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´╗┐Title: The Bountiful Lady - or, How Mary was changed from a very Miserable Little Girl - to a very Happy One
Author: Cobb, Thomas, 1854-1932
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 Bountiful Lady - or, How Mary was changed from a very Miserable Little Girl - to a very Happy One" ***

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                          The Bountiful Lady

           --or, How Mary was changed from a very Miserable
                   Little Girl to a very Happy One

                            BY THOMAS COBB


LONDON: GRANT RICHARDS
1900



_CONTENTS_


1. _Mary finds herself in a different place_

2. _Mary sees her Fairy-Godmother_

3. _Mary sees what the Magic Counters can do_

4. _The Story of the Discontented Boy and the Magician_

5. _Mary sees the wings, as well as some other wonderful things_

6. _Mary is taken away_

7. _The Story of the Little Girl, the Dog, and the Doll_

8. _Mary sees something which she has never seen before_

9. _Evangeline gives Mary some Magic Counters_

10. _The Story of the Prince, the Blue-Bird, and the Cage_

11. _Mary sees Mrs. Coppert and Mrs. Coppert sees Mary_

12. _Evangeline says good-bye to Mary Brown_



The Bountiful Lady



I

MARY FINDS HERSELF IN A DIFFERENT PLACE


It was not a dream, this wonderful thing that happened to Mary Brown,
although it seemed very much like a dream at first.

Mary was a pretty, round-faced, dirty little girl who had neither a
father nor a mother nor a brother nor a sister. Nobody had kissed her
since she could remember, although it was only the day before yesterday
that Mrs. Coppert had beaten her.

She lived in a poor, narrow street, and during the daytime she spent
many hours in the road. During the night she lay on a sack on the floor
of a small room with three other children. Sometimes, when she played in
the road, Mary almost forgot she was hungry; but for the most part, she
was a sorrowful little girl. She had none of the things which you like
the best--she did not even know there were such things in the world; she
seldom had enough to eat, and her clothes were very ragged and dirty
indeed.

One afternoon she was playing in the gutter, it happened to be a little
past tea-time, although Mary did not always have any tea; she had no
toys, but there was plenty of mud, and you can make very interesting
things out of mud if you only know the way. Mary kneeled in the road,
with her back to the turning, the soles of a pair of old boots showing
beneath her ragged skirt, as she stooped over the mud, patting it first
on one side then on the other, until it began to look something like the
shape of a loaf of bread. Mary thought how very nice it would be if only
it was a loaf of bread, so that she might eat it, when suddenly she
seemed to hear a loud clap of thunder and the day turned into night.

She did not feel any pain, but the street and the mud all disappeared,
and Mary Brown knew nothing. For a long time, although she never knew
for how long, she was NOWHERE!

It might have been a month or a week or a day or an hour or even only
five minutes or one minute or a second, but when she found herself
SOMEWHERE again it was somewhere else.

Mary had been playing in the road, feeling very hungry, with her hands
on the soft mud, when this strange sensation came to her and she knew
nothing else. And when she opened her eyes again, she was not in the
road any longer, as she would have expected; though for some time yet
she could not imagine where she was or how she had come there.

She was lying on her back, but not upon the floor of the poor house in
William Street; she lay on something quite soft and comfortable far
above the boards. All around her she saw an iron rail, and at the
corners two bright yellow knobs. Above, she saw a clean white ceiling,
whilst the walls, which were a long way from the bed, seemed to be
almost hidden by coloured pictures.

Instead of her ragged dress, Mary wore a clean, white night-gown, and
there was not a speck of mud on her hands, which astonished her more
than anything else.

'They can't be my hands,' she thought; 'they must belong to somebody
else. They look quite clean and white, and I am sure I never had white
hands before.'

Then some one came to the bed-side and stood staring down into Mary's
face. She wore a cotton dress and a white cap and apron such as Mary had
never seen before. She had a pale face, and very kind, dark eyes. Mary
liked to watch her when she walked about the room, and presently she
brought a tray covered by a cloth, on which stood a cup and saucer. She
began to feed Mary with a spoon, and Mary thought she had never tasted
anything so nice before. She felt as if she did not want anything else
in the world--only to know where she was and how she had come here, and
whether she should ever be sent back to Mrs. Coppert and William Street.

But although she wanted to know all this, she did not ask any questions
just yet, for somehow Mary could not talk as she used to do. But her
thoughts grew very busy; she wondered what were the names of the
different things she had to eat; she wondered who the tall, dark man
with the long beard could be, who came to see her every morning and
looked at her right foot and felt her left wrist in a strange way. One
day she raised her head from the pillow to look at the foot herself.

'I see you are better this morning,' said the tall man. 'Do you feel
better?'

'Quite well, thank you,' answered Mary, and when he went away, Mary
looked up at the lady with the kind, dark eyes, and asked, 'What is the
matter with my foot, please?'

'Ah! that is to prevent you from running away and leaving us,' was the
answer. 'When we bring little girls here we don't want them to run away
again.'

'I shouldn't run away,' said Mary solemnly; 'I shouldn't really. I don't
want to run away.'

'That's right.'

'Only where is it?' asked Mary.

'Now don't you think it's a very nice place?'

'Oh, very nice!' cried Mary. 'I know what it is,' she added; 'it's all a
dream! Only I hope I'm not going to wake again.'

'What nonsense you're talking,' was the answer. 'Of course you are
awake, dear.'

'Why do you call me dear?' asked Mary.

'Because I'm very fond of you.'

'But why are you fond of me?' asked Mary. You will notice she rather
liked to ask questions when she got the chance, but they had been very
seldom answered until now.

'Well, now I wonder why!' was the answer. 'Let me see! Haven't I made
you comfortable and given you nice beef-tea and jelly?'

'I like them very much,' said Mary.

'Well, then, I daresay that's why I like you. Because we generally like
persons if we do kind things for them.'

'I see,' said Mary, but she didn't understand at all. 'But I'm sure it's
a dream,' she added, 'and I do hope I shan't wake!'

'Oh dear!' was the answer. 'Now, do you know what I do to prove little
girls are awake?'

'No,' said Mary, opening her eyes widely.

'Do you know what pinching is?'

'Oh yes,' said Mary, for Mrs. Coppert was very fond of pinching.

'Well, when I want to prove a little girl is awake, I pinch her.'

'But I know I'm not,' said Mary. 'I can't be. It's all part of the
dream--your telling me that.'

Mary began to spoil her dream by looking forward to the time when she
must awake to find herself upon the floor at the house in William
Street, with her ragged dress waiting to be worn again. Still, it was
the most real dream she had ever had, and it certainly seemed to be a
very long one.

But when another week had passed, Mary began to see it was not really a
dream after all. Everything was just as nice as ever, or even nicer; she
had the most delicious things to eat and drink: chicken and toast, and
all sorts of nice puddings, boiled custard, jelly, and grapes and
oranges. She was able to sit up in bed to eat them too, and she wore a
blue dressing-gown, and the lady with the kind, dark eyes read
delightful stories. Now, this was something quite new to Mary Brown, and
the stories seemed almost as wonderful as the change in her own little
life.

She only knew of the things she had seen or heard at William Street--not
nice things at all. She had imagined all the world must be like that,
for although she was very young, Mary had often thought about things.
Still, she had never thought of anything half so wonderful as
Jack-and-the-Beanstalk, or Ali Baba, or Aladdin, or Cinderella. Mary
grew quite to love Cinderella, and I can't tell you how many times she
heard the story of the glass slipper.

'I know how I came here now!' she exclaimed one afternoon.

'Do you indeed?' was the answer. 'Then, perhaps, you will tell me!'

'I'm like Cinderella,' said Mary. 'Cinderella was very miserable, and I
was very miserable. Then her fairy-godmother came to make her happy; she
gave her all kinds of pretty dresses and things--the fairy-godmother
did--and some one has given me all kinds of nice things, and taken me
away from William Street and brought me here; so, of course, I know it
must be my fairy-godmother too.' Then Mary was silent for a little
while. 'Are you my fairy-godmother?' she asked.

'No,' was the answer. 'I am not nearly important enough to be anybody's
fairy-godmother.'

'Who are you?' asked Mary.

'Well, I am Sister Agatha.'

'Oh, then it wasn't you who brought me here!' said Mary, looking a
little disappointed.

'I wasn't sent for until afterwards,' answered Sister Agatha.

'Who sent for you?' asked Mary.

'The person who brought you here.'

'But who was that?' cried Mary excitedly. 'Please do tell me whether it
was a fairy! I'm sure it was, because it couldn't be any one else, you
see.'

'Then that settles the question,' said Sister Agatha, with a smile, and
Mary thought it did.

'Where is she?' she asked.

'A long, long way off! She had to go away the day after you came, so she
asked me to take care of you till she saw you again. But she won't be
long now.'

'Is she very beautiful like the fairies you've read to me about?' asked
Mary.

'I don't suppose there ever was anybody so beautiful,' answered Sister
Agatha.

'And has she got wings like this?' asked Mary, opening a book that lay
on the bed and pointing to one of its coloured pictures.

'I shouldn't wonder,' said Sister Agatha; 'only she doesn't show them
every day, because it isn't the fashion to wear wings, you know.'

'I think that's a pity,' answered Mary; and from that day she thought of
scarcely anything else but how she had been brought away from William
Street by her fairy-godmother, just like Cinderella.

Of course, Mary Brown had never imagined that she had a
fairy-godmother--who could imagine such a thing in William Street! But
then Cinderella had never imagined that she had a fairy-godmother
either, until the night of the grand ball.

One day Sister Agatha told Mary she might get out of bed; she was
carefully wrapped in a dressing-gown and a blanket and carried to a
comfortable arm-chair. On her left foot she wore a pink woollen shoe,
but the other foot looked so clumsy in its great bandages, that Sister
Agatha covered it over.

'I wish you would untie it,' said Mary; 'I really won't run away. I
shan't run away, because I want to see my fairy-godmother so much.'

'Well,' answered Sister Agatha, 'you will see her very soon now; for she
is coming to-morrow.'



II

MARY SEES HER FAIRY-GODMOTHER


Mary Brown did not go to sleep very early that night, and as soon as she
awoke the next morning, she began to ask questions. She wanted Sister
Agatha to tell her at what time her fairy-godmother would come, and
where she was coming from, and what she would be most likely to do when
she arrived.

'And what is her name?' she cried.

'Her name is Evangeline Royal,' said Sister Agatha, 'and a very pretty
name too.'

'I suppose she doesn't live anywhere?' said Mary.

'Not live anywhere!' cried Sister Agatha. 'Of course she lives
somewhere. She lives here.'

'I thought fairies never seemed to live anywhere,' said Mary; 'and it
does seem strange she should come to William Street.'

'Ah! well, perhaps, she was looking for you.'

'I should think she's everywhere at once,' said Mary.

'Dear me!' exclaimed Sister Agatha, 'what a funny child you are! Just
now, you said she didn't live anywhere.'

'That's what I mean,' answered Mary; 'because if she's everywhere at
once, how can she live anywhere, you know?'

Whilst Sister Agatha washed her and put on her dressing-gown, whilst the
doctor was there, whilst she drank her beef-tea for luncheon and ate her
chicken for dinner, Mary Brown thought of nothing but Evangeline Royal,
wondering what she would look like, what she would say, and all the rest
of it. And when she went to bed again after dinner as usual and fell
asleep, she dreamed of Evangeline Royal still.

But it was a dreadful dream. She dreamed that her fairy-godmother came,
and that she wore a veil, and that when she lifted it her face was large
and red and shiny just like Mrs. Coppert's. Mary could not forget the
dream, even when she was wrapped in the blanket again and sitting in the
arm-chair. But she waited with her wondering eyes on the door, watching
half afraid for Evangeline.

It had struck four when Sister Agatha went away, leaving Mary alone. She
sat very still, staring at the door until presently it opened again, and
Mary thought that now she should see Evangeline Royal at last. But it
was only Sister Agatha who entered the room.

'She has come!' cried Sister Agatha. 'It won't be long before you see
her now. As soon as she has taken off her hat.'

'Does she wear a hat?' asked Mary.

'Indeed, she wears the prettiest hats. She is not like me, you know. I
go out in a plain little bonnet. But Evangeline wears the most wonderful
hats.'

Sister Agatha had scarcely finished speaking before the door opened
again, and Mary leaned forward eagerly in her chair. All her fears left
her now, and she held out her arms; for she saw the most beautiful
object her eyes had ever looked upon. Evangeline Royal was tall, much
taller than Sister Agatha, and a few years younger. She crossed the room
so softly that Mary could not hear her footsteps; her hair looked as if
the sunshine had fallen upon it and never gone away again, and her eyes
were as blue as the sky on the finest day! She came to Mary and took her
hands just as if she knew her quite well, and Mary felt as if she had
known Evangeline all her life.

'I'm so glad!' exclaimed Mary; 'I wanted to see you so much. I'm so glad
you're young too; I'm glad about everything. And how pretty you are!'

'Mary wants to see your wings,' said Sister Agatha, as Evangeline
stooped to kiss the child.

'Yes,' cried Mary, 'please do show them to me!'

'Well,' answered Evangeline, 'I'm afraid I cannot show them to you just
now.'

'You will, some day!' Mary pleaded.

'Oh, I shall have such lots of things to show you,' said Evangeline.

'And you can tell me when I may walk again,' said Mary; 'because I
really won't run away.'

'I fear I can't tell you that,' answered Evangeline a little sadly, and
she stooped to kiss Mary again.

'Oh yes, you can!' cried Mary; 'because you can do anything. You brought
me here, and I like being here--very much, ever so much! I never want to
go away again. You won't let me go away again!' cried Mary.

'You can't go until you can walk, you see,' said Evangeline.

'Shall I be able to walk soon?'

'Ah! that is more than I can tell you, dear.'

'Oh, I hope not! I hope not!' exclaimed Mary.

'But surely you want to be able to walk again?' said Evangeline.

'Not if I have to go away,' Mary answered. 'I hope I shall never be able
to walk again, then you will let me stay always.'

As soon as Evangeline left the room, Mary wanted to know when she should
see her again, and Sister Agatha said not before to-morrow.

'Then I should like to go to bed now!' cried Mary.

'Why do you want to go so early?' asked Sister Agatha; 'you generally
like to sit up as late as you can.'

'Because I want to-morrow to come soon,' said Mary, and she shut her
eyes and tried to go to sleep as soon as her head touched the pillow in
order to make to-morrow come sooner.

'You must remember that Evangeline has a great deal to do,' said Sister
Agatha, as she dressed Mary the next morning. 'She has been away so long
that now she has come home again a lot of people want to see her.'

'Who?' asked Mary.

