"Course not!" said the little fellow. "Only the eye that couldn't see wherever the rest of it had got to. But the eye that could see wherever--"
"How short was the crocodile?" I asked, as the story was getting a little complicated.
"Half as short again as when we caught it --so long," said Bruno, spreading out his arms to their full stretch.
I tried to calculate what this would come to, but it was too hard for me. Please make it out for me, dear Child who reads this!
"But you didn't leave the poor thing so short as that, did you?"
"Well, no. Sylvie and me took it back again and we got it stretched to--to--how much was it, Sylvie?"
"Two times and a half, and a little bit more," said Sylvie.
"It wouldn't like that better than the other way, I'm afraid?"
"Oh, but it did though!" Bruno put in eagerly. "It were proud of its new tail! Oo never saw a Crocodile so proud! Why, it could go round and walk on the top of its tail, and along its back, all the way to its head!"
[Image...A changed crocodile]
Not quite all the way," said Sylvie. "It couldn't, you know."
"Ah, but it did, once!" Bruno cried triumphantly. "Oo weren't looking--but I watched it. And it walked on tippiety-toe, so as it wouldn't wake itself, 'cause it thought it were asleep. And it got both its paws on its tail. And it walked and it walked all the way along its back. And it walked and it walked on its forehead. And it walked a tiny little way down its nose! There now!"
This was a good deal worse than the last puzzle. Please, dear Child, help again!
"I don't believe no Crocodile never walked along its own forehead!" Sylvie cried, too much excited by the controversy to limit the number of her negatives.
"Oo don't know the reason why it did it!', Bruno scornfully retorted. "It had a welly good reason. I heerd it say 'Why shouldn't I walk on my own forehead?' So a course it did, oo know!"
"If that's a good reason, Bruno," I said, "why shouldn't you get up that tree?"
"Shall, in a minute," said Bruno: "soon as we've done talking. Only two peoples ca'n't talk comfably togevver, when one's getting up a tree, and the other isn't!"
It appeared to me that a conversation would scarcely be 'comfable' while trees were being climbed, even if both the 'peoples' were doing it: but it was evidently dangerous to oppose any theory of Bruno's; so I thought it best to let the question drop, and to ask for an account of the machine that made things longer.
This time Bruno was at a loss, and left it to Sylvie. "It's like a mangle," she said: "if things are put in, they get squoze--"
"Squeezeled!" Bruno interrupted.
"Yes." Sylvie accepted the correction, but did not attempt to pronounce the word, which was evidently new to her. "They get--like that--and they come out, oh, ever so long!"
"Once," Bruno began again, "Sylvie and me writed--"
"Wrote!" Sylvie whispered.
"Well, we wroted a Nursery-Song, and the Professor mangled it longer for us. It were 'There was a little Man, And he had a little gun, And the bullets--'"
"I know the rest," I interrupted. "But would you say it long I mean the way that it came out of the mangle?"
"We'll get the Professor to sing it for you," said Sylvie. "It would spoil it to say it."
"I would like to meet the Professor," I said. "And I would like to take you all with me, to see some friends of mine, that live near here. Would you like to come?"
"I don't think the Professor would like to come," said Sylvie. "He's very shy. But we'd like it very much. Only we'd better not come this size, you know."
The difficulty had occurred to me already: and I had felt that perhaps there would be a slight awkwardness in introducing two such tiny friends into Society. "What size will you be?" I enquired.
"We'd better come as--common children," Sylvie thoughtfully replied. "That's the easiest size to manage."
"Could you come to-day?" I said, thinking "then we could have you at the picnic!"
Sylvie considered a little.