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´╗┐Title: Tell Me a Story
Author: Molesworth, Mrs., 1839-1921
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tell Me a Story" ***

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Tell me a Story
By Mrs Molesworth
Illustrations by Walter Crane; Joseph Swain
Published by Macmillan and Co.
This edition dated 1894.

Tell me a Story, by Mrs Molesworth.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
TELL ME A STORY, BY MRS MOLESWORTH.

CHAPTER ONE.

INTRODUCTION.

The children sat round me in the gloaming.  There were several of them;
from Madge, dear Madge with her thick fair hair and soft kind grey eyes,
down to pretty little Sybil--Gipsy, we called her for fun,--whom you
would hardly have guessed, from her brown face and bright dark eyes, to
be Madge's "own cousin."  They were mostly girls, the big ones at least,
which is what one would expect, for it is not often that big boys care
much about sitting still, and even less about anything so sentimental as
sitting still in the twilight doing nothing.  There were two or three
_little_ boys however, nice round-faced little fellows, who had not yet
begun to look down upon "girls," and were very much honoured at being
admitted to a good game of romps with Madge and her troop.

It was one of these--the rosiest and nicest of them all, little Ted--who
pulled my dress and whispered, but loud enough for every one to hear,
with his coaxingest voice--"Tell me a story, aunty."  And then it came
all round in a regular buzz, in every voice, repeated again and
again--"O aunty! do; dear, dear aunty, tell us a story."

I had been knitting, but it had grown too dark even for that.  I could
not pretend to be "busy."  What could I say?  I held up my hands in
despair.

"O children! dear children!"  I cried, "truly, truly, I don't know what
stories to tell.  You are such dreadfully wise people now-a-days--you
have long ago left behind you what _I_ used to think wonderful
stories--`Cinderella,' and `Beauty and the Beast,' and all the rest of
them; and you have such piles of story-books that you are always
reading, and many of them too written for you by the cleverest men and
women living!  What could I tell you that you would care to hear?  Why,
it will be the children telling stories to amuse the papas and mammas,
and aunties next, like the `glorious revolution' in `Liliput Levee!'
No, no, your poor old aunty is not quite in her dotage yet.  She knows
better than to try to amuse you clever people with her stupid old
hum-drum stories."

I did not mean to hurt the poor dear little things--I did not, truly--I
spoke a little in earnest, but more in jest, as I shook my head and
looked round the circle.  But to my surprise _they_ took it all for
earnest, and the tears even gathered in two or three pairs of eyes.

"Aunty, you _know_ we don't think so," began Madge, gentle Madge always,
reproachfully.

And "It's too bad of you, aunty, _too_ bad," burst out plain-speaking
Dolly.  And worst of all, Ted clambered manfully up on to my knees, and
proceeded to shake me vigorously.  "_Naughty_ aunty," he said, "naughty,
_naughty_ aunty.  Ted will shake you, and shake you, to make you good."

What could I do but cry for mercy? and promise anything and everything,
fifty stories on the spot, if only they would forgive me?

"But, truly children," I said again, when the hubbub had subsided a
little, "I am afraid I do _not_ know any stories you would care for."

"We should care for anything you tell us," they replied, "about when you
were a little girl, or anything."

I considered a little.  "I might tell you something of that kind," I
said, "and perhaps, by another evening, I might think over about some
other people's `long agos'--your grandmother's, for instance.  Would
that please you?"

Great applause.

"And another thing," I continued, "if I try to rub up some old stories
for you, don't you think you might help?  You, Madge, dear, for
instance, you are older than the others--couldn't you tell them
something of your own childish life even?"

I was almost sorry I had suggested it; into Madge's face there came a
look I had seen there before, and the colour deepened in her cheeks.
But she answered quite happily.

"Yes, aunty, perhaps they would like to hear about--you know who I mean,
and my other aunties, who are mammas now as well; if you wouldn't mind
writing it down--I don't think I could tell it straight off."

"Very well," I said, "I'll remember.  And if, possibly, some not _real_
stories come into my head--there's no saying what I can do till I try,"
for I felt myself now getting into the spirit of it,--"you won't object,
I suppose, to a fairy tale, or an adventure, for instance--just by way
of a change you know?"

General clapping of hands.

"Well then," I said, "to begin with, I'll tell you a story which is--no,
I won't tell you what it is, real or not; you shall find out for
yourselves."

And in this way it came to pass, you see, that there was quite a
succession of "blind man's holidays," on which occasions poor aunty was
always expected to have a story forthcoming.

CHAPTER TWO.

THE REEL FAIRIES.

  "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

Louisa was a little girl of eight years old.  That is to say, she was
eight years old at the time I am going to tell you about.  She was
nothing particular to look at; she was small for her age, and her face
was rather white, and her eyes were pretty much the same as other
people's eyes.  Her hair was dark brown, but it was not even curly.  It
was quite straight-down hair, and it was cut short, not _quite_ so short
as little boys' hair is cut now-a-days, but not very much longer.  Many
little girls had quite short hair at that time, but still there was
something about Louisa's that made its shortness remarkable, if anything
about her could have been remarkable!  It was so very smooth and soft,
and fitted into her head so closely that it gave her a small, soft look,
not unlike a mouse.  On the whole, I cannot describe her better than by
saying she was rather like a mouse, or like what you could fancy a mouse
would be if it were turned into a little girl.

Louisa was not shy, but she was timid and not fond of putting herself
forward; and in consequence of this, as well as from her not being at
all what is called a "showy" child, she received very little notice from
strangers, or indeed from many who knew her pretty well.  People thought
her a quiet, well-behaved little thing, and then thought no more about
her.  Louisa understood this in her own way, and sometimes it hurt her.
She was not so unobservant as she seemed; and there were times when she
would have very much liked a little more of the caressing, and even
admiration, which she now and then saw lavished on other children; for
though she was sensible in some ways, in others she was not wiser than
most little people.

Her home was not in the country: it was in a street, in a large and
rather smoky town.  The house in which she lived was not a _very_ pretty
one; but, on the whole, it was nice and comfortable, and Louisa was
generally very well pleased with it, except now and then, when she got
little fits of wishing she lived in some very beautiful palace sort of
house, with splendid rooms, and grand staircases, and gardens, and
fountains, and I don't know all what--just the same sort of little fits
as she sometimes had of wishing to be very pretty, and to have lovely
dresses, and to be admired and noticed by every one who saw her.  She
never told any one of these wishes of hers; perhaps if she had it would
have been better, but it was not often that she could have found any one
to listen to and understand her; and so she just kept them to herself.

There was one person who, I think, could have understood her, and that
was her mother.  But she was often busy, and when not busy, often tired,
for she had a great deal to do, and several other little children
besides Louisa to take care of.  There were two brothers who came
nearest Louisa in age, one older and one younger, and two or three mites
of children smaller still.  The brothers went to school, and were so
much interested in the things "little boys are made of," that they were
apt to be rather contemptuous to Louisa because she was a girl, and the
wee children in the nursery were too wee to think of anything but their
own tiny pleasures and troubles.  So you can understand that though she
had really everything a little girl could wish for, Louisa was sometimes
rather lonely and at a loss for companions, and this led to her making
friends in a very odd way indeed.  If you guessed for a whole year I do
not think you would ever guess whom, or I should say _what_, she chose
for her friends.  Indeed, I fear that when I tell you you will hardly
believe me; you will think I am "story-telling" indeed.  Listen--it was
not her doll, nor a pet dog, nor even a favourite pussy-cat--it was,
they were rather, _the reels in her mother's workbox_.

Can you believe it?  It is quite, quite true.  I am not "making up" at
all, and I will tell you how it came about.  There was one part of the
day, I daresay it was the hour that the nursery children were asleep,
when it was convenient for Louisa to be sent down-stairs to sit beside
her mother in the drawing-room, with many injunctions to be quiet.  Her
mother was generally writing or "doing accounts" at that time, and not
at leisure to attend to her little girl; but when Louisa appeared at the
door she would look up and say with a smile, "Well, dear, and what will
you have to amuse yourself with to-day?"  At first Louisa used to
consider for a minute, and nearly every day she would make a different
request.

"A piece of paper and a pencil to write," she would say on Monday
perhaps, and on Tuesday it would be "The box with the chess, please,"
and on Wednesday something else.  But after a while her answer came to
be always the same--"Your big workbox to tidy, please, mamma."

Mamma smiled at the great need of tidying that had come over her big
workbox, but she knew she could certainly trust Louisa not to _un_-tidy
it, so she used just to push it across the table to her without
speaking, and then for an hour at least nothing more was heard of
Louisa.  She sat quite still, fully as absorbed in her occupation as her
mother was in hers, till at last the well-known tap at the door would
bring her back from dream-land.

