“Don’t speak to them,” said Pirlaps, as they drew near. “They’re entirely too snobbish to be spoken to.”
Sara approached in awe, and they stood gazing at the pale, supercilious-looking creatures, who returned their gaze through monocles, lorgnettes, and other contemptuous media.
“You see,” explained Pirlaps, “nobody speaks to them. Every time they go in or out, they pass through the strainer, and that strains out all of their red corpuscles and leaves only the blue. That’s why they are so superior and exclusive. Of course, too, it makes them very thin, and gives them that sheer, transparent look.” And, indeed, Sara noticed that she could see quite through one of the thinnest ones, who wore a very high-necked dress buttoned in the back.
Pirlaps was now growing anxious to be at home, so after saying good-by to the important personages on the Posts of Honor, they started back.
As they drew near, they saw Avrillia in the rose-garden near the balcony, looking very lovely as she moved among the flowers.
“Ah,” said Pirlaps, “she’s already vanished them. She’s gathering rose-leaves for tomorrow’s poems.”
As he spoke, Avrillia, looking up, waved a blue rose to them, and disappeared within the house. In a moment she reappeared, wearing the sweetest smile Sara had ever seen.
Pirlaps looked greatly pleased and touched. And no wonder; for Avrillia was coming out to meet him, bringing him his step with her own hands.
When Sara dropped the curtains behind her the next morning she paused in horror, with her hand poised above the dimple-holder. What had happened to her lovely Garden in the night?
It looked exactly as her own little garden was accustomed to look three days after a hard freeze. Blighted—that was the word: it was blighted. The leaves hung limp and brown from the trees; the blue plush grass, and even the blue bark of the Gugollaph-tree, had turned a most sickly green. The water was frozen in the pool; and, imprisoned below it, she could see the Echo of the Plynck, perfectly stiff, and looking as if she were in some sort of awful trance. The Plynck, on the other hand, drooped on her accustomed branch like the leaves on the trees, as if she hardly had strength to hold her loosened plumes together. The Snimmy’s wife sat on her own toadstool, rigid and angry-looking, with her tail wound tightly around the base, and with the half-hemmed doorknob forgotten in her lap; the Snimmy lay watchfully at the door of the prose-bush, with his long, debilitating nose on his paws, shivering terribly; and the Snoodle looked as if somebody had put salt on his mother. And the poor, timid Teacup looked like a gentle, fat little old lady who has just been shot out of a volcano.
Avrillia and Pirlaps were standing together in the little arch, looking with passionate and indignant eyes upon the general distress and havoc, and especially upon the insolent creatures who had caused it. For Sara saw, after a few minutes of bewilderment, that the beautiful place with its gentle inhabitants had been overrun in the night by a horde of Fractions.