The Garden of the Plynck
by Karle Wilson Baker
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"Sit," said the Monarch, briefly.

Sara sat.

"Eat," said the Monarch, in the same sleepy but authoritative voice.

Now, Sara was terribly uncomfortable. To be sure, nothing had ever looked more delicious, and Sara liked butter on bread—a great deal of it, in fact. But to eat all butter, without anything to go with it! Yet she felt it would be dreadfully impolite to refuse; and she could not bear to be thought impolite by all these haughty and elegant persons. She was just about to say, humbly, "Please, might I have a little bread?" when it occurred to her that she might just taste it, at least. And oh, how glad she was that she did! For, of course, you have guessed that it was not just ordinary butter, though it looked exactly like it. It was not even the plain imaginary kind: it was enchanted butterfly butter. And if you have ever seen a monarch butterfly as big as a peacock, sitting on a throne, you know what it tasted like. The nearest I can come to explaining is to say that it tasted a little like custard and a little like ice-cream and a little like a sort of candy Sara had forgotten the name of. And it had a fragrance something like that of isthagaria.

The Monarch went to sleep as soon as he saw that Sara had begun to eat; but just before she finished he was awakened by a court official who came in to announce, with a bored expression, that two ladies of high degree, members of families very prominent in the realm, desired an audience with His Majesty.

The Monarch sighed and rubbed his eyes with his feelers.

"Show them in," he said.

The two ladies came zigzagging in, talking and arguing excitedly; they were the first really animated persons Sara had seen in all this warm, shimmering place.

"The Princess Interrogation: the Countess Leaf-Wing," announced the courtier.

Then the two ladies, who had been talking to each other, both began talking at once to the king. In spite of their aristocratic, high-bred air, their long necks and waists and slender wrists and ankles, their high heels and gorgeous clothes, they were as angry as cooks.

"She was laying eggs on my food-plant!" cried the Princess.

"I wasn't!" shrilled the Countess. "What do I want with her old nettle? Don't I know Croton capita turn when I see it? I was just resting, and she came and pushed me off—"

"She had already come and stuck her long tongue into a lily I had just occupied," continued the Princess. "And I saw the eggs after she left—"

"They were your own old flat eggs," said the Countess contemptuously. "You haven't mind enough to remember where you put them!"

"Oh, roses!" sighed the Monarch, "I suppose I'll never have any peace. Always on the verge of civil war! Yesterday it was the clover-caterpillars complaining that the zebras were eating their food—"

Sara was just thinking how shockingly unbecoming such conduct was, and how they were all behaving more like children than like the nice, unintelligent lower animals they ought to be, when another messenger came flying in in a state of actual excitement.

"Your Majesty!" he cried. "There's a strange animal attacking the caterpillars!"

Sara's heart sank. The Snoodle—she knew it must be the Snoodle! And she felt responsible for him!

She jumped up from her silver table-cloth and ran out of the palace door, with the whole court zigzagging excitedly after her. It was a noiseless chase, for the butterflies (except when they quarrel) are very quiet; but there was much excitement nevertheless. Sara ran a little way from the palace before she came to the scene of the disturbance—and such a scene as it was! Caterpillars everywhere, bristling, smooth, green, pink, eye-marked and eyeless; caterpillars standing on their tails, or crouching in every conceivable attitude of defense; and in their midst the little Snoodle, frisking and fawning and endeavoring to come to grips with the horny and horrified worms. There was one old Hickory Horn-Devil in particular, who had come out in front of the others like Goliath before the ranks of the Philistines; and the Snoodle was dancing around him in an ecstasy of anticipation. Though he was so excited, he looked so good-natured that Sara could not believe that he wished to harm even these fierce-looking brutes; indeed, there was a sort of resemblance between them, except for the expression. And, as she thought that, it flashed into Sara's mind that the Snoodle did not really want to hurt them, at all, but only to embrace them! So she ran forward and cried to the excited populace (who were spinning this way and that, wildly coiling and uncoiling their springs and crying, "What in butter shall we do?),

"He won't hurt them—he won't hurt them! He only wants to embrace them! He thinks they're his relatives—his father was a noodle!"

At this the people grew calmer, and began to gather around her head, asking cautious questions. The caterpillars did not seem to understand, and looked as frightened and agitated as ever; for Sara was unconsciously speaking the butterfly language, and the caterpillars spoke a different dialect.