'Oh, well, wherever there's a very beautiful fairy there is usually a
prince not far off,' answered Sister Agatha. 'And some day he will come
to take Evangeline away with him.'

'Not if she doesn't want to go,' cried Mary. 'I do hope she won't go.
And of course she can do whatever she likes, can't she?'

'She can certainly do a great many things,' said Sister Agatha, when she
had put Mary in the arm-chair and given her a cup of soup. 'And she can
make other people do a great many things too.'

'How does she make people do things?' asked Mary.

'That depends what kind of people they are,' was the answer. 'There are
some, like the prince, who would go to the end of the earth to please
her if she only looked at them in a particular manner.'

'I wish he would go there if it's a long way off!' exclaimed Mary;
'because I don't want him to take her away. How does she make other
people do things?' she asked.

'She gives them some of her magic counters, you know.'

'Magic counters!' cried Mary, opening her eyes more widely.

'Yes,' said Sister Agatha; 'I don't know whether you have ever seen a
magic counter. But they're little round, flat things, very hard and
bright yellow. And when she gives them to people they generally do
whatever she tells them to do. Now, doesn't that seem very wonderful?'

'Very!' murmured Mary. 'But I shouldn't want her to give them to me. I
should do what she told me when she looked at me, like the prince, you
know. Is the prince pretty like Evangeline?' Mary asked.

As she spoke the door opened, and Evangeline entered the room.

'Why, you've got another dress on!' cried Mary. For this morning
Evangeline was dressed all in white. There was not any colour about her
dress, and this seemed to Mary quite as it ought to be, though she could
not help thinking she should like to see the wings. 'Is the prince very
lovely?' Mary cried, as Evangeline stooped to kiss her, and Sister
Agatha laughed as she left the room.

'Yes, dear,' answered Evangeline, sitting on a low stool by Mary's side.
'My prince is beautiful and good and noble.'

'Then he must be everything at once,' said Mary.

'He is everything to me,' answered Evangeline quietly.

'Why do you look so red?' asked Mary, staring into her face.

'Do I look red?' said Evangeline.

'Very,' answered Mary, 'and now you're redder than ever. Sister Agatha,'
Mary went on, 'says you can do everything you like, and I know you can,
because you brought me here, you see.'

'Not quite everything,' said Evangeline.

'Sister Agatha says you have a lot of magic counters,' answered Mary.
'She says they're flat, round, yellow things that you give to people to
make them do what you like.'

'Ah! well,' said Evangeline, 'they will make people do a good many
things that would please you very much. Suppose we try!'

'Yes,' answered Mary, 'I should like that.'

'Then you shall tell me what you want,' said Evangeline, 'and we will
see whether we can make it come. Now,' she exclaimed, 'what should you
like to have first?'



III

MARY SEES WHAT THE MAGIC COUNTERS CAN DO


Mary looked very solemn as if she was thinking deeply, but for a long
time she did not speak. In fact, she did not know quite what to say,
because she seemed to have everything she wanted just at present.

'Well,' cried Evangeline, 'you are a good while making up your mind!'

'What shall I say?' asked Mary.

'Suppose you said you would like some pretty frocks,' Evangeline
suggested. 'What do you think of that?'

'Oh, I should like to have some pretty frocks very much!' answered Mary,
as Sister Agatha entered the room. She went to Evangeline's side and
whispered something which Mary could not hear, then Evangeline said out
loud--

'Mary wants to have some new dresses,' and she looked into Sister
Agatha's face with a smile.

'Well, I never!' exclaimed Sister Agatha. 'Who would have dreamed of
such a thing! I suppose you will make the incantation? Please begin at
once,' she added; 'Mary has never seen you dance, you know.'

With that Sister Agatha began to sing, and Evangeline took one side of
her skirt in each hand, and standing in the middle of the room, she
danced slowly and gracefully, first raising one hand above her head,
then the other, bending now this way, now that, and always making her
skirt take a curious shape. Mary sat holding the arms of her chair very
tightly, and never taking her eyes off Evangeline; but Sister Agatha
stood with her back to the fireplace, just by the bell-handle, and
exactly as Evangeline came to a standstill in the middle of the room and
bowed so low to Mary that her golden hair, which had become looser
whilst she danced, almost touched the floor, just at that moment the
door opened, and a woman came in, carrying a great box with a shiny
black lid, and she placed the box at Mary's feet.

Then the woman unfastened a wide strap from the box, and Mary clapped
her hands as she removed the lid, for the box seemed to be full of the
most beautiful dresses!

'They're not for me!' she exclaimed, looking up into Evangeline's face.

'You are to choose the three you like the best,' was the answer.

It took a very long time for Mary to choose. She had them all taken out
of the box one after another, and the woman held them up so that Mary
could see them better. At last she made her selection: a dark blue
dress, a crimson dress, and one of a deep plum colour. Then, although
Mary did not know there could be anything else in this wonderful box, a
great many other things were taken out of it, such as stockings and
shoes and a very nice outdoor jacket. Mary felt delighted with
everything, but especially with the outdoor jacket, because it showed
that she was to go out again some day.

'I shall go out again!' she cried, as the woman strapped up the box.
'But I shan't go to William Street!' she pleaded, looking up into
Evangeline's face.

'William Street!' answered Sister Agatha, 'certainly not. Who wants to
go to William Street, indeed. You will go to the loveliest place in the
world. You are going to stay in the country.'

'What is the country?' asked Mary, for she had never been a mile away
from William Street in her life.

'Now,' cried Evangeline, when the woman with the box had gone away, 'is
there anything else you would like to have?'

'I--I don't think so,' answered Mary.

'How about toys?' suggested Sister Agatha.

'Oh yes, I should like some toys,' answered Mary.

'Then,' said Evangeline, as Sister Agatha leaned back near the
bell-handle, 'let us have some toys!' and as she spoke she raised her
hands above her head and clapped them together.

She had scarcely clapped her hands when the door opened again and a
little old man entered the room with a square box which looked far too
heavy for him. He had a tiny face, all over lines, and he wore a long
coat that reached to his boots. He bowed low to Evangeline, just as Mary
expected him to do, and then he went down on his knees to open the box.

By this time Mary naturally thought she should see curious things,
because she had no doubt whatever that she was in fairy-land, where all
sorts of curious things are always happening, as every one knows. But
even if Mary had not known she was in fairy-land before, she would have
become quite sure of it now.

You see, everything was so different from what she had seen and heard at
William Street. She had such different things to eat. She had actually
had three new dresses given to her at one time! And then Evangeline
seemed very, very different from Mrs. Coppert, and very, very much
nicer.

But if Mary had not already felt sure she was in fairy-land, she could
not have thought she was anywhere else when the funny old man began to
take those wonderful things out of his box.

Mary had once picked up a broken doll in William Street, and she had
grown very fond of it. She had taken it about with her, and sat it in
the gutter, with its back against the kerb, while she played in the mud.
She used to have long talks with it, but then she had to make the
answers herself, and only to pretend the dolly made them. For, of
course, Mary knew well enough that dolls can't speak--at least they
can't speak in the world she had come from.

But in the world she lived in now it seemed quite different, and Mary
knew why that was. It was because there were magic counters in this
world and none in the world of William Street. She was beginning to
expect everything to be wonderful, but certainly she had not expected to
see a doll that spoke. But the funny old man took a doll out of his box
that spoke quite distinctly--far more distinctly than little Sally
Murphy. It was true the doll could not say many words at present, but as
it had once begun to talk, Mary had no doubt that with a little practice
it would soon learn to say more, just as Sally had done. Already it said
'Papa' and 'Mama' very nicely.

Mary could not decide which was the more wonderful--a doll that could
talk or a doll that could walk! This doll could walk quite a long way,
for the old man took it to the farthest corner of the room, placed it on
the floor, stooped over it as if he were telling it what to do, then
when he took his hand away and stood upright, there, to Mary's
astonishment, was the odd little doll moving its legs in the most
comical manner and walking across the room entirely without help. There
was a kitten that meowed and ran; there was a house with nice bright red
walls and doors and windows, and with beds already made in the rooms,
for the dolls to live in; and there were ever so many more things for
Mary to choose from, and she chose a good many.

When the man had gone away she lay back in her chair with a flushed
face, and Sister Agatha sent Evangeline away. But after Mary had been
asleep that afternoon, Evangeline came to see her again.

'Well,' she asked, 'and how do you like all your new things?'

'Very much indeed,' answered Mary; 'I think they're lovely.'

'Ah! well, I am glad you are not like the discontented boy,' said
Evangeline.

'Is that a story?' exclaimed Mary. 'Do tell it to me, please!' So
Evangeline sat down to tell her the story.



IV

THE STORY OF THE DISCONTENTED BOY AND THE MAGICIAN


A long, long time ago, in a country a great way off, there lived a man
who was the King's Grand Vizier. Now the Vizier had a son, who was ten
years old, and he caused his father a great deal of unhappiness. For he
was a very greedy boy, and he grumbled at everything he had.

As long as anything belonged to some one else he liked it very much, and
he cried and made a loud noise until it was given to him. But as soon as
it became his own Hassan began to find fault with it. It was just the
same with little things or big things--as soon as they were put into his
own hands he ceased to care for them.

If he sat at dinner and he had tasted every dish but one, he would ask
for that, and say he liked it better than anything else; but when it was
put on his plate, he would push it away. 'This is horrid!' he would cry.
'I don't want it. Take it away.' And he would throw it on to the floor,
plate and all.

Now, as you may suppose, this conduct vexed the Vizier, and presently
things came to such a pass that he could think of nothing but his
tiresome son. One day he was summoned to the King's presence.

'The affairs of the kingdom are being neglected,' said the King; 'the
people are not paying their taxes, yet nobody's head is cut off. This
kind of thing cannot be allowed to go on. If I do not see an improvement
very soon I shall cast you into prison.'

The Vizier had a great dread of the prison, for he had sent many persons
there and he knew exactly what it was like. So he fell on his knees
before the King and confessed that Hassan was the real cause of the
neglect.

'Very well,' answered the King, 'I shall not be so unjust as to punish
you for your son's offence, but if he does not become satisfied within a
month from to-day, I shall condemn him to death. But as you have served
me faithfully so many years, I shall allow you the privilege of choosing
whether his head shall be cut off with an axe or a sword.'

The Vizier thanked the King for granting him this privilege and returned
to his own palace; he knew it was useless to speak to Hassan because he
had spoken to him so often before, so he sent for a Magician who lived a
few miles away. When the Magician heard of the Vizier's distress, he at
once promised to help him.

'I believe I can cure your son,' he said, as soon as he entered the
palace, 'and I do not think it will take so long as a month.'

'I should like the cure to be perfect,' answered the Vizier, 'and then I
shall be able to attend properly to the King's business again.'

'There is only one condition,' said the Magician. 'Hassan must come with
me wherever I choose to take him.'

'That is impossible!' cried the Vizier; 'as long as I forbid his going,
he will wish to go, but as soon as I give my permission, he will change
his mind and insist upon staying at home.'

'He will not have time to change his mind,' said the Magician, and then
an attendant was summoned, and a few minutes later Hassan entered the
room with a scowl on his face, whereupon the Vizier looked at the
Magician as much as to say, 'There! what did I tell you!'

'Good afternoon, Hassan,' said the Magician.

'It isn't a good afternoon,' answered Hassan, scowling more fiercely
than before.

'Well, never mind,' said the Magician; 'I daresay it will be a good
afternoon to-morrow.'

'Oh yes, to-morrow, I daresay,' answered Hassan. 'What's the use of
that?'

'It's very fortunate for me,' said the Magician; 'because I shall be on
my travels. I start on a pleasant journey to-day.'

'I wish I might start on a journey,' grumbled Hassan. 'I've always
wanted to go on a journey, only they'll never let me.'

'In the place I am going to,' said the Magician with an agreeable smile,
'everybody is allowed to ask for anything he sees.'

'What's the use of asking for things if you don't get them!' exclaimed
Hassan.

'But in the place I am going to,' said the Magician, smiling still more
pleasantly, if that were possible, 'you may ask for anything you see,
and nothing you ask for is refused.'

'That must be a very nice place,' said Hassan; 'just the place I should
like to live in, only of course my father wouldn't let me.'

Then the Magician rose, paying no attention to the reproachful glances
which the poor Vizier cast upon his son, and crossing the room, he
stopped at Hassan's side.

'If you like to come with me on a short visit, you may do so,' he said.

'I shouldn't like it at all,' said Hassan. 'I think it would be horrid.'

'But,' exclaimed the Vizier angrily, 'you said you would like to go.'

'Not for a short visit,' answered Hassan. 'What's the use of a short
visit?'

'Very well,' said the Magician, smiling agreeably; 'you may stay as long
as you please. And you shall have everything you see.'

'Thank you,' answered Hassan, though he did not look very thankful, 'I
don't want anything.'

'Then, come along,' cried the Magician, stepping towards the door.

'But I am not going,' answered Hassan. 'I shan't go. I don't want to
go.'

'Come along,' said the Magician cheerfully, and he fixed his small
bright eyes on Hassan's face as he spoke. Although the Magician was some
yards away, Hassan felt obliged to rise from his chair, and to follow
him out into the corridor. Hassan would far sooner have stayed where he
was, yet he knew he could not stay even to say good-bye to his father,
and he began to feel fonder of the Vizier than he had ever felt before.

Still it was of no use. Hassan really did not know why he went, only
that somehow it seemed that he could not stay when the Magician looked
at him. So Hassan followed the Magician along the corridor, to the great
astonishment of everybody who saw him, for when he did not wish to go
anywhere, which was usually the case, he had to be dragged or carried.
But to-day Hassan followed the Magician as obediently as a dog follows
his master.

Outside the palace he saw a curious-looking carriage drawn by two
zebras. 'Step in,' said the Magician politely, and though Hassan would
have preferred to stay where he was, he stepped in as the Magician told
him.

'I want to walk,' he said, when the Magician was seated beside him and
the zebras had started.

'You will have plenty of walking to-morrow,' was the answer.

'You said I might have everything I asked for,' Hassan grumbled.

'When you get there,' said the Magician.

'Where?' asked Hassan.

'Where we are going to,' answered the Magician. 'I always keep my
promises. Anything you see you may ask for, and anything you ask for you
shall have.' They continued the journey many miles, and presently Hassan
wondered where they were to sleep.

'I never go to sleep,' said the Magician; 'time is too precious. But I
don't wish to hinder you from sleeping if you are used to it. You may
sleep here.'

'How can I sleep here?' grumbled Hassan, but a few minutes later his
eyes closed and his chin fell on his chest, and as the carriage was
driven swiftly along the road, Hassan's head waggled about very funnily.
Presently he was awakened, and opening his eyes he saw that the Magician
had been shaking him worse than the carriage.

'I want my breakfast!' he exclaimed.

