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‘Were I to swallow this,’ he said, From right to left— “Oh, stop, Sylvie!” Bruno cried in

‘I should be very ill!’”

sudden alarm. “Whatever is going to happen?” 47

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll For a number of trees, on the neighbouring hillside, were of fear seemed to occur to the children, who patted and moving slowly upwards, in solemn procession: while a mild stroked it as if it had been a Shetland-pony.

little brook, that had been rippling at our feet a moment

“Help me up!” cried Bruno. And in another moment Sylvie before, began to swell, and foam, and hiss, and bubble, in a had lifted him upon the broad back of the gentle beast, and truly alarming fashion.

seated herself behind him, pillion-fashion. Bruno took a good

“Rub it some other way!” cried Bruno. “Try up-and-down!

handful of mane in each hand, and made believe to guide Quick!”

this new kind of steed. “Gee-up!” seemed quite sufficient by It was a happy thought. Up-and-down did it: and the way of verbal direction: the lion at once broke into an easy landscape, which had been showing signs of mental aberra-canter, and we soon found ourselves in the depths of the tion in various directions, returned to its normal condition forest. I say ‘we,’ for I am certain that I accompanied them of sobriety with the exception of a small yellowish-brown though how I managed to keep up with a cantering lion I mouse, which continued to run wildly up and down the am wholly unable to explain. But I was certainly one of the road, lashing its tail like a little lion.

party when we came upon an old beggar-man cutting sticks,

“Let’s follow it,” said Sylvie: and this also turned out a at whose feet the lion made a profound obeisance, Sylvie happy thought. The mouse at once settled down into a busi-and Bruno at the same moment dismounting, and leaping ness-like jog-trot, with which we could easily keep pace. The in to the arms of their father.

only phenomenon, that gave me any uneasiness, was the rapid

“From bad to worse!” the old man said to himself, dream-increase in the size of the little creature we were following, ily, when the children had finished their rather confused which became every moment more and more like a real lion.

account of the Ambassador’s visit, gathered no doubt from Soon the transformation was complete: and a noble lion general report, as they had not seen him themselves. “From stood patiently waiting for us to come up with it. No thought bad to worse! That is their destiny. I see it, but I cannot alter 48

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll it. The selfishness of a mean and crafty man—the selfishness out! Read them, Sylvie!”

of an ambitious and silly woman— the selfishness of a spite-

“I’ll try,” Sylvie gravely replied. “Wait a minute—if only I ful and loveless child all tend one way, from bad to worse!

could see that word—”

And you, my darlings, must suffer it awhile, I fear. Yet, when

“I should be very ill!” a discordant voice yelled in our ears.

things are at their worst, you can come to me. I can do but

“Were I to swallow this,’ he said, ‘I should be very ill!’” little as yet—”

Gathering up a handful of dust and scattering it in the air, he slowly and solemnly pronounced some words that sounded CHAPTER 9

like a charm, the children looking on in awe-struck silence:—


“Let craft, ambition, spite,

Be quenched in Reason’s night,

Yes, we were in the garden once more: and, to escape that Till weakness turn to might,

horrid discordant voice, we hurried indoors, and found our-Till what is dark be light,

selves in the library—Uggug blubbering, the Professor stand-Till what is wrong be right!”

ing by with a bewildered air, and my Lady, with her arms clasped round her son’s neck, repeating, over and over again, The cloud of dust spread itself out through the air, as if it

“and did they give him nasty lessons to learn? My own pretty were alive, forming curious shapes that were for ever chang-pet!”

ing into others.

“What’s all this noise about?” the Vice-warden angrily en-

“It makes letters! It makes words!” Bruno whispered, as he quired, as he strode into the room. “And who put the hat-clung, half-frightened, to Sylvie. “Only I ca’n’t make them stand here?”


Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll And he hung his hat up on Bruno, who was standing in being enacted, and roared with laughter. “Excuse me, dear, I the middle of the room, too much astonished by the sudden ca’n’t help it!” he said as soon as he could speak. “You are change of scene to make any attempt at removing it, though such an utter donkey! Kiss me, Tabby!” it came down to his shoulders, making him look something And he flung his arms round the neck of the terrified Pro-like a small candle with a large extinguisher over it.

fessor, who raised a wild shriek, but whether he received the The Professor mildly explained that His Highness had been threatened kiss or not I was unable to see, as Bruno, who graciously pleased to say he wouldn’t do his lessons.

had by this time released himself from his extinguisher,

“Do your lessons this instant, you young cub!” thundered rushed headlong out of the room, followed by Sylvie; and I the Vice-Warden. “And take this!” and a resounding box on was so fearful of being left alone among all these crazy crea-the ear made the unfortunate Professor reel across the room.

tures that I hurried after them.

“Save me!” faltered the poor old man, as he sank, half-We must go to Father!” Sylvie panted, as they ran down fainting, at my Lady’s feet.

the garden. “I’m sure things are at their worst! I’ll ask the

“Shave you? Of course I will!” my Lady replied, as she Gardener to let us out again.”

lifted him into a chair, and pinned an anti-macassar round

“But we ca’n’t walk all the way!” Bruno whimpered. “How his neck. “Where’s the razor?”

I wiss we had a coach-and-four, like Uncle!” The Vice-Warden meanwhile had got hold of Uggug, and And, shrill and wild, rang through the air the familiar was belabouring him with his umbrella. “Who left this loose voice:—

nail in the floor?” he shouted, “Hammer it in, I say!

Hammer it in!” Blow after blow fell on the writhing Uggug,

“He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four till he dropped howling to the floor.

That stood beside his bed:

Then his father turned to the ‘shaving’ scene which was He looked again, and found it was 50

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll A Bear without a Head.

while Arthur hospitably went to his cupboard, to get me out

‘Poor thing,’ he said, ‘poor silly thing!

some cake and wine, without which, he declared, he could It’s waiting to be fed!’”

not, as a doctor, permit my going to bed.

And how that cupboard-door did creak! It surely could

“No, I ca’n’t let you out again!” he said, before the chil-not be Arthur, who was opening and shutting it so often, dren could speak. “The Vice-warden gave it me, he did, for moving so restlessly about, and muttering like the soliloquy letting you out last time! So be off with you!” And, turning of a tragedy-queen!

away from them, he began digging frantically in the middle No, it was a female voice. Also the figure half-hidden by of a gravel-walk, singing, over and over again, “‘Poor thing,’

the cupboard-door—was a female figure, massive, and in he said, ‘poor silly thing! It’s waiting to be fed!’” but in a flowing robes,

more musical tone than the shrill screech in which he had Could it be the landlady? The door opened, and a strange begun.

man entered the room.

The music grew fuller and richer at every moment: other

“What is that donkey doing?” he said to himself, pausing, manly voices joined in the refrain: and soon I heard the heavy aghast, on the threshold.

thud that told me the boat had touched the beach, and the The lady, thus rudely referred to, was his wife. She had harsh grating of the shingle as the men dragged it up. I got one of the cupboards open, and stood with her back to roused myself, and, after lending them a hand in hauling up him, smoothing down a sheet of brown paper on one of the their boat, I lingered yet awhile to watch them disembark a shelves, and whispering to herself “So, so! Deftly done! Craft-goodly assortment of the hard-won ‘treasures of the deep.’

ily contrived!”

When at last I reached our lodgings I was tired and sleepy, Her loving husband stole behind her on tiptoe, and tapped and glad enough to settle down again into the easy-chair, her on the head. “Boh!” he playfully shouted at her ear.


Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll

“Never tell me again I ca’n’t say ‘boh’ to a goose!” mered, trying her best to put on the assassin-expression that My Lady wrung her hands. “Discovered!” she groaned.

she had been practising at the looking-glass. “For—”

“Yet no—he is one of us! Reveal it not, oh Man! Let it bide

“For what, Madam!”

its time!”

“Well, for eighteenpence, if you must know, dearest! That’s

“Reveal what not?” her husband testily replied, dragging what I got it for, on my—”

out the sheet of brown paper. “What are you hiding here,

“Now don’t say your Word and Honour!” groaned the other my Lady? I insist upon knowing!”

Conspirator. “Why, they aren’t worth half the money, put My Lady cast down her eyes, and spoke in the littlest of together!”

little voices. “Don’t make fun of it, Benjamin!” she pleaded.

“On my birthday,” my Lady concluded in a meek whis-

“It’s—it’s—don’t you understand? It’s a DAGGER!” per. “One must have a dagger, you know. It’s part of the—”

“And what’s that for?” sneered His Excellency. “We’ve only

“Oh, don’t talk of Conspiracies!” her husband savagely in-got to make people think he’s dead! We haven’t got to kill terrupted, as he tossed the dagger into the cupboard. “You him! And made of tin, too!” he snarled, contemptuously know about as much how to manage a Conspiracy as if you bending the blade round his thumb. Now, Madam, you’ll were a chicken. Why, the first thing is to get a disguise. Now, be good enough to explain. First, what do you call me Ben-just look at this!”

jamin for?”

And with pardonable pride he fitted on the cap and bells,

“It’s part of the Conspiracy, Love! One must have an alias, and the rest of the Fool’s dress, and winked at her, and put you know—”

his tongue in his cheek. “Is that the sort of thing, now.” he

“Oh, an alias, is it? Well! And next, what did you get this demanded.

dagger for? Come, no evasions! You ca’n’t deceive me!” My Lady’s eyes flashed with all a Conspirator’s enthusi-

“I got it for—for—for—” the detected Conspirator stam-asm. “The very thing!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands.


Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll

“You do look, oh, such a perfect Fool!” me the Keeper. And if any one knows us, they’ll have sharp The Fool smiled a doubtful smile. He was not quite clear eyes, that’s all!”

whether it was a compliment or not, to express it so plainly.

“I shall have to practise the steps a bit,” my Lady said,

“You mean a Jester? Yes, that’s what I intended. And what do looking out through the Bear’s mouth: “one ca’n’t help being you think your disguise is to be?” And he proceeded to un-rather human just at first, you know. And of course you’ll fold the parcel, the lady watching him in rapture.

say ‘Come up, Bruin!’, won’t you?”

“Oh, how lovely!” she cried, when at last the dress was

“Yes, of course,” replied the Keeper, laying hold of the unfolded. “What a splendid disguise! An Esquimaux peas-chain, that hung from the Bear’s collar, with one hand, while ant-woman!”

with the other he cracked a little whip. “Now go round the

“An Esquimaux peasant, indeed!” growled the other. “Here, room in a sort of a dancing attitude. Very good, my dear, put it on, and look at yourself in the glass. Why, it’s a Bear, very good. Come up, Bruin! Come up, I say!” ca’n’t you use your eyes?” He checked himself suddenly, as a He roared out the last words for the benefit of Uggug, harsh voice yelled through the room who had just come into the room, and was now standing, with his hands spread out, and eyes and mouth wide open,

“He looked again, and found it was the very picture of stupid amazement. “Oh, my!” was all he A Bear without a Head!”

could gasp out.

