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Title: Old Farm Fairies: - A Summer Campaign In Brownieland Against King Cobweaver's Pixies
Author: McCook, Henry Christopher
Language: English
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Transcriber's Notes:

1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

2. Passages in bold are surrounded by =equals=.

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OLD FARM FAIRIES.


A SUMMER CAMPAIGN IN BROWNIELAND
AGAINST
KING COBWEAVER'S PIXIES.


A Story for Young People,
BY
HENRY CHRISTOPHER MCCOOK,
AUTHOR OF
"Tenants of an Old Farm," "American Spiders and Their Spinningwork,"
etc., etc.


ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY ILLUSTRATIONS.


PHILADELPHIA:
GEORGE W. JACOBS & CO.,
103 South 15th Street.
A. D. 1895.


Copyright, 1895,
by
Henry Christopher McCook.


PRESS OF
AVIL PRINTING COMPANY,
PHILADELPHIA.


                    In Tender Recollection of
       Boyhood's Home, Loves, Joys, and Trials Among the Hills
                       of ever dear Ohio,
                      I dedicate this Book
                             to the
                      MEMORY OF MY BROTHER
                     RODERICK SHELDON MCCOOK
                Late Commander United States Navy.
  An able, honorable and patriotic officer, he waxed valiant in fight
                      both on sea and land
              for his Country's honor and defence.
                         On this page
              The Author would keep green his Name
                            as the
          Roommate, Playmate and Companion of Early Days.



CONTENTS.

                                                             PAGE
PREFACE                                                         v
INTRODUCTION                                                 viii

CHAPTER
     I. HOW THE BROWNIES CAME TO HILLSIDE                       3
    II. SPITE THE SPY                                          11
   III. ADVENTURES OF THE BROWNIE SCOUTS                       19
    IV. THE BROWNIES VISIT GOVERNOR WILLE                      36
     V. MADAM BREEZE COMES TO THE RESCUE                       42
    VI. ATTACK ON THE OLD LODGE                                50
   VII. HOW THE FORT WAS SAVED                                 58
  VIII. THE SANITARY CORPS                                     74
    IX. NIGHT WATCHES                                          82
     X. THE GOLDEN MOTTOES                                     95
    XI. ON THE TRAIL                                          101
   XII. THE LOST TRAIL                                        106
  XIII. RAFT THE SMUGGLER                                     110
   XIV. A PALACE AND A PRISON                                 118
    XV. A PIXIE INSURRECTION                                  125
   XVI. BROWNIES ON A LARK                                    139
  XVII. HOW THE LARK ENDED                                    153
 XVIII. WOOED BUT NOT WON                                     170
   XIX. A BATTLE ON LAKE KATRINE                              179
    XX. A NAVAL MONSTER                                       192
   XXI. THE CHARGE OF ENSIGN LAWE                             203
  XXII. "HAIR-BREADTH 'SCAPES BY FLOOD AND FIELD"             210
 XXIII. A GHOST STORY                                         228
  XXIV. THE WISDOM OF THE PIXIES                              240
   XXV. BLYTHE'S FLUTE                                        246
  XXVI. THE HAUNTED GROUND                                    259
 XXVII. THE DISENCHANTMENT                                    268
XXVIII. OUT OF THE PIT                                        276
  XXIX. BREAKING CAMP                                         287
   XXX. THE GRAND ALLIANCE WITH SCALY, TWIST AND SLYMOUSIE    298
  XXXI. HOME AGAIN                                            321
 XXXII. ENSIGN LAWE'S MISSION                                 340
XXXIII. HOW THE MISSION ENDED                                 359

APPENDIX                                                      385



PREFACE.


This preface shall be a personal explanation. The following book was
written during the winter of 1876-77, more than eighteen years ago. Its
origin was in this wise: Some of my readers will know that for more than
twenty years I have studied the habits of our spider fauna. During the
first years of these studies, the thought came to me to write a book for
youth wherein my observations should be personified in the imaginary
creatures of fairy lore, and thus float into the young mind some of my
natural history findings in such pleasant form that they would be
received quite unconsciously, and at least an impression thereof
retained with sufficient accuracy to open the way to more serious
lessons in the future.

It further seemed to me that the fairies of Scotland, with whom I had
been familiar from childhood, might afford vivid personalities for my
plan. Accordingly, the spiders were assigned the part of Pixies or
goblins, the ill-natured fairies of Scotland and Northern England. The
Brownies, or friendly folk, the "gude neebours," or household fairies,
were made to personify those insect forms, especially those useful to
man, against which spiders wage continual war. Moreover, to express the
relations of the lower creatures to human life, and their actual as well
as imaginary interdependence, human characters were introduced, and
conflicts between Pixies and Brownies were interwoven with their
behaviour.

This purely personal statement has been intruded upon the reader to
explain that the Brownies, as represented in this book, are not
imitations. They antedated, by a number of years, the popular creations
of Mr. Palmer Cox. The writer well understands as a naturalist that
priority depends not upon originality of intention or invention, or even
of preparation, but upon precedence in publication. It will be found,
however, that my conception and treatment of these wee folk differ from
those of Mr. Cox. As they appear to me from the recollections of
childhood, they have a more serious aspect, a more human-like nature,
which ought not to be wholly sacrificed to their jovial characteristics.
I have therefore presented the Brownies as beings with humanized
affections, passions and methods reflected in miniature.

I confess some qualms, on the scientific side of my conscience, at
compelling my friends, the spiders, to play the part of Pixies. But
there seemed no other course out of regard both to common belief and the
necessity imposed by the facts. As I went on with the work, I wondered
at the ductility with which the current habits of the aranead tribes
yielded to personification. The water spiders permitted the introduction
of smugglers, pirates and sailors; the burrowing and trapdoor spiders
opened up tales of caves and subterranean abodes; the ballooning spiders
permitted an adaptation of modern military methods of reconnoissance;
and so on through a long list of aranead habits.

In order to make this more apparent, and to give adult readers, parents
and teachers, and the older class of youthful readers, a scientific key
to the various situations, brief notes have been added in an Appendix,
to which foot-note references have been made in most of the chapters.
Moreover, the natural habits personified are interpreted by figures set
into the text with no explanation but the legend written thereunder.

The crudely drawn cuts which figure in the pages as "The Boy's
Illustrations" are exact reproductions of sketches made by a lad in my
own family, between eight and nine years old, to whom, with others, the
manuscript was read as a sort of test of its quality. Encouraged by the
advice of one of the keenest and most sympathetic students of child life
in America, I have ventured to give a few of these drawings to the
public, as a curious study in the operations of child-mind.

I had agreed with myself not to print the Brownie Book until my
scientific work upon the spiders was finished, and the manuscript
remained untouched until the winter of 1885-6. At that time I seemed to
see the nearing end of my studies, and portions of the Brownie-Pixie
story were distributed to various artists, among them Mr. Dan. C. Beard
and Mr. Harry L. Poore. Some of the illustrations at that time made,
appear in the following pages, bearing date 1886. "Tenants of an Old
Farm" had now appeared, and was so well received that it was thought
advisable to connect this book with that by an "Introductory Chapter"
intended for older readers, and which gives the key to the motive of the
story. Early in 1886 I recalled all contracts and arrangements for
publication, as a prolonged sickness compelled me to drop scientific
work and defer the issue of the "American Spiders." On the very day that
the binders placed the first finished copy of the third and last volume
of that work in my hands, the "copy" of "Old Farm Fairies" went to the
printer.

                                                    H. C. McC.

THE MANSE, PHILADELPHIA, _May 21, A. D. 1895._



THE INTRODUCTION.



AN INTRODUCTION.

[Illustration: pointing finger] This Chapter is for Grownups only.
Children will please skip it.


THE SCHOOLMISTRESS AND THE FAIRIES.


In the south yard of the Old Farm at Highwood there stands a noble Elm
tree. Its massive proportions, the stately pose of its furrowed trunk
and the graceful outlines of its drooping branches have often drawn my
pleased eyes and awakened admiration. There is nothing in Nature that
better serves to stir up human enthusiasm than a fine tree; and as our
vicinage for miles around abounds in worthy examples of American forest
growths, there is ample opportunity for such sentiment to be kept aglow
in the hearts of the Tenants at the Old Farm. Yet it must be confessed
that there is also occasion at times for a kindling of quite another
sort, when the stupidity, perversity, and penuriousness of men wage a
vandal war against the noble monarchs of the woods.

The fall of a huge tree is a touching sight. See! the trunk trembles
upon the last few fibres that stand in the gap which the axman has made.
A shiver runs through the foliage to the summit and circumference of the
branches. The tree-top bows with slightest trace of a lurch to one
side. Then it sinks--slowly, faster, fast! With no undignified rush, but
with a stately sweep it descends to the earth. Crash! The ground
trembles at the fall. The nethermost branches in their breakage explode
sharply like a farewell volley of soldiers over a comrade's grave.
Boughs, twigs and leaves vibrate, as with a passionate earnestness of
grief, for a few moments, and then are still. There, prone upon the
forest mould the glorious monarch lies, majestic even in its fallen
estate. A few bunches of human muscle, a keen steel edge and a scant
fraction of time have destroyed two centuries of Nature's cunning work.

Well, one is inclined to so vary the version of a certain Scripture Text
that it shall read "a man was infamous" rather than "a man was famous
according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees."[A]

Of course Mr. Gladstone, and the multitude of undistinguished axmen who
delight to fall a tree, have an honorable and lawful vocation. Trees
ripen, like other animate things, and when they are full ripe they may
be felled; when their time has come they ought to fall; when the
exigencies of higher intelligences truly require, they also must fall
before their time. But, this brings no justification of that murderous
idiocy which sets so many citizen sovereigns of America to slaughtering
the grand sovereigns of the plant world.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.--The Forest Monarch's Fall. The Brownie's Grief
and Anger Thereat.]

However, all this perhaps has little to do with our great Elm, except,
that one must be grateful that it has been spared to cause the eyes to
rejoice in its beauty and to refresh us with its shade. We built a
rustic seat, against its trunk, and there in the warm summer days and
evenings which succeeded the winter of our coming to the Old Farm, I was
wont to sit and meditate, and sometimes doze. It was a favorite spot
with me, but others of the family often shared it with me, or enjoyed it
by themselves. This will well enough introduce a matter which I have now
to lay before the reader. It came to me from the Schoolmistress, who, I
venture to hope, is not forgotten by the readers of "The Tenants of An
Old Farm."

   My dear Mr. Mayfield:

   The package that I herewith send you has a strange history which
   I beg to recite ere you break the wrappings and examine the
   contents of the parcel.

   It happened during one of the warm days of last June that I sat
   on the rustic bench under the Great Elm and read Mr. Lowell's
   "Vision of Sir Launfal." I closed the book and thought, with an
   exquisite sense of its beauty and fitness, upon the poet's
   opening verses which contain a description of June, and in which
   are these lines:

       "'Tis Heaven alone that is given away,
        'Tis only God may be had for the asking;
         There is no price set on the lavish Summer,
         And June may be had by the poorest comer."

   As I conned the words my eyes slowly wandered along the
   landscape, and my heart rejoiced in the royal bounty of beauty
   which the poet sings. Then my vision returned to the objects just
   around me, and gradually became fixed upon some of the living
   things about which you have kindly told us so much new and
   interesting. Indeed, they seemed already like old friends, and I
   watched with keen zest their various movements.

   How bright everything was, and how peaceful the tone of Nature!
   Butterflies flitted by, beating the air in their leisurely way,
   then rested on leaf or flower while they opened and closed their
   wings with graceful, fanlike movements. The winged Hymenoptera
   dashed by with the sharp, quick wingstroke of their kind, or hung
   humming above the flowers. Honey-bees, Carpenter-bees,
   Digger-wasps, the blue Mud-dauber, the brown Paper-wasp, Hornets
   and Yellow-jackets were busy at their various occupations. One
   dusted pollen into its "basket;" another dumped aromatic pellets
   of sawdust from a cedar rail; another scooped up mandible
   hodfulls of mortar at the edge of the brook; others plucked
   chiplets of old wood from a weathered fence post; all seemed
   happy, and devoted to peaceful industry.

   The great green Grasshopper was in hearing, if not in sight, the
   veritable "hopper" whose long threadlike antennæ and wedge shaped
   head you have taught us to recognize as marking the true from the
   so called grasshopper or locust. He sat upon the tall grass on
   the bank of the Run close by the spring house, and shrilled his
   piping love call to his mate. The annual Cicada, too ("Pruinosa"
   you called it), was sounding his amorous drum from the trees with
   a volume and sharpness of sound that far exceed those of his
   cousin german the Seventeen Year Cicada. His silent ladylove
   might occasionally be seen flitting from bough to bough. An
   Orbweaving spider's web was spun upon an adjacent bush, and three
   courtiers were established at different parts of the margin of
   the snare awaiting the complaisance of Madam Aranea the
   housekeeper. Near my feet a bevy of Fuscous Ants[B] were tugging
   with great to-do at a crumb of sweet cake, while their fellow
   formicarians were equally concerned in covering and screening the
   gate of their nest that lay to the right under the verge of the
   Elm's shadow. Birds of several species were near by; Robins
   whistled in the meadow, a Vireo sang in the tree tops, Sparrows
   twittered around the birdcote; Hens cackled in the barnyard, and
   wakened the hearty, answering "Tuk-aw, tuk-aw!" of the big red
   Rooster. Out in the lane Sarah's conch shell was sending a
   melodious call to Hugh whom the Mistress had bidden her to summon
   from the wood pasture. The whole aspect of Nature, indeed, was so
   charming that I was soothed into a delicious repose of body and
   mind.

   I am conscious, dear Sir, that I shall lay a heavy tax upon your
   credulity by what I am now to relate. Or, perhaps, you will smile
   and say that your friend Abby has fallen to dreams and visions,
   and like some of her young pupils has imagination so little
   disciplined as to be quite unable to distinguish between a vivid
   waking fancy or dream of sleep, and a real occurrence. Very well,
   I must bear your unbelief as best I may, and at all events you
   will listen to my story.

   Will you believe that among the Tenants of our Old Farm is a
   nation of Fairies? You have not suspected their existence
   heretofore; but then, neither did I suspect that legions of
   curious beings are all around us until the wand of your knowledge
   had touched my eyes, and opened them to the wonderful life
   histories that are being wrought out among our fellow tenants of
   the insect world.

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 2.--Queen Fancy and the Schoolmistress.[C]]

   Such, at least, was my own thought as I saw several wee dainty
   bodies spring from the backs of some Honey-bees hovering over the
   white clover, after the fashion of a rider dismounting from his
   horse, and another group alight from a bevy of yellow Butterflies
   that fluttered low down and just above the walk. They were joined
   by many others of like appearance, who suddenly emerged from the
   grass, from the flower border, from the drooping leaves of the
   Elm, and approached me. They clambered up the English Ivy that
   clings to the south side of the tree; they climbed upon the
   rustic bench, and a few even ventured upon the gnarled arm
   against which my elbow rested. This seemed a novel occurrence,
   certainly; but I assure you that I was rather pleased than
   surprised thereby, for it at once linked itself with your strange
   histories of insects, and seemed a natural and matter-of-course
   affair. Really, I have come to think that Nature has so many rare
   and beautiful facts hidden away in her secret places that one
   must never be surprised to see or hear of the most marvelous
   happenings. One of the brightest and most prettily robed of these
   tiny people, who seemed to be a sort of queen among them, drew
   quite near and addressed me.

   "You are not alarmed at our appearance. Good! Fairies do not
   visit those who doubt or fear them. We are pleased to see you
   smile upon us. Thanks! We give you greeting! Would you like to
   know who we are? Yes? Well, we are called Brownies. Our folk came
   from Scotland. You know where that is?"

   "Oh, yes," I replied, speaking, I suppose, quite mechanically,
   "Scotland is the northern part of the island of Great Britain; it
   is bounded on the south by England, on the east by the Ger----"

   "Never mind the boundary," interrupted the Brownie with a
   dainty, tinkling laugh, "we are not a Schoolmistress and her
   Committee, and you needn't say your lesson now. It's enough for
   us that you know where Scotland is,--the dear auld land o' cakes!
   We're Scotch fairies--Brownies."

   "But how came you here?" I asked.

   "Oh! there's nothing odd about that; we follow our wandering
   Sawnies wherever they go. We have all been interested with you in
   Mr. Mayfield's accounts of insect life, and have been present at
   many of your walks and talks when you little suspected such
   company. Ah! we could give the Tenant some hints well worth
   following up! Although, he does very well, very well indeed! But
   we wish you to know that there are other tenants on the old farm
   than those Mr. Mayfield knows. _We_ are here, you see! And,
   alack-a-day! there are other folk here not so agreeable as we!"

   "Many thanks," I said, "for the pleasure of your acquaintance. I
   am delighted and honored by your action, Madam--Madam? what shall
   I call you?"

   "Fancy; Queen Fancy, if you please; so I am called, although, to
   be sure, there is not much royal state among our folk."

   "I beg your pardon, Madam Fancy! And now I--fancy that I can
   explain the beautiful repose that lies over the face of Nature in
   this royal month of June. I have just been meditating upon it
   with delight. How peaceful, how lovely in their peacefulness are
   all things around us! Yes, I see how it is! The good Brownies are
   abroad upon the landscape, and they have thrown the light and
   sweetness of their own natures upon these scenes. What a happy
   people you are, free from all conflict and care, and how happy
   those who feel the spell of your influence!"

   "Oh! O-o-oh!" A chorus of exclamations uttered in a deprecating
   tone broke from the whole Brownie company.

   I started, and looked around surprised beyond measure at this
   outburst of protesting voices. Then followed a moment of silence.

   Queen Fancy spoke at last. "Yes, it is just as I supposed," she
   said. "You are yet a novice in Nature lore. You have much to
   learn, all you mortals have, ere you can know the true life of
   the inferior creatures. There is another side to Nature, I assure
   you, a very sad side, too. Come, I must teach you to read between
   the lines!"

   She touched me with a tiny staff or wand. My mind at once was
   wide awake and all its faculties more alert than usual. But,
   curiously, the Brownies had disappeared! I wondered at this, but
   presently a series of incidents caught my attention which for the
   time quite banished all thought of my new acquaintances.

   A long line of Sanguine Ants,[D] the Red Slavemakers, filed by me
   in irregular columns and crossed the walk to their nest which, as
   you know, is placed close by the fence nearly opposite the barn.
   The warriors carried in their jaws the plunder of a nest of
   Fuscous Ants which I have already said lies to the right under
   the verge of the Elm's shadow. Some warriors had yellowish
   cocoons, some white larvæ, a few carried the bodies (living or
   dead I could not determine) of their victims, and several bore
   upon their legs the severed heads of the poor blacks who had been
   slain in defence of their home, and whose decapitated heads still
   clung to their foes fixed in the rigor of death. I rose and
   followed up the column of Sanguines to the nest which they were
   plundering. Some of the kidnappers were plunging into the opened
   gates, others issuing therefrom laden with their stolen booty,
   others were engaged in fierce battle with groups of the invaded
   Fuscas. Only a few of the latter were inclined to fight. They
   seemed, for the most part, dazed by their misfortune. Numbers
   hung to the topmost leaves and stalks of the surrounding grass
   and weeds, holding in their jaws baby larvæ and cocoon cradles
   rescued from the invaders, with which they had hurriedly fled to
   the nearest elevated objects. It was truly a pitiful sight, and I
   began to wax indignant at the Sanguine wretches who could work
   such domestic misery and ruin.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--A Red Slavemaker Ant with its Plunder.]

   "Ah!" said a faint voice close by my ear, "yet this is Nature!"

   I could see no one, but recognized the tone of Queen Fancy.
   "True, most true!" I thought, and looked further. A little way
   from the Fuscas' nest, just outside the circle of confusion, I
   saw a solitary ant of an amber hue, the Schaufuss ant,[E] which
   you have told us is also sometimes enslaved. She was moving back
   and forth with cautious mien, and I easily perceived was putting
   finishing touches to the closure of a little hole that marked the
   gate of her formicary hut. A tiny pebble was placed, then a few
   pellets of soil were added. Then the worker walked away, took a
   few turns as though surveying the surroundings, and cautiously
   came back. The coast was clear! Now she deftly crawled into the
   small open space, and I could see from the movements inside, and
   an occasional glimpse of a tip of her antennæ, that she was
   completing the work of concealment from the inside. At last her
   task was done, and all was quiet. Just then a single Sanguine
   warrior, perhaps a straggler from the invaders' army, or some
   independent scout, it may be, approached the spot. It walked
   about the nest, which certainly looked much like the surrounding
   surface; sounded or felt here and there with its antennæ; passed
   over the very door into which the Schaufuss ant had disappeared,
   and although it evidently had its suspicion awakened, at last
   moved away.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--"It was Swathed Like a Mummy at Last"
(p. xxiii).]

   "Good!" I exclaimed heartily. "Baffled, Sir Sanguine, baffled! I
   am glad that the instinct of home protection has proved too much
   for your wretched kidnapping cunning!"

   "Aye, aye!" again spoke the voice of my unseen fairy, "baffled
   this time, perhaps. But can you be sure that the slaveholder
   scout will not be back again, with a host of its fellows, and do
   its work more surely?"

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--The Orbweaver Captured by a Wasp.]

   I had not thought of that, and indeed, I was pained to think it
   when suggested. Now I left the two nests, the plundered one and
   its preserved neighbor, and followed the column of Sanguines
   which stretched a nearly straight line of red and black for
   several rods, to their home. The kidnappers were bearing their
   prey into the open gates. Look at this! Crowds of blacks in a
   high state of agitation came forth to meet and greet the
   plunderers of their own fellows! Yes, these were the domesticated
   slaves of the Sanguines, themselves Fuscous ants, the same
   species and perhaps from the very nest that was now being
   desolated. And there they were rejoicing in the booty, welcoming
   home the robbers, and if naturalists tell us truly, had even
   urged them forth upon the Expedition.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--"The Clay Sarcophagus on Yonder Barn."]

   "That's the worst of all!" I exclaimed aloud, unable to suppress
   my indignation. "One might find excuse for the Sanguines, but for
   this unnatural behavior--"

   "Unnatural!" echoed the unseen Brownie Queen, "unnatural? No,
   this, too, is Nature. You are only reading between the poet's
   lines of peaceful beauty. You will learn your lesson by and by."

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--"For a Ravenous Wasp Larva to Devour."]

   I went back to the rustic seat beneath the Elm, and thought. A
   butterfly flew by. I followed its flight. "Oh! that is too bad!"
   I cried involuntarily. It had struck the snare of the Orbweaving
   spider. It struggled helplessly in the toils. Swiftly the aranead
   sped from its pretty leafy tent along its trap line, and in a
   moment seized and began swathing its victim. A thick ribbon of
   pure white silk streamed from the spinnerets, and enwrapped the
   butterfly round and round as it was revolved by the spider's
   feet. It was swathed like a mummy at last, and left lashed and
   hanging to the cross lines, while its captor mounted to her nest
   and began leisurely to haul up the captive preparatory to a
   sumptuous meal.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--The Cicada Wasp, Sphecius speciosus.]

   My pity had hardly time to express itself ere another insect form
   swept by. It was a blue wasp, a Mud-dauber. It flew to the
   Orbweaver's web. Another victim? It is within the toils! The
   spider leaves her prey and darts along the trap line. What? will
   she not venture? No! she recoils. But too late! The Wasp has
   seized her, plunged its sharp sting into her body, and shaking
   the bits of web from its feet flies away. I know what that means.
   The clay sarcophagus on yonder barn wall shall receive another
   morsel of preserved meat for a ravenous wasp larva to devour.

   What had I to say about this incident? This; I found myself
   unconsciously asking, "What will destroy the Wasp, in its turn?"
   But I had no leisure to meditate an answer. A beautiful creature
   flitted past me, whose colors of orange and black were distinct
   even in flight. It was the fine, large Digger-wasp,[F] the
   largest of that family among our indigenous insects. Just then
   from the branch of a small oak a Cicada sounded his rolling love
   call. A note not very melodious to human ear, it is true, but it
   throbs with the passion of affection, and must have been sweet
   music to his mate on the branch near by. Unlucky lover! your love
   sonnet has sounded your doom. It shall be your death song. See!
   my beautiful Wasp has pounced upon the amorous Cicada, and
   pierced and paralyzed like the spider before him, he is being
   borne to a grave in that grassy bank. There, in the Wasp's
   burrow, buried alive though with a semblance of death, he shall
   feed the maw of a hungry worm.

   "It is mother love!" exclaimed the unseen Brownie Queen, sadly I
   thought and tenderly. "But mother love seems cruel sometimes; and
   it alone has not taught the Wasp to spare the mating love of its
   fellow insects."

   This is not all that I saw, but this is such as I saw on that
   memorable occasion. My experience started a train of meditation
   that was the reverse of agreeable. But what could I say? I had
   been observing the facts of Nature, nothing more nor less. I
   looked away over the landscape again and my feelings were not
   what they were before. Underneath the surface of all this beauty
   and summer repose I seemed to feel the beating of a fevered
   pulse. Yes, the Doctor of the Gentiles spake truly: "The whole
   creation groaneth and travaileth in pain."[G] Yes, I was
   beginning to read between the lines! Verily, I perceived that the
   insect world in the matter of anxiety, struggles and sufferings,
   in passions of love, hate and covetousness, is after all in some
   sort a miniature of our own world of human beings.

   I do not know how long I sat pondering these things, but I was
   presently conscious that my Brownie friends had returned.

   "You have changed your opinion about some of the inferior
   creatures, have you not?" began Queen Fancy. "I know that it must
   be so. And now it remains for you to change your opinion about
   us. You think we are perfectly happy, never touched by such
   conflicts and cares as mortals and insects have. No! it is with
   us as it is with you and all the rest. One idea runs through all
   Nature and all her creatures high and low. All alike, from gnats
   and fairies to mastodons and men, have friends and foes, perils
   and pleasures, pains and joys, loves and hates, bitter
   disappointments and proud attainments; watchings, cares, strifes,
   battles, defeats, heart desolations, sickness, oppressions,
   despoilment, death--all these and the reverse of all these happen
   to us all."

   "It is true!" I answered, "I see now that it is quite true. The
   fact that creatures are small and unknown to us, and outside our
   ordinary region of feeling and thought, does not hinder them from
   having joys and sorrows, trials and triumphs even as we have. I
   will never think of Nature again, and of the insect world in
   particular, without remembering this double side of its life
   history."

   "That is very good," said Queen Fancy, "and now we wish you to
   remember also that Brownies are a part of Nature and share the
   general rule. Our lives are so interwoven with all natural
   surroundings, and with yourselves as well, that we feel keenly
   everything that goes on around us. But enough for this time. I
   promised you something further about our history. Now I make the
   promise good. I am to deliver to you the records of some of our
   kin which have lately fallen into our hands. You will read them;
   write them out carefully, and give them to Mr. Mayfield to edit
   and print. Nobody can do that so well as he. Indeed, his name and
   his stories about our Old Farm Tenants have gone among our people
   on the far Ohio border; and that is the reason why these records
   of the Brownies and their wars have been sent hither to be given
   into his care. There, I have done."

   Queen Fancy clapped her hands and a herald at her side blew upon
   a tiny shell, a wee miniature, for all the world, of the conch
   shell which Sarah the cook blows for dinner. Suddenly, a vast
   host of little folk issued from the grass plat along the slope
   toward the springhouse. They were arranged rank upon rank, whole
   companies in column, and they all were drawing at ropes no bigger
   than a lady's hair. Presently, I saw the round top of a rolled
   parcel emerge above the summit of the slope. It moved slowly, and
   I was puzzled to know by what force it was impelled, until I saw
   that it was mounted upon a toy cart which was being drawn by the
   Brownie host. On the night before I had been reading (it was a
   curious coincidence!) Wilkinson's account of the Ancient
   Egyptians, and had been especially interested in the manner in
   which their bulky architecture had been reared, and particularly
   in a picture that showed a colossal stone statue of some
   sovereign being drawn upon a sled by an army of laborers. The
   Brownie exploit reminded me of these old Egyptians. Here were the
   little folk of our Old Farm showing mimic reproduction of life on
   the Nile in the days of Abraham! Strange!

   The Brownie host never stopped until the parcel reached my feet.
   Then the Queen called a halt, and, turning to me, said: "Abby,
   Schoolmistress, we commit this precious roll to you. Receive it
   as a sacred trust; do our will concerning it, and be forevermore
   the Brownies' good friend." She clapped her hands, the herald
   blew his shell bugle, and in a moment the entire host had melted
   away into the foliage and were lost to sight.

[Illustration: (handwritten) NOTICE (pointing hand) 52 Brownies here.

THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 9.--Brownies Bringing the Roll of Records.]

   I have not seen them since, but I have tried to fulfill my part
   of the trust which came to me so curiously in the drowsy hours of
   that June day, and now I deliver my work to you that you in turn
   may fulfill your portion of the apportioned duty. That you will
   not fail is the confident hope of

                                    Your obedient servant,

                                                ABBY BRADFORD.

"What do you think of that?" I asked, as I finished Abby's letter, for I
had read it aloud to the Mistress.

"Perhaps," said the Mistress, looking up from her embroidery, "we had
better open the parcel."

A familiar twinkle colored her smile, that raised a momentary suspicion
that she perhaps knew something more of the contents than she chose to
tell. The advice was good, albeit deftly dodging my question, so I cut
the wrappings and exposed a roll of fair manuscript. "It is a story," I
remarked, after glancing over the pages, "a sort of historical fairy
tale, I fancy. But, hold! what is this?" My eye had fallen upon some
sentences that arrested attention, and I read several continuous pages.

The Mistress interrupted the reading: "Well, what has interested you?
And what have you to say about the whole affair?"

"I have been reading here a curious adaptation of the habits of my
spider pets, and it is neatly put. And here is another of the same
sort." I turned to a chapter further on, and read with great
satisfaction a few pages more. "Really," I exclaimed, "the natural
history is good, and is fairly inwoven with the tale. I have changed my
opinion of the work; it is evidently an attempt to bring out some of the
most interesting habits of our American spider fauna by personifying
them with the imaginary creatures of fairy lore. You want to know my
opinion of the matter? As to the manuscript I shall not, of course,
venture an opinion until I have read it with some care. As to the
author--well, perhaps you can tell better than I. When did Abby write
it?"

The Mistress waited a moment or two and then in her quiet way replied,
"Pray, how should I know? Abby is of age, ask her; she can speak for
herself."

Thus the affair of the Brownie records rested until I had gone over the
manuscript more carefully. Then the Mistress was again consulted.

"Will you print the papers?" she asked.

"I am in doubt what to do. I think that it might find a kindly welcome,
but--I fear the verdict of the public, especially the clientage upon
whose favor its fate most depends--the young people. Though, to be sure,
it is evidently not written wholly for them."

"I have a suggestion," the Mistress remarked. "Let us take two evenings
in the week and read it to our farm people. They form a typical
audience, I am sure, and their judgment will be a fair test of the
possible verdict of the public at large."

"The very idea!" I cried. "You have come to my help, my dear, with your
usual practical wisdom. Let us have the readings."

Behold us, then, the entire Old Farm family, with the exception of Abby,
who was absent on a visit to New England friends, seated around the
great Elm during the long June evenings, trying the merits of the
Fairies' history. When the early tea was over, we took our seats (or
rather positions, for some of the party preferred to recline upon the
grass), around the tree, and the reading began, and continued until
twilight. Sometimes I read, sometimes the Mistress, and in three weeks
the story was finished.

"Now for the verdict," I said. "The children first. What say you? Shall
we print the Brownie book?"

"To be sure," said Joe, "why not, Sir? I think those wars and adventures
with the Pixies are just the thing for boys like me."

"I would print it," said Jennie modestly. "I think the Brownies' love
stories are pretty indeed; though I don't like so much fighting, and the
Pixies are just horrid."

"Print it, Sir!" cried Harry enthusiastically. "I'm sure boys like me
will want to hear all about the Moth, Wasp, Bee and Butterfly ponies,
and the curious, wise tricks of the Spider-pixies."

"As for me," said Hugh, "I'm young enough yit to relish a fairy story uv
mos' any sort. So I vote with the youngsters to prent the book."

"My 'pinion hain't much good, I reckon," said Sarah, who stood half
concealed behind the Elm with her hands upon her hips in her favorite
posture. "An' I hain't no sort uv notion uv witches an' sich, no way.
Tho' laws-a-massy! I b'lieve in 'em; 'v course I do! But somehow, I
don't feel over comfo'ble to hev sech things a-prentin' about our Ole
Farm. W'at's people goin' to say about sech goins-on, any way? I don't
mind about the Brownies; like es not ther be sech folk. An' w'y not here
as well as other places? I don't know w'ere they'd find a nicer home
than jes' aroun' here; an' I'm pos'tive my kitchen's trig enough fer any
kind o' fairies as ever was. Folks as hev sense enough to use a conch
shell, now, as them Brownie heralds do, would be jes' likely to settle
at the Ole Farm. But es for them Pixies--w'at's the use uv sech
critters, anyhow? 'Tain't no ways comfo'ble to think thet they mought be
squattin' on our premises. Howsomever, I'd prent the book, I reckon.
Leastways, ye kin do it, fer all me, 'f ye're a mine ter. My notion is
it's a sight more interestener nor the Say-an-says. Though, they was
worth prentin' too, that's a fac'!"

"Now, Dan, it's your turn," I said; "what say you?"

The old colored man sat on a low stool at the outer margin of the family
circle, with his face leaning upon his hands. He raised his head, laid
his palms upon his knees, rolled his eyes expressively and gave his
verdict with all the solemnity of a judge passing sentence on a capital
offender.

"'Pears to me, Mars Mayfiel' an' Misses," he began, "dat dat's a
powerful good story, an' a true one, too! W'y, I've seed dem wery
Brownies myse'f. Uv coorse I hev!" he exclaimed emphatically, turning an
indignant glance upon Sarah, who had uttered a significant guttural
expression of unbelief. "W'at do you know aboout Brownies, Sary Ann, I'd
jes' like to know? Pixies is more in your line, a heap sight! Down in
ole Marylan', now, dar's a power ob Brownies and Fairies an' all sech
folkses. 'Tain't ebry one as gits to see 'em, dough. Dey's mighty
'tickler 'boout w'at company dey keeps, I kin tell _you_!

"I doan say es I eber seed any on 'em roun' dis Ole Farm,--an' I doan
say es I didn't. But dat's needer hyar nur dar. Dey's hyar, I knows.
I've done seed de signs ob 'em, many's de time. W'y, lookee hyar! How
d'ye tink dem insecks an' bugs and tings w'at Mars Mayfiel' tole us
aboout, done foun' out how to do dar peert tricks? Hit stans to reason
dat sech critters ain't got de larnin' fer sech cunnin' doins. W'at wid
dar nes's, an' burrows, an' cobwebs, an' cute little housens, an' all
dat, dey show heap moah sense dan some w'ite folks es I could name. Now,
whar dey gwine to fin' out all dat, I ax agin, an' how is dey gwine to
do it, unless de Fairies helps 'em? Dey jes' kine ob obersee de job;
dat's how it 'pears to me.

"Den dar's dat gubner Wille--shoo! He ain't no sucumstance ter w'at I
knows 'boout how de insecks, an' fairies, an' goblins an' dem kine ob
beins hes to do wid we uns. No, no!"--and he shook his head with serious
gravity--"no, Sah! hit won't do ter go back on dat. We cullud folks
knows heaps ob larnin' aboout dem critters; an' dey's jes' wove in, an'
in, an' in, an' out ob dese yere mohtal libes ob ourn! Dar's de
Deaf's-head moff, an' de catumpillars, an' de antemires, an' de death
watch, an' de cricket, an' de money-spinners, an' de measurin'
worm--sakes-alive! Dar's signs an' warnins fer we uns in dem critters
agin all de Pixies, worl' widout en'. Amen. Yes, Sah, hit's all right;
dat's a true story, an' no mistake."

"But, Dan," I said, "you haven't told us yet what you think about
printing the story."

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--Our Farm Family in Literary Council.]

"Needer I have, Sah!" the old man replied, rolling up the whites of his
eyes and shaking his shaggy, gray poll. "Needer I have! an' wat's moah,
I ain't gwine ter. I doan see much good in dem kine ob books no
how--specially de picters. Dar's like to be bad work aboout dem tings.
Hit doan do ter be too fumwiliar wid such tings. W'at's de good? Dar's
no tellin' w'at dey mought do ter we'ns, ef dey gits sot agin us. You
bes' keep clar ob dat business, Mars Mayfiel'. De ole Bible's good
'nough fer me, Sah; an' hit says dat much larnin' makes a man mad, an'
books is a-wearisome to de flesh. An' dat's a fac', Sah,--leastways,
readin' an' a-studyin' on 'em is. You kin do w'at you's a mine ter, an'
I 'low you'll prent de Brownie book, any way. Hit's mighty good hearin',
I'll say dat fer it, but--" he shook his head once more, and was silent.

The next day I wrote to the Schoolmistress as follows:

                                                 The Old Farm.

   My dear Miss Abby:

   I have gone over the manuscript that you sent, and on the whole I
   approve of it, and agree to print it with such editorial notes as
   Queen Fancy has suggested. We have also--the Mistress and I--read
   it to the Farm family, having revived our last winter's
   "Say-an-says" for that purpose. I have even translated bits of
   the story into simpler form and speech for the youngest member of
   our household, four-year-old Dorothy. Our young people are
   enthusiastic in their admiration, and vote to print the book. So
   do the others, with the exception of Dan, who is noncommittal.
   But the old fellow enjoyed the reading as much as the rest. He
   thinks the story a true one, and declares that he has seen the
   Brownies! You know his boundless superstition, and his odd habits
   of personifying all living things and talking aloud to them as
   he goes about his work. I have no doubt that he has peopled his
   little world with many queer imaginary creatures who may well
   stand to his undisciplined fancy for Fairies and Goblins,
   Brownies and Pixies. He has unwavering faith, also, in the occult
   influence of such beings and of insects generally upon the
   destinies of human kind.

   By the way, this unexpected deliverance of Dan's has eased my
   mind as to one feature of the story, viz: the manner in which the
   life and behavior of the Willes are interwoven with, and
   interdependent upon, the movements of the Brownies and Pixies.
   Since I have thought more about it, I have greatly abated the
   fear that the verisimilitude of such relations might not
   sufficiently appear to readers.

   In point of fact, the creatures of the Insect World, as
   personified in the story, have had and shall have much to do with
   determining the lot of man. The plagues of Egypt as written in
   the Book of Exodus, furnish an example; as also the incursions of
   cankerworm, locust, caterpillar and palmerworm recorded elsewhere
   in Scripture. African travelers tell us that the tetze fly has so
   circumscribed the geographical bounds within which certain
   domestic animals can live, as to greatly limit or modify
   civilization. We all know examples of the effects of mosquito
   supremacy at certain points of our country in determining the
   fortunes of men or places. The familiar stories of Bruce and the
   Spider, and Mahomet and the Spider, are also in point as showing
   how great interests may hinge upon the behavior of an humble
   animal. Here are facts enough, surely, to justify us in facing
   the public with Governor Wille and his relations to the imaginary
   folk of the story.

   In conclusion, I must say that I have been greatly interested to
   note how admirably the habits of my spider friends admit of
   personification. The so-called engineering, ballooning,
   cavemaking, sailing, and other operations, are so accurately
   described by those words, that the manlike qualities, motives and
   passions attributed to the actors seem almost natural. At one
   moment I find myself accepting the representations as a matter of
   course, and anticipating the conduct described on the very ground
   of known natural habits. At another time I am startled at the
   strong tone of human behavior that the descriptions so easily
   admit. Certainly, this is something more than what the
   naturalists have called "anthropomorphism." What is the
   mysterious ligature that binds in this sympathy of movements the
   sovereign will of immortal man and the automatic brain cell of a
   spider?

   Pardon me! it was not in my purpose to start so profound a
   question of philosophy and physiology. I only meant to say that
   the wishes of yourself and your Brownie acquaintances shall be
   cheerfully granted, and the manuscript be given to the public.

                                I am, very truly,
                                        Your Friend,
                                            FIELDING MAYFIELD.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: Psalm lxxiv, 5.]

[Footnote B: Formica fusca.]

[Footnote C: In the little company referred to further on, to whom the
manuscript of this book was read, was a friend's lad, eight years old, a
visitor at the Old Farm. The Mistress noticed him during the intervals
of the readings busy with pencil and paper, amusing himself with such
drawings as children are wont to make. A number of these had been made
and thrown away ere it occurred to the good woman to call my attention
thereto. I was much surprised and delighted to find that the boy had
been engaged in illustrating the Brownie Book (as we then familiarly
called it). It was a good sign of the value of the work that it could
produce such an impression upon a child of his tender years. Moreover,
the rude figures were so apt and interesting to my own mind, that I
fancied others might be equally interested therein. "Why not print
them?" suggested the Mistress. And upon mature deliberation that is just
what I resolved to do. No one but a child could make such pictures. Let
the adult, however good an artist, try as much as he may, he could not
reproduce such drawings. Indeed the better the artist, the further would
he come from achievement. That children will take at once to these
reflections of a child's mind, appears quite probable. Moreover, to the
thinking adult they must have a special value as a psychological study.
With all our knowledge of children, it is still marvellous how little we
know of a child's mind. These little tokens of its workings perhaps may
help us to a better knowledge. At all events, a few of these "Boy's
Illustrations" have been selected for engraving, and the editor will be
disappointed if they do not give to both his adult and youthful readers
as much pleasure as they gave to himself.--THE EDITOR.]

[Footnote D: Formica sanguinea.]

[Footnote E: Formica Schaufussii.]

[Footnote F: Sphecius speciosus.]

[Footnote G: Romans viii. 22.]



THE BOOK.



Old Farm Fairies.

A SUMMER CAMPAIGN IN BROWNIELAND
AGAINST
KING COBWEAVER'S PIXIES.



CHAPTER I.

HOW THE BROWNIES CAME TO HILLSIDE.


Not many years ago a company of Brownies lived on the lawn at Hillside,
the home of Governor Wille. Since the Brownies are Scotch fairies, one
must ask how they came to be dwelling so far away from their native
heather upon the green hummocks of the Ohio.

The question takes us back to the early part of the Nineteenth Century,
and to a Manse and glebe on the banks of Loch Achray, the beautiful
little lake that lies at the entrance to Trosachs Glen, quite near the
foot of Loch Katrine in Scotland. Here dwelt Governor Wille's
grandfather, a godly minister of the Gospel; and here he lived until
there grew up around him a large family of sturdy lads and lasses. Often
had the good minister looked over his household as they sat around the
table eating with keen relish their cakes and oatmeal porridge, and
wondered: "How shall I provide for them all? How shall I find fitting
duty and engagement for these eager hearts, restless hands, and busy
brains?"

At last he answered: "I will go with them to America, and join my
brother there on the banks of the Ohio River."

Now the Manse and glebe were the seat of a nation of the wee fairyfolk
whom Scotchmen call Brownies. The Manse site is on the skirt of Ben An's
lowest slope; and across the Trosachs road, upon a point that pushes
into the Loch, stands the kirk amid its kirkyard. The Brownies were fond
of this home, but they loved the Manse folk much more dearly; and so
when they heard the plan to emigrate to the New World, they resolved not
to allow their friends to go to America without an escort of their fairy
companions and caretakers.

A General Assembly of all the Manse Brownies was therefore called, to
meet under the "hats" of a clump of broad toadstools growing on the
mountain slope, close by the barn. The place was crowded from the stem
of the central toadstool to the rim of the outer hat. Outside this clump
the spears of grass, the drooping bluebells, and purple blossoms of
heather were covered with boy Brownies, who climbed up delicate stems,
smooth blades and gnarled stalks, much as city lads mount lampposts,
trees and awnings to gaze upon a procession. From these points they
looked upon their elders, quite as anxious and earnest, if not as well
informed as they.

When the Assembly had been called to order, the King of the Brownies
asked, "Who will volunteer to go to America with our dear friends, the
Willes?"

There was a mighty shout; not one present failed to answer: "I!!"

The explosion fairly shook the roof of their toadstool tabernacle.
Thereat the old monarch sprang to his feet, removed his plumed hat, and
stood uncovered, bowing his white hairs and venerable beard before the
Assembly, in honor of their noble response. The elders waved their tiny
blue Scotch bonnets, wept, laughed and hallooed in turn. The youngsters
danced upon the heather bells and swung from the grass blades until the
tops swayed to and fro, and cheered again and again for the Willes, for
the King, for the Brownies, for everybody!

By and by the King brought the Assembly to order, and proposed that a
colony be drafted from the whole company to go to the New World. "I
shall claim the privilege of naming the leader of the Expedition," said
he, "and I name Murray Bruce. The rest may go by lot."

Whereat the Brownies cheered again, for they were always pleased to
respect their good sovereign's wishes, and Bruce was one of the wisest,
steadiest, and bravest of their number. He was tall, strong, comely, and
in the prime of his years. Then the lot was cast. The names of all the
active Brownies were placed in the tiny corol of a blue bell, which
served as a voting urn. The King drew out fifty names, and these were
the elect members of the colony. The interest was intense as the drawing
went on. Again and again the King's hand sank into the urn, and came out
holding the wee billet that decided some Brownie's destiny. As the name
was announced, there was silence; but thereupon a flutter of excitement
ran through the company; a whirl of noisy demonstration marked the spot
where the fortunate nominee was receiving the congratulations of his
friends; sometimes a cheer was given when a favorite or familiar name
was announced.

"How many names have been drawn?" asked the King.

"Forty-nine," answered the Lord Keeper. Amid profound silence the last
name was drawn and announced:

"Rodney Bruce!"

It was the Captain's brother, a young and promising sailor, who had won
much praise for daring adventures with water pixies on "the stream that
joins Loch Katrine and Achray." His name was welcomed with cheers, and
then a buzz of disappointment arose from the crowd who heartily envied
the "Fortunate Fifty." However, the disappointment soon passed away,
for Brownies are a cheerful and contented folk. The hum of voices
ceased, and the people waited to know what might be needed to forward
the comfort and success of the emigrant escort.

"How shall we get off?" said Captain Bruce. "Has your Majesty any orders
or counsel? Has the Assembly any advice?"

That was a puzzling question. The Lord Keeper, Lord Herald, and all the
other lords and nobles shook their heads wisely and said nothing. Some
one called out the name of "Rodney, the sailor," whereat the old Lord
Admiral turned up his little red nose, looked contemptuously at the
speaker, and muttered something about "land lubbers." As no one had any
advice to venture, all waited for their sovereign's opinion.

"Hoot!" said the King at last, "Ye shall juist gae your ain gait.
Howiver, ye maun steal awa' unbeknowns, I'se warrant ye; for Parson
Wille, good heart! will never allow ye to risk anything for him. But
how? Well, I dinna ken; ye maun e'en settle that, amang yoursels."

The difficulty was no nearer solution than before. There was another
long pause. It was broken by a voice that called from the outer edge of
the Assembly.

"I can tell you how!" It was Walter MacWhirlie who spoke, one of the
chosen escort.

"Come to the front, then," said the King, "and say your say."

Every eye was at once fixed on the bold speaker. But MacWhirlie, nothing
abashed, leaped from the heather stalk on which he stood, and making a
double somersault above the whole company, landed erect upon the edge of
a leaf whereon sat the King and lords.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--Brownie MacWhirlie Comes to the Front by a
Double Somersault.]

"Ugh!" said the monarch, starting back; for MacWhirlie had well nigh
alighted on his toes.

"Queak!" cried the Queen; and "queak, queak!" screamed the Princesses,
tumbling over one another in their fright.

"You rude beast!" growled the Lord Keeper, laying his hand upon his
broadsword.

But the youth and boys cheered, the young Princesses began to giggle,
the old folks laughed outright, the Queen smoothed down her ruffles, the
good King composed his countenance and smiled, and the Lord Keeper
smothered his indignation and put up his sword.

"Speak up, laddie," said the King. MacWhirlie bowed low first to the
royal party, and then to the lords. (My Lord Keeper's brow cleared up
somewhat at that.)

"I was passin' thro' the barn the morn," he began, "and saw the gardener
packin' the auld kist that lies on the barn floor, with tools, seeds,
roots and herbs. It's a gude place for hidin', is yon kist."

"That it is," exclaimed the Queen laughing, "I've had mony a game o'
bo-peep in 't mysel'."

"Aye, aye, so it is!" was the hearty assent from all parts of the hall,
while the lads on the outside signified their approval by cheers for the
old chest.

"A gude place for hidin' is yon auld kist," continued MacWhirlie. "I ken
naethin' like it for Brownies. An' if your Majesty please, we can a'
ride to America safe eneugh in that."

"It is gude counsel," cried the King, clapping his hands. "Forbye, I
would na thoct it frae sic a giddy pate as yoursel', MacWhirlie. Many
thanks, however, and mak' ready quarters in the auld kist for your
journey to the New World. Herald, dismiss the Assembly."

Lord Herald skipped to the front and sounded a bugle, which in sooth was
nothing more than a tiny shell fitted with a dainty mouthpiece.

"Hi-e-iero! ee-roo!"

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--The Old Chest on its Journey Across the
Allegheny Mountains.]

Then he struck his staff thrice, and cried, or rather intoned in a loud
voice these words:

    O-eez; O-eez; O-eez!
    Bide by the King's decrees!
    Brownies-O-bonnie, and Brownies-O-braw,
    Hither gae, hame gae, Brownies awa'!

At the last word the Assembly arose, and speaking all together,
responded,

    Brownies aye, Brownies a
    Leal and true, awa', awa'!

Then they separated, the elders moving soberly, the youth scampering off
hither and thither, leaping, chattering, cheering, making the grass
blades twinkle with their good natured frolic. In a moment the
toadstools were deserted, and a great spider-pixie crept under the
vacant central hat, and began to shake his head and talk to himself
while uttering a low, harsh, chuckling laugh.

Bruce, Rodney, MacWhirlie and all the elect escort, together with their
families, made the voyage across the Atlantic safely though somewhat
uncomfortably. But their trials were not over when they landed in
Philadelphia. The chest was hoisted into a big road wagon covered with
canvas, known as a "Conestoga wagon," and wheeled on for many days over
the Allegheny mountains. Down by old Fort Pitt it trundled, along the
banks of the beautiful river Ohio, to the frontier village of
Steubenville. There the wagon stopped. Parson Wille built his cabin on
Hillside. The Brownies, happy as the beasts and birds that were turned
out of Noah's Ark after the flood, were released from their prison in
the old chest, and took up once more old duties and pleasures in the
clearings, cornfields and garden of the new home.

That was many years ago. The good parson has long since been received to
a fairer Home than either Scotland or America ever gave; but his
grandson, Governor Wille, lives at Hillside. It is not the same Hillside
that the brave and godly minister first built his log cabin upon, you
may be sure. Great changes have occurred. But the same Brownies are
there; as good natured, as frolicsome, as fond of their friends and as
true to them as ever, yet, we are sorry to say, not so fortunate and
happy. What has troubled them?



CHAPTER II.

SPITE THE SPY.


When the Assembly of Brownies, which had been held at the old Scotch
Manse, was quite dispersed, a spider-pixie entered the vacant tent and
began to spin a web. He belonged to a race of sprites as vicious and
cruel as the Brownies are kind and good. They are called spider-pixies
because they do much of their mischief by means of silken webs or snares
which they spin, and in which they catch their enemies. The fact,
however, should work no prejudice against those remarkable creatures,
the spiders, which are doubtless worthy of all the loving attention that
naturalists give them.

The chief enemies of these Pixies (next to themselves, to be sure) were
the Brownies. Not that the good little fairies wished to harm any
creature; but then, as the Pixies wished harm to every one, and were
always showing their ill will by naughty tricks, the Brownies, out of
very goodness, tried to thwart their evil plans and save intended
victims from harm. Thus it came that the Brownies and Pixies lived in
continuous warfare. Many a battle had they fought on and around the
Manse glebe and kirkyard, for the Pixies hated Parson Wille most
cordially, and dearly loved to annoy him.

The Brownies were just as hearty in their love, and by close watching,
hard working and brave battling they had well nigh driven their enemies
from the place. Only once in a while a few, more daring and cunning than
the rest, would break through the boundaries and make a foray upon the
forbidden grounds.

Among the most successful of these leaders of mischief was Spite the
Spy. He was a great sneak, shrewd and sly, and well deserved his name.
He was a coward in the main, and loved best to do his mischief in an
underhand way. But for all that, he was so full of malice that he could
be quite venturesome rather than miss a chance to work harm to those
whom he hated. Thus it came that in spite of his natural cowardice he
had a fair reputation for boldness. It was this miserable fellow who
crawled into the tabernacle as the voices of the Brownies died away
among the grasses.

How came he therein? Having chanced to hear of the proposed Assembly to
consider the interest of the Manse folk, he set himself to spy out the
proceedings. How should he do that without being discovered? "Let me
think!" he said. He climbed up a tall weed that grew on the border of
the Manse farm, swung himself by a thread of silk from a leaf, and hung
there awhile, head downward, while he meditated.

"Ha! I have it!" he cried. He pulled himself up again hand over hand,
scampered down the weed and plunged into the thick forest of grasses. He
went swiftly, though cautiously, for a while. Then he ascended a tall
spear of timothy, perched himself atop of the bearded head and
reconnoitered.

"Yes, there it is," he said to himself. "I see the brown hat of the
toadstool tent; and--let me see--yes, sure enough, there is the Black
Pebble under which cousin Atypus used to have her nest. Any Brownies
about? No, the coast's quite clear. But, caution, old fellow! you are
pretty sly, but you may be caught after all. And they'd make short work
of Spite if they got hold of him once, I warrant." At this he chuckled,
puffed out his eyes, and swelled up his round pouch as though it were a
fine thing to be quite deserving of the Brownies' anger.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--"Silken Snares in Which They Catch Their
Enemies."]

Spite was not long in making his way to the Black Pebble which was at
the outer edge of the Brownies' meeting place, and was imbedded in a
little bank of sandy earth at the base of which the toadstools grew. He
began to scratch in the surrounding soil. His claws soon struck
something that gave him pleasure. It was a bit of silken tissue.

"Ha! I am in luck! Here is the door of the burrow. Now we shall see,
brother Brownies, and hear too; and if there's any mischief agoing
Spite the Spy will have his spinner in it."

Spite had come upon the door of a cave or tunnel. When a few more grains
of sand had been thrown aside he lifted the tissue door and entered. It
was dark at first, and there was a musty smell in the air. Spite did not
care for that, and in a moment ran to the far end of the cave and back
again. This strange place had once been the home of a Burrow Pixie. It
was a tunnel scooped out of the sandy earth.[H] It ran horizontally for
a short way, and then sloped downward. It was lined around the sides,
top and bottom with a tight silken tube, and was about half an inch in
diameter. It was, therefore, a tunnel within a tunnel, a silk within a
sand one. The silk supported the sides so completely that not a particle
of soil could pass through. The upper part of the tube projected from
the earth, falling forward so as to form a flap which protected the
mouth of the burrow or cave. At first the tube had been much longer and
was bent and carried over the surface among the moss. This was the door
which Spite had been looking for, and whose discovery so much pleased
him.

"Well, well," said Spite, talking all the while to himself, "this is
lucky indeed. It must now be several moons since cousin Atypus was cut
off by the Brownies, and here is her old place just as good as ever. It
looks right into the meeting house. How fortunate! But I must fix up
this door a little, or I shall have those suspicious fellows smelling
around here; although I doubt whether they know anything about the
place. They caught Atypus when she had ventured out of doors."

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--English Atypus in Her Burrow.]

Meanwhile Spite was busy with the door. He laid a dry leaf and a few
bits of dry moss around the edge of the pebble, then gently lifted the
silken flap and crept within. He made a wee hole in the flap, and
through this saw and heard the proceedings of the Brownies. Little did
the good folk suspect that one of their enemies was so near, almost in
their midst. As for Spite, he was in high glee, although he was not
without fears. The boy Brownies had climbed atop the Black Pebble, and
crowded and capered upon it until they were like to shake it from the
bank, and send it arolling into the Assembly.

"Serve 'em right, the little plagues," snarled Spite, "if the old rock
did get loose, and break all their necks in the avalanche. Only, that
would make a gap in my burrow, and--well, it isn't pleasant to think of
the consequences."

Moreover, MacWhirlie and the restless youngsters who were mounted on the
herbage that grew above and around the Pixie's cave, were continually
tramping over the moss around the door, rocking to and fro on the
overhanging heather sprays till the roots fairly shook, and scrambling
up and down the little slope and over the flap itself. No wonder that
Spite's heart seemed to jump into his throat occasionally.

However, the door of the cave was so cunningly disguised and fitted into
the bank, that Spite was not discovered. He was well satisfied, for all
that, when the meeting was dismissed and the last of the Brownies
disappeared. He pushed open the flap, peeped out, then crawled slowly
into the light, crept down the slope and entered the vacant meeting
place. He was hungry; the labors and excitement through which he had
passed had quite exhausted him. He therefore crouched behind a toadstool
stem, and, after waiting patiently a while, sprang upon and devoured a
hapless fly and beetle that chanced to straggle that way. Then he wiped
his jaws with his hairy claw, rubbed his cheeks and head quite in the
fashion of pussy washing her face,[I] stretched a few silken threads
from the stem to the ground, and turned away.

"There," he said, "I leave those few lines to show that I have been
here, and that Spite the Spy is sharper than all the Brownies. Now for
home! King Cobweb will be interested in what I have to tell. As for
Parson Wille and his Brownies, perhaps they shall not escape us quite so
readily."

Spite gained great applause by this adventure, and when it was resolved
to send out to the New World some one to watch the motions of Parson
Wille, and do all the harm possible to his kind Brownie guardians, who
but Spite the Spy should be chosen? "You need take but few companions,"
said King Cobweb; "there are plenty of our folk in that country. I shall
send a letter with you to my cousin, King Cobweaver, and you can muster
a goodly company in America."

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--"Having Overspun Themselves."]

Now what should Spite do, but make his way straight to the old chest. He
discovered that in one corner the joints of the planks had sprung open a
little. "That will do bravely, I think!" He crept into the crack to try
if it fitted his size.

"Very good indeed," he exclaimed, and then ran to report.

King Cobweb was quite satisfied. Spite thereupon hid himself in the open
seam with two other Pixies named Hide and Heady, and, having overspun
themselves with a silken covering, made the voyage to America in the
old chest with the Brownies.[J]

When safely landed at Hillside, he reported to the nearest tribe of
Pixies. He was received with great favor as a distinguished foreigner;
was feasted, petted, and his wonderful skill in strategy heralded
everywhere. In short, he was quite a lion, and his fame was even greater
in America than on the other side of the Atlantic. Spite took his honors
gracefully, enjoyed them hugely, acknowledged them publicly, hobnobbed
with his friends, and took occasion when talking in private with his two
countrymen, to ridicule the customs and manners of American Pixies. That
was very mean, to be sure; but what better could you expect from Spite
the Spy?

In the midst of all his junketings and sight-seeing Spite never once
forgot the great object of his journey. He was spinning out his plots
against the Brownies, counseling with his American friends how he might
worry, injure and destroy them, and forming leagues for that purpose.

That was the beginning of troubles for the Brownies at Hillside.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote H: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote I: Appendix, Note B.]

[Footnote J: Appendix, Note C.]



CHAPTER III.

ADVENTURES OF THE BROWNIE SCOUTS.


The war upon the Brownie colony thus begun by Spite the Spy had been
waged from year to year until the third generation of the Willes,
Governor Wille himself, occupied Hillside. Sometimes the Pixies got the
advantage, sometimes the Brownies; but on the whole the Pixies gained
ground. Slowly the Brownies were being driven in towards the Mansion
house, followed closely by their foes. At last the malicious
persecutors, led by Spite, pitched their tents and reared a strong
fortification at the upper end of the Lawn. Their scouts bivouacked
beneath the very windows of my Lady Governor's chamber. This would never
have been had not Governor Wille lately grown heedless of his good fairy
friends, and left them to struggle without his sympathy and aid. For
Home Brownies lose heart and cease to prosper when their Home patrons
and allies forget and neglect them. The Brownies were sore distressed.
What should they do?

Early one morning the Captain and Lieutenant were in close consultation.
The Brownies watched them anxiously as the two slowly walked back and
forth underneath a rose bush in a border near the west window of the
parlor. The point under discussion was this: "Shall we make another
appeal to Governor Wille, or shall we first try an assault upon the new
Pixie fort?"

The decision was soon announced by the bugle call to "fall in." From
every quarter the Brownies crowded eagerly, and the column moved toward
the northwestern corner of the Lawn. There lay a pool formed by a stream
that bubbled from beneath the springhouse at the foot of the hill. The
Brownies called the pool "Loch Katrine," in honor of the lovely and
historic water in their old Scotch home from whose neighborhood they had
come. Just beyond the "outlet," the point at which the Spring Run issues
from the pool and goes singing down the hillside, the new Pixie fort had
been erected. It was called Fort Spinder, and was a sign and token that
Spite and his tribes had gained and meant to keep a foothold upon the
Lawn, the Brownies' special domain.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--The Demilune, or Crescent Barricade.]

In a brief space the Brownie army had surrounded three sides of the
fort; the fourth side faced the Lake, and was safe from approach of land
troops. Then Captain Bruce sent out a number of scouts to view the Pixie
works and report upon their strength and the best points for attack. Let
us join the Captain and his staff, and listen to these scouts as one
after another they return with their reports. We shall thus learn
something of the Pixies' deft handicraft and cunning ways.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.--The Bell Shaped Turret of Pixie Globosa, of the
Wheel Legion.]

"The first obstacle that I met," said Sightwell, who was the first scout
to report, "was a line of barricades occupied by the Wheel Legion. This
is formed of round webs woven upon grass and weeds, closely joined to
one another and strung in a semicircular form along the whole front of
the fort. Armed pickets are stationed at the open centrals of the
snares. At either end of this crescent or demilune is a large orbweb,
surmounted by a tower. One tower is wrought out of leaves lashed
together by silken threads; the other is the bell shaped turret of Pixie
Globosa.[K]

[Illustration: FIG. 18.--Fort Spinder.]

"The centre of the demilune is occupied by a company of the Tubeweaver
Legion. They have built a broad, irregular pavilion above and around the
surface foliage, whose margin is lashed by strong cords to grass stalks
and other herbage. Near the middle is a long tubular entrance which
opens out upon the top."[L]

"Did you venture into it?" asked the Captain.

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 19.--Fort Spinder as the Boy saw it.]

"No! I climbed a tall weed to reconnoitre, and from the summit noticed
that Pixies, whom I had seen to pass underneath the canvas, appeared
again through a round hole in the roof and thence passed down into the
camp. Then I descended, cautiously made my way through the grass, and
came near enough to see the opening into the tube, which is really the
southern or front gate to the encampment. It is set close to the ground
and is well concealed. It is guarded on each side by a sentinel. From my
weed-top observatory I could see that beyond the demilune, and between
it and the fort, the main camp of the Pixies is pitched. The space is
well covered with tents, and everything inside seems to be settled into
homelike and comfortable condition."