"Give me a chance to prove my theory!" continued Sara, in the butterfly language. "Here, Snoodle!" she called, soothingly. "Here—Horn-Devil!" It took a great deal of courage for Sara to speak soothingly to the giant caterpillar; but you see the butterfly people were beginning to think her a very wise, brave person, and that made it rather necessary for her to be one. So she gave a little gulp which the spectators took for a sign of bravery, and drawing nearer by inches, actually laid her hand on the rearing, plunging, panic-stricken creature! He lurched and snorted terribly when her hand first touched him, but as he did nothing worse, Sara grew braver and more hopeful, and began to pat and stroke him and say soothing words. Of course he could not understand the words, but he seemed to understand the tone, for presently he stopped rearing, and at last stood quite quiet, only breathing hard and trembling a little.

"Now, Snoodle, come here!" cried Sara, nerving herself for the supreme test of her theory.

The Snoodle sprang forward at the word, and, as Sara had foretold, threw his paws about the Horn-Devil's neck. The Horn-Devil sprang into the air, making a sort of wild, whinnying sound (the only sound Sara ever heard, then or afterward, from a caterpillar); but as Sara patted him kindly and the Snoodle only wagged himself ecstatically, he grew quiet again, and allowed himself to be hugged without further protest. Then the Snoodle, having finished his embrace, released his long-lost relative and sat down on his long hinder-parts, looking about at the spectators with an air that said, "There! I'm satisfied! I didn't do any harm, did I?"

And at that the populace went wild. You never saw such a change come over a nation of people in your life. They showered attentions upon Sara until she was so delighted that she scarcely knew how to deport herself. They proclaimed her a heroine; they brought a sort of sedan chair, borne, not by the common cabbage butterflies who usually carried them, but by a Chrysophanus hypophlaeas and a Lavatera assurgentiflora. And when they had put her into it they carried her at the head of a procession to the royal gardens behind the palace, where no mortal had ever entered; and there they crowned her with flowers which have no name in our language, but which the butterflies call tinnulalia. And they fed her—not with butter this time—but with honey-dew. They fanned her with their enormous wings (as big as peacocks') and hovered over her, and murmured compliments in her ears, until it was hard for her to believe that they were the same lovely but supercilious race who had received her so coolly in the morning. And when, suddenly, the temple-gong sounded, and the Equine Gahoppigas, saddled and bridled, and champing his bit, appeared at the entrance to the royal gardens, they all took out their cobweb handkerchiefs and wept bitterly.

And, indeed, Sara was loth to go; for this strange land was an enchanting place when its people were kind. But she saw that it was growing late; and, as the shadows began to lengthen, she suddenly remembered that she had followed the Snoodle away without telling anybody. She was certainly older than the Snoodle; he was so young and irresponsible. Ought she not to have told the Snimmy's wife? Perhaps he was running away!

So she gathered up the reins and saw him leap safely up behind her; then she turned to wave good-by to the Butterfly Country and its strange, changeable, elegant inhabitants. And as long as she could see anything she watched the pulsing, many-colored wings waving regretfully over the royal garden with the strange flowers.

The ride home through the cool of the evening was as delightful as the morning's ride had been; but not quite so breathless and exciting, because it seemed to Sara by this time quite natural to ride upon a Gahoppigas. But when she slid off her charger at the entrance of the Plynck's Garden her ears were assailed by an unspeakable clamor of mournful sound; it sounded a little like a Swiss yodler with a broken heart, and a little like a dog howling because the yodler was singing. And it went "Snoodle-oodle-oodle-ooo!!" And Sara knew, with a sinking heart, that it was the Snimmy's wife lifting up her voice in lamentation for her lost child.

Therefore, for the first time, she was a little afraid to go into the Garden. But she had already been so brave that day that she had rather contracted the habit; so she drew a long breath, and, saying calmly, "Come, Snoodle!" she walked straight up to the pool.

And such a clamor of rejoicing as arose at their appearance! The Plynck was so surprised that she crowed like a rooster; and then apologized to everybody (half-laughing and half-crying) for being so unladylike. The Teacup fluttered, the Snimmy sniffed; and the Snimmy's wife—that grim, undemonstrative woman—rushed out from the prose-bush and gathered her darling, and Sara, too, to her heart.

