"Ah, well, I can soon settle his business," the Professor said to the children, "if you'll just wait a minute. How much is it, this year, my man?" The tailor had come in while he was speaking.
"Well, it's been a doubling so many years, you see," the tailor replied, a little gruffly, "and I think I'd like the money now. It's two thousand pound, it is!"
"Oh, that's nothing!" the Professor carelessly remarked, feeling in his pocket, as if he always carried at least that amount about with him. "But wouldn't you like to wait just another year, and make it four thousand? Just think how rich you'd be! Why, you might be a King, if you liked!"
"I don't know as I'd care about being a King," the man said thoughtfully. "But it; dew sound a powerful sight o' money! Well, I think I'll wait--"
"Of course you will!" said the Professor. "There's good sense in you, I see. Good-day to you, my man!"
"Will you ever have to pay him that four thousand pounds?" Sylvie asked as the door closed on the departing creditor.
"Never, my child!" the Professor replied emphatically. "He'll go on doubling it, till he dies. You see it's always worth while waiting another year, to get twice as much money! And now what would you like to do, my little friends? Shall I take you to see the Other Professor? This would be an excellent opportunity for a visit," he said to himself, glancing at his watch: "he generally takes a short rest --of fourteen minutes and a half--about this time."
Bruno hastily went round to Sylvie, who was standing at the other side of the Professor, and put his hand into hers. "I thinks we'd like to go," he said doubtfully: "only please let's go all together. It's best to be on the safe side, oo know!"
"Why, you talk as if you were Sylvie!" exclaimed the Professor.
"I know I did," Bruno replied very humbly. "I quite forgotted I wasn't Sylvie. Only I fought he might be rarver fierce!"
The Professor laughed a jolly laugh. "Oh, he's quite tame!" he said. "He never bites. He's only a little--a little dreamy, you know." He took hold of Bruno's other hand; and led the children down a long passage I had never noticed before--not that there was anything remarkable in that: I was constantly coming on new rooms and passages in that mysterious Palace, and very seldom succeeded in finding the old ones again.
Near the end of the passage the Professor stopped. "This is his room," he said, pointing to the solid wall.
"We ca'n't get in through there!" Bruno exclaimed.
Sylvie said nothing, till she had carefully examined whether the wall opened anywhere. Then she laughed merrily. "You're playing us a trick, you dear old thing!" she said. "There's no door here!"
"There isn't any door to the room," said the Professor. "We shall have to climb in at the window."
So we went into the garden, and soon found the window of the Other Professor's room. It was a ground-floor window, and stood invitingly open: the Professor first lifted the two children in, and then he and I climbed in after them.
[Image...The other professor]
The Other Professor was seated at a table, with a large book open before him, on which his forehead was resting: he had clasped his arms round the book, and was snoring heavily. "He usually reads like that," the Professor remarked, "when the book's very interesting: and then sometimes it's very difficult to get him to attend!"
This seemed to be one of the difficult times: the Professor lifted him up, once or twice, and shook him violently: but he always returned to his book the moment he was let go of, and showed by his heavy breathing that the book was as interesting as ever.
"How dreamy he is!" the Professor exclaimed. "He must have got to a very interesting part of the book!" And he rained quite a shower of thumps on the Other Professor's back, shouting "Hoy! Hoy!" all the time. "Isn't it wonderful that he should be so dreamy?" he said to Bruno.
"If he's always as sleepy as that," Bruno remarked, "a course he's dreamy!"
"But what are we to do?" said the Professor.