X

SYLVIE and BRUNO by LEWIS CARROLL

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!”

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