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by Nikolai Nosov
Translated by Margaret Wettlin
Illustrated by Boris Kalaushin
When Dunno woke up he found himself in a strange room. He was lying in a bed as soft as if the mattress were stuffed with dandelion fluff. He had been awakened by the sound of voices, and he looked round to see where they came from. The room had arm-chairs in the corners, and the walls were hung with rugs and pictures of flowers. At the window stood a one-legged table. A heap of coloured embroidery silks and a little cushion with pins and needles sticking out of it like porcupine quills lay on top of this table. Not far away was a writing-desk with a writing-set on it. Next to it was a book-case.
On the far wall, near the door, was a big looking-glass. Two little girl-Mites were standing in front of the looking-glass and talking. One of them was wearing a blue silk dress with a silk sash tied in a bow behind. She had blue eyes and dark hair which she wore in a long plait. The other girl-Mite had on a dress with pink and purple flowers in it, and she had curly flaxen hair that hung down to her shoulders. She was trying on a hat and chirping like a sparrow:
"What a horrid hat! It's ugly no matter how you put it on. I wanted to make myself a hat with a wide brim, but there wasn't enough stuff, so I had to make one with a narrow brim and that always makes one's face look round as a moon and that's so very unpleasant, don't you think?
"You've been standing in front of this looking-glass quite long enough," said the blue-eyed girl. "I can't bear people who spend all their time in front of the looking-glass."
"What do you think a looking-glass is for?" went on the flaxen-haired one.
She put the hat on the very back of her head and screwed up her eyes to see how it looked.
Dunno found this very funny. He could not help laughing, and in stifling his laughter he let out a grunt. The flaxen-haired girl gave a little start and glanced at him suspiciously. But Dunno shut his eyes and pretended to be asleep. He
heard the two girl-Mites come tiptoeing towards his bed and stop a little distance away.
"I thought I heard him say something," whispered one of them. "But I must have fancied it. When do you suppose he'll come to? He's been lying here unconscious since last evening."
"Honeysuckle said we weren't to wake him up," answered the other. "She told me to call her when he woke up himself."
"I wonder who Honeysuckle could be?" thought Dunno, but he gave no
sign that he heard them.
"What a brave fellow!" came the voice again. "Just to think of his sailing up in the air in a balloon!"
Dunno did all he could to keep his mouth from stretching from ear to ear in a delighted grin.
"I'll come back later, when he's awake," said one of them. "I want so badly to ask him about the balloon! What if he has concussion of the brain?"
Silly! thought Dunno. I haven't got anything of the sort!
The flaxen-haired girl-Mite said good-bye and went out. The room was very quiet after that. For a long time Dunno lay with his eyes closed, trying hard to catch the least sound. At last he opened one eye and saw the blue-eyed girl-Mite bending over him. She smiled, then frowned and shook her finger at
"Is that how you always wake up — one eye at a time?" she asked.
Dunno nodded his head and opened the other eye.
"So you weren't asleep?"
"Yes I was, I just woke up."
Dunno would have gone on talking if she hadn't laid her finger on his lip and said:
"Sh-sh. You mustn't talk. You're very ill."
"No, I'm not".
"How do you know? Are you a doctor?"
"Then you have no right to say such a thing. You must lie still until I call the doctor. What's your name?"
"Dunno. What's yours?"
"What a pretty name!" said Dunno.
"I'm glad you like it. You seem to be a very well-bred little boy."
Dunno smiled. It was pleasant to hear someone praise him. He was more used to being scolded than praised. As there were no boy-Mites in the room, he could speak to her politely without running any risk of being teased for talking to a girl.
"What's that other one's name?" he asked.
"What other one?"
"The one you were talking to. The pretty one, with flaxen hair."
"Oh!" exclaimed Cornflower. "So you weren't asleep after all!"
"Yes, I was. I just opened my eyes for a second and then fell asleep again."
"Shame on you!" said Cornflower, shaking her head and frowning at him. "So you don't think I'm pretty?"
"Indeed I do!" said Dunno in fright. "You're pretty, too."
"You. And she. Both of you."
"You're a naughty little fibber, but I forgive you," said Cornflower. "Her name is Snowdrop. You'll see her again. But I mustn't talk to you any more, it's bad for you. Lie still and don't dare get out of bed. I'll go and call Honeysuckle."
"The doctor. She'll make you well."
And Cornflower went out. Dunno instantly jumped out of bed and began to search for his clothes. He meant to run away as fast as he could because he knew doctors were fond of giving their patients castor oil and smearing them with iodine. He could not find his clothes, but he found a doll sitting on a bench, propped up against the wall.
His first thought was to split the doll open and find out what it was stuffed with — saw-dust or cotton-wool. He forgot all about his clothes and began to look for a knife, but just then he caught sight of himself in the looking-glass. He threw the doll on the floor and began making faces at himself in the looking-glass. When he had made quite a lot of faces, he said: "I'm rather good-looking; my face isn't so round."
Just then steps were heard outside the door. Dunno dived into bed and pulled
the blanket up over him. Into the room came Cornflower and another girl-Mite in
a white coat and cap and with a little brown bag in her hand. She had round red
cheeks and grey eyes that looked strictly at you from behind horn-
rimmed spectacles. This, thought Dunno, must be the doctor.
Honeysuckle drew a chair over to Dunno's bed, put her bag on it, and said, with a shake of her head:
"Goodness me, what naughty little brats you boy-Mites are! Always getting into mischief! Now what in the world made you go up in that balloon? But come, not a word! I know what you'll say: 'I'll never do it again!' All boy-Mites say that, but the next minute they're up to something else."
Honeysuckle opened her bag, filling the room with the smell of iodine and other medicines. Dunno shuddered. Honeysuckle turned to him.
"Sit up, if you please," she said.
Dunno put one foot out of bed.
"Stay in bed, if you please!" she said crossly. "I told you to sit up."
Dunno shrugged his shoulders and sat up.
"Don't shrug your shoulders," said Honeysuckle. "Show me your tongue."
"No questions, if you please. Show me your tongue."
Dunno stuck out his tongue.
"A-a-ah," said Dunno.
Honeysuckle took a wooden trumpet out of her bag and listened to his heart and lungs.
"Breathe deeply, if you please."
Dunno began to breathe like a steam-engine.
"Stop breathing, if you please."
"Hee-hee!" tittered Dunno.
"What are you laughing at? I don't think I've said anything funny."
"How can I stop breathing?" he said, still laughing.
"You can't stop breathing altogether, but you can for a minute."
"So I can," said Dunno, and he stopped breathing.
When the examination was over, Honeysuckle went over to the desk and wrote out a prescription.
"The patient has a bruise on his shoulder," she said to Cornflower. "Go to the chemist's and buy a honey plaster. Cut off a piece and paste it on his shoulder. And don't let him get up. If he does, he'll break all your dishes and give somebody a punch in the head. One must be very strict with boy-Mites."
Honeysuckle put her trumpet away, glared at Dunno a moment, and went out.
Cornflower picked up the prescription.
"Did you hear what she said? You're not to get up," said Cornflower.
Dunno made a long face.
"No faces, now. And don't try to find your clothes, they're hidden safely away," said Cornflower, and went out of the room with the prescription in her hand.
Author: Nosov N.; illustrated by Kalaushin B.
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