"Miss Louisa, your dinner is waiting," or "Miss Louisa, the little ones
are quite ready to go out;" and, with a deep sigh, the workbox would be
closed and the little girl would obey the unwelcome summons.

And next day, and the day after, and a great many days after that, it
was always the same thing.  But nobody knew anything about these queer
friends of hers, except Louisa herself.

There were several families of them, and their names were as original as
themselves.  There were the Browns, reels of brown wood wound with white
cotton; as far as I remember there were a Mr and Mrs Brown and three
children; the Browns were supposed to be quiet, respectable people, who
lived in a large house in the country, but had nothing particularly
romantic or exciting about them.  There were the De Cordays, so named
from the conspicuous mark of "three cord" which they bore.  They were a
set of handsome bone, or, as Louisa called it, _ivory_ reels, and she
added the "De" to their name to make it sound grander.  There were two
pretty little reels of fine China silk, whom she distinguished as the
Chinese Princesses.  Blanche and Rose were their first names, to suit
the colours they bore, for Louisa, you see, had learnt a little French
already; and there were some larger silk reels, whom she called the
"Lords and Ladies Flossy."  Altogether there were between twenty and
thirty personages in the workbox community, and the adventures they had,
the elegance and luxury in which they lived, the wonderful stories they
told each other, would fill more pages than I have time to write, or
than you, kind little girls that you are, would have patience to read.
I must hasten on to tell you how it came to pass that this queer fancy
of Louisa's was discovered by other people.

One morning when she was sitting quietly, as usual, beside her mother, a
friend of Mrs no, we need not tell her name, I should like you best
just to think of her as Louisa's mamma--well then, a friend of Louisa's
mamma's came to call.  She was a lady who lived in the country several
miles away from Smokytown, but she was very fond of Louisa's mamma, and
whenever she had to come to Smokytown to shop, or anything of that kind,
perhaps to take her little girl (for she too had a little girl as you
shall hear) to the dentist's, she always came early to call on her
friend.  Louisa's mamma jumped up at once, when the servant threw open
the door and announced the lady by name, and then they kissed each
other, and then Louisa's mamma stooped down and kissed the lady's little
girl who was standing beside her, but Louisa sat so quietly at her
corner of the table, that for a minute or two no one noticed her.  She
was just thinking if she could manage to creep down under the table and
slip away out of the room without being seen, when her mamma called her.

"Louisa, my dear," she said, "come here and speak to Mrs Gordon and to
Frances.  You remember Frances, don't you, dear?"

Louisa got down slowly off her chair and came to her mamma.  She stood
looking at Frances for a minute or two without speaking.

"Don't you remember Frances?" said her mamma again.

"No," said Louisa at last, "I don't think I do."  Then she turned away
as if she were going back to her place at the table.  Her mamma looked
vexed.

"Poor little thing," said Mrs Gordon, "she is only rather shy.
Frances, you must make friends with her."

"Louisa, I am not pleased with you," said her mamma gravely, and then
she went on talking to Mrs Gordon.

Frances followed Louisa to the table, where all the reels were arranged
in order.  There was a grand feast going on among them that day: one of
the Chinese princesses was to be married to one of the Lords Flossy, and
Louisa had been smartening them up for the occasion.  But she did not
want to tell Frances about it.

"I am only playing with mamma's workbox things," she said, looking up at
Frances, and wishing she had not come.  She had taken a dislike to
Frances, and the reason was not a very nice one--she was envious of her
because she had such a pretty face and was very beautifully dressed.
She had long curls of bright light hair, and large blue eyes, and she
had a purple velvet coat trimmed with fur, and a sweet little bonnet
with rosebuds in the cap, and Louisa's mamma would never let her have
rosebuds or any flowers in _her_ bonnets.  To Louisa's eyes she looked
almost as beautiful as a fairy princess, but the thought vexed her.

"Playing with your mamma's workbox things," said Frances, "how very
funny!  You poor little thing, have you got nothing else to play with?"

She spoke as if she were several years older than Louisa, and this made
Louisa still more vexed.

"Yes," she answered, "of course I have got other things, but I like
these.  _You_ can't understand."  Frances smiled.  "How funny you are!"
she said again, "but never mind.  Let us talk of something nice.
Perhaps you would like to hear what things _I_ have got to play with.  I
have a room all for myself, _filled_ with toys.  I have got a large
doll-house, as tall as myself, with eight rooms; and I have sixteen
dolls of different kinds.  They were mostly birthday presents.  But I am
getting too big to care for them now.  My birthday was last week.  What
_do_ you think papa gave me?  Something so beautiful that I had wanted
for such a long time.  I don't think you _could_ guess."

In spite of herself Louisa was becoming interested.  "I don't know, I'm
sure," she said; "perhaps it was a book full of stories."

Frances shook her head.  "O no," she answered, "it wasn't.  _That_ would
be nothing particular, and my present _was_ something particular, very
particular indeed.  Well, you can't guess, so I'll tell you--it was a
Princess's dress; a _real_ dress you know; a dress that I can put on and
wear."

"A Princess's dress!" repeated Louisa, opening her eyes.

"Yes, to be sure," said Frances.  "I call it a Princess's dress, because
it is copied from one the Princess Fair Star wore at the pantomime last
Christmas.  It was there I saw it, and I have teased papa ever since
till he got it for me.  And it _is_ so beautiful; quite beautiful enough
for a queen for that matter.  My papa often calls me his queen,
sometimes he says his golden-haired queen.  Does yours?"

"No," said Louisa sadly; "my papa sometimes calls me his pet, and
sometimes he calls me `old woman,' but he never says I am his queen.  I
suppose I am not pretty enough."

"I don't know," said Frances, consideringly, "I don't think you're ugly
exactly.  Perhaps if you asked your papa to get you a Princess's
dress--"

"He wouldn't," said Louisa decidedly, "I know he wouldn't.  It would not
be the least use asking him.  Tell me more about yours--what is it like,
and does it make you feel like a real princess when you have it on?"

"I suppose it makes me _look_ like one," replied Frances complacently,
"and as for feeling, why one can always fancy, you know."

"Fancying isn't enough," said Louisa.  "I know I should dreadfully like
to _be_ a princess or a queen.  It is the first thing I would ask a
fairy.  Perhaps _you_ don't wish it so much because every one pets you
so, and thinks you so pretty.  Has your dress got silver and gold on
it?"

"O yes, at least it has silver--silver spots," began Frances eagerly,
but just then her mamma turned to tell her that they must go.  "The
little people have made friends very quickly after all, you see," she
said to Louisa's mamma.  "Some day you must really bring Louisa to see
Frances--it has been such an old promise."

"It is not often I can leave home for a whole day," said Louisa's mamma;
"and then, dear, you must remember not having a carriage makes a
difference."

Louisa's cheeks grew red.  She felt very vexed with her mamma for
telling Mrs Gordon they had no carriage, but of course she did not
venture to say anything, so no one noticed her.  She was not sorry when
Mrs Gordon and Frances said good-bye and went away.

That same evening, a little before bed-time, Louisa happened to be again
in the drawing-room alone with her mother.

"Louisa," said her mother, who was sewing at the table, "you did not
leave my workbox as neat as usual this morning.  I suppose it was
because you were interrupted by Frances Gordon.  Come here, dear, and
take the box and put it on a chair near the fire and arrange it rightly.
Here is a whole collection of reels rolling about.  Put them all in
their places."

Louisa did as she was told, but without speaking.  Indeed she had been
very silent all day, but her mother had been occupied with other things
and had not noticed her particularly.  Louisa quietly put the reels into
their places, giving the most comfortable corners to her favourites as
usual, and huddling some of the others together rather unceremoniously.
Then she sat down on the hearth-rug, and began to think of what Frances
Gordon had said to her, and to wish all sorts of not very wise things.
She felt herself at last growing drowsy, so she leant her little round
head on the chair beside her, and was almost asleep, when she heard her
mother say, "Louisa, my dear, you are getting sleepy, you must really go
to bed."

"Yes, mamma," she said, or intended to say, but the words sounded faint
and dreamlike, and before they were fully pronounced she was fairly
asleep!