But Sara was not through being brave. She stepped up upon Schlorge's stump, and, swallowing hard, said in a clear voice,

"Perhaps it was my fault. I'm older than the Snoodle—"

"Hurrah for Sara! She's older than the Snoodle!" cried the First and Second Gunki. And at that the whole Garden went wild over her just as the butterflies had done. The Gunki carried her around on their shoulders; the Snimmy and his wife pelted her with moon-flowers; the Plynck and the Teacup kept up an agitated patter of feminine hand-clapping; and Schlorge came running down the path from the Dimplesmithy, cheering wildly.

When they finally put her down beside the dimple-holder, very rumpled and bright-eyed and flushed, Sara felt her little heart swell with pride. For twice that day she had been acclaimed a heroine—once because she had tamed a caterpillar, and once because she was older than the Snoodle.

Chapter X Sara's Day

Something told Sara, the next morning, to take every one of her dolls. And the minute she entered the Garden she was glad that she had.

It was clear that something very unusual was afoot. She had never seen her dear Garden look so festive. It was lavishly decorated with sun-shafts and rainbows, and everywhere waved streamers of pink sunrise and violet mist. Over the fountain, in front of the tree where the Plynck sat, had been stretched a large electric sign. It read,

"In Honor of Sara. Because She is Older than the Snoodle!"

It was made of white and pink gum-drops, and they told her afterward that the Snimmy had sat up all night to weep them. The Plynck furnished the electricity by smiling every little while. This lit up the pink and white gum-drops, till they looked like the tiny globes on the Wooded Island at the Park. Of course this was in the daytime, but the Plynck's smile was so much stronger than ordinary electricity that even in daytime it shone with quite a dazzling effect.

All of her friends were there except Avrillia. Pirlaps had come and brought all seventy of the children; he said Avrillia was coming on in a moment, and kept looking down the path for her. The minute the Kewpie saw Avrillia's children, he slid out of Sara's arms and ran to them; and all that day Sara could hardly pick him out from the rest of them. The Baby, too, kicked and cried and stretched out his hands until one of the older children came and took him; and all day long they passed him, too, from one to another, and he seemed perfectly contented. The Teddy-Bear sat down in a quiet corner and shaded his eyes from the lights; the Billiken strolled about with his hands in his pockets, smiling at everything; and the Japanese doll went over and took a seat on the steps of the prose-bush, where he was soon discussing with Mrs. Snimmy the best way to stew onions.

There were so many of Avrillia's children and so many of the Gunki that the Garden had a delightfully animated appearance. Yassuh was there, carrying Pirlaps' step and the hand-bag with his shaving-things and extra trousers; but as Avrillia hadn't come yet he hadn't used his step, and his clothes were quite immaculate.

He now stepped up to Sara, who stood looking about her with surprise and wonder, and said, "Well, Sara, this is your day. You are the guest of honor, and we're all proud of you. We hope you'll have the pleasantest time you ever had."

Sara was as charmed as she was bewildered. She didn't say anything at first, because she didn't want them to know that she didn't quite understand what it was all about. But presently she couldn't stand not knowing any longer, so she whispered to Pirlaps,

"Is—is it a sort of birthday?"

"Well,—yes, I suppose you might call it that," answered Pirlaps, looking at her in the kind, indulgent way he had when she showed her odd little ideas and her inexperience. "Didn't you announce yesterday that you were older than the Snoodle?"

For a moment Sara felt as if she ought to explain that that was only the beginning of her speech, and that, if they had not interrupted her, she had meant to tell them that she was sorry that she had not taken more responsibility for the Snoodle, and reminded him to ask permission from the Snimmy's wife before he left the Garden. But, on reflection, she realized that they did not blame her in the least, so there was no need to make excuses; and they all seemed so delighted to find that she was older than the Snoodle! A birthday is too charming a thing to refuse, even if it's a special sort of birthday one doesn't exactly understand; so Sara decided to accept hers with a thankful heart. Besides, it must be confessed that she had caught glimpses of parcels here and there. The Plynck, she was sure, had one under her right wing; and there was no doubt that one was sticking out from under the coat-tails of the First Gunkus.

"We are to celebrate all day in your honor, Sara," added Pirlaps. "And this evening, when you are ready to go home, Schlorge will made you an address of welcome. But what can be keeping Avrillia?"

They all looked down the pathway, but no Avrillia was in sight. Suddenly the Echo of the Plynck spoke from the pool.

"The guest of honor always goes and fetches anybody who doesn't come," she said.

