The Dog-King

`THEY shooked hands,' said Bruno, who was trotting at my side, in answer to the unspoken question.

`And they looked ever so pleased!' Sylvie added from the other side.

`Well, we must get on, now, as quick as we can,' I said. `If only I knew the best way to Hunter's farm!'

`They'll be sure to know in this cottage,' said Sylvie.

`Yes, I suppose they will. Bruno, would you run in and ask?'

Sylvie stopped him, laughingly, as he ran off. `Wait a minute,' she said. `I must make you visible first, you know.'

`And audible too, I suppose?' I said, as she took the jewel, that hung round her neck, and waved it over his head, and touched his eyes and lips with it.

`Yes,' said Sylvie: `and once, do you know, I made him audible, and forgot to make him visible! And he went to buy some sweeties in a shop. And the man was so frightened! A voice seemed to come out of the air, "Please, I want two ounces of barley-sugar drops!" And a shilling came bang down upon the counter! And the man said "I ca'n't see you!" And Bruno said "It doosn't sinnify seeing me, so long as oo can see the shilling!" But the man said he never sold barley-sugar drops to people he couldn't see. So we had to -- Now, Bruno, you're ready!' And away he trotted.

Sylvie spent the time, while we were waiting for him, in making herself visible also. `It's rather awkward, you know,' she explained to me, `when we meet people, and they can see one of us, and ca'n't see the other!'

In a minute or two Bruno returned, looking rather disconsolate. `He'd got friends with him, and he were cross!' he said. `He asked me who I were. And I said "I'm Bruno: who is these peoples?" And he said "One's my half-brother, and t'other's my half-sister: and I don't want no more company! Go along with yer!" And I said "I ca'n't go along wizout mine self!' And I said "Oo shouldn't have bits of peoples lying about like that! It's welly untidy!" And he said "Oh, don't talk to me!" And he pushted me outside! And he shutted the door!'

`And you never asked where Hunter's farm was?' queried Sylvie.

`Hadn't room for any questions,' said Bruno. `The room were so crowded.'

`Three people couldn't crowd a room,' said Sylvie.

`They did, though,' Bruno persisted. `He crowded it most. He's such a welly thick man -- so as oo couldn't knock him down.'

I failed to see the drift of Bruno's argument. `Surely anybody could be knocked down,' I said: `thick or thin wouldn't matter.'

`Oo couldn't knock him down,' said Bruno. `He's more wide than he's high: so, when he's lying down he's more higher than when he's standing: so a-course oo couldn't knock him down!'

`Here's another cottage,' I said: `I'll ask the way, this time.'

There was no need to go in, this time, as the woman was standing in the doorway, with a baby in her arms, talking to a respectably dressed man -- a farmer, as I guessed -- who seemed to be on his way to the town.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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