ragged little boy, with bare feet, and a broom over his shoulder, who

ran across the road, and pretended to sweep the perfectly dry road in

front of us. “Give us a ‘ap’ny!” the little urchin pleaded, with a

broad grin on his dirty face.

“Don’t give him a ‘ap’ny!” said the little lady in my arms. The words

sounded harsh: but the tone was gentleness itself. “He’s an idle

little boy!” And she laughed a laugh of such silvery sweetness as I had

never yet heard from any lips but Sylvie’s. To my astonishment, the

boy actually joined in the laugh, as if there were some subtle sympathy

between them, as he ran away down the road and vanished through a gap

in the hedge.

But he was back in a few moments, having discarded his broom and

provided himself, from some mysterious source, with an exquisite

bouquet of flowers. “Buy a posy, buy a posy! Only a ‘ap’ny!” he

chanted, with the melancholy drawl of a professional beggar.

“Don’t buy it!” was Her Majesty’s edict as she looked down, with a

lofty scorn that seemed curiously mixed with tender interest, on the

ragged creature at her feet.

But this time I turned rebel, and ignored the royal commands.

Such lovely flowers, and of forms so entirely new to me, were not to be

abandoned at the bidding of any little maid, however imperious.

I bought the bouquet: and the little boy, after popping the halfpenny

into his mouth, turned head-over-heels, as if to ascertain whether the

human mouth is really adapted to serve as a money-box.

With wonder, that increased every moment, I turned over the flowers,

and examined them one by one: there was not a single one among them

that I could remember having ever seen before. At last I turned to the

nursemaid. “Do these flowers grow wild about here? I never saw–”

but the speech died away on my lips. The nursemaid had vanished!

“You can put me down, now, if you like,” Sylvie quietly remarked.

I obeyed in silence, and could only ask myself “Is this a dream?”,

on finding Sylvie and Bruno walking one on either side of me,

and clinging to my hands with the ready confidence of childhood.

“You’re larger than when I saw you last!” I began. “Really I think we

ought to be introduced again! There’s so much of you that I never met

before, you know.”

“Very well!” Sylvie merrily replied. “This is Bruno. It doesn’t take

long. He’s only got one name!”

“There’s another name to me!” Bruno protested, with a reproachful look

at the Mistress of the Ceremonies. “And it’s–‘ Esquire’!”

“Oh, of course. I forgot,” said Sylvie. “Bruno–Esquire!”

“And did you come here to meet me, my children?” I enquired.

“You know I said we’d come on Tuesday, Sylvie explained. “Are we the

proper size for common children?”

“Quite the right size for children,” I replied, (adding mentally

“though not common children, by any means!”) “But what became of the


“It are gone!” Bruno solemnly replied.

“Then it wasn’t solid, like Sylvie and you?”

“No. Oo couldn’t touch it, oo know. If oo walked at it, oo’d go right


“I quite expected you’d find it out, once,” said Sylvie. “Bruno ran it

against a telegraph post, by accident. And it went in two halves.

But you were looking the other way.”

I felt that I had indeed missed an opportunity: to witness such an

event as a nursemaid going ‘in two halves’ does not occur twice in a


“When did oo guess it were Sylvie?” Bruno enquired.

[Image…’It went in two halves’]

“I didn’t guess it, till it was Sylvie,” I said. “But how did

You manage the nursemaid? ”

“Bruno managed it,” said Sylvie. “It’s called a Phlizz.”

“And how do you make a Phlizz, Bruno?”

“The Professor teached me how,” said Bruno.

“First oo takes a lot of air–”

“Oh, Bruno!” Sylvie interposed. “The Professor said you weren’t to tell!”

But who did her voice?” I asked.

“Indeed it’s troubling you too much, Sir! She can walk very well on

the flat.”

Bruno laughed merrily as I turned hastily from side to side, looking in

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92

Categories: Carroll, Lewis