[Image…The dead hare]
I was afraid she would really make herself ill: still I thought
it best to let her weep away the first sharp agony of grief: and, after
a few minutes, the sobbing gradually ceased, and Sylvie rose to her
feet, and looked calmly at me, though tears were still streaming down
I did not dare to speak again, just yet; but simply held out my hand to
her, that we might quit the melancholy spot.
Yes, I’ll come now, she said. Very reverently she kneeled down,
and kissed the dead hare; then rose and gave me her hand,
and we moved on in silence.
A child’s sorrow is violent but short; and it was almost in her usual
voice that she said after a minute “Oh stop stop! Here are some lovely
We filled our hands with fruit and returned in all haste to where the
Professor and Bruno were seated on a bank awaiting our return.
Just before we came within hearing-distance Sylvie checked me.
“Please don’t tell Bruno about the hare!” she said.
Very well, my child. But why not?
Tears again glittered in those sweet eyes and she turned her head away
so that I could scarcely hear her reply. “He’s–he’s very fond of
gentle creatures you know. And he’d–he’d be so sorry! I don’t want
him to be made sorry.”
And your agony of sorrow is to count for nothing, then, sweet unselfish
child! I thought to myself. But no more was said till we had reached
our friends; and Bruno was far too much engrossed, in the feast we had
brought him, to take any notice of Sylvie’s unusually grave manner.
“I’m afraid it’s getting rather late, Professor?” I said.
“Yes, indeed,” said the Professor. “I must take you all through the
Ivory Door again. You’ve stayed your full time.”
“Mightn’t we stay a little longer!” pleaded Sylvie.
“Just one minute!” added Bruno.
But the Professor was unyielding. “It’s a great privilege, coming
through at all,” he said. “We must go now.” And we followed him
obediently to the Ivory Door, which he threw open, and signed to me to
go through first.
“You’re coming too, aren’t you?” I said to Sylvie.
“Yes,” she said: “but you won’t see us after you’ve gone through.”
“But suppose I wait for you outside?” I asked, as I stepped through the
“In that case,” said Sylvie, “I think the potato would be quite
justified in asking your weight. I can quite imagine a really superior
kidney-potato declining to argue with any one under fifteen stone!”
With a great effort I recovered the thread of my thoughts.
“We lapse very quickly into nonsense!” I said.
CROSSING THE LINE.
“Let us lapse back again,” said Lady Muriel. “Take another cup of tea?
I hope that’s sound common sense?”
“And all that strange adventure,” I thought, “has occupied the space of
a single comma in Lady Muriel’s speech! A single comma, for which
grammarians tell us to ‘count one’!” (I felt no doubt that the
Professor had kindly put back the time for me, to the exact point at
which I had gone to sleep.)
When, a few minutes afterwards, we left the house, Arthur’s first
remark was certainly a strange one. “We’ve been there just twenty
minutes,” he said, “and I’ve done nothing but listen to you and Lady
Muriel talking: and yet, somehow, I feel exactly as if I had been
talking with her for an hour at least!”
And so he had been, I felt no doubt: only, as the time had been put
back to the beginning of the tete-a-tete he referred to, the whole of
it had passed into oblivion, if not into nothingness! But I valued my
own reputation for sanity too highly to venture on explaining to him
what had happened.
For some cause, which I could not at the moment divine, Arthur was
unusually grave and silent during our walk home. It could not be
connected with Eric Lindon, I thought, as he had for some days been
away in London: so that, having Lady Muriel almost ‘all to himself’–
for I was only too glad to hear those two conversing, to have