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed Bruce with an impatient gesture. "The wretches
evidently intend to stay--if they can. But what else did you observe?"

"Nothing important. I thought best to return with this news, while
Glideaway, who went with me on the scout, went around the demilune to
observe the front of Fort Spinder. He ought to be back ere long."

True to his friend's prediction, Glideaway soon appeared, slipped
quietly into the circle of officers, touched his Scotch bonnet and
awaited leave to report.

"Well," said Bruce, "what have you to tell?"

"When I left Sightwell," the scout replied, "I hurried around the west
side of the demilune, which bends in pretty close to the fort, and ends
in a tall, silk-lined leaf-tower. This is used by sentinels as a sort of
guard house, but I managed to slip by unobserved. I got into the Pixie
camp and moved about unnoticed, passed along the whole front of the fort
and came out on the east side. The walls of the fort are under charge of
the Lineweaving Legion, who built them. They consist of single silken
cables, crossed, knotted and interlaced into a mass several inches
thick. The cables are interwoven with and lashed to the blades of grass
and sprigs and foliage of meadow weeds, forming a strong wall."

"Could our troops break through or climb over it?"[M]

Glideaway shook his head doubtingly. "It would be a difficult task.
Engineer Theridion directed the construction and his work is thorough.
However, it might be done, and I for one am ready to try, Sir."

"And I, and I!" cried in chorus the officers and men who stood around.

"Thanks, my brave fellows," said Bruce, his eyes kindling with pride.
"We shall doubtless have a chance to try your mettle before long. What
are the defences of the front walls?"

"In the centre of the wall is a gate built by Engineer Linyphia of the
Lineweavers. It is a high dome hung amidst a maze of crossed lines and
protected beneath by a curtain floor, which is swung from the dome. The
dome is pierced for defence and observation, and a strong guard mans the
curtain. The main entrance to the fort is here, and all who go in must
pass underneath it, and through the guard.

"At each corner or angle of the fort is a gate like the central one,
except that the dome is reversed and becomes a bowl. On the flanks or
sides the fort is built and manned by Lineweavers and is precisely like
the front."

"Very good," said Captain Bruce dismissing the scout. "Who will report
as to the river front and interior?"

"We detailed our most skillful men for that service," Adjutant Blythe
answered. "Sergeants Clearview and True have charge of the scout. It is
a nice and dangerous service, and we can't expect an early return."

"Let us away, then, to put our command in the best condition possible;
and when the report comes in I will summon you."

The morning had quite worn away when the news came that the scouts had
returned. The officers speedily gathered at headquarters, where Sergeant
True and three of his men were waiting. Where could the others be? Were
they lost?

"We skirted the eastern face of the fort," began Sergeant True, "and
reached Lake Katrine. Then we saw that the fort is built some distance
from the water on the crown of the hill that forms the shore, which
there slopes down to the lake. The defences on the water front are like
those on the other side, but not so heavy. The tower at the angle is
different, however. It has been built by the Wolf Legion, and Captain
Arenicola is in command. It is a pentagon or five-sided turret of dry
twigs, like a log chimney, and is silk-lined within.[N] The Pixies'
skull-and-bones flag floats from the top.

"Here we held a consultation and agreed to divide our party. Sergeant
Clearview with Corporal Dare and three men undertook to survey the river
front. It fell to myself to explore the interior of the fort, aided by
Corporal Swiftsure and two men, Lookclose and Treadlight. Having bidden
good-bye to our companions, I explained to my men the delicate and
dangerous work in which we were engaged. Then we divided our squad into
two parties. I took Treadlight and pushed forward, having bidden
Swiftsure and Lookclose to follow at a distance that would leave us just
in view. In case of discovery or accident to either party, the first
duty of the other was to escape and tell at headquarters the facts
already learned.

"The fort is so newly built that the surface is not yet thickly covered
with snares, traps and crosslines. This greatly favored us. We found the
chief part of the fort to be an immense Tubeweaver's tent built by
Engineer Agalena. The central tube runs downward toward the Lake, and
opens out near a tower that guards the water front. The tent is built
around tall weeds which stick out like the poles of a circus pavilion,
and from their tips strong guy lines stretch to various points on the
roof, thus bracing it up.[O]

"We skirted the vast edifice as far as the central front gate, just
opposite to which we found another of Arenicola's turrets. From this
point, sweeping around toward the Lake, and fronting the tower on the
southwest angle, is erected a strong tent of the Tegenaria type. It is
composed of a thick sheet like that of Agalena, but this is drawn up at
the margin, making a sort of breastwork. Along the pouch-like depression
within are many sentinels for whom openings are pierced in the
breastwork. The system ends in a tall round tower, in which Captain
Tegenaria has his observatory.[P]

"We wished to cross the path between the front Linyphia gate and the
opposite tower, but it was so thronged by passing Pixies that we dare
not venture. We therefore turned back, thinking we had discovered
enough, and ought not to further risk losing what we had learned."

"A wise and patriotic decision," said Captain Bruce, "but how did you
get out of the Pixie quarters?"

[Illustration: FIG. 20.--Arenicolas' Tower and Stridulans' Drum.]

"It was not so easy to get out of their den as to get into it," said
Sergeant True, "as is usual when dealing with Pixies. We had scarcely
taken the back track when a terrible racket sounded from the tower
behind us. Now we saw that a big drum hung from the top of the turret,
upon which a gigantic Pixie was beating furiously. We knew that this
must be Drummer Stridulans whose beating sounds the various signals of
the Pixies. He was now sounding an alarm, which stirred the fort with
great excitement. Sentinels sprang to their posts: warriors poured out
of their quarters and ran to the ramparts. Soon companies were seen
hurrying toward the lake front, and amid all the rush and clatter
Stridulans' drum kept up its dolorous booming from the turret.

"A score of times we barely escaped detection by the Pixies who were
running to and fro; and we lay in our ambush almost breathless, nearly
hopeless of keeping concealed, and ready to sell our lives at the
greatest cost to our foes. Then we saw an officer run up and signal the
tower. The drum ceased, and squads of Pixies began to return from the
lake front in a quieter mood.

"We were anxious to know the cause of the alarm, and of its conclusion
too, for we feared it might concern Clearview and his party. Words
dropped by passing warriors confirmed our suspicions; but of the result,
whether good or ill to our companions, we could gather nothing. When the
fort had settled into quiet we continued our retreat; and here we are,
Sir. But, it was trying work and a close shave. We crawled through the
grass like snakes the whole way, until we had gone around the outer wall
and were fairly out of sight of pickets and lookouts."

Sergeant True's report caused great uneasiness in the Brownie camp as to
the fate of the river scouting party. At last an unusual stir around
headquarters showed that something important was afoot. An anxious crowd
gathered before the tent door, peering inside, where Sergeant Clearview
could be seen in the midst of a circle of officers. He looked sadly
draggled and worn; his face was bruised, his clothes limp and stained,
and alas, he was alone! Let us hear his story.

"When we parted from Sergeant True we slowly moved along the edge of the
Lake keeping under shelter of the sloping bank, and screening ourselves
behind the tall grass at the water's brink. We passed nearly one-half
the lake front of the fort, which we found protected in the same manner
as the other sides, except that the works are not so heavy. The Pixies
clearly intend the navy to defend that quarter from assault. However, no
ships are anchored in the stream. Indeed we did not even meet a boat of
any sort until we came to the remains of the Old Bridge that stood, as
you remember, nearly opposite the centre of the fort, where the water
gate is placed. There we came upon a skiff moored among the rushes.

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 21.--The Pixie Waterman's Skiff.]

"'Here now is our chance,' whispered Corporal Dare. 'Let us seize this
boat, and we can safely pull along the whole lake front.'

"I agreed to this, as there were no Pixies in sight on shore. 'However,
we must take no risks,' I said; 'there may be a waterman hidden or
asleep in the bottom of the boat. We must approach quietly, and from all
points so as to cut off escape to the shore.'

"We crept through the reeds, and at a signal rushed together upon the
skiff. Three Pixies, huge fierce fellows, sprang from the bottom of the
boat and began a vigorous defence. One of our men was cut down
instantly, but the rest of us clambered over the gunwale and made a hand
to hand fight with our foes. The conflict was severe; we were nearly
evenly divided as to numbers, although the Pixies had much the advantage
as to size. However, we killed two of our enemies, but could not prevent
the third from escaping. He leaped into the lake and ran fleetly over
the water. We lost sight of him behind a clump of weeds, but knew that
he would at once give the alarm.

"'Come, my men, be quick!' I cried. 'Take the oars; there is only one
chance for us; we must push into the stream and pull for life.'

"The order was obeyed; we were soon beyond the rushes in clear water,
and having pushed the boat into the current, put her bow down stream,
and bent to the oars with all our might. For a few moments we thought we
should pass the fort unobserved. Then we saw several Pixies running out
of the gates toward the shore; others joined them; the boom of an alarm
drum somewhere within the fort floated over the water, and in a brief
space the shore was lined with angry troops. We could see Spite the Spy
directing affairs; and soon a large boat shot out from the banks full of
armed Pixies.

"'Out to sea,' I cried, 'Out!--and pull as you never did before. Our
lives depend on it.' It was vain. The boat gained rapidly upon us, and
soon nearly touched our gunwale.

"'Cease rowing, lads,' I cried. 'There's nothing left but to sell our
lives as dearly as possible.' Corporal Dare seized a boat hook and
plunged it into a Pixie officer who was about to board us. But another
took his place, and another, when he too had fallen.

"Taught caution by these losses, our assailants drew back from us, and
while Dare stood on guard, Dart and Dodge, the two other surviving
Brownies, and myself again took the oars. We reached the swiftest part
of the stream where the current sets in heavily toward the shore, and I
saw that we must drift in upon the beach. This also the Pixies saw, and
seemed content to keep near us, without taking further risk. The crowd
on shore followed along our course waiting for the final act. We were
very near, but tugged away, hoping against hope that we might be carried
past the jutting point and escape. Perhaps some such thought struck the
Pixie boat commander, or it may be his crew could not restrain their
fury. Several of them leaped out of the boat and ran toward us upon the
water. Some water-pixies joined them from the shore. Our boat was
seized. We dropped oars, and a death struggle began. Dart, after a
gallant fight, fell dead in the boat. Dodge was overpowered, captured
and bound. Corporal Dare was at last dragged into the water by two
sailors with whom he was in a hand to hand conflict and the three sank
together.

"I was alone. Wounded, nearly exhausted, overpowered by numbers, what
could I do? It was folly to fight the whole Pixie force. Plunging my
sword into the face of the boat captain, I threw myself backward into
the Lake as though wounded unto death. Amid the horrible clangor and
applause of the Pixies' victory cry I sank. I struck out beneath the
water, swam as far as I could, and cautiously came up to the surface. As
good fortune would have it, I arose almost within reach of a floating
leaf. This I grasped, edged myself around to the open water side, and
drifted. I saw that the two boats were being pulled ashore by the
excited captors, who were holding aloft on the points of their spears
the body of poor Dart. There was great rejoicing, of course, and then
the crowd slowly dispersed, bearing with them their prisoner, Dodge, and
doubtless thinking that the rest of the Brownie party had been slain.

"Meanwhile, I drifted on, and in spite of every effort to the contrary,
drew nearer the bank. The Pixie guard had now been doubled, and I feared
that I had escaped death only to fall upon it in another form. The leaf
lodged, and unluckily upon a bare, sandy point. There was not a blade of
grass behind which to find shelter. I therefore clung to my rude raft,
which swayed up and down, and turned round and round so that I had hard
work to keep my hold. Still, treading water, I followed with the leaf
until it reached a spot where some driftwood had lodged.

"'This is my chance!' I thought.

"I crawled up on the sand and lay down behind and beneath the flotsam.
The warmth of the sun was pleasant, for I was chilled by the water, and
was so exhausted that, would you believe it? I fell asleep! But my nap
was a brief one. It was broken by the sound of voices, and starting up
in a daze, I attracted the attention of the Pixie guard boat crew
engaged in patrolling the Lake. They turned the boat to the shore, with
a hurrah, and several leaped overboard and dashed toward me upon the
water.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.--Sergeant Clearview Takes Refuge in Argiope's
Nest.]

"There was nothing for it but to run, and that I did; over the level,
sandy bank, on, on--toward the tall grass beyond. The boat's crew were
soon on my track; the shore sentinels joined them, and away we all sped
pell-mell. Affairs seemed blue enough, it is true; but I had already
escaped so wonderfully that I had high hope that I should yet reach camp
and tell my story. At last--it seemed an age!--the grass was reached. I
plunged into the thicket, but the Pixies were close at my heels, too
close to admit of escape, for they were all fresh and I quite worn out.
As I passed a tall clump of grasses, I caught sight of a great pear
shaped egg-nest of the huge Argiope Pixie. I knew it well, for it was an
abandoned nest of the past autumn, built there during one of the
successful raids of our enemy. A happy thought came to me. I rushed into
the grasses beyond the nest, then turned, and doubled sharply upon my
track, ran back, sprang into the clump of grass and weeds upon which the
nest hangs, and swung myself toward it. There is an opening in the side,
a sort of door or window for the escape of the young. Into this I
dropped, and lodged safely upon the flossy paddock inside. I had barely
got in when my pursuers dashed by at full speed into the jungle which
they had seen me enter. The whir and clatter of their rush I could hear,
as many of the crew passed just beneath me. On they sped; the noise grew
faint, fainter, and died away. Then I knew that once more I was saved.
The bed upon which I lay was a soft one; it was made, in fact, of purple
and yellow silk; but I was not much inclined to sleep, you may be sure.
I lay close, however, until I heard the sound of returning footsteps.
Back the Pixies came in singles, pairs, triplets, squads; and by their
manner and utterance I learned their disappointment and rage.

"At last the place was quiet, and I ventured to look out of my little
window. No enemy was in sight. I crept forth, descended, and crawling on
hands and knees, after many adventures which I need not mention, passed
the front of the fort, entered the space beyond, and easily found our
camp. This is my report, Sir. It is a sad enough one, but such are the
risks of scouts; and I can truly say for my brave comrades and myself
that we did all that we could."[Q]

"No one will doubt that," said Captain Bruce. "We deeply mourn the loss
of so many brave and good comrades. May their memory be green forever!"
He withdrew his hat, and bowed his head. All present did the same, and
stood in silence for a moment.

"We all must bear the chances of life and war," resumed the Captain,
"and now let us take up the next duty. What shall be our policy? We have
heard the reports of the scouts; shall we make an attack?"

The council of war thus invoked, long and earnestly considered the
question. Had not their hearts and hands been burdened and stayed by
Governor Wille's neglect, the Brownies would have joyfully ventured an
assault even upon such a stronghold. As matters stood, however, they
judged that an attempt would only lead to useless loss and further
discouragement. They recommended that the siege of the fort be continued
as closely as possible, and that meanwhile Captain Bruce and Lieutenant
MacWhirlie make another appeal to Governor Wille. Thus the council
closed.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote K: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote L: Note B.]

[Footnote M: Appendix, Note C.]

[Footnote N: Appendix, Note D.]

[Footnote O: Note E.]

[Footnote P: Appendix, Note F.]

[Footnote Q: Appendix, Note G.]



CHAPTER IV.

THE BROWNIES VISIT GOVERNOR WILLE.


All that their unaided powers could do the Brownies had now done. But
the higher Decrees of Nature had linked their destiny with the will and
conduct of the Household whose welfare they guarded. Mysterious
relation! you exclaim. True; and the creatures of the Universe are bound
to one another and to the Great Whole in relations whose mystery none
has fathomed, and which perplex the wisest. So what could the Brownies
do, or what could men do in like estate, but continue steadfast in
watching and duty, and do their best to change the wills upon whose
action turned weal or woe, success or failure?

The truth is, Governor Wille had fallen into bad ways. It was a proud
day to the Brownies, and joyously had they celebrated it, when their
friend had been elected Governor of the Great State of Ohio. But joy had
been turned into mourning. New faces began to be seen around Hillside,
and they carried little spiritual force and beauty upon them. Rude
voices, coarse laughter, profane words, angry tones were no longer
strange sounds in the Wille Mansion.

The lads who read this will soon be voters. Let them mark this: the man
who goes into political life must take heed or he will be swept away
from safe moorings by a class of so-called "party friends," who are poor
companions and worse counsellors, and who elbow and crowd away the best
elements of community. Now, Governor Wille did not take heed. He gave
himself up to those who surrounded him for low, selfish ends, and
drifted under their convoy into perilous channels. As the Governor fell
off from the good old ways, the Pixies triumphed at Hillside, and the
Brownies lost control. That was the state of things when these Records
began. Indeed, it had well nigh come to such a pass with the Brownies
that they ceased to ask: How shall we beat back the Pixies? and were
beginning to wonder, How shall we escape with our lives?

There could not have been a better leader than Bruce. He was bold but
prudent, having courage without rashness. He was cool, hopeful and
persevering. All the fairies loved and trusted him. He had risked his
life a hundred times for them and theirs. He was covered with scars.
Amidst all troubles and losses he had not lost heart. But now he was
cast down and doubtful.

Never did captain have a better helper than Lieutenant MacWhirlie.
Active, tireless, with spirits that never drooped, and zeal that never
flagged; prompt, obedient, brave and intelligent, MacWhirlie was a model
officer. His one fault was that he sometimes failed in caution; careless
of his own life, he was apt to risk unduly the lives of his men. But in
the wild, guerilla warfare that the Brownies waged, such a fault seemed
very like a virtue. Therefore the Lieutenant was loved by his troopers
and honored by all. Affairs were truly serious when MacWhirlie became
discouraged; and he was discouraged now, beyond a doubt.

The fact that the Pixies were fortified upon the lawn, and encamped
therein, bag and baggage, was bad enough. Yet this difficulty, courage,
patience and skill might overcome. But the destiny which linked their
success with the behavior of Governor Wille, bore heavily upon the good
Brownies since the Governor had taken to evil ways. Therefore the
Captain and Lieutenant set out with heavy hearts for the Mansion. A
crowd of Brownies followed a little way behind their officers. They saw
them cross the Lawn, spring into the great Sugar maple tree, run along
the lowest limbs and swing themselves upon the sill of the chamber
window. The window was open. Governor Wille sat beside it in an easy
chair, reading a newspaper, and enjoying the fresh morning air.

The Brownies saluted him. He dropped his paper and answered the greeting
heartily.

"Welcome, good brothers, a thousand welcomes!" His tone grew less cheery
as he spoke the last words, for his eye caught the grave bearing and sad
faces of his visitors. He knew at once that they must have come on
serious business. Indeed, he might have guessed that at first, for
except at Christmas times, and on birthday and wedding anniversaries,
the Brownies rarely entered the Mansion unless some urgent need
required. They were always near at hand, the Governor well knew, and
hovered about house and grounds doing kindly deeds in secret. But the
family did not often hear or see them. In fact, Governor Wille had been
so busy, and was away from home so often, that he had lost much of the
old family interest in the gentle little people who loved and guarded
him and his so tenderly. Yet, he had not wholly forgotten them. They had
visited him several times of late with complaints about their own
dangers, and warnings about his. He had thought lightly of the matter,
and of that, indeed, he was a little ashamed. But, then, he was so busy!

He rose from his chair. "Brothers," he said, "Your sober faces bode a
gloomy message. I know you are never pleased to waste words. Speak your
errand freely. What troubles you?"

[Illustration: FIG. 23.--The Pixies Spinning Gossamer over the Eyes of
Governor Wille and Dido.]

"Brother Wille," answered Bruce, "we bring nothing new. It is the old
trouble about the Pixies the same complaint and warning that we have
urged upon you of late more than once. Our enemies--and well you know
they are yours too!--are pressing closely upon us. They have driven us
to the lawn at last, and even upon that they have built their fort and
camp. A little space further and we must flee into the house. And what
most troubles us is that they will follow us. Ah, brother Wille, our
hearts are sad at the thought of Pixies filling your home! We have done
our best and we come to you for aid. You must help us drive back these
wicked spirits. That is our petition, and our request."

The two Brownies stood quietly with their bonnets or Scotch caps under
their arms. Governor Wille impatiently crumpled the paper in his hand,
came to the window and replied. "Tut, tut, Bruce, it certainly can't be
as bad as that. You are a little blue this morning, I fear. Why, when
did Brownies ever give up to Pixies? It was never heard of!"

"Softly, brother Wille," said the Captain. "That has often happened,
right here at Hillside, too! And it will happen again you may depend
on't, if Wille and Dido do not soon bestir themselves to help their old
home fairies."

Governor Wille hesitated, ahemmed, and at last said: "I am loath to
meddle in this affair, and really, I don't see that there is such
pressing danger. I have little fear for my good, brave Brownie friends.
But,--I shall talk to Madam Dido about it, and if she is agreed, look
out for aid, and get your troopers ready for a good chase after the
Pixies."

The two Brownies withdrew, leaving the house by the way they had
entered. They looked sad, although they tried to hide their feelings
from the friends who awaited their coming.

"What is the news?" cried the Brownies.

"Nothing as yet," answered Bruce. "But we hope for good news soon."

"What will come of all this, Captain?" asked MacWhirlie privately.

"Very little, I fear," was the answer. "I can't think what has come over
the Governor of late. The Pixies seem to have spun their webs over his
heart."

"Over his eyes rather!" said MacWhirlie, "or his hands and feet. His
heart is still true to the Brownies, I am sure. But he can't or don't
understand our troubles and his own perils."

"Well, well, we shall soon know." With that poor consolation they sat
down on the edge of the lawn by the gravel walk and waited.

Presently Governor Wille and his wife Dido came out of the house, and
walked slowly up the path. Wille was relating his interview with the
Brownies.

"What do you think, wife? I fancy their stories about the Pixies are a
good deal exaggerated--by fear of course I mean, for Brownies are clear
truth always. Bruce said that the lawn was full of their tents and nets.
Do you see them? I cannot see one, and I've been looking all along the
walk."[R]

"I quite agree with you, my dear," said the affectionate Dido. "As for
the Pixie snares, I can see no more of them than you. Perhaps we had
better wait a few days before we interfere."

"A few days!" sighed Bruce, who heard all the conversation. "It will be
too late by that time, I fear!"


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote R: On a dewy summer morning one sees the fields and shrubbery
covered with innumerable spider webs of various sorts. By midday these
webs are invisible. What has become of them? In truth, the sun has
simply dried the dew which clung to the delicate filaments of the webs
and thus made them visible; and from careless eyes the webs are hidden,
as was the case with Governor Wille.--THE EDITOR.]



CHAPTER V.

MADAM BREEZE COMES TO THE RESCUE.


"Come!" cried the Captain at last. "Moping is no part of duty. If
Governor Wille won't help us, we must seek allies in other quarters; and
for the rest trust to our good swords."

He raised his bugle to his lips, and sounded a note or two, whereat his
Adjutant appeared.

"Blythe," said the Captain, "order out my pony, and get ready to attend
me to Hilltop. And you, MacWhirlie, see that every Brownie is armed and
ready for work of any kind at a moment's warning. No fuss, please; keep
everything quiet as possible. I don't want Spite the Spy to suspect any
unusual movement. He'll give you credit for a little lack of caution
when he finds you in command;" and the Captain laughed pleasantly as he
said this. "But mind! it mustn't be the genuine article, now. Try for
once to beat Spite at his own favorite tactics. Draw off the cavalry
pickets, but see that your troopers are ready for the saddle. Look to
the pioneer corps, and see that the axes are in good order. Saunter
around carelessly as you like, but keep your eyes open. Come, Blythe!"

The last words were spoken to his Adjutant who already stood holding the
Captain's butterfly pony Swallowtail, as well as his own. The Brownies
sprang upon the creatures' backs and rode away.

MacWhirlie watched the forms of the horsemen until they were lost to
view behind the gable of the house. "Heigh-ho!" he sighed, "the time
was when the journey to Hilltop was a safe and pleasant ride. But it's a
bold feat nowadays, with Pixies waiting at every corner, and their webs
flapping on every bush. But I must e'en leave the Captain with
Providence and go about my own business."

[Illustration: FIG. 24.--Bruce and Blythe on Their Way to Hilltop. Pixie
Attus Tries to Lasso Them.]

The afternoon was well advanced when Bruce and Blythe halted their jaded
ponies under the shade of a laurel bush, a little way from the Lone
Aspen on Hilltop. "Poor fellow!" said the Captain as he stroked
Swallowtail's drooping wings. "It was too bad to bring you on such a
service, with plenty of stouter nags in the stable! But we had to run
the gauntlet of the Pixies, you know, and those big fellows would never
have got through unnoticed. Think they can carry us back?" he asked
anxiously.

"I doubt it, Cap'n," was the answer. "But rest and a hearty meal may
bring 'em around all right."

"Very well; then do you care for them while I go to the Lone Aspen."

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 25.--Bruce Whistling for Madam Breeze.]

The Lone Aspen stood on the summit of the hill. It was an old tree, with
wide spreading branches, and great girth of trunk. The trunk was hollow,
and covered with warts. One of these was quite near the roots, and was
pierced in the centre with a hole which exposed the hollow within. Bruce
stopped at the foot of the tree beneath this opening, and blew a
peculiar note upon a whistle which hung by a chain about his neck. There
was no answer. He whistled again. Still no response. Along the rough
scales and ridges of bark running up and down the trunk, a stairway had
been made like the rounds of a ladder. Upon this the Captain climbed
towards the opening. He stepped out upon a bulging wart and peeped
within the tree. It was empty. Again he blew his whistle. The echoes
rolled up and down the hollow trunk and died away far above toward the
branches, where a faint streak of light shone through an opening like
the one in which the Brownie stood.

"This is strange!" exclaimed the Captain. He turned, and looked up at
the Sun through branches of the tree. "Surely, Madam Breeze should be at
the Lone Aspen at this time of day! However, I must climb to the window
and wait." He sat down on the window ledge, and as he was tired out by
long journeys, hard labors and sleepless nights, in spite of himself he
fell into a doze.

"Ooo--oo--oo!"

A sound like the tones of a distant bell awoke him.

"Ha, she has come!" he cried, and jumped to his feet. Madam Breeze was
passing with her attendants through the door. Her voice sounded through
the hollow trunk as she swept into it. In a moment the Captain felt her
breath upon his cheek, and presently stood face to face with her at the
window.

She kissed him heartily, brushed the hair back caressingly from his
forehead, and addressed him in a sprightly, kindly way. Madam Breeze was
an Elf of pleasing appearance; plump to the verge of stoutness, but
singularly graceful and airy in all her movements. She was troubled with
an asthma which interrupted her speech with frequent attacks of coughing
and wheezing, much to her discomfort and the disturbance of her temper.
She had an odd fashion of expanding and contracting in size either
suddenly or gradually. This occurred oftenest during her attacks of
asthma, and to those who first saw this, the sight was a startling one.

"So my brave little Captain," said the Elf, "you've been whistling for
the Breeze at last, have you? Ah! I thought you would come to it some
day. But you always were such an independent little body--hoogh! And
you have come to the little fat lady at last, hey? Well, I'm heartily
glad to see you--hoogh!--and you'd have been welcome long ago--wheeze!
Sit down and tell me your errand." She bustled about all the while and
kept everything and everybody around her in a whirl of excitement.

"There, now, I've composed myself to listen--wheeze! But I suspect that
I know without being told--hoogh! However, say on, while I sit here and
rock myself." The merry lady twisted together a couple of boughs into
the shape of a rude swing, and seating herself among the leaves, swayed
back and forth, wheezing, coughing, oh-ing and ah-ing, while Bruce told
the story of his troubles.

"And now," he concluded, "I appeal to you for help." He took the whistle
from his neck and laid it in the Elf's hand. "This talisman has always
opened a way for Brownies to the heart and help of you and yours."

"Tut, tut!" said Madam, throwing the chain around the Captain's neck
again, "Put up your whistle--hoogh! No need to remind Madam Breeze by
that of the claim of the fairies upon her and hers. And so these horrid
Pixies have worried the life out of you? And you tarried all this time
before coming to me?--Wheeze, wheeze! Confound this cough! And you
didn't go to my gentle Lady Zephyr this time, hey? Her balmy breath
wouldn't quite suit your present purpose? Ho, ho, ho! Good stout Madam
Breeze for you, hey?--Hoogh! Aha, I see that Brownies, like other folk,
when they get into trouble prefer the useful to the ornamental. Well,
well, you're right enough."

Whereupon the jolly, kind hearted Elf swung and rolled herself about and
made the leaves of the Lone Aspen fairly dance with the voice of her
laughter.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.--Captain Bruce Appeals to Madame Breeze.]

"Now to business!" Madam Breeze sobered down just one moment as she
spoke. "How did you come here? On the ponies, hey? Call Blythe."

Bruce blew his bugle. Presently Blythe clambered up the ladder and
saluted the Elf.

"How are the ponies, Blythe? Pretty well done out, hey? Not fit for the
journey back? In a pinch are you? So I thought. Well, you Brownies do
miss it sometimes, you must confess." Madam ran on asking and answering
her own questions without giving Blythe a chance to speak a word.
However, she seemed, through, some mysterious news agency of her own, to
know everything without information from the Brownies.

"Need fresh horses? Just as I supposed. Here,
here--Whirlit,--wheeze,--hoogh! (Confound that cough!) Blythe, call
Whirlit for me. The rascal!--he's always out of the way when I want
him."

Notwithstanding the bad character given him by his mistress, Whirlit was
at the window in a moment.

"There, keep still now, and listen!" Madam herself was quite as restless
as the frisky Whirlit while she gave her orders, bouncing back and forth
all the time among the leaves. "Still, I say! Put Swallowtail and
Blythe's pony in the stable, and get out my Goldtailed matches. Order
all hands to be ready to leave immediately. Quick! Off with you!"

Whirlit sprang from the window, turning a score of somersaults or more
on his way to the ground. He returned presently, leading a pair of
Goldtailed moths. They were beautiful insects with soft downy plumage,
snowy white color, and a tuft of yellow hair at the end of the tail.

"Aren't they beauties," cried Madam, casting an admiring glance at her
splendid matches. "And fast, too. And thoroughly trained. And what's
the strangest thing about them, they're not worth an old straw in the
day time. They hang around on the bark here as spiritless as a
toadstool. But the moment evening comes they spruce up, and hie--away!
they're brisk enough then. Queer, isn't it? But I keep 'em just for
night work. Now we're all ready for a bout with the Pixies. Pooh! the
nasty beasts! I hate to soil my breath with them and their clammy
snares. But Brownies can't be left to suffer. Ready, Captain? Yes? very
well, then, mount and away!"

The afternoon was nearly gone. Below Hilltop the woods, orchard, house,
lawn and garden all lay in shadow. The Goldtailed matches were in fine
spirits. Their energetic mistress kept close behind them buoying them
up, and urging them on, and in a short time they reached the spring at
the foot of the orchard back of the mansion.

"Halt!" cried Madam Breeze. "I shall wait here in the tops of the trees,
while you move forward and get your Brownies ready. Be quick, now, and
when you want me, remember the whistle."



CHAPTER VI.

ATTACK ON THE OLD LODGE.


Bruce put spurs to Goldtail and flew across the garden followed closely
by Blythe. They reached the Lawn and crossed the Brownie camp. They
stopped at the Captain's headquarters under the Rose Bush. Everything
was in confusion. MacWhirlie was pacing back and forth in high
excitement; a group of Brownies surrounded him, talking and
gesticulating violently.

"Silence!" cried MacWhirlie, stopping suddenly, facing the excited
group. "I tell you that I will not stir a hand in this thing until
Captain Bruce returns, or until it is settled that he will not return
this night. I love Rodney as fondly as you; he is my dearest friend, the
Captain's own brother, my comrade in a thousand fights and forays. But
it would bring on a battle were I to consent to follow my own heart and
your wishes. That would ruin us all. I cannot; dare not, will not! I
must obey my orders. Silence, I say!"

Bruce leaped from Goldtail's back and walked hastily into the midst of
the group. The Brownies did not notice him until he stood by
MacWhirlie's side.

A clamor of surprise, satisfaction, and grief greeted him. The
Lieutenant's face brightened; then clouded again, as with sympathy and
pain.

"Speak, MacWhirlie," said the Captain. "What has happened? What is wrong
with Rodney? Quick, and tell the worst at once."

"He is shut up by the Pixies along with his boy Johnny."

[Illustration: FIG. 27.--The Old Lodge Overspun by Pixies.]

"What, Rodney captured! I never would have thought it. How did it come
about?"

"It was not exactly his own fault, Sir. He had been busy about the boats
all day--you know we were to have everything in order,--and I had asked
him to look after his sailors. He took Johnny with him--not an hour ago,
Sir,--to have a last look at matters. He did not want to take the little
fellow, but the lad was bent on going; and besides he is a brisk young
Brownie, and quite able to look after himself. Rodney was busy at the
rivulet about some naval affairs and left the boy for a few moments on
shore. Just then one of the butterfly ponies flew by and strolled off
toward the Pixie picket line. Johnny saw its danger and ran to bring it
back. He had gone but a little way when he was seized by one of the
Pixie scouts, who are always hovering around now, and clapped into one
of our old lodges which they have covered with spinningwork and are
using as a guard house."[S]

"But Rodney? How came he into their hands?" the Captain cried.

"I am coming to that. The Commodore heard Johnny's cries, sprang on
shore, and rushed upon the old wretch who had captured the lad, and who
was spinning a rope across the door. He cut him down with one blow of
his cutlass and ran into the lodge to get Johnny."

"Ha! that was well done!" exclaimed Bruce.

"Yes, Sir, but he wasn't quick enough. A squad of pickets heard the
fuss, and before Rodney could repass the door they had blocked it up
with their snares, double lashed and sealed it, and,--there they are!"

"How did you find out all this?"

"Why, of course, some of the sailors also heard the boy's cries and
followed the Commodore; but only in time to see how things had gone.
They ran back to the camp, and here they are, clamoring, threatening,
pleading to get me to order all hands to the rescue of Rodney and his
boy."

"Have you done anything?"

"I have set guards to watch the lodge and report continually how things
go. For the rest I have tried to keep the camp in perfect quiet."

"How goes it with the prisoners; are they well?"

"Yes," answered Pipe the Boatswain, "the Commodore has his boy in the
very furthest end of the lodge, and he stays there walking back and
forth before the lad, cutlass in hand. They haven't dared to molest him
yet. He sounded his bugle once or twice, and I know he wonders why his
friends, especially his old tars, have deserted him. It's well nigh
broke our hearts, Cap'n."

"It was hard to resist the pressure, Captain," said MacWhirlie, "and
harder still to control my own heart. But I did what I thought my duty.
I stand ready to suffer for it if I erred. And now that you are back all
I ask is to lead the rescue. I will save Rodney and his boy, or leave my
carcass with the Pixies."

"My dear fellow," said Bruce, "you did quite right. God bless you for
your love of me and mine but especially bless you for your firmness on
this occasion. It would have been a sad day for us all if the life of
our nation had been risked for the sake of one however dear to me and to
us all. Now, get ready for action! Is all in order for the assault?"

"Everything."

"Then rally the men. We will advance with all our force. We must first
save Rodney and his boy. Then we shall clean out the whole Pixie nest.
The battle word is 'Rescue.' Madam Breeze waits yonder in the orchard
to join us."

How the order flew through the Brownie camp! Love for Rodney, and the
news of the near presence of their powerful ally put hope and courage
into all hearts. Every man was in his place. Even the older boys had
taken arms, hoping for permission to join in the battle or at least the
chase.

[Illustration: FIG. 28.--A Tubeweaver's Den.]

The Captain led his men swiftly and cautiously by a roundabout route to
the site of the old lodge, which was at the extreme eastern flank of the
Pixie camp. He skirted the Lawn, passed the spring, and struck the bank
of the rivulet at the foot of the orchard. There he waited until the
full moon had risen above the hills, and slanted her rays along the
river and into the bosom of little Lake Katrine.

"Hark!" said the Captain at last.

"Hark," the word passed in a whisper along the line.

Up in the tree tops Madam Breeze and her train were waiting for the
signal. Not waiting patiently, indeed, for they rocked and rolled among
the round topped apple trees, and swung to and fro among the tall pears,
rustling the leaves, shaking down the fruit, and whistling among the
branches. But there they were, all ready, eager to rush upon their
foes.

The Brownies had now reached a point well to the east of the Pixie camp
and fort. Just beyond them was the lodge, now changed into a
tubeweaver's den, in which the Commodore and his boy were confined.
Captain Bruce halted the column and distributed the men throughout the
tall grass. He formed a half circle looking toward the old lodge, the
pioneers or axmen being in the centre.

"Steady, now, a moment," he exclaimed in a low tone to MacWhirlie. He
fell upon hands and knees and glided through the grass. He was back in a
few moments.

"It is all right. Not more than a dozen Pixies are on guard, the rest
are beyond the demilune in the camp at supper, carousing, singing and
making merry over Rodney's capture. Poor fellow! He is seated in the far
end of the lodge holding Johnny on his lap. The boy has cried himself
asleep. The Commodore has one hand on his sword and rests his face upon
the other. Neither friend nor foe seems to be expecting us."

"Attention!" The order ran in low whispers around the line.

"Ready!"

"Ready." This word passed from officer to officer in the same way.

Then the Captain stepped to the head of the axmen, put his whistle to
his lips and blew a long blast. The shrill notes cut through the air.
Rodney heard it, lifted up his boy, leaped to his feet and cried:

"Come, Johnny, up! Wake! It is a rescue!"

The Pixie guards heard it. They grasped their weapons, and crowded
together before the door of the lodge. Spite the Spy and his horde heard
it as they feasted and made merry. They hastily seized their arms.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.--Spite and His Pixie Friends make Merry Over
Rodney's Capture.]

"What's in the wind, now?" muttered Spite. "That beast of a Bruce is at
the bottom of it, I warrant." But none of them seemed seriously to
expect an attack. The Brownie camp had been quiet all day. Their Captain
was known to be absent; their Commodore was a prisoner; there had been
no sign of any unusual stir.

Up in the orchard where she swung impatiently among the tree tops, good
Madam Breeze heard the same call.

"Ah! there it goes at last. Thank our star for that. What! Whirlit,
Whisk, Keener and all the rest of you, do you hear? Up and away--away!
Oo--oo--Ooh!"

The Brownies were crouched in the grass, every nerve strained to the
utmost, every eye fixed eagerly upon their leader, awaiting the word of
command. It came at last. Bruce dropped his whistle, drew his
broadsword, and shouted the welcome word, "Charge!"

With a wild hurrah the column closed in upon the lodge, MacWhirlie
leading one wing, Pipe the other, and Bruce at the head of the axmen
leading the centre.

It was a complete surprise. The guard of Pixies broke, parting to right
and left. One squad fell into the hands of the sailors and were all
slain. The others fared little better with MacWhirlie and his troopers.
The door gave way before the strokes that the Captain and his pioneers
rained upon it, and Rodney with his boy in his arms sprang out. Three
times three hearty cheers rang in the evening air as the brave hearted
sailor came forth a free man.

"Brother Rodney," said Captain Bruce, "there is not even time for
greeting. Send your boy to the rear. Take command of your men. We are to
charge the whole Pixie camp and fort. Madam Breeze is behind us. You
know the rest. Forward!"


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote S: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER VII.

HOW THE FORT WAS SAVED.


By this time the Pixies in the main camp had recovered from their
surprise. The Brownies' battle-cry "Rescue" showed plainly the object of
the assault. The Pixies were used to war's alarms; and, as for their
leader, Spite, lack of promptness and skill was not among his faults.
Therefore Rodney had scarcely been set free ere Spite had his followers
in line. However, he did not expect an attack upon himself, for he
fancied that the Brownies had been too much cowed lately to venture upon
the offensive. He thought they would be satisfied with rescuing Rodney,
and would then retreat, and that he determined to prevent.

"Come, my lads," he shouted, "we must not let these creatures escape us
this time. Teach them what it is to break into a Pixie camp. Fall on
them! Give no quarter; spare no one, let your battle-cry be 'Death!'" He
ran to the front as he spoke, shaking in one hand a poisoned dart and
holding in the other his war club.

[Illustration: FIG. 30.--Elf Whirlit Comes to the Rescue of Captain
Bruce.--(Illustration by Dan. C. Beard.)]

The Pixies followed keenly enough, shouting their terrible watchword.
But their confidence was dashed as they saw the Brownies, so far from
retreating, actually forming their line of battle in front of the
demilune. The Pixies paused at this sight. Even Spite hesitated a
moment. In that moment a shower of arrows rained upon them from the
Brownie bows. Then with a ringing cheer the brave fairies charged. The
two columns closed. Above the clash of weapons and clamor of battle were
heard ever and anon the voices of the Pixies sounding the war cry
"Death," and the cheery tenor of the Brownies answering with the sweet
word "Rescue."

The leaders of the two parties were in the thickest of the fight. Spite
was well seconded by his two lieutenants, Heady and Hide, and the rank
and file of the Pixies behaved valiantly. The Brownies had gained much
by their first onset upon the picket line and outposts, but, on the
other hand were far the weaker party. It were hard to say which army
might have won the fight had they been left to themselves; but this was
not to be. Madam Breeze swept down upon the struggling lines. For a
moment she hovered over the battle confused and angry at the prospect.

"Why, what can I do?" she cried. "Here, Whirlit, Keener, Bluster--you
rogues, stop I say! Don't you see?--hoogh! You can do nothing against
the Pixies without injuring the Brownies. They're so mixed together that
I can scarce tell one from the other."

Whirlit had already thrown himself into the midst of the fight. He
espied Captain Bruce and bounded to his side. Two great Pixies were
rushing upon the Captain with uplifted spears, and wide open mouths from
which terrible fangs were thrust. With one puff of his keen breath
Whirlit sent both these warriors spinning and tumbling in the dust.

"Thanks!" cried the Captain, "That was a kindly service right bravely
done." Whirlit threw himself over and over again as a token of his
satisfaction, and then said:

"Madam awaits your orders. She fears to mix in the fight lest she may do
more harm than good. What shall we do? Make haste, please, the old lady
is very much excited and won't wait long. She'll be in mischief if--"

"Silence, Sir!" said the Captain sternly. "Don't speak in such terms of
your mistress. Tell Madam Breeze with my compliments, to knock over the
Pixie camp, houses and fort, and leave the enemy themselves to us."

"Whew!" whistled Whirlit as he leaped into the air. "A peppery Brownie,
that! Served me right, however."

He found Madam Breeze almost bursting with anger, confusion, anxiety,
excitement and the exertion of self-restraint.

"You imp of ingratitude!" she began, "how could you dare--"

"Madam," cried Whirlit, interrupting her, "the Captain says, with his
compliments, you will please knock over the Pixie camp, tents, houses,
fort and all!"

Madam's brow cleared in a moment. "That I will," she answered in her
usual jovial tones. "Hie--away, my hearties! come, come now! 'Blow, ye
winds, and crack your cheeks!'"

Thereupon Madam Breeze and her company fell upon the Pixie camp. The
breastwork or demilune that had been woven around the outer bounds was
leveled in an instant. Then the clamorous crew fell upon the circle of
huts and tents that stood next within. It was not so easy work here.

"Whoop!" shouted Whirlit, as he threw himself, with full force, back
foremost, against one of the broad canvas sides. "Ugh!" was the next
exclamation heard from him as he bounded back like an india-rubber ball
and fell sprawling among tent pins and ropes.

"Ho, ho, ho!" The merry laugh of Madam Breeze rolled out through the
hurly-burly at this discomfiture of her page. "Try it again, Whirlie,
it's easily done, you know! You'd make a fine base ball, now, wouldn't
you? Ha, ha!"

Whirlit did try again; then Whisk and Bluster and Keener; and last of
all Madam Breeze threw her round body against the tent. The ropes
snapped, the walls tumbled together, and in a trice the noisy Breezes
had sent ropes, canvas, and poles streaming away into the air, broken
into a hundred pieces.[T]

One after another the Pixies' dens, nests, tents, huts, barns and
storehouses shared the same fate at the hands of the busy wreckers. In a
few moments the ruins of the camp were scattered in confused heaps upon
the earth, or were floating off upon the wings of the storm. The
females, or Pixinees, who with their broods of young had been left in
possession of the camp, at first showed fight. But they soon saw that
resistance was vain, and fled into the fort, where they hid themselves
in the sheltered corners and angles, or cowered against the lee side of
pebbles, leaves, clumps of grass, and the various rubbish that littered
the ground.[U]

All this time, the conflict was raging between the Brownies and Pixies
outside the barricade. Great as was the clamor raised at the overthrow
of the camp, the noise of battle was so loud and the feelings of the
combatants so intense, that none knew what havoc Madam Breeze was
making. A lad ran into the rear line of the Pixie troops calling for the
chief.

"Back to your mother, boy," was the gruff response, "and leave the
battle to warriors."

"But mother has fled into the fort. The house is broken down. The camp
is attacked. The barricades are leveled. Everything is ruined. I must
see the Captain."

The evil tidings rapidly spread, and even before it reached the chief
the line began to waver, and fall back toward the camp. Spite fell into
a towering rage when the message was brought to him. He cursed Madam
Breeze. He cursed the Pixie who stopped the messenger, and thus caused
the bad news to spread. He cursed Bruce and the Brownies. He cursed his
own eyes, also, although he might have saved himself that trouble, for
they had never been a blessing to anybody.

"But cursing won't mend matters, Chief," said Lieutenant Hide. "The fort
still stands; we can fall back to that, and save what we may."

"Drummer, sound the retreat," cried Spite; "and Hide, do you fall back
with the right wing to the fort. Orderly, bid Lieutenant Heady take
command and cover the retreat. Tell him to fight every inch of ground."

Then Spite turned upon his heels and hurried to the rear. In truth, he
was not sorry for an excuse to withdraw from the fight. He stumbled over
the ruins of the camp at every step. It was a complete wreck. Not a
tent, not a building of any kind remained, except the fort, to which he
bent his course. It was a huge structure, as we have seen, braced and
strengthened by every art and effort at the Pixies' command. But Spite's
heart failed him as he looked around, and saw how everything else in
camp had vanished away before the mighty breath of his adversaries.

"See!" he exclaimed, "Madam Breeze and her train have just attacked the
fort. Will it hold out, I wonder?" With this thought in mind he hurried
forward.

Keener saw him coming, and recognized him at once. "There comes Spite
the Spy!" he shouted. "At him, boys! let us toss him in one of his own
sticky blankets!"

"Aye, aye," answered Whisk, "suppose we fling him over the horns of the
moon, and let him--"

"Let him stick there," cried Whirlit, finishing the sentence. Whereat
the trio pounced pell-mell upon the Pixie chief.

"Very well, my lads," exclaimed Madam Breeze, "you're quite welcome to a
monopoly of the old beast. Phooh! How he smells of poison! He well nigh
takes my breath. Fort smashing suits me better." With these words she
threw herself against the Agalena wing of Fort Spinder. Every cord and
canvas in it shook with the violence of the onset. But it was unbroken.
Again and again the stout Elf cast herself against the walls; the cords
creaked and seemed about to part, but so elastic were they that they
swayed inward with a heavy surge and then back again. The weeds, blades
of grass and twigs to which the ropes and beams were fastened bent under
the weight of the blast, but were unbroken.

All this time Spite was struggling with the three Elves. They pinched
his skin, they plucked at his cheek, mouth and nostrils. They almost
blinded him with blasts which they cast full into his eyes. They pulled
his clothes, and held him by the limbs. But he kept on his path.
Stoutly, stubbornly he fought his way step by step until he stood at
last before the gate of the fort. He was seen at once, and a dozen of
the inmates ran forward to admit him.

"Not for your lives!" he shouted. "Don't leave a crack open, if you can
help it, for these blusterers to enter. It would be ruin to open the
gate."

He looked around him. Hide and his party were still a goodly distance
away. He could hear above the voices of the storm the rousing cheers of
the Brownies as they pressed more and more closely upon Heady, who was
doggedly giving way, disputing every inch of ground. Whirlit, Whisk and
Keener had left him, at the beck of Madam Breeze, and now joined that
lusty Elf in their assaults upon Fort Spinder.

"What is done, must be done quickly," thought Spite. "May all the furies
seize the old monster! She has broken a breach in the roof. See! the
garrison, aided by the women and children, are doing bravely. There;
that villain Keener has cut his way to the inside of Fort Agalena. And
there go Whisk and Whirlit after him. How the walls sway back and forth!
The roof bulges upward. The reprobates! They are trying to break through
the roof. If they do that and Madam Breeze gets in, all is lost; away
will go the whole building with a crash. What shall I do? If we could
only anchor the roof! But there's no ballast about. Hide and his men are
far away yet. Confusion seize them! Why aren't they here now?"

It was a trying moment for the interests of the Pixies. All seemed to
turn upon the fate of the fort; and that to depend upon one person. But
that person was Spite the Spy, and he had never yet been wholly without
resources. Hopeless as the case appeared, he was equal to the emergency.
He would save the fort if it could be saved! He jumped from the weed-top
which he had mounted for better observation, and plunged into the midst
of the ruins of the camp. He stopped before a pebble almost the size of
his own body.

"That will do, I think," he muttered. He seized the stone, twisted a
cable around it, and dragged it away toward the fort. It was but a
moment's work to climb upon an overhanging weed, fasten the cable to a
branch and swing the stone over upon the roof. The canvas sheet sank
downward under the pebble's weight. Spite watched it with keen interest.
The elastic stuff swayed upward and downward several times, and seemed
about to settle firmly, when Whirlit leaped upward against it with his
strong shoulders. The pebble flew off the roof, spinning through the air
close to the head of the Pixie chief, who looked on from his perch among
the leaves.

"Failure!" muttered Spite.

"Try again, old fellow!" shouted Whirlit from the inside, where he was
capering in high good humor above the heads of the enraged inmates.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.--"He Jumped from the Weed Top."]

"Good advice," Spite responded with feigned cheerfulness; "I will try
again. And succeed next time, too!"

A mocking laugh followed him as he swung himself down the weed by his
rope ladder, and hurried off again into the ruined camp. On--on--on! He
stopped at last.

"This is it--the very thing. But, can I manage it?" He stood before a
broken twig as thick as his own body and five or six times as long as
himself. Think of a man carrying a log as thick as himself and
twenty-five or thirty feet long! That was something like the feat that
Spite undertook.

"But I can do it," he said; "I _must_ do it!" The energy and strength
of despair were upon him. He seized the beam with his long arms, bowed
himself to the burden and lifted it. Tottering with the weight, and
stumbling over the debris of the desolate village, he laid down the beam
at last at the foot of the tall weed.

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 32.--Spite the Spy Climbs a Weed to Reconnoitre.]

The task was not ended. He twisted a cable around the log and mounted
into the foliage. He stood a hundred times his own height above the
weight he wished to lift. Would he ever get it up? We shall see! He
hauled upon his rope until it was stretched to its utmost. Then one end
of the stick slowly rose above the earth; up--up--until the other end
was in the air. See! it swings quite free. It is rising higher and
higher. Hand over hand, the strong and patient workman is drawing the
beam slowly and surely toward the top of the plant.[V]

Madam Breeze began to be concerned about this new effort of Spite's. A
few more stout assaults and the roof must give way dragging with it
walls and all.

But what if Spite should manage to get his great log anchor on it? It
would hold the roof so steady that no power at her command could move
it. Moreover, it would bear the roof down toward the ground, and so
prevent Whirlit, Keener, and Whisk from breaking through by stretching
the elastic cords upward until they snapped. They could make no headway
by pressing downward since the earth stayed the cords in that direction.
And how could they heave the roof upward with a great log lying on it?

"I don't want to begin this affair all over again," quoth Madam Breeze,
"for in sooth, I'm pretty well out of breath now--wheeze! A few more
turns will use me up. Therefore, my good Mr. Spite, I fear that I must
interfere with this logging business of yours."

So saying, she flung herself upon the beam, as it hung far up in the
air, slowly mounting to its place. It swayed up and down a moment, as an
object fastened to an elastic thread will do, and then--crash! the rope
snapped, and the log fell to the ground.

Not a whit discouraged by this disaster, Spite looped the end of the
cable over the weed, and before Madam had fairly got her breath again,
he had made fast the log, reascended the bush, and was pulling might and
main upon the rope.

He had his reward. There was no second breaking of the cable, although
Madam Breeze threw her weight upon the log. It reached its position. It
hung nearly over the roof. Spite tied the rope, crept out upon the
branch, reached down to the log, and with one push of his long arm swung
it inward and over the roof. At the same time he cut the cable. The log
dropped to its place. The roof that had been bulging out, just ready to
burst, sank into its true position. The walls were anchored now. The
fort was saved![W]

Madam Breeze gathered all her strength for a last onset. Whirlit, Whisk,
and Keener on the inside vigorously seconded her attempt. But it failed.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.--A Spider Drawing up a Swathed Grasshopper to
its Leafy Den, "Hand Over Hand."]

"Well, well," said Madam, "I give it up! I'm out of breath--clear
blowed--hoogh! I've scarce wind enough to get home with--wheeze! Come
out of that, lads. Our work is done for to-day."

The three Elves crept, rather crestfallen, out of the opening in the
roof made by the pebble, and the whole party without more ado, or
another word, puffed back to Lone Aspen. Spite sat upon the branch and
watched their departure. He rubbed his hands, and said, "Aha!" He knew
that he had done a deed that would gain him glory among the Pixies. That
was pleasant; but after all, that which pleased him best was the thought
that he had saved a Pixie fort from which to plot and war against the
good Brownies.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.--An Orbweb with a Pebble Counterpoise.]

Yes, my dears, one may be clever, wise and accomplished, but very, very
bad withal. As poet Burns truly sang:

    "The heart aye's the part aye
     That maks us right or wrang."

Hide and his company of Pixies came up to the fort soon after Madam
Breeze and her retainers had gone. The south gate was thrown open, and
the inmates ran out and mingled with their friends, loudly praising the
deed by which Spite had saved the fort. The hero of all this praise sat
quietly on his perch resting, surveying the field, and thinking. He had
need of his wisest thoughts; for the victorious Brownies were already
beyond the outer line of the demilune, steadily driving Heady and his
division before them.

Spite dropped to the ground by the cable that still swung upon the bush.
"Go back into the fort," he said to the fugitives. "Your own homes are
gone, and that will be the safest place for you now. As for us,"
addressing the soldiers, "we must make a last stand here and keep it.
The sun is nearly down. If we can hold the position for a little
longer, night will bring relief, and give time for some plan that shall
change the fortune of battle. Advance!"

The line moved forward to support Heady. The site of the fort was well
chosen for defence. It stood upon a swelling height of the lake shore,
with a space of smooth grass in front. On this little plain, a short
distance beyond the height, at Spite's command the Pixies began putting
up a breastwork. They wrought rapidly, weaving together grass blades,
leaves and twigs, and spinning between them ropes and webs. Spite,
himself, with a few of the ablest warriors went to assist Heady in
holding back the Brownies. The plan succeeded; by the time the fighting
force was ready to fall back, the workers had thrown up a rampart behind
which the entire army retreated in good order. A series of skirmishes
began along the line of breastworks, but the evening shadows soon fell
and separated the combatants.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.--How a Spider Drops to the Ground.]

The Brownies were in fine spirits. They were confident of complete
victory on the morrow. A line of cavalry pickets, under Lieutenant
MacWhirlie, was posted throughout the plain, which skirted nearly
three-fourths of the knoll on which the fort stood. These pickets were
ordered to keep moving the whole night, thus keeping strict guard upon
the Pixies at the points whence they were most likely to make a sally or
seek to escape. Sentinels were also placed on the lake side or rear of
the fort. In that quarter the bank sloped toward the lake, and was
dotted with bushes that straggled singly and in clumps to the water's
edge. Soon the camp fires and lanterns of the Brownie army were
glimmering along the outer border of the plain and through the copse by
the lake side. They looked like fire-flies dancing among the boughs, and
indeed they were encaged fire-flies, or bits of fox-fire from decayed
stumps. As the whole country was now open to Captain Bruce, he had no
trouble in securing supplies for his troops, so that the Brownies went
to the night's rest or duty with refreshed bodies as well as hopeful
spirits.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.--"Weaving Together Grass, Leaves and Twigs."]

Matters were not so pleasant with the Pixies. The provisions laid up
within Fort Spinder were not abundant, and Spite had to order all to be
put upon short rations. Moreover, their hunting ground was quite
limited, of course, and the game on which they were used to prey had
been frightened off by the late commotions. However, the lights from the
watch fires of their enemies drew some unwary and over curious night
wanderers within the confines of the fort, and the hungry Pixies were
able to catch a few of them. As for Spite, their chief, he was silent
and moody. After mounting the guards, and giving necessary orders, he
threw himself upon the ground, wrapped his blanket around him and began
to think. We shall learn the fruits of his plotting, by and by.[X]


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote T: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote U: Note B.]

[Footnote V: Appendix, Note C.]

[Footnote W: Appendix, Note D.]

[Footnote X: Appendix, Note E.]



CHAPTER VIII.

THE SANITARY CORPS.


In the centre of the Brownie camp were three large tents, the officers'
headquarters, the hospital tent, and the marquée of the Sanitary Corps.
These were wrought out of large leaves, deftly stretched upon frames,
with edges overlapping like a tiled roof, and anchored to the ground by
small pebbles, heaps of sand, and by tent pins of thorns or splinters.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.--The Hospital Tent and Marquée of the Sanitary
Corps.]

The Headquarters' tent was occupied by the chief officers, Bruce,
Rodney, MacWhirlie and Pipe. The Hospital tent was devoted to the sick
and wounded. But one would not easily imagine who were the occupants of
the Sanitary tent; we shall therefore lift the door of the marquée, and
peep within.

It is a snug place. In the centre, well up toward the roof, a large
fox-fire lantern hangs from the ridge pole which sheds a soft light
throughout the interior. A strong odor of herbs and ointments fills the
place, the reason for which soon appears. Four wee Brownie women are
busy with retorts, jars, boxes, lint, bandages, and various other
articles of the healing art.

The oldest of the party, judged by our human standard, has reached that
uncertain boundary of womanhood which divides maiden from matron. One
might venture to call her an "old maid" Brownie, and perhaps she would
not deny it, for that is a class--God bless them!--whom the Brownies
dearly love. But no one could aver that the fairy woman had suffered
loss of charms by advance in life. One glance into her face shows how
pure, gentle and good must be the disposition that has wrought the
tracery of such sweet expression around her features. Her name is
Agatha; she is the only child of Captain Bruce, and one does not wonder,
having once seen her, that even the Brownies call her Agatha the Good.
She is spreading upon tiny bandages out of a tiny jar some kind of
ointment, the recipe for which you may be sure is in none of our
dispensaries, but which the Brownies call Lily Balm.

The young Brownie who attends her, not as handmaid but companion, is
called Grace. Her face is such a goodly one, her manners are so gentle,
easy and winning, her every movement so graceful, delicate and yet so
full of life, that we shall not be surprised to hear you say: "Surely,
she must be the Fairy Queen herself!"

At the other end of the tent, kneeling over a brazier filled with coals,
is the third member of the Sanitary Corps. She holds above the coals a
retort, in which she is distilling Lily Balm. Her back is toward us and
her face is hidden. There! you have caught a glimpse of it as she turned
her head to speak to her companion. The cheeks are flushed, the eyes
are bright with the glow of the coals, there is an earnest, pitiful look
in their deep blue that speaks of thought intent upon present duty. But
there is also a strange light therein, a light as from some far away
world, that throws an air of mystery around this person and bids your
thoughts pause reverently as they run on in judgment concerning her.
This is Faith, the daughter of Rodney the Commodore. She is young as the
Brownies count years, and was born "at sea," that is, upon the Lake
Katrine of Brownieland, through which flows the Rivulet at the foot of
the Orchard.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--A Peep Inside the Sanitary Tent. Faith
Distilling Lily-Balm.]

At Faith's side is her companion and friend, Sophia, the daughter of
Pipe, the Boatswain. There is a mixture of boldness and shyness in her
manner that strikes one at once. Her movements have the snap and
positiveness of a practical woman. Her eyes sparkle with intelligence;
there is in them a keen, questioning look which tells that she loves not
only to know, but to know the reason why. If she were not a Brownie you
would probably say she was a pushing sort of person; that you scarcely
could decide whether she was more curious or sincere, more dreamy or
practical, more skeptical or credulous. But that she is beautiful you
would not hesitate to say. She is busy among the herbs, sorting them,
making ready material for Faith's retort.

Now that you have seen this Sanitary Corps, and learned their names, you
may drop the door of the tent and we shall go on with the story.

"Come, Grace, we have done quite enough for the present," said Agatha.
"Bring the bandages and let us go to the Hospital. Have you lint and
balm in your satchel? Very well. That is all we need now. Faith, hadn't
you better leave off distilling, and help us for a while with the
dressing?"

"Yes; if you wish it," answered Faith, "and we can stop now as well as
not."

The pots and herbs were set aside, and Faith and Sophia followed Agatha
and Grace through the rear door of the marquée. They crossed into the
Hospital under a covered way that united the two tents. The Hospital was
a spacious tent, or rather several large tents or marquées, joined in
one. Along each side on the rude cots hastily made from dried grass and
leaves, lay a number of wounded Brownies. The sufferers turned their
eyes upon the Nurses as they entered, and at once their faces lit up
with pleasure. Agatha and her friends went from couch to couch carrying
the blessings of their healing art. Some of the men had hurts that had
not yet been dressed. These were first carefully washed. The lint, which
the Nurses carried in their satchels, was laid upon the wound to absorb
the poison, and the balm applied.

[Illustration: FIG. 39.--The Jaws and Fangs.]

A Pixie uses his fangs, when fighting at close quarters, with terrible
effect. His mouth is a tremendous piece of machinery. The jaws are each
armed with a sharp, movable fang, pierced near its end. When the Pixie
bites, a poisonous fluid flows through this hole into the wound.[Y] In
battle with Brownies the Pixies try to come to close quarters. Being
much larger and more powerful, they seize them in their hairy arms,
strike their fangs into them, and spring back quickly out of reach of
the Brownie's sharp sword or axe. All this is done so rapidly, that
often ere the victim has time to strike a blow he has been wounded and
cast down, and his assailant is out of reach. The poison leaves a
painful wound in the Brownie's flesh, frequently disabling, but never
killing him unless the heart be reached. Indeed, no Brownie ever
perished by any form of violence except drowning, suffocation or a heart
stroke.

For the hurt made by Pixie fangs the Lily Balm made by the Sanitary
Corps is a sure remedy. If applied at once upon soft lint, which
absorbs the poison, the relief is immediate. But in any case it will
ease the pain, and in the end cure the wound.

The uses of this balm, and all the services which the sick require, were
well known by Agatha and her aids. They always followed the army; no
risk or toil was shunned by them upon their noble mission. They were the
wards of the nation, and the favorites of the army. Moreover, for why
should we keep it a secret? every one of them was dearly beloved by a
worthy youth, who had the joy of being loved in return.