"Does she?" asked Sara, opening her eyes wide; but Pirlaps said, "To be sure! I had forgotten. Come on, Sara. Let's go bring Avrillia."

Sara was always glad to go to Avrillia's lovely house, though she couldn't help thinking as she ran that this was one manner Mother failed to remind her of, whenever she was overhauling her manners for any especial use.

All was still about the beautiful little house where Avrillia lived, and Sara looked at it lovingly, for she had a sort of feeling somewhere deep under her little apron that she would not see it again for a long while. Pirlaps, who knew Avrillia pretty well, did not look in the pink bed-room, or the kitchen, or the sitting-room; no, he went straight to the balcony. And there sat Avrillia, in a mist of her bright, wild hair, so intent upon her writing that she did not see them, or hear them speak.

"Sh—sh—" said Pirlaps, in a low tone, when he saw how absorbed she was. "We'll wait till she finishes that one. Why didn't I bring my step?"

As he didn't have it, however, he leaned against the alabaster wall, and waited patiently; though Sara, it must be confessed, was quite restless. After what seemed to her a very long time, Avrillia drew a deep breath and shook back her golden hair, and moving like a lost bird to the balustrade, leaned far out and let her new poem flutter from her hand. For another long time she did not move, straining her eyes down into the abyss. At last she straightened up with a long sigh, and, seeing them, smiled.

"Did it stick?" asked Pirlaps, eagerly.

"No," was all Avrillia said, but her voice made Sara's heart quiver, for in the sound of it she seemed to hear the temple-bells, and the fairy hand-organ she had heard in the steep street at Zinariola, and the drowsy tinkle of the fountain in the Butterfly Palace, and the little Laughs that leaped about the mountain, and the morning and evening sheep-bells, all gathered together into one sound that seemed to say that presently she would have to say good-by to Avrillia. But Avrillia, seeing her suddenly sad little face, stooped and kissed her as she had done that other morning, and patted her cheek, and said, "Oh, but I have a present for you, Sara! This is your day—we must all be very merry!" And with that she picked up something that was wrapped in several layers of silver fog and tied with a ripple, and seizing them both by the arm, went dancing with them down the path to the Garden.

Everybody applauded when they saw Pirlaps and the guest of honor returning with Avrillia; and the Teacup, unable longer to restrain her excitement, fluttered down to the rim of the pool and cried excitedly, "Now let's give the presents!"

Then something happened that came near turning the fete into a tragedy; for the Teacup lost her balance in the excitement, and splashed right over into the pool! The Plynck screamed, Schlorge whistled, the Gunki came running from every direction; but it was the Echo who saved the Teacup's life. With great presence of mind she spread out her cerulean plumes so that the Teacup settled upon them harmlessly, instead of crashing down upon the hard emerald bottom and shattering to bits. Then, of course, Schlorge could very easily reach down and draw her out.

The poor Teacup was naturally very much upset. "If my handle had not been so consanguineous—" she quavered, again and again. But, on the whole, considering her age and her timid disposition, they were all rather surprised at her fortitude.

Schlorge, who was still holding her, was looking very grave. "Sara will have to frown on her," he said, "as she did on the Zizz."

"But I can't frown, today," cried Sara, in dismay.

"I know it's hard," said Schlorge.

"Or at the Teacup!" pleaded Sara.

"It's your duty, Sara," said the Echo.

"Oh, dear, it's putting off the presents!" sighed one of the oldest of Avrillia's children; then, as she looked at the poor little gentle, bedraggled Teacup, with her consanguineous handle, she felt ashamed of herself, and hid behind her mother's drapery.

As for Sara, she was indeed in distress. "If some of you would only think of something to make me frown—I can't even think of any disagreeable things today!"

"You're frowning now!" suddenly cried the First Gunkus, waving his shoe; and they all forgave him his lack of respectfulness, because he was plainly so excited.

"Hold her up, Schlorge!" cried Pirlaps, running forward. "There—Sara—hold that expression—just a moment. Fix your eyes here—on this leaf! And keep your mind firmly on this thought: 'The Disagreeable Necessity of Frowning in the Presence of Presents.'"

Sara remembered how brave and useful she had been the day before, and concentrated her mind by a really tremendous effort. And she was soon rewarded; for in a few minutes everybody was clapping hands and waving handkerchiefs and crying, "She's dry! She's dry! Three cheers for Sara!"

