Sylvie laughed merrily. “What nonsense!” she cried.
“Why, you ca’n’t walk a bit! You’re lying quite flat on your back!
You don’t understand these things.”
“I can walk as well as you can,” I repeated. And I tried my best to
walk a few steps: but the ground slipped away backwards, quite as fast
as I could walk, so that I made no progress at all. Sylvie laughed
“There, I told you so! You’ve no idea how funny you look, moving your
feet about in the air, as if you were walking! Wait a bit. I’ll ask
the Professor what we’d better do.” And she knocked at his study-door.
The door opened, and the Professor looked out. “What’s that crying I
heard just now?” he asked. “Is it a human animal?”
“It’s a boy,” Sylvie said.
“I’m afraid you’ve been teasing him?”
“No, indeed I haven’t!” Sylvie said, very earnestly. “I never tease him!”
“Well, I must ask the Other Professor about it.” He went back into the
study, and we heard him whispering “small human animal–says she hasn’t
been teasing him–the kind that’s called Boy–”
“Ask her which Boy,” said a new voice. The Professor came out again.
“Which Boy is it that you haven’t been teasing?”
Sylvie looked at me with twinkling eyes. “You dear old thing!” she
exclaimed, standing on tiptoe to kiss him, while he gravely stooped to
receive the salute. “How you do puzzle me! Why, there are several
boys I haven’t been teasing!”
The Professor returned to his friend: and this time the voice said
“Tell her to bring them here–all of them!”
“I ca’n’t, and I won’t! “Sylvie exclaimed, the moment he reappeared.
“It’s Bruno that’s crying: and he’s my brother: and, please, we both
want to go: he ca’n’t walk, you know: he’s–he’s dreaming, you know”
(this in a whisper, for fear of hurting my feelings). “Do let’s go
through the Ivory Door!”
“I’ll ask him,” said the Professor, disappearing again. He returned
directly. “He says you may. Follow me, and walk on tip-toe.”
The difficulty with me would have been, just then, not to walk on
tip-toe. It seemed very hard to reach down far enough to just touch
the floor, as Sylvie led me through the study.
The Professor went before us to unlock the Ivory Door. I had just time
to glance at the Other Professor, who was sitting reading, with his
back to us, before the Professor showed us out through the door, and
locked it behind us. Bruno was standing with his hands over his face,
[Image…’What’s the matter, darling?’]
“What’s the matter, darling?” said Sylvie, with her arms round his neck.
“Hurted mine self welly much!” sobbed the poor little fellow.
“I’m so sorry, darling! How ever did you manage to hurt yourself so?”
“Course I managed it!” said Bruno, laughing through his tears.
“Doos oo think nobody else but oo ca’n’t manage things?”
Matters were looking distinctly brighter, now Bruno had begun to argue.
“Come, let’s hear all about it!” I said.
“My foot took it into its head to slip–” Bruno began.
“A foot hasn’t got a head!” Sylvie put in, but all in vain.
“I slipted down the bank. And I tripted over a stone. And the stone
hurted my foot! And I trod on a Bee. And the Bee stinged my finger!”
Poor Bruno sobbed again. The complete list of woes was too much for
his feelings. “And it knewed I didn’t mean to trod on it!” he added,
as the climax.
“That Bee should be ashamed of itself!” I said severely, and Sylvie
hugged and kissed the wounded hero till all tears were dried.
“My finger’s quite unstung now!” said Bruno. “Why doos there be stones?
Mister Sir, doos oo know?”
“They’re good for something,” I said: “even if we don’t know what.
What’s the good of dandelions, now?”
“Dindledums?” said Bruno. “Oh, they’re ever so pretty! And stones
aren’t pretty, one bit. Would oo like some dindledums, Mister Sir?”
“Bruno!” Sylvie murmured reproachfully. “You mustn’t say ‘Mister’ and
‘Sir,’ both at once! Remember what I told you!”
“You telled me I were to say Mister’ when I spoked about him,