1. “Tell us how you did it, H.O.,” Dora said; “and quit saying it’s everybody else’s fault.”
2. “It’s yours as much as anyone’s, actually,” H.O. said. “You made me the clown costume when I asked you.”
3. “Oh, H.O., you are unkind!” Dora said. “You know you said it was for a surprise for the bride and groom.”
4. “So it would have been, if they’d found me at Rome, and I’d popped up like what I meant to— like a jack-in-the-box—and said, ‘Here we are again!’ in my clown’s clothes. But it’s all spoiled, and father’s going to scold me.” H.O. sniffed every time he stopped speaking. But, we did not correct him then. We wanted to hear about everything.
5. “Why didn’t you tell me straight out what you were going to do?” Dick asked.
6. “Because you’d have stopped me. You always do that if I want to do anything you haven’t thought of yourself.”
7. “What provisions did you take, H.O.?” asked Alice.
8. “Oh, I’d saved a lot of food, only I forgot it. And I had my knife—and I changed into the clown’s dress in the cupboard, and I got into the basket, and I lifted the tray up over my head and sat down and fitted it down over me. And none of you would ever have thought of it, let alone do it.”
9. “I should hope not,” Dora said, but H.O. went on, unhearing.
10. “It was unbearably hot and stuffy—I had to cut an air-hole in the cart, and I cut my thumb; it was so bumpy. And, they threw me about as if I was coals—and wrong way up as often as not. And, the train was awful wobbly, and I felt so sick, and if I’d had the food I couldn’t have eaten it. I had a bottle of water, and that was all right until I dropped the cork, and I couldn’t find it in the dark until the water fell over, and then I found the cork that minute.”
11. “And when they dumped the basket on to the platform, I was so glad to sit still a minute without being jogged I nearly went to sleep. And then I looked out, and the label was off, and lying close by. And then someone gave the basket a kick and said, ‘What’s this here?’ And I daresay I did squeak—like a rabbit-noise, you know—and then someone said, ‘Sounds like live-stock, doesn’t it?’ And then they trundled me off somewhere, on a wheelbarrow it felt like and dumped me down again in a dark place—and I couldn’t see anything more.”
12. “I wound up my watch, just for amusement. You know the row it makes ever since it was broken, and I heard someone say, ‘Sounds like an infernal machine’—and then, ‘If I was the inspector, I’d dump it down in the river.’ But the other said, ‘Leave it alone,’ so I wasn’t dumped. But then I heard them say ‘Police,’ so I let them have it.”
13. “I thrashed about in the basket, and I heard them all start off, and I shouted, ‘Hi, here! Let me out, can’t you!’ I kept talking to them through the cracks of the basket. And when they opened it, there was quite a crowd, and they laughed, and gave me bread and cheese, and said I was a plucky youngster—and I am, and it’s all your faults for not looking after me. Aren’t I your little brother?”
14. That evening, H.O. was ill in bed. The doctor said it was a fever from chill and excitement, but I think myself it was the things he ate at lunch, and the shaking up, and then the bread and cheese.
15. He was ill for a week. When he recovered, not much was said. My father, who is the fairest man in England, said the boy had been punished enough—for he missed going to the theatre, and he had to take a lot of the filthiest medicine I ever tasted.
16. The only real punishment he had was seeing the clown’s dress burnt before his eyes by Father. But when he recovered, we soon taught him not to say again that it was any of our faults. He is our little brother, and we are not going to stand that kind of cheek from him.