'I never have breakfast,' answered the Magician; 'but if you like you
may breakfast to-morrow.'

'You said I might have anything I asked for,' said Hassan, beginning to
feel rather miserable.

'So I did,' the Magician admitted; 'anything you see you may ask for,
you know, but I don't think you can see any breakfast, besides,' the
Magician added, 'you must wait until we are there, and we have a long
way to go yet.'

He told Hassan to get out of the carriage, which was at once driven
away. 'Come along,' said the Magician, with a smiling face, and Hassan
felt compelled to follow, although he would far sooner have gone home
again. He could see nothing but grass all around and the great trees
that shaded it from the burning sun. As he trudged after the Magician,
Hassan continued to grumble about his breakfast until it was
dinner-time, and it seemed useless to grumble about breakfast any more.
He began to wonder where the Magician was taking him, because, though he
had walked for many hours, he had seen nothing but trees.

One thing astonished Hassan very much indeed. Although it was still
quite early in the afternoon, the farther he walked the darker it grew,
and at first he thought the dimness was due to the trees. But he noticed
there were not nearly so many trees as there had been, and yet the light
became fainter and fainter.

'I should like to have some dinner!' cried Hassan, as he followed the
Magician. 'I'm hungry, and you promised I might have anything I asked
for.'

'When we get there,' answered the Magician; 'we are not there yet, you
see, but when we arrive I shall keep my word.'

Hassan wished he had never seen the Magician; he felt so sleepy that he
could scarcely prevent his eyes from closing, but still he walked on and
on; and still it grew darker and darker. There were no trees now, only a
few low bushes, and the sky looked a curious dark colour. There were no
stars, no moon; Hassan could scarcely see his way, and gradually
everything became invisible except the Magician, until presently he
disappeared too. It seemed darker than the middle of the night; when
Hassan looked upwards he saw nothing but blackness; when he looked down
he saw nothing but blackness; to the right and the left it was the same;
he could not see his own hands when he held them close to his nose, and
yet his eyes were quite widely open all the time.

'Are you here?' he cried, to make sure the Magician had not gone away
and left him alone.

'No,' was the answer, 'we are there now!'

'I'm glad of that,' said Hassan; 'I want some light.'

'Very sorry!' exclaimed the Magician.

'And something to eat,' said Hassan.

'Very sorry,' answered the Magician again, but he did not sound sorry in
the least. Hassan thought he sounded quite glad, though there did not
seem much to be glad about. Then Hassan began to stamp about on the
grass just as if he were at home, and he scowled until his forehead was
full of wrinkles, only he might as well have laughed, for there was
nobody to see him.

'Now,' said the Magician, 'I hope you will make yourself quite at home.
Everybody does exactly as he likes here. What should you like to do?'

'You said I could have anything I asked for,' answered Hassan, 'and I
should like something nice to eat.'

'Well,' said the Magician very civilly, 'you can look round and choose
anything you see.'

'What's the use of looking round,' asked Hassan, 'if I can't see
anything?'

'No, no!' cried the Magician very politely, 'of course not. No use at
all.'

'Then why did you tell me to look?' said Hassan.

'Anything you see you may ask for,' said the Magician, as if he were
muttering to himself, 'and anything you ask for you may have.'

Hassan felt so cross at hearing these words again that he flung himself
on the grass and kicked his legs about and began to cry. He always made
a great noise when he cried, but the Magician seemed not to mind in the
least. Presently Hassan fell asleep and dreamed he was at a great feast,
where the table was loaded with large joints of meat, and with turkeys
and pheasants, with a round Christmas pudding at one end. The Magician
was just going to carve, and he said that Hassan might ask for whatever
he saw. 'I'll have turkey first,' Hassan dreamed he said, 'and then
pheasant and then Christmas pudding.' All the things he named were
placed upon a plate at once; only, just as he was going to taste the
turkey, the plate fell to the ground and Hassan awoke. He felt so hungry
and the dream seemed so real, that he sat up and began to feel on the
grass for his plate.

'Hullo!' cried the Magician, 'have you lost anything?'

'I dreamed I was just going to have some turkey,' said Hassan.

'Ah, well!' answered the Magician, 'you may ask for anything you see,
you know.' But it seemed darker than ever; Hassan could see nothing and
he began to feel very miserable indeed. He never learned how long he
stayed with the Magician, though it appeared a long time while it
lasted, and he began to think it would never come to an end. He did not
know whether it was days or weeks, only he felt hungry all the time, and
at last he could think of nothing but home. He wished he was back there,
and he made up his mind that if ever he did get back, he would not
grumble any more.

Now it was a strange thing that whilst Hassan sat on the grass, with his
hands clasped round his knees and his eyes on the ground, although of
course he could see nothing, it began to grow a little lighter. And the
more he made up his mind not to grumble the lighter it grew, so that at
last he fancied he could see the Magician. And the Magician was sitting
cross-legged on the ground eating some dinner which looked exactly like
what Hassan had seen in his dream.

'I'll have that!' cried Hassan the moment he could see it.

'With pleasure,' said the Magician, and he rose and brought the plate to
Hassan. Unfortunately Hassan was so much in the habit of grumbling at
everything the moment he received it that, as soon as he took the plate
in his hand, he said--

'This must have been a poor old turkey and very badly cooked too.'

Before he finished speaking, the light faded, and it grew so dark that
he could not see the plate. Worse than that, Hassan could not feel it,
but he could hear the Magician as if he were enjoying his meal very much
indeed.

'I say!' exclaimed Hassan.

'Well, what do you say?'

'I beg your pardon. I didn't mean it--really,' said Hassan, and suddenly
it began to grow lighter again--so light that he could see the Magician,
who seemed to have a fresh plate full of turkey. 'I'll have that,
please!' cried Hassan, and once more the Magician brought him the plate.
As soon as Hassan took it in his hands, he looked at the nice white
slices, and he was just going to grumble as usual when he remembered in
time. So instead of saying what he intended to say, he ate his dinner in
a sensible manner.

And now Hassan began to understand that when he felt inclined to grumble
the darkness grew blacker, but that when he made up his mind not to
grumble any more, it seemed almost as light as day. As he sat staring
straight in front of him, the Magician came to his side--

'Well, Hassan,' he said, 'what is the matter? What are you staring at so
attentively?'

'I--I fancied I saw myself at home again,' answered Hassan.

'Ah! I suppose you saw yourself grumbling as usual,' said the Magician.

'No, I wasn't grumbling. I was very happy.'

'Anything you see you may ask for,' answered the Magician, 'and anything
you ask for you may have.'

'Why, then!' exclaimed Hassan before the Magician had time to finish
speaking, 'of course I'll have that!'

'What?' asked the Magician.

'I saw myself at home again, you know----'

'You were contented,' answered the Magician, 'you mustn't forget that.'

'No,' said Hassan, 'I won't.' And then, to his great surprise, he found
himself at home again. He was sitting in the palace garden, rubbing his
eyes just as if he had fallen asleep after dinner. But although
everything else looked very much the same as it had done before he went
away with the Magician, Hassan knew of one thing that was different, and
that was himself. For, you see, he had become the contented boy he
fancied he saw in the forest--Hassan had become just what he wished to
be.



V

MARY SEES THE WINGS, AS WELL AS SOME OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS


'Well,' said Sister Agatha, as she put on one of Mary's new dresses a
few mornings later (it was the plum-coloured dress), 'what do you think
of your fairy-godmother by this time?'

'I think she's lovely,' answered Mary; 'only I do want to see her
wings!'

'You are going to see them,' said Sister Agatha; 'she is going to pay
you a visit when she is wearing them one evening. What do you think of
that?'

'When?' cried Mary.

'Very soon indeed,' was the answer, 'so don't be surprised.'

Mary could think of nothing else but Sister Agatha's promise that she
should see Evangeline's wings, and one evening about a week later, just
before she was going to be undressed, she had her wish.

She had sat up rather later than usual, but the electric light had not
been switched on and the room was almost dark. Presently, Sister Agatha
rose and left Mary alone, and as the child sat in the arm-chair, waiting
to be put to bed, she began to feel sleepy.

Every now and then she closed her eyes, and when she opened them she was
surprised to see how much darker the room had become. Then she heard
laughing outside the door, and the next moment it opened and Sister
Agatha entered.

'Now you won't be frightened, will you?' she said.

'Oh no, of course I won't,' answered Mary in a rather shaky voice. As
she spoke the room became suddenly so light that her eyes were dazzled
and she could see nothing. And a few moments later, when she could see
things again, she was scarcely able to believe they were real.

Close to the door stood Evangeline Royal. On her head she wore a crown
of diamonds which glistened and sparkled amongst her golden hair. Her
shoulders were uncovered and she wore a dress of pure white, and so long
that it quite hid her shoes. She carried a long wand in her right hand,
and the most wonderful of all! Mary saw her wings. They looked smaller
than she expected, and they were so thin that she could see right
through them, just as you can see through a window.

'Can you fly with them?' asked Mary as soon as she could speak.

'No,' answered Evangeline. 'They are not of the slightest use--they are
only for show, you see.'

'Where are you going?' cried Mary.

'She is going to hold her Court, of course,' said Sister Agatha; 'I
should have thought any one would have known that.'

'Is she going to hold it here?' asked Mary. 'In this very room, I mean?'

'The idea of such a thing!' exclaimed Sister Agatha. 'Where do you
imagine all the kings and queens and the other wonderful folk would put
themselves?'

'Then I shan't see it,' said Mary in a very disappointed tone.

'I wish she could just peep at us!' cried Evangeline, turning towards
Sister Agatha.

'I daresay I could carry her down,' was the answer.

'Nobody would notice her if she stayed behind the band,' said
Evangeline.

'What would they do if they did notice me?' asked Mary feeling a little
frightened.

'Ah! well,' answered Sister Agatha, 'there's no telling what they
wouldn't do to us.'

'Still,' said Mary, 'you would be there, too, wouldn't you?'

'Neither of us will be there if some one doesn't go to bed at once!'
cried Sister Agatha.

'Oh, isn't it to-night?' asked Mary.

'Not until to-morrow,' was the answer. 'Don't you know that nice things
are generally to-morrow?'

Mary turned to look at Evangeline's wings once more before she left the
room, and then Sister Agatha put her to bed. To-morrow was one of the
most exciting days she had ever passed. For one thing she knew she was
going to leave the room for the first time since she had entered it. She
had no idea what she should see on the other side of the door, she could
only wonder about it just as you may wonder what there is on the other
side of the moon.

She sat up much later than usual, too, and she liked that; then she wore
the new outdoor jacket over her dress, although Sister Agatha said she
was not going out.

'But where are we going?' asked Mary.

'Well,' answered Sister Agatha, 'I think you will say it looks very much
like fairy-land.'

'How shall I get there?' asked Mary.

'I am going to carry you, of course,' said Sister Agatha. 'All you have
to do is to shut your eyes and keep very still and not to open them
until I give you leave.'

Mary shut her eyes so tightly that her little face was full of wrinkles.
'Oh!' she exclaimed, opening them the next moment, 'will the prince be
there? Shall I see him?'

'It wouldn't be anything without the prince,' said Sister Agatha, and
then Mary shut her eyes again and knew that she was lifted in Sister
Agatha's arms. Although she felt very curious to know where she was
being carried to, she did not peep once, because she felt afraid of
spoiling everything. Presently she knew that Sister Agatha had opened a
door, and although her eyes were still tightly closed, Mary felt sure
she was in a very light place, the darkness looked so red, you see.

'Please, mayn't I open my eyes now?' she cried.

But she could not hear Sister Agatha's answer, because there was such a
loud noise in her ears. She must be close to a band, and a great many
persons seemed to be laughing and talking at once. Mary was just
thinking it was of no use; she must open her eyes just for a moment to
see what was going on around her when she felt Sister Agatha's lips
close to her ear.

'You won't be frightened,' she whispered, 'and you mustn't cry out or
even speak. Now, open your eyes!'

But though Mary opened her eyes at once, it was some time before she
could see anything clearly. It seemed exactly the same as last night,
when she first saw Evangeline's wings. The bright light dazzled her,
although it was not very long before she knew that she must be really in
fairy-land, as Sister Agatha had said.

In front of her were a lot of men in light blue uniforms, with silver
lace on their coats, playing all manner of curious instruments. Beyond
the band and a little lower, Mary saw an enormous room with no carpet on
the floor, and each fresh person astonished her more than the last. Some
were dancing, some were sitting down, some were talking and laughing,
but although there were so many of them, not one looked cross or sad,
which was quite different from anything Mary had been used to.

Of course, she recognised some of the people at once, and she would
certainly have called out their names if Sister Agatha had not placed a
hand over her lips. She saw Bluebeard, and Jack-the-Giant-killer, Old
Mother Hubbard, Aladdin with his lamp, her dear Cinderella,
Puss-in-Boots, the White Cat, and ever so many more whose portraits she
had seen in Sister Agatha's books upstairs. As to ordinary fairies,
there were far too many to count--some tall, some short, some fat and
some thin, some fair and some dark, but all with wings exactly like
Evangeline's. And yet it was quite easy to pick out Evangeline Royal
from the rest, and any one could see that she was their queen.

'Do tell me which is the prince?' asked Mary. 'Oh!' she said, in a very
excited whisper the next instant, 'that must be the prince, that one in
the white and gold clothes. Look, he's going to dance with Evangeline!'

Mary was quite right. The prince offered Evangeline his right hand and
they came to the middle of the large room together. Then the band, which
had stopped for a little while, began to play again, and the prince and
Evangeline began to dance.

'How lovely the prince looks!' said Mary; 'does he always look like
that?'

'Hus--s--sh!' said Sister Agatha, 'or they won't let us stay.'

'Oh, do please let us stay,' answered Mary in such a low whisper that
Sister Agatha scarcely knew she had spoken at all. But if ever she
stepped away from the band, which seemed to make a great noise close to
Mary's ears, Mary began to look tearful, so, although she felt rather
heavy and Sister Agatha's arms were beginning to ache, she let the child
stay on, until presently she found that she was fast asleep. And the
next thing Mary knew was that she was sitting on her own bed, whilst
Sister Agatha took off her stockings, and all the wonders she had seen
were at an end for the present.



VI

MARY IS TAKEN AWAY


Mary quite believed that she was living in an enchanted place where she
would always be able to have everything she wanted, and even a great
many things she did not want in the least. Where there would always be
plenty of nice things to eat and drink, and Evangeline to tell her
stories as nobody had done before.

She hoped she should never see Mrs. Coppert again as long as she lived,
because Evangeline had said that she should not go away until her foot
was well again, and although it was certainly better it was not quite
well yet.

But there were times when Mary felt just a little afraid, for now and
then she dreamed she was back at William Street, where everything seemed
much worse than it used to be. And one morning the tall man with the
long beard looked at her foot a great while, and when it was covered
over again, he quite frightened Mary.

