himself than to me “The heart knoweth its own bitterness.
I never understood those words till now.”
The next few days passed wearily enough. I felt no inclination to call
by myself at the Hall; still less to propose that Arthur should go with
me: it seemed better to wait till Time–that gentle healer of our
bitterest sorrows should have helped him to recover from the first
shock of the disappointment that had blighted his life.
Business however soon demanded my presence in town; and I had to
announce to Arthur that I must leave him for a while.
“But I hope to run down again in a month I added. I would stay now,
if I could. I don’t think it’s good for you to be alone.
No, I ca’n’t face solitude, here, for long, said Arthur. But don’t
think about me. I have made up my mind to accept a post in India, that
has been offered me. Out there, I suppose I shall find something to
live for; I ca’n’t see anything at present. ‘This life of mine I guard,
as God’s high gift, from scathe and wrong, Not greatly care to lose!'”
“Yes,” I said: “your name-sake bore as heavy a blow, and lived through it.”
“A far heavier one than mine, said Arthur.
“The woman he loved proved false. There is no such cloud as that on my
memory of–of–” He left the name unuttered, and went on hurriedly.
“But you will return, will you not?”
“Yes, I shall come back for a short time.”
“Do,” said Arthur: “and you shall write and tell me of our friends.
I’ll send you my address when I’m settled down.”
THE FROGS’ BIRTHDAY-TREAT.
And so it came to pass that, just a week after the day when my
Fairy-friends first appeared as Children, I found myself taking a
farewell-stroll through the wood, in the hope of meeting them once
more. I had but to stretch myself on the smooth turf, and the ‘eerie’
feeling was on me in a moment.
“Put oor ear welly low down,” said Bruno, “and I’ll tell oo a secret!
It’s the Frogs’ Birthday-Treat–and we’ve lost the Baby!”
“What Baby?” I said, quite bewildered by this complicated piece of news.
“The Queen’s Baby, a course!” said Bruno. “Titania’s Baby. And we’s
welly sorry. Sylvie, she’s–oh so sorry!”
“How sorry is she?” I asked, mischievously.
“Three-quarters of a yard,” Bruno replied with perfect solemnity.
“And I’m a little sorry too,” he added, shutting his eyes so as not
to see that he was smiling.
“And what are you doing about the Baby?”
“Well, the soldiers are all looking for it–up and down everywhere.”
“The soldiers?” I exclaimed.
“Yes, a course!” said Bruno. “When there’s no fighting to be done,
the soldiers doos any little odd jobs, oo know.”
I was amused at the idea of its being a ‘little odd job’ to find the
Royal Baby. “But how did you come to lose it?” I asked.
“We put it in a flower,” Sylvie, who had just joined us, explained with
her eyes full of tears. “Only we ca’n’t remember which!”
“She says us put it in a flower,” Bruno interrupted, “’cause she doosn’t
want I to get punished. But it were really me what put it there.
Sylvie were picking Dindledums.”
[Image…The queen’s baby]
“You shouldn’t say ‘us put it in a flower’,” Sylvie very gravely remarked.
“Well, hus, then,” said Bruno. “I never can remember those horrid H’s!”
“Let me help you to look for it,” I said. So Sylvie and I made a
‘voyage of discovery’ among all the flowers; but there was no Baby to
“What’s become of Bruno?” I said, when we had completed our tour.
“He’s down in the ditch there,” said Sylvie, “amusing a young Frog.”
I went down on my hands and knees to look for him, for I felt very
curious to know how young Frogs ought to be amused. After a minute’s
search, I found him sitting at the edge of the ditch, by the side of
the little Frog, and looking rather disconsolate.
“How are you getting on, Bruno?” I said, nodding to him as he looked up.