[Illustration: FIG. 40.--The Poison Bag and Fang.]

The four Nurses made the round of the Hospital, visited every couch, and
applied or ordered needed remedies. At the end of the tent was a group
of Brownies, with wounds which required treatment, but were not serious
enough to hinder from duty. Their hurts were quickly cared for, and one
after another the party dropped out until only one was left. He was a
tall, shapely youth, who stood within the shadow of the gangway with his
face muffled in a cloak. As the last of the group was dismissed from the
Nurses' hands he stepped forward into the light, dropped his cloak,
saluted the Nurses, and advancing to Sophia's side held out toward her
his left arm. The sleeve had been ripped up, and a blood-stained bandage
surrounded the forearm. Sophia's cheeks grew pale, and she uttered a low
cry of alarm.

"Why, Sophie," exclaimed the youth, "what has possessed you? One would
think you had never seen blood before. Come, my good lass, it is only a
scratch, and a few drops of your Lily Balm will make it all right."

[Illustration: FIG. 41.--Sophia Dressing Sergeant True's Wounded Arm.]

Sophia now found voice. "What a fright you gave me! Are you sure that
you are not badly hurt, True? Quick! let me undo the bandage." The blood
came back to her cheeks which now were hot and flushed. Her fingers
trembled as she clipped the bandages with the scissors that hung at her
belt, bathed the wound, and tenderly laid on lint and balm. Sophia was
one of the best and most impartial of nurses; but it must be confessed
that her fingers passed more gently over that swollen arm; that her eyes
had a more pitiful look upon that hurt; that she lingered longer about
the details of bathing, anointing and bandaging that wound than she had
done in any other case. Do you blame her?

And Sergeant True was a model patient. Indeed he seemed quite to enjoy
his wound, or at least the treatment of it. Agatha, after a few kind
inquiries, had busied herself in giving instructions to the ward nurses
and watchers. Faith and Grace had withdrawn to their own tent.

"I am glad you came to me, True," said Sophia as the last stitch was
taken in the bands, and the sleeve was being gently fastened to its
place.

"Didn't I wait, just to make sure of that?" answered the Sergeant. "Why,
it is almost worth while to get a scratch like this for the pleasure of
having you doctor it with those canny fingers of yours. Many thanks!"

"But I don't care to practice my art on you, remember! Good bye!"

The words were spoken in the gangway as the handsome Sergeant passed
out, and--though it is by no means certain,--something very like the
sound of a kiss followed close upon them.

"Good bye!"

Ah, how many times the words are uttered on the border of shadows that
shall pall loving hearts. It is well that good-byes can be said in happy
ignorance of the morrow.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote Y: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER IX.

NIGHT WATCHES.


The four Brownie maidens were once more together in their own quarters.
There was little said for a long time. The meeting between Sophia and
her lover had awakened tender and anxious thoughts in the hearts of all.
Agatha was following in imagination the agile form of Lieutenant
MacWhirlie, as he went the grand rounds of his pickets. The thoughts of
Faith were with Adjutant Blythe who, somewhere in camp or field, served
at the Captain's side, his faithful squire and counsellor. Grace's
musings were of the gallant and stalwart Ensign of the Corps, Sergeant
Lawe.

It would be too much to say that the Nurses had no anxiety about the
safety of their lovers. But then, they had been bred in the midst of
war's alarms. They knew that their fathers, kindred, and friends were
brave, experienced, skillful, and devoted to one another. They had
learned to regard war risks as matters of ordinary life and business,
and were rarely troubled about them. There was special reason why they
should be even more light hearted than usual that night. Yet, so
strangely run the currents of one's thoughts, that these maidens were
all sad.

There was some reason, indeed, why Agatha and Faith should feel thus,
for the old saying fell true in their case about the course of true love
not running smooth. Captain Bruce refused consent to the marriage of
Agatha and MacWhirlie. The two had waited long, patiently, devotedly;
yes, and hopefully, although they had often known that "hope deferred"
which "maketh the heart sick." Every one thought the Captain's conduct
strange. But he never gave any reason, except that Agatha was too grave,
and MacWhirlie too gay for a well balanced marriage. As obedience to
parents is one of the unchanging laws of Brownieland, no one could
oppose.

Now, it so happened that Commodore Rodney had taken up a like notion
concerning his daughter and Adjutant Blythe. "Blythe is too jovial, and
Faith is too serious," said the Commodore. "They could never sail
smoothly in the same ship on a whole life's course." An odd feature of
this trouble was that each of the fathers pooh-hooed the objection of
the other, and each uncle was highly pleased with his niece's choice!
The best of Brownies, like other people, have their whimsies. Grace and
Sophia had no such sorrows to vex them, and were looking forward to
their wedding on the next Thanksgiving Day.

Enough for the present of these disappointments and hopes. The night
watch in the Hospital has just been changed, as have also the outer
sentinels. Blythe, for it is he who attends to this latter duty, has
sounded a soft note on the whistle that hangs against the rear door of
the Sanitary Tent. It is the signal that the Nurses are wanted in the
Hospital. Night duty is divided between them, two of them always
watching in the Hospital, while the others sleep in the marquée. Agatha
and Grace have the first watch to-night, and pass into the Hospital. But
Faith knows whose lips had sounded the call, and comes in to exchange a
few words with her lover.

"Good-bye!"

Why should she, too, have come back with a tear upon her cheek?

The light is turned down low in the fox-fire lantern. The yellow
hospital flag flaps lazily against the staff. The full moon hangs over
Hillside. The tramp, tramp of the sentinel grows dim and clear by turns
as he recedes from or nears the door. The noises of the camp have died
away and silence reigns at last over plain, fort and field. Both
Brownies and Pixies are weary with the day's battling and sleep well.
Faith and Sophia, too, after a long talk about their trials and their
loves, their hopes, fears and joys, have fallen asleep in each other's
arms.

The stars that mark the midnight hour are fast hastening into the
zenith. The sentinels walk their beats with weary pace. The relief
guards will soon be on the rounds. Faith and Sophia stir in their sleep
uneasily as though dimly conscious that the whistle will soon call them
to duty. There is a soft touch, as the touch of an angel's finger, upon
their cheeks. It seems to rest upon their eyes, their lips. It is
pressed against their nostrils. It stays their breathing. They turn
restlessly on their couch. They toss their arms, but the soft touch is
on them, too. Cannot they awake?

Yes, their eyes are open now. Is it a dream? Is it the vision of a
nightmare? Two forms, the terrible forms of their foes, the Pixies, are
bending over them, wrapping them around in the silken folds of their
snares!

Alas! it is no dream. The most dreaded of all their enemies, Spite the
Spy, chief of the Pixies, and Hide the son of Shame, are crouching at
their bedside. The maidens start from their pillows, but fall back again
hopeless. They are bound hand and foot as with grave-clothes. They are
wrapped in a winding sheet of gossamer; enshrouded alive.[Z]

Spite reckoned truly that the next impulse of the Nurses would be to
scream. He thrust his hairy face close against their cheeks, and hissed
from between his lips, "Utter one sound and you die! Keep still and you
shall not be harmed."

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 42.--Spite and Hide Carry off the Nurses.]

Sophia swooned quite away. Faith closed her eyes and waited in an agony
of fear. She felt Spite's strong arms placed around her. She was lifted
from her couch; was borne through the tent. She was in the open air, and
the breeze blowing upon her cheeks revived her. She opened her eyes. In
the clear moonlight she could see Hide pushing through the side of the
covered gangway, close by the rear door of the marquée, carrying Sophia
in his arms. With an instinct of hope that no terror could check she
lifted her voice and screamed with the energy of despair. She felt the
Pixie's hot breath upon her cheek; an awful oath sounded in her ear,
and a rude hand smote upon her mouth. She fell back unconscious.

Let us follow backward the thread of our story into the Pixie's camp
where we left Spite keeping his solitary watch, that we may account for
this sudden appearance in the heart of the Brownie encampment. Spite
could not sleep. Anger, mortification, hate, disappointed ambition, all
the evil passions were ablaze within him, as he thought of what the
Brownies had already gained, and of their assured victory on the morrow.
His troops discouraged, provisions cut off, Madam Breeze (for aught he
knew) ready to side again with the Brownies,--his utter defeat, the loss
of the fort, and the massacre of his people seemed certain.

"If we could abandon the fort," he muttered; "if we could quietly steal
out and leave the enemy watching an empty camp? That would be our
salvation! But we can't; those troopers of MacWhirlie's are patrolling
the plain, and the woods in the rear are swarming with pickets. But--I
don't know?--"

He sprang to his feet, crossed over to Hide's quarters in Fort
Tegenaria, bade him join him, and walked hastily to the line of
breastworks on the lake front. He stopped under a bush that stood within
the entrenchment. The night was cloudless, and by the moonlight
streaming through the leaves, the two Pixies saw stretched among the
upper branches a round, vertical web. It was the inner abutment of a
bridge that once extended from Fort Spinder to Lakeside, but had been
long in disuse.

"Do you know the condition of the Old Bridge?" asked Spite. "It has been
a long time since I crossed it."

"I know little, except that I have heard some of my boys say that the
piers on this end are in pretty good condition, and that some of the
cables are still up."

[Illustration: FIG. 43.--"A Round, Vertical Web"--p. 86.]

"Very well," said Spite, after musing a few moments, "let us explore a
little. You always used to be ready for a scout, Hide, and I suppose
have not forgotten your old cunning. The Brownie sentinels are just
beyond us, there. Yon big fellow's beat runs under the middle of the
second span."

Hide was quite as ready for the adventure as Spite. Without more words
the two swung themselves into the bushes, climbed up the sides of the
abutment wall, and were presently at the top.

"Here are the cables, at any rate," said Hide. "Only two of them,
however. The rest are broken off. They hang down the sides of the
abutment, and over the ends of the branches."

"Pull on the one next you," cried Spite, who had himself laid hold of
one of the sound cables, and was pushing down upon it with all his
might. "Mine holds. It is fast to the second pier in yonder bush, I am
sure. How with yours?"

"It is all right," answered Hide, "I am willing to venture on it."

Nearly fifteen hundred millimetres distant was another and taller bush
in which pier No. 1 of the bridge was built. The Pixies could not see
this since the darkness of the night and the shadow of the leaves hid
the white outlines of the web-wall. But they knew that it must be there,
and therefore crept upon the silken ropes each upon one, and began their
journey.[AA]

Three thousand millimetres above the ground, for the whole distance from
bush to bush over that single coil of rope those two creatures crawled.
The cables shook, swayed and bent down, but neither parted, and the
adventurous Pixies landed safely on top of the pier.

The next pier was in a clump of bushes thirty-five hundred millimetres
away, not in a direct course, but angling slightly across the field. The
architects of the Old Bridge had taken advantage of the brushwood
between the hill and lake. But as the shrubs grew at irregular distances
from each other, and in various lines of direction, the course of the
bridge was somewhat broken from the right line. Only one cable remained
of those that had united pier No. 1 and pier No. 2. The scouts must
therefore cross singly. To add to the danger a Brownie sentinel was
stationed underneath the cable, about midway between the piers.

[Illustration: FIG. 44.--A Cobweb Bridge Across a Path.]

"What say you, Hide?" asked the chief, "shall we go on?"

"What have you to gain by it, Cap'n? That's the question with me. Tell
me what you intend by exploring this old suspension bridge, and I'll
say whether it seems worth the risk."

"Certainly," said Spite. "My plan is to repair these cables by bracing
the old ones, and putting up new ones, so that we can abandon the fort
secretly, if we are pressed too hard. We could pass the whole force
across the bridge by night, embark in our vessels, and cross the lake to
the other shore, or to the island. The point I want to settle is,
whether the cables are so far good that we can make a good roadway in
the time at our command. We must do night work, repairing as well as
crossing; and if we are hard pushed by the Brownies, we shall have to do
some rapid engineering. That's the plan; what say you?"

"Good," cried Hide, "very good! It will be a fine stroke to slip away
and leave the enemy to watch bare walls. Ha, ha! I fancy I see their
solemn faces, on the discovery of our flight." Hide grew quite merry
over his conceit.

"Very well then, that settles it. Here goes!" So saying, Spite stepped
upon the single cable and began the passage. He moved slowly at first,
until he found that the line was strong enough to bear him; then he
increased his gait, and soon landed upon the top of pier No. 2.

Hide perceived that Spite had reached the pier, for the cable had ceased
to vibrate under his movement, and accordingly began his voyage. Midway
between piers he saw the Brownie sentinel approach. He passed underneath
the cable humming some pretty ditty as he paced his beat.

Overhead just above him hung the black form of the Pixie. Hide paused
and peered downward upon the unconscious Brownie. His eyes swelled with
hate; his breath escaped with a hissing sound, he bowed his back in
readiness to spring down upon the sentinel.

[Illustration: FIG. 45. Unseen Dangers. Pixie Hide Threatens the Brownie
Sentinel.]

"Fool!" he muttered at last, "would you risk the discovery of all for
the sake of one miserable Brownie more or less in the world? Ha! it was
a great temptation; and I was mighty near yielding to it. Might have
broken my neck, too! I don't know, though;" and he followed the
sentinel's retreating form with gloating eyes; "I believe I could have
dropped right down upon the rascal, and throttled him ere he could have
piped a note. I'm sorry now that I didn't do it! But, no matter; I'll
get him some other time."

The sentinel, meanwhile, with steady gait passed onward under the cable
and out of sight behind the bushes. He never knew how nearly he had
escaped death that night, nor even suspected that peril threatened him.
Hide hurried over the remainder of the cable, and joined his comrade on
the pier.

"Well," whispered Spite, "my heart was beating a tattoo of terror lest
you might be rash enough to pounce upon that fellow. Really, I expected
to see you take the leap. It was lucky that you controlled yourself. It
would uncover all were we to start the Brownies' suspicions in this
direction. We must keep all quiet on this side the fort. Now for the
next pier! How does it look on your side?"

"There are a half dozen perfect lines here."

"Good. There are three here in prime order. Where is the next pier?"

"Over in that oak sapling to the right. The span is the longest in the
bridge, about five thousand millimetres."

"Jolly, jolly!" exclaimed Spite in great glee. "We are now sure of most
of the way. This long span needs little repairing. The first two we can
fix up, I am quite sure. Now for the last."

They were not long in running across the third span; but when they
reached pier No. 3, they found no traces of the cables which once united
it to the lakeside abutment.

"Bad!" said the Pixie chief. "It will have to be built anew, that's all.
It's lucky, too, that the worst break is on the last span, for we can
repair here with less risk than elsewhere."

"Moreover," said Hide, "we have a double chance for escape, the river as
well as the bridge."

"True; and now let us finish our observation by finding out the
condition of yonder abutment." The pair descended to the ground, crossed
to the willow in which the last pier had been fixed, and found it in
quite as good repair as the others.

"All right!" exclaimed Hide.

Spite said "Jolly!" one of his favorite slang expletives, which he
thought particularly good since he had lately borrowed it from one of
his English cousins.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.--Spite and Hide View the Brownie Camp.]

Highly pleased with what they had learned, the Pixies turned their faces
homeward. As they crossed the space between the shore and pier No. 4,
they had full view of the Brownie encampment from a vine covered old
stump. There the line of cavalry guards stretched along the plain,
encircling the fort. Beyond, the camp fires of the main army glimmered
amid the grass, weeds and bushes. A profound silence hung over the whole
scene. Both camp and fort were locked in the deep repose of midnight.

"Captain!" said Hide. He stopped and looked steadfastly toward the camp.

"Say on, comrade."

"I followed your venture," continued Hide, "will you risk mine?"

"That depends," answered the chief. "What is it?"

"Just to make a private visit to the headquarters yonder and pay our
respects to the Brownie Captain. We are now inside the picket line. We
can make a circuit around here by the lake and come up in the rear of
the tents. The sentinels will not be numerous there, nor very watchful.
It's a chance if there are any at all. There is little risk in the
matter, just enough to give it spice. And--who knows? there might be a
chance to end the campaign by putting my dagger into Murray Bruce's
heart; or, failing that, you might bag that little fairy flame of yours,
and carry her off to the fort. That would be 'jolly' indeed! Come, what
say you?"

Spite hesitated. The plan seemed plausible. Hide was a prudent fellow,
and not apt to take unusual risks. But then, there _was_ the risk that
he and his second in command might be taken, or cut off. And what would
become of the Pixie cause in that case? It was not a prudent act. But
then, again, it was a strong temptation. Assassinate Bruce? or, seize
Faith?

"Lead on," he cried, "I'm with you."

The yellow flags of the hospital and sanitary tent were their guide.
Hide's theory about the sentinels they found correct. They stole through
the camp, passed the rear of the hospital, and paused before the marquée
of the Sanitary Corps, which they took to be the officers' headquarters.
A peep through the flap of the tent showed them their mistake, and
revealed the sleeping forms of Faith and Sophia.

"We stop here!" said Spite, pushing aside the door. What followed has
been told.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote Z: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote AA: Appendix, Note B.]



CHAPTER X.

THE GOLDEN MOTTOES.


Faith's cry breaking upon the midnight stillness was heard throughout
the camp. The wounded in the hospital started up in their beds. The
attendants ran toward Agatha and Grace supposing that the cry came from
one of them. The two Nurses stood holding each other fast, trembling
violently, their eyes fixed upon the door. Bruce ran from the
headquarters tent, sword in hand, followed by Blythe, Rodney and Pipe.
There was no need to sound the alarm, for the Brownies were running from
all parts of the camp to headquarters.

"What is it? A night attack?" Nobody knew. "What was it--that terrible
cry?" Nobody knew that. The sentinels had seen nothing. Then came
MacWhirlie riding into the camp at full speed on one of the Goldentailed
matches, which Madam Breeze had presented him.

Some one exclaimed: "Hah! this explains it! The picket line has been
attacked by the Pixies. The Lieutenant has come for help."

No! He too had heard the cry, and had come to learn the cause. All was
quiet along the plain.

Leaving the perplexed throng outside, let us re-enter the hospital.
Agatha and Grace had recovered from their fright. The excitement caused
by the alarm, the sudden and violent action of the soldiers in starting
up upon their couches, even leaping from them, had reopened many wounds
so that they were bleeding freely. Some of the worst cases had fallen
back fainting. All was confusion within the place. The helpers were
hurrying hither and thither. From the outside the Brownies were running
in and out with the pointless questions usual in times of panic.
Agatha's heart was touched at the sight. The voice of pity within her at
once mustered her disordered faculties.

"Grace, Grace," she cried, "this will never do! Hasten to the marquée
and bid Faith and Sophia come to the aid of these poor fellows. Quick!
and bring all the lint that you can find. Guards!" she continued,
calling to the sentinels at the doors, "keep out the people. We must
have quiet here. Howard," addressing the head helper, "look to your
aids! Brothers," she spoke to all attendants now, "remember your Golden
Mottoes!"

[Illustration: FIG. 47.--"Silk Ravelled from Cocoons of Spiders."]

She pointed as she spoke to the eastern side of the tent, sweeping her
hand along the line of wall. Silk banners hung thereon, upon every one
of which a Golden Motto was embroidered, together with various emblems,
designs and tracery. Rich effects were produced by using the many hued
scales on the wings of butterflies, the brilliant shells and elytra of
beetles, and minute feathers of humming birds, which were embossed upon
the cloth with silk raveled from cocoons of moths and spiders.[AB] The
banners were the gift of the Sanitary Corps whose cunning fingers had
made them. Let us follow the rapid motion of Agatha's hand and read
these Golden Mottoes.

The design of Banner One is, on a blue shield, a carrier pigeon in full
flight, with a message tied by a ribbon about its neck. In the
surrounding border are grouped and interwoven arrows and other emblems
of speed and promptness. The motto is:

      QUICKLY DONE IS TWICE DONE.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.--A Spider's Cocoon Nest.]

The design of Banner Two is, on a blue shield, a silver pyramid, the
North Star shining above it. In the border are wrought figures of a
frontiersman with his rifle in hand standing among rocks and great
oaks; a pilot at his wheel; an Indian shooting rapids in his bark canoe;
a whaleman at the bow of his boat with harpoon poised. The legend is:

      COOL HEAD GIVES HELPFUL HANDS.

The design of Banner Three is, on a red shield, a full orbed golden sun
with the old fashioned cheerful human face wrought upon it, and bright
rays shooting out in all directions. In the border are anchors, flowers,
song birds, sporting Brownies, winsome figures and emblems. The motto
is:

      CHEERFULNESS IS BOTH BALM AND BROTH.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--The Brownies' Banners and Golden Mottoes.]

Banner Four, although not the most beautiful in point of imagery, is the
most costly, the most carefully wrought and the most striking of all. On
a purple shield two points, one above the other, one in chief and one in
base are represented by golden stars, and these are united by a
straight line. The motto is:

      OUR LIFE LINE A RIGHT LINE.

The border consists of various mathematical instruments, a rule, square,
dividers, sailor's compass, etc., and running all around the banner
through these are the sentences "Straightway From Knowledge to Duty,"
"Duty First, Duty Last."

It has taken some time to note these decorations, but only a moment was
consumed by the glance that Agatha and her aids cast upon them. That
glance and the voice of their fair leader acted like a charm. The words
had scarcely been uttered before the helpers were scattered through the
tents and at the couches of the suffering. Agatha herself kneeled beside
a wounded soldier, rearranged the bandages, and poured in fresh balm.
She had cast more than one impatient look toward the side door that led
into the Sanitary tent, wondering why Grace had not already come back
with Faith and Sophia.

The rear door of the hospital, near which Agatha was kneeling, was
pushed violently forward and Grace entered. She was capless, her hair
streamed over her shoulders, her whole appearance showed anguish and
agitation.

"They are gone!" she cried. Agatha rose hastily and threw herself into
her arms.

"Gone? who? Faith? Sophia? Gone!--where? Speak, girl, what do you mean?"

"Oh, I cannot tell. Something dreadful has happened. They were not in
the room when I went in. I supposed they had gone out to learn what was
the trouble, and ran into the crowd to seek them. Nobody knew. Your
father and uncle, and Pipe, and all the rest were there, but no
Faith--no Sophia. They knew nothing of them. They are searching for them
now. They fear that the Pixies have carried them off. Oh, Agatha! what
shall we do?"

Ah, Agatha, do you remember the Golden Mottoes now! Will she remember,
think you? Her frame shook with emotion; her hands were cold; beads of
moisture gathered on her pale forehead. She spoke in a dreamy way, as
though talking to herself: "Carried off by the Pixies? Gone? Cousin
Faith gone? Sophia gone?"

Then she started as from a trance. There was a tremor in her voice, but
she spoke quietly, as one who had struggled with her own heart and got
the victory.

"Grace, God help them! But our duty lies here. There is no time now for
grief. There is no call on us to take part in the work and peril of
delivering our sister Nurses. Others will do it better than we. Our duty
is plain. And is just before us. Mine is here. Grace, dear, yours is
there!"

She pointed first to the couch at which she had been kneeling, then to
one across the aisle, and quietly turning from her companion, knelt down
again by the wounded Brownie, and took up the dropped thread of her
labor of love. When she lifted her eyes Grace was at her post. Noble
conquerors! These are the victories of those who be better than they who
take a city.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AB: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER XI.

ON THE TRAIL.


Meanwhile, the light of fox-fire and fire-fly lanterns was glancing
everywhere through camp and field, showing where eager searchers were
scattered looking for the lost Nurses. Rodney was well nigh frantic with
grief, and ran here and there among the tents calling the name of his
daughter. Only the echo of his voice came back to him out of the night.
Pipe was as one paralyzed. He leaned against the wall of the tent with
folded arms, and eyes fixed upon the spot where his child had lain. His
mute sorrow was pitiful to see.

Blythe and Sergeant True entered the tent. The Adjutant's bright face
was clouded; the tall form of the Sergeant was bowed.

"If one only knew!" said Blythe. "It is this terrible uncertainty that
is so hard to bear. If I knew where they were, I could cut my way
through legions of fiends to save them, or die trying."

"Is there no trace at all?" asked True.

"Not the slightest. It is only a suspicion"--he lowered his voice--"that
they have been carried off by the Pixies. No one dares even name it to
the Commodore and--" nodding toward the Boatswain.

"But that is not reason," answered True. "It is important that we should
know the worst, at once. For one, I mean to find out the truth, if I
can, and face it manfully."

He stepped to the couch, which lay just as it had been left by the
Nurses. His hand caught upon a thread of gossamer that lay upon a
pillow. He looked more closely. There was another, then another, then a
thick strand of the silken material. He rose with the delicate filaments
floating from his fingers, walked to the lantern, and held his hand
within the light. Blythe followed every motion.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--A Brownie Link Boy with a Fire-fly Lantern.]

"Do you see?" cried True. "There can be no doubt of it. Some of the
enemy have passed the lines, entered this tent, woven their snares
around the sleeping maids, and escaped. One of the two Nurses uttered
that cry as they were being carried off. We must look for them in the
Pixies' fort or on the way to it."

"That is truth," said Blythe, "and the sooner we begin the search the
better."

True walked up to Pipe and touched him tenderly upon the shoulder. The
Boatswain looked up vacantly.

"Ah, my lad, it is you!" he said at last. "Where is our Sophia?"

"Boatswain," said True, holding up the hand to which the gossamer
threads were still clinging, "Sophia is in the Pixies' fort or on the
way to it. And you and I must bring her back. Come, rouse up! Be
yourself again!"

Pipe started from his lethargy. He looked at the floating strand of
web-work; listened to True's statement; passed his palm against his
brow, then seized the Sergeant's hand.

"My boy, you are right! And I have been acting the fool! Poor girl! poor
girl! Come--let us not delay. To the Pixies' fort! Ho, my brave tars!"
Even while he spoke Pipe stepped to the door of the tent and put his
whistle to his lips.

"Stop, stop!" cried True, laying a hand upon his arm. "Remember the
proverb: Make haste slowly! Are we sure that our lost ones are at the
fort yet? May we not find some other traces of them that will enable us
to go to work more intelligently? Don't call your men. They are
scattered abroad in busy search. They are doing no harm, and may do much
good. Let them alone for the present. You and I can follow this trail a
little further."

There was a cool head at last on the track of the fugitives. The fact
gave at least a glimmer of hope. True first inquired carefully of
Agatha, Grace and others in the hospital, as to the exact point from
which the shriek had come. They all agreed that it had been made close
by the rear of the tent, so near that it seemed to be inside.

"That determines our first step," said True. "Now for lanterns and the
sharpest eyes among you. We shall search here," he continued, and led
the party just outside the tent, and set them to scanning every bush,
grass blade and weed in the vicinity. The Nurses had been asked to join
the search for a little while, and fortune gave to Agatha the first
important discovery.

"Here!" she cried, "I have a trace!" She had plucked from a thistle
stalk a bit of gossamer.

"I too!" cried Pipe, holding up a similar object.

"And I!" said Grace, who was in advance of the party.

"Stop!" exclaimed True. "Stand where you are until I get the line of the
trail."

Agatha stood nearest the tent. Pipe was beyond her and a little to the
right. Grace stood some distance from both in a direct line with Agatha.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.--"From a Thistle Stalk a Bit of Gossamer."]

"That will do," said True, glancing up at the North Star. "The line runs
due north, and straight from the rear of the camp. Start again while I
make some inquiries of the Adjutant. Blythe, a word with you. Who was on
guard over there, to the north?"

"No one."

"Impossible! Blythe, you couldn't--"

"Stop!" exclaimed Blythe, his voice choking with emotion. "The Captain
bade it. And Rodney, and Pipe,--and myself, alas, alas! we all
councilled it. The men were weary. A strong picket line entirely
surrounded the fort. They were picked men with MacWhirlie at their head.
We knew that no force of the enemy lay in our rear. No one dreamed of
danger from that quarter."

"Say no more," said True. "Regrets are useless now. I see how it is. A
party of stragglers or spies has stolen in here while we slept. Faith
and Sophia have been surprised while alone in the tent."

"But what motive?--" began Blythe. A shout from the searchers
interrupted him. It was Pipe's voice.

"We have struck the trail again!"

"Who has it?"

"Howard there, and myself."

"Steady! let me see. Here are our first traces, where those three
lanterns hang. Hold up your lights to the points where you found the
last signs. That will do. There, do you see? Two of the first lanterns
are in line with Howard's light, the other in line with Pipe's. And the
two lines are nearly parallel, showing the paths by which the two maids
were borne away. We are on the trail. Due north still! Forward, once
more!"

[Illustration: FIG. 52.--"A Bit of Gossamer."]

Step by step the trail was followed by threads caught here and there
upon leaves and branches. It continued to bear northward for a goodly
distance, then turned westward as though the fugitives were making
gradually toward the fort. There it was lost for a while, and when,
discovered again was once more bearing north. Again it turned westward,
and was lost completely in the plain that encircled the fort, just where
it bordered on a strip of sand that ran down to the little lake.



CHAPTER XII.

THE LOST TRAIL.


Sergeant True stood on the edge of the plain considering what should
next be done. All signs of the trail had ceased as soon as the searchers
had come out of the grass and brushwood. There could be no trail upon
the flat plain, the Sergeant knew. A large party had just returned from
searching the wood between the lake and the fort. There was a bare
possibility that the fugitives had ventured to cross the plain, and run
the gauntlet of the picket line into the fort; a little stronger
possibility that they had skirted the wood by the shore and pushed on
down toward the outlet where the Pixie navy lay. True therefore
questioned the returning searchers:

"Have you seen anything?"

"Nothing. Lieutenant MacWhirlie has had the entire strip between lake
and fort thoroughly guarded ever since the alarm. Nothing could have
passed, he says. Nothing has passed that has left any trail. The
Lieutenant has sent scouts down the shore to make sure."

Rodney and Pipe heard the report with heavy hearts. Hope was fast dying
within them. "Must we give it up?" cried the Commodore. "Is there no
deliverance?"

"There is but one way by which they could have escaped us," said True,
pointing toward the lake. "Is it possible that we have been mistaken,
and that pirates have done this outrage after all? Commodore, have
there been any boats or ships off shore lately?"

"Not one," answered Rodney. "Both fleets are lying by for repairs, for
the last fight used them up pretty well. We've been doing shore service
ever since."

"It is most strange! But we must search the shore thoroughly in this
neighborhood, at any rate."

The bank of the lake was presently covered with Brownies eagerly
scanning by the light of their torches and lanterns every foot of
ground.

"We have it, we have it!" shouted Rodney. "Come here, Pipe! and you,
Waterborn. Look at this!" Immediately a crowd surrounded the excited
Commodore.

"Stand back!" he cried; "don't push down so close upon the shore until
some of the sailors have seen these marks. A boat has landed here within
the last half hour. See the wash of the waves upon the sand! And just
there the bow has scraped. What say you, lads?"

"There is no doubt of it," responded Pipe, after a careful examination.
Waterborn, the mate, held his lantern to the water line and after a
moment's inspection gave the same opinion.

"Here," exclaimed Blythe, "is the crowning proof!" He plucked from the
shore a handful of silken threads that had caught upon the sand and
gravel which covered the spot where Faith and Sophia must have lain.
Yes, they had found the trail again; but only to lose it in the waters
of Lake Katrine.

"What shall be done?" asked Rodney.

"We must follow you now," answered True. "The path lies upon an element
of which I know little. You and the Boatswain are at home there. To you
who are most wronged Providence gives the opportunity to undo the
injury. We yield to the navy, now. Lead on; we'll follow you, you may be
sure."

Rodney and Pipe had scarcely been themselves since the first tidings of
their bereavement. Their wills seemed benumbed by the blow. They
followed Sergeant True like little children. But now that responsibility
was laid in their hands, they roused themselves to duty. They were the
keen, shrewd, sailor chiefs once more. Subdued still by their grief, but
alert and intelligent, they took up the work before them.

"'Tis an element that leaves no trail," said Rodney, "yet it will go
hard, but my gallant tars shall find the lost ones. We'll scour every
nook and beat every bush along shore, if need be. We'll pluck the dear
captives from under the black flag or we'll sink every timber in the
fleet! What say you, lads?"

A hearty cheer was the sailors' answer. The whole company on shore
joined in it. And it did them all good.

"You can not tell which direction the boat has taken, of course," said
True. "But have you any opinion at all about it? You must start out from
some view point. What shall it be?"

"That is exactly what I have been asking myself," said Rodney. "I have a
notion that the boat, wherever it came from, has crossed to the island
or gone down to the outlet to join the fleet. I incline to the latter
view. The island is lightly garrisoned; the Orchard Camp is nearly
deserted; the mass of Pixie troops are shut up in Fort Spinder.
Naturally, the robbers would take to the fleet as the safest place."

"That is good reasoning, Commodore," said Waterborn, "and there is only
one thing that weakens it. The wind would be dead against them going
downward. For the last half hour it has been blowing due
north--straight upon the island."

"True; but we shall see presently. The first thing is to rally our men.
Boatswain, pipe to quarters."

"Aye, aye, Sir!" answered Pipe, and the shrill whistle sounded through
the air and along the water. A few stragglers who had joined the various
searching parties gathered in at the call. But most of the sailors and
marines were already present.

"Now lads, we must away to our ships. Fall in! Forward, march!" The
column started up the shore at quick step, and was soon lost to view.



CHAPTER XIII.

RAFT THE SMUGGLER.


Spite and Hide saw that Faith's cry had aroused the Brownies, and pushed
at their utmost speed directly from the camp. It did not occur to them
that they might be tracked by the threads of web-work torn off by leaves
and twigs from the cords with which they had bound their captives. But
they did fear that one of the Nurses might again cry out; and they
stopped long enough to fasten gags upon their mouths.

Several times the Pixie chiefs turned toward Fort Spinder, hoping to
reach the Old Bridge by the way they had come. But their progress was
checked by bands of Brownies scattered everywhere in the direction of
the fort. The lights of the searchers were seen dancing throughout the
entire plain, and running hither and thither in confused lines among
grass and shrubbery.

More than once the Pixies were on the point of being discovered. Several
times they had to crouch under the leaves, lest they should be seen by
parties of excited searchers. Indeed, their safety lay in the fact that
the Brownies were so much excited; and had all been as self-possessed as
the cool headed True, Spite and Hide would have been captured.

At last they reached a point where the plain sweeps down to the sandy
bank of the lake, which is a natural basin widened into an artificial
pond. The brook that flows from the Hillside spring runs through it.
There is an island in the middle of the lake, covered with grass, moss
and ferns. In honor of the old home the Brownies called the lake Loch
Katrine, and the island Ellen's Isle, names which the Pixies refused to
acknowledge, and called the pond Lake Arachne and the island Aranea
Isle. On this little sheet of water, and its inlet and outlet, the
navies of the Brownies and Pixies floated; and here was the scene of
many a battle between Rodney and his sailors and the Pixies and pirates.

Spite and Hide paused on the border of the plain to consider. It was not
far to the pier of the Old Bridge along which lay the path to the fort.
But the space between them and that point was swarming with Brownies.
MacWhirlie had mustered his entire troop, and set them to patrolling the
plain. Throughout the woods, from the foot of the hill to the very
lakeside, sentinels were posted at short intervals, and burdened as they
were the Pixies could not pass that line.

"Well, Hide, what shall we do?"

"Do? Humph! there is little choice left us now. I will follow my chief.
Lead on!"

"Lead on? Whither?" Spite snapped his fangs angrily as he spoke. "You
got me into this scrape. It was a foolhardy adventure. Now get me out! I
know you have something to advise."

"Very good! Let us kill these pretty captives of ours," said Hide with a
sneer, "and cut our way through to the pier. Or, if you lead the way
with them, I'll follow."

Spite looked down upon the unconscious form of Faith.

"I see no way out of this," he said. "To break through the line would be
certain death. It looks as though it had come to that at any rate. May
the foul fiend take you for tempting me to this madcap raid! Hide, Hide,
bethink you, I pray!" Spite's voice was trembling with--fear, shall we
say? Without awaiting reply from his companion, he took Faith in his
arms and ran down to the edge of the water.

Hide followed him. He had long suspected what no one else had dreamed
of, that Spite at heart was a coward. He had little love for his chief.
Indeed, the thought was not new to the ambitious Lieutenant that Spite
alone blocked the way of his own promotion to the headship of the
Pixies. That he would be a worthy leader he, at least, did not doubt. He
enjoyed his Captain's agitation, and was pleased to keep him upon
nettles. He had already settled a plan of escape.

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--Brownie Fire-fly Lantern.]

Spite eagerly scanned the surface of the lake.

"It's no use looking for the navy, Captain," said Hide. "There it rides,
away down by the outlet. We must pass the Brownie pickets to get at the
boats. Might as well cut through to the pier!"

"Is there no escape then? This is terrible! We shall be slaughtered
outright." He pointed to the semi-circle of lanterns and torches drawing
closer and closer upon them, marking where True and his party were
following hard upon their trail. Spite dropped his burden, sat down, and
fairly wrung his hands in despair. Yes, Spite the Spy, the chief of all
the Pixies, did that!

Hide highly enjoyed the distress of his Captain. He had proved what he
had long suspected, and, best of all, he had gained a hold upon Spite
that would give great advantage over him in the future. He saw that it
was high time to drop this malicious by play and address himself in
earnest to escape.

"Cheer up, my brave Captain!" he cried, "I think I see a way out of
this."

"Hah! Is it so?" Spite was too much elated with hope to notice the
sneering tone of his Lieutenant.

"You shall see wait here a moment." He ran along the sand to a clump of
ferns that bent over from the bank until they kissed the water. He
mounted one of these and disappeared. Soon the drooping tips of the
ferns lifted up, parted, and a curious craft glided out from the cove
formed by the bended foliage. What a snug and secret harbor it was! The
vessel touched the bank close by the spot where Spite stood, and Hide
jumped ashore.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--The Nurses Carried Away on Raft Dolomede's
Yacht, the Fringe.]

"Now then," he cried, "all aboard! We have no time to lose." He lifted
Sophia from the ground as he spoke, carried her to the boat and laid her
down in a leafy canopy or cabin. Spite followed with Faith.

"Push off now!" said Hide to a tall Pixie who had charge of the vessel.
He put his paws against the shore and shoved vigorously. The waterman
did the same, and the boat shot out into the lake. A brisk wind was
blowing along the surface of the water, and the craft was soon off shore
and out of danger.

The lanterns of the Brownies were seen bobbing along the bank just above
the spot at which but a moment before the boat had been moored. A group
of lights marked the point at which the trail had been lost, and where
True and his party were now standing perplexed.

"Ugh!" said Spite as he watched the scene. It was hard to tell whether
the sound betokened pleasure or displeasure. He was greatly relieved at
the prospect of escape, but was not in the most amiable humor, for all
that. With the easing of his fears came the thought of how he had
exposed his weakness. His pride was hurt. He felt humiliated. He knew
that Hide had been trifling with him, and his wrath grew hot thereat. He
vowed revenge in his heart, but was too wise to show his feeling then.
"I can wait!" he said. He glowered upon the Lieutenant, but soon cleared
up his face and spoke cheerfully.

"Truly, friend Hide, you seem to be a person of varied resources. Pray,
how chanced you to come across this waterman and his boat?"

"The fact is, Cap'n?" answered Hide laughing, "I have to keep a little
private yacht for my own use. There are certain things, you know, for
which one cannot well use the government ships. This is my friend, Raft
Dolomede. Raft, allow me to present you to my chief, Spite the Spy. You
see, Captain, my American friend has great respect for our community,
although he does not belong to us. He has been brought up on this lake;
is a skillful sailor, willing to obey orders, take his pay and ask no
questions. He runs on his own hook--is a privateersman, in fact, on a
small scale. We understand each other pretty well, and, of course, I
knew where he kept his boat moored. He's not on very good terms with our
cruisers; for, in sooth, he doesn't quite understand our revenue laws. I
fear, now, that it wouldn't do to look closely under these leaves! There
might be something contraband aboard besides these fair Brownies. Hey,
Raft?"

Raft's boat was a home-made affair, but was ingeniously built. Dry
leaves had been gathered into a mass, and fastened together with silken
threads. To this had been added a mast, a sail, a jib and other fixtures
so that the structure was a cross between a raft and a schooner. The
leaves served admirably the varied uses of hull, sails, storerooms, beds
and barricade. They caught the wind and drove the boat along as well as
a ship's canvas. They were soft dry couches for sailors or passengers.
The hollows and crevices between them were the "hold" of the vessel and
gave ample storage.

Raft, the owner of this craft, was a handsome specimen of the family of
water-pixies. He wore a coat of chocolate brown, trimmed with a broad
orange band, and covered with double rows of white buttons. His trousers
were pale red. He was quite at home on the lake with his yacht, and was
such a skillful swimmer that he might really be said to walk on the
water instead of swimming through it.[AC]

"How shall I put her head now?" asked Raft. "We're bearing nor' east by
east, and with this wind will soon strike the cave yonder on the orchard
shore. Shall I keep her so?"

"What say you, Captain?" asked Spite. "What are we to do with these,
now?" pointing to Faith and Sophia.

"The first thing to be done, it seems to me," said Raft, casting a
pitying look upon the nurses, "is to give 'em a little breathing
privilege. If you don't take those rags off their figure-heads, and give
'em a breath of fresh wind, they'll soon be dead Brownies." With that he
opened the sharp claws on one of his hands, like a pair of scissors, and
without more ado cut the bands that had been placed as gags around the
captives' mouths.

"All right!" he said, resuming his rudder, "go on with your palaver. But
heave ahead lively, or we'll be across the lake before you decide."

[Illustration: FIG. 55.--"Murderous Assaults Upon One Another."]

Spite had been in a deep study. At last he said, "We must go to the
island."

Raft glanced inquiringly at Hide, who nodded assent. "Aye, aye, Sir.
Port-a-helm it is." He turned the bow toward Ellen's Isle.

"We can easily find lodgings for our fair prizes there," continued
Spite. "But what about Fort Spinder? That is what troubles me. How are
we to get back? It is now too soon after the alarm to think of running
the pickets. Even if it were possible to do that by night as things are
now, it would be madness to try it by daylight. And yet, we must get
some word to our people soon, and have them out of that fort by
to-morrow night, or--" Spite paused and looked serious.

"Well?" said Raft.

"Well?" said Hide, "or--what?"

"You know quite as well as I!" answered Spite. "There will not be a
corporal's guard of Pixies left in Fort Spinder, that's all!"

Hide shrugged his shoulders and looked grave. He had known very well
what Spite meant, and he had a wife and children in the fort. There was
a long pause. Spite and Hide were in deep and anxious thought. They
could imagine the wild natures shut up within Fort Spinder venting their
native savagery in murderous assaults upon one another.[AD] What could
control them when the absence of their two chief officers should be
discovered? Was there any chance for them to return to the fort? or any
other way to prevent the catastrophe which they dreaded? The wind
freshened, and in the meantime the "Fringe" (as Raft called his yacht)
was rapidly approaching the island.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AC: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote AD: Appendix, Note B.]



CHAPTER XIV.

A PALACE AND A PRISON.


Faith and Sophia were much relieved by Raft's considerate act. They had
never thought to be grateful to a Pixie, but they felt gratitude toward
the smuggler as he cut the bands upon their mouths. Their limbs were
still bound, but they could turn upon their sides or backs, and look
into the quiet, starlit sky. Their minds were in a whirl of wonder,
uncertainty, terror. They had scarcely taken in the full horror of their
condition. Captives in Pixies' hands!

Their hearts had beaten fast with fear when Raft drew near, but the kind
words and act of the bluff sailor revived their hopes a little. Perhaps
even the Pixies might take pity upon them and restore them to their
home! At all events, it lessened their suffering to be free to breathe
naturally, and it was a comfort to be able to talk together, instead of
looking into each other's faces in mute wretchedness. They were near the
bow and their captors were in the stern of the boat with Raft; they
could therefore speak freely in whispers without fear of being heard. On
the contrary, the three Pixies spoke aloud, as though not caring to
conceal their thoughts from the prisoners, or not thinking they were
overheard. Thus, much of their conversation reached the nurses' ears.

Spite and Hide sat thinking. Raft stood at the tiller and kept the boat
steady on its course. Not a sound was heard except the ripple of water
against the sides of the vessel as it moved rapidly onward through the
darkness.

"Faith, dear Faith," whispered Sophia, "I cannot make it all out. Where
are we? What is to be done with us? How came we here?"

"We are on Lake Katrine, Sophia, and we are sailing toward Ellen's Isle
in a Pixie yacht. That much I am sure of. I know nothing more. But alas!
I dread the worst. What can we expect from our terrible foes? And then
the hatred they bear father and uncle--oh, my poor, poor father!" The
thought of their friends' grief and anxiety for them awakened a fresh
train of anguish in the captives' hearts. They laid their heads down
upon the leaves and wept together.

Forsaken! Lost! The waves laughed and danced merrily by them as the bow
cut the water. The stars looked down coldly from the great solemn
heights of the sky, and twinkled and winked upon them as though careless
or ignorant, or even in mockery of their fate! Why had such a sorrow
come upon them?

"Captain Spite," said Hide, at last.

"Well, Hide, what is it?"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Oh Faith, do you hear that?" whispered Sophia. "We are in the hands of
Spite the Spy and his Lieutenant! Heaven defend us now!"

Faith answered with a groan.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I have thought," said Hide, "that we might sell our prisoners. If we
keep them, they will be a world of trouble and risk. Dispose of them, we
get out of our scrape handsomely, save the garrison and people in the
fort, get vast credit for valor and strategy, and start a fresh campaign
full handed, with good chance to regain our lost ground. I don't see
any way out of this, but to put up our fair prizes at ransom."

"Well," said Spite sharply, "go on!"

"Not much more to say, Cap'n. Let's go in, or send Raft in with a flag
of truce. Offer to give up the Nurses if Bruce and the Commodore will
raise the siege of Fort Spinder. I believe they'll do it."

"Aye, aye, that they will!" said Raft heartily. "It's a sensible plan,
and as manly as sensible; for, the fact is, I don't relish this making
war on women."

"Faugh! no cant, please!" sneered Spite. "Anything with Brownie blood is
our game. But you're mistaken. Bruce and all the rest, that Sergeant
True particularly, would take the high moral grounds about the business,
and send back word: 'Better all die than compromise Truth and Duty, or
give up the pursuit of wrong.' They wouldn't do what you expect. I doubt
if they would even receive our flag of truce."

       *       *       *       *       *

The hearts of the prisoners fluttered between hope and fear as they
heard these words. Home again! The very thought gave them joy.

"Faith, we shall be ransomed, I know!" exclaimed Sophia.

Faith was silent.

"Oh, Faith, you don't believe they would do that?" again whispered
Sophia when Spite had ended. "Surely your father would consent! and dear
True also--" She stopped and caught her breath quickly as though a cruel
doubt had suddenly seized her new fledged hope.

Faith was still silent.

       *       *       *       *       *

Raft next spoke. "Well, that's amazing to me! Now, I think if my gal was
in the hands of two such--" he paused as though at loss for a word.
"Two such--accomplished villains;" he continued, "I reckon you'll think
that complimentary, gentlemen;--I wouldn't stop to split hairs very
long, I can tell you. I like grit, too; but I can't say that I admire it
at the expense of those pretty things over there."

"Captain," said Hide, "wouldn't Bruce compromise by simply letting our
folks retire from the fort unmolested? March out with arms, banners, and
all the honors, and leave the Brownies to occupy the old shell, and
destroy it at their leisure? I say try it anyhow."

"So do I," said Raft. "That proposition ought to double the cape of the
sharpest scruple. Say you'll land your cargo; hoist a flag of truce; and
I'll run in shore within hailing distance. Or, if you like it better,
I'll undertake the matter myself."

The Pixie chief made no answer. Faith and Sophia listened to hear their
fate pronounced, with feelings wrought up to the highest pitch. Spite
rose and walked excitedly up and down the deck. He stopped and looked at
Faith. He seemed about to yield. He raised his eyes to the water, then
cast them upon the island which was now just ahead of them. Then he
stood like a statue gazing at some object which hung in the air beyond
the bow of the yacht. A fiendish smile passed over his face. For a long
time he was silent and motionless.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I'm much obliged for your council. But I have a
better way. Fort Spinder shall be empty before to-morrow's sunrise, and
its garrison and contents safe on the orchard side of the lake in Big
Cave Camp. Patience! You shall know my plans as soon as we have put our
prisoners in a secure place."

He spoke like a new person. There was an air of confidence in his
manner, and a jubilant ring in his voice that gave assurance to his
companions. They were quite content to wait and trust the chief.
Besides, the boat was now touching shore. The bow grated upon the sand.
Raft jumped off and made the Fringe fast.

"Come now, my dears," said Spite, approaching the Nurses, "we will go
ashore and take things a little easier."

Faith and Sophia were once more stricken with despair. The hope of being
ransomed had been dashed by this mysterious plan which Spite had hinted
to his comrades. What it was they could not even conjecture; but it
meant imprisonment, death, it may be worse than death to them in a
Pixies' den. Resistance they knew was vain. They could only plead for
mercy. They lifted up their voices together and with crying and tears
sought to move the pity of their captors.

"Tut, tut!" said Spite, "if you will behave yourselves there shall not a
hair of your head come to harm. Bless your pretty faces, we don't mean
to eat you. Come, cheer up! We intend to take you to a snug and
comfortable house, a palace in fact. You never spied a prettier place, I
warrant. You shall be with friends who will know how to take care of
you. 'Pon honor, you shall not be harmed. There now!"

With an effort at consolation which sat awkwardly upon him, he cut loose
the web-work shroud that enveloped Faith, and without more ado picked
her up and jumped on shore. Hide followed with Sophia.

The two Pixies ran along shore a short distance, and then began to
ascend the bank. They stopped near a tuft of grass on a mossy slope,
where Spite laid down his burden and began to examine carefully the
surface. A bunch of moss somewhat dried, and heaped up in a careless
way, attracted his attention. "Here is our place!" he exclaimed, and
tapped against one side of the heap. There was no response. He seized
the moss and shook it vigorously. Thereupon, one side of the moundlet
suddenly opened, pushing outward like a door.

An old Pixie, large and gaunt, thrust out her head, and cried, "What do
you want? Begone, or I'll--"

"Oh, no you won't, Mother Tigrina! Don't you see? It's Spite, my good
old lady. Open quickly! There, that will do. Come on, Hide."

The officers entered, carrying Faith and Sophia. The place in which the
party now stood was a domed chamber or vestibule, lined in all parts
with white silk. The tapestry was spread over the interior of the moss
heap, which was in fact a hollow ball built up by skillful workmanship,
although the rude exterior had the appearance of a chance accumulation.
At the outer end of this mossy dome an oval portion had been left
unattached to sides and bottom, and was fastened at the top alone by the
silken lining. Thus was formed a rude sort of door, hinged at the top,
which the occupant could raise at will or fasten by overspinning from
the inside. This dome was in fact a vestibule or outer approach of a
deep cave or tunnel, which slanted into the ground for a short distance
and then turned downward.[AE] This cavern was held by Spite as a sort of
country seat or castle, which he had dignified with the name of Aranea
Hall. It was in charge of Dame Tigrina whom we have just seen in
possession of the place. She was a monstrous character, even among her
own nation, but what she lacked in grace she made up in her rude
devotion to the Pixie cause and leader.

"You see, Dame Tigrina," said Spite, "I've brought you two nice
companions. You can't complain of being solitary now."

"Humph!" said the old hag, looking fiercely upon the Brownies.

The Nurses were carried into an inner room of the cavern. Its walls and
ceiling were hung with beautiful white silk tapestry. The floor was
covered with a purple silk carpet; cushions formed of yellow floss and
fibres of plants were spread for couches and chairs.[AF]

"There, my lassies," said Spite, "you never slept in such a room as
this. I am sorry that I must leave you immediately, but you shall be
well cared for. Be happy! and expect me soon." He dropped the curtain
partition or portiére and Faith and Sophia were alone in their prison
palace.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AE: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote AF: Appendix, Note B.]



CHAPTER XV.

A PIXIE INSURRECTION.


Fort Spinder was in a ferment. The unusual stir in the Brownie camp was
seen by the pickets on the outer barricades, and they at once gave the
alarm, thinking that a night attack was to be made. The garrison sprang
to arms. The Pixies swarmed to the breastworks; the Pixinees (as the
females were called) mounted the ramparts of the fort.

Now arose the trouble that Spite had anticipated.

"Where is the Captain?" The word ran from mouth to mouth along
barricades and breastwork. The Captain was not to be found.

"Where is the Lieutenant, then?" The inquiry ran through the Tegenaria
quarter with the same puzzling result. Presently a sentinel who had
mounted guard near the abutment of the old suspension bridge reported
that he had seen the two officers climb the pier and go out upon the
cables.

"Have they returned?"

No he had seen nothing of them since.

A rumor was started, and ran through the lines, that Spite had been
captured by the Brownies, and that had caused the unusual excitement in
their camp.

Then came another rumor that made headway amid whispers, hints, and
mutterings of "Treachery!" "Cowardice!" "Desertion!" "Sold out to the
Brownies!"

So the leaven of riot and panic began to work. Some bewailed the missing
officers as martyrs; some cursed them as traitors; all mourned their
absence as a fatal blow to their own safety. Irritated by the
uncertainty, worn out by watching, fasting and fighting, the two parties
readily passed from words to blows.

"They are true as steel!"

"They are false traitors!"

"You lie!"

"Hah! take that!"

Words like these, followed by the clatter of claws, and the sharp
rasping of fangs were heard in every quarter. Luckily the third in
command, Lieutenant Heady, was no milksop. He had seen riots and
rebellions before and had quelled them. In stubbornness, cunning and
ferocity he was a genuine Pixie. Fortune, it seemed, had made him chief,
for the time, at least. And chief he would be, or cease to be at all.

He summoned a squad of the most courageous guards, and with them passed
along the line of barricades. Quarrels were broken up with a strong
hand, both parties being impartially beaten. The seditious were warned,
the orderly praised, the doubters cheered, the timorous encouraged.

That answered for a little while.

Once more the riot began.

Heady and his patrol renewed their round. But as soon as a tumult was
silenced in one quarter it arose in another. No sooner had the police
squad reduced matters to quiet and moved to another point, than the riot
broke out afresh behind them. Finally it gathered such headway that the
Lieutenant was compelled to retire. The ill feelings which the rioters
had vented upon one another were turned against him. The combatants
united to wreak a common vengeance upon Heady.

"He is a usurper!"

"He wants to be chief himself!"

"He has made way with the other officers so that he may seize the
command!"

"Down with him! Death to the tyrant!"

"Death! Death! Death!"

The whole seditious element of the garrison gathered together, and moved
in a solid mass upon Heady and his little band of aids, who had fallen
back toward the tower that united the two main quarters of the fort.

"Aha!" said he, "is it that you are after? Very good, my brave boys!
There are two who can play the game of death, as you shall learn!"

[Illustration: FIG. 56.--Lieut. Heady and the Pixie Parson Among
Admiring Pixinees.]

The Pixinees had assembled upon the rampart and were looking down grimly
upon the tumult in the parade ground or open space beneath. Heady called
to them to open the tower gates. Now, strange to say, Heady was a
universal favorite among the Pixinees. Which one of his particular
qualities won their admiration it would be hard to say, but the
cross-grained and savage old crumdudgeon had a host of enthusiastic
friends among the Pixinees of Fort Spinder. They always stood up for
him, and the cunning fellow knew well that he could count upon them now;
especially as the Pixie Parson,[AG] who had great influence among the
Pixinees, was also his warm friend.

The gates of the tower flew open immediately, and an excited crowd of
Pixinees gathered about their favorite. They leaped from the ramparts.
They climbed down the walls. They thronged the gate. Their forms fairly
swelled with indignation. They were ready at a word to fall upon the
insurgents.

The mob paused at this demonstration. They did not like the look of
things. They began to consult among themselves. A few in the rear ranks
of the main body dropped out one by one and sneaked off toward the
barricade. Heady spoke a few words to his Amazon squad, and then
approached the rioters. He advanced several paces from the gate and
addressed them.

"Gentlemen, you have chosen to submit this little difference of opinion
to a very grim sort of a judge called--Death. I am ready to argue the
case, and--there is the court!" He pointed to the group of angry
Pixinees.

The leaders of the riot held a brief whispered consultation. They were
quite taken aback at this turn of affairs.

"Come, gentlemen," continued Heady, in the same cool, sneering tone.
"The court is waiting. Are you ready for trial?"

There is no telling what the issue might have been had not the current
of feeling been suddenly arrested. During these moments of tumult a
thin white speck had been floating in from the lake. It sailed above the
tops of the trees, hovered over the fort, and gradually settled down
toward the parade ground. A voice was heard to issue from it:

"Pixies, ahoy--oy!"

All eyes turned upward. A balloon hung overhead and just beyond, toward
the lake, another and another could be seen.

"Lay hold of the ropes!" called a voice from the nearest of these ships
of the sky. "We want to descend here. We bear a message from your
chief."

[Illustration: FIG. 57.--"A Balloon Hung Overhead."]

A score of willing hands were reached out, and the cords, which by this
time dragged upon the ground, were seized. The little vessel, thus
steadied, began to descend. It touched the ground in a vacant space
between the rioters and the Pixinees. A small Pixie stepped from the
basket, and looked inquiringly around. He was dressed in a dark gray
coat, with broad white stripes; breeches pale colored and spotted, and a
black vest over which a white-haired beard was streaming. He seemed much
puzzled at the strange grouping of the parties around him, who for the
most part had kept their positions, but were looking quietly on, their
interest in the new arrival having nearly soothed their wrath.

"I should like to see Lieutenant Heady," said the stranger. "I have a
message for him from Captain Spite and Lieutenant Hide."

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--Gossamer's Balloons.]

"I am the person you seek," said Heady, stepping forward.

"If you will pardon me a moment, Sir," said the stranger, "and give me
some help in getting my comrades anchored, I will deliver my message."

The second of these little voyagers of the air reached a position above
the fort, and cast out cords and grapnels. He soon anchored. Then
another and another followed until five had safely landed.

The interest of the fort Pixies in these æronauts had now quieted the
passions that had been so near fatal explosion. Here was news from their
missing officers. All would now be well! By common consent both parties
put up their weapons and gathered around the messenger.

"There is nothing secret in my orders, Sir, I think," said the
balloonist who had first landed, "My name is Lycosa. Here are my
credentials. My orders I will give when you are ready for them."

"Say on, then!" said Heady, "You couldn't have come with them at a
luckier time. What news from our chiefs."

"Good news," answered Lycosa; "they crossed the bridge, raided the
Brownie camp, seized two of the Nurses--the Commodore's daughter and the
Boatswain's--and have them safe on the island to hold as ransom for your
safe and quiet departure."

This news was received with unbounded favor and applause, not hearty,
ringing cheers such as Brownies give, but a noisy clatter of fangs. The
applause ceased and Lycosa resumed.

"The capture of these prisoners was a masterly stroke. The chiefs stole
into the Brownie camp, seized their captives from the very headquarters,
and made off with them. A scream from one of them aroused the camp. The
hue and cry was raised, and by the barest chance Spite and Hide got off
to sea on board a smuggler's yacht."

"With their prisoners?"

"Yes, all safe. They are in limbo now, ready to be exchanged if need be.
But the Captain hopes to keep them for another and worse difficulty than
the present."

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--Spite Sends off Lycosa and his Balloon Corps.]

"Humph!" grunted Heady, "that would be hard to find, I fancy. Go on!"

"He sends word by me that the old suspension bridge is passable; that a
few cables stretched across spans Nos. 1, 2 and 4, will make it a quite
good route. I am here with my companions, not only to bring the
message, but to do this work of repair."

"But when is it to be done," asked Heady, "and how are we to make a
landing in face of the enemy's camp? The Brownies would climb the piers
and cut the strands under us; or would send their cavalry up to do it,
and attack parties crossing.

"They would swarm on the shore and prevent our landing. They would have
us at great disadvantage, for they could destroy us one by one. A pretty
plan that! Perhaps our chiefs had better come and try their own chances
in it. No! let them send out their she Brownies and try the ransom."
Heady spoke with much warmth and the Pixies applauded.

"Not so fast, General," said Lycosa, like a good diplomat conciliating
Heady with a high sounding title. "All that has been attended to. The
Fringe, a fast yacht, has gone down to the outlet with your officers, to
order up the navy. The ships will be anchored off the Old Bridge within
two hours. It will then be the hour just before dawn, which you know is
the darkest of the night. We can have the bridge ready for travel by
that time. Both your chiefs agree that the Brownies will then be quieted
down and will sleep more soundly because of this disturbance. One of us,
however, is to make a balloon reconnoissance before the start from the
fort shall be made, to see whether all is quiet. The navy will land your
party as fast as they arrive, and we can get over, it is thought, before
daylight. Should the movement be discovered, the ships can resist any
onset until all the garrison are off. That is the plan which I bring.
The chief orders the trial. If it fails, the ransom plan will not."

Heady looked sullen, shook his head, and meditated for a few moments.
No one spoke. All waited for his decision.

[Illustration: FIG. 60.--The Pixinees Leave Fort Spinder, Carrying their
Cradles and Babies.]

"Well, lads," said the Lieutenant, looking around with brightened face,
"Is that little unpleasantness settled? What say you?"

The Pixies clapped their fangs in chorus by way of approval.

"You will stop your nonsense, return to duty and obey orders, will you?"

"Yes, yes!" was the unanimous response.

"Very well, then. To your posts, all of you! Cousin Lycosa, go on with
your engineering, and draw on us for all the men and material that you
need."

The garrison scattered to their various posts at the barricades and
ramparts. Many laid down for a short sleep. Some went out with Heady to
look after repairs upon the bridge. The mutiny was over. Once more Spite
had saved Fort Spinder. It was Lycosa and his companions, just alighting
upon Aranea's Isle in their balloons, that had fixed the attention of
the chief while the Fringe approached the shore carrying the captive
Nurses. The whole plan of rescue flashed upon his mind: he would send a
balloon message to the fort, and with it engineers to direct the repair
of the Old Bridge and the proposed escape thereby! Meantime Hide and
himself would bring up the fleet to convey the garrison across the lake.

Lycosa and his chief assistant Gossamer lost no time in beginning work.
Their balloons were anchored by strong cords to grass stalks, and hung
in the air swaying backward and forward ready for the embarkation. They
were hammock shaped silken structures, quite wide at the middle, and
gathered into a point at each end. From the bow and stern floated
filaments of silk, which served the purpose of gas in human inventions
for air locomotion, that is to say, they buoyed up the balloon so that
it floated aloft.

The Pixie æronaut was seated in or beneath his hammock. Gossamer's
hammock or "car," was a rather broad, close ribbon of silk but Lycosa's
was a light meshwork affair, just enough for his body to rest upon, and
which he aptly called his basket.[AH] When the time came to ascend, the
stay lines would be cut, the balloons rise up and be carried along by
the breeze. If he wished to go higher, the balloonist opened his
spinnerets, set his tiny silk factory agoing, and thus by adding to the
number and length of the filaments increased the buoyancy of the
machine. If he wished to descend he gathered up the floating lines into
a little ball underneath his jaws, something like a seaman reefing
sails, and as the surface exposed to the air was diminished, the balloon
descended.

