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dinner. Fair shares, and don't let anybody eat too much. Now begin, ma'am,” said the Brownie, quite politely, as if she had been ever so old.
Oh, how proud the little girl was! How 5 bravely she set to work! She cut five of the biggest slices you ever saw, and gave them to her brothers and sisters, and was just going to take the sixth slice for herself, when she remembered the Brownie.
“I beg your pardon,” said she, as politely as he, though she was such a very little girl — and turned round to the wee brown man. . But he was nowhere to be seen. The slices of cake in
the children's hands remained cake, and uncom15 monly good it was, and such substantial eating
that it did nearly the same as dinner; but the cake itself turned suddenly to a stone again, and the knife into a bit of stick.
Just then they saw Gardener come clumping 20 along by the bank of the lake, and growling as he went.
“ Have you got the kangaroo ?” shouted the children, determined to be civil if possible.
“ This place is bewitched, I think,” said he. “ The kangaroo was fast asleep in the cowshed. Now come away home.”
It wasn't kind of Gardener, and I don't wonder the children felt it hard ; indeed, the eldest resisted 5 stoutly.
Mother said we might stop all day, and we will stop all day. You may go
like." “I won't, and you shall !” said Gardener, smacking a whip that he carried in his hand. 10 Stop till I catch you, and I'll give you
this about your back, my fine gentleman.”
And he tried to follow, but the little fellow darted across the ice — objecting to be either caught or whipped. It may have been rather 15 naughty, but I am afraid it was great fun, dodging Gardener up and down, he being too timid to go on the slippery ice, and sometimes getting so close that the whip nearly touched the lad.
“Bless us! there's the kangaroo again!” said he, starting. Just as he had caught the boy and lifted the whip, the creature was seen hop-hopping
from bank to bank. “I can't surely be mistaken this time; I must catch it.”
This seemed quite easy, for it limped as if it was lame, or as if the frost had bitten its toes, poor 5 beast. Gardener went after it, walking cautiously on the slippery, crackling ice, and never minding whether or not he walked on the slides, though they called out to him that his nailed boots would spoil them.
But whether it was that ice which bears a boy will not bear a man, or whether, at each lame step of a kangaroo, there came a great crack, is more than I can tell. However, just as Gardener reached
the middle of the lake, the ice suddenly broke and 15 in he popped — the kangaroo too, apparently, for it was not seen afterwards.
What a hulla-balloo the poor man made! Not that he was drowning — the lake was too shallow
to drown anybody; but he got terribly wet, and 20 the water was very cold. He soon scrambled out,
the boys helping him; and then he hobbled home as fast as he could, not even saying thank you, or taking the least notice of them.
Indeed, nobody took any notice of them nobody came to fetch them, and they might have stayed sliding the whole afternoon. Only somehow they did not feel quite easy in their minds. And though the hole in the ice closed up imme- 5 diately, and it seemed as firm as ever, still they did not like to slide upon it again.
“I think we had better go home and tell mother everything,” said one of them. • Besides, we ought to see what has become of poor Gardener. 10 He was very wet.”
“Yes; but oh, how funny he looked !” And they all burst out laughing at the recollection of the figure he cut, scrambling out through the ice with his trousers dripping up to the knees, and 15 the water running out of his boots, making a little pool wherever he stepped.
“Let's hope mother won't be vexed with us,” said they, “but will let us come back again to-morrow. It wasn't our fault that Gardener tumbled in.”
As somebody said this, they all heard quite distinctly, “Ha, ha, ha,” and “ Ho, ho, ho," and a sound of little steps pattering behind.
But whatever they thought, nobody ventured to say that it was the fault of the Brownie.
MULOCK: Adventures of a Brownie (ADAPTED).
clumping (klump'ing): walking
heavily currant (kur'rnt): a bush fruit excessively (ek sěs'iv lý): very much
indeed frightfully (frīt'ful lý): terribly ivory (i'vo rý) recollection (rek ol lěk'shun):
resisted (re zist'ed): held back, ob
jected stop (stop): stay. (As used in Eng
HELPS TO STUDY
I. 1. Why did Mother make Gardener go along ? 2. How did he like it? 3. What is a “spoil-sport” ?
II. 1. Where did they stop on the way? Why? 2. When do you first suspect that Brownie is going along ? 3. What strange creature suddenly appeared on the ice? 4. What do you think it was really ? 5. What did Gardener do?
III. 1. How did Brownie help the children enjoy themselves ? 2. What happened when Gardener returned ? 3. How did Brownie take a hand in the game again? 4. What finally happened to Gardener ? 5. Were you sorry for him ? 6. What is the last thing you hear of Brownie?