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Title: The Water-Babies
Author: Kingsley, Charles, 1819-1875
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 "The Water-Babies" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



THE WATER-BABIES

[Illustration]

[Illustration: _He looked up at the broad yellow moon . . . and thought
that she looked at him_

_Page_ 102]



The Water-Babies

by Charles Kingsley

[Illustration]

Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith

          New York
          Dodd, Mead & Company
          Publishers



          Copyright, 1916,
          By DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.

          PRINTED IN U. S. A.



[Illustration]

          TO
          MY YOUNGEST SON
          GRENVILLE ARTHUR
          AND
          TO ALL OTHER GOOD LITTLE BOYS

          _Come read me my riddle, each good little man;
           If you cannot read it, no grown up folk can._



[Illustration]

INTRODUCTION


"IT was in 1863 that _The Water-Babies_ was written, showing the
naturalist in the fulness of his strength, fearlessly, yet tenderly,
playing with the tremendous results of advanced science in the
nineteenth century. . . .

"The writing of the book was the outcome of a gentle reminder, at
breakfast one spring morning, of an old promise, to the effect that as
the three elder children had their book--_The Heroes_--the baby, my
youngest brother, then four years old, 'must have his.' My father made
no answer, 'but got up at once and went to his study, locking the door,'
and in an hour came back with the first chapter of _The Water-Babies_ in
his hand. At this pace and with the same ease the whole book was
composed. . . .

"A visit in 1858 to Mr. W. E. Forster in Wharfedale, and to Mr. Morrison
at Malham, gave him the local setting of the beautiful opening chapters.
For the grandeur of the scenery of Godale Scar and Malham Cove had made
a profound impression on his mind, as did the beauty of the Wharfe below
Denton Park.

"Places he had seen, and many more he had read and dreamed of in his
father's fine library of voyages and travels, fairies and men of
science, fads and foibles, education true and false, Pandora's box and
sanitary science--a matter always dear to his heart--the ways of beasts
and birds, fishes and insects, of plant and tree and rock, of river and
tide, are all interwoven here with the deepest truths of life and
living, of morals and religion. So that while the book enchants the
child, it gives the wise man food for thought. . . .

"Happy are the children who get their first ideas of the marvels of
nature all around them from such a lesson-book as this. . . .

"And perchance, when they are grown men and women, and like Tom have won
their spurs in the great battle, they may look back with thankful hearts
to certain pages in _The Water-Babies_; pages which taught them, while
as little children they read a fairy tale, what a fine thing it is to
love truth, mercy, justice, courage, and all things noble and of good
report."

Thus Rose G. Kingsley, in a preface to her father's fairy tale,
describes the impromptu manner in which _The Water-Babies_ was written.
Dashed off for the pleasure of his own little son, this book has charmed
and entertained thousands of children for more than fifty years, and has
undoubtedly in many cases taught "what a fine thing it is to love truth,
mercy, justice, courage, and all things noble and of good report."

                                                  THE EDITOR.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



CONTENTS


                           PAGE
          CHAPTER I           1
          CHAPTER II         37
          CHAPTER III        67
          CHAPTER IV        102
          CHAPTER V         129
          CHAPTER VI        165
          CHAPTER VII       194
          CHAPTER VIII      229



[Illustration]

ILLUSTRATIONS


  He looked up at the broad yellow moon . . . and
       thought that she looked at him              _Frontispiece_

                                                          PAGE

  He felt how comfortable it was to have nothing
       on him but himself                                   68

  "Oh, don't hurt me!" cried Tom. "I only want to
       look at you; you are so handsome"                    98

  And Tom sat upon the buoy long days                      110

  He felt the net very heavy; and lifted it out
       quickly, with Tom all entangled in the meshes       124

  Tom reached and clawed down the hole after him           132

  Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid                                    172

  Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby                                258



THE WATER-BABIES

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

THE WATER-BABIES



CHAPTER I


Once upon a time there was a little chimney-sweep, and his name was Tom.
That is a short name, and you have heard it before, so you will not have
much trouble in remembering it. He lived in a great town in the North
country, where there were plenty of chimneys to sweep, and plenty of
money for Tom to earn and his master to spend. He could not read nor
write, and did not care to do either; and he never washed himself, for
there was no water up the court where he lived. He had never been taught
to say his prayers. He never had heard of God, or of Christ, except in
words which you never have heard, and which it would have been well if
he had never heard. He cried half his time, and laughed the other half.
He cried when he had to climb the dark flues, rubbing his poor knees and
elbows raw; and when the soot got into his eyes, which it did every day
in the week; and when his master beat him, which he did every day in the
week; and when he had not enough to eat, which happened every day in the
week likewise. And he laughed the other half of the day, when he was
tossing half pennies with the other boys, or playing leap-frog over the
posts, or bowling stones at the horses' legs as they trotted by, which
last was excellent fun, when there was a wall at hand behind which to
hide. As for chimney-sweeping, and being hungry, and being beaten, he
took all that for the way of the world, like the rain and snow and
thunder, and stood manfully with his back to it till it was over, as his
old donkey did to a hail-storm; and then shook his ears and was as jolly
as ever; and thought of the fine times coming, when he would be a man,
and a master sweep, and sit in the public-house with a quart of beer and
a long pipe, and play cards for silver money, and wear velveteens and
ankle-jacks, and keep a white bull-dog with one gray ear, and carry her
puppies in his pocket, just like a man. And he would have apprentices,
one, two, three, if he could. How he would bully them, and knock them
about, just as his master did to him; and make them carry home the soot
sacks, while he rode before them on his donkey, with a pipe in his mouth
and a flower in his buttonhole, like a king at the head of his army.
Yes, there were good times coming.

One day a smart little groom rode into the court where Tom lived. Tom
was just hiding behind a wall, to heave half a brick at his horse's legs
as is the custom of that country when they welcome strangers; but the
groom saw him, and halloed to him to know where Mr. Grimes, the
chimney-sweep, lived. Now, Mr. Grimes was Tom's own master, and Tom was
a good man of business, and always civil to customers, so he put the
half-brick down quietly behind the wall, and proceeded to take orders.

Mr. Grimes was to come up next morning to Sir John Harthover's, at the
Place, for his old chimney-sweep was gone to prison, and the chimneys
wanted sweeping. And so he rode away, not giving Tom time to ask what
the sweep had gone to prison for, which was a matter of interest to Tom,
as he had been in prison once or twice himself. Moreover, the groom
looked so very neat and clean, with his drab gaiters, drab breeches,
drab jacket, snow-white tie with a smart pin in it, and clean round
ruddy face, that Tom was offended and disgusted at his appearance, and
considered him a stuck-up fellow, who gave himself airs because he wore
smart clothes, and other people paid for them; and went behind the wall
to fetch the half-brick after all; but did not, remembering that he had
come in the way of business, and was, as it were, under a flag of truce.

[Illustration]

His master was so delighted at his new customer that he knocked Tom down
out of hand, and drank more beer that night than he usually did in two,
in order to be sure of getting up in time next morning; for the more a
man's head aches when he wakes, the more glad he is to turn out, and
have a breath of fresh air. And, when he did get up at four the next
morning, he knocked Tom down again, in order to teach him (as young
gentlemen used to be taught at public schools) that he must be an extra
good boy that day, as they were going to a very great house, and might
make a very good thing of it, if they could but give satisfaction.

And Tom thought so likewise, and, indeed, would have done and behaved
his best, even without being knocked down. For, of all places upon
earth, Harthover Place (which he had never seen) was the most wonderful,
and, of all men on earth, Sir John (whom he had seen, having been sent
to gaol by him twice) was the most awful.

Harthover Place was really a grand place, even for the rich North
country; with a park full of deer, which Tom believed to be monsters who
were in the habit of eating children; with miles of game-preserves, in
which Mr. Grimes and the collier lads poached at times, on which
occasions Tom saw pheasants, and wondered what they tasted like; with a
noble salmon-river, in which Mr. Grimes and his friends would have liked
to poach; but then they must have got into cold water, and that they did
not like at all. In short, Harthover was a grand place, and Sir John a
grand old man, whom even Mr. Grimes respected; for not only could he
send Mr. Grimes to prison when he deserved it, as he did once or twice
a week; not only did he own all the land about for miles; not only was
he a jolly, honest, sensible squire, as ever kept a pack of hounds, who
would do what he thought right by his neighbours, as well as get what he
thought right for himself; but, what was more, he weighed full fifteen
stone, was nobody knew how many inches round the chest, and could have
thrashed Mr. Grimes himself in fair fight, which very few folk round
there could do, and which would not have been right for him to do, as a
great many things are not which one both can do, and would like very
much to do. So Mr. Grimes touched his hat to him when he rode through
the town.

Now, I dare say, you never got up at three o'clock on a midsummer
morning. Some people get up then because they want to catch salmon; and
some because they want to climb Alps; and a great many more because they
must, like Tom. But, I assure you, that three o'clock on a midsummer
morning is the pleasantest time of all the twenty-four hours, and all
the three hundred and sixty-five days; and why every one does not get up
then, I never could tell, save that they are all determined to spoil
their nerves and their complexions by doing all night what they might
just as well do all day. But Tom, instead of going out to dinner at
half-past eight at night, and to a ball at ten, and finishing off
somewhere between twelve and four, went to bed at seven, when his master
went to the public-house, and slept like a dead pig; for which reason he
was as piert as a game-cock (who always gets up early to wake the
maids), and just ready to get up when the fine gentlemen and ladies were
just ready to go to bed.

So he and his master set out; Grimes rode the donkey in front, and Tom
and the brushes walked behind; out of the court, and up the street, past
the closed window-shutters, and the winking weary policemen, and the
roofs all shining gray in the gray dawn.

They passed through the pitmen's village, all shut up and silent now,
and through the turnpike; and then they were out in the real country,
and plodding along the black dusty road, between black slag walls, with
no sound but the groaning and thumping of the pit-engine in the next
field. But soon the road grew white, and the walls likewise; and at the
wall's foot grew long grass and gay flowers, all drenched with dew; and
instead of the groaning of the pit-engine, they heard the skylark saying
his matins high up in the air, and the pit-bird warbling in the sedges,
as he had warbled all night long.

All else was silent. For old Mrs. Earth was still fast asleep; and, like
many pretty people, she looked still prettier asleep than awake. The
great elm-trees in the gold-green meadows were fast asleep above, and
the cows fast asleep beneath them; nay, the few clouds which were about
were fast asleep likewise, and so tired that they had lain down on the
earth to rest, in long white flakes and bars, among the stems of the
elm-trees, and along the tops of the alders by the stream, waiting for
the sun to bid them rise and go about their day's business in the clear
blue overhead.

On they went; and Tom looked, and looked, for he never had been so far
into the country before; and longed to get over a gate, and pick
buttercups, and look for birds' nests in the hedge; but Mr. Grimes was a
man of business, and would not have heard of that.

Soon they came up with a poor Irishwoman, trudging along with a bundle
at her back. She had a gray shawl over her head, and a crimson madder
petticoat; so you may be sure she came from Galway. She had neither
shoes nor stockings, and limped along as if she were tired and footsore;
but she was a very tall handsome woman, with bright gray eyes, and heavy
black hair hanging about her cheeks. And she took Mr. Grimes' fancy so
much, that when he came alongside he called out to her:

"This is a hard road for a gradely foot like that. Will ye up, lass, and
ride behind me?"

But, perhaps, she did not admire Mr. Grimes' look and voice; for she
answered quietly:

"No, thank you: I'd sooner walk with your little lad here."

"You may please yourself," growled Grimes, and went on smoking.

So she walked beside Tom, and talked to him, and asked him where he
lived, and what he knew, and all about himself, till Tom thought he had
never met such a pleasant-spoken woman. And she asked him, at last,
whether he said his prayers! and seemed sad when he told her that he
knew no prayers to say.

Then he asked her where she lived, and she said far away by the sea. And
Tom asked her about the sea; and she told him how it rolled and roared
over the rocks in winter nights, and lay still in the bright summer
days, for the children to bathe and play in it; and many a story more,
till Tom longed to go and see the sea, and bathe in it likewise.

At last, at the bottom of a hill, they came to a spring; not such a
spring as you see here, which soaks up out of a white gravel in the
bog, among red fly-catchers, and pink bottle-heath, and sweet white
orchis; nor such a one as you may see, too, here, which bubbles up under
the warm sandbank in the hollow lane, by the great tuft of lady ferns,
and makes the sand dance reels at the bottom, day and night, all the
year round; not such a spring as either of those; but a real North
country limestone fountain, like one of those in Sicily or Greece, where
the old heathen fancied the nymphs sat cooling themselves the hot
summer's day, while the shepherds peeped at them from behind the bushes.
Out of a low cave of rock, at the foot of a limestone crag, the great
fountain rose, quelling, and bubbling, and gurgling, so clear that you
could not tell where the water ended and the air began; and ran away
under the road, a stream large enough to turn a mill; among blue
geranium, and golden globe-flower, and wild raspberry, and the
bird-cherry with its tassels of snow.

And there Grimes stopped, and looked; and Tom looked too. Tom was
wondering whether anything lived in that dark cave, and came out at
night to fly in the meadows. But Grimes was not wondering at all.
Without a word, he got off his donkey, and clambered over the low road
wall, and knelt down, and began dipping his ugly head into the
spring--and very dirty he made it.

[Illustration]

Tom was picking the flowers as fast as he could. The Irishwoman helped
him, and showed him how to tie them up; and a very pretty nosegay they
had made between them. But when he saw Grimes actually wash, he stopped,
quite astonished; and when Grimes had finished, and began shaking his
ears to dry them, he said:

"Why, master, I never saw you do that before."

"Nor will again, most likely. 'Twasn't for cleanliness I did it, but for
coolness. I'd be ashamed to want washing every week or so, like any
smutty collier lad."

"I wish I might go and dip my head in," said poor little Tom. "It must
be as good as putting it under the town-pump; and there is no beadle
here to drive a chap away."

"Thou come along," said Grimes; "what dost want with washing thyself?
Thou did not drink half a gallon of beer last night, like me."

"I don't care for you," said naughty Tom, and ran down to the stream,
and began washing his face.

Grimes was very sulky, because the woman preferred Tom's company to his;
so he dashed at him with horrid words, and tore him up from his knees,
and began beating him. But Tom was accustomed to that, and got his head
safe between Mr. Grimes' legs, and kicked his shins with all his might.

"Are you not ashamed of yourself, Thomas Grimes?" cried the Irishwoman
over the wall.

Grimes looked up, startled at her knowing his name; but all he answered
was, "No, nor never was yet;" and went on beating Tom.

"True for you. If you ever had been ashamed of yourself, you would have
gone over into Vendale long ago."

"What do you know about Vendale?" shouted Grimes; but he left off
beating Tom.

"I know about Vendale, and about you, too. I know, for instance, what
happened in Aldermire Copse, by night, two years ago come Martinmas."

"You do?" shouted Grimes; and leaving Tom, he climbed up over the wall,
and faced the woman. Tom thought he was going to strike her; but she
looked him too full and fierce in the face for that.

"Yes; I was there," said the Irishwoman quietly.

"You are no Irishwoman, by your speech," said Grimes, after many bad
words.

"Never mind who I am. I saw what I saw; and if you strike that boy
again, I can tell what I know."

Grimes seemed quite cowed, and got on his donkey without another word.

"Stop!" said the Irishwoman. "I have one more word for you both; for you
will both see me again before all is over. Those that wish to be clean,
clean they will be; and those that wish to be foul, foul they will be.
Remember."

And she turned away, and through a gate into the meadow. Grimes stood
still a moment, like a man who had been stunned. Then he rushed after
her, shouting, "You come back." But when he got into the meadow, the
woman was not there.

Had she hidden away? There was no place to hide in. But Grimes looked
about, and Tom also, for he was as puzzled as Grimes himself at her
disappearing so suddenly; but look where they would, she was not there.

Grimes came back again, as silent as a post, for he was a little
frightened; and, getting on his donkey, filled a fresh pipe, and smoked
away, leaving Tom in peace.

And now they had gone three miles and more, and came to Sir John's
lodge-gates.

Very grand lodges they were, with very grand iron gates and stone
gate-posts, and on the top of each a most dreadful bogy, all teeth,
horns, and tail, which was the crest which Sir John's ancestors wore in
the Wars of the Roses; and very prudent men they were to wear it, for
all their enemies must have run for their lives at the very first sight
of them.

Grimes rang at the gate, and out came a keeper on the spot, and opened.

"I was told to expect thee," he said. "Now thou'lt be so good as to keep
to the main avenue, and not let me find a hare or a rabbit on thee when
thou comest back. I shall look sharp for one, I tell thee."

"Not if it's in the bottom of the soot-bag," quoth Grimes, and at that
he laughed; and the keeper laughed and said:

"If that's thy sort, I may as well walk up with thee to the hall."

"I think thou best had. It's thy business to see after thy game, man,
and not mine."

So the keeper went with them; and, to Tom's surprise, he and Grimes
chatted together all the way quite pleasantly. He did not know that a
keeper is only a poacher turned outside in, and a poacher a keeper
turned inside out.

They walked up a great lime avenue, a full mile long, and between their
stems Tom peeped trembling at the horns of the sleeping deer, which
stood up among the ferns. Tom had never seen such enormous trees, and as
he looked up he fancied that the blue sky rested on their heads. But he
was puzzled very much by a strange murmuring noise, which followed them
all the way. So much puzzled, that at last he took courage to ask the
keeper what it was.

He spoke very civilly, and called him Sir, for he was horribly afraid of
him, which pleased the keeper, and he told him that they were the bees
about the lime flowers.

"What are bees?" asked Tom.

"What make honey."

"What is honey?" asked Tom.

"Thou hold thy noise," said Grimes.

"Let the boy be," said the keeper. "He's a civil young chap now, and
that's more than he'll be long if he bides with thee."

Grimes laughed, for he took that for a compliment.

"I wish I were a keeper," said Tom, "to live in such a beautiful place,
and wear green velveteens and have a real dog-whistle at my button,
like you."

The keeper laughed; he was a kind-hearted fellow enough.

"Let well alone, lad, and ill too at times. Thy life's safer than mine
at all events, eh, Mr. Grimes?"

And Grimes laughed again, and then the two men began talking quite low.
Tom could hear, though, that it was about some poaching fight; and at
last Grimes said surlily, "Hast thou anything against me?"

"Not now."

"Then don't ask me any questions till thou hast, for I am a man of
honour."

And at that they both laughed again, and thought it a very good joke.

And by this time they were come up to the great iron gates in front of
the house; and Tom stared through them at the rhododendrons and azaleas,
which were all in flower; and then at the house itself, and wondered how
many chimneys there were in it, and how long ago it was built, and what
was the man's name that built it, and whether he got much money for his
job?

But Tom and his master did not go in through the great iron gates, as
if they had been Dukes or Bishops, but round the back way, and a very
long way round it was; and into a little back-door, where the ash-boy
let them in, yawning horribly; and then in a passage the housekeeper met
them, in such a flowered chintz dressing-gown, that Tom mistook her for
My Lady herself, and she gave Grimes solemn orders about "You will take
care of this, and take care of that," as if he was going up the
chimneys, and not Tom. And Grimes listened, and said every now and then,
under his voice, "You'll mind that, you little beggar?" and Tom did
mind, all at least that he could. And then the housekeeper turned them
into a grand room, all covered up in sheets of brown paper, and bade
them begin, in a lofty and tremendous voice; and so after a whimper or
two, and a kick from his master, into the grate Tom went, and up the
chimney, while a housemaid stayed in the room to watch the furniture; to
whom Mr. Grimes paid many playful and chivalrous compliments, but met
with very slight encouragement in return.

How many chimneys Tom swept I cannot say; but he swept so many that he
got quite tired, and puzzled too, for they were not like the town flues
to which he was accustomed, but such as you would find--if you would
only get up them and look, which perhaps you would not like to do--in
old country-houses, large and crooked chimneys, which had been altered
again and again, till they ran one into another. So Tom fairly lost his
way in them; not that he cared much for that, though he was in pitchy
darkness, for he was as much at home in a chimney as a mole is
underground; but at last, coming down as he thought the right chimney,
he came down the wrong one, and found himself standing on the hearthrug
in a room the like of which he had never seen before.

Tom had never seen the like. He had never been in gentlefolks' rooms but
when the carpets were all up, and the curtains down, and the furniture
huddled together under a cloth, and the pictures covered with aprons and
dusters; and he had often enough wondered what the rooms were like when
they were all ready for the quality to sit in. And now he saw, and he
thought the sight very pretty.

The room was all dressed in white,--white window-curtains, white
bed-curtains, white furniture, and white walls, with just a few lines of
pink here and there. The carpet was all over gay little flowers; and the
walls were hung with pictures in gilt frames, which amused Tom very
much. There were pictures of ladies and gentlemen, and pictures of
horses and dogs. The horses he liked; but the dogs he did not care for
much, for there were no bulldogs among them, not even a terrier. But the
two pictures which took his fancy most were, one a man in long garments,
with little children and their mothers round him, who was laying his
hand upon the children's heads. That was a very pretty picture, Tom
thought, to hang in a lady's room. For he could see that it was a lady's
room by the dresses which lay about.

[Illustration]

The other picture was that of a man nailed to a cross, which surprised
Tom much. He fancied that he had seen something like it in a
shop-window. But why was it there? "Poor man," thought Tom, "and he
looks so kind and quiet. But why should the lady have such a sad picture
as that in her room? Perhaps it was some kinsman of hers, who had been
murdered by the savages in foreign parts, and she kept it there for a
remembrance." And Tom felt sad, and awed, and turned to look at
something else.

The next thing he saw, and that too puzzled him, was a washing-stand,
with ewers and basins, and soap and brushes, and towels, and a large
bath full of clean water--what a heap of things all for washing! "She
must be a very dirty lady," thought Tom, "by my master's rule, to want
as much scrubbing as all that. But she must be very cunning to put the
dirt out of the way so well afterwards, for I don't see a speck about
the room, not even on the very towels."

And then, looking toward the bed, he saw that dirty lady, and held his
breath with astonishment.

Under the snow-white coverlet, upon the snow-white pillow, lay the most
beautiful little girl that Tom had ever seen. Her cheeks were almost as
white as the pillow, and her hair was like threads of gold spread all
about over the bed. She might have been as old as Tom, or maybe a year
or two older; but Tom did not think of that. He thought only of her
delicate skin and golden hair, and wondered whether she was a real live
person, or one of the wax dolls he had seen in the shops. But when he
saw her breathe, he made up his mind that she was alive, and stood
staring at her, as if she had been an angel out of heaven.

No. She cannot be dirty. She never could have been dirty, thought Tom to
himself. And then he thought, "And are all people like that when they
are washed?" And he looked at his own wrist, and tried to rub the soot
off, and wondered whether it ever would come off. "Certainly I should
look much prettier then, if I grew at all like her."

And looking round, he suddenly saw, standing close to him, a little
ugly, black, ragged figure, with bleared eyes and grinning white teeth.
He turned on it angrily. What did such a little black ape want in that
sweet young lady's room? And behold, it was himself, reflected in a
great mirror the like of which Tom had never seen before.

And Tom, for the first time in his life, found out that he was dirty;
and burst into tears with shame and anger; and turned to sneak up the
chimney again and hide; and upset the fender and threw the fire-irons
down, with a noise as of ten thousand tin kettles tied to ten thousand
mad dogs' tails.

Up jumped the little white lady in her bed, and, seeing Tom, screamed as
shrill as any peacock. In rushed a stout old nurse from the next room,
and seeing Tom likewise, made up her mind that he had come to rob,
plunder, destroy, and burn; and dashed at him, as he lay over the
fender, so fast that she caught him by the jacket.

But she did not hold him. Tom had been in a policeman's hands many a
time, and out of them too, what is more; and he would have been ashamed
to face his friends for ever if he had been stupid enough to be caught
by an old woman; so he doubled under the good lady's arm, across the
room, and out of the window in a moment.

He did not need to drop out, though he would have done so bravely
enough. Nor even to let himself down a spout, which would have been an
old game to him; for once he got up by a spout to the church roof, he
said to take jackdaws' eggs, but the policeman said to steal lead; and,
when he was seen on high, sat there till the sun got too hot; and came
down by another spout, leaving the policemen to go back to the
stationhouse and eat their dinners.

But all under the window spread a tree, with great leaves and sweet
white flowers, almost as big as his head. It was magnolia, I suppose;
but Tom knew nothing about that, and cared less; for down the tree he
went, like a cat, and across the garden lawn, and over the iron
railings, and up the park towards the wood, leaving the old nurse to
scream murder and fire at the window.

The under gardener, mowing, saw Tom, and threw down his scythe; caught
his leg in it, and cut his shin open, whereby he kept his bed for a
week; but in his hurry he never knew it, and gave chase to poor Tom. The
dairymaid heard the noise, got the churn between her knees, and tumbled
over it, spilling all the cream; and yet she jumped up, and gave chase
to Tom. A groom cleaning Sir John's hack at the stables let him go
loose, whereby he kicked himself lame in five minutes; but he ran out
and gave chase to Tom. Grimes upset the soot-sack in the new-gravelled
yard, and spoilt it all utterly; but he ran out and gave chase to Tom.
The old steward opened the park-gate in such a hurry, that he hung up
his pony's chin upon the spikes, and, for aught I know, it hangs there
still; but he jumped off, and gave chase to Tom. The ploughman left his
horses at the headland, and one jumped over the fence, and pulled the
other into the ditch, plough and all; but he ran on, and gave chase to
Tom. The keeper, who was taking a stoat out of a trap, let the stoat go,
and caught his own finger; but he jumped up, and ran after Tom; and
considering what he said, and how he looked, I should have been sorry
for Tom if he had caught him. Sir John looked out of his study window
(for he was an early old gentleman) and up at the nurse, and a marten
dropped mud in his eye, so that he had at last to send for the doctor;
and yet he ran out, and gave chase to Tom. The Irishwoman, too, was
walking up to the house to beg,--she must have got round by some
byway,--but she threw away her bundle, and gave chase to Tom likewise.
Only my Lady did not give chase; for when she had put her head out of
the window, her night-wig fell into the garden, and she had to ring up
her lady's-maid, and send her down for it privately, which quite put her
out of the running, so that she came in nowhere, and is consequently not
placed.

In a word, never was there heard at Hall Place--not even when the fox
was killed in the conservatory, among acres of broken glass, and tons of
smashed flower-pots--such a noise, row, hubbub, babel, shindy,
hullabaloo, stramash, charivari, and total contempt of dignity, repose,
and order, as that day, when Grimes, the gardener, the groom, the
dairymaid, Sir John, the steward, the ploughman, the keeper, and the
Irishwoman, all ran up the park, shouting "Stop thief," in the belief
that Tom had at least a thousand pounds' worth of jewels in his empty
pockets; and the very magpies and jays followed Tom up, screaking and
screaming, as if he were a hunted fox, beginning to droop his brush.

And all the while poor Tom paddled up the park with his little bare
feet, like a small black gorilla fleeing to the forest. Alas for him!
there was no big father gorilla therein to take his part--to scratch out
the gardener's inside with one paw, toss the dairymaid into a tree with
another, and wrench off Sir John's head with a third, while he cracked
the keeper's skull with his teeth as easily as if it had been a cocoanut
or a paving-stone.

However, Tom did not remember ever having had a father; so he did not
look for one, and expected to have to take care of himself; while as for
running, he could keep up for a couple of miles with any stagecoach, if
there was the chance of a copper or a cigar-end, and turn coach-wheels
on his hands and feet ten times following, which is more than you can
do. Wherefore his pursuers found it very difficult to catch him; and we
will hope that they did not catch him at all.

Tom, of course, made for the woods. He had never been in a wood in his
life; but he was sharp enough to know that he might hide in a bush, or
swarm up a tree, and, altogether, had more chance there than in the
open. If he had not known that, he would have been foolisher than a
mouse or a minnow.

But when he got into the wood, he found it a very different sort of
place from what he had fancied. He pushed into a thick cover of
rhododendrons, and found himself at once caught in a trap. The boughs
laid hold of his legs and arms, poked him in his face and his stomach,
made him shut his eyes tight (though that was no great loss, for he
could not see at best a yard before his nose); and when he got through
the rhododendrons, the hassock-grass and sedges tumbled him over, and
cut his poor little fingers afterwards most spitefully; the birches
birched him soundly.

"I must get out of this," thought Tom, "or I shall stay here till
somebody comes to help me--which is just what I don't want."

But how to get out was the difficult matter. And indeed I don't think he
would ever have got out at all, but have stayed there till the
cock-robins covered him with leaves, if he had not suddenly run his head
against a wall.

Now running your head against a wall is not pleasant, especially if it
is a loose wall, with the stones all set on edge, and a sharp cornered
one hits you between the eyes and makes you see all manner of beautiful
stars. The stars are very beautiful, certainly; but unfortunately they
go in the twenty-thousandth part of a split second, and the pain which
comes after them does not. And so Tom hurt his head; but he was a brave
boy, and did not mind that a penny. He guessed that over the wall the
cover would end; and up it he went, and over like a squirrel.

And there he was, out on the great grouse-moors, which the country folk
called Harthover Fell--heather and bog and rock, stretching away and up,
up to the very sky.

Now, Tom was a cunning little fellow--as cunning as an old Exmoor stag.
Why not? Though he was but ten years old, he had lived longer than most
stags, and had more wits to start with into the bargain.

He knew as well as a stag that if he backed he might throw the hounds
out. So the first thing he did when he was over the wall was to make the
neatest double sharp to his right, and run along under the wall for
nearly half a mile.

Whereby Sir John, and the keeper, and the steward, and the gardener, and
the ploughman, and the dairymaid, and all the hue-and-cry together, went
on ahead half a mile in the very opposite direction, and inside the
wall, leaving him a mile off on the outside; while Tom heard their
shouts die away in the woods and chuckled to himself merrily.

At last he came to a dip in the land, and went to the bottom of it, and
then he turned bravely away from the wall and up the moor; for he knew
that he had put a hill between him and his enemies, and could go on
without their seeing him.

But the Irishwoman, alone of them all, had seen which way Tom went. She
had kept ahead of every one the whole time; and yet she neither walked
nor ran. She went along quite smoothly and gracefully, while her feet
twinkled past each other so fast that you could not see which was
foremost; till every one asked the other who the strange woman was; and
all agreed, for want of anything better to say, that she must be in
league with Tom.

But when she came to the plantation, they lost sight of her; and they
could do no less. For she went quietly over the wall after Tom, and
followed him wherever he went. Sir John and the rest saw no more of her;
and out of sight was out of mind.

And now Tom was right away into the heather. There were rocks and stones
lying about everywhere, and instead of the moor growing flat as he went
upwards, it grew more and more broken and hilly, but not so rough but
that little Tom could jog along well enough, and find time, too, to
stare about at the strange place, which was like a new world to him.

He saw great spiders there, with crowns and crosses marked on their
backs, who sat in the middle of their webs, and when they saw Tom
coming, shook them so fast that they became invisible. Then he saw
lizards, brown and gray and green, and thought they were snakes, and
would sting him; but they were as much frightened as he, and shot away
into the heath. And then, under a rock, he saw a pretty sight--a great
brown, sharp-nosed creature, with a white tag to her brush, and round
her four or five smutty little cubs, the funniest fellows Tom ever saw.
She lay on her back, rolling about, and stretching out her legs and head
and tail in the bright sunshine; and the cubs jumped over her, and ran
round her, and nibbled her paws, and lugged her about by the tail; and
she seemed to enjoy it mightily. But one selfish little fellow stole
away from the rest to a dead crow close by, and dragged it off to hide
it, though it was nearly as big as he was. Whereat all his little
brothers set off after him in full cry, and saw Tom; and then all ran
back, and up jumped Mrs. Vixen, and caught one up in her mouth, and the
rest toddled after her, and into a dark crack in the rocks; and there
was an end of the show.