[Illustration: FIGS. 61 and 62.--Madame Lycosa and American Dolomede
Carrying Their Cocoons.]

"Let go the ropes!" shouted Lycosa, as he climbed by a thread into his
car, which swung beneath the netted hammock. The ropes were cut, and
away the voyager went to the Old Bridge, followed by his brother
balloonists. Assisted by the fort engineers, they stretched new cables
across the broken spans, and strengthened the old ones. An hour's steady
service finished all needful repairs. Then Lycosa ascended from one of
the piers, made a survey of the Brownie camp, returned and reported that
the camp had settled into its usual quiet. Rodney and his sailors were
off to the inlet. Being certain that the lost Nurses were not in the
fort, the Brownies had recalled the extra pickets. There was little
more risk in crossing the bridge than had attended the venture of Spite
and Hide, especially as a fog now hung over the shore. Lookouts were
placed upon the shore pier to watch for the fleet. All baggage and
portable material were packed. Some of the Pixinees took their children
upon their backs, like Madam Lycosa; others carried their round, silken
cradles in their jaws, like Madam Pholcus, or lashed beneath their
bodies, like Madam Dolomede.[AI] Fort Spinder was stripped and ready to
be abandoned to its fate.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.--Madam English Ocyale Carries Her Cradle Lashed
to Her Body.]

Soon Lycosa's signal flag was seen flying from above the pier. The fleet
was in sight! The news was passed rapidly from mouth to mouth along a
line of sentinels stationed on the bridge. The garrison was set in
motion. In a short space of time the whole force had gone over without
accident, and without a sound loud enough to alarm the Brownie pickets,
a result much assisted by a contrivance of Lycosa's. To prevent the
noise made by vessels mooring to the shore, he caused all the ships to
anchor some distance from land. He then attached cords to the masts and
bowsprits, and by means of his balloons carried them directly from the
bridge to the ships. Thus there was no tramping from abutment to lake
across the bank. There were no splash of oars and wash of waves by the
plying of boats from shore to ship.

The last soldiers had embarked. The cables were cut, the anchors
weighed, and with a favoring breeze the fleet crossed the lake and
anchored in Big Cave harbor on the opposite or orchard shore. One of
their camps or villages was located here, and the wearied Pixies were
disembarked and comfortably housed.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AG: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote AH: Appendix, Note B.]

[Footnote AI: Appendix, Note C.]



CHAPTER XVI.

BROWNIES ON A LARK.


After the evening meal there usually comes a lull in the duties of
Brownie camp life. Pickets have been told off and stationed at their
posts, camp fires are kindled, and the soldiers gather around the
glowing light, stretched upon the grass underneath the shadow of leaves
and flowers, or seated on rude stools of pebbles and twigs. In chat and
story they forget the fatigues and dangers of a soldier's life. They
spin yarns of past adventure, tales of "moving accident by flood and
field" and "perils in the imminent deadly breach;" they discuss the
chances of the campaign, the strategy and behavior of the enemy, and the
merits of their commanders. Jokes, quips, merry anecdotes and witty
sayings run around the circle, and ever and anon hearty peals of
laughter break out upon the still evening air.

"Ho, lads! Tone down your mirth a bit!" cried the officer of the day to
one of these groups, in the camp before Fort Spinder.

"Aye! aye, Sir!" was the response, and for a moment silence fell upon
the circle.

"Say, boys," at last exclaimed one of the company, "let's get out of
this and go for a lark. I have a capital idea in my head."

"Ho, ho!" cried Brownie Highjinks; "Twadeils really has an idea in his
head! I'll warrant it's a lively one. Out with it! I'm for any fun
that's not against general orders."

"Well then, lads, come close together and listen."

Twadeils was one of two brothers who had got their somewhat peculiar
name from their daring and mischievous spirit which kept them and most
people around them in a whirl of excitement and adventure. Their chums
nicknamed them the "Twa deils," and the two words at length became one,
and the lads were called Twadeils Senior and Twadeils Junior. But among
their fellows they were simply known as "Twadeils" and "Junior."

The Brownies grouped themselves around Twadeils, heard his plan, and
with little question gave hearty assent. An hour and place of meeting
were fixed; and after discussing details of the proposed lark in
whispers as they bent over the camp fire, the merry plotters retired to
their tents.

In due time they were up and assembled at the rendezvous. The group that
now started out upon their secret adventure was made up of Brownies from
all arms of the service. The navy was represented by Brownies Barck,
Ferrie, Wetman and Obersee; the cavalry by Brownies Gear, Saddler,
Martingale, Hosson, Howrode and Barnit; the infantry by Halfrick,
Highjinks, Esslade and the two Twadeils. A merry crowd they were and as
bold as merry. The story of their night adventure we are now about to
tell.

They silently stole from camp; passed the sentries without much trouble,
and reached the bank of the lake close by the point where the Brownie
picket line touched the water. They were in a shallow depression formed
in earlier time by an overflow of the lake. The water rose almost at
this point to the surface of the shore, and only a narrow ridge of sand
hindered it from flowing down the dry channel over which, indeed, it
often ran during freshets.

Twadeils set Obersee and his sailor companions to form a raft. They were
handy at such work, and soon had a number of beams lashed together into
a rude raft that was secure enough, at least for such adventurers as
those who expected to use it. The rest of the company were set to
digging at the sandy ridge which banked the lake. All sorts of
implements were used, drinking cups, table pans, shovels extemporized
from splinters, stalks and chips picked from driftwood on the shore.
Indeed, the Brownies had been trained to turn a hand to such duty
without use of spades, shovels, picks or other trenching tools.

By the time the raft was ready, a cut had been made through the sand
almost to the verge of the lake, and the water had already begun to
trickle over the top. Then the final order was given, and all the
Brownies fell to with zeal, and removed the remaining sandy barrier.
Soon a breach was made in the shore through which the lake water began
to pour. The spirits of the Brownies rose with the rising flood, and
when at last enough water had entered the channel to float the raft,
they let it swing out into the stream, and were afloat upon the swift
running current.

Their purpose was now made plain. They intended to drown out the Pixie
pickets, overflood and override the barricade, and get into the heart of
the Pixie camp. But there were some difficulties in the way that these
reckless spirits had not considered. The water was as frisky as
themselves, and would not confine itself to the course in which they had
expected it to run, but turned hither and thither, crawling among clumps
and tufts of weeds, grass and bushes, whose tops presently appeared
above the surface of the current, and lay in the way of the raft as it
floated down stream.

"Look out there in front!" cried the leader but before the raft could be
pushed away it bumped against a bush. Several Brownies were tossed into
the stream, and were pulled up with difficulty. Now the raft was off
again, and its crew, a little more careful, managed to avoid the snags
that threatened them in front.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.--Tetragnatha's Mimicry of a Green Twig.]

Soon the cry arose: "Look out on the right!" Too late again, for the
raft was caught in an eddy and driven among the bushes on the margin of
the little torrent. Some of the crew clambered upon the bushes others
plunged into the stream, and by dint of pushing and pulling, and many
hearty but subdued calls, and with much laughter, the vessel was
released from the bushes and pushed again into the current. At this
moment Esslade saw the form of a Pixie upon an overhanging bush. He lay
along the stem with arms and legs stretched out before and behind and
held close together, thus so tightly embracing the plant that it was
difficult at first to distinguish him therefrom.

"Aha!" said Esslade, "I know that trick of yours, Master Tetragnatha. I
have seen you and your kin try to cheat us before this by snugging
yourself along stems of plants, and keeping your great green coat and
legs down tight to 'em. You fooled me that way once, but you can't do it
again. Here boys, we must get the old rascal out of that!"

So saying he sprang into the bush, laid hold of a limb, and swung
himself up to where the Pixie lay. Several of his comrades quickly
followed, but Tetragnatha had no mind to meet them in fair combat. He
jumped up, and leaped from the stem into the midst of the current. This
sudden movement surprised the Brownies. They paused, and gazed
wonderingly at their foe, whom they knew to be no water-pixie, and
therefore expected to be engulfed in the stream.

"Well," exclaimed Wetman, "that was a foolish trick. Might as well have
stayed to be killed as to jump into that current and be drowned; for
drowned you surely will be, old fellow."

But Wetman was mistaken. To the surprise of all the Brownies,
Tetragnatha instead of sinking, spread his legs upon the water, floated
for a moment or two with the current, and then in the face of the stream
began slowly to approach the shore.

"What can this mean?" asked Gear. "How does the creature manage it? What
sort of hidden machinery has that Pixie within himself to enable him to
go contrary to the current into the bushes on yonder shore?"

"Don't know, but we'll try to find out. So after him boys, after him!"
cried Twadeils.

The order was quickly obeyed, the raft was swung into the stream, and
partly urged by the current, and partly impelled by poles and oars, the
Brownies followed the fleeing Pixie and almost overtook him. They were
just a little too late, for a moment before the raft touched the shore,
Tetragnatha reached a low-hanging twig and climbed to the top of a bush.

The Brownies, however, were determined not to be foiled, so once more a
party sprang into the limbs and leaves, and followed the retreating
Pixie. Tetragnatha paused a moment, as though considering whether it
would be better to meet his enemies in open fight, or a second time try
the stream. But his foes were too many, so he leaped upon the water.
This time he varied his method, for he made one end of a long cord fast
to a branch, meanwhile holding on to the other end, so that when he
alighted on the water the cord stretched out behind him. This stayed and
buoyed him up as he ran off at full pace upon the surface of the
stream.[AJ] As he went, the thread stretched out, and seemingly would
have made no end of lengthening had not one of the Brownies cut it.
Tetragnatha was discomfited only for a moment; then, to the surprise of
his pursuers, instead of sinking beneath the flood rode upon it, and
turned his course towards the shore. This time, however, the Pixie's way
led along a belt of bright moonlight that glimmered through the
branches.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.--Pixie Tetragnatha's Escape.--(Illustration by
Dan. C. Beard.)]

"Aha, lads!" exclaimed Rownie, who was standing at the bow watching an
opportunity to annoy his enemy, "I see what's the mystery! The Pixie has
spread a sail! Look there! you can see it if you stoop low and catch a
side view of the silk as it shines in the moonlight! Do you see now?
Tetragnatha has lifted his body from the surface of the water and has
set his spinning machinery a-going; and now you may see the outspun
threads glinting in the moonlight. A long pencil of silken lines is
spread out from the spinnerets above him, while at the same time he has
fastened his feet together by a little silken raft. The raft buoys him
upon the water; the floating filaments act as sails; the wind is blowing
right toward the bank yonder, so that in spite of the current which
heads off this way, the creature is able to sail over the surface of the
water. There he goes! He is bound to make land."

[Illustration: FIG. 66.--Tetragnatha: "The Floating Filaments Act as
Sails."]

Rownie had seen truly. This was another of the tricks of that strange
and cunning craft which was continually being unfolded before the
Brownies' eyes. Tetragnatha was now safe on dry land, and scampered off
among the bushes.

Once more the adventurers pushed into the current. The stream bore to
the opposite side, making a long curve which brought them close up to
the picket line of their own troops.

"Hush!" cried Twadeils, "Yonder is one of our sentinels, close up to the
edge of the stream! Down flat on the raft, every one of you; quick, and
lay low till we are quite past." The Brownies tumbled at the word and
spread themselves along the logs in as small space as they could assume,
although their position was anything but comfortable, for the water
continually washed over them, or spurted up upon them through the chinks
of the raft.

"Ahoy, there!" cried the Brownie sentinel, "What boat is that?"

No answer, and the raft sped silently by.

"Halt, there!" shouted the sentinel, running after the vessel. "Halt, I
say, or I will fire on you."

He paused, raised his bow and let fly an arrow. It was well aimed and
sank into a log close by the head of Highjinks. Indeed it pierced his
Scotch bonnet and tore it from his head. This fidgety Brownie could no
longer be restrained, and although the raft had now been carried quite
out of reach, he leaped to his feet, pulled out the arrow, waved it and
his bonnet above his head, and called to the sentinel, whom he knew
well:

"Say, old chappie, save your shots for Pixies. Don't you see, you
rascal, you've spoiled my hat, and--"

"Lie down, you ninnie," cried Twadeils in a whisper, "you'll give us
away! We'll be stopped, taken back to camp, and put in the guard house,
every one of us!"

Thereupon several Brownies quietly pulled Highjinks down upon the logs.
By this time the raft had swung round a clump of brushwood, leaving the
sentinel gazing in a dazed way after the mysterious vessel. Scarcely had
they rounded the point when a huge Pixie darted from the grasses near
them, and, after making a few rapid strides upon the current, dived into
the stream.

"Hello! here's game," cried Twadeils. "Stop the raft a moment." Ferrie
swung the bow around. Saddler and Barnit seized the ropes and jumped
into the nearest bushes; then holding back lustily, the clumsy vessel
was soon stopped.

"Now get her up to the place where the Pixie went down," said Twadeils.
"I know him well. He is one of the Dolomede band of water-pixies.
Sixpoint Dolomede they call him. Steady, here he is!"

Looking down into the water the Brownies saw Sixpoint clinging to the
stem of an overflowed plant.

"What a curious looking creature he is!" exclaimed Hosson. "He has put
on a coat of armor that shines like silver even through the water. How
did he get it?"

"Don't know," exclaimed Halfrick, "but I will see whether it is proof
against my spear."

He steadied himself upon the raft and drew back to strike. The sharp
implement cut through the water, and as Halfrick leaned over the edge of
the raft to watch the result of his stroke, he was suddenly made
conscious of an effect very different from that he had counted upon. He
could not have been more surprised if an earthquake had struck him.

Sixpoint, at the touch of the spear, unclasped his hold upon the stem,
darted upward, and struck with full force against the under part of the
bow, which shot upward into the air until the raft stood on one end in
the water. It was much as though a huge whale were to come up underneath
a fishing boat. Halfrick was heaved into the air like a rocket, and
after several somersaults alighted in some near-by boughs. The rest of
the company slid along the logs and dropped together into the stream. A
more surprised set of Brownies perhaps never was seen. They arose to the
surface, sputtering and struggling, and one after another laid hold of
the raft, which had now righted itself. But as they climbed up at one
end, Sixpoint clambered upon the other. His weight dragged the bow under
the water, and the stern tossed into the air throwing the Brownies
forward. They were flung directly upon the great Pixie, who was as much
surprised by the sudden movement, which he took for an assault, as were
the Brownies themselves, and backed off into the stream dragging down
the bow with him.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.--Pixie Sixpoint Upsets the Raft.--(Illustration
by Dan. C. Beard.)]

Meantime the Brownies had returned toward the stern of the raft, and as
Sixpoint let go his hold the bow rose in the water. This see-sawing of
the vessel and the oddity of the proceeding touched the Brownies'
risibilities, and they began to laugh. Soon the whole party were in a
tumult of mirth, in the midst of which Dolomede gravely thrust out his
forepaws, deliberately climbed upon the raft and began to look around.
Thereupon several of the Brownies dropped into the water beside the
logs. Among these was Gear, who, while he floundered about and ducked
his head, said, "Wh--wh--what's become of the brute's armor? don't you
see he has stripped it off? Wh--what do you think he has d--d--done with
it?"

"Such a fellow!" said Junior, who was treading water beside Gear, "I
believe you would ask questions and study problems in Natural History if
you were dying. Here lads," he added, "it's a burning shame that this
Pixie has possession of our raft. Let's up and at him!"

The party climbed out of the water, drew their weapons and cautiously
advanced, but Sixpoint thought discretion the better part of valor, for,
without waiting for his enemies to attack, he dropped into the stream
and sank beneath the surface. The Brownies rushed to the edge of the
raft just in time to see the Pixie moving out of reach from stem to stem
of the submerged plants.

"Look, boys!" cried Gear, "He has his silver armor on again. How is the
thing done? It looks like magic!"

"Suppose you dive down and ask the old fellow, dear boy," said
Highjinks. "No doubt he will lend you a brand new suit for yourself, if
you like."

Dolomede was by this time quite hidden from view, and any attempt to
follow would have been vain. So Twadeils ordered all hands aboard, and
once more set sail.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.--"The Triple-Decked Tower of Linyphia."]

Perhaps we may stop to explain the point that puzzled Gear. The silver
armor was nothing, in fact, but bubbles of air that clung to Sixpoint's
hairy coat. It is the fashion of water-pixies to spread out the numerous
hairs upon their furry skins just as they plunge beneath the surface of
the water. Portions of air within the spaces between the hairs cling
around the body, held thereto by the pressure of the surrounding water.
This air gathers in round bubbles which shine like silver, and have
somewhat the appearance of a coat of mail. They probably furnish the air
for the creature to breathe while in the water, and they of course
disappear into the atmosphere the moment the surface is reached.

Once more the Brownies were afloat, and now they drew near the
barricades, and saw the damage wrought by the flood upon the Pixie
defences. The water had overflowed the demilune, so that only the end
towers showed above the surface; and these swayed to and fro before the
force of the rushing current and under the weight of the Pixie sentinels
who, as it seemed to the Brownies, must have been driven to refuge
within them, so suddenly had the flood broken out. The triple-decked
tower of Linyphia was crowded with these fugitives.

"Now, lads," said Twadeils, "here's our chance for fine sport. What say
you? Shall we push our raft right over the barricade to the gate of the
fort? Or stop and pick up some of the fellows imprisoned here in the
towers?"

"It is bad policy to leave an enemy in one's rear," said Rownie.

"You mean that a Pixie in a bush is worth two in a fort, don't you?"
exclaimed Ferrie.

"It will soon be time for us to be in our quarters," said Howrode,
pointing to the faint blush of coming dawn in the eastern horizon. "If
we are not in by reveille it will be rather hard on us. We will not be
able to get through more work than we can find here among these towers."

These opinions were heartily endorsed by the majority of the party, and
the raft was directed toward one of the central towers.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AJ: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER XVII.

HOW THE LARK ENDED.


The water had risen around the demilune, covering the entire line of
works except the tall towers above the two ends and on either side of
the central gate. The raft was steered toward the tower at the western
end. This was a dome-shaped structure wrought by bending together and
lashing several leaves, which then looked like the crown of a peaked
hat. The inside was neatly tapestried with silk, and on all sides of the
opening, which looked downward, were strung guy ropes and cross lines.
Above the whole, was curved, like the plume of a helmet, a leaf with a
long stem, whose point was bent downward and fastened to the roof.[AK]
This formed a watch tower or lookout for a sentinel who could thence
scan the surrounding space and give warning of approaching danger.

"Yonder is the lookout, lads!" said Twadeils as the raft swung toward
the tower; "but he seems to be taking it very coolly, for although he
must see us, he makes no sign of giving warning. But, we had better not
trust to that; push on as fast as possible, and put him beyond the power
of raising an alarm. Give way, lads, give way heartily!"

"Aye, aye, Sir!" was the answer, and the raft soon lay alongside the
tower.

"Fasten the painter to one of those lines," was the next order. "Gear,
you may lead the cavalrymen to the lookout, and I'll head the attack on
the main tower."

"All right," said Gear; "I know the company which the fellow up there
belongs to. A keen lot they are, too, as bright as the scarlet uniform
that gives them the name of the 'Cardinal Company.'[AL] Come on,
Brownies!"

[Illustration: FIG. 69.--Leaves Lashed or Sewed Into a Turret Den.]

He seized the tower guy ropes, and guiding his course by the stems of
the leaves, began the ascent followed closely by his comrades, Saddler,
Halfrick and Barnit. Up they went, hand over hand, everyone trying to
beat his leader to the top, which they were not long in reaching. As
they hung at the edge a moment and looked over it, they saw the Pixie
watchman standing rampant at the opposite side of the lookout. His
scarlet tunic shone bright in the moonlight, and the metallic green of
his fangs glistened as he gnashed them together in defiance.

"Surrender!" shouted Gear.

[Illustration: FIG. 70.--"Standing Rampant."]

Cardinalis shook one arm threateningly by way of answer. The Brownies
now made a rush toward the Pixie, but before they could reach him he
vaulted into the air, and passing over his assailants' heads, lit on the
opposite side of the lookout. The Brownies could not check their speed
and tumbled against and over one another, as they reached the spot where
the Pixie had stood.

"Well jumped," cried Gear, recovering himself, "but you shall not miss
us next time." He seized the dragline, which the vaulting legionaries
always stretch behind them when they jump, and gave it a stout tug as he
faced about. Cardinalis cut the line with his claw, and turning sharply
faced his foes, and as they approached backed quietly down the stern of
the leaf to the roof of the tower.[AM]

"Foiled again," cried Gear, as the squad of Brownies scurried after the
retreating Pixie, "but you can't escape us a third time." His boast was
too soon made, however, for before his party could reach the tower,
Cardinalis had scampered down the guy ropes to the Brownie raft. Thither
he was followed by Gear and his men who were now well warmed to their
work and boiling with vexation at their two failures. Halfrick was the
first to reach the raft, and as he charged with poised spear, Cardinalis
sprang upon him. Halfrick sank upon one knee, dropped the end of his
spear to the deck, and received upon the point the force of the assault.
The spear point penetrated the Pixie's breast, but the staff was
shattered, and Halfrick borne to the deck. His comrades were at his side
in an instant, but before he was relieved, the dying Pixie buried his
fangs in his shoulder.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.--"Well jumped!"]

"Has any one a cruse of Lily Balm?" asked Gear. No one answered. The
thoughtless fellows had not counted upon accidents and wounds when they
planned their lark.

"Too bad, too bad!" Gear exclaimed. "But we must do the next best
thing." He tore the skirts of his coat into strips and tied a bandage
tightly around the shoulder between the hurt part and the body. He then
put his lips to the wound and sucked the poison into his mouth. Halfrick
had already fallen into a stupor, and was laid in an easy position upon
the raft, where his comrades watched him with sad countenances.

In the meanwhile how fared it with Twadeils and his party? They had
little difficulty in mounting to the tower, but as they entered the
leafy dome, they found themselves faced by the huge proportions of
Shamrock, the tower-keeper. Near him were two Pixies belonging to the
Vaulting Legion who had taken refuge from the flood within the tower,
and whose bright eyes shone out of the deep shadows wherein they lay.

The Brownies had a hard task before them, for they must hang to the
tapestried sides of the tower with one hand, while they kept the sword
arm free. Moreover, they were to attack from beneath, and face an
assault which coming from above would be much more serious. But they
knew nothing of fear and little of prudence, and pushed on holding their
swords above them, which thus formed a bristling circle of points
against which their enemies must cast themselves if they chose to
attack. The moonlight shone brightly upon objects beneath, but little
got within the dome, and all above them was in shadow; only the outlines
of the Pixies dimly showed against the white tapestry of the walls.

Silently and slowly, but steadily the circle of Brownie sword points
moved upward into the shadow, narrowing as they rose. The affray
promised to be a bloody one, and even the most reckless of the party had
begun to feel the sobriety of the moment, when the advance was suddenly
arrested by a voice calling from above them.

"Halt! We surrender!" It was Pixie Shamrock that spoke.

"Halt!" echoed Twadeils, although the command was scarcely needed, for
his company had stopped at the first word. Yet, they suspected a Pixie
trick, and every arm held the sword blade more firmly, and all eyes were
more keenly on the alert.

Shamrock perceived that the Brownies distrusted him, and again spoke:
"We are in earnest. No trick is intended. Descend, and we will follow
you and give ourselves up. We have good reasons for our strange action.
We have been deserted and deceived by Spite the Spy and our own friends,
and shall not now throw our lives away to please or profit them. You may
trust my word."

[Illustration: FIG. 72.--Shamrock's Fernleaf Tower.]

After a brief whispered consultation, Twadeils concluded it wise policy
to accept the offered surrender, and gave orders to descend. It must be
confessed that he was glad to do this, for he began to fear that serious
results would follow, and even that if they should be victorious,
precious lives would be lost. There was no relaxing vigilance as the
Brownies descended, and when they reached the raft and saw the senseless
form of Halfrick stretched upon the deck, they were still better
satisfied that they had found so easy an issue from their adventure.

The Pixies, true to their word for once at least, came down quietly, and
let themselves be bound, after which Shamrock told the following story,
which seemed strange indeed to his captors: "Our sentries were stationed
last evening as usual, although it was expected that Fort Spinder would
be abandoned some time during the night. 'Keep up an active patrol,'
said the Captain of the Guard. 'Show yourselves freely to the enemy's
pickets, until you get orders from me to retire. Then quietly and
hastily withdraw from your posts, and we will go off in the last ship
load.'

"That seemed all right, and the sentinels on duty, of whom we are a
part, suspected nothing when, during the night, the relief guard were
ordered to headquarters under pretence of receiving some secret
instructions from the Chief. But they never returned. We kept watch long
after the time for changing guard; no corporal appeared. Then we sent a
messenger to the fort to see what was the matter. He soon returned
saying that the fort was abandoned. Not a Pixie was left except the
sentinels at the posts! We had been fooled, betrayed, deserted and given
over to death by our selfish Chief, who left us as decoys to keep up the
appearance that the fort was occupied, in order to deceive you Brownies.
A madder lot of Pixies never was seen. If we could have gotten hold of
our chiefs we would have made mincemeat of them in short order.

"But storming and swearing didn't help matters. What should we do? That
was the question. We even thought of going straight to your camp and
blowing on the whole mean pack, and would have done it, I think, only we
feared you folks would think it a bit of Spite's strategy and cut our
throats for our pains. In the midst of our deliberations a flood burst
upon us from some unseen quarter. The very witches seemed to be abroad
and conspiring against us. We could not imagine the source, as there was
no rain. The water-pixies readily escaped to the land and are now in
hiding somewhere, but the rest of us fled from point to point until at
last we were cooped up in the towers. Now you can understand why, being
thus betrayed, confused and mystified, we had little stomach for
fighting, and preferred to surrender, if for nothing else than to get
even with our miserable dog of a chief, Spite the Spy. If you'll take
the trouble to go to the other towers you'll probably find all our
comrades in the same mood."

Here was startling news indeed for the Brownies! What should they do? At
all events, they wouldn't tell their prisoners that they were only a
chance squad of runaways out on a lark! Some serious duty seemed to be
before them. The suggestion to visit the other towers and bag all the
Pixies therein was a strong temptation; but ought they not now to push
straight to camp? An unlooked for circumstance brought the question to a
swift conclusion.

The water began to subside almost as rapidly as it had risen, but the
Brownies were so intent upon Shamrock's story that they failed to note
the fact. The raft's bow had been tied by a short rope to the tower, and
as the water ran out, the stern of the vessel gradually settled, and by
the time the Pixie tale was fairly told, was quite out of water and
loosely lodged upon a clump of grasses. Suddenly these gave way and the
raft began to tilt into an inclined plane.

"Look out, lads!" cried Hosson, "Hold fast all! The raft's upsetting!"
The warning came just in time to allow Halfrick's attendants to seize
and save him from being shot into the stream. Highjinks, finding
himself slipping down, flung himself into the water by a double
somersault, and several others joined him, while those who clung to the
raft were flung together in a huddle, Brownies and Pixies sprawling over
and clinging to one another. Wetman, who chanced to be near the bow,
clambered up and cut the painter, whereupon the raft fell into the
stream with a splash, and the water washing over the deck gave the crew
a ducking. The incident excited the mirthfulness of the Brownies, who
broke into merry laughter, and those on board began to chaff those in
the stream. Some one hailed Highjinks, who was cutting lively antics in
the water, and struck up a familiar doggerel, something after the
fashion of modern college ditties.


    I.

    "Here, dear
      Little son,
    Go slow,
      Do not run!"
        Go slow--oh--_er_!


    II.

    "Down town
      Do not stray,
    There dare
      Not to play!"
        Not to play--ay--_er_!


    III.

    "Near here
      Is a well.
    Poor More
      In it fell."
        In it fell--el--_er_!

No sooner was the song started than all the crew joined in it. The
strain was a dolorous one, and the refrain ended in a peculiar note on
the syllable "er," combining something of a sigh, a shriek and a grunt,
upon which all the singers laid the full stress of their voices, and
stopped with a sudden jerk. The whole effect was comical; and the third
verse seemed so pat to the case in hand that it was followed by a roar
of laughter that fairly raised the night echoes.

Ferrie, who was something of a wag, saw Gear splashing and spluttering
in vain efforts to ascend the raft, for he was but an indifferent
swimmer, and broke into an extemporized verse:

    Here, dear
    Little Gear,
    Come quick
    And I'll pick
        You out of the creek--eek--_er_!

The effort was hailed with applause, and the refrain was repeated with
rousing effect by the chorus:

    Out of the creek--eek--_er_!

Gear took the sally good naturedly, and as he was quite as quick at
repartée as Ferrie, sang back from the waves, sputtering and stuttering
as he sang:

    M--m--Merrie Ferrie,
    Sh--sh--shallow fellow,
    Shut quick,
    Or I'll stick
        You into the creek--eek--_er_!

"Good!" shouted the Brownies, with another hearty peal of laughter, as
they repeated the refrain. What a trifling matter will pass for genuine
wit among friends who are all in a good humor, and ready to be pleased
with every honest attempt at innocent fun!

But Twadeils thought that matters had gone quite far enough, indeed, too
far. "Come, come, lads," he said, "this must end. Matters have taken too
serious a turn for further mirth. Our lark must end just here. Pull the
raft to shore."

"All right, Captain," said Highjinks, who had drawn himself out of the
water, and stood on the end of the raft shaking himself with many
grimaces. "I'll reduce myself to order, and help reduce your order to
execution." Whereupon he plunged again into the flood, and aided by one
or two others soon had the raft free from the entangling remains of the
demilune. In a few moments it touched the bank where, with some merry
words of mock farewell, it was abandoned.

Twadeils now called his comrades around him. "Brownies," he said, "our
adventure has taken a more serious and important turn than I had
expected. We have a wounded comrade whom we must get into the hospital
as soon as possible; we have these prisoners to deliver to Captain
Bruce, and above all we have news of the utmost value, which ought not
to be held back a moment longer than necessary."

"But is the news true, comrade?" interrupted Gear. "Aren't we being
gulled by these Pixies? Lying is their native speech."

"I have thought of that," replied Twadeils, "and am not willing to go
into camp with such a story on the naked word of our prisoners; although
I believe, from several circumstantial proofs, that they have told the
truth this time, if never before. I propose to send out a scout to find
out the facts. We shall wait here for his report. What say you?"

All agreed with their leader, and the whole party clamored to be sent as
scouts; but Twadeils appointed his brother Junior, with Barck and
Howroad. Junior pushed toward the fort, gradually bearing in the
direction of the central gate. Soon the party passed a clump of ox-eyed
daisies whose tall blooms towered above the fort walls.

"Here is a good place to make an observation," said Junior. "Barck,
mount that tallest stem and tell us what you see."

Barck as a sailor was well used to climbing, and in a few moments
reached the blossom; but just as he was clambering over the edge of the
white leaves, he seemed to miss his footing and fell to the ground. His
fall was broken by a clump of grass, but he lay stunned and motionless.

[Illustration: FIGS. 73 and 74.--"Standing Rampant, with Claws Uplifted
as Though to Strike."]

His comrades ran to him and tried to restore him. "I never knew Barck to
make a slip of that sort before," said Howroad; "he's one of the surest
footed topmen in the fleet, and can climb like a monkey."

"True enough," said Junior, "and I don't understand it, but we must not
allow this accident to thwart our purpose. Do you watch our comrade, and
I'll try my luck at climbing for an observation."

So saying, he began the as cent, and as he was a skillful athlete
readily reached the top. He took the precaution to peep over the edge
before he got upon the flower, but saw nothing. The coast was clear! He
stood up and turned to survey the fort, but was startled by a rustling
noise at the further margin of the daisy. He turned, and drew his sword.

"Who is here?" he demanded.

[Illustration: FIG. 75.--Turncoat Tom on a Daisy. (Misumena vatia).]

There was no answer. But now gazing steadily in the direction from which
the sound came, he saw the dim outlines of a Pixie standing rampant with
claws uplifted as though to strike. The mystery of Barck's fall was
solved! Junior recognized in the creature before him one of the
Laterigrade Legion, a well known character. His uniform was generally
yellow, and he was in the habit of ambushing in yellow flowers. The
daisy was a favorite resort wherein he would lay alone for many days,
hugging the yellow heart of the large flower, and quite concealed from a
careless observer. Sometimes he resorted to other plants, and then his
uniform took the tint of their flowers, a fact which gave him the
popular name of Turncoat Tom.[AN] As Barck had clambered upon the daisy
unthinking of danger, Turncoat Tom had struck him on the head, and the
mariner, quite off his guard, was knocked to the ground.

"You miserable, sneaking Turncoat," cried the Brownie, wrathful at his
friend's mishap. "You shall pay for this dearly!" and thereupon he
assaulted the Pixie furiously.

A duel on a daisy! It was a strange occurrence even in Brownie world.
The duel was of short duration, for a skillful stroke of Junior's sword
severed one of Turncoat Tom's claws, whereupon he sidled, crabwise, over
the edge of the daisy, after the fashion of his tribe, and leaped sheer
of the flower into the grass beneath, fortunately on the side opposite
to where Barck lay. Junior peered over the edge and saw the form of his
wounded adversary glide into the shadows and disappear.

"Well," said the Brownie, as he put up his sword, "I dare say that is
another of the abandoned sentinels, and he has been punished enough. Let
him go!"

He turned once more to survey the fort, which lay under the full light
of the moon, quite exposed in every part. It was silent as a cemetery.
Not a sentinel was seen at the gates, on the walls, on the towers, or on
the parade ground. Not a boat lay at the landing. Not a sign of life
anywhere except on the Arenicola tower, where the grim flag of the
Pixies floated from its staff, having evidently been left, like the
sentinels of the demilune, to keep up the impression that the fort was
still occupied.

[Illustration: FIG. 76.--"A Duel on a Daisy." Junior and Turncoat Tom.]

Well satisfied, Junior descended and was pleased to find that Barck had
now recovered consciousness. He had no idea what had happened to him,
only knowing that as he crawled upon the daisy a sudden stroke, like a
shock of electricity, had fallen upon his head and smitten him to the
ground. With a sailor's superstition, he was disposed to think the fall
the result of some miserable witch work. Junior having relieved his
mind on this subject, dispatched Howroad to report to his brother and
recommend that all the Brownies join him with their prisoners. Twadeils
approved, and by the time the party had come up Barck was well enough to
join in the march with a little aid, and was soon as lively as the rest.

All were now in the best of spirits. Twadeils resolved to pass through
the fort by the central gate, go out by the water gate, and re-enter
camp by the lake front.

"Lads," he said, when he had told his plans, "we had expected to slip
through the lines before reveille, be safe in our quarters for morning
duty, and keep our lark to ourselves as a theme for campfire yarns. But
all that is now done for. Public duty requires us to go in openly and
make a full breast of all our doings. We deserve punishment, of course,
and shall get it; but we may hope to get off easily, for we bring great
news. Then, we have three Pixie prisoners; and as we go through the fort
we will haul down yonder black flag and carry it home as a trophy, and a
rare one it will be. The one drawback to all this is poor Halfrick
there. But let us hope that the Nurses can yet pull him through safely.
And now, attention! Forward, march!"

Off they set, then, in high spirits, which, however, they faithfully
kept within the bounds of quiet mirthfulness. They moved cautiously
until they had passed the central gate; but once within the fort, they
found that the place was beyond doubt deserted. Hosson and Wetman were
sent aloft to pull down the Pixie flag from Arenicola's Tower, and
having secured this valued trophy, they hurried homeward.
Notwithstanding their leader's warning, the highly excited Brownies
could not wholly restrain their joy as this emblem of their wicked
enemy's power descended from the proud place where it had floated in
triumph and defiance. Highjinks started in a jubilant voice a popular
camp song, which seemed quite pat to the occasion. His comrades at once
united with him in the rollicking strain, whose chorus at least we may
venture to quote.

    "Del-en-_do_ est Car-tha-_go_!"
     Car-tha-_go_ has got to go;
     For the Romans, don't you know,
     They have sworn it shall be so.
     Car-tha-_go_ has got to go!
    "Del-en-_do_ est Car-tha-_go_!"

Think of it! A Brownie scouting party singing a Brownie camp song in the
centre of a Pixie fort! It was an inspiring thought, and with a ringing
stress upon the refrain that woke loud echoes through the silent
streets, halls, and towers of Fort Spinder, the Brownies sang.

Then with three cheers and a tiger, the jolly crew once more yielded to
Twadeils' remonstrance, composed themselves to quietude and marched
briskly away. Nevertheless, frequently as they moved along they kept
time to the hummed notes of the chorus:

    "Del-en-_do_ est Car-tha-_go_!"
     Car-tha-_go_ has got to _go_!


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AK: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote AL: Appendix, Note B.]

[Footnote AM: Appendix, Note C.]

[Footnote AN: The author seems to have in view a well-known Thomisoid
spider, known both in Europe and America as Misumena vatia.--ED.]



CHAPTER XVIII.

WOOED BUT NOT WON.


Notwithstanding the fatigues of the day and night Spite did not seek
rest. Leaving the command of Orchard Camp with Hide, he went aboard the
"Fringe" and sailed over to the island. The boat was run in under the
willows, and at his own request Raft went with Spite to the lodge of
Dame Tigrina.

"You would be more welcome if you'd come at a respectable season," was
the greeting which the old creature gave her master.

"Well, well, mother, you must bear with me this time. It isn't often I
trouble you. And, you know, you never lose anything by serving me. How
are your new boarders? Asleep, I hope?"

"Asleep? not they! They have done nothing the whole night but weep, and
pray, and bemoan their condition."

"Poor things!" said Spite, "I suppose they are pining to see me, again!
Hey, mother?"

Dame Tigrina showed her fangs in what was intended for a grin, and led
the way into the "Brownie Bower," as Spite merrily called the place
where Faith and Sophia were confined.

"Good morning, my pretty birds," said the chief, as he entered the
chamber. "It is rather early for a call of ceremony on young ladies.
But, really, you must excuse me for once, as time is precious just now.
Besides, I come on business,--business of great importance. And that is
always a good excuse for untimely visits."

The Nurses rose as the Pixies entered the room. They stood with arms
clasped about each other, casting beseeching glances at their dread
enemy, but saying nothing.

"Come, Mistress Faith," continued Spite, "I have some private words to
speak to you. Now no scenes, please! If you want to be well treated act
sensibly. There, Sophie, you can go to the other side of the room. What
I have to say concerns Faith alone."

He loosened the clasped arms of the captives and led Faith aside. The
Brownie maiden shrank back from the Pixie's approach, drew herself up
and stood facing her persecutor. Her face was sad almost to despair, but
a quiet firmness in her eyes showed that although she thought best to be
silent, she had braced herself to resist or suffer to the utmost.

"I am a plain, rough-spoken person, Faith," began Spite, "and I shall
waste no words in telling you my wish and purpose. I love you. I want
you for a wife. I mean to marry you."

Faith started, shrank back yet further, drew herself up yet more, but
remained silent.

"I don't wish to marry in my own race, for reasons which I do not care
to explain. But I have long felt the need of some one to preside over my
household. I have chosen you to that honor. Are you ready to accept it
without more ado?"

Faith's cheeks blushed crimson at these words. Her eyes flashed as she
answered: "Spite, chief, Pixie, fiend!--whatever you call yourself, what
evil spirit could have devised such an unholy scheme? Faith ally herself
with you? Never! Do the worst you can do at once. I can die. I am not
afraid to die. Strike! But say no more of a matter the very thought of
which is revolting." She spoke quietly, but there were firmness and
fire in her tones before which even Spite quailed for a moment.

He was not long abashed. "That sounds very fine," he replied, "and I
suppose is the proper thing to say, and all that, in such cases. Let us
take all such high and virtuous stuff for granted, however, and come
straight to business. Now first, you have such an offer as no Brownie
ever yet dreamed of. You may be queen of the Pixies. You shall have a
palace--yes, a score of palaces if you like. Servants, honors, garments
of the richest silk, table luxuries from air and earth and
water--everything that heart could possibly wish of honor, riches and
comfort shall be yours. What have you to say to that?"

"That not all the kingdoms of this earth, could you bestow them on me,
would buy me to be a Pixie's bride."

"Then, second," continued Spite, not noticing the reply, "you will be in
a position to act as a mediator between your people and ours. You could
have many opportunities for doing good to your friends and kin. The
alliance which I propose would also give you a power for good over our
people. Even if you were asked to make a sacrifice, it would be your
duty to do so since thereby you would widen the sphere of your
influence. What do you say to that?"

"I say, as I have ever been taught, that it is not lawful to do evil
that good may come. It is a delusion and a snare to say that such a
wicked union as you ask could have any other than a disastrous end."

"Then, third," continued Spite with the same cool indifference to
Faith's indignant words, "third and last, you might as well submit
gracefully to your destiny. You can't help yourself. You are in my
hands. I shall marry you whether you like or no. You will only bring
sorrow and pain upon yourself and friends by your stubbornness, and will
do no good in the end. I have finished my business. I don't mean to
press it just now. Think over it carefully. If your good sense is equal
to your reputation, you will conclude to live queen of the Pixies, with
a good heart. The next time I come I shall expect to have your betrothal
kiss. I leave you now to refresh yourself with sleep. Good night!"

While Spite was thus addressing Faith, Sophia in the other end of the
room was approached by the smuggler.

"Oh, Sir," she cried, "you showed us kindness on the boat. I know you
must have a good heart, even if you are a Pixie. Have pity on us, and
save us from this horrible dungeon."

"Softly, softly, my pretty lass," responded Raft. "You are right enough
in thinking that I pity you. But it is not so easy always to indulge
one's self in that luxury. It would be a mighty costly one if I were to
carry it to the length you ask. But I have a proposal that may make it
all right. There, listen coolly. Don't cry, please! That quite unmans
me. You can get out of this trouble in an easy and pleasant way."

"Get out of this trouble?" repeated Sophia with hope and joy. "Quick,
tell me how!"

"So! I am ordered by Lieutenant Hide, who is second in command over the
Pixies, you know, to propose marriage to you in the name of his oldest
son Halfway."

"Oh! you are mocking me!" cried Sophia, clasping her hands, and her
countenance changing from hope to horror. "You cannot mean that?"

"No, certainly I am not mocking," said Raft mistaking her meaning; "he's
in dead earnest, I am sure, and will stand by his proposal. He means
just what he says. He wants a Brownie wife for his boy."

"O Sir," exclaimed Sophia quickly, "you misunderstand me. Nothing could
induce me to listen a moment to such a proposal. I would never, never
marry him!"

"Ah! that's the way the wind blows, hey? Well, there's no accounting for
tastes. Young Halfway is counted a likely chap, and the best match in
the country. There are scores of young Pixinees who would jump at such
an offer."

"Don't speak of it! It is an insult. I would die a thousand deaths
first. Never, never!"

"Well, well, you needn't go on so about it. I'm sure I meant you no
harm, and I've done my duty to my captain. Hide can't gainsay that."

Sophia sank upon a cushion and wept violently. Raft looked upon her
tenderly. At last he spoke:

"Look here, Miss Sophia, it may be that you'd take more kindly to a sea
life, now, than to one on shore. If you can't marry Halfway, what do you
say to Raft? You will be free as air to come and go, and be queen of the
"Fringe," the fastest yacht upon the waters. You shall have no captains
or lieutenants over you, nor anything else, but your own sweet will and
choice. You can visit your kin when you please, spend half the time with
them if you like. And, maybe, they would be willing to have me spend a
good deal of time with you in the Brownie camp. P'raps I might take to
Brownie ways, by and by, and turn out a sort of fairy myself. Who knows?
What say you, my pretty? Speak up and don't fear! If you'll give me the
right to call you my own, I can find the way out of this cave for you
and your friend Faith too, I'll be bound! Well, what is it?"

Sophia's amazement during this address was unbounded. She dropped her
hands upon her lap, lifted her face and with round wondering eyes gazed
in a bewildered way upon the smuggler. Her heart had been somewhat drawn
toward Raft on account of his kindness. The one glint of sunshine in all
the deep darkness and horror of their position, had been the rough
courtesy of this Pixie sailor. But to marry him? Oh! how could she
listen to such a proposal?

Yet she dared not stop Raft lest she should anger the only one who had
shown himself friendly. If she should speak out her whole heart, would
he not turn against her and Faith with bitterness? Then, for just one
brief moment--the thought of her helplessness flashed upon Sophia's
mind. All was lost to them. They were already as those who had gone down
among the tombs. Would it not be right for her to save Faith, at least,
by complying? Faith would be free!--Raft had promised it. She herself
might be delivered from the power of Spite and Hide, who would compel
her to marry Halfway. True, she would be a Pixie's wife. But how much
better Raft than Halfway! How much better to be free upon the Fringe,
than imprisoned in Dame Tigrina's halls? To be permitted to see home and
friends as often as she wished! Ought she not to make the sacrifice, and
save dear Faith?

The temptation flashed before her imagination for a moment--only for a
moment. With a shudder, and a blush of self-reproach that she had even
allowed the thought to rise, she put the temptation aside.

"O Sir," she exclaimed, bursting into tears, "I pray you say no more!
You have showed me some kindness; have pity on me now. I cannot do what
you ask. I am betrothed to Sergeant True. The laws of my race would not
allow a marriage with you or any other of your people. Such concord,
fellowship, and communion we may never hold with Pixies. We dare not be
thus unequally yoked together. Indeed, I would not offend you, but--"

"Tut, tut," exclaimed the smuggler interrupting her, "there's no offence
in particular. If you don't accept, it's your own look out. However, I
can do nothing for you in that case. If you were my wife now, I should
have a right to protect you and yours against all my kith and kin. I
would do it, too! But as you don't choose that, I must e'en stand by my
employer, and do the best I can for him. So, say no more about it.
There! the chief is ready to leave, I see, and so good-night!"

The two Pixies left the room, and Faith and Sophia were once more alone.
Their grief was pitiful to see. There was not a ray of hope for them. O
that they were dead! or, that they had never been born! So they moaned,
and wept in each other's arms for long, long hours, until Nature hushed
their anguish into the forgetfulness of sleep.

While the Pixie chief was off upon his mission of unrighteousness, the
Brownie captain had also gone upon a journey. Leaving the command to
MacWhirlie he started for the mansion with Blythe and True. The old
Dutch clock in the hall rang out the hour of four as they entered the
chamber window by the Virginia creeper that covered the side of the
house. Night was beginning to yield before the advance of coming day,

    "And now Aurora, daughter of the Dawn,
     With rosy lustre purpled o'er the lawn."

How sweet, fresh and still the old place looked after the trials,
fatigues and perils of the past day and night! But there was no time to
indulge pleasant sentiment. Many dear interests hung upon their haste.
They crept through the window blinds, and mounted the bed posts to the
coverlid close by the sleeping Governor.

Bruce spoke. Wille turned uneasily in his sleep, but made no answer.
Blythe touched his face with a sword handle. The Governor threw up his
hand, opened his eyes, plucked at the netting of the canopy and
muttered,

"I say, wife, the mosquitoes have got under the bar. It's very
annoying!" Then he lay down again to sleep.

Once more Bruce spoke, but more loudly, "Governor Wille, Wille, Wille!"

"Oh dear!" sighed the sleeping man, "I do think the everlasting singing
of those mosquitoes is worse than their bite. Couldn't you keep them
out, wife?"

"Come, come," cried Bruce impatiently, "It is we--the Brownies. Wake up!
Wake, and listen to us, if you have any love or pity for your old
friends."

Governor Wille was now aroused and sat up in his bed and looked down
sleepily upon his fairy friends. He yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Well,"
he began, "this is a strange visit, truly. What is wanted now, pray?"
Bruce briefly related the late events, and besought his aid to recover
the lost Nurses.

"But I don't see what I'm to do!" exclaimed Wille. "How can I bring back
the poor lasses? I don't know where they are, I am sure. What shall I do
about it? I say, wife--wife! Dido, wake up! Here are the Brownies. Spite
has captured Faith and Sophia. Dear me! can't you wake? You're a
precious sleepy head!"

Dido awoke in half the time that Wille had taken; but then gentlemen
look at those things so differently when it concerns their wives! Wille
and Dido held a short conference, which was interrupted by many yawns
from the Governor, and finally Dido announced the conclusion.

"Governor Willie has been up all night," she said; "He returned at a
late hour from Columbus, and is worn out with business, travel and loss
of sleep. He must rest now. After breakfast we will go out to the lake
and join you in the search after Faith and Sophia."

"When do you breakfast?" asked Blythe.

"It will be quite late to-morrow--ten o'clock at least, I suppose."

"And you will not be ready to help us before eleven or twelve, then?"

"I think that is quite likely."

"Cannot you come without the Governor?" suggested Blythe.

"No, I couldn't think of that. We never undertake such things
separately. Good morning, now."

Dido pulled up her night-cap, retied the strings, and laid her pretty
head upon the pillow. Her husband was already breathing heavily, off
asleep while Dido was talking.

"But, madam," said True earnestly, "twelve o'clock may be too late. You
are trifling with this thing! We ask you to pity us and help us. You
know the Golden Motto, 'Quickly done is twice done.' If you want to help
us at all you must make haste."

"Hush-sh!" said Bruce, taking the Sergeant by the arm and leading him
away. "Don't you see? They are both asleep already. We can do nothing
more now, I fear. Come, we must once more fall back upon our own
resources."

True left the bed unwillingly. He muttered and sent back reproachful
looks as he moved away. He may have been too much interested to judge
calmly, but he had decided opinions about the conduct of Wille and
Dido--sleeping while Faith and Sophia were in Pixie bonds! He spoke out,
too. But his words were unheard. The trio left the chamber and hastened
back to camp.



CHAPTER XIX.

A BATTLE ON LAKE KATRINE.


Commodore Rodney and his brave tars were not long in reaching the inlet,
where the Brownie fleet lay moored. The damages received in the last sea
fight were so far repaired that the ships were ready for service. Sails
were shaken out, cordage stretched, anchors weighed, and before dawn the
whole navy was crossing the lake under full sail.

[Illustration: FIG. 77.--A Brownie David or Catapult (side view.)]

Rodney's flag-ship was called the Emma, and was built after designs of
the Brownie Naval Constructor. Its hull was cunningly framed from leaves
cut, bent and stretched into proper shape. Its sails were delicate
leaves fastened upon miniature masts, whose cordage was twisted from
fibres of plants. Its armament was thus fashioned: bits of elderberry
stalk were cut into short lengths and the pith removed, leaving
"barrels" which were thrust out of port-holes or laid along deck. A rod
or "plunger" fitted into each barrel, the outer end of which was lashed
to a string tied to the ends of a bowed strip of elastic wood, hickory
for the most part, whose ends were braced by stiff pieces to either side
of the barrel. To the end of the "plunger" several ropes were fastened.
Then tiny pebbles were dropped into the tubes against the head of the
rod through holes in the breech. To fire the gun, the Brownies drew the
plunger back as far as the elastic strip would allow; then suddenly let
go the cords, which the gun crew usually did with a great hurrah. The
bended strips sprung into position, forcing the plunger forward, thus
driving out the pebbles to a goodly distance. For these cannons or
catapults the Brownies had the odd name of "davids."

[Illustration: FIG. 78.--A Brownie David (top view.)]

The other vessels of the fleet were smaller than the Emma, but were
rigged and fitted out after the same manner. Their names are: the Ken,
commanded by Pipe; the Trusty, commanded by Waterborn; the Old Honest,
commanded by Tradewind; the Perseverance, commanded by Coral; the Hope,
commander Fluke; the Steady, commander Temperance; the Kind, commander
Takeheed. These were the principal vessels and their captains were good
and tried men.

The Brownie national flag was white, with a blue canton or field; upon
the latter was a white cross saltier, known as St. Andrew's Cross,
within the centre of which was a red flaming heart surrounded by a
wreath of thistle blooms and leaves. The Brownie "Jack," after the
fashion of American and British fleets, was simply the blue field as
above described, without the white fly. Commodore Rodney's pennant was a
white streamer, bearing thereupon a white water lily, the long stem of
which was bent into the form of the letter "E," as used in script, and
the whole displayed upon a green leaf.

It was a pretty sight to see the tiny fleet, with sails all set and
colors flying, swiftly riding the water. The current of the brook
carried the boats well on towards Ellen's Isle. Off the western point of
the island they left the stream and proceeded slowly along the northern
shore.

[Illustration: FIG. 79.--Brownie Flag and Pennant.]

"Sail, ho!" cried the lookout on the foretopmast cross-trees of the
flag-ship.

"Where away?" asked Rodney.

"Dead ahead!"

"Hah! that's strange. What do you make her out to be?"

"I can't say exactly, owing to the mist upon the lake. But I take it to
be the Styx, the flag-ship of the Pixie squadron."

"Keep a sharp eye ahead," said Rodney. "The Styx was anchored at the
outlet last night and can hardly be off there."

"I see her plainly now!" said the lookout, "and she is not alone, sir.
Three other sails have just hove in sight."

"It's the Pixie navy, then?"

"Aye, aye, Sir. And they're standing up the channel with every sail
set."

"Strange!" muttered Rodney. "How did they know of our movements? Is
there a traitor among us? Is it all chance? Or has this something to do
with the loss of my poor child? No matter! There the enemy is, and we
must make ready to receive him. Ho, there! Make signal, prepare for
action!"

The flag that telegraphed this order to the fleet was run up, and soon
the merry whistle piping the men to quarters was heard upon deck. Little
preparation was needed. All were longing for the fray. Every heart
yearned to do somewhat to rescue the captured Nurses and avenge the
injury put upon their beloved commanders. The sun had now fairly risen,
and the mists slowly rolled up from the surface of the lake. The whole
Pixie fleet was seen standing up the channel, as the strip of water
between the island and the orchard was called. The wind was from the
northwest and therefore favorable to the Pixies, who were bearing down
rapidly upon the Brownies.

The vessels of the water-pixies are built in the same style as Raft's
yacht, the Fringe, but much larger in size. Admiral Quench commanded the
fleet, and the names of his most important vessels, with their masters,
are as follows: the "By and By," Master Slipknot; the "Despair," Master
Strangle; the "Goodtime," Master Drown; the "Littleone," Master Sineasy;
the "Fast," Master Wildoats; the "Doubt," Master Shallow; the "Smoke,"
Master Stunt; the "Cigarette," Master Sapforce, whose mate was Mr.
Nicotine. More efficient captains and crews never spread sail or drew
cutlass. They were devoted to their Admiral and thoroughly united in
hatred of the Brownies. They had the advantage over their enemies in
strength and number, and with a favoring wind, were confident of
victory.

[Illustration: FIGS. 80, 81.--The Pixies' Flag and Pennant.]

The Pixie sailors were popularly known (after the name of their
flag-ship) as the "Stygians." The Brownie tars had also a popular
name,--"Natties," which, unless it be a nickname for "navigators," the
author knows not the meaning thereof.

As the two fleets rapidly neared each other a red silken flag was run up
to the peak of the Styx. It showed on a black canton, embroidered in
white silk, a round spider web within which hung a skull and
cross-bones. Admiral Quench also had his pennant, a red streamer upon
which was blazoned a golden chalice held inverted in a sable hand over
burning coals.

Fortunately for the Brownies the wind chopped around into the north just
as the two fleets came within gun shot. The advantage in manoeuvring,
which before had been wholly with the Stygians, was now equally divided.
As the black and red flag floated from the peak of the Styx, the Natties
opened fire with their davids. The pebbles tore through the sails of the
Pixie ships and wrought much damage among the crews.

"Close up!" telegraphed Quench from the flag-ship.

Stygians prefer to fight at close quarters. They have no weapons like
the Brownie davids, fit for doing battle at long range, and therefore
bear straight down upon the enemy; fling out from their spinnerets
grapnels of silk cable; leap upon the enemy's deck and with fangs,
swords, spears, and lassoes fairly weigh down and overpower their foes.
A company of trained boarders known as the Vaulters, commanded by one
Saltus, were especially formidable. Their duty was to station themselves
upon a yard-arm, cross-trees, top or shroud, and attach their bodies
thereto by elastic ropes; thence they would leap down upon their foe,
seize him, and by the backward rebound of the cord, draw him with
themselves up to the point of departure. When thus seized and carried
aloft a Brownie rarely escaped.

The sudden change of wind enabled the Natties to keep clear of their
powerful adversaries. They tacked back and forth across the channel,
avoided the Pixie ships and poured in at long range their david shot.
Rodney, however, had no thought of shunning a hand to hand fight. He had
determined upon a decisive struggle. He believed that his Natties in
their present humor would be invincible. Having therefore pounded the
Stygians thoroughly with his davids, and thus disabled one or two ships
and weakened several crews, he hoisted the signal "Bring the enemy to
close action!"

The order was received with cheers and briskly obeyed. The Natties bore
down upon the enemy and poured in volley after volley of shot. The
Stygian sails were riddled, masts were knocked over, decks were covered
with wounded Pixies; splinters flew in the air like snow flakes.

The fleets were now within grappling distance. The two parties stood
with weapons drawn, eager for the meeting that should test their
courage, skill and strength. The ships closed. Hull grated upon hull;
yards interlocked; the grapnels were hove; ship to ship, all along the
line, Stygians and Natties were coupled in conflict. The Kind and
Tattle, the Trusty and Fast, the Hope and Despair, the Old Honest and
the Littleone, the Perseverance and the By and By, the Ken and the
Doubt, were locked together. The Tipple and the Treat were both
alongside the Steady, the Smoke and Cigarette were doubled against the
Wholesome, and the Styx and Goodtime had grappled the Emma.

In some cases the Natties were the boarder, in others the Stygians. The
better policy of the Brownies was to stand upon the defensive in these
hand to hand fights; for the network of cords and ropes with which the
rigging and decks of the Pixie craft were filled, made it perilous for
Brownies to land upon them. There were some, however, bold enough or
rash enough to venture, and not always without success.

The Emma was somewhat larger than the flag-ship of the Pixie squadron;
but as the Styx was aided by the Goodtime in the assault upon her,
Rodney had heavy odds against him. Yet he and his brave tars were so
thoroughly wrought up and eager for battle that he cared nought for
that. He bade his crew stand by to repel boarders. They were ranged on
either side of the deck. Admiral Quench brought up the Styx on the port
side. The Stygians swarmed in the rigging. They hung upon the yards,
which projected over the Emma's deck, ready to drop down thereupon. They
flung out their lariats to entangle the Natties stationed on yards and
ratlines.

[Illustration: FIG. 82.--The Brownie "Jack," Blue Field, White Saltier,
Red Flaming Heart, the Flames of Gold.]

Arrows flew in clouds from the Emma's deck and rigging. Then casting
aside their bows (all except the sharpshooters stationed in the top),
the Brownie sailors closed to their work. The battle had begun in
earnest. For a few moments there was a confused mingling of Stygians and
Natties. Brownie cheers blended with the rasping clatter of the Pixies'
drum beaten by Stridulans and his drum corps. A constant
splash--splashing was heard, as pairs of combatants dropped from the
shrouds into the lake, where the battle was often renewed, both parties
sometimes sinking together in death.

As yet no Stygian had kept foot upon the Emma. Every onset had been
repulsed and the Pixies hurled back. But the Brownies were not always to
be so fortunate. A strong party headed by Quench broke through the line
of defenders, and fairly got foothold upon the Emma. In the confusion
Master Drown led a vigorous attack from the Goodtime, and gained a
footing in the starboard waist. For a moment the Natties gave way.
Victory seemed to woo the Stygians, who were pressing upon their
enemies, exultingly shouting their watchword, "Death!"

In this crisis, Commodore Rodney raised the Brownie war cry. "Rescue,
rescue!" he shouted; "Remember Faith! Remember Sophia! To the Rescue!
Follow me!"

[Illustration: FIG. 83.--Flag of Brownie Brigade of Cavalry, Blue and
Gold.]

He ran upon the advancing line of Stygians swinging his cutlass above
his head. It was a Damascus blade, a famous weapon in the Brownie
history and traditions, which went by the name of "Straight." The
commander of the Emma, Captain Ask, advanced side by side with the
Commodore. His voice was heard above the clamor of battle and discord of
Pixie drums echoing the call "Rescue!" as he poised aloft his
battle-axe, the "Bigbelief" as his sailors used to call it. Rodney's
sword and the battle-axe of Ask cut great gaps in the Stygian ranks. The
Natties followed close upon their leaders, and soon the Pixies were
driven back again to the sides of the ship.

There they made a stand. In the drift and swirl of the conflict it
happened that the leaders of the contending crews were brought face to
face. Admiral Quench had steadily fought his way toward Captain Ask; Ask
had as eagerly pressed toward the spot where Quench was fighting. They
met at last. Quench flung upon the Captain's face and arms a cloud of
network. The delicate threads, striking like a lasso against Ask's
upraised arm, enveloped it, and the enswathed member sank helpless at
his side.[AO] His eyes were filled with the silken filaments, so that he
was well-nigh blinded. A mocking laugh broke from Quench's lips as he
leaped forward upon his foe with out-reached fangs.

It would have gone hard with Captain Ask had not the mate of his ship,
whose name was Angel, been close behind him. He had followed and guarded
his beloved commander throughout the entire battle. Quickly the mate cut
the network that bound Ask's arm, tore the filaments from his eyes and
dashed his own cutlass into Quench's face. The Pixie paused a moment,
staggered by the blow. In that moment Ask recovered himself, raised his
axe and struck the Admiral. His aim was somewhat turned aside by the web
filaments, still clinging to his arm. The blade of Bigbelief missed the
Pixie's head and sank into his shoulder. The force of the blow carried
both combatants to the deck. Ask rose to his feet, seized Quench in his
arms, lifted him up, put forth all his strength and threw him into the
lake.

Meanwhile Rodney had come upon Drown, the master of the Goodtime. The
fight between the two was short and decided. Drown was pinned to the
mast head by the Commodore's sword; Rodney's left arm was severely
wounded, and his face badly torn. Before he could withdraw his sword a
score of Stygians led by Deceit, the master of the Styx, set upon him.
Natties hastened to the rescue, and waged battle gallantly around their
chief. Rodney seized a marlinspike, for he had no time to withdraw his
cutlass, and with his unwounded arm laid about him vigorously. Deceit
fought his way through the line of Natties until he reached the mast
whereto his comrade, Master Drown, was pinned like an insect in an
entomologist's box. He drew forth the cutlass, and was about taking
Drown in his arms when Rodney fell upon him. Deceit turned the cutlass
against its owner. But it was an awkward weapon in the new hands and did
little hurt. A blow from the marlinspike broke the Stygian captain's arm
and sent the cutlass ringing upon deck. Deceit closed immediately upon
Rodney, seized him with his uninjured claws, and ere the Commodore could
again raise his arm, bore him to the bulwark of the ship, mounted the
rail, and was about to leap into the water with his captive.
Fortunately, Rodney with his right hand laid hold upon the shrouds and
thus delayed for an instant the Pixie's fell purpose. A volunteer sailor
in the Emma's crew, our old friend Sergeant Clearview, had picked up the
Commodore's cutlass as it dropped from Deceit's hand. He was at Rodney's
side in a moment. He clasped one arm around the chief as he hung over
the rail, and with the other buried the blade of Straight in the bosom
of Deceit.

