viernes, 13 de mayo de 2011

Diminutive Beauty



" Pray be silent, Madam Tot," said the voice, " you will wake our patient."

" Not so, doctor," replied the singer lightly, " his soul is not there, but in the kingdom of faery with my kinsfolk."

" We must try and bring it back to his body then," said the doctor. "The lad has been severely shaken by his fall ; but as no bones are broken I trust he will soon be all right. You stay beside him, Madam Tot, while I go for some wine."

" Send Blunderbore to me," cried the lady, as the other departed. "I wish him to see after my summer-house, broken by the fall of this giant."

The idea that he was a giant so tickled Warwick, that, notwithstanding his aching head, he could not forbear a quiet laugh, and opened his eyes to see into what odd
quarter of the world he had wandered. The sight of the room in which he lay made him doubtful of his sanity, and he began to think that he had been thrust into a doll's
house ; everything was on so small a scale that he indeed felt as though he were a giant in the land of Lilliput.

He was lying on the floor with his head resting on a tiny sofa, and on looking upward he saw that the ceiling was so low that he could almost touch it by simply stretching up his arm. Tables and chairs on the same miniature scale were scattered about the apartment, and the doors and windows were commensurate to the size of the chamber.

The hangings were of green, ag also was the carpet, and everything betrayed aintiness and refinement, as though the room were inhabited by a luxurious doll. It was little wonder that these dwarfish surroundings confused the young man who so unexpectedly found himself amongst them. To lose consciousness in the actual world, and recover sensibility in the land of pigmies, is a rare, almost an inconceivable experience for the average human being.

The doll herself, who was seated on a little chair, started up when she heard his laugh, and hastened lightly towards him. This lady was a dwarf, not more than three feet in height, but so beautifully proportioned that for the moment she did not strike Warwick as anything out of the ordinary.

But for her white hair and wrinkled face he would have taken her for a child. She was dressed in a green robe, with a fHyer belt, and wore a hat of the sanie hue, adorned with white feathers. Leaning on an ebony cane, she nodded and smiled at Warwick ; while he could hardly forbear an exclamation of wonder at this perfect reproduction of a human being on a smaller scale. Head, body, hands, feet, all matched one another, and beyond the fact that she was three feet high instead of five or six, there was nothing incongruous or repellent in her looks. Evidently the chamber had been proportioned and furnished in accordance with her stature ; and so strong was the impression created by this congruity, that Warwick looked upon
himself, rather than on her, as an abnormal creature, and felt that he had no right to intrude his clumsy bulk into the miniature world presided over by this diminutive beauty.

" Am I in Lilliput 1 " asked he faintly, with an amazed glance at the green-clad faery.

"You are in my chamber," replied the dwarf in a sweet, low voice, quite in keeping with her tiny personality. " You fell off the wall on to my stimmer-house ; but that
its thatched roof broke your fall, you would have been killed ; for you tumbled," added the little lady solemnly, "from an enormous height."

Warwick laughed, as he quite conceived how infinitely high the wall would appear in the eyes of this little creature ; seeing that he, a full-grown man, found it sufficiently lofty. He looked down at his limbs, which seemed unnatiuraUy large in this chamber, where everything was reduced to suit the physical requirements of its dwarfish inmate, and wondered how he got in at the narrow and low door. Madam Tot, as the doctor had called her, guessed his thoughts, and smiled again. She had a very pretty smile, and revealed a row of pretty teeth as she anticipated his speech by a ready explanation.

" Blunderbore found you, sir, and it was Blunderbore who put you into my room, at my request."

"Who is Blunderbore?" demanded Warwick, with a vague recollection of some nurse's story.

" He is my guardian here," replied the lady in a dignified tone, " and I call him Blunderhore because he is so tall and strong. But his real name is Simon."

" Is he coming in here 1 I heard you tell the doctor to send him."

Madam Tot threw up her tiny hands, and shrieked in a horrified manner —

" My dear young man, Simon couldn't get inside that door. He's much over six feet in height. It was as much as we could do to get you in."

" Why didn't you leave me in the garden then? "

" Because I wanted you in here," replied the dwarf in a peremptory tone; "you have surprised a secret, sir, and you shall not leave this place until the will of my brother is known."

" But, Madam Tot," expostulated Warwick, remembering that she had been so addressed, " I "

" Madam Tot, you rude person," shrieked the lady, stamping a tiny foot, "how dare you call me by that odious name ! I am Miss Selina Lelanro."

" And your brother ? "

" Is James, Lord Lelanro ! You must call me Miss Lelanro ! And now, sir, what were you doing on my wall! No evasions, no lies, no fictions," cried she sternly,
" or I will order Blunderhore to throw you into the river again."

(...)

By this time Warwick guessed that he had surprised the secret of the Lelanros. Some hereditary taint in the blood produced at intervals a dwarf in the family, similar to the little being who now stood beside him. On account of their deformity, these poor creatures, suffering through no fault of their own, were shut up within the high wall; and the outside world was ignorant of their existence.

Warwick recalled the hints of Mistress Sally, and he no longer wondered that a cloud rested on the faces of the Lelanro family. To have such abnormal creatures prisoned
in their country house was quite sufficient to weigh on their spirits, and Warwick thought how many dwarfs, born to solitude and disgrace, had inhabited this tiny chamber.

He expected that, alarmed at the secret being known to a stranger, the servants who attended on the dwarf would not let him depart without the sanction of Lord Lelanro ; and foresaw that until the owner of the house returned from London, he would be obliged to regard himself as a prisoner. The gigantic Simon, evidently chosen to prevent such invasions of the dwarf's chamber, was quite powerful
enough to keep him there by force, and moreover there was the doctor to be reckoned with. Warwick wondered what manner of a man he would prove to be, and mentally
considered how his story would be received...


Fergus Hume, The dwarf`s chamber

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