“Bruno was somewhere very near.
And so indeed he was–so near that I had very nearly walked over him
without seeing him; which would have been dreadful, always supposing
that Fairies can be walked over my own belief is that they are
something of the nature of Will-o’-the-wisps: and there’s no walking
Think of any pretty little boy you know, with rosy cheeks, large dark
eyes, and tangled brown hair, and then fancy him made small enough to
go comfortably into a coffee-cup, and you’ll have a very fair idea of
“What’s your name, little one?” I began, in as soft a voice as I could
manage. And, by the way, why is it we always begin by asking little
children their names? Is it because we fancy a name will help to make
them a little bigger? You never thought of as king a real large man
his name, now, did you? But, however that may be, I felt it quite
necessary to know his name; so, as he didn’t answer my question,
I asked it again a little louder. “What’s your name, my little man?”
“What’s oors?” he said, without looking up.
I told him my name quite gently, for he was much too small to be angry
“Duke of Anything?” he asked, just looking at me for a moment,
and then going on with his work.
“Not Duke at all,” I said, a little ashamed of having to confess it.
“Oo’re big enough to be two Dukes,” said the little creature.
“I suppose oo’re Sir Something, then?”
“No,” I said, feeling more and more ashamed. “I haven’t got any title.”
The Fairy seemed to think that in that case I really wasn’t worth the
trouble of talking to, for he quietly went on digging, and tearing the
flowers to pieces.
After a few minutes I tried again. “Please tell me what your name is.”
“Bruno,” the little fellow answered, very readily. “Why didn’t oo say
“That’s something like what we used to be taught in the nursery,”
I thought to myself, looking back through the long years (about a hundred
of them, since you ask the question), to the time when I was a little
child. And here an idea came into my head, and I asked him “Aren’t you
one of the Fairies that teach children to be good?”
“Well, we have to do that sometimes,” said Bruno, “and a dreadful
bother it is.” As he said this, he savagely tore a heartsease in two,
and trampled on the pieces.
“What are you doing there, Bruno?” I said.
“Spoiling Sylvie’s garden,” was all the answer Bruno would give at
first. But, as he went on tearing up the flowers, he muttered to
himself “The nasty cross thing wouldn’t let me go and play this
morning,–said I must finish my lessons first–lessons, indeed!
I’ll vex her finely, though!”
“Oh, Bruno, you shouldn’t do that!” I cried.
“Don’t you know that’s revenge? And revenge is a wicked, cruel,
“River-edge?” said Bruno. “What a funny word! I suppose oo call it
cruel and dangerous ’cause, if oo wented too far and tumbleded in,
oo’d get drownded.”
“No, not river-edge,” I explained: “revenge” (saying the word very
slowly). But I couldn’t help thinking that Bruno’s explanation did
very well for either word.
“Oh!” said Bruno, opening his eyes very wide, but without trying to
repeat the word.
“Come! Try and pronounce it, Bruno!” I said, cheerfully. “Re-venge,
But Bruno only tossed his little head, and said he couldn’t; that his
mouth wasn’t the right shape for words of that kind. And the more I
laughed, the more sulky the little fellow got about it.
“Well, never mind, my little man!” I said.
“Shall I help you with that job?”
“Yes, please,” Bruno said, quite pacified.
“Only I wiss I could think of somefin to vex her more than this.
Oo don’t know how hard it is to make her angry!”
“Now listen to me, Bruno, and I’ll teach you quite a splendid kind of
“Somefin that’ll vex her finely?” he asked with gleaming eyes.
“Something that will vex her finely. First, we’ll get up all the weeds