composed—every possible pun perpetrated——” (Lady Muriel wrung her hands, like a tragedy-queen) “and, worse than that, every possible _book_ written! For the number of _words_ is finite.”

“It’ll make very little difference to the _authors_,” I suggested. “Instead of saying ‘_what_ book shall I write?’ an author will ask himself ‘_which_ book shall I write?’ A mere verbal distinction!”

Lady Muriel gave me an approving smile. “But _lunatics_ would always write new books, surely?” she went on. “They _couldn’t_ write the sane books over again!”

“True,” said Arthur. “But _their_ books would come to an end, also. The number of lunatic _books_ is as finite as the number of lunatics.”

“And _that_ number is becoming greater every year,” said a pompous man, whom I recognised as the self-appointed showman on the day of the picnic.

“So they say,” replied Arthur. “And, when ninety per cent. of us are lunatics,” (he seemed to be in a wildly nonsensical mood) “the asylums will be put to their proper use.”

“And that is——?” the pompous man gravely enquired.

“_To shelter the sane!_” said Arthur. “_We_ shall bar ourselves in. The lunatics will have it all their own way, _outside_. They’ll do it a little queerly, no doubt. Railway-collisions will be always happening: steamers always blowing up: most of the towns will be burnt down: most of the ships sunk——”

“And most of the men _killed_!” murmured the pompous man, who was evidently hopelessly bewildered.

“Certainly,” Arthur assented. “Till at last there will be _fewer_ lunatics than sane men. Then _we_ come out: _they_ go in: and things return to their normal condition!”

The pompous man frowned darkly, and bit his lip, and folded his arms, vainly trying to think it out. “He is _jesting_!” he muttered to himself at last, in a tone of withering contempt, as he stalked away.

By this time the other guests had arrived; and dinner was announced. Arthur of course took down Lady Muriel: and _I_ was pleased to find myself seated at her other side, with a severe-looking old lady (whom I had not met before, and whose name I had, as is usual in introductions, entirely failed to catch, merely gathering that it sounded like a compound-name) as my partner for the banquet.

She appeared, however, to be acquainted with Arthur, and confided to me in a low voice her opinion that he was “a very argumentative young man.” Arthur, for his part, seemed well inclined to show himself worthy of the character she had given him, and, hearing her say “I never take wine with my soup!” (this was _not_ a confidence to me, but was launched upon Society, as a matter of general interest), he at once challenged a combat by asking her “_when_ would you say that property _commence_ in a plate of soup?”

“This is _my_ soup,” she sternly replied: “and what is before you is _yours_.”

“No doubt,” said Arthur: “but _when_ did I begin to own it? Up to the moment of its being put into the plate, it was the property of our host: while being offered round the table, it was, let us say, held in trust by the waiter: did it become mine when I accepted it? Or when it was placed before me? Or when I took the first spoonful?”

“He is a _very_ argumentative young man!” was all the old lady would say: but she said it audibly, this time, feeling that Society had a right to know it.

Arthur smiled mischievously. “I shouldn’t mind betting you a shilling,” he said, “that the Eminent Barrister next you” (It certainly _is_ possible to say words so as to make them begin with capitals!) “ca’n’t answer me!”

“I _never_ bet,” she sternly replied.

“Not even sixpenny points at _whist_?”

“_Never!_” she repeated. “_Whist_ is innocent enough: but whist played for _money_!” She shuddered.

Arthur became serious again. “I’m afraid I ca’n’t take that view,” he said. “I consider that the introduction of small stakes for card-playing was one of the most _moral_ acts Society ever did, _as_ Society.”

“How was it so?” said Lady Muriel.

“Because it took Cards, once for all, out of the category of games at which _cheating_ is possible. Look at the way Croquet is demoralising Society. Ladies are beginning to cheat at it, terribly: and, if they’re found out, they only laugh, and call it fun. But when there’s _money_ at stake, that is out of the question. The swindler is _not_ accepted as a wit. When a man sits down to cards, and cheats his friends out of their money, he doesn’t get much _fun_ out of it—unless he thinks it fun to be kicked down stairs!”

“If all gentlemen thought as badly of ladies as _you_ do,” my neighbour remarked with some bitterness, “there would be very few—very few——.” She seemed doubtful how to end her sentence, but at last took “honeymoons” as a safe word.

“On the contrary,” said Arthur, the mischievous smile returning to his face, “if only people would adopt _my_ theory, the number of honeymoons—quite of a new kind—would be greatly increased!”

“May we hear about this new kind of honeymoon?” said Lady Muriel.

“Let _X_ be the gentleman,” Arthur began, in a slightly raised voice, as he now found himself with an audience of _six_, including ‘Mein Herr,’ who was seated at the other side of my polynomial partner. “Let _X_ be the gentleman, and _Y_ the lady to whom he thinks of proposing. He applies for an Experimental Honeymoon. It is granted. Forthwith the young couple—accompanied by the great-aunt of _Y_, to act as chaperone—start for a month’s tour, during which they have many a moonlight-walk, and many a _tête-à-tête_ conversation, and each can form a more correct estimate of the other’s character, in four _weeks_, than would have been possible in as many _years_, when meeting under the ordinary restrictions of Society. And it is only after their _return_ that _X_ finally decides whether he will, or will not, put the momentous question to _Y_!”

“In nine cases out of ten,” the pompous man proclaimed, “he would decide to break it off!”

“Then, in nine cases out of ten,” Arthur rejoined, “an unsuitable match would be prevented, and _both_ parties saved from misery!”

“The only really _unsuitable_ matches,” the old lady remarked, “are those made without sufficient _Money_. Love may come _afterwards_. Money is needed _to begin with_!”

This remark was cast loose upon Society, as a sort of general challenge; and, as such, it was at once accepted by several of those within hearing: _Money_ became the key-note of the conversation for some time; and a fitful echo of it was again heard, when the dessert had been placed upon the table, the servants had left the room, and the Earl had started the wine in its welcome progress round the table.

“I’m very glad to see you keep up the old customs,” I said to Lady Muriel as I filled her glass. “It’s really delightful to experience, once more, the peaceful feeling that comes over one when the waiters have left the room—when one can converse without the feeling of being overheard, and without having dishes constantly thrust over one’s shoulder. How much more sociable it is to be able to pour out the wine for the ladies, and to hand the dishes to those who wish for them!”

“In that case, kindly send those peaches down here,” said a fat red-faced man, who was seated beyond our pompous friend. “I’ve been wishing for them—diagonally—for some time!”

“Yes, it _is_ a ghastly innovation,” Lady Muriel replied, “letting the waiters carry round the wine at dessert. For one thing, they _always_ take it the wrong way round—which of course brings bad luck to _everybody_ present!”

“Better go the _wrong_ way than not go _at all_!” said our host. “Would you kindly help yourself?” (This was to the fat red-faced man.) “You are not a teetotaler, I think?”

“Indeed but I _am_!” he replied, as he pushed on the bottles. “Nearly twice as much money is spent in England on _Drink_, as on any other article of food. Read this card.” (What faddist ever goes about without a pocketful of the appropriate literature?) “The stripes of different colours represent the amounts spent on various articles of food. Look at the highest three. Money spent on butter and on cheese, thirty-five millions: on bread, seventy millions: on _intoxicating liquors_, one hundred and thirty-six millions! If I had my way, I would close every public-house in the land! Look at that card, and read the motto. _That’s where all the money goes to!_”

“Have you seen the _Anti-Teetotal Card_?” Arthur innocently enquired.

“No, Sir, I have not!” the orator savagely replied. “What is it like?”

“Almost exactly like this one. The coloured stripes are the same. Only, instead of the words ‘Money spent on,’ it has ‘Incomes derived from sale of’; and, instead of ‘That’s where all the money goes to,’ its motto is ‘_That’s where all the money comes from!_’”

The red-faced man scowled, but evidently considered Arthur beneath his notice. So Lady Muriel took up the cudgels. “Do you hold the theory,” she enquired, “that people can preach teetotalism more effectually by being teetotalers themselves?”

“Certainly I do!” replied the red-faced man. “Now, here is a case in point,” unfolding a newspaper-cutting: “let me read you this letter from a teetotaler. _To the Editor. Sir, I was once a moderate drinker, and knew a man who drank to excess. I went to him. ‘Give up this drink,’ I said. ‘It will ruin your health!’ ‘You drink,’ he said: ‘why shouldn’t I?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but I know when to leave off.’ He turned away from me. ‘You drink in your way,’ he said: ‘let me drink in mine. Be off!’ Then I saw that, to do any good with him, I must forswear drink. From that hour I haven’t touched a drop!_”

“There! What do you say to _that_?” He looked round triumphantly, while the cutting was handed round for inspection.

“How very curious!” exclaimed Arthur, when it had reached him. “Did you happen to see a letter, last week, about early rising? It was strangely like this one.”

The red-faced man’s curiosity was roused. “Where did it appear?” he asked.

“Let me read it to you,” said Arthur. He took some papers from his pocket, opened one of them, and read as follows. “_To the Editor. Sir, I was once a moderate sleeper, and knew a man who slept to excess. I pleaded with him. ‘Give up this lying in bed,’ I said, ‘It will ruin your health!’ ‘You go to bed,’ he said: ‘why shouldn’t I?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but I know when to get up in the morning.’ He turned away from me. ‘You sleep in your way,’ he said: ‘let me sleep in mine. Be off!’ Then I saw that to do any good with him, I must forswear sleep. From that hour I haven’t been to bed!_”

Arthur folded and pocketed his paper, and passed on the newspaper-cutting. None of us dared to laugh, the red-faced man was evidently so angry. “Your parallel doesn’t run on all fours!” he snarled.

“_Moderate_ drinkers never do so!” Arthur quietly replied. Even the stern old lady laughed at this.

“But it needs many other things to make a _perfect_ dinner!” said Lady Muriel, evidently anxious to change the subject. “Mein Herr! What is _your_ idea of a perfect dinner-party?”

The old man looked round smilingly, and his gigantic spectacles seemed more gigantic than ever. “A _perfect_ dinner-party?” he repeated. “First, it must be presided over by our present hostess!”

“That, of _course_!” she gaily interposed. “But what _else_, Mein Herr?”

“I can but tell you what I have seen,” said Mein Herr, “in mine own—in the country I have traveled in.”

He paused for a full minute, and gazed steadily at the ceiling—with so dreamy an expression on his face, that I feared he was going off into a reverie, which seemed to be his normal state. However, after a minute, he suddenly began again.

“That which chiefly causes the failure of a dinner-party, is the running-short—not of meat, nor yet of drink, but of _conversation_.”

“In an _English_ dinner-party,” I remarked, “I have never known _small-talk_ run short!”

“Pardon me,” Mein Herr respectfully replied, “I did not say ‘small-talk.’ I said ‘conversation.’ All such topics as the weather, or politics, or local gossip, are unknown among us. They are either vapid or controversial. What we need for _conversation_ is a topic of _interest_ and of _novelty_. To secure these things we have tried various plans—Moving-Pictures, Wild-Creatures, Moving-Guests, and a Revolving-Humorist. But this last is only adapted to _small_ parties.”

“Let us have it in four separate Chapters, please!” said Lady Muriel, who was evidently deeply interested—as, indeed, most of the party were, by this time: and, all down the table, talk had ceased, and heads were leaning forwards, eager to catch fragments of Mein Herr’s oration.

“Chapter One! Moving-Pictures!” was proclaimed in the silvery voice of our hostess.

“The dining-table is shaped like a circular ring,” Mein Herr began, in low dreamy tones, which, however, were perfectly audible in the silence. “The guests are seated at the inner side as well as the outer, having ascended to their places by a winding-staircase, from the room below. Along the middle of the table runs a little railway; and there is an endless train of trucks, worked round by machinery; and on each truck there are two pictures, leaning back to back. The train makes two circuits during dinner; and, when it has been _once_ round, the waiters turn the pictures round in each truck, making them face the other way. Thus _every_ guest sees _every_ picture!”

He paused, and the silence seemed deader than ever. Lady Muriel looked aghast. “Really, if this goes on,” she exclaimed, “I shall have to drop a pin! Oh, it’s _my_ fault, is it?” (In answer to an appealing look from Mein Herr.) “I was forgetting my duty. Chapter Two! Wild-Creatures!”

“We found the Moving-Pictures a _little_ monotonous,” said Mein Herr. “People didn’t care to talk Art through a whole dinner; so we tried Wild-Creatures. Among the flowers, which we laid (just as _you_ do) about the table, were to be seen, here a mouse, there a beetle; here a spider,” (Lady Muriel shuddered) “there a wasp; here a toad, there a snake;” (“Father!” said Lady Muriel, plaintively. “Did you hear _that_?”) “so we had plenty to talk about!”

“And when you got stung——” the old lady began.

“They were all chained-up, dear Madam!”

And the old lady gave a satisfied nod.

There was no silence to follow, _this_ time. “Third Chapter!” Lady Muriel proclaimed at once, “Moving-Guests!”

“Even the Wild-Creatures proved monotonous,” the orator proceeded. “So we left the guests to choose their own subjects; and, to avoid monotony, we changed _them_. We made the table of _two_ rings; and the inner ring moved slowly round, all the time, along with the floor in the middle and the inner row of guests. Thus _every_ inner guest was brought face-to-face with _every_ outer guest. It was a little confusing, sometimes, to have to _begin_ a story to one friend and _finish_ it to another; but _every_ plan has its faults, you know.”

“Fourth Chapter!” Lady Muriel hastened to announce. “The Revolving-Humorist!”

“For a _small_ party we found it an excellent plan to have a round table, with a hole cut in the middle large enough to hold _one_ guest. Here we placed our _best_ talker. He revolved slowly, facing every other guest in turn: and he told lively anecdotes the whole time!”

“I shouldn’t like it!” murmured the pompous man. “It would make me giddy, revolving like that! I should decline to——” here it appeared to dawn upon him that perhaps the assumption he was making was not warranted by the circumstances: he took a hasty gulp of wine, and choked himself.

But Mein Herr had relapsed into reverie, and made no further remark. Lady Muriel gave the signal, and the ladies left the room.

                              CHAPTER X.
                          JABBERING AND JAM.

When the last lady had disappeared, and the Earl, taking his place at the head of the table, had issued the military order “Gentlemen! Close up the ranks, if you please!”, and when, in obedience to his command, we had gathered ourselves compactly round him, the pompous man gave a deep sigh of relief, filled his glass to the brim, pushed on the wine, and began one of his favorite orations. “They are charming, no doubt! Charming, but very frivolous. They drag us down, so to speak, to a lower level. They——”

“Do not all pronouns require antecedent _nouns_?” the Earl gently enquired.

“Pardon me,” said the pompous man, with lofty condescension. “I had overlooked the noun. The ladies. We regret their absence. Yet we console ourselves. _Thought is free._ With them, we are limited to _trivial_ topics—Art, Literature, Politics, and so forth. One can bear to discuss _such_ paltry matters with a lady. But no man, in his senses—” (he looked sternly round the table, as if defying contradiction) “—ever yet discussed _WINE_ with a lady!” He sipped his glass of port, leaned back in his chair, and slowly raised it up to his eye, so as to look through it at the lamp. “The vintage, my Lord?” he enquired, glancing at his host.

The Earl named the date.

“So I had supposed. But one likes to be certain. The _tint_ is, perhaps, slightly pale. But the _body_ is unquestionable. And as for the _bouquet_——”

Ah, that magic Bouquet! How vividly that single word recalled the scene! The little beggar-boy turning his somersault in the road—the sweet little crippled maiden in my arms—the mysterious evanescent nurse-maid—all rushed tumultuously into my mind, like the creatures of a dream: and through this mental haze there still boomed on, like the tolling of a bell, the solemn voice of the great connoisseur of _WINE_!

Even _his_ utterances had taken on themselves a strange and dream-like form. “No,” he resumed—and _why_ is it, I pause to ask, that, in taking up the broken thread of a dialogue, one _always_ begins with this cheerless monosyllable? After much anxious thought, I have come to the conclusion that the object in view is the same as that of the schoolboy, when the sum he is working has got into a hopeless muddle, and when in despair he takes the sponge, washes it all out, and begins again. Just in the same way the bewildered orator, by the simple process of denying _everything_ that has been hitherto asserted, makes a clean sweep of the whole discussion, and can ‘start fair’ with a fresh theory. “No,” he resumed: “there’s nothing like cherry-jam, after all. That’s what _I_ say!”

“Not for _all_ qualities!” an eager little man shrilly interposed. “For _richness_ of general tone I don’t say that it _has_ a rival. But for _delicacy_ of modulation—for what one may call the ‘_harmonics_’ of flavour—give _me_ good old _raspberry_-jam!”

“Allow me one word!” The fat red-faced man, quite hoarse with excitement, broke into the dialogue. “It’s too important a question to be settled by Amateurs! I can give you the views of a _Professional_—perhaps the most experienced jam-taster now living. Why, I’ve known him fix the age of strawberry-jam, to a _day_—and we all know what a difficult jam it is to give a date to—on a single tasting! Well, I put to him the _very_ question you are discussing. His words were ‘_cherry_-jam is best, for mere _chiaroscuro_ of flavour: _raspberry_-jam lends itself best to those resolved discords that linger so lovingly on the tongue: but, for rapturous _utterness_ of saccharine perfection, it’s _apricot-jam first and the rest nowhere_!’ That was well put, _wasn’t_ it?”

“Consummately put!” shrieked the eager little man.

“I know your friend well,” said the pompous man. “As a jam-taster, he has no rival! Yet I scarcely think——”

But here the discussion became general: and his words were lost in a confused medley of names, every guest sounding the praises of his own favorite jam. At length, through the din, our host’s voice made itself heard. “Let us join the ladies!” These words seemed to recall me to waking life; and I felt sure that, for the last few minutes, I had relapsed into the ‘eerie’ state.

“A strange dream!” I said to myself as we trooped upstairs. “Grown men discussing, as seriously as if they were matters of life and death, the hopelessly trivial details of mere _delicacies_, that appeal to no higher human function than the nerves of the tongue and palate! What a humiliating spectacle such a discussion would be in waking life!”

When, on our way to the drawing-room, I received from the housekeeper my little friends, clad in the daintiest of evening costumes, and looking, in the flush of expectant delight, more radiantly beautiful than I had ever seen them before, I felt no shock of surprise, but accepted the fact with the same unreasoning apathy with which one meets the events of a dream, and was merely conscious of a vague anxiety as to how they would acquit themselves in so novel a scene—forgetting that Court-life in Outland was as good training as they could need for Society in the more substantial world.

It would be best, I thought, to introduce them as soon as possible to some good-natured lady-guest, and I selected the young lady whose piano-forte-playing had been so much talked of. “I am sure you like children,” I said. “May I introduce two little friends of mine? This is Sylvie—and this is Bruno.”

The young lady kissed Sylvie very graciously. She would have done the same for _Bruno_, but he hastily drew back out of reach. “Their faces are new to me,” she said. “Where do you come from, my dear?”

I had not anticipated so inconvenient a question; and, fearing that it might embarrass Sylvie, I answered for her. “They come from some distance. They are only here just for this one evening.”

“How far have you come, dear?” the young lady persisted.

Sylvie looked puzzled. “A mile or two, I _think_,” she said doubtfully.

“A mile or _three_,” said Bruno.

“You shouldn’t say ‘a mile or _three_,’” Sylvie corrected him.

The young lady nodded approval. “Sylvie’s quite right. It isn’t usual to say ‘a mile or _three_.’”

“It would be usual—if we said it often enough,” said Bruno.

It was the young lady’s turn to look puzzled now. “He’s very quick, for his age!” she murmured. “You’re not more than seven, are you, dear?” she added aloud.

“I’m not so many as _that_,” said Bruno. “I’m _one_. Sylvie’s _one_. Sylvie and me is _two_. _Sylvie_ taught me to count.”

“Oh, I wasn’t _counting_ you, you know!” the young lady laughingly replied.

“Hasn’t oo _learnt_ to count?” said Bruno.

The young lady bit her lip. “Dear! What embarrassing questions he _does_ ask!” she said in a half-audible ‘aside.’

“Bruno, you shouldn’t!” Sylvie said reprovingly.

“Shouldn’t _what_?” said Bruno.

“You shouldn’t ask—that sort of questions.”

“_What_ sort of questions?” Bruno mischievously persisted.

“What _she_ told you not,” Sylvie replied, with a shy glance at the young lady, and losing all sense of grammar in her confusion.

“Oo ca’n’t pronounce it!” Bruno triumphantly cried. And he turned to the young lady, for sympathy in his victory. “I _knewed_ she couldn’t pronounce ‘umbrella-sting’!”

The young lady thought it best to return to the arithmetical problem. “When I asked if you were _seven_, you know, I didn’t mean ‘how many _children_?’ I meant ‘how many _years_——’”

“Only got _two_ ears,” said Bruno. “Nobody’s got _seven_ ears.”

“And you belong to this little girl?” the young lady continued, skilfully evading the anatomical problem.

“No, I doosn’t belong to _her_!” said Bruno. “Sylvie belongs to _me_!” And he clasped his arms round her as he added “She are my very mine!”

“And, do you know,” said the young lady, “I’ve a little sister at home, exactly like _your_ sister? I’m sure they’d love each other.”

“They’d be very extremely useful to each other,” Bruno said, thoughtfully. “And they wouldn’t want no looking-glasses to brush their hair wiz.”

“Why not, my child?”

“Why, each one would do for the other one’s looking-glass, a-course!” cried Bruno.

But here Lady Muriel, who had been standing by, listening to this bewildering dialogue, interrupted it to ask if the young lady would favour us with some music; and the children followed their new friend to the piano.

Arthur came and sat down by me. “If rumour speaks truly,” he whispered, “we are to have a real treat!” And then, amid a breathless silence, the performance began.

She was one of those players whom Society talks of as ‘brilliant,’ and she dashed into the loveliest of Haydn’s Symphonies in a style that was clearly the outcome of years of patient study under the best masters. At first it seemed to be the perfection of piano-forte-playing; but in a few minutes I began to ask myself, wearily, “_What_ is it that is wanting? _Why_ does one get no pleasure from it?”

Then I set myself to listen intently to every note; and the mystery explained itself. There _was_ an almost-perfect mechanical _correctness_—and there was nothing else! False notes, of course, did not occur: she knew the piece too well for _that_; but there was just enough irregularity of _time_ to betray that the player had no real ‘ear’ for music—just enough inarticulateness in the more elaborate passages to show that she did not think her audience worth taking real pains for—just enough mechanical monotony of accent to take all _soul_ out of the heavenly modulations she was profaning—in short, it was simply irritating; and, when she had rattled off the finale and had struck the final chord as if, the instrument being now done with, it didn’t matter how many wires she broke, I could not even _affect_ to join in the stereotyped “Oh, _thank_ you!” which was chorused around me.

Lady Muriel joined us for a moment. “Isn’t it _beautiful_?” she whispered, to Arthur, with a mischievous smile.

“No, it isn’t!” said Arthur. But the gentle sweetness of his face quite neutralised the apparent rudeness of the reply.

“Such execution, you know!” she persisted.

“That’s what she _deserves_,” Arthur doggedly replied: “but people are so prejudiced against capital——”

“Now you’re beginning to talk nonsense!” Lady Muriel cried. “But you _do_ like Music, don’t you? You said so just now.”

“Do I like _Music_?” the Doctor repeated softly to himself. “My dear Lady Muriel, there is Music and Music. Your question is painfully vague. You might as well ask ‘Do you like _People_?’”

Lady Muriel bit her lip, frowned, and stamped with one tiny foot. As a dramatic representation of ill-temper, it was distinctly _not_ a success. However, it took in _one_ of her audience, and Bruno hastened to interpose, as peacemaker in a rising quarrel, with the remark “_I_ likes Peoples!”

Arthur laid a loving hand on the little curly head. “What? _All_ Peoples?” he enquired.

“Not _all_ Peoples,” Bruno explained. “Only but Sylvie—and Lady Muriel—and him—” (pointing to the Earl) “and oo—and oo!”

“You shouldn’t point at people,” said Sylvie. “It’s very rude.”

“In Bruno’s World,” I said, “there are only _four_ People—worth mentioning!”

“In Bruno’s World!” Lady Muriel repeated thoughtfully. “A bright and flowery world. Where the grass is always green, where the breezes always blow softly, and the rain-clouds never gather; where there are no wild beasts, and no deserts——”

“There _must_ be deserts,” Arthur decisively remarked. “At least if it was _my_ ideal world.”

“But what possible use is there in a _desert_?” said Lady Muriel. “_Surely_ you would have no wilderness in your ideal world?”

Arthur smiled. “But indeed I _would_!” he said. “A wilderness would be more necessary than a railway; and _far_ more conducive to general happiness than church-bells!”

“But what would you use it for?”

“_To practise music in_,” he replied. “All the young ladies, that have no ear for music, but insist on learning it, should be conveyed, every morning, two or three miles into the wilderness. There each would find a comfortable room provided for her, and also a cheap second-hand piano-forte, on which she might play for hours, without adding one needless pang to the sum of human misery!”

Lady Muriel glanced round in alarm, lest these barbarous sentiments should be overheard. But the fair musician was at a safe distance. “At any rate you must allow that she’s a sweet girl?” she resumed.

“Oh, certainly. As sweet as _eau sucrée_, if you choose—and nearly as interesting!”

“You are incorrigible!” said Lady Muriel, and turned to me. “I hope you found Mrs. Mills an interesting companion?”

“Oh, _that’s_ her name, is it?” I said. “I fancied there was _more_ of it.”

“So there is: and it will be ‘at your proper peril’ (whatever that may mean) if you ever presume to address her as ‘Mrs. Mills.’ She is ‘Mrs. Ernest—Atkinson—Mills’!”

“She is one of those would-be grandees,” said Arthur, “who think that, by tacking on to their surname all their spare Christian-names, with hyphens between, they can give it an aristocratic flavour. As if it wasn’t trouble enough to remember _one_ surname!”

By this time the room was getting crowded, as the guests, invited for the evening-party, were beginning to arrive, and Lady Muriel had to devote herself to the task of welcoming them, which she did with the sweetest grace imaginable. Sylvie and Bruno stood by her, deeply interested in the process.

“I hope you like my friends?” she said to them. “Specially my dear old friend, Mein Herr (What’s become of him, I wonder? Oh, there he is!), that old gentleman in spectacles, with a long beard?”

“He’s a grand old gentleman!” Sylvie said, gazing admiringly at ‘Mein Herr,’ who had settled down in a corner, from which his mild eyes beamed on us through a gigantic pair of spectacles. “And what a lovely beard!”

“What does he call his-self?” Bruno whispered.

“He calls himself ‘Mein Herr,’” Sylvie whispered in reply.

Bruno shook his head impatiently. “That’s what he calls his _hair_, not his _self_, oo silly!” He appealed to me. “What doos he call his _self_, Mister Sir?”

“That’s the only name _I_ know of,” I said. “But he looks very lonely. Don’t you pity his grey hairs?”

“I pities his _self_,” said Bruno, still harping on the misnomer; “but I doosn’t pity his _hair_, one bit. His _hair_ ca’n’t feel!”

“We met him this afternoon,” said Sylvie. “We’d been to see Nero, and we’d had _such_ fun with him, making him invisible again! And we saw that nice old gentleman as we came back.”

“Well, let’s go and talk to him, and cheer him up a little,” I said: “and perhaps we shall find out what he calls himself.”

                             CHAPTER XI.
                         THE MAN IN THE MOON.

The children came willingly. With one of them on each side of me, I approached the corner occupied by ‘Mein Herr.’ “You don’t object to _children_, I hope?” I began.

“_Crabbed age and youth cannot live together!_” the old man cheerfully replied, with a most genial smile. “Now take a good look at me, my children! You would guess me to be an _old_ man, wouldn’t you?”

At first sight, though his face had reminded me so mysteriously of “the Professor,” he had seemed to be decidedly a _younger_ man: but, when I came to look into the wonderful depth of those large dreamy eyes, I felt, with a strange sense of awe, that he was incalculably _older_: he seemed to gaze at us out of some by-gone age, centuries away.


“I don’t know if oo’re an _old_ man,” Bruno answered, as the children, won over by the gentle voice, crept a little closer to him. “I thinks oo’re _eighty-three_.”

“He is very exact!” said Mein Herr.

“Is he anything like right?” I said.

“There are reasons,” Mein Herr gently replied, “reasons which I am not at liberty to explain, for not mentioning _definitely_ any Persons, Places, or Dates. One remark only I will permit myself to make—that the period of life, between the ages of a hundred-and-sixty-five and a hundred-and-seventy-five, is a specially _safe_ one.”

“How do you make that out?” I said.

“Thus. You would consider swimming to be a very safe amusement, if you scarcely ever heard of any one dying of it. Am I not right in thinking that you never heard of any one dying between those two ages?”

“I see what you mean,” I said: “but I’m afraid you ca’n’t prove _swimming_ to be safe, on the same principle. It is no uncommon thing to hear of some one being _drowned_.”

“In _my_ country,” said Mein Herr, “no one is _ever_ drowned.”

“Is there no water deep enough?”

“Plenty! But we ca’n’t _sink_. We are all _lighter than water_. Let me explain,” he added, seeing my look of surprise. “Suppose you desire a race of _pigeons_ of a particular shape or colour, do you not select, from year to year, those that are nearest to the shape or colour you want, and keep those, and part with the others?”

“We do,” I replied. “We call it ‘Artificial Selection.’”

“Exactly so,” said Mein Herr. “Well, _we_ have practised that for some centuries—constantly selecting the _lightest_ people: so that, now, _everybody_ is lighter than water.”

“Then you never can be drowned at _sea_?”

“Never! It is only on the _land_—for instance, when attending a play in a theatre—that we are in such a danger.”

“How can that happen at a _theatre_?”

“Our theatres are all _underground_. Large tanks of water are placed above. If a fire breaks out, the taps are turned, and in one minute the theatre is flooded, up to the very roof! Thus the fire is extinguished.”

“_And_ the audience, I presume?”

“That is a minor matter,” Mein Herr carelessly replied. “But they have the comfort of knowing that, whether drowned or not, they are all _lighter than water_. We have not yet reached the standard of making people lighter than _air_: but we are _aiming_ at it; and, in another thousand years or so——”

“What doos oo do wiz the peoples that’s too heavy?” Bruno solemnly enquired.

“We have applied the same process,” Mein Herr continued, not noticing Bruno’s question, “to many other purposes. We have gone on selecting _walking-sticks_—always keeping those that walked _best_—till we have obtained some, that can walk by themselves! We have gone on selecting _cotton-wool_, till we have got some lighter than air! You’ve no idea what a useful material it is! We call it ‘Imponderal.’”

“What do you use it for?”

“Well, chiefly for _packing_ articles, to go by Parcel-Post. It makes them weigh _less than nothing_, you know.”

“And how do the Post-Office people know what you have to pay?”

“That’s the beauty of the new system!” Mein Herr cried exultingly. “They pay _us_: we don’t pay _them_! I’ve often got as much as five shillings for sending a parcel.”

“But doesn’t your Government object?”

“Well, they _do_ object, a little. They say it comes so expensive, in the long run. But the thing’s as clear as daylight, by their own rules. If I send a parcel, that weighs a pound _more_ than nothing, I _pay_ three-pence: so, of course, if it weighs a pound _less_ than nothing, I ought to _receive_ three-pence.”

“It is _indeed_ a useful article!” I said.

“Yet even ‘Imponderal’ has its disadvantages,” he resumed. “I bought some, a few days ago, and put it into my _hat_, to carry it home, and the hat simply floated away!”

“Had oo some of that funny stuff in oor hat _today_?” Bruno enquired. “Sylvie and me saw oo in the road, and oor hat were ever so high up! Weren’t it, Sylvie?”

“No, that was quite another thing.” said Mein Herr. “There was a drop or two of rain falling: so I put my hat on the top of my stick—as an umbrella, you know. As I came along the road,” he continued, turning to me, “I was overtaken by——”

“——a shower of rain?” said Bruno.

“Well, it _looked_ more like the tail of a dog,” Mein Herr replied. “It was the most curious thing! Something rubbed affectionately against my knee. And I looked down. And I could see _nothing_! Only, about a yard off, there was a dog’s tail, wagging, all by itself!”

“Oh, _Sylvie_!” Bruno murmured reproachfully. “Oo didn’t finish making him visible!”

“I’m _so_ sorry!” Sylvie said, looking very penitent. “I meant to rub it along his back, but we were in such a hurry. We’ll go and finish him tomorrow. Poor thing! Perhaps he’ll get no supper tonight!”

