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´╗┐Title: Granny's Wonderful Chair
Author: Browne, Frances
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Granny's Wonderful Chair" ***

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_See page 13_]


          _From the Story by
            FRANCES BROWNE_

          _BLACKIE & SON LTD._
      _London_  _Glasgow_  _Bombay_

_Printed and bound in Great Britain_


_A small chosen library is like a walled garden where a child may safely
play. In that charmed seclusion the love of books, like the love of
flowers, grows of itself. If the reading habit is to be acquired, the
child ought from the first to be given real books, which may be handled
with pleasure and kept with pride--books containing literature suited to
its own age._

_This volume belongs to a series of "Stories Old and New" which has been
prepared specially for children. The books have been carefully chosen so
as to include, along with many charming stories by the best children's
authors of to-day, a due proportion of those older tales which never
grow old._

_To secure simplicity and right gradation, the text has been prepared
to suit the different ages of readers. Care has been given to the
illustration, print, and binding of the series, for it is believed that
this is the best way to secure from the children that careful handling
of the volumes which is the mark of the true book-lover._


    I INTRODUCTORY                  6
   IV CHILDE CHARITY               76
    V SOUR AND CIVIL               92




In an old time, long ago, when the fairies were in the world, there
lived a little girl so very fair and pleasant of look, that they called
her Snowflower. This girl was good as well as pretty. No one had ever
seen her frown or heard her say a cross word, and young and old were
glad when they saw her coming.

Snowflower had no relation in the world but a very old grandmother,
called Dame Frostyface. People did not like her quite so well as her
granddaughter, for she was cross enough at times, though always kind to
Snowflower. They lived together in a little cottage built of peat and
thatched with reeds, on the edge of a great forest. Tall trees sheltered
its back from the north wind, and the midday sun made its front warm and
cheerful. Swallows built in the eaves, and daisies grew thick at the

But there were none in all that country poorer than Snowflower and her
grandmother. A cat and two hens were all their live stock. Their bed was
dry grass, and the only good piece of furniture in the cottage was a
great armchair with wheels on its feet, a black velvet cushion, and many
strange carvings of flowers and fairies on its dark oaken back.

On that chair Dame Frostyface sat spinning from morning till night, to
keep herself and her granddaughter, while Snowflower gathered sticks for
the fire, looked after the hens and the cat, and did whatever else her
grandmother bade her. There was nobody in that part of the country could
spin such fine yarn as Dame Frostyface, but she spun very slowly. Her
wheel was as old as herself, and far more worn-out. Indeed, the wonder
was that it did not fall to pieces. So what the dame earned was very
little, and their living was scanty. Snowflower, however, felt no want
of good dinners or fine clothes.

Every evening, when the fire was heaped with the sticks she had gathered
till it blazed and crackled up the cottage chimney, Dame Frostyface set
aside her wheel and told her a new story. Often did the little girl
wonder where her grandmother had gathered so many stories, but she soon
learned that.

One sunny morning, at the time of the coming of the swallows, the dame
rose up, put on the grey hood and cloak in which she carried her yarn to
the fairs, and said: "My child, I am going a long journey to visit an
aunt of mine, who lives far in the north country. I cannot take you with
me, because my aunt is the crossest woman alive, and never liked young
people. But the hens will lay eggs for you, and there is barley meal in
the barrel. And, as you have been a good girl, I'll tell you what to do
when you feel lonely. Lay your head gently down on the cushion of the
armchair and say, 'Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story'.

"The chair was made by a clever fairy, who lived in the forest when I
was young, and she gave it to me because she knew nobody could keep what
they got hold of better than I could. Remember, you must never ask a
story more than once in the day. If there is any need to travel, you
have only to seat yourself in it and say, 'Chair of my grandmother, take
me such a way'. It will carry you wherever you wish. But mind to oil the
wheels before you set out, for I have sat on it these forty years in
that same corner."

Having said this, Dame Frostyface set forth to see her aunt in the north
country. Snowflower gathered wood for the fire, and looked after the
hens and cat, as she had always done. She baked herself a cake or two of
the barley meal; but, when the evening came, the cottage looked lonely.
Then Snowflower remembered her grandmother's words, and, laying her head
gently down, she said: "Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story".

Hardly were the words spoken, when a clear voice from under the velvet
cushion began a new and most wonderful tale, which surprised Snowflower
so much that she forgot to be afraid. After that the good girl was
lonely no more. Every morning she baked a barley cake, and every evening
the chair told her a new story. But she could never find out to whom the
voice belonged, though Snowflower showed her thanks by keeping bright
the oaken back and dusting the velvet cushion, till the chair looked as
good as new.

The swallows came and built in the eaves, and the daisies grew thicker
than ever at the door, but great troubles fell upon Snowflower. In spite
of all her care she forgot to clip the hens' wings, and they flew away
one morning to visit their friends the pheasants, who lived far in the
forest. The cat went away to see its friends. The barley meal was eaten
up, except two handfuls, and Snowflower had often looked out in hope of
seeing the grey cloak, but Dame Frostyface did not come back.

"My grandmother stays long," said Snowflower to herself; "and by and by
there will be nothing left to eat. If I could get to her, perhaps she
would tell me what to do. Surely there is good need for me to travel."

Next day, at sunrise, Snowflower oiled the wheels of the chair, baked a
cake out of the last of the meal, took it in her lap by way of food for
the journey, seated herself, and said: "Chair of my grandmother, take me
the way she went".

At once the chair gave a creak, and began to move out of the cottage,
and into the forest, the very way Dame Frostyface had taken, where it
rolled along at the rate of a coach and six. Snowflower was amazed at
this way of travelling, but the chair never stopped nor stayed the whole
summer day, till as the sun was setting they came upon an open space,
where a hundred men were cutting down the tall trees with their axes, a
hundred more were splitting them for firewood, and twenty men, with
horses and wagons, were carrying the wood away.

"Oh! chair of my grandmother, stop!" said Snowflower, for she was tired,
and also wished to know what this might mean. The chair at once stood
still, and Snowflower, seeing an old woodcutter, who looked kind,
stepped up to him and said: "Good father, tell me why you cut all this

"Where do you live," replied the man, "that you have not heard of the
great feast which King Winwealth means to give on the birthday of his
only daughter, Princess Greedalind? It will last for seven days.
Everybody will be feasted, and this wood is to roast the oxen and the
sheep, the geese and the turkeys, amongst whom there is great sorrow
throughout the land."

When Snowflower heard that, she could not help wishing to see, and
perhaps to share in, such a noble feast, after living so long on barley
cakes. So, seating herself, she said: "Chair of my grandmother, take me
quickly to the palace of King Winwealth."

The words were hardly spoken, when off the chair started through the
trees and out of the forest, to the great surprise of the woodcutters,
who, never having seen such a sight before, threw down their axes, left
their wagons, and went after Snowflower to the gates of a great and
splendid city, having strong walls and high towers, and standing in the
midst of a wide plain covered with cornfields, fruit gardens, and

It was the richest city in all the land. People from every part of the
land came there to buy and sell, and there was a saying that they had
only to live seven years in it to make their fortunes. Rich as they
were, however, Snowflower had never seen so many discontented, greedy
faces as looked out from the great shops, grand houses, and fine
coaches, when her chair rattled along the streets. Indeed, the people of
that city were not much thought of for either good nature or honesty.
But it had not been so when King Winwealth was young, and he and his
brother, Prince Wisewit, governed the land. Prince Wisewit knew the
whole art of governing, the tempers of men, and the powers of the
stars. Moreover, he was a very clever man, and it was said of him that
he could never die or grow old.

In his time there was neither discontent nor sickness in the city.
Strangers were kindly treated without price or questions. Then no one
went to law against his neighbour, and no one locked his door at night.
The fairies used to come there at May Day and Michaelmas, for they were
Prince Wisewit's friends--all but one, called Fortunetta, a
short-sighted but very cunning fairy, who hated everybody wiser than
herself, and above all the prince, because she could never cheat him.

There was peace and pleasure for many a year in King Winwealth's city,
till one day at midsummer Prince Wisewit went alone to the forest, in
search of a strange plant for his garden, but he never came back. Though
the King, with all his guards, looked for him far and near, no news was
ever heard of him. When his brother was gone, King Winwealth grew lonely
in his great palace, so he married a princess called Wantall, and
brought her home to be his queen.

This princess was neither handsome nor pleasant. People thought she must
have gained the King's love by the charms she worked, for her whole
dowry was a desert island, with a huge pit in it that could never be
filled, and she was so greedy that the more she got the greedier she
grew. In course of time the King and Queen had an only daughter, who was
to be the heiress of all the kingdom. Her name was the Princess
Greedalind, and the whole city were at that time preparing to keep her
birthday. Not that they cared much for the Princess, who was very like
her mother both in looks and temper; but being King Winwealth's only
daughter, people came from far and near to the feast, and among them
strangers and fairies who had not been there since the day of Prince

There was great stir about the palace, a most noble building, so large
that it had a room for every day in the year. All the floors were of
beautiful dark wood, and all the roofs of silver; and there was such a
large number of golden dishes used by the household, that five hundred
men kept guard night and day lest any of them should be stolen.

When these guards saw Snowflower and her chair, they ran one after the
other to tell the King, for the like had never been seen nor heard of in
his kingdom, and all the Court crowded out to see the little maiden and
her chair that came of itself.

When Snowflower saw the lords and ladies in their fine robes and
splendid jewels, she began to feel ashamed of her own bare feet and
linen gown. But at length taking courage, she answered all their
questions, and told them everything about her wonderful chair. The Queen
and the Princess cared for nothing that was not gilt. The people of the
Court had learned to do the same, and all turned away in great scorn
except the old King, who, thinking the chair might amuse him sometimes
when he got into low spirits, allowed Snowflower to stay and feast in
his worst kitchen.

The poor girl was glad of any place, though nobody made her
welcome--even the servants looked down upon her bare feet and linen
gown. They would give her chair no room but in a dusty corner behind the
back door, where Snowflower was told that she might sleep at night, and
eat up the scraps the cook threw away.

That very day the feast began. It was fine to see the great crowds of
coaches and people on foot and on horseback who came to the palace, and
filled every room according to their rank. Never had Snowflower seen
such roasting and boiling. There was wine for the lords and ale for the
common people, music and dancing of all kinds, and the best of gay
dresses. But with all the good cheer there seemed little joy, and a
great deal of ill humour in the palace.

Some of the guests thought they should have been feasted in grander
rooms. Others were vexed to see many finer than themselves. All the
servants were very displeased because they did not get presents. There
was somebody caught every hour stealing the cups, and a great number of
people were always at the gates shouting for goods and lands, which
Queen Wantall had taken from them. The guards were always driving them
away, but they came back again, and could be heard plainly in the
highest hall. So it was not wonderful that the old King's spirits were
very low that evening after supper. His page, who always stood behind
him, seeing this, reminded His Majesty of the little girl and her chair.

"It is a good thought," said King Winwealth. "I have not heard a story
this many a year. Bring the child and the chair at once!"

The page sent someone to the first kitchen, who told the master-cook;
the master-cook told the kitchen-maid; the kitchen-maid told the
dust-boy, and he told Snowflower to wash her face, rub up her chair, and
go to the highest hall, for the great King Winwealth wished to hear a

Nobody offered to help her; but when Snowflower had made herself as
smart as she could with soap and water, and rubbed the chair till it
looked as if dust had never fallen on it, she seated herself and said:
"Chair of my grandmother, take me to the highest hall."

At once the chair marched in a grave and courtly manner out of the
kitchen, up the grand staircase, and into the highest hall. The chief
lords and ladies of the land were feasting there, besides many fairies
and noble people from far-off countries. There had never been such
company in the palace since the time of Prince Wisewit. Nobody wore less
than the finest satin.


_See page 32_]

King Winwealth sat on his ivory throne in a robe of purple velvet, stiff
with flowers of gold. The Queen sat by his side in a robe of silver
cloth clasped with pearls. But the Princess Greedalind was finer still,
the feast being in her honour. She wore a robe of cloth of gold clasped
with diamonds. Two waiting-ladies in white satin stood, one on either
side, to hold her fan and handkerchief, and two pages, in gold-lace
livery, stood behind her chair. With all that, Princess Greedalind
looked ugly and spiteful. She and her mother were angry to see a
barefooted girl and an old chair allowed to enter the highest hall.

