‘Willie is making suggestions,’ said Gilbert; ’his imagination would never stretch farther than a lion. It’s what he thinks himself and no mistake.’
‘He is big enough to be the elephant,’ said little Mary.
‘The half-reasoning!’ said Ulick, softly; ’and I can answer for his trunk, I saw it come off the omnibus.’
’Ladies and gentlemen, if you persist in such disorderly conduct, the exhibition will close,’ cried the showman, waving his wand as Willie trumpeted Mr. Cavendish Dusautoy in, and on the demand what animal he wanted to see, twitched him as Flibbertigibbet did the giant warder, and caused him to respond—’The Giraffe.’
’Has it not another name, sir? A short or a long one, more or less syllables!’
‘Camelopard. A polysyllabic word, certainly,’ said Algernon, looking with a puzzled expression at the laughers behind; and almost imagining it possible that he could have made an error, he repeated, ’Camel-le-o-pard. Yes, it is a polysyllable’—as, indeed, he had added an unnecessary syllable.
‘Most assuredly,’ said the showman, looking daggers at his suffocating sister. ‘May I ask you to describe the creature?’
‘Seventeen feet from the crown to the hoof, but falls off behind,’ said the accurate Mr. Dusautoy; ‘beautiful tawny colour.’
‘Nearly as good as a Lion,’ added Gilbert; but Algernon, fancying the game was by way of giving useful instruction to the children, went on in full swing. ’Handsomely mottled with darker brown; a ruminating animal; so gentle that in spite of its size, none of my little friends need be alarmed at its vicinity. Inhabits the African deserts, but may be bred in more temperate latitudes. I myself saw an individual in the Jardin des Plantes, which was popularly said never to bend its neck to the ground, but I consider this a vulgar delusion, for on offering it food, it mildly inclined its head.’
‘Let us hope the present specimen is equally condescending,’ said Mr. Ferrars.
‘Eh! what! I see myself!’ said Mr. Cavendish Dusautoy, with a tone so inappreciably grand in mystification, that the showman had no choice but to share the universal convulsion of laughter, while Willie rolling on the floor with ecstasy, shouted, ’Yes, it is you that are the thing with such a long name that it can’t bend its head to the ground!’
‘But too good-natured to be annoyed at folly,’ said Mr. Ferrars, perceiving that it was no sport to him.
‘This is the way my mischievous uncle has served us all in turn,’ said Lucy, advancing; ’we have all been shown up, and there was mamma a monkey, and I an argus pheasant—’
‘Ah! I see,’ said the gentleman. ’These are your rural pastimes of the season. Yes, I can take my share in good part, just as I have pelted the masks at the Carnival.’