And next he had a fright; for, as he scrambled up a sandy
brow--whirr-poof-poof-cock-cock-kick--something went off in his face,
with a most horrid noise. He thought the ground had blown up, and the
end of the world come.

And when he opened his eyes (for he shut them very tight) it was only an
old cock-grouse, who had been washing himself in sand, like an Arab, for
want of water; and who, when Tom had all but trodden on him, jumped up
with a noise like the express train, leaving his wife and children to
shift for themselves, like an old coward, and went off, screaming
"Cur-ru-u-uck, cur-ru-u-uck--murder, thieves, fire--cur-u-uck-cock-kick--the
end of the world is come--kick-kick-cock-kick." He was always fancying
that the end of the world was come, when anything happened which was
farther off than the end of his own nose. But the end of the world was
not come; though the old grouse-cock was quite certain of it.

So the old grouse came back to his wife and family an hour afterwards,
and said solemnly, "Cock-cock-kick; my dears, the end of the world is
not quite come; but I assure you it is coming the day after
to-morrow--cock." But his wife had heard that so often that she knew all
about it, and a little more. And, besides, she was the mother of a
family, and had seven little poults to wash and feed every day; and that
made her very practical, and a little sharp-tempered; so all she
answered was: "Kick-kick-kick--go and catch spiders, go and catch
spiders--kick."

So Tom went on and on, he hardly knew why; but he liked the great wide
strange place, and the cool fresh bracing air. But he went more and more
slowly as he got higher up the hill; for now the ground grew very bad
indeed. Instead of soft turf and springy heather, he met great patches
of flat limestone rock, just like ill-made pavements, with deep cracks
between the stones and ledges, filled with ferns; so he had to hop from
stone to stone, and now and then he slipped in between, and hurt his
little bare toes, though they were tolerably tough ones; but still he
would go on and up, he could not tell why.

What would Tom have said if he had seen, walking over the moor behind
him, the very same Irishwoman who had taken his part upon the road? But
whether it was that he looked too little behind him, or whether it was
that she kept out of sight behind the rocks and knolls, he never saw
her, though she saw him.

And now he began to get a little hungry, and very thirsty; for he had
run a long way, and the sun had risen high in heaven, and the rock was
as hot as an oven, and the air danced reels over it, as it does over a
limekiln, till everything round seemed quivering and melting in the
glare.

But he could see nothing to eat anywhere, and still less to drink.

The heath was full of bilberries and whimberries; but they were only in
flower yet, for it was June. And as for water, who can find that on the
top of a limestone rock? Now and then he passed by a deep dark
swallow-hole, going down into the earth, as if it was the chimney of
some dwarf's house underground; and more than once, as he passed, he
could hear water falling, trickling, tinkling, many many feet below. How
he longed to get down to it, and cool his poor baked lips! But, brave
little chimney-sweep as he was, he dared not climb down such chimneys as
those.

So he went on and on, till his head spun round with the heat, and he
thought he heard church-bells ringing, a long way off.

"Ah!" he thought, "where there is a church there will be houses and
people; and, perhaps, some one will give me a bit and a sup." So he set
off again, to look for the church; for he was sure that he heard the
bells quite plain.

And in a minute more, when he looked round, he stopped again, and said,
"Why, what a big place the world is!"

And so it was; for, from the top of the mountain he could see--what
could he not see?

Behind him, far below, was Harthover, and the dark woods, and the
shining salmon river; and on his left, far below, was the town, and the
smoking chimneys of the collieries; and far, far away, the river widened
to the shining sea; and little white specks, which were ships, lay on
its bosom. Before him lay, spread out like a map, great plains, and
farms, and villages, amid dark knots of trees. They all seemed at his
very feet; but he had sense to see that they were long miles away.

And to his right rose moor after moor, hill after hill, till they faded
away, blue into blue sky. But between him and those moors, and really at
his very feet, lay something, to which, as soon as Tom saw it, he
determined to go, for that was the place for him.

A deep, deep green and rocky valley, very narrow, and filled with wood;
but through the wood, hundreds of feet below him, he could see a clear
stream glance. Oh, if he could but get down to that stream! Then, by the
stream, he saw the roof of a little cottage, and a little garden set out
in squares and beds. And there was a tiny little red thing moving in the
garden, no bigger than a fly. As Tom looked down, he saw that it was a
woman in a red petticoat. Ah! perhaps she would give him something to
eat. And there were the church-bells ringing again. Surely there must be
a village down there. Well, nobody would know him, or what had happened
at the Place. The news could not have got there yet, even if Sir John
had set all the policemen in the county after him; and he could get down
there in five minutes.

Tom was quite right about the hue-and-cry not having got thither; for he
had come, without knowing it, the best part of ten miles from Harthover;
but he was wrong about getting down in five minutes, for the cottage was
more than a mile off, and a good thousand feet below.

However, down he went, like a brave little man as he was, though he was
very footsore, and tired, and hungry, and thirsty; while the
church-bells rang so loud, he began to think that they must be inside
his own head, and the river chimed and tinkled far below; and this was
the song which it sang:--

          _Clear and cool, clear and cool,
               By laughing shallow, and dreaming pool;
               Cool and clear, cool and clear,
             By shining shingle, and foaming weir;
           Under the crag where the ouzel sings,
           And the ivied wall where the church-bell rings,
               Undefiled, for the undefiled;
             Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child._

              _Dank and foul, dank and foul,
            By the smoky town in its murky cowl;
              Foul and dank, foul and dank,
            By wharf and sewer and slimy bank;
          Darker and darker the farther I go,
          Baser and baser the richer I grow;
                  Who dare sport with the sin-defiled?
                Shrink from me, turn from me, mother and child._

                _Strong and free, strong and free,
              The floodgates are open, away to the sea,
                Free and strong, free and strong,
          Cleansing my streams as I hurry along,
          To the golden sands, and the leaping bar,
          And the taintless tide that awaits me afar.
          As I lose myself in the infinite main,
          Like a soul that has sinned and is pardoned again.
                  Undefiled, for the undefiled;
                Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child._

So Tom went down; and all the while he never saw the Irishwoman going
down behind him.



[Illustration]



CHAPTER II


A MILE off, and a thousand feet down.

So Tom found it; though it seemed as if he could have chucked a pebble
on to the back of the woman in the red petticoat who was weeding in the
garden, or even across the dale to the rocks beyond. For the bottom of
the valley was just one field broad, and on the other side ran the
stream; and above it, gray crag, gray down, gray stair, gray moor walled
up to heaven.

A quiet, silent, rich, happy place; a narrow crack cut deep into the
earth; so deep, and so out of the way, that the bad bogies can hardly
find it out. The name of the place is Vendale.

So Tom went to go down; and first he went down three hundred feet of
steep heather, mixed up with loose brown gritstone, as rough as a file;
which was not pleasant to his poor little heels, as he came bump, stump,
jump, down the steep. And still he thought he could throw a stone into
the garden.

Then he went down three hundred feet of limestone terraces, one below
the other, as straight as if a carpenter had ruled them with his ruler
and then cut them out with his chisel. There was no heath there, but--

First, a little grass slope, covered with the prettiest flowers,
rockrose and saxifrage, and thyme and basil, and all sorts of sweet
herbs.

Then bump down a two-foot step of limestone.

Then another bit of grass and flowers.

Then bump down a one-foot step.

Then another bit of grass and flowers for fifty yards, as steep as the
house-roof, where he had to slide down on his dear little tail.

Then another step of stone, ten feet high; and there he had to stop
himself, and crawl along the edge to find a crack; for if he had rolled
over, he would have rolled right into the old woman's garden, and
frightened her out of her wits.

Then, when he had found a dark narrow crack, full of green-stalked fern,
such as hangs in the basket in the drawing-room, and had crawled down
through it, with knees and elbows, as he would down a chimney, there was
another grass slope, and another step, and so on, till--oh, dear me! I
wish it was all over; and so did he. And yet he thought he could throw a
stone into the old woman's garden.

At last he came to a bank of beautiful shrubs; white-beam with its
great silver-backed leaves, and mountain-ash, and oak; and below them
cliff and crag, cliff and crag, with great beds of crown-ferns and
wood-sedge; while through the shrubs he could see the stream sparkling,
and hear it murmur on the white pebbles. He did not know that it was
three hundred feet below.

You would have been giddy, perhaps, at looking down: but Tom was not. He
was a brave little chimney-sweep; and when he found himself on the top
of a high cliff, instead of sitting down and crying, he said, "Ah, this
will just suit me!" though he was very tired; and down he went, by stock
and stone, sedge and ledge, bush and rush, as if he had been born a
jolly little black ape, with four hands instead of two.

And all the while he never saw the Irishwoman coming down behind him.

But he was getting terribly tired now. The burning sun on the fells had
sucked him up; but the damp heat of the woody crag sucked him up still
more; and the perspiration ran out of the ends of his fingers and toes,
and washed him cleaner than he had been for a whole year. But, of
course, he dirtied everything terribly as he went. There has been a
great black smudge all down the crag ever since. And there have been
more black beetles in Vendale since than ever were known before; all, of
course, owing to Tom's having blacked the original papa of them all,
just as he was setting off to be married, with a sky-blue coat and
scarlet leggings, as smart as a gardener's dog with a polyanthus in his
mouth.

At last he got to the bottom. But, behold, it was not the bottom--as
people usually find when they are coming down a mountain. For at the
foot of the crag were heaps and heaps of fallen limestone of every size
from that of your head to that of a stage-waggon, with holes between
them full of sweet heath-fern; and before Tom got through them, he was
out in the bright sunshine again; and then he felt, once for all and
suddenly, as people generally do, that he was b-e-a-t, beat.

You must expect to be beat a few times in your life, little man, if you
live such a life as a man ought to live, let you be as strong and
healthy as you may: and when you are, you will find it a very ugly
feeling. I hope that that day you may have a stout staunch friend by you
who is not beat; for, if you have not, you had best lie where you are,
and wait for better times, as poor Tom did.

He could not get on. The sun was burning, and yet he felt chill all
over. He was quite empty, and yet he felt quite sick. There was but two
hundred yards of smooth pasture between him and the cottage, and yet he
could not walk down it. He could hear the stream murmuring only one
field beyond it, and yet it seemed to him as if it was a hundred miles
off.

He lay down on the grass till the beetles ran over him, and the flies
settled on his nose. I don't know when he would have got up again, if
the gnats and the midges had not taken compassion on him. But the gnats
blew their trumpets so loud in his ear, and the midges nibbled so at his
hands and face wherever they could find a place free from soot, that at
last he woke up, and stumbled away, down over a low wall, and into a
narrow road, and up to the cottage-door.

And a neat pretty cottage it was, with clipped yew hedges all round the
garden, and yews inside too, cut into peacocks and trumpets and teapots
and all kinds of queer shapes. And out of the open door came a noise
like that of the frogs when they know that it is going to be scorching
hot to-morrow--and how they know that I don't know, and you don't know,
and nobody knows.

He came slowly up to the open door, which was all hung round with
clematis and roses; and then peeped in, half afraid.

And there sat by the empty fireplace, which was filled with a pot of
sweet herbs, the nicest old woman that ever was seen, in her red
petticoat, and short dimity bedgown, and clean white cap, with a black
silk handkerchief over it, tied under her chin. At her feet sat the
grandfather of all the cats; and opposite her sat, on two benches,
twelve or fourteen neat, rosy, chubby little children, learning their
Chris-cross-row; and gabble enough they made about it.

Such a pleasant cottage it was, with a shiny clean stone floor, and
curious old prints on the walls, and an old black oak sideboard full of
bright pewter and brass dishes, and a cuckoo clock in the corner, which
began shouting as soon as Tom appeared: not that it was frightened at
Tom, but that it was just eleven o'clock.

All the children started at Tom's dirty black figure,--the girls began
to cry, and the boys began to laugh, and all pointed at him rudely
enough; but Tom was too tired to care for that.

"What art thou, and what dost want?" cried the old dame. "A
chimney-sweep! Away with thee! I'll have no sweeps here."

"Water," said poor little Tom, quite faint.

"Water? There's plenty i' the beck," she said, quite sharply.

"But I can't get there; I'm most clemmed with hunger and drought." And
Tom sank down upon the door-step, and laid his head against the post.

And the old dame looked at him through her spectacles one minute, and
two, and three; and then she said, "He's sick; and a bairn's a bairn,
sweep or none."

"Water," said Tom.

"God forgive me!" and she put by her spectacles, and rose, and came to
Tom. "Water's bad for thee; I'll give thee milk." And she toddled off
into the next room, and brought a cup of milk and a bit of bread.

Tom drank the milk off at one draught, and then looked up, revived.

"Where didst come from?" said the dame.

"Over Fell, there," said Tom, and pointed up into the sky.

"Over Harthover? and down Lewthwaite Crag? Art sure thou art not lying?"

"Why should I?" said Tom, and leant his head against the post.

"And how got ye up there?"

"I came over from the Place;" and Tom was so tired and desperate he had
no heart or time to think of a story, so he told all the truth in a few
words.

"Bless thy little heart! And thou hast not been stealing, then?"

"No."

"Bless thy little heart! and I'll warrant not. Why, God's guided the
bairn, because he was innocent! Away from the Place, and over Harthover
Fell, and down Lewthwaite Crag! Who ever heard the like, if God hadn't
led him? Why dost not eat thy bread?"

"I can't."

"It's good enough, for I made it myself."

"I can't," said Tom, and he laid his head on his knees, and then asked--

"Is it Sunday?"

"No, then; why should it be?"

"Because I hear the church-bells ringing so."

"Bless thy pretty heart! The bairn's sick. Come wi' me, and I'll hap
thee up somewhere. If thou wert a bit cleaner I'd put thee in my own
bed, for the Lord's sake. But come along here."

But when Tom tried to get up, he was so tired and giddy that she had to
help him and lead him.

She put him in an outhouse upon soft sweet hay and an old rug, and bade
him sleep off his walk, and she would come to him when school was over,
in an hour's time.

And so she went in again, expecting Tom to fall fast asleep at once.

[Illustration]

But Tom did not fall asleep.

Instead of it he turned and tossed and kicked about in the strangest
way, and felt so hot all over that he longed to get into the river and
cool himself; and then he fell half asleep, and dreamt that he heard the
little white lady crying to him, "Oh, you're so dirty; go and be
washed;" and then that he heard the Irishwoman saying, "Those that wish
to be clean, clean they will be." And then he heard the church-bells
ring so loud, close to him too, that he was sure it must be Sunday, in
spite of what the old dame had said; and he would go to church, and see
what a church was like inside, for he had never been in one, poor little
fellow, in all his life. But the people would never let him come in, all
over soot and dirt like that. He must go to the river and wash first.
And he said out loud again and again, though being half asleep he did
not know it, "I must be clean, I must be clean."

And all of a sudden he found himself not in the outhouse on the hay, but
in the middle of a meadow, over the road, with the stream just before
him, saying continually, "I must be clean, I must be clean." He had got
there on his own legs, between sleep and awake, as children will often
get out of bed, and go about the room, when they are not quite well. But
he was not a bit surprised, and went on to the bank of the brook, and
lay down on the grass, and looked into the clear, clear limestone water,
with every pebble at the bottom bright and clean, while the little
silver trout dashed about in fright at the sight of his black face; and
he dipped his hand in and found it so cool, cool, cool; and he said, "I
will be a fish; I will swim in the water; I must be clean, I must be
clean."

So he pulled off all his clothes in such haste that he tore some of
them, which was easy enough with such ragged old things. And he put his
poor hot sore feet into the water; and then his legs; and the farther he
went in, the more the church-bells rang in his head.

"Ah," said Tom, "I must be quick and wash myself; the bells are ringing
quite loud now; and they will stop soon, and then the door will be shut,
and I shall never be able to get in at all."

Tom was mistaken: for in England the church doors are left open all
service time, for everybody who likes to come in, Churchman or
Dissenter; ay, even if he were a Turk or a Heathen; and if any man dared
to turn him out, as long as he behaved quietly, the good old English law
would punish that man, as he deserved, for ordering any peaceable person
out of God's house, which belongs to all alike. But Tom did not know
that, any more than he knew a great deal more which people ought to
know.

And all the while he never saw the Irishwoman, not behind him this time,
but before.

For just before he came to the river side, she had stepped down into the
cool clear water; and her shawl and her petticoat floated off her, and
the green water-weeds floated round her sides, and the white
water-lilies floated round her head, and the fairies of the stream came
up from the bottom and bore her away and down upon their arms; for she
was the Queen of them all; and perhaps of more besides.

"Where have you been?" they asked her.

"I have been smoothing sick folks' pillows, and whispering sweet dreams
into their ears; opening cottage casements, to let out the stifling air;
coaxing little children away from gutters, and foul pools where fever
breeds; turning women from the gin-shop door, and staying men's hands as
they were going to strike their wives; doing all I can to help those who
will not help themselves: and little enough that is, and weary work for
me. But I have brought you a new little brother, and watched him safe
all the way here."

Then all the fairies laughed for joy at the thought that they had a
little brother coming.

"But mind, maidens, he must not see you, or know that you are here. He
is but a savage now, and like the beasts which perish; and from the
beasts which perish he must learn. So you must not play with him, or
speak to him, or let him see you: but only keep him from being harmed."

Then the fairies were sad, because they could not play with their new
brother, but they always did what they were told.

And their Queen floated away down the river; and whither she went,
thither she came. But all this Tom, of course, never saw or heard: and
perhaps if he had it would have made little difference in the story;
for he was so hot and thirsty, and longed so to be clean for once, that
he tumbled himself as quick as he could into the clear cool stream.

And he had not been in it two minutes before he fell fast asleep, into
the quietest, sunniest, cosiest sleep that ever he had in his life; and
he dreamt about the green meadows by which he had walked that morning,
and the tall elm-trees, and the sleeping cows; and after that he dreamt
of nothing at all.

The reason of his falling into such a delightful sleep is very simple;
and yet hardly any one has found it out. It was merely that the fairies
took him.

Some people think that there are no fairies. But it is a wide world, and
plenty of room in it for fairies, without people seeing them; unless, of
course, they look in the right place. The most wonderful and the
strongest things in the world, you know, are just the things which no
one can see. There is life in you; and it is the life in you which makes
you grow, and move, and think: and yet you can't see it. And there is
steam in a steam-engine; and that is what makes it move: and yet you
can't see it; and so there may be fairies in the world, and they may be
just what makes the world go round to the old tune of

          "_C'est l'amour, l'amour, l'amour
            Qui fait la monde à la ronde:_"

and yet no one may be able to see them except those whose hearts are
going round to that same tune. At all events, we will make believe that
there are fairies in the world. It will not be the last time by many a
one that we shall have to make believe. And yet, after all, there is no
need for that. There must be fairies; for this is a fairy tale: and how
can one have a fairy tale if there are no fairies?

The kind old dame came back at twelve, when school was over, to look at
Tom: but there was no Tom there. She looked about for his footprints;
but the ground was so hard that there was none.

So the old dame went in again quite sulky, thinking that little Tom had
tricked her with a false story, and shammed ill, and then run away
again.

But she altered her mind the next day. For, when Sir John and the rest
of them had run themselves out of breath, and lost Tom, they went back
again, looking very foolish.

And they looked more foolish still when Sir John heard more of the story
from the nurse; and more foolish still, again, when they heard the whole
story from Miss Ellie, the little lady in white. All she had seen was a
poor little black chimney-sweep, crying and sobbing, and going to get up
the chimney again. Of course, she was very much frightened: and no
wonder. But that was all. The boy had taken nothing in the room; by the
mark of his little sooty feet, they could see that he had never been off
the hearthrug till the nurse caught hold of him. It was all a mistake.

So Sir John told Grimes to go home, and promised him five shillings if
he would bring the boy quietly up to him, without beating him, that he
might be sure of the truth. For he took for granted, and Grimes too,
that Tom had made his way home.

But no Tom came back to Mr. Grimes that evening; and he went to the
police-office, to tell them to look out for the boy. But no Tom was
heard of. As for his having gone over those great fells to Vendale, they
no more dreamed of that than of his having gone to the moon.

So Mr. Grimes came up to Harthover next day with a very sour face; but
when he got there, Sir John was over the hills and far away; and Mr.
Grimes had to sit in the outer servants' hall all day, and drink strong
ale to wash away his sorrows; and they were washed away long before Sir
John came back.

For good Sir John had slept very badly that night; and he said to his
lady, "My dear, the boy must have got over into the grouse-moors, and
lost himself; and he lies very heavily on my conscience, poor little
lad. But I know what I will do."

[Illustration]

So, at five the next morning up he got, and into his bath, and into his
shooting-jacket and gaiters, and into the stableyard, like a fine old
English gentleman, with a face as red as a rose, and a hand as hard as a
table, and a back as broad as a bullock's; and bade them bring his
shooting pony, and the keeper to come on his pony, and the huntsman, and
the first whip, and the second whip, and the underkeeper with the
bloodhound in a leash--a great dog as tall as a calf, of the colour of a
gravel-walk, with mahogany ears and nose, and a throat like a
church-bell. They took him up to the place where Tom had gone into the
wood; and there the hound lifted up his mighty voice, and told them all
he knew.

Then he took them to the place where Tom had climbed the wall; and they
shoved it down, and all got through.

And then the wise dog took them over the moor, and over the fells, step
by step, very slowly; for the scent was a day old, you know, and very
light from the heat and drought. But that was why cunning old Sir John
started at five in the morning.

And at last he came to the top of Lewthwaite Crag, and there he bayed,
and looked up in their faces, as much as to say, "I tell you he is gone
down here!"

They could hardly believe that Tom would have gone so far; and when they
looked at that awful cliff, they could never believe that he would have
dared to face it. But if the dog said so, it must be true.

"Heaven forgive us!" said Sir John. "If we find him at all, we shall
find him lying at the bottom." And he slapped his great hand upon his
great thigh, and said--

"Who will go down over Lewthwaite Crag, and see if that boy is alive? Oh
that I were twenty years younger, and I would go down myself!" And so he
would have done, as well as any sweep in the county. Then he said--

"Twenty pounds to the man who brings me that boy alive!" and as was his
way, what he said he meant.

Now among the lot was a little groom-boy, a very little groom indeed;
and he was the same who had ridden up the court, and told Tom to come to
the Hall; and he said--

"Twenty pounds or none, I will go down over Lewthwaite Crag, if it's
only for the poor boy's sake. For he was as civil a spoken little chap
as ever climbed a flue."

So down over Lewthwaite Crag he went: a very smart groom he was at the
top, and a very shabby one at the bottom; for he tore his gaiters, and
he tore his breeches, and he tore his jacket, and he burst his braces,
and he burst his boots, and he lost his hat, and what was worst of all,
he lost his shirt pin, which he prized very much, for it was gold, and
he had won it in a raffle at Malton, so it was a really severe loss: but
he never saw anything of Tom.

And all the while Sir John and the rest were riding round, full three
miles to the right, and back again, to get into Vendale, and to the foot
of the crag.

When they came to the old dame's school, all the children came out to
see. And the old dame came out too; and when she saw Sir John, she
curtsied very low, for she was a tenant of his.

"Well, dame, and how are you?" said Sir John.

"Blessings on you as broad as your back, Harthover," says she--she
didn't call him Sir John, but only Harthover, for that is the fashion in
the North country--"and welcome into Vendale: but you're no hunting the
fox this time of the year?"

"I am hunting, and strange game too," said he.

"Blessings on your heart, and what makes you look so sad the morn?"

"I'm looking for a lost child, a chimney-sweep, that is run away."

"Oh, Harthover, Harthover," says she, "ye were always a just man and a
merciful; and ye'll no harm the poor little lad if I give you tidings of
him?"

"Not I, not I, dame. I'm afraid we hunted him out of the house all on a
miserable mistake, and the hound has brought him to the top of
Lewthwaite Crag, and----"

Whereat the old dame broke out crying, without letting him finish his
story.

"So he told me the truth after all, poor little dear! Ah, first thoughts
are best, and a body's heart'll guide them right, if they will but
hearken to it." And then she told Sir John all.

"Bring the dog here, and lay him on," said Sir John, without another
word, and he set his teeth very hard.

And the dog opened at once; and went away at the back of the cottage,
over the road, and over the meadow, and through a bit of alder copse;
and there, upon an alder stump, they saw Tom's clothes lying. And then
they knew as much about it all as there was any need to know.

And Tom?

Ah, now comes the most wonderful part of this wonderful story. Tom, when
he woke, for of course he woke--children always wake after they have
slept exactly as long as is good for them--found himself swimming about
in the stream, being about four inches, or--that I may be
accurate--3.87902 inches long, and having round the parotid region of
his fauces a set of external gills (I hope you understand all the big
words) just like those of a sucking eft, which he mistook for a lace
frill, till he pulled at them, found he hurt himself, and made up his
mind that they were part of himself, and best left alone.

In fact, the fairies had turned him into a water-baby.

A water-baby? You never heard of a water-baby. Perhaps not. That is the
very reason why this story was written. There are a great many things
in the world which you never heard of; and a great many more which
nobody ever heard of; and a great many things, too, which nobody will
ever hear of, at least until the coming of the Cocqcigrues, when man
shall be the measure of all things.

"But there are no such things as water-babies."

How do you know that? Have you been there to see? And if you had been
there to see, and had seen none, that would not prove that there were
none. And no one has a right to say that no water-babies exist, till
they have seen no water-babies existing; which is quite a different
thing, mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing nobody ever did,
or perhaps ever will do.

"But surely if there were water-babies, somebody would have caught one
at least?"

Well. How do you know that somebody has not?

"But they would have put it into spirits, or into the _Illustrated
News_, or perhaps cut it into two halves, poor dear little thing, and
sent one to Professor Owen, and one to Professor Huxley, to see what
they would each say about it."

Ah, my dear little man! that does not follow at all, as you will see
before the end of the story.

"But a water-baby is contrary to nature."

Well, but, my dear little man, you must learn to talk about such things,
when you grow older, in a very different way from that. You must not
talk about "ain't" and "can't" when you speak of this great wonderful
world round you, of which the wisest man knows only the very smallest
corner, and is, as the great Sir Isaac Newton said, only a child picking
up pebbles on the shore of a boundless ocean.

You must not say that this cannot be, or that that is contrary to
nature. You do not know what Nature is, or what she can do; and nobody
knows. Wise men are afraid to say that there is anything contrary to
nature, except what is contrary to mathematical truth; for two and two
cannot make five, and two straight lines cannot join twice, and a part
cannot be as great as the whole, and so on (at least, so it seems at
present): but the wiser men are, the less they talk about "cannot." That
is a very rash, dangerous word, that "cannot"; and if people use it too
often, the Queen of all the Fairies, who makes the clouds thunder and
the fleas bite, and takes just as much trouble about one as about the
other, is apt to astonish them suddenly by showing them, that though
they say she cannot, yet she can, and what is more, will, whether they
approve or not.

And therefore it is, that there are dozens and hundreds of things in the
world which we should certainly have said were contrary to nature, if we
did not see them going on under our eyes all day long. If people had
never seen little seeds grow into great plants and trees, of quite
different shape from themselves, and these trees again produce fresh
seeds, to grow into fresh trees, they would have said, "The thing cannot
be; it is contrary to nature." And they would have been quite as right
in saying so, as in saying that most other things cannot be.

[Illustration]

Or suppose again, that you had come a traveller from unknown parts; and
that no human being had ever seen or heard of an elephant. And suppose
that you described him to people, and said, "This is the shape, and
plan, and anatomy of the beast, and of his feet, and of his trunk, and
of his grinders, and of his tusks, though they are not tusks at all, but
two fore teeth run mad; and this is the section of his skull, more like
a mushroom than a reasonable skull of a reasonable or unreasonable
beast; and so forth, and so forth; and though the beast (which I assure
you I have seen and shot) is first cousin to the little hairy coney of
Scripture, second cousin to a pig, and (I suspect) thirteenth or
fourteenth cousin to a rabbit, yet he is the wisest of all beasts, and
can do everything save read, write, and cast accounts." People would
surely have said, "Nonsense; your elephant is contrary to nature," and
have thought you were telling stories--as the French thought of Le
Vaillant when he came back to Paris and said that he had shot a giraffe;
and as the king of the Cannibal Islands thought of the English sailor,
when he said that in his country water turned to marble, and rain fell
as feathers. They would tell you, the more they knew of science, "Your
elephant is an impossible monster, contrary to the laws of comparative
anatomy, as far as yet known." To which you would answer the less, the
more you thought.

[Illustration]

Did not learned men, too, hold, till within the last twenty-five years,
that a flying dragon was an impossible monster? And do we not now know
that there are hundreds of them found fossil up and down the world?
People call them Pterodactyles: but that is only because they are
ashamed to call them flying dragons, after denying so long that flying
dragons could exist.

The truth is, that folks' fancy that such and such things cannot be,
simply because they have not seen them is worth no more than a savage's
fancy that there cannot be such a thing as a locomotive, because he
never saw one running wild in the forest. Wise men know that their
business is to examine what is, and not to settle what is not. They know
that there are elephants; they know that there have been flying dragons;
and the wiser they are, the less inclined they will be to say positively
that there are no water-babies.

No water-babies, indeed! Why, wise men of old said that everything on
earth had its double in the water; and you may see that that is, if not
quite true, still quite as true as most other theories which you are
likely to hear for many a day. There are land-babies--then why not
water-babies? _Are there not water-rats, water-flies, water-crickets,
water-crabs, water-tortoises, water-scorpions, water-tigers and
water-hogs, water-cats and water-dogs, sea-lions and sea-bears,
sea-horses and sea-elephants, sea-mice and sea-urchins, sea-razors and
sea-pens, sea-combs and sea-fans; and of plants, are there not
water-grass, and water-crowfoot, water-milfoil, and so on, without end?_

"But all these things are only nicknames; the water things are not
really akin to the land things."

That's not always true. They are, in millions of cases, not only of the
same family, but actually the same individual creatures. Do not even you
know that a green drake, and an alder-fly, and a dragon-fly, live under
water till they change their skins, just as Tom changed his? And if a
water animal can continually change into a land animal, why should not a
land animal sometimes change into a water animal?

Am I in earnest? Oh dear no! Don't you know that this is a fairy tale,
and all fun and pretence; and that you are not to believe one word of
it, even if it is true?

But at all events, so it happened to Tom. And, therefore, the keeper,
and the groom, and Sir John made a great mistake, and were very unhappy
(Sir John at least) without any reason, when they found a black thing in
the water, and said it was Tom's body, and that he had been drowned.
They were utterly mistaken. Tom was quite alive; and cleaner, and
merrier, than he ever had been. The fairies had washed him, you see, in
the swift river, so thoroughly, that not only his dirt, but his whole
husk and shell had been washed quite off him, and the pretty little real
Tom was washed out of the inside of it, and swam away, as a caddis does
when its case of stones and silk is bored through, and away it goes on
its back, paddling to the shore, there to split its skin, and fly away
as a caperer, on four fawn-coloured wings, with long legs and horns.
They are foolish fellows, the caperers, and fly into the candle at
night, if you leave the door open. We will hope Tom will be wiser, now
he has got safe out of his sooty old shell.