“_Course_ he won’t!” said Bruno. “Nobody never gives bones to a dog’s tail!”

Mein Herr looked from one to the other in blank astonishment. “I do not understand you,” he said. “I had lost my way, and I was consulting a pocket-map, and somehow I had dropped one of my gloves, and this invisible _Something_, that had rubbed against my knee, actually brought it back to me!”

“Course he did!” said Bruno. “He’s _welly_ fond of fetching things.”

Mein Herr looked so thoroughly bewildered that I thought it best to change the subject. “What a useful thing a pocket-map is!” I remarked.

“That’s another thing we’ve learned from _your_ Nation,” said Mein Herr, “map-making. But we’ve carried it much further than _you_. What do you consider the _largest_ map that would be really useful?”

“About six inches to the mile.”

“Only _six inches_!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six _yards_ to the mile. Then we tried a _hundred_ yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of _a mile to the mile_!”

“Have you used it much?” I enquired.

“It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well. Now let me ask you _another_ question. What is the smallest _world_ you would care to inhabit?”

“_I_ know!” cried Bruno, who was listening intently. “I’d like a little teeny-tiny world, just big enough for Sylvie and me!”

“Then you would have to stand on opposite sides of it,” said Mein Herr. “And so you would never see your sister _at all_!”

“And I’d have no _lessons_,” said Bruno.

“You don’t mean to say you’ve been trying experiments in _that_ direction!” I said.

“Well, not _experiments_ exactly. We do not profess to _construct_ planets. But a scientific friend of mine, who has made several balloon-voyages, assures me he has visited a planet so small that he could walk right round it in twenty minutes! There had been a great battle, just before his visit, which had ended rather oddly: the vanquished army ran away at full speed, and in a very few minutes found themselves face-to-face with the victorious army, who were marching home again, and who were so frightened at finding themselves between _two_ armies, that they surrendered at once! Of course that lost them the battle, though, as a matter of fact, they had killed _all_ the soldiers on the other side.”

“Killed soldiers _ca’n’t_ run away,” Bruno thoughtfully remarked.

“‘Killed’ is a technical word,” replied Mein Herr. “In the little planet I speak of, the bullets were made of soft black stuff, which marked everything it touched. So, after a battle, all you had to do was to count how many soldiers on each side were ‘killed’—that means ‘marked on the _back_,’ for marks in _front_ didn’t count.”

“Then you couldn’t ‘kill’ any, unless they ran away?” I said.

“My scientific friend found out a better plan than _that_. He pointed out that, if only the bullets were sent _the other way round the world_, they would hit the enemy in the _back_. After that, the _worst_ marksmen were considered the _best_ soldiers; and _the very worst of all_ always got First Prize.”

“And how did you decide which was _the very worst of all_?”

“Easily. The _best_ possible shooting is, you know, to hit what is exactly in _front_ of you: so of course the _worst_ possible is to hit what is exactly _behind_ you.”

“They were strange people in that little planet!” I said.

“They were indeed! Perhaps their method of _government_ was the strangest of all. In _this_ planet, I am told, a Nation consists of a number of Subjects, and one King: but, in the little planet I speak of, it consisted of a number of _Kings_, and one _Subject_!”

“You say you are ‘told’ what happens in _this_ planet,” I said. “May I venture to guess that you yourself are a visitor from some _other_ planet?”

Bruno clapped his hands in his excitement. “Is oo the Man-in-the-Moon?” he cried.

Mein Herr looked uneasy. “I am _not_ in the Moon, my child,” he said evasively. “To return to what I was saying. I think _that_ method of government ought to answer _well_. You see, the Kings would be sure to make Laws contradicting each other: so the Subject could never be punished, because, _whatever_ he did, he’d be obeying _some_ Law.”

“And, whatever he did, he’d be _dis_obeying _some_ Law!” cried Bruno. “So he’d _always_ be punished!”

Lady Muriel was passing at the moment, and caught the last word. “Nobody’s going to be punished _here_!” she said, taking Bruno in her arms. “This is Liberty-Hall! Would you lend me the children for a minute?”

“The children desert us, you see,” I said to Mein Herr, as she carried them off: “so we old folk must keep each other company!”

The old man sighed. “Ah, well! We’re old folk _now_; and yet I was a child myself, once—at least I fancy so.”

It _did_ seem a rather unlikely fancy, I could not help owning to myself—looking at the shaggy white hair, and the long beard—that he could _ever_ have been a child. “You are fond of young people?” I said.

“Young _men_,” he replied. “Not of _children_ exactly. I used to teach young men—many a year ago—in my dear old University!”

“I didn’t quite catch its _name_?” I hinted.

“I did not name it,” the old man replied mildly. “Nor would you know the name if I did. Strange tales I could tell you of all the changes I have witnessed there! But it would weary you, I fear.”

“No, _indeed_!” I said. “Pray go on. What kind of changes?”

But the old man seemed to be more in a humour for questions than for answers. “Tell me,” he said, laying his hand impressively on my arm, “tell me something. For I am a stranger in your land, and I know little of _your_ modes of education: yet something tells me _we_ are further on than _you_ in the eternal cycle of change—and that many a theory _we_ have tried and found to fail, _you_ also will try, with a wilder enthusiasm: you also will find to fail, with a bitterer despair!”

It was strange to see how, as he talked, and his words flowed more and more freely, with a certain rhythmic eloquence, his features seemed to glow with an inner light, and the whole man seemed to be transformed, as if he had grown fifty years younger in a moment of time.

                             CHAPTER XII.

The silence that ensued was broken by the voice of the musical young lady, who had seated herself near us, and was conversing with one of the newly-arrived guests. “Well!” she said in a tone of scornful surprise. “We _are_ to have something new in the way of music, it appears!”

I looked round for an explanation, and was nearly as much astonished as the speaker herself: it was _Sylvie_ whom Lady Muriel was leading to the piano!

“Do try it, my darling!” she was saying. “I’m sure you can play very nicely!”

Sylvie looked round at me, with tears in her eyes. I tried to give her an encouraging smile, but it was evidently a great strain on the nerves of a child so wholly unused to be made an exhibition of, and she was frightened and unhappy. Yet here came out the perfect sweetness of her disposition: I could see that she was resolved to forget herself, and do her best to give pleasure to Lady Muriel and her friends. She seated herself at the instrument, and began instantly. Time and expression, so far as one could judge, were perfect: but her touch was one of such extraordinary lightness that it was at first scarcely possible, through the hum of conversation which still continued, to catch a note of what she was playing.

But in a minute the hum had died away into absolute silence, and we all sat, entranced and breathless, to listen to such heavenly music as none then present could ever forget.

Hardly touching the notes at first, she played a sort of introduction in a minor key—like an embodied twilight; one felt as though the lights were growing dim, and a mist were creeping through the room. Then there flashed through the gathering gloom the first few notes of a melody so lovely, so delicate, that one held one’s breath, fearful to lose a single note of it. Ever and again the music dropped into the pathetic minor key with which it had begun, and, each time that the melody forced its way, so to speak, through the enshrouding gloom into the light of day, it was more entrancing, more magically sweet. Under the airy touch of the child, the instrument actually seemed to _warble_, like a bird. “_Rise up, my love, my fair one_,” it seemed to sing, “_and come away! For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come!_” One could fancy one heard the tinkle of the last few drops, shaken from the trees by a passing gust—that one saw the first glittering rays of the sun, breaking through the clouds.

The Count hurried across the room in great excitement. “I _cannot_ remember myself,” he exclaimed, “of the name of this so charming an air! It is of an opera, most surely. Yet not even will the _opera_ remind his name to me! What you call him, dear child?”

[Illustration: ‘HOW CALL YOU THE OPERA?’]

Sylvie looked round at him with a rapt expression of face. She had ceased playing, but her fingers still wandered fitfully over the keys. All fear and shyness had quite passed away now, and nothing remained but the pure joy of the music that had thrilled our hearts.

“The title of it!” the Count repeated impatiently. “How call you the opera?”

“I don’t know what an opera _is_,” Sylvie half-whispered.

“How, then, call you the _air_?”

“I don’t know any name for it,” Sylvie replied, as she rose from the instrument.

“But this is marvellous!” exclaimed the Count, following the child, and addressing himself to me, as if I were the proprietor of this musical prodigy, and so _must_ know the origin of her music. “You have heard her play this, sooner—I would say ‘before this occasion’? How call you the air?”

I shook my head; but was saved from more questions by Lady Muriel, who came up to petition the Count for a song.

The Count spread out his hands apologetically, and ducked his head. “But, Milady, I have already respected—I would say prospected—all your songs; and there shall be none fitted to my voice! They are not for basso voices!”

“Wo’n’t you look at them again?” Lady Muriel implored.

“Let’s help him!” Bruno whispered to Sylvie. “Let’s get him—_you_ know!”

Sylvie nodded. “Shall _we_ look for a song for you?” she said sweetly to the Count.

“Mais _oui_!” the little man exclaimed.

“Of course we may!” said Bruno, while, each taking a hand of the delighted Count, they led him to the music-stand.

“There is still hope!” said Lady Muriel over her shoulder, as she followed them.

I turned to ‘Mein Herr,’ hoping to resume our interrupted conversation. “You were remarking——” I began: but at this moment Sylvie came to call Bruno, who had returned to my side, looking unusually serious. “_Do_ come, Bruno!” she entreated. “You know we’ve nearly found it!” Then, in a whisper, “The locket’s in my _hand_, now. I couldn’t get it out while they were looking!”

But Bruno drew back. “The man called me names,” he said with dignity.

“What names?” I enquired with some curiosity.

“I asked him,” said Bruno, “which sort of song he liked. And he said ‘_A_ song of _a_ man, not of _a_ lady.’ And I said ‘Shall Sylvie and me find you the song of Mister Tottles?’ And he said ‘Wait, eel!’ And I’m _not_ an eel, oo know!”

“I’m _sure_ he didn’t mean it!” Sylvie said earnestly. “It’s something French—you know he ca’n’t talk English so well as——”

Bruno relented visibly. “Course he knows no better, if he’s Flench! Flenchmen _never_ can speak English so goodly as _us_!” And Sylvie led him away, a willing captive.

“Nice children!” said the old man, taking off his spectacles and rubbing them carefully. Then he put them on again, and watched with an approving smile, while the children tossed over the heap of music, and we just caught Sylvie’s reproving words, “We’re _not_ making hay, Bruno!”

“This has been a long interruption to our conversation,” I said. “Pray let us go on!”

“Willingly!” replied the gentle old man.

“I was much interested in what you——” He paused a moment, and passed his hand uneasily across his brow. “One forgets,” he murmured. “What was I saying? Oh! Something you were to tell me. Yes. Which of your teachers do you value the most highly, those whose words are easily understood, or those who puzzle you at every turn?”

I felt obliged to admit that we generally admired most the teachers we couldn’t quite understand.

“Just so,” said Mein Herr. “That’s the way it begins. Well, _we_ were at that stage some eighty years ago—or was it ninety? Our favourite teacher got more obscure every year; and every year we admired him more—just as _your_ Art-fanciers call _mist_ the fairest feature in a landscape, and admire a view with frantic delight when they can see nothing! Now I’ll tell you how it ended. It was Moral Philosophy that our idol lectured on. Well, his pupils couldn’t make head or tail of it, but they got it all by heart; and, when Examination-time came, they wrote it down; and the Examiners said ‘Beautiful! What depth!’”

“But what good was it to the young men _afterwards_?”

“Why, don’t you see?” replied Mein Herr. “_They_ became teachers in their turn, and _they_ said all these things over again; and _their_ pupils wrote it all down; and the Examiners accepted it; and nobody had the ghost of an idea what it all meant!”

“And how did it end?”

“It ended this way. We woke up one fine day, and found there was no one in the place that knew _anything_ about Moral Philosophy. So we abolished it, teachers, classes, examiners, and all. And if any one wanted to learn anything about it, he had to make it out for himself; and after another twenty years or so there were several men that really knew something about it! Now tell me another thing. How long do you teach a youth before you examine him, in your Universities?”

I told him, three or four years.

“Just so, just what _we_ did!” he exclaimed. “We taught ’em a bit, and, just as they were beginning to take it in, we took it all out again! We pumped our wells dry before they were a quarter full—we stripped our orchards while the apples were still in blossom—we applied the severe logic of arithmetic to our chickens, while peacefully slumbering in their shells! Doubtless it’s the early bird that picks up the worm—but if the bird gets up so outrageously early that the worm is still deep underground, what _then_ is its chance of a breakfast?”

Not much, I admitted.

“Now see how that works!” he went on eagerly. “If you want to pump your wells so soon—and I suppose you tell me that is what you _must_ do?”

“We must,” I said. “In an over-crowded country like this, nothing but Competitive Examinations——”

Mein Herr threw up his hands wildly. “What, _again_?” he cried. “I thought it was dead, fifty years ago! Oh this Upas tree of Competitive Examinations! Beneath whose deadly shade all the original genius, all the exhaustive research, all the untiring life-long diligence by which our fore-fathers have so advanced human knowledge, must slowly but surely wither away, and give place to a system of Cookery, in which the human mind is a sausage, and all we ask is, how much indigestible stuff can be crammed into it!”

Always, after these bursts of eloquence, he seemed to forget himself for a moment, and only to hold on to the thread of thought by some single word. “Yes, _crammed_,” he repeated. “We went through all that stage of the disease—had it bad, I warrant you! Of course, as the Examination was all in all, we tried to put in just what was wanted—and the _great_ thing to aim at was, that the Candidate should know absolutely _nothing_ beyond the needs of the Examination! I don’t say it was ever _quite_ achieved: but one of my own pupils (pardon an old man’s egotism) came very near it. After the Examination, he mentioned to me the few facts which he knew but had _not_ been able to bring in, and I can assure you they were trivial, Sir, absolutely trivial!”

I feebly expressed my surprise and delight.

The old man bowed, with a gratified smile, and proceeded. “At that time, no one had hit on the much more rational plan of watching for the individual scintillations of genius, and rewarding them as they occurred. As it was, we made our unfortunate pupil into a Leyden-jar, charged him up to the eyelids—then applied the knob of a Competitive Examination, and drew off one magnificent spark, which very often cracked the jar! What mattered _that_? We labeled it ‘First Class Spark,’ and put it away on the shelf.”

“But the more rational system——?” I suggested.

“Ah, yes! _that_ came next. Instead of giving the whole reward of learning in one lump, we used to pay for every good answer as it occurred. How well I remember lecturing in those days, with a heap of small coins at my elbow! It was ‘A _very_ good answer, Mr. Jones!’ (that meant a shilling, mostly). ‘Bravo, Mr. Robinson!’ (that meant half-a-crown). Now I’ll tell you how _that_ worked. Not one single fact would any of them take in, without a fee! And when a clever boy came up from school, he got paid more for learning than we got paid for teaching him! Then came the wildest craze of all.”

“What, _another_ craze?” I said.

“It’s the last one,” said the old man. “I must have tired you out with my long story. Each College wanted to get the clever boys: so we adopted a system which we had heard was very popular in England: the Colleges competed against each other, and the boys let themselves out to the highest bidder! What geese we were! Why, they were bound to come to the University _somehow_. We needn’t have paid ’em! And all our money went in getting clever boys to come to one College rather than another! The competition was so keen, that at last mere money-payments were not enough. Any College, that wished to secure some specially clever young man, had to waylay him at the Station, and hunt him through the streets. The first who touched him was allowed to have him.”

“That hunting-down of the scholars, as they arrived, must have been a curious business,” I said. “Could you give me some idea of what it was like?”

“Willingly!” said the old man. “I will describe to you the very last Hunt that took place, before that form of Sport (for it was actually reckoned among the _Sports_ of the day: we called it ‘Cub-Hunting’) was finally abandoned. I witnessed it myself, as I happened to be passing by at the moment, and was what we called ‘in at the death.’ I can see it now!” he went on in an excited tone, gazing into vacancy with those large dreamy eyes of his. “It seems like yesterday; and yet it happened——” He checked himself hastily, and the remaining words died away into a whisper.


“_How_ many years ago did you say?” I asked, much interested in the prospect of at last learning _some_ definite fact in his history.


“_Many_ years ago,” he replied. “The scene at the Railway-Station had been (so they told me) one of wild excitement. Eight or nine Heads of Colleges had assembled at the gates (no one was allowed inside), and the Station-Master had drawn a line on the pavement, and insisted on their all standing behind it. The gates were flung open! The young man darted through them, and fled like lightning down the street, while the Heads of Colleges actually _yelled_ with excitement on catching sight of him! The Proctor gave the word, in the old statutory form, ‘_Semel!_ _Bis!_ _Ter!_ _Currite!_’, and the Hunt began! Oh, it was a fine sight, believe me! At the first corner he dropped his Greek Lexicon: further on, his railway-rug: then various small articles: then his umbrella: lastly, what I suppose he prized most, his hand-bag: but the game was up: the spherical Principal of—of——”

“Of _which_ College?” I said.

“—of _one_ of the Colleges,” he resumed, “had put into operation the Theory—his own discovery—of Accelerated Velocity, and captured him just opposite to where I stood. I shall never forget that wild breathless struggle! But it was soon over. Once in those great bony hands, escape was impossible!”

“May I ask why you speak of him as the ‘_spherical_’ Principal?” I said.

“The epithet referred to his _shape_, which was a perfect _sphere_. You are aware that a bullet, another instance of a perfect sphere, when falling in a perfectly straight line, moves with Accelerated Velocity?”

I bowed assent.

“Well, my spherical friend (as I am proud to call him) set himself to investigate the _causes_ of this. He found them to be _three_. One; that it is a perfect _sphere_. Two; that it moves in a _straight line_. Three; that its direction is _not upwards_. When these three conditions are fulfilled, you get Accelerated Velocity.”

“Hardly,” I said: “if you will excuse my differing from you. Suppose we apply the theory to _horizontal_ motion. If a bullet is fired _horizontally_, it——”

“—it does _not_ move in a _straight line_,” he quietly finished my sentence for me.

“I yield the point,” I said. “What did your friend do next?”

“The next thing was to apply the theory, as you rightly suggest, to _horizontal_ motion. But the moving body, ever tending to _fall_, needs _constant support_, if it is to move in a true horizontal line. ‘What, then,’ he asked himself, ‘will _give constant support to a moving body_?’ And his answer was ‘_Human legs!_’ _That_ was the discovery that immortalised his name!”

“His name being——?” I suggested.

“I had not mentioned it,” was the gentle reply of my most unsatisfactory informant. “His next step was an obvious one. He took to a diet of suet-dumplings, until his body had become a perfect sphere. _Then_ he went out for his first experimental run—which nearly cost him his life!”

“How was _that_?”

“Well, you see, he had no idea of the _tremendous_ new Force in Nature that he was calling into play. He began too fast. In a very few minutes he found himself moving at a hundred miles an hour! And, if he had not had the presence of mind to charge into the middle of a haystack (which he scattered to the four winds) there can be no doubt that he would have left the Planet he belonged to, and gone right away into Space!”

“And how came that to be the _last_ of the Cub-Hunts?” I enquired.

“Well, you see, it led to a rather scandalous dispute between two of the Colleges. _Another_ Principal had laid his hand on the young man, so nearly at the same moment as the _spherical_ one, that there was no knowing which had touched him first. The dispute got into print, and did us no credit, and, in short, Cub-Hunts came to an end. Now I’ll tell you what cured us of that wild craze of ours, the bidding against each other, for the clever scholars, just as if they were articles to be sold by auction! Just when the craze had reached its highest point, and when one of the Colleges had actually advertised a Scholarship of one thousand pounds _per annum_, one of our tourists brought us the manuscript of an old African legend—I happen to have a copy of it in my pocket. Shall I translate it for you?”

“Pray go on,” I said, though I felt I was getting _very_ sleepy.

                            CHAPTER XIII.
                         WHAT TOTTLES MEANT.

Mein Herr unrolled the manuscript, but, to my great surprise, instead of _reading_ it, he began to _sing_ it, in a rich mellow voice that seemed to ring through the room.

 “One thousand pounds per annuum
 Is not so bad a figure, come!”
 Cried Tottles. “And I tell you, flat,
 A man may marry well on that!
 To say ‘the Husband needs the Wife’
 Is not the way to represent it.
 The crowning joy of Woman’s life
 Is _Man_!” said Tottles (and he meant it).
 The blissful Honey-moon is past:
 The Pair have settled down at last:
 Mamma-in-law their home will share,
 And make their happiness her care.
 “Your income is an ample one;
 Go it, my children!” (And they went it).
 “I rayther think this kind of fun
 Won’t last!” said Tottles (and he meant it).
 They took a little country-box—
 A box at Covent Garden also:
 They lived a life of double-knocks,
 Acquaintances began to call so:
 Their London house was much the same
 (It took three hundred, clear, to rent it):
 “Life is a very jolly game!”
 Cried happy Tottles (and he meant it).
 ‘Contented with a frugal lot’
 (He always used that phrase at Gunter’s),
 He bought a handy little yacht—
 A dozen serviceable hunters—
 The fishing of a Highland Loch—
 A sailing-boat to circumvent it—
 “The sounding of that Gaelic ‘och’
 Beats _me_!” said Tottles (and he meant it).

Here, with one of those convulsive starts that wake one up in the very act of dropping off to sleep, I became conscious that the deep musical tones that thrilled me did _not_ belong to Mein Herr, but to the French Count. The old man was still conning the manuscript.

“I _beg_ your pardon for keeping you waiting!” he said. “I was just making sure that I knew the English for all the words. I am quite ready now.” And he read me the following Legend:—

“In a city that stands in the very centre of Africa, and is rarely visited by the casual tourist, the people had always bought eggs—a daily necessary in a climate where egg-flip was the usual diet—from a Merchant who came to their gates once a week. And the people always bid wildly against each other: so there was quite a lively auction every time the Merchant came, and the last egg in his basket used to fetch the value of two or three camels, or thereabouts. And eggs got dearer every week. And still they drank their egg-flip, and wondered where all their money went to.

[Illustration: THE EGG-MERCHANT]

“And there came a day when they put their heads together. And they understood what donkeys they had been.

“And next day, when the Merchant came, only _one_ Man went forth. And he said ‘Oh, thou of the hook-nose and the goggle-eyes, thou of the measureless beard, how much for that lot of eggs?’

“And the Merchant answered him ‘I _could_ let thee have that lot at ten thousand piastres the dozen.’

“And the Man chuckled inwardly, and said ‘_Ten_ piastres the dozen I offer thee, and no more, oh descendant of a distinguished grandfather!’

“And the Merchant stroked his beard, and said ‘Hum! I will await the coming of thy friends,’ So he waited. And the Man waited with him. And they waited both together.”

“The manuscript breaks off here,” said Mein Herr, as he rolled it up again; “but it was enough to open our eyes. We saw what simpletons we had been—buying our Scholars much as those ignorant savages bought their eggs—and the ruinous system was abandoned. If only we could have abandoned, along with it, all the _other_ fashions we had borrowed from you, instead of carrying them to their logical results! But it was not to be. What ruined my country, and drove me from my home, was the introduction—into the _Army_, of all places—of your theory of Political Dichotomy!”

“Shall I trouble you too much,” I said, “if I ask you to explain what you mean by ‘the Theory of Political Dichotomy’?”

“No trouble at all!” was Mein Herr’s most courteous reply. “I quite enjoy talking, when I get so good a listener. What started the thing, with us, was the report brought to us, by one of our most eminent statesmen, who had stayed some time in England, of the way affairs were managed there. It was a political necessity (so he assured us, and we believed him, though we had never discovered it till that moment) that there should be _two_ Parties, in every affair and on every subject. In _Politics_, the two Parties, which you had found it necessary to institute, were called, he told us, ‘Whigs’ and ‘Tories’.”

“That must have been some time ago?” I remarked.

“It _was_ some time ago,” he admitted. “And this was the way the affairs of the British Nation were managed. (You will correct me if I misrepresent it. I do but repeat what our traveler told us.) These two Parties—which were in chronic hostility to each other—took turns in conducting the Government; and the Party, that happened _not_ to be in power, was called the ‘Opposition’, I believe?”

“That is the right name,” I said. “There have always been, so long as we have had a Parliament at all, _two_ Parties, one ‘in’, and one ‘out’.”

“Well, the function of the ‘Ins’ (if I may so call them) was to do the best they could for the national welfare—in such things as making war or peace, commercial treaties, and so forth?”

“Undoubtedly,” I said.

“And the function of the ‘Outs’ was (so our traveller assured us, though we were very incredulous at first) to _prevent_ the ‘Ins’ from succeeding in any of these things?”

“To _criticize_ and to _amend_ their proceedings,” I corrected him. “It would be _unpatriotic_ to _hinder_ the Government in doing what was for the good of the Nation! We have always held a _Patriot_ to be the greatest of heroes, and an _unpatriotic_ spirit to be one of the worst of human ills!”

“Excuse me for a moment,” the old gentleman courteously replied, taking out his pocket-book. “I have a few memoranda here, of a correspondence I had with our tourist, and, if you will allow me, I’ll just refresh my memory—although I quite agree with you—it is, as you say, one of the worst of human ills—” And, here Mein Herr began singing again:—

 But oh, the worst of human ills
 (Poor Tottles found) are ‘little bills’!
 And, with no balance in the Bank,
 What wonder that his spirits sank?
 Still, as the money flowed away,
 He wondered how on earth she spent it.
 “You cost me twenty pounds a day,
 _At least_!” cried Tottles (and he meant it).
 She sighed. “Those Drawing Rooms, you know!
 I really never thought about it:
 Mamma declared we ought to go—
 We should be Nobodies without it.
 That diamond-circlet for my brow—
 I quite believed that _she_ had sent it,
 Until the Bill came in just now——”
 “_Viper_!” cried Tottles (and he meant it).
 Poor Mrs. T. could bear no more,
 But fainted flat upon the floor.
 Mamma-in-law, with anguish wild,
 Seeks, all in vain, to rouse her child.
 “Quick! Take this box of smelling-salts!
 Don’t scold her, James, or you’ll repent it,
 She’s a _dear_ girl, with all her faults——”
 “She _is_!” groaned Tottles (and he meant it).
 “I was a donkey,” Tottles cried,
 “To choose your daughter for my bride!
 ’Twas _you_ that bid us cut a dash!
 ’Tis _you_ have brought us to this smash!
 You don’t suggest one single thing
 That can in any way prevent it——
 Then what’s the use of arguing?
 _Shut up!_” cried Tottles (and he meant it).

Once more I started into wakefulness, and realised that Mein Herr was not the singer. He was still consulting his memoranda.

“It is exactly what my friend told me,” he resumed, after conning over various papers. “‘_Unpatriotic_’ is the very word I had used, in writing to him, and ‘_hinder_’ is the very word he used in his reply! Allow me to read you a portion of his letter:——

 “‘_I can assure you_,’ he writes, ‘_that, unpatriotic as you may think
 it, the recognised function of the ‘Opposition’ is to hinder, in every
 manner not forbidden by the Law, the action of the Government. This
 process is called ‘Legitimate Obstruction’: and the greatest triumph
 the ‘Opposition’ can ever enjoy, is when they are able to point out
 that, owing to their ‘Obstruction’, the Government have failed in
 everything they have tried to do for the good of the Nation!_’”

“Your friend has not put it _quite_ correctly,” I said. “The Opposition would no doubt be glad to point out that the Government had failed _through their own fault_; but _not_ that they had failed on account of _Obstruction_!”

“You think so?” he gently replied. “Allow me now to read to you this newspaper-cutting, which my friend enclosed in his letter. It is part of the report of a public speech, made by a Statesman who was at the time a member of the ‘Opposition’:—

 “‘_At the close of the Session, he thought they had no reason to be
 discontented with the fortunes of the campaign. They had routed the
 enemy at every point. But the pursuit must be continued. They had only
 to follow up a disordered and dispirited foe._’”

“Now to what portion of your national history would you guess that the speaker was referring?”

“Really, the number of _successful_ wars we have waged during the last century,” I replied, with a glow of British pride, “is _far_ too great for me to guess, with any chance of success, _which_ it was we were then engaged in. However, I will name ‘_India_’ as the most probable. The Mutiny was no doubt, all but crushed, at the time that speech was made. What a fine, manly, _patriotic_ speech it must have been!” I exclaimed in an outburst of enthusiasm.

“You think so?” he replied, in a tone of gentle pity. “Yet my friend tells me that the ‘_disordered and dispirited foe_’ simply meant the Statesmen who happened to be in power at the moment; that the ‘_pursuit_’ simply meant ‘Obstruction’; and that the words ‘_they had routed the enemy_’ simply meant that the ‘Opposition’ had succeeded in hindering the Government from doing any of the work which the Nation had empowered them to do!”

I thought it best to say nothing.

“It seemed queer to _us_, just at first,” he resumed, after courteously waiting a minute for me to speak: “but, when once we had mastered the idea, our respect for your Nation was so great that we carried it into every department of life! It was ‘_the beginning of the end_’ with us. My country never held up its head again!” And the poor old gentleman sighed deeply.

“Let us change the subject,” I said. “Do not distress yourself, I beg!”

“No, no!” he said, with an effort to recover himself. “I had rather finish my story! The next step (after reducing our Government to impotence, and putting a stop to all useful legislation, which did not take us long to do) was to introduce what we called ‘the glorious British Principle of Dichotomy’ into _Agriculture_. We persuaded many of the well-to-do farmers to divide their staff of labourers into two Parties, and to set them one against the other. They were called, like our political Parties, the ‘Ins’ and the ‘Outs’: the business of the ‘Ins’ was to do as much of ploughing, sowing, or whatever might be needed, as they could manage in a day, and at night they were paid according to the amount they had _done_: the business of the ‘Outs’ was to hinder them, and _they_ were paid for the amount they had _hindered_. The farmers found they had to pay only _half_ as much wages as they did before, and they didn’t observe that the amount of work done was only a _quarter_ as much as was done before: so they took it up quite enthusiastically, _at first_.”

“And _afterwards_——?” I enquired.

“Well, _afterwards_ they didn’t like it quite so well. In a very short time, things settled down into a regular routine. No work _at all_ was done. So the ‘Ins’ got no wages, and the ‘Outs’ got full pay. And the farmers never discovered, till most of them were ruined, that the rascals had agreed to manage it so, and had shared the pay between them! While the thing lasted, there were funny sights to be seen! Why, I’ve often watched a ploughman, with two horses harnessed to the plough, doing his best to get it _forwards_; while the opposition-ploughman, with three donkeys harnessed at the _other_ end, was doing _his_ best to get it _backwards_! And the plough never moving an inch, _either_ way!”

“But _we_ never did anything like _that_!” I exclaimed.

“Simply because you were less _logical_ than we were,” replied Mein Herr. “There is _sometimes_ an advantage in being a donk—Excuse me! No _personal_ allusion intended. All this happened _long ago_, you know!”

“Did the Dichotomy-Principle succeed in _any_ direction?” I enquired.

“In _none_,” Mein Herr candidly confessed. “It had a _very_ short trial in _Commerce_. The shop-keepers _wouldn’t_ take it up, after once trying the plan of having half the attendants busy in folding up and carrying away the goods which the other half were trying to spread out upon the counters. They said the Public didn’t like it!”

“I don’t wonder at it,” I remarked.

“Well, we tried ‘the British Principle’ for some years. And the end of it all was—” His voice suddenly dropped, almost to a whisper; and large tears began to roll down his cheeks. “—the end was that we got involved in a war; and there was a great battle, in which we far out-numbered the enemy. But what could one expect, when only _half_ of our soldiers were fighting, and the other half pulling them back? It ended in a crushing defeat—an utter rout. This caused a Revolution; and most of the Government were banished. I myself was accused of Treason, for having so strongly advocated ‘the British Principle.’ My property was all forfeited, and—and—I was driven into exile! ‘Now the mischief’s done,’ they said, ‘perhaps you’ll kindly leave the country?’ It nearly broke my heart, but I had to go!”

The melancholy tone became a wail: the wail became a chant: the chant became a song—though whether it was _Mein Herr_ that was singing, this time, or somebody else, I could not feel certain.

 “And, now the mischief’s done, perhaps
 You’ll kindly go and pack your traps?
 Since _two_ (your daughter and your son)
 Are Company, but _three_ are none.
 A course of saving we’ll begin:
 When change is needed, _I’ll_ invent it:
 Don’t think to put _your_ finger in
 _This_ pie!” cried Tottles (and he meant it).

