Sylvie and Bruno by Carroll Lewis - HTML preview
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“Where, my darling?” said his fond mother, flinging her rounded the poor old wanderer, who waved them back with arms round the neck of the little monster. All of us (except quiet dignity. “No need to break my old bones,” he said. “I Sylvie and Bruno, who took no notice of what was going on) am going. Not even a crust!”
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll
“Poor, poor old man!” exclaimed a little voice at my side, could no longer control. To bring out even that one word half choked with sobs. Bruno was at the window, trying to seemed a gigantic effort: but, the cry once uttered, all effort throw out his slice of plum-cake, but Sylvie held him back.
ceased at once: a sudden gust swept away the whole scene,
“He shalt have my cake!” Bruno cried, passionately strug-and I found myself sitting up, staring at the young lady in gling out of Sylvie’s arms.
the opposite corner of the carriage, who had now thrown
“Yes, yes, darling!” Sylvie gently pleaded. “But don’t throw back her veil, and was looking at me with an expression of it out! He’s gone away, don’t you see? Let’s go after him.” amused surprise.
And she led him out of the room, unnoticed by the rest of the party, who were wholly absorbed in watching the old Beggar.
The Conspirators returned to their seats, and continued their conversation in an undertone, so as not to be heard by A BEGGAR’S PALACE
Uggug, who was still standing at the window.
“By the way, there was something about Bruno succeed-That I had said something, in the act of waking, I felt ing to the Wrardenship,” said my Lady. “How does that stand sure: the hoarse stifled cry was still ringing in my ears, even in the new Agreement?”
if the startled look of my fellow-traveler had not been evi-The Chancellor chuckled. “Just the same, word for word,” dence enough: but what could I possibly say by way of apol-he said, “with one exception, my Lady. Instead of ‘Bruno,’
I’ve taken the liberty to put in—” he dropped his voice to a
“I hope I didn’t frighten you?” I stammered out at last. “I whisper, “to put in ‘Uggug,’ you know!” have no idea what I said. I was dreaming.”
“Uggug, indeed!” I exclaimed, in a burst of indignation I
“You said ‘Uggug indeed!’” the young lady replied, with 26
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll quivering lips that would curve themselves into a smile, in guessed her at scarcely over twenty—all was the innocent spite of all her efforts to look grave. “At least—you didn’t say frankness of some angelic visitant, new to the ways of earth it—you shouted it!”
and the conventionalisms or, if you will, the barbarisms—of
“I’m very sorry,” was all I could say, feeling very penitent Society. “Even so,” I mused, “will Sylvie look and speak, in and helpless. “She has Sylvie’s eyes!” I thought to myself, another ten years.”
half-doubting whether, even now, I were fairly awake. “And
“You don’t care for Ghosts, then,” I ventured to suggest, that sweet look of innocent wonder is all Sylvie’s too. But unless they are really terrifying?” Sylvie hasn’t got that calm resolute mouth nor that far-away
“Quite so,” the lady assented. “The regular Railway-look of dreamy sadness, like one that has had some deep Ghosts—I mean the Ghosts of ordinary Railway-literature—
sorrow, very long ago—” And the thick-coming fancies al-are very poor affairs. I feel inclined to say, with Alexander most prevented my hearing the lady’s next words.
Selkirk, ‘Their tameness is shocking to me’! And they never
“If you had had a ‘Shilling Dreadful’ in your hand,” she do any Midnight Murders. They couldn’t ‘welter in gore,’ to proceeded, “something about Ghosts or Dynamite or Mid-save their lives!”
night Murder—one could understand it: those things aren’t
“‘Weltering in gore’ is a very expressive phrase, certainly.
worth the shilling, unless they give one a Nightmare. But Can it be done in any fluid, I wonder?” really—with only a medical treatise, you know—” and she
“I think not,” the lady readily replied—quite as if she had glanced, with a pretty shrug of contempt, at the book over thought it out, long ago. “It has to be something thick. For which I had fallen asleep.
instance, you might welter in bread-sauce. That, being white, Her friendliness, and utter unreserve, took me aback for a would be more suitable for a Ghost, supposing it wished to moment; yet there was no touch of forwardness, or bold-welter!”
ness, about the child for child, almost, she seemed to be: I
“You have a real good terrifying Ghost in that book?” I 27
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll hinted.
you think,” I continued aloud, “that we ought sometimes to
“How could you guess?” she exclaimed with the most en-ask a Ghost to sit down? But have we any authority for it?
gaging frankness, and placed the volume in my hands. I In Shakespeare, for instance—there are plenty of ghosts opened it eagerly, with a not unpleasant thrill like what a there—does Shakespeare ever give the stage-direction ‘hands good ghost-story gives one) at the ‘uncanny’ coincidence of chair to Ghost’?”
my having so unexpectedly divined the subject of her stud-The lady looked puzzled and thoughtful for a moment: ies.
then she almost clapped her hands. “Yes, yes, he does!” she It was a book of Domestic Cookery, open at the article cried. “He makes Hamlet say ‘Rest, rest, perturbed Spirit!”’