But good Sir John did not understand all this, not being a fellow of the
Linnæan Society; and he took it into his head that Tom was drowned. When
they looked into the empty pockets of his shell, and found no jewels
there, nor money--nothing but three marbles, and a brass button with a
string to it--then Sir John did something as like crying as ever he did
in his life, and blamed himself more bitterly than he need have done. So
he cried, and the groom-boy cried, and the huntsman cried, and the dame
cried, and the little girl cried, and the dairymaid cried, and the old
nurse cried (for it was somewhat her fault), and my lady cried, for
though people have wigs, that is no reason why they should not have
hearts; but the keeper did not cry, though he had been so good-natured
to Tom the morning before; for he was so dried up with running after
poachers, that you could no more get tears out of him than milk out of
leather: and Grimes did not cry, for Sir John gave him ten pounds, and
he drank it all in a week. Sir John sent, far and wide, to find Tom's
father and mother: but he might have looked till Doomsday for them, for
one was dead, and the other was in Botany Bay. And the little girl would
not play with her dolls for a whole week, and never forgot poor little
Tom. And soon my lady put a pretty little tombstone over Tom's shell in
the little churchyard in Vendale, where the old dalesmen all sleep side
by side between the limestone crags. And the dame decked it with
garlands every Sunday, till she grew so old that she could not stir
abroad; then the little children decked it for her. And always she sang
an old old song, as she sat spinning what she called her wedding-dress.
The children could not understand it, but they liked it none the less
for that; for it was very sweet, and very sad; and that was enough for
them. And these are the words of it:--

          _When all the world is young, lad,
             And all the trees are green;
           And every goose a swan, lad,
             And every lass a queen;
           Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
             And round the world away;
           Young blood must have its course, lad,
             And every dog his day._

          _When all the world is old, lad,
             And all the trees are brown;
           And all the sport is stale, lad,
             And all the wheels run down;
           Creep home, and take your place there,
             The spent and maimed among:
           God grant you find one face there,
             You loved when all was young._

Those are the words: but they are only the body of it: the soul of the
song was the dear old woman's sweet face, and sweet voice, and the sweet
old air to which she sang; and that, alas! one cannot put on paper. And
at last she grew so stiff and lame, that the angels were forced to carry
her: and they helped her on with her wedding-dress, and carried her up
over Harthover Fells, and a long way beyond that too; and there was a
new schoolmistress in Vendale.

And all the while Tom was swimming about in the river, with a pretty
little lace-collar of gills about his neck, as lively as a grig, and as
clean as a fresh-run salmon.



[Illustration]



CHAPTER III


TOM was now quite amphibious. You do not know what that means?

You had better, then, ask the nearest Government pupil-teacher, who may
possibly answer you smartly enough, thus--

"Amphibious. Adjective, derived from two Greek words, _amphi_, a fish,
and _bios_, a beast. An animal supposed by our ignorant ancestors to be
compounded of a fish and a beast; which therefore, like the
hippopotamus, can't live on the land, and dies in the water."

However that may be, Tom was amphibious: and what is better still, he
was clean. For the first time in his life, he felt how comfortable it
was to have nothing on him but himself. But he only enjoyed it: he did
not know it, or think about it; just as you enjoy life and health, and
yet never think about being alive and healthy; and may it be long before
you have to think about it!

[Illustration: _He felt how comfortable it was to have nothing on him
but himself_]

He did not remember having ever been dirty. Indeed, he did not remember
any of his old troubles, being tired, or hungry, or beaten, or sent up
dark chimneys. Since that sweet sleep, he had forgotten all about his
master, and Harthover Place, and the little white girl, and in a word,
all that had happened to him when he lived before; and what was best of
all, he had forgotten all the bad words which he had learned from
Grimes, and the rude boys with whom he used to play.

That is not strange: for you know, when you came into this world, and
became a land-baby, you remembered nothing. So why should he, when he
became a water-baby?

Then have you lived before?

My dear child, who can tell? One can only tell that, by remembering
something which happened where we lived before; and as we remember
nothing, we know nothing about it; and no book, and no man, can never
tell us certainly.

There was a wise man once, a very wise man, and a very good man, who
wrote a poem about the feelings which some children have about having
lived before; and this is what he said--

          "_Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
            The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
              Hath elsewhere had its setting,
                And cometh from afar:
              Not in entire forgetfulness,
              And not in utter nakedness,
            But trailing clouds of glory, do we come
              From God, who is our home._"

There, you can know no more than that. But if I was you, I would believe
that. For then you will believe the one true doctrine of this wonderful
fairy tale; which is, that your soul makes your body, just as a snail
makes his shell. For the rest, it is enough for us to be sure that
whether or not we lived before, we shall live again; though not, I hope,
as poor little heathen Tom did. For he went downward into the water: but
we, I hope, shall go upward to a very different place.

But Tom was very happy in the water. He had been sadly overworked in the
land-world; and so now, to make up for that, he had nothing but
holidays in the water-world for a long, long time to come. He had
nothing to do now but enjoy himself, and look at all the pretty things
which are to be seen in the cool clear water-world, where the sun is
never too hot, and the frost is never too cold.

And what did he live on? Water-cresses, perhaps; or perhaps water-gruel,
and water-milk; too many land-babies do so likewise. But we do not know
what one-tenth of the water-things eat; so we are not answerable for the
water-babies.

Sometimes he went along the smooth gravel water-ways, looking at the
crickets which ran in and out among the stones, as rabbits do on land;
or he climbed over the ledges of rock, and saw the sand-pipes hanging in
thousands, with every one of them a pretty little head and legs peeping
out; or he went into a still corner, and watched the caddises eating
dead sticks as greedily as you would eat plum-pudding, and building
their houses with silk and glue. Very fanciful ladies they were; none of
them would keep to the same materials for a day. One would begin with
some pebbles; then she would stick on a piece of green wood; then she
found a shell, and stuck it on too; and the poor shell was alive, and
did not like at all being taken to build houses with: but the caddis did
not let him have any voice in the matter, being rude and selfish, as
vain people are apt to be; then she stuck on a piece of rotten wood,
then a very smart pink stone, and so on, till she was patched all over
like an Irishman's coat. Then she found a long straw, five times as long
as herself, and said, "Hurrah! my sister has a tail, and I'll have one
too;" and she stuck it on her back, and marched about with it quite
proud, though it was very inconvenient indeed. And, at that, tails
became all the fashion among the caddis-baits in that pool, as they were
at the end of the Long Pond last May, and they all toddled about with
long straws sticking out behind, getting between each other's legs, and
tumbling over each other, and looking so ridiculous, that Tom laughed at
them till he cried, as we did. But they were quite right, you know; for
people must always follow the fashion, even if it be spoon-bonnets.

Then sometimes he came to a deep still reach; and there he saw the
water-forests. They would have looked to you only little weeds: but Tom,
you must remember, was so little that everything looked a hundred times
as big to him as it does to you, just as things do to a minnow, who sees
and catches the little water-creatures which you can only see in a
microscope.

And in the water-forest he saw the water-monkeys and water-squirrels
(they had all six legs, though; everything almost has six legs in the
water, except efts and water-babies); and nimbly enough they ran among
the branches. There were water-flowers there too, in thousands; and Tom
tried to pick them: but as soon as he touched them, they drew themselves
in and turned into knots of jelly; and then Tom saw that they were all
alive--bells, and stars, and wheels, and flowers, of all beautiful
shapes and colours; and all alive and busy, just as Tom was. So now he
found that there was a great deal more in the world than he had fancied
at first sight.

There was one wonderful little fellow, too, who peeped out of the top of
a house built of round bricks. He had two big wheels, and one little
one, all over teeth, spinning round and round like the wheels in a
thrashing-machine; and Tom stood and stared at him, to see what he was
going to make with his machinery. And what do you think he was doing?
Brick-making. With his two big wheels he swept together all the mud
which floated in the water: all that was nice in it he put into his
stomach and ate; and all the mud he put into the little wheel on his
breast, which really was a round hole set with teeth; and there he spun
it into a neat hard round brick; and then he took it and stuck it on
the top of his house-wall, and set to work to make another. Now was not
he a clever little fellow?

Tom thought so: but when he wanted to talk to him the brick-maker was
much too busy and proud of his work to take notice of him.

Now you must know that all the things under the water talk; only not
such a language as ours; but such as horses, and dogs, and cows, and
birds talk to each other; and Tom soon learned to understand them and
talk to them; so that he might have had very pleasant company if he had
only been a good boy. But I am sorry to say, he was too like some other
little boys, very fond of hunting and tormenting creatures for mere
sport. Some people say that boys cannot help it; that it is nature, and
only a proof that we are all originally descended from beasts of prey.
But whether it is nature or not, little boys can help it, and must help
it. For if they have naughty, low, mischievous tricks in their nature,
as monkeys have, that is no reason why they should give way to those
tricks like monkeys, who know no better. And therefore they must not
torment dumb creatures; for if they do, a certain old lady who is coming
will surely give them exactly what they deserve.

[Illustration]

But Tom did not know that; and he pecked and howked the poor
water-things about sadly, till they were all afraid of him, and got out
of his way, or crept into their shells; so he had no one to speak to or
play with.

The water-fairies, of course, were very sorry to see him so unhappy, and
longed to take him, and tell him how naughty he was, and teach him to be
good, and to play and romp with him too: but they had been forbidden to
do that. Tom had to learn his lesson for himself by sound and sharp
experience, as many another foolish person has to do, though there may
be many a kind heart yearning over them all the while, and longing to
teach them what they can only teach themselves.

At last one day he found a caddis, and wanted it to peep out of its
house: but its house-door was shut. He had never seen a caddis with a
house-door before: so what must he do, the meddlesome little fellow,
but pull it open, to see what the poor lady was doing inside. What a
shame! How should you like to have any one breaking your bedroom-door
in, to see how you looked when you were in bed? So Tom broke to pieces
the door, which was the prettiest little grating of silk, stuck all over
with shining bits of crystal; and when he looked in, the caddis poked
out her head, and it had turned into just the shape of a bird's. But
when Tom spoke to her she could not answer; for her mouth and face were
tight tied up in a new night-cap of neat pink skin. However, if she
didn't answer, all the other caddises did; for they held up their hands
and shrieked like the cats in Struwelpeter: "_Oh, you nasty horrid boy;
there you are at it again! And she had just laid herself up for a
fortnight's sleep, and then she would have come out with such beautiful
wings, and flown about, and laid such lots of eggs: and now you have
broken her door, and she can't mend it because her mouth is tied up for
a fortnight, and she will die. Who sent you here to worry us out of our
lives?_"

So Tom swam away. He was very much ashamed of himself, and felt all the
naughtier; as little boys do when they have done wrong and won't say so.

Then he came to a pool full of little trout, and began tormenting them,
and trying to catch them: but they slipped through his fingers, and
jumped clean out of the water in their fright. But as Tom chased them,
he came close to a great dark hover under an alder root, and out
floushed a huge old brown trout ten times as big as he was, and ran
right against him, and knocked all the breath out of his body; and I
don't know which was the more frightened of the two.

Then he went on sulky and lonely, as he deserved to be; and under a bank
he saw a very ugly dirty creature sitting, about half as big as himself,
which had six legs, and a big stomach, and a most ridiculous head with
two great eyes and a face just like a donkey's.

"Oh," said Tom, "you are an ugly fellow to be sure!" and he began making
faces at him; and put his nose close to him, and halloed at him, like a
very rude boy.

When, hey presto! all the thing's donkey-face came off in a moment, and
out popped a long arm with a pair of pincers at the end of it, and
caught Tom by the nose. It did not hurt him much; but it held him quite
tight.

"Yah, ah! Oh, let me go!" cried Tom.

"Then let me go," said the creature. "I want to be quiet. I want to
split."

Tom promised to let him alone, and he let go. "Why do you want to
split?" said Tom.

"Because my brothers and sisters have all split, and turned into
beautiful creatures with wings; and I want to split too. Don't speak to
me. I am sure I shall split. I will split!"

Tom stood still, and watched him. And he swelled himself, and puffed,
and stretched himself out stiff, and at last--crack, puff, bang--he
opened all down his back, and then up to the top of his head.

And out of his inside came the most slender, elegant, soft creature, as
soft and smooth as Tom: but very pale and weak, like a little child who
has been ill a long time in a dark room. It moved its legs very feebly;
and looked about it half ashamed, like a girl when she goes for the
first time into a ballroom; and then it began walking slowly up a grass
stem to the top of the water.

Tom was so astonished that he never said a word: but he stared with all
his eyes. And he went up to the top of the water too, and peeped out to
see what would happen.

And as the creature sat in the warm bright sun, a wonderful change came
over it. It grew strong and firm; the most lovely colours began to show
on its body, blue and yellow and black, spots and bars and rings; out
of its back rose four great wings of bright brown gauze; and its eyes
grew so large that they filled all its head, and shone like ten thousand
diamonds.

"Oh, you beautiful creature!" said Tom; and he put out his hand to catch
it.

But the thing whirred up into the air, and hung poised on its wings a
moment, and then settled down again by Tom quite fearless.

"No!" it said, "you cannot catch me. I am a dragon-fly now, the king of
all the flies; and I shall dance in the sunshine, and hawk over the
river, and catch gnats, and have a beautiful wife like myself. I know
what I shall do. Hurrah!" And he flew away into the air, and began
catching gnats.

"Oh! come back, come back," cried Tom, "you beautiful creature. I have
no one to play with, and I am so lonely here. If you will but come back
I will never try to catch you."

"I don't care whether you do or not," said the dragon-fly; "for you
can't. But when I have had my dinner, and looked a little about this
pretty place, I will come back, and have a little chat about all I have
seen in my travels. Why, what a huge tree this is! and what huge leaves
on it!"

It was only a big dock: but you know the dragon-fly had never seen any
but little water-trees; starwort, and milfoil, and water-crowfoot, and
such like; so it did look very big to him. Besides, he was very
short-sighted, as all dragon-flies are; and never could see a yard
before his nose; any more than a great many other folks, who are not
half as handsome as he.

The dragon-fly did come back, and chatted away with Tom. He was a little
conceited about his fine colours and his large wings; but you know, he
had been a poor dirty ugly creature all his life before; so there were
great excuses for him. He was very fond of talking about all the
wonderful things he saw in the trees and the meadows; and Tom liked to
listen to him, for he had forgotten all about them. So in a little while
they became great friends.

And I am very glad to say, that Tom learned such a lesson that day, that
he did not torment creatures for a long time after. And then the
caddises grew quite tame, and used to tell him strange stories about the
way they built their houses, and changed their skins, and turned at last
into winged flies; till Tom began to long to change his skin, and have
wings like them some day.

And the trout and he made it up (for trout very soon forget if they have
been frightened and hurt). So Tom used to play with them at hare and
hounds, and great fun they had; and he used to try to leap out of the
water, head over heels, as they did before a shower came on; but somehow
he never could manage it. He liked most, though, to see them rising at
the flies, as they sailed round and round under the shadow of the great
oak, where the beetles fell flop into the water, and the green
caterpillars let themselves down from the boughs by silk ropes for no
reason at all; and then changed their foolish minds for no reason at all
either; and hauled themselves up again into the tree, rolling up the
rope in a ball between their paws; which is a very clever rope dancer's
trick; but why they should take so much trouble about it no one can
tell.

And very often Tom caught them just as they touched the water; and
caught the alder-flies, and the caperers, and the cock-tailed duns and
spinners, yellow, and brown, and claret, and gray, and gave them to his
friends the trout. Perhaps he was not quite kind to the flies; but one
must do a good turn to one's friends when one can.

And at last he gave up catching even the flies; for he made acquaintance
with one by accident and found him a very merry little fellow. And this
was the way it happened; and it is all quite true.

He was basking at the top of the water one hot day in July, catching
duns and feeding the trout, when he saw a new sort, a dark gray little
fellow with a brown head. He was a very little fellow indeed: but he
made the most of himself, as people ought to do. He cocked up his head,
and he cocked up his wings, and he cocked up his tail, and he cocked up
the two whisks at his tail-end, and, in short, he looked the cockiest
little man of all little men. And so he proved to be; for instead of
getting away, he hopped upon Tom's finger, and sat there as bold as nine
tailors; and he cried out in the tiniest, shrillest, squeakiest little
voice you ever heard,

"Much obliged to you, indeed; but I don't want it yet."

"Want what?" said Tom, quite taken aback by his impudence.

"Your leg, which you are kind enough to hold out for me to sit on. I
must just go and see after my wife for a few minutes. Dear me! what a
troublesome business a family is!" (though the idle little rogue did
nothing at all, but left his poor wife to lay all the eggs by herself).
"When I come back, I shall be glad of it, if you'll be so good as to
keep it sticking out just so;" and off he flew.

Tom thought him a very cool sort of personage; and still more so, when,
in five minutes, he came back, and said--"Ah, you were tired waiting?
Well, your other leg will do as well."

And he popped himself down on Tom's knee, and began chatting away in his
squeaking voice.

[Illustration]

"So you live under the water? It's a low place. I lived there for some
time; and was very shabby and dirty. But I didn't choose that that
should last. So I turned respectable, and came up to the top, and put on
this gray suit. It's a very business-like suit, you think, don't you?"

"Very neat and quiet indeed," said Tom.

"Yes, one must be quiet and neat and respectable, and all that sort of
thing for a little, when one becomes a family man. But I'm tired of it,
that's the truth. I've done quite enough business, I consider, in the
last week, to last me my life. So I shall put on a ball dress, and go
out and be a smart man, and see the gay world, and have a dance or two.
Why shouldn't one be jolly if one can?"

"And what will become of your wife?"

"Oh! she is a very plain stupid creature, and that's the truth; and
thinks about nothing but eggs. If she chooses to come, why she may; and
if not, why I go without her;--and here I go."

And, as he spoke, he turned quite pale, and then quite white.

"Why, you're ill!" said Tom. But he did not answer.

"You're dead," said Tom, looking at him as he stood on his knee as white
as a ghost.

"No, I ain't!" answered a little squeaking voice over his head. "This is
me up here, in my ball-dress; and that's my skin. Ha, ha! you could not
do such a trick as that!"

And no more Tom could, nor all the conjurors in the world. For the
little rogue had jumped clean out of his own skin, and left it standing
on Tom's knee, eyes, wings, legs, tail, exactly as if it had been alive.

"Ha, ha!" he said, and he jerked and skipped up and down, never stopping
an instant, just as if he had St. Vitus's dance. "Ain't I a pretty
fellow now?"

And so he was; for his body was white, and his tail orange, and his eyes
all the colours of a peacock's tail. And what was the oddest of all, the
whisks at the end of his tail had grown five times as long as they were
before.

"Ah!" said he, "now I will see the gay world. My living won't cost me
much, for I have no mouth, you see, and no inside; so I can never be
hungry nor have the stomach-ache neither."

No more he had. He had grown as dry and hard and empty as a quill, as
such silly shallow-hearted fellows deserve to grow.

But, instead of being ashamed of his emptiness, he was quite proud of
it, as a good many fine gentlemen are, and began flirting and flipping
up and down, and singing--

          "_My wife shall dance, and I shall sing,
             So merrily pass the day;
           For I hold it for quite the wisest thing,
             To drive dull care away._"

And he danced up and down for three days and three nights, till he grew
so tired, that he tumbled into the water, and floated down. But what
became of him Tom never knew, and he himself never minded; for Tom heard
him singing to the last, as he floated down--

          "_To drive dull care away-ay-ay!_"

And if he did not care, why nobody else cared either.

But one day Tom had a new adventure. He was sitting on a water-lily
leaf, he and his friend the dragon-fly, watching the gnats dance. The
dragon-fly had eaten as many as he wanted, and was sitting quite still
and sleepy, for it was very hot and bright. The gnats (who did not care
the least for their poor brothers' death) danced a foot over his head
quite happily, and a large black fly settled within an inch of his nose,
and began washing his own face and combing his hair with his paws: but
the dragon-fly never stirred, and kept on chatting to Tom about the
times when he lived under the water.

Suddenly, Tom heard the strangest noise up the stream; cooing, and
grunting, and whining, and squeaking, as if you had put into a bag two
stock-doves, nine mice, three guinea-pigs, and a blind puppy, and left
them there to settle themselves and make music.

He looked up the water, and there he saw a sight as strange as the
noise; a great ball rolling over and over down the stream, seeming one
moment of soft brown fur, and the next of shining glass: and yet it was
not a ball; for sometimes it broke up and streamed away in pieces, and
then it joined again; and all the while the noise came out of it louder
and louder.

Tom asked the dragon-fly what it could be: but, of course, with his
short sight, he could not even see it, though it was not ten yards away.
So he took the neatest little header into the water, and started off to
see for himself; and, when he came near, the ball turned out to be four
or five beautiful creatures, many times larger than Tom, who were
swimming about, and rolling, and diving, and twisting, and wrestling,
and cuddling, and kissing, and biting, and scratching, in the most
charming fashion that ever was seen. And if you don't believe me, you
may go to the Zoological Gardens (for I am afraid that you won't see it
nearer, unless, perhaps, you get up at five in the morning, and go down
to Cordery's Moor, and watch by the great withy pollard which hangs over
the backwater, where the otters breed sometimes), and then say, if
otters at play in the water are not the merriest, lithest, gracefullest
creatures you ever saw.

But, when the biggest of them saw Tom, she darted out from the rest, and
cried in the water-language sharply enough, "Quick, children, here is
something to eat, indeed!" and came at poor Tom, showing such a wicked
pair of eyes, and such a set of sharp teeth in a grinning mouth, that
Tom, who had thought her very handsome, said to himself, _Handsome is
that handsome does_, and slipped in between the water-lily roots as fast
as he could, and then turned round and made faces at her.

"Come out," said the wicked old otter, "or it will be worse for you."

But Tom looked at her from between two thick roots, and shook them with
all his might, making horrible faces all the while, just as he used to
grin through the railings at the old women, when he lived before. It was
not quite well bred, no doubt; but you know, Tom had not finished his
education yet.

"Come away, children," said the otter in disgust, "it is not worth
eating, after all. It is only a nasty eft, which nothing eats, not even
those vulgar pike in the pond."

"I am not an eft!" said Tom; "efts have tails."

"You are an eft," said the otter, very positively; "I see your two hands
quite plain, and I know you have a tail."

"I tell you I have not," said Tom. "Look here!" and he turned his pretty
little self quite round; and, sure enough, he had no more tail than you.

The otter might have got out of it by saying that Tom was a frog: but,
like a great many other people, when she had once said a thing, she
stood to it, right or wrong; so she answered:

[Illustration]

"I say you are an eft, and therefore you are, and not fit food for
gentlefolk like me and my children. You may stay here till the salmon
eat you (she knew the salmon would not, but she wanted to frighten poor
Tom). Ha! ha! they will eat you, and we will eat them;" and the otter
laughed such a wicked cruel laugh--as you may hear them do sometimes;
and the first time that you hear it you will probably think it is
bogies.

"What are salmon?" asked Tom.

"Fish, you eft, great fish, nice fish to eat. They are the lords of the
fish, and we are lords of the salmon;" and she laughed again. "We hunt
them up and down the pools, and drive them up into a corner, the silly
things; they are so proud, and bully the little trout, and the minnows,
till they see us coming, and then they are so meek all at once; and we
catch them, but we disdain to eat them all; we just bite out their soft
throats and suck their sweet juice--Oh, so good!"--(and she licked her
wicked lips)--"and then throw them away, and go and catch another. They
are coming soon, children, coming soon; I can smell the rain coming up
off the sea, and then hurrah for a freshet, and salmon, and plenty of
eating all day long."

And the otter grew so proud that she turned head over heels twice, and
then stood upright half out of the water, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"And where do they come from?" asked Tom, who kept himself very close,
for he was considerably frightened.

"Out of the sea, eft, the great wide sea, where they might stay and be
safe if they liked. But out of the sea the silly things come, into the
great river down below, and we come up to watch for them; and when they
go down again we go down and follow them. And there we fish for the bass
and the pollock, and have jolly days along the shore, and toss and roll
in the breakers, and sleep snug in the warm dry crags. Ah, that is a
merry life too, children, if it were not for those horrid men."

"What are men?" asked Tom; but somehow he seemed to know before he
asked.

"Two-legged things, eft: and, now I come to look at you, they are
actually something like you, if you had not a tail" (she was determined
that Tom should have a tail), "only a great deal bigger, worse luck for
us; and they catch the fish with hooks and lines, which get into our
feet sometimes, and set pots along the rocks to catch lobsters. They
speared my poor dear husband as he went out to find something for me to
eat. I was laid up among the crags then, and we were very low in the
world, for the sea was so rough that no fish would come in shore. But
they speared him, poor fellow, and I saw them carrying him away upon a
pole. Ah, he lost his life for your sakes, my children, poor dear
obedient creature that he was."

And the otter grew so sentimental (for otters can be very sentimental
when they choose, like a good many people who are both cruel and greedy,
and no good to anybody at all) that she sailed solemnly away down the
burn, and Tom saw her no more for that time. And lucky it was for her
that she did so; for no sooner was she gone, than down the bank came
seven little rough terrier dogs, snuffing and yapping, and grubbing and
splashing, in full cry after the otter. Tom hid among the water-lilies
till they were gone; for he could not guess that they were the
water-fairies come to help him.

But he could not help thinking of what the otter had said about the
great river and the broad sea. And, as he thought, he longed to go and
see them. He could not tell why; but the more he thought, the more he
grew discontented with the narrow little stream in which he lived, and
all his companions there; and wanted to get out into the wide wide
world, and enjoy all the wonderful sights of which he was sure it was
full.

And once he set off to go down the stream. But the stream was very low;
and when he came to the shallows he could not keep under water, for
there was no water left to keep under. So the sun burned his back and
made him sick; and he went back again and lay quiet in the pool for a
whole week more.

And then, on the evening of a very hot day, he saw a sight.

He had been very stupid all day, and so had the trout; for they would
not move an inch to take a fly, though there were thousands on the
water, but lay dozing at the bottom under the shade of the stones; and
Tom lay dozing too, and was glad to cuddle their smooth cool sides, for
the water was quite warm and unpleasant.

But toward evening it grew suddenly dark, and Tom looked up and saw a
blanket of black clouds lying right across the valley above his head,
resting on the crags right and left. He felt not quite frightened, but
very still; for everything was still. There was not a whisper of wind,
nor a chirp of a bird to be heard; and next a few great drops of rain
fell plop into the water, and one hit Tom on the nose, and made him pop
his head down quickly enough.

And then the thunder roared, and the lightning flashed, and leapt across
Vendale and back again, from cloud to cloud, and cliff to cliff, till
the very rocks in the stream seemed to shake: and Tom looked up at it
through the water, and thought it the finest thing he ever saw in his
life.

But out of the water he dared not put his head; for the rain came down
by bucketsful, and the hail hammered like shot on the stream, and
churned it into foam; and soon the stream rose, and rushed down, higher
and higher, and fouler and fouler, full of beetles, and sticks; and
straws, and worms, and addle-eggs, and wood-lice, and leeches, and odds
and ends, and omnium-gatherums, and this, that, and the other, enough to
fill nine museums.

Tom could hardly stand against the stream, and hid behind a rock. But
the trout did not; for out they rushed from among the stones, and began
gobbling the beetles and leeches in the most greedy and quarrelsome way,
and swimming about with great worms hanging out of their mouths, tugging
and kicking to get them away from each other.

And now, by the flashes of the lightning, Tom saw a new sight--all the
bottom of the stream alive with great eels, turning and twisting along,
all down stream and away. They had been hiding for weeks past in the
cracks of the rocks, and in burrows in the mud; and Tom had hardly ever
seen them, except now and then at night: but now they were all out, and
went hurrying past him so fiercely and wildly that he was quite
frightened. And as they hurried past he could hear them say to each
other, "We must run, we must run. What a jolly thunderstorm! Down to the
sea, down to the sea!"

And then the otter came by with all her brood, twining and sweeping
along as fast as the eels themselves; and she spied Tom as she came by,
and said:

"Now is your time, eft, if you want to see the world. Come along,
children, never mind those nasty eels: we shall breakfast on salmon
to-morrow. Down to the sea, down to the sea!"

Then came a flash brighter than all the rest, and by the light of it--in
the thousandth part of a second they were gone again--but he had seen
them, he was certain of it--three beautiful little white girls, with
their arms twined round each other's necks, floating down the torrent,
as they sang, "Down to the sea, down to the sea!"

"Oh stay! Wait for me!" cried Tom; but they were gone: yet he could hear
their voices clear and sweet through the roar of thunder and water and
wind, singing as they died away, "Down to the sea!"

"Down to the sea?" said Tom; "everything is going to the sea, and I will
go too. Good-bye, trout." But the trout were so busy gobbling worms that
they never turned to answer him; so that Tom was spared the pain of
bidding them farewell.

And now, down the rushing stream, guided by the bright flashes of the
storm; past tall birch-fringed rocks, which shone out one moment as
clear as day, and the next were dark as night; past dark hovers under
swirling banks, from which great trout rushed out on Tom, thinking him
to be good to eat, and turned back sulkily, for the fairies sent them
home again with a tremendous scolding, for daring to meddle with a
water-baby; on through narrow strids and roaring cataracts, where Tom
was deafened and blinded for a moment by the rushing waters; along deep
reaches, where the white water-lilies tossed and flapped beneath the
wind and hail; past sleeping villages; under dark bridge-arches, and
away and away to the sea. And Tom could not stop, and did not care to
stop; he would see the great world below, and the salmon, and the
breakers, and the wide wide sea.

And when the daylight came, Tom found himself out in the salmon river.

And after a while he came to a place where the river spread out into
broad still shallow reaches, so wide that little Tom, as he put his head
out of the water, could hardly see across.

And there he stopped. He got a little frightened. "This must be the
sea," he thought. "What a wide place it is! If I go on into it I shall
surely lose my way, or some strange thing will bite me. I will stop here
and look out for the otter, or the eels, or some one to tell me where I
shall go."

So he went back a little way, and crept into a crack of the rock, just
where the river opened out into the wide shallows, and watched for some
one to tell him his way: but the otter and the eels were gone on miles
and miles down the stream.

There he waited, and slept too, for he was quite tired with his night's
journey; and, when he woke, the stream was clearing to a beautiful amber
hue, though it was still very high. And after a while he saw a sight
which made him jump up; for he knew in a moment it was one of the things
which he had come to look for.

[Illustration]

Such a fish! ten times as big as the biggest trout, and a hundred times
as big as Tom, sculling up the stream past him, as easily as Tom had
sculled down.

Such a fish! shining silver from head to tail, and here and there a
crimson dot; with a grand hooked nose and grand curling lip, and a grand
bright eye, looking round him as proudly as a king, and surveying the
water right and left as if all belonged to him. Surely he must be the
salmon, the king of all the fish.

Tom was so frightened that he longed to creep into a hole; but he need
not have been; for salmon are all true gentlemen, and, like true
gentlemen, they look noble and proud enough, and yet, like true
gentlemen, they never harm or quarrel with any one, but go about their
own business, and leave rude fellows to themselves.

The salmon looked at him full in the face, and then went on without
minding him, with a swish or two of his tail which made the stream boil
again. And in a few minutes came another, and then four or five, and so
on; and all passed Tom, rushing and plunging up the cataract with strong
strokes of their silver tails, now and then leaping clean out of water
and up over a rock, shining gloriously for a moment in the bright sun,
while Tom was so delighted that he could have watched them all day long.

And at last one came up bigger than all the rest; but he came slowly,
and stopped, and looked back, and seemed very anxious and busy. And Tom
saw that he was helping another salmon, an especially handsome one, who
had not a single spot upon it, but was clothed in pure silver from nose
to tail.

"My dear," said the great fish to his companion, "you really look
dreadfully tired, and you must not over-exert yourself at first. Do rest
yourself behind this rock;" and he shoved her gently with his nose, to
the rock where Tom sat.

