"Well, there's generally very few of them that get any. They will keep their mouths shut so tight! And it's just as well they do," she added, "because Bruno likes to cook it himself: and he cooks very queerly." Now they're all in. Would you just help me to put them with their heads the right way?"
We soon managed this part of the business, though the Frogs kept up a most discontented croaking all the time.
"What are they saying?" I asked Sylvie.
"They're saying 'Fork! Fork!' It's very silly of them! You're not going to have forks!" she announced with some severity. "Those that want any Feast have just got to open their mouths, and Bruno 'll put some of it in!"
At this moment Bruno appeared, wearing a little white apron to show that he was a Cook, and carrying a tureen full of very queer-looking soup. I watched very carefully as he moved about among the Frogs; but I could not see that any of them opened their mouths to be fed-- except one very young one, and I'm nearly sure it did it accidentally, in yawning. However Bruno instantly put a large spoonful of soup into its mouth, and the poor little thing coughed violently for some time.
So Sylvie and I had to share the soup between us, and to pretend to enjoy it, for it certainly was very queerly cooked.
I only ventured to take one spoonful of it ("Sylvie's Summer-Soup," Bruno said it was), and must candidly confess that it was not at all nice; and I could not feel surprised that so many of the guests had kept their mouths shut up tight.
"What's the soup made of, Bruno?" said Sylvie, who had put a spoonful of it to her lips, and was making a wry face over it.
And Bruno's answer was anything but encouraging. "Bits of things!"
The entertainment was to conclude with "Bits of Shakespeare," as Sylvie expressed it, which were all to be done by Bruno, Sylvie being fully engaged in making the Frogs keep their heads towards the stage: after which Bruno was to appear in his real character, and tell them a Story of his own invention.
"Will the Story have a Moral to it?" I asked Sylvie, while Bruno was away behind the hedge, dressing for the first 'Bit.'
"I think so," Sylvie replied doubtfully. "There generally is a Moral, only he puts it in too soon."
"And will he say all the Bits of Shakespeare?"
"No, he'll only act them," said Sylvie. "He knows hardly any of the words. When I see what he's dressed like, I've to tell the Frogs what character it is. They're always in such a hurry to guess! Don't you hear them all saying 'What? What?'" And so indeed they were: it had only sounded like croaking, till Sylvie explained it, but I could now make out the "Wawt? Wawt?" quite distinctly.
"But why do they try to guess it before they see it?"
"I don't know," Sylvie said: "but they always do. Sometimes they begin guessing weeks and weeks before the day!"
(So now, when you hear the Frogs croaking in a particularly melancholy way, you may be sure they're trying to guess Bruno's next Shakespeare 'Bit'. Isn't that interesting?)
However, the chorus of guessing was cut short by Bruno, who suddenly rushed on from behind the scenes, and took a flying leap down among the Frogs, to re-arrange them.
For the oldest and fattest Frog--who had never been properly arranged so that he could see the stage, and so had no idea what was going on--was getting restless, and had upset several of the Frogs, and turned others round with their heads the wrong way. And it was no good at all, Bruno said, to do a 'Bit' of Shakespeare when there was nobody to look at it (you see he didn't count me as anybody). So he set to work with a stick, stirring them up, very much as you would stir up tea in a cup, till most of them had at least one great stupid eye gazing at the stage.
"Oo must come and sit among them, Sylvie," he said in despair, "I've put these two side-by-side, with their noses the same way, ever so many times, but they do squarrel so!"
So Sylvie took her place as 'Mistress of the Ceremonies,' and Bruno vanished again behind the scenes, to dress for the first 'Bit.'
"Hamlet!" was suddenly proclaimed, in the clear sweet tones I knew so well.