'It is very much better,' he said, 'and there is no reason why she
should not try to walk. In fact, the sooner she goes away the better.'

'There now,' said Sister Agatha when he had gone, 'what do you think of
that? Won't it be nice to walk again? You will like that, won't you?'

'No,' answered Mary; 'I shan't like it at all. I don't want to walk.'

'Oh yes, you will like it!' said Sister Agatha. 'Now suppose you try to
walk across the room.'

Mary rose from her chair, and Sister Agatha held her hand while she
limped along by her side. It felt odd to be walking again, and Sister
Agatha suggested she should race with her doll. So the doll was placed
in a corner, and then Sister Agatha turned the key, which was necessary,
she said, because the doll could not eat as Mary did, and the race
began. But although Mary seemed to walk much more slowly than the doll,
who made a great fuss whenever it walked a few yards, she reached the
door first. Sister Agatha clapped her hands, and gave Mary a prize; she
gave her a lump of sugar.

But although Mary laughed about the race, she began to look miserable
again when she remembered that the tall man had said she was to go away,
for of all things in the world she did not wish to leave Evangeline and
Sister Agatha. When Evangeline came to see her that afternoon, Mary
clasped her small arms round her neck and clung to her, and cried,
'Please don't send me away! Pray don't send me back to Mrs. Coppert!'

'Why, my dear child,' said Evangeline; 'I am not going to send you back.
I have never dreamed of such a thing.'

'But he said I was to go away,' answered Mary.

'So you are going away,' Evangeline explained; 'but not to William
Street. Sister Agatha and I are going with you, and I think you will
like it very much indeed.'

'I shall if you and Sister Agatha go,' said Mary, and now she felt more
satisfied, and she spent a happy afternoon with her toys. She went to
bed quite happily, but when her head had been some time on the pillow
Evangeline entered the room.

'Poor child!' she said, 'is she asleep yet?'

'Yes,' answered Sister Agatha, looking down at Mary's closed eyes; 'she
did not lie awake long to-night.'

'How alarmed she was at the idea of leaving us,' said Evangeline
quietly.

'And yet,' answered Sister Agatha, 'it is certain she can't stay here
for ever. You will have to make up your mind what is to be done before
long. Mary will soon be quite well again; besides, you will have other
things to think of.'

This conversation made Mary feel uncomfortable again. Of course she
ought not to have listened to it; she ought to have sat up in bed, or at
least to have called out to let Evangeline know she was not asleep. But
the fact was that Mary felt so interested to hear anything about herself
that she could not resist the temptation to listen, and after Evangeline
had gone downstairs again she still kept her eyes shut, although it was
late before she really fell asleep that night.

There were so many other things to think of that she soon forgot all
about her fear of going back to William Street, especially when Sister
Agatha began to pack a trunk with Mary's clothes and toys. She told her
they were going into the country--she and Evangeline and Mary. Of course
Mary had no idea what the country could be like, but she tried to find
out by asking a great many questions. Sister Agatha said there were
fields instead of houses, and trees instead of lamp-posts, but Mary did
not understand very clearly what a field was like; still the morning
came when they were to start, and Mary was ready first. When she stood
before the looking-glass with her new hat and jacket on, really she
hardly knew herself. It seemed as if Evangeline must have changed her as
Cinderella was changed, for you remember that even Cinderella's sisters
did not recognise her at the ball.

Mary Brown stood before the tall glass, and she saw a little girl with a
rather pale face; it looked very clean, and her brown hair was carefully
tied back with ribbon. She wore tan-coloured stockings and high button
boots, and altogether it was a little difficult to believe she was the
same Mary Brown who used to wear the ragged dress and to make mud pies
in the gutter.

She went downstairs holding Sister Agatha's hand, and on reaching the
hall she saw two very tall men in pale blue coats and white stockings.
Although they looked quite young men their hair was white, and one of
them took Mary in his arms to carry her across the pavement to a
carriage that was waiting before the door. It seemed so nice to be out
in the sunshine that Mary laughed aloud, but she was soon seated in the
carriage with Evangeline and Sister Agatha; then the horses started, and
presently they reached a large railway station. Mary knew all about
trains, because there was a bridge over William Street, and whilst she
played in the road they used to rush by overhead with a noise like
thunder. But she had never entered a train before, so that she felt
curious to see what it would be like inside. She thought it seemed very
nice, with soft blue cushions to sit upon, and windows to look out at.

Presently the train began to move, and looking out at the window Mary
saw rows and rows of houses which looked very much like those in William
Street. But when the houses were left behind Mary opened her eyes very
widely; she thought she had never seen anything quite so wonderful as
this! Not even the wonderful things she had seen the night Sister Agatha
carried her downstairs had astonished her so much! For there were no
houses, and she had never seen ground without houses until now.

She looked upon wide open spaces, with dozens of trees and oxen in green
meadows, and the consequence was that she began to ask so many questions
that Sister Agatha suggested that she should sit down and try to go to
sleep.

'Oh no, thank you,' answered Mary, 'I'm not at all sleepy. I'd much
sooner look out of window.'

'I thought perhaps you would like me to tell you a story,' said
Evangeline.

'Yes, I should like you to tell me a story!' cried Mary, and she climbed
down from the seat and nestled close to Evangeline's side.



VII

THE STORY OF THE LITTLE GIRL, THE DOG, AND THE DOLL


Once upon a time there was a little girl whose name was Bertha. She had
no brother or sister, but she had two very dear friends: one was a doll
with a broken nose and only half an arm; the other was a white terrier
with a brown patch on his back, a short stump of a tail, and a cold
black nose.

The dog's name was Samuel, and whilst he was very fond of Bertha he was
deeply attached to Moggy too; Moggy, you understand, was the doll. Moggy
might often be seen leaning against the nursery fender, with Samuel by
her side blinking solemnly at the fire. But every now and then he would
turn to look at Moggy, and put out his tongue and waggle his stumpy tail
from side to side on the carpet.

Though Samuel wore a handsome collar he had quite forgotten what a chain
was, for he had not been tied up for years. He never slept in the old
kennel outside the kitchen door, because he preferred the mat in the
hall.

Now, for a long time Moggy had slept on Bertha's pillow, and though
Bertha had other dolls who were much prettier than Moggy she never took
them to bed with her. But one day--it was Bertha's birthday--her mother
bought her the prettiest doll she could find, a doll that opened and
shut her eyes.

'I really think,' said Mrs. Western when Bertha bade her good-night,
'you ought to take the new doll to bed with you, or what is the use of
having a doll who can go to sleep?'

'What would Moggy do?' asked Bertha, looking doubtful about it.

'Moggy is really too old to be jealous,' answered her mother.

So Bertha said she would take the new doll to bed, then she went
upstairs with Samuel who was always in the room whilst she undressed.
Bertha slept in a room by herself, but there was a door that led to her
mother's room and this stood open all night. Moggy lay on the round
table in the middle of the room, and she looked very shabby beside the
fine new doll; still Bertha felt sorry for her as she got into bed. She
placed the new doll on her pillow and said good-night to the nurse.

'Good-night, Miss Bertha.'

'Don't quite shut the door, please,' said Bertha; and leaving the door a
little open as usual the nurse went downstairs, followed by Samuel. And
nobody heard anything more of Bertha until the next morning.

As soon as she awoke she turned to look at her new doll, but to her
great astonishment she could not see her. She could not see anything of
the new doll, but there lay Moggy on the pillow just as she had done for
many months past. Bertha sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes, thinking she
could not be quite awake yet, but there was no mistake about it; it was
certainly Moggy on her pillow, and there was no sign of the new doll.

'Nurse!' cried Bertha, when it was time to be dressed, 'what have you
done with my new doll?'

'Why, Miss Bertha,' answered the nurse, 'you laid her on your pillow
last night.'

'But she's not there now,' said Bertha, 'and Moggy is there. I can't see
my new doll anywhere!'

The nurse stared at Moggy, and Moggy stared back with her dark eyes at
the nurse; then the nurse began to search for the lost doll, but she
could not find her anywhere. So she dressed Bertha, who went downstairs
to breakfast.

'Mother!' she exclaimed, 'where's my new doll?'

'I thought you were going to take it to bed with you last night,' said
Mrs. Western.

'So I did,' answered Bertha; 'and I left poor Moggy on the table, but
when I woke this morning the other doll was gone and Moggy was on my
pillow.'

'Nonsense,' said Mrs. Western; 'you must be making a mistake,' and
Bertha looked as if she was going to cry. 'Sit down to breakfast,' her
mother continued, 'and when we have finished we will go upstairs to look
for her.'

But although they searched all over the nursery and looked into every
corner, and although Samuel trotted about the room with his ears cocked
and his tail waggling, the new doll could not be seen.

'Nurse,' said Mrs. Western, 'what can have become of Miss Bertha's new
doll? She says she took it to bed with her last night!'

'So she did,' answered the nurse, 'because I gave the doll to Miss
Bertha after she was in bed, and Moggy was lying on the table.'

'Then who do you suppose can have taken her away?' exclaimed Mrs.
Western. Bertha seemed so disappointed that Mrs. Western took her out
that afternoon to buy another doll--not quite such a nice doll as that
which had disappeared, but a pretty doll all the same. 'This time,' said
Mrs. Western, 'I shall see it laid on your pillow myself,' and she
stayed in the nursery whilst Bertha had her bath. Then, as Samuel
frisked about the room, Bertha got into bed and Mrs. Western placed the
newest doll beside her on the pillow.

'Don't quite shut the door, please!' cried Bertha, and in two minutes
she fell fast asleep. But on waking the next morning, it seemed a very
strange thing! she found that her newest doll had disappeared whilst
Moggy lay peacefully beside her on the pillow. She dressed more quickly
than usual and ran downstairs so fast that her mother came out of the
dining-room to tell her not to tumble head-foremost to the hall.

'Mother!' cried Bertha, 'she's gone! The doll you bought me yesterday's
gone and Moggy was lying on the pillow.'

'Nonsense, Bertha,' said Mrs. Western, 'you must be making a mistake,
because I laid her on your pillow myself.'

'She wasn't there when I woke this morning,' answered Bertha.

'Well, I cannot understand it!' cried Mrs. Western.

'I can understand it very easily,' said Mr. Western; 'of course the
child is making a mistake. It must have been Moggy she took to bed.'

'I am sure it was not,' answered Mrs. Western; 'besides, what has become
of the two new dolls? How do you account for their disappearance?'

'Oh, you will find them in the nursery!' he insisted. 'But to make sure,
I will go upstairs with Bertha after breakfast and help her look.' So
they all went upstairs together this time: Mr. Western, Mrs. Western,
Bertha, and Samuel. And they examined every corner; they opened every
cupboard, Samuel sniffed about the fireplace and waggled his tail, but
still they saw nothing of either doll. 'Well,' said Mr. Western, 'I
really can't lose any more time. You have put the dolls away somewhere
and forgotten where.'

'I am positive,' said Mrs. Western, 'that the doll lay on Bertha's
pillow last night and Moggy was on this table.'

'I wish you would buy another doll this afternoon,' he replied with a
laugh, 'and to-night I will see it safely on Bertha's pillow myself.'

That day Mrs. Western bought a third doll, and when Bertha was
comfortably tucked up in bed, her father came to her room to the great
delight of Samuel. They all stood beside the bed, and having made sure
that Moggy was on the table, they saw that the new black-haired doll lay
beside Bertha.

'There will be no mistake this time,' said Mr. Western, and Samuel
waggled his tail as if he thought on the whole his master was quite
right. 'There she lies,' said Mr. Western, 'and she isn't likely to move
before breakfast-time.'

But he was quite mistaken and also very much surprised. Being dressed
early that morning, Mr. Western went to Bertha's room before she was up,
she was in fact still asleep.

'This is really very remarkable!' he exclaimed. For there, on the
pillow, lay poor Moggy, whilst he could not see the new black-haired
doll anywhere. 'I can't buy a new doll every day,' he said when they
were all downstairs. 'Besides, it seems to be of no use to buy them.' He
looked quite bothered about it; he could not enjoy his breakfast, which
was a good thing for Samuel, who had a whole sausage off his plate.
'Well,' said Mr. Western presently, 'I suppose Bertha must have another
doll; this will be the fourth in four days! But,' he added, 'I am
determined she shall not get away this time. I shall tie her to the
bed.'

And this was what he did. He went to Bertha's room after she was in bed,
and with a strong piece of string he tied the fourth fair-haired doll to
the back of the bedstead. 'There!' exclaimed Mr. Western, 'I don't think
this one will disappear.'

It did not disappear. But to his astonishment, when he came to the room
before Bertha was awake, he saw two dolls on her pillow: one being the
new, fair-haired doll, the other Moggy, whom he had left on the table in
the middle of the room.

'I can't understand it at all,' he said at breakfast-time; 'any one
would think that Moggy was alive.'

'At all events, she must be jealous,' answered Mrs. Western, while
Samuel sat on his haunches begging for bacon.

'Well,' said Mr. Western, 'we shall not have to buy another doll
to-day--that will be a change anyhow. But I am determined to find out
how it happens. To-night I shall leave the new doll untied and fasten
Moggy to the table.'

'Poor Moggy!' cried Bertha, looking quite tearful about it.

When bedtime came, Mr. Western took a piece of cord from his pocket and
tied it tightly round Moggy's waist--she had a rather large waist, Moggy
was not at all a fashionable doll--then he passed the cord under the
table and fastened it securely to the leg. Samuel agreed with Bertha; he
did not like to see his dear old friend treated in this way; he seemed
very much distressed about it, and Bertha almost thought she heard him
growl.

'There, Miss Moggy!' cried Mr. Western; 'I don't think your rest will be
disturbed to-night.' And her rest was not disturbed, for when Mr.
Western visited the nursery the next morning he found Moggy lying on the
table in the middle of the room just as he had left her. 'Ah!' he said
to himself, 'I thought so; I thought you would be safe this time!' And
he turned towards Bertha's bed.

But where was the new doll? It was certainly not on the pillow where Mr.
Western had left it last night! What could have become of it? He looked
about the room, but there was no sign of the doll anywhere.

All breakfast-time Mr. Western was silent. He said nothing about the
doll, he took no notice of Samuel, but when he rose from his chair, he
said in a low, solemn voice--

'I should like you to buy another doll to-day--it need not be an
expensive doll, because this will be the fifth doll we have bought in
six days. But,' he added, 'it shall certainly be the last.'

So that afternoon Mrs. Western took Bertha out to buy another doll. Now
she was growing used to it, Bertha rather liked the idea of having a new
doll almost every day. But this doll was not a very nice one. Its hair
was not real; it was only painted on its head. Bertha never felt quite
at home with the doll, and it did not feel soft and warm when she
pressed it against her cheek. Still her mother wished her to take it to
bed with her and to leave Moggy on the table.