[Illustration: "_Oh, don't hurt me!" cried Tom. "I only want to look at
you; you are so handsome_"]

You must know that this was the salmon's wife. For salmon, like other
true gentlemen, always choose their lady, and love her, and are true to
her, and take care of her and work for her, and fight for her, as every
true gentleman ought; and are not like vulgar chub and roach and pike,
who have no high feelings, and take no care of their wives.

Then he saw Tom, and looked at him very fiercely one moment, as if he
was going to bite him.

"What do you want here?" he said, very fiercely.

"Oh, don't hurt me!" cried Tom. "I only want to look at you; you are so
handsome."

"Ah!" said the salmon, very stately but very civilly. "I really beg your
pardon; I see what you are, my little dear. I have met one or two
creatures like you before, and found them very agreeable and
well-behaved. Indeed, one of them showed me a great kindness lately,
which I hope to be able to repay. I hope we shall not be in your way
here. As soon as this lady is rested, we shall proceed on our journey."

What a well-bred old salmon he was!

"So you have seen things like me before?" asked Tom.

"Several times, my dear. Indeed, it was only last night that one at the
river's mouth came and warned me and my wife of some new stake-nets
which had got into the stream, I cannot tell how, since last winter, and
showed us the way round them, in the most charmingly obliging way."

"So there are babies in the sea?" cried Tom, and clapped his little
hands. "Then I shall have some one to play with there? How delightful!"

"Were there no babies up this stream?" asked the lady salmon.

"No! and I grew so lonely. I thought I saw three last night; but they
were gone in an instant, down to the sea. So I went too; for I had
nothing to play with but caddises and dragon-flies and trout."

"Ugh!" cried the lady, "what low company!"

"My dear, if he has been in low company, he has certainly not learnt
their low manners," said the salmon.

"No, indeed, poor little dear: but how sad for him to live among such
people as caddises, who have actually six legs, the nasty things; and
dragon-flies, too! why they are not even good to eat; for I tried them
once, and they are all hard and empty; and, as for trout, every one
knows what they are." Whereon she curled up her lip, and looked
dreadfully scornful, while her husband curled up his too, till he
looked as proud as Alcibiades.

"Why do you dislike the trout so?" asked Tom.

"My dear, we do not even mention them, if we can help it; for I am sorry
to say they are relations of ours who do us no credit. A great many
years ago they were just like us: but they were so lazy, and cowardly,
and greedy, that instead of going down to the sea every year to see the
world and grow strong and fat, they chose to stay and poke about in the
little streams and eat worms and grubs; and they are very properly
punished for it; for they have grown ugly and brown and spotted and
small; and are actually so degraded in their tastes, that they will eat
our children."

"And then they pretend to scrape acquaintance with us again," said the
lady. "Why, I have actually known one of them propose to a lady salmon,
the impudent little creature."

"I should hope," said the gentleman, "that there are very few ladies of
our race who would degrade themselves by listening to such a creature
for an instant. If I saw such a thing happen, I should consider it my
duty to put them both to death upon the spot." So the old salmon said,
like an old blue-blooded hidalgo of Spain; and what is more, he would
have done it too. For you must know, no enemies are so bitter against
each other as those who are of the same race; and a salmon looks on a
trout as some great folks look on some little folks, as something just
too much like himself to be tolerated.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER IV


SO the salmon went up, after Tom had warned them of the wicked old
otter; and Tom went down, but slowly and cautiously, coasting along the
shore. He was many days about it, for it was many miles down to the sea;
and perhaps he would never have found his way, if the fairies had not
guided him, without his seeing their fair faces, or feeling their gentle
hands.

And, as he went, he had a very strange adventure. It was a clear still
September night, and the moon shone so brightly down through the water,
that he could not sleep, though he shut his eyes as tight as possible.
So at last he came up to the top, and sat upon a little point of rock,
and looked up at the broad yellow moon, and wondered what she was, and
thought that she looked at him. And he watched the moonlight on the
rippling river, and the black heads of the firs, and the silver-frosted
lawns, and listened to the owl's hoot, and the snipe's bleat, and the
fox's bark, and the otter's laugh; and smelt the soft perfume of the
birches, and the wafts of heather honey off the grouse moor far above;
and felt very happy, though he could not well tell why. You, of course,
would have been very cold sitting there on a September night, without
the least bit of clothes on your wet back; but Tom was a water-baby, and
therefore felt cold no more than a fish.

Suddenly, he saw a beautiful sight. A bright red light moved along the
river-side, and threw down into the water a long tap-root of flame. Tom,
curious little rogue that he was, must needs go and see what it was; so
he swam to the shore, and met the light as it stopped over a shallow run
at the edge of a low rock.

And there, underneath the light, lay five or six great salmon, looking
up at the flame with their great goggle eyes, and wagging their tails,
as if they were very much pleased at it.

Tom came to the top, to look at this wonderful light nearer, and made a
splash.

And he heard a voice say:

"There was a fish rose."

He did not know what the words meant: but he seemed to know the sound of
them, and to know the voice which spoke them; and he saw on the bank
three great two-legged creatures, one of whom held the light, flaring
and sputtering, and another a long pole. And he knew that they were men,
and was frightened, and crept into a hole in the rock, from which he
could see what went on.

The man with the torch bent down over the water, and looked earnestly
in; and then he said:

"Tak' that muckle fellow, lad; he's ower fifteen punds; and haud your
hand steady."

Tom felt that there was some danger coming, and longed to warn the
foolish salmon, who kept staring up at the light as if he was bewitched.
But before he could make up his mind, down came the pole through the
water; there was a fearful splash and struggle, and Tom saw that the
poor salmon was speared right through, and was lifted out of the water.

And then, from behind, there sprang on these three men three other men;
and there were shouts, and blows, and words which Tom recollected to
have heard before; and he shuddered and turned sick at them now, for he
felt somehow that they were strange, and ugly, and wrong, and horrible.
And it all began to come back to him. They were men; and they were
fighting; savage, desperate, up-and-down fighting, such as Tom had seen
too many times before.

And he stopped his little ears, and longed to swim away; and was very
glad that he was a water-baby, and had nothing to do any more with
horrid dirty men, with foul clothes on their backs, and foul words on
their lips; but he dared not stir out of his hole: while the rock shook
over his head with the trampling and struggling of the keepers and the
poachers.

All of a sudden there was a tremendous splash, and a frightful flash,
and a hissing, and all was still.

For into the water, close to Tom, fell one of the men; he who held the
light in his hand. Into the swift river he sank, and rolled over and
over in the current. Tom heard the men above run along, seemingly
looking for him; but he drifted down into the deep hole below, and there
lay quite still, and they could not find him.

Tom waited a long time, till all was quiet; and then he peeped out, and
saw the man lying. At last he screwed up his courage and swam down to
him. "Perhaps," he thought, "the water has made him fall asleep, as it
did me."

Then he went nearer. He grew more and more curious, he could not tell
why. He must go and look at him. He would go very quietly, of course; so
he swam round and round him, closer and closer; and, as he did not stir,
at last he came quite close and looked him in the face.

The moon shone so bright that Tom could see every feature; and, as he
saw, he recollected, bit by bit, it was his old master, Grimes.

Tom turned tail, and swam away as fast as he could.

"Oh dear me!" he thought, "now he will turn into a water-baby. What a
nasty troublesome one he will be! And perhaps he will find me out, and
beat me again."

So he went up the river again a little way, and lay there the rest of
the night under an alder root; but, when morning came, he longed to go
down again to the big pool, and see whether Mr. Grimes had turned into a
water-baby yet.

So he went very carefully, peeping round all the rocks, and hiding under
all the roots. Mr. Grimes lay there still; he had not turned into a
water-baby. In the afternoon Tom went back again. He could not rest till
he had found out what had become of Mr. Grimes. But this time Mr. Grimes
was gone; and Tom made up his mind that he was turned into a
water-baby.

He might have made himself easy, poor little man; Mr. Grimes did not
turn into a water-baby, or anything like one at all. But he did not make
himself easy; and a long time he was fearful lest he should meet Grimes
suddenly in some deep pool. He could not know that the fairies had
carried him away, and put him, where they put everything which falls
into the water, exactly where it ought to be. But, do you know, what had
happened to Mr. Grimes had such an effect on him that he never poached
salmon any more. And it is quite certain that, when a man becomes a
confirmed poacher, the only way to cure him is to put him under water
for twenty-four hours like Grimes.

Then Tom went on down, for he was afraid of staying near Grimes: and as
he went, all the vale looked sad. The red and yellow leaves showered
down into the river; the flies and beetles were all dead and gone; the
chill autumn fog lay low upon the hills, and sometimes spread itself so
thickly on the river that he could not see his way. But he felt his way
instead, following the flow of the stream, day after day, past great
bridges, past boats and barges, past the great town, with its wharfs,
and mills, and tall smoking chimneys, and ships which rode at anchor in
the stream; and now and then he ran against their hawsers, and wondered
what they were, and peeped out, and saw the sailors lounging on board
smoking their pipes; and ducked under again, for he was terribly afraid
of being caught by man and turned into a chimney-sweep once more. He did
not know that the fairies were close to him always, shutting the
sailors' eyes lest they should see him, and turning him aside from
millraces, and sewer-mouths, and all foul and dangerous things. Poor
little fellow, it was a dreary journey for him; and more than once he
longed to be back in Vendale, playing with the trout in the bright
summer sun. But it could not be. What has been once can never come over
again. And people can be little babies, even water-babies, only once in
their lives.

Besides, people who make up their minds to go and see the world, as Tom
did, must needs find it a weary journey. Lucky for them if they do not
lose heart and stop half-way, instead of going on bravely to the end as
Tom did. For then they will remain neither boys nor men, neither fish,
flesh, nor good red-herring: having learnt a great deal too much, and
yet not enough; and sown their wild oats, without having the advantage
of reaping them.

But Tom was always a brave, determined, little English bull-dog, who
never knew when he was beaten; and on and on he held, till he saw a long
way off the red buoy through the fog. And then he found, to his
surprise, the stream turned round, and running up inland.

It was the tide, of course: but Tom knew nothing of the tide. He only
knew that in a minute more the water, which had been fresh, turned salt
all round him. And then there came a change over him. He felt as strong,
and light, and fresh, as if his veins had run champagne; and gave, he
did not know why, three skips out of the water, a yard high, and head
over heels, just as the salmon do when they first touch the noble rich
salt water, which, as some wise men tell us, is the mother of all living
things.

[Illustration]

He did not care now for the tide being against him. The red buoy was in
sight, dancing in the open sea; and to the buoy he would go, and to it
he went. He passed great shoals of bass and mullet, leaping and rushing
in after the shrimps, but he never heeded them, or they him; and once he
passed a great black shining seal, who was coming in after the mullet.
The seal put his head and shoulders out of water, and stared at him,
looking exactly like a fat old greasy negro with a gray pate. And Tom,
instead of being frightened, said, "How d'ye do, sir; what a beautiful
place the sea is!" And the old seal, instead of trying to bite him,
looked at him with his soft sleepy winking eyes, and said, "Good tide to
you, my little man; are you looking for your brothers and sisters? I
passed them all at play outside."

[Illustration: _And Tom sat upon the buoy long days_]

"Oh, then," said Tom, "I shall have playfellows at last," and he swam on
to the buoy, and got upon it (for he was quite out of breath) and sat
there, and looked round for water-babies: but there were none to be
seen.

The sea-breeze came in freshly with the tide and blew the fog away; and
the little waves danced for joy around the buoy, and the old buoy danced
with them. The shadows of the clouds ran races over the bright blue bay,
and yet never caught each other up; and the breakers plunged merrily
upon the wide white sands, and jumped up over the rocks, to see what the
green fields inside were like, and tumbled down and broke themselves
all to pieces, and never minded it a bit, but mended themselves and
jumped up again. And the terns hovered over Tom like huge white
dragon-flies with black heads, and the gulls laughed like girls at play,
and the sea-pies, with their red bills and legs, flew to and fro from
shore to shore, and whistled sweet and wild. And Tom looked and looked,
and listened; and he would have been very happy, if he could only have
seen the water-babies. Then when the tide turned, he left the buoy, and
swam round and round in search of them: but in vain. Sometimes he
thought he heard them laughing: but it was only the laughter of the
ripples. And sometimes he thought he saw them at the bottom: but it was
only white and pink shells. And once he was sure he had found one, for
he saw two bright eyes peeping out of the sand. So he dived down, and
began scraping the sand away, and cried, "Don't hide; I do want some one
to play with so much!" And out jumped a great turbot with his ugly eyes
and mouth all awry, and flopped away along the bottom, knocking poor Tom
over. And he sat down at the bottom of the sea, and cried salt tears
from sheer disappointment.

To have come all this way, and faced so many dangers, and yet to find no
water-babies! How hard! Well, it did seem hard: but people, even little
babies, cannot have all they want without waiting for it, and working
for it too, my little man, as you will find out some day.

And Tom sat upon the buoy long days, long weeks, looking out to sea, and
wondering when the water-babies would come back; and yet they never
came.

Then he began to ask all the strange things which came in out of the sea
if they had seen any; and some said "Yes," and some said nothing at all.

He asked the bass and the pollock; but they were so greedy after the
shrimps that they did not care to answer him a word.

Then there came in a whole fleet of purple sea-snails, floating along,
each on a sponge full of foam, and Tom said, "Where do you come from,
you pretty creatures? and have you seen the water-babies?"

And the sea-snails answered, "Whence we come we know not; and whither we
are going, who can tell? We float out our life in the mid-ocean, with
the warm sunshine above our heads, and the warm gulf-stream below; and
that is enough for us. Yes; perhaps we have seen the water-babies. We
have seen many strange things as we sailed along." And they floated
away, the happy stupid things, and all went ashore upon the sands.

Then there came in a great lazy sunfish, as big as a fat pig cut in
half; and he seemed to have been cut in half too, and squeezed in a
clothes-press till he was flat; but to all his big body and big fins he
had only a little rabbit's mouth, no bigger than Tom's; and, when Tom
questioned him, he answered in a little squeaky feeble voice:

"I'm sure I don't know; I've lost my way. I meant to go to the
Chesapeake, and I'm afraid I've got wrong somehow. Dear me! it was all
by following that pleasant warm water. I'm sure I've lost my way."

And, when Tom asked him again, he could only answer, "I've lost my way.
Don't talk to me; I want to think."

But, like a good many other people, the more he tried to think the less
he could think; and Tom saw him blundering about all day, till the
coast-guardsmen saw his big fin above the water, and rowed out, and
struck a boat-hook into him, and took him away. They took him up to the
town and showed him for a penny a head, and made a good day's work of
it. But of course Tom did not know that.

Then there came by a shoal of porpoises, rolling as they went--papas,
and mammas, and little children--and all quite smooth and shiny, because
the fairies French-polish them every morning; and they sighed so softly
as they came by, that Tom took courage to speak to them: but all they
answered was, "Hush, hush, hush;" for that was all they had learned to
say.

And then there came a shoal of basking sharks, some of them as long as a
boat, and Tom was frightened at them. But they were very lazy
good-natured fellows, not greedy tyrants, like white sharks and blue
sharks and ground sharks and hammer-heads, who eat men, or saw-fish and
threshers and ice-sharks, who hunt the poor old whales. They came and
rubbed their great sides against the buoy, and lay basking in the sun
with their backfins out of water; and winked at Tom: but he never could
get them to speak. They had eaten so many herrings that they were quite
stupid; and Tom was glad when a collier brig came by and frightened them
all away; for they did smell most horribly, certainly, and he had to
hold his nose tight as long as they were there.

And then there came by a beautiful creature, like a ribbon of pure
silver with a sharp head and very long teeth; but it seemed very sick
and sad. Sometimes it rolled helpless on its side; and then it dashed
away glittering like white fire; and then it lay sick again and
motionless.

"Where do you come from?" asked Tom. "And why are _you_ so sick and
sad?"

"I come from the warm Carolinas, and the sandbanks fringed with pines;
where the great owl-rays leap and flap, like giant bats, upon the tide.
But I wandered north and north, upon the treacherous warm gulf-stream,
till I met with the cold icebergs, afloat in the mid ocean. So I got
tangled among the icebergs, and chilled with their frozen breath. But
the water-babies helped me from among them, and set me free again. And
now I am mending every day; but I am very sick and sad; and perhaps I
shall never get home again to play with the owl-rays any more."

"Oh!" cried Tom. "And you have seen water-babies? Have you seen any near
here?"

"Yes; they helped me again last night, or I should have been eaten by a
great black porpoise."

How vexatious! The water-babies close to him, and yet he could not find
one.

And then he left the buoy, and used to go along the sands and round the
rocks, and come out in the night--like the forsaken Merman in Mr.
Arnold's beautiful, beautiful poem, which you must learn by heart some
day--and sit upon a point of rock, among the shining seaweeds, in the
low October tides, and cry and call for the water-babies; but he never
heard a voice call in return. And at last, with his fretting and crying,
he grew quite lean and thin.

But one day among the rocks he found a play-fellow. It was not a
water-baby, alas! but it was a lobster; and a very distinguished lobster
he was; for he had live barnacles on his claws, which is a great mark of
distinction in lobsterdom, and no more to be bought for money than a
good conscience or the Victoria Cross.

Tom had never seen a lobster before; and he was mightily taken with this
one; for he thought him the most curious, odd, ridiculous creature he
had ever seen; and there he was not far wrong; for all the ingenious
men, and all the scientific men, and all the fanciful men, in the world,
with all the old German bogy-painters into the bargain, could never
invent, if all their wits were boiled into one, anything so curious, and
so ridiculous, as a lobster.

He had one claw knobbed and the other jagged; and Tom delighted in
watching him hold on to the seaweed with his knobbed claw, while he cut
up salads with his jagged one, and then put them into his mouth, after
smelling at them, like a monkey. And always the little barnacles threw
out their casting-nets and swept the water, and came in for their share
of whatever there was for dinner.

But Tom was most astonished to see how he fired himself off--snap! like
the leap-frogs which you make out of a goose's breast-bone. Certainly he
took the most wonderful shots, and backwards, too. For, if he wanted to
go into a narrow crack ten yards off, what do you think he did? If he
had gone in head foremost, of course he could not have turned round. So
he used to turn his tail to it, and lay his long horns, which carry his
sixth sense in their tips (and nobody knows what that sixth sense is),
straight down his back to guide him, and twist his eyes back till they
almost came out of their sockets, and then made ready, present, fire,
snap!--and away he went, pop into the hole; and peeped out and twiddled
his whiskers, as much as to say, "You couldn't do that."

Tom asked him about water-babies. "Yes," he said. He had seen them
often. But he did not think much of them. They were meddlesome little
creatures that went about helping fish and shells which got into
scrapes. Well, for his part, he should be ashamed to be helped by little
soft creatures that had not even a shell on their backs. He had lived
quite long enough in the world to take care of himself.

He was a conceited fellow, the old lobster, and not very civil to Tom;
and you will hear how he had to alter his mind before he was done, as
conceited people generally have. But he was so funny, and Tom so lonely,
that he could not quarrel with him; and they used to sit in holes in the
rocks, and chat for hours.

And about this time there happened to Tom a very strange and important
adventure--so important, indeed, that he was very near never finding the
water-babies at all; and I am sure you would have been sorry for that.

I hope that you have not forgotten the little white lady all this while.
At least, here she comes, looking like a clean white good little
darling, as she always was, and always will be. For it befell in the
pleasant short December days, when the wind always blows from the
south-west, till Old Father Christmas comes and spreads the great white
table-cloth, ready for little boys and girls to give the birds their
Christmas dinner of crumbs--it befell (to go on) in the pleasant
December days, that Sir John was so busy hunting that nobody at home
could get a word out of him. Four days a week he hunted, and very good
sport he had; and the other two he went to the bench and the board of
guardians, and very good justice he did.

It befell (to go on a second time) that Sir John, hunting all day, and
dining at five, fell asleep every evening, and snored so terribly that
all the windows in Harthover shook, and the soot fell down the chimneys.
Whereon My Lady, being no more able to get conversation out of him than
a song out of a dead nightingale, determined to go off and leave him,
and the doctor, and Captain Swinger the agent, to snore in concert every
evening to their hearts' content. So she started for the seaside with
all the children, in order to put herself and them into condition by
mild applications of iodine. She might as well have stayed at home and
used Parry's liquid horse-blister, for there was plenty of it in the
stables; and then she would have saved her money, and saved the chance,
also, of making all the children ill instead of well (as hundreds are
made), by taking them to some nasty smelling undrained lodging, and then
wondering how they caught scarlatina and diphtheria: but people won't be
wise enough to understand that till they are dead of bad smells, and
then it will be too late; besides, you see, Sir John did certainly snore
very loud.

But where she went to nobody must know, for fear young ladies should
begin to fancy that there are water-babies there! and so hunt and howk
after them (besides raising the price of lodgings), and keep them in
aquariums, as the ladies at Pompeii (as you may see by the paintings)
used to keep Cupids in cages. But nobody ever heard that they starved
the Cupids, or let them die of dirt and neglect, as English young ladies
do by the poor sea-beasts. So nobody must know where My Lady went.
Letting water-babies die is as bad as taking singing birds' eggs; for,
though there are thousands, ay, millions, of both of them in the world,
yet there is not one too many.

[Illustration]

Now it befell that, on the very shore, and over the very rocks, where
Tom was sitting with his friend the lobster, there walked one day the
little white lady, Ellie herself, and with her a very wise man
indeed--Professor Ptthmllnsprts.

He was, as I said, a very great naturalist; a very worthy, kind,
good-natured little old gentleman; and very fond of children; and very
good to all the world as long as it was good to him. Only one fault he
had, which cock-robins have likewise, as you may see if you look out of
the nursery window--that, when any one else found a curious worm, he
would hop round them, and peck them, and set up his tail, and bristle up
his feathers, just as a cock-robin would; and declare that he found the
worm first; and that it was his worm; and, if not, that then it was not
a worm at all.

He had met Sir John at Scarborough, or Fleetwood, or somewhere or other
(if you don't care where, nobody else does), and had made acquaintance
with him, and become very fond of his children. Now, Sir John know
nothing about sea-cockyolybirds, and cared less, provided the fishmonger
sent him good fish for dinner; and My Lady knew as little: but she
thought it proper that the children should know something. For in the
stupid old times, you must understand, children were taught to know one
thing, and to know it well; but in these enlightened new times they are
taught to know a little about everything, and to know it all ill; which
is a great deal pleasanter and easier, and therefore quite right.

So Ellie and he were walking on the rocks, and he was showing her about
one in ten thousand of all the beautiful and curious things which are to
be seen there. But little Ellie was not satisfied with them at all. She
liked much better to play with live children, or even with dolls, which
she could pretend were alive; and at last she said honestly, "I don't
care about all these things, because they can't play with me, or talk to
me. If there were little children now in the water, as there used to be,
and I could see them, I should like that."

"Children in the water, you strange little duck?" said the professor.

"Yes," said Ellie. "I know there used to be children in the water, and
mermaids too, and mermen. I saw them all in a picture at home, of a
beautiful lady sailing in a car drawn by dolphins, and babies flying
round her, and one sitting in her lap; and the mermaids swimming and
playing, and the mermen trumpeting on conch-shells; and it is called
'The Triumph of Galatea;' and there is a burning mountain in the
picture behind. It hangs on the great staircase, and I have looked at it
ever since I was a baby, and dreamt about it a hundred times; and it is
so beautiful that it must be true."

But the professor had not the least notion of allowing that things were
true, merely because people thought them beautiful.

Now little Ellie was, I suppose, a stupid little girl; for she only
asked the same question over again.

"But why are there not water-babies?"

I trust and hope that it was because the professor trod at that moment
on the edge of a very sharp mussel, and hurt one of his corns sadly,
that he answered quite sharply, forgetting that he was a scientific man,
and therefore ought to have known that he couldn't know; and that he was
a logician, and therefore ought to have known that he could not prove a
universal negative--I say, I trust and hope it was because the mussel
hurt his corn, that the professor answered quite sharply:

"Because there ain't."

Which was not even good English, my dear little boy; for, as you must
know, the professor ought to have said, if he was so angry as to say
anything of the kind--Because there are not: or are none: or are none of
them; or because they do not exist.

[Illustration: _He felt the net very heavy; and lifted it out quickly,
with Tom all entangled in the meshes_]

And he groped with his net under the weeds so violently, that, as it
befell, he caught poor little Tom. He felt the net very heavy; and
lifted it out quickly, with Tom all entangled in the meshes.

"Dear me!" he cried. "What a large pink Holothurian; with hands, too! It
must be connected with Synapta."

And he took him out.

"It has actually eyes!" he cried. "Why, it must be a Cephalopod! This is
most extraordinary!"

"No, I ain't!" cried Tom, as loud as he could; for he did not like to be
called bad names.

"It is a water-baby!" cried Ellie; and of course it was.

"Water-fiddlesticks, my dear!" said the professor; and he turned away
sharply.

There was no denying it. It was a water-baby: and he had said a moment
ago that there were none. What was he to do?

He would have liked, of course, to have taken Tom home in a bucket. He
would not have put him in spirits. Of course not. He would have kept him
alive, and petted him (for he was a very kind old gentleman), and
written a book about him, and given him two long names, of which the
first would have said a little about Tom, and the second all about
himself.

There was a wise old heathen once, who said, "Maxima debetur pueris
reverentia"--The greatest reverence is due to children; that is, that
grown people should never say or do anything wrong before children, lest
they should set them a bad example.--But some people, and I am afraid
the professor was one of them, interpret that in a strange, curious,
one-sided, left-handed, topsy-turvy, inside-out-behind-before fashion;
for they make it mean, that you must show your respect for children, by
never confessing yourself in the wrong to them, even if you know that
you are so, lest they should lose confidence in their elders.

[Illustration]

Now, if the professor had said to Ellie, "Yes, my darling, it is a
water-baby, and a very wonderful thing it is; and it shows how little I
know of the wonders of nature, in spite of forty years' honest labour. I
was just telling you that there could be no such creatures; and, behold!
here is one come to confound my conceit and show me that Nature can do,
and has done, beyond all that man's poor fancy can imagine. So, let us
thank the Maker, and Inspirer, and Lord of Nature for all His wonderful
and glorious works, and try and find out something about this one;"--I
think that, if the professor had said that, little Ellie would have
believed him more firmly, and respected him more deeply, and loved him
better, than ever she had done before. But he was of a different
opinion. He hesitated a moment. He longed to keep Tom, and yet he half
wished he never had caught him; and at last he quite longed to get rid
of him. So he turned away and poked Tom with his finger, for want of
anything better to do; and said carelessly, "My dear little maid, you
must have dreamt of water-babies last night, your head is so full of
them." Now Tom had been in the most horrible and unspeakable fright all
the while; and had kept as quiet as he could, though he was called a
Holothurian and a Cephalopod; for it was fixed in his little head that
if a man with clothes on caught him, he might put clothes on him too,
and make a dirty black chimney-sweep of him again. But, when the
professor poked him, it was more than he could bear; and, between fright
and rage, he turned to bay as valiantly as a mouse in a corner, and bit
the professor's finger till it bled.

"Oh! ah! yah!" cried he; and glad of an excuse to be rid of Tom, dropped
him on to the seaweed, and thence he dived into the water and was gone
in a moment.

"But it was a water-baby, and I heard it speak!" cried Ellie. "Ah, it is
gone!" And she jumped down off the rock to try and catch Tom before he
slipped into the sea.

Too late! and what was worse, as she sprang down, she slipped, and fell
some six feet with her head on a sharp rock, and lay quite still.

The professor picked her up, and tried to waken her, and called to her,
and cried over her, for he loved her very much: but she would not waken
at all. So he took her up in his arms and carried her to her governess,
and they all went home; and little Ellie was put to bed, and lay there
quite still; only now and then she woke up and called out about the
water-baby: but no one knew what she meant, and the professor did not
tell, for he was ashamed to tell.

And, after a week, one moonlight night, the fairies came flying in at
the window and brought her such a pretty pair of wings that she could
not help putting them on; and she flew with them out of the window, and
over the land, and over the sea, and up through the clouds, and nobody
heard or saw anything of her for a very long while.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER V


BUT what became of little Tom?

He slipped away off the rocks into the water, as I said before. But he
could not help thinking of little Ellie. He did not remember who she
was; but he knew that she was a little girl, though she was a hundred
times as big as he. That is not surprising: size has nothing to do with
kindred. A tiny weed may be first cousin to a great tree; and a little
dog like Vick knows that Lioness is a dog too, though she is twenty
times larger than herself. So Tom knew that Ellie was a little girl, and
thought about her all that day, and longed to have had her to play with;
but he had very soon to think of something else. And here is the account
of what happened to him, as it was published next morning in the
Waterproof Gazette, on the finest watered paper, for the use of the
great fairy, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, who reads the news very carefully
every morning, and especially the police cases, as you will hear very
soon.

He was going along the rocks in three-fathom water, watching the pollock
catch prawns, and the wrasses nibble barnacles off the rocks, shells and
all, when he saw a round cage of green withes; and inside it, looking
very much ashamed of himself, sat his friend the lobster, twiddling his
horns, instead of thumbs.

"What, have you been naughty, and have they put you in the lock-up?"
asked Tom.

The lobster felt a little indignant at such a notion, but he was too
much depressed in spirits to argue; so he only said, "I can't get out."

"Why did you get in?"

"After that nasty piece of dead fish." He had thought it looked and
smelt very nice when he was outside, and so it did, for a lobster: but
now he turned round and abused it because he was angry with himself.

"Where did you get in?"

"Through that round hole at the top."

"Then why don't you get out through it?"

"Because I can't:" and the lobster twiddled his horns more fiercely
than ever, but he was forced to confess.

"I have jumped upwards, downwards, backwards, and sideways, at least
four thousand times; and I can't get out: I always get up underneath
there, and can't find the hole."

Tom looked at the trap, and having more wit than the lobster, he saw
plainly enough what was the matter; as you may if you will look at a
lobster-pot.

"Stop a bit," said Tom. "Turn your tail up to me, and I'll pull you
through hind-foremost, and then you won't stick in the spikes."

But the lobster was so stupid and clumsy that he couldn't hit the hole.

Tom reached and clawed down the hole after him, till he caught hold of
him; and then, as was to be expected, the clumsy lobster pulled him in
head foremost.

"Hullo! here is a pretty business," said Tom. "Now take your great
claws, and break the points off those spikes, and then we shall both get
out easily."

"Dear me, I never thought of that," said the lobster; "and after all the
experience of life that I have had!"

You see, experience is of very little good unless a man, or a lobster,
has wit enough to make use of it. For a good many people, like old
Polonius, have seen all the world, and yet remain little better than
children after all.

[Illustration: _Tom reached and clawed down the hole after him_]

But they had not got half the spikes away when they saw a great dark
cloud over them: and lo, and behold, it was the otter.

How she did grin and grin when she saw Tom. "Yar!" said she, "you little
meddlesome wretch, I have you now! I will serve you out for telling the
salmon where I was!" And she crawled all over the pot to get in.

Tom was horribly frightened, and still more frightened when she found
the hole in the top, and squeezed herself right down through it, all
eyes and teeth. But no sooner was her head inside than valiant Mr.
Lobster caught her by the nose and held on.

And there they were all three in the pot, rolling over and over, and
very tight packing it was. And the lobster tore at the otter, and the
otter tore at the lobster, and both squeezed and thumped poor Tom till
he had no breath left in his body; and I don't know what would have
happened to him if he had not at last got on the otter's back, and safe
out of the hole.

He was right glad when he got out: but he would not desert his friend
who had saved him; and the first time he saw his tail uppermost he
caught hold of it, and pulled with all his might.

But the lobster would not let go.

"Come along," said Tom; "don't you see she is dead?" And so she was,
quite drowned and dead.

And that was the end of the wicked otter.

