“Oh, how lovely!” she cried, when at last the dress was unfolded.
“What a splendid disguise! An Esquimaux peasant-woman!”
“An Esquimaux peasant, indeed!” growled the other. “Here, put it on,
and look at yourself in the glass. Why, it’s a Bear, ca’n’t you use
your eyes?” He checked himself suddenly, as a harsh voice yelled
through the room
“He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head!”
But it was only the Gardener, singing under the open window.
The Vice-Warden stole on tip-toe to the window, and closed it noiselessly,
before he ventured to go on. “Yes, Lovey, a Bear: but not without a
head, I hope! You’re the Bear, and me the Keeper. And if any one
knows us, they’ll have sharp eyes, that’s all!”
“I shall have to practise the steps a bit,” my Lady said, looking out
through the Bear’s mouth: “one ca’n’t help being rather human just at
first, you know. And of course you’ll say ‘Come up, Bruin!’, won’t you?”
“Yes, of course,” replied the Keeper, laying hold of the chain, that
hung from the Bear’s collar, with one hand, while with the other he
cracked a little whip. “Now go round the room in a sort of a dancing
attitude. Very good, my dear, very good. Come up, Bruin!
Come up, I say!”
[Image…’Come up, bruin!’]
He roared out the last words for the benefit of Uggug, who had just
come into the room, and was now standing, with his hands spread out,
and eyes and mouth wide open, the very picture of stupid amazement.
“Oh, my!” was all he could gasp out.
The Keeper pretended to be adjusting the bear’s collar, which gave him
an opportunity of whispering, unheard by Uggug, “my fault, I’m afraid!
Quite forgot to fasten the door. Plot’s ruined if he finds it out!
Keep it up a minute or two longer. Be savage!” Then, while seeming
to pull it back with all his strength, he let it advance upon the
scared boy: my Lady, with admirable presence of mind, kept up what she
no doubt intended for a savage growl, though it was more like the
purring of a cat: and Uggug backed out of the room with such haste that
he tripped over the mat, and was heard to fall heavily outside–
an accident to which even his doting mother paid no heed, in the
excitement of the moment.
The Vice-Warden shut and bolted the door. “Off with the disguises!”
he panted. “There’s not a moment to lose. He’s sure to fetch the
Professor, and we couldn’t take him in, you know!” And in another
minute the disguises were stowed away in the cupboard, the door
unbolted, and the two Conspirators seated lovingly side-by-side on the
sofa, earnestly discussing a book the Vice-Warden had hastily snatched
off the table, which proved to be the City-Directory of the capital of
The door opened, very slowly and cautiously, and the Professor peeped
in, Uggug’s stupid face being just visible behind him.
“It is a beautiful arrangement!” the Vice-warden was saying with
enthusiasm. “You see, my precious one, that there are fifteen houses
in Green Street, before you turn into West Street.”
“Fifteen houses! Is it possible?” my Lady replied. “I thought it was
fourteen!” And, so intent were they on this interesting question, that
neither of them even looked up till the Professor, leading Uggug by the
hand, stood close before them.
My Lady was the first to notice their approach.
“Why, here’s the Professor!” she exclaimed in her blandest tones.
“And my precious child too! Are lessons over?”
“A strange thing has happened!” the Professor began in a trembling tone.
“His Exalted Fatness” (this was one of Uggug’s many titles)
“tells me he has just seen, in this very room, a Dancing-Bear and a
The Vice-Warden and his wife shook with well-acted merriment.
Not in this room, darling!” said the fond mother. “We’ve been sitting
here this hour or more, reading–,” here she referred to the book
lying on her lap, “–reading the–the City-Directory.”
“Let me feel your pulse, my boy!” said the anxious father.
“Now put out your tongue. Ah, I thought so! He’s a little feverish,