“And that, I suppose, means an easy-chair?” I returned the book, looking, I suppose, a little blank, as
“An American rocking-chair, I think—” the lady laughed merrily at my discomfiture. “It’s far more
“Fayfield Junction, my Lady, change for Elveston!” the exciting than some of the modern ghosts, I assure you! Now guard announced, flinging open the door of the carriage: there was a Ghost last month—I don’t mean a real Ghost in and we soon found ourselves, with all our portable property in Supernature—but in a Magazine. It was a perfectly around us, on the platform.
flavourless Ghost. It wouldn’t have frightened a mouse! It The accommodation, provided for passengers waiting at wasn’t a Ghost that one would even offer a chair to!” this Junction, was distinctly inadequate—a single wooden
“Three score years and ten, baldness, and spectacles, have bench, apparently intended for three sitters only: and even their advantages after all!”, I said to myself. “Instead of a this was already partially occupied by a very old man, in a bashful youth and maiden, gasping out monosyllables at awful smock frock, who sat, with rounded shoulders and droop-intervals, here we have an old man and a child, quite at their ing head, and with hands clasped on the top of his stick so as ease, talking as if they had known each other for years! Then to make a sort of pillow for that wrinkled face with its look 28
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll of patient weariness.
ing her place, so as to make room for me beside her, “may I
“Come, you be off!” the Station-master roughly accosted say, in Hamlet’s words, ‘Rest, rest—’” she broke off with a the poor old man. “You be off, and make way for your bet-silvery laugh.
ters! This way, my Lady!” he added in a perfectly different
“—perturbed Spirit!”’ I finished the sentence for her. “Yes, tone. “If your Ladyship will take a seat, the train will be up that describes a railway-traveler exactly! And here is an in-in a few minutes.” The cringing servility of his manner was stance of it,” I added, as the tiny local train drew up along-due, no doubt, to the address legible on the pile of luggage, side the platform, and the porters bustled about, opening which announced their owner to be “Lady Muriel Orme, carriage-doors—one of them helping the poor old man to passenger to Elveston, via Fayfield Junction.” hoist himself into a third-class carriage, while another of them As I watched the old man slowly rise to his feet, and hobble obsequiously conducted the lady and myself into a first-class.
a few paces down the platform, the lines came to my lips:-
She paused, before following him, to watch the progress of the other passenger. “Poor old man!” she said. “How weak
“From sackcloth couch the Monk arose, and ill he looks! It was a shame to let him be turned away With toil his stiffen’d limbs he rear’d; like that. I’m very sorry—” At this moment it dawned on A hundred years had flung their snows me that these words were not addressed to me, but that she On his thin locks and floating beard.” was unconsciously thinking aloud. I moved away a few steps, and waited to follow her into the carriage, where I resumed But the lady scarcely noticed the little incident. After one the conversation.
glance at the ‘banished man,’ who stood tremulously lean-
“Shakespeare must have traveled by rail, if only in a dream: ing on his stick, she turned to me. “This is not an American
‘perturbed Spirit’ is such a happy phrase.” rocking-chair, by any means! Yet may I say,” slightly chang-
“‘Perturbed’ referring, no doubt,” she rejoined, “to the 29
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll sensational booklets peculiar to the Rail. If Steam has done phrase insisted on conjugating itself, and ran into “you nothing else, it has at least added a whole new Species to thought you saw—he thought he saw—” and then it sud-English Literature!”
denly went off into a song:—
“No doubt of it,” I echoed. “The true origin of all our medical books—and all our cookery-books—”
“He thought he saw an Elephant,
“No, no!” she broke in merrily. “I didn’t mean our Litera-That practised on a fife:
ture! We are quite abnormal. But the booklets—the little He looked again, and found it was thrilling romances, where the Murder comes at page fifteen, A letter from his wife.
and the Wedding at page forty —surely they are due to
‘At length I realise,’ he said,
“The bitterness of Life!’”
“And when we travel by Electricity if I may venture to develop your theory we shall have leaflets instead of book-And what a wild being it was who sang these wild words! A lets, and the Murder and the Wedding will come on the Gardener he seemed to be yet surely a mad one, by the way same page.”
he brandished his rake—madder, by the way he broke, ever
“A development worthy of Darwin!”, the lady exclaimed and anon, into a frantic jig—maddest of all, by the shriek in enthusiastically. “Only you reverse his theory. Instead of which he brought out the last words of the stanza!
developing a mouse into an elephant, you would develop an It was so far a description of himself that he had the feet of elephant into a mouse!” But here we plunged into a tunnel, an Elephant: but the rest of him was skin and bone: and the and I leaned back and closed my eyes for a moment, trying wisps of loose straw, that bristled all about him, suggested to recall a few of the incidents of my recent dream.
that he had been originally stuffed with it, and that nearly
“I thought I saw—” I murmured sleepily: and then the all the stuffing had come out.
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll Sylvie and Bruno waited patiently till the end of the first like eating worms, one bit. I always stop in bed till the early verse. Then Sylvie advanced alone (Bruno having suddenly bird has picked them up!”
turned shy) and timidly introduced herself with the words
“I wonder you’ve the face to tell me such fibs!” cried the
“Please, I’m Sylvie!”
“And who’s that other thing?’, said the Gardener.
To which Bruno wisely replied “Oo don’t want a face to
“What thing?” said Sylvie, looking round. “Oh, that’s tell fibs wiz—only a mouf.”