But the lobster would not let go.

"Come along, you stupid old stick-in-the-mud," cried Tom, "or the
fisherman will catch you!" And that was true, for Tom felt some one
above beginning to haul up the pot.

But the lobster would not let go.

Tom saw the fisherman haul him up to the boat-side, and thought it was
all up with him. But when Mr. Lobster saw the fisherman, he gave such a
furious and tremendous snap, that he snapped out of his hand, and out of
the pot, and safe into the sea. But he left his knobbed claw behind him;
for it never came into his stupid head to let go after all, so he just
shook his claw off as the easier method.

Tom asked the lobster why he never thought of letting go. He said very
determinedly that it was a point of honour among lobsters. And so it is,
as the Mayor of Plymouth found out once to his cost--eight or nine
hundred years ago, of course; for if it had happened lately it would be
personal to mention it.

For one day he was so tired with sitting on a hard chair, in a grand
furred gown, with a gold chain round his neck, hearing one policeman
after another come in and sing, "What shall we do with the drunken
sailor, so early in the morning?" and answering them each exactly alike:

"Put him in the round house till he gets sober, so early in the
morning"--

That, when it was over, he jumped up, and played leap-frog with the
town-clerk till he burst his buttons, and then had his luncheon, and
burst some more buttons, and then said: "It is a low spring-tide; I
shall go out this afternoon and cut my capers."

Now he did not mean to cut such capers as you eat with boiled mutton. It
was the commandant of artillery at Valetta who used to amuse himself
with cutting them, and who stuck upon one of the bastions a notice, "No
one allowed to cut capers here but me," which greatly edified the
midshipmen in port, and the Maltese on the Nix Mangiare stairs. But all
that the mayor meant was that he would go and have an afternoon's fun,
like any schoolboy, and catch lobsters with an iron hook.

So to the Mewstone he went, and for lobsters he looked. And when he
came to a certain crack in the rocks he was so excited that, instead of
putting in his hook, he put in his hand; and Mr. Lobster was at home,
and caught him by the finger, and held on.

"Yah!" said the mayor, and pulled as hard as he dared: but the more he
pulled, the more the lobster pinched, till he was forced to be quiet.

Then he tried to get his hook in with his other hand; but the hole was
too narrow.

Then he pulled again; but he could not stand the pain.

Then he shouted and bawled for help: but there was no one nearer him
than the men-of-war inside the breakwater.

Then he began to turn a little pale; for the tide flowed, and still the
lobster held on.

Then he turned quite white; for the tide was up to his knees, and still
the lobster held on.

Then he thought of cutting off his finger; but he wanted two things to
do it with--courage and a knife; and he had got neither.

Then he turned quite yellow; for the tide was up to his waist, and still
the lobster held on.

Then he thought over all the naughty things he ever had done; all the
sand which he had put in the sugar, and the sloe-leaves in the tea, and
the water in the treacle, and the salt in the tobacco (because his
brother was a brewer, and a man must help his own kin).

Then he turned quite blue; for the tide was up to his breast, and still
the lobster held on.

Then, I have no doubt, he repented fully of all the said naughty things
which he had done, and promised to mend his life, as too many do when
they think they have no life left to mend. Whereby, as they fancy, they
make a very cheap bargain. But the old fairy with the birch rod soon
undeceives them.

And then he grew all colours at once, and turned up his eyes like a duck
in thunder; for the water was up to his chin, and still the lobster held
on.

And then came a man-of-war's boat round the Mewstone, and saw his head
sticking up out of the water. One said it was a keg of brandy, and
another that it was a cocoanut, and another that it was a buoy loose,
and another that it was a black diver, and wanted to fire at it, which
would not have been pleasant for the mayor: but just then such a yell
came out of a great hole in the middle of it that the midshipman in
charge guessed what it was, and bade pull up to it as fast as they
could. So somehow or other the Jacktars got the lobster out, and set the
mayor free, and put him ashore at the Barbican. He never went
lobster-catching again; and we will hope he put no more salt in the
tobacco, not even to sell his brother's beer.

And that is the story of the Mayor of Plymouth, which has two
advantages--first, that of being quite true; and second, that of having
(as folks say all good stories ought to have) no moral whatsoever: no
more, indeed, has any part of this book, because it is a fairy tale, you
know.

[Illustration]

And now happened to Tom a most wonderful thing; for he had not left the
lobster five minutes before he came upon a water-baby.

A real live water-baby, sitting on the white sand, very busy about a
little point of rock. And when it saw Tom it looked up for a moment, and
then cried, "Why, you are not one of us. You are a new baby! Oh, how
delightful!"

And it ran to Tom, and Tom ran to it, and they hugged and kissed each
other for ever so long, they did not know why. But they did not want any
introductions there under the water.

At last Tom said, "Oh, where have you been all this while? I have been
looking for you so long, and I have been so lonely."

"We have been here for days and days. There are hundreds of us about the
rocks. How was it you did not see us, or hear us when we sing and romp
every evening before we go home?"

Tom looked at the baby again, and then he said:

"Well, this is wonderful! I have seen things just like you again and
again, but I thought you were shells, or sea-creatures. I never took you
for water-babies like myself."

Now, was not that very odd? So odd, indeed, that you will, no doubt,
want to know how it happened, and why Tom could never find a water-baby
till after he had got the lobster out of the pot. And, if you will read
this story nine times over, and then think for yourself, you will find
out why. It is not good for little boys to be told everything, and never
to be forced to use their own wits.

"Now," said the baby, "come and help me, or I shall not have finished
before my brothers and sisters come, and it is time to go home."

"What shall I help you at?"

"At this poor dear little rock; a great clumsy boulder came rolling by
in the last storm, and knocked all its head off, and rubbed off all its
flowers. And now I must plant it again with seaweeds, and coralline, and
anemones, and I will make it the prettiest little rock-garden on all the
shore."

So they worked away at the rock, and planted it, and smoothed the sand
down round it, and capital fun they had till the tide began to turn. And
then Tom heard all the other babies coming, laughing and singing and
shouting and romping; and the noise they made was just like the noise of
the ripple. So he knew that he had been hearing and seeing the
water-babies all along; only he did not know them, because his eyes and
ears were not opened.

And in they came, dozens and dozens of them, some bigger than Tom and
some smaller, all in the neatest little white bathing dresses; and when
they found that he was a new baby, they hugged him and kissed him, and
then put him in the middle and danced round him on the sand, and there
was no one ever so happy as poor little Tom.

"Now then," they cried all at once, "we must come away home, we must
come away home, or the tide will leave us dry. We have mended all the
broken seaweed, and put all the rock-pools in order, and planted all the
shells again in the sand, and nobody will see where the ugly storm swept
in last week."

And this is the reason why the rock-pools are always so neat and clean;
because the water-babies come inshore after every storm to sweep them
out, and comb them down, and put them all to rights again.

Only where men are wasteful and dirty, and let sewers run into the sea
instead of putting the stuff upon the fields like thrifty reasonable
souls; or throw herrings' heads and dead dog-fish, or any other refuse,
into the water; or in any way make a mess upon the clean shore--there
the water-babies will not come, sometimes not for hundreds of years (for
they cannot abide anything smelly or foul), but leave the sea-anemones
and the crabs to clear away everything, till the good tidy sea has
covered up all the dirt in soft mud and clean sand, where the
water-babies can plant live cockles and whelks and razor-shells and
sea-cucumbers and golden-combs, and make a pretty live garden again,
after man's dirt is cleared away. And that, I suppose, is the reason
why there are no water-babies at any watering-place which I have ever
seen.

And where is the home of the water-babies? In St. Brandan's fairy isle.

Did you never hear of the blessed St. Brandan, how he preached to the
wild Irish on the wild, wild Kerry coast, he and five other hermits,
till they were weary and longed to rest? For the wild Irish would not
listen to them, or come to confession and to mass, but liked better to
brew potheen, and dance the pater o'pee, and knock each other over the
head with shillelaghs, and shoot each other from behind turf-dykes, and
steal each other's cattle, and burn each other's homes; till St. Brandan
and his friends were weary of them, for they would not learn to be
peaceable Christians at all.

So St. Brandan went out to the point of Old Dunmore, and looked over the
tide-way roaring round the Blasquets, at the end of all the world, and
away into the ocean, and sighed--"Ah that I had wings as a dove!" And
far away, before the setting sun, he saw a blue fairy sea, and golden
fairy islands, and he said, "Those are the islands of the blest." Then
he and his friends got into a hooker, and sailed away and away to the
westward, and were never heard of more. But the people who would not
hear him were changed into gorillas, and gorillas they are until this
day.

[Illustration]

And when St. Brandan and the hermits came to that fairy isle they found
it overgrown with cedars and full of beautiful birds; and he sat down
under the cedars and preached to all the birds in the air. And they
liked his sermons so well that they told the fishes in the sea; and they
came, and St. Brandan preached to them; and the fishes told the
water-babies, who live in the caves under the isle; and they came up by
hundreds every Sunday, and St. Brandan got quite a neat little
Sunday-school. And there he taught the water-babies for a great many
hundred years, till his eyes grew too dim to see, and his beard grew so
long that he dared not walk for fear of treading on it, and then he
might have tumbled down. And at last he and the five hermits fell fast
asleep under the cedar-shades, and there they sleep unto this day. But
the fairies took to the water-babies, and taught them their lessons
themselves.

And some say that St. Brandan will awake and begin to teach the babies
once more: but some think that he will sleep on, for better for worse,
till the coming of the Cocqcigrues. But, on still clear summer evenings,
when the sun sinks down into the sea, among golden cloud-capes and
cloud-islands, and locks and friths of azure sky, the sailors fancy that
they see, away to westward, St. Brandan's fairy isle.

But whether men can see it or not, St. Brandan's Isle once actually
stood there; a great land out in the ocean, which has sunk and sunk
beneath the waves. Old Plato called it Atlantis, and told strange tales
of the wise men who lived therein, and of the wars they fought in the
old times. And from off that island came strange flowers, which linger
still about this land:--the Cornish heath, and Cornish moneywort, and
the delicate Venus's hair, and the London-pride which covers the Kerry
mountains, and the little pink butterwort of Devon, and the great blue
butterwort of Ireland, and the Connemara heath, and the bristle-fern of
the Turk waterfall, and many a strange plant more; all fairy tokens
left for wise men and good children from off St. Brandan's Isle.

Now when Tom got there, he found that the isle stood all on pillars, and
that its roots were full of caves. There were pillars of black basalt,
like Staffa; and pillars of green and crimson serpentine, like Kynance;
and pillars ribboned with red and white and yellow sandstone, like
Livermead; and there were blue grottoes like Capri, and white grottoes
like Adelsberg; all curtained and draped with seaweeds, purple and
crimson, green and brown; and strewn with soft white sand, on which the
water-babies sleep every night. But, to keep the place clean and sweet,
the crabs picked up all the scraps off the floor and ate them like so
many monkeys; while the rocks were covered with ten thousand
sea-anemones, and corals and madrepores, who scavenged the water all day
long, and kept it nice and pure. But, to make up to them for having to
do such nasty work, they were not left black and dirty, as poor
chimney-sweeps and dustmen are. No; the fairies are more considerate and
just than that, and have dressed them all in the most beautiful colours
and patterns, till they look like vast flower-beds of gay blossoms. If
you think I am talking nonsense, I can only say that it is true; and
that an old gentleman named Fourier used to say that we ought to do the
same by chimney-sweeps and dustmen, and honour them instead of despising
them; and he was a very clever old gentleman: but, unfortunately for him
and the world, as mad as a March hare.

And, instead of watchmen and policemen to keep out nasty things at
night, there were thousands and thousands of water-snakes, and most
wonderful creatures they were. They were all named after the Nereids,
the sea-fairies who took care of them, Eunice and Polynoe, Phyllodoce
and Psamathe, and all the rest of the pretty darlings who swim round
their Queen Amphitrite, and her car of cameo shell. They were dressed in
green velvet, and black velvet, and purple velvet; and were all jointed
in rings; and some of them had three hundred brains apiece, so that they
must have been uncommonly shrewd detectives; and some had eyes in their
tails; and some had eyes in every joint, so that they kept a very sharp
look-out; and when they wanted a baby-snake, they just grew one at the
end of their own tails, and when it was able to take care of itself it
dropped off; so that they brought up their families very cheaply. But if
any nasty thing came by, out they rushed upon it; and then out of each
of their hundreds of feet there sprang a whole cutler's shop of

          _Scythes_,        _Javelins_,
          _Billhooks_,      _Lances_,
          _Pickaxes_,       _Halberts_,
          _Forks_,          _Gisarines_,
          _Penknives_,      _Poleaxes_,
          _Rapiers_,        _Fishhooks_,
          _Sabres_,         _Bradawls_,
          _Yataghans_,      _Gimlets_,
          _Creeses_,        _Corkscrews_,
          _Ghoorka swords_, _Pins_,
          _Tucks_,          _Needles_,
                _And so forth_

which stabbed, shot, poked, pricked, scratched, ripped, pinked, and
crimped those naughty beasts so terribly that they had to run for their
lives, or else be chopped into small pieces and be eaten afterwards.
And, if that is not all, every word, true, then there is no faith in
microscopes, and all is over with the Linnæan Society.

And there were the water-babies in thousands, more than Tom, or you
either, could count.--All the little children whom the good fairies take
to, because their cruel mothers and fathers will not; all who are
untaught and brought up heathens, and all who come to grief by ill-usage
or ignorance or neglect; all the little children who are overlaid, or
given gin when they are young, or are let to drink out of hot kettles,
or to fall into the fire; all the little children in alleys and courts,
and tumble-down cottages, who die by fever, and cholera, and measles,
and scarlatina, and nasty complaints which no one has any business to
have, and which no one will have some day, when folks have common sense;
and all the little children who have been killed by cruel masters and
wicked soldiers; they were all there, except, of course, the babes of
Bethlehem who were killed by wicked King Herod; for they were taken
straight to heaven long ago, as everybody knows, and we call them the
Holy Innocents.

But I wish Tom had given up all his naughty tricks, and left off
tormenting dumb animals now that he had plenty of playfellows to amuse
him. Instead of that, I am sorry to say, he would meddle with the
creatures, all but the water-snakes, for they would stand no nonsense.
So he tickled the madrepores, to make them shut up; and frightened the
crabs, to make them hide in the sand and peep out at him with the tips
of their eyes; and put stones into the anemones' mouths, to make them
fancy that their dinner was coming.

The other children warned him, and said, "Take care what you are at.
Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid is coming." But Tom never heeded them, being
quite riotous with high spirits and good luck, till, one Friday morning
early, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid came indeed.

A very tremendous lady she was; and when the children saw her they all
stood in a row, very upright indeed, and smoothed down their bathing
dresses, and put their hands behind them, just as if they were going to
be examined by the inspector.

And she had on a black bonnet, and a black shawl, and no crinoline at
all; and a pair of large green spectacles, and a great hooked nose,
hooked so much that the bridge of it stood quite up above her eyebrows;
and under her arm she carried a great birch-rod. Indeed, she was so ugly
that Tom was tempted to make faces at her: but did not; for he did not
admire the look of the birch-rod under her arm.

And she looked at the children one by one, and seemed very much pleased
with them, though she never asked them one question about how they were
behaving; and then began giving them all sorts of nice
sea-things--sea-cakes, sea-apples, sea-oranges, sea-bullseyes,
sea-toffee; and to the very best of all she gave sea-ices, made out of
sea-cows' cream, which never melt under water.

And, if you don't quite believe me, then just think--What is more cheap
and plentiful than sea-rock? Then why should there not be sea-toffee as
well? And every one can find sea-lemons (ready quartered too) if they
will look for them at low tide: and sea-grapes too sometimes, hanging in
bunches; and, if you will go to Nice, you will find the fish-market full
of sea-fruit, which they call "frutta di mare." And, perhaps, that is
the very reason why the place is called Nice, because there are so many
nice things in the sea there: at least, if it is not, it ought to be.

Now little Tom watched all these sweet things given away, till his mouth
watered, and his eyes grew as round as an owl's. For he hoped that his
turn would come at last; and so it did. For the lady called him up, and
held out her fingers with something in them, and popped it into his
mouth; and, lo and behold, it was a nasty cold hard pebble.

"You are a very cruel woman," said he, and began to whimper.

"And you are a very cruel boy; who puts pebbles into the sea-anemones'
mouths, to take them in, and make them fancy that they had caught a good
dinner! As you did to them, so I must do to you."

"Who told you that?" said Tom.

"You did yourself, this very minute."

Tom had never opened his lips; so he was very much taken aback indeed.

"Yes; every one tells me exactly what they have done wrong; and that
without knowing it themselves. So there is no use trying to hide
anything from me. Now go, and be a good boy, and I will put no more
pebbles in your mouth, if you put none in other creatures'."

"I did not know there was any harm in it," said Tom.

"Then you know now. People continually say that to me: but I tell them,
if you don't know that fire burns, that is no reason that it should not
burn you; and if you don't know that dirt breeds fever, that is no
reason why the fevers should not kill you. The lobster did not know that
there was any harm in getting into the lobster-pot; but it caught him
all the same."

"Dear me," thought Tom, "she knows everything!" And so she did, indeed.

"And so, if you do not know that things are wrong, that is no reason why
you should not be punished for them; though not as much, not as much, my
little man" (and the lady looked very kindly, after all), "as if you did
know."

"Well, you are a little hard on a poor lad," said Tom.

"Not at all; I am the best friend you ever had in all your life. But I
will tell you; I cannot help punishing people when they do wrong. I like
it no more than they do; I am often very, very sorry for them, poor
things: but I cannot help it. If I tried not to do it, I should do it
all the same. For I work by machinery, just like an engine; and am full
of wheels and springs inside; and am wound up very carefully, so that I
cannot help going."

[Illustration]

"Was it long ago since they wound you up?" asked Tom. For he thought,
the cunning little fellow, "She will run down some day: or they may
forget to wind her up, as old Grimes used to forget to wind up his watch
when he came in from the public-house; and then I shall be safe."

"I was wound up once and for all, so long ago, that I forget all about
it."

"Dear me," said Tom, "you must have been made a long time!"

"I never was made, my child; and I shall go for ever and ever; for I am
as old as Eternity, and yet as young as Time."

And there came over the lady's face a very curious expression--very
solemn, and very sad; and yet very, very sweet. And she looked up and
away, as if she were gazing through the sea, and through the sky, at
something far, far off; and as she did so, there came such a quiet,
tender, patient, hopeful smile over her face that Tom thought for the
moment that she did not look ugly at all. And no more she did; for she
was like a great many people who have not a pretty feature in their
faces, and yet are lovely to behold, and draw little children's hearts
to them at once; because though the house is plain enough, yet from the
windows a beautiful and good spirit is looking forth.

And Tom smiled in her face, she looked so pleasant for the moment. And
the strange fairy smiled too and said:

"Yes. You thought me very ugly just now, did you not?"

Tom hung down his head, and got very red about the ears.

"And I am very ugly. I am the ugliest fairy in the world; and I shall
be, till people behave themselves as they ought to do. And then I shall
grow as handsome as my sister, who is the loveliest fairy in the world;
and her name is Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby. So she begins where I end,
and I begin where she ends; and those who will not listen to her must
listen to me, as you will see. Now, all of you run away, except Tom; and
he may stay and see what I am going to do. It will be a very good
warning for him to begin with, before he goes to school.

"Now, Tom, every Friday I come down here and call up all who have
ill-used little children and serve them as they served the children."

And at that Tom was frightened, and crept under a stone; which made the
two crabs who lived there very angry, and frightened their friend the
butter-fish into flapping hysterics: but he would not move for them.

And first she called up all the doctors who give little children so much
physic (they were most of them old ones; for the young ones have learnt
better, all but a few army surgeons, who still fancy that a baby's
inside is much like a Scotch grenadier's), and she set them all in a
row; and very rueful they looked; for they knew what was coming.

And first she pulled all their teeth out; and then she bled them all
round: and then she dosed them with calomel, and jalap, and salts and
senna, and brimstone and treacle; and horrible faces they made; and then
she gave them a great emetic of mustard and water, and no basons; and
began all over again; and that was the way she spent the morning.

And then she called up a whole troop of foolish ladies, who pinch up
their children's waists and toes; and she laced them all up in tight
stays, so that they were choked and sick, and their noses grew red, and
their hands and feet swelled; and then she crammed their poor feet into
the most dreadfully tight boots, and made them all dance, which they did
most clumsily indeed; and then she asked them how they liked it; and
when they said not at all, she let them go: because they had only done
it out of foolish fashion, fancying it was for their children's good, as
if wasps' waists and pigs' toes could be pretty, or wholesome, or of any
use to anybody.

Then she called up all the careless nurserymaids, and stuck pins into
them all over, and wheeled them about in perambulators with tight straps
across their stomachs and their heads and arms hanging over the side,
till they were quite sick and stupid, and would have had sun-strokes:
but, being under the water, they could only have water-strokes; which, I
assure you, are nearly as bad, as you will find if you try to sit under
a mill-wheel. And mind--when you hear a rumbling at the bottom of the
sea, sailors will tell you that it is a ground-swell: but now you know
better. It is the old lady wheeling the maids about in perambulators.

And by that time she was so tired, she had to go to luncheon.

And after luncheon she set to work again, and called up all the cruel
schoolmasters--whole regiments and brigades of them; and when she saw
them, she frowned most terribly, and set to work in earnest, as if the
best part of the day's work was to come. More than half of them were
nasty, dirty, frowzy, grubby, smelly old monks, who, because they dare
not hit a man of their own size, amused themselves with beating little
children instead; as you may see in the picture of old Pope Gregory
(good man and true though he was, when he meddled with things which he
did understand), teaching children to sing their fa-fa-mi-fa with a
cat-o'-nine tails under his chair: but, because they never had any
children of their own, they took into their heads (as some folks do
still) that they were the only people in the world who knew how to
manage children: and they first brought into England, in the old
Anglo-Saxon times, the fashion of treating free boys, and girls too,
worse than you would treat a dog or a horse: but Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid
has caught them all long ago; and given them many a taste of their own
rods; and much good may it do them.

And she boxed their ears, and thumped them over the head with rulers,
and pandied their hands with canes, and told them that they told
stories, and were this and that bad sort of people; and the more they
were very indignant, and stood upon their honour, and declared they told
the truth, the more she declared they were not, and that they were only
telling lies; and at last she birched them all round soundly with her
great birch-rod and set them each an imposition of three hundred
thousand lines of Hebrew to learn by heart before she came back next
Friday. And at that they all cried and howled so, that their breaths
came all up through the sea like bubbles out of soda-water; and that is
one reason of the bubbles in the sea. There are others: but that is the
one which principally concerns little boys. And by that time she was so
tired that she was glad to stop; and, indeed, she had done a very good
day's work.

Tom did not quite dislike the old lady: but he could not help thinking
her a little spiteful--and no wonder if she was, poor old soul; for if
she has to wait to grow handsome till people do as they would be done
by, she will have to wait a very long time.

[Illustration]

Poor old Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid! she has a great deal of hard work before
her, and had better have been born a washerwoman, and stood over a tub
all day: but, you see, people cannot always choose their own profession.

But Tom longed to ask her one question; and after all, whenever she
looked at him, she did not look cross at all; and now and then there was
a funny smile in her face, and she chuckled to herself in a way which
gave Tom courage, and at last he said: "Pray, ma'am, may I ask you a
question?"

"Certainly, my little dear."

"Why don't you bring all the bad masters here and serve them out too?
The butties that knock about the poor collier-boys; and the nailers
that file off their lads' noses and hammer their fingers; and all the
master sweeps, like my master Grimes? I saw him fall into the water long
ago; so I surely expected he would have been here. I'm sure he was bad
enough to me."

Then the old lady looked so very stern that Tom was quite frightened,
and sorry that he had been so bold. But she was not angry with him. She
only answered, "I look after them all the week round; and they are in a
very different place from this, because they knew that they were doing
wrong."

She spoke very quietly; but there was something in her voice which made
Tom tingle from head to foot, as if he had got into a shoal of
sea-nettles.

"But these people," she went on, "did not know that they were doing
wrong: they were only stupid and impatient; and therefore I only punish
them till they become patient, and learn to use their common sense like
reasonable beings. But as for chimney-sweeps, and collier-boys, and
nailer lads, my sister has set good people to stop all that sort of
thing; and very much obliged to her I am; for if she could only stop the
cruel masters from ill-using poor children, I should grow handsome at
least a thousand years sooner. And now do you be a good boy, and do as
you would be done by, which they did not; and then, when my sister,
Madame Doasyouwouldbedoneby, comes on Sunday, perhaps she will take
notice of you, and teach you how to behave. She understands that better
than I do." And so she went.

Tom was very glad to hear that there was no chance of meeting Grimes
again, though he was a little sorry for him, considering that he used
sometimes to give him the leavings of the beer: but he determined to be
a very good boy all Saturday; and he was; for he never frightened one
crab, nor tickled any live corals, nor put stones into the sea anemones'
mouths, to make them fancy they had got a dinner; and when Sunday
morning came, sure enough, Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby came too. Whereat
all the little children began dancing and clapping their hands, and Tom
danced too with all his might.

And as for the pretty lady, I cannot tell you what the colour of her
hair was, or of her eyes: no more could Tom; for, when any one looks at
her, all they can think of is, that she has the sweetest, kindest,
tenderest, funniest, merriest face they ever saw, or want to see. But
Tom saw that she was a very tall woman, as tall as her sister: but
instead of being gnarly and horny, and scaly, and prickly, like her,
she was the most nice, soft, fat, smooth, pussy, cuddly, delicious
creature who ever nursed a baby; and she understood babies thoroughly,
for she had plenty of her own, whole rows and regiments of them, and has
to this day. And all her delight was, whenever she had a spare moment,
to play with babies, in which she showed herself a woman of sense; for
babies are the best company, and the pleasantest playfellows, in the
world; at least, so all the wise people in the world think. And
therefore when the children saw her, they naturally all caught hold of
her, and pulled her till she sat down on a stone, and climbed into her
lap, and clung round her neck, and caught hold of her hands; and then
they all put their thumbs into their mouths, and began cuddling and
purring like so many kittens, as they ought to have done. While those
who could get nowhere else sat down on the sand, and cuddled her
feet--for no one, you know, wears shoes in the water, except horrid old
bathing-women, who are afraid of the water-babies pinching their horny
toes. And Tom stood staring at them; for he could not understand what it
was all about.

"And who are you, you little darling?" she said.

"Oh, that is the new baby!" they all cried, pulling their thumbs out of
their mouths; "and he never had any mother," and they all put their
thumbs back again, for they did not wish to lose any time.

"Then I will be his mother, and he shall have the very best place; so
get out, all of you, this moment."

And she took up two great armfuls of babies--nine hundred under one arm,
and thirteen hundred under the other--and threw them away, right and
left, into the water. But they minded it no more than the naughty boys
in Struwelpeter minded when St. Nicholas dipped them in his inkstand;
and did not even take their thumbs out of their mouths, but came
paddling and wriggling back to her like so many tadpoles, till you could
see nothing of her from head to foot for the swarm of little babies.

But she took Tom in her arms, and laid him in the softest place of all,
and kissed him, and patted him, and talked to him, tenderly and low,
such things as he had never heard before in his life; and Tom looked up
into her eyes, and loved her, and loved, till he fell fast asleep from
pure love.

And when he woke she was telling the children a story. And what story
did she tell them? One story she told them, which begins every
Christmas Eve, and yet never ends at all for ever and ever; and, as she
went on, the children took their thumbs out of their mouths and listened
quite seriously; but not sadly at all; for she never told them anything
sad; and Tom listened too, and never grew tired of listening. And he
listened so long that he fell fast asleep again, and, when he woke, the
lady was nursing him still.

"Don't go away," said little Tom. "This is so nice. I never had any one
to cuddle me before."

"Don't go away," said all the children; "you have not sung us one song."

"Well, I have time for only one. So what shall it be?"

"The doll you lost! The doll you lost!" cried all the babies at once.

So the strange fairy sang:--

          _I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
             The prettiest doll in the world;
           Her cheeks were so red and so white, dears,
             And her hair was so charmingly curled.
           But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
             As I played in the heath one day:
           And I cried for her more than a week, dears.
             But I never could find where she lay.
           I found my poor little doll, dears,
             As I played in the heath one day:
           Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
             For her paint is all washed away,
           And her arm trodden off by the cows, dears,
             And her hair not the least bit curled:
           Yet for old sakes' sake she is still, dears,
             The prettiest doll in the world._

What a silly song for a fairy to sing!

And what silly water-babies to be quite delighted at it!

Well, but you see they have not the advantage of Aunt Agitate's
Arguments in the sea-land down below.

"Now," said the fairy to Tom, "will you be a good boy for my sake, and
torment no more sea-beasts till I come back?"

"And you will cuddle me again?" said poor little Tom.

"Of course I will, you little duck. I should like to take you with me
and cuddle you all the way, only I must not;" and away she went.

So Tom really tried to be a good boy, and tormented no sea-beasts after
that as long as he lived; and he is quite alive, I assure you, still.

Oh, how good little boys ought to be who have kind pussy mammas to
cuddle them and tell them stories; and how afraid they ought to be of
growing naughty, and bringing tears into their mammas' pretty eyes!

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI


HERE I come to the very saddest part of all my story. I know some people
will only laugh at it, and call it much ado about nothing. But I know
one man who would not; and he was an officer with a pair of gray
moustaches as long as your arm, who said once in company that two of the
most heartrending sights in the world, which moved him most to tears,
which he would do anything to prevent or remedy, were a child over a
broken toy and a child stealing sweets.

The company did not laugh at him; his moustaches were too long and too
gray for that: but, after he was gone, they called him sentimental and
so forth, all but one dear little old Quaker lady with a soul as white
as her cap, who was not, of course, generally partial to soldiers; and
she said very quietly, like a Quaker:

"Friends, it is borne upon my mind that that is a truly brave man."

Now you may fancy that Tom was quite good, when he had everything that
he could want or wish: but you would be very much mistaken. Being quite
comfortable is a very good thing; but it does not make people good.
Indeed, it sometimes makes them naughty, as it made the people in the
Bible, who waxed fat and kicked, like horses overfed and underworked.
And I am very sorry to say that this happened to little Tom. For he grew
so fond of the sea-bullseyes and sea-lollipops that his foolish little
head could think of nothing else: and he was always longing for more,
and wondering when the strange lady would come again and give him some,
and what she would give him, and how much, and whether she would give
him more than the others. And he thought of nothing but lollipops by
day, and dreamt of nothing else by night--and what happened then?

That he began to watch the lady to see where she kept the sweet things:
and began hiding, and sneaking, and following her about, and pretending
to be looking the other way, or going after something else, till he
found out that she kept them in a beautiful mother-of-pearl cabinet away
in a deep crack of the rocks.

And he longed to go to the cabinet, and yet he was afraid; and then he
longed again, and was less afraid; and at last, by continual thinking
about it, he longed so violently that he was not afraid at all. And one
night, when all the other children were asleep, and he could not sleep
for thinking of lollipops, he crept away among the rocks, and got to the
cabinet, and behold! it was open.

But, when he saw all the nice things inside, instead of being delighted,
he was quite frightened, and wished he had never come there. And then he
would only touch them, and he did; and then he would only taste one, and
he did; and then he would only eat one, and he did; and then he would
only eat two, and then three, and so on; and then he was terrified lest
she should come and catch him, and began gobbling them down so fast that
he did not taste them, or have any pleasure in them; and then he felt
sick, and would have only one more; and then only one more again; and so
on till he had eaten them all up.

And all the while, close behind him, stood Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid.

