"No, we aren't," said Bruno, who thought himself quite able to answer this question.
The Professor shook his head sadly. "Not even half-bound?"
"Why would we be half-bound?" said Bruno.
"We're not prisoners!"
But the Professor had forgotten all about them by this time, and was speaking to the Warden again. "You'll be glad to hear," he was saying, "that the Barometer's beginning to move--"
"Well, which way?" said the Warden--adding, to the children, "Not that I care, you know. Only he thinks it affects the weather. He's a wonderfully clever man, you know. Sometimes he says things that only the Other Professor can understand. Sometimes he says things that nobody can understand! Which way is it, Professor? Up or down?"
"Neither!" said the Professor, gently clapping his hands. "It's going sideways--if I may so express myself."
"And what kind of weather does that produce?" said the Warden. "Listen, children! Now you'll hear something worth knowing!"
"Horizontal weather," said the Professor, and made straight for the door, very nearly trampling on Bruno, who had only just time to get out of his way.
"Isn't he learned?" the Warden said, looking after him with admiring eyes. "Positively he runs over with learning!"
"But he needn't run over me!" said Bruno.
The Professor was back in a moment: he had changed his dressing-gown for a frock-coat, and had put on a pair of very strange-looking boots, the tops of which were open umbrellas. "I thought you'd like to see them," he said. "These are the boots for horizontal weather!"
[Image...Boots for horizontal weather]
"But what's the use of wearing umbrellas round one's knees?"
"In ordinary rain," the Professor admitted, "they would not be of much use. But if ever it rained horizontally, you know, they would be invaluable--simply invaluable!"
"Take the Professor to the breakfast-saloon, children," said the Warden. "And tell them not to wait for me. I had breakfast early, as I've some business to attend to." The children seized the Professor's hands, as familiarly as if they had known him for years, and hurried him away. I followed respectfully behind.
As we entered the breakfast-saloon, the Professor was saying "--and he had breakfast by himself, early: so he begged you wouldn't wait for him, my Lady. This way, my Lady," he added, "this way!" And then, with (as it seemed to me) most superfluous politeness, he flung open the door of my compartment, and ushered in "--a young and lovely lady!" I muttered to myself with some bitterness. "And this is, of course, the opening scene of Vol. I. She is the Heroine. And I am one of those subordinate characters that only turn up when needed for the development of her destiny, and whose final appearance is outside the church, waiting to greet the Happy Pair!"
"Yes, my Lady, change at Fayfield," were the next words I heard (oh that too obsequious Guard!), "next station but one." And the door closed, and the lady settled down into her corner, and the monotonous throb of the engine (making one feel as if the train were some gigantic monster, whose very circulation we could feel) proclaimed that we were once more speeding on our way. "The lady had a perfectly formed nose," I caught myself saying to myself, "hazel eyes, and lips--" and here it occurred to me that to see, for myself, what "the lady" was really like, would be more satisfactory than much speculation.
I looked round cautiously, and--was entirely disappointed of my hope. The veil, which shrouded her whole face, was too thick for me to see more than the glitter of bright eyes and the hazy outline of what might be a lovely oval face, but might also, unfortunately, be an equally unlovely one. I closed my eyes again, saying to myself "--couldn't have a better chance for an experiment in Telepathy! I'll think out her face, and afterwards test the portrait with the original."
At first, no result at all crowned my efforts, though I 'divided my swift mind,' now hither, now thither, in a way that I felt sure would have made AEneas green with envy: but the dimly-seen oval remained as provokingly blank as ever--a mere Ellipse, as if in some mathematical diagram, without even the Foci that might be made to do duty as a nose and a mouth.