The music seemed to die away. Mein Herr was again speaking in his ordinary voice. “Now tell me one thing more,” he said. “Am I right in thinking that in _your_ Universities, though a man may reside some thirty or forty years, you examine him, once for all, at the end of the first three or four?”

“That is so, undoubtedly,” I admitted.

“Practically, then, you examine a man at the _beginning_ of his career!” the old man said to himself rather than to me. “And what guarantee have you that he _retains_ the knowledge for which you have rewarded him—beforehand, as _we_ should say?”

“None,” I admitted, feeling a little puzzled at the drift of his remarks. “How do _you_ secure that object?”

“By examining him at the _end_ of his thirty or forty years—not at the beginning,” he gently replied. “On an average, the knowledge then found is about one-fifth of what it was at first—the process of forgetting going on at a very steady uniform rate—and he, who forgets _least_, gets _most_ honour, and most rewards.”

“Then you give him the money when he needs it no longer? And you make him live most of his life on _nothing_!”

“Hardly that. He gives his orders to the tradesmen: they supply him, for forty, sometimes fifty, years, at their own risk: then he gets his Fellowship—which pays him in _one_ year as much as _your_ Fellowships pay in fifty—and then he can easily pay all his bills, with interest.”

“But suppose he fails to get his Fellowship? That must occasionally happen.”

“That occasionally happens.” It was Mein Herr’s turn, now, to make admissions.

“And what becomes of the tradesmen?”

“They calculate accordingly. When a man appears to be getting alarmingly ignorant, or stupid, they will sometimes refuse to supply him any longer. You have no idea with what enthusiasm a man will begin to rub up his forgotten sciences or languages, when his butcher has cut off the supply of beef and mutton!”

“And who are the Examiners?”

“The young men who have just come, brimming over with knowledge. You would think it a curious sight,” he went on, “to see mere boys examining such old men. I have known a man set to examine his own grandfather. It was a little painful for both of them, no doubt. The old gentleman was as bald as a coot——”

“How bald would that be?” I’ve no idea why I asked this question. I felt I was getting foolish.

                             CHAPTER XIV.
                           BRUNO’S PICNIC.

“As bald as bald,” was the bewildering reply. “Now, Bruno, I’ll tell you a story.”

“And I’ll tell _oo_ a story,” said Bruno, beginning in a great hurry for fear of Sylvie getting the start of him: “once there were a Mouse—a little tiny Mouse—such a tiny little Mouse! Oo never saw such a tiny Mouse——”

“Did nothing ever happen to it, Bruno?” I asked. “Haven’t you anything more to tell us, besides its being so tiny?”

“Nothing never happened to it,” Bruno solemnly replied.

“Why did nothing never happen to it?” said Sylvie, who was sitting, with her head on Bruno’s shoulder, patiently waiting for a chance of beginning _her_ story.

“It were too tiny,” Bruno explained.

“_That’s_ no reason!” I said. “However tiny it was, things might happen to it.”

Bruno looked pityingly at me, as if he thought me very stupid. “It were too tiny,” he repeated. “If anything happened to it, it would die—it were so _very_ tiny!”

“Really that’s enough about its being tiny!” Sylvie put in. “Haven’t you invented any more about it?”

“Haven’t invented no more yet.”

“Well then, you shouldn’t begin a story till you’ve invented more! Now be quiet, there’s a good boy, and listen to _my_ story.”

And Bruno, having quite exhausted all his inventive faculty, by beginning in too great a hurry, quietly resigned himself to listening. “Tell about the other Bruno, please,” he said coaxingly.

Sylvie put her arms round his neck, and began:——

“The wind was whispering among the trees,” (“That wasn’t good manners!” Bruno interrupted. “Never mind about manners,” said Sylvie) “and it was evening—a nice moony evening, and the Owls were hooting——”

“Pretend they weren’t Owls!” Bruno pleaded, stroking her cheek with his fat little hand. “I don’t like Owls. Owls have such great big eyes. Pretend they were Chickens!”

“Are you afraid of their great big eyes, Bruno?” I said.

“Aren’t _’fraid_ of nothing,” Bruno answered in as careless a tone as he could manage: “they’re ugly with their great big eyes. I think if they cried, the tears would be as big—oh, as big as the moon!” And he laughed merrily. “Doos Owls cry ever, Mister Sir?”

“Owls cry never,” I said gravely, trying to copy Bruno’s way of speaking: “they’ve got nothing to be sorry for, you know.”

“Oh, but they have!” Bruno exclaimed. “They’re ever so sorry, ’cause they killed the poor little Mouses!”

“But they’re not sorry when they’re _hungry_, I suppose?”

“Oo don’t know nothing about Owls!” Bruno scornfully remarked. “When they’re hungry, they’re very, _very_ sorry they killed the little Mouses, ’cause if they _hadn’t_ killed them there’d be sumfin for supper, oo know!”

Bruno was evidently getting into a dangerously inventive state of mind, so Sylvie broke in with “Now I’m going on with the story. So the Owls—the Chickens, I mean—were looking to see if they could find a nice fat Mouse for their supper——”

“Pretend it was a nice ’abbit!” said Bruno.

“But it _wasn’t_ a nice habit, to kill Mouses,” Sylvie argued. “I can’t pretend _that_!”

“I didn’t say ‘_habit_,’ oo silly fellow!” Bruno replied with a merry twinkle in his eye. “’_abbits_—that runs about in the fields!”

“Rabbit? Well it can be a Rabbit, if you like. But you mustn’t alter my story so much, Bruno. A Chicken _couldn’t_ eat a Rabbit!”

“But it might have wished to see if it could try to eat it.”

“Well, it wished to see if it could try—oh, really, Bruno, that’s nonsense! I shall go back to the Owls.”

“Well then, pretend they hadn’t great eyes!”

“And they saw a little Boy,” Sylvie went on, disdaining to make any further corrections. “And he asked them to tell him a story. And the Owls hooted and flew away——” (“Oo shouldn’t say ‘_flewed_;’ oo should say ‘_flied_,’” Bruno whispered. But Sylvie wouldn’t hear.) “And he met a Lion. And he asked the Lion to tell him a story. And the Lion said ‘yes,’ it would. And, while the Lion was telling him the story, it nibbled some of his head off——”

“Don’t say ‘nibbled’!” Bruno entreated. “Only little things nibble—little thin sharp things, with edges——”

“Well then, it ‘_nubbled_,’” said Sylvie. “And when it had nubbled _all_ his head off, he went away, and he never said ‘thank you’!”

“That were very rude,” said Bruno. “If he couldn’t speak, he might have nodded—no, he couldn’t nod. Well, he might have shaked _hands_ with the Lion!”

“Oh, I’d forgotten that part!” said Sylvie. “He _did_ shake hands with it. He came back again, you know, and he thanked the Lion very much, for telling him the story.”

“Then his head had growed up again?” said Bruno.

“Oh yes, it grew up in a minute. And the Lion begged pardon, and said it wouldn’t nubble off little boys’ heads—not never no more!”

Bruno looked much pleased at this change of events. “Now that are a _really_ nice story!” he said. “_Aren’t_ it a nice story, Mister Sir?”

“Very,” I said. “I would like to hear another story about that Boy.”

“So would _I_,” said Bruno, stroking Sylvie’s cheek again. “_Please_ tell about Bruno’s Picnic; and don’t talk about _nubbly_ Lions!”

“I won’t, if it frightens you,” said Sylvie.

“_Flightens_ me!” Bruno exclaimed indignantly. “It isn’t _that_! It’s ’cause ‘nubbly’ ’s such a grumbly word to say—when one person’s got her head on another person’s shoulder. When she talks like that,” he explained to me, “the talking goes down bofe sides of my face—all the way to my chin—and it _doos_ tickle so! It’s enough to make a beard grow, that it is!”

He said this with great severity, but it was evidently meant for a joke: so Sylvie laughed—a delicious musical little laugh, and laid her soft cheek on the top of her brother’s curly head, as if it were a pillow, while she went on with the story. “So this Boy——”

“But it wasn’t _me_, oo know!” Bruno interrupted. “And oo needn’t try to look as if it was, Mister Sir!”

I represented, respectfully, that I was trying to look as if it wasn’t.

“—he was a middling good Boy——”

“He were a _welly_ good Boy!” Bruno corrected her. “And he never did nothing he wasn’t told to do——”

“_That_ doesn’t make a good Boy!” Sylvie said contemptuously.

“That _do_ make a good Boy!” Bruno insisted.

Sylvie gave up the point. “Well, he was a _very_ good Boy, and he always kept his promises, and he had a big cupboard——”

“—for to keep all his promises in!” cried Bruno.

“If he kept _all_ his promises,” Sylvie said, with a mischievous look in her eyes, “he wasn’t like _some_ Boys I know of!”

“He had to put _salt_ with them, a-course,” Bruno said gravely: “oo ca’n’t keep promises when there isn’t any salt. And he kept his birthday on the second shelf.”

“How long did he keep his birthday?” I asked. “I never can keep _mine_ more than twenty-four hours.”

“Why, a birthday _stays_ that long by itself!” cried Bruno. “Oo doosn’t know how to keep birthdays! This Boy kept _his_ a whole year!”

“And then the next birthday would begin,” said Sylvie. “So it would be his birthday _always_.”

“So it were,” said Bruno. “Doos _oo_ have treats on _oor_ birthday, Mister Sir?”

“Sometimes,” I said.

“When oo’re _good_, I suppose?”

“Why, it _is_ a sort of treat, being good, isn’t it?” I said.

“A sort of _treat_!” Bruno repeated. “It’s a sort of _punishment_, _I_ think!”

“Oh, Bruno!” Sylvie interrupted, almost sadly. “How _can_ you?”

“Well, but it _is_,” Bruno persisted. “Why, look here, Mister Sir! _This_ is being good!” And he sat bolt upright, and put on an absurdly solemn face. “First oo must sit up as straight as pokers——”

“—as _a_ poker,” Sylvie corrected him.

“—as straight as _pokers_,” Bruno firmly repeated. “Then oo must clasp oor hands—_so_. Then—‘Why hasn’t oo brushed oor hair? Go and brush it _toreckly_!’ Then—‘Oh, Bruno, oo mustn’t dog’s-ear the daisies!’ Did oo learn _oor_ spelling wiz daisies, Mister Sir?”

“I want to hear about that Boy’s _Birthday_,” I said.

Bruno returned to the story instantly. “Well, so this Boy said ‘Now it’s my Birthday!’ And so—I’m tired!” he suddenly broke off, laying his head in Sylvie’s lap. “Sylvie knows it best. Sylvie’s grown-upper than me. Go on, Sylvie!”

Sylvie patiently took up the thread of the story again. “So he said ‘Now it’s my Birthday. Whatever shall I do to keep my Birthday? All _good_ little Boys——” (Sylvie turned away from Bruno, and made a great pretence of whispering to _me_) “—all _good_ little Boys—Boys that learn their lessons quite perfect—they always keep their birthdays, you know. So of course _this_ little Boy kept _his_ Birthday.”

“Oo may call him Bruno, if oo like,” the little fellow carelessly remarked. “It weren’t _me_, but it makes it more interesting.”

“So Bruno said to himself ‘The properest thing to do is to have a Picnic, all by myself, on the top of the hill. And I’ll take some Milk, and some Bread, and some Apples: and first and foremost, I want some _Milk_!’ So, first and foremost, Bruno took a milk-pail——”

“And he went and milkted the Cow!” Bruno put in.

“Yes,” said Sylvie, meekly accepting the new verb. “And the Cow said ‘Moo! What are you going to do with all that Milk?’ And Bruno said ‘Please’m, I want it for my Picnic.’ And the Cow said ‘Moo! But I hope you wo’n’t _boil_ any of it?’ And Bruno said ‘No, _indeed_ I won’t! New Milk’s so nice and so warm, it wants no boiling!’”

“It doesn’t want no boiling,” Bruno offered as an amended version.

“So Bruno put the Milk in a bottle. And then Bruno said ‘Now I want some Bread!’ So he went to the Oven, and he took out a delicious new Loaf. And the Oven——”

“—ever so light and so puffy!” Bruno impatiently corrected her. “Oo shouldn’t leave out so many words!”

Sylvie humbly apologised. “—a delicious new Loaf, ever so light and so puffy. And the Oven said——” Here Sylvie made a long pause. “Really I don’t know _what_ an Oven begins with, when it wants to speak!”

Both children looked appealingly at me; but I could only say, helplessly, “I haven’t the least idea! _I_ never heard an Oven speak!”

For a minute or two we all sat silent; and then Bruno said, very softly, “Oven begins wiz ‘O’.”

“_Good_ little boy!” Sylvie exclaimed. “He does his spelling _very_ nicely. _He’s cleverer than he knows!_” she added, aside, to _me_. “So the Oven said ‘O! What are you going to do with all that Bread?’ And Bruno said ‘Please——’ Is an Oven ‘Sir’ or ‘’m,’ would you say?” She looked to me for a reply.

“_Both_, I think,” seemed to me the safest thing to say.

Sylvie adopted the suggestion instantly. “So Bruno said ‘Please, Sirm, I want it for my Picnic.’ And the Oven said ‘O! But I hope you wo’n’t _toast_ any of it?’ And Bruno said ‘No, _indeed_ I wo’n’t! New Bread’s so light and so puffy, it wants no toasting!’”

“It never doesn’t want no toasting,” said Bruno. “I _wiss_ oo wouldn’t say it so short!”

“So Bruno put the Bread in the hamper. Then Bruno said ‘Now I want some Apples!’ So he took the hamper, and he went to the Apple-Tree, and he picked some lovely ripe Apples. And the Apple-Tree said——” Here followed another long pause.

Bruno adopted his favourite expedient of tapping his forehead; while Sylvie gazed earnestly upwards, as if she hoped for some suggestion from the birds, who were singing merrily among the branches overhead. But no result followed.

“What _does_ an Apple-tree begin with, when it wants to speak?” Sylvie murmured despairingly, to the irresponsive birds.

At last, taking a leaf out of Bruno’s book, I ventured on a remark. “Doesn’t ‘Apple-tree’ always begin with ‘Eh!’?”

“Why, of _course_ it does! How _clever_ of you!” Sylvie cried delightedly.

Bruno jumped up, and patted me on the head. I tried not to feel conceited.

“So the Apple Tree said ‘Eh! What are you going to do with all those Apples?’ And Bruno said ‘Please, Sir, I want them for my Picnic,’ And the Apple-Tree said ‘Eh! But I hope you wo’n’t _bake_ any of them?’ And Bruno said ‘No, _indeed_ I wo’n’t! Ripe Apples are so nice and so sweet, they want no baking!’”

“They never doesn’t——” Bruno was beginning, but Sylvie corrected herself before he could get the words out.

“‘They never doesn’t nonow want no baking.’ So Bruno put the Apples in the hamper, along with the Bread, and the bottle of Milk. And he set off to have a Picnic, on the top of the hill, all by himself——”

“He wasn’t greedy, oo know, to have it all by himself,” Bruno said, patting me on the cheek to call my attention; “’cause he hadn’t got no brothers and sisters.”

“It was very sad to have no _sisters_, wasn’t it?” I said.

“Well, I don’t know,” Bruno said thoughtfully; “’cause he hadn’t no lessons to do. So he didn’t mind.”

Sylvie went on. “So, as he was walking along the road, he heard behind him such a curious sort of noise—a sort of a Thump! Thump! Thump! ‘Whatever _is_ that?’ said Bruno. ‘Oh, I know!’ said Bruno. ‘Why, it’s only my Watch a-ticking!’”

“_Were_ it his Watch a-ticking?” Bruno asked me, with eyes that fairly sparkled with mischievous delight.

“No doubt of it!” I replied. And Bruno laughed exultingly.

“Then Bruno thought a little harder. And he said ‘No! It _ca’n’t_ be my Watch a-ticking; because I haven’t _got_ a Watch!’”

Bruno peered up anxiously into my face, to see how I took it. I hung my head, and put a thumb into my mouth, to the evident delight of the little fellow.

“So Bruno went a little further along the road. And then he heard it again, that queer noise—Thump! Thump! Thump! ‘What ever _is_ that?’ said Bruno. ‘Oh, I know!’ said Bruno. ‘Why, it’s only the Carpenter a-mending my Wheelbarrow!’”

“_Were_ it the Carterpenter a-mending his Wheelbarrow?” Bruno asked me.

I brightened up, and said “It _must_ have been!” in a tone of absolute conviction.

Bruno threw his arms round Sylvie’s neck. “Sylvie!” he said, in a perfectly audible whisper. “He says it _must_ have been!”

“Then Bruno thought a little harder. And he said ‘No! It _ca’n’t_ be the Carpenter amending my Wheelbarrow, because I haven’t _got_ a Wheelbarrow!’”

This time I hid my face in my hands, quite unable to meet Bruno’s look of triumph.

“So Bruno went a little further along the road. And then he heard that queer noise again—Thump! Thump! Thump! So he thought he’d look round, _this_ time, just to _see_ what it was. And what should it be but a great Lion!”

“A great big Lion,” Bruno corrected her.

“A great big Lion. And Bruno was ever so frightened, and he ran——”

“No, he wasn’t _flightened_ a bit!” Bruno interrupted. (He was evidently anxious for the reputation of his namesake.) “He runned away to get a good look at the Lion; ’cause he wanted to see if it were the same Lion what used to nubble little Boys’ heads off; and he wanted to know how big it was!”

“Well, he ran away, to get a good look at the Lion. And the Lion trotted slowly after him. And the Lion called after him, in a very gentle voice, ‘Little Boy, little Boy! You needn’t be afraid of _me_! I’m a very _gentle_ old Lion now. I _never_ nubble little Boys’ heads off, as I used to do.’ And so Bruno said ‘Don’t you _really_, Sir? Then what do you live on?’ And the Lion——”

“Oo _see_ he weren’t a bit flightened!” Bruno said to me, patting my cheek again. “’cause he remembered to call it ‘Sir,’ oo know.”

I said that no doubt that was the _real_ test whether a person was frightened or not.

“And the Lion said ‘Oh, I live on bread-and-butter, and cherries, and marmalade, and plum-cake———’”

“—and _apples_!” Bruno put in.

“Yes, ‘and apples.’ And Bruno said ‘Won’t you come with me to my Picnic?’ And the Lion said ‘Oh, I should like it _very much indeed_!’ And Bruno and the Lion went away together.” Sylvie stopped suddenly.

“Is that _all_?” I asked, despondingly.

“Not _quite_ all,” Sylvie slily replied. “There’s a sentence or two more. Isn’t there, Bruno?”

“Yes,” with a carelessness that was evidently put on: “just a sentence or two more.”

“And, as they were walking along, they looked over a hedge, and who should they see but a little black Lamb! And the Lamb was ever so frightened. And it ran——”

“It were _really_ flightened!” Bruno put in.

“It ran away. And Bruno ran after it. And he called ‘Little Lamb! You needn’t be afraid of _this_ Lion! It _never_ kills things! It lives on cherries, and marmalade——’”

“—and _apples_!” said Bruno. “Oo _always_ forgets the apples!”

“And Bruno said ‘Wo’n’t you come with us to my Picnic?’ And the Lamb said ‘Oh, I should like it _very much indeed_, if my Ma will let me!’ And Bruno said ‘Let’s go and ask your Ma!’ And they went to the old Sheep. And Bruno said ‘Please, may your little Lamb come to my Picnic?’ And the Sheep said ‘Yes, if it’s learnt all its lessons.’ And the Lamb said ‘Oh yes, Ma! I’ve learnt _all_ my lessons!’”

“Pretend it hadn’t any lessons!” Bruno earnestly pleaded.

“Oh, that would never do!” said Sylvie. “I ca’n’t leave out all about the lessons! And the old Sheep said ‘Do you know your A B C yet? Have you learnt A?’ And the Lamb said ‘Oh yes, Ma! I went to the A-field, and I helped them to make A!’ ‘Very good, my child! And have you learnt B?’ ‘Oh yes, Ma! I went to the B-hive, and the B gave me some honey!’ ‘Very good, my child! And have you learnt C?’ ‘Oh yes, Ma! I went to the C-side, and I saw the ships sailing on the C!’ ‘Very good, my child! You may go to Bruno’s Picnic.’


“So they set off. And Bruno walked in the middle, so that the Lamb mightn’t see the Lion——”

“It were _flightened_,” Bruno explained.

“Yes, and it trembled so; and it got paler and paler; and, before they’d got to the top of the hill, it was a _white_ little Lamb—as white as snow!”

“But _Bruno_ weren’t flightened!” said the owner of that name. “So _he_ staid black!”

“No, he _didn’t_ stay black! He staid _pink_!” laughed Sylvie. “I shouldn’t kiss you like this, you know, if you were _black_!”

“Oo’d _have_ to!” Bruno said with great decision. “Besides, Bruno wasn’t _Bruno_, oo know—I mean, Bruno wasn’t _me_—I mean—don’t talk nonsense, Sylvie!”

“I won’t do it again!” Sylvie said very humbly. “And so, as they went along, the Lion said ‘Oh, I’ll tell you what I used to do when I was a young Lion. I used to hide behind trees, to watch for little Boys.’” (Bruno cuddled a little closer to her.) “‘And, if a little thin scraggy Boy came by, why, I used to let him go. But, if a little fat juicy——’”

Bruno could bear no more. “Pretend he wasn’t juicy!” he pleaded, half-sobbing.

“Nonsense, Bruno!” Sylvie briskly replied. “It’ll be done in a moment! ‘—if a little fat juicy Boy came by, why, I used to spring out and gobble him up! Oh, you’ve no _idea_ what a delicious thing it is—a little juicy Boy!’ And Bruno said ‘Oh, if you please, Sir, _don’t_ talk about eating little boys! It makes me so _shivery_!’”

The real Bruno shivered, in sympathy with the hero.

“And the Lion said ‘Oh, well, we won’t talk about it, then! I’ll tell you what happened on my wedding-day——’”

“I like _this_ part better,” said Bruno, patting my cheek to keep me awake.

“‘There was, oh, such a lovely wedding-breakfast! At _one_ end of the table there was a large plum-pudding. And at the other end there was a nice roasted _Lamb_! Oh, you’ve no _idea_ what a delicious thing it is—a nice roasted Lamb!’ And the Lamb said ‘Oh, if you please, Sir, _don’t_ talk about eating Lambs! It makes me so _shivery_!’ And the Lion said ‘Oh, well, we won’t talk about it, then!’”

                             CHAPTER XV.
                          THE LITTLE FOXES.

“So, when they got to the top of the hill, Bruno opened the hamper: and he took out the Bread, and the Apples, and the Milk: and they ate, and they drank. And when they’d finished the Milk, and eaten half the Bread and half the Apples, the Lamb said ‘Oh, my paws is so sticky! I want to wash my paws!’ And the Lion said ‘Well, go down the hill, and wash them in the brook, yonder. We’ll wait for you!’”

“It never comed back!” Bruno solemnly whispered to me.

But Sylvie overheard him. “You’re not to whisper, Bruno! It spoils the story! And when the Lamb had been gone a long time, the Lion said to Bruno ‘Do go and see after that silly little Lamb! It must have lost its way.’ And Bruno went down the hill. And when he got to the brook, he saw the Lamb sitting on the bank: and who should be sitting by it but an old Fox!”

“Don’t know who _should_ be sitting by it,” Bruno said thoughtfully to himself. “A old Fox _were_ sitting by it.”

“And the old Fox were saying,” Sylvie went on, for once conceding the grammatical point, “‘Yes, my dear, you’ll be ever so happy with us, if you’ll only come and see us! I’ve got three little Foxes there, and we do love little Lambs so dearly!’ And the Lamb said ‘But you never _eat_ them, do you, Sir?’ And the Fox said ‘Oh, no! What, _eat_ a Lamb? We never _dream_ of doing such a thing!’ So the Lamb said ‘Then I’ll come with you.’ And off they went, hand in hand.”

“That Fox were welly extremely wicked, _weren’t_ it?” said Bruno.

“No, no!” said Sylvie, rather shocked at such violent language. “It wasn’t quite so bad as that!”

“Well, I mean, it wasn’t nice,” the little fellow corrected himself.

“And so Bruno went back to the Lion. ‘Oh, come quick!’ he said. ‘The Fox has taken the Lamb to his house with him! I’m _sure_ he means to eat it!’ And the Lion said ‘I’ll come as quick as ever I can!’ And they trotted down the hill.”

“Do oo think he caught the Fox, Mister Sir?” said Bruno. I shook my head, not liking to speak: and Sylvie went on.

“And when they got to the house, Bruno looked in at the window. And there he saw the three little Foxes sitting round the table, with their clean pinafores on, and spoons in their hands——”

“Spoons in their hands!” Bruno repeated in an ecstasy of delight.

“And the Fox had got a great big knife—all ready to kill the poor little Lamb——” (“Oo needn’t be flightened, Mister Sir!” Bruno put in, in a hasty whisper.)

[Illustration: ‘ENTER THE LION’]

“And just as he was going to do it, Bruno heard a great ROAR——” (The real Bruno put his hand into mine, and held tight), “and the Lion came _bang_ through the door, and the next moment it had bitten off the old Fox’s head! And Bruno jumped in at the window, and went leaping round the room, and crying out ‘Hooray! Hooray! The old Fox is dead! The old Fox is dead!’”

Bruno got up in some excitement. “May I do it now?” he enquired.

Sylvie was quite decided on this point. “Wait till afterwards,” she said. “The speeches come next, don’t you know? You always love the speeches, _don’t_ you?”

“Yes, I doos,” said Bruno: and sat down again.

“The Lion’s speech. ‘Now, you silly little Lamb, go home to your mother, and never listen to old Foxes again. And be very good and obedient.’

“The Lamb’s speech. ‘Oh, indeed, Sir, I will, Sir!’ and the Lamb went away.” (“But _oo_ needn’t go away!” Bruno explained. “It’s quite the nicest part—what’s coming now!” Sylvie smiled. She liked having an appreciative audience.)

“The Lion’s speech to Bruno. ‘Now, Bruno, take those little Foxes home with you, and teach them to be good obedient little Foxes! Not like that wicked old thing there, that’s got no head!’” (“That hasn’t got no head,” Bruno repeated.)

“Bruno’s speech to the Lion. ‘Oh, indeed, Sir, I will, Sir!’ And the Lion went away.” (“It gets betterer and betterer, now,” Bruno whispered to me, “right away to the end!”)

“Bruno’s speech to the little Foxes. ‘Now, little Foxes, you’re going to have your first lesson in being good. I’m going to put you into the hamper, along with the Apples and the Bread: and you’re not to eat the Apples: and you’re not to eat the Bread: and you’re not to eat _anything_——till we get to my house: and then you’ll have your supper.’

“The little Foxes’ speech to Bruno. The little Foxes said nothing.

“So Bruno put the Apples into the hamper—and the little Foxes—and the Bread——” (“They had picnicked all the Milk,” Bruno explained in a whisper) “—and he set off to go to his house.” (“We’re getting near the end now,” said Bruno.)

“And, when he had got a little way, he thought he would look into the hamper, and see how the little Foxes were getting on.”

“So he opened the door——” said Bruno.

“Oh, Bruno!” Sylvie exclaimed, “_you’re_ not telling the story! So he opened the door, and behold, there were no Apples! So Bruno said ‘Eldest little Fox, have _you_ been eating the Apples?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘No no no!’” (It is impossible to give the tone in which Sylvie repeated this rapid little ‘No no no!’ The nearest I can come to it is to say that it was much as if a young and excited duck had tried to quack the words. It was too quick for a quack, and yet too harsh to be anything else.) “Then he said ‘Second little Fox, have _you_ been eating the Apples?’ And the second little Fox said ‘No no no!’ Then he said ‘Youngest little Fox, have _you_ been eating the Apples?’ And the youngest little Fox _tried_ to say ‘No no no!’ but its mouth was so full, it couldn’t, and it only said ‘Wauch! Wauch! Wauch!’ And Bruno looked into its mouth. And its mouth was full of Apples! And Bruno shook his head, and he said ‘Oh dear, oh dear! What bad creatures these Foxes are!’”

Bruno was listening intently: and, when Sylvie paused to take breath, he could only just gasp out the words “About the Bread?”

“Yes,” said Sylvie, “the Bread comes next. So he shut the door again; and he went a little further; and then he thought he’d just peep in once more. And behold, there was no Bread!” (“What do ‘behold’ _mean_?” said Bruno. “Hush!” said Sylvie.) “And he said ‘Eldest little Fox, have _you_ been eating the Bread?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘No no no!’ ‘Second little Fox, have _you_ been eating the Bread?’ And the second little Fox only said ‘Wauch! Wauch! Wauch!’ And Bruno looked into its mouth, and its mouth was full of Bread!” (“It might have chokeded it,” said Bruno.) “So he said ‘Oh dear, oh dear! What _shall_ I do with these Foxes?’ And he went a little further.” (“Now comes the most interesting part,” Bruno whispered.)

“And when Bruno opened the hamper again, what do you think he saw?” (“Only _two_ Foxes!” Bruno cried in a great hurry.) “You shouldn’t tell it so quick. However, he _did_ see only _two_ Foxes. And he said ‘Eldest little Fox, have you been eating the youngest little Fox?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘No no no!’ ‘Second little Fox, have _you_ been eating the youngest little Fox?’ And the second little Fox did its very best to say ‘No no no!’ but it could only say ‘Weuchk! Weuchk! Weuchk!’ And when Bruno looked into its mouth, it was half full of Bread, and half full of Fox!” (Bruno said nothing in the pause this time. He was beginning to pant a little, as he knew the crisis was coming.)

“And when he’d got nearly home, he looked once more into the hamper, and he saw——”

“Only——” Bruno began, but a generous thought struck him, and he looked at me. “_Oo_ may say it, _this_ time, Mister Sir!” he whispered. It was a noble offer, but I wouldn’t rob him of the treat. “Go on, Bruno,” I said, “you say it much the best.” “Only—but—_one_—Fox!” Bruno said with great solemnity.

[Illustration: ‘WHIHUAUCH! WHIHUAUCH!’]

“‘Eldest little Fox,’” Sylvie said, dropping the narrative-form in her eagerness, “‘you’ve been _so_ good that I can hardly believe _you’ve_ been disobedient: but I’m _afraid_ you’ve been eating your little sister?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘Whihuauch! Whihuauch!’ and then it choked. And Bruno looked into its mouth, and it _was_ full!” (Sylvie paused to take breath, and Bruno lay back among the daisies, and looked at me triumphantly. “Isn’t it _grand_, Mister Sir?” said he. I tried hard to assume a critical tone. “It’s grand,” I said: “but it frightens one so!” “Oo may sit a little closer to _me_, if oo like,” said Bruno.)

“And so Bruno went home: and took the hamper into the kitchen, and opened it. And he saw——” Sylvie looked at _me_, this time, as if she thought I had been rather neglected and ought to be allowed _one_ guess, at any rate.

“He ca’n’t guess!” Bruno cried eagerly. “I ’fraid I _must_ tell him! There weren’t—_nuffin_ in the hamper!” I shivered in terror, and Bruno clapped his hands with delight. “He _is_ flightened, Sylvie! Tell the rest!”

“So Bruno said ‘Eldest little Fox, have you been eating _yourself_, you wicked little Fox?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘Whihuauch!’ And then Bruno saw there was only its _mouth_ in the hamper! So he took the mouth, and he opened it, and shook, and shook! And at last he shook the little Fox out of its own mouth! And then he said ‘Open your mouth again, you wicked little thing!’ And he shook, and shook! And he shook out the second little Fox! And he said ‘Now open _your_ mouth!’ And he shook, and shook! And he shook out the youngest little Fox, and all the Apples, and all the Bread!

“And then Bruno stood the little Foxes up against the wall: and he made them a little speech. ‘Now, little Foxes, you’ve begun very wickedly—and you’ll have to be punished. First you’ll go up to the nursery, and wash your faces, and put on clean pinafores. Then you’ll hear the bell ring for supper. Then you’ll come down: and _you won’t have any supper_: but you’ll have a good _whipping_! Then you’ll go to bed. Then in the morning you’ll hear the bell ring for breakfast. _But you won’t have any breakfast!_ You’ll have a good _whipping_! Then you’ll have your lessons. And, perhaps, if you’re _very_ good, when dinner-time comes, you’ll have a little dinner, and no more whipping!’” (“How _very_ kind he was!” I whispered to Bruno. “_Middling_ kind,” Bruno corrected me gravely.)

