Then he sat looking at the fire, and then he began to laugh in a sort of confidence with the fire, and then he said, folding his arms across my esteemed friend's lap, and raising his bright face to hers. "Would you like to hear a boy's story, Gran?"
"Of all things," replied my esteemed friend.
"Would you, godfather?"
"Of all things," I too replied.
"Well, then," said Jemmy, "I'll tell you one."
Here our indisputably remarkable boy gave himself a hug, and laughed again, musically, at the idea of his coming out in that new line. Then he once more took the fire into the same sort of confidence as before, and began:
"Once upon a time, When pigs drank wine, And monkeys chewed tobaccer, 'Twas neither in your time nor mine, But that's no macker--"
"Bless the child!" cried my esteemed friend, "what's amiss with his brain?"
"It's poetry, Gran," returned Jemmy, shouting with laughter. "We always begin stories that way at school."
"Gave me quite a turn, Major," said my esteemed friend, fanning herself with a plate. "Thought he was light-headed!"
"In those remarkable times, Gran and godfather, there was once a boy,--not me, you know."
"No, no," says my respected friend, "not you. Not him, Major, you understand?"
"No, no," says I.
"And he went to school in Rutlandshire--"
"Why not Lincolnshire?" says my respected friend.
"Why not, you dear old Gran? Because _I_ go to school in Lincolnshire, don't I?"
"Ah, to be sure!" says my respected friend. "And it's not Jemmy, you understand, Major?"
"No, no," says I.
"Well!" our boy proceeded, hugging himself comfortably, and laughing merrily (again in confidence with the fire), before he again looked up in Mrs. Lirriper's face, "and so he was tremendously in love with his schoolmaster's daughter, and she was the most beautiful creature that ever was seen, and she had brown eyes, and she had brown hair all curling beautifully, and she had a delicious voice, and she was delicious altogether, and her name was Seraphina."
"What's the name of _your_ schoolmaster's daughter, Jemmy?" asks my respected friend.
"Polly!" replied Jemmy, pointing his forefinger at her. "There now! Caught you! Ha, ha, ha!"
When he and my respected friend had had a laugh and a hug together, our admittedly remarkable boy resumed with a great relish:
"Well! And so he loved her. And so he thought about her, and dreamed about her, and made her presents of oranges and nuts, and would have made her presents of pearls and diamonds if he could have afforded it out of his pocket-money, but he couldn't. And so her father--O, he WAS a Tartar! Keeping the boys up to the mark, holding examinations once a month, lecturing upon all sorts of subjects at all sorts of times, and knowing everything in the world out of book. And so this boy--"
"Had he any name?" asks my respected friend.
"No, he hadn't, Gran. Ha, ha! There now! Caught you again!"
After this, they had another laugh and another hug, and then our boy went on.
"Well! And so this boy, he had a friend about as old as himself at the same school, and his name (for He _had_ a name, as it happened) was--let me remember--was Bobbo."
"Not Bob," says my respected friend.
"Of course not," says Jemmy.