The Stygian captain loosed his hold, fell back into the lake and sank
out of sight. A dozen willing hands had by this time seized the
Commodore, and he was borne fainting to his cabin. Thus it happened that
two of the chief officers of the Brownie navy owed their safety, that
day, to the prompt and loving aid of their followers.

We left Quench struggling in the lake whither Ask had tossed him. This
was a small matter to the Stygian admiral, for he was a famous swimmer,
and disabled as he was, had no trouble in reaching his own ship's side.
He clambered up the man ropes and was helped aboard by his sailors.

"Cut adrift," were his first words, "and signal the same to the fleet!"

So cut adrift it was, on board the Styx and Goodtime not only, but
throughout the squadron. Had Rodney not been disabled, it is doubtful
whether the Stygian ships would have got off from the Emma so easily. As
it was, they were suffered to swing loose, but were not permitted to
leave without some parting compliments.

"Man the guns!" cried Ask. The Natties stood to their davids, and shot
rattled upon the retreating ships so freely that the crews were driven
below, leaving on deck only enough to navigate the vessels.

Throughout the two squadrons various fortunes befell the ships. The
Steady had fared somewhat worse than the Emma. Commander Temperance was
badly wounded, and had not the signal to cut adrift been given in the
very niche of time, the good ship might have been captured. The
Wholesome was badly damaged by the Cigarette and Smoke, and her captain,
Lustyhealth, was carried below sorely hurt. One of the Stygian vessels,
the Despair, was sunk by the Hope. Its captain, Master Strangle, got off
on one of the boats, however, much to the sorrow of Commander Fluke who
tried hard to lay hold of the rogue. The Tattle was captured along with
its master, Backbite, by Commander Takeheed of the Kind. This miserable,
sneaking Pixie was lashed to a mast of his own ship, and as the Kind
towed the Tattle through the Brownie fleet he was greeted everywhere
with groans and jeers by the true-hearted sailors. They were not used to
treat prisoners after this fashion, but had small compunction in the
case of this fellow Backbite.

As for the rest of the ships, it must be enough to say that all the
officers and crews did their duty well. Special mention may be made of
Boatswain Pipe. Even before the signal to cut adrift had been hoisted
upon the Pixie flag-ship, Pipe had so closely pressed the Doubt, that
its master, Captain Shallow, had already cut off his grapnels, and was
in full flight toward Big Cave Harbor.

The Ken followed peppering her adversary with david shot. But Pipe soon
saw that the Doubt would slip away from him, and gave up the pursuit,
returned to the fight, ran his ship alongside the Despair, leaped upon
her deck at the head of his boarders, and fell upon the crew who were
engaged with the Hope. It was through this timely reinforcement and the
bravery of Pipe the Boatswain that Commander Fluke was able to sink the
Despair with all her crew, excepting the boat's crew that escaped with
Captain Strangle to the Tipple. Having finished this valiant service, he
pulled away in an open boat to the aid of the Wholesome, and by his
timely reinforcement saved that craft from the clutch of Captains Stunt
and Nicotine.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AO: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER XX.

A NAVAL MONSTER.


While these exciting events were occurring, Twadeils and his chums
having finished their "lark" were slowly picking their way towards the
Brownie camp with their prisoners and wounded comrade. It was past
sun-up before they sighted the pickets, for a heavy fog having arisen
from the lake, they must needs stop and wait for the day. At the guard
line they were halted only a few moments, but taken at once to
headquarters, where they told their news in full, and turned over their
prisoners. Thence they were marched away to the guard house where, after
a hearty breakfast, they turned in for a sound sleep. They were quite
content to take their punishment, and happy that their adventure had
turned out so much better than they had dared to hope. Halfrick, who had
been sent to the hospital, rapidly improved, and it may here be said,
fully recovered under the Nurses' skillful care. When the party learned
the unhappy fate of Faith and Sophia they were deeply grieved.

"I saw the lights of the searchers at one time," said Gear, "bobbing
here and there through the bushes; but I was fool enough to think that
it was a guard detail out looking for us, and so said nothing. Alas,
alas! Well, I don't believe I'll ever go on another lark!" But he forgot
his good resolve before long, and the time came when he was as keen for
a night adventure as ever he had been.

Late in the morning the whole party, amid the mingled cheers and chaff
of the camp were brought before Captain Bruce who had returned from his
visit to Governor Wille.

"Brownies," he said, "you have been guilty of a serious breach of
discipline by leaving the camp without orders, and that in the face of
the enemy. It is true, you have done great public service; but that has
been more by good luck than good management or good intent. The result
might have been different, and not only damaging to the Nation, but
fatal to yourselves. You deserve a greater punishment than you have
received; but this is a time of sore grief and peril to our Nation, in
which the best service of all her sons is required for every moment. I
therefore dismiss you with this public reprimand and the imprisonment
already inflicted. Remember that no deeds, however brave, can entitle
one to praise when they are done in defiance of discipline, and in
disobedience of superiors. Go; report to your several commands, and
henceforth confine your energies to the discharge of regular duty and
obedience of lawful orders."

"Don't you think you were a little too severe with the boys, father?"
asked Agatha, who was present during the reprimand.

"Perhaps I was, daughter; but I hardly think so. Some kinds of craft
will bear a good deal of ballast. But all our young Brownies are alike;
they will have their freaks and larks no matter how serious affairs may
be. However, these lads are among the most skillful soldiers in camp,
and they will be none the worse either for their fun or their
punishment. The rogues! What a lark it was!" And in spite of the heavy
burden on his heart, he smiled at the remembrance of the adventures
which had been told him. "It seems the climax of absurdity that a mere
squad of youngsters should plan an assault upon a strong fort, and
actually gain possession of it too, by a freak of fortune!"

[Illustration: FIG. 84.--"They Entered the Leafy Towers."]

Now orders were given to raze the empty fort. The Brownies had been keen
to enter and destroy the place as soon as Twadeils had reported its
abandonment; but MacWhirlie forbade action until Captain Bruce's return.
The eager soldiers swarmed over the barricades, through the gates, and
along the vacant streets. They entered the leafy towers in search of
lurking foemen, and finding none cut the binding threads and let the
leaves unroll. They severed the stay ropes of the conning tower of Pixie
Thaddeus, and the whole structure collapsed. As the repaired suspension
bridge stood intact, and the shore was strewn with the litter of a hasty
flight, the manner of the Pixies' escape was easily explained. But the
whereabouts of the garrison was not made out on account of the fog that
overhung the lake. That however was lifting, and the Pixie fleet would
soon be in sight. The soldiers went to work heartily. Breastworks,
barricades, gates, towers, walls, ramparts, bridge and piers were
assailed with such zeal and vigor, that in a short time the remnants of
Fort Spinder were laid in pieces upon the ground, flying in fragments
through the air, or floating in broken bits upon the water.

[Illustration: FIG. 85.--"They Cut the Binding Threads."]

By the time this good work was finished the sun had scattered the fog,
and left the face of the lake quite clear. Little columns and clouds of
mist still hung here and there, leaving distant objects indistinct, but
both fleets were in sight. The Brownies crowded down to the bank, and
from every elevation and tree top watched the battle. The Stygians
pushing out of Big Cave Harbor, and the Natties coming into sight around
the foot of the island; the manoeuvring of the vessels under the
change of wind; the effect of the davids upon the Pixie craft; the
onset, the closing together of the ships, the grappling of hull to hull,
all these events the excited soldiers saw. After that, the two fleets
were so huddled together that none could say which side was victorious.

Some of the cavalry mounted and pushed off over the lake to see for
themselves. But the Bee and Butterfly ponies dared not come very near
the ships, lest their wings should be caught in the rigging and they
and their riders destroyed. They came close enough, however, to notice
the turn of battle. Couriers passed back and forth bringing to Bruce
news, now good now bad. At last they reported the Stygians in full
retreat, and that the Natties had gained a great victory. Cheer upon
cheer greeted this tidings. The shouts from the shore rolled across the
water, and were heard by the Brownie sailors who answered their comrades
heartily.

A yacht was dispatched for Captain Bruce, who, accompanied by Blythe and
True, crossed to the Emma to consult with Rodney as to future movements.
The Stygians had retired to Big Cave Harbor, and there for some time
they were likely to stay. They could be seen from the fore-top busy upon
deck and rigging repairing the damages of battle, as the Natties, also,
were doing. Dinner was now over; a pleasant hum of voices sounded
through the fleet. The decks were cleaned from the litter of conflict.
The sad rites over their fallen comrades were decently but speedily
paid. The sailors awaited eagerly the issue of the officers'
consultation.

Captain Bruce returned to the shore. Blythe and True remained with the
fleet, and were assigned to the Ken under care of Pipe the Boatswain.
Now a rumor ran through the squadron that an immediate attack was to be
made upon the Stygians by the whole Brownie brigade; that MacWhirlie had
gone around with the cavalry by the inlet to fall upon the Pixie camp,
and that Bruce with the infantry was to pass around to the other end of
the lake, cross the outlet and cut off retreat from that quarter.
However set agoing, the rumor well set forth the main features of the
plan agreed upon between army and navy.

Rodney's wound was painful, but was not so serious as to hinder active
service. He went about his duties with his arm slung in bandages; a
little weak in body, but as stout of heart as ever, and with brighter
hopes than he had for some time dared to cherish. The afternoon was well
advanced when the lookout on the Emma reported an unusual movement in
the Pixie fleet.

"What do you make it out?" said Rodney.

"They seem to be getting ready to weigh anchor!" answered the lookout.
"And several of their boats have in tow a queer sort of craft that looks
more like a snail shell than any sort of vessel I know."

"Hah! some Pixie trick, I warrant!" returned Rodney. "But we mustn't let
them escape us this time. Ho there! Set the signal to weigh anchor."

"Aye, aye, Sir," was the hearty response from Mate Angel. "It is done,
Sir."

"Now signal the fleet to prepare for action."

"Aye, aye, Sir. That is done too."

"Good. Now set the order to come to close quarters."

"Close quarters it is, Sir," soon responded the prompt mate.

The Nattie ships were bearing down upon the mouth of Big Cave Harbor,
arranged in the form of a half moon, the Emma in the centre of the line.
Pipe led one wing in the Ken, Commander Coral led the other in the
Perseverance. Already the cavalry battalion had made the crossing, and
was well up to the Pixie camp, close along shore, and almost within
hailing distance of the fleet. A squad under command of Ensign Lawe was
left to guard the shore road and make telegraphic signals to the fleet
with the wigwag flags. Lieutenant MacWhirlie with the bulk of the troops
pushed on and to the rear, with the purpose of falling upon the Pixie
camp while the fleet attacked in front. The odd looking craft which had
puzzled the lookout, had been towed off shore, and was now slowly
gliding out of the harbor. The Stygians were seen from the Brownie ships
hanging in the rigging, manning the tops, swarming at their quarters
upon deck, evidently ready for action.

[Illustration: FIG. 86.--"The Conning Tower of Pixie Thaddeus."]

But not an anchor was raised, not a vessel stirred. The crews stood dumb
and motionless, with eyes turned toward that strange craft bearing down
steadily upon the Brownie vessels.

"What can it be?" queried the Brownies.

Nobody knew. No sail, nor mast, nor spar, nor rigging of any kind was to
be seen upon it. Not a sailor showed himself anywhere. It had no visible
motive power, and went through the water as though driven by an unseen
spirit hand.

"What can it be?" exclaimed Pipe, whose command lay nearest the strange
vessel.

[Illustration: Telegraphic Signal Flags: 87, Black with White Centre;
88, White and Black; 89, Red and White; 90, White and Red.]

"I believe it is the new ram the Pixies have been talking so much about
lately," answered Sergeant True. "They have been trying to keep it a
secret, but the thing has leaked out. It looks like an ugly affair."

"Ugly? I should say so!" said the old salt warmly. "It is nothing but
the cast off shell of a water snail. Call that seamanship? Nobody but a
lubber or a Pixie would be willing to sail or fight in such a tub as
that."

"Well, I'm only a lubber, you know," answered True, "and have but a
landsman's notion of things. But to my mind that ram, or shell, or tub
or whatever it may be, will turn the tide of battle against us if we
don't look out. See! the davids are playing on it from all parts of our
fleet. The shot bounds off its sides like thistle-down. It keeps
straight on its way, like grim Fate, turning neither to the right hand
nor the left. Do you see, Boatswain? the creature is making straight for
us!"

"Aye, aye! let it come on. I say pooh! to all your croaking. Stand by,
now, and see how a genuine sailor can knock the bottom out of all the
floating brass, iron, or snail-shell pots that ever went to sea. Launch
the boats, lads! We'll pull up to this Stygian kettle and see if we
can't find some hole in it through which our cutlasses will make way."

Next to the Ken was the captured Pixie ship Tattle, which had been
turned into the Brownie navy with the new name Praise, and Clearview, as
a reward for his service in saving Rodney's life, had been promoted to
command her. Next to the Praise was the Hope, Commander Fluke. As the
Pixie ram neared the left wing, composed of the three vessels just
named, it suddenly shifted its course and bore straight down upon the
Praise.

"Fire!" cried Clearview. A harmless broadside was poured upon the Ram.

"Again," shouted Clearview. "Aim below the water line; I see an opening
there."

Another broadside was delivered with no better effect. On, on the weird
monster moved, straight toward the ship. Every eye in both fleets was
fixed upon the Praise. Every heart throbbed with anxiety.

Crash!

A groan of dismay ran along the line of the Brownie squadron. A wild
yell of joy rose from the Pixie ships. The solid prow of the ram had
crushed through the leafy side of the Praise, as an iron steamship would
run through a fishing schooner. She sank in a moment leaving her crew
struggling in the waves.

More quickly than one would have thought so clumsy a craft could move,
the Ram turned and bore down upon the Hope. The Natties aboard this ship
were dismayed at the fate of their comrades, but not a man swerved from
his post.

"Boarders, ahoy!" shouted Fluke.

"Aye, aye, Sir!"

"Prepare to board the enemy. Drop from the cross-trees. Spring from the
deck. Heave the grapnels if you can."

Brave but hopeless struggle! The Ram crushed into the Hope as into the
Praise. A few of the Natties succeeded in leaping upon the smooth round
turret of the enemy, only to roll off again into the lake, and be
engulfed in the vortex of their sinking ship.

Two ships gone in a score of minutes! No wonder the Brownies began to
get ready to bout ship and flee from this leviathan of the deep who
devoured ships as behemoth the rivers. No wonder that Pipe, when he saw
two-thirds of his command swept out of existence, should have felt a
cold shudder run through him as this invincible and invulnerable mystery
of the sea now turned its prow upon him. His order to launch boats had
been executed. The three ship boats were already in the water. Pipe
himself commanded one, True another, Coxswain Help the third. Lieutenant
Swift had charge of the ship. Pipe hesitated only a moment as to what he
should do.

"Lieutenant," he said, "look out for the ship. Tack, and if you can, get
to the stern of the old kettle." He held to his prejudice even after
such sad experiences. "You may find some joint in her harness there
through which to send a shot. But look out for the ship, and save her
whatever comes of us. Ready, my hearties?"

"Aye, aye, sir!" was the firm response.

"Give way, then--lively!"

The three boats fairly cut the water. Pipe was in advance. He tried to
run his boat under the starboard side, hoping to find some port-hole or
opening there. But his purpose was foiled. The Ram struck him amidships.
The boat was cut in two, and the crew submerged in the waters. True's
boat was just in the rear of Pipe's, and shared the same fate. Help,
more fortunate than the others, avoided the blow, and passed to the
stern of the Ram, which plowed on remorselessly and mutely as before,
directing its course against the Ken. Help threw a quick glance upwards
toward the strange vessel as it surged by his boat. A curtain of
varnished silk canvas hung across the stern. It was drawn tight and
fastened above, below and at the side so that the water was shut out.
But Help saw one side of the curtain pushed back for a moment, and the
mocking visage of a well-known Pixie officer peered out upon him. It
closed, and the Ram sped on to its work of destruction.

Help dropped into its wake, checked his boat, and began looking about
for any of the crews of the lost boats and ships who might yet be above
water. True and Blythe were picked up. Clearview was saved. Fluke was
lost. Several others, common sailors, were also picked up. But Pipe,
good, gallant, dear old Pipe, was gone! He had sunk and had not risen.
For a long time Help rowed around the scene of the disaster, and then
with a sad heart turned the bow of his boat toward Ellen's Isle. The
sturdy Natties brushed from their eyes the tears shed over the lost
boatswain, and then bent to their oars, leaving their beloved Captain
beneath the waves of Lake Katrine. Of all the gallant sailors who went
down that day none was so mourned as Pipe the Boatswain. The tragedy of
his taking off seemed all the more terrible because of the untimely fate
of his child Sophia.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE CHARGE OF ENSIGN LAWE.


Lieutenant Swift felt bound by the orders of his late commander, all the
more because of his sad fate. Accordingly he tacked ship, and avoided
the stroke of the Ram, which in turn tacked, though somewhat more
clumsily, and followed the Ken toward the Brownie fleet. Again Swift
tacked and put the head of his ship toward Ellen's Isle. Then the Ram
gave up the Ken and bore down upon the Emma, as though resolved to seal
the fortunes of the fight with the destruction of the Brownie flag-ship.

Rodney was in sore straits. His officers and crew were greatly
demoralized. His sailors were superstitious; and there was something so
contrary to all that Natties had ever known or heard of in the character
and exploits of this audacious stranger, that superstition was aroused.
They could fight Pixies, but this was a sea-ghost. There was no use
contending against it. There was nothing to do but bout ship and sail
away. But what humiliation! And after so noble a victory! To add to the
perils of the position, the Stygian ships had weighed anchor, and were
closing upon the Brownie fleet hard in the wake of their Ram. At last
duty overcame pride in Rodney's heart, and he gave the order to retire
up the channel.

Ensign Lawe, with his squad of cavalry, had watched from a knoll on the
lake shore the progress of events. His heart sunk within him as he saw
the loss of the Brownie ships and crews. "I can't stand this any
longer," he cried, as the boats of Pipe and True sank before the Ram's
stroke. "To the rescue, my lads! Charge!"

[Illustration: FIG. 91.--Signal Flags: B, Red; F, Blue, White Circle; L,
Blue and Gold (Yellow); T, Red, White, Blue; D, Red, White Circle. Can
you read the Order?]

Without waiting to see whether or no he was followed by his battalion,
he mounted his bee pony and rode at full speed toward the Ram. His
troopers followed, muttering loudly against their leader's folly, but
unwilling to disobey. The Pixies saw him plunging through the air, and
greeted him with loud yells of mockery.

"What is Lawe about?" asked Rodney.

"It looks as though he were minded to charge upon the sea monster,"
answered the mate.

"What folly! Why, look there! the madcap is charging almost alone upon
the very front of the Ram! He is gone daft! Are you sure that is Ensign
Lawe? I never knew him to do such an insane act. He is one of the
coolest heads we have. It's too bad--too bad! The fellow is throwing
away his life; and we've lost too many valuable officers already."
Rodney sighed, and thought of his lost boatswain, the very right arm of
his fleet.

The Ram was steadily pursuing the Nattie ships now in full retreat. The
wind blew up the channel. It would be a stern chase, which is always a
long chase. Half the Pixie navy followed with the Ram; the other half
had tacked across the lake toward the foot of the island, with the
intention of sailing up the opposite channel, and thus heading off the
Natties ere they reached the inlet. They had bold plans afoot, and
thought to destroy the whole Brownie fleet.

This manoeuvre had turned attention from the daring ride of Ensign
Lawe. Yet the Ensign was not such a madcap as his countrymen declared
him, nor such a fool as his foes supposed. He had seen at once that the
masts and rigging usual to sailing vessels were wanting from this new
craft; he could therefore approach a-horseback with comparative safety.
That there must be some assailable point, some port-hole, some door,
something penetrable he felt sure.

"I will find my way to it," he said in his heart; "or at least find out
where it is. I will uncover the secret power that works this
destruction, or find out the monster's weak points and give knowledge of
it to the Commodore."

He had now reached the Ram. He swept above the prow. No opening there!
He hovered over the deck. All hard and smooth there! He skimmed along
the sides. No port-holes, no seams, no sign of break or opening there.
He flew past the side, and hung in the air above the vessel's stern. A
dart whistled by his face. He felt the vibrations of the air on his
cheek.

"Hah! There is an opening then in your solid shell? That dart came from
some vent. Let us see!"

He pressed his gallant nag closer to the Ram. His keen eye caught the
varnished curtain that hung across the stern. He saw one side of it
tremble and lift a little as he circled about it. The weak point in the
sea monster was exposed! Hurrah! He would try the metal of a Brownie
cutlass against that varnished curtain! If he could cut that open, the
waves would rush into the hull, and the Ram would sink into the lake
with the noble barks that it had destroyed.

Lawe tightened his bridle reins as he thus meditated, and drew his
cutlass. He dropped a little astern of the Ram, but well to the port
side, so that he might sweep straight across the stern. He poised
himself firmly, bent over in the saddle, and cried, "Go, my good nag!"

Golden Rule, as his pony was named, sprang to the voice of his master as
though conscious of what depended upon him. He passed across the stern
of the Ram so closely that his wings almost touched it.

Whi--rr--rr!

The Ensign's sword ripped through the curtain, and Golden Rule shot by
like an arrow.

Quickly Lawe turned and swept back again on the same track. Again the
blade cut through the curtain, with a downward stroke this time that
laid open a vertical seam.

"Once more, my brave Golden!" said the Ensign, patting his pony, and he
swept the third time across the face of the curtained door. The top and
both edges were now severed from the sides of the shell. The curtain
dropped over so that one corner dragged in the water. The hollow hull of
the shell ship was exposed, and within it the angry faces of a group of
Pixies.

The work wanted yet the finishing stroke. One side of the curtain was
slit down to the water line. The waves were already washing in thereat;
but the other side was only partly severed. It needed one stroke
more--just one! That would lay the curtain level with the lake; then the
billows would roll in, and claim the Pixies and their infernal machine
for their own.

A fourth time Lawe swept across the stern of the Ram. A fourth time his
good sword did its work without fail. The true eye and steady hand of
the Ensign sent it home to the mark. The curtain trembled a moment in
the breeze, fell backward with flap and splash upon the surface of the
lake, and dragged behind, checking the Ram's motion as though it were a
heavy anchor, and then weighed the stern downward to the surface. The
waves broke in with a roar that echoed through the hollow hull. The
groans and yells of the Pixie crew answered back the voice of the
waters.

Lawe cast one exulting glance within as he rode by. But he was doomed to
a more terrible trial than he had yet endured. As he sped across the
opening on his fourth trip, a dark form leaped upon him from the hold.
He was in a Pixie's clutch! One claw grasped the Ensign's foot, the
other was buried deep in Golden Rule's breast. The pony, frantic with
terror and pain, plunged and shook his wings. But the Pixie kept his
hold. Lawe looked downward into his face. He saw the black visage, and
sneaking eyes of Lieutenant Hide!

"Ha, ha," laughed the Pixie. "You know me, do you? Well, you've done a
fine thing to-day, no doubt! Your name shall go down to posterity, of
course. But I think I shall stop _you_ from going down any further in
that line. We shall try another sort of going down. There's nothing like
pleasant company, even when one's making a voyage to the bottom of the
lake! Ha, ha!"

The malignant creature spoke truly. They were sinking slowly together,
horse, rider and Pixie into the lake. The weight of Hide's body might
have been overcome, but the motion of the pony's wings was much
hindered. Golden Rule struggled nobly, but fell steadily toward the
water. Ensign Lawe had by this time recovered from the shock of the
unexpected assault.

"Grammercy, for thy courteous invitation," he said, coolly. "I choose to
decline thy bidding and thy presence. In sooth, we shall part company
now."

[Illustration: ((hand printed) Hide, falls into the water.)

THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 92.--The Sinking of the Pixie Ram.]

Once, twice, and again the faithful cutlass glanced in the sunlight. The
first stroke cut loose the Pixie's claw from the pony's breast; the
second divided the arm by which his own foot was held; the third,
following quickly, smote upon the head of the wretched creature as he
tumbled, like Lucifer of old, into the bosom of the lake.

There was a ripple upon the water; a faint pool of blood tinged the face
of Lake Katrine, and the waves closed forever above the dead body of
Hide, the son of Shame. Golden Rule, released from his burden, shook his
wings gladly and mounted aloft. Lawe cast his eyes downward just as the
Pixie Ram settled, surged, and plunged stern foremost into the lake.

Thus perished at the hands of Ensign Lawe, the famous sea ghost, the
Pixie shell-clad Ram. The machine was a brilliant thought, the
conception of Hide himself. It was just what it seemed to be, the shell
of a water snail. Entering this empty shell, Hide and his engineers had
closed the opening with a web or curtain of varnished silk, which kept
the water out.[AP] Then paddles were fitted up in the stern, revolved by
hand cranks within, and thus the vessel was directed by those inside. To
ordinary assault it was invulnerable at every part except the curtain
which covered the opening, and thereat had the keen blade of Ensign Lawe
found entrance, and so the way to victory.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AP: It is not uncommon for certain tubeweaving spiders to
avail themselves of the friendly openings of land shells and spin their
web therein. The Editor must confess that he has never seen any of his
spider friends whose habits resemble that here attributed to Pixie Hide.
But the Author is not without authority for the use made thereof; for
Jones, in his "Animal Life," a well-known and excellent book on Natural
History, relates an incident upon which the story of the Pixie Ram may
have been founded.--F. M.]



CHAPTER XXII.

"HAIR-BREADTH 'SCAPES BY FLOOD AND FIELD."


The gallant exploit of Ensign Lawe had been wrought while the two fleets
were under full headway up the channel. After the first outbreak of
anxiety, amazement and mockery, but little attention had been paid the
Quixotic affair, as all voted it. Both fleets were intent upon the
management of their ships. Pursuers and pursued crowded on all sail, and
as a strong wind blew from the west they were a long way from the Ram at
the moment of its destruction. A shout from Lawe's soldiers, who had
hovered near during the strange duel, drew attention to the Brownie
troopers.

"What is that?" asked Rodney of the lookout.

"I don't see yet. Yes, I make it out now; Lawe is struggling in the air
with a Pixie who must have leaped from the Ram upon his pony. The Ensign
is falling into the water. No! he has cut himself loose! The troopers
wave their swords and shout like mad men."

"What of the Ram? How do the lads manage to escape the darts from
the--?"

"See! See!" cried the lookout excitedly. "The Ram is settling into the
water. The stern has been laid open from deck to keel. The waves rush
in. She is sinking! Hurrah, hurrah!" The national standard was run up
upon the flag-ship, and as the Natties uncovered and saluted the colors,
cheer after cheer made the welkin ring. The Brownie bugles struck up one
of their favorite national airs, "The Bonnie White Flag," which begins,

    The Natties over the blue waves sail,
      The Troopers cleave the air,
    The Footmen tramp o'er hill and vale,
      But one is the Flag we bear!

    CHORUS:

    Huzza for the Flag we bear!
    Huzza for the Name we wear!
    We are one, we three,
    Over shore and sea,
    In the honors and toils we share
    For the Flag and the Name we bear.
    Ho--e--yo! Tu--loo--ra--lay
    The bonny white Flag for aye!

[Illustration: FIG. 93.--Saluting the Colors.]

The noble character of the Brownies was well shown by the absence of
jealousy on this occasion. Although the navy had run from the Ram, the
sailors cheered the good trooper who had conquered. However, the Ensign
took no time to indulge in hurrahs and congratulations. He pushed to the
shore, exchanged his injured pony for a fresh nag, and rode off to join
MacWhirlie.

The Stygians at first could not credit the destruction of their naval
machine, least of all that it had been wrought by a dragoon! Few of them
had seen the combat. They had left the Ram, as they supposed, to follow
and destroy the Ken, and had themselves pursued the fleeing Natties at
full speed. Many of them had just seen the vessel as she went down. For
the rest the vacant water was the proof. The Ram was gone! Their hopes
had now also gone. With one half of the fleet on the other side of the
channel, they deemed discretion the better part of valor, and slowly
fell back toward their harbor again.

Rodney longed to follow them, but for several good reasons kept on his
course up the channel. He had lost two of his best ships, with Pipe,
Fluke, True, Blythe, Help, and many other brave men. In the hurly-burly
no one had observed the escape of Help and his boat crew; they, as well
as the crews of the Praise and the Hope, were thought to be lost.
Moreover, he knew not but another Ram might be sent against him. Finally
he feared that if he did stop to attack the Stygians in the harbor, the
other squadron would sail around the island, and he would thus be caught
between the two divisions. Much to his regret, therefore, he gave up the
plan to join with the army in attacking Big Cave camp, and sailed up the
channel to meet and engage the second Pixie squadron.

In the meantime MacWhirlie had fallen with his usual vigor upon the
enemy's camp. The pickets had been driven in, and the outer line of
works captured. The portable davids of the cavalry carried upon the
backs of their bee ponies, a sort of flying artillery, were turned upon
the tents and inner works, and the shot played merrily.

But as fortune would have it, Bruce failed to get up at the appointed
time, and could not support his lieutenant by attacking on the other
side of the camp. During the delay thus caused the incidents above
related occurred; the Pixies rallied, and reinforced by Stygians from
the returned ships, drove MacWhirlie back to the outer line of
entrenchment. Here he put up breastworks, placed sentinels and picket
lines, sent out scouts, and waited for his captain.

Bruce soon appeared and the line was completed around the Pixie camp,
stretching in a half circle from shore to shore. The great drawback was
the absence of the fleet. The Brownie commanders were concerned about
the safety of their position. Could they hold it until Governor Wille
came to their help? Or, would anything interfere to hinder him from
keeping his promise? If he failed again, what should they do?

"However," said Bruce, "it is well not to cross a river until we come to
it. Ensign Lawe, take a troop and ride over to the mansion. Get news of
the Governor's purpose. Remind him of his promise. If there is any
danger of another delay, come back post haste with the news. And now, my
men, let us to breakfast, take a little rest and get ready for hard
service. There's plenty of it before us."

Soon after the bugle had sounded the sick call, one of the sentinels on
the picket line saw some one rapidly approaching from the direction of
the Pixie camp.

"Halt! Who goes there?" he cried.

"A friend without the countersign."

"Advance, friend without the countersign."

[Illustration: FIG. 94.--"The Bugle had Sounded the Sick Call."]

As the stranger drew near he showed the form and features of a Brownie
soldier. They were indeed marred and wasted, and the uniform was
tattered and soiled; but a Brownie soldier the fugitive certainly was.
When he had come near enough the sentinel halted him and called:

"Corporal of the guard! Post four!" When the Corporal arrived the
stranger was ordered to advance to the post.

"Who are you and whence do you come?" asked the Corporal.

"What! friend Steadypace," was the reply, "don't you know me? Well,
well! A Pixie prison must have made sad changes in me if you can't
recognize your old comrade Dodge."

"Dodge? Dodge! Can it be? Yes; so it is! Dear old fellow!" Corporal
Steadypace embraced his friend, hurried him to the guard tent, had him
fed and tidied up, meanwhile relating the particulars of Sergeant
Clearview's story, and what the Brownies knew of his own capture. Thence
Dodge was taken to headquarters, where he was heartily greeted by the
Captain, and bidden tell the story of his adventures and escape.

"Well, Sir," said Dodge, "when our boat was captured, as Sergeant
Clearview has told you, I was thought to be the only survivor of the
scouting party. The Pixies made a great hurrah over me as they led me
through their fort, and I was pelted, hooted and cursed by all the
youngsters along the way. Spite the Spy tried hard to pump out of me
some information about our plans, but failed."

[Illustration: FIG. 95.--The Labyrinth.]

"Well, my daisy," he said at last, "we'll try you another time. Guards,
take the Brownie off to the Labyrinth."

"At this order I was led away to the shore, ferried across the lake to
Orchard Camp, and put in a prison located on the lake side within the
Pixie picket lines. It is a curious structure, and looks as though
several architects had wrought upon the design. One of the sides, built
by Engineer Epeïra, is a delicately woven orbweb. The other side,
together with the gables, battlements and roof have been built by
Engineer Theridion. The upper part of the prison is a maze of crossed
lines, in the midst of which is a dome after the style of Engineer
Linyphia. Above the dome is a dry leaf rolled up into a hollow
cylinder.[AQ] I was placed within this leaf, which served as a dungeon
or cell, and just beneath me in the little silken dome the keeper of the
prison had her station. Her name, as I soon learned, is Labryinthea, a
suitable one certainly for the keeper of such an establishment.
Occasionally, two or three Pixies would hang around the premises,
joining in the watch or exchanging gossip and flirtations with Madam
Keeper. A few survivors of a brood of younglings sported in the maze,
and when a small insect struck and was entangled upon the threads, they
would creep through the crosslines, seize the unfortunate prey and feed
upon it."

"But Dodge, pray tell us how you saw all this from your inner prison?"
asked the Captain.

"Certainly. I didn't see anything for some time, my leaf cell was so
dark; but looking carefully around, I found one spot where the roof was
nearly worn through. By some strange good fortune, when the Pixies
searched me before bringing me to the prison, they overlooked my clasp
knife which I had thrust into the band of my Scotch bonnet. I was thus
able to work out a space large enough to let my head through. I cut out
three sides neatly, and made a sort of trap door that hinged upon the
uncut end. I was engaged on this for some time, as I had to work
secretly, catch all the chippings in my hat, and then conceal them in my
pockets. Had they dropped upon the domed roof below they would have
awakened suspicion. By following the lines of the leaf veins I made a
cut so clean and close that my door was quite concealed from ordinary
notice. I now had many opportunities to peep out of my trap and see
what was going on around me. I thought I knew something of Pixie tricks
and ways before, but dear me! I learned more from that hole in the roof
than I ever dreamed of.

[Illustration: FIG. 96.--"Above the Dome is a Dry Leaf Rolled Up."]

"There were several Pixies domiciled on the branches of a tree that
overhung the Labyrinth, whose manners especially interested me. They are
practicing a new mode of harassing Brownies, a sort of patent spring
net."

The Brownie officers quickened attention at this statement, for they are
not only blessed with healthy curiosity, but naturally are always
vigilant to meet their enemies' plots. Amidst a running fire of
questions Corporal Dodge told the following story: One day while looking
out of my door, I heard beneath me the voice of Spite the Spy. From the
prison talk I had already picked up the news that Fort Spinder was
abandoned, and the Pixies transferred to Orchard camp, and was not
surprised at the chief's presence.

"Hello!" said Spite in his rough way, "Where's old Hyp this morning?"

Labyrinthea ran down her trap line, pushed her head between the bars of
a window and called out, "Who's there?"

"Only myself, sweetheart!" answered one of her lovers; and thereupon he
sprang out of an adjoining window and clambered up the ladder-like lines
toward the keeper.[AR] But madam was in no humor for such trifling, so
she lashed the gallant heartily with a whip of silken cords that she
carried at her girdle along with the prison key. The amorous Pixie
retreated, more rapidly than he had advanced, amidst the jeers and
laughter of the crowd beneath. The keeper again looked out and seeing
who was there, asked what was wanted.

"The Captain wants to see old Hyp," one of his aides replied.

[Illustration: FIG. 97.--Madam Labyrinthea Lashes an Impudent Lover.]

"You'd better put a bridle on your tongue, young sir," was the response.
"Isn't it just as easy to call folks by their proper names? 'Hyptiotes'
isn't much more to say than 'old Hyp;' and besides shows decent respect
to a better man than yourself."

Another burst of laughter greeted the discomfiture of the Pixie aide;
after which Spite said: "We have called to see this patent spring net
that Hyptiotes has invented. Where shall we find the fellow's
laboratory? It is close by here we are told."

The party was directed to the adjoining tree, a low growth of pine,
where they found the inventor awaiting them. He was already stationed
upon his net, which he called from its shape the "Triangle," a name, by
the way, that has been transferred to himself. It is in fact a
triangular snare composed of four threads gradually widening at one end
and at the other converging upon a single thread. The four threads are
regularly crossed in the manner of the common orbweb, and indeed the
whole snare resembles a section of four radii cut out of a round snare.
The line upon which the threads converge is fastened to some fixed
object and on this, back downward, Hyptiotes was placed.[AS]

When Spite's party arrived he left his position to greet them, and at
once began to explain the spring net. His son was stationed on the trap
line, and as he got into position I could see the whole snare rapidly
tightening up until every cord was taut. "Now," said Hyptiotes, "observe
that the operator holds that part of the trap line next the net within
his hands. The part next the branch he holds with one foot. These two
parts are drawn tight. Now see! between the lad's two feet there is a
third portion of the line which is slack, and coiled up in a loose
ball."

"Yes, yes," said Spite gruffly, "we all see that; but how does the
machine work? That's what we want to know."

"Patience, Captain! I'm coming to that. Watch please! I will let this
bit of leaf represent the insect, or a Brownie if you prefer. I shall
throw it quickly against the net and do you note what follows."

As the scrap struck the cross lines, instantly the whole structure flew
forward with a slight snap, then as suddenly was drawn taut, and again
snapped loose. This was repeated several times. The leaf was caught by
the sudden relaxing and shooting forward of the cross lines which by
this motion were thrown around the leaf; the latter, after several
springs of the net, was completely entangled and hung vibrating within
the snare.

[Illustration: FIG. 98.--The Snare of Hyptiotes.]

"There," cried Hyptiotes, "you see how well it works! Let me show you
the principle. You have seen the coil of slack line between the two
feet. Fix your eye now upon the foremost one. I will touch the net. See!
instantly this claw releases its hold upon the line, and the whole net
shoots forward as far as the coil will allow it. Follow closely, still,
and you will see that the claws rapidly pull in and tighten up the trap
line while the coil of slack line meanwhile again rolls up. That's the
whole secret of my spring net." So saying, Hyptiotes put his front paws
over his head, and stroked it forward with a self-satisfied air as
though he, at least, had no doubt of the high merit of his trap.

Spite examined the structure carefully, made several more trials of its
working, and then expressed his hearty approval. "Very good, indeed. I
think it will be a valuable addition to our armory. Now, if we only had
a few Brownies at hand for you to try it on, your demonstration would be
quite perfect. By the way--" He clapped his hands together and laughed.
"A capital idea that!"

He turned to his staff of Pixie officers, and made some remark which I
could not hear. But they cast glances upward toward my prison, and the
thought flashed upon me that Spite's sudden idea referred to me. Could
it be possible? Did they mean to test their new machine on me? Two
officers left the group and ran toward the main gate of the Labyrinth. I
closed my trap door and with as composed frame as I could command,
awaited the issue. Soon Madam Labyrinthea and the two Pixies were heard
climbing up the ladder. They entered the dome; they ascended to my cell.
"Come," they said without further ceremony, "follow us. Our Captain has
sent for you."

I was led to Hyptiotes' grounds; the Pixies formed a wide circle around
me and the inventor was ordered to go ahead. Of course my captors
supposed me to be ignorant of their plans, and doubtless thought to take
me by surprise. But I was on my guard, although I hid my knowledge
under an indifferent mien. I secretly slipped my knife into my hand and
waited.

"Go over to the opposite side of the circle!" ordered Spite. I started
in a quiet walk.

"Run!" shouted Spite fiercely.

"Run, run!" echoed the whole crowd in chorus, no doubt thinking to
startle and confuse me by their sudden clamor.

I quickened my gait to a brisk trot, but kept my eyes aslant toward the
point where I saw young Hyptiotes waiting to cast the net. In a moment
the snare left his hands and flew toward me. I dodged low to the ground
and made a quick leap toward the narrow end of the snare, hoping thus to
escape the worse entanglement of the wide end. I was only partly
successful. In spite of my efforts I was caught in the narrow point of
the net and thrown by a sudden jerk to the earth.

The Pixies set up a roar of joy, which was lucky for me, because under
cover of their excitement I could use my knife unobserved. In a trice I
had freed my limbs and risen upon my knees; and under pretence of
struggling and swinging my arms, severed the trap line beyond the point
of the snare with a swift stroke. I was free, and getting to my feet
began quietly to brush the shreds of cobwebs from face and clothes.

The Pixie glee suddenly ceased. I heard the harsh voice of old Hyptiotes
roundly berating his son whom he blamed, or chose to appear to blame,
for the failure of his invention. I knew better, but kept my secret.
However, I glanced toward young Hyptiotes who never moved a muscle
during all the cursing and clamor that assailed him.[AT] Meanwhile I
slipped my knife beneath my belt and quietly awaited the will of my
captors.

"Take him back to prison," growled Spite; "We'll try him again
to-morrow."

"Aye, aye," said old Hyptiotes, "and I'll then spring the net myself,
and answer with my head that the miserable Brownie don't dodge out a
second time."

[Illustration: FIG. 99.--"Young Hyptiotes Never Moved a Muscle."]

I was led back to my cell, and my thoughts were not very agreeable, you
may be sure. But I resolved to at least try to escape before the morrow.
I knew my doom was sealed if I remained, and could be no worse were I
caught trying to flee. I had already planned a way of escape, and made
some preparations for it. I waited until nightfall, quietly opened my
trap door, crept over the roof, and softly stepped upon the ladder-like
lines of the maze which surrounds the prison. Just at that moment I
heard a loud sound within the cell. As ill fate would have it, my keeper
had taken a notion to visit me! Perhaps she was anxious about the
morrow; maybe she only wished to enjoy a sight of my misery in view of
my gloomy prospects. At all events, she had never before visited me at
that hour, and now had happened upon me at the worst possible time. I
cast an anxious glance backward, and, O wretched blunder! saw that I had
forgotten to close the trap door behind me. My way of exit would of
course be seen at once and the cry be raised.

[Illustration: FIG. 100.--Labyrinthea's Snare and Cocoons. Where is
Dodge's Jail?]

What should I do? Think quickly, Dodge! and think well, for your life
hangs upon this moment's decision. I heard the sharp cry of Madam
Labyrinthea. I could feel the swing of her body as she threw herself
upon the ladder that led up to the trap door. In another moment she
would be upon the roof and I should be discovered. My first thought was
to slide down to the ground and run for it. But a second thought was
better. Just before me swung within the maze a triple cradle or cocoon
string provided for the young Labyrintheans. I had already, in one of my
former night adventures, cut open one of these, and made a burrow
within. I hardly knew at the time why I did this, but it was one of my
old dodges (which I had taught Sergeant Clearview, by the way), when out
on a scout to take refuge in one of these vacant Pixie baby houses. They
are snug and comfortable places, too. Now I saw what to do! I swung
myself, by a line across the intervening space, pushed open the little
slit in the side of the cocoon, crawled within, curled myself up, drew
down the flap closely, and waited.[AU] My heart beat a tattoo. I could
see nothing, but heard the feet of Labyrinthea rattling over the roof;
felt the tremor of the lines as she sprang from them, after a pause,
during which I guessed that she was looking around for me. I heard her
loud alarm to the guards; felt the shaking of the Labyrinth foundations
as the Pixies ran to and fro; more than once felt the pressure of feet
clambering over the cocoons in the hurried rush across the maze.

[Illustration: FIG. 101.--Labyrinthea's Cocoon String.]

There was great commotion at the gate of the jail; then the din
lessened, grew faint, rolled away and died out in the distance. No one
had thought of my retreat as a possible hiding place. For the present at
least, I was safe, though much cramped in my close quarters. I opened
the slit for a breath of fresh air, and ventured to look out. All was
still. Shall I slip out now or not? I queried. No! The whole Pixie host
is afoot, beating the bushes in every quarter. I cannot run such a
gauntlet of eager searchers without detection. I will wait until the
pursuers are tired out and have returned. They will give me up, will
relax guard around the prison, and beyond it the coast will be clear.

So I did. I heard the returning guards; heard Labyrinthea puffing and
storming up the stairway to her dome, and as I kept the slit in the
cocoon a little ajar could even make out her angry oaths. Her
disappointment at my escape evidently softened her toward her gallants,
for I heard her exchanging views with the one whom she had lashed away
from her in the morning, over the mysterious disappearance of her
prisoner. How could he have got off unnoticed? It was plain from the
talk that Spite suspected the keeper herself of some connivance at my
escape; but I wasn't much concerned about that.

As the day dawned everything was quiet. The keeper and guards were
asleep. Now is my time, I thought. So I left my cramped but cosy silken
retreat, slid down the ropes to the ground, and glided away into the
grass. I got safely through the Pixie lines, made myself known to our
own pickets, and here I am, thankful and happy as ever Brownie was or
will be!

Dodge's story was eagerly listened to, and he was heartily congratulated
upon his rare good fortune. Bruce and his officers questioned him about
all that he had seen within the enemy's lines, and drew from him much
valuable information. Then as a reward for his skill and pluck, and as a
salve for his sufferings, he was promoted to be a sergeant and went away
jubilant to his quarters.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AQ: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote AR: Appendix, Note B.]

[Footnote AS: Appendix, Note C.]

[Footnote AT: Appendix, Note D.]

[Footnote AU: Appendix, Note E.]



CHAPTER XXIII.

A GHOST STORY.


The Ken, it will be remembered, made for Ellen's Isle, when pursued by
the Pixie Rain. Lieutenant Swift never checked her speed until he had
run his ship under the shelter of the northern shore. Thence he rejoined
the fleet, after the Ram had gone down, and sailed on with Rodney up the
channel.

Coxswain Help steered for the island. The Stygians lay between him and
his own fleet, and should he make for Orchard shore he would risk
capture. Ellen's Isle was nearest; his boat was overloaded; the Ken
seemed to be already there awaiting them under the northern bank.

"Give way heartily, lads," he said, "we shall soon be on board the Ken."

The sailors pulled with a will, and although loaded down almost to the
gunwale, the boat made fair speed. The sinking of the Ram, which they
saw quite plainly, put fresh vigor into their arms. They could hardly
hold in their cheers; but Help ordered silence, as he had no wish to
call the Pixies' attention to them. The island was reached, but a sore
disappointment awaited them, for the Ken had gone on, and the Nattie
ships were far up the channel. Clearview climbed atop of a bush and
looked across the island to the south channel.

"There is the Pixie squadron crowding on all sail toward the inlet," he
said. "The Stygians are not yet in sight of our fleet, but it cannot be
long before they meet. Look yonder to the north! The other half of the
Pixie fleet has sailed out of the harbor, and is running up the
channel." Now the officers consulted as to what should be done.

"My duty is on the water," said Help, "I yield the chief command to our
superior officer, Adjutant Blythe. Captain Clearview will take command
of the boat. I shall lend a hand wherever I can."

"Very good," said Blythe; "but let us settle what is to be done first.
We can fix the matter of rank afterward."

"Well said, Adjutant," remarked True. "In our condition the readiest
helper has the highest rank. Let him lead us, who knows how to get us
out of trouble. Can't we cross the south channel? That's our own side,
you know."

"Not in one trip of our boat," said Clearview. "It was shipping water
freely before we landed. The distance to the south shore is much greater
than that which we have come. We might divide and make two trips, but
that doubles the risk, and gives less chance to the party left behind
should the Pixies land here. Suppose we wait until the fleets meet, and
act as may then seem best. See! even while we speak, one of the Pixie
ships is landing at the head of the island."

"Can you make her out, Captain?" asked Help.

"Yes, it's the Doubt, Master Shallow's craft. I would know the cut of
her jib among a thousand."

"What are they doing?" asked Blythe. "Are they sending boats ashore?"

"Yes, they have anchored off the Big Rocks; and one, two, three boats
are pulling into the cove above."

"Three, did you say?" returned Blythe. "Then let us attack them, and we
shall have enough boats wherewith to leave the island. I feel that I
could almost clean out a boat load myself."

[Illustration: FIG. 102.--"Abandoned Snares."]

"No, no, Adjutant!" answered True; "nobody doubts either your ability or
appetite for fighting Pixies. But we can't afford to take such a risk.
My advice is that we run our boat under these clumps of iris, and
bivouac for a while beneath the thick foliage that crowns yonder bank.
We shall be out of sight, shall have time to rest the men, and can then
get off safely. We have everything to gain by waiting."

True's advice was taken. The boat was hidden, a snug bivouac was made
near a clump of hazel bushes upon the high land beyond the shore, and
the crew threw themselves upon the grass to rest. Scouts were sent out
to beat around the neighboring foliage in search of lurking Pixies.
There were many signs that they had lately been upon the spot, such as
abandoned snares and vacant lodges, and deserted nurseries woven into
balls from the seeded and feathery tops of grasses. Apparently, all who
could march or sail or move through the air had gone off to join the
Pixie forces on land or water. Only a colony of youngling Orbweavers
remained snugly tented around a Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Most of them were
balled in a round mass under one of the leaves, packed together, with
legs and arms intertwined, and sound asleep.

[Illustration: FIG. 103.--"Vacant Lodges."]

One of the Scouts was keen to mount the plants, cut the tent cords and
disperse the brood of younglings. But Blythe forbade, "for," said he,
"they'll keep under cover while we are on the island, and it's always
wise to let well enough alone. They can do us no harm, so we'll not harm
them."

Now, Captain Clearview and Sergeant True climbed into a tree to note how
the two fleets came on. With a heavy heart they saw their squadron,
after a brief struggle, sail away toward the inlet. The Doubt rejoined
her companions, but one of her boats remained upon the island. What
could that portend?

[Illustration: FIG. 104.--"Deserted Nurseries Woven into Balls."]

Clearview and True told what they had seen, and urged all to guard
against surprise. Their enemies were on the island. How many there were,
or for what purpose they stayed, or where they might be, none knew. They
were probably still in the eastern end, and would not at once annoy the
Brownies, whose presence they could not suspect. Sentinels were posted
toward the land side, and one lookout upon the shore.

So the morning passed, and the afternoon had nearly worn away. The
fleets had not changed their positions. The Stygians still guarded the
inlet, but the heavy davids mounted at the mouth thereof held them in
check. Two or three Pixie vessels were slowly sailing down the north
channel coasting along the island. There had been no sign of the
Doubt's mysterious boat's crew. All was quiet. No chance yet to escape.

A squad under Help's command was sent out to forage. They had not been
gone long when the little camp was aroused by an alarm from one of the
sentinels. The Brownies sprang to arms, thinking that the Doubt's boat
crew had attacked them. There was a sound as of feet trampling among
ferns and grasses. Some one was approaching rapidly,--several persons
evidently; and they were charging at full run upon the picket line.

"Stand!" cried the guard. "Who goes there?"

There was no reply. Then one of the sailors of Help's squad, and a
second, and a third leaped from the underbrush, sprang by the sentinel
regardless of his challenge, and ran into the midst of the camp. They
were breathless, pale, trembling, terrified.

"Well," cried Blythe, "this is something new, truly! Full sized
Brownies, and Natties at that, running like a frightened rabbit from a
Pixie! Why, comrades, what has possessed you? Speak, can't you?" They
could not speak. The poor fellows were so overcome that they had to sit
down. Water was given them, and they revived.

"Come, now," said True firmly, "this has gone far enough. What is the
cause of this?"

One of the three could just utter the single word--"Pipe!" The very name
set the sailors shivering again with terror.

"This is most unaccountable!" exclaimed Blythe. "What do you mean,
fellow? What about Pipe? Do you mean our poor boatswain who was lost
this morning?"

"Yes--yes!" gasped the sailor. "We--have--seen--him! Oh, oh!" He uttered
a cry as he spoke, jumped to his feet, threw up his arms, pointed
toward the picket line and fell flat upon the grass.

All eyes turned in the direction of the poor fellow's hand. There stood
Pipe the Boatswain! A chorus of mingled groans, shrieks and cries arose
from the company. The sailors scattered into the ferns and bushes. The
officers stood their ground, but there was not one among them who would
not have run had he dared.

The figure slowly advanced. The eyes were sunken, the face pale, the
hair hung damp and matted around the face and brow. The clothes were
ragged and clung closely to the body. The eyes had, or seemed to have,
an unnatural brightness. They were fixed steadily upon the officers.
Step by step, nearer and nearer the figure came. But it spoke no word.
There could be no mistake about it. It was Pipe the drowned boatswain!

Now Sergeant True, like most sensible persons, knew that if there were
such things as ghosts they must be harmless creatures. He had often said
that; and declared that he would like to meet a ghost. But if the truth
were known, he would rather have been excused just then. However, he
spoke at last.

"Speak! whatever you be! Spirit, ghost, or living flesh,--tell us what
you are, and why you are come here!"

The figure stopped. A strange, familiar light played upon the pale face,
and glimmered around the corner of the eyes. Then into the death-like
silence the image spoke with a husky voice:

"Well, shipmates, this is a rather tough greeting on one's return from a
long voyage! What's i' the wind, that you all run from your old comrade,
and stand staring at me as though I were a ghost? Hey, my boy, don't
you know Sophie's daddy?"

[Illustration: FIG. 105.--"A Colony of Youngling Orbweavers as Snugly
Tented Under a Jack-in-the-Pulpit."]

"Pipe, Pipe! it is Pipe himself!" exclaimed True, and he rushed forward
and took the dear old sailor in his arms.

"There, there," said the boatswain, "that'll do for the present. Cast
off grapnels, please, and save your hugging for some one who likes it
better. Hello, you lubbers!"--addressing the sailors,--"get up, here!
I'm ashamed of the cloth, I am. Yes, it's Pipe--who else? Want proof of
it, do you?" The sailors were sitting upon the ground staring, dumb and
incredulous, upon their old officer. "Well, here goes then. You know the
sound of pipe to quarters, I'll be bound." So saying he put his whistle
to his lips, and sounded the old familiar note.

It was enough. The frightened foragers rose and shook hands with Pipe.
The scattered runaways came back. An eager crowd surrounded the
boatswain to hear him explain this marvelous resurrection from the deep.

"Well, it's easily enough explained. Come to think of it now, I don't
wonder that you took me for a ghost. In sooth, it is not often that a
Brownie stays under water for a whole day, and comes up again, unless,
may be, as a ghost."

"What! Under water a whole day?" cried Help. "You don't mean that
seriously, do you?"

"Aye, aye, shipmate, that I do. It has not been half an hour since I
left the depths of the lake there. I went down with the rest under the
keel of that infernal old pot that the Pixies set afloat. I supposed my
time had come at last. But no one seems to be willing to die even when
his time has come; so you see, I struck out pretty lively, so as to get
clear of the wreck and the drowning crews as I came up, and then allowed
myself to rise. First thing I knew I was diving straight through the
door of a water pixie's nest! You know there are some of those creatures
who make a kind of hollow globe or diving bell under the water."

"Yes," said True eagerly, "the Argyroneta pixies."

"Aye, those are the fellows. Well, they stay and balance their nest with
cables, which they fasten to stems of water plants; then they mount to
the surface, catch a bubble of air in the little hairs of their legs and
hands, sink with it and shoot it up into the nest. When it is filled
they have a water-tight house filled with air, down in the very midst of
the lake. It is a cunning thing even if it is made by a Pixie.

[Illustration: FIG. 106.--Pipe's Escape from the Water Pixie's Den.]

"Well there I was, snug and comfortable enough. The housekeeper didn't
happen to be at home, and I had full possession of the premises. I
couldn't make up my mind what to do. Of course, I knew that I couldn't
stay there always; but I feared to crawl out and mount to the surface.
Either way my chance seemed pretty slim for life. I concluded to wait a
while anyhow, and stretched myself upon a sort of web hammock that hung
from the sides. I looked every moment for the landlady to report, and
loosened my knife to welcome her home. However, she didn't come, and
after a long waiting I fell asleep. How long I slept I don't know. I was
aroused by a slight swaying of the diving bell nest. The proprietor was
coming in, sure as the world! She was already half way through the
port-hole. I clutched my knife and got ready to cut away. But a thought
struck me. Think's I, can't I lay hold of the old lady, and get her to
tow me out of this, and may be ashore? I put my knife between my teeth
and waited quietly until Mrs. Argyroneta had got fairly into her cabin.
Then I leaped from my hammock, grabbed her by a hind leg, and yelled at
the top of my lungs. Whew! you ought to have seen that Pixie get. She
turned and made through the port, mounted to the surface, and flew
across it like the flying Dutchman. I found it a little hard to hold on
to her leg. But the creature had cast out of her spinnerets a good stout
cable as she turned to leave her nest, which I seized with both
hands.[AV]

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 107.--Pipe and the Pixie.]

"I should hate to say how many knots an hour we rated. The Pixie went so
fast that my head was kept above water by the swiftness of the motion.
She made straight for the island, and upon my word, I believe she would
have towed me clear ashore if it hadn't been for an accident. In
doubling the edge of a cluster of water lilies my tug struck a snag and
capsized. The rope slackened and I had to swim for it. Mrs. Argyroneta
dived. Not relishing a second journey to the bottom of the lake, I cut
the cable with my knife and clambered on top of a lily leaf. After some
trouble I managed to cut the leaf loose, and as the wind and current set
in toward the island, I drifted ashore just below here. I had scarcely
landed when I met these hearties here, who broke off into the woods at a
livelier rate than even my Pixie tug had made. That is the whole of my
yarn. And now if you please, give me something to eat for I'm mortal
hungry."

"What became of your Pixie?" asked Blythe.

"Never saw her after she dived," returned Pipe. "I reckon she's going
yet, for a worse scared creature, barring these three Jacks of ours, of
course, I never saw. But, come comrades, here I have been spinning my
yarn about my own miserable carcass, and all the time have heard nothing
of the fleet. To tell the truth, I've been afraid to ask. But let me
know the worst, all of it, while the cooks are getting supper ready."

The story was soon told. The good sailor was glad to find affairs had
gone no worse. His joy over the ignoble end of the Pixie monitor was
particularly keen.

"Humph!" he said, "just what I thought. A lubberly old pot! And any
seaman that would sail in such an affair deserves no better fate than to
be sent to the bottom by a dragoon's cutlass."


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AV: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE WISDOM OF THE PIXIES.


In the meantime how fared it with Faith and Sophia? The hours of
captivity dragged wearily along. The nagging and petty annoyance of
their keeper were hard to bear, but their chief dread was the coming of
Spite and Hide. They knew nothing of passing events, for not a creature
had been seen or heard since Spite and Raft left, except Tigrina. In the
depths of that Pixie cave they were shut off from the upper world, and
their grim and vigilant guardian kept them strictly to their rooms.

They had no heart at first to note the furnishings of their prison. But
as time passed their spirits somewhat rallied. They began to observe the
things around them, which were wrought with exquisite taste and skill.
Tapestry, carpets, sofas, cushions, stools, couches all were woven of
silk. There were pictures and statuary, books and portfolios bound
elegantly in yellow, purple and white silk, and illuminated with gold,
bronze and divers colors.[AW] The Nurses wandered from one to another of
these objects, which compelled their admiration and interest. The works
of art were exquisitely done.

Many of the books, the maidens noticed, treated of natural objects,
laws, forces, and phenomena. The wonders of air, earth, and sea were
told and illustrated in many volumes. Faith and Sophia were much
interested in these. Their fondness for Nature was great, and the books
and prints which lay around them in such wealth well nigh beguiled their
thoughts from their griefs.

"Look at this, Sophie," cried Faith, who had just happened upon a rare
volume rich in the arts of type, graver and brush. It lay by itself on a
circular stand, as one sometimes sees a costly family Bible in American
homes. It was plainly one of the treasures of Arachne Hall. Sophia came
to her friend's side and bent over the title page which read thus:

                     "THE WISDOM OF THE PIXIES.

   TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL OF THE LAWS OF PLUTO, AND THE WISE
                 SAYINGS OF THE SAGES OF PIXIELAND.

                ANNO MUNDI;...[=M] [=M]...,...MDCCC."

"The Wisdom of the Pixies!" exclaimed Sophia. "That must be a curious
book indeed. I never knew before that our wicked enemies professed to
have a sacred book, or held to any religious notions at all. I am
anxious to know what these laws of Pluto may be. Turn over the page,
Faith."

"I am trying to make out this date," answered Faith. "The numerals have
been erased; they appear to have been written several times, amended
again and again, and finally left in this uncertain condition."

"That is just it, Faith. Observe that for the common date, 'Anno
Domini--year of our Lord,' has been placed 'Anno Mundi--year of the
World.' It is hard for a Pixie to acknowledge in any way the Blessed
Author of Salvation to Men. Let me see!--M stands for one thousand; M, M
for two thousand; the bar over the top means a thousand also. [=M] is
one thousand thousand, [=M], [=M] two thousand thousand, and just there
is a gap. The other legible figures count up eighteen hundred. That is
all I can make out; but I suppose the Pixies mean to say that the world
is a good many thousand times two hundred thousand years old! Do you
believe it?"

"That's a ripe old age, Sophie," said Faith, "and I neither believe nor
disbelieve. How can one tell? Our fathers only say that 'in the
beginning,' whenever that was, the world was made. But the further back
one can trace the being of the earth by established facts, just so much
further can we 'walk by sight' into the Eternity whose sovereign Lord we
receive by faith."

"True enough," replied Sophia, "the question interests me as a matter of
fact simply. As a matter of religion, I suppose it has little value. At
least, I have so heard the good minister Dr. Comingo say in conversation
with Governor Wille. But turn the page, please!"

Faith turned the leaves of the book, reading aloud the titles of the
chapters. Now and then she stopped, read a sentence or two, commented
upon the sentiment, and contrasted it with the good, pure, unselfish
laws of Brownieland. Our story need not be burdened with much of what
Faith and Sophia saw in the "Wisdom of the Pixies," but some of our
older readers will be curious to have a few extracts. Here they are,
with the headings or titles of the chapters given, for the most part:

Chapter I. On the First and Great Law--Take Care of Number One....
Chapter II. On the Chief End of Life--Eat, Drink and be Merry, for
To-morrow You Die.... Chapter IX. The End Justifies the Means....
Chapter X. On Attaining One's End: By Fair Means if You Can, by Foul
Means if You Must.... Chapter XV. Showing That an Individual Cannot
Wrong a Corporation--On the Right of Corporations to Plunder the
People.... Chapter XVI. Showing That it Cannot be Wrong to Rob a
Government.... Chapter XVII. Showing That Since the World Loves to be
"Humbugged," it is Quite Lawful to Gratify it, for One's Own
Advantage.... Chapter XXXV. Is Man an Automaton?

"Why, what a strange notion!" cried Sophie. "What sage starts that
question?"

"It appears to be some Chinese sage whose sentiments are quoted, if I
may judge by the name--Hoox Lee."

"And what has he to say about it?"

"Well, there is a good deal. Here's a section on the 'Evidence of
Transmitted Peculiarities' that starts out thus: Every one has noted the
interest that the young of the human species take in dolls, marionettes,
and exhibitions of such figures as the famous Punch and Judy, and Mrs.
Jarley's wax works. This is a universal characteristic. Whence does it
arise? Why should this instinctive sympathy of children with Automata
and their clumsy tricks, be so deep-seated and wide-spread? Evidently
here is a fact which the wise and candid philosopher should ponder.
Here, it may be, is a thread by which we may traverse the labyrinth of
man's mysterious nature. The deduction cannot well be resisted, that
this natural and inwrought sympathy with the Automaton, in all its
varying forms, is owing to the kinship of man himself with the Simian."