The supper table was still covered with golden dishes, and the best of
good things, but no one offered Snowflower a morsel. So, having made a
humble bow to the King, the Queen, the Princess, and the good company,
most of whom hardly noticed her, the poor little girl sat down upon the
carpet, laid her head on the velvet cushion, as she used to do in the
old cottage, and said: "Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story."

Everybody was greatly surprised, even the angry Queen and the spiteful
Princess, when a clear voice from under the cushion said: "Listen to the
story of the Christmas Cuckoo."



Once upon a time there stood in the midst of a bleak moor, in the north
country, a certain village. All its people were poor, for their fields
were barren, and they had little trade; but the poorest of them all were
two brothers called Scrub and Spare. They were cobblers, and had but one
stall between them. It was a hut built of clay and wattles. The door was
low and always open, for there was no window. The roof did not entirely
keep out the rain, and the only thing with any look of comfort about it
was a wide hearth, for which the brothers could never find wood enough
to make a good fire. There they worked in most brotherly friendship,
though the people did not give them very many shoes to make or mend.

The people of that village did not need many shoes, and better cobblers
than Scrub and Spare might be found. Spiteful people said there were no
shoes so bad that they would not be worse for their mending.
Nevertheless Scrub and Spare managed to live by means of their own
trade, a small barley field, and a cottage garden, till a new cobbler
arrived in the village. He had lived in the chief city of the kingdom,
and, by his own account, cobbled for the Queen and the princesses. His
awls were sharp and his lasts were new. He set up his stall in a neat
cottage with two windows.

The villagers soon found out that one patch of his would outwear two of
the brothers'. In short, all the mending left Scrub and Spare, and went
to the new cobbler. The season had been wet and cold, their barley did
not ripen well, and the cabbages never half closed in the garden. So the
brothers were poor that winter; and when Christmas came, they had
nothing to feast on but a barley loaf, a piece of musty bacon, and some
small beer of their own brewing.

Worse than that, the snow was very deep, and they could get no firewood.
Their hut stood at the end of the village; beyond it spread the bleak
moor, now all white and silent. But that moor had once been a forest.
Great roots of old trees were still to be found in it, loosened from the
soil and laid bare by the winds and rains. One of these, a rough, heavy
log, lay close to their door, the half of it above the snow.

Spare said to his brother: "Shall we sit here cold on Christmas Day
while the great root lies yonder? Let us chop it up for firewood, the
work will make us warm."

"No," said Scrub; "it's not right to chop wood on Christmas. Besides,
that root is too hard to be cut with any axe."

"Hard or not, we must have a fire," replied Spare. "Come, brother, help
me in with it. Poor as we are, there is nobody in the village will have
such a Yule log as ours."

Scrub liked to be a little grand sometimes, and in hopes of having a
fine Yule log, both brothers strove with all their might till, between
pulling and pushing, the great old root was safe on the hearth, and soon
began to crackle and blaze with the red embers. In high glee, the
cobblers sat down to their beer and bacon. The door was shut, for there
was nothing but cold moonlight and snow outside. But the hut, strewn
with fir branches, and decked with holly, looked cheerful as the ruddy
blaze flared up and made their hearts glad.

"Long life and good fortune to ourselves, brother!" said Spare. "I hope
you will drink that toast, and may we never have a worse fire on
Christmas--but what is that?"

Spare set down the drinking-horn, and the brothers listened in great
surprise, for out of the blazing root they heard "Cuckoo! cuckoo!" as
plain as ever the spring bird's voice came over the moor on a May morn.

"It is something bad," said Scrub, very much frightened.

"Maybe not," said Spare.

And out of the deep hole at the side which the fire had not reached flew
a large grey cuckoo, and alighted on the table before them. Much as the
cobblers had been surprised at first, they were still more so when the
bird began to speak.

"Good gentlemen," said the cuckoo, "what season is this?"

"It's Christmas," replied Spare.

"Then a merry Christmas to you!" said the cuckoo. "I went to sleep in
the hollow of that old root last summer, and never woke till the heat of
your fire made me think it was summer again. But now, since you have
burned my lodging, let me stay in your hut till the spring comes
round--I only want a hole to sleep in, and when I go on my travels next
summer you may be sure I will bring you some gift for your trouble."

"Stay, and welcome," said Spare, while Scrub sat wondering if it were
something bad or not. "I'll make you a good warm hole in the thatch. But
you must be hungry after that long sleep. There is a slice of barley
bread. Come, help us to keep Christmas!"

The cuckoo ate up the slice, drank some water from the brown jug--for it
would take no beer--and flew into a snug hole which Spare scooped for it
in the thatch of the hut.

Scrub said he was afraid the bird wouldn't be lucky. But as it slept on,
and the days passed, he forgot his fears. So the snow melted, the heavy
rains came, the cold grew less, and the days became longer; and one
sunny morning the brothers were awakened by the cuckoo shouting its own
cry to let them know the spring had come.

"Now," said the bird, "I am going on my travels over the world to tell
men of the spring. There is no country where trees bud, or flowers
bloom, that I will not cry in before the year goes round. Give me
another slice of bread to keep me on my journey, and tell me what gift I
shall bring you at the end of the twelve months."

Scrub would have been angry with his brother for cutting so large a
slice, their store of barley meal being low; but his mind was so taken
up with what present it would be best for him to ask. At length a lucky
thought struck him.

"Good Master Cuckoo," said he, "if a great traveller who sees all the
world like you, could know of any place where diamonds or pearls were
to be found, one of a fairly large size brought in your beak would help
such poor men as my brother and me to get something better than barley
bread to give you the next time you come."

"I know nothing of diamonds or pearls," said the cuckoo. "They are in
the hearts of rocks and the sands of rivers. I know only of that which
grows on the earth. But there are two trees close by the well that lies
at the end of the world. One of them is called the golden tree, for its
leaves are all of beaten gold. Every winter they fall into the well with
a sound like that of scattered gold, and I know not what becomes of
them. As for the other, it is always green, like a laurel. Some call it
the wise, and some the merry tree. Its leaves never fall but they that
get one of them keep a cheerful heart in spite of all troubles, and can
make themselves as merry in a hut as in a palace."

"Good Master Cuckoo, bring me a leaf off that tree!" cried Spare.

"Now, brother, don't be a fool!" said Scrub. "Think of the leaves of
gold. Dear Master Cuckoo, bring me one of them!"

Before another word could be said, the cuckoo had flown out of the open
door, and was shouting its spring cry over moor and meadow.

The brothers were poorer than ever that year. Nobody sent them a single
shoe to mend. The new cobbler said, in scorn, they should come over and
work for him. Scrub and Spare would have left the village but for their
barley field, their cabbage garden, and a maid called Fairfeather, whom
both the cobblers had courted for seven years without even knowing whom
she meant to favour.

Sometimes Fairfeather seemed to favour Scrub, sometimes she smiled on
Spare; but the brothers were always friends and did not quarrel. They
sowed their barley, planted their cabbage, and, now that their trade was
gone, worked in the fields of some of the rich villagers to make out a
scanty living.

So the seasons came and passed. Spring, summer, harvest, and winter
followed each other as they have always done. At the end of the winter
Scrub and Spare had grown so poor and ragged that Fairfeather thought
them beneath her notice. Old neighbours forgot to invite them to wedding
feasts or merrymaking. They thought the cuckoo had forgotten them too,
when at daybreak, on the first of April, they heard a hard beak knocking
at their door and a voice crying:

"Cuckoo! cuckoo! let me in with my gifts."

Spare ran to open the door, and in came the cuckoo, carrying on one side
of his bill a golden leaf larger than that of any tree in the north
country; and in the other, one like that of the common laurel, only it
had a fresher green.

"Here," it said, giving the gold to Scrub and the green to Spare; "it is
a long way to carry them from the end of the world. Give me a slice of
bread, for I must tell the north country that the spring has come."

Scrub did not grudge the thickness of that slice, though it was cut from
their last loaf. So much gold had never been in the cobbler's hands
before, and he could not help exulting over his brother.

"See the wisdom of my choice!" he said, holding up the large leaf of
gold. "As for yours, as good might be plucked from any hedge. I wonder
such a wise bird would carry the like so far."

"Good Master Cobbler," cried the cuckoo, finishing the slice, "your
words are more hasty than kind. If your brother is disappointed this
time, I go on the same journey every year, and for your kind treatment
will think it no trouble to bring each of you whichever leaf you wish."

"Darling cuckoo!" cried Scrub, "bring me a golden one."

And Spare, looking up from the green leaf on which he gazed as though it
were a crown-jewel, said:

"Be sure to bring me one from the merry tree."

And away flew the cuckoo once again.

"This is the Feast of All Fools, and it ought to be your birthday," said
Scrub. "Did ever man fling away such a chance of becoming rich! Much
good your merry leaves will do when you are so poor!"

So he went on; but Spare laughed at him, and answered with many old
proverbs about the cares that come with gold, till Scrub, at length
growing angry, vowed his brother was not fit to live with a gentleman
like himself. And taking his lasts, his awls, and his golden leaf, he
left the wattle hut and went to tell the villagers.

They were surprised at the folly of Spare, and charmed with Scrub's good
sense, more so when he showed them the golden leaf, and told that the
cuckoo would bring him one every spring. The new cobbler at once made
him a partner. The greatest people sent him their shoes to mend.
Fairfeather smiled kindly on him, and in the course of the summer they
were married, with a grand wedding feast, at which the whole village
danced, except Spare, who was not invited, because the bride said he was
low-minded, and his brother thought he was a disgrace to the family.

Indeed, all who heard the story thought that Spare must be mad, and
nobody would take up with him but a lame tinker, a beggar boy, and a
poor woman, who was looked upon as a witch because she was old and ugly.
As for Scrub, he went with Fairfeather to a cottage close by that of the
new cobbler, and quite as fine. There he mended shoes so as to please
everyone, had a scarlet coat for holidays, and a fat goose for dinner
every wedding-day. Fairfeather, too, had a crimson gown and fine blue
ribbons. But neither she nor Scrub were content, for to buy all these
grand things the golden leaf had to be broken and parted with piece by
piece, so the last morsel was gone before the cuckoo came with another.

Spare lived on in the old hut, and worked in the cabbage garden. (Scrub
had got the barley field, because he was the elder.) Every day his coat
grew more ragged, and the hut more weather-beaten, but the people
remarked that he never looked sad nor sour. The wonder was, that from
the time they began to keep his company, the tinker grew kinder to the
ass with which he travelled the country, the beggar boy kept out of
mischief, and the old woman was never cross to her cat or angry with the

Every first of April the cuckoo came tapping at their doors with the
golden leaf to Scrub and the green to Spare. Fairfeather would have
treated him nobly with wheaten bread and honey, for she had some notion
of trying to make him bring two gold leaves instead of one. But the
cuckoo flew away to eat barley bread with Spare, saying he was not fit
company for fine people, and liked the old hut where he slept so snugly
from Christmas to Spring.

Scrub spent the golden leaves, and Spare kept the merry ones; and I know
not how many years passed in this manner, when a great lord, who owned
that village, came to dwell near. His castle stood on the moor. It was
old and strong, with high towers and a deep moat. All the country as far
as one could see from the highest turret belonged to this lord; but he
had not been there for twenty years, and would not have come then, only
he was very sad.

The cause of his grief was that he had been Prime Minister at Court, and
in high favour, till somebody told the Crown Prince that he had spoken
with great disrespect about the turning out of His Royal Highness's
toes, and the King that he did not lay on taxes enough; whereon the
north-country lord was turned out of office and sent to his own estate.
There he lived for some weeks in very bad temper. The servants said
nothing would please him, and the people of the village put on their
worst clothes lest he should raise their rents. But one day, in the
harvest time, his lordship chanced to meet Spare gathering watercresses
at a meadow stream, and fell into talk with the cobbler.

How it was nobody could tell, but from that hour the great lord cast
away his sadness. He forgot his lost office and his Court enemies, the
King's taxes and the Crown Prince's toes, and went about with a noble
train, hunting, fishing, and making merry in his hall, where all
travellers were well treated and all the poor were welcome.

This strange story soon spread through the north country, and a great
company came to the cobbler's hut--rich men who had lost their money,
poor men who had lost their friends, beauties who had grown old, wits
who had gone out of fashion--all came to talk with Spare, and whatever
their troubles had been, all went home merry. The rich gave him
presents, the poor gave him thanks. Spare's coat was no longer ragged,
he had bacon with his cabbage, and the people of the village began to
think there was some sense in him after all.