'Good-night, nurse,' said Bertha; 'don't quite shut the door, please.'
She felt just a little disappointed that neither her father nor her
mother came up as they had done the last two nights, but she soon fell
asleep and forgot all about them.

Bertha had not been asleep many minutes before her door was pushed
farther open, and Mr. Western softly entered the bedroom. Crossing the
floor on tip-toes, he went to the window and loosening the wide
curtains, carefully hid himself behind them. There he stood in a very
uncomfortable position without moving for a long time. Now and then
Bertha stirred in her sleep, but neither Moggy on the table nor the
newest doll with the painted head, who lay on the pillow, moved the
hundredth part of an inch. Although the room was dim it was not quite
dark, because some light came in from the gas outside on the landing.
For a long time Mr. Western stood behind the window-curtain, and
presently--it must have been about a quarter to ten--he heard a soft
pattering on the floor. Peeping out cautiously from behind the curtain,
he saw first the tip of Samuel's nose, then his whole head, and at last
his body. And now Mr. Western knew how the dolls had disappeared. He
knew that Samuel was the culprit, and he smiled as he waited, expecting
to see the terrier jump on the chair which stood beside the table and
seize Moggy's skirt between his teeth. But before Samuel reached the
chair he suddenly stopped and began to sniff. Then putting his nose
close to the floor he slowly drew near to the window. After sniffing at
this for some moments he seemed quickly to change his mind, and turning
round he ran out of the room.

Mr. Western at once followed him. On reaching the drawing-room door,
Samuel wanted to enter, but Mr. Western said--

'Samuel, come along!' and with his short tail close to his body and his
head held very near the ground Samuel followed his master downstairs. At
each step the dog looked more guilty, and when Mr. Western stopped
outside the kitchen door, Samuel lay flat on the ground and turned over
on his back, looking out of the corners of his eyes all the time. But
when Mr. Western put his right hand into the kennel which Samuel never
slept in, the dog became so excited again that he sprang to his feet and
began to frisk about as if he had done something very clever indeed.

Mr. Western put his hand into the old kennel, and you can guess what he
drew out. He drew out the black-haired doll, and with this in his hand
he looked down and shook his head at Samuel. Then Samuel turned over on
to his back again just as he did when he pretended to be dead. One after
the other Mr. Western drew out of the kennel five new dolls, and as he
stood holding them in his arms Samuel got upon his legs again and began
to howl dismally.

'Come upstairs to your mistress, sir,' said Mr. Western, and Samuel
followed him upstairs. But when she saw Mr. Western enter the
drawing-room with the five dolls in his arms Mrs. Western laughed, and
he threw them all into an arm-chair by the fireplace.

'The fact is,' said Mrs. Western, 'Samuel is a great friend of Moggy's,
and I suppose he did not like to see another doll put into her place,'
and Samuel waggled his tail just as if he understood all she said and
quite approved of it. 'So,' she continued, 'he must have gone to the
nursery after Bertha was asleep and moved Moggy from the table and put
her on the pillow. Then he must have dragged the new doll downstairs.
Very naughty of you, Samuel,' said Mrs. Western, shaking her finger.

Samuel crept along the carpet to her shoes and began to lick them.

'Up!' she cried, and as quickly as possible Samuel was in her lap, being
kissed and patted and made completely happy. 'What a fine story we shall
have to tell Bertha to-morrow!' said Mrs. Western, 'and I really think
she will have to take Moggy back to sleep with her.'



VIII

MARY SEES SOMETHING WHICH SHE HAS NEVER SEEN BEFORE


Evangeline finished her story just as the train stopped at a small
country station, where a porter opened the door and they all got out.
The station looked like a summer-house, and when Mary went outside into
the road, she clapped her hands with delight.

There was quite a small crowd of people waiting there, but what pleased
Mary the most was a little brown carriage with four cream-coloured
ponies. Beside the ponies stood two boys with bright buttons on their
coats, whilst three rough, brown dogs jumped up at Evangeline as if they
wanted to lick her face. Evangeline drove the ponies, and Mary sat
wedged in between her and Sister Agatha. The two boys with bright
buttons on their coats climbed into a seat behind; Evangeline flourished
the whip, the sun shone, and the dogs ran barking beside the carriage.

'Where are the streets?' asked Mary a few minutes later. 'Oh!' she
exclaimed, 'look at the stars on the ground!'

'Stars!' said Sister Agatha.

'Aren't they stars?' asked Mary.

'Why, of course not----'

'Then I know what they are,' said Mary; 'they're the magic counters you
give to people when you want them to do things.'

'I'm afraid those don't grow by the roadside,' answered Evangeline;
'these are primroses, Mary.'

'What are primroses?' asked Mary with wondering eyes.

'You see,' said Evangeline, 'every winter the earth grows hard and cold;
but when it feels the sun shine on it again it smiles, and to show you
how glad it is, it puts forth all these bright little flowers.'

'I see,' answered Mary, still looking as if she did not understand at
all.

'Perhaps you would like to pick some,' said Evangeline. She stopped the
ponies, and at the same moment the two boys sprang to the ground and
stood very stiffly at their heads. Sister Agatha and Mary got out of the
carriage and, stooping by the roadside, plucked primrose after primrose,
whilst the three dogs sniffed about as if they wanted to make a meal off
the sweet, yellow flowers.

Then they got into the carriage again, and Evangeline flourished her
whip. The boys climbed up into the back seat, and Mary felt she should
not mind being driven along that sunny road for ever, or at least until
tea-time. She had never smelled the air so sweet nor seen the sky so
blue.

Presently they reached some shops and small houses, and the people came
out to stand at the doors and bow to Evangeline as she passed.

'Why do they do that?' asked Mary.

'If you saw a fairy-queen driving four cream-coloured ponies past your
house, don't you think you would bow to show how pleased you felt?' said
Sister Agatha.

'I suppose I should,' answered Mary, as they came to a gate with a
cottage beside it. Out from the cottage a funny little old woman came
with a face the colour of a russet apple; she curtseyed so low that her
chin seemed almost to touch the ground, and she wore a red cloak. In one
hand she carried a stick, and Mary wondered whether she was a witch. She
opened the gate, and stood bowing as Evangeline drove through it, and
when Mary looked back at her afterwards the little old woman was bowing
still.

Now, the road ran through a large park, and in the distance Mary saw a
great white house, a part of which shone very brightly in the sunshine.

'Is that the palace?' asked the child.

'Yes,' answered Sister Agatha, 'that is your fairy's palace.'

'Why does it shine so much?' asked Mary.

'Oh, that's to welcome the queen, you know!'

'What are those things?' exclaimed Mary the next minute; 'those funny
things with trees on their heads?'

'Those are deer,' said Evangeline.

'But that's what you call me!' cried Mary, with her eyes very widely
open.

'Well,' said Sister Agatha, 'you're a dear too, only a different kind of
dear.'

'I can't run so fast,' answered Mary. For as she spoke the deer began to
trot away, then they stopped again, and one that was bigger than the
rest stood in front whilst they all watched the carriage.

Several people stood at the door of the house, which seemed to be partly
built of glass. All the people were young like Evangeline, and they all
appeared pleased to see her. But Mary felt a little disappointed that
none of them took any notice of her, and very few spoke to Sister
Agatha, who took Mary's hand, and led her into the house. They passed
through a wide hall with animals' heads hanging on the walls, and there
was a large table with a green top and red and white balls on it.

'Where are their bodies?' asked Mary, as she walked upstairs with Sister
Agatha.

'Whose bodies?'

'Belonging to the great heads downstairs?' said Mary.

'Oh!' answered Sister Agatha, 'I daresay their bodies have been turned
into men.'

'I never heard of animals' bodies being turned into men before,' said
Mary. 'Did Evangeline do that?' she asked; but before Sister Agatha
answered she led Mary into a pretty room with two beds in it. And Mary
became so deeply interested in the room that she forgot all about the
animals' heads. She looked into each corner; she wanted to know which
bed she was to sleep in, and then she went to one of the three windows.

'Sister Agatha!' she exclaimed the next moment, 'Sister Agatha!'

'What is the matter now?' asked Sister Agatha, with a smile.

'Do come here!' cried Mary excitedly; 'do come here! Look!' she said,
pointing out at the window; 'there are two skies. This is a wonderful
place!'

'I only see one,' answered Sister Agatha, coming to her side.

'But look! there are two. There's one up above and another down there.'

'That is the sea,' said Sister Agatha. 'Haven't you seen the sea before?
But, of course, you have not. Yes,' said Sister Agatha quietly, as she
placed a hand on Mary's shoulder, 'the sea is very wonderful!'

'What is the sea?' asked Mary.

'A great, great piece of water----'

'The same as we drink?' asked Mary.

'It would not be at all nice to drink,' was the answer. 'It would taste
salt, you know.'

'Then what's the use of it if you can't drink it?' said Mary. Then she
suddenly began to jump about more excitedly than ever. 'Look! look!' she
cried. 'Look at that funny thing with smoke coming out of it! How fast
it goes! What is that?'

'That is a ship,' Sister Agatha explained. 'It takes people on long
journeys.'

'Where does it take them?' asked Mary.

'To countries a long way off.'

'Farther than we've come to-day?' cried Mary.

'Yes,' said Sister Agatha, 'a great deal farther--to countries where
there are all kinds of wonderful things to be seen.'

'Not more wonderful than there are here,' said Mary.

'No,' answered Sister Agatha; 'they only seem more wonderful because we
are not used to them. Everything is wonderful, you know; only we become
so accustomed to things we see every day that they don't seem wonderful
any longer. Now there's nothing more wonderful than a little girl,
unless it is a big girl.'

'Oh, I think there is!' said Mary. 'I think ships are much more
wonderful, and the sea, and the ponies, and primroses, and Evangeline,
and----'

'And tea!' exclaimed Sister Agatha. 'I am going to ring for it, and
then, when you have had tea, it will be time to go to bed. Now,' she
added, 'we will pull down the blind.'



IX

EVANGELINE GIVES MARY SOME MAGIC COUNTERS


Sister Agatha felt afraid that Mary would be too excited to go to sleep
that night, but as soon as her head touched the pillow she shut her
eyes, although she dreamed of all manner of strange things. When she
awoke the next morning Sister Agatha was already dressed, and as the
blinds had been drawn up, Mary slipped out of bed and limped to the
window.

Although her foot was a great deal better, she still walked as if she
was lame, and she soon grew tired. She limped to the window, and if the
sea had looked beautiful yesterday, it looked far more beautiful with
the morning sun shining on it. When Mary was dressed, Sister Agatha took
her downstairs to a smaller room, with open glass doors instead of
windows, and when she stepped through them she found herself in a lovely
garden. Some men who were digging in it touched their caps to Mary, and
she said--

'Good morning,' and felt that she was quite an important little person.
Then Sister Agatha called her into the room again, and they sat down to
breakfast. 'I wish I could go to the sea,' said Mary.

'So you shall,' answered Sister Agatha, 'but not this morning. I am
going to show you the park this morning.'

'This afternoon, then?'

'This afternoon there will be the Maypole,' said Sister Agatha.

'What's a Maypole?' asked Mary.

'I knew you would say that,' said Sister Agatha; 'but I am afraid you
must wait until you see it.'

'Where's Evangeline?' cried Mary presently. 'I wish she could have
breakfast with us!'

'The idea of such a thing,' was the answer. 'Evangeline has a great deal
to do and a lot of friends to entertain.'

'Does the prince live here?' asked Mary.

'He lives next door,' said Sister Agatha; 'only next door is a quarter
of a mile away.'

'How funny!' exclaimed Mary.

'And some day,' said Sister Agatha, 'he will go to live a long way off,
and Evangeline will go with him--that will be very soon now.'

'Will she take me?' asked Mary, looking a little anxious.

'No,' said Sister Agatha quietly; 'I don't think she will want either of
us, dear.'

'Shall I stay here?' asked Mary.

'No, you certainly can't stay here.'

'Then what shall I do?' cried Mary, putting out her lower lip, and
looking as if she were going to cry.

Sister Agatha passed her right hand over the little girl's brown hair,
and stared rather sadly into her face: 'I am sure I don't know what will
happen,' she answered. 'But come, we will put on our clothes and go into
the garden.'

When once they were out of the house, there were a great many things to
see. There were the chickens to begin with, dozens of them, and they all
came round Mary cackling so loudly that she could hardly hear herself
speak. Then she went into a field where there were a lot of sheep with
tiny frisking lambs, and into another field where six brown calves stood
close together by the gate, and would not move to let Sister Agatha pass
through. On the way home they went into a house built of glass. It felt
very hot, and there were ever so many bunches of grapes hanging from the
roof. And in the afternoon there was the Maypole. Mary stood in front of
the house a little way from Evangeline and the prince and the other
people, but they all seemed to be laughing and talking too much to look
at Mary.

She felt disappointed that Evangeline took no notice of her, and she
held Sister Agatha's hand more tightly. It was true that Sister Agatha
was not quite so pretty as Evangeline nor so young, and she always wore
the same dress, but still she was very nice for all that. Mary had
always felt she belonged to Evangeline, because it was Evangeline who
took her away from William Street. Besides, Sister Agatha seemed more
like an ordinary person, only nicer and kinder than any one Mary had
ever known, but Evangeline was not an ordinary person at all.

The Maypole stood before the door with a crown of flowers at the top,
and a lot of prettily dressed children around it. Each child held a
coloured ribbon in one hand, and they all sang as they danced round the
Maypole winding and unwinding the ribbons. Mary thought it was all very
nice, only she would have liked to hold one of the ribbons too, though
it was true she did not know much about dancing, even if her foot had
been quite well.

But the most delightful thing Mary had ever seen was the sea. It had
been surprising when she looked at it from the window, but when Sister
Agatha took her on to the beach, and her feet sank into the soft sand,
and there were so many nice wet things to pick up, Mary began to laugh
and to clap her hands for joy.

She liked to see the waves curling towards her, then to watch whilst
they changed from green to the purest white, and just when she thought
they were going to wet her shoes, they ran away again with a noise that
made Mary think they were laughing at her, as if they were only playing
and quite enjoying the game.

'There's another ship!' cried Mary. 'I wonder where it's going to?' she
said, looking up into Sister Agatha's face.

'A long, long way,' was the answer. 'To a place where the people are
different from us. They are all black, and they don't wear clothes.'

'What do they do when it's cold?' asked Mary.

'It's never cold in those countries,' said Sister Agatha. 'It is always
very hot--far hotter than it is here.'

'Oh, then that's fairy-land, too!' Mary exclaimed.

