`COME to me, my little gentleman,' said our hostess, lifting Bruno into her lap, `and tell me everything.'
`I ca'n't,' said Bruno. `There wouldn't be time. Besides, I don't know everything.'
The good woman looked a little puzzled, and turned to Sylvie for help. `Does he like riding?' she asked.
`Yes, I think so,' Sylvie gently replied. `He's just had a ride on Nero.'
`Ah, Nero's a grand dog, isn't he? Were you ever outside a horse, my little man?'
`Always!' Bruno said with great decision. `Never was inside one. Was oo?'
Here I thought it well to interpose, and to mention the business on which we had come, and so relieved her, for a few minutes, from Bruno's perplexing questions.
`And those dear children will like a bit of cake, I'll warrant!' said the farmer's hospitable wife, when the business was concluded, as she opened her cupboard, and brought out a cake. `And don't you waste the crust, little gentleman!' she added, as she handed a good slice of it to Bruno. `You know what the poetry-book says about wilful waste?'
`No, I don't,' said Bruno. `What doos he say about it?'
`Tell him, Bessie!' And the mother looked down, proudly and lovingly, on a rosy little maiden, who had just crept shyly into the room, and was leaning against her knee. `What's that your poetry-book says about wilful waste?'
`For wilful waste makes woeful want,' Bessie recited, in an almost inaudible whisper: `and you may live to say "How much I wish I had the crust that then I threw away!"'
`Now try if you can say it, my dear! For wilful--'
`For wifful--sumfinoruvver--' Bruno began, readily enough; and then there came a dead pause. `Ca'n't remember no more!'
`Well, what do you learn from it, then? You can tell us that, at any rate?'
Bruno ate a little more cake, and considered: but the moral did not seem to him to be a very obvious one.
`Always to--' Sylvie prompted him in a whisper.
`Always to--' Bruno softly repeated: and then, with sudden inspiration, `always to look where it goes to!'
`Where what goes to, darling?'
`Why the crust, a course!' said Bruno. `Then, if I lived to say `How much I wiss I had the crust--" (and all that), I'd know where I frew it to!'
This new interpretation quite puzzled the good woman. She returned to the subject of `Bessie'. `Wouldn't you like to see Bessie's doll, my dears! Bessie, take the little lady and gentleman to see Matilda Jane!'
Bessie's shyness thawed away in a moment. `Matilda Jane has just woke up,' she stated, confidentially, to Sylvie. `Won't you help me on with her frock? Them strings is such a bother to tie!'
`I can tie strings,' we heard, in Sylvie's gentle voice, as the two little girls left the room together. Bruno ignored the whole proceeding, and strolled to the window, quite with the air of a fashionable gentleman. Little girls, and dolls, were not at all his line.
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