By this time his fame had reached the chief city of the kingdom, and
even the Court. There were a great many discontented people there
besides the King, who had lately fallen into ill humour because a
princess, who lived in a kingdom near his own, and who had seven islands
for her dowry, would not marry his eldest son. So a royal page was sent
to Spare, with a velvet cloak, a diamond ring, and a command that he
should come to Court at once.

"To-morrow is the first of April," said Spare, "and I will go with you
two hours after sunrise."

The page lodged all night at the castle, and the cuckoo came at sunrise
with the merry leaf.

"The Court is a fine place," he said, when the cobbler told him he was
going. "But I cannot come there, they would lay snares and catch me. So
be careful of the leaves I have brought you, and give me a farewell
slice of barley bread."

Spare was sorry to part with the cuckoo, little as he had of his
company. But he gave him a slice which would have broken Scrub's heart
in the former times, it was so large. And having sewed up the leaves in
the lining of his leather doublet, he set out with the page on his way
to the Court.

His coming caused great surprise there. Everybody wondered what the King
could see in such a common-looking man. But hardly had His Majesty
talked with him half an hour, when the Princess and her seven islands
were forgotten, and orders given that a feast for all-comers should be
spread in the large dining-hall. The princes of the blood, the great
lords and ladies, the Ministers of State, and the judges of the land had
a talk with Spare; the more they talked the lighter grew their hearts,
so that such changes had never been seen at Court. The lords forgot
their spites and the ladies their envies, the princes and Ministers made
friends among themselves, and the judges showed no favour.

As for Spare, he had a room set apart for him in the palace, and a seat
at the King's table. One sent him rich robes and another costly jewels.
But in the midst of all his greatness he still wore the leathern
doublet, which the palace servants thought very mean. One day the King's
attention being drawn to it by the chief page, he asked why Spare didn't
give it to a beggar.

But the cobbler answered: "High and mighty King, this doublet was with
me before silk and velvet came. I find it easier to wear than the Court
cut. Moreover, it serves to keep me humble, by recalling the days when
it was my holiday dress."

The King thought this was a wise speech, and gave orders that no one
should find fault with the leathern doublet. So things went on, till
news of his brother's good fortune reached Scrub in the moorland cottage
on another first of April, when the cuckoo came with two golden leaves
because he had none to carry for Spare.

"Think of that!" said Fairfeather. "Here we are spending our lives in
this humdrum place, and Spare making his fortune at the Court with two
or three paltry green leaves! What would they say to our golden ones?
Let us pack up and make our way to the King's palace. I am sure he will
make you a lord and me a lady of honour, not to speak of all the fine
clothes and presents we shall have."

Scrub thought there was a great deal in what his wife said, and they
began to pack up. But it was soon found that there were very few things
in the cottage fit for carrying to the Court. Fairfeather could not
think of her wooden bowls, spoons, and plates being seen there. Scrub
thought his lasts and awls had better be left behind, as without them
no one would suspect him of being a cobbler. So, putting on their
holiday clothes, Fairfeather took her looking-glass, and Scrub his
drinking-horn, and each carrying a golden leaf wrapped up with great
care that none might see it till they reached the palace, the pair set
out with high hopes.

How far Scrub and Fairfeather journeyed I cannot say; but when the sun
was high and warm at noon, they came into a wood both tired and hungry.

"Husband," said Fairfeather, "you should not have such mean thoughts.
How could one eat barley bread on the way to a palace? Let us rest
ourselves under this tree, and look at our leaves to see if they are

In looking at the leaves, and talking of what they were going to do when
they came to the Court, Scrub and Fairfeather did not see that a very
thin old woman had slipped from behind a tree, with a long staff in her
hand and a great bag by her side.

"Noble lord and lady," she said,--"for I know you are such by your
voices, though my eyes are dim and my hearing none of the
sharpest,--will you tell me where I may find some water to mix a bottle
of mead which I carry in my bag, because it is too strong for me?"

As the old woman spoke, she pulled out of her bag a large wooden bottle
such as shepherds used in the olden times, corked with leaves rolled
together, and having a small wooden cup hanging from its handle.

"Perhaps you will do me the favour to taste it," she said. "It is only
made of the best of honey. I have also cream cheese, and a wheaten loaf
here, if such noble persons as you eat the like."

Scrub and Fairfeather were now sure, after this speech, that there must
be about them something of the look that noble persons have. Besides,
they were very hungry; and having with great haste wrapped up the golden
leaves, they told the old woman that they were not at all proud,
notwithstanding the lands and castles they had left behind them in the
north country, and would willingly help to lighten the bag. The old
woman would hardly sit down beside them, she was so humble and modest,
but at length she did; and before the bag was half empty, Scrub and
Fairfeather firmly believed that there must be something very
noble-looking about them.

The old woman was a wood-witch. Her name was Buttertongue, and all her
time was spent in making mead, which being boiled with strange herbs and
spells, had the power of making all who drank it fall asleep and dream
with their eyes open. She had two dwarfs of sons; one was named Spy and
the other Pounce. Wherever their mother went, they were not far behind;
and whoever tasted her mead was sure to be robbed by the dwarfs.

Scrub and Fairfeather sat leaning against the old tree. The cobbler had
a lump of cheese in his hand; his wife held fast a hunch of bread. Their
eyes and mouths were both open, but they were dreaming of the fine
things at the Court, when the old woman raised her shrill voice:

"What ho, my sons! come here, and carry home the harvest."

No sooner had she spoken than the two little dwarfs darted out of the
nearest thicket.

"Idle boys!" cried the mother, "what have you done to-day to help our

"I have been to the city," said Spy, "and could see nothing. These are
hard times for us--everybody minds his work so contentedly since that
cobbler came. But here is a leathern doublet which his page threw out of
the window. It's of no use, but I brought it to let you see I was not
idle." And he tossed down Spare's doublet, with the merry leaves in it,
which he had carried like a bundle on his little back.

To let you know how Spy got hold of it, I must tell you that the forest
was not far from the great city where Spare lived in such high esteem.
All things had gone well with the cobbler till the King thought that it
was quite unbecoming to see such a worthy man without a servant. His
Majesty, therefore, to let all men understand his royal favour towards
Spare, appointed one of his own pages to wait upon him.

The name of this youth was Tinseltoes, and, though he was the seventh of
the King's pages in rank, nobody in all the Court had grander notions.
Nothing could please him that had not gold or silver about it, and his
grandmother feared he would hang himself for being made page to a
cobbler. As for Spare, if anything could have troubled him, this mark of
His Majesty's kindness would have done it.

The honest man had been so used to serve himself that the page was
always in the way; but his merry leaves came to his aid; and, to the
great surprise of his grandmother, Tinseltoes took to the new service in
a wonderful way. Some said it was because Spare gave him nothing to do
but play at bowls all day on the palace green. Yet one thing vexed the
heart of Tinseltoes, and that was his master's leathern doublet. But for
it, he was sure people would never remember that Spare had been a
cobbler; and the page took a deal of pains to let him see how much out
of the fashion it was at the Court. But Spare answered Tinseltoes as he
had done the King; and at last, finding nothing better would do, the
page got up one fine morning earlier than his master, and tossed the
leathern doublet out of the back window into a lane, where Spy found it
and brought it to his mother.

"That nasty thing!" said the old woman. "Where is the good in it?"

By this time, Pounce had taken everything of value from Scrub and
Fairfeather--the looking-glass, the silver-rimmed horn, the husband's
scarlet coat, the wife's gay cloak, and, above all, the golden leaves,
which so gladdened the hearts of old Buttertongue and her sons, that
they threw the leathern doublet over the sleeping cobbler for a joke,
and went off to their hut in the middle of the forest.

The sun was going down when Scrub and Fairfeather awoke from dreaming
that they had been made a lord and a lady, and sat clothed in silk and
velvet, feasting with the King in his palace hall. They were greatly
disappointed to find their golden leaves and all their best things gone.
Scrub tore his hair, and vowed to take the old woman's life, while
Fairfeather uttered loud cries of sorrow. But Scrub, feeling cold for
want of his coat, put on the leathern doublet without asking or caring
whence it came.

Hardly was it buttoned on when a change came over him. He began to talk
so merrily, that, instead of crying, Fairfeather made the wood ring with
laughter. Both busied themselves in getting up a hut of branches, in
which Scrub kindled a fire with a flint and steel, which, together with
his pipe, he had brought unknown to Fairfeather, who had told him the
like was never heard of at the Court. Then they found a pheasant's nest
at the root of an old oak, made a meal of roasted eggs, and went to
sleep on a heap of long green grass which they had gathered, with
nightingales singing all night long in the old trees about them.

So it happened that Scrub and Fairfeather stayed day after day in the
forest, making their hut larger and more cosy against the winter,
living on wild birds' eggs, and berries, and never thinking of their
lost golden leaves, or their journey to the Court.

In the meantime Spare had got up and missed his doublet. Tinseltoes, of
course, said he knew nothing about it. The whole palace was searched,
and every servant questioned, till all the Court wondered why such a
fuss was made about an old leathern doublet. That very day, things came
back to their old fashion. Quarrels began among the lords, and envies
among the ladies. The King said his people did not pay him half enough
taxes, the Queen wanted more jewels, the servants took to their old
quarrels and got up some new ones.

Spare found himself getting strangely dull, and very much out of place.
Nobles began to ask what business a cobbler had at the King's table, and
His Majesty ordered the palace records to be searched to find out if
such a thing had ever taken place before. The cobbler was too wise to
tell all he had lost with that doublet; but as by this time he knew the
Court customs, he offered a reward of fifty gold pieces to anyone who
would bring him news about it.

Scarcely was this made known in the city, when the gates and outer
courts of the palace were filled by men, women, and children--some
bringing leathern doublets of every cut and colour, some with tales of
what they had heard and seen in their walks round about the palace. So
much news about all sorts of great people came out of these stories,
that lords and ladies ran to complain of Spare as one who spoke against
people. His Majesty, being now sure that there was no example in all the
palace records of such a retainer, sent forth a decree sending the
cobbler away for ever from the Court, and giving all his goods to the
page Tinseltoes.

That royal decree was hardly issued before the page had taken for
himself Spare's rich room, his costly garments, and all the presents the
people at Court had given him. While Spare, having no longer the fifty
pieces of gold to give, was glad to make his escape out of a back
window, for fear of the nobles, who vowed to have revenge on him, and
the crowd, who were ready to stone him for cheating them about his

The window from which Spare let himself down with a strong rope, was
that from which Tinseltoes had tossed the doublet; and as the cobbler
came down late in the twilight, a poor woodman, with a heavy load of
fagots, stopped and stared at him in great surprise.

"What is the matter, friend?" asked Spare. "Did you never see a man
coming down from a back window before?"

"Why," said the woodman, "the last morning I passed here, a leathern
doublet came out of that very window, and I feel sure you are the owner
of it."

"That I am, friend," said the cobbler eagerly. "Can you tell me which
way that doublet went?"

"As I walked on," said the woodman, "a dwarf, called Spy, bundled it up
and ran off to his mother in the forest."

"Honest friend," said Spare, taking off the last of his fine clothes (a
grass-green cloak edged with gold), "I will give you this if you will
follow the dwarf and bring me back my doublet."

"It would not be good to carry fagots in," said the woodman. "But if you
want back your doublet, the road to the forest lies at the end of this
lane;" and he trudged away.

Having made up his mind to find his doublet, and sure that neither crowd
nor nobles could catch him in the forest, Spare went on his way, and was
soon among the tall trees; but neither hut nor dwarf could he see.
Moreover, the night came on; the wood was dark and thick, but here and
there the moon shone through its lanes, the great owls flitted about,
and the nightingales sang. So he went on, hoping to find some place of

At last the red light of a fire, shining through a thicket, led him to
the door of a low hut. It stood half open, as if there was nothing to
fear, and within he saw his brother Scrub snoring loudly on a bed of
grass, at the foot of which lay his own leathern doublet; while
Fairfeather, in a dress made of plaited rushes, sat roasting pheasants'
eggs by the fire.

"Good evening, mistress!" said Spare, stepping in.

The blaze shone on him, but so changed was her brother-in-law with his
Court life, that Fairfeather did not know him, and she answered far more
kindly than was her wont.

"Good evening, master! Whence come you so late? but speak low, for my
good man has tired himself cutting wood, and is taking a sleep, as you
see, before supper."

"A good rest to him!" said Spare, seeing he was not known. "I come from
the Court for a day's hunting, and have lost my way in the forest."

