“What in the world?” breathed Sara again.
“—In Zeelup?” breathed the Teacup, quite as softly. But Sara hardly heard her: she was so astonished at the babel of small voices that started up about her feet. She had been so startled at the appearance and the disappearance of that strange little creature that she had not noticed that all the dolls were wriggling out of her arms and sliding down her skirts and legs like schoolboys escaping from a burning dormitory. Not that they were afraid of anything: it was only that they were so glad to be able at last to move and talk.
“There he goes!” cried the Japanese doll, pointing excitedly: and indeed they did catch one more glimpse of the fleeting sprite between the shrubs. “He was mighty jolly,” said the Brown Teddy-Bear enviously, in his deep, mournful voice; and “Let’s go catch him!” cried the Baby, where it sat flat on the bricks, crowing and clapping its hands.
“I’ll have to get off these togs, then,” said the Billiken, who was always fat and cheerful, but seldom spoke. He was driven to it this time by the fact that Sara had dressed him in the Baby’s long clothes.
“But what is it?” asked Sara, still bewildered.
“Why, it’s your laugh, child,” said the Echo of the Plynck, who, all this time, had been watching the scene with much amusement. “Don’t you know your own laugh when you see it?”
“I never saw it before,” said Sara with a wondering smile. “I guess I’ve heard it.”
“Now, isn’t that odd—and interesting!” said the Echo to the Plynck. “The child says she has heard it, but never seen it. Here,” she added, turning to Sara, and speaking in a louder tone, “we see a great deal of laughter—but we never hear it.”
“Well, and are you going to stand there all day staring?” suddenly put in the wife of the Snimmy from the prose-bush. “Ain’t you going to go after it and ketch it? What’ll your Maw say if you come home without your laugh? And your Paw?”
Sara had not thought of that. But when she did think, she realized that it would be dreadful. What would Father think when he told her his funniest story and she did not laugh?
“But—but what shall I do?” she wondered, half to herself.
The dolls at her feet set up a clamor of plans, but as they were all talking at once (except the Brown Teddy-Bear, who looked even more pessimistic than usual) their suggestions were not very helpful. Sara and her other friends stood knitting their brows in perplexity. (Sara was just learning to knit, so she had her needles and a ball of yarn sticking out of her apron pocket. She was delighted to find brows so much easier to knit than yarn.)
Suddenly the Snimmy’s wife spoke again. “Send for Schlorge,” she said. “He’ll know what to do.”
No sooner were the words out of her mouth than they saw a Gunkus running down the path toward the Dimplesmithy to tell Schlorge.