"Oh, that will do!" exclaimed Sophia breaking short the sentence. "That
certainly is quite as funny as the Punch and Judy which Governor Wille
had shown at his children's party, last Thanksgiving Day. But is Mr.
Hoox Lee in earnest do you think?"

"He seems to be," answered Faith, joining in with Sophia's quiet
laughter. "But here is the next chapter." Chapter XL. To be Found Out is
the Essence of Wrong.

"Turn on!"

Chapter XLIII. The Pleasure and Security of Drinking Liquors in
Moderation.... Chapter XLIX. Wine and Beer Drinking the Sovereign Remedy
for Drunkenness.... Chapter L. On the Origin of the Universe.

"Ah! What has the sage to say on that point?" asked Sophia.

"Far too much to read now. This seems to be a favorite theme with the
sages; there are a great many pages. Here is the opening section:
'According to the sacred writings of the Pundits of India, a certain
immense spider was the origin, the first cause of all things. This
spider drawing the matter from its own bowels, wove the web of this
universe, and disposed it with wonderful art. She, in the meantime
sitting in the centre of her work, feels and directs the motions of
every part, till at length, when she has pleased herself sufficiently in
ordering and contemplating this web, she draws again into herself all
the threads she had spun out and, having absorbed them, the universal
nature of all creatures vanishes into nothing.'"

"Dear me," said Sophia, "how very like that is to the 'nebular theory'
that we heard the Professor discussing one evening with Governor Wille
on the great porch. But pray, whence came the spider? Who made her? I
wonder the sages didn't think of that question?"

Faith resumed the reading: "The natives of Guinea believe that the first
man was created by a large black spider which is so common in their
country, and is called in their jargon 'Ananse.'"

"Now, that is too bad!" said Sophia once more interrupting the reading.
"I could believe that the Pixies came that way, but to say that men were
so made! But that is the way with the sages of unbelief. They had rather
think the universe to have been spun out of the spinnerets of a big
black spider, than admit that in the beginning the Holy God made all
things."

Faith made no answer, but stood silently turning over the leaves. The
silence was broken by a sound that startled the Nurses, and struck
terror into their hearts. We must go back to the Brownie's island camp
in order to explain this sudden interruption.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AW: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER XXV.

BLYTHE'S FLUTE.


Despite their position the wrecked Brownies were in good spirits. The
restoration of Pipe had taken a load off their hearts. The reaction was
so great, after their grief and the certainty of his loss, that low
spirits vanished from the camp. The boatswain's resurrection seemed an
omen of good fortune. The cheer that filled all hearts bubbled over in
song, laughter, merry tale and joke. But as the Brownies feared to
attract the attention of the Doubt's crew who were yet on the island,
they kept the sound of their merrymaking within bounds of their picket
lines.

Blythe added much to the enjoyment of the occasion. By some rare chance,
as he was setting out for the fleet in the morning, he had flung over
his shoulder his flute box, which he often carried in a little case
something after the manner of a field glass. It had clung to him when
the Ken's boat went down, and there was the flute, ready to swell the
joy of the bivouac. Blythe was quite in the spirit to play, and all
hearts were in tune to listen.

Again and again the notes of the sweet instrument murmured among the
overhanging branches. Camp tunes, battle tunes, love tunes, home
tunes--the hearts of the Brownies were stirred by turns with tender,
pathetic, sad or fond emotions as the well known strains fell upon their
ears.

"Come, lads," cried Pipe, "cannot we have a song?"

"Aye, aye, a song, a song!" was called from all sides.

"What shall it be?" asked Blythe. "I will gladly accompany Captain
Clearview here, who is an excellent singer. Captain, what say you? Shall
we have 'Woodmen, Boatmen, Sailors and Horsemen?' The lads like that and
can join in the chorus."

"Play away!" said Clearview, and at the proper note he struck in and
sang the following song, in the refrain of which all the company joined:

            THE BROWNIES' NATIONAL SONG.

                 O MERRY AND FREE!
                         OR
        WOODMEN, BOATMEN, SAILORS AND HORSEMEN.


                         I.

    O merry and free,
    'Neath the wildwood tree,
    Are the Woodmen of Brownieland, bonnie and dee;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!
    In the breeze there is balm,
    In the sky there is calm,
    Each sound in the wood is the voice of a psalm;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!


                         II.

    O merry and free,
    On the lake and lea,
    Are the Boatmen of Brownieland, bonnie and dee;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!
    For the trout's rushing leap,
    And the water-fowl's sweep,
    With the paddle's soft dip sweet harmony keep;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!


                         III.

    O merry and free,
    On the wrinkled sea,
    Are the sailors of Brownieland, bonnie and dee;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!
    For the creaking of sail,
    And the sough of the gale,
    And splashing of waves, are the songs that ne'er fail;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!


                         IV.

    O merry and free,
    Over hill and lea,
    Are the troopers of Brownieland, bonnie and dee;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!
    It is pleasure indeed,
    To be one with the steed
    In his strength, and thrill with the rhythm of speed;
          Too--ra--lah, too--ra--loo, too--ra--lay!

"Hist--st!"

The sharp prolonged sibilant that broke in upon their applause and
caused instant silence, was uttered by Sergeant True. He advanced into
the circle with his hand raised warningly.

"Hist! Quiet all!--except you, Blythe. Keep on with your music. Play
some of your softest airs, and play until I bid you stop. As for the
rest of you, I charge you, for your lives, not to speak or move until
you hear from me. No matter what you see--perfect silence, remember!"

He stepped back again into the bushes and was hidden from sight. What
could the strange interruption mean? The Brownies were all alive with
keen curiosity. Was the Sergeant in a merry humor, and planning some
trick upon the party? They suspected that. But it was not much after
True's habit to do such a thing. Besides, his manner betokened unusual
earnestness. Therefore, all sat still, looking into the bushes whither
True had disappeared. The Adjutant promptly fell into his friend's plan.
He obeyed orders, played away and waited.

"Hist! look up! But don't stop the music, and don't stir!" said True in
a low voice.

All eyes turned upward. A faint rustling among the branches directed the
party's gaze to the point of interest. A quaint old hag of a Pixie was
slowly crawling along the twig above Blythe's head. It was our
acquaintance, Dame Tigrina!

[Illustration: THE BOY'S ILLUSTRATION.
FIG. 108.--Blythe's Flute Charms Tigrina.]

Blythe's heart fluttered a little, it must be confessed. It really
seemed that the grim creature was preparing to pounce upon him. See! she
is just above the musician's head. She has fastened a cable to the
branch and is slowly lowering herself toward the ground. There was a
slight quaver in the notes of the flute that could not be credited
wholly to the performer's intention. Yet, he behaved with wonderful
coolness and courage. The music went on; not a false note, not a pause,
while the Pixie was gradually lowering herself toward the ground.

When about one-third of the descent had been made, Tigrina paused and
sat quite still. She was listening to the music, not foraging for
victims! Blythe's flute had charmed her forth from her cell. There she
hung in mid air indulging her fondness for sweet sounds. Who would have
thought it of the old hag? However, it would perhaps be well to mention
that it has frequently been reported that some Pixies are strangely
sensitive to music.[AX]

True's conduct was now explained. He had caught a glimpse of the Pixinee
when she first left her hall, but had not been able to mark the spot
from which she came. When the singing stopped and the applause began,
Tigrina retreated so rapidly and stealthily that the Sergeant again
failed to note the door of her cave, but saw the general direction and
neighborhood thereof. He thought that if Blythe would repeat the music
it would charm the old creature forth once more, and so it proved.

From his blind in the bushes he saw the cave door slowly open, and
marked the spot. He saw the Pixinee peep here and there, then, satisfied
that the coast was clear, return to her place above the musician, where
she hung and listened as before.

True had gained his point. He did not indeed understand how near he was
to his heart's great desire. But he had thought it probable that Faith
and Sophia might be hidden on the island in some of the Pixie dens, and
at once resolved to follow up this fortunate incident in hope that it
might give a clew to a more important discovery. He quietly left his
hiding place, planted himself before the spot whence Tigrina had come,
and drew his battle axe.

"Hist!" The sound directed the Brownies' attention toward him. "Close in
around me when I call. Don't move before that. Now, Blythe,--stop!"

The music ceased. No one stirred for a moment or two; then Tigrina, as
though persuaded that the performance had ended, scampered up the cable
from which she hung, and hurried off toward her cave.

"Close up!" ordered True.

The company rushed forward and surrounded the Sergeant, who now stood
with axe poised, face to face with the Pixinee. Tigrina was in the act
of springing upon True. Her claws were outstretched, her eyes were
ablaze with excitement, and in the greatness of her wrath her fangs
clattered against each other.

As the Brownies closed the circle about her, she started, and cast a
quick, terrified glance around her. Then her whole visage changed; the
arms fell to her side; her face dropped upon her chest; her limbs
relaxed; the eyes became glassy and fixed; she suddenly sank to the
ground and lay rigid and motionless.

True lowered his axe. An exclamation of surprise broke from the group.

"Is she dead?" asked several at once.

Pipe stepped to Tigrina's side and cautiously turned her body with his
foot.

"'Pon my honor," he said, "I do believe the old witch has burst a
blood-vessel, or had an attack of apoplexy. She's dead as a mackerel."

"It does seem so, indeed," remarked True, who had also examined the
body. "There is every sign of death, beyond doubt. For my part I don't
wonder, for I never saw such a swift and terrible change in any living
creature as came over this one."

"Come," said Clearview, "let me try an experiment. I know something
more of the tricks of these Pixies than you. They can beat the 'possums
at feigning death. Now, I venture that Madame here is as alive and awake
as any of you. Stand back a little. We shall see. Bring me a cord."

A stout cord was brought by one of the sailors. Clearview approached
cautiously, and looped the rope around all the Pixinee's limbs except
one arm. During all this there was no sign of life.

"Hand me your axe, Sergeant." The weapon was passed to him. "Observe
now," continued Clearview, "that I intend to strike just where that claw
lies. If the creature is dead it will not hurt her to have it chopped
off."

[Illustration: FIG. 109.--Attitudes of Spiders when Feigning Death.]

He lifted the axe deliberately, and struck directly at the unbound arm
which was stretched out motionless upon the grass. The blade sank into
the ground! The claw had been removed by a quick motion as the axe fell.

"Phew----ew!" said Pipe, drawing a long breath. "Talk about wonders of
the stage! That acting beats Charlotte Cushman all hollow."[AY]

A burst of merriment broke from the circle of astonished and amused
Brownies, in the midst of which Tigrina slowly raised her body from the
ground, and sat up looking around upon her captors, quite crestfallen.

"Well," she said at last, "now you have me, what'll you do with me?"

The Brownie officers held a brief, whispered consultation. Then the
boatswain addressed Tigrina.

"Old woman, we shall exchange few words with you. You know well that
your life in ordinary circumstances wouldn't be worth a salt herring.
But you've just one chance for it. I have lost a daughter. She was
carried off with one of her companions by some of your people. We have
found no trace of the maidens yet. If you can tell anything that shall
lead to their discovery, your life shall be spared. If not, you die
instantly."

Tigrina sat with eyes fixed upon the ground. Her face had a stubborn
cast that showed indifference to life, or determination to yield nothing
for the sake of saving it. She remained silent.

"Well," continued the boatswain, "have you nothing to say? Do you know
anything? Speak out. You shall find us true to our word, as Brownies
always are."

"For Heaven's sake," cried Blythe impatiently, "if you can put us on the
track of our lost friends, do so! You shall not only have your life, but
whatever besides--"

"Hah! What interest have you in the silly things?" asked Tigrina looking
up quickly. Her whole manner had changed at the first sound of his
voice. Her eyes dropped slowly from the Adjutant's face to the flute
which he still held in his hands, and there remained fixed.

"I have a deep and tender interest in one of them," exclaimed Blythe.
"And I pledge you my word, with the boatswain, to stand between you and
death if you will tell us where we can find Faith and Sophia."

There was a moment's silence, so profound that one might almost have
heard his neighbor's heart beat as the Brownies awaited the Pixinee's
answer. The fate of their beloved Nurses seemed to hang upon her lips.
Tigrina at last broke the silence:

"You will give me my life?" she said.

"Yes!" cried a score of eager voices.

"And set me free?"

"Aye, aye!" was the hearty chorus.

"And give me--that?" continued Tigrina, pointing her hairy claw toward
the flute in Blythe's hand.

"It is yours!" cried the Adjutant, flinging the instrument into the
Pixinee's lap.

Tigrina clutched it eagerly, turned it over and over, as a child would a
new toy, looked into it, touched the keys, put it to her ears and
listened, then laid it down upon her lap and gazed at it with childish
fondness. All this time the Brownies looked on impatiently, but not
inclined to interfere.

"Hah!" exclaimed Tigrina, "and will it sing for me, too? Pretty bird!
Sing, sing!" she said as she fondled the flute tenderly.

"Come, come, old lady," cried Pipe at last. "Be done with this nonsense!
Remember that neither life, freedom, nor the flute are yours until you
keep your part of the bargain. So hurry up."

Tigrina looked up again with the old fierce, sullen face. "Ugh! To be
sure. Well, gentlemen, I have sworn not to tell any one where the
fairies are. But that big officer yonder--," she cast a savage glance at
True, "knows where I live, I reckon. There's nothing to hinder you from
following up what you have already found out yourselves, is there?"

A cry of joy arose from the party at these words. The hint was taken at
once. What news! Faith and Sophia were found at last! Hurrah!

Pipe turned eagerly upon Sergeant True.

"The door, the door!" he cried, "where is the door of the old hag's
cave?"

Blythe sprang forward, grasped Tigrina by the arm until she fairly
winced under the pressure, and exclaimed, "are they alive?--are they
safe? Speak!"

"Both!" was the answer.

The cool, clear voice of Captain Clearview broke in upon the excitement.
"Come, my friends, this is not wise. You are giving way to hopes that
may be dashed from you. What have you to rely upon for them all? The
word of an old Pixinee condemned to death. I think she has spoken truly.
But let us make sure before we show our joy. First of all, take that
flute from her and bind her arms securely. We will take her with us into
the cave. If she has not deceived us we will be true to her. If this is
all mockery and deceit--" There was no need to finish the sentence.

By this time Pipe, True and Blythe had the mossy door of the cave pushed
open. They entered the silk lined vestibule, and saw the tunnel sloping
away into the hill until lost in the darkness.

"A ladder and lanterns!" cried Pipe. "Haste--away!"

"Aye, aye, Sir!" answered a half dozen hearty voices. The sailors flew
to the boat, and soon returned with a rope ladder and several fox-fire
lanterns.

"Are we all ready?" asked True.

"Ready!"

"Come on then! and God speed the search!"

He stepped into the mouth of the cave bearing aloft one of the lights.
Pipe and Blythe followed. Then came Clearview and Help leading Dame
Tigrina. Several sailors brought up the rear of the party. The remainder
of the crew kept guard at the entrance.

"Hark!" The word fell from the lips of both the imprisoned Nurses at
once. There was a sound as of the wind blowing through the long tunneled
hall that led into their room. It came nearer. It grew louder. The
maidens stood still straining every nerve to resolve the meaning of the
strange noises. There could be no doubt, at last, that it was the sound
of approaching footsteps, mingled with voices.

"O Sophie, it is Spite the Spy!"

"O Faith, the Pixie chiefs have returned!"

With a cry of anguish they threw themselves into each other's arms. In
this movement the stand bearing the "Book of the Wisdom of the Pixies"
was overturned, and with a great racket fell to the floor. The large
volume opened its folios as it fell, and lay spread out upon its face
under the stand.

The scream of the Nurses and the crash of the stand were answered by a
cry from without. The curtain door of the chamber was rent aside, and
Sergeant True bearing aloft his fox-fire torch entered. Ere he could
utter a word the boatswain darted past him. Sophia had sprung forward at
the first vision of her lover, and found herself clasped in her father's
arms! Faith had fallen upon her knees. The drapery of her gown streamed
backward partially covering the gilt and silken bindings of the Pixies'
Book of Unbelief. The hands of the kneeling Nurse, just as they were
outstretched toward Heaven, were clasped in the fervent grasp of
Adjutant Blythe, who in a moment was kneeling at Faith's side.

It was a striking and tender scene--the kneeling figures of Blythe and
Faith; Sophia fast locked in her father's embrace; True standing nearby,
the central figure of the group, holding his torch aloft, gazing upon
his betrothed with joy and fondness shining through the tears upon his
cheek. Crowded in the door and just within the room, were the other
members of the searching party, in the midst of whom stood Tigrina
casting alternate looks of anger upon the Brownies, and desire upon the
flute which had fallen from Blythe's hand and rolled quite near her.

Why should we dwell upon what followed? The mutual greetings, the quick
exchange of experiences, the outbreak of emotion, joy, gratitude,
love--these are better left to the reader's imagination. One may be
certain, however, that the party did not long stay inside the Pixie's
cave. To be sure, it was a snug place, and would have been quite safe,
and no doubt more comfortable to the Nurses than the rude accommodations
of the Brownie bivouac outside. But the very sight of Aranea Hall, even
with all its beautiful furnishings, was hateful to them. They insisted
upon going away from the place with all haste.

"It is a prison, a miserable prison, however much it may be decked like
a palace," exclaimed Faith. "Let us out of it, immediately!"

"Aye," said Sophia, "with all its silken tapestry, carpets, and couches
it is a den of Pixies, a loathsome, dismal dungeon. Take us out of it,
take us quickly!"

The happy company returned along the tunnel, and mounted to upper air. A
second greeting awaited the rescued fairies from the party that guarded
the entrance. The boisterous joy of the Brownie sailors could hardly be
restrained. But an urgent warning of the danger that might be called
down upon their newly found loved ones, by discovering their presence to
the Doubters on the island, kept the outbreaking happiness within
bounds.

The Brownies were true to Tigrina and left her safe within the cave in
possession of the coveted flute. But they fastened the cavern door and
mounted a guard over it. Then a shelter was provided for the Nurses. As
willing hands and happy hearts make light work, the night was not far
gone ere a tent of leaves was built. Tired out with excitement Faith and
Sophia were quite ready to retire when all was prepared for them. How
happy, happy, happy they were as they lay down to sleep in each other's
arms! Their joy rippled over their lips in whispered congratulations and
thanks, and bubbled forth in grateful tears. Then soft deep sleep, the
sleep of the good and happy stole gently upon them.

It was long before the Brownie sailors settled to sleep. Weary as they
were, the wish to hear the story of the capture and imprisonment of the
Nurses, was stronger than the need of rest. Thus, Pipe, True, and
Blythe, to whom the particulars had been told, had to tell them over and
over again. At length all were satisfied; the sentinels were stationed,
the reliefs appointed, and sleep fell upon the little camp.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AX: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote AY: Appendix, Note B.]



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE HAUNTED GROUND.


Our story must now go back to Big Cave Camp on the Orchard shore of Lake
Katrine. Lieutenant MacWhirlie had made a vigorous attack upon the Pixie
camp, using his portable davids with good success. He completely
demolished a bowl-shaped battery of Linyphia,[AZ] placed among the
morning glories, from which a gang of Pixies had kept up a continuous
and annoying volley of spears and arrows. But not being supported by the
infantry, he fell back to the outer line of intrenchments. Here he was
joined by Captain Bruce with his troops.

In the meantime, Commodore Rodney and his fleet had retired before the
Stygians, and lay under the protection of the great guns mounted at the
mouth of the inlet. The Pixie squadron took position before the inlet,
thus shutting the Natties in, and Admiral Quench immediately sent three
ships to relieve Big Cave Camp.

Thus matters stood on the eventful evening that brought such happy issue
to the Brownies on Ellen's Isle. Exciting incidents also had happened at
Camp Lawe, as the Brownie encampment before Big Cave had been called, in
honor of the Ensign's gallant exploit. Shortly after nine o'clock, the
hour for changing the sentinels, Bruce was informed by Vigilant, the
Sergeant of the guard, that one of the men was missing from his post.

"What," cried Bruce in angry tones, "I didn't think we had a traitor or
a coward in our camp. Bring the wretch here, as soon as he is found. He
must suffer the penalty." The Captain thus spoke, because it is an
almost unheard of thing that a Brownie soldier should desert his post,
and the punishment for such offence is instant death.

[Illustration: FIG. 110.--"The Bowl-Shaped Battery of Linyphia."]

"But, Captain," answered Vigilant, "we have searched for the guard, and
can't find him. No one has seen him off his rounds. Indeed, he was seen
at his post by the nearest sentinel but a few moments before the relief
came up. Here is his spear, which was picked up on the ground.
Otherwise there is not a trace of him anywhere."

"Remarkable indeed! Who was the sentinel?"

"Private Standwhile."

"Ah, a good man and true! I know him well. Lead the way to his picket
post."

The two were soon upon the ground. The spot where the missing soldier's
lance was found was carefully examined, but there was no trace of
conflict or other unusual occurrence. The approaches to the picket line
from the enemy's direction were closely scanned. Nothing suspicious was
seen. The ground for some distance between the Pixie and Brownie camps
was at this point flat and smooth. Unable to solve the mystery, the
Captain ordered another sentinel to be placed.

"See that he is a good man, one of the brightest and most careful in the
ranks," said Bruce. Accordingly Sergeant Vigilant assigned Private
Sharpsight to the vacant post.

"And, be sure, Sergeant," said the Captain, as he turned away, "that you
keep a bright lookout upon your sentinels during the watch, especially
on this one."

Scarcely an hour had passed ere Captain Bruce heard the sharp challenge
of the sentinel before his tent door: "Who goes there?"

"Sergeant Vigilant of the picket guard."

Bruce rose from his couch without waiting to be called, and left the
tent. "Well, what is it? Speak!"

"The second sentinel is gone!"

"Sharpsight gone?"

"Aye; not a sign or sound of him anywhere. I visited the picket once
within an hour after he was stationed. All was then well. But I felt
restless and nervous about the disappearance of Standwhile, and a few
moments ago returned. Sharpsight had vanished as mysteriously as the
other!"

"Call out the guard!" cried Bruce, snatching his broadsword and striding
off toward the picket line. "Keep this matter as quiet as possible. It
won't do to alarm the camp."

[Illustration: FIG. 111.--"The Horizontal Snare of a Young Uloborus
Among the Laurels."]

Every bush, and clump of grass, weed, stone, stock, or other place that
could possibly give shelter to friend or foe, Brownie or Pixie, within a
wide circuit of the fatal picket post, was thoroughly explored. Nothing
more dangerous was found than the horizontal snare of a young Uloborus
among the laurels and a few young Furrow spiders. The latter lay within
their silken tubes which were snugly embosomed within a dainty tuft of
dry moss, or tucked within the folds of rolled leaves or curled birch
bark, with a trap line strung from the openings to nearby round webs.
The Brownies were no wiser than before. The mystery was unsolved.

"Shall we place another picket?" asked Sergeant Vigilant.

"It must be done," answered the Captain. "But call for volunteers."

"You see how it is, my good fellows," said the Sergeant turning to the
guard. "Two of our men are gone. Where, how, nobody knows. There is foul
play somewhere, and the sort that leaves no trail. The next picket may
uncover the villainy, or he may go the way of the others. I shall not
draft any one to this post unless necessary. Who will volunteer? Step
out!"

[Illustration: FIG. 112.--"Snugly Embosomed Within a Dainty Tuft of Dry
Moss."]

There was a moment's pause. The sentinels cast glances from one to
another, as though each waited for his comrade to volunteer. Then, as if
by one impulse, every one stepped to the front.

"Bravo!" cried the Captain. "It is just what I expected of you. But I
only meant to test your courage. I shall take this post myself, and do
duty for the rest of this watch as one of the picket guards. Sergeant,
dismiss the men and resume your rounds. Call here in half an hour. I
will solve this mystery, if it can be done. Away!"

Vigilant and his guard began to remonstrate with their leader against
this exposure of his life. But when he bade them away in such peremptory
tones, they knew that his mind was made up, and there was nothing for
them but to obey. Slowly and unwillingly they withdrew; not to sleep
however, but to talk in subdued voices over the strange events of the
night, and await the issue of their Captain's watch.

The half hour had well nigh passed. A cry of alarm startled the guard.
It ran through the camp. Officers and men sprang from their bivouac
fires and rude couches, and seized their arms.

"Fall in! Fall in!" shouted the officers. The bugle sounded the call.

"Is it a night attack?"

"Yes!"

"No!"

"Where have the Pixies assaulted the line?"

"There! Don't you see the guard rallying in yonder open space by the
ridge. The enemy is coming straight over the plain."

"Pshaw! There's not a Pixie in sight. It's a false alarm raised by some
stupid picket."

Thus backward and forward ran question and answer, as the Brownie
soldiers swiftly fell into line of battle.

"Where is the Captain?" asked Lieutenant MacWhirlie, saluting
Acting-Adjutant Bright.

"At the picket line I believe, Sir," answered Bright, "looking after the
cause of the alarm. Ah! here comes the Sergeant of the guard. Why--in
Heaven's name, Vigilant, what's the matter?"

"Captain--Bruce--is--gone!" said the Sergeant, jerking out the words
between sobs.

"Gone--what do you mean?" cried both officers at once. The story was
soon told. The Captain had disappeared as mysteriously as the two
privates. Lieutenant MacWhirlie after a brief consultation with the
officers issued the following order: "Let the soldiers be informed of
everything. Appeal to their honor, loyalty, courage and good sense.
Dismiss them to their quarters, and bid them sleep upon their arms.
Come, Sergeant, lead the way to the picket line."

[Illustration: FIGS. 113, 114, 115 and 116.--"Tucked Within the Folds of
Rolled Leaves or Curled Birch Bark." (Furrow Spiders.)]

Accompanied by Vigilant, the Lieutenant strode away, having sent back
his pony to the corral. The men of the guard were still scattered
throughout the neighborhood looking for traces of their lost commander
and comrades. They were recalled by a bugle. There was nothing to
report.

Meanwhile MacWhirlie carefully examined the premises. The open space in
front of the mysterious picket post ended in a low ridge which ran for
some distance in either direction, and was covered with grass intermixed
with tufts of moss and ferns. Beyond that and toward Camp Lawe the ridge
was covered with a growth of young bushes. It was close up to this ridge
that the lost pickets had been stationed.

"Did you observe the position of the men?" asked MacWhirlie.

"Not of the first one," answered the Sergeant. "But the second was
stationed here. So also was the Captain. They both stood with their
faces toward the plain--outward. I watched them both from a distance,
after I had left them. The Captain paced up and down, just there along
the ridge, keeping his eyes toward the enemy's camp. He made a half face
outward, so to speak, as he walked."

"Outward? You are quite sure of that?"

"Quite."

"Very well. I shall take this post now. You will form the entire guard
in a circle enclosing this spot."

"How far away, Sir?"

"Just far enough to have me well in sight. Let the men pace their beats
as ordinary sentinels, keeping each other in view, face to face and
right about. At the slightest call or alarm of any kind let them close
in instantly, all of them at a sharp run."

"Is that all, Sir?"

"Yes; except that I want you to report to me as soon as the men are
placed. You may go, now."

"Fall in. Attention. Right face. Forward--March!"

The Sergeant marched away at the head of his squad, and was soon
stationing the sentries according to orders. As the guard moved off
MacWhirlie overheard muttered words of protest dropping from the
soldiers' lips. "Can't afford to lose both our leaders!" "It's a useless
sacrifice!--Haunted ground!"

"Humph!" exclaimed the Lieutenant to himself. "Haunted ground, indeed!
The cause of this deviltry is somewhere in this neighborhood, I'll be
bound. And there's nothing more ghostly than Pixies at the bottom of
it. There's no keeping track of their tricks. We are forever coming
across some new tribe, with new habits. Their cunning and skill are
beyond belief." He turned his back toward the plain and his face toward
the ridge, and in that position kept guard until Sergeant Vigilant
returned.

"Now," said MacWhirlie, "I want you to take your stand a few rods beyond
me in the direction of the Big Cave. Keep your eye on me closely. If
anything unusual occurs give the alarm, no matter what it may be. Don't
fear to raise a false alarm."

The long watch began. Keeping his face steadily inward, the Lieutenant
stood, or walked slowly back and forth, covering his eyes and scanning
closely every object before him. Not a motion of leaf, twig, blade of
grass, sprig or frond escaped his keen vision. But there was no sign of
anything threatening or unusual. Midnight passed. One--two--three
o'clock! The first glint of the coming dawn began to show in the
horizon. The Brownie camp was as silent as a graveyard, for the men had
grown tired of their long suspense, and dropped asleep. MacWhirlie and
his guard were also well nigh wearied out. The day was like to break
leaving the mystery unsolved.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AZ: Appendix, Note A.]



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE DISENCHANTMENT.


Lieutenant MacWhirlie had now almost come to doubt so much of his theory
as located the unknown enemy within the picket line. But he was a
persistent person, and disliked to give up his theory until he had
something better to lay hold of. Moreover, as he still believed the
Pixies to be the cause of the late misfortunes, and as he knew they were
wont to be quite active about the peep of day, he resolved to bide by
his voluntary watch a little longer. He beckoned Sergeant Vigilant to
his side and the two sat down to rest among the delicate ferns that
covered the ridge. They went over again the events of the night, putting
this and that together, in order to frame some intelligent theory for
their guidance. MacWhirlie, however, could find nothing to shake his
first conclusion.

"The danger must have come upon them unawares," said he; "it was clearly
in every case a complete surprise. If an enemy had approached from the
front, he would have been spied in time for an alarm. A surprise so
thorough could only have come from the direction of our own camp, as
that was the only quarter not carefully watched."

The Sergeant's reply was arrested by a curious phenomenon. The ground
beneath them seemed to be trembling; it raised slowly, swayed back and
forth, and then sank down. The Brownies jumped to their feet and
MacWhirlie exclaimed:

"What is that? Did you notice the shaking of the earth? or was it only
the grass rocking in the wind?"

"It was--it seemed to be an earthquake," answered Vigilant. "There! I
feel the ground again trembling beneath us."

[Illustration: FIG. 117.--A Trap-door Opened.]

The earth had, indeed, begun to lift up like a wave; higher and higher
it rose, until the officers, finding that they were losing their
perpendicular, flung themselves backward, in true Brownie fashion, into
a bush on the summit of the ridge.

"See!" cried MacWhirlie, clasping the Sergeant by the arm, "there is the
enchantress of your haunted ground!"

[Illustration: FIG. 118.--A Trap-door Closed.]

A trap-door had opened in the ground, and out of the crevice a huge
chocolate-brown Pixie was stealthily peeping! The door was semi-circular
in form, its edge beautifully beveled and covered with fine white silk,
and fitted into the ground as smoothly as a cork into a flask. The top
was covered with grass and ferns of the same kind as those on the ridge,
so that the keenest eye could not detect the difference. A hinge of
strong silk cloth held the trap-door to the upper side of the ridge.
All this the Brownies took in at a glance.[BA]

They crouched motionless in the bush, concealed by the leaves, but
having a full view of the monster who was slowly emerging from the
tubular burrow under the trap. The creature was the largest of the Pixie
race that either of the officers had seen. She was several times the
size of Spite or Hide, and compared to the Brownies was as an elephant
to a child. She was covered with a fur robe of a uniform brownish-red
color, fringed with black. Her fangs were huge tusks, her feet immense
brushes armed with sharp claws. Woe to the enemy that fell within her
power! The Brownie officers had as brave hearts as ever beat under
uniform, but the wonder upon their faces was somewhat touched with
terror as they looked from this monster into each other's eyes. There
could be no mistake about it. This was the great giantess Cteniza, the
Queen of the Pixies!

[Illustration: FIG. 119.--Peep-oh! Pixie!]

The giantess turned, clambered up the ridge and made straight for the
bushlet wherein the Brownies were hid. They grasped their swords and
silently waited. Cteniza reached the bush. She stretched up an arm
to--seize the Brownies? No! she fastened a strong cord to a twig and
pulled it taut. The trap-door of her cave slowly raised until it stood
ajar. Then another line was made fast to the bush and carried over to
the top of the door. The trap swung in this wise and thus allowed the
Pixie queen to enter her den when she wished to return. This done, she
went down the ridge, gazed around her, and began spreading a thick
snare over the ground round about the trap-door.[BB] She had not seen
the Brownie officers at all.

"We are safe this time," whispered MacWhirlie to Vigilant, "but what
shall we do? It would be folly for two of us, or even the whole guard,
to attack that creature without some great advantage on our part."

"We must wait and watch," was the answer. "Our action must depend upon
the Pixie queen's."

"Aye, Aye," responded the Lieutenant, "but there is one thing I have
settled. These cords shall be cut and the monster shut out from her den.
If there is any hope at all for the recovery of our Captain and comrades
it lies in that. Come what may the giantess shall never get back into
her cave; at least until we have had a a chance to explore it."

Queen Cteniza had by this time finished her snare of strong cords, and a
smooth silken sheet stretched irregularly upon the grass. She gazed
contentedly upon her work, cast a glance upon her trap-door swinging
snugly by its lines, and set off in the direction of the Pixie camp. She
stopped suddenly. She had caught sight of one of the sentinels in the
outer circle of guards, and at the same moment the sentinel saw her. He
lifted his bugle and sounded the alarm.

"Ter-ah! Tra-la, la-lah!"

The answer came like an echo from a score of bugles, and the air was
full of the notes. Cteniza turned and ran toward her cave. MacWhirlie
heaved up his axe and struck a double-handed blow. One of the lines
which held up the trap was severed. Again he struck. The second line
parted and down fell the trap with a heavy thud, just as the giantess
reached it. She was shut out from her cave! A glance showed her the
cause of her misfortune, and then her huge form shook with rage. She
leaped upon the ridge. But by this time the Brownie officers were well
away in hot flight, and the circle of guards was rapidly closing around
them. A stir throughout the Brownie camp beyond showed that a general
alarm had been sounded, and the whole army was falling into line. But
could the devoted officers and their little band escape destruction?

"Stand!" cried MacWhirlie. He himself stopped short in his flight and
faced toward Cteniza, who was pressing forward with uplifted claws and
clattering tusks. Vigilant stopped and stood beside his Lieutenant. The
sentinels gathered around them. Scarce a dozen of them! It seemed as if
the Pixie might crush them all at a blow.

"Attention!" called the Lieutenant. "There is but one chance left us. We
must skirmish with this monster as best we can until the troops come up.
Mark those bushes to the right and left. Ready! Vault!"

MacWhirlie gave these commands in sharp, rapid tones that seemed to
impart his own spirit to the sentinels. Cteniza had approached within
half a bow shot of the Lieutenant as the final order was given. At the
word "vault," every Brownie disappeared into the foliage of the bushes
to right and left, and there perched on the outer leaves with bows and
spears in hand.

The giantess paused and stood with raised arms, rampant and threatening.
She panted with anger and exertion. She looked to this side and that,
before her, behind her, but saw no sign of her enemies. From the top of
a tall clump of grass above her MacWhirlie's voice called: "Fire!"
Cteniza started; a lance had struck her face; an arrow had cut through
her shaggy robe and broke flesh upon the abdomen; a dozen other weapons
bounded back harmlessly from the chest, or frayed the skin upon arms and
legs. She leaped upon the clump of grass whence MacWhirlie had issued
the order. The stalks bent down so quickly under the great weight, that
the bulky creature sprawled upon the ground. The Lieutenant was shaken
from his perch, and rolled in the dust beside the Pixie, but at once
regained his feet.

[Illustration: FIG. 120.--A Rampant Tarantula.]

"Rally!" he cried, and the soldiers ran to his side.

Cteniza now stood looking at her tiny foes. It seemed like a battle
between a lion and a litter of mice, so vast was the difference in size
between the combatants. In this moment of peril to the devoted band
there was a new arrival upon the scene. Ensign Lawe having left camp for
Hillside, the command of the cavalry fell to Sergeant Goodnews when
MacWhirlie came into chief command after Bruce's disappearance. Goodnews
was one of the most famous among the Brownie officers. There was not a
fairy in the whole nation so comely in appearance, so valiant in fight,
so efficient in all military action, so wise in council, so cheerful,
amiable and kind in disposition. Never were beauty and sweetness so well
combined with valor and might.

His charger was a goodly sized wasp, whose name was Formosa, commonly
shortened into the nickname of "Moz." The creature was thoroughly
trained, apt in every duty of war, and devoted to her master. In motion
she was the swiftest of all the troop. She had a complete armor, and
carried a spear charged with a deadly sting, which she well knew how to
use against her master's foes. This was the new arrival. Hurrying up
behind Goodnews came a squad of mounted Brownies, and beyond these again
the remainder of the army. But they would be too late! What could one
soldier do, however brave and well mounted, to save the Brownie
sentinels from the monster who was in the act of throwing herself upon
them? We shall see.

As the giantess sprang upon the little group of guards, a volley of
arrows and spears flew into her face. But these wrought small harm, and
ere the sentinels could leap aside three of them had been torn to
pieces. Vigilant was wounded and borne to the earth; MacWhirlie was
disarmed and dashed to one side, bruised and sorely bedraggled. It was
at this moment, when the giantess was turning fiercely upon her
prostrate foes, that Goodnews flew to the rescue upon his gallant
Formosa. His sabre cut clean and strong across Cteniza's eyes, as he
passed at full speed. He wheeled and rode back again. What is he doing?
He is hovering above the Pixie queen, skillfully avoiding all her mad
efforts to grapple with him. Is he only seeking to turn her attention
from his friends? At least, he is making no attempt to use his sabre.

Ah! his tactics are plain enough now. Formosa circles around the dazed
giantess a moment, and then darts upon her back. The wasp's bright lance
flashes in the light, then horseman and steed are away again like the
wind. And what is this? Cteniza reels upon her feet. She has fallen over
upon her face. She is motionless. The fatal armor of Sergeant Goodnews'
good nag has done the work. The poison within the sting ran instantly
throughout the bulky frame of the Pixie queen, and there she lay prone
and powerless.[BC]

"Hurrah!" shouted MacWhirlie leaping up in spite of his bruises, and
gaily swinging his broadsword. "We are saved! The Queen is dead! We can
save the Captain now! if----"

Ah! that if!


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BA: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote BB: Appendix, Note B.]

[Footnote BC: Appendix, Note C.]



CHAPTER XXVIII.

OUT OF THE PIT.


The dayspring had begun to streak the east when MacWhirlie, with a
chosen band of Brownies, stood again before the closed trap-door of
Cteniza's cave. The silken cords which had held the door open were still
clinging to it. The ends which the Lieutenant had cut away were now
gathered up, and the Brownies vainly sought to pull the door open by
main strength.

"Away!" bade MacWhirlie: "call another company to our aid. And send a
windlass."

Soon a second company arrived, bringing ropes and a windlass. The latter
was a rough machine, a straight twig resting within two upright forked
twigs, and having spokes thrust into and around its projecting ends. The
windlass was planted on the ridge, a cord wound around the twig, and
fastened at the free end to moss growing upon the trap-door. A bevy of
Brownies seized the spokes and began pushing and pulling with might and
main. Some took the ends of the spokes and threw themselves downward,
carrying the windlass around by their momentum; others braced their
backs against one another, and with feet upon the spokes pushed right
merrily. Brownies are apt to make a frolic of their work, and even on an
occasion so serious, their capers could not be quite suppressed. The two
ropes were also fastened to the trap-door and manned by a troop of
soldiers. A cheery call went up from the Lieutenant!

"Hi--ee--oh! Pull away!"

The Brownies at the ropes responded in a sort of chant: "He--oh! a long
pull; he--oh! a strong pull; he--oh! a pull all together, oh!" At each
cadence the busy workers put forth all their strength. The trap began to
move. Higher--higher! It was soon fairly above the ground. Workers were
stationed below to thrust props into the opening as the door rose. A
goodly distance was cleared at last. New props were added. The trap
stood ajar, and the mouth of the burrow was exposed to view.

[Illustration: FIG. 121.--The Mouth of Cteniza's Den Opened.]

"Now, men," said MacWhirlie, "this is my adventure. I shall lead the way
into the pit. Sergeant Rise and Corporals Hope and Shine shall go with
me. Let the rest be ready for any order or emergency. Bring ladders and
lanterns."

Both were ready; the rope ladders were hung upon the edge of the burrow
one on each side. MacWhirlie stepped upon one, battle-axe in hand, and
was followed by Corporal Shine. Sergeant Rise led the way upon the
other, followed by Corporal Hope.

"Ready?" asked the Lieutenant.

"Ready!"

"Come on, then, and mind the signals."

Hope and Shine had ropes fastened to their bodies, by which signals
could be sent aloft. They also had their bugles hung loosely, with which
to sound the alarm, and give necessary orders. Down, down into the cave
the Brownies went. The light of day was left behind them; all was dark,
except where the lanterns shed a narrow circle of light.

A cry of horror broke from MacWhirlie. On the sides of the cave hung the
forms of two Brownies. They were fastened by silk ropes to the silken
lining of the tunnel, and swung stark and cold. They were dead.

[Illustration: FIG. 122.--A Clod Containing the Silken Nest of the
California Trap-door Spider.]

"Who are they?" cried Hope, as he peered through the glimmering light to
recognize, if possible, the dead sentinels. "Is the Captain there?"

The explorers' hearts were very heavy. It was sad enough, however it
might turn out. But oh! if their beloved leader should come to this end?

"Is it the Captain?" echoed Rise and Shine.

MacWhirlie, who was nearest the swinging corpses, had been scanning them
closely. He made out the one nearest him. "This is Sharpsight--beyond a
doubt. The other is--"

"Well, the other?--"

In the dim light it was difficult to determine. Bruce and Standwhile
were very like in form and stature, and there were few marks in the
Brownie uniform by which men could be distinguished from officers.

"It--is--Standwhile!" The decision was given slowly, but confidently.
Yes, the sentinels were gone, but the Captain was yet to be found.

"We must send our poor comrades aloft," said MacWhirlie, "before we go
further. Pull the signal rope, Hope. And have the ladder shifted a
little nearer the bodies."

Hope was soon aloft, and down again; the ladder was shifted, the dead
sentinels fastened to the ropes, and hoisted slowly out of their charnel
house. Down in the cave the groans and cry with which the corpses of
their comrades were greeted, were heard by the little band of devoted
explorers. Once more the ropes were lowered, were fastened as before,
and the Brownies pushed on in the darkness. They reached the bottom of
the cave at last. Not a sound was heard save the echoes of their own
voices in the hollow depth. There were carcasses of huge insects, and
legs, wings, and heads thereof scattered over the floor. The Brownies
stumbled over these at every step. Not a sign of the Captain!

Around and around they went, sounding the walls with their axes,
cutting away the silken tapestry here and there. There was clearly but
one chamber; no secret doors or inner rooms at that point at least.

"Then we must look higher up," said the Lieutenant. "There must
somewhere be a branch tunnel, in which the Captain, living or dead, has
been stored away. Look sharp, my men."

Up they clambered, scrutinizing at every round the circular wall of the
cave. They reached the point where the dead sentinels had hung. Some
unevenness in the surface here caught MacWhirlie's quick eyes. He struck
the end of his battle-axe upon the wall. Hark! there was a faint echo
within. The place was hollow! He smote again; a third time the axe fell;
but ere it reached the wall a door opened so violently that it struck
and put out the lantern in the Lieutenant's hand. Fortunately, as it
proved, the axe blade fell upon the bevel of the door, and was thereby
wedged into the opening, leaving the door slightly ajar.

"What is it?" cried Rise.

"One of the brood of the Pixie queen," answered the Lieutenant. "I
caught a glimpse of the creature's claw and fangs as the trap-door
opened. It is a young giant. Our Captain is inside this branch, and this
Pixie prince is guarding him. Here, lay hold of the trap!" Rise and Hope
joined their comrades upon the ladder. Slits were cut in the tapestry,
and seizing the fragments the Brownies tugged with utmost strength to
pull open the door. It was hung so loosely that it ought to have opened
almost of its own weight; yet the Brownies could not move it.

"The Prince is holding it against us,"[BD] said MacWhirlie. "We must
have help from above. Quick! fasten these ropes into the slits upon the
door. There, that will do finely. Now, aloft, Hope! Let the men above
pull upon these ropes. Brace them back when you find them giving away
enough, and fasten them firmly. Then descend, and bring my two-edged
sword with you, old 'Charity.'"

These orders were obeyed with amazing rapidity. Hope inspired his
fellows with the news that the Captain might yet be found. But, withal,
there was a cloud upon many faces. It seemed hard to be up there pulling
at ropes, while a blow was to be struck for their Captain's liberty. And
then, was their noble Lieutenant, their leader now, to risk his life in
that cave with so few to support him? The Pixie prince was a youth, it
was true; but a giant nevertheless, and a match for a whole company of
the best Brownies.

[Illustration: FIG. 123.--The California Trap-door Spider (Cteniza
Californica).]

The messenger who had gone down with MacWhirlie's sword returned with an
order that pacified this discontent. Two more ladders were to be let
down into the cave. Over these soldiers were to be stationed as closely
as convenient. Thus there were two lines of Brownies reaching from the
surface of the earth to the mouth of the branch, all ready for any
service, and in communication with the troops above. These arrangements
were soon made.

Then came the signal, "Hoist away!" The ropes tightened; the door began
slowly to yield. MacWhirlie stood upon the ladder close by the edge of
the trap, holding the side ropes with one hand and grasping his
two-edged sword in the other. The Pixie's black claws came into view;
they were fastened upon the inside cover of the trap, and the whole
weight and strength of the young giant were opposing the opening.

"Hah! Take that then," cried the Lieutenant, striking upon the exposed
claw, which was thus nearly severed from the arm. The giant released his
hold and backed slowly up the branch. By this time the trap-door had
been well nigh lifted up from the wall, and was held steady by the ropes
above, which were securely fastened. MacWhirlie entered the open door of
the branch followed closely by Shine, Rise and Hope.

"Fasten your lanterns to the sides," said MacWhirlie. There were hooks
on the handles for such uses, which, by a single motion of the hand,
were caught into the silken lining, and thence the fox-fire lights threw
their glow into the darkness. Sword in hand the four Brownies advanced,
the Lieutenant in front. The bulky form of the Pixie prince opposed
them. They stood a moment, silent and prayerful, ere closing to the
conflict. They knew that their lives hung in the balance, and girded
themselves for the issue. Back from the inner darkness, in that
momentary waiting, a voice called faintly:

"Hal--loo!"

"Hark, my men; it is the Captain!" cried MacWhirlie, waving his sword,
while the cave fairly rang with his answering shout, "Hello!"

Again the voice came, stronger than before, saying, "who is there?" It
was indeed the voice of Bruce.

"Brownies!" answered the four men in chorus; "Brownies to the rescue!"

[Illustration: FIG. 124.--"Claw Marks Upon the Inside Cover of the
Trap-door."]

They threw themselves upon the Pixie, smiting face and breast, arms and
legs with swift, strong blows. Prince Proud (for that was his name) made
but a feeble resistance. Once or twice he stretched out his arms as
though to grapple with his assailants, but the Brownies easily avoided
him, and springing forward again, showered their sharp blows upon the
huge foe. The cause of this apathy was soon explained; he was just over
a season of moulting, or changing his skin! Several times before they
are grown, Pixies go through this strange process. The whole outer skin
peels off. During the change the creatures are almost helpless, and lie
still, taking little or no food. After the skin is off, it takes
several days for them to regain their strength. During the whole time of
this change nothing but the sorest need can stir them up to even as
great exertion as Proud had already made.[BE] MacWhirlie saw his
advantage at once. He understood how they had escaped thus far so
easily. His hopes rose into confidence. He spoke with new cheer.

"Forward, merrily! Sergeant Rise, order in the men who are on the
ladders; I shall cut my way past the Pixie to the Captain!" He struck
upon the Prince's face, as he ran forward, gave a back-handed stroke as
he passed, and then fairly dodged under Proud's legs and passed on into
the darkness.

"Captain," he called, "Captain!"

"Here!" was the answer from the far end of the cavern, in the well-known
voice of dear old Bruce. "This way, whoever you are. I am bound hand and
foot."

On, into the darkness the Lieutenant ran, thinking nothing and caring
nothing for obstacles. The little light at the mouth of the cave was
shut out from the interior by Proud's huge body; but guided by the voice
MacWhirlie strode on through the gloom, and fairly stumbled at last upon
his Captain's prostrate form. In a moment the keen edge of Charity had
cut the silken cords with which Bruce was swathed, and the strong arms
of MacWhirlie lifted him to his feet.

"Who is it?" cried the Captain with trembling voice.

"It is I--MacWhirlie!" And throwing his arms about the captive's neck
the brave dragoon sobbed for joy.

Suddenly the darkness of the cave was broken by a flood of light that
relieved even the shadows of that end of the cavern where Bruce had
lain. MacWhirlie turned. Proud was gone! The Brownies at the mouth of
the cave were in great confusion, some sprawling upon the floor, some
scrambling to their feet, some swinging by the roof, some hanging to the
raised trap-door and some to the mouth of the cave. In the excitement of
the moment MacWhirlie let go his hold upon the Captain. The limbs of the
unfortunate chief were so benumbed by his severe handling and the
tightness of the ropes with which he was bound, that he fell upon the
floor.

"Ah, my poor Captain," exclaimed MacWhirlie, "pardon my
thoughtlessness!" Without more ado he lifted the fallen officer in his
arms, and started toward the cave's mouth. Rise, Hope and several others
were already hurrying inward to find their officers. They met MacWhirlie
midway of the cavern staggering under his burden. A shout of joy burst
from their lips at the sight. It was subdued at once, as the noble
fellows caught sight of their leader's pale face. But the note had gone
on from lip to lip, out of the branch tunnel, up the walls of the main
cavern, along the line of soldiers who hung upon the ropes, to the group
who gathered around the open door. The sentinels caught up the cry; it
flew from man to man until it reached the camp, and then, led by the
sound of trumpets and the blast of bugles, the whole wood and valley
rang with such a cheer as never before went up even from Brownie
throats:

"Hurrah! Rejoice! Our lost is found!"

The squirrels stopped upon the branches of the trees, threw their bushy
tails above their backs, pricked up their tiny ears, listened a moment,
then joined in the cry of their friends, with merry barking. The birds
stopped in their flight, or alit upon the boughs, perked their pretty
heads to this side and that, as though they were asking, "what is the
matter?" Then they, too, joined in the shout of their good friends the
Brownies, whistling, trilling, carolling until the air was alive with
songs. The trees clapped their leaf hands together; the flowers raised
their plumed hats; the bees, butterflies and wasps hummed in chorus with
the joyful cry. It seemed as though all nature had joined in with their
happy friends to celebrate the rescue of Bruce, chief of the Brownies;
and happiest heart of all was that of Agatha the good.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BD: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote BE: Appendix, Note B.]



CHAPTER XXIX.

BREAKING CAMP.


The rescued Bruce was carried by his rejoicing friends and followers to
the upper air. The fresh breeze and bright sunshine wrought like a charm
to renew his strength. The time of his captivity had been short; but he
had been so roughly handled by his giant captors, and the cords with
which he had been bound had so galled him that he was quite unable to
walk. He was therefore laid upon a leaf stretcher and carried to his
tent. A few words explained the manner of his capture. He had been
surprised by the giantess who rushed upon him from behind, knocked him
senseless by a blow of her claw, bound him, and then carried him into
her den. The monster had already slain the two sentinels, sucked their
blood, and hung the bodies upon the wall where they had been found. But
Bruce was reserved to feed the maw of Prince Proud, and was therefore
thrust into the branch cave. As, however, the worthy youth was
"moulting," and in the listless estate which has been described, the
Captain lay in bonds awaiting the revival of Proud's appetite. To this
fact both Bruce and his gallant rescuers owed their lives.

"But what became of Proud?" The Lieutenant naturally raised this
question after all the party had got out of the cave.

"Well," said Sergeant Rise, laughing, "he's down there among the bones
at the bottom of the cave, alive or dead, I don't know which. After you
had dodged by the Prince, we attacked him vigorously, but he did little
more than move back slowly, occasionally striking out in a blind way.
All at once, however, he dashed forward, and plunged out of the branch
into the bottom of the main cave. We were taken by surprise, and were
sent flying in all directions in an awkward and ludicrous manner. A
score or so of Brownies had just entered the branch from the ladders,
and they were scattered like leaves in a whirl-a-wind. Two of them were
thrown upon the Pixie's shoulders, and went down with him pick-a-back
into the cavern. Fortunately, they flung themselves off upon the rope
ladders, and so escaped. Indeed, we all got off pretty well; a few
scratches, bruises and torn clothes, but nothing serious. It was about
the funniest scrape we have been in for a long time. We were taken aback
and upset by the brute's sudden dash."

[Illustration: FIG. 125.--"Moulting." A Spider Pulling Off Its Old
Skin.]

MacWhirlie joined in the hearty laughter which the recital of the
adventure awakened. "However, my lads," said he, "it might have been
anything but a comic affair. See that the trap-door is securely lashed
and fastened down, and guarded. We will look after the young giant
hereafter."

This order given, the Lieutenant was about following his Captain to the
camp when his attention was drawn to a crowd of curious Brownies
gathered around the carcass of the Pixie queen.

"Ah, yes," said he, "I must see about getting this thing out of the
way."

[Illustration: FIG. 126.--"Moulted." A Spider Hanging Beneath Its
Cast-off Skin.]

He climbed into a bush from which he could overlook at once the crowd
and the bulky form of the giantess. The greater part of the Brownies
were gazing upon the carcass, meanwhile chatting, in their lively way,
over late events. A small group of more restless spirits were bent upon
getting the fangs or tusks of the immense creature as trophies. They had
just finished their arrangements as MacWhirlie arrived, and armed with
ropes, swords and axes were scrambling over Cteniza's legs towards her
face. The legs and arms were drawn up around the body as they had been
when death overtook her. Suddenly the arms stretched forward from the
face! The legs shot out backward! "Whew! the Pixie queen has come to
life!" some one shouted.

Such a scampering as there was! The adventurous trophy seekers threw
themselves by a series of somersaults from the moving limbs, and
Brownies, axes, swords and ropes went flying in all directions through
the air. The crowd around fell back, pushing, tumbling, clambering over
one another, a panic-stricken mass.

MacWhirlie from his lookout observed this strange behavior of a dead
Pixie with amazement and alarm. "What, isn't the giantess dead?" he
exclaimed. He expected to see her rise and charge upon the confused and
struggling crowd of Brownies. But ere he could give a second thought,
Cteniza's limbs slowly fell back into their first position. She made no
other motion.

The soldiers rapidly recovered from their panic when they found they
were not pursued; then, in right Brownie fashion, began to make merry
over their own ridiculous flight. But what were they to think of this
last movement of the Pixie? Wasn't the creature dead? MacWhirlie left
his perch and took charge of affairs. He was about organizing a fresh
attack upon the giantess, when Sergeant Goodnews rode up astride his nag
Formosa. He had already heard of the strange behavior of the "corpse,"
and was ready to explain:

"The fact is, Lieutenant, the Pixinee is not dead, but you would quite
waste your energies in any new attack upon her. She will surely die. The
sting of my Moz is mortal; but for several days, perhaps weeks, Cteniza
will be just as you see her. She cannot move from that spot. If you
disturb her she will probably stretch out her limbs; but they will fall
back again, without doing any harm, and in due time the creature will
die."[BF]

The Brownies were satisfied although the explanation seemed very
strange. But they had well learned that nature's facts are often
stranger than fiction, and so believed the good Sergeant. The giantess
was left undisturbed, and MacWhirlie hastened to camp. Captain Bruce
rapidly recovered his spirits. But his nerves had received too severe a
shock to allow him to resume active command at once. Yet he could
consult with his officers as to what should now be done, and a council
of war was held in his tent. The reluctant conclusion was that it would
be better to raise the siege of Orchard Cave, and join the fleet at the
inlet. They feared that the enemy might attack the Brownie forces while
divided, and destroy them. The order was therefore given to break camp
at once.

Amid the stir of preparation for departure, MacWhirlie had forgotten
about the dead giantess. But as the Brownie troops marched by the late
scene of conflict on their way to the inlet, he was reminded of the
incident by a cry from the vanguard:

"The body of the Pixie queen is gone!"

"Is it possible? Call Sergeant Goodnews." The Sergeant reported
immediately.

"How is this, Sergeant? It seems that you were wrong about our giant
foe. She has disappeared. The Brownies haven't carried her off; the
Pixies haven't been near; she must have made off herself. You surely did
not mean to deceive us; but explain if you can."

The Sergeant gave reins to Moz, and followed by MacWhirlie on his
Bee-pony Buzz, flew straight to the spot where Cteniza had lain. The
bulky carcass was nowhere to be seen.

"Now my good Moz," said the Sergeant, "show us what you know of this
mystery." The obedient wasp, circled around the spot, and then darted
into the bushes. She soon lit upon an overhanging twig, and folded her
wings as though quite contented with herself.

"What is the matter now?" cried MacWhirlie.

"Look for yourself," said Goodnews, pointing to the ground beneath. A
mound of fresh earth was thrown up on the margin of a wide hole out of
which came the sound of rattling clods and fluttering wings.

"What is this? It explains nothing!"

"Wait a wee. There! do you see that?"

A large Pompilus wasp flew out of the hole, which she at once began to
fill with the loose clay heaped around the edge.

"That is your sexton," said Goodnews; "this is her newly made grave, and
inside you will find the missing body. The sexton is a full cousin of my
Formosa. She has dragged your giantess here by her own unaided strength;
has dug that grave which you see, and is just ready to fill it up. Are
you satisfied? If not, look for yourself."

Down flew MacWhirlie to the edge of the grave. Away went the sexton in
alarm. The Lieutenant peeped into the hole and saw the brown body and
limbs of the Pixie queen already partly covered with pellets of clay.

"I am satisfied," he said, and the two rode away. "But tell me, what
strange fancy could have turned yon insect into an amateur grave
digger?"

"It is not a matter of fancy," replied Goodnews, "but of those strong,
wise natural promptings of motherhood which men call maternal instinct.
If you had lifted one of the Pixie's limbs you might have found an egg
of the wasp snugly stowed away against the body. In due time that egg
will become a grub with a most ferocious appetite, and that appetite
will find food in the plump body of the Pixie queen. That is why nature
has given some wasps the power to paralyze by their sting the prey which
they stow away as food for the future grub; it remains fresh and
palatable instead of decaying as it would do in actual death."[BG]

When the Lieutenant again reached the head of the column it was about
passing the trap-door cave. The Brownie guards were relieved from duty,
and Prince Proud was left to his fate. As the trap had been pretty
tightly fastened down, however, t h e Brownies had good hopes that his
fate would be such as to deliver them from any further fear on his
account.

[Illustration: FIG. 127.--"The Trap-door Tightly Fastened."]

It was a pretty sight to see the Brownie troops as they marched to the
inlet. First came the cavalry, their bright trappings and many colored
butterfly steeds making a brilliant spectacle. Next to these rode
Sergeant Goodnews with the color guard, as MacWhirlie was once more at
the head of his troopers, and Ensign Lawe was still absent. The great
flag of Brownieland was borne by a sturdy dragoon mounted on a Goliath
moth. Behind these came the litter on which Captain Bruce was carried.
A small downy leaf of silver maple had been laid upon a mattress woven
out of ropes of grass and fibres of bark. The mattress was slung upon
poles on each side, and these were laid upon the shoulders of stout
Brownies, who thus carried their beloved Captain quite comfortably.
Above the litter a sunshade, made from the blossoms of a wood violet,
was borne by mounted Brownies. Behind this ambulance, and indeed
directing it, rode the Nurses, Agatha and Grace, with the assistants and
accoutrements of the sanitary corps. The maidens were pale and worn by
the grief and excitement of the last days, and rode along sadly, almost
silently. A number of litters followed the sanitary corps, bearing sick
and wounded Brownies. Then came the infantry; and last of all, a squad
of cavalry brought up the rear, the buglers piping merry notes as they
rode along.

[Illustration: FIG. 128.--Brownie Troops on the March.]

The Brownie army did not get away without annoyance from the enemy. The
Wolf Brigade and the Vaulters hung upon the rear and flanks, annoying
the troops as much as possible. Gossamer and his balloon corps hovered
above, keenly spying the column to note where an assault might be made.
The Wheel Legion spun cobwebs across the route to entangle the wings of
the cavalry. The Lineweavers and Tubeweavers spread thick sheets upon
the grass to retard the footmen's progress. The Stygian ships followed
the line of march as nearly as might be, keeping close in shore and
watching for opportunity to work harm. The Watermen, Smugglers and
Pirates pushed out from their grassy hiding places and joined in the
pursuit. The Brownies, however, were quite used to all these methods of
assault, and knew well how to meet and avoid them. Moreover, a section
of their flying artillery, with guns mounted upon bee ponies,
accompanied the march. They hovered over the van and rear and above
either flank of the column, and pelted their adversaries with shot from
their portable davids, thus keeping them at a safe distance.

[Illustration: FIG. 129.--"Cobwebs Across the Route."]

Before sunset the inlet was reached, and the army encamped safely under
protection of the big davids mounted upon the forts built at either
cape. One of these was known as Fort School, the other Fort Home; and
the guns which guarded these were called "Precept" and "Example," for
Brownies are fond of calling all manner of objects after some favorite
fact, person or virtue among their human friends.

[Illustration: FIG. 130.--Brownie Flying Artillery and Portable David.]

It was pleasant for the soldiers and sailors once more to be together,
and there were warm greetings and happy reunions. But as they pitched
their tents and kindled their camp-fires on the beautiful and familiar
bank of their beloved stream, their hearts were sad that their foes
already had possession of Lake Katrine; were swarming along its shores;
and, ere morning sunrise, would have covered the lawn once more with
their white tents, and spread their snares beneath the very windows of
the Wille mansion. Withal, as the Brownies had learned to take such
destiny as befell them with contented or at least submissive minds, they
composed themselves for the night's rest, and soon were sound asleep.
The sentinels paced the parapets of the forts, peeped through the fog
from the lookouts on shipboard, and stood watchful and silent on the
lonely picket line beyond camp.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BF: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote BG: Appendix, Note B.]



CHAPTER XXX.

THE GRAND ALLIANCE WITH SCALY, TWIST AND SLYMOUSIE.


Next morning the Brownies' forebodings were found to be well grounded;
their enemies held possession of the lawn. Lake and lawn both in Pixie
hands! It was a sorry day in Brownieland. What could be done? Not a word
as yet had been heard from Ensign Lawe, and all were uneasy thereat, for
they knew that he would not forget his mission, nor fail of it if
success were possible, nor be likely to fall into the foe's hands. Yet
his absence showed that early aid was not to be looked for from Governor
Wille, and thus hope was cut off from that quarter.