"Sit down and have a share of our supper," said Fairfeather, "I will put
some more eggs in the ashes; and tell me the news of Court--I used to
think of it long ago when I was young and foolish."

"Did you never go there?" said the cobbler. "So fair a dame as you would
make the ladies wonder."

"You are pleased to flatter," said Fairfeather; "but my husband has a
brother there, and we left our moorland village to try our fortune also.
An old woman at the entrance to this forest, by means of fair words, got
us to take some strong drink, which caused us to fall asleep and dream
of great things. But when we woke, everything had been robbed from
us--my looking-glass, my scarlet cloak, my husband's Sunday coat; and,
in place of all, the robbers left him that old doublet, which he has
worn ever since, and he never was so merry in all his life, though we
live in this poor hut."

"It is a shabby doublet, that," said Spare, taking up the garment, and
seeing that it was his own, for the merry leaves were still sewed in its
lining. "It would be good for hunting in, however--your husband would be
glad to part with it, I dare say, in exchange for this handsome cloak;"
and he pulled off the green mantle and buttoned on the doublet, much to
Fairfeather's delight, who ran and shook Scrub, crying: "Husband,
husband, rise and see what a good bargain I have made!"

Scrub gave one last snore, and muttered something about the root being
hard. But he rubbed his eyes, gazed up at his brother and said:

"Spare, is that really you? How did you like the Court, and have you
made your fortune?"

"That I have, brother," said Spare, "in getting back my own good
leathern doublet. Come, let us eat eggs, and rest ourselves here this
night. In the morning we will return to our own old hut, at the end of
the moorland village, where the Christmas Cuckoo will come and bring us

Scrub and Fairfeather agreed. So in the morning they all returned, and
found the old hut little the worse for wear and weather. The people of
the village came about them to ask the news of Court, and see if they
had made their fortune. Everybody was surprised to find the three poorer
than ever, but somehow they liked to go to the hut. Spare brought out
the lasts and awls he had hidden in the corner. Scrub and he began their
old trade again, and the whole north country found out that there never
were such cobblers.

They mended the shoes of lords and ladies as well as the common people;
everybody was well pleased with the work. Their trade grew greater from
day to day, and all that were discontented or unlucky came to the hut as
in old times, before Spare went to the Court.

The rich brought them presents, the poor did them service. The hut
itself changed, no one knew how. Flowering honeysuckle grew over its
roof; red and white roses grew thick about its door. Moreover, the
Christmas Cuckoo always came on the first of April, bringing three
leaves of the merry tree--for Scrub and Fairfeather would have no more
golden ones. So it was with them when I last heard the news of the north



On the evening of the next day King Winwealth again fell into low
spirits, and gave orders that Snowflower and her wonderful chair should
be brought to the highest hall. When Snowflower came, she at once laid
down her head on the chair, saying: "Chair of my grandmother, tell me a

"Listen," said the clear voice from under the cushion, "to the story of
Lady Greensleeves."

Once upon a time there lived two noble lords in the east country. Their
lands lay between a broad river and an old oak forest. In the midst of
his land each lord had a stately castle; one was built of white
freestone, the other of grey granite. So the one was called Lord of the
White Castle, and the other Lord of the Grey.

No lords in all the east country were so noble and kind as they. Their
people lived in peace and plenty; all strangers were well treated at
their castles. Every autumn they sent men with axes into the forest to
hew down the great trees, and chop them into firewood for the poor.
Neither hedge nor ditch divided their lands, but these lords never had a
quarrel. They had been friends from their youth. Their ladies had died
long ago, but the Lord of the Grey Castle had a little son, and the Lord
of the White a little daughter; and when they feasted in each other's
halls it was their custom to say, "When our children grow up they will
marry, and have our castles and our lands, and keep our friendship in

So the lords and their little children, and their people, lived happily
till one Michaelmas night, as they were all feasting in the hall of the
White Castle, there came a traveller to the gate, who was welcomed and
feasted as usual. He had seen many strange sights and countries, and he
liked to tell of his travels. The lords were delighted with his tales
as they sat round the fire after supper, and at length the Lord of the
White Castle, who was always very eager to know all he could about new
countries, said:

"Good stranger, what was the greatest wonder you ever saw in all your

"The most wonderful sight that ever I saw," replied the traveller, "was
at the end of yonder forest, where in an old wooden house there sits an
old woman weaving her own hair into grey cloth on an old worn-out loom.
When she wants more yarn she cuts off her own grey hair, and it grows so
quickly that though I saw it cut in the morning, it was out of the door
before noon. She told me she wished to sell the cloth, but none of all
who came that way had yet bought any, she asked so great a price. And,
if the way were not so long and dangerous through that wide forest,
which is full of bears and wolves, some rich lord like you might buy it
for a cloak."

All who heard this story were greatly surprised; but when the traveller
had gone on his way, the Lord of the White Castle could neither eat nor
sleep for wishing to see the old woman that wove her own hair. At length
he made up his mind to go through the forest in search of her old house,
and told the Lord of the Grey Castle what he had made up his mind to do.
Being a wise man, this lord replied that travellers' tales were not
always to be trusted, and tried hard to advise him against undertaking
such a long and dangerous journey, for few that went far into that
forest ever returned.

However, when the curious lord would go in spite of all he said, he
vowed to go with him for friendship's sake, and they agreed to set out
without letting anyone know, lest the other lords of the land might
laugh at them. The Lord of the White Castle had a steward who had served
him many years, and his name was Reckoning Robin. To him he said:

"I am going on a journey with my friend. Be careful of my goods, deal
justly with my people, and above all things be kind to my little
daughter Loveleaves till my return."

The steward answered: "Be sure, my lord, I will."

The Lord of the Grey Castle also had a steward who had served him many
years, and his name was Wary Will. To him he said:

"I am going on a journey with my friend. Be careful of my goods, deal
justly with my people, and above all be kind to my little son Woodwender
till my return."

His steward answered him: "Be sure, my lord, I will."

So these lords kissed their children while they slept, and set out each
with his staff and cloak before sunrise through the old oak forest.

The children missed their fathers, and the people missed their lords.
None but the stewards could tell what had become of them; but seven
months wore away, and they did not come back. The lords had thought
their stewards faithful, because they served so well under their eyes;
but instead of that, both were proud and cunning, and thinking that some
evil had happened to their masters, they set themselves to be lords in
their places.

Reckoning Robin had a son called Hardhold, and Wary Will a daughter
named Drypenny. There was not a sulkier girl or boy in the country, but
their fathers made up their minds to make a young lord and a young lady
of them; so they took the silk clothes which Woodwender and Loveleaves
used to wear, to dress them, putting on the lords' children their coarse
clothes. Their toys were given to Hardhold and Drypenny; and at last the
stewards' children sat at the chief tables, and slept in the best rooms,
while Woodwender and Loveleaves were sent to herd the swine, and sleep
on straw in the granary.

The poor children had no one to take their part. Every morning at
sunrise they were sent out--each with a barley loaf and a bottle of sour
milk, which was to serve them for breakfast, dinner, and supper--to
watch a great herd of swine on a wide field near the forest. The grass
was scanty, and the swine were always straying into the wood in search
of acorns. The children knew that if they were lost the wicked stewards
would punish them; and between gathering and keeping their herds in
order, they were readier to sleep on the granary straw at night than
ever they had been within their own silken curtains.

Still, Woodwender and Loveleaves were a great help and comfort to each
other, saying their fathers would come back or God would send them some
friends. So, in spite of swine-herding and hard living, they looked as
cheerful and handsome as ever; while Hardhold and Drypenny grew crosser
and uglier every day, notwithstanding their fine clothes.

The false stewards did not like this. They thought their children ought
to look genteel, and Woodwender and Loveleaves like young swineherds. So
they sent them to a wilder field, still nearer the forest, and gave them
two great black hogs, more unruly than all the rest, to keep. One of
these hogs belonged to Hardhold, and the other to Drypenny. Every
evening when they came home the stewards' children used to come down
and feed them, and it was their delight to reckon up what price they
would bring when properly fattened.

One very hot day, about midsummer, Woodwender and Loveleaves sat down in
the shadow of a mossy rock. The swine grazed about them more quietly
than usual; and the children plaited rushes and talked to each other,
till, as the sun was sloping down the sky, Woodwender saw that the two
great hogs were missing.

Thinking they must have gone to the forest, the children ran to search
for them. They heard the thrush singing and the wood-doves calling; they
saw the squirrels leaping from branch to branch, and the deer bounding
by. But though they searched for hours, no trace of the hogs could be

Loveleaves and Woodwender dared not go home without them. Deeper and
deeper they ran into the forest, searching and calling, but all in vain.
And when the woods began to darken with the fall of evening, the
children feared they had lost their way.

It was known that they never feared the forest, nor all the boars and
wolves that were in it. But being weary, they wished for some place of
shelter, and took a green path through the trees, thinking it might lead
to the dwelling of some hermit or forester.

A fairer way Woodwender and Loveleaves had never walked. The grass was
soft and mossy, a hedge of wild roses and honeysuckle grew on either
side, and the red light of the sunset streamed through the tall trees
above. On they went, and it led them straight to a great open dell,
covered with the most lovely flowers, bordered with banks of wild
strawberries, and all overshadowed by a huge oak, the like of which had
never been seen in grove or forest. Its branches were as large as
full-grown trees. Its trunk was wider than a country church, and its
height like that of a castle.

There were mossy seats at its great root, and when the tired children
had gathered as many strawberries as they cared for, they sat down on
one, close by a small spring that bubbled up as clear as crystal. The
mighty oak was covered with thick ivy, in which thousands of birds had
their nests. Woodwender and Loveleaves watched them flying home from all
parts of the forest, and at last they saw a lady coming by the same path
which led them to the dell. She wore a gown of a red colour; her yellow
hair was braided and bound with a red band. In her right hand she
carried a holly branch; but the strangest part of her dress was a pair
of long sleeves, as green as the very grass.

"Who are you," she said, "that sit so late beside my well?"

And the children told her their story, how they had first lost the hogs,
and then their way, and were afraid to go home to the wicked stewards.

"Well," said the lady, "you are the fairest swineherds that ever came
this way. Choose whether you will go home and keep hogs for Hardhold and
Drypenny, or live in the free forest with me."

"We will stay with you," said the children, "for we do not like keeping
swine. Besides, our fathers went through this forest, and we may meet
them some day coming home."

While they spoke, the lady slipped her holly branch through the ivy, as
if it had been a key,--soon a door opened in the oak, and there was a
fair house. The windows were of rock crystal, but they could not be seen
from without. The walls and floors were covered with thick green moss,
as soft as velvet. There were low seats and a round table, vessels of
carved wood, a hearth inlaid with strange stones, an oven, and a
storeroom for food against the winter.

When they stepped in, the lady said: "A hundred years have I lived here,
and my name is Lady Greensleeves. No friend or servant have I except my
dwarf Corner, who comes to me at the end of harvest with his handmill,
his basket, and his axe. With these he grinds the nuts, and gathers the
berries, and splits the firewood; and cheerily we live all the winter.
But Corner loves the frost and fears the sun; and when the topmost
branches begin to bud, he returns to his country far in the north, so I
am lonely in the summertime."

By these words the children saw how welcome they were. Lady Greensleeves
gave them deer's milk and cakes of nut-flour, and soft green moss to
sleep on. And they forgot all their troubles, the wicked stewards, and
the straying swine.

Early in the morning a troop of does came to be milked, fairies brought
flowers, and birds brought berries, to show Lady Greensleeves what had
bloomed and ripened. She taught the children to make cheese of the does'
milk, and wine of the woodberries. She showed them the stores of honey
which wild bees had made, and left in the hollow trees, the rarest
plants of the forest, and the herbs that made all the creatures tame.

All that summer Woodwender and Loveleaves lived with her in the great
oak tree, free from toil and care. The children would have been happy,
but they could hear no news of their fathers. At last the leaves began
to fade, and the flowers to fall. Lady Greensleeves said that Corner was
coming. One moonlight night she heaped sticks on the fire, and set her
door open, when Woodwender and Loveleaves were going to sleep, saying
she expected some friends to tell her the news of the forest.

Loveleaves was not quite so curious as her father, the Lord of the White
Castle, but she kept awake to see what would happen, and very much
afraid the little girl was when in walked a great brown bear.

"Good evening, lady!" said the bear.

"Good evening, bear!" said Lady Greensleeves. "What is the news in your
part of the forest?"

