He now stepped up to Sara, who stood looking about her with surprise and wonder, and said, “Well, Sara, this is your day. You are the guest of honor, and we’re all proud of you. We hope you’ll have the pleasantest time you ever had.”
Sara was as charmed as she was bewildered. She didn’t say anything at first, because she didn’t want them to know that she didn’t quite understand what it was all about. But presently she couldn’t stand not knowing any longer, so she whispered to Pirlaps,
“Is—is it a sort of birthday?”
“Well,—yes, I suppose you might call it that,” answered Pirlaps, looking at her in the kind, indulgent way he had when she showed her odd little ideas and her inexperience. “Didn’t you announce yesterday that you were older than the Snoodle?”
For a moment Sara felt as if she ought to explain that that was only the beginning of her speech, and that, if they had not interrupted her, she had meant to tell them that she was sorry that she had not taken more responsibility for the Snoodle, and reminded him to ask permission from the Snimmy’s wife before he left the Garden. But, on reflection, she realized that they did not blame her in the least, so there was no need to make excuses; and they all seemed so delighted to find that she was older than the Snoodle! A birthday is too charming a thing to refuse, even if it’s a special sort of birthday one doesn’t exactly understand; so Sara decided to accept hers with a thankful heart. Besides, it must be confessed that she had caught glimpses of parcels here and there. The Plynck, she was sure, had one under her right wing; and there was no doubt that one was sticking out from under the coat-tails of the First Gunkus.
“We are to celebrate all day in your honor, Sara,” added Pirlaps. “And this evening, when you are ready to go home, Schlorge will made you an address of welcome. But what can be keeping Avrillia?”
They all looked down the pathway, but no Avrillia was in sight. Suddenly the Echo of the Plynck spoke from the pool.
“The guest of honor always goes and fetches anybody who doesn’t come,” she said.
“Does she?” asked Sara, opening her eyes wide; but Pirlaps said, “To be sure! I had forgotten. Come on, Sara. Let’s go bring Avrillia.”
Sara was always glad to go to Avrillia’s lovely house, though she couldn’t help thinking as she ran that this was one manner Mother failed to remind her of, whenever she was overhauling her manners for any especial use.
All was still about the beautiful little house where Avrillia lived, and Sara looked at it lovingly, for she had a sort of feeling somewhere deep under her little apron that she would not see it again for a long while. Pirlaps, who knew Avrillia pretty well, did not look in the pink bed-room, or the kitchen, or the sitting-room; no, he went straight to the balcony. And there sat Avrillia, in a mist of her bright, wild hair, so intent upon her writing that she did not see them, or hear them speak.