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"Decidedly not," was my remark.
"There is one point, however, on which I
am curious. I cannot sufficiently admire the
singularity of your discovery, but I am at
a loss to perceive its use."

"Oh, that I can easily explain," was his
reply. "Not only have I discovered the
ingredient which hardens the saponaceous
fluid, but I have invented a method of
blowing which enables me to enclose
whatever object I please within the precincts of
a bubble. Look here!"

He opened a cabinet, and showed me
a collection of humming-birds, butterflies,
statuettes, and other objects that are
commonly put under glass cases, each
enclosed in a hardened bubble. I acknowledged
that the invention was admirable.

"Yes," he said, "I think it is; and it
will soon go forth to the world as Bubblesworth's
patent. But I have not come to
that yet. Just sit for a few minutes in
that chair, while I prepare to astonish you
with an application of my principle."

I complied with his request, and he
slipped behind the chair. Presently I was
aware that there was something like a
medium between me and the surrounding
objects, and, throwing my head back,
perceived that Mr. Bubblesworth had actually
enclosed me in an enormous transparent
sphere, streaked with brilliant colours,
which resisted my touch as though it had
been of iron. I was manifestly a
prisoner, but the spherical wall of my prison
gradually receded till it was beyond the
reach of my outstretched hands. Soon
the gay prismatic colours that played in
streams around me began to assume definite
shapes; some of which apparently were
distant from me several miles, while others
were in my immediate vicinity.

I was standing near a neat whitewashed
cottage, in front of which, seated by a
table, on which stood a foaming jug, was a
jolly old gentleman, of the conventional
type, which we often find repeated in
engravings of the last century as the
embodiment of rural felicity in advanced
years. To sit alone smoking and drinking
all through a whole summer evening, with a
fat face that smiled benignantly upon
nothing, was long the summit of human
bliss in the eyes of many well-meaning
artists who wished to contrast the innocent
pleasures of the country with the riot and
dissipation of the town.

"This is an uncommonly pretty country,
sir," I observed to the ideal farmer.

"Yes, sir, it is," he replied, "though it
is so far from the station; and perhaps for
that very reason. Ah, there were no rail-
roads when I was a boy!"

"You came here young?" I asked.

"Came here? I was born here, in this
very house, and this very day is my
eightieth birthday."

I instinctively glanced upwards towards
the sky, as if to catch the face of Mr.
Bubblesworth, to whom I would willingly have
referred the doubts that arose in my mind.
But nothing was above me save the pure
azure. I could address no one but the old
gentleman himself.

"My question may appear very
ignorant, sir," I said, "but what county is

"This," he answered, "is Soapshire, on
the borders of Bubblesex."

I discovered at once the etymological
origin of these strange names; but still
I scarcely durst trust my ears. "I have
heard," I said, "of Shropshire and

"Have you?" interrupted the old
gentleman; "that's more than I have. Maybe
you have travelled in foreign parts. However,
this is Soapshire, and if you cross the
river you see yonder, you'll find yourself in

odd names! Not only was I still
somehow in the old world, but there was
a slight connecting link between me and
my immediate neighbours.

"Did you ever go to any church in
Thughamptonshire?" I asked.

"Not very often; but I have done such
a thing," was the reply.

"Ha! and in the course of his sermon,
did the minister make any mention ofof

"No; I can't say as he didleastways,
while I was awake. But I tell you what.
In the churchyard of Thugton, which is
the chief market-town, there is a little hill
or mound like, which they call Bony-
Barrow; and the story goes that a great
many butcher-boys are buried there who
were sacrificed by the Druids, as they
call them, in the days of the ancient

"Ha!" I exclaimed, with intense

"A very curious thing that barrow.
Some men who were digging there some
twenty years ago found a stone figure of a
woman with a lot of hands, and you may
see it now in Thugton Museum. But it is
getting dusk. I think I may as well send
up my fire-balloon."