"Not much," said the bear; "only the fawns are growing very cunning--one
can't catch above three in a day."

"That's bad news," said Lady Greensleeves; and at once in walked a great
wild cat.

"Good evening, lady!" said the cat.

"Good evening, cat!" said Lady Greensleeves. "What is the news in your
part of the forest?"

"Not much," said the cat; "only the birds are growing very plentiful--it
is not worth one's while to catch them."

"That's good news," said Lady Greensleeves; and in flew a great black

"Good evening, lady!" said the raven.

"Good evening, raven!" said Lady Greensleeves. "What is the news in your
part of the forest?"

"Not much," said the raven; "only in a hundred years or so we shall be
very genteel and private, the trees will be so thick."

"How is that?" said Lady Greensleeves.

"Oh!" said the raven, "have you not heard how the king of the forest
fairies laid a spell on two lords, who were travelling through his
kingdom to see the old woman that weaves her own hair? They had thinned
his oaks every year, cutting firewood for the poor. So the king met them
in the likeness of a hunter, and asked them to drink out of his oaken
goblet, because the day was warm. When the two lords drank, they
forgot their lands and their people, their castles and their children,
and minded nothing in all the world but the planting of acorns, which
they do day and night, by the power of the spell, in the heart of the
forest. They will never stop till someone makes them pause in their work
before the sun sets, and then the spell will be broken."


_See page 61_]

"Ah!" said Lady Greensleeves, "he is a great prince, that king of the
forest fairies; and there is worse work in the world than planting

Soon after, the bear, the cat, and the raven bade Lady Greensleeves good
night. She closed the door, put out the light, and went to sleep on the
soft moss as usual.

In the morning Loveleaves told Woodwender what she had heard, and they
went to Lady Greensleeves where she milked the does, and said:

"We heard what the raven told you last night, and we know the two lords
are our fathers. Tell us how the spell may be broken."

"I fear the king of the forest fairies," said Lady Greensleeves,
"because I live here alone, and have no friend but my dwarf Corner. But
I will tell you what you may do. At the end of the path which leads from
this dell turn your faces to the north, and you will find a narrow way
sprinkled over with black feathers. Keep that path, no matter how it
winds, and it will lead you straight to that part of the forest in which
the ravens dwell. There you will find your fathers planting acorns under
the forest trees. Watch till the sun is near setting, and tell them the
most wonderful things you know to make them forget their work. But be
sure to tell nothing but truth, and drink nothing but running water, or
you will fall into the power of the fairy king."

The children thanked her for this good advice. She packed up cakes and
cheese for them in a bag of woven grass, and they soon found the narrow
way sprinkled over with black feathers. It was very long, and wound
through the thick trees in so many circles that the children were often
weary, and sat down to rest. When the night came, they found a mossy
hollow in the trunk of an old tree, where they laid themselves down, and
slept all the summer night--for Woodwender and Loveleaves never feared
the forest.

So they went, eating their cakes and cheese when they were hungry,
drinking from the running stream, and sleeping in the hollow trees, till
on the evening of the seventh day they came into that part of the forest
where the ravens lived. The tall trees were laden with nests and black
with ravens. There was nothing to be heard but cawing.

In a great opening where the oaks grew thinnest, the children saw their
own fathers busy planting acorns. Each lord had on the velvet cloak in
which he left his castle, but it was worn to rags with rough work in the
forest. Their hair and beards had grown long; their hands were soiled
with earth; each had an old wooden spade, and on all sides lay heaps of

The children called their names, and ran to kiss them, each saying:
"Dear father, come back to your castle and your people."

But the lords replied: "We know of no castles and no people. There is
nothing in all this world but oak leaves and acorns."

Woodwender and Loveleaves told them of all their former state in vain.
Nothing would make them pause for a minute. So the poor children first
sat down and cried, and then slept on the cold grass, for the sun set,
and the lords worked on.

When they awoke it was broad day. Woodwender cheered up Loveleaves,
saying: "We are hungry, and there are two cakes in the bag, let us share
one of them--who knows but something may happen."

So they divided the cake, and ran to the lords, saying: "Dear fathers,
eat with us."

But the lords said: "There is no use for meat or drink. Let us plant our

Loveleaves and Woodwender sat down, and ate that cake in great sorrow.
When they had finished, both went to a stream that ran close by, and
began to drink the clear water with a large acorn shell. And as they
drank there came through the oaks a gay young hunter, his mantle was
green as the grass; about his neck there hung a crystal bugle, and in
his hand he carried a huge oaken goblet, carved with flowers and leaves,
and rimmed with crystal.

Up to the brim the cup was filled with milk, on which the rich cream
floated. And as the hunter came near, he said: "Fair children, leave
that muddy water, and come and drink with me."

But Woodwender and Loveleaves answered: "Thanks, good hunter, but we
have promised to drink nothing but running water."

Still the hunter came nearer with his goblet, saying: "The water is
dirty; it may do for swineherds and woodcutters, but not for such fair
children as you. Tell me, are you not the children of mighty kings? Were
you not brought up in palaces?"

But the boy and girl answered him: "No: we were brought up in castles,
and are the children of yonder lords. Tell us how the spell that is upon
them may be broken."

At once the hunter turned from them with an angry look, poured out the
milk upon the ground, and went away with his empty goblet.

Loveleaves and Woodwender were sorry to see the rich cream spilled, but
they remembered the warning of Lady Greensleeves; and seeing they could
do no better, each got a withered branch and began to help the lords,
scratching up the ground with the sharp end, and planting acorns. But
their fathers took no notice of them, nor of all that they could say.
When the sun grew warm at noon, they went again to drink at the running

Then through the oaks came another hunter, older than the first, and
clothed in yellow. About his neck there hung a silver bugle, and in his
hand he carried an oaken goblet, carved with leaves and fruit, rimmed
with silver, and filled with mead to the brim. This hunter also asked
them to drink, told them the stream was full of frogs, and asked them if
they were not a young prince and princess dwelling in the woods for
their pleasure.

But when Woodwender and Loveleaves answered as before: "We have
promised to drink only running water, and are the children of yonder
lords; tell us how the spell may be broken," he turned from them with an
angry look, poured out the mead, and went his way.

All that afternoon the children worked beside their fathers, planting
acorns with the withered branches. But the lords would mind neither them
nor their words. And when the evening drew near they were very hungry.
So the children divided their last cake; and since they could not make
the lords eat with them, they went to the banks of the stream, and began
to eat and drink, though their hearts were very heavy.

The sun was getting low, and the ravens were coming home to their nests
in the high trees. But one, that seemed old and weary, alighted near
them to drink at the stream. As they ate, the raven lingered, and picked
up the small crumbs that fell.

"Brother," said Loveleaves, "this raven is surely hungry. Let us give it
a little bit, though it is our last cake."

Woodwender agreed, and each gave a bit to the raven. But its great bill
finished the morsels in a moment, and hopping nearer, it looked them in
the face by turns.

"The poor raven is still hungry," said Woodwender, and he gave it
another bit. When that was gobbled, it came to Loveleaves, who gave it a
bit too, and so on till the raven had eaten the whole of their last

"Well," said Woodwender, "at least we can have a drink."

But as they stooped to the water, there came through the oaks another
hunter, older than the last, and clothed in scarlet. About his neck
there hung a golden bugle, and in his hand he carried a huge oaken
goblet, carved with ears of corn and clusters of grapes, rimmed with
gold, and filled to the brim with wine.

He also said: "Leave this muddy water, and drink with me. It is full of
toads, and not fit for such fair children. Surely you are from
fairyland, and were brought up in its queen's palace!"

But the children said: "We will drink nothing but this water, and yonder
lords are our fathers. Tell us how the spell may be broken."

And the hunter turned from them with an angry look, poured out the wine
on the grass, and went his way.

When he was gone, the old raven looked up into their faces, and said: "I
have eaten your last cake, and I will tell you how the spell may be
broken. Yonder is the sun, going down behind the western trees. Before
it sets, go to the lords, and tell them how their stewards used you, and
made you herd hogs for Hardhold and Drypenny. When you see them
listening, catch up their wooden spades, and keep them if you can till
the sun goes down."

Woodwender and Loveleaves thanked the raven, and where it flew they
never stopped to see, but running to the lords began to tell as they
were bidden. At first the lords would not listen; but as the children
told how they had been made to sleep on straw, how they had been sent to
herd hogs in the wild pasture, and what trouble they had with the
unruly swine, the acorn planting grew slower, and at last the lords
dropped their spades.

Then Woodwender, catching up his father's spade, ran to the stream and
threw it in. Loveleaves did the same for the Lord of the White Castle.
That moment the sun went down behind the western oaks, and the lords
stood up, looking, like men just awakened, on the forest, on the sky,
and on their children.

So this strange story has ended, for Woodwender and Loveleaves went home
rejoicing with their fathers. Each lord returned to his castle, and all
their people were merry. The fine toys and the silk clothes, the flower
gardens and the best rooms, were taken from Hardhold and Drypenny, and
the lords' children got them again. And the wicked stewards, with their
cross boy and girl, were sent to herd swine, and live in huts in the
wild pasture, which everybody said became them better.

The Lord of the White Castle never again wished to see the old woman
that wove her own hair, and the Lord of the Grey Castle continued to be
his friend. As for Woodwender and Loveleaves, they met with no more
misfortunes, but grew up, and were married, and got the two castles and
broad lands of their fathers. Nor did they forget the lonely Lady
Greensleeves, for it was known in the east country that she and her
dwarf Corner always came to feast with them in the Christmas time, and
at midsummer they always went to live with her in the great oak in the



Another evening King Winwealth fell into low spirits, and sent down a
message for Snowflower to come to the highest hall. So the little girl
went up with her grandmother's chair, upon which she laid down her head,
saying: "Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story." The clear voice from
under the cushion said: "Listen to the story of Childe Charity."

Once upon a time, there lived in the west country a little girl who had
neither father nor mother. They both died when she was very young, and
left their daughter to the care of her uncle, who was the richest farmer
in all that country. He had houses and lands, flocks and herds, many
servants to work about his house and fields, a wife who had brought him
a great dowry, and two fair daughters.

All their neighbours, being poor, looked up to the family--insomuch that
they thought themselves great people. The father and mother were as
proud as peacocks. The daughters thought themselves the greatest
beauties in the world, and not one of the family would speak civilly to
anybody they thought low.

Now it happened that though she was their near relation, they had this
opinion of the orphan girl, partly because she had no fortune, and
partly because of her humble, kindly nature. It was said that the more
needy any creature was, the more ready was she to befriend it. So the
people of the west country called her Childe Charity, and if she had any
other name, I never heard it.

Childe Charity was thought very mean in that proud house. Her uncle
would not own her for his niece. Her cousins would not keep her company.
Her aunt sent her to work in the dairy, and to sleep in the back garret,
where they kept all sorts of lumber and dry herbs for the winter.

All the servants learned the same lesson, and Childe Charity had more
work than rest among them. All the day she scoured pails, scrubbed
dishes, and washed crockery ware. But every night she slept in the back
garret as sound as a princess could in her palace.

Her uncle's house was large and white, and stood among green meadows by
a river's side. In front it had a porch covered with a vine; behind, it
had a farmyard and high granaries. Within were two parlours for the
rich, and two kitchens for the poor, which the neighbours thought very
grand; and one day in the harvest season, when this rich farmer's corn
had been all cut down and housed, he invited them to a harvest supper.

The west-country people came in their holiday clothes. Such heaps of
cakes and cheese, such baskets of apples and barrels of ale had never
been at a feast before. They were making merry in kitchen and parlour,
when a poor old woman came to the back door, begging for scraps of food
and a night's lodging. Her clothes were coarse and ragged; her hair was
scanty and grey; her back was bent; her teeth were gone. She had a
squinting eye, a clubbed foot, and crooked fingers. In short, she was
the poorest and ugliest old woman that ever came begging.

The first who saw her was the kitchen maid, and she ordered her to be
gone for an ugly witch. The next was the herd-boy, and he threw her a
bone. But Childe Charity, hearing the noise, came out from her seat at
the foot of the lowest table, and asked the old woman to take her share
of the supper, and sleep that night in her bed in the back garret.

The old woman sat down without a word of thanks. All the people laughed
at Childe Charity for giving her bed and her supper to a beggar. Her
proud cousins said it was just like her mean spirit, but Childe Charity
did not mind them. She scraped the pots for her supper that night, and
slept on a sack among the lumber, while the old woman rested in her warm
bed. And next morning, before the little girl awoke, she was up and
gone, without so much as saying thank you, or good morning.

