376 At the Back of the North Wind
ing again with a thump of their heels, they cantered slowly up to her and snuffed all about her with their long upper lips, which moved every way at once. That was their way of kissing her; and, as she talked to Diamond, she would every now and then stroke down their furry backs, or lift and play with their long ears. They would, Diamond thought, have leaped upon her lap, but that he was there already.
" I think," said she, after they had been sitting silent for a while, "that if I were only a dream, you would not have been able to love me so. You love me when you are not with me, don't you?"
" Indeed I do," answered Diamond, stroking her hand. "I see! I see! How could I be able to love you as I do if you weren't there at all, you know? Besides, I couldn't be able to dream anything half so beautiful out of my own head; or if I did, I couldn't love a fancy of my own like that, could I?"
" I think not. You might have loved me in a dream, dreamily, and forgotten me when you woke, I daresay, but not loved me like a real being as you love me. Even then, I don't think you could dream anything that hadn't something real like it somewhere. But you've seen me in many shapes, Diamond: you remember I was a wolf once—don't you?"
"Oh yes—a good wolf that frightened a naughty drunken nurse."
" Well, suppose I were to turn ugly, would you rather I weren't a dream then?"
"Yes; for I should know that you were beautiful inside all the same. You would love me, and I should