The Keeper pretended to be adjusting the bear’s collar, But it was only the Gardener, singing under the open win-which gave him an opportunity of whispering, unheard by dow. The Vice-Warden stole on tip-toe to the window, and Uggug, “my fault, I’m afraid! Quite forgot to fasten the door.

closed it noiselessly, before he ventured to go on. “Yes, Lovey, Plot’s ruined if he finds it out! Keep it up a minute or two a Bear: but not without a head, I hope! You’re the Bear, and longer. Be savage!” Then, while seeming to pull it back with 53

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll all his strength, he let it advance upon the scared boy: my are fifteen houses in Green Street, before you turn into West Lady, with admirable presence of mind, kept up what she no Street.”

doubt intended for a savage growl, though it was more like

“Fifteen houses! Is it possible?” my Lady replied. “I thought the purring of a cat: and Uggug backed out of the room it was fourteen!” And, so intent were they on this interesting with such haste that he tripped over the mat, and was heard question, that neither of them even looked up till the Pro-to fall heavily outside—an accident to which even his dot-fessor, leading Uggug by the hand, stood close before them.

ing mother paid no heed, in the excitement of the moment.

My Lady was the first to notice their approach. “Why, The Vice-Warden shut and bolted the door. “Off with the here’s the Professor!” she exclaimed in her blandest tones.

disguises!” he panted. “There’s not a moment to lose. He’s

“And my precious child too! Are lessons over?” sure to fetch the Professor, and we couldn’t take him in, you

“A strange thing has happened!” the Professor began in a know!” And in another minute the disguises were stowed trembling tone. “His Exalted Fatness” (this was one of Uggug’s away in the cupboard, the door unbolted, and the two Con-many titles) “tells me he has just seen, in this very room, a spirators seated lovingly side-by-side on the sofa, earnestly Dancing-Bear and a Court-Jester!” discussing a book the Vice-Warden had hastily snatched off The Vice-Warden and his wife shook with well-acted mer-the table, which proved to be the City-Directory of the capital riment.

of Outland.

Not in this room, darling!” said the fond mother. “We’ve The door opened, very slowly and cautiously, and the Pro-been sitting here this hour or more, reading—,” here she fessor peeped in, Uggug’s stupid face being just visible be-referred to the book lying on her lap, “—reading the—the hind him.


“It is a beautiful arrangement!” the Vice-warden was say-

“Let me feel your pulse, my boy!” said the anxious father.

ing with enthusiasm. “You see, my precious one, that there

“Now put out your tongue. Ah, I thought so! He’s a little 54

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll feverish, Professor, and has had a bad dream. Put him to bed

“Where indeed!” the Professor fervently responded, quite at once, and give him a cooling draught.” failing to take the hint.

“I ain’t been dreaming!” his Exalted Fatness remonstrated, The Vice-Warden resumed the thread of his discourse.

as the Professor led him away.

“The reason I mentioned it, Professor, was to ask you to be

“Bad grammar, Sir!” his father remarked with some stern-so kind as to preside at the Election. You see it would make ness. “Kindly attend to that little matter, Professor, as soon the thing respectable—no suspicion of anything, underas you have corrected the feverishness. And, by the way, Pro-hand—”

fessor!” (The Professor left his distinguished pupil standing

“I fear I ca’n’t, your Excellency!” the old man faltered.

at the door, and meekly returned.) “There is a rumour afloat,

“What will the Warden—”

that the people wish to elect an—in point of fact, an —you

“True, true!” the Vice-Warden interrupted. “Your posi-understand that I mean an—”

tion, as Court-Professor, makes it awkward, I admit. Well,

“Not another Professor!” the poor old man exclaimed in well! Then the Election shall be held without you.” horror.

“Better so, than if it were held within me!” the Professor

“No! Certainly not!” the Vice-Warden eagerly explained.

murmured with a bewildered air, as if he hardly knew what

“Merely an Emperor, you understand.” he was saying. “Bed, I think your Highness said, and a cool-

“An Emperor!” cried the astonished Professor, holding his ing-draught?” And he wandered dreamily back to where head between his hands, as if he expected it to come to pieces Uggug sulkily awaited him.

with the shock. “What will the Warden—” I followed them out of the room, and down the passage,

“Why, the Warden will most likely be the new Emperor!” the Professor murmuring to himself, all the time, as a kind my Lady explained. “Where could we find a better? Unless, of aid to his feeble memory, “C, C, C; Couch, Cooling-perhaps—” she glanced at her husband.