Bruno. He’s my brother.”
Sylvie discreetly changed the subject. “And did you plant
“Was he your brother yesterday?” the Gardener anxiously all these flowers?” she said.
“What a lovely garden you’ve made! Do you know, I’d like
“Course I were!” cried Bruno, who had gradually crept to live here always!”
nearer, and didn’t at all like being talked about without hav-
“In the winter-nights—” the Gardener was beginning.
ing his share in the conversation.
“But I’d nearly forgotten what we came about!” Sylvie in-
“Ah, well!” the Gardener said with a kind of groan. “Things terrupted. “Would you please let us through into the road?
change so, here. Whenever I look again, it’s sure to be some-There’s a poor old beggar just gone out—and he’s very hun-thing different! Yet I does my duty! I gets up wriggle-early at gry—and Bruno wants to give him his cake, you know!” five—”
“It’s as much as my place is worth!’, the Gardener mut-
“If I was oo,” said Bruno, “I wouldn’t wriggle so early. It’s tered, taking a key from his pocket, and beginning to unlock as bad as being a worm!” he added, in an undertone to Sylvie.
a door in the garden-wall.
“But you shouldn’t be lazy in the morning, Bruno,” said
“How much are it wurf?” Bruno innocently enquired.
Sylvie. “Remember, it’s the early bird that picks up the worm!” But the Gardener only grinned. “That’s a secret!” he said.
“It may, if it likes!” Bruno said with a slight yawn. “I don’t
“Mind you come back quick!” he called after the children, 31
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll as they passed out into the road. I had just time to follow word of thanks did he give his little benefactor—only growled them, before he shut the door again.
“More, more!” and glared at the half-frightened children.
We hurried down the road, and very soon caught sight of
“There is no more!”, Sylvie said with tears in her eyes. “I’d the old Beggar, about a quarter of a mile ahead of us, and eaten mine. It was a shame to let you be turned away like the children at once set off running to overtake him.
that. I’m very sorry—”
Lightly and swiftly they skimmed over the ground, and I I lost the rest of the sentence, for my mind had recurred, could not in the least understand how it was I kept up with with a great shock of surprise, to Lady Muriel Orme, who them so easily. But the unsolved problem did not worry me had so lately uttered these very words of Sylvie’s—yes, and so much as at another time it might have done, there were in Sylvie’s own voice, and with Sylvie’s gentle pleading eyes!
so many other things to attend to.
“Follow me!” were the next words I heard, as the old man The old Beggar must have been very deaf, as he paid no waved his hand, with a dignified grace that ill suited his attention whatever to Bruno’s eager shouting, but trudged ragged dress, over a bush, that stood by the road side, which wearily on, never pausing until the child got in front of him began instantly to sink into the earth. At another time I and held up the slice of cake. The poor little fellow was quite might have doubted the evidence of my eyes, or at least have out of breath, and could only utter the one word “Cake!” felt some astonishment: but, in this strange scene, my whole not with the gloomy decision with which Her Excellency being seemed absorbed in strong curiosity as to what would had so lately pronounced it, but with a sweet childish timid-happen next.
ity, looking up into the old man’s face with eyes that loved When the bush had sunk quite out of our sight, marble
‘all things both great and small.’
steps were seen, leading downwards into darkness. The old The old man snatched it from him, and devoured it greed-man led the way, and we eagerly followed.
ily, as some hungry wild beast might have done, but never a The staircase was so dark, at first, that I could only just see 32
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll the forms of the children, as, hand-in-hand, they groped
“We are safe here, my darlings!” said the old man, laying a their way down after their guide: but it got lighter every hand on Sylvie’s shoulder, and bending down to kiss her.
moment, with a strange silvery brightness, that seemed to Sylvie drew back hastily, with an offended air: but in an-exist in the air, as there were no lamps visible; and, when at other moment, with a glad cry of “Why, it’s Father!”, she last we reached a level floor, the room, in which we found had run into his arms.
ourselves, was almost as light as day.
“Father! Father!” Bruno repeated: and, while the happy It was eight-sided, having in each angle a slender pillar, children were being hugged and kissed, I could but rub my round which silken draperies were twined. The wall between eyes and say “Where, then, are the rags gone to?”; for the old the pillars was entirely covered, to the height of six or seven man was now dressed in royal robes that glittered with jew-feet, with creepers, from which hung quantities of ripe fruit els and gold embroidery, and wore a circlet of gold around and of brilliant flowers, that almost hid the leaves. In an-his head.
other place, perchance, I might have wondered to see fruit and flowers growing together: here, my chief wonder was that neither fruit nor flowers were such as I had ever seen CHAPTER 6
before. Higher up, each wall contained a circular window of coloured glass; and over all was an arched roof, that seemed THE MAGIC LOCKET
to be spangled all over with jewels.
With hardly less wonder, I turned this way and that, try-
“Where are we, father?” Sylvie whispered, with her arms ing to make out how in the world we had come in: for there twined closely around the old man’s neck, and with her rosy was no door: and all the walls were thickly covered with the cheek lovingly pressed to his.
“In Elfland, darling. It’s one of the provinces of Fairyland.” 33
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll
“But I thought Elfland was ever so far from Outland: and shaped something like a banana, but had the colour of a we’ve come such a tiny little way!” strawberry.