“So the little Foxes ran up to the nursery. And soon Bruno went into the hall, and rang the big bell. ‘Tingle, tingle, tingle! Supper, supper, supper!’ Down came the little Foxes, in such a hurry for their supper! Clean pinafores! Spoons in their hands! And, when they got into the dining-room, there was ever such a white table-cloth on the table! But there was nothing on it but a big whip. And they had _such_ a whipping!” (I put my handkerchief to my eyes, and Bruno hastily climbed upon my knee and stroked my face. “Only _one_ more whipping, Mister Sir!” he whispered. “Don’t cry more than oo ca’n’t help!”)

“And the next morning early, Bruno rang the big bell again. ‘Tingle, tingle, tingle! Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast!’ Down came the little Foxes! Clean pinafores! Spoons in their hands! No breakfast! Only the big whip! Then came lessons,” Sylvie hurried on, for I still had my handkerchief to my eyes. “And the little Foxes were ever so good! And they learned their lessons backwards, and forwards, and upside-down. And at last Bruno rang the big bell again. ‘Tingle, tingle, tingle! Dinner, dinner, dinner!’ And when the little Foxes came down——” (“Had they clean pinafores on?” Bruno enquired. “Of course!” said Sylvie. “And spoons?” “Why, you _know_ they had!” “Couldn’t be _certain_,” said Bruno.) “—they came as slow as slow! And they said ‘Oh! There’ll be no dinner! There’ll only be the big whip!’ But, when they got into the room, they saw the most _lovely_ dinner!” (“Buns?” cried Bruno, clapping his hands.) “Buns, and cake, and——” (“—and jam?” said Bruno.) “Yes, jam—and soup—and——” (“—and _sugar plums_!” Bruno put in once more; and Sylvie seemed satisfied.)

“And ever after that, they _were_ such good little Foxes! They did their lessons as good as gold—and they never did what Bruno told them not to—and they never ate each other any more—and _they never ate themselves_!”

The story came to an end so suddenly, it almost took my breath away; however I did my best to make a pretty speech of thanks. “I’m sure it’s very—very—very much so, I’m sure!” I seemed to hear myself say.

                             CHAPTER XVI.
                         BEYOND THESE VOICES.

“I didn’t quite catch what you said!” were the next words that reached my ear, but certainly _not_ in the voice either of Sylvie or of Bruno, whom I could just see, through the crowd of guests, standing by the piano, and listening to the Count’s song. Mein Herr was the speaker. “I didn’t quite catch what you said!” he repeated. “But I’ve no doubt you take _my_ view of it. Thank you _very_ much for your kind attention. There is only but _one_ verse left to be sung!” These last words were not in the gentle voice of Mein Herr, but in the deep bass of the French Count. And, in the silence that followed, the final stanza of ‘Tottles’ rang through the room.

[Illustration: ‘NEVER!’ YELLED TOTTLES]

 See now this couple settled down
 In quiet lodgings, out of town:
 Submissively the tearful wife
 Accepts a plain and humble life:
 Yet begs one boon on bended knee:
 ‘My ducky-darling, don’t resent it!
 Mamma might come for two or three——’
 ‘NEVER!’ yelled Tottles. And he meant it.

The conclusion of the song was followed by quite a chorus of thanks and compliments from all parts of the room, which the gratified singer responded to by bowing low in all directions. “It is to me a great privilege,” he said to Lady Muriel, “to have met with this so marvellous a song. The accompaniment to him is so strange, so mysterious: it is as if a new music were to be invented! I will play him once again so as that to show you what I mean.” He returned to the piano, but the song had vanished.

The bewildered singer searched through the heap of music lying on an adjoining table, but it was not there, either. Lady Muriel helped in the search: others soon joined: the excitement grew. “What _can_ have become of it?” exclaimed Lady Muriel. Nobody knew: one thing only was certain, that no one had been near the piano since the Count had sung the last verse of the song.

“Nevare mind him!” he said, most good-naturedly. “I shall give it you with memory alone!” He sat down, and began vaguely fingering the notes; but nothing resembling the tune came out. Then he, too, grew excited. “But what oddness! How much of singularity! That I might lose, not the words alone, but the tune also—that is quite curious, I suppose?”

We all supposed it, heartily.

“It was that sweet little boy, who found it for me,” the Count suggested. “Quite perhaps _he_ is the thief?”

“Of course he is!” cried Lady Muriel. “Bruno! Where are you, my darling?”

But no Bruno replied: it seemed that the two children had vanished as suddenly, and as mysteriously, as the song.

“They are playing us a trick!” Lady Muriel gaily exclaimed. “This is only an _ex tempore_ game of Hide-and-Seek! That little Bruno is an embodied Mischief!”

The suggestion was a welcome one to most of us, for some of the guests were beginning to look decidedly uneasy. A general search was set on foot with much enthusiasm: curtains were thrown back and shaken, cupboards opened, and ottomans turned over; but the number of possible hiding-places proved to be strictly limited; and the search came to an end almost as soon as it had begun.

“They must have run out, while we were wrapped up in the song,” Lady Muriel said, addressing herself to the Count, who seemed more agitated than the others; “and no doubt they’ve found their way back to the housekeeper’s room.”

“Not by _this_ door!” was the earnest protest of a knot of two or three gentlemen, who had been grouped round the door (one of them actually leaning against it) for the last half-hour, as they declared. “_This_ door has not been opened since the song began!”

An uncomfortable silence followed this announcement. Lady Muriel ventured no further conjectures, but quietly examined the fastenings of the windows, which opened as doors. They all proved to be well fastened, _inside_.

Not yet at the end of her resources, Lady Muriel rang the bell. “Ask the housekeeper to step here,” she said, “and to bring the children’s walking-things with her.”

“I’ve brought them, my Lady,” said the obsequious housekeeper, entering after another minute of silence. “I thought the young lady would have come to my room to put on her boots. Here’s your boots, my love!” she added cheerfully, looking in all directions for the children. There was no answer, and she turned to Lady Muriel with a puzzled smile. “Have the little darlings hid themselves?”

“I don’t see them, just now,” Lady Muriel replied, rather evasively. “You can leave their things here, Wilson. _I’ll_ dress them, when they’re ready to go.”

The two little hats, and Sylvie’s walking-jacket, were handed round among the ladies, with many exclamations of delight. There certainly was a sort of witchery of beauty about them. Even the little boots did not miss their share of favorable criticism. “Such natty little things!” the musical young lady exclaimed, almost fondling them as she spoke. “And what tiny tiny feet they must have!”

Finally, the things were piled together on the centre-ottoman, and the guests, despairing of seeing the children again, began to wish good-night and leave the house.

There were only some eight or nine left—to whom the Count was explaining, for the twentieth time, how he had had his eye on the children during the last verse of the song; how he had then glanced round the room, to see what effect “de great chest-note” had had upon his audience; and how, when he looked back again, they had both disappeared—when exclamations of dismay began to be heard on all sides, the Count hastily bringing his story to an end to join in the outcry.

The walking-things had all disappeared!

After the utter failure of the search for the _children_, there was a very half-hearted search made for their _apparel_. The remaining guests seemed only too glad to get away, leaving only the Count and our four selves.

The Count sank into an easy-chair, and panted a little.

“Who then _are_ these dear children, I pray you?” he said. “Why come they, why go they, in this so little ordinary a fashion? That the music should make itself to vanish—that the hats, the boots, should make themselves to vanish—how is it, I pray you?”

“I’ve no idea where they are!” was all I could say, on finding myself appealed to, by general consent, for an explanation.

The Count seemed about to ask further questions, but checked himself.

“The hour makes himself to become late,” he said. “I wish to you a very good night, my Lady. I betake myself to my bed—to dream—if that indeed I be not dreaming now!” And he hastily left the room.

“Stay awhile, stay awhile!” said the Earl, as I was about to follow the Count. “_You_ are not a guest, you know! Arthur’s friend is at _home_ here!”

“Thanks!” I said, as, with true English instincts, we drew our chairs together round the fire-place, though no fire was burning—Lady Muriel having taken the heap of music on her knee, to have one more search for the strangely-vanished song.

“Don’t you sometimes feel a wild longing,” she said, addressing herself to me, “to have something more to do with your hands, while you talk, than just holding a cigar, and now and then knocking off the ash? Oh, I know all that you’re going to say!” (This was to Arthur, who appeared about to interrupt her.) “The Majesty of Thought supersedes the work of the fingers. A Man’s severe thinking, _plus_ the shaking-off a cigar-ash, comes to the same total as a Woman’s trivial fancies, _plus_ the most elaborate embroidery. _That’s_ your sentiment, isn’t it, only better expressed?”

Arthur looked into the radiant, mischievous face, with a grave and very tender smile. “Yes,” he said resignedly: “that is my sentiment, exactly.”

“Rest of body, and activity of mind,” I put in. “Some writer tells us _that_ is the acme of human happiness.”

“Plenty of _bodily_ rest, at any rate!” Lady Muriel replied, glancing at the three recumbent figures around her. “But what you call activity of _mind_——”

“—is the privilege of young Physicians _only_,” said the Earl. “We old men have no claim to be active! _What can an old man do but die?_”

“A good many other things, I should _hope_,” Arthur said earnestly.

“Well, maybe. Still you have the advantage of me in many ways, dear boy! Not only that _your_ day is dawning while _mine_ is setting, but your _interest_ in Life—somehow I ca’n’t help envying you _that_. It will be many a year before you lose your hold of _that_.”

“Yet surely many human interests _survive_ human Life?” I said.

“Many do, no doubt. And _some_ forms of Science; but only _some_, I think. Mathematics, for instance: _that_ seems to possess an endless interest: one ca’n’t imagine _any_ form of Life, or _any_ race of intelligent beings, where Mathematical truth would lose its meaning. But I fear _Medicine_ stands on a different footing. Suppose you discover a remedy for some disease hitherto supposed to be incurable. Well, it is delightful for the moment, no doubt—full of interest—perhaps it brings you fame and fortune. But what then? Look on, a few years, into a life where disease has no existence. What is your discovery worth, _then_? Milton makes Jove promise too much. ‘_Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed._’ Poor comfort, when one’s ‘fame’ concerns matters that will have ceased to have a meaning!”

“At any rate, one wouldn’t care to make any _fresh_ medical discoveries,” said Arthur. “I see no help for _that_—though I shall be sorry to give up my favorite studies. Still, medicine, disease, pain, sorrow, sin—I fear they’re all linked together. Banish sin, and you banish them all!”

“_Military_ science is a yet stronger instance,” said the Earl. “Without sin, _war_ would surely be impossible. Still any mind, that has had in this life any keen interest, not in _itself_ sinful, will surely find itself _some_ congenial line of work hereafter. Wellington may have no more _battles_ to fight—and yet—

 ‘We doubt not that, for one so true,
 There must be other, nobler work to do,
 Than when he fought at Waterloo,
       And Victor he must ever be!’”

He lingered over the beautiful words, as if he loved them: and his voice, like distant music, died away into silence.

After a minute or two he began again. “If I’m not wearying you, I would like to tell you an idea of the future Life which has haunted me for years, like a sort of waking nightmare—I ca’n’t reason myself out of it.”

“Pray do,” Arthur and I replied, almost in a breath. Lady Muriel put aside the heap of music, and folded her hands together.

“The one idea,” the Earl resumed, “that has seemed to me to overshadow all the rest, is that of _Eternity_—involving, as it seems to do, the necessary _exhaustion_ of all subjects of human interest. Take Pure Mathematics, for instance—a Science independent of our present surroundings. I have studied it, myself, a little. Take the subject of circles and ellipses—what we call ‘curves of the second degree.’ In a future Life, it would only be a question of so many years (or _hundreds_ of years, if you like), for a man to work out _all_ their properties. Then he _might_ go to curves of the third degree. Say _that_ took ten times as long (you see we have _unlimited_ time to deal with). I can hardly imagine his _interest_ in the subject holding out even for those; and, though there is no limit to the _degree_ of the curves he might study, yet surely the time, needed to exhaust _all_ the novelty and interest of the subject, would be absolutely _finite_? And so of all other branches of Science. And, when I transport myself, in thought, through some thousands or millions of years, and fancy myself possessed of as much Science as one created reason can carry, I ask myself ‘What then? With nothing more to learn, can one rest content on _knowledge_, for the eternity yet to be lived through?’ It has been a very wearying thought to me. I have sometimes fancied one _might_, in that event, say ‘It is better _not_ to be,’ and pray for personal _annihilation_—the Nirvana of the Buddhists.”

“But that is only half the picture,” I said. “Besides working for _oneself_, may there not be the helping of _others_?”

“Surely, surely!” Lady Muriel exclaimed in a tone of relief, looking at her father with sparkling eyes.

“Yes,” said the Earl, “so long as there _were_ any others needing help. But, given ages and ages more, surely all created reasons would at length reach the same dead level of _satiety_. And _then_ what is there to look forward to?”

“I know that weary feeling,” said the young Doctor. “I have gone through it all, more than once. Now let me tell you how I have put it to myself. I have imagined a little child, playing with toys on his nursery-floor, and yet able to _reason_, and to look on, thirty years ahead. Might he not say to himself ‘By that time I shall have had enough of bricks and ninepins. How weary Life will be!’ Yet, if we look forward through those thirty years, we find him a great statesman, full of interests and joys far more intense than his baby-life could give—joys wholly inconceivable to his baby-mind—joys such as no baby-language could in the faintest degree describe. Now, may not our life, a million years hence, have the same relation, to our life now, that the man’s life has to the child’s? And, just as one might try, all in vain, to express to that child, in the language of bricks and ninepins, the meaning of ‘politics,’ so perhaps all those descriptions of Heaven, with its music, and its feasts, and its streets of gold, may be only attempts to describe, in _our_ words, things for which we _really_ have no words at all. Don’t you think that, in _your_ picture of another life, you are in fact transplanting that child into political life, without making any allowance for his growing up?”

“I think I understand you,” said the Earl. “The music of Heaven _may_ be something beyond our powers of thought. Yet the music of Earth is sweet! Muriel, my child, sing us something before we go to bed!”

“Do,” said Arthur, as he rose and lit the candles on the cottage-piano, lately banished from the drawing-room to make room for a ‘semi-grand.’ “There is a song here, that I have never heard you sing.

 ‘Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
   Bird thou never wert,
 That from Heaven, or near it,
   Pourest thy full heart!’”

he read from the page he had spread open before her.

“And our little life here,” the Earl went on, “is, to that grand time, like a child’s summer-day! One gets tired as night draws on,” he added, with a touch of sadness in his voice, “and one gets to long for bed! For those welcome words ‘Come, child, ’tis bed-time!’”

                            CHAPTER XVII.
                            TO THE RESCUE!

“It _isn’t_ bed-time!” said a sleepy little voice. “The owls hasn’t gone to bed, and I s’a’n’t go to seep wizout oo sings to me!”

“Oh, Bruno!” cried Sylvie. “Don’t you know the owls have only just got up? But the _frogs_ have gone to bed, ages ago.”

“Well, _I_ aren’t a frog,” said Bruno.

“What shall I sing?” said Sylvie, skilfully avoiding the argument.

“Ask Mister Sir,” Bruno lazily replied, clasping his hands behind his curly head, and lying back on his fern-leaf, till it almost bent over with his weight. “This aren’t a comfable leaf, Sylvie. Find me a comfabler—please!” he added, as an after-thought, in obedience to a warning finger held up by Sylvie. “I doosn’t like being feet-upwards!”

It was a pretty sight to see—the motherly way in which the fairy-child gathered up her little brother in her arms, and laid him on a stronger leaf. She gave it just a touch to set it rocking, and it went on vigorously by itself, as if it contained some hidden machinery. It certainly wasn’t the wind, for the evening-breeze had quite died away again, and not a leaf was stirring over our heads.

“Why does that one leaf rock so, without the others?” I asked Sylvie. She only smiled sweetly and shook her head. “I don’t know _why_,” she said. “It always does, if it’s got a fairy-child on it. It _has_ to, you know.”

“And can people see the leaf rock, who ca’n’t see the Fairy on it?”

“Why, of course!” cried Sylvie. “A leaf’s a leaf, and everybody can see it; but Bruno’s Bruno, and they ca’n’t see _him_, unless they’re eerie, like you.”

Then I understood how it was that one sometimes sees—going through the woods in a still evening—one fern-leaf rocking steadily on, all by itself. Haven’t you ever seen that? Try if you can see the fairy-sleeper on it, next time; but don’t _pick_ the leaf, whatever you do; let the little one sleep on!

But all this time Bruno was getting sleepier and sleepier. “Sing, sing!” he murmured fretfully. Sylvie looked to me for instructions. “What shall it be?” she said.

“Could you sing him the nursery-song you once told me of?” I suggested. “The one that had been put through the mind-mangle, you know. ‘_The little man that had a little gun_,’ I think it was.”

“Why, that are one of the _Professor’s_ songs!” cried Bruno. “I likes the little man; and I likes the way they spinned him——like a teetle-totle-tum.” And he turned a loving look on the gentle old man who was sitting at the other side of his leaf-bed, and who instantly began to sing, accompanying himself on his Outlandish guitar, while the snail, on which he sat, waved its horns in time to the music.

[Illustration: BRUNO’S BED-TIME]

 In stature the Manlet was dwarfish——
   No burly big Blunderbore he:
 And he wearily gazed on the crawfish
   His Wifelet had dressed for his tea.
 “Now reach me, sweet Atom, my gunlet,
   And hurl the old shoelet for luck:
 Let me hie to the bank of the runlet,
             And shoot thee a Duck!”
 She has reached him his minikin gunlet:
   She has hurled the old shoelet for luck:
 She is busily baking a bunlet,
   To welcome him home with his Duck.
 On he speeds, never wasting a wordlet,
   Though thoughtlets cling, closely as wax,
 To the spot where the beautiful birdlet
               So quietly quacks.


 Where the Lobsterlet lurks, and the Crablet
   So slowly and sleepily crawls:
 Where the Dolphin’s at home, and the Dablet
   Pays long ceremonious calls:
 Where the Grublet is sought by the Froglet:
   Where the Frog is pursued by the Duck:
 Where the Ducklet is chased by the Doglet——
             So runs the world’s luck!

[Illustration: THE VOICES]

 He has loaded with bullet and powder:
   His footfall is noiseless as air:
 But the Voices grow louder and louder,
   And bellow, and bluster, and blare.
 They bristle before him and after,
   They flutter above and below,
 Shrill shriekings of lubberly laughter,
               Weird wailings of woe!
 They echo without him, within him:
   They thrill through his whiskers and beard:
 Like a teetotum seeming to spin him,
   With sneers never hitherto sneered.
 “Avengement,” they cry, “on our Foelet!
   Let the Manikin weep for our wrongs!
 Let us drench him, from toplet to toelet,
             With Nursery-Songs!


 “He shall muse upon ‘Hey! Diddle! Diddle!’
   On the Cow that surmounted the Moon:
 He shall rave of the Cat and the Fiddle,
   And the Dish that eloped with the Spoon:
 And his soul shall be sad for the Spider,
   When Miss Muffet was sipping her whey,
 That so tenderly sat down beside her,
               And scared her away!
 “The music of Midsummer-madness
   Shall sting him with many a bite,
 Till, in rapture of rollicking sadness,
   He shall groan with a gloomy delight:
 He shall swathe him, like mists of the morning,
   In platitudes luscious and limp,
 Such as deck, with a deathless adorning,
             The Song of the Shrimp!
 “When the Ducklet’s dark doom is decided,
   We will trundle him home in a trice:
 And the banquet, so plainly provided,
   Shall round into rose-buds and rice:
 In a blaze of pragmatic invention
   He shall wrestle with Fate, and shall reign:
 But he has not a friend fit to mention,
             So hit him again!”
 He has shot it, the delicate darling!
   And the Voices have ceased from their strife:
 Not a whisper of sneering or snarling;
   As he carries it home to his wife:
 Then, cheerily champing the bunlet
   His spouse was so skilful to bake,
 He hies him once more to the runlet,
             To fetch her the Drake!

“He’s sound asleep now,” said Sylvie, carefully tucking in the edge of a violet-leaf, which she had been spreading over him as a sort of blanket: “good night!”

“Good night!” I echoed.

“You may well say ‘good night’!” laughed Lady Muriel, rising and shutting up the piano as she spoke. “When you’ve been nid—nid—nodding all the time I’ve been singing for your benefit! What was it all about, now?” she demanded imperiously.

“Something about a duck?” I hazarded. “Well, a bird of some kind?” I corrected myself, perceiving at once that _that_ guess was wrong, at any rate.

“_Something about a bird of some kind!_” Lady Muriel repeated, with as much withering scorn as her sweet face was capable of conveying. “And that’s the way he speaks of Shelley’s Sky-Lark, is it? When the Poet particularly says ‘_Hail to thee, blithe spirit!_ Bird _thou never wert_!’”


She led the way to the smoking-room, where, ignoring all the usages of Society and all the instincts of Chivalry, the three Lords of the Creation reposed at their ease in low rocking-chairs, and permitted the one lady who was present to glide gracefully about among us, supplying our wants in the form of cooling drinks, cigarettes, and lights. Nay, it was only _one_ of the three who had the chivalry to go beyond the common-place “thank you,” and to quote the Poet’s exquisite description of how Geraint, when waited on by Enid, was moved

 “To stoop and kiss the tender little thumb
 That crossed the platter as she laid it down,”

and to suit the action to the word—an audacious liberty for which, I feel bound to report, he was _not_ duly reprimanded.

As no topic of conversation seemed to occur to any one, and as we were, all four, on those delightful terms with one another (the only terms, I think, on which any friendship, that deserves the name of _intimacy_, can be maintained) which involve no sort of necessity for _speaking_ for mere speaking’s sake, we sat in silence for some minutes.

At length I broke the silence by asking “Is there any fresh news from the harbour about the Fever?”

“None since this morning,” the Earl said, looking very grave. “But that was alarming enough. The Fever is spreading fast: the London doctor has taken fright and left the place, and the only one now available isn’t a regular doctor at all: he is apothecary, and doctor, and dentist, and I don’t know what other trades, all in one. It’s a bad outlook for those poor fishermen—and a worse one for all the women and children.”

“How many are there of them altogether?” Arthur asked.

“There were nearly one hundred, a week ago.” said the Earl: “but there have been twenty or thirty deaths since then.”

“And what religious ministrations are there to be had?”

“There are three brave men down there,” the Earl replied, his voice trembling with emotion, “gallant heroes as ever won the Victoria Cross! I am certain that no one of the three will ever leave the place merely to save his own life. There’s the Curate: his wife is with him: they have no children. Then there’s the Roman Catholic Priest. And there’s the Wesleyan Minister. They go amongst their own flocks, mostly; but I’m told that those who are dying like to have _any_ of the three with them. How slight the barriers seem to be that part Christian from Christian, when one has to deal with the great facts of Life and the reality of Death!”

“So it must be, and so it should be——” Arthur was beginning, when the front-door bell rang, suddenly and violently.

We heard the front-door hastily opened, and voices outside: then a knock at the door of the smoking-room, and the old house-keeper appeared, looking a little scared.

“Two persons, my Lord, to speak with Dr. Forester.”

Arthur stepped outside at once, and we heard his cheery “Well, my men?” but the answer was less audible, the only words I could distinctly catch being “ten since morning, and two more just——”

“But there _is_ a doctor there?” we heard Arthur say: and a deep voice, that we had not heard before, replied “Dead, Sir. Died three hours ago.”

Lady Muriel shuddered, and hid her face in her hands: but at this moment the front-door was quietly closed, and we heard no more.

For a few minutes we sat quite silent: then the Earl left the room, and soon returned to tell us that Arthur had gone away with the two fishermen, leaving word that he would be back in about an hour. And, true enough, at the end of that interval—during which very little was said, none of us seeming to have the heart to talk—the front-door once more creaked on its rusty hinges, and a step was heard in the passage, hardly to be recognised as Arthur’s, so slow and uncertain was it, like a blind man feeling his way.

He came in, and stood before Lady Muriel, resting one hand heavily on the table, and with a strange look in his eyes, as if he were walking in his sleep.

“Muriel—my love——” he paused, and his lips quivered: but after a minute he went on more steadily. “Muriel—my darling—they—_want_ me—down in the harbour.”

“_Must_ you go?” she pleaded, rising and laying her hands on his shoulders, and looking up into his face with her great eyes brimming over with tears. “Must _you_ go, Arthur? It may mean—death!”

He met her gaze without flinching. “It _does_ mean death,” he said, in a husky whisper: “but—darling—I am _called_. And even my life itself——” His voice failed him, and he said no more.

For a minute she stood quite silent, looking upwards with a helpless gaze, as if even prayer were now useless, while her features worked and quivered with the great agony she was enduring. Then a sudden inspiration seemed to come upon her and light up her face with a strange sweet smile. “_Your_ life?” she repeated. “It is not _yours_ to give!”

Arthur had recovered himself by this time, and could reply quite firmly, “That is true,” he said. “It is not _mine_ to give. It is _yours_, now, my—wife that is to be! And you—do _you_ forbid me to go? Will you not spare me, my own beloved one?”

Still clinging to him, she laid her head softly on his breast. She had never done such a thing in my presence before, and I knew how deeply she must be moved. “I _will_ spare you,” she said, calmly and quietly, “to God.”

“And to God’s poor,” he whispered.

“And to God’s poor,” she added. “When must it be, sweet love?”

[Illustration: ‘WILL YOU NOT SPARE ME?’]

“To-morrow morning,” he replied. “And I have much to do before then.”

And then he told us how he had spent his hour of absence. He had been to the Vicarage, and had arranged for the wedding to take place at eight the next morning (there was no legal obstacle, as he had, some time before this, obtained a Special License) in the little church we knew so well. “My old friend here,” indicating me, “will act as ‘Best Man,’ I know: your father will be there to give you away: and—and—you will dispense with bride’s-maids, my darling?”

She nodded: no words came.

“And then I can go with a willing heart—to do God’s work—knowing that we are _one_—and that we are together in _spirit_, though not in bodily presence—and are most of all together when we pray! Our _prayers_ will go up together——”

“Yes, yes!” sobbed Lady Muriel. “But you must not stay longer now, my darling! Go home and take some rest. You will need all your strength to-morrow——”

“Well, I will go,” said Arthur. “We will be here in good time to-morrow. Good night, my own own darling!”

I followed his example, and we two left the house together. As we walked back to our lodgings, Arthur sighed deeply once or twice, and seemed about to speak—but no words came, till we had entered the house, and had lit our candles, and were at our bedroom-doors. Then Arthur said “Good night, old fellow! God bless you!”

“God bless you!” I echoed, from the very depths of my heart.

We were back again at the Hall by eight in the morning, and found Lady Muriel and the Earl, and the old Vicar, waiting for us. It was a strangely sad and silent party that walked up to the little church and back; and I could not help feeling that it was much more like a funeral than a wedding: to Lady Muriel it _was_ in fact, a funeral rather than a wedding, so heavily did the presentiment weigh upon her (as she told us afterwards) that her newly-won husband was going forth to his death.

Then we had breakfast; and, all too soon, the vehicle was at the door, which was to convey Arthur, first to his lodgings, to pick up the things he was taking with him, and then as far towards the death-stricken hamlet as it was considered safe to go. One or two of the fishermen were to meet him on the road, to carry his things the rest of the way.

“And are you quite sure you are taking all that you will need?” Lady Muriel asked.

“All that I shall need as a _doctor_, certainly. And my own personal needs are few: I shall not even take any of my own wardrobe—there is a fisherman’s suit, ready-made, that is waiting for me at my lodgings. I shall only take my watch, and a few books, and—stay—there _is_ one book I should like to add, a pocket-Testament—to use at the bedsides of the sick and dying——”

“Take mine!” said Lady Muriel: and she ran upstairs to fetch it. “It has nothing written in it but ‘Muriel,’” she said as she returned with it: “shall I inscribe——”

“No, my own one,” said Arthur, taking it from her. “What _could_ you inscribe better than that? Could any human name mark it more clearly as my own individual property? Are _you_ not mine? Are you not,” (with all the old playfulness of manner) “as Bruno would say, ‘my _very mine_’?”

He bade a long and loving adieu to the Earl and to me, and left the room, accompanied only by his wife, who was bearing up bravely, and was—_outwardly_, at least—less overcome than her old father. We waited in the room a minute or two, till the sound of wheels had told us that Arthur had driven away; and even then we waited still, for the step of Lady Muriel, going upstairs to her room, to die away in the distance. Her step, usually so light and joyous, now sounded slow and weary, like one who plods on under a load of hopeless misery; and I felt almost as hopeless, and almost as wretched, as she. “Are we four destined _ever_ to meet again, on this side the grave?” I asked myself, as I walked to my home. And the tolling of a distant bell seemed to answer me, “No! No! No!”

                            CHAPTER XVIII.
                         A NEWSPAPER-CUTTING.


_Our readers will have followed with painful interest, the accounts we have from time to time published of the terrible epidemic which has, during the last two months, carried off most of the inhabitants of the little fishing-harbour adjoining the village of Elveston. The last survivors, numbering twenty-three only, out of a population which, three short months ago, exceeded one hundred and twenty, were removed on Wednesday last, under the authority of the Local Board, and safely lodged in the County Hospital: and the place is now veritably ‘a city of the dead,’ without a single human voice to break its silence._

_The rescuing party consisted of six sturdy fellows—fishermen from the neighbourhood—directed by the resident Physician of the Hospital, who came over for that purpose, heading a train of hospital-ambulances. The six men had been selected—from a much larger number who had volunteered for this peaceful ‘forlorn hope’—for their strength and robust health, as the expedition was considered to be, even now, when the malady has expended its chief force, not unattended with danger._

_Every precaution that science could suggest, against the risk of infection, was adopted: and the sufferers were tenderly carried on litters, one by one, up the steep hill, and placed in the ambulances which, each provided with a hospital nurse, were waiting on the level road. The fifteen miles, to the Hospital, were done at a walking-pace, as some of the patients were in too prostrate a condition to bear jolting, and the journey occupied the whole afternoon._

_The twenty-three patients consist of nine men, six women, and eight children. It has not been found possible to identify them all, as some of the children—left with no surviving relatives—are infants; and two men and one woman are not yet able to make rational replies, the brain-powers being entirely in abeyance. Among a more well-to-do-race, there would no doubt have been names marked on the clothes; but here no such evidence is forthcoming._

_Besides the poor fishermen and their families, there were but five persons to be accounted for: and it was ascertained, beyond a doubt, that all five are numbered with the dead. It is a melancholy pleasure to place on record the names of these genuine martyrs—than whom none, surely, are more worthy to be entered on the glory-roll of England’s heroes! They are as follows:—_

_The Rev. James Burgess, M.A., and Emma his wife. He was the Curate at the Harbour, not thirty years old, and had been married only two years. A written record was found in their house, of the dates of their deaths._

_Next to theirs we will place the honoured name of Dr. Arthur Forester, who, on the death of the local physician, nobly faced the imminent peril of death, rather than leave these poor folk uncared for in their last extremity. No record of his name, or of the date of his death, was found: but the corpse was easily identified, although dressed in the ordinary fisherman’s suit (which he was known to have adopted when he went down there), by a copy of the New Testament, the gift of his wife, which was found, placed next his heart, with his hands crossed over it. It was not thought prudent to remove the body, for burial elsewhere: and accordingly it was at once committed to the ground, along with four others found in different houses, with all due reverence. His wife, whose maiden name was Lady Muriel Orme, had been married to him on the very morning on which he undertook his self-sacrificing mission._

_Next we record the Rev. Walter Saunders, Wesleyan Minister. His death is believed to have taken place two or three weeks ago, as the words ‘Died October 5’ were found written on the wall of the room which he is known to have occupied—the house being shut up, and apparently not having been entered for some time._

_Last—though not a whit behind the other four in glorious self-denial and devotion to duty—let us record the name of Father Francis, a young Jesuit Priest who had been only a few months in the place. He had not been dead many hours when the exploring party came upon the body, which was identified, beyond the possibility of doubt, by the dress, and by the crucifix which was, like the young Doctor’s Testament, clasped closely to his heart._

_Since reaching the hospital, two of the men and one of the children have died. Hope is entertained for all the others: though there are two or three cases where the vital powers seem to be so entirely exhausted that it is but ‘hoping against hope’ to regard ultimate recovery as even possible._

                             CHAPTER XIX.
                            A FAIRY-DUET.

The year—what an eventful year it had been for me!—was drawing to a close, and the brief wintry day hardly gave light enough to recognise the old familiar objects, bound up with so many happy memories, as the train glided round the last bend into the station, and the hoarse cry of “Elveston! Elveston!” resounded along the platform.