Draught, Correct-Grammar,” till, in turning a corner, he 55

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll met Sylvie and Bruno, so suddenly that the startled Profes-Gardener. It’s most important not to get two such animals sor let go of his fat pupil, who instantly took to his heels.

confused together. And one’s very liable to do it in their case—both having mouths, you know—”

“Doos oo always confuses two animals together?” Bruno CHAPTER 10


“Pretty often, I’m afraid,” the Professor candidly confessed.


“Now, for instance, there’s the rabbit-hutch and the hall-clock.” The Professor pointed them out. “One gets a little

“We were looking for you!” cried Sylvie, in a tone of great confused with them—both having doors, you know. Now, relief. “We do want you so much, you ca’n’t think!” only yesterday—would you believe it?—I put some lettuces

“What is it, dear children?” the Professor asked, beaming into the clock, and tried to wind up the rabbit!” on them with a very different look from what Uggug ever

“Did the rabbit go, after oo wounded it up?” said Bruno.

got from him.

The Professor clasped his hands on the top of his head,

“We want you to speak to the Gardener for us,” Sylvie and groaned. “Go? I should think it did go! Why, it’s gone?

said, as she and Bruno took the old man’s hands and led him And where ever it’s gone to—that’s what I ca’n’t find out!

into the hall.

I’ve done my best—I’ve read all the article ‘Rabbit’ in the

“He’s ever so unkind!” Bruno mournfully added. “They’s great dictionary—Come in!”

all unkind to us, now that Father’s gone. The Lion were

“Only the tailor, Sir, with your little bill,” said a meek much nicer!”

voice outside the door.

“But you must explain to me, please,” the Professor said

“Ah, well, I can soon settle his business,” the Professor said with an anxious look, “which is the Lion, and which is the to the children, “if you’ll just wait a minute. How much is 56

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll it, this year, my man?” The tailor had come in while he was And now what would you like to do, my little friends? Shall speaking.

I take you to see the Other Professor? This would be an

“Well, it’s been a doubling so many years, you see,” the excellent opportunity for a visit,” he said to himself, glanc-tailor replied, a little gruffly, “and I think I’d like the money ing at his watch: “he generally takes a short rest —of four-now. It’s two thousand pound, it is!” teen minutes and a half—about this time.”

“Oh, that’s nothing!” the Professor carelessly remarked, Bruno hastily went round to Sylvie, who was standing at feeling in his pocket, as if he always carried at least that the other side of the Professor, and put his hand into hers.

amount about with him. “But wouldn’t you like to wait just

“I thinks we’d like to go,” he said doubtfully: “only please another year, and make it four thousand? Just think how let’s go all together. It’s best to be on the safe side, oo know!” rich you’d be! Why, you might be a King, if you liked!”

“Why, you talk as if you were Sylvie!” exclaimed the Pro-

“I don’t know as I’d care about being a King,” the man said fessor.

thoughtfully. “But it; dew sound a powerful sight o’ money!

“I know I did,” Bruno replied very humbly. “I quite Well, I think I’ll wait—”

forgotted I wasn’t Sylvie. Only I fought he might be rarver

“Of course you will!” said the Professor. “There’s good sense fierce!”

in you, I see. Good-day to you, my man!” The Professor laughed a jolly laugh. “Oh, he’s quite tame!”

