"If you'll just think over any Poem that contains the two words--such as--"
The Professor put his hands over his ears, with a look of dismay. "If you once let him begin a Poem," he said to Sylvie, "he'll never leave off again! He never does!"
"Did he ever begin a Poem and not leave off again?" Sylvie enquired.
"Three times," said the Professor.
Bruno raised himself on tiptoe, till his lips were on a level with Sylvie's ear. "What became of them three Poems?" he whispered. "Is he saying them all, now?"
"Hush!" said Sylvie. "The Other Professor is speaking!"
"I'll say it very quick," murmured the Other Professor, with downcast eyes, and melancholy voice, which contrasted oddly with his face, as he had forgotten to leave off smiling. ("At least it wasn't exactly a smile," as Sylvie said afterwards: "it looked as if his mouth was made that shape."
"Go on then," said the Professor. "What must be must be."
"Remember that!" Sylvie whispered to Bruno, "It's a very good rule for whenever you hurt yourself."
"And it's a very good rule for whenever I make a noise," said the saucy little fellow. "So you remember it too, Miss!"
"Whatever do you mean?" said Sylvie, trying to frown, a thing she never managed particularly well.
"Oftens and oftens," said Bruno, "haven't oo told me ' There mustn't be so much noise, Bruno!' when I've tolded oo 'There must!' Why, there isn't no rules at all about 'There mustn't'! But oo never believes me!"
"As if any one could believe you, you wicked wicked boy!" said Sylvie. The words were severe enough, but I am of opinion that, when you are really anxious to impress a criminal with a sense of his guilt, you ought not to pronounce the sentence with your lips quite close to his cheek--since a kiss at the end of it, however accidental, weakens the effect terribly.
PETER AND PAUL.
"As I was saying," the Other Professor resumed, "if you'll just think over any Poem, that contains the words--such as
'Peter is poor,' said noble Paul, 'And I have always been his friend: And, though my means to give are small, At least I can afford to lend. How few, in this cold age of greed, Do good, except on selfish grounds! But I can feel for Peter's need, And I WILL LEND HIM FIFTY POUNDS!'
How great was Peter's joy to find His friend in such a genial vein! How cheerfully the bond he signed, To pay the money back again! 'We ca'n't,' said Paul, 'be too precise: 'Tis best to fix the very day: So, by a learned friend's advice, I've made it Noon, the Fourth of May.
[Image...'How cheefully the bond he signed!']
But this is April! Peter said. 'The First of April, as I think. Five little weeks will soon be fled: One scarcely will have time to wink! Give me a year to speculate-- To buy and sell--to drive a trade--' Said Paul 'I cannot change the date. On May the Fourth it must be paid.'
'Well, well!' said Peter, with a sigh. 'Hand me the cash, and I will go. I'll form a Joint-Stock Company, And turn an honest pound or so.' 'I'm grieved,' said Paul, 'to seem unkind: The money shalt of course be lent: But, for a week or two, I find It will not be convenient.'
So, week by week, poor Peter came And turned in heaviness away; For still the answer was the same, 'I cannot manage it to-day.' And now the April showers were dry-- The five short weeks were nearly spent-- Yet still he got the old reply, 'It is not quite convenient!'
The Fourth arrived, and punctual Paul Came, with his legal friend, at noon. 'I thought it best,' said he, 'to call: One cannot settle things too soon.' Poor Peter shuddered in despair: His flowing locks he wildly tore: And very soon his yellow hair Was lying all about the floor.
The legal friend was standing by, With sudden pity half unmanned: The tear-drop trembled in his eye, The signed agreement in his hand: But when at length the legal soul Resumed its customary force, 'The Law,' he said, 'we ca'n't control: Pay, or the Law must take its course!'
Said Paul 'How bitterly I rue That fatal morning when I called! Consider, Peter, what you do! You won't be richer when you're bald! Think you, by rending curls away, To make your difficulties less? Forbear this violence, I pray: You do but add to my distress!'
[Image...'Poor peter shuddered in despair']
'Not willingly would I inflict,' Said Peter, 'on that noble heart One needless pang.