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by Nikolai Nosov
Translated by Margaret Wettlin
Illustrated by Boris Kalaushin
Soon the whole town heard that a famous traveller, Dunno, and his friends, were being treated in the local hospital. Minny and Fluff ran from house to house telling their friends the news. These friends told others, the others told still others, and in the end all the inhabitants of Greenville flocked to the hospital. Everyone wanted to help the sufferers in some way, and so they all brought presents. One brought a home-made cake, another brought a pot of jam, a third brought some stewed fruit.
In half an hour Hospital Lane was crowded with visitors. Naturally, such a crowd could not be admitted to the hospital. Honeysuckle came out on the porch and said the patients had everything they needed and please wouldn't everybody go home and stop making such a noise.
But the visitors did not want to go home. In some unknown way they had got wind of the fact that Dunno, the Traveller-in-Chief, was expected to leave the hospital accompanied by his friends Blobs and Trills.
Once more Honeysuckle appeared on the porch and said that Dunno would not leave the hospital until the crowd had broken up. There was nothing for it but to break up, but instead of going home, the girls went into the houses of their friends who lived in Hospital Lane.
When Dunno, Blobs and Trills came out accompanied by Cornflower and Snowdrop, they felt dozens of pairs of eyes staring at them from behind windows and doors. Dunno found such popularity very flattering.
"Which is Dunno, the famous Dunno?" somebody whisper.
"The one in the yellow trousers," came the answer.
"That flap-eared fellow? I'd never have thought he was Dunno. He looks rather a dunce."
"He does, doesn't he? But there's something about his expression. He's the one, take my word for it."
A girl at a second-storey window of the corner house began to wave her hands wildly as soon as Dunno appeared.
"Dunno! Dunno!" she shouted. "Hurrah for Dunno!"
And she leaned so far out of the window that she almost fell into the street. Fortunately her friends caught her by the leg and pulled her back.
"Shame on you!" said a Mite with a sharp little face and a pointed chin. "You'll make that Dunno think he's the cock of the walk."
"Quite right, Birdie," agreed her friend, who had a short upper lip and flashing white teeth. "Boys should never be allowed to think you take any notice of them. If they see that nobody pays any attention to their tricks, they'll stop doing them."
"Just what I was saying, Kitty," agreed Birdie. "Boys are to be looked down
upon. Once they know you look down upon them, they'll be afraid to hurt you."
And Birdie and Kitty began to whisper into every ear that the newly-arrived boys were to be looked down upon. They got all the girls to agree not to pay the slightest attention to them, and cross to the other side of the street if they saw one coming.
But nothing came of this agreement. It was discovered that Blobs was an artist and Trills a musician who played beautifully on the flute. Everyone was dying to hear him, for the harp was the only instrument played in Greenville and nobody had ever heard a flute. Many of the inhabitants didn't even know there was such an instrument.
A little while later they learned that Blobs and Trills had moved into Button's house on Apple Square. There was a big room on the second floor of this house with a window that took up a whole wall. The room was so light and airy that Blobs was instantly taken by it, and he 'and Trills decided to move in.
The window of their room looked out on Apple Square. Never had Apple Square been a favourite place for walking in the evening, but this evening everybody in Greenville was promenading there. They walked in pairs, hand in hand, up and down, stealing glances at the second-storey window. This, of course, was not because they had any desire to see Blobs and Trills, but because they were anxious to hear the music.
From time to time they caught a glimpse of Trills with his hair smoothed down
so neatly, or of Blobs with his hair sticking out in all directions. Once they saw Blobs come and lean on the window-sill and gaze dreamily into space. He was joined by Trills, with whom he entered into a heated discussion, turning his head from side to side and waving his arms about. Then both of them went away.
It appeared that nothing more of interest would happen that night, but still nobody went home. And it was a good thing they didn't, for in a little while the notes of a flute, as gentle as the babbling of a brook, came from the second-storey window. Now they rose one after another, as wave follows wave; now they leaped up, tumbling and chasing one another in the air. It was bright, lively music and it put everyone in a gay mood. The sounds of the flute seemed to tug at their arms and legs, urging them to dance.
One by one the windows of the houses were opened softly. All movement stopped in the square. Everyone stood still, afraid to miss a single note of the music.
At last the flute grew silent, but from the window of a house on the other side of the square came the strain of a harp. It seemed to be echoing the melody played by the flute. Someone's fingers were picking it out hesitantly on the strings. Little by little the bright tune faded, and when it was just about to die away the flute took it up again. This encouraged the harp to go on playing. Soon a second harp joined in, and a third, and the tune grew brighter and gayer than ever.
It was just at this point that Dunno came running up, bringing some paints and brushes for Blobs. He was quite taken aback by the sight of all these girls listening with bated breath to the music. He, too, stopped to listen, and he even cut a caper or two in the hope of attracting attention. But nobody paid him any notice and so he dodged into the entrance to Button's house.
Author: Nosov N.; illustrated by Kalaushin B.
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