“You came by the Royal Road, sweet one. Only those of He ate it with beaming looks, that became gradually more royal blood can travel along it: but you’ve been royal ever gloomy, and were very blank indeed by the time he had fin-since I was made King of Elfland that’s nearly a month ago.
They sent two ambassadors, to make sure that their invita-
“It hasn’t got no taste at all!” he complained. “I couldn’t tion to me, to be their new King, should reach me. One was feel nuffin in my mouf! It’s a—what’s that hard word, Sylvie?” a Prince; so he was able to come by the Royal Road, and to
“It was a Phlizz,” Sylvie gravely replied. “Are they all like come invisibly to all but me: the other was a Baron; so he that, father?”
had to come by the common road, and I dare say he hasn’t
“They’re all like that to you, darling, because you don’t even arrived yet.”
belong to Elfland—yet. But to me they are real.”
“Then how far have we come?” Sylvie enquired.
Bruno looked puzzled. “I’ll try anuvver kind of fruits!” he
“Just a thousand miles, sweet one, since the Gardener un-said, and jumped down off the King’s knee. “There’s some locked that door for you.”
lovely striped ones, just like a rainbow!” And off he ran.
“A thousand miles!” Bruno repeated. “And may I eat one?” Meanwhile the Fairy-King and Sylvie were talking together,
“Eat a mile, little rogue?”
but in such low tones that I could not catch the words: so I
“No,” said Bruno. “I mean may I eat one of that fruits?” followed Bruno, who was picking and eating other kinds of
“Yes, child,” said his father: “and then you’ll find out what fruit, in the vain hope of finding some that had a taste. I Pleasure is like—the Pleasure we all seek so madly, and entried to pick so me myself—but it was like grasping air, and joy so mournfully!”
I soon gave up the attempt and returned to Sylvie.
Bruno ran eagerly to the wall, and picked a fruit that was
“Look well at it, my darling,” the old man was saying, 34
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll
“and tell me how you like it.”
colours and different words.
“‘It’s just lovely,” cried Sylvie, delightedly. “Bruno, come Choose one of them, darling. I’ll give you which ever you and look!” And she held up, so that he might see the light like best.”
through it, a heart-shaped Locket, apparently cut out of a Sylvie whispered the words, several times over, with a single jewel, of a rich blue colour, with a slender gold chain thoughtful smile, and then made her decision. “It’s very nice attached to it.
to be loved,” she said: “but it’s nicer to love other people!
“It are welly pretty,” Bruno more soberly remarked: and May I have the red one, Father?”
he began spelling out some words inscribed on it. “All—
The old man said nothing: but I could see his eyes fill with will—love—Sylvie,” he made them out at last. “And so they tears, as he bent his head and pressed his lips to her forehead doos!” he cried, clasping his arms round her neck. “Every-in a long loving kiss. Then he undid the chain, and showed body loves Sylvie!”
her how to fasten it round her neck, and to hide it away
“But we love her best, don’t we, Bruno?” said the old King, under the edge of her frock. “It’s for you to keep you know as he took possession of the Locket. “Now, Sylvie, look at he said in a low voice, not for other people to see. You’ll this.” And he showed her, lying on the palm of his hand, a remember how to use it?
Locket of a deep crimson colour, the same shape as the blue Yes, I’ll remember, said Sylvie.
one and, like it, attached to a slender golden chain.
“And now darlings it’s time for you to go back or they’ll be
“Lovelier and lovelier!” exclaimed Sylvie, clasping her hands missing you and then that poor Gardener will get into in ecstasy. “Look, Bruno!”
“And there’s words on this one, too,” said Bruno. “Sylvie—
Once more a feeling of wonder rose in my mind as to how will—love—all.”
in the world we were to get back again—since I took it for
“Now you see the difference,” said the old man: “different granted that wherever the children went I was to go—but 35
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll no shadow of doubt seemed to cross their minds as they He flung the door open as he spoke, and we got out, a hugged and kissed him murmuring over and over again little dazzled and stupefied (at least I felt so) at the sudden
“Good-bye darling Father!” And then suddenly and swiftly transition from the half-darkness of the railway-carriage to the darkness of midnight seemed to close in upon us and the brilliantly-lighted platform of Elveston Station.
through the darkness harshly rang a strange wild song:—
A footman, in a handsome livery, came forwards and respectfully touched his hat. “The carriage is here, my Lady,” He thought he saw a Buffalo
he said, taking from her the wraps and small articles she was Upon the chimney-piece:
carrying: and Lady Muriel, after shaking hands and bidding He looked again, and found it was me “Good-night!” with a pleasant smile, followed him.
His Sister’s Husband’s Niece.
It was with a somewhat blank and lonely feeling that I
‘Unless you leave this house,’ he said, betook myself to the van from which the luggage was being
‘I’ll send for the Police!’
taken out: and, after giving directions to have my boxes sent after me, I made my way on foot to Arthur’s lodgings, and
“That was me!” he added, looking out at us, through the soon lost my lonely feeling in the hearty welcome my old half-opened door, as we stood waiting in the road.’ “And friend gave me, and the cozy warmth and cheerful light of that’s what I’d have done—as sure as potatoes aren’t rad-the little sitting-room into which he led me.
ishes—if she hadn’t have tooken herself off! But I always
“Little, as you see, but quite enough for us two. Now, take loves my pay-rints like anything.” the easy-chair, old fellow, and let’s have another look at you!