She remembered nothing more for what seemed a very long time--then to
her surprise she found herself already undressed and in her own little
bed!  "Nurse must have carried me upstairs and undressed me," she
thought, and she opened her eyes very wide to see if it was still the
middle of the night.  No, surely it could not be; the room was quite
light, yet where was the light coming from?  It was not coming in at the
window--there was no window to be seen; the curtains were drawn across,
and no tiny chink even was visible; there was no lamp or candle in the
room,--the light was simply there, but where it came from Louisa could
not discover.  She got tired of wondering about it at last, and was
composing herself to sleep again, when suddenly a small but very clear
voice called her by name.  "Louisa, Louisa," it said.  She did not feel
at all frightened.  She half raised herself in bed and exclaimed, "Who
is speaking to me? what do you want?"

"Louisa, Louisa," the voice repeated, "would you like to be a queen?"

"Very much indeed, thank you," Louisa replied promptly.

"Then rub your eyes and look about you," said the voice.

Louisa rubbed her eyes and looked about her to some purpose, for what
_do_ you think she saw?  All the white counterpane of her little bed was
covered with tiny figures, of various sizes, from one inch to three or
four in height.  They were hopping, and dancing, and twirling themselves
about in every imaginable way, like nothing anybody ever saw before, or
since, or ever will again.

"Fairies!" thought Louisa at once, and without any feeling of
overwhelming surprise, for, like most children, she had always been
hoping, and indeed half expecting, that _some day_ an adventure of this
kind would fall to her share.

"Yes, fairies," said the same voice as before, which seemed to hear her
thoughts as distinctly as if she had spoken them; "but what kind of
fairies?  Look at us again, Louisa."

Louisa opened her eyes wider and stared harder.  There were all kinds of
fairies, gentlemen and ladies, little and big; but as she looked she saw
that every one of them, without exception, wore a curious sort of round
stiff jacket, more like a little barrel than anything else.  It gave
them a queer high-shouldered look, very like the little figures of Noah
and his family in toy arks; but as Louisa was staring at them the
mystery was explained.  A big, rather clumsy-looking gentleman fairy,
stopped for a moment in his gymnastics, and Louisa read on the ledge
round his shoulders the familiar words "Clarke and Company's best
six-cord, extra quality, Number 12."

"I know," she cried, clapping her hands; "you're mamma's reels!"

At these words a sensation ran through the company; they all stood
stock-still, and Louisa began to feel a little afraid.

"She says," exclaimed the voice, "she says _we're her mamma's reels_!"

There fell a dead silence; Louisa expected to be sentenced to undergo
capital punishment on the spot.  "It's too bad," she said to herself,
"it's too bad; they asked me to guess who they were."

"She says," continued the voice, "she says `it's too bad.'  _What_ is
too bad?  My friends, let the deputation stand forward."

Instantly about a dozen fairies separated themselves from the others and
advanced, slowly marching two and two up the counterpane, till having
made their way across the various hills and valleys formed by Louisa's
little figure under the bedclothes, they drew up just in front of her
nose.  Foremost of the deputation she recognised, the one clad in pink
satin, the other in glistening white, her two favourites the Princesses
Blanche and Rose.

"Beautiful Louisa," said the deputation, all speaking at once, "we have
come to ask you to be our queen."

"Thank you," said Louisa, not knowing what else to say.

"She consents!" exclaimed the deputation, "let the royal chariot
appear."

Thereupon there suddenly started up in the middle of the bed, as large
as life, but no larger, her mamma's big workbox!  The fairies all
clambered on to it with a rush, and hung upon it in every direction,
like bees on a hive, or firemen on a fire-engine; and no sooner were
they all mounted than the workbox slowly glided along till it was close
to Louisa's face.

"Will your majesty please to get in?" said one of the fairies, "Clarke's
Number 12, extra quality," I think it was.

"How can I?" said Louisa piteously, "how can I?  I'm far too big.  How
can I get into a workbox?"

"Please to rub your eyes and try," said the big fairy, "right foot
foremost, if you please."

Louisa rubbed her eyes, and pulling her right foot out from under the
clothes, stepped on to the workbox.

To her surprise, or rather not to her surprise, everything seemed to
come quite naturally, she found that she was not at all too big, and she
settled herself in the place the fairies had kept for her, the nice
little division lined with satin, in which her mamma's thimble and emery
cushion always lay.  It was pretty comfortable, only rather hard, but
Louisa had no time to think about that, for no sooner was she seated
than off flew the workbox, that is to say the royal chariot, away, away,
Louisa knew not where, and felt too giddy to try to think.  It stopped
at last as suddenly as it had started, and quick as thought all the
fairies jumped down.  Louisa followed them more deliberately.  She found
herself in a great shining hall, the walls seemed to be of
looking-glass, but when she observed them more closely she found they
were made of innumerable needles, all fastened together in some
wonderful fairy fashion, which she had not time to examine, for just
then the Chinese princesses approached her, carrying between them a
glistening dress, which they begged her to put on.  They were quite as
tall as she by-the-by, so she allowed them to dress her, and then
examined herself with great satisfaction in the looking-glass walls.
The dress was lovely, of that there was no doubt; it was just such a
one, curiously enough, as Frances Gordon had described; the only
drawback was her short hair, which certainly did not add to her regal
appearance.

"It won't show so much when your majesty has the crown on," said the
Chinese princesses, answering as before to Louisa's unspoken thoughts.
Then some gentlemen fairies appeared with the crown, which fitted
exactly, only it felt rather heavy.  But it would never do for a queen
to complain, even in thought, of so trifling a matter, so with great
dignity Louisa ascended the throne which stood at one end of the hall,
and sat down upon it to see what would come next.

The _Fairies_ came next.  One after the other, by dozens, and scores,
and hundreds, they passed before her, each as he passed making the
humblest of obeisances, as if to the great Mogul himself.  It was very
fine indeed, but after a while Louisa began to get rather tired of it,
and though the throne was very grand to look at, it too felt rather
hard, and the crown grew decidedly heavier.

"I think I'd like to come down for a little," she said to some of the
ladies and gentlemen beside her, but they took no notice.  "I'd like to
get down for a little and to take off my crown--it's hurting my head,
and this spangly dress is _so_ cold," she continued.  Still the fairies
took no notice.

"Don't you hear what I say?" she exclaimed again, getting angry; "what's
the use of being a queen if you won't answer me?"

Then at last some of the fairies standing beside the throne appeared to
hear what she was saying.

"Her majesty wishes to take a little exercise," said "Clarke's Number
12," and immediately the words were repeated in a sort of confusing buzz
all round the hall.  "Her majesty wishes to take a little
exercise"--"her majesty wishes to take a little exercise," till Louisa
could have shaken them all heartily, she felt so provoked.  Then
suddenly the throne began to squeak and grunt (Louisa thought _it_ was
going to talk about her taking exercise next), and after it had given
vent to all manner of unearthly sounds it jerked itself up, first on one
side and then on the other, like a very rheumatic old woman, and at last
slowly moved away.  None of the fairies were pushing it, that was plain;
and at first Louisa was too much occupied in wondering what made it
move, to find fault with the mode of exercise permitted to her.  The
throne rolled slowly along, all round the hall, and wherever it appeared
a crowd of fairies scuttled away, all chattering the same words--"Her
majesty is taking a little exercise," till at last, with renewed jerks
and grunts and groans, her queer conveyance settled itself again in its
old place.  As soon as it was still, Louisa tried to get down, but no
sooner did she put one foot on the ground than a crowd of fairies
respectfully lifted it up again on to the footstool.  This happened two
or three times, till Louisa's patience was again exhausted.

"Get out of my way," she exclaimed, "you horrid little things, get out
of my way; I want to get down and run about."

But the fairies took no notice of what she said, till for the third time
she repeated it.  Then they all spoke at once.

"Her majesty wants to take a little _more_ exercise," they buzzed in all
directions, till Louisa was so completely out of patience that she burst
into tears.

"I won't stay to be your queen," she said, "it's not nice at all.  I
want to go home to my mamma.  I want to go home to my mamma.  I want to
go home to my mamma."

"We don't know what mammas are," said the fairies.  "We haven't anything
of that kind here."

"That's a story," said Louisa.  "There--are mammas here.  I've seen
several.  There's Mrs Brown, and there's Lady Flossy, and there's--no,
the Chinese princesses haven't a mamma.  But you see there are two among
my mamma's own reels in her workb--."

But before she could finish the word the fairies all set up a terrific
shout.  "The word, the word," they cried, "the word that no one must
mention here.  Hush! hush! hush!"

They all turned upon Louisa as if they were going to tear her to pieces.
In her terror she uttered a piercing scream, and--woke.

