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The Adventures of Herr Baby

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FOUR YEARS OLD "I was four yesterday; when I'm quite old I'll have a cricket-ball made of pure gold; I'll never stand up to show that I'm grown; I'll go at liberty upstairs or down."

He trotted upstairs. Perhaps trotting is not quite the right word, but I can't find a better. It wasn't at all like a horse or pony trotting, for he went one foot at a time, right foot first, and when right foot was safely landed on a step, up came left foot and the rest of Baby himself after right foot. It took a good while, but Baby didn't mind. He used to think a good deal while he was going up and down stairs, and it was not his way to be often in a hurry. There was one thing he could not bear, and that was any one trying to carry him upstairs. Oh, that did vex him! His face used to get quite red, right up to the roots of his curly hair, and down to the edge of the big collar of his sailor suit, for he had been put into sailor suits last Christmas, and, if the person who was lifting him up didn't let go all at once, Baby would begin to wriggle. He was really clever at wriggling; even if you knew his way it was not easy to hold him, and with any one that didn't know his way he could get off in half a minute.

But this time there was no one about, and Baby stumped on—yes that is a better word—Baby stumped on, or up, "wifout nobody teasing." His face was grave, very grave, for inside the little house of which his two blue eyes were the windows, a great deal of work was going on. He was busy wondering about, and trying to understand, some of the strange news he had heard downstairs in the drawing-room.

"Over the sea," he said to himself. "Him would like to see the sea. Auntie said over the sea in a boat, a werry big boat. Him wonders how big."

And his mind went back to the biggest boat he had ever seen, which was in the toy-shop at Brookton, when he had gone with his mother to be fitted for new boots. But even that wouldn't be big enough. Mother, and auntie, and grandfather, and Celia, and Fritz, and Denny, and cook, and Lisa, and Thomas and Jones, and the other servants, and the horses, and—and—— Baby stopped to take breath inside, for though he had not been speaking aloud he felt quite choked with all the names coming so fast. "And pussy, and the calanies, and the Bully, and Fritz's dormice, oh no, them couldn't all get in." Perhaps if Baby doubled up his legs underneath he might squeeze himself in, but that would be no good, he couldn't go sailing, sailing all over the sea by himself, like the old woman in "Harry's Nursery Songs," who went sailing, sailing, up in a basket, "seventy times as high as the moon." Oh no, even that boat wouldn't be big enough. They must have one as big as—and Baby stopped to look round. But just then a shout from inside the nursery made him wake up, for he had got to the last little stair before the top landing, and again right foot and half Baby, followed by left foot and the other half Baby, stumped on their way.

They pulled up—right foot and left foot, with Baby's solemn face top of all—at the nursery door....