“Will you ever have to pay him that four thousand he said. “He never bites. He’s only a little—a little dreamy, pounds?” Sylvie asked as the door closed on the departing you know.” He took hold of Bruno’s other hand; and led the creditor.

children down a long passage I had never noticed before—

“Never, my child!” the Professor replied emphatically.

not that there was anything remarkable in that: I was con-

“He’ll go on doubling it, till he dies. You see it’s always worth stantly coming on new rooms and passages in that mysteri-while waiting another year, to get twice as much money!

ous Palace, and very seldom succeeded in finding the old 57

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll ones again.

lifted him up, once or twice, and shook him violently: but Near the end of the passage the Professor stopped. “This is he always returned to his book the moment he was let go of, his room,” he said, pointing to the solid wall.

and showed by his heavy breathing that the book was as

“We ca’n’t get in through there!” Bruno exclaimed.

interesting as ever.

Sylvie said nothing, till she had carefully examined whether

“How dreamy he is!” the Professor exclaimed. “He must the wall opened anywhere. Then she laughed merrily. “You’re have got to a very interesting part of the book!” And he playing us a trick, you dear old thing!” she said. “There’s no rained quite a shower of thumps on the Other Professor’s door here!”

back, shouting “Hoy! Hoy!” all the time. “Isn’t it wonderful

“There isn’t any door to the room,” said the Professor. “We that he should be so dreamy?” he said to Bruno.

shall have to climb in at the window.”

“If he’s always as sleepy as that,” Bruno remarked, “a course So we went into the garden, and soon found the window he’s dreamy!”

of the Other Professor’s room. It was a ground-floor win-

“But what are we to do?” said the Professor. “You see he’s dow, and stood invitingly open: the Professor first lifted the quite wrapped up in the book!”

two children in, and then he and I climbed in after them.

“Suppose oo shuts the book?” Bruno suggested.

The Other Professor was seated at a table, with a large

“That’s it!” cried the delighted Professor. “Of course that’ll book open before him, on which his forehead was resting: do it!” And he shut up the book so quickly that he caught he had clasped his arms round the book, and was snoring the Other Professor’s nose between the leaves, and gave it a heavily. “He usually reads like that,” the Professor remarked, severe pinch.

“when the book’s very interesting: and then sometimes it’s The Other Professor instantly rose to his feet, and carried very difficult to get him to attend!” the book away to the end of the room, where he put it back This seemed to be one of the difficult times: the Professor in its place in the book-case. “I’ve been reading for eighteen 58

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll hours and three-quarters,” he said, “and now I shall rest for

“And as to the ‘Pig-Tale’—which you have so kindly prom-fourteen minutes and a half. Is the Lecture all ready?” ised to give us—” the Professor went on, thoughtfully rub-

“Very nearly, “the Professor humbly replied. “I shall ask bing his chin. “I think that had better come at the end of the you to give me a hint or two—there will be a few little diffi-Banquet: then people can listen to it quietly.” culties—”

“Shall I sing it?” the Other Professor asked, with a smile of

“And Banquet, I think you said?”


“Oh, yes! The Banquet comes first, of course. People never

“If you can,” the Professor replied, cautiously.

enjoy Abstract Science, you know, when they’re ravenous

“Let me try,” said the Other Professor, seating himself at with hunger. And then there’s the Fancy-Dress-Ball. Oh, the pianoforte. “For the sake of argument, let us assume that there’ll be lots of entertainment!” it begins on A flat.” And he struck the note in question.

“Where will the Ball come in?” said the Other Professor.

“La, la, la! I think that’s within an octave of it.” He struck

“I think it had better come at the beginning of the Ban-the note again, and appealed to Bruno, who was standing at quet—it brings people together so nicely, you know.” his side. “Did I sing it like that, my child?”

“Yes, that’s the right order. First the Meeting: then the

“No, oo didn’t,” Bruno replied with great decision. “It were Eating: then the Treating—for I’m sure any Lecture you give more like a duck.”

us will be a treat!” said the Other Professor, who had been

“Single notes are apt to have that effect,” the Other Pro-standing with his back to us all this time, occupying himself fessor said with a sigh. “Let me try a whole verse.

in taking the books out, one by one, and turning them upside-down. An easel, with a black board on it, stood near There was a Pig, that sat alone,

him: and, every time that he turned a book upside-down, he Beside a ruined Pump.

made a mark on the board with a piece of chalk.