Sure enough, the little Teacup was dry enough to flutter back to her perch, on which she sat throwing kisses to Sara. And then Pirlaps came forward, and taking Sara by the hand, said, "Come, Sara."

He then began leading her in a sort of triumphal march around the pool, while the rest fell in behind them and formed a procession. As there were so many of the Gunki and Avrillia's children it was quite a long procession, so that the only way they could tell the head from the tail of it was by remembering that Sara was the head and that the Snimmy's wife was the tail. The Echo, who could not leave the pool to march, spread out the lyre-shaped feathers on the top of her head and played the most beautiful rippling chords for them to march by.

And suddenly, when they had gone three times around the fountain, Pirlaps said, "Take the seat of honor, Sara, and receive our gifts." And there, in front of the Gugollaph-tree, was an enormous frosted cake, as big around as a wagon-wheel. Sara was sure it had not been there when the march began. She would have rubbed her eyes, had she not felt that such a conventional proceeding would be wholly inadequate.

"Take your seat, Sara," said Pirlaps kindly, enjoying her delight and astonishment.

Sara came to herself with a start. "Wh-where?" she asked. She was anxious not to appear awkward, but she did not see any particular place to sit.

"On the cake, dear, of course," said Pirlaps, who seemed never to tire of smiling at her odd little questions.

Sara had never done this before, but she was willing to try; and she was just about to climb upon the cake when another thought deterred her.

"But the candles? Won't my dress catch?"

"Try and see," said Pirlaps; but Avrillia whispered in her ear, "They aren't flames, dear: they're only colored perfumes."

So, reassured, Sara took her seat on the cake; and at once she saw that it made a very nice sort of throne. The frosting was resilient, but firm; and she now saw that the candles were arranged so that they made a sort of semicircle about her. Just as Avrillia had said, she could pass her hands across their wicks without being burned at all; they only winked and breathed out sweet odors—each flame a different color and scent. They were as tall as her head, as she sat among them; and the one at her right ear was of isthagaria, while the one on the left faintly suggested tinnulalia-flowers.

Before she had finished examining the candles, the Plynck flew down with the first present. "A lock of my hair," she said, looking eager, but a little embarrassed; and she actually perched on the rim of the pool while Sara unwrapped it, so that she might see whether or not she was pleased. But I do not need to tell you that Sara was; for it was one of her loveliest tail-feathers, a rich, curling plume of the deepest rose, from which sweet odors were shaken out as Sara lifted it to the light. Weeks afterward, when Sara astonished her mother by begging for the pink plume on her prettiest hat, what she was really pining for was a lock of the Plynck's hair.

Avrillia came next with her present. It was a little urn of jade and ivory, and it was full to the top of dried poems written on rose-leaves. Have you ever seen the quaint rose-jars some old-fashioned ladies have in their parlors? Well, some one of them, when she was little, saw one of Avrillia's poem-jars; and she made these others in a homesick effort to imitate it. And the fragrance—like nothing else you ever smelled—is the perfume of Avrillia's poems, as nearly as that little old-fashioned lady, after she grew up, could remember it.

You would not expect me to remember all of the presents Sara got that day. But a good many I can remember. Pirlaps brought her a picture he had painted; a very beautiful view of Nothing from Avrillia's balcony. Yassuh brought her a delicious Crumb; it was wrapped in a sticky paper covered with his finger-prints, but inside the paper was one of Avrillia's exquisite napkins of embroidered mist. The First Gunkus, remembering how she had loved the mountain, brought her a little live Laugh. He had climbed the mountain and trapped it for her, and made her a little cage to take it home with. It was very funny to hear it tittering about inside. The rest of the Gunki had clubbed together and bought her a gold-headed tuning-fork, so that she might be sure their answers were in tune. The Snimmy's wife brought her three large onions, neatly hemmed and tied in a bouquet with purple ribbon; the Snimmy himself a striped paper bag full of gum-drops. And the Snoodle's present was too cunning for anything! It was a little silver plum-extractor. With it a child could extract all the fattest raisins from her piece of mince-pie or portion of rice pudding without having to bother with the uninteresting remainder and being reprimanded; for the ingenious little instrument was invisible to adults. All the other presents were marked "For Sara, with our congratulations, because she is older than the Snoodle." But this one was marked, in a round, childish hand, "For my dear Sara—because she is older than me."

