`Bless you, it werena pride!' said the old man, reading my thoughts. `She says "Your Minnie never shook hands wi' you!" she says. "An' I'm your Minnie now," she says. An' she just puts her dear arms about my neck--and she kisses me on t' cheek--an' may God in Heaven bless her!' And here the poor old man broke down entirely, and could say no more.
`God bless her!' I echoed. `And good night to you!' I pressed his hand, and left him. `Lady Muriel,' I said softly to myself as I went homewards, `truly you know how to "mak' amends"!'
Seated once more by my lonely fireside, I tried to recall the strange vision of the night before, and to conjure up the face of the dear old Professor among the blazing coals. `That black one--with just a touch of red--would suit him well,' I thought. `After such a catastrophe, it would be sure to be covered with black stains--and he would say:
`The result of that combination--you may have noticed?--was an Explosion! Shall I repeat the Experiment?'
`No, no! Don't trouble yourself!' was the general cry. And we all trooped off, in hot haste, to the Banqueting- Hall, where the feast had already begun.
No time was lost in helping the dishes, and very speedily every guest found his plate filled with good things.
`I have always maintained the principle,' the Professor began, `that it is a good rule to take some food-- occasionally. The great advantage of dinner-parties--' he broke off suddenly. `Why, actually here's the Other Professor!' he cried. `And there's no place left for him!'
The Other Professor came in reading a large book, which he held close to his eyes. One result of his not looking where he was going was that he tripped up, as he crossed the Saloon, flew up into the air, and fell heavily on his face in the middle of the table.
`What a pity!' cried the kind-hearted Professor, as he helped him up.
`It wouldn't be me, if I didn't trip,' said the Other Professor.
The Professor looked much shocked. `Almost anything would be better than that!' he exclaimed. `It never does,' he added, aside to Bruno, `to be anybody else, does it?'
To which Bruno gravely replied `I's got nuffin on my plate.'
The Professor hastily put on his spectacles, to make sure that the facts were all right, to begin with: then he turned his jolly round face upon the unfortunate owner of the empty plate. `And what would you like next, my little man?'
`Well,' Bruno said, a little doubtfully, `I think I'll take some plum-pudding, please--while I think of it.'
`Oh, Bruno!' (This was a whisper from Sylvie.) `It isn't good manners to ask for a dish before it comes!'
And Bruno whispered back `But I might forget to ask for some, when it comes, oo know--I do forget things, sometimes,' he added, seeing Sylvie about to whisper more.
And this assertion Sylvie did not venture to contradict.
Meanwhile a chair had been placed for the Other Professor, between the Empress and Sylvie. Sylvie found him a rather uninteresting neighbour: in fact, she couldn't afterwards remember that he had made more than one remark to her during the whole banquet, and that was `What a comfort a Dictionary is!' (She told Bruno, afterwards, that she had been too much afraid of him to say more than `Yes, Sir' in reply: and that had been the end of their conversation. On which Bruno expressed a very decided opinion
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