“Nothing is remarkable that you say, sweet one!”

My Lady smiled approval of the sentiment, and went on.

“And am I Vice-Wardeness?”

“If you choose to use that title,” said the Warden:

“but ‘Your Excellency’ will be the proper style of address. And I trust

that both ‘His Excellency’ and ‘Her Excellency’ will observe the

Agreement I have drawn up. The provision I am most anxious about

is this.” He unrolled a large parchment scroll, and read aloud the words

“‘item, that we will be kind to the poor.’ The Chancellor worded it

for me,” he added, glancing at that great Functionary.

“I suppose, now, that word ‘item’ has some deep legal meaning?”

“Undoubtedly!” replied the Chancellor, as articulately as he could with

a pen between his lips. He was nervously rolling and unrolling several

other scrolls, and making room among them for the one the Warden had

just handed to him. “These are merely the rough copies,” he explained:

“and, as soon as I have put in the final corrections–” making a

great commotion among the different parchments, “–a semi-colon or

two that I have accidentally omitted–” here he darted about, pen in

hand, from one part of the scroll to another, spreading sheets of

blotting-paper over his corrections, “all will be ready for signing.”

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

“No need, no need!” the Sub-Warden and the Chancellor exclaimed at the

same moment, with feverish eagerness.

“No need at all,” the Warden gently assented. “Your husband and I have

gone through it together. It provides that he shall exercise the full

authority of Warden, and shall have the disposal of the annual revenue

attached to the office, until my return, or, failing that, until Bruno

comes of age: and that he shall then hand over, to myself or to Bruno

as the case may be, the Wardenship, the unspent revenue, and the

contents of the Treasury, which are to be preserved, intact, under his


All this time the Sub-Warden was busy, with the Chancellor’s help,

shifting the papers from side to side, and pointing out to the Warden

the place whew he was to sign. He then signed it himself, and my Lady

and the Chancellor added their names as witnesses.

“Short partings are best,” said the Warden. “All is ready for my

journey. My children are waiting below to see me off” He gravely kissed

my Lady, shook hands with his brother and the Chancellor, and left the


[Image…’What a game!’]

The three waited in silence till the sound of wheels announced

that the Warden was out of hearing: then, to my surprise, they broke

into peals of uncontrollable laughter.

“What a game, oh, what a game!” cried the Chancellor. And he and the

Vice-Warden joined hands, and skipped wildly about the room. My Lady

was too dignified to skip, but she laughed like the neighing of a

horse, and waved her handkerchief above her head: it was clear to her

very limited understanding that something very clever had been done,

but what it was she had yet to learn.

“You said I should hear all about it when the Warden had gone,”

she remarked, as soon as she could make herself heard.

“And so you shall, Tabby!” her husband graciously replied, as he

removed the blotting-paper, and showed the two parchments lying side by

side. “This is the one he read but didn’t sign: and this is the one he

signed but didn’t read! You see it was all covered up, except the place

for signing the names–”

“Yes, yes!” my Lady interrupted eagerly, and began comparing the two


“‘Item, that he shall exercise the authority of Warden, in the Warden’s

absence.’ Why, that’s been changed into ‘shall be absolute governor for

life, with the title of Emperor, if elected to that office by the

people.’ What! Are you Emperor, darling?”

“Not yet, dear,” the Vice-Warden replied. “It won’t do to let this

paper be seen, just at present. All in good time.”

My Lady nodded, and read on. “‘Item, that we will be kind to the poor.’

Why, that’s omitted altogether!”

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

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Categories: Carroll, Lewis