and I were to say ‘Sir’ when I spoked to him!”
“Well, you’re not doing both, you know.”
“Ah, but I is doing bofe, Miss Praticular!” Bruno exclaimed
triumphantly. “I wishted to speak about the Gemplun–and I wishted to
speak to the Gemplun. So a course I said ‘Mister Sir’!”
“That’s all right, Bruno,” I said.
“Course it’s all right!” said Bruno. “Sylvie just knows nuffin at all!”
“There never was an impertinenter boy!” said Sylvie, frowning till her
bright eyes were nearly invisible.
“And there never was an ignoranter girl!” retorted Bruno. “Come along
and pick some dindledums. That’s all she’s fit for!” he added in a very
loud whisper to me.
“But why do you say ‘Dindledums,’ Bruno? Dandelions is the right word.”
“It’s because he jumps about so,” Sylvie said, laughing.
“Yes, that’s it,” Bruno assented. “Sylvie tells me the words,
and then, when I jump about, they get shooken up in my head–
till they’re all froth!”
I expressed myself as perfectly satisfied with this explanation.
“But aren’t you going to pick me any dindledums, after all?”
“Course we will!” cried Bruno. “Come along, Sylvie!” And the happy
children raced away, bounding over the turf with the fleetness and
grace of young antelopes.
“Then you didn’t find your way back to Outland?” I said to the Professor.
“Oh yes, I did!” he replied, “We never got to Queer Street; but I found
another way. I’ve been backwards and forwards several times since
then. I had to be present at the Election, you know, as the author of
the new Money-act. The Emperor was so kind as to wish that I should
have the credit of it. ‘Let come what come may,’ (I remember the very
words of the Imperial Speech) ‘if it should turn out that the Warden is
alive, you will bear witness that the change in the coinage is the
Professor’s doing, not mine!’ I never was so glorified in my life,
before!” Tears trickled down his cheeks at the recollection, which
apparently was not wholly a pleasant one.
“Is the Warden supposed to be dead?”
“Well, it’s supposed so: but, mind you, I don’t believe it!
The evidence is very weak–mere hear-say. A wandering Jester, with a
Dancing-Bear (they found their way into the Palace, one day) has been
telling people he comes from Fairyland, and that the Warden died there.
I wanted the Vice-Warden to question him, but, most unluckily, he and
my Lady were always out walking when the Jester came round. Yes, the
Warden’s supposed to be dead!” And more tears trickled down the old
“But what is the new Money-Act?”
The Professor brightened up again. “The Emperor started the thing,”
he said. “He wanted to make everybody in Outland twice as rich as he
was before just to make the new Government popular. Only there wasn’t
nearly enough money in the Treasury to do it. So I suggested that he
might do it by doubling the value of every coin and bank-note in
Outland. It’s the simplest thing possible. I wonder nobody ever
thought of it before! And you never saw such universal joy.
The shops are full from morning to night. Everybody’s buying everything!”
“And how was the glorifying done?”
A sudden gloom overcast the Professor’s jolly face. “They did it as I
went home after the Election,” he mournfully replied. “It was kindly
meant but I didn’t like it! They waved flags all round me till I was
nearly blind: and they rang bells till I was nearly deaf: and they
strewed the road so thick with flowers that I lost my way!” And the
poor old man sighed deeply.
“How far is it to Outland?” I asked, to change the subject.
“About five days’ march. But one must go back–occasionally. You see,
as Court-Professor, I have to be always in attendance on Prince Uggug.
The Empress would be very angry if I left him, even for an hour.”
“But surely, every time you come here, you are absent ten days, at least?”
“Oh, more than that!” the Professor exclaimed. “A fortnight, sometimes.
But of course I keep a memorandum of the exact time when I started,