She wasn't in bed; where was she?  Could she be in the workbox?
Wherever she was it was quite dark and cold, and something was pressing
against her head, and her legs were aching.  Suddenly there came a flash
of light.  Some one had opened the door, and the light from the hall
streamed in.  The some one was Louisa's mamma.

"Who is in here?  Did I hear some one calling out?" she exclaimed
anxiously.

Louisa was slowly recovering her wits.  "It was me, mamma," she
answered; "I didn't know where I was, and I was so frightened and I am
so cold.  Oh mamma!"

A flood of tears choked her.

"You poor child," exclaimed her mamma, hurrying back to the hall to
fetch a lamp, as she spoke, "why, you have fallen asleep on the
hearth-rug, and the fire's out; and my workbox--what is it doing here?
Were you using it for a pillow?"

"No," said Louisa, eyeing the workbox suspiciously, "it was on the
chair, and the corner of it has hurt my head, mamma; it was pressing
against it."  Her mamma lifted the box on to the table.

"Are they all in there, mamma?" whispered Louisa, timidly.

"All in where?  All who?  What are you speaking about, my dear?"

"The fairies--the reels I mean," replied Louisa.  "My dear, you are
dreaming still," said her mamma, laughing, but seeing that Louisa looked
dissatisfied, "never mind, you shall tell me your dreams to-morrow.  But
just now you must really go to bed.  It is nine o'clock--you have been
two hours asleep.  I went out of the room in a hurry, taking the lamp
with me because it was not burning rightly, and then I heard baby
crying--he is very cross to-night--and both nurse and I forgot about
you.  Now go, dear, and get well warmed at the nursery fire before you
go to bed."

Louisa trotted off.  She had no more dreams that night, but when she
woke the next morning, her poor little legs were still aching.  She had
caught cold the night before, there was no doubt, so her mamma, taking
some blame to herself for her having fallen asleep on the floor, was
particularly kind and indulgent to her.  She brought her down to the
drawing-room wrapped in a shawl, and established her comfortably in an
arm-chair.

"What will you have to play with?" she asked.  "Would you like my
workbox?"

"I don't know," said Louisa, doubtfully.  "Mamma," she continued, after
a moment's silence, "can queens never do what they like?"

"Very often they can't," replied her mamma.  "What makes you ask?"

"I dreamt I was a queen," said Louisa.

"Did you?  What country were you queen of?"

"I was queen of the reel fairies," replied the child gravely.  Her
mother looked mystified "Tell me what you mean, dear," she said.  "Tell
me all about it."

So bit by bit Louisa explained the whole, and her mamma had for once a
peep into that strange, fantastic, mysterious world, which we call a
child's imagination.  She had a glimpse of something else too.  She saw
that her little girl was in danger of getting to live too much alone,
was in need of sympathy and companionship.

"I think it was what Frances Gordon said that made me dream about being
a queen," she said.

"And do you still wish you were a queen?" said her mamma.

"No," said Louisa.

"A princess then?"

"No," she replied again.  "But, mamma--"

"Well, dear?"

"I do wish sometimes that I was pretty, and that--that--I don't know how
to say it--that people made a fuss about me sometimes."

Her mamma looked a little grave and a little sad; but still she smiled.
She could not be angry--thought Louisa.

"Is it naughty, mamma?" she whispered.

"Naughty?  No, dear; it is a wish most little girls have, I fancy--and
big ones too.  But some day you will understand how it might grow into a
wrong feeling, and how on the other side a little of it may be useful to
help good feelings.  And till you understand better, dear, doesn't it
make you happy to know that to me you could not be dearer if you were
the most beautiful little princess in the world."

"As beautiful as Princess Fair Star, mamma?"

"Yes, or any other princess you can think of.  I would rather have my
little mouse of a girl than any of them."

Louisa nestled closer to her mamma with great satisfaction.  "I like you
to call me your mouse, mamma; and do you know I almost think I like
having a cold."

Her mother laughed.  "Am I making a little fuss about you?  Is that what
you like?"

Louisa laughed too.

"Do you think I should leave off playing with the reels, and making
stories about them, mamma?  Is it silly?"

"No, dear, not if it amuses you," said her mother.

But though Louisa did not leave off playing with the reels altogether,
she gradually came to find that she preferred other amusements.  Her
mother taught her several pretty kinds of work, and read aloud stories
to her more often than formerly.  And, somehow, Louisa never again cared
quite as much for her old friends.  She thought the Chinese princesses
had grown rather "stuck-up" and affected, and she could not get over a
strong suspicion that "Clarke's Number 12" was very ready to be
impertinent, if he could ever again get a chance.

CHAPTER THREE.

GOOD-NIGHT, WINNY.

  "Say not good-night--but, in some brighter clime,
  Bid me good-morning!"

When I was a little girl I was called Meg.  I do not mean to say that I
have got a different name now that I am big, but my name is _used_
differently.  I am now called Margaret, or sometimes Madge, but never
Meg.  Indeed I do not wish ever to be called Meg, for a reason you will
quite understand when you have heard my story.  But perhaps I am wrong
to call it a "story" at all, so I had better say at the beginning that
what I have to tell you is only a sort of remembrance of something that
happened to me when I was very little--of some one I loved more dearly,
I think, than I can ever love any one again.  And I fancy perhaps other
little girls will like to hear it.

Well then, to begin again--long ago I used to be called Meg, and the
person who first called me so was my sister Winny, who was not quite two
years older than I.  There were four of us then--four little sisters--
Winny, and I, and Dolly, and Blanche, baby Blanche we used to call her.
We lived in the country in a pretty house, which we were very fond of,
particularly in the summer time, when the flowers were all out.  Winny
loved flowers more dearly than any one I ever knew, and she taught me to
love them too.  I never see one now without thinking of her and the
things she used to say about them.  I can see now, now that I am so much
older, that Winny must have been a very clever little girl in some ways,
not so much in learning lessons as in thinking things to herself, and
understanding feelings and thoughts that children do not generally care
about at all.  She was very pretty too, I can remember her face so well.
She had blue eyes and very long black eyelashes--our mamma used to
teaze her sometimes, and say that she had what Irish people call "blue
eyes put in with dirty fingers"--and pretty rosy cheeks, and a very
white forehead.  And her face always had a bright dancing look that I
can remember best of all.

We learnt lessons together, and we slept together in two little beds
side by side, and we did everything together, from eating our breakfast
to dressing our dolls--and when one was away the other seemed only half
alive.  All our frocks and hats and jackets were exactly the same, and
except that Winny was taller than I, we should never have known which
was which of our things.  I am sure Winny was a very good little girl,
but when I try to remember all about her exactly, what seems to come
back most to me is her being always so happy.  She did not need to think
much about being good and not naughty; everything seemed to come rightly
to her of itself.  She thought the world was a very pretty, nice place;
and she loved all her friends, and she loved God most of all for giving
them to her.  She used to say she was sure Heaven would be a very happy
place too, only she did so hope there would be plenty of flowers there,
and she was disappointed because mamma said it did not tell in the Bible
what kinds of flowers there would be.  Almost the only thing which made
her unhappy was about there being so many very poor people in the world.
She used to talk about it very often and wonder why it was, and when
she was very, very little, she cried because nurse would not let her
give away her best velvet jacket to a poor little girl she saw on the
road.

But though Winny was so sweet, and though we loved each other so,
sometimes we did quarrel.  Now and then it was quite little quarrels
which were over directly, but once we had a bigger quarrel.  Even now I
do not like to remember it; and oh! how I do wish I could make other
boys and girls feel as I do about quarrelling.  Even little tiny
squabbles seem to me to be sorrowful things, and then they so often grow
into bigger ones.  It was generally mostly my fault.  I was peevish and
cross sometimes, and Winny was never worse than just hasty and quick for
a moment.  She was always ready to make friends again, "to kiss
ourselves to make the quarrel go away," as our little sister Dolly used
to say, almost before she could speak.  And sometimes I was silly, and
then it was right for Winny to find fault with me.  My manners used
occasionally to trouble her, for she was very particular about such
things.  One day I remember she was very vexed with me for something I
said to a gentleman who was dining with our papa and mamma.  He was a
nice kind gentleman, and we liked him, only we did not think him pretty.
Winny and I had fixed together that we did not think him pretty, only
of course Winny never thought I would be so silly as to _tell_ him so.
We came down to dessert that evening--Winny sat beside papa, and I sat
between Mr Merton and mamma, and after I had sat quite still, looking
at him without speaking, I suddenly said,--I can't think what made
me--"Mr Merton, I don't think you are at all pretty.  Your hair goes
straight down, and up again all of a sudden at the end, just like our
old drake's tail."