That day all the servants were sick after the feast, and mostly cross
too--so you may judge how civil they were; when, at supper time, who
should come to the back door but the old woman, again asking for broken
scraps of food and a night's lodging. No one would listen to her or give
her a morsel, till Childe Charity rose from her seat at the foot of the
lowest table, and kindly asked her to take her supper, and sleep in her
bed in the back garret.

Again the old woman sat down without a word. Childe Charity scraped the
pots for her supper, and slept on the sack. In the morning the old woman
was gone; but for six nights after, as sure as the supper was spread,
there was she at the back door, and the little girl always asked her in.

Childe Charity's aunt said she would let her get enough of beggars. Her
cousins made game of what they called her genteel visitor. Sometimes the
old woman said: "Child, why don't you make this bed softer? and why are
your blankets so thin?" but she never gave her a word of thanks, nor
a civil good morning.


_See page 84_]

At last, on the ninth night from her first coming, when Childe Charity
was getting used to scrape the pots and sleep on the sack, her knock
came to the door, and there she stood with an ugly ashy-coloured dog, so
stupid-looking and clumsy that no herd-boy would keep him.

"Good evening, my little girl!" she said, when Childe Charity opened the
door. "I will not have your supper and bed to-night. I am going on a
long journey to see a friend. But here is a dog of mine, whom nobody in
all the west country will keep for me. He is a little cross, and not
very handsome; but I leave him to your care till the shortest day in all
the year. Then you and I will count for his keeping."

When the old woman had said the last word, she set off with such speed
that Childe Charity lost sight of her in a minute. The ugly dog began to
fawn upon her, but he snarled at everybody else. The servants said he
was a disgrace to the house. The cousins wanted him drowned, and it was
with great trouble that Childe Charity got leave to keep him in an old
ruined cow-house.

Ugly and cross as the dog was, he fawned on her, and the old woman had
left him to her care. So the little girl gave him part of all her meals;
and when the hard frost came, took him to her own back garret, because
the cow-house was damp and cold in the long nights. The dog lay quietly
on some straw in a corner. Childe Charity slept soundly, but every
morning the servants would say to her:

"What great light and fine talking was that in your back garret?"

"There was no light but the moon shining in through the shutterless
window, and no talk that I heard," said Childe Charity; and she thought
they must have been dreaming.

But night after night, when any of them awoke in the dark and silent
hour that comes before the morning, they saw a light brighter and
clearer than the Christmas fire, and heard voices like those of lords
and ladies in the back garret.

Partly from fear, and partly from laziness, none of the servants would
rise to see what might be there; till at length, when the winter nights
were at the longest, the little parlour maid, who did least work and got
most favour, because she gathered news for her mistress, crept out of
bed when all the rest were sleeping, and set herself to watch at a small
hole in the door.

She saw the dog lying quietly in the corner, Childe Charity sleeping
soundly in her bed, and the moon shining through the shutterless window.
But an hour before daybreak there came a glare of lights, and a sound of
far-off bugles. The window opened, and in marched a troop of little men
clothed in crimson and gold, and bearing every man a torch, till the
room looked bright as day.

They marched up with great respect to the dog, where he lay on the
straw, and the most richly clothed among them said: "Royal Prince, we
have prepared the banquet hall. What will your Highness please that we
do next?"

"You have done well," said the dog. "Now prepare the feast, and see that
all things are in the best order; for the Princess and I mean to bring a
stranger who never feasted in our halls before."

"Your Highness's commands shall be obeyed," said the little man, making
another bow; and he and his company passed out of the window. By and by
there was another glare of lights, and a sound like far-off flutes. The
window opened, and there came in a company of little ladies clad in
velvet, and carrying each a crystal lamp.

They also walked up to the dog, and the gayest one said: "Royal Prince,
we have prepared the carpets and curtains. What will your Highness
please that we do next?"

"You have done well," said the dog. "Now prepare the robes, and let all
things be of the best; for the Princess and I will bring with us a
stranger who never feasted in our halls before."

"Your Highness's commands shall be obeyed," said the little lady, making
a low curtsy; and she and her company passed out through the window,
which closed quietly behind them.

The dog stretched himself out upon the straw, the little girl turned in
her sleep, and the moon shone in on the back garret. The parlour maid
was so much amazed, and so eager to tell this story to her mistress,
that she could not close her eyes that night, and was up before
cock-crow. But when she told it, her mistress called her a silly wench
to have such foolish dreams, and scolded her so that she did not dare to
speak about what she had seen to the servants.

Nevertheless Childe Charity's aunt thought there might be something in
it worth knowing. So next night, when all the house were asleep, she
crept out of bed, and set herself to watch at the back garret door.
There she saw just what the maid told her--the little men with the
torches, and the little ladies with the crystal lamps, come in to the
dog, and the same words pass, only he said to the one, "Now prepare the
presents," and to the other, "Prepare the jewels." When they were gone,
the dog stretched himself on the straw, Childe Charity turned in her
sleep, and the moon shone in on the back garret.

The mistress could not close her eyes any more than the maid, so eager
was she to tell the story. She woke up Childe Charity's rich uncle
before cock-crow. But when he heard it, he laughed at her for a foolish
woman, and advised her not to repeat the like before her neighbours,
lest they should think she had lost her senses.

The mistress could say no more, and the day passed. But that night the
master thought he would like to see what went on in the garret. So when
all the house were asleep he slipped out of bed, and set himself to
watch at the hole in the door. The same thing happened again that the
maid and the mistress saw. The little men in crimson with their torches,
and the little ladies in rose-coloured velvet with their lamps, came in
at the window and bowed low to the dog, the one saying, "Royal Prince,
we have prepared the presents," and the other, "Royal Prince, we have
prepared the jewels."

The dog said to them all: "You have done well. To-morrow, come and meet
me and the Princess with horses and chariots, and let all things be done
in the best way. For we will bring a stranger from this house who has
never travelled with us, nor feasted in our halls before."

The little men and the little ladies said: "Your Highness's commands
shall be obeyed."

When they had gone out through the window, the ugly dog stretched
himself out on the straw, Childe Charity turned in her sleep, and the
moon shone in on the back garret.

The master could not close his eyes any more than the maid or the
mistress. He remembered to have heard his grandfather say, that
somewhere near his meadows there lay a path leading to the fairies'
country, and the haymakers used to see it shining through the grey
summer morning, as the fairy bands went home.

Nobody had heard or seen the like for many years; but the master thought
that the doings in his back garret must be a fairy business, and the
ugly dog a person of great account. His chief wonder was, however, what
visitor the fairies intended to take from his house; and after thinking
the matter over, he was sure it must be one of his daughters--they were
so handsome, and had such fine clothes.

So Childe Charity's rich uncle made it his first business that morning
to get ready a breakfast of roast mutton for the ugly dog, and carry it
to him in the cow-house. But not a morsel would the dog taste.

"The fairies have strange ways," said the master to himself. But he
called his daughters and bade them dress themselves in their best, for
he could not say which of them might be called into great company before
nightfall. Childe Charity's cousins, hearing this, put on the richest of
their silks and laces, and strutted like peacocks from kitchen to
parlour all day.

They were in very bad humour when night fell, and nobody had come. But
just as the family were sitting down to supper the ugly dog began to
bark, and the old woman's knock was heard at the back door.

Childe Charity opened it, and was going to offer her bed and supper as
usual, when the old woman said: "This is the shortest day in all the
year, and I am going home to hold a feast after my travels. I see you
have taken good care of my dog, and now if you will come with me to my
house, he and I will do our best to entertain you. Here is our company."

As the old woman spoke there was a sound of far-off flutes and bugles,
then a glare of lights. And a great company, clad so grandly that they
shone with gold and jewels, came in open chariots, covered with gilding
and drawn by snow-white horses. The first and finest of the chariots was
empty. The old woman led Childe Charity to it by the hand, and the ugly
dog jumped in before her.

The proud cousins, in all their finery, had by this time come to the
door, but nobody wanted them. No sooner was the old woman and her dog
within the chariot than a wonderful change passed over them, for the
ugly old woman turned at once to a beautiful young princess, with long
yellow curls and a robe of green and gold; while the ugly dog at her
side started up a fair young prince, with nut-brown hair and a robe of
purple and silver.

"We are," said they, as the chariots drove on, "a prince and princess of
Fairyland, and there was a wager between us whether or not there were
good people still to be found in these false and greedy times. One said
'Yes', and the other said 'No'."

"And I have lost," said the Prince, "and must pay the feast and

Childe Charity never heard any more of that story. Some of the farmer's
household, who were looking after them, said the chariots had gone one
way across the meadows, some said they had gone another, and till this
day they cannot agree upon the way they went.

But Childe Charity went with that noble company into a country such as
she had never seen--for primroses covered all the ground, and the light
was always like that of a summer evening. They took her to a royal
palace, where there was nothing but feasting and dancing for seven days.
She had robes of pale green and velvet to wear, and slept in a room
inlaid with ivory.

When the feast was done, the Prince and Princess gave her such heaps of
gold and jewels that she could not carry them; but they gave her a
chariot to go home in, drawn by six white horses. On the seventh night,
which happened to be Christmas time, when the farmer's family had
settled in their own minds that she would never come back, and were
sitting down to supper, they heard the sound of her coachman's bugle,
and saw her alight with all the jewels and gold at the very back door
where she had brought in the ugly old woman.

The fairy chariot drove away, and never again came back to that
farmhouse after. But Childe Charity scoured and scrubbed no more, for
she grew a great lady, even in the eyes of her proud cousins.



Once again King Winwealth wished to hear a story told by the wonderful
chair, and orders were given for Snowflower to bring it to the King's
hall. She again brought the chair and laid her head on the cushion,
saying: "Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story." The voice from under
the cushion at once said: "Listen to the story of Sour and Civil."

Once upon a time there stood upon the seacoast of the west country a
small village of low cottages, where no one lived but fishermen. All
round it was a broad beach of snow-white sand, where nothing was to be
seen but gulls and other seabirds, and long tangled seaweeds cast up by
the tide that came and went night and day, summer and winter.

There was no harbour or port on all that shore. Ships passed by at a
distance, with their white sails set, and on the land side there lay
wide grassy downs, where peasants lived and shepherds fed their flocks.
There families never wanted for plenty of herrings and mackerel; and
what they had to spare the landsmen bought from them at the village
markets on the downs, giving them in exchange butter, cheese, and corn.

The two best fishermen in that village were the sons of two old widows,
who had no other children, and happened to be near neighbours. Their
family names were short, for they called the one Sour and the other
Civil. They were not related to one another so far as I ever heard. But
they had only one boat, and always fished together, though their names
expressed the difference of their natures--for Civil never used a hard
word where a soft one would do, and when Sour was not snarling at
somebody, he was sure to be grumbling at everything.

Nevertheless they agreed very well, and were lucky fishers. Both were
strong, active, and of good courage. On winter's night or summer's
morning they would steer out to sea far beyond the boats of their
neighbours, and never came home without some fish to cook and some to
spare. Their mothers were proud of them, each in her own way--for the
saying held good, "Like mother, like son". Dame Civil thought the whole
world didn't hold a better than her son; and her boy was the only
creature at whom Dame Sour didn't scold and frown.

The village was divided in opinion about the young fishermen. Some
thought Civil the better; some said, without Sour he would catch
nothing. So things went on, till one day about the fall of winter, when
mists were gathering darkly on sea and sky, and the air was chill and
frosty, all the boat-men of the hamlet went out to fish, and so did Sour
and Civil.

That day they had not their usual luck. Cast their nets where they
would, not a single fish came in. Their neighbours caught boatfuls, and
went home, Sour said, laughing at them. But when the sea was growing
crimson with the sunset, their nets were empty, and they were tired.
Civil himself did not like to go home without fish--it would hurt the
high opinion formed of them in the village. Besides, the sea was calm
and the evening fair, and, as a last attempt, they steered still farther
out, and cast their nets beside a rock which rose rough and grey above
the water, and was called the Merman's Seat--from an old report that the
fishermen's fathers had seen the mermen, or sea-people, sitting there on
moonlight nights.

Nobody believed that rumour now, but the villagers did not like to fish
there. The water was said to be very deep, and sudden squalls were apt
to trouble it. But Sour and Civil were right glad to see by the moving
of their lines that there was something in their net, and gladder still
when they found it so heavy that all their strength was required to draw
it up.