Some people may say, But why did she not keep her cupboard locked? Well,
I know.--It may seem a very strange thing, but she never does keep her
cupboard locked; every one may go and taste for themselves, and fare
accordingly. It is very odd, but so it is; and I am quite sure that she
knows best. Perhaps she wishes people to keep their fingers out of the
fire, by having them burned.

She took off her spectacles, because she did not like to see too much;
and in her pity she arched up her eyebrows into her very hair, and her
eyes grew so wide that they would have taken in all the sorrows of the
world, and filled with great big tears, as they too often did.

But all she said was:

"Ah, you poor little dear! you are just like all the rest."

But she said it to herself, and Tom neither heard nor saw her. Now, you
must not fancy that she was sentimental at all. If you do, and think
that she is going to let off you, or me, or any human being when we do
wrong, because she is too tender-hearted to punish us, then you will
find yourself very much mistaken, as many a man does every year and
every day.

But what did the strange fairy do when she saw all her lollipops eaten?

Did she fly at Tom, catch him by the scruff of the neck, hold him, howk
him, hump him, hurry him, hit him, poke him, pull him, pinch him, pound
him, put him in the corner, shake him, slap him, set him on a cold stone
to reconsider himself, and so forth?

Not a bit. You may watch her at work if you know where to find her. But
you will never see her do that. For, if she had, she knew quite well Tom
would have fought, and kicked, and bit, and said bad words, and turned
again that moment into a naughty little heathen chimney-sweep, with his
hand, like Ishmael's of old, against every man, and every man's hand
against him.

Did she question him, hurry him, frighten him, threaten him, to make him
confess? Not a bit. You may see her, as I said, at her work often enough
if you know where to look for her: but you will never see her do that.
For, if she had, she would have tempted him to tell lies in his fright;
and that would have been worse for him, if possible, than even becoming
a heathen chimney-sweep again.

No. She leaves that for anxious parents and teachers (lazy ones, some
call them), who, instead of giving children a fair trial, such as they
would expect and demand for themselves, force them by fright to confess
their own faults--which is so cruel and unfair that no judge on the
bench dare do it to the wickedest thief or murderer, for the good
British law forbids it--ay, and even punish them to make them confess,
which is so detestable a crime that it is never committed now, save by
Inquisitors, and Kings of Naples, and a few other wretched people of
whom the world is weary. And then they say, "We have trained up the
child in the way he should go, and when he grew up he has departed from
it. Why then did Solomon say that he would not depart from it?" But
perhaps the way of beating, and hurrying, and frightening, and
questioning, was not the way that the child should go; for it is not
even the way in which a colt should go if you want to break it in and
make it a quiet serviceable horse.

[Illustration]

Some folks may say, "Ah! but the Fairy does not need to do that if she
knows everything already." True. But, if she did not know, she would not
surely behave worse than a British judge and jury; and no more should
parents and teachers either.

So she just said nothing at all about the matter, not even when Tom came
next day with the rest for sweet things. He was horribly afraid of
coming: but he was still more afraid of staying away, lest any one
should suspect him. He was dreadfully afraid, too, lest there should be
no sweets--as was to be expected, he having eaten them all--and lest
then the fairy should inquire who had taken them. But, behold! she
pulled out just as many as ever, which astonished Tom, and frightened
him still more.

And, when the fairy looked him full in the face, he shook from head to
foot: however she gave him his share like the rest, and he thought
within himself that she could not have found him out.

But, when he put the sweets into his mouth, he hated the taste of them;
and they made him so sick that he had to get away as fast as he could;
and terribly sick he was, and very cross and unhappy, all the week
after.

Then, when next week came, he had his share again; and again the fairy
looked him full in the face; but more sadly than she had ever looked.
And he could not bear the sweets: but took them again in spite of
himself.

[Illustration: _Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid_]

And when Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby came, he wanted to be cuddled like
the rest; but she said very seriously:

"I should like to cuddle you; but I cannot, you are so horny and
prickly."

And Tom looked at himself: and he was all over prickles, just like a
sea-egg.

Which was quite natural; for you must know and believe that people's
souls make their bodies just as a snail makes its shell (I am not
joking, my little man; I am in serious, solemn earnest). And therefore,
when Tom's soul grew all prickly with naughty tempers, his body could
not help growing prickly too, so that nobody would cuddle him, or play
with him, or even like to look at him.

What could Tom do now but go away and hide in a corner and cry? For
nobody would play with him, and he knew full well why.

And he was so miserable all that week that when the ugly fairy came and
looked at him once more full in the face, more seriously and sadly than
ever, he could stand it no longer, and thrust the sweetmeats away,
saying, "No, I don't want any: I can't bear them now," and then burst
out crying, poor little man, and told Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid every word
as it happened.

He was horribly frightened when he had done so; for he expected her to
punish him very severely. But, instead, she only took him up and kissed
him, which was not quite pleasant, for her chin was very bristly indeed;
but he was so lonely-hearted, he thought that rough kissing was better
than none.

"I will forgive you, little man," she said. "I always forgive every one
the moment they tell me the truth of their own accord."

"Then you will take away all these nasty prickles?"

"That is a very different matter. You put them there yourself, and only
you can take them away."

"But how can I do that?" asked Tom, crying afresh.

"Well, I think it is time for you to go to school; so I shall fetch you
a schoolmistress, who will teach you how to get rid of your prickles."
And so she went away. Tom was frightened at the notion of a
schoolmistress; for he thought she would certainly come with a birch-rod
or a cane; but he comforted himself, at last, that she might be
something like the old woman in Vendale--which she was not in the
least; for, when the fairy brought her, she was the most beautiful
little girl that ever was seen, with long curls floating behind her like
a golden cloud, and long robes floating all round her like a silver one.

"There he is," said the fairy; "and you must teach him to be good,
whether you like or not."

"I know," said the little girl; but she did not seem quite to like, for
she put her finger in her mouth, and looked at Tom under her brows; and
Tom put his finger in his mouth, and looked at her under his brows, for
he was horribly ashamed of himself.

The little girl seemed hardly to know how to begin; and perhaps she
would never have begun at all if poor Tom had not burst out crying, and
begged her to teach him to be good and help him to cure his prickles;
and at that she grew so tender-hearted that she began teaching him as
prettily as ever child was taught in the world.

And what did the little girl teach Tom? She taught him, first, what you
have been taught ever since you said your first prayers at your mother's
knees; but she taught him much more simply. For the lessons in that
world, my child, have no such hard words in them as the lessons in this,
and therefore the water-babies like them better than you like your
lessons, and long to learn them more and more; and grown men cannot
puzzle nor quarrel over their meaning, as they do here on land; for
those lessons all rise clear and pure out of the everlasting ground of
all life and truth.

So she taught Tom every day in the week; only on Sundays she always went
away home, and the kind fairy took her place. And before she had taught
Tom many Sundays, his prickles had vanished quite away, and his skin was
smooth and clean again.

"Dear me!" said the little girl; "why, I know you now. You are the very
same little chimney-sweep who came into my bedroom."

"Dear me!" cried Tom. "And I know you, too, now. You are the very little
white lady whom I saw in bed." And he jumped at her, and longed to hug
and kiss her; but did not, remembering that she was a lady born; so he
only jumped round and round her till he was quite tired.

And then they began telling each other all their story--how he had got
into the water, and she had fallen over the rock; and how he had swum
down to the sea, and how she had flown out of the window; and how this,
that, and the other, till it was all talked out: and then they both
began over again, and I can't say which of the two talked fastest.

And then they set to work at their lessons again, and both liked them so
well that they went on well till seven full years were past and gone.

You may fancy that Tom was quite content and happy all those seven
years; but the truth is, he was not. He had always one thing on his
mind, and that was--where little Ellie went, when she went home on
Sundays.

To a very beautiful place, she said.

But what was the beautiful place like, and where was it?

Ah! that is just what she could not say. And it is strange, but true,
that no one can say; and that those who have been oftenest in it, or
even nearest to it, can say least about it, and make people understand
least what it is like. There are a good many folks about the
Other-end-of-Nowhere (where Tom went afterwards), who pretend to know it
from north to south as well as if they had been penny postmen there;
but, as they are safe at the Other-end-of-Nowhere, nine hundred and
ninety-nine million miles away, what they say cannot concern us.

But the dear, sweet, loving, wise, good, self-sacrificing people, who
really go there, can never tell you anything about it, save that it is
the most beautiful place in all the world; and, if you ask them more,
they grow modest, and hold their peace, for fear of being laughed at;
and quite right they are.

So all that good little Ellie could say was, that it was worth all the
rest of the world put together. And of course that only made Tom the
more anxious to go likewise.

"Miss Ellie," he said at last, "I will know why I cannot go with you
when you go home on Sundays, or I shall have no peace, and give you none
either."

"You must ask the fairies that."

So when the fairy, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, came next, Tom asked her.

"Little boys who are only fit to play with sea-beasts cannot go there,"
she said. "Those who go there must go first where they do not like, and
do what they do not like, and help somebody they do not like."

"Why, did Ellie do that?"

"Ask her."

And Ellie blushed, and said, "Yes, Tom, I did not like coming here at
first; I was so much happier at home, where it is always Sunday. And I
was afraid of you, Tom, at first, because--because----"

"Because I was all over prickles? But I am not prickly now, am I, Miss
Ellie?"

"No," said Ellie. "I like you very much now; and I like coming here,
too."

"And perhaps," said the fairy, "you will learn to like going where you
don't like, and helping some one that you don't like, as Ellie has."

But Tom put his finger in his mouth, and hung his head down; for he did
not see that at all.

So when Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby came, Tom asked her; for he thought in
his little head, She is not so strict as her sister, and perhaps she may
let me off more easily.

Ah, Tom, Tom, silly fellow! and yet I don't know why I should blame you,
while so many grown people have got the very same notion in their heads.

But, when they try it, they get just the same answer as Tom did. For,
when he asked the second fairy, she told him just what the first did,
and in the very same words.

Tom was very unhappy at that. And, when Ellie went home on Sunday, he
fretted and cried all day, and did not care to listen to the fairy's
stories about good children, though they were prettier than ever.
Indeed, the more he overheard of them, the less he liked to listen,
because they were all about children who did what they did not like, and
took trouble for other people, and worked to feed their little brothers
and sisters instead of caring only for their play. And, when she began
to tell a story about a holy child in old times, who was martyred by the
heathen because it would not worship idols, Tom could bear no more, and
ran away and hid among the rocks.

[Illustration]

And, when Ellie came back, he was shy with her, because he fancied she
looked down on him, and thought him a coward. And then he grew quite
cross with her, because she was superior to him, and did what he could
not do. And poor Ellie was quite surprised and sad; and at last Tom
burst out crying; but he would not tell her what was really in his mind.

And all the while he was eaten up with curiosity to know where Ellie
went to; so that he began not to care for his playmates, or for the
sea-palace or anything else. But perhaps that made matters all the
easier for him; for he grew so discontented with everything round him
that he did not care to stay, and did not care where he went.

"Well," he said, at last, "I am so miserable here, I'll go; if only you
will go with me?"

"Ah!" said Ellie, "I wish I might; but the worst of it is, that the
fairy says that you must go alone if you go at all. Now don't poke that
poor crab about, Tom" (for he was feeling very naughty and mischievous),
"or the fairy will have to punish you."

Tom was very nearly saying, "I don't care if she does;" but he stopped
himself in time.

"I know what she wants me to do," he said, whining most dolefully. "She
wants me to go after that horrid old Grimes. I don't like him, that's
certain. And if I find him, he will turn me into a chimney-sweep again,
I know. That's what I have been afraid of all along."

"No, he won't--I know as much as that. Nobody can turn water-babies into
sweeps, or hurt them at all, as long as they are good."

"Ah," said naughty Tom, "I see what you want; you are persuading me all
along to go, because you are tired of me, and want to get rid of me."

Little Ellie opened her eyes very wide at that, and they were all
brimming over with tears.

"Oh, Tom, Tom!" she said, very mournfully--and then she cried, "Oh, Tom!
where are you?"

And Tom cried, "Oh, Ellie, where are you?"

For neither of them could see each other--not the least. Little Ellie
vanished quite away, and Tom heard her voice calling him, and growing
smaller and smaller, and fainter and fainter, till all was silent.

Who was frightened then but Tom? He swam up and down among the rocks,
into all the halls and chambers, faster than ever he swam before, but
could not find her. He shouted after her, but she did not answer; he
asked all the other children, but they had not seen her; and at last he
went up to the top of the water and began crying and screaming for Mrs.
Bedonebyasyoudid--which perhaps was the best thing to do--for she came
in a moment.

"Oh!" said Tom. "Oh, dear, oh dear! I have been naughty to Ellie, and I
have killed her--I know I have killed her."

"Not quite that," said the fairy; "but I have sent her away home, and
she will not come back again for I do not know how long."

And at that Tom cried so bitterly that the salt sea was swelled with his
tears, and the tide was 3,954,620,819 of an inch higher than it had been
the day before: but perhaps that was owing to the waxing of the moon.

"How cruel of you to send Ellie away!" sobbed Tom. "However, I will find
her again, if I go to the world's end to look for her."

The fairy did not slap Tom, and tell him to hold his tongue: but she
took him on her lap very kindly, just as her sister would have done; and
put him in mind how it was not her fault, because she was wound up
inside, like watches, and could not help doing things whether she liked
or not. And then she told him how he had been in the nursery long
enough, and must go out now and see the world, if he intended ever to be
a man; and how he must go all alone by himself, as every one else that
ever was born has to go, and see with his own eyes, and smell with his
own nose, and make his own bed and lie on it, and burn his own fingers
if he put them into the fire. And then she told him how many fine things
there were to be seen in the world, and what an odd, curious, pleasant,
orderly, respectable, well-managed, and, on the whole, successful (as,
indeed, might have been expected) sort of a place it was, if people
would only be tolerably brave and honest and good in it; and then she
told him not to be afraid of anything he met, for nothing would harm him
if he remembered all his lessons, and did what he knew was right. And at
last she comforted poor little Tom so much that he was quite eager to
go, and wanted to set out that minute. "Only," he said, "if I might see
Ellie once before I went!"

"Why do you want that?"

"Because--because I should be so much happier if I thought she had
forgiven me."

And in the twinkling of an eye there stood Ellie, smiling, and looking
so happy that Tom longed to kiss her; but was still afraid it would not
be respectful, because she was a lady born.

"I am going, Ellie!" said Tom. "I am going, if it is to the world's end.
But I don't like going at all, and that's the truth."

"Pooh! pooh! pooh!" said the fairy. "You will like it very well indeed,
you little rogue, and you know that at the bottom of your heart. But if
you don't, I will make you like it. Come here, and see what happens to
people who do only what is pleasant."

And she took out of one of her cupboards (she had all sorts of
mysterious cupboards in the cracks of the rocks) the most wonderful
waterproof book, full of such photographs as never were seen. For she
had found out photography (and this is a fact) more than 13,598,000
years before anybody was born; and, what is more, her photographs did
not merely represent light and shade, as ours do, but color also, and
all colors, as you may see if you look at a blackcock's tail, or a
butterfly's wing, or indeed most things that are or can be, so to speak.
And therefore her photographs were very curious and famous, and the
children looked with great delight for the opening of the book.

And on the title-page was written, "The History of the great and famous
nation of the Doasyoulikes, who came away from the country of Hardwork,
because they wanted to play on the Jews' harp all day long."

[Illustration]

In the first picture they saw these Doasyoulikes living in the land of
Readymade, at the foot of the Happy-go-lucky Mountains, where flapdoodle
grows wild; and if you want to know what that is, you must read Peter
Simple.

They lived very much such a life as those jolly old Greeks in Sicily,
whom you may see painted on the ancient vases, and really there seemed
to be great excuses for them, for they had no need to work.

Instead of houses they lived in the beautiful caves of tufa, and bathed
in the warm springs three times a day; and, as for clothes, it was so
warm there that the gentlemen walked about in little beside a cocked hat
and a pair of straps, or some light summer tackle of that kind; and the
ladies all gathered gossamer in autumn (when they were not too lazy) to
make their winter dresses.

They were very fond of music, but it was too much trouble to learn the
piano or the violin; and as for dancing, that would have been too great
an exertion. So they sat on ant-hills all day long, and played on the
Jews' harp; and, if the ants bit them, why they just got up and went to
the next ant-hill, till they were bitten there likewise.

And they sat under the flapdoodle-trees, and let the flapdoodle drop
into their mouths; and under the vines, and squeezed the grape-juice
down their throats; and, if any little pigs ran about ready roasted,
crying, "Come and eat me," as was their fashion in that country, they
waited till the pigs ran against their mouths, and then took a bite, and
were content, just as so many oysters would have been.

They needed no weapons, for no enemies ever came near their land; and no
tools, for everything was readymade to their hand; and the stern old
fairy Necessity never came near them to hunt them up, and make them use
their wits, or die.

And so on, and so on, and so on, till there were never such comfortable,
easy-going, happy-go-lucky people in the world.

"Well, that is a jolly life," said Tom.

"You think so?" said the fairy. "Do you see that great peaked mountain
there behind," said the fairy, "with smoke coming out of its top?"

"Yes."

"And do you see all those ashes, and slag, and cinders lying about?"

"Yes."

"Then turn over the next five hundred years, and you will see what
happens next."

And behold the mountain had blown up like a barrel of gunpowder, and
then boiled over like a kettle; whereby one-third of the Doasyoulikes
were blown into the air, and another third were smothered in ashes; so
that there was only one-third left.

"You see," said the fairy, "what comes of living on a burning mountain."

"Oh, why did you not warn them?" said little Ellie.

"I did warn them all that I could. I let the smoke come out of the
mountain; and wherever there is smoke there is fire. And I laid the
ashes and cinders all about; and wherever there are cinders, cinders may
be again. But they did not like to face facts, my dears, as very few
people do; and so they invented a cock-and-bull story, which, I am sure,
I never told them, that the smoke was the breath of a giant, whom some
gods or other had buried under the mountain; and that the cinders were
what the dwarfs roasted the little pigs whole with; and other nonsense
of that kind. And, when folks are in that humour, I cannot teach them,
save by the good old birch-rod."

And then she turned over the next five hundred years: and there were the
remnant of the Doasyoulikes, doing as they liked, as before. They were
too lazy to move away from the mountain; so they said, If it has blown
up once, that is all the more reason that it should not blow up again.
And they were few in number: but they only said, The more the merrier,
but the fewer the better fare. However, that was not quite true; for all
the flapdoodle-trees were killed by the volcano, and they had eaten all
the roast pigs, who, of course, could not be expected to have little
ones. So they had to live very hard, on nuts and roots which they
scratched out of the ground with sticks. Some of them talked of sowing
corn, as their ancestors used to do, before they came into the land of
Readymade; but they had forgotten how to make ploughs (they had
forgotten even how to make Jews' harps by this time), and had eaten all
the seed-corn which they brought out of the land of Hardwork years
since; and of course it was too much trouble to go away and find more.
So they lived miserably on roots and nuts, and all the weakly little
children had great stomachaches, and then died.

"Why," said Tom, "they are growing no better than savages."

"And look how ugly they are all getting," said Ellie.

"Yes; when people live on poor vegetables instead of roast beef and
plum-pudding, their jaws grow large, and their lips grow coarse, like
the poor Paddies who eat potatoes."

And she turned over the next five hundred years. And there they were all
living up in trees, and making nests to keep off the rain. And
underneath the trees lions were prowling about.

"Why," said Ellie, "the lions seem to have eaten a good many of them,
for there are very few left now."

"Yes," said the fairy; "you see it was only the strongest and most
active ones who could climb the trees, and so escape."

"But what great, hulking, broad-shouldered chaps they are," said Tom;
"they are a rough lot as ever I saw."

"Yes, they are getting very strong now; for the ladies will not marry
any but the very strongest and fiercest gentlemen, who can help them up
the trees out of the lions' way."

And she turned over the next five hundred years. And in that they were
fewer still, and stronger, and fiercer; but their feet had changed shape
very oddly, for they laid hold of the branches with their great toes as
if they had been thumbs, just as a Hindoo tailor uses his toes to thread
his needle.

The children were very much surprised, and asked the fairy whether that
was her doing.

"Yes, and no," she said, smiling. "It was only those who could use their
feet as well as their hands who could get a good living: or, indeed, get
married; so that they got the best of everything, and starved out all
the rest; and those who are left keep up a regular breed of
toe-thumb-men, as a breed of short-horns, or skye-terriers, or fancy
pigeons is kept up."

"But there is a hairy one among them," said Ellie.

"Ah!" said the fairy, "that will be a great man in his time, and chief
of all the tribe."

And, when she turned over the next five hundred years, it was true.

For this hairy chief had had hairy children, and they hairier children
still; and every one wished to marry hairy husbands, and have hairy
children too; for the climate was growing so damp that none but the
hairy ones could live: all the rest coughed and sneezed, and had sore
throats, and went into consumptions, before they could grow up to be men
and women.

Then the fairy turned over the next five hundred years. And they were
fewer still.

"Why, there is one on the ground picking up roots," said Ellie, "and he
cannot walk upright."

No more he could; for in the same way that the shape of their feet had
altered, the shape of their backs had altered also.

"Why," cried Tom, "I declare they are all apes."

"Something fearfully like it, poor foolish creatures," said the fairy.
"They are grown so stupid now, that they can hardly think: for none of
them have used their wits for many hundred years. They have almost
forgotten, too, how to talk. For each stupid child forgot some of the
words it heard from its stupid parents, and has not wits enough to make
fresh words for itself. Besides, they are grown so fierce and suspicious
and brutal that they keep out of each other's way, and mope and sulk in
the dark forests, never hearing each other's voice, till they have
forgotten almost what speech is like. I am afraid they will all be apes
very soon, and all by doing only what they liked."

And in the next five hundred years they were all dead and gone, by bad
food and wild beasts and hunters; all except one tremendous old fellow
with jaws like a jack, who stood full seven feet high; and M. Du Chaillu
came up to him, and shot him, as he stood roaring and thumping his
breast. And he remembered that his ancestors had once been men, and
tried to say, "Am I not a man and a brother?" but had forgotten how to
use his tongue; and then he had tried to call for a doctor, but he had
forgotten the word for one. So all he said was "Ubboboo!" and died.

And that was the end of the great and jolly nation of the Doasyoulikes.
And, when Tom and Ellie came to the end of the book, they looked very
sad and solemn; and they had good reason so to do, for they really
fancied that the men were apes, and never thought, in their simplicity,
of asking whether the creatures had hippopotamus majors in their brains
or not; in which case, as you have been told already, they could not
possibly have been apes, though they were more apish than the apes of
all aperies.

"But could you not have saved them from becoming apes?" said little
Ellie, at last.

"At first, my dear; if only they would have behaved like men, and set to
work to do what they did not like. But the longer they waited, and
behaved like the dumb beasts, who only do what they like, the stupider
and clumsier they grew; till at last they were past all cure, for they
had thrown their own wits away. It is such things as this that help to
make me so ugly, that I know not when I shall grow fair."

"And where are they all now?" asked Ellie.

"Exactly where they ought to be, my dear."

"Yes!" said the fairy, solemnly, half to herself, as she closed the
wonderful book. "Folks say now that I can make beasts into men, by
circumstances, and selection, and competition, and so forth. Well,
perhaps they are right; and perhaps, again, they are wrong. That is one
of the seven things which I am forbidden to tell, till the coming of the
Cocqcigrues; and, at all events, it is no concern of theirs. Whatever
their ancestors were, men they are; and I advise them to behave as such,
and act accordingly. But let them recollect this, that there are two
sides to every question, and a downhill as well as an uphill road; and,
if I can turn beasts into men, I can, by the same laws of circumstances,
and selection, and competition, turn men into beasts. You were very near
being turned into a beast once or twice, little Tom. Indeed, if you had
not made up your mind to go on this journey, and see the world, like an
Englishman, I am not sure but that you would have ended as an eft in a
pond."

"Oh, dear me!" said Tom; "sooner than that, and be all over slime, I'll
go this minute, if it is to the world's end."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER VII


"NOW," said Tom, "I am ready to be off, if it's to the world's end."

"Ah!" said the fairy, "that is a brave, good boy. But you must go
farther than the world's end, if you want to find Mr. Grimes; for he is
at the Other-end-of-Nowhere. You must go to Shiny Wall, and through the
white gate that never was opened; and then you will come to Peacepool,
and Mother Carey's Haven, where the good whales go when they die. And
there Mother Carey will tell you the way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere,
and there you will find Mr. Grimes."

"Oh, dear!" said Tom. "But I do not know my way to Shiny Wall, or where
it is at all."

"Little boys must take the trouble to find out things for themselves,
or they will never grow to be men; so that you must ask all the beasts
in the sea and the birds in the air, and if you have been good to them,
some of them will tell you the way to Shiny Wall."

"Well," said Tom, "it will be a long journey, so I had better start at
once. Good-bye, Miss Ellie; you know I am getting a big boy, and I must
go out and see the world."

"I know you must," said Ellie; "but you will not forget me, Tom. I shall
wait here till you come."

And she shook hands with him, and bade him good-bye. Tom longed very
much again to kiss her; but he thought it would not be respectful,
considering she was a lady born; so he promised not to forget her: but
his little whirl-about of a head was so full of the notion of going out
to see the world, that it forgot her in five minutes: however, though
his head forgot her, I am glad to say his heart did not.

So he asked all the beasts in the sea, and all the birds in the air, but
none of them knew the way to Shiny Wall. For why? He was still too far
down south.

Then he met a ship, far larger than he had ever seen--a gallant
ocean-steamer, with a long cloud of smoke trailing behind; and he
wondered how she went on without sails, and swam up to her to see. A
school of dolphins were running races round and round her, going three
feet for her one, and Tom asked them the way to Shiny Wall: but they did
not know. Then he tried to find out how she moved, and at last he saw
her screw, and was so delighted with it that he played under her quarter
all day, till he nearly had his nose knocked off by the fans, and
thought it time to move. Then he watched the sailors upon deck, and the
ladies, with their bonnets and parasols: but none of them could see him,
because their eyes were not opened--as, indeed, most people's eyes are
not.

At last there came out into the quarter-gallery a very pretty lady, in
deep black widow's weeds, and in her arms a baby. She leaned over the
quarter-gallery, and looked back and back toward England far away; and
as she looked she sang:


I.

            "_Soft soft wind, from out the sweet south sliding,
            Waft thy silver cloud-webs athwart the summer sea;
              Thin thin threads of mist on dewy fingers twining
            Weave a veil of dappled gauze to shade my babe and me._


II.

            "_Deep deep Love, within thine own abyss abiding,
          Pour Thyself abroad, O Lord, on earth and air and sea;
              Worn weary hearts within Thy holy Temple hiding,
          Shield from sorrow, sin, and shame my helpless babe and me._"

Her voice was so soft and low, and the music of the air so sweet, that
Tom could have listened to it all day. But as she held the baby over the
gallery rail, to show it the dolphins leaping and the water gurgling in
the ship's wake, lo! and behold, the baby saw Tom.

He was quite sure of that; for when their eyes met, the baby smiled and
held out his hands; and Tom smiled and held out his hands too; and the
baby kicked and leaped, as if it wanted to jump overboard to him.

"What do you see, my darling?" said the lady; and her eyes followed the
baby's till she too caught sight of Tom, swimming about among the
foam-beads below.

She gave a little shriek and start; and then she said, quite quietly,
"Babies in the sea? Well, perhaps it is the happiest place for them;"
and waved her hand to Tom, and cried, "Wait a little, darling, only a
little: and perhaps we shall go with you and be at rest."

[Illustration]

And at that an old nurse, all in black, came out and talked to her, and
drew her in. And Tom turned away northward, sad and wondering; and
watched the great steamer slide away into the dusk, and the lights on
board peep out one by one, and die out again, and the long bar of smoke
fade away into the evening mist, till all was out of sight.

And he swam northward again, day after day, till at last he met the King
of the Herrings, with a curry-comb growing out of his nose, and a sprat
in his mouth for a cigar, and asked him the way to Shiny Wall; so he
bolted his sprat head foremost, and said:

[Illustration]

"If I were you, young gentleman, I should go to the Allalonestone, and
ask the last of the Gairfowl. She is of a very ancient clan, very nearly
as ancient as my own; and knows a good deal which these modern upstarts
don't, as ladies of old houses are likely to do."

Tom asked his way to her, and the King of the Herrings told him very
kindly, for he was a courteous old gentleman of the old school, though
he was horribly ugly, and strangely bedizened too, like the old dandies
who lounge in the club-house windows.

But just as Tom had thanked him and set off, he called after him: "Hi! I
say, can you fly?"

"I never tried," says Tom. "Why?"

"Because, if you can, I should advise you to say nothing to the old lady
about it. There; take a hint. Good-bye."

And away Tom went for seven days and seven nights due north-west, till
he came to a great codbank, the like of which he never saw before. The
great cod lay below in tens of thousands, and gobbled shell-fish all day
long; and the blue sharks roved above in hundreds, and gobbled them when
they came up. So they ate, and ate, and ate each other, as they had done
since the making of the world; for no man had come here yet to catch
them, and find out how rich old Mother Carey is.

And there he saw the last of the Gairfowl, standing up on the
Allalonestone, all alone. And a very grand old lady she was, full three
feet high, and bolt upright, like some old Highland chieftainess. She
had on a black velvet gown, and a white pinner and apron, and a very
high bridge to her nose (which is a sure mark of high breeding), and a
large pair of white spectacles on it, which made her look rather odd:
but it was the ancient fashion of her house.

And instead of wings, she had two little feathery arms, with which she
fanned herself, and complained of the dreadful heat; and she kept on
crooning an old song to herself, which she learnt when she was a little
baby-bird, long ago--

          "_Two little birds they sat on a stone,
           One swam away, and then there was one,
             With a fal-lal-la-lady._

          "_The other swam after, and then there was none,
           And so the poor stone was left all alone;
             With a fal-lal-la-lady._"

It was "flew" away, properly, and not "swam" away: but, as she could not
fly, she had a right to alter it. However, it was a very fit song for
her to sing, because she was a lady herself.

Tom came up to her very humbly, and made his bow; and the first thing
she said was--

"Have you wings? Can you fly?"

"Oh, dear, no, ma'am; I should not think of such a thing," said cunning
little Tom.

"Then I shall have great pleasure in talking to you, my dear. It is
quite refreshing nowadays to see anything without wings. They must all
have wings, forsooth, now, every new upstart sort of bird, and fly. What
can they want with flying, and raising themselves above their proper
station in life? In the days of my ancestors no birds ever thought of
having wings, and did very well without; and now they all laugh at me
because I keep to the good old fashion. Why, the very marrocks and
dovekies have got wings, the vulgar creatures, and poor little ones
enough they are; and my own cousins too, the razor-bills, who are
gentlefolk born, and ought to know better than to ape their inferiors."

And so she was running on, while Tom tried to get in a word edgeways;
and at last he did, when the old lady got out of breath, and began
fanning herself again; and then he asked if she knew the way to Shiny
Wall.