But the grand surprise came when, near the last, four Gunki hurried in bearing a large chest, which they placed at Sara's feet. "It came by the Gahoppigas Express, Miss, with no message," they explained. And when Sara opened it she found that it was full of butterfly money—the loveliest pieces of gold and silver that the frittilaries and papilios had collected from their own wings. Just inside the lid was a lily leaf bearing the inscription,

"For Sara, from a grateful Nation, Because she is older than the Snoodle."

Sara distributed handfuls of the beautiful little coins among them and again they cheered her for her generosity. Sara felt that she really did not deserve the cheering, however, as she seemed to have as many as ever—even after she had filled Mrs. Snimmy's apron and a shoe apiece for each Gunkus.

When the excitement over the money had subsided a little, Pirlaps announced; "The Banquet is now ready!" and again offering Sara his arm, he led her at the head of another procession three times around the fountain; and the third time, as before, there beside the cake was the banquet table—all spread and loaded down and glittering. Of course it was quite a long table, with a good many covers; there had to be one for each of Avrillia's children and for every one of the Gunki. The covers were very thin (being made of cobweb, of course) still, having so many, spread one on top of the other, made the table quite high, so that there were step-ladders instead of chairs. As there was a step-ladder for each guest, and as they were made of gold and silver, arranged alternately, the effect was very unique and elaborate.

Sara, being the guest of honor, was assigned the most inconspicuous place, three step-ladders south of the centre. When they were seated, and Sara's mouth was fairly watering at the sight of all the fairy delicacies the table displayed, Pirlaps, as master of ceremonies, rose and said, "You understand, Sara, that, on occasions like this, the guest of honor eats nothing but Toast."

Now, just imagine how disappointed Sara was! She really was having a hard time to wink back the tears, when Avrillia, who often understood more than the others, leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Wait till you taste it, Sara!"

Avrillia's eyes sparkled so that Sara was quite reassured; besides, she suddenly remembered the butterfly butter, and how her distress had been turned into rapture on that occasion. And when Avrillia added, "Besides, you have Birdsong wine with it!" she felt as happy as ever, and quite confident that there would be some delightful surprise about it.

When Pirlaps announced the first Toast, however, and the first slice walked heavily out from behind the little screen at the toastmaster's elbow, Sara again felt a sinking of the heart; for, except that he walked on his lower right-hand corner, as he had been trained to do, and made a rather awkward and laborious bow when his name was announced, he looked otherwise so exactly like a plain, brown, fat, every-day-in-the-year piece of breakfast toast that it was hard to be enthusiastic about him—at least in the presence of all the exotic-looking dainties the other guests were to have! However, Sara made a great effort, and settled herself to listen to the Toasts politely. The name of this Toast was "Sara's Day—Because She is Older than the Snoodle," and the Plynck responded to it. The way she responded was this: the Toast balanced himself with difficulty on his lower corner, and said, in a throaty voice, "How do you do, Madame Plynck?" and the Plynck bowed (much more gracefully) and responded, "How do you do, Toast?" And then she made a speech on the Toast's subject. While she was making the speech (which was lovely—she fairly soared) the Toast tottered over to Sara's plate and lay down in it, without any further sign of life or animation. Avrillia leaned over and Whispered, "Eat it, Sara," and then Sara did. And she didn't have any trouble keeping from being disappointed, after that. For, just as Avrillia had hinted, the toast, in spite of its appearance, was really Angel Food cake; and as she ate it, Sara found at her elbow a bottle marked "Birdsong Wine—Bluebird." As the Gunki were all eating, they couldn't wait on her, so she poured it into her glass herself; and when she had taken a sip, it tasted just like April! You may imagine that, from that time on, Sara had no further anxiety about what she was to eat, and that her mind was now entirely free to enjoy the Toasts. The second Toast was announced, indeed, before she had recovered from her first surprise and delight. The subject of this Toast was, "Sara's Dimples—May I Never Get Them"; and of course it was responded to by the Snimmy. There was no variety either in the looks or in the performance of the Toasts; I must admit that they were very heavy, awkward, and short of breath, and were as much alike as the trained sea-lions at a circus. However, you felt that, like the sea-lions, they were doing very well to perform at all. (Avrillia whispered to Sara that Pirlaps, as toastmaster, had spent days and days preparing them; so Sara suspected that Pirlaps, at least, had known all along that she was older than the Snoodle.) The speeches, on the other hand, were marvels of variety and interest. The Snimmy's, of course, was sad—even heartrending; and he was sniffing before he had finished saying, "How do you do, Toast?" and shedding gum-drops like hail-stones before he was half through. His Toast, however, was orange-cake, unusually delicious; and the wine served with it was a sparkling cherry-colored beverage marked "Cardinal." It was so heady that it even had a topknot, and it served admirably to counteract the depressing effect of the Snimmy's speech. The next Toast was responded to by the First and Second Gunki; and its subject was, "Sara's Tears—May There Be No Mad and Few Sad." The speech was in the form of a duet, rendered by the Gunki with deep feeling, and accompanied by the Plynck and her Echo with liquid-sounding arpeggios on their lyres, that were most appropriate. The Toast was old-fashioned jelly-cake, with Robinsong wine. Avrillia responded to a thin slice, whose subject was "Nothing"; everybody clapped when this subject was announced, for they felt that the subject was in the hands of an authority, and would be handled in a masterly manner. Nor were they disappointed; Avrillia's speech was in the form of a long poem, which she recited from memory, looking very wild and lovely. The Toast was silver-cake, with Veerie wine. Pirlaps himself, although he was toastmaster, responded to a Toast called "Sara's Questions—Bless Their Hearts!" and his Toast was chocolate-cake, with Wren wine. The Snoodle was too young to make a speech, but they had taught him to respond to a simple little Toast, "On Being Older than Snoodles," and it was very charming to hear him lisp, "How do you do, Toast?" like the others. His Toast was a plum-cake; and you should have seen how pleased he was when Sara took out the little silver plum-extractor, and used it like an adept! And the Teacup, having responded to a Toast with the subject, "If Only My Saucer Could Have Known Sara," made a very graceful but agitated little speech that brought out many cobweb pocket-handkerchiefs.