Mr Merton laughed very much, and papa laughed, and mamma did too,
though not so much.  But Winny did not laugh at all.  Her face got red,
and she would not eat her raisins, but asked if she might keep them for
Dolly, and she seemed quite unhappy.  And when we had said good-night,
and had gone upstairs, I could see how vexed she was.  She was so vexed
that she even gave me a little shake.  "Meg," she said, "I am so ashamed
of you.  I am really.  How _could_ you be so rude?"

I began to cry, and I said I did not mean to be rude; and I promised
that I would never say things like that again; and then Winny forgave
me; but I never forgot it.  And once I remember, too, that she was vexed
with me because I would not speak to a little girl who came to pay a
visit to her grandfather, who lived at _our_ grandfather's lodge.  Winny
stopped to say good-morning to her, and to ask her if her friends at
home were quite well; and the little girl curtseyed and looked so
pleased.  But I walked on, and when Winny called to me to stop I would
not; and then, when she asked me what was the matter, I said I did not
think we needed to speak to the little girl, she was quite a common
child, and we were ladies.  Winny _was_ vexed with me then; she was too
vexed to give me a little shake even.  She did not speak for a minute,
and then she said, very sadly, "Meg, I _am_ sorry you don't know better
than that what being a lady means."

I do know better now, I hope; but was it not strange that Winny _always_
seemed to know better about these things?  It came of itself to her, I
think, because her heart was so kind and happy.

Winny was very fond of listening to stories, and of making them up and
telling them to me; but she was not very fond of reading to herself.
She liked writing best, and I liked reading.  We used to say that when
we were big girls, Winny should write all mamma's letters for her, and I
should read aloud to her when she was tired.  How little we thought that
time would _never_ come!  We were always talking about what we should do
when we were big; but sometimes when we had been talking a long time,
Winny would stop suddenly, and say, "Meg, growing big seems a dreadfully
long way off.  It almost tires me to think of it.  What a great, great
deal we shall have to learn before then, Meg!"  I wonder what gave her
that feeling.

Shall I tell you now about the worst quarrel we ever had?  It was about
Winny's best doll.  The doll's name was "Poupee."  Of course I know now
that that is the French for all dolls; but we were so little then we did
not understand, and when our aunt's French maid told us that "poupee"
was the word for doll, we thought it a very pretty name, and somehow the
doll was always called by it.  Grandfather had given "Poupee" to Winny--
I think he brought it from London for her--and I cannot tell you how
proud she was of it.  She did not play with it every day, only on
holidays and treat-days; but every day she used to peep at "Poupee" in
the drawer where she lay, and kiss her, and say how pretty she looked.
One afternoon Winny was going out somewhere--I don't remember exactly
where; I daresay it was a drive with mamma--and I was not to go, and I
was crying; and just as Winny was running down-stairs all ready dressed
to go, she came back and whispered to me, "Meg, dear, don't cry.  It
takes away all my pleasure to see you.  Will you leave off crying and
look happy if I let you have `Poupee' to play with while I am out?"

I wiped away my tears in a minute, I _was_ so pleased.  Winny ran to
"Poupee's" drawer and got her out, and brought her to me.  She kissed
her as she put her into my arms, and she said to her, "My darling
`Poupee,' you are going to spend the afternoon with your aunt.  You must
be a very good little girl, and do exactly what she tells you."

And then Winny said to me, "You _will_ be very careful of her, won't
you, Meg?" and I promised, of course, that I would.

I did mean to be careful, and I really was; but for all that a sad
accident happened.  I had been very happy with "Poupee" all the
afternoon, and I had made her a new apron with a piece of muslin nurse
gave me, and some ribbon, which did nicely for bows; and I was carrying
her along the passage to show nurse how pretty the apron looked, when
the housemaid, who was coming along with a trayful of clean clothes from
the wash in her arms, knocked against me, and "Poupee" was thrown down;
and, terrible to tell, her dear, sweet little right foot was broken.  I
cannot tell you how sorry I was, and nurse was sorry too, and so was
Jane; but all the sorrow would not mend the foot.  I was sitting on the
nursery floor, with "Poupee" in my lap, crying over her, as miserable as
could be, when Winny rushed in, laden with parcels, in the highest
spirits.

"O!  I have had such a nice drive, and I have brought some buns and
sponge-cakes for tea, and a toy donkey for Blanche.  And has Poupee been
good?" she exclaimed.  But just then she caught sight of my face.  "What
is the matter, Meg?  What _have_ you done to my darling, beautiful
Poupee?  O Meg, Meg, you surely haven't broken her?"

I was crying so I could hardly speak.

"O Winny!"  I said, "I am so sorry."

But Winny was too vexed to care just at first for anything I could say.
"You naughty, naughty, unkind Meg," she said, "I do believe you did it
on purpose."

I could not bear that.  I thought it very hard indeed that she should
say so, when any one could see how miserable I was.  I did not answer
her; I ran out of the nursery, and though Winny called to me to come
back (for the moment she had said those words she was sorry for them), I
would not listen to her.  Nurse fetched me back soon, however, for it
was tea-time, but I would not speak to Winny.  We never had such a
miserable tea; there we sat, two red-eyed, unhappy little girls, looking
as if we did not love each other a bit.  If mamma had come up to the
nursery she would have put it all right--she did put Poupee's foot right
the very next day, she mended it so nicely with diamond cement, that the
place hardly showed at all--but she was busy that evening, and did not
happen to come up.  So bed-time came, and still we had not made friends,
though I heard Winny crying when she was saying her prayers.  After we
were in bed, and nurse had gone away, Winny whispered to me, "Meg, won't
you forgive me for saying that unkind thing?  Won't you kiss me and say
good-night, Winny?"

A minute before, I had been feeling as sorry as could be, but when Winny
spoke to me, a most hard, horrid, unkind feeling seemed to come back
into my heart, and I would not answer.  I breathed as if I were asleep,
pretending not to hear.  I think Winny thought I was asleep, for she did
not speak again.  I heard her crying softly, and then after a while I
heard by her breathing that she had really gone to sleep.  But I
couldn't.  I lay awake a long time, I thought it was hours and hours,
and I tossed and turned, but I _couldn't_ go to sleep.  I listened but I
could not hear Winny breathing--I put my hand out of my cot, and
stretched across to hers to feel for her; she seemed to be lying quite
still.  Then a dreadful feeling came into my mind--suppose Winny were
dead, and that I had refused to make friends and say good-night!  I must
have got fanciful with lying awake, I suppose, and you know I was only a
very little girl.  I could not bear it--I stretched myself across to
Winny and put my arms round her.

"Winny!  Winny!"  I said, "wake up, Winny, and kiss me, and let us say
good-night."

Winny woke up almost immediately, and she seemed to understand at once.

"Poor little Meg," she said, "poor little Meg.  We will never be unkind
to each other again--never.  Good-night, dear Meg."

"Good-night, Winny," I said.  And just as I was falling asleep I
whispered to her--"I will never let you go to sleep again, Winny,
without saying good-night."  And I never did, never except _once_.

I could tell you ever so many other things about Winny, but I daresay
you would be tired, for, of course, they cannot be so interesting to any
other little girls as to me.  But I think you will wish to hear about
our last good-night.

Have I told you about our aunts at all?  We had two aunties we were very
fond of.  They were young and merry and so kind to us, and there was
nothing we liked so much as going to stay with them, for their home--our
grandfather's--was not far away.  We generally all went there to spend
Christmas, but one year something, I forget what, had prevented this, so
to make up for it we were promised to spend Easter with them.  We did so
look forward to it--we were to go by ourselves, just like young ladies
going to pay a visit, and we were to stay from Saturday till Easter
Monday or Tuesday.

On the Saturday morning we woke up so early--hours before it was time to
be dressed--we were so excited about our visit.  But somehow Winny did
not seem quite as happy about it as I wanted her to be.  I asked her
what made her dull, and she said it was because she did not like leaving
papa and mamma, and Dolly and Blanche, not even for two or three days.
And when we went into mamma's room to say good-morning as usual, Winny
said so to her too.  Mamma laughed at her a little, and said she was a
great baby after all; and Winny smiled, but still she seemed dull, and I
shall never forget what a long long kiss she gave mamma that morning, as
if she could When we went to the nursery for breakfast, baby Blanche was
crying very much, and nurse said she was very cross.  She did not think
she was quite well, and we must be good and quiet.  After breakfast,
when mamma came to see baby, she seemed anxious about her, but baby went
to sleep before long quite comfortably, and then nurse said she would be
better when she awoke; it was probably just a little cold.  And very
soon the pony carriage was ready for Winny and me, and we kissed them
all and set off on our visit.  I was in high spirits, but as we drove
away I saw that Winny was actually crying a little, and she did not
often cry.