By day and night he made his moan: 59

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll It would have stirred a heart of stone

“What are its disadvantages?” was the question that rose in To see him wring his hoofs and groan, my mind—and, as usual, Bruno asked it for me. “What are Because he could not jump.

its lizard bandages?’

“Well, this is one of them,” said the Professor. “When a Would you call that a tune, Professor?” he asked, when he man’s tipsy (that’s one extreme, you know), he sees one thing had finished.

as two. But, when he’s extremely sober (that’s the other ex-The Professor considered a little. “Well,” he said at last, treme), he sees two things as one. It’s equally inconvenient,

“some of the notes are the same as others and some are dif-whichever happens.

ferent but I should hardly call it a tune.”

“What does ‘illconvenient’ mean?” Bruno whispered to

“Let me try it a bit by myself,” said the Other Professor.


And he began touching the notes here and there, and hum-

“The difference between ‘convenient’ and ‘inconvenient’

ming to himself like an angry bluebottle.

is best explained by an example,” said the Other Professor,

“How do you like his singing?” the Professor asked the who had overheard the question. “If you’ll just think over children in a low voice.

any Poem that contains the two words—such as—”

“It isn’t very beautiful,” Sylvie said, hesitatingly.

The Professor put his hands over his ears, with a look of

“It’s very extremely ugly!” Bruno said, without any hesita-dismay. “If you once let him begin a Poem,” he said to Sylvie, tion at all.

“he’ll never leave off again! He never does!”

“All extremes are bad,” the Professor said, very gravely.

“Did he ever begin a Poem and not leave off again?” Sylvie

“For instance, Sobriety is a very good thing, when practised enquired.

in moderation: but even Sobriety, when carried to an ex-

“Three times,” said the Professor.

treme, has its disadvantages.”

Bruno raised himself on tiptoe, till his lips were on a level 60

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll with Sylvie’s ear. “What became of them three Poems?” he said Sylvie. The words were severe enough, but I am of opin-whispered. “Is he saying them all, now?” ion that, when you are really anxious to impress a criminal

“Hush!” said Sylvie. “The Other Professor is speaking!” with a sense of his guilt, you ought not to pronounce the

“I’ll say it very quick,” murmured the Other Professor, sentence with your lips quite close to his cheek—since a kiss with downcast eyes, and melancholy voice, which contrasted at the end of it, however accidental, weakens the effect terri-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!” 61

Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll CHAPTER 11

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!

“As I was saying,” the Other Professor resumed, “if you’ll

‘We ca’n’t,’ said Paul, ‘be too precise: just think over any Poem, that contains the words—such as

’Tis best to fix the very day:

So, by a learned friend’s advice,

‘Peter is poor,’ said noble Paul, I’ve made it Noon, the Fourth of May.

‘And I have always been his friend: And, though my means to give are small, But this is April! Peter said.

At least I can afford to lend.

‘The First of April, as I think.

How few, in this cold age of greed, Five little weeks will soon be fled: Do good, except on selfish grounds!

One scarcely will have time to wink!

But I can feel for Peter’s need,

Give me a year to speculate—

And I will lend him fifty pounds!’

To buy and sell—to drive a trade—’

Said Paul ‘I cannot change the date.

On May the Fourth it must be paid.’


Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll

‘Well, well!’ said Peter, with a sigh.

The Fourth arrived, and punctual Paul

‘Hand me the cash, and I will go.

Came, with his legal friend, at noon.

I’ll form a Joint-Stock Company,

‘I thought it best,’ said he, ‘to call: And turn an honest pound or so.’

One cannot settle things too soon.’