Of course that is not all the Toasts, nor even half of them; they kept it up until it was growing quite late, and at last Pirlaps said,

"Sara, Schlorge did not bring you a present or respond to a Toast, because he has made you an address of welcome. You have spent many happy days with us, and will soon be leaving. The time has come at last for us to bid you welcome. We will not dwell on the natural sadness of the occasion; rather, let us rejoice in the delights we have enjoyed together, and hope for a recurrence of these fair and memorable days. Sehlorge!"

Schlorge, overcome with pride and embarrassment, rose from his seat. He started around the pool with much dignity; then his composure suddenly gave way. "Where's the stump?" he began to shout wildly. "Where's the—where's the—"

"There, there, Schlorge, you're walking right to it," said Pirlaps, soothingly, hastening after him and laying a hand upon his arm. Then, as Schlorge scrambled upon it, Pirlaps raised his hand to command attention.

"Schlorge wishes me to state," he said, in his pleasant, clear voice, "that the gesture he will now make goes with the first line of his address. He cannot make it at that point because his hands will be already arranged. But I will request that you all observe it carefully, and hold it in mind until it is needed."

Thereupon Schlorge made a large, deliberate, comprehensive gesture. It included the pool, the Gugollaph-tree, the prose-bush—not only the whole Garden, in fact, but the lovely amphitheatre beyond it. Moreover, it seemed to Sara to include even more distant things; the Rainbow Vale and the Butterfly Country, and the colony where lived the relations of Pirlaps, and the Laughter Mountain and Avrillia's house and the magic toy City of Zinariola.

At last, having concluded his gesture, Schlorge arranged his hands and began in a loud voice:

"A little girl's mind is a place like this— At least, that of one little dear girl is: Full of quaint little thoughts made of sugar and spice, And queer little notions like little white mice.

"But a little boy's mind is not nearly so neat, And a little boy's fancies are scarcely so sweet: So we'll give you a tale next, if fortune avails, Full of snapses and snailses and puppy-dog's tails."

Then, for the last time, Schlorge went running wildly down the dear, familiar path toward the Dimplesmithy.

"Come again, Sara!" he shouted back, excitedly, over his shoulder. "Come again! And bring Jimmy!"

Sara knew that he could not bear to tell her good-by; and, suddenly, she felt the same way about them all. They had been so kind to her! So she began to throw kisses to them all, and then, suddenly, slipped down from her step-ladder. Her dollies jumped down and gathered about her, and with them all at her heels she went running past the dimple-holder and out through the ivory gates.

And the last thing she saw, when she turned to throw her last kiss, was the Echo, who, overcome by emotion, had at last climbed clear out upon the rim of the pool, where she sat waving her plumes to Sara in plain sight of them all.


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