“Who are oor pay-rints?” said Bruno.
Well, you do look a bit pulled down!” and he put on a sol-
“Them as pay rint for me, a course!” the Gardener replied.
emn professional air. “I prescribe Ozone, quant. suff. Social
“You can come in now, if you like.” dissipation, fiant pilulae quam plurimae: to be taken, feast-36
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll ing, three times a day!”
sat gazing into the fire, and conversation was lapsing into
“But, Doctor!” I remonstrated. “Society doesn’t ‘receive’
silence, he made a hurried confession.
three times a day!”
“I hadn’t meant to tell you anything about her,” he said
“That’s all you know about it!” the young Doctor gaily (naming no names, as if there were only one ‘she’ in the replied. “At home, lawn-tennis, 3 P.M. At home, kettledrum, world!) “till you had seen more of her, and formed your own 5 P.M. At home, music (Elveston doesn’t give dinners), 8
judgment of her: but somehow you surprised it out of me.
P.M. Carriages at 10. There you are!” And I’ve not breathed a word of it to any one else. But I can It sounded very pleasant, I was obliged to admit. “And I trust you with a secret, old friend! Yes! It’s true of me, what know some of the lady-society already,” I added. “One of I suppose you said in jest.
them came in the same carriage with me”
“In the merest jest, believe me!” I said earnestly. “Why,
“What was she like? Then perhaps I can identify her.” man, I’m three times her age! But if she’s your choice, then
“The name was Lady Muriel Orme. As to what she was I’m sure she’s all that is good and—” like—well, I thought her very beautiful. Do you know her?”
“—and sweet,” Arthur went on, “and pure, and self-deny-
“Yes—I do know her.” And the grave Doctor coloured ing, and true-hearted, and—” he broke off hastily, as if he slightly as he added “Yes, I agree with you. She is beautiful.” could not trust himself to say more on a subject so sacred
“I quite lost my heart to her!” I went on mischievously.
and so precious. Silence followed: and I leaned back drows-
ily in my easy-chair, filled with bright and beautiful
“Have some supper!” Arthur interrupted with an air of imaginings of Arthur and his lady-love, and of all the peace relief, as the maid entered with the tray. And he steadily and happiness in store for them.
resisted all my attempts to return to the subject of Lady Muriel I pictured them to myself walking together, lingeringly until the evening had almost worn itself away. Then, as we and lovingly, under arching trees, in a sweet garden of their 37
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll own, and welcomed back by their faithful gardener, on their listening to the Gardener’s song, “there would be no diffi-return from some brief excursion.
It seemed natural enough that the gardener should be filled
“Let’s hear that bit of the letter again,” said my Lady. And with exuberant delight at the return of so gracious a master the Vice-Warden read aloud:-
and mistress and how strangely childlike they looked! I could
“—and we therefore entreat you graciously to accept the have taken them for Sylvie and Bruno less natural that he Kingship, to which you have been unanimously elected by should show it by such wild dances, such crazy songs!
the Council of Elfland: and that you will allow your son Bruno of whose goodness, cleverness, and beauty, reports
“He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
have reached us—to be regarded as Heir-Apparent.” That questioned him in Greek:
“But what’s the difficulty?” said my Lady.
He looked again, and found it was
“Why, don’t you see? The Ambassador, that brought this, The Middle of Next Week.
is waiting in the house: and he’s sure to see Sylvie and Bruno:
‘The one thing I regret,’ he said, and then, when he sees Uggug, and remembers all that about
‘Is that it cannot speak!”
‘goodness, cleverness, and beauty,’ why, he’s sure to—”
“And where will you find a better boy than Uggug?” my
—least natural of all that the Vice-Warden and ‘my Lady’
Lady indignantly interrupted. “Or a wittier, or a lovelier?” should be standing close beside me, discussing an open let-To all of which the Vice-Warden simply replied “Don’t ter, which had just been handed to him by the Professor, you be a great blethering goose! Our only chance is to keep who stood, meekly waiting, a few yards off.
those two brats out of sight. If you can manage that, you
“If it were not for those two brats,” I heard him mutter, may leave the rest to me. I’ll make him believe Uggug to be glancing savagely at Sylvie and Bruno, who were courteously a model of cleverness and all that.” 38
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll
“We must change his name to Bruno, of course?” said my
“You go and receive him,” my Lady said to the Vice-War-Lady.
den, “and I’ll attend to the children.” The Vice-Warden rubbed his chin. “Humph! No!” he said musingly. “Wouldn’t do. The boy’s such an utter idiot, he’d never learn to answer to it.”
“Idiot, indeed!” cried my Lady. “He’s no more an idiot than I am!”
THE BARON’S EMBASSY
“You’re right, my dear,” the Vice-Warden soothingly I replied. “He isn’t, indeed!”
I was following the Vice-Warden, but, on second thoughts, My Lady was appeased. “Let’s go in and receive the Am-went after my Lady, being curious to see how she would bassador,” she said, and beckoned to the Professor. “Which manage to keep the children out of sight.
room is he waiting in?” she inquired.