‘I’m grieved,’ said Paul, ‘to seem unkind: Poor Peter shuddered in despair:

The money shalt of course be lent: His flowing locks he wildly tore: But, for a week or two, I find

And very soon his yellow hair

It will not be convenient.’

Was lying all about the floor.

So, week by week, poor Peter came The legal friend was standing by, And turned in heaviness away;

With sudden pity half unmanned:

For still the answer was the same, The tear-drop trembled in his eye,

‘I cannot manage it to-day.’

The signed agreement in his hand: And now the April showers were dry—

But when at length the legal soul The five short weeks were nearly spent—

Resumed its customary force,

Yet still he got the old reply,

‘The Law,’ he said, ‘we ca’n’t control:

‘It is not quite convenient!’

Pay, or the Law must take its course!’


Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll Said Paul ‘How bitterly I rue

‘No Nobleness of soul have I,

That fatal morning when I called!

Like some that in this Age are found!’

Consider, Peter, what you do!

(Paul blushed in sheer humility,

You won’t be richer when you’re bald!

And cast his eyes upon the ground) Think you, by rending curls away,

‘This debt will simply swallow all, To make your difficulties less?

And make my life a life of woe!’

Forbear this violence, I pray:

‘Nay, nay, nay Peter!’ answered Paul.

You do but add to my distress!’

‘You must not rail on Fortune so!

‘Not willingly would I inflict,’

‘You have enough to eat and drink: Said Peter, ‘on that noble heart

You are respected in the world:

One needless pang. Yet why so strict?

And at the barber’s, as I think,

Is this to act a friendly part?

You often get your whiskers curled.

However legal it may be

Though Nobleness you ca’n’t attain To pay what never has been lent,

To any very great extent—

This style of business seems to me The path of Honesty is plain,

Extremely inconvenient!

However inconvenient!’


Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll

“Tis true, ‘said Peter,’ I’m alive:

‘How good! How great!’ poor Peter cried.

I keep my station in the world:

‘Yet I must sell my Sunday wig—

Once in the week I just contrive

The scarf-pin that has been my pride—

To get my whiskers oiled and curled.

My grand piano—and my pig!’

But my assets are very low:

Full soon his property took wings: My little income’s overspent:

And daily, as each treasure went, To trench on capital, you know,

He sighed to find the state of things Is always inconvenient!’

Grow less and less convenient.

‘But pay your debts!’ cried honest Paul.

Weeks grew to months, and months to years:

‘My gentle Peter, pay your debts!

Peter was worn to skin and bone:

What matter if it swallows all

And once he even said, with tears, That you describe as your “assets”?

‘Remember, Paul, that promised Loan!’

Already you’re an hour behind:

Said Paul’ I’ll lend you, when I can, Yet Generosity is best.

All the spare money I have got—

It pinches me—but never mind!

Ah, Peter, you’re a happy man!

I will not charge you interest!’

Yours is an enviable lot!


Sylvie and Bruno - Lewis Carroll

‘I’m getting stout, as you may see:

‘No scare-crow would accept this coat: It is but seldom I am well:

Such boots as these you seldom see.

I cannot feel my ancient glee

Ah, Paul, a single five-pound-note In listening to the dinner-bell:

Would make another man of me!’

But you, you gambol like a boy,

Said Paul ‘It fills me with surprise Your figure is so spare and light: To hear you talk in such a tone:

The dinner-bell’s a note of joy

I fear you scarcely realise

To such a healthy appetite!’

The blessings that are all your own!

Said Peter ‘I am well aware

‘You’re safe from being overfed:

Mine is a state of happiness:

You’re sweetly picturesque in rags: And yet how gladly could I spare

You never know the aching head

Some of the comforts I possess!

That comes along with money-bags: What you call healthy appetite

And you have time to cultivate

I feel as Hunger’s savage tooth:

That best of qualities, Content—

And, when no dinner is in sight,

For which you’ll find your present state The dinner-bell’s a sound of ruth!

Remarkably convenient!’