Scarcely had they landed it on the Merman's Seat, when their joy was
changed to sorrow, for besides a few starved mackerel, the net held
nothing but a huge ugly fish as long as Civil (who was taller than
Sour), with a large snout, a long beard, and a skin covered with

"Such a horrid ugly creature!" said Sour, as they shook it out of the
net on the rough rock, and gathered up the mackerel. "We needn't fish
here any more. How they will mock us in the village for staying out so
late, and bringing home so little!"

"Let us try again," said Civil, as he set his creel of mackerel in the

"Not another cast will I make to-night;" and what more Sour would have
said, was cut short by the great fish, for, looking round at them, it
spoke out:

"I suppose you don't think me worth taking home in your dirty boat; but
I can tell you that if you were down in my country, neither of you would
be thought fit to keep me company."

Sour and Civil were very much surprised to hear the fish speak. The
first could not think of a cross word to say, but Civil made answer in
his usual way.

"Indeed, my lord, we beg your pardon, but our boat is too light to carry
such a fish as you."

"You do well to call me lord," said the fish, "for so I am, though it
was hard to expect you could have known how great I was in this dress.
However, help me off the rock, for I must go home; and for your civil
way of speaking I will give you my daughter in marriage, if you will
come and see me this day twelvemonth."

Civil helped the great fish off the rock with as great respect as his
fear would allow him. Sour was so frightened at the whole business, that
he said not a word till they got safe home. But from that day forward,
when he wanted to put Civil down, it was his custom to tell him and his
mother that he would get no wife but the ugly fish's daughter.

Old Dame Sour heard this story from her son, and told it over the whole
village. Some people wondered, but the most part laughed at it as a
good joke; and Civil and his mother were never known to be angry but on
that day. Dame Civil advised her son never to fish with Sour again; and
Civil got an old skiff which one of the fishermen was going to break up
for firewood, and cobbled it up for himself.

In that skiff he went to sea all the winter, and all the summer. But
though Civil was brave and skilful, he could catch little, because his
boat was bad--and everybody but his mother began to think him of no
value. Sour having the good boat, got a new comrade, and had the praise
of being the best fisherman.

Poor Civil's heart was getting low as the summer wore away. The fish had
grown scarce on that coast, and the fishermen had to steer farther out
to sea. One evening when he had toiled all day and caught nothing, Civil
thought he would go farther too, and try his fortune beside the Merman's

The sea was calm and the evening fair. Civil did not remember that it
was the very day on which his troubles began by the great fish talking
to him twelve months before. As he neared the rock the sun was setting,
and much surprised was the fisherman to see upon it three fair ladies,
with sea-green gowns and strings of great pearls wound round their long
fair hair.

Two of them were waving their hands to him. They were the tallest and
most stately ladies he had ever seen. But Civil could perceive as he
came nearer that there was no colour in their cheeks, that their hair
had a strange bluish shade, like that of deep sea-water, and there was a
fiery look in their eyes that frightened him.

The third, who was not so tall, did not notice him at all, but kept her
eyes fixed on the setting sun. Though her look was full of sadness,
Civil could see that there was a faint rosy bloom on her cheek, that her
hair was a golden yellow, and her eyes were mild and clear like those of
his mother.

"Welcome! welcome! noble fisherman!" cried the two ladies. "Our father
has sent us for you to visit him."

With one bound they leaped into his boat, bringing with them the smaller
lady, who said: "Oh! bright sun and brave sky that I see so seldom!"

But Civil heard no more, for his boat went down miles deep in the sea,
and he thought himself drowning. But one lady had caught him by the
right arm, and the other by the left, and pulled him into the mouth of a
rocky cave, still down and down, as if on a steep hillside. The cave was
very long, but it grew wider as they came to the bottom.

Then Civil saw a faint light, and walked out with his fair company into
the country of the sea-people. In that land there grew neither grass nor
flowers, bushes nor trees, but the ground was covered with
bright-coloured shells and pebbles. There were hills of marble, and
rocks of spar. Over all was a cold blue sky with no sun, but a light
clear and silvery as that of the harvest moon. The fisherman could see
no smoking chimneys, but there were caves in the rocks of spar, and
halls in the marble hills, where lived the sea-people--with whom, as
old stories say, fishermen and sailors used to meet on lonely capes and
headlands in the simple times of the world.

Forth they came from all parts to see the stranger. Mermen with long
white beards, and mermaids such as walk with the fishermen, all clad in
sea-green and decked with strings of pearls; but every one with the same
colourless face, and the same wild light in their eyes.

The mermaids led Civil up one of the marble hills to a great cavern with
halls and rooms like a palace. Their floors were of white marble, their
walls of red granite, and the roofs inlaid with coral. Thousands of
crystal lamps lit the palace. There were seats and tables hewn out of
shining spar, and a great company sat feasting. But what most amazed
Civil was the number of cups, flagons, and goblets, made of gold and
silver, of such different shapes and patterns that they seemed to have
been gathered from all the countries in the world. In the chief hall
there sat a merman on a stately chair, with more jewels than all the
rest about him.

Before him the mermaids brought Civil, saying: "Father, here is our

"Welcome, noble fisherman!" cried the merman, in a voice which Civil
remembered with terror, for it was that of the great ugly fish; "welcome
to our halls! Sit down and feast with us, and then choose which of my
daughters you will have for a bride."

Civil had never felt himself so greatly frightened in all his life. How
was he to get home to his mother? and what would the old dame think when
the dark night came without bringing him home? There was no use in
talking--Civil had wisdom enough to see that. He therefore tried to take
things quietly; and, having thanked the merman for so kindly inviting
him, he took the seat set apart for him on his right hand.

Civil was hungry with the long day at sea, but there was no want of fare
on that table; meats and wines, such as he had never tasted, were set
before him in the richest of golden dishes, but, hungry as he was, the
fisherman felt that everything there had the taste and smell of the

If the fisherman had been the lord of lands and castles he would not
have been treated with more respect. The two mermaids sat by him--one
filled his plate, another filled his goblet; but the third only looked
at him in a hidden, warning way when nobody saw her. Civil soon finished
his share of the feast, and then the merman showed him all the fine
things of his cavern.

The halls were full of company, some feasting, some dancing, and some
playing all kinds of games, and in every hall there was a large number
of gold and silver vessels. But Civil was most surprised when the merman
brought him to a marble room full of heaps of precious stones. There
were diamonds there whose value the fisherman knew not--pearls larger
than ever a diver had gathered--emeralds and rubies, that would have
made the jewellers of the world wonder.

The merman then said: "This is my eldest daughter's dowry."

"Good luck attend her!" said Civil. "It is the dowry of a queen."

But the merman led him on to another room. It was filled with heaps of
gold coin, which seemed gathered from all times and nations. The images
of all the kings that ever reigned were there.

The merman said: "This is my second daughter's dowry."

"Good luck attend her!" said Civil. "It is a dowry for a princess."

"So you may say," replied the merman. "But make up your mind which of
the maidens you will marry, for the third has no portion at all, because
she is not my daughter; but only, as you may see, a poor silly girl
taken into my family for charity."

"Truly, my lord," said Civil, whose mind was already made up, "both your
daughters are too rich and far too noble for me; therefore I choose the
third. Since she is poor she will best do for a poor fisherman."

"If you choose her," said the merman, "you must wait long for a wedding.
I cannot allow a girl of lower estate to be married before my own
daughters." And he said a great deal more to persuade him. But Civil
would not change his mind, and they returned to the hall.

There was no more attention for the fisherman, but everybody watched him
well. Turn where he would, master or guest had their eyes upon him,
though he made them the best speeches he could remember, and praised all
their splendid things. One thing, however, was strange--there was no end
to the fun and feasting. Nobody seemed tired, and nobody thought of

When Civil's very eyes closed with weariness, and he slept on one of the
marble benches--no matter how many hours--there were the company
feasting and dancing away; there were the thousand lamps within, and the
cold moonlight without. Civil wished himself back with his mother, his
net, and his cobbled skiff. Fishing would have been easier than those
everlasting feasts; but there was nothing else among the sea-people--no
night of rest, no working day.

Civil knew not how time went on, till, waking up from a long sleep, he
saw, for the first time, that the feast was over, and the company gone.
The lamps still burned, and the tables, with all their riches, stood in
the empty halls; but there was no face to be seen, no sound to be heard,
only a low voice singing beside the outer door. And there, sitting all
alone, he found the mild-eyed maiden.

"Fair lady," said Civil, "tell me what means this quietness, and where
are all the merry company?"

"You are a man of the land," said the lady, "and know not the
sea-people. They never sleep but once a year, and that is at Christmas
time. Then they go into the deep caverns, where there is always
darkness, and sleep till the new year comes."

"It is a strange habit," said Civil; "but all folks have their way. Fair
lady, as you and I are to be good friends, tell me, whence come all the
wines and meats, and gold and silver vessels, seeing there are neither
cornfields nor flocks here, nor any workmen?"

"The sea-people are heirs of the sea," replied the maiden; "to them come
all the stores and riches that are lost in it. I know not the ways by
which they come; but the lord of these halls keeps the keys of seven
gates, where they go out and in. But one of the gates, which has not
been open for thrice seven years, leads to a path under the sea, by
which, I heard the merman say in his cups, one might reach the land.

"Good fisherman," she went on, "if by chance you gain his favour, and
ever open that gate, let me bear you company; for I was born where the
sun shines and the grass grows, though my country and my parents are
unknown to me. All I remember is sailing in a great ship, when a storm
arose, and it was wrecked, and not one soul escaped drowning but me. I
was then a little child, and a brave sailor had bound me to a floating
plank before he was washed away. Here the sea-people came round me like
great fishes, and I went down with them to this rich and weary country.
Sometimes, as a great favour, they take me up with them to see the sun;
but that is seldom, for they never like to part with one who has seen
their country; and, fisherman, if you ever leave them, remember to take
nothing with you that belongs to them, for if it were but a shell or a
pebble, that will give them power over you and yours."

"Thanks for your news, fair lady," said Civil. "A lord's daughter,
doubtless, you must have been, while I am but a poor fisherman. Yet, as
we have fallen into the same misfortune, let us be friends, and it may
be we shall find means to get back to the sunshine together."

"You are a man of good manners," said the lady, "therefore I shall
gladly be your friend; but my fear is that we shall never see the
sunshine again."

"Fair speeches brought me here," said Civil, "and fair speeches may help
me back, but be sure I will not go without you."

This promise cheered the lady's heart, and she and Civil spent that
Christmas time seeing the wonders of the sea country. They wandered
through caves like that of the great merman. The feast that had been
left was spread in every hall; the tables were covered with the most
costly vessels; and heaps of jewels lay on the floors of unlocked
rooms. But for the lady's warning, Civil would have liked to put away
some of them for his mother.

The poor woman was sad of heart by this time, believing her son to be
drowned. On the first night when he did not come home, she had gone to
the sea and watched till morning. Then the fishermen steered out again,
and Sour having found the skiff floating about, brought it home, saying
the foolish young man was no doubt lost; but what better could be
expected when he had no discreet person to take care of him?

This vexed Dame Civil sore. She never expected to see her son again;
but, feeling lonely in her cottage at the evening hour when he used to
come home, the good woman got into the habit of going down at sunset and
sitting beside the sea. That winter happened to be mild on the coast of
the west country, and one evening when the Christmas time was near, and
the rest of the village preparing to make merry, Dame Civil sat, as
usual, on the sands.

The tide was ebbing and the sun going down, when from the eastward came
a lady clad in black, mounted on a black horse, and followed by a squire
in the same sad clothing.

As the lady came near, she said: "Woe is me for my daughter, and for all
that I have lost by the sea!"

"You say well, noble lady," said Dame Civil. "Woe is me also for my son,
for I have none beside him."

When the lady heard that, she alighted from her horse, and sat down by
the fisherman's mother, saying: "Listen to my story. I was the widow of
a great lord in the heart of the east country. He left me a fair castle,
and an only daughter, who was the joy of my heart. Her name was Faith
Feignless. But, while she was yet a child, a great fortune-teller told
me that my daughter would marry a fisherman. I thought this would be a
great disgrace to my noble family, and therefore sent my daughter with
her nurse in a good ship, bound for a far-away city where my relations
live, intending to follow myself as soon as I could get my lands and
castles sold.

