till I give you the word. He’s not here yet!” But at this moment the
great folding-doors of the saloon were flung open, and he turned with a
guilty start to receive His High Excellency. However it was only Bruno,
and the Chancellor gave a little gasp of relieved anxiety.
“Morning!” said the little fellow, addressing the remark, in a general
sort of way, to the Chancellor and the waiters. “Doos oo know where
Sylvie is? I’s looking for Sylvie!”
“She’s with the Warden, I believe, y’reince!” the Chancellor replied
with a low bow. There was, no doubt, a certain amount of absurdity in
applying this title (which, as of course you see without my telling
you, was nothing but ‘your Royal Highness’ condensed into one syllable)
to a small creature whose father was merely the Warden of Outland:
still, large excuse must be made for a man who had passed several years
at the Court of Fairyland, and had there acquired the almost impossible
art of pronouncing five syllables as one.
But the bow was lost upon Bruno, who had run out of the room, even
while the great feat of The Unpronounceable Monosyllable was being
Just then, a single voice in the distance was understood to shout
“A speech from the Chancellor!” “Certainly, my friends!” the Chancellor
replied with extraordinary promptitude. “You shall have a speech!”
Here one of the waiters, who had been for some minutes busy making a
queer-looking mixture of egg and sherry, respectfully presented it on a
large silver salver. The Chancellor took it haughtily, drank it off
thoughtfully, smiled benevolently on the happy waiter as he set down
the empty glass, and began. To the best of my recollection this is what
“Ahem! Ahem! Ahem! Fellow-sufferers, or rather suffering fellows–”
(“Don’t call ’em names!” muttered the man under the window.
“I didn’t say felons!” the Chancellor explained.)
“You may be sure that I always sympa–”
(“‘Ear, ‘ear!” shouted the crowd, so loudly as quite to drown the
orator’s thin squeaky voice) “–that I always sympa–” he repeated.
(“Don’t simper quite so much!” said the man under the window.
“It makes yer look a hidiot!” And, all this time, “‘Ear, ‘ear!” went
rumbling round the market-place, like a peal of thunder.)
“That I always sympathise!” yelled the Chancellor, the first moment
there was silence. “But your true friend is the Sub-Warden!
Day and night he is brooding on your wrongs–I should say your rights–
that is to say your wrongs–no, I mean your rights–”
(“Don’t talk no more!” growled the man under the window.
“You’re making a mess of it!”) At this moment the Sub-Warden entered
the saloon. He was a thin man, with a mean and crafty face, and a
greenish-yellow complexion; and he crossed the room very slowly,
looking suspiciously about him as if be thought there might be a
savage dog hidden somewhere. “Bravo!” he cried, patting the Chancellor
on the back. “You did that speech very well indeed.
Why, you’re a born orator, man!”
“Oh, that’s nothing! the Chancellor replied, modestly, with downcast
eyes. “Most orators are born, you know.”
The Sub-Warden thoughtfully rubbed his chin. “Why, so they are!” he
admitted. “I never considered it in that light. Still, you did it very
well. A word in your ear!”
The rest of their conversation was all in whispers: so, as I could hear
no more, I thought I would go and find Bruno.
I found the little fellow standing in the passage, and being addressed
by one of the men in livery, who stood before him, nearly bent double
from extreme respectfulness, with his hands hanging in front of him
like the fins of a fish. “His High Excellency,” this respectful man was
saying, “is in his Study, y’reince!” (He didn’t pronounce this quite so
well as the Chancellor.) Thither Bruno trotted, and I thought it well
to follow him.
The Warden, a tall dignified man with a grave but very pleasant face,
was seated before a writing-table, which was covered with papers, and
holding on his knee one of the sweetest and loveliest little maidens it
has ever been my lot to see. She looked four or five years older than