And one of them had got a moth's wing to carry--a great brown moth's wing, oo know, all dry, with feathers. So he couldn't want it to eat, I should think--perhaps he meant to make a cloak for the winter?"
"Perhaps," I said, for Bruno had twisted up the last word into a sort of question, and was looking at me for an answer.
One word was quite enough for the little fellow, and he went on merrily. "Well, and so he didn't want the other caterpillar to see the moth's wing, oo know--so what must he do but try to carry it with all his left legs, and he tried to walk on the other set. Of course he toppled over after that."
"After what?" I said, catching at the last word, for, to tell the truth, I hadn't been attending much.
"He toppled over," Bruno repeated, very gravely, "and if oo ever saw a caterpillar topple over, oo'd know it's a welly serious thing, and not sit grinning like that--and I sha'n't tell oo no more!"
"Indeed and indeed, Bruno, I didn't mean to grin. See, I'm quite grave again now."
But Bruno only folded his arms, and said "Don't tell me. I see a little twinkle in one of oor eyes--just like the moon."
"Why do you think I'm like the moon, Bruno?" I asked.
"Oor face is large and round like the moon," Bruno answered, looking at me thoughtfully. "It doosn't shine quite so bright--but it's more cleaner."
I couldn't help smiling at this. "You know I sometimes wash my face, Bruno. The moon never does that."
"Oh, doosn't she though!" cried Bruno; and he leant forwards and added in a solemn whisper, "The moon's face gets dirtier and dirtier every night, till it's black all across. And then, when it's dirty all over--so--" (he passed his hand across his own rosy cheeks as he spoke) "then she washes it."
"Then it's all clean again, isn't it?"
"Not all in a moment," said Bruno. "What a deal of teaching oo wants! She washes it little by little--only she begins at the other edge, oo know."
By this time he was sitting quietly on the dead mouse with his arms folded, and the weeding wasn't getting on a bit: so I had to say "Work first, pleasure afterwards: no more talking till that bed's finished."
After that we had a few minutes of silence, while I sorted out the pebbles, and amused myself with watching Bruno's plan of gardening. It was quite a new plan to me: he always measured each bed before he weeded it, as if he was afraid the weeding would make it shrink; and once, when it came out longer than he wished, he set to work to thump the mouse with his little fist, crying out "There now! It's all gone wrong again! Why don't oo keep oor tail straight when I tell oo!"
"I'll tell you what I'll do," Bruno said in a half-whisper, as we worked. "Oo like Fairies, don't oo?"
"Yes," I said: "of course I do, or I shouldn't have come here. I should have gone to some place where there are no Fairies."
Bruno laughed contemptuously. "Why, oo might as well say oo'd go to some place where there wasn't any air--supposing oo didn't like air!"
This was a rather difficult idea to grasp. I tried a change of subject. "You're nearly the first Fairy I ever saw. Have you ever seen any people besides me?"
"Plenty!" said Bruno. "We see'em when we walk in the road."
"But they ca'n't see you. How is it they never tread on you?"
"Ca'n't tread on us," said Bruno, looking amused at my ignorance. "Why, suppose oo're walking, here--so--" (making little marks on the ground) "and suppose there's a Fairy--that's me--walking here. Very well then, oo put one foot here, and one foot here, so oo doosn't tread on the Fairy."
This was all very well as an explanation, but it didn't convince me. "Why shouldn't I put one foot on the Fairy?" I asked.
"I don't know why," the little fellow said in a thoughtful tone. "But I know oo wouldn't. Nobody never walked on the top of a Fairy. Now I'll tell oo what I'll do, as oo're so fond of Fairies. I'll get oo an invitation to the Fairy-King's dinner-party. I know one of the head-waiters."
I couldn't help laughing at this idea. "Do the waiters invite the guests?" I asked.