the other couple just as they reached the Station, and both Lady Muriel

and Eric greeted the children as old friends–the latter with the words

“So you got to Babylon by candlelight, after all?”

“Yes, and back again!” cried Bruno.

Lady Muriel looked from one to the other in blank astonishment.

“What, you know them, Eric?” she exclaimed.

“This mystery grows deeper every day!”

“Then we must be somewhere in the Third Act,” said Eric. “You don’t

expect the mystery to be cleared up till the Fifth Act, do you?”

“But it’s such a long drama!” was the plaintive reply. “We must have

got to the Fifth Act by this time!”

“Third Act, I assure you,” said the young soldier mercilessly.

“Scene, a railway-platform. Lights down. Enter Prince (in disguise,

of course) and faithful Attendant. This is the Prince–”

(taking Bruno’s hand) “and here stands his humble Servant!”

What is your Royal Highness next command.?”

And he made a most courtier-like low bow to his puzzled little friend.

“Oo’re not a Servant!” Bruno scornfully exclaimed. “Oo’re a Gemplun!”

“Servant, I assure your Royal Highness!” Eric respectfully insisted.

“Allow me to mention to your Royal Highness my various situations–past,

present, and future.”

“What did oo begin wiz?” Bruno asked, beginning to enter into the jest.

“Was oo a shoe-black?”

“Lower than that, your Royal Highness! Years ago, I offered myself as

a Slave–as a ‘Confidential Slave,’ I think it’s called?” he asked,

turning to Lady Muriel.

But Lady Muriel heard him not: something had gone wrong with her glove,

which entirely engrossed her attention.

“Did oo get the place?” said Bruno.

“Sad to say, Your Royal Highness, I did not! So I had to take a

situation as–as Waiter, which I have now held for some years haven’t

I?” He again glanced at Lady Muriel.

“Sylvie dear, do help me to button this glove!” Lady Muriel whispered,

hastily stooping down, and failing to hear the question.

“And what will oo be next?” said Bruno.

“My next place will, I hope, be that of Groom. And after that–”

“Don’t puzzle the child so!” Lady Muriel interrupted.

“What nonsense you talk!”

“–after that,” Eric persisted, “I hope to obtain the situation of

Housekeeper, which–Fourth Act!” he proclaimed, with a sudden change of

tone. “Lights turned up. Red lights. Green lights. Distant rumble

heard. Enter a passenger-train!”

And in another minute the train drew up alongside of the platform,

and a stream of passengers began to flow out from the booking office and


“Did you ever make real life into a drama?” said the Earl.

“Now just try. I’ve often amused myself that way.

Consider this platform as our stage. Good entrances and exits on both

sides, you see. Capital background scene: real engine moving up and down.

All this bustle, and people passing to and fro, must have been most

carefully rehearsed! How naturally they do it! With never a glance at

the audience! And every grouping is quite fresh, you see.

No repetition!”

It really was admirable, as soon as I began to enter into it from this

point of view. Even a porter passing, with a barrow piled with

luggage, seemed so realistic that one was tempted to applaud.

He was followed by an angry mother, with hot red face, dragging along

two screaming children, and calling, to some one behind, “John! Come on!”

Enter John, very meek, very silent, and loaded with parcels.

And he was followed, in his turn, by a frightened little nursemaid,

carrying a fat baby, also screaming. All the children screamed.

“Capital byplay!” said the old man aside. “Did you notice the

nursemaid’s look of terror? It was simply perfect!”

“You have struck quite a new vein,” I said. “To most of us Life and

its pleasures seem like a mine that is nearly worked out.”

“Worked out!” exclaimed the Earl. “For any one with true dramatic

instincts, it is only the Overture that is ended! The real treat has

yet to begin. You go to a theatre, and pay your ten shillings for a

stall, and what do you get for your money? Perhaps it’s a dialogue

between a couple of farmers–unnatural in their overdone caricature of

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Categories: Carroll, Lewis