“But how in the world is he to get out of the bag again?”
“That, I take it,” said the Professor, “is the most beautiful part of
the whole invention. All the way up the P.B., inside, are loops for the
thumbs; so it’s something like going up-stairs, only perhaps less
comfortable; and, by the time the A. T. has risen out of the bag, all
but his head, he’s sure to topple over, one way or the other–the Law
of Gravity secures that. And there he is on the floor again!”
“A little bruised, perhaps?”
“Well, yes, a little bruised; but having had his plunge-bath: that’s
the great thing.”
“Wonderful! It’s almost beyond belief!” murmured the Sub-Warden.
The Professor took it as a compliment, and bowed with a gratified smile.
“Quite beyond belief!” my Lady added–meaning, no doubt, to be more
complimentary still. The Professor bowed, but he didn’t smile this
time. “I can assure you,” he said earnestly, “that, provided the bath
was made, I used it every morning. I certainly ordered it–that I am
clear about–my only doubt is, whether the man ever finished making
it. It’s difficult to remember, after so many years–”
At this moment the door, very slowly and creakingly, began to open,
and Sylvie and Bruno jumped up, and ran to meet the well-known footstep.
“It’s my brother!” the Sub-warden exclaimed, in a warning whisper.
“Speak out, and be quick about it!”
The appeal was evidently addressed to the Lord Chancellor, who
instantly replied, in a shrill monotone, like a little boy repeating
the alphabet, “As I was remarking, your Sub-Excellency, this portentous
“You began too soon!” the other interrupted, scarcely able to restrain
himself to a whisper, so great was his excitement. “He couldn’t have
heard you. Begin again!” “As I was remarking,” chanted the obedient
Lord Chancellor, “this portentous movement has already assumed the
dimensions of a Revolution!”
“And what are the dimensions of a Revolution?” The voice was genial and
mellow, and the face of the tall dignified old man, who had just
entered the room, leading Sylvie by the hand, and with Bruno riding
triumphantly on his shoulder, was too noble and gentle to have scared a
less guilty man: but the Lord Chancellor turned pale instantly,
and could hardly articulate the words “The dimensions your–
your High Excellency? I–I–scarcely comprehend!”
“Well, the length, breadth, and thickness, if you like it better!”
And the old man smiled, half-contemptuously.
The Lord Chancellor recovered himself with a great effort, and pointed
to the open window. “If your High Excellency will listen for a moment
to the shouts of the exasperated populace–” (“of the exasperated
populace!” the Sub-Warden repeated in a louder tone, as the Lord
Chancellor, being in a state of abject terror, had dropped almost into
a whisper) “–you will understand what it is they want. ”
And at that moment there surged into the room a hoarse confused cry, in
which the only clearly audible words were “Less–bread–More–taxes!”
The old man laughed heartily. “What in the world–” he was beginning:
but the Chancellor heard him not. “Some mistake!” he muttered,
hurrying to the window, from which he shortly returned with an air of
relief. “Now listen!” he exclaimed, holding up his hand impressively.
And now the words came quite distinctly, and with the regularity of the
ticking of a clock, “More–bread–Less taxes!'”
“More bread!” the Warden repeated in astonishment. “Why, the new
Government Bakery was opened only last week, and I gave orders to sell
the bread at cost-price during the present scarcity! What can they
“The Bakery’s closed, y’reince!” the Chancellor said, more loudly and
clearly than he had spoken yet. He was emboldened by the consciousness
that here, at least, he had evidence to produce: and he placed in the
Warden’s hands a few printed notices, that were lying ready, with some
open ledgers, on a side-table.
“Yes, yes, I see!” the Warden muttered, glancing carelessly through
them. “Order countermanded by my brother, and supposed to be my doing!
Rather sharp practice! It’s all right!” he added in a louder tone.
“My name is signed to it: so I take it on myself. But what do they