It was sad to return to the place, and to feel that I should never again see the glad smile of welcome, that had awaited me here so few months ago. “And yet, if I were to find him here,” I muttered, as in solitary state I followed the porter, who was wheeling my luggage on a barrow, “and if he _were_ to ‘_strike a sudden hand in mine, And ask a thousand things of home_,’ I should not—no, ‘_I should not feel it to be strange_’!”

Having given directions to have my luggage taken to my old lodgings, I strolled off alone, to pay a visit, before settling down in my own quarters, to my dear old friends—for such I indeed felt them to be, though it was barely half a year since first we met—the Earl and his widowed daughter.

The shortest way, as I well remembered, was to cross through the churchyard. I pushed open the little wicket-gate and slowly took my way among the solemn memorials of the quiet dead, thinking of the many who had, during the past year, disappeared from the place, and had gone to ‘join the majority.’ A very few steps brought me in sight of the object of my search. Lady Muriel, dressed in the deepest mourning, her face hidden by a long crape veil, was kneeling before a little marble cross, round which she was fastening a wreath of flowers.

The cross stood on a piece of level turf, unbroken by any mound, and I knew that it was simply a memorial-cross, for one whose dust reposed elsewhere, even before reading the simple inscription:—

                        _In loving Memory of_
                        ARTHUR FORESTER, M.D.
             _whose mortal remains lie buried by the sea:
            whose spirit has returned to God who gave it_.
              _“Greater love hath no man than this, that
              a man lay down his life for his friends.”_

She threw back her veil on seeing me approach, and came forwards to meet me, with a quiet smile, and far more self-possessed than I could have expected.

“It is quite like old times, seeing _you_ here again!” she said, in tones of genuine pleasure. “Have you been to see my father?”

“No,” I said: “I was on my way there, and came through here as the shortest way. I hope he is well, and you also?”

“Thanks, we are both quite well. And you? Are you any better yet?”

“Not much better, I fear: but no worse, I am thankful to say.”

“Let us sit here awhile, and have a quiet chat,” she said. The calmness—almost indifference—of her manner quite took me by surprise. I little guessed what a fierce restraint she was putting upon herself.

“One can be so quiet here,” she resumed. “I come here every—every day.”

“It is very peaceful,” I said.

“You got my letter?”

“Yes, but I delayed writing. It is so hard to say—on _paper_—”

“I know. It was kind of you. You were with us when we saw the last of——” She paused a moment, and went on more hurriedly. “I went down to the harbour several times, but no one knows which of those vast graves it is. However, they showed me the house he died in: that was some comfort. I stood in the very room where—where——.” She struggled in vain to go on. The flood-gates had given way at last, and the outburst of grief was the most terrible I had ever witnessed. Totally regardless of my presence, she flung herself down on the turf, burying her face in the grass, and with her hands clasped round the little marble cross, “Oh, my darling, my darling!” she sobbed. “And God meant your life to be so beautiful!”

[Illustration: IN THE CHURCH-YARD]

I was startled to hear, thus repeated by Lady Muriel, the very words of the darling child whom I had seen weeping so bitterly over the dead hare. Had some mysterious influence passed, from that sweet fairy-spirit, ere she went back to Fairyland, into the human spirit that loved her so dearly? The idea seemed too wild for belief. And yet, are there not ‘_more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy_’?

“God _meant_ it to be beautiful,” I whispered, “and surely it _was_ beautiful? God’s purpose never fails!” I dared say no more, but rose and left her. At the entrance-gate to the Earl’s house I waited, leaning on the gate and watching the sun set, revolving many memories—some happy, some sorrowful—until Lady Muriel joined me.

She was quite calm again now. “Do come in,” she said. “My father will be so pleased to see you!”

The old man rose from his chair, with a smile, to welcome me; but his self-command was far less than his daughter’s, and the tears coursed down his face as he grasped both my hands in his, and pressed them warmly.

My heart was too full to speak; and we all sat silent for a minute or two. Then Lady Muriel rang the bell for tea. “You _do_ take five o’clock tea, I know!” she said to me, with the sweet playfulness of manner I remembered so well, “even though you _ca’n’t_ work your wicked will on the Law of Gravity, and make the teacups descend into Infinite Space, a little faster than the tea!”

This remark gave the tone to our conversation. By a tacit mutual consent, we avoided, during this our first meeting after her great sorrow, the painful topics that filled our thoughts, and talked like light-hearted children who had never known a care.

“Did you ever ask yourself the question,” Lady Muriel began, _à propos_ of nothing, “what is the _chief_ advantage of being a Man instead of a Dog?”

“No, indeed,” I said: “but I think there are advantages on the _Dog’s_ side of the question, as well.”

“No doubt,” she replied, with that pretty mock-gravity that became her so well: “but, on _Man’s_ side, the chief advantage seems to me to consist in _having pockets_! It was borne in upon me—upon _us_, I should say; for my father and I were returning from a walk—only yesterday. We met a dog carrying home a bone. What it wanted it for, I’ve no idea: certainly there was no _meat_ on it——”

A strange sensation came over me, that I had heard all this, or something exactly like it, before: and I almost expected her next words to be “perhaps he meant to make a cloak for the winter?” However what she really said was “and my father tried to account for it by some wretched joke about _pro bono publico_. Well, the dog laid down the bone—_not_ in disgust with the pun, which would have shown it to be a dog of taste—but simply to rest its jaws, poor thing! I _did_ pity it so! Won’t you join my _Charitable Association for supplying dogs with pockets_? How would _you_ like to have to carry your walking-stick in your mouth?”

Ignoring the difficult question as to the _raison d’être_ of a walking-stick, supposing one had no _hands_, I mentioned a curious instance, I had once witnessed, of reasoning by a dog. A gentleman, with a lady, and child, and a large dog, were down at the end of a pier on which I was walking. To amuse his child, I suppose, the gentleman put down on the ground his umbrella and the lady’s parasol, and then led the way to the other end of the pier, from which he sent the dog back for the deserted articles. I was watching with some curiosity. The dog came racing back to where I stood, but found an unexpected difficulty in picking up the things it had come for. With the umbrella in its mouth, its jaws were so far apart that it could get no firm grip on the parasol. After two or three failures, it paused and considered the matter.

Then it put down the umbrella and began with the parasol. Of course that didn’t open its jaws nearly so wide, and it was able to get a good hold of the umbrella, and galloped off in triumph. One couldn’t doubt that it had gone through a real train of logical thought.

“I entirely agree with you,” said Lady Muriel: “but don’t orthodox writers condemn that view, as putting Man on the level of the lower animals? Don’t they draw a sharp boundary-line between Reason and Instinct?”

“That certainly _was_ the orthodox view, a generation ago,” said the Earl. “The truth of Religion seemed ready to stand or fall with the assertion that Man was the only reasoning animal. But that is at an end now. Man can still claim _certain_ monopolies—for instance, such a use of _language_ as enables us to utilise the work of many, by ‘division of labour.’ But the belief, that we have a monopoly of _Reason_, has long been swept away. Yet no catastrophe has followed. As some old poet says, ‘_God is where he was_.’”

“Most religious believers would _now_ agree with Bishop Butler,” said I, “and not reject a line of argument, even if it led straight to the conclusion that animals have some kind of _soul_, which survives their bodily death.”

“I _would_ like to know _that_ to be true!” Lady Muriel exclaimed. “If only for the sake of the poor horses. Sometimes I’ve thought that, if anything _could_ make me cease to believe in a God of perfect justice, it would be the sufferings of horses—without guilt to deserve it, and without any compensation!”

“It is only part of the great Riddle,” said the Earl, “why innocent beings _ever_ suffer. It _is_ a great strain on Faith—but not a _breaking_ strain, I think.”

“The sufferings of _horses_,” I said, “are chiefly caused by _Man’s_ cruelty. So _that_ is merely one of the many instances of Sin causing suffering to others than the Sinner himself. But don’t you find a _greater_ difficulty in sufferings inflicted by animals upon each other? For instance, a cat playing with a mouse. Assuming it to have no _moral_ responsibility, isn’t that a greater mystery than a man over-driving a horse?”

“I think it _is_,” said Lady Muriel, looking a mute appeal to her father.

“What right have we to make that assumption?” said the Earl. “_Many_ of our religious difficulties are merely deductions from unwarranted assumptions. The wisest answer to most of them, is, I think, ‘_behold, we know not anything_.’”

“You mentioned ‘division of labour,’ just now,” I said. “Surely it is carried to a wonderful perfection in a hive of bees?”

“So wonderful—so entirely super-human—” said the Earl, “and so entirely inconsistent with the intelligence they show in other ways—that I feel no doubt at all that it is _pure_ Instinct, and _not_, as some hold, a very high order of Reason. Look at the utter stupidity of a bee, trying to find its way out of an open window! It _doesn’t_ try, in any reasonable sense of the word: it simply bangs itself about! We should call a puppy _imbecile_, that behaved so. And yet we are asked to believe that its intellectual level is above Sir Isaac Newton!”

“Then you hold that _pure_ Instinct contains no _Reason_ at all?”

“On the contrary,” said the Earl, “I hold that the work of a bee-hive involves Reason of the _highest_ order. But none of it is done by the _Bee_. _God_ has reasoned it all out, and has put into the mind of the Bee the _conclusions_, only, of the reasoning process.”

“But how do their minds come to work _together_?” I asked.

“What right have we to assume that they _have_ minds?”

“Special pleading, special pleading!” Lady Muriel cried, in a most unfilial tone of triumph. “Why, you yourself said, just now, ‘the mind of the Bee’!”

“But I did _not_ say ‘_minds_,’ my child,” the Earl gently replied. “It has occurred to me, as the most probable solution of the ‘Bee’-mystery, that a swarm of Bees _have only one mind among them_. We often see one mind animating a most complex collection of limbs and organs, _when joined together_. How do we know that any material connection is necessary? May not mere neighbourhood be enough? If so, a swarm of bees is simply a single animal whose many limbs are not quite close together!”

“It is a bewildering thought,” I said, “and needs a night’s rest to grasp it properly. Reason and Instinct _both_ tell me I ought to go home. So, good-night!”

“I’ll ‘set’ you part of the way,” said Lady Muriel. “I’ve had no walk to-day. It will do me good, and I have more to say to you. Shall we go through the wood? It will be pleasanter than over the common, even though it _is_ getting a little dark.”

We turned aside into the shade of interlacing boughs, which formed an architecture of almost perfect symmetry, grouped into lovely groined arches, or running out, far as the eye could follow, into endless aisles, and chancels, and naves, like some ghostly cathedral, fashioned out of the dream of a moon-struck poet.

“Always, in this wood,” she began after a pause (silence seemed natural in this dim solitude), “I begin thinking of Fairies! May I ask you a question?” she added hesitatingly. “Do you believe in Fairies?”

The momentary impulse was so strong to tell her of my experiences in this very wood, that I had to make a real effort to keep back the words that rushed to my lips. “If you mean, by ‘believe,’ ‘believe in their _possible_ existence,’ I say ‘Yes.’ For their _actual_ existence, of course, one would need _evidence_.”

“You were saying, the other day,” she went on, “that you would accept _anything_, on good evidence, that was not _à priori_ impossible. And I think you named _Ghosts_ as an instance of a _provable_ phenomenon. Would _Fairies_ be another instance?”

“Yes, I think so.” And again it was hard to check the wish to say more: but I was not yet sure of a sympathetic listener.

“And have you any theory as to what sort of place they would occupy in Creation? Do tell me what you think about them! Would they, for instance (supposing such beings to exist), would they have any moral responsibility? I mean” (and the light bantering tone suddenly changed to one of deep seriousness) “would they be capable of _sin_?”

“They can reason—on a lower level, perhaps, than men and women—never rising, I think, above the faculties of a child; and they have a moral sense, most surely. Such a being, without _free will_, would be an absurdity. So I am driven to the conclusion that they _are_ capable of sin.”

“You believe in them?” she cried delightedly, with a sudden motion as if about to clap her hands. “Now tell me, have you any reason for it?”

And still I strove to keep back the revelation I felt sure was coming. “I believe that there is _life_ everywhere—not _material_ only, not merely what is palpable to our senses—but immaterial and invisible as well. We believe in our own immaterial essence—call it ‘soul,’ or ‘spirit,’ or what you will. Why should not other similar essences exist around us, _not_ linked on to a visible and _material_ body? Did not God make this swarm of happy insects, to dance in this sunbeam for one hour of bliss, for no other object, that we can imagine, than to swell the sum of conscious happiness? And where shall we dare to draw the line, and say ‘He has made all these and no more’?”

“Yes, yes!” she assented, watching me with sparkling eyes. “But these are only reasons for not _denying_. You have more reasons than this, have you not?”

“Well, yes,” I said, feeling I might safely tell all now. “And I could not find a fitter time or place to say it. I have _seen_ them—and in this very wood!”

Lady Muriel asked no more questions. Silently she paced at my side, with head bowed down and hands clasped tightly together. Only, as my tale went on, she drew a little short quick breath now and then, like a child panting with delight. And I told her what I had never yet breathed to any other listener, of my double life, and, more than that (for _mine_ might have been but a noonday-dream), of the double life of those two dear children.

And when I told her of Bruno’s wild gambols, she laughed merrily; and when I spoke of Sylvie’s sweetness and her utter unselfishness and trustful love, she drew a deep breath, like one who hears at last some precious tidings for which the heart has ached for a long while; and the happy tears chased one another down her cheeks.

“I have often longed to meet an angel,” she whispered, so low that I could hardly catch the words. “I’m _so_ glad I’ve seen Sylvie! My heart went out to the child the first moment that I saw her—— Listen!” she broke off suddenly. “That’s Sylvie singing! I’m sure of it! Don’t you know her voice?”

“I have heard _Bruno_ sing, more than once,” I said: “but I never heard Sylvie.”

“I have only heard her _once_,” said Lady Muriel. “It was that day when you brought us those mysterious flowers. The children had run out into the garden; and I saw Eric coming in that way, and went to the window to meet him: and Sylvie was singing, under the trees, a song I had never heard before. The words were something like ‘I think it is Love, I feel it is Love.’ Her voice sounded far away, like a dream, but it was beautiful beyond all words—as sweet as an infant’s first smile, or the first gleam of the white cliffs when one is coming _home_ after weary years—a voice that seemed to fill one’s whole being with peace and heavenly thoughts—— Listen!” she cried, breaking off again in her excitement. “That _is_ her voice, and that’s the very song!”

I could distinguish no words, but there was a dreamy sense of music in the air that seemed to grow ever louder and louder, as if coming nearer to us. We stood quite silent, and in another minute the two children appeared, coming straight towards us through an arched opening among the trees. Each had an arm round the other, and the setting sun shed a golden halo round their heads, like what one sees in pictures of saints. They were looking in our direction, but evidently did not see us, and I soon made out that Lady Muriel had for once passed into a condition familiar to _me_, that we were both of us ‘eerie,’ and that, though we could see the children so plainly, we were quite invisible to _them_.

[Illustration: A FAIRY-DUET]

The song ceased just as they came into sight: but, to my delight, Bruno instantly said “Let’s sing it all again, Sylvie! It _did_ sound so pretty!” And Sylvie replied “Very well. It’s _you_ to begin, you know.”

So Bruno began, in the sweet childish treble I knew so well:—

 “Say, what is the spell, when her fledgelings are cheeping,
   That lures the bird home to her nest?
 Or wakes the tired mother, whose infant is weeping,
   To cuddle and croon it to rest?
 What’s the magic that charms the glad babe in her arms,
   Till it cooes with the voice of the dove?”

And now ensued quite the strangest of all the strange experiences that marked the wonderful year whose history I am writing—the experience of _first_ hearing Sylvie’s voice in song. Her part was a very short one—only a few words—and she sang it timidly, and very low indeed, scarcely audibly, but the _sweetness_ of her voice was simply indescribable; I have never heard any earthly music like it.

 “’Tis a secret, and so let us whisper it low—
   And the name of the secret is Love!”

On me the first effect of her voice was a sudden sharp pang that seemed to pierce through one’s very heart. (I had felt such a pang only once before in my life, and it had been from _seeing_ what, at the moment, realised one’s idea of perfect beauty—it was in a London exhibition, where, in making my way through a crowd, I suddenly met, face to face, a child of quite unearthly beauty.) Then came a rush of burning tears to the eyes, as though one could weep one’s soul away for pure delight. And lastly there fell on me a sense of awe that was almost terror—some such feeling as Moses must have had when he heard the words “_Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground_.” The figures of the children became vague and shadowy, like glimmering meteors: while their voices rang together in exquisite harmony as they sang:—

     “For I think it is Love,
     For I feel it is Love,
 For I’m sure it is nothing but Love!”

By this time I could see them clearly once more. Bruno again sang by himself:—

 “Say, whence is the voice that, when anger is burning,
   Bids the whirl of the tempest to cease?
 That stirs the vexed soul with an aching—a yearning
   For the brotherly hand-grip of peace?
 Whence the music that fills all our being—that thrills
   Around us, beneath, and above?”

Sylvie sang more courageously, this time: the words seemed to carry her away, out of herself:—

 “’Tis a secret: none knows how it comes, how it goes:
   But the name of the secret is Love!”

And clear and strong the chorus rang out:—

     “For I think it is Love,
     For I feel it is Love,
 For I’m sure it is nothing but Love!”

Once more we heard Bruno’s delicate little voice alone:—

 “Say whose is the skill that paints valley and hill,
   Like a picture so fair to the sight?
 That flecks the green meadow with sunshine and shadow,
   Till the little lambs leap with delight?”

And again uprose that silvery voice, whose angelic sweetness I could hardly bear:—

 “’Tis a secret untold to hearts cruel and cold,
   Though ’tis sung, by the angels above,
 In notes that ring clear for the ears that can hear—
   And the name of the secret is Love!”

And then Bruno joined in again with

     “For I think it is Love,
     For I feel it is Love,
 For I’m sure it is nothing but Love!”

“That _are_ pretty!” the little fellow exclaimed, as the children passed us—so closely that we drew back a little to make room for them, and it seemed we had only to reach out a hand to touch them: but this we did not attempt.

“No use to try and stop them!” I said, as they passed away into the shadows. “Why, they could not even _see_ us!”

“No use at all,” Lady Muriel echoed with a sigh. “One would _like_ to meet them again, in living form! But I feel, somehow, _that_ can never be. They have passed out of _our_ lives!” She sighed again; and no more was said, till we came out into the main road, at a point near my lodgings.

“Well, I will leave you here,” she said. “I want to get back before dark: and I have a cottage-friend to visit, first. Good night, dear friend! Let us see you soon—and often!” she added, with an affectionate warmth that went to my very heart. “_For those are few we hold as dear!_”

“Good night!” I answered. “Tennyson said that of a worthier friend than me.”

“Tennyson didn’t know what he was talking about!” she saucily rejoined, with a touch of her old childish gaiety; and we parted.

                             CHAPTER XX.
                         GAMMON AND SPINACH.

My landlady’s welcome had an extra heartiness about it: and though, with a rare delicacy of feeling, she made no direct allusion to the friend whose companionship had done so much to brighten life for me, I felt sure that it was a kindly sympathy with my solitary state that made her so specially anxious to do all she could think of to ensure my comfort, and make me feel at home.

The lonely evening seemed long and tedious: yet I lingered on, watching the dying fire, and letting Fancy mould the red embers into the forms and faces belonging to bygone scenes. Now it seemed to be Bruno’s roguish smile that sparkled for a moment, and died away: now it was Sylvie’s rosy cheek: and now the Professor’s jolly round face, beaming with delight. “You’re welcome, my little ones!” he seemed to say. And then the red coal, which for the moment embodied the dear old Professor, began to wax dim, and with its dying lustre the words seemed to die away into silence. I seized the poker, and with an artful touch or two revived the waning glow, while Fancy—no coy minstrel she—sang me once again the magic strain I loved to hear.

“You’re welcome, little ones!” the cheery voice repeated. “I told them you were coming. Your rooms are all ready for you. And the Emperor and the Empress—well, I think they’re rather pleased than otherwise! In fact, Her Highness said ‘I hope they’ll be in time for the Banquet!’ Those were her very words, I assure you!”

“Will Uggug be at the Banquet?” Bruno asked. And both children looked uneasy at the dismal suggestion.

“Why, of course he will!” chuckled the Professor. “Why, it’s his _birthday_, don’t you know? And his health will be drunk, and all that sort of thing. What would the Banquet be without _him_?”

“Ever so much nicer,” said Bruno. But he said it in a _very_ low voice, and nobody but Sylvie heard him.

The Professor chuckled again. “It’ll be a jolly Banquet, now _you’ve_ come, my little man! I _am_ so glad to see you again!”

“I ’fraid we’ve been very long in coming,” Bruno politely remarked.

“Well, yes,” the Professor assented. “However, you’re very short now you’re come: that’s _some_ comfort.” And he went on to enumerate the plans for the day. “The Lecture comes first,” he said. “_That_ the Empress _insists_ on. She says people will eat so much at the Banquet, they’ll be too sleepy to attend to the Lecture afterwards—and perhaps she’s right. There’ll just be a little _refreshment_, when the people first arrive—as a kind of surprise for the Empress, you know. Ever since she’s been—well, not _quite_ so clever as she once was—we’ve found it desirable to concoct little surprises for her. _Then_ comes the Lecture——”

“What? The Lecture you were getting ready—ever so long ago?” Sylvie enquired.

“Yes—that’s the one,” the Professor rather reluctantly admitted. “It _has_ taken a goodish time to prepare. I’ve got so many other things to attend to. For instance, I’m Court-Physician. I have to keep all the Royal Servants in good health—and that reminds me!” he cried, ringing the bell in a great hurry. “This is Medicine-Day! We only give Medicine once a week. If we were to begin giving it every day, the bottles would _soon_ be empty!”

“But if they were ill on the _other_ days?” Sylvie suggested.

“What, ill on the wrong _day_!” exclaimed the Professor. “Oh, that would never do! A Servant would be dismissed _at once_, who was ill on the wrong day! This is the Medicine for _today_,” he went on, taking down a large jug from a shelf. “I mixed it, myself, first thing this morning. Taste it!” he said, holding out the jug to Bruno. “Dip in your finger, and taste it!”

Bruno did so, and made such an excruciatingly wry face that Sylvie exclaimed, in alarm, “Oh, Bruno, you mustn’t!”

“It’s welly extremely nasty!” Bruno said, as his face resumed its natural shape.

“Nasty?” said the Professor. “Why, of _course_ it is! What would Medicine be, if it wasn’t _nasty_?”

“Nice,” said Bruno.

“I was going to say—” the Professor faltered, rather taken aback by the promptness of Bruno’s reply, “—that _that_ would never do! Medicine _has_ to be nasty, you know. Be good enough to take this jug, down into the Servants’ Hall,” he said to the footman who answered the bell: “and tell them it’s their Medicine for _today_.”

“Which of them is to drink it?” the footman asked, as he carried off the jug.

“Oh, I’ve not settled _that_ yet!” the Professor briskly replied. “I’ll come and settle that, soon. Tell them not to begin, on any account, till I come! It’s really _wonderful_,” he said, turning to the children, “the success I’ve had in curing Diseases! Here are some of my memoranda.” He took down from the shelf a heap of little bits of paper, pinned together in twos and threes. “Just look at _this_ set, now. ‘_Under-Cook Number Thirteen recovered from Common Fever—Febris Communis_.’ And now see what’s pinned to it. ‘_Gave Under-Cook Number Thirteen a Double Dose of Medicine_.’ _That’s_ something to be proud of, _isn’t_ it?”

“But which happened _first_?” said Sylvie, looking very much puzzled.

The Professor examined the papers carefully. “They are not _dated_, I find,” he said with a slightly dejected air: “so I fear I ca’n’t tell you. But they _both_ happened: there’s no doubt of _that_. The _Medicine’s_ the great thing, you know. The _Diseases_ are much less important. You can keep a _Medicine_, for years and years: but nobody ever wants to keep a _Disease_! By the way, come and look at the platform. The Gardener asked me to come and see if it would do. We may as well go before it gets dark.”

“We’d like to, very much!” Sylvie replied. “Come, Bruno, put on your hat. Don’t keep the dear Professor waiting!”

“Ca’n’t find my hat!” the little fellow sadly replied. “I were rolling it about. And it’s rolled itself away!”

“Maybe it’s rolled in _there_,” Sylvie suggested, pointing to a dark recess, the door of which stood half open: and Bruno ran in to look. After a minute he came slowly out again, looking very grave, and carefully shut the cupboard-door after him.

“It aren’t in there,” he said, with such unusual solemnity, that Sylvie’s curiosity was roused.

“What _is_ in there, Bruno?”

“There’s cobwebs—and two spiders—” Bruno thoughtfully replied, checking off the catalogue on his fingers, “—and the cover of a picture-book—and a tortoise—and a dish of nuts—and an old man.”

“An old man!” cried the Professor, trotting across the room in great excitement. “Why, it must be the Other Professor, that’s been lost for ever so long!”


He opened the door of the cupboard wide: and there he was, the Other Professor, sitting in a chair, with a book on his knee, and in the act of helping himself to a nut from a dish, which he had taken down off a shelf just within his reach. He looked round at us, but said nothing till he had cracked and eaten the nut. Then he asked the old question. “Is the Lecture all ready?”

“It’ll begin in an hour,” the Professor said, evading the question. “First, we must have something to surprise the Empress. And then comes the Banquet——”

“The Banquet!” cried the Other Professor, springing up, and filling the room with a cloud of dust. “Then I’d better go and—and brush myself a little. What a state I’m in!”

“He _does_ want brushing!” the Professor said, with a critical air, “Here’s your hat, little man! I had put it on by mistake. I’d quite forgotten I had _one_ on, already. Let’s go and look at the platform.”

“And there’s that nice old Gardener singing still!” Bruno exclaimed in delight, as we went out into the garden. “I do believe he’s been singing that very song ever since we went away!”

“Why, of course he has!” replied the Professor. “It wouldn’t be the thing to leave off, you know.”

“Wouldn’t be _what_ thing?” said Bruno: but the Professor thought it best not to hear the question. “What are you doing with that hedgehog?” he shouted at the Gardener, whom they found standing upon one foot, singing softly to himself, and rolling a hedgehog up and down with the other foot.

“Well, I wanted fur to know what hedgehogs lives on: so I be a-keeping this here hedgehog—fur to see if it eats potatoes——”

“Much better keep a potato,” said the Professor; “and see if hedgehogs eat it!”

“That be the roight way, sure-ly!” the delighted Gardener exclaimed. “Be you come to see the platform?”

“Aye, aye!” the Professor cheerily replied. “And the children have come back, you see!”

The Gardener looked round at them with a grin. Then he led the way to the Pavilion; and as he went he sang:—

 “He looked again, and found it was
   A Double Rule of Three:
 ‘And all its Mystery,’ he said,
   ‘Is clear as day to me!’”

“You’ve been _months_ over that song,” said the Professor. “Isn’t it finished yet?”

“There be only one verse more,” the Gardener sadly replied. And, with tears streaming down his cheeks, he sang the last verse:—

 “He thought he saw an Argument
   That proved he was the Pope:
 He looked again, and found it was
   A Bar of Mottled Soap.
 ‘A fact so dread,’ he faintly said,
   ‘Extinguishes all hope!’”

Choking with sobs, the Gardener hastily stepped on a few yards ahead of the party, to conceal his emotion.

“Did _he_ see the Bar of Mottled Soap?” Sylvie enquired, as we followed.

“Oh, certainly!” said the Professor. “That song is his own history, you know.”

Tears of an ever-ready sympathy glittered in Bruno’s eyes. “I’s _welly_ sorry he isn’t the Pope!” he said. “Aren’t _you_ sorry, Sylvie?”

“Well—I hardly know,” Sylvie replied in the vaguest manner. “Would it make him any happier?” she asked the Professor.

“It wouldn’t make the _Pope_ any happier,” said the Professor. “Isn’t the platform _lovely_?” he asked, as we entered the Pavilion.

“I’ve put an extra beam under it!” said the Gardener, patting it affectionately as he spoke. “And now it’s that strong, as—as a mad elephant might dance upon it!”

“Thank you _very_ much!” the Professor heartily rejoined. “I don’t know that we shall exactly require—but it’s convenient to know.” And he led the children upon the platform, to explain the arrangements to them. “Here are three seats, you see, for the Emperor and the Empress and Prince Uggug. But there must be two more chairs here!” he said, looking down at the Gardener. “One for Lady Sylvie, and one for the smaller animal!”

“And may I help in the Lecture?” said Bruno. “I can do some conjuring-tricks.”

“Well, it’s not exactly a _conjuring_ lecture,” the Professor said, as he arranged some curious-looking machines on the table. “However, what can you do? Did you ever go through a table, for instance?”

“Often!” said Bruno. “_Haven’t_ I, Sylvie?”

The Professor was evidently surprised, though he tried not to show it. “This must be looked into,” he muttered to himself, taking out a note-book. “And first—what kind of table?”

“Tell him!” Bruno whispered to Sylvie, putting his arms round her neck.

“Tell him yourself,” said Sylvie.

“Ca’n’t,” said Bruno. “It’s a _bony_ word.”

“Nonsense!” laughed Sylvie. “You can say it well enough, if you only try. Come!”

“Muddle—” said Bruno. “That’s a bit of it.”

“_What_ does he say?” cried the bewildered Professor.

“He means the multiplication-table,” Sylvie explained.

The Professor looked annoyed, and shut up his note-book again. “Oh, that’s _quite_ another thing,” he said.

“It are ever so many other things,” said Bruno. “_Aren’t_ it, Sylvie?”

A loud blast of trumpets interrupted this conversation. “Why, the entertainment has _begun_!” the Professor exclaimed, as he hurried the children into the Reception-Saloon. “I had no idea it was so late!”

A small table, containing cake and wine, stood in a corner of the Saloon; and here we found the Emperor and Empress waiting for us. The rest of the Saloon had been cleared of furniture, to make room for the guests. I was much struck by the great change a few months had made in the faces of the Imperial Pair. A vacant stare was now the _Emperor’s_ usual expression; while over the face of the _Empress_ there flitted, ever and anon, a meaningless smile.

“So you’re come at last!” the Emperor sulkily remarked, as the Professor and the children took their places. It was evident that he was _very_ much out of temper: and we were not long in learning the cause of this. He did not consider the preparations, made for the Imperial party, to be such as suited their rank. “A common mahogany table!” he growled, pointing to it contemptuously with his thumb. “Why wasn’t it made of gold, I should like to know?”

“It would have taken a very long——” the Professor began, but the Emperor cut the sentence short.

“Then the cake! Ordinary plum! Why wasn’t it made of—of——” He broke off again. “Then the wine! Merely old Madeira! Why wasn’t it——? Then this chair! That’s worst of all. Why wasn’t it a throne? One _might_ excuse the other omissions, but I _ca’n’t_ get over the chair!”

“What _I_ ca’n’t get over,” said the Empress, in eager sympathy with her angry husband, “is the _table_!”

“Pooh!” said the Emperor.

“It is much to be regretted!” the Professor mildly replied, as soon as he had a chance of speaking. After a moment’s thought he strengthened the remark. “_Everything_,” he said, addressing Society in general, “is _very much_ to be regretted!”

A murmur of “Hear, hear!” rose from the crowded Saloon.

There was a rather awkward pause: the Professor evidently didn’t know how to begin. The Empress leant forwards, and whispered to him. “A few jokes, you know, Professor—just to put people at their ease!”

“True, true, Madam!” the Professor meekly replied. “This little boy——”

“_Please_ don’t make any jokes about _me_!” Bruno exclaimed, his eyes filling with tears.

“I won’t if you’d rather I didn’t,” said the kind-hearted Professor. “It was only something about a Ship’s Buoy: a harmless pun—but it doesn’t matter.” Here he turned to the crowd and addressed them in a loud voice. “Learn your A’s!” he shouted. “Your B’s! Your C’s! And your D’s! _Then_ you’ll be at your ease!”

There was a roar of laughter from all the assembly, and then a great deal of confused whispering. “_What_ was it he said? Something about bees, I fancy——.”

The Empress smiled in her meaningless way, and fanned herself. The poor Professor looked at her timidly: he was clearly at his wits’ end again, and hoping for another hint. The Empress whispered again.

“Some spinach, you know, Professor, as a surprise.”

The Professor beckoned to the Head-Cook, and said something to him in a low voice. Then the Head-Cook left the room, followed by all the other cooks.

“It’s difficult to get things started,” the Professor remarked to Bruno. “When once we get started, it’ll go on all right, you’ll see.”

