“Oh, Limby Lumpy—naughty boy!” said his father.
“Don’t speak so cross to the child: he is but a child,” said his mother. “I don’t like to hear you speak so cross to the child.”
“I tell you what it is,” said his father, “I think the boy does as he likes. But I don’t want to interfere.”
Limby now sat still, resolving what to do next. He was not hungry, having been stuffed with a large piece of pound-cake about an hour before dinner; but he wanted something to do, and could not sit still.
Presently a saddle of mutton was brought on the table. When Limby saw this he set up a crow of delight.
“Limby ride,” said he—“Limby ride!” and rose up in his chair, as if to reach the dish.
“Yes, my ducky, it shall have some mutton,” said his mother, and immediately gave him a slice, cut up into small morsels.
That was not it. Limby pushed that on the floor, and cried out: “Limby on meat! Limby on meat!”
His mother could not think what he meant. At last, however, his father recollected that he had been in the habit of giving him a ride occasionally, first on his foot, sometimes on the scroll end of the sofa, at other times on the top of the easy chair. Once he put him on a dog, and more than once on the saddle; in short, he had been in the habit of perching him on various things, and now Limby, hearing this was a saddle of mutton, wanted to take a ride on it.
“Limby on! Limby ride on bone!” said the child in a whimper.
“Did you ever hear?” said the father.
“What an extraordinary child!” said the mother. “How clever to know it was like a saddle, the little dear! No, no, Limby; grease frock, Limby.”
But Limby cared nothing about a greasy frock, not he—he was used enough to that—and therefore roared out more lustily for a ride on the mutton.
“Did you ever know such a child? What a dear, determined spirit!”
“He is a child of an uncommon mind,” said his mother. “Limby, dear—Limby, dear, silence! silence!”
The truth was, Limby made such a roaring that neither father nor mother could get their dinners, and scarcely knew whether they were eating beef or mutton.
“It is impossible to let him ride on the mutton,” said his father—“quite impossible!”
“Well, but you might just put him astride the dish, just to satisfy him. You can take care his legs or clothes do not go into the gravy.”
“Anything for a quiet life,” said the father. “What does Limby want? Limby ride?”
“Limby on bone! Limby on meat!”
“Shall I put him across?” said Mr. Lumpy.
“Just for one moment,” said his mother; “it won’t hurt the mutton.”
The father rose, and took Limby from his chair, and, with the greatest caution, held his son’s legs astride, so that they might hang on each side of the dish without touching it—“just to satisfy him,” as he said, “that they might dine in quiet—” and was about to withdraw him from it immediately.