There were plans enough formed and discussed among the uneasy spirits of
the camp, but only one had practical issue. Corporal Policy, of the
Engineer Corps, proposed a grand alliance against the Pixies. The
Corporal was not in high favor among the Brownies, although he was a
shrewd fellow, and a useful one too, when kept well in control by
Sergeant True and the other officers. But in the present gloomy outlook
of affairs many were ready to listen to any counsel that looked toward
delivering the nation from its peril and restoring the Mansion to
Brownie control. It is not strange, therefore, that the Corporal's
proposed alliance was seconded by many in the camp. A delegation, with
Policy at its head, waited on Lieutenant MacWhirlie, laid the plan
before him and urged its adoption. The plan was as follows: Policy had
once done a great favor to two land elves, Twist the Serpent, and
Slymousie the Quadruped, and also to Scaly, a water sprite. They had
promised to serve him at any time in any affair. They were not on good
terms with the Pixies at the best and, the Corporal urged, would be
prompt and eager to fulfill their promise against the common foe.

"Now," continued Policy, "I propose that we organize an expedition
against the Stygians in this wise: let Scaly fall upon their ships, sink
as many as she can with the stroke of her tail, and drag the rest by
their cables or push them with her head upon the shore. Our troops and
ships can attack them, at this disadvantage, with certainty of victory.
At the same time let Twist and Slymousie break in upon the Pixie camp,
and bite, crush and destroy. Slymousie is a cunning and active
adversary, and Twist is so much bigger than the Pixies that they cannot
stand before him. Then, there is nothing like fighting these poison
breeding creatures with their own weapons. Poison to kill poison, say
I!" quoth Corporal Policy; "shrewdness to overcome cunning! That is true
wisdom!"

Thus, and with many other arguments, Policy and his friends pressed
their alliance. MacWhirlie had little favor for the scheme, as it was
contrary to Brownie nature and custom; but, in sheer desperation, he at
last consented that Policy should take charge of a company of volunteers
and try his plan; especially as he thought it could work no harm, and
would keep some restless spirits occupied.

The volunteers were readily enlisted and pushed off hopefully to find
the haunts of Dragon Twist, Slymousie the Quadruped and Sprite Scaly.
Twist was soon found sunning himself upon a limb of a sapling that grew
above the big stone under which he had his nest. When the party spied
him the Corporal mounted upon the rock and sounded a note or two upon
his bugle. Twist slowly lifted his head above the leaves, flung a coil
of his tail around a twig, looked down and at once recognized his
friend. He hissed forth as pleasant a greeting as he knew how to give,
listened patiently to Policy's request, looked wise, nodded his head in
approval, and at once promised to do his utmost.

"I will keep faith with you, good fairy," he said, lisping out the words
between tongue and teeth. "You may depenth upon me to crush out your old
enemieth, body, bag and baggage." Whereupon he wriggled among the
leaves, and took an extra coil or two of his tail around the twig.

"Thanks!" cried Policy, "and now, when will you begin operations, and
how many of us will you want to help you?"

"Now, I will begin now!" answered Twist; "and ath to aid, I athk for
none. If a few of you would like to go with me to thee my triumph over
the Pikthieth, come along! I thall make thort work of it, and you can
come back and thing my praitheth."

The Corporal detailed a squad of his men to go with Twist, and hurried
away to engage the service of Scaly. The water sprite was not so easily
found. Somewhere in the lake close by the rocks of the cape she had her
favorite haunt. The Brownies swung upon the overhanging weeds and bushes
and peered into the water, but could see nothing of her. Policy sounded
his bugle in vain. At length a water beetle, of the family known as
Whirligigs, thrust itself out of the lake, and began capering upon the
surface.

"Hello!" cried the Corporal.

"Her-rr-reep!" said the Whirligig, skipping nearer to the shore.

"Have you seen Scaly the Sprite down below?" asked Policy, "and would
you kindly tell us where she may be found?"

"Aye, that I can, Mr. Brownie. But what could you do even if I were to
tell you? Would you go down to the bottom of the lake to speak to her?
Ha, ha!" The little water beetle, who had been joined now by a group of
companions, cut sundry gyrations upon the lake, and circled round and
round in a merry dance with his friends. Clearly he was much pleased
that he was able to do something which a fairy could not do.

"Come now, Master Whirligig," said the Corporal, "you must oblige us in
this matter. You know that Brownies are your good friends; and you know
that we can't do what you can. Go and tell Scaly that we want to see
her."

"So I will!" answered the water beetle, good naturedly.

"So we will!" chirped all his companions. Turning suddenly the whole
party plunged into the water, every one carrying down with him on the
tip of the abdomen a bubble of air to supply him with breath while under
water. They made their way straight to a stone of quartz whose
crystallized sides glittered in the light that penetrated the stream.

"Sprite Scaly, Sprite Scaly!" called the beetles in chorus, while they
held fast to the rock with their claws.

A form slowly lifted itself from the shadows under the edge of the rock
and rose higher and higher until it was quite on a level with the top
whereon Whirligig and his friends sat. It was a fish, with silver-white
scales and red eyes. She floated in the water, which she lazily beat
with her fins and tail, opening and shutting her gills, looking all the
while very sedate indeed.

"Sprite Scal_ee_! Ah! here you are!" cried the beetles as they caught
sight of the fish poised above them. "Brownie Policy sent us down to
tell you that he claims your service. He waits on the shore above. Good
bye!" Up they went without more ado, and in a moment were again circling
around upon the surface of the lake.

Scaly was not far behind them. Lazy as she looked, she could dart
through the water like an arrow, and sooner than we tell it, had reached
the bank and thrust her face close to the feet of the Corporal. Policy
repeated his plan and got as hearty assent from Scaly as from Twist.

"What shall we do to support you?" asked Policy.

"Well, there's nothing very 'special," said Scaly, spitting out half a
dozen mouthfuls of water. "The Natties had better follow up my attack in
their own way. They'll not have much to do but gather up drowned Pixies,
I reckon; or maybe capture some of their boats as the Stygies make off
from their damaged ships."

The Sprite and the Corporal agreed upon the time for the attack, and
thereupon Scaly turned, gave her tail a few self-satisfied flops, and
dived out of sight.

The third party to the proposed alliance was Slymousie the Quadruped.
"We shall find her in the field," said Corporal Policy, and sent off
several men to hunt for her. The Brownies climbed the hill back of the
Mansion and by and by found the cave, just on the edge of the orchard,
where Mrs. Slymousie had her nest. It was quite hidden away beneath the
overtopping meadow grass. A round bunch of chopped and twisted hay was
balled up within it, which made it snug and warm. The Brownies swung
themselves down by the grass blades and roots until they were well
within the cave, when the Corporal called a halt and blew his bugle.
There was much shrill squeaking down at the bottom of the nest, and a
sudden rustling amid the dry upholstery, as the youngsters scampered
away into hiding.

Once more Corporal Policy blew his bugle, and then called loudly:
"Slymousie--hello! It's no one but I--the Brownie. Hello--come out and
see the Brownie!"

At last a low, timid voice squeaked forth the question, "Who's there?"

"Corporal Policy the Brownie! Don't you know me?"

"Oh, yes! to be sure I know you now. But, dear me! you nearly frightened
me into a fit. I thought it was Grimalkin the Housecat; or that
miserable old Owl that nests in the hilltop wood. Are you
sure--it's--only you?"

"Yes, yes, Slymousie; don't be absurd! Who else could it be? I came to
claim your help against our old enemies the Pixies."

"Dear, dear! Don't mention it, I pray. What could I do against those
dreadful creatures? It quite flusters me to think of it, indeed.
Besides, I have a large family now at home; some of them very young; too
young to leave alone. Really, you must excuse me this time. Dear, dear!
My heart is going pit-apat, pit-apat at the very thought."

Policy was not to be put off so easily, and remained some time trying to
persuade his friend. But he quite failed, and was about to leave, when
who should come into the cave but Master Biggy, Mrs. Slymousie's oldest
son by the next-to-last brood. He had been out on a visit to his
sweetheart, and dropped in to see if mother hadn't a nice bit of cheese,
or bumblebee bread, or some such delicacy for him. He heard enough of
the conversation to excite his love of adventure, and at once
volunteered to take his mother's place.

"Do you think you are old enough to measure strength with the Pixies?"
asked Policy.

"Old enough?" exclaimed Biggy indignantly. "Old enough, indeed! Look at
me, now! I'm nearly as large as mother, and not half so timid as she.
Just you wait, Sir! You shall see that Biggy Slymousie is no small
affair when it comes to fighting Pixies. I'm a match for any score of
'em in strength; and as for slyness--well, you shall see!"

Biggy was certainly a stout enough specimen of a half-grown Slymousie,
and as he seemed not to be lacking in spirit, and had a keen mind for
the work, his service was gladly accepted. It was arranged that he
should attack the Pixie force in the rear, while Twist assaulted in
front; and having instructed him as to the time of assault, and arranged
some details, the Corporal retired with his squad, highly elated at his
success. Thus the grand alliance was formed. We shall now see what
became of it.

When the sun had gone down, the full moon rose. It poured a flood of
rays upon the mansion, lit up the lawn, and lay like a golden crown on
the top of Hillside. The Pixies were in high glee over their prospects.
Their ships had drawn up around the inlet as near as they dared to come;
their troops had been ferried across the lake, and were already closing
up the lines of investment around that part of the Brownie camp which
lay on the side toward the mansion. From this point the Pixie tents and
snares stretched across the lawn to the flower border by the walk. In
this direction Twist turned his course. He crossed the brook, holding
his head aloft as he wriggled his body through the water. The Brownies
followed on their moth ponies.

[Illustration: FIG. 131.--The "Bridge That Tetragnatha Had Builded."]

The Serpent stopped a moment upon the shore, then dashed at the Pixie
breastworks, which broke into fragments before his assault. Many of the
guards were knocked over by the swoop of his tail, others were crushed
under the coils of his body, others were pierced through by his sharp
fangs. The camp was in consternation. A broad swath of fallen tents,
broken fortifications and dead Pixies marked the progress of the mighty
Twist, and throngs of fugitives fled across the brook by a bridge that
Tetragnatha had builded, and which quite reached from shore to shore.

What a small affair serves to turn the tide of events, at times! A
little hop-toad, disturbed by the commotion, leaped from beneath a cool
leaf to ask "What's the matter?"

"Aha, my beauty," cried Twist, "you're my game!" and he snapped up
toadie in a twinkling. One would have thought it a painful thing for
Twist to eat his meals, for he writhed, and jerked his body as though he
were in torment. However, he appeared to grow more comfortable after a
while, and stretched himself out on the grass as though to enjoy a nap.

The Brownies were not pleased to see their friend the hop-toad dealt
with so unceremoniously. The poor fellow and his brothers had stood by
the fairies in many a stout bout with the Pixies. To be sure the toads
would eat their enemies; but as they never insisted upon sharing such
rations with their friends, the Brownies made no objections. To have
their new ally serve their old friend in this style was sad work, and
their indignation waxed warm. But when Twist stopped short in his path,
and deliberately composed himself to rest, the Brownies could not
restrain themselves.

"How is this," they cried, "do you mean to leave off a work so well
begun? Come, this is not keeping faith. Up, and renew the attack! You
will rout the whole Pixie army before sunrise if you keep on."

"Thank--ee--kind--le," drawled Twist, winking first with one eye and
then with the other. "I nev' c'n work af'r thupper. Muth take time t'
digest. Sh'nt do 'nything till '--r--morer. 'M go'n thleep right here.
Goo' night, Thir Brownithz, 'll finish job'n mornin'." His head dropped
down upon the grass; he was sound asleep.

"Humph," said Corporal Spur, who had charge of the squad, "that ends
this campaign. If the Pixies don't serve that gourmand with a rather
peppery sauce for his supper, I'm out in my reckoning. Attention, squad!
wheel--fly!" He wheeled his own pony, and led his little command back to
their quarters. As they flew above the Pixie lines they saw the camp
alive with excited troops swarming from every quarter toward the spot
where Twist lay.

A squad of reckless youngsters who had jointly mounted the back of a
huge Polyphemus moth, could not resist the temptation to let fly a few
arrows at the crowd of excited Pixies beneath them. One of the squad,
our old friend Highjinks, nearly lost his life, however, for in his
eagerness he tumbled off the pony's back. Fortunately, Hosson seized one
hand and drew him back safely. But it was a narrow escape, and even
Highjinks was for a time quite sedate as he thought what his fate would
have been had he dropped into the midst of that angry host of foes. In
the excitement, Polyphemus came quite near the ground, and barely
escaped being lassoed by one of the Vaulting Legion.

Meanwhile, a circle of Pixies had hemmed in the sleeping serpent; but no
one dared to interfere with him until Spite came. Then they began to
clamor for orders:

"What shall we do, Captain?"

"Do?" said Spite, fairly hissing the answer through his teeth. "Do? Why,
we'll hang the villain!"

"Aha! Captain Spite talks very large, indeed," whispered the soldiers
one to another. "Who ever heard of Pixies hanging a serpent?"

At any rate Spite intended to try it now. Already he had climbed upon a
bush that overhung the sleeping monster, had fastened a cord to a twig
and dropped down upon his head. Twist moved. Spite retreated upon his
cord, and in a trice was half way up toward the twig.

"Come back, Captain, you'll lose your life," shouted the crowd.

"Tut! trust me for that! Why, don't you see? The brute is dead stupid
from his meal, and perfectly harmless."

Down he ran again. This time Twist did not move. Spite fastened a line
upon his head, dropped down by the side of his face, and burrowing into
the grass, cleared a path directly under the jaws. Through this he
carried his line, then up again along the opposite side of the face, and
knotted it. He had thus passed a cord entirely around the serpent's
face.

"Now, my braves," said he, "I have shown what I want you to do, and how
to do it. Here, a score of you wind up these jaws until they are
completely gagged. Another squad may take a knot in his tail, tie it,
lash it to a strong rope, and swing it up to that branch. I'll show you
what more to do. Work sharp, now, and touch the brute as gently as
possible. We shall surprise him, when he wakes up, with a new suit of
clothes. He, he!"

The Pixinees and Pixies went to work with a hearty good will, and soon
had finished their task.

"Now mount that branch and pull on the rope." The tail was raised a
little, and then the work paused. Nothing more could be done in that
way. "We must rig up a pulley, then," said Spite. "Bring me a dead fly,
quick!"

The carcass of a green fly was readily found. It was swung down from the
branch, and wrapped round and round until it became a hard silken ball.
The rope which had been tied to the tail was now carried over this
pulley, or windlass as it might be more properly called. The ball was
slowly revolved by the united strength of a number of Pixies; the rope
gradually wound around it as it grew taut, and the body of Twist began
to move. Thereat the crowd broke into hearty applause, clapping their
fangs and claws together until the camp rang. The noise appeared to
disturb Twist, or perhaps the effects of his meal were beginning to pass
away. He raised his head feebly, shook it from side to side, discovered
that his jaws were bound tightly together, and began to wriggle his body
violently, whereat the circle of Pixies fell back.

[Illustration: FIG. 132.--Twist, the Serpent, Hung in the Pixie Snare.]

"Pull lively, lads!" cried Spite, who was prudently perched upon the top
of the branch. "Lively! a few more turns and we shall have him all
right. There, that will do bravely. Now he may squirm as much as he
pleases." Twist was indeed bound and hung up beyond hope of recovery,
although he was making desperate efforts to escape.[BH]

"Straighten out that cord, my lads, as much as possible," called Spite.
"Run up supporting lines to the limb here. Fasten down the coils on the
ball so that the rope won't give. Then, hurrah! We'll have a taste of
dragon blood before we go to bed." Spite ran down upon Twist's body as
he spoke, and fastening himself upon the neck, struck with his fangs
again and again. He then comfortably settled himself for a meal. In the
meantime a number of the working squad had followed their Captain's
example. Poor Twist! he was being literally devoured alive. Like many
other wise persons, he had fallen a victim to ill-governed appetite.
Thus ended his proud boasts and the campaign most prosperously begun. A
Brownie scout, attracted by the great commotion in the Pixie camp, stole
through the lines and discovering the cause, returned with the news
which was soon known by all the Brownies at the inlet. But Spite was not
long permitted to enjoy his well-earned supper. A runner bustled through
the crowd and shouted for the Captain.

"Here I am," answered Spite, quitting his hold upon Twist's neck and
dropping to the ground. "What's the matter now?"

"Matter enough, Sir! The rear of our camp has been attacked by young
Slymousie, and everything there is in panic and confusion."

"The prowling sneak! The Brownies have put him up to it, I warrant.
Rally the men! We must try to drive him back."

Thereupon Spite started at full speed to the rear. He found affairs
quite as bad as they had been reported. Biggy had cautiously approached
the camp and, crawling low in the grass, slipped by the picket line
undiscovered. Then with a rush and bound he leaped upon a group of Pixie
sentinels who stood at the guard tent talking over the late incident
with Dragon Twist. Unfortunately his caution, which is a good trait,
was pushed to an undue degree, which is bad practice in a soldier. The
fact is, that in spite of his boastings, Biggy's heart failed him a
little when he came to face the danger, and thus his approach was so
timid and slow that instead of striking the Pixie camp, as had been
agreed, at the moment of Twist's assault, he did not attack it until
Twist was fairly over his onset. This proved to be a fatal blunder.

However, when he once began work, he pushed it vigorously enough. He
dispersed the sentinels hither and thither, broke down their tent and
burst into the midst of the encampment. He struck, pushed and bit to the
right and left, and soon had laid a broad swath of destruction along his
path. In the midst of this high success he came upon the scattered
contents of a bumble-bee's nest, which the Pixies had been pillaging. It
was a most unlucky circumstance, for all the Slymousie tribe are fond of
bee-bread and honey, and Biggy was hungry. He stopped, smelled the bee
combs, turned over a few cells with his nose and then began to nibble.

"Just one little taste," he said, "and then I'll go on with my duty."
Ah, Biggy Slymousie, take care! Your enemies are all around you. This is
the time for duty, not for delicacies. Touch not, taste not, handle not!
The temptation may prove too strong for you!

But Biggy silenced the voice of his better judgment, and nibbled away.
Now, Slymousies are always dainty and deliberate in their way of eating,
which, as a rule, is quite proper and nice. But when one is in the midst
of a hard and perilous battle, daintiness cannot safely be indulged.
Spite the Spy arrived on the scene just as Biggy had fairly settled down
to enjoy a hearty meal. With a curse of thorough contempt hurled at the
silly glutton, the Pixie chief began his preparations for revenge. He
sent for engineers Tegenaria and Agalena of the Tubeweaver legion, and
ordered out Theridion and his pioneers. The Pixies set to work with a
will, and ere Biggy had finished his meal had completely surrounded him
with a thick, strong and high wall of web work. While Biggy nibbled,
nibbled, the Pixies spun and wove around him their fatal snares. Poor
Biggy!

[Illustration: FIG. 133.--"One of Tegenaria's Thick Snares."]

At last all was ready. The Theridion pioneers were sent aloft among the
overhanging grasses, the Tubeweavers went to their holes, and those in
front of Slymousie provided themselves with silken blankets. Then Spite
ordered a company of vaulters, runners and side-goers to the bushes
behind Biggy. They moved to their places noiselessly, and awaited the
order to assault. It came at last.

[Illustration: FIG. 134.--"Wrapped up as Tightly as a Captive
Grasshopper Swathed by a Big Garden Spider."]

"Charge!" shouted Spite. Stridulans at the same moment struck the long
roll on his drum, and the Pixies rushed in upon Biggy. The poor fellow
was so frightened that he made a great leap forward. The Pixies who had
fallen upon him were scattered in all directions, but, alas for
Slymousie, he alighted within one of Tegenaria's thick snares.[BI]
Immediately the Tubeweavers closed upon him with their blankets, as
Spanish bull fighters assail a wild bull. They blindfolded his eyes,
covered his nostrils, and veiled his face, until they were wrapped up as
tightly as a captive grasshopper swathed by a big garden spider.
Theridion and his Lineweavers followed this attack, and flung their
swathing bands around Biggy's limbs. The poor fellow, in spite of his
struggles, was soon wrapped up like a mummy, and at last lay still and
submitted to his doom. Spite rigged block and tackle and windlass, such
as had been used to hoist Twist; then he fastened ropes to Biggy's tail,
and bade the Pixies pull away. Soon the unfortunate young Slymousie was
raised aloft and hung by his tail with his nose upon the ground.[BJ] His
foes surrounded him, pinched him, laughed, jeered, shot at him, until
death came to relieve him of his tormentors. Thus the second of Corporal
Policy's grand allies came to grief.

[Illustration: FIG. 135.--Slymousie Hung up by the Tail.]

But the Pixies were not left to enjoy their triumph long. A runner ran
into the circle and hurried to the chief's side. "What's in the wind
now?" asked Spite.

"Well, Sir," said the runner, who was quite blowed and caught at his
breath between the words, "there's the--mischief--to pay--down at--the
lake. The navy is all in--commotion. The Natties have got the help of
Scaly the Fish, and have broken loose upon our Stygies with a vengeance.
Scaly has already stove in two of our ships and a half dozen boats. She
is like to sink the whole navy if we can't stop her somehow. The Admiral
has sent for you."

Spite was as near being overcome by this news as was possible for him,
but he soon recovered. "Here, Pixies!" he shouted, "down to the beach,
every one of you. This game will keep till you come back,--if you ever
do get back!" he added in an undertone a remark that showed pretty
clearly that he thought there was serious work before them.

Matters did indeed have an ugly look when Spite reached the shore. The
wrecks of two ships and several boats were floating in the water, with
Stygians clinging to them. Boats were pushing out from the remaining
ships bent on leaving them and seeking safety on land. Two other vessels
were standing out to sea with all sails set, and the flagship Styx,
followed closely by the Goodtime, was slowly making for the shore. Spite
took in the situation at a glance.

"But what do the Natties mean?" he asked. "They seem quite as much taken
by surprise as our fellows. Saving a brace of boats yonder, there is not
a Brownie ship under sail. Ah! there they go, now! See those lights on
the Emma? That's the signal to make sail. And there goes the signal 'to
quarters.' Oho! we'll have our hands full now. But I don't see through
it. Surely, Scaly the Fish isn't operating on her own hook!"

The reader will understand Spite's perplexity. Most of the Brownies were
indeed taken by surprise. MacWhirlie had not even told Bruce and Rodney
of Corporal Policy's plot. He had looked upon it simply as one of the
madcap undertakings which his troopers were always ready for, and in
which he liked to please them when he could do so. But that it would
have any serious results never entered his mind. With the exception,
therefore, of the volunteers engaged in the expedition, few were ready
for action. But when the vigorous and successful raid of Scaly was seen
by the clear light of the moon, the Brownies were all astir on lake and
shore. The big davids were double manned. The ships made sail and
prepared for action.

[Illustration: FIG. 136.--Wolf Strangle Leaps Upon Scaly's Back.]

At this point Scaly turned her attention on the Pixie ships Styx and
Goodtime. Mindful of the wishes of her friend Policy, she resolved to
carry these vessels into the inlet as a present to the Brownies and as
trophies of her prowess. She therefore darted between the shore and the
ships, stopped the vessels' motion by running athwart their bows, then
placing her head first against one, and next the other, pushed them by
alternate shoves toward the mouth of the inlet, out of which the Natties
were slowly sailing.

Scaly was in high good humor, and made the lake behind her boil under
the frisky strokes of her tail as she urged the Stygian barks forward.
The Pixies were in despair. The Brownies from the shore of the lake and
the decks of their ships sent up ringing cheers.

Then came a sudden turn in affairs. The master of the Goodtime, Wolf
Strangle, was not a person to give up his ship without a struggle. He
was a strong, active Pixie, a vigorous swimmer, fierce and brave. He
made a desperate resolution: He would grapple with Scaly the Fish
single-handed! He laid aside his sword, threw off his uniform coat and
hat, and mounted the railing at the stern of the ship. The sailors
gathered around him and waited silently to see what was his purpose.
They would never have guessed the truth but they knew their captain and
were looking for something gallant and startling in which they expected
to take part. This is what they saw:

Scaly had just given the Styx a vigorous shove, and turned to do the
same service to the Goodtime. She scarcely noticed the dark form of
Strangle poised upon the railing, but thrust her nose under the stern of
the ship, played her fins and tail, and sent the vessel merrily ahead.
At this moment Strangle leaped fairly upon her back, seized her with his
claws on the forward side of the dorsal fin, and sunk his fangs again
and again into the fish's flesh.

Scaly wheeled to one side, leaped out of the water, and dived deep into
the lake. Her whole frame was quivering with the pain and shock of the
sudden assault. The Stygians on the two ships crowded the rails and
ladders, and gazed eagerly toward the spot where they had seen the two
sink out of sight. They had great confidence in Commander Strangle, but
they feared that, famous waterman as he was, he would be worsted in
this combat.

"He will be drowned!" cried one.

"He dives like a duck," said another, "and will come up all right."

"No; it was madness to grapple with a fish many times his size, and in
her own element," said a third.

Now the voice of Admiral Quench was heard ordering first all hands to
quarters, and then to tack ship. The Stygies ran to their posts, the
topmen flew aloft, and in a few moments both ships were turned about,
and under full sail from the inlet. Quench had taken advantage of the
diversion to put all the distance possible between himself and the
Natties.

[Illustration: FIG. 137.--How a Spider Captured a Fish.]

Before this movement was finished Scaly had emerged from the water. The
black form of Strangle still clung to her back! The poor fish made the
most frantic efforts to shake off her enemy, who held on as with a death
grip. Scaly plunged under the Styx and tried to scrape off the Pixie
against the keel. Strangle swung his body over upon the fish's side but
never relaxed his merciless grasp. Frantic with pain and terror, Scaly
swam round and round in circles, plunged into the water again and again,
and finally, nearly worn out, dragged herself toward the shore, and ran
her head under the grass. Strangle held on to her body with his fangs,
laid hold with his claws upon the grass stalks above him, and drawing
himself up with his utmost power, had well nigh succeeded in landing his
huge prey ere Spite and his friends reached the spot.[BK] In a few
moments more the unfortunate Scaly was drawn up upon the green bank,
where she was at once assailed by a brood of voracious Pixies in the
same manner as her unhappy ally Twist the Serpent. Strangle quietly
shook the water from his hair, and perched upon a cliff, together with
Spite and other officers, to watch the turn of events. The fate of Scaly
had made a great change in the condition of the two fleets.

The Stygians had been much scattered, but were beginning to rally. Their
boats put back to the abandoned ships, carrying with them many of the
sailors who had been picked up from the wrecks. The loss of the Stygians
was two ships, several boats and a few drowned sailors. But the victory
over Scaly, and the moral effect upon the navy, was counted a fair
offset to this loss, and on the whole the Pixies were mightily satisfied
with the night's work.

On the other hand, the Natties had at once taken in sail, and cast
anchor. Some damage had been wrought upon their enemies by the
expedition of Twist, Slymousie and Scaly; but the defeat and capture of
these mammoth adversaries, under circumstances that showed to such
advantage the Pixies' skill and power, well nigh demoralized the
Brownies. Thrice that night had their enemies wrested victory from the
jaws of defeat, and had triumphantly annihilated the Grand Alliance of
Corporal Policy. While the Pixies were highly elated, the Brownies were
dispirited, cowed, well nigh in despair. But, courage, good fairies! The
Hebrews had a proverb--"When the tale of bricks is doubled, then comes
Moses!"

"The darkest hour is just before the dawn."


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BH: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote BI: Appendix, Note B.]

[Footnote BJ: Appendix, Note C.]

[Footnote BK: Appendix, Note D.]



CHAPTER XXXI.

HOME AGAIN.


Sightwell, the lookout on the Emma, had observed, during the late
stirring events, a suspicious-looking craft hovering on the outer line
of the Stygian fleet. It was a yacht, apparently one of the privateers
or smugglers that infested the lake. When first sighted it was hugging
the shore, the side opposite the Pixie camp, as though planning a raid
upon the Brownies encamped on that side of the inlet. When the Stygies
had been scattered by Scaly's first onset, this yacht pushed boldly out
from shore, and headed directly for the inlet, as though she would come
to the rescue of her friends. In the excitement of the closing incidents
in Scaly's career, Sightwell had quite forgotten the stranger; but as
the Emma came to anchor, he sighted her once more. She was bearing down
upon the inlet under full sail.

"Sail ho!" cried the lookout.

"Where away?" called Ask the mate.

"Dead ahead, and bearing straight down upon us."

"What do you make her out?"

"A yacht,--a smuggler, I judge. And--yes, there are two boats pulling
along close under her sides!"

"That looks suspicious," said Ask. "Call the Commodore."

Just as Rodney arrived on deck Sightwell called from the fore topmast
cross-trees: "Our boats are about to make an attack,--I mean the boats
that first went out with Scaly and afterward turned back shoreward.
They pull up cautiously to the strangers. The two boats from the yacht
dash away to meet them. They are about to grapple. Hah! No! what can
that mean? The men in the boats rise and swing their hats. The yachtsmen
are hanging in the rigging swinging kerchiefs, scarfs, bonnets and
swords; I can see the flutter of one and the flash of the other in the
moonlight. Hark! they are cheering each other!"

It was so, indeed. Over the shimmering surface of the lake rolled a
volume of sound such as never before went up from so small a company in
all the history of Brownieland.

By this time every soul on shipboard who could get aloft, or find place
at the railings, was gazing across the water and wondering at this
strange occurrence. No one could solve the mystery. Meanwhile the
lookout continued his report: "The whole scene is now fully in view. One
of the Brownie boats is pulling for the shore with might and main; the
other has left the yacht and is making straight for the Emma. The oars
flash in the moonlight, and are played so rapidly that the wake of the
boat is an almost unbroken line of gleaming gold. The Kind, Commander
Takeheed, lies directly in the boat's course, and as the crew pass under
the ship's bows they pause a moment,--only a moment--and then on again
as though making a final spurt at a rowing race.

"But what is this? The whole ship's crew has surely gone mad! Cheer on
cheer, wild, loud, uttering the very madness of joy, goes up from the
Kind's crew, till the welkin rings. See! the flag is being dipped. The
sailors are running over the rigging carrying with them lanterns which
they hang upon every available spot. The vessel is a blaze of light!
They are manning the yards! And still the cheers rise up and roll over
the lake with unabated energy. Ah! they have caught the contagion on
the shore, which the first boat has already reached. A line of lights
follows from the landing to the headquarters tent, springing up at once
behind the running boatmen, until every tent, bush and tree-top is
gleaming with lanterns and torches. The fort is all ablaze. And such
cheers! The camp is wild with joy over some great event."

"What can it be?"

"Governor Wille has come!" cried an enthusiastic Natty.

Maybe! But we shall know in a moment. Rodney and his brave tars are well
nigh beside themselves with excitement and wonder as the boat on which
every eye is now centred, dashes alongside. A brawny sailor is at the
bow, necktie thrown off, shirt wide open, hatless, and nearly breathless
with excitement. Hist! the deck is silent as death, and every ear stoops
for the message.

"The lost Nurses are found! Faith--Sophia--they're on yonder yacht!
Pipe, True, Blythe--they're all there--all safe!"

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

Never were such echoes wakened from the green bosom of Hillside and the
blue face of Lake Katrine, as those which answered back the ringing
shout. The tidings flew from ship to ship; land and lake were soon
gleaming with countless lights, and the very leaves above them shook
with the sound of cheers and singing till the gathering dew dropped down
from their quivering sides.

And Rodney? We draw a veil upon his emotion as the tidings came to him.
Equally, we drop the curtain upon the scene which followed, when the
Fringe--for it was Raft's yacht, the same that bore the Nurses away into
captivity,--drew up to the side of the Emma, and Rodney sprung upon her
deck and clasped his darling Faith in his arms. Presently the yacht
landed its precious cargo at the foot of Cape Home, where all the return
party were publicly welcomed. Then the Nurses were led away to their own
tent and the embrace of their dear companions Agatha and Grace.

Faith and Sophia safe in the midst of the Brownie camp once more! Surely
the dayspring has come at last!

All this time Spite the Spy stood upon the cliff surrounded by his
staff, all of them champing, fretting, cursing, wondering, guessing,
well nigh distracted in their perplexity over these strange doings. The
whole thing was so mysterious, the burst of joy on the part of the
Brownies so sudden and extreme, that awe fell upon the Pixie host. Vague
presentiments of coming evil hung upon many hearts. The troops lay down
solitary and silent to sleep.[BL]

Spite sat upon the cliff alone, looking at the moonlight upon the water,
gazing across the mouth of the inlet into the illuminated camp of the
Brownies, venting his hatred and disappointment in oaths, and weaving in
his busy brain some plot by which to find out ere he retired the cause
of his enemies' joy. He had already sent out scouts to prowl along the
outer entrenchments of Fort Home, which divided the Brownie tents on the
south side of the stream from his own. As he sat there, awaiting their
return, he queried again and again, "What can it be?" Ah, Spite, you
shall find out ere long, and it will be the last tidings that your ears
shall ever hear!

We go back now to take up the story of the party upon Ellen's Isle, and
trace it to this happy ending. We left the little camp settled into
happy sleep after the rescue of Faith and Sophia from Arachne Hall. The
morning broke calm and bright, early driving away the mists that hung
over the island. The first thought of all turned upon escape. It seemed
beyond endurance to be shut up on that little spot, so near their
friends, with such glorious news in their keeping. Faith in particular
found it hard to restrain her feelings. She was indeed free, and her
lover was by her side; but how could she wait for the hour when the load
of grief should be rolled from her father's heart?

But stubborn facts shut the party in. One boat, which had nearly swamped
under the load that it had carried to the island, was all that they
could command. And now there were three others, Pipe and the two Nurses,
to be cared for. The sailors asked to be left to shift for themselves,
while the officers, and as many as could be stowed away safely, should
make the best of their way to land. No! that would be selfish and
couldn't be thought of. Besides, there was the risk! The Stygies were
closely guarding the inlet; and the Pixie camp at Big Cave lay between
them and the army. All over the lake and along shore the pirate crafts,
smugglers and yachts were plying. These facts made departure in an open
boat too great a risk, especially with such precious passengers to look
after. By themselves, no adventure would have been too daring for the
humor of the wrecked Brownies, but with Faith and Sophia in their
company they felt doubly engaged to caution. Then there was that
mysterious boat's crew from the Doubt. The least imprudence might reveal
to them the presence of the Brownie party, and call down upon the little
band the whole Stygian fleet. It was a perplexing position, and they
must be wise and patient and make the best of it.

"First of all," said Pipe, who now took command, "we must try to rig up
another boat. Now, my hearties, out with your hatchets and ropes and get
to work!"

The sailors could turn their hands to every sort of handicraft, and some
of them were quite skillful mechanics. Fortunately, Square, the ship's
carpenter of one of the sunken vessels, was among the number picked up
by Coxswain Help, and to him the boat building was entrusted. First the
frame was made ready. A hickory twig was laid upon the ground, and bent
at both ends. This formed the keel. Both ends of two similar twigs were
fastened to each end of the keel piece, and bent outward to form the
gunwale. These pieces were held in position by braces until the ribs
were set, which were shorter twigs bent around the frame and fastened to
the keel piece beneath, and to the gunwale on either side.

"Very good," said Square, when this work was done, "now for the
covering. We must find a birch tree for that, and strip the bark from
some of the branches."

The Natties soon came back from the woods bringing enough white birch
bark to cover a man-of-war. The framework was entirely covered with
this, the pieces being lapped far over one another, so as to make the
joints as water-tight as possible.

"Now," said Chips, as the sailors call the carpenter, "if we had a
little oakum to caulk these seams we should be all right."

"We can fix that for you," answered one of the sailors. "Here is a grass
whose fibres, if well scraped, will give us quite a good substitute for
tow. As for tar, we can get on very well with the gum on yonder pine
tree."

"A good thought," said Square, "and I will leave you to carry it out,
while I get ready the thwarts and bottom boards."

The thwarts were simply undressed twigs laid close together after the
fashion of a rustic seat, and fastened against the ribs, and the bottom
board was built in the same way. The whole affair had a rustic
appearance, when it was finished, but it promised to be serviceable, and
that was the main matter. When the woodwork was done the boat was turned
keel up, and the caulking began. The fibres of grass were torn and drawn
into fine threads, and these made passable oakum, which was thrust into
the seams between the layers of bark until they were thoroughly stopped.
Now rollers were put under the keel, ropes were fastened to the stern,
and by pushing and pulling the boat was safely launched upon the lake.
It floated well, and was water-tight. The building of the boat took the
whole of that day and part of the following, and all hands were vastly
pleased at the results. They now had the means to escape from the island
whenever the way opened.

After dinner, whilst Square wrought upon the boat, and Pipe and Blythe
guarded the camp, True and Clearview, at the head of a small party,
sallied forth to explore. They set out for the head of the island, that
is, the end toward the inlet, marching as stealthily as an Indian war
party. They were chiefly concerned to find out what the boat's crew from
the Stygian ship Doubt had to do upon Ellen's Isle, and whether there
seemed any prospect that they would pass over to the opposite end, and
thus imperil the Brownies. They had well nigh skirted the entire south
shore before they observed any signs of the Pixies.

"What is that?" cried Sailor Filip, pointing to a small conical mound
just beyond the path, built of dry grass stalks and small twigs.
Thereupon he ran up to it and exclaimed: "It is a tom-tit's nest, built
flat upon the ground!"

"Who ever heard the like?" shouted a companion; and thereat the Brownies
began to guy the discoverer, and ran into the thicket to get a closer
view.

"Well, well!" they exclaimed as they got quite near, "it truly is a
bird's nest of some sort. But what a weenie one! And what bird could
have built it?"

"Come, let us explore it!" said a little Brownie who by a well-known
rule of contrariness was called Jumbo. So saying, he began clambering up
the sides.

"Good for Jumbo!" his comrades cried, and followed close at his heels.
It was easy climbing, and the Brownies having quickly reached the top
were amazed to find no bottom to the nest! They looked down into a deep
crater that pierced the ground below the surface, and led into depths
hidden in darkness.

"I'm bound to solve this mystery!" said Jumbo. "Who'll go with me into
the hole?" He swung over the edge, and his comrades were about
following, when they were stopped by a sharp cry from Jumbo: "Look out
there!"

"Look in, you mean," said Filip. And they all looked into the burrow.
They saw a row of gleaming eyes that sparkled like jewels as they slowly
moved upward into the light. Then came into view a claw; then another,
and another, and next the brown head of a great Pixie!

"Whew!" cried Jumbo. "Somersault all, and out of this, instanter!" He
swung himself back over the outer edge of the nest and rattled down the
rugged side in such haste that he tumbled in a little heap upon the
grass, and was presently buried under the sprawling limbs of his
comrades. When the Brownies got to their feet they saw a huge ground
Pixie of the clan Lycosa, glaring at them over the edge of the nest, and
plainly getting ready to spring down upon them.

"Cut and run, lads!" shouted Jumbo, and away the squad scurried out of
the thicket, leaving Lycosa perched upon the crest of her nest-like
tower. When they told their story to Captain Clearview, he bade two of
the Natties remain in the path, and keep watch upon the nest-building
Pixie lest she might sally forth and attack the party on flank or rear.
Then he bade the squad move on. They had gone but a short march when the
Captain called a halt.

[Illustration: FIG. 138.--The Tower or Surface Nest of a Lycosid
Spider.[BM]]

"See," he said, pointing toward the lake, "yonder is the boat! It is
tied to the shore, without any attempt at concealment. Plainly, the crew
has no suspicion of our presence here. Their camp can't be far away."
The scouting party was halted, and Clearview and True stole through the
young willows that fringed the shore.

"Hist! there they are!" whispered True, who had caught the sound of
voices. "Do you see them?"

"No, but they are just beyond this fallen sapling. Here, we can climb
upon the trunk and overlook the bivouac safely."

In a small open space, near the point where the boat lay, the camp had
been pitched. A large tent with a tubular entrance had been built over
the hole made by the uplifted root of an overthrown oak. Another tent
was pitched above this on a platform made of earth which had adhered to
the projecting roots; and a third was woven over the top of a clump of
weeds, its tubular entrance or hall running straight down to the ground.
A bridge of silken ropes stretched from the camp to the tops of the
willows that skirted the shore, and from the tents to the edge of the
water. It was a snug and pretty retreat.[BN]

True and Clearview climbed into the branches of the fallen tree, crept
along the trunk, and found themselves near enough to overlook the entire
camp and overhear the conversation which had first attracted their
attention. They were themselves hidden among the leaves. A sentinel
stood in the circular doorway of the tent which occupied the hole below
the roots. Just beyond, two Pixie officers walked to and fro, talking
loudly and earnestly.

"Do you know them?" whispered True.

"Yes; that fellow in black is Halfway the son of Hide; he is one of the
principal Stygian chiefs. The one in the brown uniform with broad
whitish band is Agalena Ringster; he is one of the Tubeweaving Pixies, a
tricky fellow and captain of the marines."

"Softly," said True, as the Pixies, having reached the limit of their
promenade, turned and walked toward the tent. "We shall find out now
what they talk about."

"You are sure you understand your father aright?" asked Ringster.

"Quite; he said that the cave was at the head of Aranea Isle--head, I
think it was; it's the only point about which I feel uncertain. I am
positive of all the rest."

"But," said Ringster, "there is no such cave, for we have explored every
inch of ground thoroughly. Pity the old man was cut off so suddenly! But
we must act on your uncertainty, and try the foot of the island. There's
nothing else for it; you can't go to Spite about this matter; that would
spoil all."

"There's the trouble. We have wasted too much time already. Our absence
will be noticed. We can't do much to-day, and--but will to-morrow be
clear?"

"Aye. Look at my marines yonder. Do you see them putting up a new tent?"
Ringster pointed to the tall grass near the willows, over which a fresh
silken canvas was being rapidly spread. "They never do that in
threatening weather. You can rely upon it more certainly than our fine
Governor does upon his Old Probabilities."[BO]

"But if we fail to discover anything on the foot of the island?" asked
Halfway. "Can we take the time to go over the--"

Here the voices of the officers grew indistinct, as they had turned upon
their course and gone to the far end of the enclosure. They were soon
within ear-shot again, but the thread of conversation had been lost.

"But where is he?" asked Ringster. "If our search fails we must fall
back upon him. He was your father's friend, and will serve you
faithfully. Where does he keep his yacht?"

"I don't know. But--I declare! I had quite forgotten it! He was to meet
father here to-day!"

"Good!" exclaimed Ringster; "that is the best news yet. It was stupid
enough in you not to remember it before. That makes matters plain. We
may wait here until he comes, and save ourselves all trouble. But where
will he land?"

"I don't know that," responded Halfway. "If I am right as to the
location of the cave, he would touch here, of course. If not--" Here the
Pixies entered one of their tents and the conversation was wholly lost.

"We have heard enough," whispered True. "Let us away!" Noiselessly as
they had approached, the Brownie spies stole back again to their
friends, and reported their discoveries.

"What do you make of it all?" asked Help.

True answered: "That scamp Halfway is after the cave in which Faith and
Sophia were concealed. Don't you remember that they told us of Hide's
plans? The old rogue had been laying some scheme to circumvent Spite,
and was cut off before he had finished it, or fully revealed it to his
hopeful son."

"And the last part of the conversation--?"

"Refers to Raft, beyond a doubt," answered Clearview. "Now the question
is, what shall we do? These Pixies will be down upon our camp to-morrow
at the furthest. We must get out of the island, at least out of our
present quarters, very soon, unless, indeed, we agree to stand and fight
it out."

"Well," said Help, "I have thought of a plan that will save us from our
greatest danger. I was sorely tempted to put it into execution, while
you were away. Look there," pointing to the Pixie boat. "If that were
out of the problem we could solve it a good deal more readily. What I
fear most is that these Doubtmen, at the first alarm, may pull off to
the fleet, and bring such a force against us as will overwhelm us. If
they were here alone with us we might have a fair standup fight, or a
struggle of plot and counterplot, and come off well enough. Can't we get
that boat adrift? It is not guarded; we can steal along the shore,
loosen the cable and let her drift off on the current. I will volunteer
for the service."

The party greeted this plan with approbation, and it was immediately
carried out. Help and two of the sailors crept along the shore, under
the drooping boughs of the willows, and reached the boat safely.
Silently and quickly they slipped the cable by which she was moored to
the bank, and placing their spears against the bow, gave a vigorous
push. The current was strong at this point, sweeping from the inlet
along the head of the island toward the foot, and so out into the lake.
In a few moments the boat had drifted out of sight beyond the willows,
and was on its way to the outlet.

It had immediately floated away beyond recovery, before Halfway, who had
mounted the bridge to look out for Raft, saw that the boat was gone, and
raised the alarm. He stormed, swore, questioned, threatened. In the
meantime Ringster had quietly ascended one of the tallest bushes, and
was carefully surveying the lake.

"I see her!" he cried, pointing toward the outlet. "Yonder she drifts,
far beyond the foot of the island, and out of reach. The current is so
strong here that she has pulled up the stake or slipped her painter, and
the current has carried her away. It's bad business for us, but storming
won't mend matters. We must make the best of it and quietly wait for
Raft. If he fails us, we must set signals for some of our own ships." So
saying he got down from his perch and entered his tent, an example which
the rest were not slow to follow.

The Brownies set their faces homeward well satisfied with the results
of the scout, and anxious to reach camp before sunset. But their
adventures were not ended. As the party stealthily threaded the shore in
Indian file, Clearview, who was in the lead, suddenly halted and threw
up a hand in token of silence.

"Hist--softly! See there!"

He pointed to a gaily uniformed water Pixie stretched upon the ground a
little beyond them, sound asleep. The Brownie sailors lifted their
spears, and were about to hurl them at the prostrate form.

"Hold!" said True in an undertone, "we must capture this fellow. He may
be Raft himself. It is his uniform, at least; and if it be he, no
Brownie hand must harm him save in lawful battle. Let us move softly,
and at the signal surround and capture him." It was done as ordered, and
the sleeping waterman awoke to find himself in the hands of his enemies.

"Are you Raft Dolomede?" asked True.

"Well, what then, Sir?" answered the Pixie defiantly.

"Then your life shall be spared for a kindness done in an hour of great
need to those whom we love."

The captive cast a keen, inquiring glance into True's face; then
answered coolly, "Humph! that's a temptation to sail under false colors
that most of my kin would thank'ee for. But I don't take kindly to
lying, and don't ask for life at Brownie hands. Do your worst--and as
soon as you please. My name's not Raft."

Again the Brownie spears were poised, and again True interfered to save
the captive. "Beat those bushes along the shore," he cried; "we shall
carry our prisoner to camp." Presently the sailors returned and reported
that they had found a yacht at anchor under the willows just beyond.

"Any name on her?"

"Aye; 'The Fringe' is worked in white silk upon one of the sails."

True turned to his captive and asked, "Are you the captain of that
yacht?"

"No, Sir," was the stout answer, "the Captain's looking for some
messmates down yonder at the foot of the island."

True started. "Haste! Mark the spot where the yacht lies. Bring on the
prisoner--away, away!"

The Brownie camp was soon reached. Square and his squad left their
boat-building to stare at the new arrival, and overwhelmed their friends
with wondering questions. Faith and Sophia left their tent to learn the
cause of the commotion. The crowd of sailors around the scouts and their
prisoner fell back, bringing the Pixie into full view. Sophia uttered a
cry and ran forward.

"Do not harm him, True," she exclaimed, "this is Raft! Save him; he is
the only one who showed us kindness in our captivity."

Raft, for it was indeed he, cast down his eyes and said nothing. True
looked in amazement upon him, and asked half angrily: "What reason, even
according to Pixie policy, could you have had for telling us such lies?"

Raft was silent. In sooth, he could hardly have answered the question.
Perhaps he had felt, more keenly than he cared to show, Sophia's refusal
to marry him; perhaps he was moved by ideas of fidelity to his own
party; perhaps he was simply stubborn and defiant; perhaps he was really
ashamed, after the manner of some human beings, to confess and talk
about anything so far out of his common life as a good deed. At all
events, he refused to speak to any one, even to the Nurses. He was
securely bound and carefully guarded throughout the night.

Next morning Pipe called a council, and announced a plan of escape. "We
have, or shall have soon," said he, "two boats and Raft's yacht. We
could get off quite well in the boats; but the risks of meeting some of
the Pixie craft would be considerable. We can avoid that by taking out
the Fringe with us, and pulling our boats close alongside of her. The
Stygies will not suspect anything wrong with a craft they know so well.
We can get quite near the fleet without challenge, and trust to luck to
run the gauntlet of the ships afterwards."

The plan was accepted at once and it was agreed to attempt the escape
that evening, when the moon would give enough light to sail by, but not
too much to allow close observation. There were two difficulties in the
way, Raft and the Doubtmen. The first was happily disposed of. Pipe
approached the prisoner in his hearty sailor fashion. He saw at a glance
that the smuggler was in a better humor than on the evening before.

"Mornin', shipmate," said Pipe. "We're going to leave these quarters
this evening, and take a little cruise toward the inlet. We have need of
your craft for a convoy and want to make matters as easy for you as
possible. We give you your choice; stay here tied to that tree until
your friends at the head of the island can find and release you, or go
with us on the Fringe. If you choose the first, you must lose your
yacht; if the second, we promise you that when we are safe alongside a
Nattie ship, or in the Brownie camp, you shall sail off unmolested. What
say you?"

Raft twisted himself into a more comfortable position, pulled upon the
cords that bound him, and answered, "Well, Bow'sn, I might as well say
thank'ee at once. I choose number two. It's not a pretty thing for a
free rover like me to be lashed up here like a sailor on a man-o'-war
seized up for a flogging. An' d'ye think I'd trust those fellows on the
Point to cut these cables and set me free? If it suited their own
interests they might; otherwise Raft might go to Pluto for all them. As
to giving up the Fringe"--here a tear started into the smuggler's eye,
"not if I can help it, Bow'sn! Why, I love that pretty thing more'n my
life. She's as dear to me as your daughter is to you. Aye, aye, Sir!
I'll save the Fringe, bless her pretty timbers! So heave ahead, as soon
as you're a mind to. One cruise with a Brownie skipper won't hurt, I
reckon. 'Specially as a fellow can't help it."

That matter being arranged, the boat-building was hurried up, and as the
skiff was nearly finished, it was launched as already described. Camp
was then broken, and the whole party embarked in the boats and pulled
around the island, keeping close under the shadow of the overhanging
willows, to the point where the Fringe lay. Faith and Sophia were placed
aboard the yacht, and Raft, still bound, was kept under guard in one of
the boats.

"Now, my hearties," said Pipe, as the Brownies landed, "we may as well
get ready for some rough work. This is my plan. We are to go into
ambush, just beyond there. I am satisfied that the Pixies will take this
path to the foot of the island. The other side is well nigh a jungle,
while here is an open way. You are to wait under cover until Halfway and
his party appear. Then at the signal you are to open on them with
spears, and rush upon them with swords, making all the noise you can. I
count, pretty confidently, that they will be thrown into confusion, and
will make straight back to their camp and fortify themselves. If they do
so, we are all right and can sail away at our leisure. If they show
fight, we must stand up to them like men and do our best."

The ambush was soon arranged. A scout who had been sent forward to the
Point, was seen swinging along under the bushes, stooping as he ran, and
moving noiselessly. He reported that the Pixies were about leaving camp,
and, as had been conjectured, by the path on that side. The word was
passed along, and all sank into silence as Halfway and his command
strode on carelessly talking and laughing. When they reached the fatal
spot, the Boatswain's whistle rose shrill and loud from the bushes above
the path. It was the signal of attack.

"Faith, Sophia and Rescue!"

The Brownies shouted this battle cry, which Pipe had given them, as
though the voice and strength of ten were in every throat. At the same
instant a volley of spears rained down upon the astounded Stygians, and,
ere they could recover from their surprise, the Natties were upon them
with swift sabre strokes.

Pipe had reckoned truly. The surprise was so complete, the attack so
vigorous, the names of the Nurses, whom the Pixies were seeking, had
such a startling effect as they were shouted and echoed on every side,
and the Pixies were so utterly unprepared for defence, that they turned
at once, and fled in disorder to their camp, where they began throwing
up entrenchments. Three of their number were left dead upon the ground,
one of whom was their leader, Halfway, who fell pierced through and
through by spears which True and Clearview had hurled at him with sure
aim.

"Now, my lads," said Pipe, putting up his sword, "we may as well take
matters comfortably until sundown. Then, up anchor, and away home!"

A ringing cheer was the response. Sentinels were stationed, a scout sent
out to watch the Pixie camp, and the party quietly rested until evening.
When the moon arose above the lake, the anchor of the Fringe was raised,
the boats were manned, and the little fleet swung loose from the island.
Both wind and current were against them at first, and little progress
was made. But Raft, who had been released on parole and was aboard his
beloved Fringe, aided heartily in navigating the yacht, while the boats
kept close under her sides. Gradually the party approached the inlet,
and arrived unchallenged within the lines of the Stygian fleet just as
Scaly began her attack. That event somewhat unsettled the plans of our
little squadron, but Pipe soon found that it might work to their
advantage. He crowded on all sail, and made straight for the Emma, with
what results the reader already knows.

The Brownies dealt with Raft as they had promised, and when the island
party had safely landed on the Emma, the smuggler was allowed to sail
away with the Fringe, untouched. He made directly for Ellen's Isle, took
aboard the Pixies there, secured the body of Halfway, and after
delivering the living and dead aboard the Doubt, ran his yacht under the
cliff whereon we last saw Spite the Spy seated, waiting, in solitude,
tidings from his scouts.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote BL: Appendix, Note A.]

[Footnote BM: Appendix, Note B.]

[Footnote BN: Appendix, Note C.]

[Footnote BO: Appendix, Note D.]



CHAPTER XXXII.

ENSIGN LAWE'S MISSION.


Shortly after the renowned adventure with the Stygian Ram, Ensign Lawe
had been sent upon a mission to Governor Wille. He had been told to
spare no effort to arouse the Governor from his indifference to Brownie
perils and sufferings, and bring him to their help. "Take all the time
you need," added Bruce, "and don't let us see your face until you can
bring from Wille a fixed decision, Yea or Nay."

These were hard instructions; but the Ensign was used to facing
difficulties, and overcoming them, too. He therefore rode away, with a
few trusty troopers, determined to succeed if success were possible.
Arrived at the Mansion he found preparations afoot for a grand company
in honor of the distinguished Major-General Fleisch. Many people had
been invited, and when evening came the house and grounds were thronged.
There were Parson Prettyman and his wife, Senator Wirepull, the
Honorable Mr. Splurge, M.C., Mr. Shearall the rich banker, Mr.
Shortweight the wealthy merchant, Lawyers Grip and Gab, Drs. Sugarcoat
and Skindeep, Squire Muddle, Mayor Sponge, and Messrs. Taxem and Robb of
the City Council. There were, to be sure, some most worthy people
besides, but the above seemed to be favorites with Governor Wille, and
to them and the great General Fleisch he showed particular attentions.
There was no end of merrymaking. A band played beautiful music from a
rustic stand in front of the hall door. Chinese lanterns hung upon trees
and shrubbery, and these, with the light of the full moon, made the
grounds look like a scene in fairyland.

Amidst all this splendor and gaiety the Pixies kept on spreading their
tents upon the lawn. Every now and then, indeed, some of the company
would overturn a tent and send its occupants fleeing into their holes
among the roots. But that is a matter which Pixies count upon, and
therefore they only grumbled and got to work again. Indeed they were
quite proud of the whole affair.

"Ho! Brother Cito," said Captain Saltus of the Skirmishers. "Isn't this
a grand celebration of our victory?"

"That is it!" answered Cito; "a regular jubilee. Good luck to Governor
Ville, and confusion to all Brownies!"

"Humph!" growled Heady, "they're a pack of human fools! And you're
little better for thinking that they care for our victories."

"Let those laugh who win," thought Ensign Lawe, who was hidden in the
rose bush just above the group, and overheard these remarks. "However,
there will be little chance to forward my mission to-night. The Governor
has given himself up wholly to pleasuring that big general, and will
have a heavy ear for Brownie complaints and petitions."

He sat on the bush and swung himself to and fro, and listened to the
strains of music, the hum of conversation, the clatter of plates and
goblets, until the small hours of the night had come. Then he saw Wille
and Dido go off wearily to their bed-chamber, and wondered, "Shall I
disturb them? No! I will wait until they are refreshed by sleep, and
will appeal to them in the brightness of the new morning."

As the day began to break Ensign Lawe awoke. He peeped from beneath the
leafy canopy under which he had slept sound and dry. Over the lawn the
white tents of the Pixies were spread far and wide. Squads and companies
of busy workers were rapidly pushing on the encampment to the border of
the South Walk, and to the Promenade under the west window.

[Illustration: FIG. 139.--The Web of Dictyna the Lacemaker.]

"I can't stand this!" cried the Ensign. "Ho! Brownies, awake! Hi!
ponies, up! Shake the dew off your wings!" He leaped upon his own nag,
and followed by his dragoons, flew across to the Virginia creeper that
ran over the west wall and twined above the windows of the chamber where
Wille and Dido slept.

[Illustration: FIG. 140.--Madam Lacemaker Tries to Capture Ensign Lawe.]

It was the Ensign's hap to alight upon a leaf whereon a small and rather
dainty but vigorous Pixinee, named Madam Dictyna the Lacemaker, had
built a snug pavilion. Spite had set her as an especial sentinel upon
my lady Dido; and when Lawe and his dragoons made such a rude entrance
upon her domain she was sorely vexed. Shaking her lace frills and
skirts, she ran out from her tent and threatened the Brownies with high
bluster and rage.

But Lawe would not permit her to be attacked just then; he had other
work to do, to which the Lacemaker's presence only spurred him forward.
The party left their ponies outside, and crept through the slats of the
closed blind into the room. They mounted the bed-post, climbed atop of
the carved headboard, and began drumming with their feet and spears upon
the solid walnut.

"Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat! Tat, tat, tat!"

Neither of the sleepers stirred.

"Louder, lads, louder!" shouted the Ensign. "Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat! Tat,
tat!"

Still the weary couple slept.

"Stop!" called Lawe. "No use! Late hours--late supper--champagne! We
must wait and try something better. Away!"

As they descended the bed and scampered back to the window they were
greeted by a loud, prolonged nasal serenade from the unconscious pair.

"Puff! pu-ff-ff!--oo,--haw!" breathed Dido quite gently, indeed, after a
fashion which goes with some folk by the name of "boiling mush."

"Oo--oogh--ha--aw--_hogh!_" was the answering snore from the Governor's
nose, with a tremendous force upon the "hogh!" In fact, it came out with
such a sharp explosion, that Wille's head flew forward, and he awoke.

"Wife," said he sleepily--"I say, wife!" and here he gave Dido a little
tap under the chin. "Don't snore so loud, please! Why, I--I--really you
made a terrible racket. I thought at first that some one was pounding
the bedstead!"

Dido was quite awake now, and answered indignantly, "Snore indeed! You'd
better talk! Pounding the bedstead! It's too bad!" And thereupon the
little lady turned over sharply toward the wall, and composed herself to
sleep.

However, the Governor had lost the benefit of Dido's speech; for ere she
had finished he was sound asleep, and snoring almost as vigorously as
before. Meanwhile the Brownies had returned to their rose-bush retreat
ignorant of the amusing scene for which their little feet were
responsible.

"To-morrow," said Lawe, "we must succeed. If we can once get the
Governor to see, in the early morning, while the dew lies upon their
tent-tops and reveals them what a vast camp of our enemies holds our old
and rightful quarters, I am sure that he will clear out the usurpers at
once!"

"Aye; but how shall we bring that about?" said Corporal Trust.

"We must have help. Come, lads, mount and away!" answered Lawe.

He led his troopers straight toward the orchard. Over the tree-tops they
flew; on, up, until at last he halted the party on one of the spreading
limbs of Lone Aspen. There the Ensign dismounted and approaching the
Lone Aspen the first object upon which his eyes fell was a round,
horizontal snare of Uloborus, spread within the hollow of the trunk,
where the great gateway opened at the foot. His anger was highly
inflamed at the sight, and he forgot his mission in the eager purpose to
rout this foe lurking at the doorway of his friend, Madam Breeze. He
ran hastily forward and smote the web with his sword until it fell to
the ground. Uloborus, who was stretched beneath it on a ribbon-like
hammock, tumbled down with the ruins of his orb; and thereat Ensign Lawe
fell upon him with his sword. But the Pixie, thinking discretion the
better part of valor, dodged the strokes, and shaking himself loose from
the fragments of his late beautiful net, ran away at top of his speed,
and plunged into the thick grass around the roots of the tree. Lawe did
not think well to follow; and his wrath being somewhat vented, turned
again to the errand on which he had come. He climbed the grass-rope
ladder stretched along the trunk, and having reached the upper window at
the great knot-hole, blew a shrill blast upon his bugle. The echoes
rolled up and down the hollow trunk.

"Oo--oo--oo!"

The round mellow voice of Madam Breeze answered the call, and a moment
thereafter the merry Elf bobbed her rubicund face out of the window.

"Hah! who is there? Brownies again, I warrant--Wheeze! More forts to
smash? Ho, ho, ho! Why, my sides are aching yet with that last bout. Ho,
ho!--Hoogh!" It seemed more likely that the good lady's sides were
aching with her hearty laughter.

[Illustration: FIG. 141.--"A Round, Horizontal Snare of Uloborus, Spread
Within the Hollow of the Trunk."]

"Didn't we batter them, though?" she ran on. "Down went tents! Down went
barricades! Down went fort--Hoogh!" Here Madam gave one of her little
coughs. "Well, no, not exactly that, neither. That was too much for us.
But no matter! The vile old den got its deserts anyhow. Ho, ho! Phaugh!
And how's Spite the Spy? Has his breath improved any? Wheeze--Dear me! I
doubt if he ever scrubs his teeth. Think of a pure, sweet Breeze-body
like myself having to wrestle with such as he! Don't ask me to! No, no!
It's too funny, ho, ho!--Wheeze--hoogh! You see my asthma's no
better--Wheeze!"

All this time the Elf had been seated on a broad leaf swinging like a
pendulum, and gazing into the clouds. She suddenly stopped and looked
into the Ensign's face.

"Dear me!" she cried, "I--I--and so it's not Bruce this time? The
rogue--the scamp--the--ah!--Wheeze! How could he dare to deceive me
so?--Hoogh!"

For one minute Madam Breeze sat still, actually for a whole minute! The
fact is, she was just a trifle afraid of Ensign Lawe, the only one of
all the Brownies, by the way, who ever dashed her high spirits a
particle. During that moment the good Elf looked as sober as she could
then threw her heels up and her head down, and swung away furiously for
a few seconds.

"Oho! It's you, is it? Well, things must be serious when Lawe comes
a-gossiping to Madam Breeze. Well, well! Cheer up, cheer up, Mr.
Sobersides!

    "Shall we, inclined to sadness,
     Strike melancholy's string?
    Oh, no! we'll tune to gladness
     And merrily, merrily sing
                             Tra, la!"

The Elf trilled these words to a sprightly strain, and wound up with a
laugh, a wheeze and a cough. By this time her touch of seriousness had
vanished, and she was swinging as lustily as ever.

