She looked four or five years older than Bruno, but she had the same rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes, and the same wealth of curly brown hair. Her eager smiling face was turned upwards towards her father's, and it was a pretty sight to see the mutual love with which the two faces--one in the Spring of Life, the other in its late Autumn--were gazing on each other.
"No, you've never seen him," the old man was saying: "you couldn't, you know, he's been away so long--traveling from land to land, and seeking for health, more years than you've been alive, little Sylvie!" Here Bruno climbed upon his other knee, and a good deal of kissing, on a rather complicated system, was the result.
"He only came back last night," said the Warden, when the kissing was over: "he's been traveling post-haste, for the last thousand miles or so, in order to be here on Sylvie's birthday. But he's a very early riser, and I dare say he's in the Library already. Come with me and see him. He's always kind to children. You'll be sure to like him."
"Has the Other Professor come too?" Bruno asked in an awe-struck voice.
"Yes, they arrived together. The Other Professor is--well, you won't like him quite so much, perhaps. He's a little more dreamy, you know."
"I wiss Sylvie was a little more dreamy," said Bruno.
"What do you mean, Bruno?" said Sylvie.
Bruno went on addressing his father. "She says she ca'n't, oo know. But I thinks it isn't ca'n't, it's wo'n't."
"Says she ca'n't dream!" the puzzled Warden repeated.
"She do say it," Bruno persisted. "When I says to her 'Let's stop lessons!', she says 'Oh, I ca'n't dream of letting oo stop yet!'"
"He always wants to stop lessons," Sylvie explained, "five minutes after we begin!"
"Five minutes' lessons a day!" said the Warden. "You won't learn much at that rate, little man!"
"That's just what Sylvie says," Bruno rejoined. "She says I wo'n't learn my lessons. And I tells her, over and over, I ca'n't learn 'em. And what doos oo think she says? She says 'It isn't ca'n't, it's wo'n't!'"
"Let's go and see the Professor," the Warden said, wisely avoiding further discussion. The children got down off his knees, each secured a hand, and the happy trio set off for the Library--followed by me. I had come to the conclusion by this time that none of the party (except, for a few moments, the Lord Chancellor) was in the least able to see me.
"What's the matter with him?" Sylvie asked, walking with a little extra sedateness, by way of example to Bruno at the other side, who never ceased jumping up and down.
[Image...Visiting the profesor]
"What was the matter--but I hope he's all right now--was lumbago, and rheumatism, and that kind of thing. He's been curing himself, you know: he's a very learned doctor. Why, he's actually invented three new diseases, besides a new way of breaking your collar-bone!"
"Is it a nice way?" said Bruno.
"Well, hum, not very," the Warden said, as we entered the Library. "And here is the Professor. Good morning, Professor! Hope you're quite rested after your journey!"
A jolly-looking, fat little man, in a flowery dressing-gown, with a large book under each arm, came trotting in at the other end of the room, and was going straight across without taking any notice of the children. "I'm looking for Vol. Three," he said. "Do you happen to have seen it?"
"You don't see my children, Professor!" the Warden exclaimed, taking him by the shoulders and turning him round to face them.
The Professor laughed violently: then he gazed at them through his great spectacles, for a minute or two, without speaking.
At last he addressed Bruno. "I hope you have had a good night, my child?" Bruno looked puzzled. "I's had the same night oo've had," he replied. "There's only been one night since yesterday!"
It was the Professor's turn to look puzzled now. He took off his spectacles, and rubbed them with his handkerchief. Then he gazed at them again. Then he turned to the Warden. "Are they bound?" he enquired.