'Yes, every place is full of wonders, you know,' answered Sister Agatha.

'All except William Street,' said Mary, and Sister Agatha took her hand
and they walked slowly back to the house. The next day happened to be
wet, and during the afternoon Evangeline came to see Mary for the first
time since she left London. But when Mary had made up her mind for a
nice chat, or perhaps for a story, Sister Agatha gave her a picture-book
and told her to sit down.

'We have very serious matters to discuss,' she said, 'so you must keep
still and not speak a word.'

Mary opened the book, but her attention soon turned from the pictures to
Evangeline, who was sitting at a round table with a pencil in her hand
making figures. Presently Evangeline took a purse from her pocket, and
emptied it on to the table.

'I know what those are!' exclaimed Mary, unable to keep silent any
longer. 'They're the magic counters! I wish I might have one,' she said.

'What should you do with it?' asked Evangeline.

'I should give it to some one when I wanted anything done very much,'
said Mary.

'You may have one if you like,' answered Evangeline, and Mary eagerly
held forth her hand. That evening Sister Agatha gave her a purse to keep
her treasure in, but Mary was always taking it out to look at it and to
make sure it was safe.

She had never had anything in her life that she liked so much. It was
not only that it was bright and pretty to look at, but it made her feel
so much safer. If she wanted anything done--anything very important--she
could give some one the magic counter, and he would be sure to do it.
Not that there seemed anything that Mary wanted done very particularly,
only to see a little more of Evangeline. As it was, she saw hardly
anybody but Sister Agatha, of whom she grew fonder each day. The fact
was, they were all busily preparing for a great and important event, and
sometimes even Sister Agatha was too busy to give much time to Mary.

Mary would have liked to see more of Evangeline, but there was another
person whom she did not wish to see at all, and that was Mrs. Coppert.
She had made up her mind to keep her magic counter lest Mrs. Coppert
should ever try to take her back to William Street, then she would use
it to send Mrs. Coppert away again.

But although Mary had quite decided to keep the counter for the benefit
of Mrs. Coppert, she was tempted to change her mind one day. It was in
the afternoon; she was sitting by the window that opened on to the
garden, and being quite by herself she felt rather lonely. Then she saw
Evangeline pass the window.

'Please come in!' Mary cried. 'I'm all alone!' and, stepping into the
garden, she caught hold of Evangeline's dress.

'I'm afraid I haven't time to come in just now,' answered Evangeline,
standing outside the window.

'Do come in and tell me a story!' pleaded Mary.

'I will try to tell you a story to-morrow,' said Evangeline.

'No, to-day!' said Mary, and, as Evangeline shook her head, Mary
suddenly recollected her magic counter. She felt she wanted so much to
hear a story that she could not even save the magic counter for Mrs.
Coppert. So she put her hand in her pocket, and took out her purse, but
unfortunately she could not open it.

'I want you to open it,' said Mary, holding out the purse to Evangeline.
When the purse was opened Mary took it back, and she made up her mind
that she would not quite shut it another time. Then she managed to take
out the flat, round, yellow thing, which she placed in Evangeline's
hand.

'What is this for?' asked Evangeline, looking a good deal surprised.

'It's one of the magic counters, you know,' said Mary, 'and I want you
to tell me a story--a fairy story, please.'

Now as this was the first time she had used the magic counter, Mary felt
a little anxious to see how it would act, and at all events she hoped
Evangeline would give it back to her again, although she did not feel at
all sure about it. She was greatly relieved to see Evangeline smile and
look at the watch which she wore on her wrist.

'You can put this back in your purse again,' said Evangeline, and
entering the room she sat down and drew Mary to her side.

'You'll tell me the story all the same,' answered Mary, as she put the
magic counter back into her purse.

'Oh yes, I must, you see!' cried Evangeline with a laugh; 'only it will
have to be rather a short one. You said nothing about the length.'

'Not too short,' said Mary, 'and about fairies, please;' and then she
nestled snugly against Evangeline as she began the tale.



X

THE STORY OF THE PRINCE, THE BLUE-BIRD, AND THE CAGE


The Princess Fantosina had a very beautiful voice, and whilst walking in
the palace gardens one day in spring, she began to sing. She was about
to leave off singing and to re-enter the palace when she saw a
strange-looking, little, old woman.

'My dear,' said the little old woman, hobbling towards the Princess
Fantosina, 'I have not heard that song for two hundred years, and I
should like you to sing it again.'

'I will sing it again with pleasure,' answered the princess, and she
sang the song again from beginning to end.

'Now,' said the strange-looking little old woman, 'you have gratified me
very much by singing without being asked twice, and I should like to do
something to please you in return. Tell me what you would like to have
done.'

'I don't think there is anything, thank you,' said the Princess
Fantosina.

'There must be something,' was the answer, 'because the most contented
person in the world always wants something else. Now,' said the old
woman, 'how about a prince?'

'Oh!' cried Fantosina, smiling very brightly, 'my prince is on his way.
He lives a long distance off, but he has set forth on his journey to
fetch me. And though I have never seen him, I know he is very good and
very handsome, and that I shall love him very dearly.' Whilst Fantosina
was speaking a dove flew by. 'Oh!' she cried, 'how delightful it must be
to fly!'

'So you shall,' said the little old woman. 'How should you like to be
able to turn into a dove whenever you wished.'

'I should like it very much,' answered Fantosina, 'only a dove cannot
sing--it can only coo, you know.'

'Then,' said the old woman, 'you shall have the power to take the form
of a bird that sings more sweetly than the nightingale. It shall have a
bright blue body and scarlet wings, and the loveliest song in the world.
Now,' the little old woman continued, 'you must listen carefully to what
I am going to say. If you pluck a primrose and hold the petals to your
lips you will at once change into this bird, and a bird you will remain
until you fly to a cowslip field and take a portion of the flower in
your beak, then you will become a princess again just as you are now.'

With this the old woman hobbled away, and although the Princess
Fantosina called to her several times she did not even glance back. So
the princess returned to the palace wondering whether she should ever
find the courage to pluck a primrose. Ever since she had been a small
child she had thought how delightful it must be to fly through the air;
to rest on the topmost branch of a tree in the sunshine and sing and
sing to her heart's content.

And yet now Fantosina had the power to do what she had always longed to
do, she did not feel at all sure she should do it. The reason was, that
she feared lest any accident should prevent her from reaching a cowslip
field and so becoming a princess again. For although she thought it
would be very nice to be a bird for a few hours now and then, she would
have been sorry to remain a bird always, especially as the prince was on
his way to make her his bride.

But presently Fantosina went into the gardens again, and then she walked
to a meadow where the grass beside the hedges was yellow with primroses.
She looked around to make sure that nobody was in sight, and stooping
she plucked a primrose. She did not put it at once to her lips, but
carried it in her hand until she had crossed three fields and come to a
standstill by a cowslip bank.

Even now she felt a little afraid to put the primrose to her lips, but
the sun shone so brightly and the cloudless sky looked so blue, and she
thought how delightful it must be to soar in the air on such a glorious
day, and she told herself she would just change for a few minutes to see
how the charm acted.

So the Princess Fantosina held the primrose to her lips and breathed
upon its petals, and then there was no one standing on the cowslip bank
but only a small bird with a blue body and scarlet wings hopping about
the grass.

Fantosina could hardly believe at first that the bird was herself,
although she was able to think of things just the same as before. But
the first thing she thought of was, that it would be very pleasant to
fly from the ground to the top of the tall acacia tree which stood a few
yards from the bank. Only she might fly up there and be unable to come
down again, or she might become giddy and tumble before she reached a
bough. Still she began to move her wings, and then she felt the most
delightful sensation you can imagine. She did not seem to be doing
anything at all, and yet she was rising quickly through the air. It
seemed so enjoyable that, when she got to the tree, she did not like to
leave off flying, and instead of settling at once, she circled round and
round several times before she came to rest on the highest branch.

She was not in the least frightened or giddy now; she could see farther
than she had ever seen before, and everything looked very clear and
distinct. She looked in the direction from which her prince was to come,
but she could not see any sign of his arrival yet. Presently Fantosina
began to sing, and that seemed even pleasanter than flying. She sang so
loudly and so fast and enjoyed it so much, that it was later than she
had intended before she thought of descending from the acacia tree. But
at last she spread her scarlet wings, and dropped slowly to the grass;
then she hopped to the nearest cowslip, and no sooner touched it with
her beak than she became a princess again, just as she had been before.

From that day she never spent a morning without becoming a bird; she
would leave the palace when nobody saw her, pluck a primrose, and walk
or run to the cowslip bank. And gradually she grew bolder, and instead
of waiting until she reached the cowslips, she would hold the primrose
to her mouth at once, because she could fly to the other field much more
quickly than she could walk. She amused herself by flying to the palace
and singing outside her mother's window, and one day, after Fantosina
had become a princess again, the queen spoke about the wonderful bird.

'I have never listened to such a beautiful song,' she said. 'I hear it
every morning at the same hour. Have you heard it, Fantosina?'

Fantosina felt very much amused. 'Yes,' she answered, 'I heard it this
morning.'

'I heard it too!' cried Abdullah, Fantosina's younger brother. 'But
though I have looked for it I have not seen the bird yet.'

'It is the most beautiful bird in the world,' said Fantosina, trying not
to laugh. 'It has a blue body and bright red wings. I don't believe
there is another bird like it.'

Now Abdullah, being very fond of his sister, and seeing that she admired
the strange bird, made up his mind to catch it for her, but he did not
say anything of his intention, because he wanted to give Fantosina a
pleasant surprise. But the next morning he hid himself in the shrubbery,
and waited until he heard the bird's song; and peeping out he saw a
scarlet wing flash in the sunshine. That afternoon Abdullah prepared a
net, and the next morning again he hid in the same place. As soon as he
heard the song he peeped forth and saw a spot of blue against the green
leaves of an oak tree which grew close to the house, then he waited
until Fantosina thought it was time to come back to her proper shape. In
order to return to the cowslip bank she left the tree and flew along
just above the ground, and she had spread her wings and was enjoying
herself very greatly when she saw Abdullah running after her. And she
saw too that her brother carried a long stick in his hands, and at the
end of the stick was a large thin green net, the same as boys use to
catch butterflies.

Fantosina had never felt so frightened in her life. Suppose Abdullah
caught her before she could reach the cowslip bank! He might put her in
a cage, or he might kill her and have her stuffed! She thought how sad
it would be to have to spend her whole life in a cage, or to be put
under a glass case in the queen's drawing-room!

The worst of it was that she could not tell him who she really was. When
she tried to speak she could only sing, and it made her so nervous to
see Abdullah running just underneath her that she could not fly nearly
so fast as usual. But she did reach the sloping bank at last, and just
as she was going to seize a cowslip, Abdullah held out his net. This
alarmed her so much that she flew out of his reach to the top of the
acacia tree, and made up her mind to stay there until Abdullah went home
to luncheon.

She did not think he would stay where he was very long, because the king
was a punctual man and never liked any one to be late for meals; as it
was, he would be sure to miss his daughter, but he would never see her
again if once Abdullah got her into his net!

So Fantosina waited on the tree a long, long time, and at last she
thought Abdullah must have gone home, so she dropped to a lower branch,
and holding her little blue head on one side she looked carefully
around. There was no sign of her brother. He had evidently given up his
attempt to capture her for to-day, and she would take care he did not
have a chance again. She saw no sign of Abdullah, who was standing close
to the trunk of the acacia tree; but in order to be quite safe Fantosina
flew to a still lower branch, and holding her little blue head on one
side again she once more looked around. Suddenly she felt confused;
everything seemed to look dark and green as if she held a piece of
coloured glass before her eyes, and when she tried to fly to a lighter
place she knocked against a thin green wall. She tried to tear it with
her beak, she tried to scrape it with her claws, but it was of no use;
she could not escape do what she would; she felt she was being drawn
nearer and nearer to the grass, until at last she stood exactly on top
of a cowslip. Oh, if only she could get one of its petals in her beak!
the very tiniest morsel would do, but the horrid green net prevented
her, and then Abdullah put his hand round her and carried her home; and
Fantosina knew she should never become a princess again as long as she
lived.

'Look, look!' he cried, as he entered the palace. 'Look, Fantosina, I've
caught the bird! Give me a cage!'

'I wish,' said the king, 'that instead of catching birds you would
return in proper time for your meals.'

'I knew Fantosina wanted it,' answered Abdullah. 'Where is there a
cage?'

'I don't know what has become of your sister,' said the queen, little
imagining that Fantosina was held tightly in his hand, and listening to
every word she said.

'I never wait for anybody!' exclaimed the king; 'kindly sit down to
luncheon.'

'I will just put the bird in a cage,' said Abdullah. 'I wish Fantosina
would come. How pleased she will be; won't she, mother?'

Abdullah left the room and soon found an empty bird-cage, then he put
Fantosina into it, and she sat down on its floor with all her feathers
ruffled, and feeling extremely miserable as you may imagine. When
luncheon ended and still there was no sign of Fantosina, the king became
even more alarmed than the queen; he sent men in all directions to
search for her, but night came and no Fantosina. The king and queen did
not go to bed all night, and a light was kept burning in every window of
the palace. They were both very tired at breakfast the next morning, and
when Fantosina sat on a perch in her cage and sang her loudest in her
effort to make them know who she really was, the queen said the song
made her head ache, and ordered that the cage should be covered over.

How miserable Fantosina felt in the darkened cage! How she longed to be
able to fly from tree to tree again even if she could not return to her
proper shape! But all the longing in the world was of no use. Day after
day passed, the king's hair grew gray from grief, and the queen became
pale and thin, while Abdullah took no pleasure in anything but the bird.
Everybody in the palace went into the deepest mourning because they
thought Fantosina must be dead, and once she heard her father and mother
talking about the prince who was coming to marry their daughter.

'I wish we could prevent him from coming,' said the king; 'and if I knew
which direction he had taken, I would send messengers to meet him.'

'It will be a great disappointment to him,' answered the queen; 'but
when he sees we are in sorrow, he will not stay long.'

One day Fantosina heard that he had arrived, and she saw him through the
bars of her cage that evening at dinner. He was very tall and handsome,
just the kind of prince she had hoped he might be, but all she could do
was to sing her best in his honour.

'What a charming song!' exclaimed the prince, 'and what beautiful
plumage! I have never seen a bird like that before.'

'Abdullah caught it the day poor Fantosina disappeared,' said the queen,
and she became so deeply distressed that she apologised to the prince
and left the table.

'It was a pity to catch the bird,' answered the prince; 'its plumage
will fade in the cage and its song will die away.'

'I caught it to please my sister,' said Abdullah, 'for I knew she would
be delighted with it.' Fantosina's wings felt redder than ever, for she
blushed to remember that it was quite true she had often kept birds in
cages, though she was sure she should never do so again even if she had
the opportunity.

