“I can eat much better without,” said Lavo; but to please Lucy his sister did try; slashing hard away with her knife, and digging her fork straight into a bit of meat. Then she very nearly ran it into her eye, and Lucy, who knew it was not good manners to laugh, was very near choking herself. And at last saying the knife and fork were “Great good—great good; but none for eating,” they stuck them through the great tortoise shell rings they had in their ears and noses. Lucy was distressed about Uncle Joseph’s knives and forks, which she knew she ought not to give away; but while she was looking about for Mrs. Bunker to interfere, Don seemed to think it his business and began to growl and fly at the little black legs.
“A tree, a tree!” cried the Isabelites, “where’s a tree?” And while they spoke, Lavo had climbed up the side of the door, and was sitting astride on the top of it, grinning down at the dog; and his sister had her feet on the lock, going up after him.
“Tree houses,” they cried; “there we are safe from our enemies.”
And Lucy found rising before her, instead of her own nursery, a huge tree, on the top of a mound. Basket-work had been woven between the branches to make floors, and on these were huts of bamboo cane; there were ladders hanging down made of strong creepers twisted together, and above and around, the cries of cockatoos and parrots and the chirp of grasshoppers rang in her ears. She laid hold of the ladder of creeping plants and began to climb, but soon her head swam, she grew giddy, and called out to Lavo to help her. Then suddenly she found herself curled up in Mrs. Bunker’s big beehive chair, and she wondered whether she had been asleep.
“If I could have such another funny dream!” said Lucy. “Mother Bunch, have you ever been to Italy?” and she put her finger on the long leg and foot, kicking at three-cornered Sicily.
“Yes, Missie, that I have; come out of this cold room and I’ll tell you.”
Lucy was soon curled in her chair; but no, she wasn’t! She was under a blue, blue sky, as she had never dreamt of; clear, sharp, purple hills rose up against it. There was a rippling little fountain, bursting out of a rock, carved with old, old carvings, broken now and defaced, but shadowed over by lovely maidenhair fern and trailing bindweed; and in a niche above a little roof, a figure of the Blessed Virgin. Some way off stood a long, low house propped up against the rich yellow stone walls and pillars of another old, old building, and with a great chestnut-tree shadowing it. It had a balcony, and the gable end was open, and full of big yellow pumpkins and clusters of grapes hung up to dry; and some goats were feeding round.
Then came a merry, merry voice singing something about la vendemmia; and though Lucy had never learnt Italian, her wonderful dream knowledge made her sure that this meant the vintage, the grape-gathering. Presently there came along a youth playing a violin and a little girl singing. And a whole party of other children, all loaded with as many grapes as they could carry, came leaping and singing after them; their black hair loose, or sometimes twisted with vine-leaves; their big black eyes dancing with merriment, and their bare, brown legs with glee.