"But the ship was wrecked," the lady went on, "and my daughter drowned;
and I have wandered over the world with my good Squire Trusty, mourning
on every shore with those who have lost friends by the sea. Some with
whom I have mourned grew to forget their sorrow, and would lament with
me no more. Others being sour and selfish, mocked me, saying, my grief
was nothing to them. But you have good manners, and I will remain with
you, however humble be your dwelling. My squire carries gold enough to
pay for all I need."

So the mourning lady and her good Squire Trusty went home with Dame
Civil, and she was no longer lonely in her sorrow, for when the dame

"Oh! if my son were alive, I should never let him go to sea in a cobbled
skiff!" the lady answered:

"Oh! if my daughter were but living, I should never think it a disgrace
though she married a fisherman!"

The Christmas passed as it always does in the west country--shepherds
made merry on the downs, and fishermen on the shore. But when the
merrymakings and ringing of bells were over in all the land, the
sea-people woke up to their feasts and dances.

Like one who had forgotten all that was past, the merman again showed
Civil the room of gold and the room of jewels, advising him to choose
between his two daughters. But the fisherman still answered that the
ladies were too noble, and far too rich for him.

Yet as he looked at the glittering heap, Civil could not help
remembering the poor people of the west country, and the thought slipped
out, "How happy my old neighbours would be to find themselves here!"

"Say you so?" said the merman, who always wanted visitors.

"Yes," said Civil, "I have neighbours up yonder in the west country,
whom it would be hard to send home again if they got sight of half this
wealth." And the honest fisherman thought of Dame Sour and her son.

The merman was greatly pleased with these speeches--he thought there
was a chance of getting many land-people down, and by and by said to
Civil, "Suppose you took up a few jewels, and went up to tell your poor
neighbours how welcome we might make them?"

The hope of getting back to his country made Civil's heart glad, but he
had promised not to go without the lady, and therefore answered
prudently what was indeed true.

"Many thanks, my lord," he said, "for choosing such a humble man as I am
to carry your message. But the people of the west country never believe
anything without two witnesses at the least. Yet if the poor maid whom I
have chosen could be allowed to go with me, I think they would believe
us both."

The merman said nothing in reply; but his people, who had heard Civil's
speech, talked it over among themselves till they grew sure that the
whole west country would come down, if they only had news of the riches,
and asked their lord to send up Civil and the poor maid in order to let
them know.

As it seemed for the public good, the great merman agreed. But, having
made up his mind to have them back, he gathered out of his rich rooms
some of the largest pearls and diamonds, and said:

"Take these as a present from me, to let the west-country people see
what I can do for my visitors."

Civil and the lady took the presents, saying: "Oh, my lord, you are too
kind. We want nothing but the pleasure of telling of your wonderful
riches up yonder."

"Tell everybody to come down, and they will get the like," said the
merman; "and follow my eldest daughter, for she carries the key of the
land gate."

Civil and the lady followed the mermaid through a winding gallery, which
led from the chief hall far into the marble hill. All was dark, and they
had neither lamp nor torch, but at the end of the gallery they came to a
great stone gate, which creaked like thunder on its hinges. Beyond that
there was a narrow cave, sloping up and up like a steep hillside.

Civil and the lady thought they would never reach the top. But at last
they saw a gleam of daylight, then a strip of blue sky, and the mermaid
bade them stoop and creep through what seemed a narrow crack in the
ground, and both stood on the broad seabeach as the day was breaking and
the tide ebbing fast away.

"Good times to you among your west-country people," said the mermaid.
"Tell any of them that would like to come down to visit us, that they
must come here midway between the high and low watermark, when the tide
is going out at morning or evening. Call thrice on the sea-people, and
we will show them the way."

Before they could make answer, she had sunk down from their sight, and
there was no track or passage there, but all was covered by the loose
sand and seashells.

"Now," said the lady to Civil, "we have seen the heavens once more, and
we will not go back. Cast in the merman's present quickly before the sun

Taking the bag of pearls and diamonds, she flung it as far as she could
into the sea.

Civil never was so unwilling to part with anything as that bag, but he
thought it better to do as the lady had done, and tossed his into the
sea also. They thought they heard a long moan come up from the waters;
but Civil saw his mother's chimney beginning to smoke, and with the fair
lady in her sea-green gown he hastened to the good dame's cottage.

The whole village were awakened that morning with cries of "Welcome
back, my son!" "Welcome back, my daughter!" for the mournful lady knew
it was her lost daughter, Faith Feignless, whom the fisherman had
brought back, and all the neighbours gathered together to hear their
story. When it was told, everybody praised Civil for the prudence he had
shown, except Sour and his mother. They did nothing but rail upon him
for losing such great chances of making himself and the whole country

At last, when they heard over and over again of the merman's riches,
neither mother nor son would stay any longer in the west country; and
as nobody persuaded them, and they would not do what Civil told them,
Sour got out his boat and steered away with his mother toward the
Merman's rock.

From that voyage they never came back to the hamlet. Some say they went
down and lived among the sea-people. Others say--I know not how they
learned it--that Sour and his mother grumbled and growled so much that
even the sea-people grew weary of them, and turned them and their boat
out on the open sea. What part of the world they chose to land on nobody
is sure of. By all accounts they have been seen everywhere, and I should
not be surprised if they were in this good company. As for Civil he
married Faith Feignless, and became a great lord.



King Winwealth was so pleased with the stories told by the wonderful
chair that he gave Snowflower many presents, among which was a golden
girdle, and promised that she should no longer go into low company, but
feast with him and his nobles in the chief hall, and sleep in one of the
best rooms of the palace.

Snowflower was delighted at the promise of feasting with those noble
lords and ladies, whose wonderful stories she had heard from the chair.
She bowed very low, and thanked King Winwealth from the bottom of her
heart. All the company were glad to make room for her, and when her
golden girdle was put on, little Snowflower looked as fine as the best
of them.

"Mamma," whispered the Princess Greedalind, while she looked ready to
cry for spite, "only see that low little girl who came here in a coarse
frock and barefooted, what finery and favour she has gained by her
story-telling chair! All the Court are praising her and overlooking me,
though the feast was made in honour of my birthday. Mamma, I must have
that chair from her. What business has a common little girl with
anything so amusing?"

"So you shall, my daughter," said Queen Wantall--for by this time she
saw that King Winwealth had, according to custom, fallen asleep on his
throne. So calling two of her pages, Screw and Hardhands, she ordered
them to bring the chair from the other end of the hall where Snowflower
sat, and at once made it a present to Princess Greedalind.

Nobody in that Court ever thought of disputing Queen Wantall's commands,
and poor Snowflower sat down in a corner to cry. While Princess
Greedalind, putting on what she thought a very grand air, laid down her
head on the cushion, saying: "Chair of my grandmother, tell me a

"Where did you get a grandmother?" cried the clear voice from under the
cushion. And up went the chair with such force as to throw Princess
Greedalind off on the floor, where she lay screaming, a good deal more
angry than hurt.

All those at Court tried in vain to comfort her. But Queen Wantall,
whose temper was still worse, vowed that she would punish the impudent
thing, and sent for Sturdy, her chief woodman, to chop it up with his

At the first stroke the cushion was cut open, and to the surprise of
everybody a bird, whose snow-white feathers were tipped with purple,
darted out, and flew away through an open window.

"Catch it! catch it!" cried the Queen and the Princess; and all but King
Winwealth, who still slept on his throne, rushed out after the bird. It
flew over the palace garden and into a wild common, where houses had
been before Queen Wantall pulled them down to search for a gold mine,
which Her Majesty never found, though three deep pits were dug to come
at it.

To make the place look smart at the feast time, these pits had been
covered over with loose branches and turf. All the rest of the company
remembered this but Queen Wantall and Princess Greedalind. They were
nearest to the bird, and poor Snowflower, by running hard, came close
behind them, but Fairfortune, one of the King's pages, drew her back by
the purple mantle, when, coming to the covered pit, branches and turf
gave way, and down went the Queen and the Princess.

Everybody looked for the bird, but it was nowhere to be seen. But on the
common where the people saw it alight, there stood a fair and royal
Prince, clad in a robe of purple and a crown of changing colours, for
sometimes it seemed of gold and sometimes of forest leaves.

Most of the people stood not knowing what to think, but all the fairy
people and all the lords and ladies of the chair's stories, knew him,
and cried: "Welcome to Prince Wisewit!"

King Winwealth heard that sound where he slept, and came out glad of
heart to welcome back his brother. When her own pages came out with
ropes and lanterns to search for Queen Wantall and Princess Greedalind,
they found them safe and well at the bottom of the pit, having fallen on
a heap of loose sand. The pit was of great depth, but some daylight
shone down, and whatever were the yellow grains they saw glittering
among the sand, the Queen and the Princess believed it was full of gold.

They called the miners false knaves, lazy rogues, and a score of bad
names beside, for leaving so much wealth behind them, and utterly
refused to come out of the pit; saying, that since Prince Wisewit was
come, they could find no pleasure in the palace, but would stay there
and dig for gold, and buy the world with it for themselves.

King Winwealth thought the plan was a good one for keeping peace in his
palace. He commanded shovels and picks to be lowered to the Queen and
Princess. The two pages, Screw and Hardhands, went down to help them, in
hopes of halving the profits; and there they stayed, digging for gold.
Some of the people about the Court said they would find it. Others
believed they never could, and the gold was not found when this story
was written.

As for Prince Wisewit, he went home with the rest of the company,
leading Snowflower by the hand, and telling them all how he had been
turned into a bird by the cunning fairy Fortunetta, who found him off
his guard in the forest; how she had shut him up under the cushion of
that curious chair, and given it to old Dame Frostyface; and how all his
comfort had been in little Snowflower, to whom he told so many stories.

King Winwealth was so rejoiced to find his brother again, that he
commanded another feast to be held for many days. All that time the
gates of the palace stood open; all-comers were welcome, all complaints
heard. The houses and lands which Queen Wantall had taken away, were
given back to their rightful owners. Everybody got what they wanted
most. There were no more noises of strife without, nor discontents
within the palace; and on the last day of the feast who should arrive
but Dame Frostyface, in her grey hood and cloak.

Snowflower was right glad to see her grandmother--so were the King and
Prince, for they had known the Dame in their youth. They kept the feast
for a few days more; and when it was ended everything was right in the
kingdom. King Winwealth and Prince Wisewit reigned once more together;
and because Snowflower was the best girl in all that country, they chose
her to be their heiress, instead of Princess Greedalind.

From that day forward she wore white velvet and satin; she had seven
pages, and lived in the grandest part of the palace. Dame Frostyface,
too, was made a great lady. They put a new velvet cushion on her chair,
and she sat in a gown of grey cloth, edged with gold, spinning on an
ivory wheel in a fine painted parlour.

Prince Wisewit built a great summer-house covered with vines and roses,
on the spot where her old cottage stood. He also made a highway through
the forest, that all good people might come and go there at their
leisure; and the cunning fairy Fortunetta, finding that her reign was
over in those parts, set off on a journey round the world, and did not
return in the time of this story.

Good boys and girls, who may chance to read it, that time is long ago.
Great wars, work, and learning have passed over the world since then,
and changed all its fashions. Kings make no seven-day feasts for
all-comers now. Queens and princesses, however greedy, do not mine for
gold. Chairs tell no tales. Wells work no wonders; and there are no such
doings on hills and forests, for the fairies dance no more. Some say it
was the hum of schools--some think it was the din of factories that
frightened them. But nobody has seen them for many a year, except, it is
said, one Hans Christian Andersen, in Denmark, whose tales of the
fairies are so good that they must have been heard from themselves.

It is certain that no living man knows the later history of King
Winwealth's country, nor what became of the people who lived and
visited at his palace. Yet there are people who believe that the King
still falls asleep on his throne and into low spirits in the evening;
that Queen Wantall and Princess Greedalind have found the gold, and
begun to buy; that Dame Frostyface yet spins--they cannot tell where;
that Snowflower may still be seen at the new year's time in her dress of
white velvet, looking out for the early spring; that Prince Wisewit has
somehow fallen under a stronger spell and a thicker cushion, that he
still tells stories to Snowflower and her friends, and when cushion and
spell are broken by another stroke of Sturdy's hatchet--which they
expect will happen some time--the Prince will make all things right
again, and bring back the fairy times to the world.

          _By Blackie & Son, Limited, Glasgow_

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

The original lacked a Table of Contents. One was created for this

This text often closed a quote before adding the final punctuation. An
example may be found on page 7:

          Then Snowflower remembered her grandmother's
          words, and, laying her head gently down, she said:
          "Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story".

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Granny's Wonderful Chair" ***

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