'As I have found you all in such distress,' said the prince presently,
'I shall of course not stay so long as I intended. I think I shall ask
you to let me depart to-morrow.'

The king offered no objection to this, for to tell you the truth, he
felt pleased to get rid of the prince now he had lost Fantosina; it was
not a time for visitors. After breakfast the next morning, the prince
ordered a large parcel to be carried in, and when it had been unfastened
he took out the costly presents he had brought from his father's
kingdom. These consisted of embroideries and jewels and swords and
various other things which the king and queen and Abdullah admired
exceedingly. Then the king said--

'I do not know what to offer you in return for all these treasures,
because I had intended to give you the most valuable of all my
possessions, and that was my poor Fantosina. Now, alas! I have no
daughter, and I do not know what to offer you.'

'There is one thing I should like, if you will graciously present it to
me,' said the prince.

'I beg you will do me the honour to choose whatever in my kingdom
pleases you the best,' answered the king.

'Then,' said the prince, 'I choose this beautiful bird.'

As the prince spoke Fantosina began to sing, for although she had made
up her mind she could never be other than a bird as long as she lived,
she had already grown to love the prince so dearly that she felt pleased
at the idea of going away with him. The prince was to set forth at four
o'clock the same afternoon, and from the window where her cage hung
Fantosina could see the people making ready for his departure. When the
four white horses were put into his carriage, she began to fear lest she
should be forgotten, and to remind the prince, she began to sing her
loudest. Presently Abdullah came to the room and climbed on to a chair
to take down the cage, which he carried outside the palace. The king and
queen and several courtiers stood around the prince to bid him farewell,
and when Abdullah joined the group with the cage in his hand, the king
felt ashamed of the smallness of his gift.

'I fear,' he said, as Abdullah handed the cage to the prince, 'you will
find the bird troublesome on your journey.'

'No,' answered the prince, 'I shall not find it in the least
troublesome, because I do not intend to take it on my journey.' And
Fantosina felt deeply disappointed to think she was going to be left
behind after all. But the next moment the prince held the cage above his
head and opened the door. The instant the door was opened Fantosina flew
out of the cage, but Abdullah, thinking she had escaped by an accident
and that the prince would be disappointed to lose the bird, ran after
her, followed by the prince, who vainly called to him to come back. The
king followed his guest, from politeness, but at a slower pace, and even
the queen and the courtiers walked in the same direction.

Fantosina felt almost too much excited to fly; after her confinement in
the cage, her wings were a little stiff too, so that long before she
reached the cowslip bank, she feared she might fall exhausted to the
ground and be caught again. Then she wondered whether she find all the
cowslips dead, and this idea alarmed her so much that she flew slower
and slower, though she tried to fly faster and faster. Abdullah was
close to her tail, the prince a little behind him, the king was in the
next field, and the queen and the courtiers in the next but one.

As Fantosina drew near to the bank, she could not see one cowslip; at
last she was exactly over the bank, and just as she felt she could not
fly another yard, she saw a single cowslip under her claws. In an
instant she dropped to the ground, and at the same moment Abdullah
seized her tail. But Fantosina put forth her beak as far as it would go
and just succeeded in touching the pale yellow petal of the one cowslip
which was left.

To the astonishment of Abdullah and of the prince, the blue bird with
the scarlet wings disappeared and in its place stood the most beautiful
princess the prince had ever seen.

'Fantosina!' exclaimed Abdullah.

'Fantosina!' cried the king, almost out of breath.

'Fantosina!' cried the queen in the next field. But the prince said
nothing until Fantosina held out her hand to him.

'If you had not been so good to me,' she said, 'I should have lived in a
cage all my life.'

'I had no idea I was serving the Princess Fantosina,' he answered with a
smile.

'No,' she said, 'but a kind action is never quite wasted,' and then the
queen came up with her hand on her heart, for she had begun to run as
soon as she saw her daughter, and she took Fantosina in her arms, and
they all seemed very pleased to see her again, and presently they walked
back to the palace. The prince's horses were sent to the stables, for of
course he did not go away that day, and all the people retired to
exchange their mourning garments for the very gayest they could find. A
few weeks later the prince and Fantosina were married, and she went with
him to his own country. But although a great many primroses grow there
each spring-time, Fantosina has never changed into a bird again.



XI

MARY SEES MRS. COPPERT AND MRS. COPPERT SEES MARY


During the next few days Mary saw nothing of Evangeline, though she
would have liked very much to hear another story. Sister Agatha often
took her on to the beach, and Mary found that, although it is possible
to make a great many things out of mud, you can make more and much nicer
things out of sand.

Sometimes she thought she should like to have other children to play
with, but not the same little boys and girls with whom she used to play
in William Street, because she wished never to have anything to do with
William Street or Mrs. Coppert again.

One day Mary was sitting with Sister Agatha as usual, when Evangeline
entered the room, but she seemed too busy to take much notice of
anything except the new dress which she had come to show Sister Agatha.
The dress was all white and shiny, with small flowers about it, white
flowers, too, and Mary admired it so much as Evangeline held it across
her arms that she touched it with her finger-tips.

'Don't you think Mary might go out into the garden?' said Evangeline.

'I ought to fetch her hat then,' said Sister Agatha.

'It is beautifully warm,' answered Evangeline; 'I don't think it can
hurt her to go as she is.'

So Sister Agatha told Mary she might go, and she stepped out through the
open window just as she was--pinafore and all. For a few minutes she
walked about the grass watching a gardener who was mowing it. She looked
on whilst he swept the grass he had cut into a basket and emptied the
basket into a wheel-barrow. Then he wheeled the barrow to an iron gate,
and having passed through the gate, he disappeared round the corner.

Now, Mary thought it would be rather nice to go through that gate and
round the corner too, and a minute later she found herself in the same
road, with trees on each side of it, along which Evangeline had driven
the cream-coloured ponies on the day of her arrival. Mary walked on and
on, until presently she reached the cottage where she had seen the old
woman in the red cloak. But no one was to be seen at present, and on
going close to the gate, Mary found there was a smaller one by its side,
and as this happened to be open, she passed through it into the public
road.

She felt so glad to be in the road that she began to jump about and to
clap her little hands. And yet she did not know why she should be glad,
for the park was a far nicer place after all. Still she did feel
pleased, and without thinking where she was going, or whether Sister
Agatha would like her to go or not, Mary began to scamper away from the
house.

The sun felt very hot, and Mary soon became breathless, so she stopped
just where the road bent round towards the railway station and sat down
by a high, green, flowery bank.

It really seemed very nice sitting there in the brilliant sunshine, and
she leaned back until her head touched the green bank. Presently Mary
closed her eyes, and though she opened them once or twice it was not
long before she fell fast asleep. She did not know how much later it was
when she awoke in a great fright, for she dreamed she heard Mrs.
Coppert's voice, heard it quite distinctly, as if it were only a few
yards from her ears. Of course it was a dream! Mary told herself that
before she had time to open her eyes; but when she did open them she
looked up and saw Mrs. Coppert in the road, staring down at her.

Nobody was in sight--nobody but Mrs. Coppert! Mrs. Coppert was a fat
woman and tall; she had a large, shiny, red face, and great arms and
hands under her cloak, and a bright blue feather in her bonnet. She was
not a nice-looking person at all, and she spoke as if she were going to
cry. But Mary had never seen her cry, though she had seen her make
children cry very often.

'Dear me!' exclaimed Mrs. Coppert, 'if it isn't little Mary Brown! So
smart, too,' she said, leaning forward and taking Mary's skirt between
her fingers. 'And to think of those other poor children at home. They
don't wear such fine dresses, and you haven't even asked how they are!'

'How are they?' whispered Mary, feeling very frightened.

'Haven't they got names of their own?' asked Mrs. Coppert.

'How are Sally and 'Liza and Tubby?' said Mary, knowing it was always
the best to obey Mrs. Coppert.

'So happy, you'd never believe it,' was the answer. 'Troublesome, I must
say; but that's overfeeding. I always did overfeed my children. And
they're quite longing to see Mary Brown again, and so they shall, bless
'em!'

Mary still sat on the grass with her right hand in her pocket. Tightly
between her finger and thumb she held her purse which contained the
Magic Counter. Perhaps you wonder why she did not give it to Mrs.
Coppert and tell her to go away at once. It is quite true that Mary
believed that if she gave it to anybody, it would make her do whatever
she wished, and she certainly wished Mrs. Coppert to go away. But at the
same time Mary felt sure that Mrs. Coppert would keep whatever was given
to her, and put it in her large pocket; while she was a woman who never
did what she was asked to do. What Mary hoped was that some one else
might come along the road, and then she would take out the Magic Counter
at once and ask that Mrs. Coppert should be sent away.

'I'm not going to see them,' said Mary with tears in her eyes; 'I don't
want to see them.'

'There now!' cried Mrs. Coppert, 'there's ingratitude! And them like
brothers and sisters almost. You just get up off that grass and come
along of me.'

'I want to go home,' answered Mary. 'I must go home, I must,' she said,
and now she was crying as if her heart would break.

'Of course you must!' exclaimed Mrs. Coppert. 'Ain't I going to take you
home? Isn't William Street your home? Haven't you lived there all your
life? Haven't I been a mother to you?'

'But I--I can't go without saying good-bye to Sister Agatha and
Evangeline!' cried Mary, as she stood upright. 'I must say good-bye,'
she sobbed; 'they won't know where I am.'

'Oh yes they will,' was the answer. 'I'll see to that,' said Mrs.
Coppert, taking one of Mary's arms; 'never you fear. Wait till we get
back to William Street and I'll write a nice letter. So just you come
along and no nonsense!'

Mrs. Coppert held Mary's arm so tightly that it quite hurt, but
fortunately it was the left arm which she held, so that Mary could still
keep her right hand in her pocket. And she managed to put one of her
fingers inside the purse and to take out the Magic Counter.

She held it all ready to give to the first person she saw come along the
road, and although she felt more frightened than she had ever felt
before, Mary still hoped that something might happen to prevent her from
being taken back to William Street. But at present Mary saw nobody from
one end of the road to the other, nobody but Mrs. Coppert, whom she did
not want to see. She was dragged along the sunny road almost blind with
tears, but as they drew nearer the railway station Mrs. Coppert held her
less tightly.

Mary wondered whether it was the same road that Evangeline had brought
her along the day she arrived, but she did not think it could be the
same, for, to-day, she had not passed the shops and small houses. At all
events, whether it was the same road or not she thought she could see
the small railway station only a little way off, and now Mary grew more
afraid than ever, for if she was once inside the station she might be
put into a train and taken back to London after all! She was just
wondering whether it would not be possible to give the Magic Counter to
the man who drove the train and tell him to take her back to Sister
Agatha, when she uttered a cry of surprise, for she saw a tall young man
coming towards them and she recognised him at once.

'It's the prince!' she exclaimed, 'it's the prince!'

Now Mary had never felt very, very fond of the prince, because he was
going to take Evangeline away from her. Of course she admired him, for
he was a very handsome prince, but Mary had never spoken to him although
she had often seen him in the garden. She felt greatly delighted to see
him now, however, and she held her Magic Counter so that she could take
it out of her pocket directly he came near. Still it is not very nice to
have to speak to a person you have never spoken to before, and Mary felt
a little shy about it.

'It's the prince, is it?' said Mrs. Coppert laughing; 'as if princes
went walking about in that way.'

'I know he is a prince,' answered Mary, 'because Sister Agatha says so.'

'Oh, so he's a friend of hers, is he?' asked Mrs. Coppert; and Mary
thought she looked rather anxious. 'I suppose now he doesn't happen to
know you?'

'No,' answered Mary; 'but that doesn't matter,' she added.

'Well,' said Mrs. Coppert, 'just you listen to me. What you've got to do
is to walk nicely by my side as if you were coming willingly--none of
your crying or hanging back, or it'll be the worse for you.'

She released Mary's arm now, and for a few yards the child walked
quietly by her side, but as soon as the prince drew nearer, Mary ran
away from Mrs. Coppert and stopped right in front of him, looking up
anxiously into his face and holding the Magic Counter out for him to
take.

'Hullo!' he cried, looking a little amused, 'what's that for?'

'Take it, please,' said Mary, pressing it against his hand. 'Please take
it,' she said. 'I do want you to take it quickly,' and she glanced over
her shoulder at Mrs. Coppert, who had stopped in the middle of the road.

'Are you Mary Brown?' asked the prince, taking the Magic Counter in his
hand. For although he had never spoken to her, it is very likely he had
heard her story from Evangeline.

'Yes,' answered Mary, 'I'm Mary Brown, and this is Mrs. Coppert. She
wants to take me back to William Street and I don't want to go. And I
shan't have to go now, because you must send Mrs. Coppert away and take
me back to Sister Agatha.'

Then the prince looked at Mrs. Coppert and she made a curtsey. 'I
understood,' said the prince, 'that Miss Royal had arranged everything
satisfactorily with you.'

'It ain't very satisfactory to part with one you've been more than a
mother to,' answered Mrs. Coppert, and Mary thought her voice sounded as
if she were going to cry. 'You come along of me,' she added, seizing
Mary's arm again. But the prince would not allow this, and in fact Mary
did not feel in the least frightened now, because she had given him the
Magic Counter, you see! He lifted Mary Brown in his arms and carried her
towards the house, and as she looked back over his shoulder, she saw
Mrs. Coppert following some distance off. When the prince carried Mary
into the park Mrs. Coppert began to run, and her large face looked
redder and more shiny than ever. The prince carried Mary in at the front
door, and a lot of people who were pushing balls about on the green
table with long sticks left off to laugh at him.

But suddenly Evangeline appeared amongst them; Mary did not know where
she came from, but of course Evangeline could appear when and where she
pleased; and instead of laughing when she saw the prince with Mary in
his arms, she ran towards him looking very glad and whispering something
that Mary could not hear. Then Evangeline took her upstairs to the
bedroom, where she found Sister Agatha. Sister Agatha took Mary on her
knees and said she had done wrong to leave the garden, but she kissed
her instead of scolding her any more, and Mary liked it much better.

'Only you must never go away like that again,' she said. 'Because we did
not know what had happened to you, and you frightened us very much. But
still,' Sister Agatha added, 'even if Mrs. Coppert had taken you to
London, we should have come to fetch you away again.'



XII

EVANGELINE SAYS GOOD-BYE TO MARY BROWN


Mary felt greatly relieved to hear that Sister Agatha would have fetched
her away again if Mrs. Coppert had taken her to William Street, but
still she seemed tired after her adventure, and as soon as she finished
tea she was put to bed. She did not have very agreeable dreams that
night, and even the next morning she could think of nothing but Mrs.
Coppert.