I found her holding Sylvie’s hand, and with her other hand
“In the Library, Madam.”
stroking Bruno’s hair in a most tender and motherly fash-
“And what did you say his name was?” said the Vice-War-ion: both children were looking bewildered and half-fright-den.
The Professor referred to a card he held in his hand. “His
“My own darlings,” she was saying, “I’ve been planning a Adiposity the Baron Doppelgeist.” little treat for you! The Professor shall take you a long walk
“Why does he come with such a funny name?” said my into the woods this beautiful evening: and you shall take a Lady.
basket of food with you, and have a little picnic down by the
“He couldn’t well change it on the journey,” the Professor river!”
meekly replied, “because of the luggage.” Bruno jumped, and clapped his hands. “That are nice!” he 39
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll cried. “Aren’t it, Sylvie?”
never do to keep dinner waiting!” And he almost trotted out Sylvie, who hadn’t quite lost her surprised look, put up of the room after the Vice-Warden.
her mouth for a kiss. “Thank you very much,” she said ear-He was back again so speedily that the Vice-warden had nestly.
barely time to explain to my Lady that her remark about “a My Lady turned her head away to conceal the broad grin love for pastry” was “unfortunate. You might have seen, with of triumph that spread over her vast face, like a ripple on a half an eye,” he added, “that that’s his line. Military genius, lake. “Little simpletons!” she muttered to herself, as she indeed! Pooh!”
marched up to the house. I followed her in.
“Dinner ready yet?” the Baron enquired, as he hurried
“Quite so, your Excellency,” the Baron was saying as we into the room.
entered the Library. “All the infantry were under my com-
“Will be in a few minutes,” the Vice-Warden replied.
mand.” He turned, and was duly presented to my Lady.
“Meanwhile, let’s take a turn in the garden. You were telling
“A military hero?” said my Lady. The fat little man sim-me,” he continued, as the trio left the house, “something pered. “Well, yes,” he replied, modestly casting down his about a great battle in which you had the command of the eyes. “My ancestors were all famous for military genius.” infantry—”
My Lady smiled graciously. “It often runs in families,” she
“True,” said the Baron. “The enemy, as I was saying, far remarked: “just as a love for pastry does.” outnumbered us: but I marched my men right into the The Baron looked slightly offended, and the Vice-Warden middle of—what’s that?” the Military Hero exclaimed in discreetly changed the subject. “Dinner will soon be ready,” agitated tones, drawing back behind the Vice-Warden, as a he said. “May I have the honour of conducting your Adi-strange creature rushed wildly upon them, brandishing a posity to the guest-chamber?”
“Certainly, certainly!” the Baron eagerly assented. “It would
“It’s only the Gardener!” the Vice-Warden replied in an 40
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll encouraging tone. “Quite harmless, I assure you. Hark, he’s who had finished his song, and stood, balancing himself on singing! Its his favorite amusement.” one leg, and looking at them, with his mouth open.
And once more those shrill discordant tones rang out:—
“I never means nothing,” said the Gardener: and Uggug luckily came up at the moment, and gave the conversation a
“He thought he saw a Banker’s Clerk new turn.
Descending from the bus:
“Allow me to present my son,” said the Vice-warden; add-He looked again, and found it was ing, in a whisper, “one of the best and cleverest boys that A Hippopotamus:
ever lived! I’ll contrive for you to see some of his cleverness.
‘If this should stay to dine,’ he said, He knows everything that other boys don’t know; and in
‘There won’t be mutch for us!’”
archery, in fishing, in painting, and in music, his skill is—
but you shall judge for yourself. You see that target over Throwing away the spade, he broke into a frantic jig, snap-there? He shall shoot an arrow at it. Dear boy,”he went on ping his fingers, and repeating, again and again, aloud, “his Adiposity would like to see you shoot. Bring his Highness’ bow and arrows!”
“There won’t be much for us!
Uggug looked very sulky as he received the bow and ar-There won’t be much for us!”
row, and prepared to shoot. Just as the arrow left the bow, the Vice-Warden trod heavily on the toe of the Baron, who Once more the Baron looked slightly offended, but the yelled with the pain.
Vice-Warden hastily explained that the song had no allusion
“Ten thousand pardons! “he exclaimed. “I stepped back in to him, and in fact had no meaning at all. “You didn’t mean my excitement. See! It is a bull’s-eye!” anything by it, now did you?” He appealed to the Gardener, The Baron gazed in astonishment. “He held the bow so 41
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll awkwardly, it seemed impossible!” he muttered. But there forwards to show the way—so hastily, that he ran against his was no room for doubt: there was the arrow, right in the unfortunate guest, who fell heavily on his face.
centre of the bull’s-eye!
“So sorry!” my Lady exclaimed, as she and her husband
“The lake is close by,” continued the Vice-warden. “Bring helped him to his feet again. “My son was in the act of say-his Highness’ fishing-rod!” And Uggug most unwillingly held ing ‘sixty-three’ as you fell!”
the rod, and dangled the fly over the water.