“If oo want to startle people,” said Bruno, “oo should put live frogs on their backs.”

Here the cooks all came in again, in a procession, the Head-Cook coming last and carrying something, which the others tried to hide by waving flags all round it. “Nothing but flags, Your Imperial Highness! Nothing but flags!” he kept repeating, as he set it before her. Then all the flags were dropped in a moment, as the Head-Cook raised the cover from an enormous dish.


“What is it?” the Empress said faintly, as she put her spy-glass to her eye. “Why, it’s _Spinach_, I declare!”

“Her Imperial Highness is surprised,” the Professor explained to the attendants: and some of them clapped their hands. The Head-Cook made a low bow, and in doing so dropped a spoon on the table, as if by accident, just within reach of the Empress, who looked the other way and pretended not to see it.

“I _am_ surprised!” the Empress said to Bruno. “Aren’t you?”

“Not a bit,” said Bruno. “I heard——” but Sylvie put her hand over his mouth, and spoke for him. “He’s rather tired, I think. He wants the Lecture to begin.”

“I want the _supper_ to begin,” Bruno corrected her.

The Empress took up the spoon in an absent manner, and tried to balance it across the back of her hand, and in doing this she dropped it into the dish: and, when she took it out again, it was full of spinach. “How curious!” she said, and put it into her mouth. “It tastes just like _real_ spinach! I thought it was an imitation—but I do believe it’s real!” And she took another spoonful.

“It wo’n’t be real much longer,” said Bruno.

But the Empress had had enough spinach by this time, and somehow—I failed to notice the exact process—we all found ourselves in the Pavilion, and the Professor in the act of beginning the long-expected Lecture.

                             CHAPTER XXI.
                       THE PROFESSOR’S LECTURE.

“In Science—in fact, in most things—it is usually best _to begin at the beginning_. In _some_ things, of course, it’s better to begin at the _other_ end. For instance, if you wanted to paint a dog green, it _might_ be best to begin with the _tail_, as it doesn’t bite at _that_ end. And so——”

“May _I_ help oo?” Bruno interrupted.

“Help me to do _what_?” said the puzzled Professor, looking up for a moment, but keeping his finger on the book he was reading from, so as not to lose his place.

“To paint a dog green!” cried Bruno. “_Oo_ can begin wiz its _mouf_, and I’ll——”

“No, no!” said the Professor. “We haven’t got to the _Experiments_ yet. And so,” returning to his note-book, “I’ll give you the Axioms of Science. After that I shall exhibit some Specimens. Then I shall explain a Process or two. And I shall conclude with a few Experiments. An _Axiom_, you know, is a thing that you accept without contradiction. For instance, if I were to say ‘Here we are!’, that would be accepted without any contradiction, and it’s a nice sort of remark to _begin_ a conversation with. So it would be an _Axiom_. Or again, supposing I were to say ‘Here we are not!’ _that_ would be——”

“—a fib!” cried Bruno.

“Oh, _Bruno_!” said Sylvie in a warning whisper. “Of course it would be an _Axiom_, if the Professor said it!”

“—that would be accepted, if people were civil,” continued the Professor; “so it would be _another_ Axiom.”

“It _might_ be an Axledum,” Bruno said: “but it wouldn’t be _true_!”

“Ignorance of Axioms,” the Lecturer continued, “is a great drawback in life. It wastes so much time to have to say them over and over again. For instance, take the Axiom ‘_Nothing is greater than itself_’; that is, ‘_Nothing can contain itself_.’ How often you hear people say ‘He was so excited, he was quite unable to contain himself,’ Why, _of course_ he was unable! The _excitement_ had nothing to do with it!”

“I say, look here, you know!” said the Emperor, who was getting a little restless. “How many Axioms are you going to give us? At _this_ rate, we sha’n’t get to the _Experiments_ till to-morrow-week!”

“Oh, sooner than _that_, I assure you!” the Professor replied, looking up in alarm. “There are only,” (he referred to his notes again) “only _two_ more, that are really _necessary_.”

“Read ’em out, and get on to the _Specimens_,” grumbled the Emperor.

“The _First_ Axiom,” the Professor read out in a great hurry, “consists of these words, ‘_Whatever is, is_.’ And the Second consists of _these_ words, ‘_Whatever isn’t, isn’t_.’ We will now go on to the _Specimens_. The first tray contains Crystals and other Things.” He drew it towards him, and again referred to his note-book. “Some of the labels—owing to insufficient adhesion——” Here he stopped again, and carefully examined the page with his eyeglass. “I ca’n’t quite read the rest of the sentence,” he said at last, “but it _means_ that the labels have come loose, and the Things have got mixed——”

“Let _me_ stick ’em on again!” cried Bruno eagerly, and began licking them, like postage-stamps, and dabbing them down upon the Crystals and the other Things. But the Professor hastily moved the tray out of his reach. “They _might_ get fixed to the _wrong_ Specimens, you know!” he said.

“Oo shouldn’t have any _wrong_ peppermints in the tray!” Bruno boldly replied. “_Should_ he, Sylvie?”

But Sylvie only shook her head.

The Professor heard him not. He had taken up one of the bottles, and was carefully reading the label through his eye-glass. “Our first Specimen——” he announced, as he placed the bottle in front of the other Things, “is—that is, it is called——” here he took it up, and examined the label again, as if he thought it might have changed since he last saw it, “is called Aqua Pura—common water—the fluid that cheers——”

“Hip! Hip! Hip!” the Head-Cook began enthusiastically.

“—but _not_ inebriates!” the Professor went on quickly, but only just in time to check the “Hooroar!” which was beginning.

“Our second Specimen,” he went on, carefully opening a small jar, “is——” here he removed the lid, and a large beetle instantly darted out, and with an angry buzz went straight out of the Pavilion, “—is—or rather, I should say,” looking sadly into the empty jar, “it _was_—a curious kind of Blue Beetle. Did any one happen to remark—as it went past—three blue spots under each wing?”

Nobody had remarked them.

“Ah, well!” the Professor said with a sigh. “It’s a pity. Unless you remark that kind of thing _at the moment_, it’s very apt to get overlooked! The _next_ Specimen, at any rate, will not fly away! It is—in short, or perhaps, more correctly, at _length_—an _Elephant_. You will observe——.” Here he beckoned to the Gardener to come up on the platform, and with his help began putting together what looked like an enormous dog-kennel, with short tubes projecting out of it on both sides.

“But we’ve seen _Elephants_ before,” the Emperor grumbled.

“Yes, but not through a _Megaloscope_!” the Professor eagerly replied. “You know you can’t see a _Flea_, properly, without a _magnifying_-glass—what we call a _Microscope_. Well, just in the same way, you ca’n’t see an _Elephant_, properly, without a _minimifying_-glass. There’s one in each of these little tubes. And _this_ is a _Megaloscope_! The Gardener will now bring in the next Specimen. Please open _both_ curtains, down at the end there, and make way for the Elephant!”

There was a general rush to the sides of the Pavilion, and all eyes were turned to the open end, watching for the return of the Gardener, who had gone away singing “_He thought he saw an Elephant That practised on a Fife!_” There was silence for a minute: and then his harsh voice was heard again in the distance. “_He looked again_—come up, then! _He looked again, and found it was_—woa back! _and, found it was A letter from his_—make way there! He’s a-coming!”


And in marched, or waddled—it is hard to say which is the right word—an Elephant, on its hind-legs, and playing on an enormous fife which it held with its fore-feet.

The Professor hastily threw open a large door at the end of the Megaloscope, and the huge animal, at a signal from the Gardener, dropped the fife, and obediently trotted into the machine, the door of which was at once shut by the Professor. “The Specimen is now ready for observation!” he proclaimed. “It is exactly the size of the Common Mouse—_Mus Communis_!”

There was a general rush to the tubes, and the spectators watched with delight the minikin creature, as it playfully coiled its trunk round the Professor’s extended finger, finally taking its stand upon the palm of his hand, while he carefully lifted it out, and carried it off to exhibit to the Imperial party.

“Isn’t it a _darling_?” cried Bruno. “May I stroke it, please? I’ll touch it _welly_ gently!”

The Empress inspected it solemnly with her eye-glass. “It is very small,” she said in a deep voice. “Smaller than elephants usually are, I believe?”

The Professor gave a start of delighted surprise. “Why, that’s _true_!” he murmured to himself. Then louder, turning to the audience, “Her Imperial Highness has made a remark which is perfectly sensible!” And a wild cheer arose from that vast multitude.

“The next Specimen,” the Professor proclaimed, after carefully placing the little Elephant in the tray, among the Crystals and other Things, “is a _Flea_, which we will enlarge for the purposes of observation.” Taking a small pill-box from the tray, he advanced to the Megaloscope, and reversed all the tubes. “The Specimen is ready!” he cried, with his eye at one of the tubes, while he carefully emptied the pill-box through a little hole at the side. “It is now the size of the Common Horse—_Equus Communis_!”

There was another general rush, to look through the tubes, and the Pavilion rang with shouts of delight, through which the Professor’s anxious tones could scarcely be heard. “Keep the door of the Microscope _shut_!” he cried. “If the creature were to escape, _this size_, it would——” But the mischief was done. The door had swung open, and in another moment the Monster had got out, and was trampling down the terrified, shrieking spectators.

But the Professor’s presence of mind did not desert him. “Undraw those curtains!” he shouted. It was done. The Monster gathered its legs together, and in one tremendous bound vanished into the sky.

“Where _is_ it?” said the Emperor, rubbing his eyes.

“In the next Province, I fancy,” the Professor replied. “That jump would take it at _least_ five miles! The next thing is to explain a Process or two. But I find there is hardly room enough to operate—the smaller animal is rather in my way——”

“Who does he mean?” Bruno whispered to Sylvie.

“He means _you_!” Sylvie whispered back. “Hush!”

“Be kind enough to move—angularly—to _this_ corner,” the Professor said, addressing himself to Bruno.

Bruno hastily moved his chair in the direction indicated. “Did I move angrily enough?” he inquired. But the Professor was once more absorbed in his Lecture, which he was reading from his note-book.

“I will now explain the Process of—the name is blotted, I’m sorry to say. It will be illustrated by a number of—of——” here he examined the page for some time, and at last said “It seems to be either ‘Experiments’ or ‘Specimens’——”

“Let it be _Experiments_,” said the Emperor. “We’ve seen plenty of _Specimens_.”

“Certainly, certainly!” the Professor assented. “We will have some Experiments.”

“May _I_ do them?” Bruno eagerly asked.

“Oh dear no!” The Professor looked dismayed. “I really don’t know what would happen if _you_ did them!”

“Nor nobody doosn’t know what’ll happen if _oo_ doos them!” Bruno retorted.

“Our First Experiment requires a Machine. It has two knobs—only _two_—you can count them, if you like.”

The Head-Cook stepped forwards, counted them, and retired satisfied.

“Now you _might_ press those two knobs together—but that’s not the way to do it. Or you _might_ turn the Machine upside-down—but _that’s_ not the way to do it!”

“What _are_ the way to do it?” said Bruno, who was listening very attentively.

The Professor smiled benignantly. “Ah, yes!” he said, in a voice like the heading of a chapter. “The Way To Do It! Permit me!” and in a moment he had whisked Bruno upon the table. “I divide my subject,” he began, “into three parts——”

“I think I’ll get down!” Bruno whispered to Sylvie. “It aren’t nice to be divided!”

“He hasn’t got a knife, silly boy!” Sylvie whispered in reply. “Stand still! You’ll break all the bottles!”

“The first part is to take hold of the knobs,” putting them into Bruno’s hands. “The second part is——” Here he turned the handle, and, with a loud “Oh!”, Bruno dropped both the knobs, and began rubbing his elbows.

The Professor chuckled in delight. “It had a sensible effect. _Hadn’t_ it?” he enquired.

“No, it hadn’t a _sensible_ effect!” Bruno said indignantly. “It were very silly indeed. It jingled my elbows, and it banged my back, and it crinkled my hair, and it buzzed among my bones!”

“I’m sure it _didn’t_!” said Sylvie. “You’re only inventing!”

“Oo doosn’t know nuffin about it!” Bruno replied. “Oo wasn’t there to see. Nobody ca’n’t go among my bones. There isn’t room!”

“Our Second Experiment,” the Professor announced, as Bruno returned to his place, still thoughtfully rubbing his elbows, “is the production of that seldom-seen-but-greatly-to-be-admired phenomenon, Black Light! You have seen White Light, Red Light, Green Light, and so on: but never, till this wonderful day, have any eyes but mine seen _Black Light_! This box,” carefully lifting it upon the table, and covering it with a heap of blankets, “is quite full of it. The way I made it was this—I took a lighted candle into a dark cupboard and shut the door. Of course the cupboard was then full of _Yellow_ Light. Then I took a bottle of Black ink, and poured it over the candle: and, to my delight, every atom of the Yellow Light turned _Black_! That was indeed the proudest moment of my life! Then I filled a box with it. And now—would any one like to get under the blankets and see it?”

Dead silence followed this appeal: but at last Bruno said “_I’ll_ get under, if it won’t jingle my elbows.”

Satisfied on this point, Bruno crawled under the blankets, and, after a minute or two, crawled out again, very hot and dusty, and with his hair in the wildest confusion.

“What did you see in the box?” Sylvie eagerly enquired.

“I saw _nuffin_!” Bruno sadly replied. “It were too dark!”

“He has described the appearance of the thing exactly!” the Professor exclaimed with enthusiasm. “Black Light, and Nothing, look so extremely alike, at first sight, that I don’t wonder he failed to distinguish them! We will now proceed to the Third Experiment.”

The Professor came down, and led the way to where a post had been driven firmly into the ground. To one side of the post was fastened a chain, with an iron weight hooked on to the end of it, and from the other side projected a piece of whalebone, with a ring at the end of it. “This is a _most_ interesting Experiment!” the Professor announced. “It will need _time_, I’m afraid: but that is a trifling disadvantage. Now observe. If I were to unhook this weight, and let go, it would fall to the ground. You do not deny _that_?”

Nobody denied it.

“And in the same way, if I were to bend this piece of whalebone round the post—thus—and put the ring over this hook—thus—it stays bent: but, if I unhook it, it straightens itself again. You do not deny _that_?”

Again, nobody denied it.

“Well, now, suppose we left things just as they are, for a long time. The force of the _whalebone_ would get exhausted, you know, and it would stay bent, even when you unhooked it. Now, _why_ shouldn’t the same thing happen with the _weight_? The _whalebone_ gets so used to being bent, that it ca’n’t _straighten_ itself any more. Why shouldn’t the _weight_ get so used to being held up, that it ca’n’t _fall_ any more? That’s what _I_ want to know!”

“That’s what _we_ want to know!” echoed the crowd.

“How long must we wait?” grumbled the Emperor.

The Professor looked at his watch. “Well, I _think_ a thousand years will do to _begin_ with,” he said. “Then we will cautiously unhook the weight: and, if it _still_ shows (as perhaps it will) a _slight_ tendency to fall, we will hook it on to the chain again, and leave it for _another_ thousand years.”

Here the Empress experienced one of those flashes of Common Sense which were the surprise of all around her. “Meanwhile there’ll be time for another Experiment,” she said.

“There will _indeed_!” cried the delighted Professor. “Let us return to the platform, and proceed to the _Fourth_ Experiment!”

“For this concluding Experiment, I will take a certain Alkali, or Acid—I forget which. Now you’ll see what will happen when I mix it with Some——” here he took up a bottle, and looked at it doubtfully, “—when I mix it with—with Something——”

Here the Emperor interrupted. “What’s the _name_ of the stuff?” he asked.

“I don’t remember the _name_,” said the Professor: “and the label has come off.” He emptied it quickly into the other bottle, and, with a tremendous bang, both bottles flew to pieces, upsetting all the machines, and filling the Pavilion with thick black smoke. I sprang to my feet in terror, and—and found myself standing before my solitary hearth, where the poker, dropping at last from the hand of the sleeper, had knocked over the tongs and the shovel, and had upset the kettle, filling the air with clouds of steam. With a weary sigh, I betook myself to bed.

[Illustration: AN EXPLOSION]

                            CHAPTER XXII.
                             THE BANQUET.

“_Heaviness may endure for a night: but joy cometh in the morning._” The next day found me quite another being. Even the memories of my lost friend and companion were sunny as the genial weather that smiled around me. I did not venture to trouble Lady Muriel, or her father, with another call so soon: but took a walk into the country, and only turned homewards when the low sunbeams warned me that day would soon be over.

On my way home, I passed the cottage where the old man lived, whose face always recalled to me the day when I first met Lady Muriel; and I glanced in as I passed, half-curious to see if he were still living there.

Yes: the old man was still alive. He was sitting out in the porch, looking just as he did when I first saw him at Fayfield Junction—it seemed only a few days ago!

“Good evening!” I said, pausing.

“Good evening, Maister!” he cheerfully responded. “Wo’n’t ee step in?”

I stepped in, and took a seat on the bench in the porch. “I’m glad to see you looking so hearty,” I began. “Last time, I remember, I chanced to pass just as Lady Muriel was coming away from the house. Does she still come to see you?”

“Ees,” he answered slowly. “She has na forgotten me. I don’t lose her bonny face for many days together. Well I mind the very first time she come, after we’d met at Railway Station. She told me as she come to mak’ amends. Dear child! Only think o’ that! To mak’ amends!”

“To make amends for what?” I enquired. “What could _she_ have done to need it?”

“Well, it were loike this, you see? We were both on us a-waiting fur t’ train at t’ Junction. And I had setten mysen down upat t’ bench. And Station-Maister, _he_ comes and he orders me off—fur t’ mak’ room for her Ladyship, you understand?”

“I remember it all,” I said. “I was there myself, that day.”

“_Was_ you, now? Well, an’ she axes my pardon fur’t. Think o’ that, now! _My_ pardon! An owd ne’er-do-weel like me! Ah! She’s been here many a time, sin’ then. Why, she were in here only yestere’en, as it were, asittin’, as it might be, where you’re a-sitting now, an’ lookin’ sweeter and kinder nor an angel! An’ she says ‘You’ve not got your Minnie, now,’ she says, ‘to fettle for ye.’ Minnie was my grand-daughter, Sir, as lived wi’ me. She died, a matter of two months ago—or it may be three. She was a bonny lass—and a good lass, too. Eh, but life has been rare an’ lonely without her!”

He covered his face in his hands: and I waited a minute or two, in silence, for him to recover himself.

“So she says ‘Just tak’ _me_ fur your Minnie!’ she says. ‘Didna Minnie mak’ your tea fur you?’ says she. ‘Ay,’ says I. An she mak’s the tea. ‘An’ didna Minnie light your pipe?’ says she. ‘Ay,’ says I. An’ she lights the pipe for me. ‘An’ didna Minnie set out your tea in t’ porch?’ An’ I says ‘My dear,’ I says, ‘I’m thinking you’re Minnie hersen!’ An’ she cries a bit. We both on us cries a bit——.”

Again I kept silence for a while.

“An’ while I smokes my pipe, she sits an’ talks to me—as loving an’ as pleasant! I’ll be bound I thowt it were Minnie come again! An’ when she gets up to go, I says ‘Winnot ye shak’ hands wi’ me?’ says I. An’ she says ‘Na,’ she says: ‘a cannot _shak’ hands_ wi’ thee!’ she says.”

“I’m sorry she said _that_,” I put in, thinking it was the only instance I had ever known of pride of rank showing itself in Lady Muriel.

“Bless you, it werena _pride_!” said the old man, reading my thoughts. “She says ‘_Your_ Minnie never _shook hands_ wi’ you!’ she says. ‘An’ _I’m_ your Minnie now,’ she says. An’ she just puts her dear arms about my neck—and she kisses me on t’ cheek—an’ may God in Heaven bless her!” And here the poor old man broke down entirely, and could say no more.

[Illustration: ‘A CANNOT SHAK’ HANDS WI’ THEE!’]

“God bless her!” I echoed. “And good night to you!” I pressed his hand, and left him. “Lady Muriel,” I said softly to myself as I went homewards, “truly you know how to ‘mak’ amends’!”

Seated once more by my lonely fireside, I tried to recall the strange vision of the night before, and to conjure up the face of the dear old Professor among the blazing coals. “That black one—with just a touch of red—would suit him well,” I thought. “After such a catastrophe, it would be sure to be covered with black stains—and he would say:—

“The result of _that_ combination—you may have noticed?—was an _Explosion_! Shall I repeat the Experiment?”

“No, no! Don’t trouble yourself!” was the general cry. And we all trooped off, in hot haste, to the Banqueting-Hall, where the feast had already begun.

No time was lost in helping the dishes, and very speedily every guest found his plate filled with good things.

“I have always maintained the principle,” the Professor began, “that it is a good rule to take some food—occasionally. The great advantage of dinner-parties——” he broke off suddenly. “Why, actually here’s the Other Professor!” he cried. “And there’s no place left for him!”


The Other Professor came in reading a large book, which he held close to his eyes. One result of his not looking where he was going was that he tripped up, as he crossed the Saloon, flew up into the air, and fell heavily on his face in the middle of the table.

“_What_ a pity!” cried the kind-hearted Professor, as he helped him up.

“It wouldn’t be _me_, if I didn’t trip,” said the Other Professor.

The Professor looked much shocked. “Almost _anything_ would be better than _that_!” he exclaimed. “It never does,” he added, aside to Bruno, “to be anybody else, does it?”

To which Bruno gravely replied “I’s got nuffin on my plate.”

The Professor hastily put on his spectacles, to make sure that the _facts_ were all right, to begin with: then he turned his jolly round face upon the unfortunate owner of the empty plate. “And what would you like next, my little man?”

“Well,” Bruno said, a little doubtfully, “I think I’ll take some plum-pudding, please—while I think of it.”

“Oh, Bruno!” (This was a whisper from Sylvie.) “It isn’t good manners to ask for a dish before it comes!”

And Bruno whispered back “But I might forget to ask for some, when it comes, oo know—I _do_ forget things, sometimes,” he added, seeing Sylvie about to whisper more.

And _this_ assertion Sylvie did not venture to contradict.

Meanwhile a chair had been placed for the Other Professor, between the Empress and Sylvie. Sylvie found him a rather uninteresting neighbour: in fact, she couldn’t afterwards remember that he had made more than _one_ remark to her during the whole banquet, and that was “What a comfort a Dictionary is!” (She told Bruno, afterwards, that she had been too much afraid of him to say more than “Yes, Sir,” in reply; and that had been the end of their conversation. On which Bruno expressed a very decided opinion that _that_ wasn’t worth calling a ‘conversation’ at all. “Oo should have asked him a riddle!” he added triumphantly. “Why, _I_ asked the Professor _three_ riddles! One was that one you asked me in the morning, ‘How many pennies is there in two shillings?’ And another was——” “Oh, Bruno!” Sylvie interrupted. “_That_ wasn’t a riddle!” “It _were_!” Bruno fiercely replied.)

By this time a waiter had supplied Bruno with a plateful of _something_, which drove the plum-pudding out of his head.

“Another advantage of dinner-parties,” the Professor cheerfully explained, for the benefit of any one that would listen, “is that it helps you to _see_ your friends. If you want to _see_ a man, offer him something to eat. It’s the same rule with a mouse.”

“This Cat’s very kind to the Mouses,” Bruno said, stooping to stroke a remarkably fat specimen of the race, that had just waddled into the room, and was rubbing itself affectionately against the leg of his chair. “Please, Sylvie, pour some milk in your saucer. Pussie’s ever so thirsty!”

“Why do you want _my_ saucer?” said Sylvie. “You’ve got one yourself!”

“Yes, I know,” said Bruno: “but I wanted _mine_ for to give it some _more_ milk in.”

Sylvie looked unconvinced: however it seemed quite impossible for her _ever_ to refuse what her brother asked: so she quietly filled her saucer with milk, and handed it to Bruno, who got down off his chair to administer it to the cat.

“The room’s very hot, with all this crowd,” the Professor said to Sylvie. “I wonder why they don’t put some lumps of ice in the grate? You fill it with lumps of coal in the winter, you know, and you sit round it and enjoy the warmth. How jolly it would be to fill it now with lumps of ice, and sit round it and enjoy the coolth!”

Hot as it was, Sylvie shivered a little at the idea. “It’s very cold _outside_,” she said. “My feet got almost frozen to-day.”

“That’s the _shoemaker’s_ fault!” the Professor cheerfully replied. “How often I’ve explained to him that he _ought_ to make boots with little iron frames under the soles, to hold lamps! But he never _thinks_. No one would suffer from cold, if only they would _think_ of those little things. I always use hot ink, myself, in the winter. Very few people ever think of _that_! Yet how simple it is!”

“Yes, it’s very simple,” Sylvie said politely. “Has the cat had enough?” This was to Bruno, who had brought back the saucer only half-emptied.

But Bruno did not hear the question. “There’s somebody scratching at the door and wanting to come in,” he said. And he scrambled down off his chair, and went and cautiously peeped out through the door-way.

“Who was it wanted to come in?” Sylvie asked, as he returned to his place.

“It were a Mouse,” said Bruno. “And it peepted in. And it saw the Cat. And it said ‘I’ll come in another day.’ And I said ‘Oo needn’t be flightened. The Cat’s _welly_ kind to Mouses.’ And it said ‘But I’s got some imporkant business, what I _must_ attend to.’ And it said ‘I’ll call again to-morrow.’ And it said ‘Give my love to the Cat.’”

“What a fat cat it is!” said the Lord Chancellor, leaning across the Professor to address his small neighbour. “It’s quite a wonder!”

“It was awfully fat when it camed in,” said Bruno: “so it would be more wonderfuller if it got thin all in a minute.”

“And that was the reason, I suppose,” the Lord Chancellor suggested, “why you didn’t give it the rest of the milk?”

“No,” said Bruno. “It were a betterer reason. I tooked the saucer up ’cause it were so discontented!”

“It doesn’t look so to _me_,” said the Lord Chancellor. “What made you think it was discontented?”

“’Cause it grumbled in its throat.”

“Oh, Bruno!” cried Sylvie. “Why, that’s the way cats show they’re _pleased_!”

Bruno looked doubtful. “It’s not a good way,” he objected. “Oo wouldn’t say _I_ were pleased, if I made that noise in my throat!”

“What a singular boy!” the Lord Chancellor whispered to himself: but Bruno had caught the words.

“What do it mean to say ‘a _singular_ boy’?” he whispered to Sylvie.

“It means _one_ boy,” Sylvie whispered in return. “And _plural_ means two or three.”

“Then I’s welly glad I _is_ a singular boy!” Bruno said with great emphasis. “It would be _horrid_ to be two or three boys! P’raps they wouldn’t play with me!”

“Why _should_ they?” said the Other Professor, suddenly waking up out of a deep reverie. “They might be asleep, you know.”

“Couldn’t, if _I_ was awake,” Bruno said cunningly.

“Oh, but they might indeed!” the Other Professor protested. “Boys don’t all go to sleep at once, you know. So these boys—but who are you talking about?”

“He _never_ remembers to ask that first!” the Professor whispered to the children.

“Why, the rest of _me_, a-course!” Bruno exclaimed triumphantly. “Supposing I was two or three boys!”

The Other Professor sighed, and seemed to be sinking back into his reverie; but suddenly brightened up again, and addressed the Professor. “There’s nothing more to be done _now_, is there?”

“Well, there’s the dinner to finish,” the Professor said with a bewildered smile: “and the heat to bear. I hope you’ll enjoy the dinner—such as it is; and that you won’t mind the heat—such as it isn’t.”

The sentence _sounded_ well, but somehow I couldn’t quite understand it; and the Other Professor seemed to be no better off. “Such as it isn’t _what_?” he peevishly enquired.

“It isn’t as hot as it might be,” the Professor replied, catching at the first idea that came to hand.

“Ah, I see what you mean _now_!” the Other Professor graciously remarked. “It’s very badly expressed, but I quite see it _now_! Thirteen minutes and a half ago,” he went on, looking first at Bruno and then at his watch as he spoke, “you said ‘this Cat’s very kind to the Mouses.’ It must be a singular animal!”

“So it _are_,” said Bruno, after carefully examining the Cat, to make sure how many there were of it.

“But how do you know it’s kind to the Mouses—or, more correctly speaking, the _Mice_?”

“’Cause it _plays_ with the Mouses,” said Bruno; “for to amuse them, oo know.”

“But that is just what I _don’t_ know,” the Other Professor rejoined. “My belief is, it plays with them to _kill_ them!”

“Oh, that’s quite a _accident_!” Bruno began, so eagerly, that it was evident he had already propounded this very difficulty to the Cat. “It ’splained all that to me, while it were drinking the milk. It said ‘I teaches the Mouses new games: the Mouses likes it ever so much.’ It said ‘Sometimes little accidents happens: sometimes the Mouses kills theirselves.’ It said ‘I’s always _welly_ sorry, when the Mouses kills theirselves.’ It said——”

“If it was so _very_ sorry,” Sylvie said, rather disdainfully, “it wouldn’t _eat_ the Mouses after they’d killed themselves!”

But this difficulty, also, had evidently not been lost sight of in the exhaustive ethical discussion just concluded. “It said——” (the orator constantly omitted, as superfluous, his own share in the dialogue, and merely gave us the replies of the Cat) “It said ‘Dead Mouses _never_ objecks to be eaten.’ It said ‘There’s no use wasting good Mouses.’ It said ‘Wifful—’ sumfinoruvver. It said ‘And oo may live to say ‘How much I wiss I had the Mouse that then I frew away!’ It said——.”

“It hadn’t _time_ to say such a lot of things!” Sylvie interrupted indignantly.

“Oo doosn’t know how Cats speaks!” Bruno rejoined contemptuously. “Cats speaks _welly_ quick!”

                            CHAPTER XXIII.
                            THE PIG-TALE.

By this time the appetites of the guests seemed to be nearly satisfied, and even _Bruno_ had the resolution to say, when the Professor offered him a fourth slice of plum-pudding, “I thinks three helpings is enough!”

Suddenly the Professor started as if he had been electrified. “Why, I had nearly forgotten the most important part of the entertainment! The Other Professor is to recite a Tale of a Pig—I mean a Pig-Tale,” he corrected himself. “It has Introductory Verses at the beginning, and at the end.”

“It ca’n’t have Introductory Verses at the _end_, can it?” said Sylvie.

“Wait till you hear it,” said the Professor: “then you’ll see. I’m not sure it hasn’t some in the _middle_, as well.” Here he rose to his feet, and there was an instant silence through the Banqueting-Hall: they evidently expected a speech.

“Ladies, and gentlemen,” the Professor began, “the Other Professor is so kind as to recite a Poem. The title of it is ‘The Pig-Tale.’ He never recited it before!” (General cheering among the guests.) “He will never recite it again!” (Frantic excitement, and wild cheering all down the hall, the Professor himself mounting the table in hot haste, to lead the cheering, and waving his spectacles in one hand and a spoon in the other.)

Then the Other Professor got up, and began:—

 Little Birds are dining
     Warily and well,
     Hid in mossy cell:
 Hid, I say, by waiters
 Gorgeous in their gaiters—
     I’ve a Tale to tell.


 Little Birds are feeding
     Justices with jam,
     Rich in frizzled ham:
 Rich, I say, in oysters
 Haunting shady cloisters—
     That is what I am.
 Little Birds are teaching
     Tigresses to smile,
     Innocent of guile:
 Smile, I say, not smirkle—
 Mouth a semicircle,
     That’s the proper style.
 Little Birds are sleeping
     All among the pins,
     Where the loser wins:
 Where, I say, he sneezes
 When and how he pleases—
     So the Tale begins.
 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.
 A certain Camel heard him shout—
   A Camel with a hump.
 “Oh, is it Grief, or is it Gout?
 What is this bellowing about?”
 That Pig replied, with quivering snout,
   “Because I cannot jump!”
 That Camel scanned him, dreamy-eyed.
   “Methinks you are too plump.
 I never knew a Pig so wide—
 That wobbled so from side to side—
 Who could, however much he tried,
   Do such a thing as _jump_!
 “Yet mark those trees, two miles away,
   All clustered in a clump:
 If you could trot there twice a day,
 Nor ever pause for rest or play,
 In the far future—Who can say?—
   You may be fit to jump.”