"Shiny Wall? Who should know better than I? We all came from Shiny Wall,
thousands of years ago, when it was decently cold, and the climate was
fit for gentlefolk; but now, what with the heat, and what with these
vulgar-winged things who fly up and down and eat everything, so that
gentlepeople's hunting is all spoilt, and one really cannot get one's
living, or hardly venture off the rock for fear of being flown against
by some creature that would not have dared to come within a mile of one
a thousand years ago--what was I saying? Why, we have quite gone down in
the world, my dear, and have nothing left but our honour. And I am the
last of my family. A friend of mine and I came and settled on this rock
when we were young, to be out of the way of low people. Once we were a
great nation, and spread over all the Northern Isles. But men shot us
so, and knocked us on the head, and took our eggs--why, if you will
believe it, they say that on the coast of Labrador the sailors used to
lay a plank from the rock on board the thing called their ship, and
drive us along the plank by hundreds, till we tumbled down into the
ship's waist in heaps; and then, I suppose, they ate us, the nasty
fellows! Well--but--what was I saying? At last, there were none of us
left, except on the old Gairfowlskerry, just off the Iceland coast, up
which no man could climb. Even there we had no peace; for one day, when
I was quite a young girl, the land rocked, and the sea boiled, and the
sky grew dark, and all the air was filled with smoke and dust, and down
tumbled the old Gairfowlskerry into the sea. The dovekies and marrocks,
of course, all flew away; but we were too proud to do that. Some of us
were dashed to pieces, and some drowned; and those who were left got
away to Eldey, and the dovekies tell me they are all dead now, and that
another Gairfowlskerry has risen out of the sea close to the old one,
but that it is such a poor flat place that it is not safe to live on:
and so here I am left alone."

This was the Gairfowl's story, and, strange as it may seem, it is every
word of it true.

"If you only had had wings!" said Tom; "then you might all have flown
away too."

"Yes, young gentleman: and if people are not gentlemen and ladies, and
forget that _noblesse oblige_, they will find it as easy to get on in
the world as other people who don't care what they do. Why, if I had not
recollected that _noblesse oblige_, I should not have been all alone
now." And the poor old lady sighed.

"How was that, ma'am?"

"Why, my dear, a gentleman came hither with me, and after we had been
here some time, he wanted to marry--in fact, he actually proposed to me.
Well, I can't blame him; I was young, and very handsome then, I don't
deny: but, you see, I could not hear of such a thing, because he was my
deceased sister's husband, you see?"

"Of course not, ma'am," said Tom; though, of course, he knew nothing
about it. "She was very much diseased, I suppose?"

"You do not understand me, my dear. I mean, that being a lady, and with
right and honourable feelings, as our house always has had, I felt it my
duty to snub him, and howk him, and peck him continually, to keep him at
his proper distance; and, to tell the truth, I once pecked him a little
too hard, poor fellow, and he tumbled backwards off the rock,
and--really, it was very unfortunate, but it was not my fault--a shark
coming by saw him flapping, and snapped him up. And since then I have
lived all alone----

          '_With a fal-lal-la-lady._'

And soon I shall be gone, my little dear, and nobody will miss me; and
then the poor stone will be left all alone."

"But, please, which is the way to Shiny Wall?" said Tom.

"Oh, you must go, my little dear--you must go. Let me see--I am
sure--that is--really, my poor old brains are getting quite puzzled. Do
you know, my little dear, I am afraid, if you want to know, you must ask
some of these vulgar birds about, for I have quite forgotten."

And the poor old Gairfowl began to cry tears of pure oil; and Tom was
quite sorry for her; and for himself too, for he was at his wit's end
whom to ask.

[Illustration]

But by there came a flock of petrels, who are Mother Carey's own
chickens; and Tom thought them much prettier than Lady Gairfowl, and so
perhaps they were; for Mother Carey had had a great deal of fresh
experience between the time that she invented the Gairfowl and the time
that she invented them. They flitted along like a flock of black
swallows, and hopped and skipped from wave to wave, lifting up their
little feet behind them so daintily, and whistling to each other so
tenderly, that Tom fell in love with them at once, and called them to
know the way to Shiny Wall.

"Shiny Wall? Do you want Shiny Wall? Then come with us, and we will show
you. We are Mother Carey's own chickens, and she sends us out over all
the seas, to show the good birds the way home."

Tom was delighted, and swam off to them, after he had made his bow to
the Gairfowl. But she would not return his bow: but held herself bolt
upright, and wept tears of oil as she sang:

          "_And so the poor stone was left all alone;
                With a fal-lal-la-lady._"

But she was wrong there; for the stone was not left all alone: and the
next time that Tom goes by it, he will see a sight worth seeing.

The old Gairfowl is gone already: but there are better things come in
her place; and when Tom comes he will see the fishing-smacks anchored
there in hundreds, from Scotland, and from Ireland, and from the
Orkneys, and the Shetlands, and from all the Northern ports, full of
the children of the old Norse Vikings, the masters of the sea. And the
men will be hauling in the great cod by thousands, till their hands are
sore from the lines; and they will be making cod-liver oil and guano,
and salting down the fish; and there will be a man-of-war steamer there
to protect them, and a lighthouse to show them the way; and you and I,
perhaps, shall go some day to the Allalonestone to the great summer
sea-fair, and dredge strange creatures such as man never saw before; and
we shall hear the sailors boast that it is not the worst jewel in Queen
Victoria's crown, for there are eighty miles of codbank, and food for
all the poor folk in the land. That is what Tom will see, and perhaps
you and I shall see it too. And then we shall not be sorry, because we
cannot get a Gairfowl to stuff, much less find Gairfowl enough to drive
them into stone pens and slaughter them, as the old Norsemen did, or
drive them on board along a plank till the ship was victualled with
them, as the old English and French rovers used to do, of whom dear old
Hakluyt tells: but we shall remember what Mr. Tennyson says how

          "_The old order changeth, giving place to the new,
            And God fulfils himself in many ways._"

And now Tom was all agog to start for Shiny Wall; but the petrels said
not. They must go first to Allfowlsness, and wait there for the great
gathering of all the sea-birds, before they start for their summer
breeding places far away in the Northern Isles; and there they would be
sure to find some birds which were going to Shiny Wall: but where
Allfowlsness was, he must promise never to tell, lest men should go
there and shoot the birds, and stuff them, and put them into stupid
museums, instead of leaving them to play and breed and work in Mother
Carey's water-garden, where they ought to be.

So where Allfowlsness is nobody must know; and all that is to be said
about it is, that Tom waited there many days; and as he waited, he saw a
very curious sight. On the rabbit burrows on the shore there gathered
hundreds and hundreds of hoodie-crows, such as you see in
Cambridgeshire. And they made such a noise, that Tom came on shore and
went up to see what was the matter.

And there he found them holding their great caucus, which they hold
every year in the North; and all their stump-orators were speechifying;
and for a tribune, the speaker stood on an old sheep's skull.

And they cawed and cawed, and boasted of all the clever things they had
done; how many lambs' eyes they had picked out, and how many dead
bullocks they had eaten, and how many young grouse they had swallowed
whole, and how many grouse eggs they had flown away with, stuck on the
point of their bills, which is the hoodie-crow's particularly clever
feat, of which he is as proud as a gipsy is of doing the hokanybaro; and
what that is, I won't tell you.

And at last they brought out the prettiest, neatest young lady-crow that
ever was seen, and set her in the middle, and all began abusing and
vilifying, and rating, and bullyragging at her, because she had stolen
no grouse-eggs, and had actually dared to say that she would not steal
any. So she was to be tried publicly by their laws (for the hoodies
always try some offenders in their great yearly parliament). And there
she stood in the middle, in her black gown and gray hood, looking as
meek and as neat as a Quakeress, and they all bawled at her at once--

And it was in vain that she pleaded--

  _That she did not like grouse eggs;
   That she could get her living very well without them;
   That she was afraid to eat them, for fear of the gamekeepers;
   That she had not the heart to eat them, because the grouse
          were such pretty, kind, jolly birds;
   And a dozen reasons more._

For all the other scaul-crows set upon her, and pecked her to death
there and then, before Tom could come to help her; and then flew away,
very proud of what they had done.

Now, was not this a scandalous transaction?

But they are true republicans, these hoodies, who do every one just what
he likes, and make other people do so too; so that, for any freedom of
speech, thought, or action, which is allowed among them, they might as
well be American citizens of the new school.

But the fairies took the good crow, and gave her nine new sets of
feathers running, and turned her at last into the most beautiful bird of
paradise with a green velvet suit and a long tail, and sent her to eat
fruit in the Spice Islands, where cloves and nutmegs grow.

And Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid settled her account with the wicked hoodies.
For, as they flew away, what should they find but a nasty dead dog?--on
which they all set to work, pecking and gobbling and cawing and
quarrelling to their hearts' content. But the moment afterwards, they
all threw up their bills into the air, and gave one screech; and then
turned head over heels backward, and fell down dead, one hundred and
twenty-three of them at once. For why? The fairy had told the gamekeeper
in a dream, to fill the dead dog full of strychnine; and so he did.

And after a while the birds began to gather at Allfowlsness, in
thousands and tens of thousands, blackening all the air; swans and brant
geese, harlequins and eiders, harolds and garganeys, smews and
gossanders, divers and loons, grebes and dovekies, auks and razor-bills,
gannets and petrels, skuas and terns, with gulls beyond all naming or
numbering; and they paddled and washed and splashed and combed and
brushed themselves on the sand, till the shore was white with feathers;
and they quacked and clucked and gabbled and chattered and screamed and
whooped as they talked over matters with their friends, and settled
where they were to go and breed that summer, till you might have heard
them ten miles off; and lucky it was for them that there was no one to
hear them but the old keeper, who lived all alone upon the Ness, in a
turf hut thatched with heather and fringed round with great stones slung
across the roof by bent-ropes, lest the winter gales should blow the
hut right away. But he never minded the birds nor hurt them, because
they were not in season; indeed, he minded but two things in the whole
world and those were his Bible and his grouse; for he was as good an old
Scotchman as ever knit stockings on a winter's night: only, when all the
birds were going, he toddled out, and took off his cap to them, and
wished them a merry journey and a safe return; and then gathered up all
the feathers which they had left, and cleaned them to sell down south,
and make feather-beds for stuffy people to lie on.

Then the petrels asked this bird and that whether they would take Tom to
Shiny Wall: but one set was going to Sutherland, and one to the
Shetlands, and one to Norway, and one to Spitzbergen, and one to
Iceland, and one to Greenland: but none would go to Shiny Wall. So the
good-natured petrels said that they would show him part of the way
themselves, but they were only going as far as Jan Mayen's Land; and
after that he must shift for himself.

And then all the birds rose up, and streamed away in long black lines,
north, and north-east, and north-west, across the bright blue summer
sky; and their cry was like ten thousand packs of hounds, and ten
thousand peals of bells. Only the puffins stayed behind, and killed the
young rabbits and laid their eggs in the rabbit-burrows; which was rough
practice, certainly; but a man must see to his own family.

And, as Tom and the petrels went north-eastward, it began to blow right
hard; for the old gentleman in the gray great-coat, who looks after the
big copper boiler, in the Gulf of Mexico, had got behindhand with his
work; so Mother Carey had sent an electric message to him for more
steam; and now the steam was coming, as much in an hour as ought to have
come in a week, puffing and roaring and swishing and swirling, till you
could not see where the sky ended and the sea began. But Tom and the
petrels never cared, for the gale was right abaft, and away they went
over the crests of the billows, as merry as so many flying-fish.

And at last they saw an ugly sight--the black side of a great ship,
water-logged in the trough of the sea. Her funnel and her masts were
overboard, and swayed and surged under her lee; her decks were swept as
clean as a barn floor, and there was no living soul on board.

The petrels flew up to her, and wailed round her; for they were very
sorry indeed, and also they expected to find some salt pork; and Tom
scrambled on board of her and looked round, frightened and sad.

And there, in a little cot, lashed tight under the bulwark, lay a baby
fast asleep; the very same baby, Tom saw at once, which he had seen in
the singing lady's arms.

[Illustration]

He went up to it, and wanted to wake it; but behold, from under the cot
out jumped a little black and tan terrier dog, and began barking and
snapping at Tom, and would not let him touch the cot.

Tom knew the dog's teeth could not hurt him: but at least it could shove
him away, and did; and he and the dog fought and struggled, for he
wanted to help the baby, and did not want to throw the poor dog
overboard: but as they were struggling, there came a tall green sea, and
walked in over the weather side of the ship, and swept them all into the
waves.

"Oh, the baby, the baby!" screamed Tom: but the next moment he did not
scream at all; for he saw the cot settling down through the green water,
with the baby, smiling in it, fast asleep; and he saw the fairies come
up from below, and carry baby and cradle gently down in their soft arms;
and then he knew it was all right, and that there would be a new
water-baby in St. Brandan's Isle.

And the poor little dog?

Why, after he had kicked and coughed a little, he sneezed so hard, that
he sneezed himself clean out of his skin, and turned into a water-dog,
and jumped and danced round Tom, and ran over the crests of the waves,
and snapped at the jelly-fish and the mackerel, and followed Tom the
whole way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.

Then they went on again, till they began to see the peak of Jan Mayen's
Land, standing up like a white sugar-loaf, two miles above the clouds.

And there they fell in with a whole flock of molly-mocks, who were
feeding on a dead whale.

"These are the fellows to show you the way," said Mother Carey's
chickens; "we cannot help you farther north. We don't like to get among
the ice pack, for fear it should nip our toes: but the mollys dare fly
anywhere."

So the petrels called to the mollys: but they were so busy and greedy,
gobbling and pecking and spluttering and fighting over the blubber,
that they did not take the least notice.

"Come, come," said the petrels, "you lazy greedy lubbers, this young
gentleman is going to Mother Carey, and if you don't attend on him, you
won't earn your discharge from her, you know."

"Greedy we are," says a great fat old molly, "but lazy we ain't; and, as
for lubbers, we're no more lubbers than you. Let's have a look at the
lad."

And he flapped right into Tom's face, and stared at him in the most
impudent way (for the mollys are audacious fellows, as all whalers
know), and then asked him where he hailed from, and what land he sighted
last.

And, when Tom told him, he seemed pleased, and said he was a good
plucked one to have got so far.

"Come along, lads," he said to the rest, "and give this little chap a
cast over the pack, for Mother Carey's sake. We've eaten blubber enough
for today, and we'll e'en work out a bit of our time by helping the
lad."

So the mollys took Tom up on their backs, and flew off with him,
laughing and joking--and oh, how they did smell of train oil!

"Who are you, you jolly birds?" asked Tom.

"We are the spirits of the old Greenland skippers (as every sailor
knows), who hunted here, right whales and horse-whales, full hundreds of
years agone. But, because we were saucy and greedy, we were all turned
into mollys, to eat whale's blubber all our days. But lubbers we are
none, and could sail a ship now against any man in the North seas,
though we don't hold with this new-fangled steam. And it's a shame of
those black imps of petrels to call us so; but because they're her
grace's pets, they think they may say anything they like."

"And who are you?" asked Tom of him, for he saw that he was the king of
all the birds.

"My name is Hendrick Hudson, and a right good skipper was I; and my name
will last to the world's end, in spite of all the wrong I did. For I
discovered Hudson River and I named Hudson's Bay; and many have come in
my wake that dared not have shown me the way. But I was a hard man in my
time, that's truth, and stole the poor Indians off the coast of Maine,
and sold them for slaves down in Virginia; and at last I was so cruel to
my sailors, here in these very seas, that they set me adrift in an open
boat, and I never was heard of more. So now I'm the king of all mollys,
till I've worked out my time."

And now they came to the edge of the pack, and beyond it they could see
Shiny Wall looming, through mist, and snow, and storm. But the pack
rolled horribly upon the swell, and the ice giants fought and roared,
and leapt upon each other's backs, and ground each other to powder, so
that Tom was afraid to venture among them, lest he should be ground to
powder too. And he was the more afraid, when he saw lying among the ice
pack the wrecks of many a gallant ship; some with masts and yards all
standing, some with the seamen frozen fast on board. Alas, alas, for
them! They were all true English hearts; and they came to their end like
good knights-errant, in searching for the white gate that never was
opened yet.

But the good mollys took Tom and his dog up, and flew with them safe
over the pack and the roaring ice giants, and set them down at the foot
of Shiny Wall.

"And where is the gate?" asked Tom.

"There is no gate," said the mollys.

"No gate?" cried Tom, aghast.

"None; never a crack of one, and that's the whole of the secret, as
better fellows, lad, than you have found to their cost; and if there had
been, they'd have killed by now every right whale that swims the seas."

"What am I to do, then?"

"Dive under the floe, to be sure, if you have pluck."

"I've not come so far to turn now," said Tom; "so here goes for a
header."

"A lucky voyage to you, lad," said the mollys; "we knew you were one of
the right sort. So good-bye."

"Why don't you come too?" asked Tom.

But the mollys only wailed sadly, "We can't go yet, we can't go yet,"
and flew away over the pack.

So Tom dived under the great white gate which never was opened yet, and
went on in black darkness, at the bottom of the sea, for seven days and
seven nights. And yet he was not a bit frightened. Why should he be? He
was a brave English lad, whose business is to go out and see all the
world.

And at last he saw the light, and clear clear water overhead; and up he
came a thousand fathoms, among clouds of sea-moths, which fluttered
round his head. There were moths with pink heads and wings and opal
bodies, that flapped about slowly; moths with brown wings that flapped
about quickly; yellow shrimps that hopped and skipped most quickly of
all; and jellies of all the colours in the world, that neither hopped
nor skipped, but only dawdled and yawned, and would not get out of his
way. The dog snapped at them till his jaws were tired; but Tom hardly
minded them at all, he was so eager to get to the top of the water, and
see the pool where the good whales go.

And a very large pool it was, miles and miles across, though the air was
so clear that the ice cliffs on the opposite side looked as if they were
close at hand. All round it the ice cliffs rose, in walls and spires and
battlements, and caves and bridges, and stones and galleries, in which
the ice-fairies live, and drive away the storms and clouds, that Mother
Carey's pool may lie calm from year's end to year's end. And the sun
acted policeman, and walked round outside every day, peeping just over
the top of the ice wall, to see that all went right; and now and then he
played conjuring tricks, or had an exhibition of fireworks, to amuse the
ice-fairies. For he would make himself into four or five suns at once,
or paint the sky with rings and crosses and crescents of white fire, and
stick himself in the middle of them, and wink at the fairies; and I
daresay they were very much amused; for anything's fun in the country.

And there the good whales lay, the happy sleepy beasts, upon the still
oily sea. They were all right whales, you must know, and finners, and
razor-backs, and bottle-noses, and spotted sea-unicorns with long ivory
horns. But the sperm whales are such raging, ramping, roaring,
rumbustious fellows, that, if Mother Carey let them in, there would be
no more peace in Peacepool. So she packs them away in a great pond by
themselves at the South Pole, two hundred and sixty-three miles
south-south-east of Mount Erebus, the great volcano in the ice; and
there they butt each other with their ugly noses, day and night from
year's end to year's end.

[Illustration]

But here there were only good quiet beasts, lying about like the black
hulls of sloops, and blowing every now and then jets of white steam, or
sculling round with their huge mouths open, for the sea-moths to swim
down their throats. There were no threshers there to thresh their poor
old backs, or sword-fish to stab their stomachs, or saw-fish to rip them
up, or ice-sharks to bite lumps out of their sides, or whalers to
harpoon and lance them. They were quite safe and happy there; and all
they had to do was to wait quietly in Peacepool, till Mother Carey sent
for them to make them out of old beasts into new.

Tom swam up to the nearest whale, and asked the way to Mother Carey.

"There she sits in the middle," said the whale.

Tom looked; but he could see nothing in the middle of the pool, but one
peaked iceberg; and he said so.

"That's Mother Carey," said the whale, "as you will find when you get to
her. There she sits making old beasts into new all the year round."

"How does she do that?"

"That's her concern, not mine," said the old whale; and yawned so wide
(for he was very large) that there swam into his mouth 943 sea-moths,
13,846 jelly-fish no bigger than pins' heads, a string of salpæ nine
yards long, and forty-three little ice-crabs, who gave each other a
parting pinch all round, tucked their legs under their stomachs, and
determined to die decently, like Julius Cæsar.

"I suppose," said Tom, "she cuts up a great whale like you into a whole
shoal of porpoises?"

At which the old whale laughed so violently that he coughed up all the
creatures; who swam away again very thankful at having escaped out of
that terrible whalebone net of his, from which bourne no traveller
returns; and Tom went on to the iceberg, wondering.

And, when he came near it, it took the form of the grandest old lady he
had ever seen--a white marble lady, sitting on a white marble throne.
And from the foot of the throne there swum away, out and out into the
sea, millions of new-born creatures, of more shapes and colours than man
ever dreamed. And they were Mother Carey's children, whom she makes out
of the sea-water all day long.

He expected, of course--like some grown people who ought to know
better--to find her snipping, piecing, fitting, stitching, cobbling,
basting, filing, planing, hammering, turning, polishing, moulding,
measuring, chiselling, clipping, and so forth, as men do when they go to
work to make anything.

But, instead of that, she sat quite still with her chin upon her hand,
looking down into the sea with two great grand blue eyes, as blue as the
sea itself. Her hair was as white as the snow--for she was very very
old--in fact, as old as anything which you are likely to come across,
except the difference between right and wrong.

And, when she saw Tom, she looked at him very kindly.

"What do you want, my little man? It is long since I have seen a
water-baby here."

Tom told her his errand, and asked the way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.

"You ought to know yourself, for you have been there already."

"Have I, ma'am? I'm sure I forget all about it."

"Then look at me." And, as Tom looked into her great blue eyes, he
recollected the way perfectly.

Now, was not that strange?

"Thank you, ma'am," said Tom. "Then I won't trouble your ladyship any
more; I hear you are very busy."

"I am never more busy than I am now," she said, without stirring a
finger.

"I heard, ma'am, that you were always making new beasts out of old."

"So people fancy. But I am not going to trouble myself to make things,
my little dear. I sit here and make them make themselves."

"You are a clever fairy, indeed," thought Tom. And he was quite right.

That is a grand trick of good old Mother Carey's, and a grand answer,
which she has had occasion to make several times to impertinent people.

There was once, for instance, a fairy who was so clever that she found
out how to make butterflies. I don't mean sham ones; no: but real live
ones, which would fly, and eat, and lay eggs, and do everything that
they ought; and she was so proud of her skill that she went flying
straight off to the North Pole, to boast to Mother Carey how she could
make butterflies.

But Mother Carey laughed.

"Know, silly child," she said, "that any one can make things, if they
will take time and trouble enough: but it is not every one who, like me,
can make things make themselves."

But people do not yet believe that Mother Carey is as clever as all that
comes to; and they will not till they, too, go the journey to the
Other-end-of-Nowhere.

"And now, my pretty little man," said Mother Carey, "you are sure you
know the way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere?"

Tom thought; and behold, he had forgotten it utterly.

"That is because you took your eyes off me."

Tom looked at her again, and recollected; and then looked away, and
forgot in an instant.

"But what am I to do, ma'am? For I can't keep looking at you when I am
somewhere else."

"You must do without me, as most people have to do, for nine hundred and
ninety-nine thousandths of their lives; and look at the dog instead; for
he knows the way well enough, and will not forget it. Besides, you may
meet some very queer-tempered people there, who will not let you pass
without this passport of mine, which you must hang round your neck and
take care of; and, of course, as the dog will always go behind you, you
must go the whole way backward."

"Backward!" cried Tom. "Then I shall not be able to see my way."

"On the contrary, if you look forward, you will not see a step before
you, and be certain to go wrong; but, if you look behind you, and watch
carefully whatever you have passed, and especially keep your eye on the
dog, who goes by instinct, and therefore can't go wrong, then you will
know what is coming next, as plainly as if you saw it in a
looking-glass."

Tom was very much astonished: but he obeyed her, for he had learnt
always to believe what the fairies told him.

He was very sorely tried; for though, by keeping the dog to heels (or
rather to toes, for he had to walk backward), he could see pretty well
which way the dog was hunting, yet it was much slower work to go
backwards than to go forwards. But, what was more trying still, no
sooner had he got out of Peacepool, than there came running to him all
the conjurors, fortune-tellers, astrologers, prophesiers, projectors,
prestigiators, as many as were in those parts (and there are too many of
them everywhere), all bawling and screaming at him, "Look a-head, only
look a-head; and we will show you what man never saw before, and right
away to the end of the world!"

But I am proud to say that Tom was such a little dogged, hard, gnarly,
foursquare brick of an English boy, that he never turned his head round
once all the way from Peacepool to the Other-end-of-Nowhere: but kept
his eye on the dog, and let him pick out the scent, hot or cold,
straight or crooked, wet or dry, up hill or down dale; by which means he
never made a single mistake, and saw all the wonderful and hitherto
by-no-mortal-man-imagined things, which it is my duty to relate to you
in the next chapter.



[Illustration]



CHAPTER VIII AND LAST


HERE begins the never-to-be-too-much-studied account of the
nine-hundred-and-ninety-ninth part of the wonderful things which Tom saw
on his journey to the Other-end-of-Nowhere; which all good little
children are requested to read; that, if ever they get to the
Other-end-of-Nowhere, as they may very probably do, they may not burst
out laughing, or try to run away, or do any other silly vulgar thing
which may offend Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid.

Now, as soon as Tom had left Peacepool, he came to the white lap of the
great sea-mother, ten thousand fathoms deep; where she makes world-pap
all day long, for the steam-giants to knead, and the fire-giants to
bake, till it has risen and hardened into mountain-loaves and
island-cakes.

And there Tom was very near being kneaded up in the world-pap, and
turned into a fossil water-baby; which would have astonished the
Geological Society of New Zealand some hundreds of thousands of years
hence.

For, as he walked along in the silence of the sea-twilight, on the soft
white ocean floor, he was aware of a hissing, and a roaring, and a
thumping, and a pumping, as of all the steam-engines in the world at
once. And, when he came near, the water grew boiling-hot; not that that
hurt him in the least: but it also grew as foul as gruel; and every
moment he stumbled over dead shells, and fish, and sharks, and seals,
and whales, which had been killed by the hot water.

And at last he came to the great sea-serpent himself, lying dead at the
bottom; and as he was too thick to scramble over, Tom had to walk round
him three-quarters of a mile and more, which put him out of his path
sadly; and, when he had got round, he came to the place called Stop. And
there he stopped, and just in time.

For he was on the edge of a vast hole in the bottom of the sea, up which
was rushing and roaring clear steam enough to work all the engines in
the world at once; so clear, indeed, that it was quite light at moments;
and Tom could see almost up to the top of the water above, and down
below into the pit for nobody knows how far.

But, as soon as he bent his head over the edge, he got such a rap on the
nose from pebbles, that he jumped back again; for the steam, as it
rushed up, rasped away the sides of the hole, and hurled it up into the
sea in a shower of mud and gravel and ashes; and then it spread all
around, and sank again and covered in the dead fish so fast, that before
Tom had stood there five minutes he was buried in silt up to his ankles,
and began to be afraid that he should have been buried alive.

And perhaps he would have been, but that while he was thinking, the
whole piece of ground on which he stood was torn off and blown upwards,
and away flew Tom a mile up through the sea, wondering what was coming
next.

At last he stopped--thump! and found himself tight in the legs of the
most wonderful bogy which he had ever seen.

It had I don't know how many wings, as big as the sails of a windmill,
and spread out in a ring like them; and with them it hovered over the
steam which rushed up, as a ball hovers over the top of a fountain. And
for every wing above it had a leg below, with a claw like a comb at the
tip, and a nostril at the root; and in the middle it had no stomach and
one eye; and as for its mouth, that was all on one side, as the
madre-poriform tubercle in a star-fish is. Well, it was a very strange
beast; but no stranger than some dozens which you may see.

"What do you want here," it cried quite peevishly, "getting in my way?"
and it tried to drop Tom: but he held on tight to its claws, thinking
himself safer where he was.

So Tom told him who he was, and what his errand was. And the thing
winked its one eye, and sneered:

"I am too old to be taken in in that way. You are come after gold--I
know you are."

"Gold! What is gold?" And really Tom did not know; but the suspicious
old bogy would not believe him.

But after a while Tom began to understand a little. For, as the vapours
came up out of the hole, the bogy smelt them with his nostrils, and
combed them and sorted them with his combs; and then, when they steamed
up through them against his wings, they were changed into showers and
streams of metal. From one wing fell gold-dust, and from another
silver, and from another copper, and from another tin, and from another
lead, and so on, and sank into the soft mud, into veins and cracks, and
hardened there. Whereby it comes to pass that the rocks are full of
metal.

But, all of a sudden, somebody shut off the steam below, and the hole
was left empty in an instant: and then down rushed the water into the
hole, in such a whirlpool that the bogy spun round and round as fast as
a teetotum. But that was all in his day's work, like a fair fall with
the hounds; so all he did was to say to Tom--

"Now is your time, youngster, to get down, if you are in earnest, which
I don't believe."

"You'll soon see," said Tom; and away he went, as bold as Baron
Munchausen, and shot down the rushing cataract like a salmon at
Ballisodare.

And, when he got to the bottom, he swam till he was washed on shore safe
upon the Other-end-of-Nowhere; and he found it, to his surprise, as most
other people do, much more like This-End-of-Somewhere than he had been
in the habit of expecting.

And first he went through Waste-paper-land, where all the stupid books
lie in heaps, up hill and down dale, like leaves in a winter wood; and
there he saw people digging and grubbing among them, to make worse
books out of bad ones, and thrashing chaff to save the dust of it; and a
very good trade they drove thereby, especially among children.

Then he went by the sea of slops, to the mountain of messes, and the
territory of tuck, where the ground was very sticky, for it was all made
of bad toffee, and full of deep cracks and holes choked with wind-fallen
fruit, and green goose-berries, and sloes, and crabs, and whinberries,
and hips and haws, and all the nasty things which little children will
eat, if they can get them. But the fairies hide them out of the way in
that country as fast as they can, and very hard work they have, and of
very little use it is. For as fast as they hide away the old trash,
foolish and wicked people make fresh trash full of lime and poisonous
paints, and actually go and steal receipts out of old Madame Science's
big book to invent poisons for little children, and sell them at wakes
and fairs and tuck-shops. Very well. Let them go on. Dr. Letheby and Dr.
Hassall cannot catch them, though they are setting traps for them all
day long. But the Fairy with the birch-rod will catch them all in time,
and make them begin at one corner of their shops, and eat their way out
at the other: by which time they will have got such stomachaches as will
cure them of poisoning little children.

Then came Tom to the great land of Hearsay.

When Tom came into that land, he found them all, high and low, man,
woman, and child, running for their lives day and night continually, and
entreating not to be told they didn't know what: only the land being an
island, and they having a dislike to the water (being a musty lot for
the most part), they ran round and round the shore for ever, which was
hard work.

[Illustration]

And running after them, day and night, came such a poor, lean, seedy,
hard-worked old giant, as ought to have been cockered up, and had a good
dinner given him, and a good wife found him, and been set to play with
little children; and then he would have been a very presentable old
fellow after all; for he had a heart, though it was considerably
overgrown with brains.

He was made up principally of fish bones and parchment, put together
with wire and Canada balsam; and smelt strongly of spirits, though he
never drank anything but water: but spirits he used somehow, there was
no denying. He had a great pair of spectacles on his nose, and a
butterfly-net in one hand, and a geological hammer in the other; and was
hung all over with pockets, full of collecting boxes, bottles,
microscopes, telescopes, barometers, ordnance maps, scalpels, forceps,
photographic apparatus, and all other tackle for finding out everything
about everything, and a little more too. And, most strange of all, he
was running not forwards but backwards, as fast as he could.

Away all the good folks ran from him, except Tom, who stood his ground
and dodged between his legs; and the giant, when he had passed him,
looked down, and cried, as if he was quite pleased and comforted,--

"What? who are you? And you actually don't run away, like all the rest?"
But he had to take his spectacles off, Tom remarked, in order to see him
plainly.

Tom told him who he was; and the giant pulled out a bottle and a cork
instantly, to collect him with.

But Tom was too sharp for that, and dodged between his legs and in front
of him; and then the giant could not see him at all.

"No, no, no!" said Tom, "I've not been round the world, and through the
world, and up to Mother Carey's haven, beside being caught in a net and
called a Holothurian and a Cephalopod, to be bottled up by any old giant
like you."

