“We know the way to Fairyland–where Father’s gone–quite well,”
said Sylvie: “if only the Gardener would let us out.”
“Won’t he open the door for you?” said the Professor.
“Not for us,” said Sylvie: “but I’m sure he would for you.
Do come and ask him, Professor dear!”
“I’ll come this minute!” said the Professor.
Bruno sat up and dried his eyes. “Isn’t he kind, Mister Sir?”
“He is indeed,” said I. But the Professor took no notice of my remark.
He had put on a beautiful cap with a long tassel, and was selecting one
of the Other Professor’s walking-sticks, from a stand in the corner of
the room. “A thick stick in one’s hand makes people respectful,”
he was saying to himself. “Come along, dear children!” And we all went
out into the garden together.
“I shall address him, first of all,” the Professor explained as we went
along, “with a few playful remarks on the weather. I shall then question
him about the Other Professor. This will have a double advantage. First,
it will open the conversation (you can’t even drink a bottle of wine
without opening it first): and secondly, if he’s seen the Other Professor,
we shall find him that way: and, if he hasn’t, we sha’n’t.”
On our way, we passed the target, at which Uggug had been made to shoot
during the Ambassador’s visit.
“See!” said the Professor, pointing out a hole in the middle of the
bull’s-eye. “His Imperial Fatness had only one shot at it; and he went
in just here!
Bruno carefully examined the hole. “Couldn’t go in there,”
he whispered to me. “He are too fat!”
We had no sort of difficulty in finding the Gardener. Though he was
hidden from us by some trees, that harsh voice of his served to direct
us; and, as we drew nearer, the words of his song became more and more
“He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
‘You’d best be getting home,’ he said:
‘The nights are very damp!'”
[Image…He thought he saw an albatross]
“Would it be afraid of catching cold?” said Bruno.
If it got very damp,” Sylvie suggested, “it might stick to something,
“And that somefin would have to go by the post, what ever it was!”
Bruno eagerly exclaimed. “Suppose it was a cow! Wouldn’t it be
dreadful for the other things!”
“And all these things happened to him,” said the Professor.
“That’s what makes the song so interesting.”
“He must have had a very curious life,” said Sylvie.
“You may say that!” the Professor heartily rejoined.
“Of course she may!” cried Bruno.
By this time we had come up to the Gardener, who was standing on one
leg, as usual, and busily employed in watering a bed of flowers with an
“It hasn’t got no water in it!” Bruno explained to him, pulling his
sleeve to attract his attention.
“It’s lighter to hold,” said the Gardener. “A lot of water in it makes
one’s arms ache.” And he went on with his work, singing softly to himself
“The nights are very damp!”
“In digging things out of the ground which you probably do now and
then,” the Professor began in a loud voice; “in making things into
heaps–which no doubt you often do; and in kicking things about with
one heel–which you seem never to leave off doing; have you ever
happened to notice another Professor something like me, but different?”
“Never!” shouted the Gardener, so loudly and violently that we all drew
back in alarm. “There ain’t such a thing!”
“We will try a less exciting topic,” the Professor mildly remarked to
the children. “You were asking–”
“We asked him to let us through the garden-door,” said Sylvie:
“but he wouldn’t: but perhaps he would for you!”
The Professor put the request, very humbly and courteously.
“I wouldn’t mind letting you out,” said the Gardener. “But I mustn’t
open the door for children. D’you think I’d disobey the Rules?
Not for one-and-sixpence!”
The Professor cautiously produced a couple of shillings.
“That’ll do it!” the Gardener shouted, as he hurled the watering-can