The Baron said nothing: he was covered with dust, and
“A beetle on your arm!” cried my Lady, pinching the poor seemed much hurt, both in body and mind. However, when Baron’s arm worse than if ten lobsters had seized it at once.
they had got him into the house, and given him a good brush-
“That kind is poisonous,” she explained. “But what a pity!
ing, matters looked a little better.
You missed seeing the fish pulled out!” Dinner was served in due course, and every fresh dish An enormous dead cod-fish was lying on the bank, with seemed to increase the good-humour of the Baron: but all the hook in its mouth.
efforts, to get him to express his opinion as to Uggug’s clev-
“I had always fancied,” the Baron faltered, “that cod were erness, were in vain, until that interesting youth had left the salt-water fish?”
room, and was seen from the open window, prowling about
“Not in this country,” said the Vice-Warden. “Shall we go the lawn with a little basket, which he was filling with frogs.
in? Ask my son some question on the way any subject you
“So fond of Natural History as he is, dear boy!” said the like!” And the sulky boy was violently shoved forwards, to doting mother. “Now do tell us, Baron, what you think of walk at the Baron’s side.
“Could your Highness tell me,” the Baron cautiously be-
“To be perfectly candid, said the cautious Baron, “I would gan, “how much seven times nine would come to?” like a little more evidence. I think you mentioned his skill
“Turn to the left!” cried the Vice-Warden, hastily stepping in—”
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll
“Music?” said the Vice-Warden. “Why, he’s simply a of another.
prodigy! You shall hear him play the piano? And he walked My Lady joining in, pointing out other places, and shout-to the window. “Ug—I mean my boy! Come in for a minute, ing other names, only made matters worse; and at last the and bring the music-master with you! To turn over the music Baron, in despair, took to pointing out places for himself, for him,” he added as an explanation.
and feebly asked “Is that great yellow splotch Fairyland?” Uggug, having filled his basket with frogs, had no objec-
“Yes, that’s Fairyland,” said the Vice-warden: “and you tion to obey, and soon appeared in the room, followed by a might as well give him a hint,” he muttered to my Lady, fierce-looking little man, who asked the Vice-Warden “Vot
“about going back to-morrow. He eats like a shark! It would music vill you haf?”
hardly do for me to mention it.”
“The Sonata that His Highness plays so charmingly,” said His wife caught the idea, and at once began giving hints of the Vice-Warden. “His Highness haf not—” the music-mas-the most subtle and delicate kind. “Just see what a short way ter began, but was sharply stopped by the Vice-warden.
it is back to Fairyland! Why, if you started to-morrow morn-
“Silence, Sir! Go and turn over the music for his High-ing, you’d get there in very little more than a week!” ness. My dear,” (to the Wardeness) “will you show him what The Baron looked incredulous. “It took me a full month to do? And meanwhile, Baron, I’ll just show you a most to come,” he said.
interesting map we have—of Outland, and Fairyland, and
“But it’s ever so much shorter, going back, you know!’
that sort of thing.”
The Baron looked appealingly to the Vice-warden, who By the time my Lady had returned, from explaining things chimed in readily. “You can go back five times, in the time it to the music-master, the map had been hung up, and the took you to come here once—if you start to-morrow morn-Baron was already much bewildered by the Vice-Warden’s ing!”
habit of pointing to one place while he shouted out the name All this time the Sonata was pealing through the room.
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll The Baron could not help admitting to himself that it was but it was Arthur’s masterly touch that roused the echoes, being magnificently played: but he tried in vain to get a and thrilled my very soul with the tender music of the im-glimpse of the youthful performer. Every time he had nearly mortal ‘Sonata Pathetique’: and it was not till the last note succeeded in catching sight of him, either the Vice-Warden had died away that the tired but happy traveler could bring or his wife was sure to get in the way, pointing out some new himself to utter the words “good-night!” and to seek his place on the map, and deafening him with some new name.
He gave in at last, wished a hasty good-night, and left the room, while his host and hostess interchanged looks of tri-CHAPTER 8
“Deftly done!” cried the Vice-Warden. “Craftily contrived!
A RIDE ON A LION
But what means all that tramping on the stairs?” He half-opened the door, looked out, and added in a tone of dismay, The next day glided away, pleasantly enough, partly in
“The Baron’s boxes are being carried down!” settling myself in my new quarters, and partly in strolling
“And what means all that rumbling of wheels?” cried my round the neighbourhood, under Arthur’s guidance, and Lady. She peeped through the window curtains. “The Baron’s trying to form a general idea of Elveston and its inhabitants.
carriage has come round!” she groaned.
When five o’clock arrived, Arthur proposed without any At this moment the door opened: a fat, furious face looked embarrassment this time—to take me with him up to ‘the in: a voice, hoarse with passion, thundered out the words Hall,’ in order that I might make acquaintance with the Earl
“My room is full of frogs—I leave you!”: and the door closed of Ainslie, who had taken it for the season, and renew ac-again.
quaintance with his daughter Lady Muriel.
And still the noble Sonata went pealing through the room: My first impressions of the gentle, dignified, and yet ge-44
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll nial old man were entirely favourable: and the real satisfac-tances!”
tion that showed itself on his daughter’s face, as she met me
“One can easily imagine a situation,” said Arthur, “where with the words “this is indeed an unlooked-for pleasure!”, things would necessarily have no weight, relatively to each was very soothing for whatever remains of personal vanity other, though each would have its usual weight, looked at the failures and disappointments of many long years, and by itself.”
much buffeting with a rough world, had left in me.