And when the giant understood what a great traveller Tom had been, he
made a truce with him at once, and would have kept him there to this day
to pick his brains, so delighted was he at finding any one to tell him
what he did not know before.

"Ah, you lucky little dog!" said he at last, quite simply--for he was
the simplest, pleasantest, honestest, kindliest old Dominie Sampson of a
giant that ever turned the world upside down without intending it--"ah,
you lucky little dog! If I had only been where you have been, to see
what you have seen!"

"Well," said Tom, "if you want to do that, you had best put your head
under water for a few hours, as I did, and turn into a water-baby, or
some other baby, and then you might have a chance."

"Turn into a baby, eh? If I could do that, and know what was happening
to me for but one hour, I should know everything then, and be at rest.
But I can't; I can't be a little child again; and I suppose if I could,
it would be no use, because then I should know nothing about what was
happening to me. Ah, you lucky little dog!" said the poor old giant.

"But why do you run after all these poor people?" said Tom, who liked
the giant very much.

"My dear, it's they that have been running after me, father and son, for
hundreds and hundreds of years, throwing stones at me till they have
knocked off my spectacles fifty times, and calling me a malignant and a
turbaned Turk, who beat a Venetian and traduced the State--goodness only
knows what they mean, for I never read poetry--and hunting me round and
round--though catch me they can't, for every time I go over the same
ground, I go the faster, and grow the bigger. While all I want is to be
friends with them, and to tell them something to their advantage: only
somehow they are so strangely afraid of hearing it. But, I suppose I am
not a man of the world, and have no tact."

"But why don't you turn round and tell them so?"

"Because I can't. You see, I must go backwards, if I am to go at all."

"But why don't you stop, and let them come up to you?"

"Why, my dear, only think. If I did, all the butterflies and
cockyolybirds would fly past me, and then I should catch no more new
species, and should grow rusty and mouldy, and die. And I don't intend
to do that, my dear; for I have a destiny before me, they say: though
what it is I don't know, and don't care."

"Don't care?" said Tom.

"No. Do the duty which lies nearest you, and catch the first beetle you
come across, is my motto; and I have thriven by it for some hundred
years. Now I must go on. Dear me, while I have been talking to you, at
least nine new species have escaped me."

And on went the giant, behind before, like a bull in a china-shop, till
he ran into the steeple of the great idol temple (for they are all
idolaters in those parts, of course, else they would never be afraid of
giants), and knocked the upper half clean off, hurting himself horribly
about the small of the back.

But little he cared; for as soon as the ruins of the steeple were well
between his legs, he poked and peered among the falling stones, and
shifted his spectacles, and pulled out his pocket-magnifier, and
cried--

"An entirely new Oniscus, and three obscure Podurellæ! Besides a moth
which M. le Roi des Papillons (though he, like all Frenchmen, is given
to hasty inductions) says is confined to the limits of the Glacial
Drift. This is most important!"

And down he sat on the nave of the temple (not being a man of the world)
to examine his Podurellæ. Whereon (as was to be expected) the roof caved
in bodily, smashing the idols, and sending the priests flying out of
doors and windows, like rabbits out of a burrow when a ferret goes in.

But he never heeded; for out of the dust flew a bat, and the giant had
him in a moment.

"Dear me! This is even more important! Here is a cognate species to that
which Macgilliwaukie Brown insists is confined to the Buddhist temples
of Little Thibet; and now when I look at it, it may be only a variety
produced by difference of climate!"

And having bagged his bat, up he got, and on he went; while all the
people ran, being in none the better humour for having their temple
smashed for the sake of three obscure species of Podurella, and a
Buddhist bat.

"Well," thought Tom, "this is a very pretty quarrel, with a good deal to
be said on both sides. But it is no business of mine."

So the giant ran round after the people, and the people ran round after
the giant, and they are running unto this day for aught I know, or do
not know; and will run till either he, or they, or both, turn into
little children. And then, as Shakespeare says (and therefore it must be
true)--

          "_Jack shall have Gill
            Nought shall go ill
            The man shall have his mare again, and all go well._"

Then Tom came to a very famous island, which was called, in the days of
the great traveller Captain Gulliver, the Isle of Laputa. But Mrs.
Bedonebyasyoudid has named it over again, the Isle of Tomtoddies, all
heads and no bodies.

And when Tom came near it, he heard such a grumbling and grunting and
growling and wailing and weeping and whining that he thought people must
be ringing little pigs, or cropping puppies' ears, or drowning kittens:
but when he came nearer still, he began to hear words among the noise;
which was the Tomtoddies' song which they sing morning and evening, and
all night too, to their great idol Examination--

          "_I can't learn my lessons: the examiner's coming!_"

And that was the only song which they knew.

And when Tom got on shore the first thing he saw was a great pillar, on
one side of which was inscribed, "Playthings not allowed here;" at which
he was so shocked that he would not stay to see what was written on the
other side. Then he looked round for the people of the island: but
instead of men, women, and children, he found nothing but turnips and
radishes, beet and mangold wurzel, without a single green leaf among
them, and half of them burst and decayed, with toad-stools growing out
of them. Those which were left began crying to Tom, in half a dozen
different languages at once, and all of them badly spoken, "I can't
learn my lesson; do come and help me!"

"And what good on earth will it do you if I did tell you?" quoth Tom.

Well, they didn't know that: all they knew was the examiner was coming.

Then Tom stumbled on the hugest and softest nimblecomequick turnip you
ever saw filling a hole in a crop of swedes, and it cried to him, "Can
you tell me anything at all about anything you like?"

"About what?" says Tom.

"About anything you like; for as fast as I learn things I forget them
again. So my mamma says that my intellect is not adapted for methodic
science, and says that I must go in for general information."

Tom told him that he did not know general information: but he could tell
him a great many strange things which he had seen in his travels.

So he told him prettily enough, while the poor turnip listened very
carefully; and the more he listened, the more he forgot, and the more
water ran out of him.

[Illustration]

Tom thought he was crying: but it was only his poor brains running away,
from being worked so hard; and as Tom talked, the unhappy turnip
streamed down all over with juice, and split and shrank till nothing was
left of him but rind and water; whereat Tom ran away in a fright, for he
thought he might be taken up for killing the turnip.

But, on the contrary, the turnip's parents were highly delighted, and
considered him a saint and a martyr, and put up a long inscription over
his tomb about his wonderful talents, early development, and
unparalleled precocity. Were they not a foolish couple? But there was a
still more foolish couple next to them, who were beating a wretched
little radish, no bigger than my thumb, for sullenness and obstinacy and
wilful stupidity, and never knew that the reason why it couldn't learn
or hardly even speak was, that there was a great worm inside it eating
out all its brains. But even they are no foolisher than some hundred
score of papas and mammas, who fetch the rod when they ought to fetch a
new toy, and send to the dark cupboard instead of to the doctor.

Tom was so puzzled and frightened with all he saw, that he was longing
to ask the meaning of it; and at last he stumbled over a respectable old
stick lying half covered with earth. But a very stout and worthy stick
it was, for it belonged to good Roger Ascham in old time, and had carved
on its head King Edward the Sixth, with the Bible in his hand.

"You see," said the stick, "there were as pretty little children once as
you could wish to see, and might have been so still if they had been
only left to grow up like human beings, and then handed over to me; but
their foolish fathers and mothers, instead of letting them pick flowers,
and make dirt-pies, and get birds' nests, and dance round the gooseberry
bush, as little children should, kept them always at lessons, working,
working, working, learning week-day lessons all week-days, and Sunday
lessons all Sunday, and weekly examinations every Saturday, and monthly
examinations every month, and yearly examinations every year, everything
seven times over, as if once was not enough, and enough as good as a
feast--till their brains grew big, and their bodies grew small, and they
were all changed into turnips, with little but water inside; and still
their foolish parents actually pick the leaves off them as fast as they
grow, lest they should have anything green about them."

"Ah!" said Tom, "if dear Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby knew of it she would
send them a lot of tops, and balls, and marbles, and ninepins, and make
them all as jolly as sand-boys."

"It would be no use," said the stick. "They can't play now, if they
tried. Don't you see how their legs have turned to roots and grown into
the ground, by never taking any exercise, but sapping and moping always
in the same place? But here comes the Examiner-of-all-Examiners. So you
had better get away, I warn you, or he will examine you and your dog
into the bargain, and set him to examine all the other dogs, and you to
examine all the other water-babies. There is no escaping out of his
hands, for his nose is nine thousand miles long, and can go down
chimneys, and through keyholes, upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's
chamber, examining all little boys, and the little boys' tutors
likewise. But when he is thrashed--so Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid has promised
me--I shall have the thrashing of him: and if I don't lay it on with a
will it's a pity."

Tom went off: but rather slowly and surlily; for he was somewhat minded
to face this same Examiner-of-all-Examiners, who came striding among the
poor turnips, binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and laying
them on little children's shoulders, like the Scribes and Pharisees of
old, and not touching the same with one of his fingers; for he had
plenty of money, and a fine house to live in, and so forth; which was
more than the poor little turnips had.

But when he got near, he looked so big and burly and dictatorial, and
shouted so loud to Tom, to come and be examined, that Tom ran for his
life, and the dog too. And really it was time; for the poor turnips, in
their hurry and fright, crammed themselves so fast to be ready for the
Examiner, that they burst and popped by dozens all round him, till the
place sounded like Aldershot on a field-day, and Tom thought he should
be blown into the air, dog and all.

As he went down to the shore he passed the poor turnip's new tomb. But
Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid had taken away the epitaph about talents and
precocity and development, and put up one of her own instead which Tom
thought much more sensible:--

          "_Instruction sore long time I bore,
              And cramming was in vain;
            Till heaven did please my woes to ease
              With water on the brain._"

So Tom jumped into the sea, and swam on his way.

And next he came to Oldwivesfabledom, where the folks were all heathens,
and worshipped a howling ape.

And there he found a little boy sitting in the middle of the road, and
crying bitterly.

"What are you crying for?" said Tom.

"Because I am not as frightened as I could wish to be."

"Not frightened? You are a queer little chap: but, if you want to be
frightened, here goes--Boo!"

"Ah," said the little boy, "that is very kind of you; but I don't feel
that it has made any impression."

Tom offered to upset him, punch him, stamp on him, fettle him over the
head with a brick, or anything else whatsoever which would give him the
slightest comfort.

But he only thanked Tom very civilly, in fine long words which he had
heard other folk use, and which, therefore, he thought were fit and
proper to use himself; and cried on till his papa and mamma came, and
sent off for the Powwow man immediately. And a very good-natured
gentleman and lady they were, though they were heathens; and talked
quite pleasantly to Tom about his travels, till the Powwow man arrived,
with his thunderbox under his arm.

And a well-fed, ill-favoured gentleman he was. Tom was a little
frightened at first; for he thought it was Grimes. But he soon saw his
mistake: for Grimes always looked a man in the face; and this fellow
never did. And when he spoke, it was fire and smoke; and when he
sneezed, it was squibs and crackers; and when he cried (which he did
whenever it paid him), it was boiling pitch; and some of it was sure to
stick.

"Here we are again!" cried he, like the clown in a pantomime. "So you
can't feel frightened, my little dear--eh? I'll do that for you. I'll
make an impression on you! Yah! Boo! Whirroo! Hullabaloo!"

And he rattled, thumped, brandished his thunderbox, yelled, shouted,
raved, roared, stamped, and danced corrobory like any black fellow; and
then he touched a spring in the thunderbox, and out popped turnip-ghosts
and magic-lanthorns and pasteboard bogies and spring-heeled Jacks, and
sallaballas, with such a horrid din, clatter, clank, roll, rattle, and
roar, that the little boy turned up the whites of his eyes, and fainted
right away.

And at that his poor heathen papa and mamma were as much delighted as if
they had found a gold mine; and fell down upon their knees before the
Powwow man, and gave him a palanquin with a pole of solid silver and
curtains of cloth of gold; and carried him about in it on their own
backs: but as soon as they had taken him up, the pole stuck to their
shoulders, and they could not set him down any more, but carried him on
willynilly, as Sinbad carried the old man of the sea: which was a
pitiable sight to see; for the father was a very brave officer, and
wore two swords and a blue button; and the mother was as pretty a lady
as ever had pinched feet like a Chinese. But, you see, they had chosen
to do a foolish thing just once too often; so, by the laws of Mrs.
Bedonebyasyoudid, they had to go on doing it whether they chose or not,
till the coming of the Cocqcigrues.

Ah! don't you wish that some one would go and convert those poor
heathens, and teach them not to frighten their little children into
fits?

"Now, then," said the Powwow man to Tom, "wouldn't you like to be
frightened, my little dear? For I can see plainly that you are a very
wicked, naughty, graceless, reprobate boy."

"You're another," quoth Tom, very sturdily. And when the man ran at him,
and cried "Boo!" Tom ran at him in return, and cried "Boo!" likewise,
right in his face, and set the little dog upon him; and at his legs the
dog went.

At which, if you will believe it, the fellow turned tail, thunderbox and
all, with a "Woof!" like an old sow on the common; and ran for his life,
screaming, "Help! thieves! murder! fire! He is going to kill me! I am a
ruined man! He will murder me; and break, burn, and destroy my precious
and invaluable thunderbox; and then you will have no more
thunder-showers in the land. Help! help! help!"

[Illustration]

At which the papa and mamma and all the people of Oldwivesfabledom flew
at Tom, shouting, "Oh, the wicked, impudent, hard-hearted, graceless
boy! Beat him, kick him, shoot him, drown him, hang him, burn him!" and
so forth: but luckily they had nothing to shoot, hang, or burn him with,
for the fairies had hid all the killing-tackle out of the way a little
while before; so they could only pelt him with stones; and some of the
stones went clean through him, and came out the other side. But he did
not mind that a bit; for the holes closed up again as fast as they were
made, because he was a water-baby. However, he was very glad when he was
safe out of the country, for the noise there made him all but deaf.

Then he came to a very quiet place, called Leaveheavenalone. And there
the sun was drawing water out of the sea to make steam-threads, and the
wind was twisting them up to make cloud-patterns, till they had worked
between them the loveliest wedding veil of Chantilly lace, and hung it
up in their own Crystal Palace for any one to buy who could afford it;
while the good old sea never grudged, for she knew they would pay her
back honestly. So the sun span, and the wind wove, and all went well
with the great steam-loom; as is likely, considering--and
considering--and considering--

And at last, after innumerable adventures, each more wonderful than the
last, he saw before him a huge building.

Tom walked towards this great building, wondering what it was, and
having a strange fancy that he might find Mr. Grimes inside it, till he
saw running toward him, and shouting "Stop!" three or four people, who,
when they came nearer, were nothing else than policemen's truncheons,
running along without legs or arms.

Tom was not astonished. He was long past that. Besides, he had seen the
naviculæ in the water move nobody knows how, a hundred times, without
arms or legs, or anything to stand in their stead. Neither was he
frightened; for he had been doing no harm.

So he stopped; and, when the foremost truncheon came up and asked his
business, he showed Mother Carey's pass; and the truncheon looked at it
in the oddest fashion; for he had one eye in the middle of his upper
end, so that when he looked at anything, being quite stiff, he had to
slope himself, and poke himself, till it was a wonder why he did not
tumble over; but, being quite full of the spirit of justice (as all
policemen, and their truncheons, ought to be), he was always in a
position of stable equilibrium, whichever way he put himself.

"All right--pass on," said he at last. And then he added: "I had better
go with you, young man." And Tom had no objection, for such company was
both respectable and safe; so the truncheon coiled its thong neatly
round its handle, to prevent tripping itself up--for the thong had got
loose in running--and marched on by Tom's side.

"Why have you no policeman to carry you?" asked Tom, after a while.

"Because we are not like those clumsy-made truncheons in the land-world,
which cannot go without having a whole man to carry them about. We do
our own work for ourselves; and do it very well, though I say it who
should not."

"Then why have you a thong to your handle?" asked Tom.

"To hang ourselves up by, of course, when we are off duty."

Tom had got his answer, and had no more to say, till they came up to the
great iron door of the prison. And there the truncheon knocked twice,
with its own head.

A wicket in the door opened, and out looked a tremendous old brass
blunderbuss charged up to the muzzle with slugs, who was the porter; and
Tom started back a little at the sight of him.

"What case is this?" he asked in a deep voice, out of his broad bell
mouth.

"If you please, sir, it is no case; only a young gentleman from her
ladyship, who wants to see Grimes, the master-sweep."

"Grimes?" said the blunderbuss. And he pulled in his muzzle, perhaps to
look over his prison-lists.

"Grimes is up chimney No. 345," he said from inside. "So the young
gentleman had better go on to the roof."

Tom looked up at the enormous wall, which seemed at least ninety miles
high, and wondered how he should ever get up; but, when he hinted that
to the truncheon, it settled the matter in a moment. For it whisked
round, and gave him such a shove behind as sent him up to the roof in no
time, with his little dog under his arm.

And there he walked along the leads, till he met another truncheon, and
told him his errand.

"Very good," it said. "Come along: but it will be of no use. He is the
most unremorseful, hard-hearted, foul-mouthed fellow I have in charge;
and thinks about nothing but beer and pipes, which are not allowed here,
of course."

So they walked along over the leads, and very sooty they were, and Tom
thought the chimneys must want sweeping very much. But he was surprised
to see that the soot did not stick to his feet, or dirty them in the
least. Neither did the live coals, which were lying about in plenty,
burn him; for, being a water-baby, his radical humours were of a moist
and cold nature, as you may read at large in Lemnius, Cardan, Van
Helmont, and other gentlemen, who knew as much as they could, and no man
can know more.

And at last they came to chimney No. 345. Out of the top of it, his head
and shoulders just showing, stuck poor Mr. Grimes, so sooty, and
bleared, and ugly, that Tom could hardly bear to look at him. And in
his mouth was a pipe; but it was not alight; though he was pulling at it
with all his might.

"Attention, Mr. Grimes," said the truncheon, "here is a gentleman come
to see you."

But Mr. Grimes only said bad words; and kept grumbling, "My pipe won't
draw. My pipe won't draw."

"Keep a civil tongue, and attend!" said the truncheon; and popped up
just like Punch, hitting Grimes such a crack over the head with itself,
that his brains rattled inside like a dried walnut in its shell. He
tried to get his hands out, and rub the place: but he could not, for
they were stuck fast in the chimney. Now he was forced to attend.

[Illustration]

"Hey!" he said, "why, it's Tom! I suppose you have come here to laugh at
me, you spiteful little atomy?"

Tom assured him he had not, but only wanted to help him.

"I don't want anything except beer, and that I can't get; and a light
to this bothering pipe, and that I can't get either."

"I'll get you one," said Tom; and he took up a live coal (there were
plenty lying about) and put it to Grimes' pipe: but it went out
instantly.

"It's no use," said the truncheon, leaning itself up against the chimney
and looking on. "I tell you, it is no use. His heart is so cold that it
freezes everything that comes near him. You will see that presently,
plain enough."

"Oh, of course, it's my fault. Everything's always my fault," said
Grimes. "Now don't go to hit me again" (for the truncheon started
upright, and looked very wicked); "you know, if my arms were only free,
you daren't hit me then."

The truncheon leant back against the chimney, and took no notice of the
personal insult, like a well-trained policeman as it was, though he was
ready enough to avenge any transgression against morality or order.

"But can't I help you in any other way? Can't I help you to get out of
this chimney?" said Tom.

"No," interposed the truncheon; "he has come to the place where
everybody must help themselves; and he will find it out, I hope, before
he has done with me."

[Illustration: _Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby_]

"Oh, yes," said Grimes, "of course it's me. Did I ask to be brought here
into the prison? Did I ask to be set to sweep your foul chimneys? Did I
ask to have lighted straw put under me to make me go up? Did I ask to
stick fast in the very first chimney of all, because it was so
shamefully clogged up with soot? Did I ask to stay here--I don't know
how long--a hundred years, I do believe, and never get my pipe, nor my
beer, nor nothing fit for a beast, let alone a man?"

"No," answered a solemn voice behind. "No more did Tom, when you behaved
to him in the very same way."

It was Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid. And, when the truncheon saw her, it
started bolt upright--Attention!--and made such a low bow, that if it
had not been full of the spirit of justice, it must have trembled on its
end, and probably hurt its one eye. And Tom made his bow too.

"Oh, ma'am," he said, "don't think about me; that's all past and gone,
and good times and bad times and all times pass over. But may not I help
poor Mr. Grimes? Mayn't I try and get some of these bricks away, that he
may move his arms?"

"You may try, of course," she said.

So Tom pulled and tugged at the bricks: but he could not move one.
And then he tried to wipe Mr. Grimes' face: but the soot would not come
off.

"Oh, dear!" he said. "I have come all this way, through all these
terrible places, to help you, and now I am of no use at all."

"You had best leave me alone," said Grimes; "you are a good-natured
forgiving little chap, and that's truth; but you'd best be off. The
hail's coming on soon, and it will beat the eyes out of your little
head."

"What hail?"

"Why, hail that falls every evening here; and, till it comes close to
me, it's like so much warm rain: but then it turns to hail over my head,
and knocks me about like small shot."

"That hail will never come any more," said the strange lady. "I have
told you before what it was. It was your mother's tears, those which she
shed when she prayed for you by her bedside; but your cold heart froze
it into hail. But she is gone to heaven now, and will weep no more for
her graceless son."

Then Grimes was silent awhile; and then he looked very sad.

"So my old mother's gone, and I never there to speak to her! Ah! a good
woman she was, and might have been a happy one, in her little school
there in Vendale, if it hadn't been for me and my bad ways."

"Did she keep the school in Vendale?" asked Tom. And then he told Grimes
all the story of his going to her house, and how she could not abide the
sight of a chimney-sweep, and then how kind she was, and how he turned
into a water-baby.

"Ah!" said Grimes, "good reason she had to hate the sight of a
chimney-sweep. I ran away from her and took up with the sweeps, and
never let her know where I was, nor sent her a penny to help her, and
now it's too late--too late!" said Mr. Grimes.

And he began crying and blubbering like a great baby, till his pipe
dropped out of his mouth, and broke all to bits.

"Oh, dear, if I was but a little chap in Vendale again, to see the clear
beck, and the apple-orchard, and the yew-hedge, how different I would go
on! But it's too late now. So you go along, you kind little chap, and
don't stand to look at a man crying, that's old enough to be your
father, and never feared the face of man, nor of worse neither. But I'm
beat now, and beat I must be. I've made my bed, and I must lie on it.
Foul I would be, and foul I am, as an Irishwoman said to me once; and
little I heeded it. It's all my own fault: but it's too late." And he
cried so bitterly that Tom began crying too.

"Never too late," said the fairy, in such a strange soft new voice that
Tom looked up at her; and she was so beautiful for the moment, that Tom
half fancied she was her sister.

No more was it too late. For, as poor Grimes cried and blubbered on, his
own tears did what his mother's could not do, and Tom's could not do,
and nobody's on earth could do for him; for they washed the soot off his
face and off his clothes; and then they washed the mortar away from
between the bricks; and the chimney crumbled down; and Grimes began to
get out of it.

Up jumped the truncheon, and was going to hit him on the crown a
tremendous thump, and drive him down again like a cork into a bottle.
But the strange lady put it aside.

"Will you obey me if I give you a chance?"

"As you please, ma'am. You're stronger than me--that I know too well,
and wiser than me, I know too well also. And, as for being my own
master, I've fared ill enough with that as yet. So whatever your
ladyship pleases to order me; for I'm beat, and that's the truth."

"Be it so then--you may come out. But remember, disobey me again, and
into a worse place still you go."

"I beg pardon, ma'am, but I never disobeyed you that I know of. I never
had the honour of setting eyes upon you till I came to these ugly
quarters."

"Never saw me? Who said to you, Those that will be foul, foul they will
be?"

Grimes looked up; and Tom looked up too; for the voice was that of the
Irishwoman who met them the day that they went out together to
Harthover. "I gave you your warning then: but you gave it yourself a
thousand times before and since. Every bad word that you said--every
cruel and mean thing that you did--every time that you got tipsy--every
day that you went dirty--you were disobeying me, whether you knew it or
not."

"If I'd only known, ma'am----"

"You knew well enough that you were disobeying something, though you did
not know it was me. But come out and take your chance. Perhaps it may be
your last."

So Grimes stepped out of the chimney, and really, if it had not been for
the scars on his face, he looked as clean and respectable as a
master-sweep need look.

"Take him away," said she to the truncheon, "and give him his
ticket-of-leave."

"And what is he to do, ma'am?"

"Get him to sweep out the crater of Etna; he will find some very steady
men working out their time there, who will teach him his business: but
mind, if that crater gets choked again, and there is an earthquake in
consequence, bring them all to me, and I shall investigate the case very
severely."

So the truncheon marched off Mr. Grimes, looking as meek as a drowned
worm.

And for aught I know, or do not know, he is sweeping the crater of Etna
to this very day.

"And now," said the fairy to Tom, "your work here is done. You may as
well go back again."

"I should be glad enough to go," said Tom, "but how am I to get up that
great hole again, now the steam has stopped blowing?"

"I will take you up the backstairs: but I must bandage your eyes first;
for I never allow anybody to see those backstairs of mine."

So she tied the bandage on his eyes with one hand, and with the other
she took it off.

"Now," she said, "you are safe up the stairs." Tom opened his eyes very
wide, and his mouth too; for he had not, as he thought, moved a single
step. But, when he looked round him, there could be no doubt that he was
safe up the backstairs, whatsoever they may be, which no man is going
to tell you, for the plain reason that no man knows.

[Illustration]

The first thing which Tom saw was the black cedars, high and sharp
against the rosy dawn; and St. Brandan's Isle reflected double in the
still broad silver sea. The wind sang softly in the cedars, and the
water sang among the caves; the sea-birds sang as they streamed out into
the ocean, and the land-birds as they built among the boughs; and the
air was so full of song that it stirred St. Brandan and his hermits, as
they slumbered in the shade; and they moved their good old lips, and
sang their morning hymn amid their dreams. But among all the songs one
came across the water more sweet and clear than all; for it was the song
of a young girl's voice.

And what was the song which she sang? Ah, my little man, I am too old to
sing that song, and you too young to understand it. But have patience,
and keep your eye single, and your hands clean, and you will learn some
day to sing it yourself, without needing any man to teach you.

And as Tom neared the island, there sat upon a rock the most graceful
creature that ever was seen, looking down, with her chin upon her hand,
and paddling with her feet in the water. And when they came to her she
looked up, and behold it was Ellie.

"Oh, Miss Ellie," said he, "how you are grown!"

"Oh, Tom," said she, "how you are grown too!"

And no wonder; they were both quite grown up--he into a tall man, and
she into a beautiful woman.

"Perhaps I may be grown," she said. "I have had time enough; for I have
been sitting here waiting for you many a hundred years, till I thought
you were never coming."

"Many a hundred years?" thought Tom; but he had seen so much in his
travels that he had quite given up being astonished; and, indeed, he
could think of nothing but Ellie. So he stood and looked at Ellie, and
Ellie looked at him; and they liked the employment so much that they
stood and looked for seven years more, and neither spoke nor stirred.

At last they heard the fairy say: "Attention, children. Are you never
going to look at me again?"

"We have been looking at you all this while," they said. And so they
thought they had been.

"Then look at me once more," said she.

They looked--and both of them cried out at once, "Oh, who are you, after
all?"

"You are our dear Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby."

"No, you are good Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid; but you are grown quite
beautiful now!"

"To you," said the fairy, "but look again."

"You are Mother Carey," said Tom, in a very low, solemn voice; for he
had found out something which made him very happy, and yet frightened
him more than all that he had ever seen.

"But you are grown quite young again."

"To you," said the fairy. "Look again."

"You are the Irishwoman who met me the day I went to Harthover!"

And when they looked she was neither of them, and yet all of them at
once.

"My name is written in my eyes, if you have eyes to see it there."

And they looked into her great, deep, soft eyes, and they changed again
and again into every hue, as the light changes in a diamond.

"Now read my name," said she, at last.

And her eyes flashed, for one moment, clear, white, blazing light: but
the children could not read her name; for they were dazzled, and hid
their faces in their hands.

"Not yet, young things, not yet," said she, smiling; and then she turned
to Ellie.

"You may take him home with you now on Sundays, Ellie. He has won his
spurs in the great battle, and become fit to go with you and be a man;
because he has done the thing he did not like."

So Tom went home with Ellie on Sundays, and sometimes on week-days, too;
and he is now a great man of science, and can plan railroads, and
steam-engines, and electric telegraphs, and rifled guns, and so forth;
and knows everything about everything, except why a hen's egg don't turn
into a crocodile, and two or three other little things which no one will
know till the coming of the Cocqcigrues. And all this from what he
learnt when he was a water-baby, underneath the sea.

"And of course Tom married Ellie?"

My dear child, what a silly notion! Don't you know that no one ever
marries in a fairy tale, under the rank of a prince or a princess?



[Illustration]



MORAL


_And now, my dear little man, what should we learn from this parable?_

_We should learn thirty-seven or thirty-nine things, I am not exactly
sure which: but one thing, at least, we may learn, and that is
this--when we see efts in the pond, never to throw stones at them, or
catch them with crooked pins, or put them into vivariums with
sticklebacks, that the sticklebacks may prick them in their poor little
stomachs, and make them jump out of the glass into somebody's work-box,
and so come to a bad end. For these efts are nothing else but the
water-babies who are stupid and dirty, and will not learn their lessons
and keep themselves clean; and, therefore (as comparative anatomists
will tell you fifty years hence, though they are not learned enough to
tell you now), their skulls grow fat, their jaws grow out, and their
brains grow small, and their tails grow long, and they lose all their
ribs (which I am sure you would not like to do), and their skins grow
dirty and spotted, and they never get into the clear rivers, much less
into the great wide sea, but hang about in dirty ponds, and live in the
mud, and eat worms, as they deserve to do._

_But that is no reason why you should ill-use them: but only why you
should pity them and be kind to them, and hope that some day they will
wake up, and be ashamed of their nasty, dirty, lazy, stupid life, and
try to amend, and become something better once more. For, perhaps, if
they do so, then after 379,423 years, nine months, thirteen days, two
hours, and twenty-one minutes (for aught that appears to the contrary),
if they work very hard and wash very hard all that time, their brains
may grow bigger, and their jaws grow smaller, and their ribs come back,
and their tails wither off, and they will turn into water-babies again,
and perhaps after that into land-babies; and after that perhaps into
grown men._

_You know they won't? Very well, I daresay you know best. But you see,
some folks have a great liking for those poor little efts. They never
did anybody any harm, or could if they tried; and their only fault is,
that they do no good--any more than some thousands of their betters. But
what with ducks, and what with pike, and what with sticklebacks, and
what with water-beetles, and what with naughty boys, they are "sae sair
hadden doun," as the Scotsmen say, that it is a wonder how they live;
and some folks can't help hoping, with good Bishop Butler, that they may
have another chance, to make things fair and even, somewhere, somewhen,
somehow._

_Meanwhile, do you learn your lessons, and thank God that you have
plenty of cold water to wash in; and wash in it too. And then, if my
story is not true, something better is; and if I am not quite right,
still you will be, as long as you stick to hard work and cold water._

_But remember always, as I told you at first, that this is all a fairy
tale, and only fun and pretence: and, therefore, you are not to believe
a word of it, even if it is true._

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Page 29, "they they" changed to "that they" (that they became invisible)

Page 66, "prety" changed to "pretty" (with a pretty little)

Page 208, "gairfowl" changed to "Gairfowl" to match rest of usage (find
Gairfowl enough)

Page 237, paragraph break was introduced after (you have seen!")





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