 That Camel passed, and left him there,
   Beside the ruined Pump.
 Oh, horrid was that Pig’s despair!
 His shrieks of anguish filled the air.
 He wrung his hoofs, he rent his hair,
   Because he could not jump.
 There was a Frog that wandered by—
   A sleek and shining lump:
 Inspected him with fishy eye,
 And said “O Pig, what makes you cry?”
 And bitter was that Pig’s reply,
   “Because I cannot jump!”
 That Frog he grinned a grin of glee,
   And hit his chest a thump
 “O Pig,” said, “be ruled by me,
 And you shall see what you shall see.
 This minute, for a trifling fee,
   I’ll teach you how to jump!
 “You may be faint from many a fall,
   And bruised by many a bump:
 But, if you persevere through all,
 And practise first on something small,
 Concluding with a ten-foot wall,
   You’ll find that you can jump!”
 That Pig looked up with joyful start:
   “Oh Frog, you _are_ a trump!
 Your words have healed my inward smart—
 Come, name your fee and do your part:
 Bring comfort to a broken heart,
   By teaching me to jump!”
 “My fee shall be a mutton-chop,
   My goal this ruined Pump.
 Observe with what an airy flop
 I plant myself upon the top!
 Now bend your knees and take a hop,
   For that’s the way to jump!”

[Illustration: THE FATAL JUMP]

 Uprose that Pig, and rushed, full whack,
   Against the ruined Pump:
 Rolled over like an empty sack,
 And settled down upon his back,
 While all his bones at once went ‘Crack!’
   It was a fatal jump.

When the Other Professor had recited this Verse, he went across to the fire-place, and put his head up the chimney. In doing this, he lost his balance, and fell head-first into the empty grate, and got so firmly fixed there that it was some time before he could be dragged out again.

Bruno had had time to say “I thought he wanted to see how many peoples was up the chimbley.”

And Sylvie had said “_Chimney_—not chimbley.”

And Bruno had said “Don’t talk ’ubbish!”

All this, while the Other Professor was being extracted.

“You must have blacked your face!” the Empress said anxiously. “Let me send for some soap?”

“Thanks, no,” said the Other Professor, keeping his face turned away. “Black’s quite a respectable colour. Besides, soap would be no use without water.”

Keeping his back well turned away from the audience, he went on with the Introductory Verses:—


 Little Birds are writing
     Interesting books,
     To be read by cooks:
 Read, I say, not roasted—
 Letterpress, when toasted,
     Loses its good looks.
 Little Birds are playing
     Bagpipes on the shore,
     Where the tourists snore:
 “Thanks!” they cry. “’Tis thrilling!
 Take, oh take this shilling!
     Let us have no more!”
 Little Birds are bathing
     Crocodiles in cream,
     Like a happy dream:
 Like, but not so lasting—
 Crocodiles, when fasting,
     Are not all they seem!


 That Camel passed, as Day grew dim
   Around the ruined Pump.
 “O broken heart! O broken limb!
 It needs,” that Camel said to him,
 “Something more fairy-like and slim,
   To execute a jump!”
 That Pig lay still as any stone,
   And could not stir a stump:
 Nor ever, if the truth were known,
 Was he again observed to moan,
 Nor ever wring his hoofs and groan,
   Because he could not jump.
 That Frog made no remark, for he
   Was dismal as a dump:
 He knew the consequence must be
 That he would never get his fee—
 And still he sits, in miserie,
   Upon that ruined Pump!

[Illustration: ‘STILL HE SITS IN MISERIE’]

“It’s a miserable story!” said Bruno. “It begins miserably, and it ends miserablier. I think I shall cry. Sylvie, please lend me your handkerchief.”

“I haven’t got it with me,” Sylvie whispered.

“Then I won’t cry,” said Bruno manfully.

“There are more Introductory Verses to come,” said the Other Professor, “but I’m hungry.” He sat down, cut a large slice of cake, put it on Bruno’s plate, and gazed at his own empty plate in astonishment.

“Where did you get that cake?” Sylvie whispered to Bruno.

“He gived it me,” said Bruno.

“But you shouldn’t ask for things! You _know_ you shouldn’t!”

“I _didn’t_ ask,” said Bruno, taking a fresh mouthful: “he _gived_ it me.”

Sylvie considered this for a moment: then she saw her way out of it. “Well, then, ask him to give _me_ some!”

“You seem to enjoy that cake?” the Professor remarked.

“Doos that mean ‘munch’?” Bruno whispered to Sylvie.

Sylvie nodded. “It means ‘to munch’ and ‘to _like_ to munch.’”

Bruno smiled at the Professor. “I _doos_ enjoy it,” he said.

The Other Professor caught the word. “And I hope you’re enjoying _yourself_, little Man?” he enquired.

Bruno’s look of horror quite startled him. “No, _indeed_ I aren’t!” he said.

The Other Professor looked thoroughly puzzled. “Well, well!” he said. “Try some cowslip wine!” And he filled a glass and handed it to Bruno. “Drink this, my dear, and you’ll be quite another man!”

“Who shall I be?” said Bruno, pausing in the act of putting it to his lips.

“Don’t ask so many questions!” Sylvie interposed, anxious to save the poor old man from further bewilderment. “Suppose we get the Professor to tell us a story.”

Bruno adopted the idea with enthusiasm. “_Please_ do!” he cried eagerly. “Sumfin about tigers—and bumble-bees—and robin-redbreasts, oo knows!”

“Why should you always have _live_ things in stories?” said the Professor. “Why don’t you have events, or circumstances?”

“Oh, _please_ invent a story like that!” cried Bruno.

The Professor began fluently enough. “Once a coincidence was taking a walk with a little accident, and they met an explanation—a _very_ old explanation—so old that it was quite doubled up, and looked more like a conundrum——” he broke off suddenly.

“_Please_ go on!” both children exclaimed.

The Professor made a candid confession. “It’s a very difficult sort to invent, I find. Suppose Bruno tells one, first.”

Bruno was only too happy to adopt the suggestion.

“Once there were a Pig, and a Accordion, and two Jars of Orange-marmalade——”

“The _dramatis personæ_,” murmured the Professor. “Well, what then?”

“So, when the Pig played on the Accordion,” Bruno went on, “one of the Jars of Orange-marmalade didn’t like the tune, and the other Jar of Orange-marmalade did like the tune—I _know_ I shall get confused among those Jars of Orange-marmalade, Sylvie!” he whispered anxiously.

“I will now recite the other Introductory Verses,” said the Other Professor.

[Illustration: ‘BLESSED BY HAPPY STAGS’]

 Little Birds are choking
     Baronets with bun,
     Taught to fire a gun:
 Taught, I say, to splinter
 Salmon in the winter—
     Merely for the fun.
 Little Birds are hiding
     Crimes in carpet-bags,
     Blessed by happy stags:
 Blessed, I say, though beaten—
 Since our friends are eaten
     When the memory flags.
 Little Birds are tasting
     Gratitude and gold,
     Pale with sudden cold
 Pale, I say, and wrinkled—
 When the bells have tinkled
     And the Tale is told.

“The next thing to be done,” the Professor cheerfully remarked to the Lord Chancellor, as soon as the applause, caused by the recital of the Pig-Tale, had come to an end, “is to drink the Emperor’s health, is it not?”

“Undoubtedly!” the Lord Chancellor replied with much solemnity, as he rose to his feet to give the necessary directions for the ceremony. “Fill your glasses!” he thundered. All did so, instantly. “Drink the Emperor’s health!” A general gurgling resounded all through the Hall. “Three cheers for the Emperor!” The faintest possible sound followed _this_ announcement: and the Chancellor, with admirable presence of mind, instantly proclaimed “A speech from the Emperor!”

The Emperor had begun his speech almost before the words were uttered. “However unwilling to be Emperor—since you all wish me to be Emperor—you know how badly the late Warden managed things—with such enthusiasm as you have shown—he persecuted you—he taxed you too heavily—you know who is fittest man to be Emperor—my brother had no sense——.”

How long this curious speech might have lasted it is impossible to say, for just at this moment a hurricane shook the palace to its foundations, bursting open the windows, extinguishing some of the lamps, and filling the air with clouds of dust, which took strange shapes in the air, and seemed to form words.

But the storm subsided as suddenly as it had risen—the casements swung into their places again: the dust vanished: all was as it had been a minute ago—with the exception of the Emperor and Empress, over whom had come a wondrous change. The vacant stare, the meaningless smile, had passed away: all could see that these two strange beings had returned to their senses.

The Emperor continued his speech as if there had been no interruption. “And we have behaved—my wife and I—like two arrant Knaves. We deserve no better name. When my brother went away, you lost the best Warden you ever had. And I’ve been doing my best, wretched hypocrite that I am, to cheat you into making me an Emperor. Me! One that has hardly got the wits to be a shoe-black!”

The Lord Chancellor wrung his hands in despair. “He is mad, good people!” he was beginning. But both speeches stopped suddenly—and, in the dead silence that followed, a knocking was heard at the outer door.

“What is it?” was the general cry. People began running in and out. The excitement increased every moment. The Lord Chancellor, forgetting all the rules of Court-ceremony, ran full speed down the hall, and in a minute returned, pale and gasping for breath.

                            CHAPTER XXIV.
                         THE BEGGAR’S RETURN.

“Your Imperial Highnesses!” he began. “It’s the old Beggar again! Shall we set the dogs at him?”

“Bring him here!” said the Emperor.

The Chancellor could scarcely believe his ears. “_Here_, your Imperial Highness? Did I rightly understand——.”

“Bring him here!” the Emperor thundered once more. The Chancellor tottered down the hall—and in another minute the crowd divided, and the poor old Beggar was seen entering the Banqueting-Hall.


He was indeed a pitiable object: the rags, that hung about him, were all splashed with mud: his white hair and his long beard were tossed about in wild disorder. Yet he walked upright, with a stately tread, as if used to command: and—strangest sight of all—Sylvie and Bruno came with him, clinging to his hands, and gazing at him with looks of silent love.

Men looked eagerly to see how the Emperor would receive the bold intruder. Would he hurl him from the steps of the daïs? But no. To their utter astonishment, the Emperor knelt as the beggar approached, and with bowed head murmured “Forgive us!”

“Forgive us!” the Empress, kneeling at her husband’s side, meekly repeated.

The Outcast smiled. “Rise up!” he said. “I forgive you!” And men saw with wonder that a change had passed over the old beggar, even as he spoke. What had seemed, but now, to be vile rags and splashes of mud, were seen to be in truth kingly trappings, broidered with gold, and sparkling with gems. All knew him now, and bent low before the Elder Brother, the true Warden.

“Brother mine, and Sister mine!” the Warden began, in a clear voice that was heard all through that vast hall. “I come not to disturb you. Rule on, as Emperor, and rule wisely. For I am chosen King of Elfland. To-morrow I return there, taking nought from hence, save only—save only——” his voice trembled, and with a look of ineffable tenderness, he laid his hands in silence on the heads of the two little ones who clung around him.

But he recovered himself in a moment, and beckoned to the Emperor to resume his place at the table. The company seated themselves again—room being found for the Elfin-King between his two children—and the Lord Chancellor rose once more, to propose the next toast.

“The next toast—the hero of the day—why, he isn’t here!” he broke off in wild confusion.

Good gracious! Everybody had forgotten Prince Uggug!

“He was told of the Banquet, of course?” said the Emperor.

“Undoubtedly!” replied the Chancellor. “_That_ would be the duty of the Gold Stick in Waiting.”

“Let the Gold Stick come forwards!” the Emperor gravely said.

The Gold Stick came forwards. “I attended on His Imperial Fatness,” was the statement made by the trembling official. “I told him of the Lecture and the Banquet——.”

“What followed?” said the Emperor: for the unhappy man seemed almost too frightened to go on.

“His Imperial Fatness was graciously pleased to be sulky. His Imperial Fatness was graciously pleased to box my ears. His Imperial Fatness was graciously pleased to say ‘I don’t care!’”

“‘Don’t-care’ came to a bad end,” Sylvie whispered to Bruno. “I’m not sure, but I _believe_ he was hanged.”

The Professor overheard her. “_That_ result,” he blandly remarked, “was merely a case of mistaken identity.”

Both children looked puzzled.

“Permit me to explain. ‘Don’t-care’ and ‘Care’ were twin-brothers. ‘Care,’ you know, killed the Cat. And they caught ‘Don’t-care’ by mistake, and hanged him instead. And so ‘Care’ is alive still. But he’s very unhappy without his brother. That’s why they say ‘Begone, dull Care!’”

“Thank you!” Sylvie said, heartily. “It’s very extremely interesting. Why, it seems to explain _everything_!”

“Well, not quite _everything_,” the Professor modestly rejoined. “There are two or three scientific difficulties——”

“What was your general impression as to His Imperial Fatness?” the Emperor asked the Gold Stick.

“My impression was that His Imperial Fatness was getting more——”

“More _what_?”

All listened breathlessly for the next word.


“He must be sent for _at once_!” the Emperor exclaimed. And the Gold Stick went off like a shot. The Elfin-King sadly shook his head. “No use, no use!” he murmured to himself. “Loveless, loveless!”

Pale, trembling, speechless, the Gold Stick came slowly back again.

“Well?” said the Emperor. “Why does not the Prince appear?”

“One can easily guess,” said the Professor. “His Imperial Fatness is, without doubt, a little preoccupied.”

Bruno turned a look of solemn enquiry on his old friend. “What do that word mean?”

But the Professor took no notice of the question. He was eagerly listening to the Gold Stick’s reply.

“Please your Highness! His Imperial Fatness is——” Not a word more could he utter.

The Empress rose in an agony of alarm. “Let us go to him!” she cried. And there was a general rush for the door.

Bruno slipped off his chair in a moment. “May we go too?” he eagerly asked. But the King did not hear the question, as the Professor was speaking to him. “_Preoccupied_, your Majesty!” he was saying. “That is what he is, no doubt!”

“May we go and see him?” Bruno repeated. The King nodded assent, and the children ran off. In a minute or two they returned, slowly and gravely. “Well?” said the King. “What’s the matter with the Prince?”

“He’s—what _you_ said,” Bruno replied, looking at the Professor. “That hard word.” And he looked to Sylvie for assistance.

“Porcupine,” said Sylvie.

“No, no!” the Professor corrected her. “‘_Pre-occupied_,’ you mean.”

[Illustration: ‘PORCUPINE!’]

“No, it’s _porcupine_,” persisted Sylvie. “Not that other word at all. And please will you come? The house is all in an uproar.” (“And oo’d better bring an uproar-glass wiz oo!” added Bruno.)

We got up in great haste, and followed the children upstairs. No one took the least notice of _me_, but I wasn’t at all surprised at this, as I had long realised that I was quite invisible to them all—even to Sylvie and Bruno.

All along the gallery, that led to the Prince’s apartment, an excited crowd was surging to and fro, and the Babel of voices was deafening: against the door of the room three strong men were leaning, vainly trying to shut it—for some great animal inside was constantly bursting it half open, and we had a glimpse, before the men could push it back again, of the head of a furious wild beast, with great fiery eyes and gnashing teeth. Its voice was a sort of mixture—there was the roaring of a lion, and the bellowing of a bull, and now and then a scream like a gigantic parrot. “There is no judging by the voice!” the Professor cried in great excitement. “What is it?” he shouted to the men at the door. And a general chorus of voices answered him “Porcupine! Prince Uggug has turned into a Porcupine!”

“A new Specimen!” exclaimed the delighted Professor. “Pray let me go in. It should be labeled at once!”

But the strong men only pushed him back. “Label it, indeed! Do you want to be eaten up?” they cried.

“Never mind about Specimens, Professor!” said the Emperor, pushing his way through the crowd. “Tell us how to keep him safe!”

“A large cage!” the Professor promptly replied. “Bring a large cage,” he said to the people generally, “with strong bars of steel, and a portcullis made to go up and down like a mouse-trap! Does any one happen to have such a thing about him?”

It didn’t sound a likely sort of thing for any one to have about him; however, they brought him one directly: curiously enough, there happened to be one standing in the gallery.

“Put it facing the opening of the door, and draw up the portcullis!” This was done in a moment.

“Blankets now!” cried the Professor. “This is a most interesting Experiment!”

There happened to be a pile of blankets close by: and the Professor had hardly said the word, when they were all unfolded and held up like curtains all around. The Professor rapidly arranged them in two rows, so as to make a dark passage, leading straight from the door to the mouth of the cage.

“Now fling the door open!” This did not need to be done: the three men had only to leap out of the way, and the fearful monster flung the door open for itself, and, with a yell like the whistle of a steam-engine, rushed into the cage.

“Down with the portcullis!” No sooner said than done: and all breathed freely once more, on seeing the Porcupine safely caged.

The Professor rubbed his hands in childish delight. “The Experiment has succeeded!” he proclaimed. “All that is needed now is to feed it three times a day, on chopped carrots and——.”

“Never mind about its food, just now!” the Emperor interrupted. “Let us return to the Banquet. Brother, will you lead the way?” And the old man, attended by his children, headed the procession down stairs. “See the fate of a loveless life!” he said to Bruno, as they returned to their places. To which Bruno made reply, “I always loved Sylvie, so I’ll never get prickly like that!”

“He _is_ prickly, certainly,” said the Professor, who had caught the last words, “but we must remember that, however porcupiny, he is royal still! After this feast is over, I’m going to take a little present to Prince Uggug—just to soothe him, you know: it isn’t pleasant living in a cage.”

“What’ll you give him for a birthday-present?” Bruno enquired.

“A small saucer of chopped carrots,” replied the Professor. “In giving birthday-presents, _my_ motto is—cheapness! I should think I save forty pounds a year by giving—oh, _what_ a twinge of pain!”

“What is it?” said Sylvie anxiously.

“My old enemy!” groaned the Professor. “Lumbago—rheumatism—that sort of thing. I think I’ll go and lie down a bit.” And he hobbled out of the Saloon, watched by the pitying eyes of the two children.

“He’ll be better soon!” the Elfin-King said cheerily. “Brother!” turning to the Emperor, “I have some business to arrange with you to-night. The Empress will take care of the children.” And the two Brothers went away together, arm-in-arm.

The Empress found the children rather sad company. They could talk of nothing but “the dear Professor,” and “what a pity he’s so ill!”, till at last she made the welcome proposal “Let’s go and see him!”

The children eagerly grasped the hands she offered them: and we went off to the Professor’s study, and found him lying on the sofa, covered up with blankets, and reading a little manuscript-book. “Notes on Vol. Three!” he murmured, looking up at us. And there, on a table near him, lay the book he was seeking when first I saw him.

“And how are you now, Professor?” the Empress asked, bending over the invalid.

The Professor looked up, and smiled feebly. “As devoted to your Imperial Highness as ever!” he said in a weak voice. “All of me, that is not Lumbago, is Loyalty!”

“A sweet sentiment!” the Empress exclaimed with tears in her eyes. “You seldom hear anything so beautiful as that—even in a Valentine!”

“We must take you to stay at the seaside,” Sylvie said, tenderly. “It’ll do you ever so much good! And the Sea’s so grand!”

“But a Mountain’s grander!” said Bruno.

“What is there grand about the Sea?” said the Professor. “Why, you could put it all into a teacup!”

“_Some_ of it,” Sylvie corrected him.

“Well, you’d only want a certain number of tea-cups to hold it _all_. And _then_ where’s the grandeur? Then as to a Mountain—why, you could carry it all away in a wheel-barrow, in a certain number of years!”

“It wouldn’t look grand—the bits of it in the wheel-barrow,” Sylvie candidly admitted.

“But when oo put it together again——” Bruno began.

“When you’re older,” said the Professor, “you’ll know that you _ca’n’t_ put Mountains together again so easily! One lives and one learns, you know!”

“But it needn’t be the _same_ one, need it?” said Bruno. “Won’t it do, if _I_ live, and if _Sylvie_ learns?”

“I _ca’n’t_ learn without living!” said Sylvie.

“But I _can_ live without learning!” Bruno retorted. “Oo just try me!”

“What I meant, was—” the Professor began, looking much puzzled, “—was—that you don’t know _everything_, you know.”

“But I _do_ know everything I know!” persisted the little fellow. “I know ever so many things! Everything, ’cept the things I _don’t_ know. And Sylvie knows all the rest.”

The Professor sighed, and gave it up. “Do you know what a Boojum is?”

“_I_ know!” cried Bruno. “It’s the thing what wrenches people out of their boots!”

“He means ‘bootjack,’” Sylvie explained in a whisper.

“You ca’n’t wrench people out of _boots_,” the Professor mildly observed.

Bruno laughed saucily. “Oo _can_, though! Unless they’re _welly_ tight in.”

“Once upon a time there was a Boojum——” the Professor began, but stopped suddenly. “I forget the rest of the Fable,” he said. “And there was a lesson to be learned from it. I’m afraid I forget _that_, too.”

“_I’ll_ tell oo a Fable!” Bruno began in a great hurry. “Once there were a Locust, and a Magpie, and a Engine-driver. And the Lesson is, to learn to get up early——”

“It isn’t a bit interesting!” Sylvie said contemptuously. “You shouldn’t put the Lesson so soon.”

“When did you invent that Fable?” said the Professor. “Last week?”

“No!” said Bruno. “A deal shorter ago than that. Guess again!”

“I ca’n’t guess,” said the Professor. “How long ago?”

“Why, it isn’t invented yet!” Bruno exclaimed triumphantly. “But I _have_ invented a lovely one! Shall I say it?”

“If you’ve _finished_ inventing it,” said Sylvie. “And let the Lesson be ‘to try again’!”

“No,” said Bruno with great decision. “The Lesson are ‘_not_ to try again’!” “Once there were a lovely china man, what stood on the chimbley-piece. And he stood, and he stood. And one day he tumbleded off, and he didn’t hurt his self one bit. Only he _would_ try again. And the next time he tumbleded off, he hurted his self welly much, and breaked off ever so much varnish.”

“But how did he come back on the chimney-piece after his first tumble?” said the Empress. (It was the first sensible question she had asked in all her life.)

“_I_ put him there!” cried Bruno.

“Then I’m afraid you know something about his tumbling,” said the Professor. “Perhaps you pushed him?”

To which Bruno replied, very seriously, “Didn’t pushed him _much_—he were a _lovely_ china man,” he added hastily, evidently very anxious to change the subject.

“Come, my children!” said the Elfin-King, who had just entered the room. “We must have a little chat together, before you go to bed.” And he was leading them away, but at the door they let go his hands, and ran back again to wish the Professor good night.

[Illustration: ‘GOOD-NIGHT, PROFESSOR!’]

“Good night, Professor, good night!” And Bruno solemnly shook hands with the old man, who gazed at him with a loving smile, while Sylvie bent down to press her sweet lips upon his forehead.

“Good night, little ones!” said the Professor. “You may leave me now—to ruminate. I’m as jolly as the day is long, except when it’s necessary to ruminate on some very difficult subject. All of me,” he murmured sleepily as we left the room, “all of me, that isn’t _Bonhommie_, is Rumination!”

“_What_ did he say, Bruno?” Sylvie enquired, as soon as we were safely out of hearing.

“I _think_ he said ‘All of me that isn’t Bone-disease is Rheumatism.’ Whatever _are_ that knocking, Sylvie?”

Sylvie stopped, and listened anxiously. It sounded like some one kicking at a door. “I _hope_ it isn’t that Porcupine breaking loose!” she exclaimed.

“Let’s go on!” Bruno said hastily. “There’s nuffin to wait for, oo know!“

                             CHAPTER XXV
                          LIFE OUT OF DEATH.

The sound of kicking, or knocking, grew louder every moment: and at last a door opened somewhere near us. “Did you say ‘come in!’ Sir?” my landlady asked timidly.

“Oh yes, come in!” I replied. “What’s the matter?”

“A note has just been left for you, Sir, by the baker’s boy. He said he was passing the Hall, and they asked him to come round and leave it here.”

The note contained five words only. “Please come at once. Muriel.”

A sudden terror seemed to chill my very heart. “The Earl is ill!” I said to myself. “Dying, perhaps!” And I hastily prepared to leave the house.

“No bad news, Sir, I hope?” my landlady said, as she saw me out. “The boy said as some one had arrived unexpectedly——.”

“I hope that is it!” I said. But my feelings were those of fear rather than of hope: though, on entering the house, I was somewhat reassured by finding luggage lying in the entrance, bearing the initials “E. L.”

“It’s only Eric Lindon after all!” I thought, half relieved and half annoyed. “Surely she need not have sent for me for _that_!”

Lady Muriel met me in the passage. Her eyes were gleaming—but it was the excitement of joy, rather than of grief. “I have a surprise for you!” she whispered.

“You mean that Eric Lindon is here?” I said, vainly trying to disguise the involuntary bitterness of my tone. “‘_The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage-tables_,’” I could not help repeating to myself. How cruelly I was misjudging her!

“No, no!” she eagerly replied. “At least—Eric _is_ here. But——,” her voice quivered, “but there is _another_!”

No need for further question. I eagerly followed her in. There on the bed, he lay—pale and worn—the mere shadow of his old self—my old friend come back again from the dead!

“Arthur!” I exclaimed. I could not say another word.

“Yes, back again, old boy!” he murmured, smiling as I grasped his hand. “_He_,” indicating Eric, who stood near, “saved my life—_He_ brought me back. Next to God, we must thank _him_, Muriel, my wife!”

Silently I shook hands with Eric and with the Earl: and with one consent we moved into the shaded side of the room, where we could talk without disturbing the invalid, who lay, silent and happy, holding his wife’s hand in his, and watching her with eyes that shone with the deep steady light of Love.

“He has been delirious till to-day,” Eric explained in a low voice: “and even to-day he has been wandering more than once. But the sight of _her_ has been new life to him.” And then he went on to tell us, in would-be careless tones—I knew how he hated any display of feeling—how he had insisted on going back to the plague-stricken town, to bring away a man whom the doctor had abandoned as dying, but who _might_, he fancied, recover if brought to the hospital: how he had seen nothing in the wasted features to remind him of Arthur, and only recognised him when he visited the hospital a month after: how the doctor had forbidden him to announce the discovery, saying that any shock to the over taxed brain might kill him at once: how he had staid on at the hospital, and nursed the sick man by night and day—all this with the studied indifference of one who is relating the commonplace acts of some chance acquaintance!

“And this was his _rival_!” I thought. “The man who had won from him the heart of the woman he loved!”


“The sun is setting,” said Lady Muriel, rising and leading the way to the open window. “Just look at the western sky! What lovely crimson tints! We shall have a glorious day to-morrow——” We had followed her across the room, and were standing in a little group, talking in low tones in the gathering gloom, when we were startled by the voice of the sick man, murmuring words too indistinct for the ear to catch.

“He is wandering again,” Lady Muriel whispered, and returned to the bedside. We drew a little nearer also: but no, this had none of the incoherence of delirium. “_What reward shall I give unto the Lord_,” the tremulous lips were saying, “_for all the benefits that He hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, and call—and call_——” but here the poor weakened memory failed, and the feeble voice died into silence.

His wife knelt down at the bedside, raised one of his arms, and drew it across her own, fondly kissing the thin white hand that lay so listlessly in her loving grasp. It seemed to me a good opportunity for stealing away without making her go through any form of parting: so, nodding to the Earl and Eric, I silently left the room. Eric followed me down the stairs, and out into the night.

“Is it Life or Death?” I asked him, as soon as we were far enough from the house for me to speak in ordinary tones.

“It is _Life_!” he replied with eager emphasis. “The doctors are quite agreed as to _that_. All he needs now, they say, is rest, and perfect quiet, and good nursing. He’s quite sure to get rest and quiet, here: and, as for the nursing why, I think it’s just _possible_——” (he tried hard to make his trembling voice assume a playful tone) “he may even get fairly well nursed, in his present quarters!”

“I’m sure of it!” I said. “Thank you so much for coming out to tell me!” And, thinking he had now said all he had come to say, I held out my hand to bid him good night. He grasped it warmly, and added, turning his face away as he spoke, “By the way, there is one other thing I wanted to say. I thought you’d like to know that—that I’m not—not in the mind I was in when last we met. It isn’t—that I can accept Christian belief—at least, not yet. But all this came about so strangely. And she had prayed, you know. And I had prayed. And—and—” his voice broke, and I could only just catch the concluding words, “_there is a God that answers prayer!_ I know it for certain now.” He wrung my hand once more, and left me suddenly. Never before had I seen him so deeply moved.

So, in the gathering twilight, I paced slowly homewards, in a tumultuous whirl of happy thoughts: my heart seemed full, and running over, with joy and thankfulness: all that I had so fervently longed for, and prayed for, seemed now to have come to pass. And, though I reproached myself, bitterly, for the unworthy suspicion I had for one moment harboured against the true-hearted Lady Muriel, I took comfort in knowing it had been but a passing thought.

Not Bruno himself could have mounted the stairs with so buoyant a step, as I felt my way up in the dark, not pausing to strike a light in the entry, as I knew I had left the lamp burning in my sitting-room.

But it was no common _lamplight_ into which I now stepped, with a strange, new, dreamy sensation of some subtle witchery that had come over the place. Light, richer and more golden than any lamp could give, flooded the room, streaming in from a window I had somehow never noticed before, and lighting up a group of three shadowy figures, that grew momently more distinct—a grave old man in royal robes, leaning back in an easy chair, and two children, a girl and a boy, standing at his side.

“Have you the Jewel still, my child?” the old man was saying.

“Oh, _yes_!” Sylvie exclaimed with unusual eagerness. “Do you think I’d _ever_ lose it or forget it?” She undid the ribbon round her neck, as she spoke, and laid the Jewel in her father’s hand.

Bruno looked at it admiringly. “What a lovely brightness!” he said. “It’s just like a little red star! May I take it in my hand?”

Sylvie nodded: and Bruno carried it off to the window, and held it aloft against the sky, whose deepening blue was already spangled with stars. Soon he came running back in some excitement. “Sylvie! Look here!” he cried. “I can see right through it when I hold it up to the sky. And it isn’t red a bit: it’s, oh such a lovely blue! And the words are all different! Do look at it!”

Sylvie was quite excited, too, by this time; and the two children eagerly held up the Jewel to the light, and spelled out the legend between them, “ALL WILL LOVE SYLVIE.”

[Illustration: THE BLUE LOCKET]

“Why, this is the _other_ Jewel!” cried Bruno. “Don’t you remember, Sylvie? The one you _didn’t_ choose!”

Sylvie took it from him, with a puzzled look, and held it, now up to the light, now down. “It’s blue, _one_ way,” she said softly to herself, “and it’s red, the _other_ way! Why, I thought there were _two_ of them—Father!” she suddenly exclaimed, laying the Jewel once more in his hand, “I do believe it was the _same_ Jewel all the time!”

“Then you choosed it from _itself_,” Bruno thoughtfully remarked. “Father, _could_ Sylvie choose a thing from itself?”

“Yes, my own one,” the old man replied to Sylvie, not noticing Bruno’s embarrassing question, “it _was_ the same Jewel—but you chose quite right.” And he fastened the ribbon round her neck again.

“SYLVIE WILL LOVE ALL—ALL WILL LOVE SYLVIE,” Bruno murmured, raising himself on tiptoe to kiss the ‘little red star.’ “And, when you look _at_ it, it’s red and fierce like the sun—and, when you look _through_ it, it’s gentle and blue like the sky!”

“God’s own sky,” Sylvie said, dreamily.

“God’s own sky,” the little fellow repeated, as they stood, lovingly clinging together, and looking out into the night. “But oh, Sylvie, what makes the sky such a _darling_ blue?”

Sylvie’s sweet lips shaped themselves to reply, but her voice sounded faint and very far away. The vision was fast slipping from my eager gaze: but it seemed to me, in that last bewildering moment, that not Sylvie but an angel was looking out through those trustful brown eyes, and that not Sylvie’s but an angel’s voice was whispering

                            “It is love.”

[Illustration: ‘IT IS LOVE!’]

                               THE END.

                            GENERAL INDEX.

[N.B. ‘I’ refers to “Sylvie and Bruno,” ‘II’ to “Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.”]