When we got to our aunties', however, she grew quite happy again.  We
were very happy indeed on Sunday, only Winny kept saying how glad she
would be to see them all at home again on Monday or Tuesday.  But on
Monday morning there came a letter, which made our aunties look grave.
They did not tell us about it till Winny asked if we were to go home
"to-day," and then they told us that perhaps we could not go home for
several days--not for two or three weeks even, for poor baby Blanche was
very ill, and it was a sort of illness we might catch from her if we
were with her.

"And that would only add to your poor mamma's trouble," said our
aunties; "so you see, dears, it is much the best for you to stay here."

I did not mind at all; indeed I was pleased.  I was sorry about baby,
but not very, for I thought she would soon be better.  But Winny looked
very sad.

"Aunty," she said, "you don't think poor baby will _die_, do you?"

"No, dear; I hope she will soon be better," said aunty, and then Winny
looked happier.

"Meg," she whispered to me, "we must be sure to remember about poor baby
being ill when we say our prayers."  And we fixed that we would.

After that we were very happy for two or three weeks.  Sometimes we were
sorry about baby and Dolly, for baby was very ill we were told, and
Dolly had caught the fever too.  But after a while news came that they
were both better, and we began to look forward to seeing papa and mamma
and them again.  We used to write little letters to them all at home,
and that was great fun; and we used to go such nice walks.  The fields
and lanes were full of daffodils, and soon the primroses came and the
violets, and Winny was _always_ gathering them and making wreaths and
nosegays.  It was a very happy time, and it all comes back into my mind
_dreadfully_, when I see the spring flowers, especially the primroses,
every year.

One day we had had a particularly nice walk, and when we came in Winny
seemed so full of spirits that she hardly knew what to do with herself.
We had a regular romp.  In our romping, by accident, Winny knocked me
down, for she was very strong, and I hurt my thumb.  I was often silly
about being hurt even a little, and I began to cry.  Then Winny was _so_
sorry; she kissed me and petted me, and gave me all her primrose wreaths
and nosegays, so I soon left off crying.  But somehow Winny's high
spirits had gone away.  She shivered a little and went close to the fire
to get warm, and soon she said she was tired, and we both went to bed.
I remember that night so well.  Winny did not seem sleepy when she was
in bed, and I wasn't either.  She talked to me a great deal, and _so_
nicely.  It was not about when we should be big girls; it was about
_now_ things; about not being cross ever, and helping mamma, and about
how pretty the lowers had looked, and how kind every one was to us, and
how kind God must be to make every one so, and just at the last, as she
was falling asleep, she said, "I do wonder so if there are primroses in
heaven?" and then she fell asleep, and so did I.

When I woke in the morning, I heard voices talking beside me.  It was
one of our aunties.  She was standing beside Winny, speaking to her.
When she looked round and saw that I was awake, she said to me in a kind
but rather a strange voice, "Meg, dear, put on your dressing-gown and
run down to my room to be dressed.  Winny has a headache, and I think
she had better not get up to breakfast."

I got up immediately and put on my slippers, and I was running out of
the room when I thought of something and ran back.  I put Winny's
slippers neatly beside her crib, and I said to her, "I have put them
ready for you when you get up, Winny."  I wanted to do something for her
you see, because I was so sorry about her headache.  She did not speak,
but she looked at me with such a look in her eyes.  Then she said, "Kiss
me, Meg, dear little Meg," and I was just going to kiss her when she
suddenly seemed to remember, and she drew back.  "No, dear, you
mustn't," she said; "aunty would say it was better not, because I'm not
well."

"Could I catch your headache, Winny?"  I said, "or is it a cold you've
got?  You are not _very_ ill, Winny?"

She only smiled at me, and just then I heard aunty calling to me to be
quick.  Winny's little hand was hanging over the side of the bed.  I
took it, and kissed it--poor little hand, it felt so hot--"I may kiss
your hand, mayn't I?"  I said, and then I ran away.

All that day I was kept away from Winny, playing by myself in rooms we
did not generally go into.  Sometimes my aunties would come to the door
for a minute and peep at me, and ask me what I would like to play with,
but it was very dull.  My aunties' maid took me a little walk in the
garden, and she put me to bed, but I cried myself to sleep because I had
not said good-night to Winny.

"Oh how I wish I had never been cross to her!"  I kept thinking; and if
_only_ I could make other children understand how _dreadful_ that
feeling was, I am sure, quite sure, they would never, never quarrel.

The next day was just the same, playing alone, dinner alone, everything
alone.  I was so lonely.  I never saw aunty till the evening, when it
was nearly bed-time, and then she came to the room where I was, and I
called out to her immediately to ask how Winny was.

"I _hope_ she will soon be better," she said.  "And, Meg, dear, it is
your bed-time now."

The thought of going to bed again without Winny was too hard.  I began
to cry.

"O aunty!"  I said, "I do so want to say good-night to Winny.  I
_always_ say good-night, and last night I couldn't."

Aunty thought for a minute.  She looked so sorry for me.  Then she said,
"I will see if I can manage it.  Come after me, Meg."  She went up
through a part of the house I did not know, and into a room where there
was a closed door.  She tapped at it without opening, and called out.
"Meg has come to say good-night to you, through the door, Winny dear."

Then I heard Winny's voice say softly, "I am so glad;" and I called out
quite loud, "Good-night, Winny," but Winny answered--I could not hear
her voice without listening close at the door--"Not good-night now, Meg.
It is _good-bye_, dear Meg."

I looked up at aunty.  It seemed to me her face had grown white, and the
tears were in her eyes.  Somehow, I felt a little afraid.

"What does Winny mean, aunty?"  I said in a whisper.

"I don't know, dear.  Perhaps being ill makes her head confused," she
said.  So I called out again, "Good-night, Winny," and aunty led me
away.

But Winny was right.  It _was_ good-bye.  The next morning when aunty's
maid was dressing me, I saw she was crying.

"What is the matter, Hortense?"  I said.  "Why are you unhappy?  Is any
one vexed with you?"

But she only shook her head and would not speak.

After I had had my breakfast, Hortense took me to my aunties'
sitting-room.  And when she opened the door, to my delight there was
mamma, sitting with both my aunties by the fire.  I was so pleased, I
gave quite a cry of joy, and jumped on to her knee.

"Does Winny know you've come?"  I cried, "_dear_ mamma."

But when I looked at her I saw that her face was very white and sad, and
my poor aunties were crying.  Still mamma smiled.

"Poor Meg!" she said.

"What is the matter?  Why is everybody so strange to-day?"  I said.

Then mamma told me.  "Meg, dear," she said, "you must try to remember
some of the things I have often told you about Heaven, what a happy
place it is, with no being ill or tired, or any troubles.  Meg, dear,
Winny has gone there."

For a minute I did not seem to understand.  I could not understand
Winny's having gone without telling me.  A sort of giddy feeling came
over me, it was all so strange, and I put my head down on mamma's
shoulder, without speaking.

"Meg, dear, do you understand?" she said.

"She didn't tell me she was going," I said, "but, oh yes, I remember she
said good-bye last night.  Did she go alone, mamma?  Who came for her?
Did _Jesus_?"  Something made me whisper that.

Mamma just said softly, "Yes."

"Had she only her little pink dressing-gown on?"  I asked next.
"Wouldn't she be cold?  Mamma, dear, is it a long way off?"

"Not to _her_," she said.  She was crying now.

"Do you think if I set off now, this very minute, I could get up to
her?"

But when I said that, mamma clasped me tight.

"Not that too," she whispered.  "Meg, Meg, don't say that."

I was sorry for her crying, and I stroked her cheek, but still I wanted
to go.

"Heaven is such a nice place, mamma.  Winny said so, only she wondered
about the primroses.  Why won't you let me go, mamma?"  And just then my
eyes happened to fall on the little piece of black sticking-plaster that
Winny had put on my thumb only two evenings before, when she had hurt it
without meaning.  "Mamma, mamma," I cried, "I _can't_ stay here without
Winny."

