However, I comforted myself with thinking "It's been a very wonderful afternoon, so far. I'll just go quietly on and look about me, and I shouldn't wonder if I were to come across another Fairy somewhere."
Peering about in this way, I happened to notice a plant with rounded leaves, and with queer little holes cut in the middle of several of them. "Ah, the leafcutter bee!" I carelessly remarked--you know I am very learned in Natural History (for instance, I can always tell kittens from chickens at one glance)--and I was passing on, when a sudden thought made me stoop down and examine the leaves.
Then a little thrill of delight ran through me --for I noticed that the holes were all arranged so as to form letters; there were three leaves side by side, with "B," "R," and "U" marked on them, and after some search I found two more, which contained an "N" and an "O."
And then, all in a moment, a flash of inner light seemed to illumine a part of my life that had all but faded into oblivion--the strange visions I had experienced during my journey to Elveston: and with a thrill of delight I thought "Those visions are destined to be linked with my waking life!"
By this time the 'eerie' feeling had come back again, and I suddenly observed that no crickets were chirping; so I felt quite sure that "Bruno was somewhere very near.
And so indeed he was--so near that I had very nearly walked over him without seeing him; which would have been dreadful, always supposing that Fairies can be walked over my own belief is that they are something of the nature of Will-o'-the-wisps: and there's no walking over them.
Think of any pretty little boy you know, with rosy cheeks, large dark eyes, and tangled brown hair, and then fancy him made small enough to go comfortably into a coffee-cup, and you'll have a very fair idea of him.
"What's your name, little one?" I began, in as soft a voice as I could manage. And, by the way, why is it we always begin by asking little children their names? Is it because we fancy a name will help to make them a little bigger? You never thought of as king a real large man his name, now, did you? But, however that may be, I felt it quite necessary to know his name; so, as he didn't answer my question, I asked it again a little louder. "What's your name, my little man?"
"What's oors?" he said, without looking up.
I told him my name quite gently, for he was much too small to be angry with.
"Duke of Anything?" he asked, just looking at me for a moment, and then going on with his work.
"Not Duke at all," I said, a little ashamed of having to confess it.
"Oo're big enough to be two Dukes," said the little creature. "I suppose oo're Sir Something, then?"
"No," I said, feeling more and more ashamed. "I haven't got any title."
The Fairy seemed to think that in that case I really wasn't worth the trouble of talking to, for he quietly went on digging, and tearing the flowers to pieces.
After a few minutes I tried again. "Please tell me what your name is."
"Bruno," the little fellow answered, very readily. "Why didn't oo say 'please' before?"
"That's something like what we used to be taught in the nursery," I thought to myself, looking back through the long years (about a hundred of them, since you ask the question), to the time when I was a little child. And here an idea came into my head, and I asked him "Aren't you one of the Fairies that teach children to be good?"
"Well, we have to do that sometimes," said Bruno, "and a dreadful bother it is." As he said this, he savagely tore a heartsease in two, and trampled on the pieces.
"What are you doing there, Bruno?" I said.
"Spoiling Sylvie's garden," was all the answer Bruno would give at first. But, as he went on tearing up the flowers, he muttered to himself "The nasty cross thing wouldn't let me go and play this morning,--said I must finish my lessons first--lessons, indeed! I'll vex her finely, though!"
"Oh, Bruno, you shouldn't do that!" I cried.
"Don't you know that's revenge? And revenge is a wicked, cruel, dangerous thing!"
"River-edge?" said Bruno.