"There now, Mr. Lawe. You see I'm composed and ready for business. Go on
with your story. Bad news?--of course! Yes, yes--hoogh! I know something
about it--bad! There,--stand still a minute, can't you?--and go on!"

Lawe had stood silent and motionless, all this while, waiting for Madam
Breeze to settle herself. But as he saw that this was not likely to
happen, he began the story of Brownie disasters, and after many
interruptions reached the matter he had in hand.

"Yes, yes! I see it all," said the Elf. "Not another word--it is all
right. Here, Whirlit, Keener! Put my ponies Vesper and Vacuum into the
chariot--quick!"

The word had scarcely been spoken ere the two pages returned leading a
House Martin and a Meadow Lark, who were harnessed to a maple leaf
mounted upon wheels of thistledown. The stem of the leaf served as the
tongue of the chariot, and the palm of the leaf was bent over at the
apex and bent up at the base, so as to make a very pretty fairy coach
indeed.

The lark's name was Vesper, the martin's Vacuum, and Madam Breeze had
taken the liberty of nicknaming them "Vesp" and "Vac."

"Come; in with you!" cried the good Elf, and suddenly contracting
herself into the very smallest compass, as she was wont at times to do,
she bounced into the chariot. The Ensign followed. Whirlit and Keener
mounted the bird ponies, and waited for the word of command.

"To the cove. Go!" shouted Madam Breeze; and away the party went over
orchard and meadow, over town, bridge and river. They stopped at the
summit of a hill that stands at the mouth of the cove, whose brow has
been worn by frosts, heats and storms of centuries, until it stands up a
bald cliff. The naked rock below has a rough likeness to a human face,
and the fringe of bushes underneath gives the idea of a vast beard. The
top of the cliff is covered with trees that look in the far distance
like tufts of frizzly hair upon the Giantstone's poll. From the midst of
these rose (when these records were made) two pine trees. Their tall
trunks were quite bare, their bushy branches interlocked closely, and
thus was left a goodly sized opening, through which at that time of the
year the sun was first seen of mornings coming down into the valley. The
fairies called this the Gate of the Sun, and it was to visit four sister
Elves who kept this gate that Madam Breeze had now come. The gate stood
wide open, for the sunshine was already gone through to the town and
hills beyond. In a snug little cave in the limestone front of the hill,
a sort of "mouth" to the Giantstone's face, the four Elves lived.

Lawe followed as briskly as possible, swung himself from bough to bough
of the overhanging shrubbery, landed upon a narrow ledge, and found his
way to the mouth of the Cave of the Clouds. Madam Breeze, now expanded
in bodily form to goodly size, had already entered and was bustling
around the place calling for the sisters.

"Hi! Cirrus! Ho, Stratus! Here, here--where are you?--Wheeze!"

The dead dry leaves whirled around and around as the merry Elf called,
and the echoes answered her voice.

"Ho--e--oh! Cumulus! Nimbus! Can't you hear?"

The bustling Elf had no cause to be impatient, for she had scarcely
spoken ere four forms slowly rose in the shadows of the inner cave, and
began to move deliberately toward the light. The first advanced with
airy footstep, shaking about her face a cloud of long curling locks,
almost white. She was dressed in a white robe, covered with trellis-work
patterns, inwrought with thin silvery streaks. This was Elf Cirrus.

The second sister was a plump, sober-looking Elf, whose hair was
gathered in woolly puffs upon her round head, and was a curious mixture
of white and black. Her robe was covered with figures of cones,
hemispheres and white-topped mountains, which figures were touched here
and there with many bright colors. This was Cumulus.

Elf Stratus wore a grayish robe flounced with bands of divers colors,
many of them edged with bright silver and golden fringe like the rays of
the setting sun. Her dark hair was worn smooth, and was crossed by a
band of purple ribbons that girdled the crown.

Nimbus, the last of the four sisters, was a gloomy-looking dame, with a
kind look in her eyes nevertheless, and a great purse in her hand,
through the meshes of which yellow pieces of gold were seen. She was
dressed in black, had a gray cloak with fringed edges thrown over her
shoulders, and a dainty lace cap upon her head.

"Oho! here you are, then!" cried Madam Breeze as the Elves came forward.
They all bowed as she spoke, and stood quite still when she ceased.
Indeed, the sisters seemed to be curiously affected by Madam Breeze's
voice; for all the while that she was speaking they gently swayed their
bodies, and moved back and forth through the cave.

"Come now," said Madam Breeze, "you must be quite good-natured, you
know. I have a very, very important duty for you. I want to serve my
good friends the Brownies--wheeze! Here, Ensign, let me present you.
These are the Cloud Elves." Lawe bowed gravely, and the sisters each
made that graceful and dignified courtesy which our grandmothers were
taught to be the proper thing on such occasions.

"This is what I want," continued Madam Breeze; "to-morrow
morning--wheeze!--do you hear me? To-morrow morning I want to have quite
clear. Keep the Gate of the Sun wide open--hoogh! Wide, I say; for we
have some good work for my Lord Sol to do over there at Hillside.
Stratus, do you hear, lass?--wheeze! I'm most afraid of you. You're such
a regular night owl, and affect the manners of--hoogh!--of those silly
humans who wake all night and go to bed at sunrise. But, mark what I
say--wheeze!--you must stay at home this night. Not a flounce, not a
frill, not a--hoogh!--not a--wheeze!--nothing--(confusion seize this
cough!)--of all your fine toggery must be spread between the sun and the
gate to-morrow morn. Do you all understand?"

Madam Breeze puffed, and bounded about in a nervous way, mightily
stirred up by the necessity for making such a long speech. The sisters
bowed several times, and at last Nimbus, who seemed to speak for the
others, answered in a deep voice that rolled through the cave and
sounded like low distant thunder: "We will keep the gate open, good
Mistress Breeze. You know we are always ready to oblige you. Your
pleasure shall be our law."

"Good--good! Many thanks. Don't forget. If you do--bless your
hearts!--I'll blow up Brother Tempest and have him tear your fine robes
into tatters. Good-bye. Come, Ensign, let us away--wheeze!" Once more
squeezing herself into scant space, she got into the chariot.

"Where next?" asked Lawe, when the top of the cliff had been regained.

"Where, where? Jump in--quick! Whirlit, Keener, you rogues, where are
you? Oh, you're at your post, are you?--wheeze! All right. Go!--hoogh!"

"Go? Whither?" cried Whirlit, leaping upon Vesper's back and gathering
up the reins.

"To be sure! I had forgotten; all owing to that vile asthma! To the
falls in the cove. Away!"

A beautiful stream runs through the cove. As it approaches the river, it
hugs the base of the southern hill, enters a short ravine, midway of
which it tumbles over a rock ten or twelve feet high, making a pretty
waterfall. The sides of the ravine around the cascade and pool are
covered with ferns. Thrifty young hemlocks stretch their tops upward and
interlock their green branches above.

"What a charming spot! what a cool retreat!" cried Lawe, as the chariot
dashed through an opening in the foliage, through which the sunlight
stole and rested in a golden plate upon the bosom of the pool.

The face of the pool was rippled and dimpled as Madam's chariot stopped
upon a flat stone at the edge of the cascade. The waterfall, too, raised
a louder splash and broke its broad sheet into many ribbons and tongues
of water in welcome of the good Elf. Vesper and Vacuum dipped their
beaks thereinto and having kissed the pool's face, threw up their heads
and drank to the health of Cove Fall and its people.

"Wait a moment," said Madam Breeze. She leaped from the chariot and ran
under the fall. Presently she returned bringing with her the Fairy Dew,
whom she had come to see. Lawe had never seen a more beautiful and
dainty sprite. Her face and head were covered with a long white veil
which, as well as her gauze robe, glistened with mimic pearls and
diamonds. When she shook her head or moved her body these jewels were
thrown off in little showers that shone a moment in the sunbeams, and
then melted away into the earth or water. But there seemed to be none
the less of them for all that. A curious instrument that somewhat
resembled Scottish bagpipes, hung from her shoulders, and rested under
the left arm. Every moment or two Fairy Dew pressed this instrument
between her arm and side, whereupon, from a number of little tubes there
would issue a cloud of spray, that settled upon the grass and leaves in
minute round jewels like those which covered the Fairy's dress.

[Illustration: FIG. 142.--Fairy Dew at the Mouth of the Cave.]

Madam Breeze presented the Ensign to the Fairy, and then in her own
jerky way told the story of the Brownies' troubles. Whereat Dew was
sorry and excited, and shook so many pearl drops around her that Lawe
had to step beyond the circle of the shower to save himself from being
drenched. That was the Fairy's way of shedding tears, it would seem.

"What I want you to do," continued the Elf, "is to be up bright and
early to-morrow, and cover the lawn at Hillside with these pretty gems
of yours. The Pixies--faugh!--have their tents spread out like the camp
of Joshua in the plains of Moab. Sprinkle 'em well--wheeze! Make every
single thread a string of dew-drops. We'll attend to the rest. What say
you, my dear?--hoogh!"

"Will the Cloud Elves be at home?" asked the Fairy.

"Aye,--I've seen to that. The way'll be clear. What say you?--wheeze!"

"Oh, I must consult my husband first, you know. I can do nothing without
Dewpoint. I'll run and ask him."

"Aha! you're as sweet as ever on that--wheeze!--hubby of yours.
Quite--hoogh!--right! Go and consult with Dewpoint."

"May I go in with the Fairy?" asked Lawe, who was curious to see her
home.

"Oh, to be sure," said Dew, "and welcome. Come in, both of you!"

"Not I, thank you," said the Madam. "Shouldn't wonder if I had taken my
death of cold already--hoogh! In with you, Ensign, and hasten back."

The water in leaping over the edge of the precipice left a space of a
foot or more between the falling sheet and the face of the rock. By this
path Lawe passed under the fall. He noted that the light shone through
the tumbling stream as through a frosted window, and made every object
within visible. Above him was a roof and beside him a wall of rushing
water, whose loud, steady roar, as it fell into the pool, quite drowned
the sound of his voice. In a moment he was drenched with spray. The
stones over which he stepped were wet and slippery, and compelled
careful walking. Presently Dew stopped before an opening in the rock,
and beckoned Lawe to follow her.

He entered an irregular cave which stretched backward into the cliff as
far as the eye could reach. It was dark at first, but as soon as his
eyes became used to the change, Lawe could see the objects around the
opening, and faintly those further in. Upon the roof were hanging
stalactites white as sea foam, some tapering to points and dropping like
icicles, some just touching or blending with like formations called
stalagmites, which rose from various spots upon the floor like marble
pillars. These beautiful white formations were also spread over the
walls of the cave wherever the water had trickled down, and some of them
looked like serpents, or roots of trees carved in marble.

Far back toward the end of the cave Lawe saw in the dim light an
old-looking Elf, who seemed to be in an uncomfortable state of mind and
body. He was clad as scantily as propriety would allow, indeed was naked
from the waist up. A long white beard fell upon his bare breast. He sat
upon a rude Gothic chair, not unlike the big pulpit seat which the
minister sits in on Sundays, which had been formed, by some freak of the
cave Sprites, from the interweaving and massing of stalactites and
stalagmites. He held in his hand a huge fan made from the feathers of a
snow bird, with which he fanned himself so vigorously that his long
beard was blown about over his chest, and his white hair was kept
streaming behind him. Considering how chilly was the cave, Lawe thought
this strange behavior.

"Who is that?" he asked. "He looks like Saint Nicholas in his summer
retreat. Is that your husband?"

"Oh, bless you, no,--no indeed!" laughed Fairy Dew. "That is my half
brother Frost. He gets little comfort in this country until winter
begins to come on. He hardly ever goes out of the cave the whole summer,
and keeps back there, as you see, in the coolest spot. No wonder that he
plays some sorry pranks when he is released in the autumn from his long
confinement."

"But he has been out in the summer, hasn't he?"

"Yes, yes," said the Elf quickly, "he did escape the guards once or
twice and--dear me! I don't like to think of it! It was too bad the way
he carried on. The face of the earth looked as if it had been boiled in
a caldron during the night. Farmers and gardeners were well nigh ruined.
They called brother the 'Black Frost,' after that trick. Though, dear
me! I don't see why, for he's white enough I'm sure. But mortals are odd
and contrary folk sometimes!"

Just then Dewpoint came out of a pavilion or chamber which was contrived
by using stalagmites as pillars and stalactites as supports. As he
stepped forth he threw back the curtain door, and exposed the interior
of a snug room, lit up with fox-fire lanterns which were fixed in
gnarled stalactite brackets. Lawe was about to take a closer view of
this pretty room and its master, when he heard the voice of Madam Breeze
calling at the mouth of the cave:

"Ho! Hello, there! Are you frozen up? Have you taken summer lodgings?
Here I've been waiting for--for--hoogh!--"

"For three minutes!" answered Lawe a little impatiently, for he was
curious and disappointed. Then he bethought him of his duties, and spoke
up cheerfully, "I am coming! You are quite right, it is no time to
loiter. Thanks for your kind prompting, friend Breeze. Farewell, good
Fairy Dew, and you, Sir Dewpoint, too." He hastened out of the cave and
followed the Elf to the chariot, which bowled rapidly away from the
ravine.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

HOW THE MISSION ENDED.


"Whither now?" asked Lawe.

"Home," said Madam Breeze. "We've nothing more to do but wait for the
morning. If all go well, and all shall go well, never fear! we will see
old Spite--faugh!--and all his Pixie crew--wheeze!--scattered to the
four winds before morning. Be up bright and early. You shall find me on
hand at daybreak, and by sunrise Brownieland may proclaim a
Jubilee--hoogh!"

When the chariot reached Lone Aspen, Lawe called his troopers, and with
many warm thanks bade the Elf good-bye, and hurried back to his former
bivouac at the tip-top of the large Rose Bush. The ponies were tethered
under the leaves out of Pixie sight, and the troopers stretched
themselves upon the branches to sleep, or sat in the forks of the limbs
and talked over old campaigns until nightfall. Always, however,
sentinels kept watch against surprise. The day passed without alarm, and
when night came on the Brownies composed themselves to sleep. Lawe, full
of anxiety, was sleepless. He had firm faith that Madam Breeze would
bring deliverance, but as she had not told her plans, he could only
guess what they were from such hints as had been dropped while arranging
matters with her friends. Still, there was so much doubt in his mind
that he could scarcely compose himself to wait until the morrow. He
descended the bush, dodging on the way the round beautiful snares of
the Wheel Legion swung among the daisies, and the criss-cross and
knotted nets of the Lineweavers.

[Illustration: FIG. 143.--"The Round Beautiful Snares of the Wheel
Legion Swung Among the Daisies."]

On the ground beneath him a party of Pixie officers were gossiping over
current events. There was Saltus of the Vaulting Legion, a large-eyed,
intelligent fellow, dressed in a black uniform, with gold and scarlet
facings, and a bright metallic green helmet and sword sheath. He was
famous for his long leaps, being able to make at a single jump the
distance of several hundred millimeters. There also were Lieutenant
Heady, and Cito of the Wolf battalion, and Dysdera of the Tubeweavers,
who lived in a sac-like tent from which the Brownies had nicknamed him
"Pixie Silk-poke." They were all in high feather, and were making merry
yarns and jokes over the late disasters which had befallen their
enemies. Lieutenant Heady was in the midst of a boastful prediction of
the utter ruin of all Brownieland when a runner arrived with news of the
strange excitement among the Brownies, and the illumination of the camp
and ships, as related in a former chapter.

[Illustration: FIG. 144.--"The Criss-Cross and Knotted Net of the
Lineweavers."]

"What can it mean?" asked Saltus.

"No one knows," replied the runner.

"P'raps they've got up a big feed and pow-wow for some pompous general,"
growled Heady.

"Aha!" said Ensign Lawe; and having doubled the guard, he sped away
through the moonlight. When he came back with the glorious news of the
rescue of the Nurses, his squad of troopers could not restrain their
joy, and broke out with a round of cheers.

"Whew!" cried Cito, "Brownies here, as I live! After them, lads!" and he
ran up the Rose Bush full speed.

"Heigh-ho!" cried Saltus, leaping upon the leaves, "mount for them,
Vaulters! Jump, jump quickly!"

[Illustration: FIG. 145.--"Dysdera of the Tubeweavers."]

"Confusion seize 'em," growled Heady between his teeth, "I'll put a
stopper on your throats, my pretty chickidees!" Thereupon he swung
himself to a twig and followed his comrades. But Lawe had taken the
alarm, and betook himself and troopers to the Virginia creeper above the
parlor window, where they were out of harm's way.

Now the night passed merrily along. From the depth of despair the Ensign
and his men were suddenly lifted to the height of joy. The news seemed
too good to be true; moreover, it was like a prophetic assurance of
further good fortune on the morrow. Lawe's spirits rose to the highest
pitch; and when at last he fell asleep it was to dream of victory, love
and Grace.

"Oho, oho! Did I surprise you, Mr. Ensign?" was the greeting which came
to him as he awoke. It was daybreak. There sat Madam Breeze on the
Virginia creeper above him, smiling good-humoredly, and shaking the vine
gently. He hurried to her side, bade her good morning, and told her the
news of Faith and Sophia's rescue. Madam shook with joyful excitement
until the vine clattered against the wall.

"Hist!" she cried, "that will never do! Silence--do you hear?
Softly--hu-sh! We must keep cool a while longer--wheeze!" She choked off
her cough as she spoke, and sat still, at least as still as she could
sit.

Lawe looked out upon the lawn. There was Fairy Dew giving the finishing
touch to her night's work. As she flew with quick wings above the grass,
her arms played rapidly upon the sacs beneath them, and from the many
tubes attached thereto the spray flew in all directions.

"Humph!" said the Ensign as he watched with curious interest this fairy
spraying machine. "What a busy little body Fairy Dew must be! See what
an immense work she has wrought during the night!"

"Aye, aye! That is what we want. Look how the dew brings out to view
yonder Pixie tents on the lawn and in the bushes. Ha, ha! Good,
indeed!--wheeze!" The Elf clapped her hands merrily at the sight. But
Lawe could hardly enter into the pleasure of the view, for as he saw
almost every square foot of his beloved homestead grounds covered with
the tents of his foes, showing white and clear under their load of
dew-drops, his heart beat tumultuously with grief, shame and anger. He
therefore shrugged his shoulders and said nothing.

"Never mind," cried Madam Breeze, "we shall see presently. Aha! lookee
yonder! There comes the sun! All is well! Hoogh!--hurrah!"

The first rays of the rising sun were beginning to peep between the Two
Pines, touch the tip of the Giantstone's poll and shoot out across the
river.

"Bless the kind Cloud Elves," exclaimed Madam, "they have served us
truly, and left the Gate of the Sun open wide. Welcome, welcome, good
Sol! Here, this way now, Fairy Sunbeam, follow me."

[Illustration: FIG. 146.--Dew-Sprinkled Tents upon the Lawn.]

The Elf tossed herself off the vine and bustled away to the front window
that looks toward the northeast, facing the great bend in the Ohio
River. She shook the window shutter until the slats rattled and fell
open.

"In with you now!" she cried to the Sunbeam. "Right in! Off the floor
now, please. Up the white bed-spread. There--that is it; that's it!
Just the spot, full and fair in the Governor's face! Now--wheeze!--rest
there a moment, will you? I'll finish up these shutters--hoogh,
wheeze--_puff!_"

She laid hold of the green slats and shook them again and again. Harder,
Madam, harder, if you would get them open! Once more the Elf threw
herself against the barrier, until the window shook.

"Here, Whisk, Keener!" she called. "Come to my help. And you, Lawe,
creep in here and pry up that catch with your spear. All together,
now!--Whoo-ooo-_whooff!_"

One of the shutters flew back with a loud bang, and as good hap would
have it, the hasp or catch on the end thereof struck the leaf on which
Lacemaker the Pixinee was nested and broke it loose from the vine. It
floated off upon the wind and Madam Lacemaker was sorely tossed about
upon her aerial voyage. Seeing this, a Fairy Sunbeam seized the stem of
the leaf and darted off westward with it. Thereat Elf Keener plunged
away after careering leaf and flying Sunbeam, and with stout puffs of
his breath drove the leaf before him, Madam Lacemaker all the while
tumbling back and forth, holding on to the lines of her dainty web, and
ever and anon from her kneeling or half-prone posture shaking her fists,
and sputtering forth her helpless wrath.

Now through the open space the sun sent in a broad sheet of golden light
that fell full upon Wille's face. The Governor awoke, rubbed his eyes,
grumbled at the wind, grumbled at somebody's carelessness, got out of
bed and crossed the room to close the shutter. Madam Breeze threw around
him the freshest and sweetest breath of the morning as he approached. He
leaned out of the window to draw the truant shutter to its place. He
was wide awake now. The soft sunbeams fell upon him. He drew a full
breath, and sent it forth again with an "ah--aa-ah!" of hearty relish.

"Well, this is a glorious morning," he muttered. "Ah, Nature gives us
our sweetest tastes of life, after all. How still it is here! A real
relief from the excitement and clamor of my life." He stood and gazed
quietly upon the lovely scene before him. His eyes were fixed upon the
rising sun, the glowing hill top and golden zoned river. A feeling of
sadness fell upon him. It deepened into regret, as he silently looked
and mused. He was thinking,--and who has not so thought?--of the
earlier, the purer, the happier morning of life, ere the ambitions and
struggles of manhood had awakened within him to warm the heart to fever
heat, and taint the freshness and purity of nobler and holier desires
and aims.

"Heigho!" he sighed, as he slowly drew the shutter to its place.

He felt a light touch upon his hand. A small, thin voice, but very sweet
and familiar, fell upon his ear. It was the well-known greeting of his
Brownie friends.

"God speed, Brother Wille; hail and good speed!"

He looked down, and saw standing upon the window-sill Ensign Lawe and
his troopers.

"Welcome, brothers hail and good speed!" he answered. There was a
heartiness in his tone and genuine pleasure in his face, which made the
hearts of the fairies jump for joy. It was so like the tone and look of
old time!

"What do you bring me, brothers?" continued Wille. "What can I do for
you, or what will you do for me?"

"Look yonder, please," said Lawe, pointing toward the lawn.

[Illustration: FIG. 147.--Fairy Sunbeam and Elf Keener Banishing Madam
Lacemaker Beyond the River.]

The Governor leaned over the window-sill and followed the direction of
the Ensign's pointed spear. He started! The Pixie encampment covered the
place! The dew drops on the tent-tops were glistening in the sunbeams
like jewels.

[Illustration: FIG. 148.--A Dew-Laden Web.]

"Look out of the west window, now," said Lawe. The Governor threw back
the shutter and saw the same dew-laden webs and silken tents stretching
in close array up toward the orchard to the very bank of the lake and
inlet.

"And has it come to this, my good friends?" cried Wille. His voice
trembled, and a tear started upon his cheek. "Have your old foes driven
you from your homestead, and shut you out from the mansion and from me?
I see, I see! Not another word! I know that it is my fault. Forgive me!
I will right the wrong without delay. I will, indeed! And Dido will do
her best to help me. Depend on us. When the sun has dried the dew from
the grass, meet us at our old trysting place by the Rose Bush, and you
shall see us scatter the Pixies, and give back the Home Lawn to my
Brownie brothers. Good-bye!"

He lay down again, but could not sleep. His thoughts were too busy with
the past, and too sad, in sooth, to allow rest. He aroused Dido and told
her all. Like a good wife she heartily sympathized with him in his new
resolves, and agreed to join him in the crusade against the Pixies.

Breakfast over, the two went out to the lawn. "Let the gardener bring up
the lawn mower," said Dido.

"Not I," answered Wille. "I shall do the work myself. It is quite as
little atonement as I can make for neglecting my old, true Brownie
friends."

He threw off his coat, donned his wide-brimmed hat, and brought the
scythe from the tool house. The hone rung merrily upon the steel as the
Governor sharpened the blade. He had not forgotten his skill of earlier
days, and while he was bringing the scythe to a good edge his mind
followed along the path of his life to the quiet village among the green
hills on the banks of Little Beaver Creek, where his boyhood had been
spent.

One spot very dear to memory came into view--Aunt Fanny's farm! The
good, strong face of dear old Aunt Fanny arose before him. What happy
days he had spent in her quiet country home! He felt again the thrill of
holiday freedom that stirred his young heart on those summer days when
he set out upon the four miles' walk to the farm. In imagination once
more he passed the old Factory Dam; he saw the water tumbling over its
breast; he stood on the Sandy and Beaver Canal locks, and watched Sam
Underwood and Ike Clunk pull up their dipnets from the bays. With what
eagerness of interest did he gaze when the net was swung ashore with a
silvery sucker or a pink chub swaying down the centre!

On, on, along the Elkrun Valley. There is Orr's; and there is Meldrum's;
and there is Charters' farm; and there is Kimball's mill; and there is
Squire Clem Crow's cooper shop; and yonder is Elkton. One mile more! The
road turns here to the left, winds down the deep cleft of Pine Hollow,
shady the whole summer long between its sharp ridges crowned with
hemlocks, and musical with the ripple of its clear mountain run.

There is the old District School house!--and many a lusty conflict he
recalls with the country lads who waged with him the traditional feud
between "country haw-bucks" and "town boys." Now he climbs up the hill
road; there to the right is the Crow place, and the Governor smiles as
he recalls the easy boyish wit that dubbed it the "Crow's nest." At last
through the trees comes the longed-for glimpse of the white house on the
knoll, and Aunt Fanny sitting on the porch!

"Hurrah! she rises; she has seen me!"

Up the lane on a run now, and soon at rest before a bowl of snowy bread
and fresh milk.

What days those were! full of pleasure from early rising with the sun to
twilight bed-going with the birds. The wanderings in wood and orchard;
the expeditions after gay field lilies, aromatic calamus and sweet
myrrh; the long hunts after hens' nests in the fence corners; the walks,
musings and amusings among the sheep and their frisky lambs, the cows
and calves, the colts and piggies, the hens and their yellow puffy
broods of muffies; the big roosters, the speckled guinea fowl,--how keen
was the zest of these engagements and pursuits!

Then came the warm bright days of harvest, and the mowers came with
their scythes. What fun to toss the fragrant hay! What glorious fun to
see the mowers run from the stirred up bumble-bees' nest! What fun, most
glorious of all, to fight the insects with wisps of new mown hay! Ah!
the odor of the fresh mown meadow on dear Aunt Fanny's farm! The
Governor seemed to smell it again, as fresh as on those long past
harvest days, while he stood there whetting his scythe and living over
in memory the scenes of his bright, pure boyhood.

He drew a deep sigh; he dropped the whetstone into his hip-pocket; he
threw back the scythe, then bent down to the grass which had so long
marred the lawn by its overgrowth, and swept a broad clean swath up the
hillside.

"You shall not do the work alone," cried Dido, and seizing her reaping
hook began to trim away the struggling tufts along the border walk.

When Ensign Lawe had received Wille's promise to break up the Pixie camp
and disperse and destroy the Pixies, he straightway sent messengers to
Bruce and Rodney to follow up the proposed attack. Swiftly but silently
the orders went forth. Fort Home, which commanded a point of the inlet
nearest the Mansion, was strongly reinforced, and the big david,
"Example," manned and made ready for use. The ships were cleared for
action, the crews sent to quarters, and all things made ready for
weighing anchor. Never did Soldiers and Natties await the command with a
more cheerful, willing and confident courage. The rescue of the Nurses
had given them new life; the good news of Governor Wille's conduct
lifted them all into the height of hope. The battle cry was passed:
"Wille, Dido and Victory!" All was ready. All were waiting.

Now came a trooper dashing post haste into headquarters. "The Governor
has prepared his scythe and is just advancing to work."

Then came a second courier: "The Governor has begun the attack; Dido
joins him in it!"

A third came: "Wille is cutting a broad swath up the lawn; the Pixie
tents are swept away before him, and our foes are fleeing in all
directions."

Close upon this messenger came Lawe himself, spurring at topmost speed
into the Brownie camp, swinging his sword around his head in high
ecstasy, and crying, "Forward all! Forward at once! Fall upon the foe,
and we are saved and safe forever!"

"Forward!" cried Bruce.

"Forward!" at the same moment shouted Rodney, and the signal flag flew
to its place.

The ships moved out under a favoring breeze, and opened full broadsides
upon the Stygian vessels. Ensign Lawe, once more at the head of his
gallant troopers, led across the inlet and dashed at once upon the
retreating Pixies. The footmen poured out of the gates of Fort Home and
marched away to join the attack.

The Governor had now reached the bank of the inlet, and as he swung his
scythe merrily, and bowed to the good work, he was greeted with three
times three from forts and ships:

"Wille, Dido and Victory! Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!"

Wille paused a moment and swung his hat above his head, while Dido waved
her handkerchief in recognition of the Brownie cheers. Then the Governor
turned, and mowed down the lawn, throwing off at each swing of the
scythe a bunch of grass mingled with the ruins of Pixie tents and huts,
whose inmates lay struggling beneath the wreck of their homes, or fled
to the standing grass, or burrowed and hid around the roots. The
Brownies followed them up, searched them out, dispersed or slew them. It
was a complete destruction and rout. In a few hours the fragrant grass
lay curling in the sun, and not a Pixie tent was left upon the lawn.
Spite and Heady made a strong effort to rally their soldiers, and
succeeded in forming a line of battle. But the Pixies were so
demoralized that the troops broke and fled before the Brownie charges.
Many found hiding places in holes and dens of the earth; some escaped in
the small boats of the smugglers and pirates; numbers were taken aboard
the Stygian ships, and were borne down the lake, closely pursued by the
Natties.

Lieutenant Heady lay dead upon the field. What had become of Spite? When
we last saw him he was sitting alone upon the cliff, filled with rage
and wonder at the Brownie rejoicings over the rescue of Faith and
Sophia, and waiting in the moonlight for the return of the scouts whom
he had sent out to get the news. Not a whisper of tidings could he hear.
Bruce had ordered the Brownie pickets to keep the matter from their
foes, and no breath of the good news could be gathered from them. For
good and sufficient reasons Raft the smuggler had held his knowledge
secret, and had kept away from Spite's presence. His yacht, the Fringe,
was now anchored just under the cliff, hidden from view by the
overhanging grass. Raft had heard for some time the commotion on the
lawn, but gave little heed to it. It drew nearer. The singing swish of
the scythe against the grass, the cheers of the Brownies and Governor
Wille excited his interest. He climbed up the cliff and reconnoitered.
He took in the situation at a glance, then turned his eyes toward the
inlet. Thereaway the Nattie fleet was under way, and bearing down
straight toward the cliff.

"It's all up with Pixiedom!" he cried, "for one good long while at
least. Good-bye to the lawn! I'm off with the Fringe to safe quarters; I
wouldn't lose her to save the whole nation. Every fellow for himself,
and deil take the hindmost! That's good Pixie doctrine, so here's cut
and away!"

He spun out a drag-line, Pixie fashion, and fastening it to a rock,
thereby swung himself down the cliff to the grass at the water's edge.
Thence he boarded the Fringe, set his sail, pulled up anchor, and was
just about leaving the harbor, when a shower of sand and small pebbles
rolled upon him. He looked up, and saw a Pixie officer lowering himself
down the side of the cliff by blades of grass and ferns. The form seemed
familiar; he looked more closely. Yes, it was Spite the Spy.

"Hold on,--hold!" cried Spite.

"Aye, aye!" answered Raft. "This way now--down that tall rush--so! Now
swing upon the mast. There,--you're safe. All right!" He unmoored the
yacht, and pushing against the cliff sent her out with one vigorous
shove into clear water. The wind caught the sails, and the Fringe flew
merrily over the surface of Lake Katrine. Raft now had leisure to give
some attention to his chief. Spite had thrown himself upon the deck, and
was fairly panting with fatigue, and livid and trembling with passion.
Wrath, terror, disappointment, shame were in turn and in quick
succession reflected from his face. The smuggler had little love for the
chief, but he pitied him now, and in his rough way tried to comfort him.

"Better luck next time, Cap'n," he said. "We've had many a backset
before, and have come out all right again. Cheer up!"

"Backset, indeed!" growled Spite. "It's annihilation! There's not enough
left of Pixiedom to make a decent funeral. But--" and he rolled out a
string of oaths--"I shall have such revenge as they little dream of!
I'll tear the accursed Nurses limb from limb and fling the pieces into
the Brownie camp! Say! what are you putting her head down the lake for?"
he shouted, suddenly starting to his feet.

"That's the way of safety, Sir," answered Raft. "We must make for the
outlet or Orchard Cave at once. Look there at the Natties hard upon the
wake of our fleet. We must get out of their way, Sir!"

"Curse the Natties!" answered Spite fiercely; "and confound you for a
coward! Put her toward Ellen's Isle, I say! I will land there if the
whole Nattie fleet were following us. But they'll not bother us now;
they have better game at present than the Fringe."

Raft's cheeks burned at the word "coward," and he could hardly refrain
from tossing Spite overboard. But even the worst of Pixies have some
reverence for a chief, and Raft was one of the best. Besides, he really
pitied Spite, and was willing to allow for his bitter disappointment. He
saw that he had not yet heard of the escape of the Nurses, and resolved
that he would tell him now, so that he might be persuaded to give up the
trip to Ellen's Isle. It was pretty hard to get started, however, with
the story. Raft hemmed, stammered, and at last began:

"Cap'n, there's no use going to the island now. All's up, there, as
well--"

Spite interrupted him. "No use? What is that to you? Do as you are
bidden, and do not dare to question or comment upon my orders. Change
her course at once, or--or--" he fairly screamed these words, and
stopped suddenly in the midst of his threat, choked by passion.

Raft trembled with anger. He dropped the helm, laid hold upon a
marline-spike and advanced toward the chief. Then he suddenly changed
his mind, and retraced his steps.

"Very good," he answered quietly. "You shall have your own sweet way, my
dear! Ellen's Isle it is!" He pressed his tiller and shifted the sail;
the Fringe swung around, and in a few moments was quietly riding in one
of the secluded harbors with which the smuggler was familiar, at the
head of the island, and not far from the cave of Tigrina and Aranea
Hall.

"Wait here until I return," said Spite leaping ashore. "I shall be back
soon."

There was a strange look in Raft's eye, that caught the chief's
attention, for in a moment he turned back, and shaking his clenched hand
at the smuggler, said:

"If you fail me, I'll follow you to the ends of the earth and drink your
heart's blood! If you prove true you shall be Admiral of the fleet.
Beware!" He turned again and was soon out of sight.

"Admiral!" sneered Raft, when Spite had disappeared. "Admiral, indeed!
That sounds grand, verily. But I wouldn't stand the fury of his wrath
and disappointment to be the chief himself. That is, even if--" Raft
shook his head, and glanced toward the cave. "However, he would have his
own way, and he may find out for himself how much better it is than the
one Raft advised." He pushed the Fringe out of the harbor, and spreading
full sail ran rapidly toward the outlet.

Let us follow Spite. He came to the door of the cave without noting any
signs of the Brownies' recent camp in the neighborhood. He found the
door fastened on the outside. What could that mean?

"Curses on the old hag Tigrina," he cried, "she is out on some
expedition, and has left the Nurses locked within. Well, they're safe
enough under these fastenings," he muttered, as he cut away the thongs,
"and I'll have the Brownie beauties all to myself. But I'll flay the
vile hag alive for this disobedience. It's time that I were rid of her,
at any rate."

The strong fastenings which the Brownies had put upon the door were at
length removed, and Spite entered the cave. All was as still as the
grave. Not a sound from the bright and busy world without fell inside
those silent halls. He pushed on. The fox-fire lights had burned out. He
was well used to groping in the dark, but he could scarcely make out the
objects before him.

"Hello!" he called.

The echoes of his voice rolled back upon him again and again from either
end of the cave. A strange sensation came over him. His heart began to
quicken; a cold chill seized him. He threw off the feeling. He cursed
his timidity and superstition. "On, on!" he cried. "Revenge is near." He
reached the silken curtain that formed the door of the fairies' room. He
drew it aside, gloating over the thought of the terror which his sudden
appearance would excite. A single lantern burned upon the wall, and by
its light he saw that the room was empty! Signs of confusion were
everywhere. The stand lay just where it had fallen, and under it the
"Wisdom of the Pixies" was outspread upon the floor.

"Faith! Sophia!" he shouted. The voice died away among the arches. There
was a faint noise at his side. He turned quickly. There stood Tigrina.
Her face was gaunt, her cheeks hollow, her eyes burned like balls of
fire.

"Hag! fiend! wretch!" yelled Spite. "What have you done with the
Nurses?" He drew his sword and took a step toward the old Pixinee.

"Oho!" said Tigrina, uttering a harsh cackling laugh. "You have come at
last, have you? The pretty Nurses! Where are they? Ha, ha, ha! That is
good--good! You didn't know that the Brownies had been here, hey? Didn't
know that Faith and Sophia are safe in the Brownie camp, hey? Oh, no!
that is very good--very! You didn't know that I had been left here
sealed up in the cave--oh, no, not you!"

Spite stopped, then staggered backward as though he had been struck a
violent blow. The whole truth flashed upon him. He understood now the
mysterious outburst of joy in Brownie camp and fleet. Faith and Sophia
were gone,--safe from his power and revenge among their own friends!
Fortune had again failed him. His breast was torn by a tempest of
passions. This last defeat was even worse than the loss of his camp and
the rout of his army. He broke forth into wild, blasphemous reproaches
of Tigrina for failing to keep the fairies in her charge. Again he
lifted his sword and again he started toward the Pixinee.

There was something in the attitude of Tigrina which caused him suddenly
to pause. Her eyes shone in the dim light of the cave; her sharp, long
fangs swayed back and forth, touching each other with a grating sound;
her back curved; she sank into a stooping posture. Spite felt her hot
breath strike his face as it hissed through her clattering teeth. He
knew too well what all this meant. The "blind fury" had seized the
Pixinee!

Fly, Spite, fly! It is for your life!

He turns, flees! Too late! The rush of Tigrina's form is heard as she
springs upon the doomed chief. Her fangs are fastened in his throat. He
is borne down to the floor, and without a struggle and without a cry he
yields up his life. The enraged and hungry Pixinee drank up his blood,
and left the dry carcass hung against the wall by broken strands of
web-work, to moulder into dust with the silken ornaments of Aranea Hall.

Summer passed. Autumn came and hung her gaily colored banners upon the
trees and shrubbery of Hillside. The Brownies dwelt in peace upon the
lawn, and Governor Wille and Dido held the Mansion with happier hearts
than ever. The winds blew more and more keenly around the hills. The
Fall had well nigh merged into Winter. Thanksgiving day came. Great
preparations had been making at the Mansion, and now the family meeting
was being held. Gray-haired sires, strong men and matrons, and
fair-haired children, down to crowing baby Paul, all were there. How the
halls rang with merry-making! What a happy, hearty company sat down to
the Thanksgiving dinner!

[Illustration: FIG. 149.--A Dead Orbweaver Hanging by Broken Strands of
Web-work.]

It was a bright crisp day, and when dinner was over, all went out upon
the lawn and gathered around the great Rose Bush. There was a quadruple
wedding in Brownieland: Lieutenant MacWhirlie and Agatha, Adjutant
Blythe and Faith, Sergeant True and Sophia, Ensign Lawe and Grace, all
stood up together, and were joined in holy wedlock according to the
simple rites of the Brownies. Then, amid shouts of the children, cheers
of the older folk, and the wildest hurrahs of Brownie soldiers, sailors
and people all, the eight happy fairies rode away, escorted by a gaily
uniformed troop, to the Lone Aspen, where Madam Breeze had prepared for
them a grand reception. Fairy Dew and Dewpoint were there, and the four
sister Cloud Elves, and Whisk, Keener and Whirlit, and before the
merrymaking ended, even Elf Frost looked in, quite happy to be once more
free to roam abroad.

As the evening was fine, and the moon full, Commodore Rodney and Pipe
the Boatswain arranged to give the party a reception on the Emma and a
moonlight sail upon the lake. The sailors had beautifully decorated the
ship; fox-fire lanterns gleamed from every part of the forts, and shone
all along the shore. Our old friends Captain Ask, Help, Clearview, Mate
Angel, Howard, Hope, Rise, Shine, the Twadeils and many others were
aboard. The wind was fresh and the lake was a little rough, but that
only made matters all the merrier. How the ship did scud along!

It was passing the Point of Ellen's Isle, when suddenly a small vessel
pushed out from the brown grasses at the water's edge, crossed the wake
of the Emma within a stone's throw, and stood away toward the shore.

"Sophie, Sophie!" cried Faith, "look yonder! Do you know that yacht?"

Sophia glanced a moment at the beautiful vessel as it rose and fell on
the waves and sped swiftly through the moonlight.

"It is the Fringe!" she cried. "And there--see! There is Raft the
Smuggler. He has raised his hat! He is waving it. Hurrah! hurrah!"
Perhaps had she stopped a moment to ask whether or not such conduct were
orthodox in a Brownie bride, she would not have done it, but she simply
gave way to the impulse of her heart; she plucked her bridal veil from
her head and, quite unconscious of what she did, waved it again and
again at the fast flying yacht.

The Natties had sprung to their guns at the Fringe's appearance,
prepared to pour a broadside into her; but when they saw Sophia's
greeting and heard her shout, they took their cue from her, and instead
of shot sent cheers after the smuggler and his pretty craft.

[Illustration: ((hand printed) Orb-Weaver)

THE BOYS' ILLUSTRATION.]

"Poor fellow!" sighed Faith, as she leaned over the rail, and watched
Raft's vessel disappear under the shadow of the shore; "poor fellow;
what a pity that he should be a Pixie!"

THE END.



APPENDIX.



APPENDIX.


CHAPTER II.

=Note A, p. 14.=--Atypus piceus is a European species of Tunnelweaver
(Territelariæ), which inhabits Great Britain. It resembles in habit our
Atypus Abbotii, the Purse-web spider, found in the Gulf States,
especially Florida; but supports its external tube upon the trunks of
trees, instead of on the grass or surface.

=Note B, p. 16.=--Spiders are extremely cleanly in their habits, and brush
and comb the various parts of the body with their hairy and spinous legs
and palps. When brushing the head and chest (cephalothorax) the
resemblance to the cat's toilet habits warrants the reference in the
text.

=Note C, p. 18.=--Some of our American spider species have been imported
from Europe, and I have seen them on vessels stowed away in divers
crannies and under sundry parts of the ship, and overspun in the method
attributed to Spite and his companions, and shown Fig. 15.


CHAPTER III.

=Note A, p. 22.=--Epeïra globosa is a species of Orbweaver, which spins
above its round snare a bell-shaped silken tent, represented at Fig. 17,
p. 21.

=Note B, p. 22.=--One of the most common webs spun upon grass, on box-wood
borders of flower beds, on arbor vitæ hedges, and such like positions,
is that of the Speckled Tubeweaver, Agalena nævia, here described. It is
a broad sheet, usually concave or funnel-shaped, with a circular opening
near the middle or at one side, which leads into a long silken tube
extending downward among the branches, or to the ground. At the opening
the spider is usually seen waiting for prey. Lines are attached to the
sheet at various parts and reach upwards to bits of foliage, forming a
network of lines which support the sheet. Insects in flight strike
against these cross lines, and fall down upon the sheet, and become the
prey of the Speckled Agalena who rushes upon them from the opening of
her tube.

=Note C, p. 24.=--The cables here referred to are the upright lines
described in Note B. (See Fig. 28, p. 54.)

=Note D, p. 26.=--The turret of Lycosa arenicola, is here described. It is
popularly known as the Turret Spider. This animal is widely distributed
throughout the United States, and may be found along the Atlantic shore
where it burrows in the sand, and sometimes selects small pebbles for
the foundation of its tower. The shape of the tower is not always a
regular pentagon, but inclines to take that form. Beneath the surface is
a tubular burrow extending straight down as far sometimes as twelve
inches. The spider is frequently found on guard at the top of the tower.

=Note E, p. 26.=--See Note A above. The web of the Speckled Agalena when
spun upon grass often takes this form and shows a striking likeness to a
miniature circus tent.

=Note F, p. 27.=--The Turret Spider is sometimes seen at the summit of its
tower with head and fore limbs thrust over the edge, apparently on the
lookout for passing insects.

=Note G, p. 35.=--The above description and Fig. 22 are of the cocoon of
the large and beautiful Orbweaver Argiope cophinania (or riparia). It is
a pear-shaped object about an inch or an inch-and-a-quarter long, and is
suspended in the manner shown, among the branches of bushes, etc. The
outside is a closely woven silken cloth of a dull yellow color. Next to
this is a coating of bright yellow flossy silk, and in the centre is a
closely woven ball of purplish or brownish silk, within which may be
found the eggs of the mother spider. These sometimes number more than a
thousand. When the little ones are hatched out, they live within this
silken house until they are strong and old enough to cut their way out
and form webs for themselves.


CHAPTER VI.

=Note A, p. 52.=--The lodge here referred to as used for a guard house by
the Pixies, is supposed to be a snare of the Speckled Agalena, which
often spins its tent-like web upon the low grass of a lawn. Fig. 27
shows a web spun upon a honeysuckle vine, whose over-arching tendrils
form a little cavern or booth which might well suggest a lodge.


CHAPTER VII.

=Note A, p. 62.=--Spider webs are often destroyed or injured by wind
storms.

=Note B, p. 62.=--A common habit of ground spiders and those that weave
snares upon the ground is to thus hide themselves when molested or
alarmed.

=Note C, p. 67.=--"Hand over hand." This roughly describes the method of
some spiders in raising their prey when swathed, and in moving building
material and debris.

=Note D, p. 69.=--See Note C. The figure is from life.

=Note E, p. 73.=--The achievement attributed to Spite is based upon a
recorded account; but the author is bound to say that he has seen no
examples of webs that had been counterpoised with intent, as above
described. Webs are sometimes found thus balanced as at Fig. 34; but it
is doubtful if this is not the result of accident.


CHAPTER VIII.

=Note A, p. 75.=--The mandibles or external jaws of spiders are shown in
Fig. 39, and described in the text; the poison gland is shown at Fig.
40. The outlet for the poison may be seen at the tip of the fangs in
Fig. 39.


CHAPTER IX.

=Note A, p. 84.=--Certain species, especially Orbweavers (Fig. 86) and
Lineweavers, swathe their prey when captured and before eaten. (See Fig.
33, p. 69; Fig. 134, p. 318.)

=Note B, p. 88.=--The bridge-lines here described are common objects in
Nature. Spiders move freely from point to point, thereby often crossing
considerable intervals. Fig. 44 shows the way in which these bridges and
webs may block a path.


CHAPTER X.

=Note A, p. 97.=--The egg-bag within which the mother spider places her
eggs is popularly, though not quite correctly, called a cocoon. It is
sometimes simply a wad or ball of loose silk, but more frequently is a
bag of stiff and closely woven silk as at Fig. 22. Fig. 47 is the cocoon
of an Orbweaver, Nephila plumipes; Fig. 48, of a Saltigrade or Jumping
Spider, Phidippus opifex MCCOOK.


CHAPTER XIII.

=Note A, p. 115.=--Dolomedes fimbriatus, a rather common English spider,
makes or utilizes a rude raft of leaves, and drifts over the fens
thereon. The American Dolomedes frequents the water but has not been
observed to act as above.

=Note B, p. 117.=--As a rule spiders prey upon one another, without regard
to species or sex. Fig. 55 represents two males fighting.


CHAPTER XIV.

=Note A, p. 123.=--Lycosa tigrina MCCOOK abounds in the Eastern and Middle
United States, and makes the burrow here described.


CHAPTER XV.

=Note A, p. 128.=--Herpyllus ecclesiasticus HENTZ is a common American
Tubeweaver. It is black, with a dorsal pattern in white like that shown
in the figure of the "Pixie parson."

=Note B, p. 135.=--The aeronautic or ballooning habit of spiders is the
basis of these engineering feats of the Pixies Lycosa and Gossamer. A
pleasant October day is the best on which to observe it; but young
spiders may be seen in aeronautic flight during all warm months. An
elevated spot is usually sought from which to make the ascent. Ground
spiders, as Lycosids, ascend in the manner shown Fig. 57; Orbweavers
drift off as at Fig. 59. This interesting habit is described more at
length in my "Tenants of an Old Farm."

=Note C, p. 137.=--Mother spiders of certain species carry their egg
cocoons until the young are hatched; some take them in their jaws as our
long-legged cellar spider, Pholcus, others beneath their bodies or
lashed to the end of the abdomen.


CHAPTER XVI.

=Note A, p. 144.=--Tetragnatha is a genus which has several common species
in the United States and Europe, T. extensa being most familiar. Its
colors, especially when young, are green and yellow, and when its long
body and legs are stretched upon a leaf or twig (Fig. 64) it is
difficult to detect it. The species here personified is one that keeps
close to streams and ponds, Tetragnatha grallator HENTZ, the Stilt
spider. The method of sailing, Fig. 66, is not imaginative but drawn
from nature. The Pixie "Sixpoint" is a Citigrade spider, Dolomedes
sexpunctatus HENTZ. I have known it to stay under water for forty
minutes.


CHAPTER XVII.

=Note A, p. 153.=--Many Orbweavers spin together several leaves, or roll
up the end of a single leaf and form the nests described and shown, Fig.
69. That at p. 158, Fig. 72, was made by Epeira trifolium HENTZ. (See p.
194.)

=Note B, p. 154.=--"The Cardinal Company." Phidippus cardinalis HENTZ has
its abdomen and venter covered with brilliant red hairs. Phidippus rufus
HENTZ resembles it but is less brilliant. These are jumping or
Saltigrade spiders, belonging to the Attidæ.


CHAPTER XIX.

=Note A, p. 188.=--The Sedentary spiders, those which capture their prey
by means of snares, commonly fling bands and threads of silk around the
captive before feeding upon it. (See p. 69.)


CHAPTER XXII.

=Note A, p. 216.=--The habits and spinning work of a common Orbweaver
_Epeira labyrinthea_ are personified in the Pixie jailer Labyrinthea.

=Note B, p. 218.=--The male spiders of Orbweavers when they "would
a-wooing go," hang around the edge of the orbweb, and are not always
received kindly. Sometimes, indeed, they are eaten.

=Note C, p. 220.=--"Hyptiotes." The Triangle Spider, Hyptiotes cavatus
HENTZ. Its snare and mode of capturing prey are most interesting and
ingenious.

=Note D, p. 223.=--This rigidity of limbs is not exaggerated, and is
common to both old and young of this species.

=Note E, p. 226.=--The Labyrinth spider makes several cocoons, strung
together as the several figures show. Each one is made of two circular
caps united at the edges, so that Brownie Dodge could thus open an edge
and peep out.


CHAPTER XXIII.

=Note A, p. 238.=--"The water Pixie's den." The water spider of Europe,
Argyroneta aquatica, makes a cocoon upon the water, somewhat in the
manner described. No species with like habits has yet been discovered in
America, and the author in locating the same at "Hillside," has
sacrificed the facts of geographical distribution to imagination. But no
doubt he will be pardoned for the sake of the incident which brings the
lost Boatswain Pipe to life again.


CHAPTER XXIV.

=Note A, p. 240.=--There is some, though little, variety in the color of
silk with which spiders spin their snares; but their cocoons are often
woven with bright colored silk.


CHAPTER XXV.

=Note A, p. 250.=--The tradition that spiders are sensitive to music is
old and widely spread, but appears to have little or no basis in natural
habit. However, the reader may find, if he will, some pleasant stories
based thereon.

=Note B, p. 250.=--"Feigning death." This habit is strongly developed in
many spider species.


CHAPTER XXVI.

=Note A, p. 259.=--"Bowl shaped battery." Fig. 110 was drawn from a snare
of Linyphia communis HENTZ, woven among morning glories. Compare with
that of Linyphia marginata HENTZ, Fig. 68, p. 151, in which the bowl is
reversed.


CHAPTER XXVII.

=Note A, p. 270.=--The Trap-doors drawn at Figs. 117, 118 and 121 are from
Moggridge, and are not of American species, though they differ only in
size.

=Note B, p. 271.=--This habit has been attributed to the Trap-door makers,
but needs to be confirmed.

=Note C, p. 275.=--The mother wasp, which lances and paralyzes the big
southwestern Tarantula, Eurypelma Hentzii, is Pepsis formosa, called
popularly the "Tarantula hawk." The author has seen it pursuing the
above species, but does not know positively that it attacks the true
Trap-door maker, Cteniza Californica.


CHAPTER XXVIII.

=Note A, p. 280.=--This is no doubt a true representation; see the three
claw marks on the inside of the lid shown at Fig. 124.

=Note B, p. 284.=--The moulting period (see next Chapter), is attended
with great weakness.


CHAPTER XXIX.

=Note A, p. 290.=--The sting of the spider collecting wasps destroys the
power of motion, but does not at once kill; it is certainly fatal in the
end, if the young wasp larva does not in the meantime eat the victim
stored away for her by maternal foresight.


CHAPTER XXX.

=Note A, p. 309.=--Spiders have been known to thus suspend a snake, which
is not so remarkable as it seems if we consider that a small garter
snake ten inches long may weigh from one-eighth to one-fourth of an
ounce.

=Note B, p. 313.=--The Medicinal spider, Tegenaria medicinalis HENTZ,
builds in cellars and shady spots a strong sheeted web with a tower at
one angle thereof.

=Note C, p. 314.=--The capture of a mouse in a spider web has been proved,
at least to the author's satisfaction. Fig. 135 is a sketch of such a
captive made by Governor Proctor Knott, of Kentucky.

=Note D, p. 319.=--This "fish story" is quite true. The incident occurred
in a draining ditch near Eagleswood, New Jersey. The fish was three and
one-fourth inches long and weighed sixty-six grains; the spider was
three-fourths of an inch long and weighed fourteen grains. It was one of
our large Lycosids, probably a Dolomedes The facts on which the
incidents of this chapter are based, are given in Vol. I, "American
Spiders and their Spinningwork."


CHAPTER XXXI.

=Note A, p. 324.=--Most species of Spiders are solitary in their habits;
not like the social hymenoptera, as bees and ants. In this respect, the
social characteristics of the Pixies are not true to nature, except in
the case of spiderlings, or quite young spiders. However, some recent
discoveries, especially those of the eminent French araneologist, M.
Eugene Simon, seem to point to a decided social habit in several South
American species.

=Note B, p. 329.=--This nest, so much like a bird's in form, is that of
Lycosa Carolinensis. It is made from the needle-like leaves of the white
pine, or other available material by bending and pasting the same, as in
the cut, Fig. 138.

=Note C, p. 330.=--The snares of Agalenanævia are often seen in such
situations, and are sometimes of immense size.

=Note D, p. 331.=--The belief that spiders can prognosticate the weather
is widely spread, but seems to have little or no basis in fact. The
author has shown the groundlessness of the opinion at least in the case
of Orbweaving Spiders.



"Tenants of an Old Farm."

Leaves from the Note Book
of a Naturalist.

... BY ...
HENRY C. MCCOOK, D.D.,
with 140 illustrations from nature by Dan Beard
and others.

460 PAGES WITH INDEX.

EIGHTH EDITION.

12mo, Cloth      $1.50.

Sent postpaid on
receipt of the price
by the Publishers,

George W. Jacobs & Co.,
103 South Fifteenth Street,
PHILADELPHIA.



TENANTS OF AN OLD FARM.

PRESS NOTICES.

The following extracts from reviews of this book show with what
cordiality it has been received and how highly it is ranked by the
reviewers:


"His enthusiasm in behalf of his industrious friends is so great that he
actually pitched his tent in the midst of the huge mounds of certain
species in one of the Western States, and had to engage a small army of
three men to drive off the attack of the indignant insects while he was
studying the interior arrangements of their elaborately constructed
houses."--From _Chambers' Journal_ (Edinburgh, Scotland).

"Dr. MCCOOK has literally lived among his pets, has studied them by day
and by night in their natural state, has not scrupled to subject himself
to their formidable stings, and has deemed no pains too great to make
the world acquainted with insects upon which he looks with a species of
respectful veneration. He is, in truth, a veritable enthusiast, and it
would indeed seem as though ants, bees and wasps, all belonging to the
same order of insects, possessed a fascination for the true naturalist
far greater than that excited by larger animals."--_The Westminster
Review_ (British).

"Full of curious information, principally on the habits of ants, bees
and other insects."--_Buffalo Courier._

"The reading of a few pages in this work will serve as an admirable
preparation for a stroll through fields and over hills in the country
during a Sunday afternoon."--_Times-Star, Cincinnati._

"Probably there is no one in America who is better fitted to guide the
young in the study of his sphere of natural history, than the Rev. Dr.
HENRY C. MCCOOK, of Philadelphia."--_S. S. Times._

"Dr. MCCOOK is an authority in all that relates to ants and spiders; but
the talks in this pleasant volume are not restricted to insects of these
varieties, but include interesting and valuable instruction concerning
many other forms of insect life."--_Portland Press, Me._

"Dr. MCCOOK is an enthusiastic naturalist, and in one particular branch
of study--that of the habits of ants and spiders--stands as high as any
living writer, either English or American."--_Boston Evening
Transcript._

"Never read such a fascinating work of natural history."--_Messiah's
Herald, Boston._

"Is set forth with a clearness, a simplicity and often with a quaint
humor that make it thoroughly fascinating in the reading."--_Boston
Saturday Evening Gazette._

"The common insects take on an aspect of genuine interest in Dr. HENRY
MCCOOK'S Tenants of An Old Farm. He describes the life and habits of
spiders, ants, hornets and our dreaded moths, potato-bugs and canker
worms in an easy conversational style."--_Springfield (Mass.)
Republican._

"Contains the results of a series of carefully conducted observations on
different species of insects, their dispositions and habits, all of
which are detailed in such a familiar and winning style that no one can
fail to be fascinated with the study."--_New York Observer._

"The author contrives moreover to convey not only information, but some
measure of his own enthusiasm, and whoever reads his book is likely to
be thenceforth more alert to the marvels and miracles of insect
life."--_Boston Journal._

"When one possesses the power of vitalizing the bones of science as Dr.
MCCOOK does, there are few who will not yield to the charm."--_Yale
Literary Magazine._

"Belongs to a class which might with great profit take the place of much
of the literature, sentimental and otherwise, which finds its way into
the hands of our children through Sunday School and other libraries. It
is pleasantly written and beautifully illustrated with original drawings
from nature."--_N. Y. Examiner._

"We will venture to say that the Colorado beetle, the apple-worm, moths,
bumble-bees, caterpillars, ants and spiders, were never before made so
picturesque, never so idealized. The author likes them, humanizes them,
lives among them, finds an inner meaning in their little lives, makes in
every way the most of them.... Housekeepers will surely be amused and
probably surprised by learning just how moths go to work, and the
chapters on crickets and katy-dids are very fresh and animated; the same
is true of the bumble-bees and spiders; and what is not really new is
put in new shape."--_Boston Literary World._

"The illustrations, 140 in number, were prepared expressly for the work,
are finely engraved, and are a great aid to a clearer understanding of
the text."--_Philadelphia Evening Call._

"We wish that our farmers, who are giving their sons a Christmas
present, would choose this book. It would help them to see many things
to which they may now be blind."--_Presbyterian, Philadelphia._

"Heartily recommended to the attention of all who are themselves
interested in natural history or are seeking some means of interesting
young friends in this subject."--_Portland Press, Me._

"We have not seen any book this season more worthy to be put into the
hands of an intelligent youth, or indeed of any one who is interested in
the direct and face-to-face study of nature."--_Illustrated Christian
Weekly._

"Of the highest order of interest. The author has made studies and
drawings of the insects which can be found on any old farm, and has made
discoveries which give him a high place among entomologists."--_Chicago
Advance._

"May be said to be a perpetual passport to the minor kingdoms of nature.
It is the work of an accomplished and practical naturalist who is hand
and glove (so to speak) with the populace of the leaves and fields, the
woods and waters."--_N. Y. Mail and Express._

"Dr. MCCOOK has already achieved an enviable reputation by his valuable
contributions to science, and in this charming book, so full of
amusement and instruction, he has given us another proof of his being
one of the most clear, concise and attractive writers of the
day."--_Christian at Work, N. Y._

"It is well known that Dr. MCCOOK is one of the few ministers among us
who have made a specialty of studies in the natural sciences, and that
he has in this line built up an enviable reputation beyond our church
and beyond our land."--_Presbyterian Journal, Phila._

"The illustrations are a noteworthy feature of the book. Many of them
are admirable illustrations of their subjects, while to these have been
added a number of comical adaptations from the pencil of Mr. DAN
BEARD."--_Illustrated Christian Weekly, N. Y._

"The scientific accuracy, the good illustrations and simple descriptions
make it a valuable book for amateurs and a good book of reference for
advanced students in that department of natural history."--_Springfield
Republican._

"The author is not a mere compiler of other men's labors; he is a close
and patient observer, and his book has an original value."--_N. Y. Home
Journal._

"He is rarely qualified for the task."--_Troy Daily Times._

"Scientifically, Dr. MCCOOK is authority on all these
matters."--_Presbyterian, Philadelphia._



DR. MCCOOK'S SCIENTIFIC BOOKS.


"American Spiders and their Spinningwork."

Vols. I, II, III, quarto, with 36 plates colored by hand from nature,
and 853 original engravings.

=Price, $50.00 net per set.=


"The Agricultural Ant of Texas."

Octavo, pp. 311, plates xxiv.

=Price, $3.00.=


"The Honey and Occident Ants."

Octavo, pp. 188, plates xiii.

=Price, $2.00.=

The above named works are so well and favorably known to naturalists
that they have become scientific classics in their department. We will
forward them by mail to any address for the above prices.


"The Moundmaking Ants of the Alleghenies."

Octavo pamphlet, pp. 50, plates v.

=Price, 75 cents.=

We have a few copies of this work, reprinted from the Proceedings of the
American Entomological Society, which are now offered for sale.


_GEO. W. JACOBS & CO.,_
_No. 103 S. 15th St., Philadelphia._


       *       *       *       *       *
Transcriber's Notes:


The Table of Contents did not appear in the original publication and has
been added by the transcriber.

If an illustration fell within the middle of a paragraph it has been
moved to a position immediately before or after said paragraph.

Minor punctuation inconsistencies and typographical errors of words
otherwise spelled correctly elsewhere in the text have been corrected
without comment.

Word Variants appearing in the original text which have been retained:

"agoing" and "a-going"
"aids" and "aides"
"dragline" and "drag-line"
"Epeira" and "Epeïra"
"flagship" and "flag-ship"
"Good bye" and "Good-bye"
"Heighho" and "Heigh-ho"
"Howroad" and "Howrode"
"man-o'-war" and "man-of-war"
"marlinspike" and "marline-spike"
"merrymaking" and "merry-making"
"nearby" and "near-by"
"semicircular" and "semi-circular"
"spring house" and "springhouse"
"thistledown" and "thistle-down"
"trapdoor" and "trap-door"

Words using the [oe] ligature, that have been changed to "oe" are
"manoeuvre" and "manoeuvring"





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