It all seemed to come into my mind then what it would really be to be
without her, and I cried and cried till my face _ached_ with crying.  I
can't remember much of that day, nor of several days.  I did not get
ill, the fever did not come to me somehow, but I seemed to get _stupid_
with missing Winny.  Mamma and my aunties talked to me, but it did not
do any good.  They could not tell me the only things I cared to hear--
all about Winny, what she was doing, what lessons she would have, if she
would always wear white frocks, and all sorts of things, that I must
have sadly pained them by asking.  For I did not then at all understand
about death.  I thought that Winny, my pretty Winny, just as I had known
her, had gone to Heaven.  I did not know that her dear little body had
been laid to rest in the quiet churchyard, and that it was her _spirit_,
her pure happy spirit, that had gone to heaven.  It was not for a long
time after that, that I was old enough to understand at all, and even
now it is hard to understand.  Mamma says even quite big, and very, very
clever people find it hard, and that the best way is to trust to God to
explain it afterwards.  But still I like to think about it, and I like
to think of what my aunties told me of the days Winny was ill--how happy
and patient she was, how _she_ seemed to "understand" about going, and
how she loved to have fresh wreaths of primroses about her all the time
she was ill.

I am a big girl now--nearly twelve.  I am a good deal bigger than Winny
was when she died, even Blanche is now as big as she was--is that not
strange to think of?  Perhaps I may live to be quite, quite an old
woman--that seems stranger still.  But even if I do I shall never forget
Winny.  I shall know her dear face again, and she will know mine--I feel
sure she will, in that happy country where she has gone.  But I will
never again say "good night" to my Winny, for in that country "there is
no night--neither sorrow nor weeping."

CHAPTER FOUR.

CON AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE.

  "They stole little Bridget
  For seven years long;
  When she came home again
  Her friends were all gone."

There was once a boy who was a very good sort of a boy, except for two
things; or perhaps I should say one thing.  I am really not sure whether
they were two things, or only two sides of the same thing; perhaps,
children, you can decide.  It was this.  He could not bear his lessons,
and his head was _always_ running on fairies.  You may say it is no harm
to think about fairies, and I do not say that in moderation it is.  But
when it goes the length of thinking about them so much that you have no
thought for anything else, then I think it _is_ harm--don't you? and I
daresay that this had to do with Con's hating his lessons so.  Perhaps
you will think it was an odd fancy for a boy: it is more often that
girls think about fairies, but you must remember that there are a great
many kinds of fairies.  There are pixies and gnomes, and brownies and
cobs, all manner of queer, clever, mischievous, and kindly creatures,
besides the pretty, gentle, little people whom one always thinks of as
haunting the woods in the summer time, and hiding among the flowers.

_Con_ knew all about them; where he got his knowledge from I can't say,
but I hardly think it was out of books.  However that may have been, he
did know all about the fairy world as accurately as some boys know all
about birds' nests, and squirrels, and field mice, and hedgehogs.  And
there was one good thing about this fancy of Con's; it led him to know a
great many queer things about out-of-door's creatures that most boys
would not have paid attention to.  He did not care to know about birds'
nests for the sake of stealing them for instance, but he had fancies
that some of the birds were special favourites of the fairies, and it
led him to watch their little ways and habits with great attention.  He
knew always where the first primroses were to be found, because he
thought the fairies dug up the earth about their roots, and watered them
at night, when every one was asleep, with magic water out of the lady
well, to make them come up quicker, and many a morning he would get up
very very early, in hopes of surprising the tiny gardeners at their work
before they had time to decamp.  But he never succeeded in doing so;
and, after all, when he did have an adventure, it came, as most things
do, just exactly in a way he had never in the least expected it.

Con's home had something to do with his fancifulness perhaps.  I won't
tell you where it was, for it doesn't matter; and though some of the
wiser ones among you may think you can guess what country he belonged to
when I tell you that his real name was not Con, but Connemara, I must
tell you you are mistaken.  No, I won't tell you where his home was, but
I will tell you _what_ it was.  It was a sort of large cottage, and it
was perched on the side of a mountain, not a hill, a real mountain, and
a good big one too, and there were ever so many other mountains near by.
There was a pretty garden round the cottage, and at the back a door
opened in the garden wall right on to the mountain.  Wasn't that nice?
And if you climbed up a little way you had _such_ a view.  You could see
all the other mountains poking their heads up into the sky one above the
other--some of them looked bare and cold, and some looked comfortable
and warmly clad in cloaks of trees and shrubs and furze, but still they
all looked beautiful.  For the sunshine and the clouds used to chase
each other over the heights and valleys so fast it was like giants
playing bo-peep; that was on fine days of course.  On foggy and rainy
days there were grand sights to be seen too.  First one mountain and
then another would put on a nightcap of great heavy clouds, and
sometimes the night-caps would grow down all over them till they were
quite hidden; and then all of a sudden they would rise off again slowly,
hit by bit, till Con could see first up to the mountain's waist, then
up, up, up to the very top again.  That was another kind of bo-peep.

Summer and winter, fine or wet, cold or hot, Con used to go to school
every day.  He was only seven years old, and there was a good way to
walk, more than a mile; but it was very seldom, very, _very_ seldom,
that he missed going.  There were reasons why it was best for him to go;
his father and mother knew them, and he was too good not to do what they
told him, whether he liked it or not.  But he was like the horse that
one man led to the water, but twenty couldn't make drink.  There was no
difficulty in making Con go to school; but as for getting him to learn
once he was there--ah, no! that was a different matter.  So I fear I
cannot say that he was much of a favourite with his teachers.  You see
they didn't know that his little head was so full of fairies that it
really had no room for anything else, and it was only natural that they
should think him inattentive and even stupid, and their thinking so did
not make Con like his lessons any better.  And with his playmates he was
not a favourite either.  He never quarrelled with them, but he did not
seem to care about their games, and they laughed at him, and called him
a muff.  It was a pity, for I believe it was partly to make him play
with other boys that his father and mother sent him to school; and for
some things the boys couldn't help liking him.  He was so good-natured,
and, for such a little fellow, so brave.  He could climb trees like a
squirrel, and he was never afraid of anything.  Many and many a short
winter's afternoon it was dark before Con left school to come home, but
he did not mind at all.  He would sling his satchel of books across his
shoulders, and trudge manfully home--thinking--thinking.  By this time I
daresay you can guess of what he was thinking.

There were two ways by which he could come home from school--there was
the road, really not better than a lane, and when he came that way you
see he had to do all his climbing at the end, for the road was pretty
level, winding along round the foot of the mountain, perched on the side
of which was Con's home; and there was what was called the hill road,
which ran up the mountain behind the village, and then went bobbing up
and down along the mountain side still gradually ascending, away, away,
I don't know where to--up to some lonely shepherds' huts I daresay,
where nobody but the shepherds and the sheep ever went.  But on its way
it passed not very far from Con's home.  I need hardly say that the hill
road was the boy's favourite way.  He liked it because it was more
"climby," and for another reason too.  By this way, he passed the
cottage of an old woman named Nance, of whom he was extremely fond, and
to whom he would always stop to speak if he possibly could.

I don't know that many boys and girls would have taken a fancy to Nance.
She was certainly not pretty, and what is more she was decidedly
_queer_.  She was very very small, indeed the smallest person I ever
heard of, I think.  When Con stood beside her, though he was only seven,
he really looked bigger than she did, and she was so funnily dressed
too.  She always wore green, quite a bright green, and her dresses never
seemed to get dull or soiled though she had all her housework to do for
herself, and she had over her green dress a long brown cloak with a
hood, which she generally pulled over her face to shield her eyes from
the sun, she said.  Her face was very small and brown and puckered-up
looking, but she had bright red cheeks, and _very_ bright dark eyes.
She was never seen either to laugh or cry; but she used to smile
sometimes, and her smile was rather nice.

The neighbours--they were hardly to be called _her_ neighbours, for her
house was quite half-a-mile from any other--all called her "uncanny," or
whatever word they used to mean that, and they all said they did not
know anything of her history, where she had come from, or anything about
her.  And once when Con repeated to her some remarks of this kind which
he had heard at school, Nance only smiled and said, "no doubt the people
of Creendale"--that was the name of the village--"were very wise."

"But _have_ you always lived here, Nance?" asked Con.

"No, Connemara," she answered gravely, "not always."

But that was all she said, and somehow Con did not care to ask her more.

It was not often he asked her questions; he was not that sort of boy for
one thing, and besides, there was something about her that forbade it.
He used to sit at one side of the cottage fire, or, in summer, on the
turf seat just outside the door, watching Nance's tiny figure as she
flitted about, or sometimes just staring up at the sky, or into the fire
without speaking.  Nance never seemed to mind what he did, and he in no
way doubted that she was glad to see him, though by words she had never
said so.  When he did speak it was always about one thing--what, you can
guess, it was always about fairies.  It was through this that he had
first made friends with Nance.  She had found him peering into the
hollow trunk of an old solitary oak-tree that stood farther down the
hill, not very far from her dwelling.

