“I don’t think there would be any harm in that,” says Father. “But don’t engage it in conversation.”
“Thank you very much,” says Jenny, and she and Richard Henry go off together.
Mother watches them anxiously. Father closes his eyes.
“Now,” says Jenny eagerly, “I’m going to show you a darling little crab. Won’t that be lovely?”
Richard Henry, having been deceived, as he feels, about the sea, is not too hopeful about that crab. However, he asks politely, “What’s a crab?”
“You’ll see directly, darling,” says Jenny; and he has to be content with that.
“Crab,” he murmurs to himself.
Suddenly an idea occurs to him. He lets go of Jenny’s hand and trots up to an old gentleman with white whiskers.
“Going to see a crab,” he announces.
“Going to see a crab, are you, my little man?” says the old gentleman kindly.
“Going to see a crab,” says Richard Henry, determined to keep up his end of the conversation.
“Well, I never! So you’re going to see a crab!” says the old gentleman, doing his best with it.
Richard Henry nods two or three times. “Going to see a crab,” he says firmly.
Luckily Jenny comes up and rescues him, otherwise they would still be at it. “Come along, darling, and see the crab,” she says, picking up his hand; and Richard Henry looks triumphantly at the old gentleman. There you are. Perhaps he will believe a fellow another time.
Jenny has evidently made an arrangement with a particular crab for this afternoon. It is to be hoped that the appointment will be kept, for she has hurried Richard Henry past all sorts of wonderful things which he wanted to stop with for a little. But the thought of this lovely crab, which Jenny thinks so much of, forbids protest. Quite right not to keep it waiting. What will it be like? Will it be bigger than the sea?
We have reached the rendezvous. We see now that we need not have been in such a hurry.
“There!” says Jenny excitedly. “Isn’t he a darling little crab? He’s asleep.” (That’s why we need not have hurried.)
Richard Henry says nothing. He can’t think of the words for what he is feeling. What he wants to say is that Jenny has let him down again. They passed a lot of these funny little things on their way here, but Jenny wouldn’t stop because she was going to show him a Crab, a great, big, enormous darling little Crab—which might have been anything—and now it’s only just this. No wonder the old gentleman didn’t believe him.
Swindled—that’s the word he wants. However, he can’t think of it for the moment, so he tries something else.
“Darling little crab,” he says.
They leave the dead crab there and hurry back.
“What shall I show you now?” says Jenny.