When Evangeline came to see her during the afternoon, Mary looked up
wonderingly into her face and said--

'What I can't make out is how Mrs. Coppert knew where I was! How did she
know I was here?'

'If you sit down,' answered Evangeline, 'I will tell you a story.'

'Bring your stool close to me,' said Sister Agatha. And without losing a
moment, Mary carried her stool to Sister Agatha's side and sat down.
Then Evangeline began the story.

'Once upon a time there lived in London a young woman whom we will
call--what shall we call her? Suppose we say her name was Gertrude! She
lived in a large house and she had a lot of money, and she was very fond
of driving nice horses. One afternoon, being a little late, she drove
through the streets more quickly than she ought to have done. It was
growing dark, and as she drove along a narrow street she ran over a poor
little girl who was making mud-pies in the gutter, and knocked her down
and hurt her very much.

'At first Gertrude feared she was dead, for her face was quite white,
and her eyes were closed, and she neither spoke nor moved. But presently
she moved a little, although she did not open her eyes.

'Now Gertrude felt very sorry, especially because she knew she had been
to blame in driving too fast through the street, and she felt anxious to
do whatever she could to make Lucy--we will call the little girl
Lucy--quite well again. Of course a crowd soon collected to see what was
the matter, and some one in the crowd told Gertrude where Lucy lived.
But Gertrude thought the child would be more likely to get well if she
took her to her own house, so she sent one of her servants to Lucy's
friends to explain what had happened, but Lucy, herself, was put into
the carriage and driven away with Gertrude.

'When they reached the house Lucy was carried upstairs to a spare room
and put to bed, then a doctor was sent for, and when the doctor had gone
Gertrude wrote to the best woman she knew. This person used to be a
great friend of Gertrude's until she made up her mind to have nothing
more to do with such idle, good-for-nothing people. So she went away
from her friends and spent her life nursing poor folk who were sick.
Well, this person, whose name ought to have been Sister Benevolence,
agreed to take care of Lucy until the child grew strong again.

'But Gertrude feared she would never be quite so strong as she used to
be, and she felt very, very sorry about it. But, you see, she couldn't
undo what was done; she could only make up her mind to be much more
careful in the future. She saw Lucy's friends, who were not very nice
persons, and they said that Lucy had neither a father nor a mother, nor
anybody who really belonged to her, so--so Gertrude gave her friends
money, and they said she might keep Lucy at her house for ever.

'You must understand that Gertrude made up her mind that Lucy should not
go back to the place she had come from, but that as soon as she grew
better, she should be sent to school. But now I am going to tell you
both a little secret about Gertrude. She often said she would do things,
and yet when the time came she found she could not possibly do them. She
intended to be very good, and when she saw people unhappy she always
wanted to make them happy. Only she thought a great deal about her own
happiness too, and in thinking of herself she forgot the others, and
when she remembered them again, sometimes it was too late.

'So when Lucy grew stronger, and the doctor said she would soon be able
to walk quite nicely again, perhaps Gertrude did not think about her so
much as she had done at first. She was going to be married, you see, and
to live in a foreign country, and even if she sent Lucy to boarding
school, she did not know who was to look after her during the holidays.
But to tell you the truth, Gertrude had so many other things to think of
that she forgot all about Lucy's future, and although she would be going
away very soon now, nothing had been done to provide for the child.

'Then something happened to remind Gertrude how necessary it was that
Lucy should be taken care of after she went away, only she had so little
time left that she did not know in the least what to do.

'One day Lucy wandered out of the garden and into the road, where the
woman with whom she used to live saw her and wanted to take her back
again. Not that the woman was fond of Lucy; she only wanted to take her
away so that Gertrude should pay more money to get her back again.'

At this part of the story the door opened and a servant entered to say
that Evangeline was particularly wanted somewhere else, and rising from
her chair, Evangeline walked to the door.

'Please finish the story!' exclaimed Mary, running after her. 'I do want
to know how it ends and what became of Lucy!'

'My dear little girl,' answered Evangeline, 'it is a very difficult
story to finish. At all events, I cannot stay to finish it to-day,' and
she left the room, closing the door behind her.

Mary felt very deeply interested in the story, because she thought that
Lucy seemed rather like herself, and that Gertrude was like Evangeline.
Certainly Sister Benevolence was very much like Sister Agatha! Still
Mary did not feel very clear about it, because she had no recollection
of being knocked down and run over. If anything of that kind had
happened to her, surely she would have known all about it! At any rate
she felt the strongest interest in Lucy and she wanted to know what
became of her, and especially she would have liked to hear that she did
not go back to the place she had come from, which might be as bad as
William Street.

She did not see Evangeline any more that day, but the next afternoon she
came to the room to speak to Sister Agatha.

'Tell me the rest of the story now!' exclaimed Mary, taking hold of her
dress; 'I do want so much to hear how it ends.'

'What story is that?' asked Evangeline, and she seemed to have forgotten
all about it.

'Why, the story about Lucy and Gertrude and Sister Benevolence,' said
Mary, but Evangeline looked at her without answering for a few moments,
then she said--

'You must ask Sister Agatha. She can finish it better than I can.'

'Will you, Sister Agatha?' asked Mary, as Evangeline left the room.

'You know,' she answered, 'I never could tell tales out of my head. I
can't tell you to-day. You see how busy I am!'

'When will you tell me then?' cried Mary with a disappointed expression.

'After Evangeline has gone away,' said Sister Agatha.

'But when is she going?' asked Mary.

'Why, didn't you know she is to be married the day after to-morrow?'
said Sister Agatha.

Mary did not know it was to be quite so soon as that, and it made her
rather miserable to think that Evangeline would be going away almost
directly. But when Sister Agatha promised to take her to see the wedding
she looked more cheerful, for she liked to be taken to see things.

The day after to-morrow soon came, and long before the usual time for
breakfast, Sister Agatha drew up the blind to look at the weather. She
seemed very pleased to see how fine and sunny the morning was and she
put on Mary's lightest dress--the pale-blue one.

'Won't she come to see us before she starts?' asked Mary, when Sister
Agatha was ready.

'The idea of such a thing!' was the answer; 'you must wait until she
goes to the church.'

It seemed to Mary that she had to wait a long time, but when once she
had taken her seat in a pew, there was plenty to look at. The prince
stood at one end of the church, and Mary noticed how often he looked at
his watch. At the other end by the door were six little girls dressed
all alike in primrose colour, and Mary could not help wishing she was
one of them! The church became full, and everybody seemed to be very
smartly dressed, and nearly all the ladies carried large bunches of
flowers.

Presently the organ began to play, and then Evangeline walked along the
middle of the church holding an old gentleman's arm. She did not see
Mary or anybody else because she kept her eyes on the ground; but she
looked beautiful in her white dress, and she also carried a bunch of
flowers--the largest bunch Mary had ever seen. Mary would have clapped
her hands if Sister Agatha had not prevented her, but Sister Agatha
could not prevent her from asking--

'What are you crying for?'

'S--s--sh,' said Sister Agatha.

'Don't you want her to be married?' whispered Mary.

'Yes, of course I do,' was the answer.

'Then why are you crying?' asked Mary.

By this time Evangeline was standing at the prince's side, and a
clergyman was speaking, though Mary could not hear what he said. After a
long time the organ began to play again very loudly, and suddenly Mary
noticed that Evangeline had disappeared.

'Where has she gone to?' she asked.

'She will be back again directly,' answered Sister Agatha, and soon
afterwards Mary saw the prince, with Evangeline holding his arm, going
towards the door again, while some tiny children threw flowers on the
floor for them to walk upon.

Sister Agatha was almost the last to leave the church, and when Mary
reached the house again she saw a great many carriages before it. But
she was taken upstairs as usual, and after dining alone with Sister
Agatha she wanted to know what would happen next.

'We are going to see them start,' was the answer, and they went out of
doors a few minutes later. All the carriages had moved away into the
park, and only the small brown one with the four cream-coloured ponies
stood before the door. But a great crowd of people was there, and the
prince and Evangeline, who had changed her white dress for a dark one,
came out, and everyone seemed to want to kiss her. Some laughed and some
cried, and Mary felt inclined to do both at once.

'Isn't she going to say good-bye to us?' cried Mary, as Evangeline
stepped into the carriage and sat down. But Sister Agatha did not seem
to hear her. The prince also got into the carriage and took the reins,
then the ponies started and everybody began to cry, 'Hip, hip, hurrah!'
Mary saw Sister Agatha take something white from under her cloak and
throw it after the carriage. It looked like a slipper, only she could
not imagine why Sister Agatha should throw a slipper at Evangeline; it
hit her too!

'Why did you do that?' asked Mary.

'That,' said Sister Agatha in a curious voice. 'Oh! that is for luck:
God bless her.'

When the slipper fell into the carriage striking Evangeline's knees, she
looked round to see where it came from, and noticing Sister Agatha she
spoke to the prince, who laughed and stopped the ponies. Then Sister
Agatha took Mary's hand and ran to the carriage. Evangeline leaned
forward to kiss her and then she stooped to kiss Mary as well.

'I'm glad she said good-bye,' whispered Mary as the four cream-coloured
ponies started again, but Sister Agatha did not speak until after they
were indoors. 'Shan't I ever see her again?' asked Mary, as they entered
their own room.

'Never is a long day, you know, Sister Agatha answered; 'but certainly
neither of us will see her for many, many years.'

When Mary had taken off her hat she went downstairs to tea, and during
the meal she could talk about nothing but Evangeline and the wedding.
But when she had finished and the tea-things had been removed, she
brought her stool to Sister Agatha's side and looked up a little
wistfully into her face; she felt she had nobody but Sister Agatha now.

'Please tell me the end of the story about Lucy,' she said.

'To begin with,' answered Sister Agatha, 'I think Evangeline made a
little mistake. I don't fancy the little girl's name was Lucy after all.
I think it must have been Mary.'

'Was it Mary Brown?' asked Mary, with her eyes very widely open.

'Yes,' said Sister Agatha.

'I--I wondered whether it was,' said Mary solemnly.

'And,' Sister Agatha continued, 'I rather think that Sister Benevolence
should have been called Sister Agatha, although it isn't nearly such a
nice name.'

'I thought it was you,' answered Mary.

'Well,' said Sister Agatha, 'Mary was a dear little girl and Sister
Agatha grew very fond of her. And when Evangeline was very busy and
didn't know quite what to do with her--why Sister Agatha thought it was
time to put her thinking-cap on.'

'Is it like the cap you've got on now?' asked Mary, staring up at Sister
Agatha's white cap.

'When I think I generally take that off,' said Sister Agatha, 'and after
to-morrow I don't think I shall wear it again. Well, I put my thinking
cap on, and I began to wonder whether I could manage to keep you with me
always.'

'Oh!' exclaimed Mary, and she seemed to be hugging herself as if she
felt very pleasant indeed.

'And,' Sister Agatha said, 'after thinking about it a long time, I
fancied that perhaps I _could_ keep you with me always.'

'Here!' cried Mary. 'Should we live here?'

'No, we are going away from here to-morrow,' was the answer.

'Where to?' asked Mary.

'Suppose, now, we take a nice little house somewhere near the sea,' said
Sister Agatha.

'I should like that!' cried Mary.

'I think I should like it too,' answered Sister Agatha. 'Because I shall
always have some one to look after, and I like looking after people. And
we shall grow very fond of each other, sometimes we shall play on the
sands, or row on the sea, and then I shall teach you to read and write,
and when you can read you will begin to see what a wonderful world you
live in--and you will find that life is far more wonderful than any
fairy-tale.'

'Shall I?' asked Mary, and rising from her stool, she stood leaning
against Sister Agatha's knees. 'But, still,' she said presently, 'you'll
be there, won't you?'

'Why, of course I shall be there,' said Sister Agatha.

'And you won't go away the same as Evangeline!'

'No,' said Sister Agatha with a smile; 'that is not at all likely.'

'And,' said Mary looking up anxiously into her face, 'you'll never send
me away either?'

'No, I shall never send you away either,' answered Sister Agatha, and
she placed her arms round Mary Brown and drew the child's head on to her
shoulder. It rested there a long time, and Mary felt quite contented and
not at all anxious any more.

The next day they were driven to the station with their luggage, and
they travelled to a small town by the seaside. At first they lived in
lodgings, but presently Sister Agatha took a pretty house of her own; it
had a nice garden where Mary likes to sit reading on summer afternoons.
She can read easily now, if Sister Agatha tells her the meanings of the
long words, and she has grown so tall that Mrs. Coppert would hardly
recognise her if she saw her. But I don't think Mrs. Coppert will ever
see Mary again.

THE END



The Dumpy Books for Children

Selected by E. V. LUCAS. Each with End-papers specially designed by Mrs.
FARMILOE

I. THE FLAMP, THE AMELIORATOR, and THE SCHOOLBOY'S APPRENTICE. _Written
by E. V. LUCAS_

II. MRS. TURNER'S CAUTIONARY STORIES

III. THE BAD FAMILY, _by Mrs. Fenwick_

IV. LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, _by Helen Bannerman_. With Pictures in colours
by the Author.

V. THE BOUNTIFUL LADY, _by Thomas Cobb_

VI. THE CAT BOOK, _by Rickman Mark_. With Thirty Pictures _by H. Officer
Smith_



CHILDREN'S BOOKS

A BOOK OF VERSES FOR CHILDREN. Compiled by E. V. LUCAS. With Title-page
and End-Papers designed by F. D. BEDFORD.

HELEN'S BABIES. By JOHN HABBERTON.

PALEFACE AND REDSKIN. And Other Stories for Boys and Girls. By F.
ANSTEY, Author of 'VICE VERSA.'

TOM UNLIMITED: A STORY FOR CHILDREN. By GRANT ALLEN (MARTIN LEACH
WARBOROUGH).

COOPER'S FIRST TERM: A STORY FOR BOYS. By THOMAS COBB, Author of 'MR.
PASSINGHAM.'

THE CHILD'S COOKERY BOOK. By LOUISA S. TATE. Dedicated to H.R.H.
PRINCESS CHRISTIAN OF SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN.

LITTLE BERTHA. By W. J. STILLMAN, Author of 'BILLY AND HANS.'

RAG, TAG, AND BOBTAIL. With Thirty Illustrations in Colours by Mrs.
FARMILOE, and Verses by WINIFRED PARNELL.

ALL THE WORLD OVER. With Thirty Illustrations in Colours by Mrs.
FARMILOE, and Verses by E. V. LUCAS.

THE BOOK OF SHOPS. With Illustrations in Colours by F. D. BEDFORD, and
Verses by E. V. LUCAS.

WONDERFUL WILLIE! WHAT HE AND TOMMY DID TO SPAIN. Written and
Illustrated in Colours by L. D. BRADLEY.





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