"We've been sitting here this hour or more, reading--," here she referred to the book lying on her lap, "--reading the--the City-Directory."
"Let me feel your pulse, my boy!" said the anxious father. "Now put out your tongue. Ah, I thought so! He's a little feverish, Professor, and has had a bad dream. Put him to bed at once, and give him a cooling draught."
"I ain't been dreaming!" his Exalted Fatness remonstrated, as the Professor led him away.
"Bad grammar, Sir!" his father remarked with some sternness. "Kindly attend to that little matter, Professor, as soon as you have corrected the feverishness. And, by the way, Professor!" (The Professor left his distinguished pupil standing at the door, and meekly returned.) "There is a rumour afloat, that the people wish to elect an--in point of fact, an --you understand that I mean an--"
"Not another Professor!" the poor old man exclaimed in horror.
"No! Certainly not!" the Vice-Warden eagerly explained. "Merely an Emperor, you understand."
"An Emperor!" cried the astonished Professor, holding his head between his hands, as if he expected it to come to pieces with the shock. "What will the Warden--"
"Why, the Warden will most likely be the new Emperor!" my Lady explained. "Where could we find a better? Unless, perhaps--" she glanced at her husband.
"Where indeed!" the Professor fervently responded, quite failing to take the hint.
The Vice-Warden resumed the thread of his discourse. "The reason I mentioned it, Professor, was to ask you to be so kind as to preside at the Election. You see it would make the thing respectable--no suspicion of anything, underhand--"
"I fear I ca'n't, your Excellency!" the old man faltered. "What will the Warden--"
"True, true!" the Vice-Warden interrupted. "Your position, as Court-Professor, makes it awkward, I admit. Well, well! Then the Election shall be held without you."
"Better so, than if it were held within me!" the Professor murmured with a bewildered air, as if he hardly knew what he was saying. "Bed, I think your Highness said, and a cooling-draught?" And he wandered dreamily back to where Uggug sulkily awaited him.
I followed them out of the room, and down the passage, the Professor murmuring to himself, all the time, as a kind of aid to his feeble memory, "C, C, C; Couch, Cooling-Draught, Correct-Grammar," till, in turning a corner, he met Sylvie and Bruno, so suddenly that the startled Professor let go of his fat pupil, who instantly took to his heels.
THE OTHER PROFESSOR.
"We were looking for you!" cried Sylvie, in a tone of great relief. "We do want you so much, you ca'n't think!"
"What is it, dear children?" the Professor asked, beaming on them with a very different look from what Uggug ever got from him.
"We want you to speak to the Gardener for us," Sylvie said, as she and Bruno took the old man's hands and led him into the hall.
"He's ever so unkind!" Bruno mournfully added. "They's all unkind to us, now that Father's gone. The Lion were much nicer!"
"But you must explain to me, please," the Professor said with an anxious look, "which is the Lion, and which is the Gardener. It's most important not to get two such animals confused together. And one's very liable to do it in their case--both having mouths, you know--"
"Doos oo always confuses two animals together?" Bruno asked.
"Pretty often, I'm afraid," the Professor candidly confessed. "Now, for instance, there's the rabbit-hutch and the hall-clock." The Professor pointed them out. "One gets a little confused with them--both having doors, you know. Now, only yesterday--would you believe it?--I put some lettuces into the clock, and tried to wind up the rabbit!"
"Did the rabbit go, after oo wounded it up?" said Bruno.
The Professor clasped his hands on the top of his head, and groaned. "Go? I should think it did go! Why, it's gone? And where ever it's gone to--that's what I ca'n't find out! I've done my best--I've read all the article 'Rabbit' in the great dictionary--Come in!"
"Only the tailor, Sir, with your little bill," said a meek voice outside the door.