“She’s crying! She’s crying! She mustn’t cry here!”
Sara had never had a Gunkus touch her before; but, though they hurried her so fast that she was breathless, and the tears hung where they were on her lashes without having time to fall, they were as gentle with her as possible, and she understood that their anxiety was all on her account. She was further reassured when she saw the Teacup fluttering and hopping along—now on one side, now on the other, and now in front—and murmuring, “What in Zeelup, my dear?” with the utmost solicitude expressed on her gentle old face. Sara knew that the Teacup was timid, and seldom left the Garden; and she realized that her affection and concern for her must be very deep, to bring her fluttering along with her in this fashion, without stopping to ask the Plynck, or to think of the consequences to herself and her consanguineous handle.
By this time they had passed through the hawthorn hedge that bounded the Garden, and could see just below them a beautiful little Vale, with a rainbow arching over the entrance to it, like a gate. Inside the Vale the view was not very distinct, for streamers of light mist blew across its green moss, and its white boulders, and the little stream that wound down the middle of it. It was rather a sad-looking little place, of course, but not bitter-looking or very long; and now and then a sun-pencil struck across it, and for a moment made more rainbows like the one at the entrance.
As soon as they had passed through the hedge the Gunki stopped, breathing heavily and mopping their brows with their hatbands.
“Rest a minute, dear, and try to keep them from falling,” said the Teacup, who was also breathless, but very kind. “Of course, if they should fall here it wouldn’t be so bad; still, if you can keep them on your lashes till we reach the Vale—”
“What would they do,” asked Sara, in awe, “if they fell in the Garden?”
The Teacup and the Gunki looked at each other with wide, horrified eyes, each waiting for the other to speak.
“Well, you see, none ever have fallen in the Garden,” said the Teacup, at last, speaking in a voice that was hardly more than a whisper. “Before my Saucer was broken—”
“She’s a widow, Miss,” explained the Gunki, whispering to Sara behind their hands. One whispered in baritone, one in bass.
“Before my Saucer was broken,” continued the Teacup, with a grateful look at the thoughtful Gunki, “I’ve heard him say that a little girl came into the Garden one day with tears in her eyes, and that one would have fallen, if a Gunkus had not caught it in his shoe. Haven’t you noticed the old, gray-haired Gunkus, who always wears a wooden medal on his coat-tail—”