The Professor shook his head. "You are acting by Rule," he explained, "in opening the door for me. And now it's open, we are going out by Rule--the Rule of Three."
The Gardener looked puzzled, and let us go out; but, as he locked the door behind us, we heard him singing thoughtfully to himself
"He thought he saw a Garden-Door That opened with a key: He looked again, and found it was A Double Rule of Three: 'And all its mystery,' he said, 'Is clear as day to me!'"
"I shall now return," said the Professor, when we had walked a few yards: "you see, it's impossible to read here, for all my books are in the house."
But the children still kept fast hold of his hands. "Do come with us!" Sylvie entreated with tears in her eyes.
"Well, well!" said the good-natured old man. "Perhaps I'll come after you, some day soon. But I must go back now. You see I left off at a comma, and it's so awkward not knowing how the sentence finishes! Besides, you've got to go through Dogland first, and I'm always a little nervous about dogs. But it'll be quite easy to come, as soon as I've completed my new invention--for carrying one's-self, you know. It wants just a little more working out."
"Won't that be very tiring, to carry yourself?" Sylvie enquired.
"Well, no, my child. You see, whatever fatigue one incurs by carrying, one saves by being carried! Good-bye, dears! Good-bye, Sir!" he added to my intense surprise, giving my hand an affectionate squeeze.
"Good-bye, Professor!" I replied: but my voice sounded strange and far away, and the children took not the slightest notice of our farewell. Evidently they neither saw me nor heard me, as, with their arms lovingly twined round each other, they marched boldly on.
A VISIT TO DOGLAND.
"There's a house, away there to the left," said Sylvie, after we had walked what seemed to me about fifty miles. "Let's go and ask for a night's lodging."
"It looks a very comfable house," Bruno said, as we turned into the road leading up to it. "I doos hope the Dogs will be kind to us, I is so tired and hungry!"
A Mastiff, dressed in a scarlet collar, and carrying a musket, was pacing up and down, like a sentinel, in front of the entrance. He started, on catching sight of the children, and came forwards to meet them, keeping his musket pointed straight at Bruno, who stood quite still, though he turned pale and kept tight hold of Sylvie's hand, while the Sentinel walked solemnly round and round them, and looked at them from all points of view.
"Oobooh, hooh boohooyah!" He growled at last. "Woobah yahwah oobooh! Bow wahbah woobooyah? Bow wow?" he asked Bruno, severely.
Of course Bruno understood all this, easily enough. All Fairies understand Doggee---that is, Dog-language. But, as you may find it a little difficult, just at first, I had better put it into English for you. "Humans, I verily believe! A couple of stray Humans! What Dog do you belong to? What do you want?"
"We don't belong to a Dog!" Bruno began, in Doggee. ("Peoples never belongs to Dogs!" he whispered to Sylvie.)
But Sylvie hastily checked him, for fear of hurting the Mastiff's feelings. "Please, we want a little food, and a night's lodging--if there's room in the house," she added timidly. Sylvie spoke Doggee very prettily: but I think it's almost better, for you, to give the conversation in English.
"The house, indeed!" growled the Sentinel. "Have you never seen a Palace in your life?
Come along with me! His Majesty must settle what's to be done with you."
They followed him through the entrance-hall, down a long passage, and into a magnificent Saloon, around which were grouped dogs of all sorts and sizes. Two splendid Blood-hounds were solemnly sitting up, one on each side of the crown-bearer. Two or three Bull-dogs---whom I guessed to be the Body-Guard of the King--were waiting in grim silence: in fact the only voices at all plainly audible were those of two little dogs, who had mounted a settee, and were holding a lively discussion that looked very like a quarrel.