“Who wants you to be sorry! As for you,” Taffy went on sturdily, “I think your grandfather might have more sense than to keep you waiting out here in the cold, and giving your cough to the whole town!”
“Ha! you do, do you?”
It was not the girl who said this. Taffy swung round, and saw an old man staring down on him. There was just light enough to reveal that he had very formidable grey eyes. But Taffy’s blood was up.
“Yes, I do,” he said, and wondered at himself.
“Ha! Does your father whip you sometimes?”
“I should if you were my boy. I believe in it. Come, Honoria!”
The child threw a glance at Taffy as she was led away. He could not be sure whether she took his side or her grandfather’s.
That night he had a very queer dream.
His grandmother had lost her lace-pillow, and after searching for some time, he found it lying out in the square. But the pins and bobbins were darting to and fro on their own account, at an incredible rate, and the lace as they made it turned into a singing beanstalk, and rose and threw out branches all over the sky. Very soon he found himself climbing among those branches, up and up until he came to a Palace, which was really the Assize Hall, with a flight of steps before it and a cannon on either side of the steps. Within sat a giant, asleep, with his head on the table and his face hidden; but his neck bulged at the back just like the bandmaster’s during a cornet solo. A harp stood on the table. Taffy caught this up, and was stealing downstairs with it, but at the third stair the harp—which had Honoria’s head and face—began to cough, and wound up with a whoop! This woke the giant—he turned out to be Honoria’s grandfather—who came roaring after him. Glancing down below as he ran, Taffy saw his mother and the bandmaster far below with axes, hacking at the foot of the beanstalk. He tried to call out and prevent them, but they kept smiting. And the worst of it was, that down below, too, his father was climbing into a pulpit, quite as if nothing was happening. The pulpit grew and became a tower, and his father kept calling, “Be a tower! Be a tower, like me!”
But Taffy couldn’t for the life of him see how to manage it. The beanstalk began to totter; he felt himself falling, and leapt for the tower. . . . And awoke in his bed shuddering, and, for the first time in his life, afraid of the dark. He would have called for his mother, but just then down by the turret clock in Fore Street the buglers began to sound the “Last Post,” and he hugged himself and felt that the world he knew was still about him, companionable and kind.
Twice the buglers repeated their call, in more distant streets, each time more faintly; and the last flying notes carried him into sleep again.