 Accelerated Velocity, causes of; II. 190
 Air, Cotton-wool lighter than, how to obtain; II. 166
 Animal-Suffering, mystery of; II. 296
 Anti-Teetotal Card; II. 139
 Artistic effect said to require Indistinctness; I. 241
 Asylums, Lunatic-, future use for; II. 132
 Axioms of Science; II. 330
 Badgers, the Three (Poem); I. 247
 Barometer, sideways motion of; I. 13
 Baron Doppelgeist; I. 85
 Bath, Portable, for Tourists; I. 25
 Bazaars, Charity-; II. 44
 Beauty, Pain of realising; II. 337
 Bed, reason for never going to; II. 141
 Bees, Mind of; II. 29
 Bessie’s Song; II. 76
 Bible-Selections for Children; I. xiii
     ”    ”    learning by heart; I. xiv
 Black Light, how to produce; II. 341
 Boat, motion of, how to imitate on land; II. 108
 Books, or Minds. Which contain most Science? I. 21
 Boots for Horizontal Weather; I. 14
 Brain, inverted position of; I. 243
 Bread-sauce appropriate for Weltering; I. 58
 Breaking promises. Why is it wrong? II. 27
 Bruno’s Song: I. 215
 Burden of Proof misplaced by Crocodiles; I. 230
     ”    ”    ”    Ladies; I. 235
     ”    ”    ”    Watts, Dr.; do.
 ‘Care’ and ‘Don’t-Care,’ history of; II. 385
 Carrying one’s self. Why is it not fatiguing? I. 169
 Charity-Bazaars; II. 44
     ”    fallacies as to; II. 43
     ”    Pseudo-; II. 42
 Child’s Bible; I. xiii
     ”    Sunday, in last generation; I. 387
     ”    view of Adult Life; II. 260
     ”    ”    Present Life; I. 330
 Choral Services, effect of; I. 273. II. xix
 Chorister’s life, dangers of; I. 274. II. xix
 Church-going, true principle of; I. 272
 Competition for Scholars; II. 187
 Competitive Examination; II. 184
 Conceited Critic always depreciates; I. 237
 Content, opportunity for cultivating; I. 152
 ‘Convenient’ and ‘Inconvenient,’ difference in meaning; I. 140
 Conversation at Dinner-parties, how to promote: (_see_
 Cotton-wool lighter than air, how to obtain; II. 166
 Critic, conceited, always depreciates; I. 237
     ”    how to gain character of; I. 238
 Crocodiles, Logic of; I. 230
 Croquet. Why is it demoralising? II. 135
 Darwinism reversed; I. 64
 Day, length and shortness of, compared; I. 159
     ”    true length of; I. 159
 Death, certainty of, effect of realising; I. xix
 Debts, how to avoid Payment of; I. 131
 Deserts, use for; II. 158
 Dichotomy, Political, in common life; II. 198, 205, 207
 Dinner-parties, how to promote Conversation at:—
     Moving-Guests; II. 145
         ”    Pictures; II. 143
     Revolving-Humorist; II. 145
     Wild-Creatures; II. 144
 Dog-King, the, (‘Nero’); I. 175. II. 58
 Dog, Man’s advantage over; II. 293
     ”    reasoning power of; II. 294
 ‘Doing good,’ ambiguity of phrase; II. 43
 Doppelgeist, Baron; I. 85
 Dramatization of Life; I. 333
 Dreaminess, certain cure for; I. 136
 Drunkenness, how to prevent; II. 71
 Eggs, how to purchase; II. 196
 Electricity, influence of, on Literature; I. 64
 Enjoyment of Life; I. 335
     ”    Novel-reading; I. 336
 Eternity, contemplation of. Why is it wearisome? II. 258
 Events in reverse order; I. 350
 Examination, Competitive; II. 184
 Experimental Honeymoons; II. 136
 Eye, images inverted in the; I. 242
 Fairies, captured, how to treat; II. 5
     ”    character of, how to improve; I. 190
     ”    existence of, possible; II. 300
     ”    presence of, how to recognise; I. 191. II. 264
     ”    moral responsibility of; II. 301
 Falling Houses, Life in; I. 100
 Final Causes, problem in; I. 297
 Fires in Theatres, how to prevent; II. 165
 Fortunatus’ Purse, how to make; II. 100
 Free-Will and Nerve-Force; I. 390
 Frog, young, how to amuse; I. 364
 Future Life. What interests will survive in it? II. 256
 Gardener’s Song:—
     Albatross; I. 164
     Argument; II. 319.
     Banker’s Clerk; I. 90.
     Bar of Mottled Soap; II. 319.
     Bear without a head; I. 116.
     Buffalo; I. 78.
     Coach-and-Four; I. 116.
     Double Rule of Three; I. 168.
     Elephant; I. 65; II. 334.
     Garden-Door; I. 168.
     Hippopotamus; I. 90.
     Kangaroo; I. 106.
     Letter from his Wife; I. 65.
     Middle of Next Week; I. 83.
     Penny-Postage-Stamp; I. 164.
     Rattlesnake; I. 83.
     Sister’s Husband’s Niece; I. 78.
     Vegetable-Pill; I. 106
 Ghosts, treatment of, by Shakespeare; I. 60
     ”    ”    in Railway-Literature; I. 58
     ”    Weltering, Bread-sauce appropriate for; I. 58
 Girls’ Shakespeare; I. xv
 Government with many Kings and one Subject; II. 172
 Graduated races of Man; I. 299
 Guests, Moving-; II. 145
 Happiness, excessive, how to moderate; I. 159
 Heaven inconceivable to those on Earth; II. 260
 Honesty, Dr. Watts’ argument for; I. 235
 Honeymoons, Experimental; II. 136
 Horizontal Weather, Boots for; I. 14
 Horses, Runaway, how to control; II. 108
 Hot Ink, use of; II. 357
 Houses, Falling, Life in; I. 100
 Humorist, Revolving; II. 145
 Hunting, Morality of; I. xx, 318; II. xviii
 Hymns appealing to Selfishness; I. 276
 ‘Idle Mouths’; II. 37
 ‘Imponderal’; II. 166
 ‘Inconvenient’ and ‘Convenient,’ difference in meaning of; I. 140
 Indistinctness said to be necessary for Artistic effect; I. 241
 Ink, Hot, use of; II. 357
 Instinct and Reason; II. 295
 Inversion of Brain; I. 243
     “    images on Retina; I. 242
 Jam-tasting; II. 150
 Jesting in Letter-writing, how to indicate; II. 117
 ‘King Fisher’ Song; II. 14
 Knocking-down, some persons not liable to; II. 54
 Ladies, Logic of; I. 235
 Least Common Multiple, rule of, applied to Literature; I. 22
 Letter-writing, how to indicate Jesting in; II. 117
     ”    ”    ”    Shyness in; II. 115
 Life, adult, Child’s view of; II. 260
     ”    Dramatization of; I. 133
     ”    Future, What interests will survive in it? II. 256
     ”    how to enjoy; I. 335
     ”    in Falling Houses; I. 100
     ”    ”    reverse order; I. 350
     ”    Present, Child’s view of; I. 330
 Light, Black, how to produce; II. 341
 Literature as influenced by Electricity; I. 64
     ”    ”    Steam; I. 64
     ”    for Railway; I. 58
     ”    treated by rule of Least Common Multiple; I. 22
 ‘Little Birds’ (Poem); II. 364, 371, 377
 ‘Little Man’ (Poem); II. 265
     ”    privilege of being; I. 299
 Liturgy, Choral, effect of; I. 273
 Logic of Crocodiles; I. 230
     ”    of Ladies; I. 235
     ”    of Dr. Watts; do.
     ”    requisites for complete Argument in; I. 259
 Loving or being loved. Which is best? I. 77
 Lunatic-Asylums, future use for; II. 132
 Lunatics out-numbering the Sane, result of; II. 133
 Man, advantages of, over the Dog; II. 293
     ”    graduated races of; I. 299
     ”    Little, privilege of being; I. 299
 Maps, best size for; II. 169
 ‘Matilda Jane’ (Poem); II. 76
 ‘Megaloscope’; II. 334
 Minds, or Books. Which contain most Science? I. 21
 Money, effect of increasing value of; I. 312
     ”    playing for, a moral act; II. 135
 Morality of Sport; I. xx, 318. II. xviii
 Moral Philosophy, teachers of. Which are most esteemed? II. 181
 Moving-Guests; II. 145
     ”    Pictures; II. 143
 Music, how to get largest amount of in given time; I. 338
     “    Why is it sometimes not pleasing? II. 156
 ‘Nero’ the Dog-King; I. 175. II. 58
 Nerve-Force and Free-Will; I. 390
 Nerves, slow action of; I. 158
 Novel-reading, how to enjoy; I. 336
 ‘Obstruction,’ Political, in common life; II. 203
 ‘Onus probandi’ misplaced by Crocodiles; I. 230
     ”    ”    Ladies; I. 235
     ”    ”    Dr. Watts; do.
 ‘Opposition,’ Political, in common life; II. 200
 Pain, how to minimise; I. 337
 Paley’s definition of Virtue; I. 273
 Parentheses in Conversation, how to indicate; I. 251
 Passages, Selected, for learning by heart; I. xv
 Payment of Debts, how to avoid; I. 131
 ‘Peter and Paul’ (Poem); I. 143
 Philosophy, Moral. What kind is most esteemed? II. 181
 Phlizz, a visionary flower; I. 282
     ”    ”    fruit; I. 75
     ”    ”    nurse-maid; I. 283
 Pictures, how to criticize; I. 238
     ”    Moving; II. 143
 ‘Pig Tale’ (Poem); I. 138; II. 366, 372
 Planets, small; II. 170
 Playing for money, a moral act; II. 135
 Pleasure, how to maximise; I. 335
 Plunge-Bath, portable, for Tourists; I. 25
 Poems, first lines of:—
     ‘He stept so lightly to the land’; I. 291
     ‘He thought he saw an Albatross’; I. 164
     ”    ”    an Argument’; II. 319
     ”    ”    a Banker’s Clerk’; I. 90
     ”    ”    a Buffalo’; I. 78
     ”    ”    a Coach-and-Four’; I. 116
     ”    ”    an Elephant’; I. 65; II. 334
     ”    ”    a Garden-Door’; I. 168
     ”    ”    a Kangaroo’; I. 106
     ”    ”    a Rattlesnake’; I. 83
     ‘In Stature the Manlet was dwarfish’; II. 265
     ‘King Fisher courted Lady Bird’; II. 14
     ‘Little Birds are &c.’; II. 364, 371, 377
     ‘Matilda Jane, you never look’; II. 76
     ‘One thousand pounds per annuum’; II. 194
     ‘Peter is poor, said noble Paul’; I. 143
     ‘Rise, oh rise! The daylight dies’; I. 215
     ‘Say, what is the spell, when her fledgelings are cheeping’;
         II. 305
     ‘There be three Badgers on a mossy stone’; I. 247
     ‘There was a Pig, that sat alone’; I. 138; II. 366, 372
 Political Dichotomy in common life; II. 198, 205, 207
     ”    ‘Opposition’ in common life; II. 200
 Poor people, method for enriching; I. 312
 Poverty, blessings of; I. 152
 Prayer for temporal blessings, efficacy of; I. 391
 Preachers appealing to Selfishness; I. 276
     ”    exceptional privileges of; I. 277
 Promises. When are they binding? II. 26
     ”    breaking of. Why is it wrong? II. 27
 Proof, Burden of; (_see_ ‘Burden of Proof’)
 Property, inherited, duties of owner of; II. 39
 Pseudo-Charity; II. 43
 Purse of Fortunatus, how to make; II. 100
 Questions in Conversation, how to indicate; I. 251
 Railway Literature; I. 58
     ”    Scenes, Dramatization of; I. 333
 Rain, Horizontal, Boots for; I. 14
 Reason and Instinct; II. 295
     ”    power of, in Dog; II. 294
 Retina, images inverted on; I. 242
 Reversed order of Events; I. 350
 Revolving-Humorist; II. 145
 Runaway Horses, how to control; II. 108
 Scenery enjoyed most by Little Men; I. 299
 Scholars, Competition for; II. 187
 Science, Axioms of; II. 330
     “    Do Books, or Minds, contain most? I. 21
 Selections from Bible, for Children; I. xiii
     ”    ”    for learning by heart; I. xiv
     ”    Prose and Verse,    ”    ”; I. xv
     ”    from Shakespeare, for Girls; I. xv
 Selfishness appealed to in Hymns; I. 276
     ”    ”    religious teaching; do.
     ”    ”    Sermons; do.
 Sermons appealing to Selfishness; do.
     ”    faults of; I. 277. II. xix
 Services, Choral, effect of; I. 273
 Shakespeare, passages of, discussed:—
         ‘All the world’s a stage’; I. 335
         ‘Aye, every inch a king!’; I. 373
         ‘Is this a dagger that I see before me?’; I. 371
         ‘Rest, rest, perturbed Spirit!’; I. 60
         ‘To be, or not to be’; I. 370
     ”    Selections from, for Girls; I. xv
     ”    treatment of Ghosts by; I. 60
 Shyness, how to indicate in Letter-writing; II. 115
 ‘Sillygism,’ requisites for; I. 259
 Sinfulness, amount of, in World; II. 125
     ”    of an act differs with environment; II. 123
 Sobriety, extreme, inconvenience of; I. 140
 Spencer, Herbert, difficulties in; I. 258
 Spherical, advantage of being; II. 190
 Sport, Morality of; I. xx, 318. II. xviii
 Steam, influence of, on Literature; I. 64
 Sufferings of Animals, mystery of; II. 296
 Sunday, as spent by children of last generation; I. 387
     ”    observance of; I. 385
 Sylvie and Bruno’s Song; II. 305
 Teetotal-Card; II. 139
 Theatres, Fires in, how to prevent; II. 165
 ‘Three Badgers’ (Poem); I. 247
 Time, how to put back; I. 314, 347
     ”    ”    reverse; I. 350
     ”    storage of; II. 105
 ‘Tottles’ (Poem); II. 194, 201, 209, 248
 Tourists’ Portable Bath; I. 25
 Trains running without engines; II. 106
 Velocity, Accelerated, causes of; II. 190
 Virtue, Paley’s definition of; I. 274
 Voyages on Land; II. 109
 Walking-sticks that walk alone, how to obtain; II. 166
 Water, people lighter than, how to obtain; II. 165
 Watts, Dr., Argument for Honesty; I. 235
     ”    Logic of; do.
 Weather, Horizontal, Boots for; I. 14
 Weight, force of, how to exhaust; II. 343
     ”    relative, conceivable non-existence of; I. 100
 Weltering, Bread-sauce appropriate for; I. 58
 ‘What Tottles meant’ (Poem); II. 194, 201, 209, 248
 Wild-Creatures; II. 144
 Wilderness, use for; II. 158
 ‘Wilful waste, &c.,’ lesson to be learnt from; II. 69

                       Works by Lewis Carroll.

                    SYLVIE AND BRUNO. First Part.

With forty-six Illustrations by Harry Furniss. 12mo, cloth extra, gilt,


“A charming book for children. The illustrations are very happy.”—_Boston Traveller._

“Alice was a delightful little girl, but hardly more pleasing than are the hero and heroine of this latest book from a writer in whose nonsense there is far more sense than in the serious works of many contemporary authors.”—_Morning Post._

“Mr. Furniss’s illustrations, which are numerous, are at once graceful and full of humor. We pay him a high compliment when we say he proves himself a worthy successor to Mr. Tenniel in illustrating Mr. Lewis Carroll’s books.”—_St. James’s Gazette._

“Bruno and Sylvie are wholly delightful creations, the Professor is worthy to rank with the immortal Pickwick, and there is an endless fund of enjoyment in the Gardener and his wonderful songs.... The pictures by Harry Furniss are incomparably good.”—_Boston Beacon._

“_Sylvie and Bruno_ is characterized by his peculiar and whimsical humor, his extravagant conceits, and the grotesqueness and inconsistency of plot, characters, and incidents in his stories.... It is a charming piece of work.”—_New York Sun._

  _One Hundredth Thousand._ With forty-two Illustrations by Tenniel.
                      12mo, cloth, gilt, $1.00.
               Also a German Translation. 12mo, $2.00.
                  A French Translation. 12mo, $2.00.
                 An Italian Translation. 12mo, $2.00.

“An excellent piece of nonsense.”—_Times._

“That most delightful of children’s stories.”—_Saturday Review._

“That delectable and truly imaginative work.”—_New York Sun._

“Probably no other book has ever filled just the place that _Alice in Wonderland_ has held in the hearts of children and grown people during the last twenty years.”—_Every Thursday._

“_Alice in Wonderland_ and its sequel _Through the Looking-Glass_ are known wherever the English tongue is spoken. They are classics of their kind and could in no wise be improved upon.”—_St. Louis Republic._

“_Alice in Wonderland_ is the most delightful imaginative composition of late years for boys and girls.”—_The Boston Globe._

“Love for children and keen sympathy with them in the delightfully primitive views they take of life is one of the distinctive characteristics of Lewis Carroll.”—_The Churchman._

_Sixtieth Thousand._ With fifty Illustrations by Tenniel. 12mo, cloth,
                             gilt, $1.00.

“Will fairly rank with the tale of her previous experience.”—_Daily Telegraph._

“Many of Mr. Tenniel’s designs are masterpieces of wise absurdity.”—_Athenæum._

“Whether as regarding author or illustrator, this book is a jewel rarely to be found nowadays.”—_Echo._

                       WHAT ALICE FOUND THERE.
 With all the Illustrations. Printed in one volume, on thinner paper,
                            cloth, $1.25.

“We know of no books in the whole range of juvenile literature so full of genuine and boundless fun as these.”—_Boston Evening Transcript._

                          THE NURSERY ALICE.
Containing twenty colored enlargements from Tenniel’s Illustrations to
   _Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland_, with text adapted to Nursery
         Readers by Lewis Carroll. 4to, colored cover, $1.50.

“Let the little people rejoice!—the most charming book in the world has appeared for them. _The Nursery Alice_, with its wealth of colored illustrations from Tenniel’s pictures, is certainly the most artistic juvenile that has been seen for many and many a day.”—_Boston Budget._

“This is a charming book, both in pictures and in text, for the little ones of the nursery. It is a sort of miniature of _Alice in Wonderland_, and will no doubt have a circulation and become as great a favorite among the wee ones as the larger volume has among the older children.”—_Christian at Work._

 Being a Fac-simile of the original MS. Book afterward developed into
 _Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland_. With twenty-seven Illustrations.
                             12mo, $1.50.

                      THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK.
An Agony in Eight Fits. With nine Illustrations by Henry Holiday. _New
                    Edition._ Cloth, gilt, $1.00.

“This is a very pretty edition of the verses which should have made their author famous, even if he had never written _Alice in Wonderland_. The Snark, like the Jabberwock, for some reason or other, has no place in the natural histories, yet it is a very charming creature. The book contains nine quaint illustrations by Henry Holiday.”—_America._

                          RHYME? AND REASON?
  With sixty-five Illustrations by Arthur B. Frost and nine by Henry
                        Holiday. 12mo, $1.50.

This book is a reprint, with additions, of the comic portions of _Phantasmagoria, and other Poems_, and of _The Hunting of the Snark_.

“_Rhyme? and Reason?_ by Lewis Carroll, author of _Alice in Wonderland_ shows the same quaintness of fancy and the same originality of humor that mark his prose works. The versification is smooth and flowing, and the rhyming exceedingly ingenious.”—_Boston Saturday Evening Gazette._

“_Rhyme? and Reason?_ with its clever illustrations, will be sure of great popularity.”—_Philadelphia Press._

                           A TANGLED TALE.
Reprinted from the _Monthly Packet_. With Illustrations. 12mo, cloth,

“To people mathematically inclined, who are fond of odd style and odd illustrations, and who like to travel so many (Gordian) knots an hour, Mr. Lewis Carroll’s new ‘wonderland’—_A Tangled Tale_—will prove a delightful treat.”—_The Critic._

                          THE GAME OF LOGIC.
  With an Envelope containing a Card Diagram and Nine Counters—four
                red and five gray. 12mo, cloth, $1.00.

                        A NEW UNIFORM EDITION
                          MRS. MOLESWORTH’S
                         STORIES FOR CHILDREN

          In Ten Volumes. 12mo. Cloth. One Dollar a Volume.
 Tell Me a Story, and Herr Baby.
   “Carrots,” and A Christmas Child.
     Grandmother Dear, and Two Little Waifs.
   The Cuckoo Clock, and The Tapestry Room.
   Christmas-Tree Land, and A Christmas Posy.
 The Children of the Castle, and Four Winds Farm.
   Little Miss Peggy, and Nurse Heatherdale’s Story.
     “Us,” and The Rectory Children.
   Rosy, and The Girls and I.
                THE SET, TEN VOLUMES, IN BOX, $10.00.

“It seems to me not at all easier to draw a lifelike child than to draw a lifelike man or woman: Shakespeare and Webster were the only two men of their age who could do it with perfect delicacy and success; at least, it there was another who could, I must crave pardon of his happy memory for my forgetfulness or ignorance of his name. Our own age is more fortunate, on this single score at least, having a larger and far nobler proportion of female writers; among whom, since the death of George Eliot, there is none left whose touch is so exquisite and masterly, whose love is so thoroughly according to knowledge, whose bright and sweet invention is so fruitful, so truthful, or so delightful as Mrs. Molesworth’s. Any chapter of _The Cuckoo Clock_ or the enchanting _Adventures of Herr Baby_ is worth a shoal of the very best novels dealing with the characters and fortunes of mere adults.”—Mrs. A. C. Swinburne, in _The Nineteenth Century_.

                          MRS. MOLESWORTH’S
                        Stories for Children.

“There is hardly a better author to put into the hands of children than Mrs. Molesworth. I cannot easily speak too highly of her work. It is a curious art she has, not wholly English in its spirit, but a cross of the old English with the Italian. Indeed, I should say Mrs. Molesworth had also been a close student of the German and Russian, and had some way, catching and holding the spirit of all, created a method and tone quite her own.... Her characters are admirable and real.”—_St. Louis Globe-Democrat._

“Mrs. Molesworth has a rare gift for composing stories for children. With a light yet forcible touch, she paints sweet and artless, yet natural and strong, characters.”—_Congregationalist._

“Mrs. Molesworth always has in her books those charming touches of nature that are sure to charm small people. Her stories are so likely to have been true that men ‘grown up’ do not disdain them.”—_Home Journal._

“No English writer of childish stories has a better reputation than Mrs. Molesworth, and none with whose stories we are familiar deserves it better. She has a motherly knowledge of the child nature, a clear sense of character, the power of inventing simple incidents that interest, and the ease which comes of continuous practice.”—_Mail and Express._

“Christmas would hardly be Christmas without one of Mrs. Molesworth’s stories. No one has quite the same power of throwing a charm and an interest about the most commonplace every-day doings as she has, and no one has ever blended fairy-land and reality with the same skill.”—_Educational Times._

“Mrs. Molesworth is justly a great favorite with children; her stories for them are always charmingly interesting and healthful in tone.”—_Boston Home Journal._

“Mrs. Molesworth’s books are cheery, wholesome, and particularly well adapted to refined life. It is safe to add that Mrs. Molesworth is the best English prose writer for children.... A new volume from Mrs. Molesworth is always a treat.”—_The Beacon._

“No holiday season would be complete for a host of young readers without a volume from the hand of Mrs. Molesworth.... It is one of the peculiarities of Mrs. Molesworth’s stories that older readers can no more escape their charm than younger ones.”—_Christian Union._

“Mrs. Molesworth ranks with George Macdonald and Mrs. Ewing as a writer of children’s stories that possess real literary merit.”—_Milwaukee Sentinel._

                THE SET, TEN VOLUMES, IN BOX, $10.00.

                   TELL ME A STORY, and HERR BABY.

“So delightful that we are inclined to join in the petition, and we hope she may soon tell us more stories.”—_Athenæum._

                    “CARROTS”; Just a Little Boy.

“One of the cleverest and most pleasing stories it has been our good fortune to meet with for some time. Carrots and his sister are delightful little beings, whom to read about is at once to become very fond of.”—_Examiner._

             A CHRISTMAS CHILD; A Sketch of a Boy’s Life.

“A very sweet and tenderly drawn sketch, with life and reality manifest throughout.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

“This is a capital story, well illustrated. Mrs. Molesworth is one of those sunny, genial writers who has genius for writing acceptably for the young. She has the happy faculty of blending enough real with romance to make her stories very practical for good without robbing them of any of their exciting interest.”—_Chicago Inter-Ocean._

“Mrs. Molesworth is one of the few writers of tales for children whose sentiment though of the sweetest kind is never sickly; whose religious feeling is never concealed yet never obtruded; whose books are always good but never ‘goody.’ Little Ted with his soft heart, clever head, and brave spirit is no morbid presentment of the angelic child ‘too good to live,’ and who is certainly a nuisance on earth, but a charming creature, if not a portrait, whom it is a privilege to meet even in fiction.”—_The Academy._

                          THE CUCKOO CLOCK.

“A beautiful little story.... It will be read with delight by every child into whose hands it is placed.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

                          GRANDMOTHER DEAR.

“The author’s concern is with the development of character, and seldom does one meet with the wisdom, tact, and good breeding which pervade this little book.”—_Nation._

                          TWO LITTLE WAIFS.

“Mrs. Molesworth’s delightful story of _Two Little Waifs_ will charm all the small people who find it in their stockings. It relates the adventures of two lovable English children lost in Paris, and is just wonderful enough to pleasantly wring the youthful heart.”—_New York Tribune._

“It is, in its way, indeed, a little classic, of which the real beauty and pathos can hardly be appreciated by young people.... It is not too much to say of the story that it is perfect of its kind.”—_Critic and Good Literature._

“This is a charming little juvenile story from the pen of Mrs. Molesworth, detailing the various adventures of a couple of motherless children in searching for their father, whom they had missed in Paris, where they had gone to meet him.”—_Montreal Star._

                          THE TAPESTRY ROOM.

“Mrs. Molesworth is the queen of children’s fairy-land. She knows how to make use of the vague, fresh, wondering instincts of childhood, and to invest familiar things with fairy glamour.”—_Athenæum._

“The story told is a charming one of what may be called the neo-fairy sort.... There has been nothing better of its kind done anywhere for children, whether we consider its capacity to awaken interest or its wholesomeness.”—_Evening Post._

                         CHRISTMAS-TREE LAND.

“It is conceived after a happy fancy, as it relates the supposititious journey of a party of little ones through that part of fairy-land where Christmas-trees are supposed to most abound. There is just enough of the old-fashioned fancy about fairies mingled with the ‘modern improvements’ to incite and stimulate the youthful imagination to healthful action. The pictures by Walter Crane are, of course, not only well executed in themselves, but in charming consonance with the spirit of the tale.”—_Troy Times._

“_Christmas-Tree Land_, by Mrs. Molesworth, is a book to make younger readers open their eyes wide with delight. A little boy and a little girl, domiciled in a great white castle, wander on their holidays through the surrounding fir-forests, and meet with the most delightful pleasures. There is a fascinating, mysterious character in their adventures and enough of the fairylike and wonderful to puzzle and enchant all the little ones.”—_Boston Home Journal._

                          A CHRISTMAS POSY.

“This is a collection of eight of those inimitable stories for children which none could write better than Mrs. Molesworth. Her books are prime favorites with children of all ages, and they are as good and wholesome as they are interesting and popular. This makes a very handsome book, and its illustrations are excellent.”—_Christian at Work._

“_A Christmas Posy_, by Mrs. Molesworth, is lovely and fragrant. Mrs. Molesworth succeeds by right to the place occupied with so much honor by the late Mrs. Ewing, as a writer of charming stories for children. The present volume is a cluster of delightful short stories. Mr. Crane’s illustrations are in harmony with the text.”—_Christian Intelligencer._

                     THE CHILDREN OF THE CASTLE.

“_The Children of the Castle_, by Mrs. Molesworth, is another of those delightful juvenile stories of which this author has written so many. It is a fascinating little book, with a charming plot, a sweet, pure atmosphere, and teaches a wholesome moral in the most winning manner.”—_B. S. E. Gazette._

“_The Children of the Castle_ are delightful creations, actual little girls, living in an actual castle, but often led by their fancies into a shadowy fairy-land. There is a charming refinement of style and spirit about the story from beginning to end; an imaginative child will find endless pleasure in it, and the lesson of gentleness and unselfishness is so artistically managed that it does not seem like a lesson, but only a part of the story.”—_Milwaukee Sentinel._

                           FOUR WINDS FARM.

“Mrs. Molesworth’s books are always delightful, but of all none is more charming than the volume with which she greets the holidays this season. _Four Winds Farm_ is one of the most delicate and pleasing books for a child that has seen the light this many a day. It is full of fancy and of that instinctive sympathy with childhood which makes this author’s books so attractive and so individual.”—_Boston Courier._

“Still more delicately fanciful is Mrs. Molesworth’s lovely little tale of the _Four Winds Farm_. It is neither a dream nor a fairy story, but concerns the fortune of a real little boy, named Gratian; yet the dream and the fairy tale seem to enter into his life, and make part of it. The farmhouse in which the child lives is set exactly at the meeting-place of the four winds, and they, from the moment of his birth, have acted as his self-elected godmothers.... All the winds love the boy, and, held in the balance of their influence, he grows up as a boy should, simply and truly, with a tender heart and firm mind. The idea of this little book is essentially poetical.”—_Literary World._

                      NURSE HEATHERDALE’S STORY.

“_Nurse Heatherdale’s Story_ is all about a small boy, who was good enough, yet was always getting into some trouble through complications in which he was not to blame. The same sort of things happens to men and women. He is an orphan, though he is cared for in a way by relations, who are not so very rich, yet are looked on as well fixed. After many youthful trials and disappointments he falls into a big stroke of good luck, which lifts him and goes to make others happy. Those who want a child’s book will find nothing to harm and something to interest in this simple story.”—_Commercial Advertiser._


“Mrs. Molesworth’s _Us, an Old-Fashioned Story_, is very charming. A dear little six-year-old ‘bruvver’ and sister constitute the ‘us,’ whose adventures with gypsies form the theme of the story. Mrs. Molesworth’s style is graceful, and she pictures the little ones with brightness and tenderness.”—_Evening Post._

“A pretty and wholesome story.”—_Literary World._

“_Us, an Old-Fashioned Story_, is a sweet and quaint story of two little children who lived long ago, in an old-fashioned way, with their grandparents. The story is delightfully told.”—_Philadelphia News._

“_Us_ is one of Mrs. Molesworth’s charming little stories for young children. The narrative ... is full of interest for its real grace and delicacy, and the exquisiteness and purity of the English in which it is written.”—_Boston Advertiser._

                        THE RECTORY CHILDREN.

“In _The Rectory Children_ Mrs. Molesworth has written one of those delightful volumes which we always look for at Christmas time.”—_Athenæum._

“Quiet, sunny, interesting, and thoroughly winning and wholesome.”—_Boston Journal._

_The Rectory Children_—“There is no writer of children’s books more worthy of their admiration and love than Mrs. Molesworth. Her bright and sweet invention is so truthful, her characters so faithfully drawn, and the teaching of her stories so tender and noble, that while they please and charm they insensibly distil into the youthful mind the most valuable lessons. In _The Rectory Children_ we have a fresh, bright story that will be sure to please all her young admirers.”—_Christian at Work._

“_The Rectory Children_, by Mrs. Molesworth, is a very pretty story of English life. Mrs. Molesworth is one of the most popular and charming of English story-writers for children. Her child characters are true to life, always natural and attractive, and her stories are wholesome and interesting.”—_Indianapolis Journal._


“_Rosy_, like all the rest of her stories, is bright and pure and utterly free from cant,—a book that children will read with pleasure and lasting profit.”—_Boston Traveller._

“There is no one who has a genius better adapted for entertaining children than Mrs. Molesworth, and her latest story, _Rosy_, is one of her best. It is illustrated with eight woodcuts from designs by Walter Crane.”—_Philadelphia Press._

“... Mrs. Molesworth’s clever _Rosy_, a story showing in a charming way how one little girl’s jealousy and bad temper were conquered; one of the best, most suggestive and improving of the Christmas juveniles.”—_New York Tribune._

“_Rosy_ is an exceedingly graceful and interesting story by Mrs. Molesworth, one of the best and most popular writers of juvenile fiction. This little story is full of tenderness, is fragrant in sentiment, and points with great delicacy and genuine feeling a charming moral.”—_Boston Gazette._

                           THE GIRLS AND I.

“Perhaps the most striking feature of this pleasant story is the natural manner in which it is written. It is just like the conversation of a bright boy—consistently like it from beginning to end. It is a boy who is the hero of the tale, and he tells the adventures of himself and those nearest him. He is, by the way, in many respects an example for most young persons. It is a story characterized by sweetness and purity—a desirable one to put into the hands of youthful readers.”—_Gettysburg Monthly._

“... A delightful and purposeful story which no one can read without being benefited.”—_New York Observer._

             Mrs. Molesworth’s last story. _Just Ready._

“Mrs. Molesworth’s reputation as a writer of story-books is so well established that any new book of hers scarce needs a word of introduction.”—_Home Journal._

                           MACMILLAN & CO.,
                      66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK.

[Illustration: Book back cover.]

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sylvie and Bruno" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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