Bruno was standing with his hands over his face, crying bitterly.
[Image...'What's the matter, darling?']
"What's the matter, darling?" said Sylvie, with her arms round his neck.
"Hurted mine self welly much!" sobbed the poor little fellow.
"I'm so sorry, darling! How ever did you manage to hurt yourself so?"
"Course I managed it!" said Bruno, laughing through his tears. "Doos oo think nobody else but oo ca'n't manage things?"
Matters were looking distinctly brighter, now Bruno had begun to argue. "Come, let's hear all about it!" I said.
"My foot took it into its head to slip--" Bruno began.
"A foot hasn't got a head!" Sylvie put in, but all in vain.
"I slipted down the bank. And I tripted over a stone. And the stone hurted my foot! And I trod on a Bee. And the Bee stinged my finger!" Poor Bruno sobbed again. The complete list of woes was too much for his feelings. "And it knewed I didn't mean to trod on it!" he added, as the climax.
"That Bee should be ashamed of itself!" I said severely, and Sylvie hugged and kissed the wounded hero till all tears were dried.
"My finger's quite unstung now!" said Bruno. "Why doos there be stones? Mister Sir, doos oo know?"
"They're good for something," I said: "even if we don't know what. What's the good of dandelions, now?"
"Dindledums?" said Bruno. "Oh, they're ever so pretty! And stones aren't pretty, one bit. Would oo like some dindledums, Mister Sir?"
"Bruno!" Sylvie murmured reproachfully. "You mustn't say 'Mister' and 'Sir,' both at once! Remember what I told you!"
"You telled me I were to say Mister' when I spoked about him, and I were to say 'Sir' when I spoked to him!"
"Well, you're not doing both, you know."
"Ah, but I is doing bofe, Miss Praticular!" Bruno exclaimed triumphantly. "I wishted to speak about the Gemplun--and I wishted to speak to the Gemplun. So a course I said 'Mister Sir'!"
"That's all right, Bruno," I said.
"Course it's all right!" said Bruno. "Sylvie just knows nuffin at all!"
"There never was an impertinenter boy!" said Sylvie, frowning till her bright eyes were nearly invisible.
"And there never was an ignoranter girl!" retorted Bruno. "Come along and pick some dindledums. That's all she's fit for!" he added in a very loud whisper to me.
"But why do you say 'Dindledums,' Bruno? Dandelions is the right word."
"It's because he jumps about so," Sylvie said, laughing.
"Yes, that's it," Bruno assented. "Sylvie tells me the words, and then, when I jump about, they get shooken up in my head-- till they're all froth!"
I expressed myself as perfectly satisfied with this explanation. "But aren't you going to pick me any dindledums, after all?"
"Course we will!" cried Bruno. "Come along, Sylvie!" And the happy children raced away, bounding over the turf with the fleetness and grace of young antelopes.
"Then you didn't find your way back to Outland?" I said to the Professor.
"Oh yes, I did!" he replied, "We never got to Queer Street; but I found another way. I've been backwards and forwards several times since then. I had to be present at the Election, you know, as the author of the new Money-act. The Emperor was so kind as to wish that I should have the credit of it. 'Let come what come may,' (I remember the very words of the Imperial Speech) 'if it should turn out that the Warden is alive, you will bear witness that the change in the coinage is the Professor's doing, not mine!' I never was so glorified in my life, before!" Tears trickled down his cheeks at the recollection, which apparently was not wholly a pleasant one.
"Is the Warden supposed to be dead?"
"Well, it's supposed so: but, mind you, I don't believe it! The evidence is very weak--mere hear-say. A wandering Jester, with a Dancing-Bear (they found their way into the Palace, one day) has been telling people he comes from Fairyland, and that the Warden died there. I wanted the Vice-Warden to question him, but, most unluckily, he and my Lady were always out walking when the Jester came round.