`It's welly extremely nasty!' Bruno said, as his face resumed its natural shape.
`Nasty?' said the Professor. `Why, of course it is! What would Medicine be, if it wasn't nasty?'
`Nice,' said Bruno.
`I was going to say--' the Professor faltered, rather taken aback by the promptness of Bruno's reply, `-- that that would never do! Medicine has to be nasty, you know. Be good enough to take this jug, down into the Servants' Hall,' he said to the footman who answered the bell: `and tell them it's their Medicine for to-day.'
`Which of them is to drink it?' the footman asked, as he carried off the jug.
`Oh, I've not settled that yet!' the Professor briskly replied. `I'll come and settle that, soon. Tell them not to begin, on any account, till I come! It's really wonderful,' he said, turning to the children, `the success I've had in curing Diseases! Here are some of my memoranda.' He took down from the shelf a heap of little bits of paper, pinned together in twos and threes. `Just look at this set, now. "Under-Cook Number Thirteen recovered from Common Fever--Febris Communis." And now see what's pinned to it. "Gave Under-Cook Number Thirteen a Double Dose of Medicine." That's something to be proud of, isn't it?'
`But which happened first?' said Sylvie, looking very much puzzled.
The Professor examined the papers carefully. `They are not dated, I find,' he said with a slightly dejected air: `so I fear I ca'n't tell you. But they both happened: there's no doubt of that. The Medicine's the great thing, you know. The Diseases are much less important. You can keep a Medicine, for years and years: but nobody ever wants to keep a Disease! By the way, come and look at the platform. The Gardener asked me to come and see if it would do. We may as well go before it gets dark.'
`We'd like to, very much!' Sylvie replied. `Come, Bruno, put on your hat. Don't keep the dear Professor waiting!'
`Ca'n't find my hat!' the little fellow sadly replied. `I were rolling it about. And it's rolled itself away!'
`Maybe it's rolled in there,' Sylvie suggested, pointing to a dark recess, the door of which stood half open: and Bruno ran in to look. After a minute he came slowly out again, looking very grave, and carefully shut the cupboard door after him.
`It aren't in there,' he said, with such unusual solemnity, that Sylvie's curiosity was aroused.
`What is in there, Bruno?'
`There's cobwebs--and two spiders--' Bruno thoughtfully replied, checking off the catalogue on his fingers, `--and the cover of a picture-book--and a tortoise--and a dish of nuts--and an old man.'
`An old man!' cried the Professor, trotting across the room in great excitement. `Why, it must be the Other Professor, that's been lost for ever so long!'
He opened the door of the cupboard wide: and there he was, the Other Professor, sitting in a chair, with a book on his knee, and in the act of helping himself to a nut from a dish, which he had taken down off a shelf just within his reach. He looked round at us, but said nothing till he had cracked and eaten the nut. Then he asked the old question. `Is the Lecture all ready?'
`It'll begin in an hour,' the Professor said, evading the question. `First, we must have something to surprise the Empress. And then comes the Banquet--'
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