To The Rescue!

`IT isn't bed-time!' said a sleepy little voice. `The owls hasn't gone to bed, and I s'a'n't go to seep wizout oo sings to me!'

`Oh, Bruno!' cried Sylvie. `Don't you know the owls have only just got up? But the frogs have gone to bed, ages ago."

`Well, I aren't a frog,' said Bruno.

`What shall I sing?' said Sylvie, skilfully avoiding the argument.

`Ask Mister Sir,' Bruno lazily replied, clasping his hands behind his curly head, and lying back on his fern- leaf, till it almost bent over with his weight. `This aren't a comfable leaf, Sylvie. Find me a comfabler-- please!' he added, as an after-thought, in obedience to a warning finger held up by Sylvie. `I doosn't like being feet-upwards!'

It was a pretty sight to see--the motherly way in which the fairy-child gathered up her little brother in her arms, and laid him on a stronger leaf. She gave it just a touch to set it rocking, and it went on vigorously by itself, as if it contained some hidden machinery. It certainly wasn't the wind, for the evening-breeze had quite died away again, and not a leaf was stirring over our heads.

`Why does that one leaf rock so, without the others?' I asked Sylvie. She only smiled sweetly and shook her head. `I don't know why,' she said. `It always does, if it's got a fairy-child on it. It has to, you know.'

`And can people see the leaf rock, who ca'n't see the Fairy on it?'

`Why, of course!' cried Sylvie. `A leaf's a leaf, and everybody can see it; but Bruno's Bruno, and they ca'n't see him, unless they're eerie, like you.'

Then I understood how it was that one sometimes sees--going through the woods in a still evening-- one fern-leaf rocking steadily on, all by itself. Haven't you ever seen that? Try if you can see the fairy- sleeper on it, next time; but don't pick the leaf, whatever you do; let the little one sleep on!

But all this time Bruno was getting sleepier and sleepier. `Sing, sing!' he murmured fretfully. Sylvie looked to me for instructions. `What shall it be?' she said.

`Could you sing him the nursery-song you once told me of?' I suggested. `The one that had been put through the mind-mangle, you know. "The little man that had a little gun", I think it was.'

`Why, that are one of the Professor's songs!' cried Bruno. `I likes the little man; and I likes the way they spinned him--like a teetle-totle-tum.' And he turned a loving look on the gentle old man who was sitting at the other side of his leaf-bed, and who instantly began to sing, accompanying himself on his Outlandish guitar, while the snail, on which he sat, waved its horns in time to the music.

In stature the Manlet was dwarfish--
   No burly big Blunderbore he:
And he wearily gazed on the crawfish
   His Wifelet had dressed for his tea.
`Now reach me, sweet Atom, my gunlet,
   And hurl the old shoelet for luck:
Let me hie to the bank of the runlet,
                              And shoot thee a Duck!'

She has reached him his minikin gunlet:
   She has hurled the old shoelet for luck:
She is busily baking a bunlet,
   To welcome him home with his Duck.
On he speeds, never wasting a wordlet,
   Though thoughtlets cling, closely as wax,
To the spot where the beautiful birdlet
                              So quietly quacks.

Where the Lobsterlet lurks, and the Crablet
   So slowly and sleepily crawls:
Where the Dolphin's at home, and the Dablet
   Pays long ceremonious calls:
Where the Grublet is sought by the Froglet:
   Where the Frog is pursued by the Duck:
Where the Ducklet is chased by the Doglet--
                              So runs the world's luck!

He has loaded with bullet and powder:
   His footfall is noiseless as air:
But the Voices grow louder and louder,
   And bellow, and bluster, and blare.
They bristle before him and after,
   They flutter above and below,
Shrill shriekings of lubberly laughter,
                              Weird wailings of woe!

They echo without him, within him:
   They thrill through his whiskers and beard:
Like a teetotum seeming to spin

  By PanEris using Melati.

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