But when I told her that he had given us leave to be in the library, and that we took great care of the books, and how much we enjoyed the ones about gardening, and all that we were going to do, she was very kind indeed, and promised to put on a blue dress and lace ruffles and be Queen of our Earthly Paradise as soon as she came home.
When she did come home she was much better, and so was Chris. He was delighted to be our Dwarf, but he wanted to have a hump, and he would have such a big one that it would not keep in its place, and kept slipping under his arm and into all sorts of queer positions.
Not one of us enjoyed our new game more than Chris did, and he was always teasing me to tell him the story I had told the others, and to read out the names of the flowers which “the real Queen” had in her “real paradise.” He made Mother promise to try to get him a bulb of the real Dwarf Daffodil as his next birthday present, to put in his own garden.
“And I’ll give you some compost,” said Arthur. “It’ll be ever so much better than a stupid book with ‘stuff’ in it.”
Chris did seem much stronger. He had colour in his cheeks, and his head did not look so large. But he seemed to puzzle over things in it as much as ever, and he was just as odd and quaint.
One warm day I had taken the Tour round my Garden and was sitting near the bush in the little wood behind our house, when Chris came after me with a Japanese fan in his hand, and sat down cross-legged at my feet. As I was reading, and Mother has taught us not to interrupt people when they are reading, he said nothing, but there he sat.
“What is it, Chris?” said I.
“I am discontented,” said Chris.
“I’m very sorry,” said I.
“I don’t think I’m selfish, particularly, but I’m discontented.”
“Oh, Mary, I do wish I had not been away when you invented Paradise, then I should have had a name in the game.”
“You’ve got a name, Chris. You’re the Dwarf.”
“Ah, but what was the Dwarf’s name?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted.
“No; that’s just it. I’ve only one name, and Arthur and Harry have two. Arthur is a Pothecary” (Chris could never be induced to accept Apothecary as one word), “and he’s John Parkinson as well. Harry is Honest Root-gatherer, and he is Francis le Vean. If I’d not been away I should have had two names.”
“You can easily have two names,” said I. “We’ll call the Dwarf Thomas Brown,”
Chris shook his big head.
“No, no. That wasn’t his name; I know it wasn’t. It’s only stuff. I want another name out of the old book.”
I dared not tell him that the Dwarf was not in the old book. I said:
“My dear Chris, you really are discontented; we can’t all have double names. Adela has only one name, she is Weeding Woman and nothing else; and I have only one name, I’m Traveller’s Joy, and that’s all.”
“But you and Adela are girls,” said. Chris, complacently. “The boys have two names.”
I suppressed some resentment, for Christopher’s eyes were beginning to look weary, and said:
“Shall I read to you for a bit?”
“No, don’t read. Tell me things out of the old book. Tell me about the Queen’s flowers. Don’t tell me about daffodils, they make me think what a long way off my birthday is, and I’m quite discontented enough.”
And Chris sighed, and lay down on the grass, with one arm under his head, and his fan in his hand; and, as well as I could remember, I told him all about the different varieties of Cowslips, down to the Franticke, or Foolish Cowslip, and he became quite happy.
Dear Father is rather short-sighted, but he can hold a round glass in his eye without cutting himself. It was the other eye which was next to Chris at prayers the following morning; but he saw his legs, and the servants had hardly got out of the hall before he shouted, “Pull up your stockings, Chris!”—and then to Mother, “Why do you keep that sloven of a girl Bessy, if she can’t dress the children decently? But I can’t conceive what made you put that child into knickerbockers, he can’t keep his stockings up.”
“Yes, I can,” said Christopher, calmly, looking at his legs.
“Then what have you got ’em down for?” shouted Father.
“They’re not all down,” said Chris, his head still bent over his knees, till I began to fear he would have a fit.
“One of ’em is, anyhow. I saw it at prayers. Pull it up.”
“Two of them are,” said Christopher, never lifting his admiring gaze from his stockings. “Two of them are down, and two of them are up, quite up, quite tidy.”
Dear Father rubbed his glass and put it back into his eye.
“Why, how many stockings have you got on?”
“Four,” said Chris, smiling serenely at his legs; “and it isn’t Bessy’s fault. I put ’em all on myself, every one of them.”
At this minute James brought in the papers, and Father only laughed, and said, “I never saw such a chap,” and began to read. He is very fond of Christopher, and Chris is never afraid of him.
I was going out of the room, and Chris followed me into the hall, and drew my attention to his legs, which were clothed in four stockings; one pair, as he said, being drawn tidily up over his knees, the other pair turned down with some neatness in folds a little above his ankles.
“Mary,” he said, “I’m contented now.”
“I’m very glad, Chris. But do leave off staring at your legs. All the blood will run into your head.”
“I wish things wouldn’t always get into my head, and nobody else’s,” said Chris, peevishly, as he raised it; but when he looked back at his stockings, they seemed to comfort him again.
“Mary, I’ve found another name for myself.”
“Dear Chris! I’m so glad.”
“It’s a real one, out of the old book. I thought of it entirely by myself.”
“Good Dwarf. What is your name?”
“Hose-in-Hose,” said Christopher, still smiling down upon his legs.