“Some desperate paradox!” said the Earl. “Tell us how it Yet I noted, and was glad to note, evidence of a far deeper could be. We shall never guess it.” feeling than mere friendly regard, in her meeting with Arthur
“Well, suppose this house, just as it is, placed a few billion though this was, as I gathered, an almost daily occurrence—
miles above a planet, and with nothing else near enough to and the conversation between them, in which the Earl and I disturb it: of course it falls to the planet?” were only occasional sharers, had an ease and a spontaneity The Earl nodded. “Of course though it might take some rarely met with except between very old friends: and, as I centuries to do it.”
knew that they had not known each other for a longer pe-
“And is five-o’clock-tea to be going on all the while?” said riod than the summer which was now rounding into au-Lady Muriel.
tumn, I felt certain that ‘Love,’ and Love alone, could ex-
“That, and other things,” said Arthur. “The inhabitants plain the phenomenon.
would live their lives, grow up and die, and still the house
“How convenient it would be,” Lady Muriel laughingly would be falling, falling, falling! But now as to the relative remarked, a propos of my having insisted on saving her the weight of things. Nothing can be heavy, you know, except trouble of carrying a cup of tea across the room to the Earl, by trying to fall, and being prevented from doing so. You all
“if cups of tea had no weight at all! Then perhaps ladies grant that?”
would sometimes be permitted to carry them for short dis-We all granted that.
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll
“Well, now, if I take this book, and hold it out at arm’s Then the five-o’clock-tea could go on in peace.” length, of course I feel its weight. It is trying to fall, and I
“With one little drawback!’, Lady Muriel gaily interrupted.
prevent it. And, if I let go, it fails to the floor. But, if we were
“We should take the cups down with us: but what about the all falling together, it couldn’t be trying to fall any quicker, tea?”
you know: for, if I let go, what more could it do than fall?
“I had forgotten the tea,” Arthur confessed. “That, no And, as my hand would be falling too—at the same rate—it doubt, would rise to the ceiling unless you chose to drink it would never leave it, for that would be to get ahead of it in on the way!”
the race. And it could never overtake the failing floor!”
“Which, I think, is quite nonsense enough for one while!”
“I see it clearly,” said Lady Muriel. “But it makes one dizzy said the Earl. “What news does this gentleman bring us from to think of such things! How can you make us do it?” the great world of London?”
“There is a more curious idea yet,” I ventured to say. “Sup-This drew me into the conversation, which now took a pose a cord fastened to the house, from below, and pulled more conventional tone. After a while, Arthur gave the sig-down by some one on the planet. Then of course the house nal for our departure, and in the cool of the evening we goes faster than its natural rate of falling: but the furniture—
strolled down to the beach, enjoying the silence, broken only with our noble selves—would go on failing at their old pace, by the murmur of the sea and the far-away music of some and would therefore be left behind.” fishermen’s song, almost as much as our late pleasant talk.
“Practically, we should rise to the ceiling,” said the Earl.
We sat down among the rocks, by a little pool, so rich in
“The inevitable result of which would be concussion of animal, vegetable, and zoophytic —or whatever is the right brain.”
word—life, that I became entranced in the study of it, and,
“To avoid that, “said Arthur, “let us have the furniture when Arthur proposed returning to our lodgings, I begged fixed to the floor, and ourselves tied down to the furniture.
to be left there for a while, to watch and muse alone.
Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll The fishermen’s song grew ever nearer and clearer, as their
“We don’t want him to swallow anything,” Sylvie explained.
boat stood in for the beach; and I would have gone down to
“He’s not hungry. But we want to see him. So Will you see them land their cargo of fish, had not the microcosm at please—”
my feet stirred my curiosity yet more keenly.
“Certainly!” the Gardener promptly replied. “I always One ancient crab, that was for ever shuffling frantically please. Never displeases nobody.
from side to side of the pool, had particularly fascinated me: There you are!” And he flung the door open, and let us there was a vacancy in its stare, and an aimless violence in its out upon the dusty high-road.
behaviour, that irresistibly recalled the Gardener who had We soon found our way to the bush, which had so myste-befriended Sylvie and Bruno: and, as I gazed, I caught the riously sunk into the ground: and here Sylvie drew the Magic concluding notes of the tune of his crazy song.
Locket from its hiding-place, turned it over with a thought-The silence that followed was broken by the sweet voice of ful air, and at last appealed to Bruno in a rather helpless way.
Sylvie. “Would you please let us out into the road?”
“What was it we had to do with it, Bruno? It’s all gone out of
“What! After that old beggar again?” the Gardener yelled, my head!”
and began singing :—
“Kiss it!” was Bruno’s invariable recipe in cases of doubt and difficulty. Sylvie kissed it, but no result followed.
“He thought he saw a Kangaroo
“Rub it the wrong way,” was Bruno’s next suggestion.
That worked a coffee-mill:
“Which is the wrong way?”, Sylvie most reasonably en-He looked again, and found it was quired. The obvious plan was to try both ways.
Rubbing from left to right had no visible effect whatever.