"Why, he's simply a prodigy! You shall hear him play the piano? And he walked to the window. "Ug--I mean my boy! Come in for a minute, and bring the music-master with you! To turn over the music for him," he added as an explanation.
Uggug, having filled his basket with frogs, had no objection to obey, and soon appeared in the room, followed by a fierce-looking little man, who asked the Vice-Warden "Vot music vill you haf?"
"The Sonata that His Highness plays so charmingly," said the Vice-Warden. "His Highness haf not--" the music-master began, but was sharply stopped by the Vice-warden.
"Silence, Sir! Go and turn over the music for his Highness. My dear," (to the Wardeness) "will you show him what to do? And meanwhile, Baron, I'll just show you a most interesting map we have--of Outland, and Fairyland, and that sort of thing."
By the time my Lady had returned, from explaining things to the music-master, the map had been hung up, and the Baron was already much bewildered by the Vice-Warden's habit of pointing to one place while he shouted out the name of another.
[Image...The map of fairyland]
My Lady joining in, pointing out other places, and shouting other names, only made matters worse; and at last the Baron, in despair, took to pointing out places for himself, and feebly asked "Is that great yellow splotch Fairyland?"
"Yes, that's Fairyland," said the Vice-warden: "and you might as well give him a hint," he muttered to my Lady, "about going back to-morrow. He eats like a shark! It would hardly do for me to mention it."
His wife caught the idea, and at once began giving hints of the most subtle and delicate kind. "Just see what a short way it is back to Fairyland! Why, if you started to-morrow morning, you'd get there in very little more than a week!"
The Baron looked incredulous. "It took me a full month to come," he said.
"But it's ever so much shorter, going back, you know!'
The Baron looked appealingly to the Vice-warden, who chimed in readily. "You can go back five times, in the time it took you to come here once--if you start to-morrow morning!"
All this time the Sonata was pealing through the room. The Baron could not help admitting to himself that it was being magnificently played: but he tried in vain to get a glimpse of the youthful performer. Every time he had nearly succeeded in catching sight of him, either the Vice-Warden or his wife was sure to get in the way, pointing out some new place on the map, and deafening him with some new name.
He gave in at last, wished a hasty good-night, and left the room, while his host and hostess interchanged looks of triumph.
"Deftly done!" cried the Vice-Warden. "Craftily contrived! But what means all that tramping on the stairs?" He half-opened the door, looked out, and added in a tone of dismay, "The Baron's boxes are being carried down!"
"And what means all that rumbling of wheels?" cried my Lady. She peeped through the window curtains. "The Baron's carriage has come round!" she groaned.
At this moment the door opened: a fat, furious face looked in: a voice, hoarse with passion, thundered out the words "My room is full of frogs--I leave you!": and the door closed again.
And still the noble Sonata went pealing through the room: but it was Arthur's masterly touch that roused the echoes, and thrilled my very soul with the tender music of the immortal 'Sonata Pathetique': and it was not till the last note had died away that the tired but happy traveler could bring himself to utter the words "good-night!" and to seek his much-needed pillow.
A RIDE ON A LION.
The next day glided away, pleasantly enough, partly in settling myself in my new quarters, and partly in strolling round the neighbourhood, under Arthur's guidance, and trying to form a general idea of Elveston and its inhabitants. When five o'clock arrived, Arthur proposed without any embarrassment this time--to take me with him up to 'the Hall,' in order that I might make acquaintance with the Earl of Ainslie, who had taken it for the season, and renew acquaintance with his daughter Lady Muriel.