I tried to pick so me myself--but it was like grasping air, and I soon gave up the attempt and returned to Sylvie.
"Look well at it, my darling," the old man was saying, "and tell me how you like it."
"'It's just lovely," cried Sylvie, delightedly. "Bruno, come and look!" And she held up, so that he might see the light through it, a heart-shaped Locket, apparently cut out of a single jewel, of a rich blue colour, with a slender gold chain attached to it.
"It are welly pretty," Bruno more soberly remarked: and he began spelling out some words inscribed on it. "All--will--love--Sylvie," he made them out at last. "And so they doos!" he cried, clasping his arms round her neck. "Everybody loves Sylvie!"
"But we love her best, don't we, Bruno?" said the old King, as he took possession of the Locket. "Now, Sylvie, look at this." And he showed her, lying on the palm of his hand, a Locket of a deep crimson colour, the same shape as the blue one and, like it, attached to a slender golden chain.
"Lovelier and lovelier!" exclaimed Sylvie, clasping her hands in ecstasy. "Look, Bruno!"
"And there's words on this one, too," said Bruno. "Sylvie--will--love--all."
"Now you see the difference," said the old man: "different colours and different words.
Choose one of them, darling. I'll give you which ever you like best."
[Image...The crimson locket]
Sylvie whispered the words, several times over, with a thoughtful smile, and then made her decision. "It's very nice to be loved," she said: "but it's nicer to love other people! May I have the red one, Father?"
The old man said nothing: but I could see his eyes fill with tears, as he bent his head and pressed his lips to her forehead in a long loving kiss. Then he undid the chain, and showed her how to fasten it round her neck, and to hide it away under the edge of her frock. "It's for you to keep you know he said in a low voice, not for other people to see. You'll remember how to use it?
Yes, I'll remember, said Sylvie.
"And now darlings it's time for you to go back or they'll be missing you and then that poor Gardener will get into trouble!"
Once more a feeling of wonder rose in my mind as to how in the world we were to get back again--since I took it for granted that wherever the children went I was to go--but no shadow of doubt seemed to cross their minds as they hugged and kissed him murmuring over and over again "Good-bye darling Father!" And then suddenly and swiftly the darkness of midnight seemed to close in upon us and through the darkness harshly rang a strange wild song:--
He thought he saw a Buffalo Upon the chimney-piece: He looked again, and found it was His Sister's Husband's Niece. 'Unless you leave this house,' he said, 'I'll send for the Police!'
[Image...'He thought he saw a buffalo']
"That was me!" he added, looking out at us, through the half-opened door, as we stood waiting in the road.' "And that's what I'd have done--as sure as potatoes aren't radishes--if she hadn't have tooken herself off! But I always loves my pay-rints like anything."
"Who are oor pay-rints?" said Bruno.
"Them as pay rint for me, a course!" the Gardener replied. "You can come in now, if you like."
He flung the door open as he spoke, and we got out, a little dazzled and stupefied (at least I felt so) at the sudden transition from the half-darkness of the railway-carriage to the brilliantly-lighted platform of Elveston Station.
A footman, in a handsome livery, came forwards and respectfully touched his hat. "The carriage is here, my Lady," he said, taking from her the wraps and small articles she was carrying: and Lady Muriel, after shaking hands and bidding me "Good-night!" with a pleasant smile, followed him.
It was with a somewhat blank and lonely feeling that I betook myself to the van from which the luggage was being taken out: and, after giving directions to have my boxes sent after me, I made my way on foot to Arthur's lodgings, and soon lost my lonely feeling in the hearty welcome my old friend gave me, and the cozy warmth and cheerful light of the little sitting-room into which he led me.