"What are you doing there, Connemara?" she said.

"I was thinking this might be one of the doors into fairyland," he
answered quietly, without seeming surprised at her knowing his name.

"And what should you know about that place?" she said again.

And Con turned towards her his earnest blue eyes, and told her all his
thoughts and fancies.  It seemed easier to him to tell Nance about them
than it had ever seemed to tell any one else--his feelings seemed to put
themselves into words, as if Nance drew them out.

Nance said very little, but she smiled.  And after that Con used to stop
at her cottage nearly every day on his way home--he dared not on his way
_to_ school, for fear of being late, for almost the only thing he always
did get was good marks for punctuality.  His people at home did not know
much about Nance.  He told his mother about her once, and asked if he
might stay to speak to her; and when his mother heard that Nance's
cottage was very clean, she said, "Yes, she didn't mind," and, after
that, Con somehow never mentioned her again.  He came to have gradually
a sort of misty notion that Nance had had something to do with him ever
since he was born.  She seemed to know everything about him.  From the
very first she called him by his proper name--not Con or Master Con, but
Connemara, and he liked to hear her say it.

One winter afternoon, it was nearly dark though it was only half-past
three, Con coming home from school (the master let them out earlier on
the very short days), stopped as usual at Nance's cottage.  It was very,
_very_ cold, the fierce north wind came swirling down from the
mountains, round and round, here, there, and everywhere, till, but for
the unmistakable "freeze" in its breath, you would hardly have known
whence it blew.

"It is so cold, Nance," said the boy, as he settled himself by the fire.
Nance's fires always burnt so bright and clear.

"Yes," said Nance, "the snow is coming, Connemara."

"I don't care," said Con, shaking his shaggy fair hair out of his eyes,
for the heat was melting the icicles upon it.  "I'm not going to hurry.
Father and mother are away for two days, so there's no one to miss me.
Mayn't I stay, Nance?"

Nance did not answer.  She went to the door and looked out, and Con
thought he heard her whisper something to herself.  Immediately a blast
of wind came rushing down the hill, into the very room it seemed to Con.
Nance closed the door.  "Not long; the storm is coming," she said
again, in answer to his question.

But in the meantime Con made himself very comfortable by the fire,
amusing himself as usual by staring into its glowing depths.

"Nance," he said at last, "do you know what the boys at school say?
They say they wonder I'm not afraid of you!  They say you're a witch,
Nance!"

He looked up in her face brightly with his fearless blue eyes, and
laughed so merrily that all the corners of the queer little cottage
seemed to echo it back.  Nance, however, only smiled.

"If you _were_ a witch, Nance, I'd make you grant me some wishes, three
anyway," he went on.  "Of course you know what the first would be, and,
indeed, if I had that, I don't know that I would want any other.  I
mean, to go to fairyland, you know."

Nance nodded her head.

"The other two would be for it to be always summer, and for me never,
never, _never_ to have any lessons to learn," he continued.

"Never to grow a man?" said Nance.

"I don't know," answered Con.  "_Lessons_ don't make boys grow; but
still I suppose they _have_ to have them sometime before they are men.
But I shouldn't care if I could go to fairyland, and if it would be
always summer; I don't think I _would_ care about ever being a man."

As he said these words the fire suddenly sent out a sputtering blaze.
It jumped up all at once with such a sort of crackle and fizz, Con could
have fancied it was laughing at him.  He looked up at Nance.  _She_ was
not laughing; on the contrary, her face looked very grave, graver than
ever he had seen it.

"Connemara," she said slowly, "take care.  You don't know what you are
saying."

But Con stared into the fire again and did not answer.  I hardly think
he heard what she said; the warm fire made him drowsy, and the
brightness dazzled his eyes.  He was almost beginning to nod, when Nance
spoke again to him, rather sharply this time.

"My boy, the snow is beginning; you must go."  Con's habit of obedience
made him start up, sleepy though he was.  Nance was already at the door
looking out.

"Do not linger on the way, Connemara," she said, "and do not think of
anything but home.  It will be a wild night, but if you go straight and
swift you will reach home soon."

"I'm not afraid," said Con stoutly, as he set off.

"I could wish he were," murmured Nance to herself, as she watched the
little figure showing dark against the already whitening hill side, till
it was out of sight.

Then she came back into the cottage, but she could not rest.

Con strode on manfully; the snow fell thicker and thicker, the wind blew
fiercer and fiercer, but he had no misgiving.  He had never before been
out in a snow-storm, and knew nothing of its special dangers.  For some
time he got on very well, keeping strictly to the path, but suddenly,
some little way up the mountain to his right, there flashed out a bright
light.  It jumped and hopped about in the queerest way.  Con stood still
to watch.

"Can it be a will-o'-the-wisp?" thought he, in his innocence forgetting
that a bleak mountain side in a snow-storm is hardly the place for
jack-o'-lanterns and such like.

But while he watched the light it all at once settled steadily down, on
a spot apparently but a few yards above him.

"It may be some one that has lost their road," thought Con; "I could
easily show it them.  I may as well climb up that little way to see;"
for strangely enough the thought of the _fairies_ having anything to do
with what he saw never once occurred to him.

He left the path and began to climb.  There, just above him, was the
light, such a pretty clear light, shining now so steadily.  It did not
seem to move, but still as fast as he thought he had all but reached it,
it receded, till at last, tired, and baffled, he decided that it _must_
be a will-o'-the-wisp, and turned to regain the road.  But like so many
wise resolutions, this one was more easily made than executed; Con could
not find the road, hard though he tried.  The snow came more and more
thickly till it blinded and bewildered him hopelessly.  Con did his
utmost not to cry, but at last he could bear up no longer.  He sank down
on the snow and sobbed piteously; then a pleasant resting feeling came
over him, gradually he left off crying and forgot all his troubles; he
began to fancy he was in his little bed at home, and remembered nothing
more about the snow or anything.

Nance meanwhile had been watching anxiously at her door.  She saw that
the snow was coming faster, and that the wind was rising.  Every now and
then it seemed to rush down with a sort of howling scream, swept round
the kitchen and out again, and whenever it did so, the fire would leap
up the chimney, as if it were laughing at some one.

"Frisken is at his tricks to-night," said Nance to herself, and every
moment she seemed to grow more and more anxious.  At last she could bear
it no longer.  She reached a stout stick, which stood in a corner of the
room, drew her brown cloak more closely round her, and set off down the
path where she had lost sight of Con.  The storm of wind and snow seemed
to make a plaything of her; her slight little figure swayed and tottered
as she hastened along, but still she persevered.  An instinct seemed to
tell her where she should find the boy; she aimed almost directly for
the place, but still Connemara had lain some time in his death-like
sleep before Nance came up to him.  There was not light enough to have
distinguished him; what with the quickly-approaching darkness and the
snow, which had already almost covered his little figure, Nance could
not possibly have discovered him had she not stumbled right upon him.
But she seemed to know what she was about, and she did not appear the
least surprised.  She managed with great difficulty to lift him in her
arms, and turned towards her home.  Alas, she had only staggered on a
few paces when she felt that her strength was going.  Had she not sunk
down on to the ground, still tightly clasping the unconscious child, she
would have fallen.

"It is no use," she whispered at last; "they have been too much for me.
The child will die if I don't get help.  The only creature that has
loved me all these long, long years!  Oh, Frisken, you might have played
your tricks elsewhere, and left him to me.  But now I must have your
help."

She struggled again to her feet, and, with her stick, struck sharply
three times on the mountain side.  Immediately a door opened in the
rock, revealing a long passage within, with a light, as of a glowing
fire, at the end, and Nance, exerting all her strength, managed to drag
herself and Con within this shelter.  Instantly the door closed again.

No sooner had it done so, no sooner was Nance quite shut out from the
outside air, than a strange change passed over her.  She grew erect and
vigorous, and the weight of the boy in her arms seemed nothing to her.
She looked many years younger in an instant, and with the greatest ease
she carried Con along the passage, which ended in a small cave, where a
bright fire was burning, in front of which lay some soft furry rugs,
made of the skins of animals.  With a sigh Nance laid Con gently down on
the rugs.  "He will do now," she said to herself.

The first thing Con was aware of when a sort of half-consciousness
returned to him, was the sound of voices.  He did not recognise either
of them; he was too sleepy to think where he was, or to take in the
sense of what he heard, but long afterwards the words returned to him.

"Of course we shall do him no harm," said the first voice.  "That is not
our way with those who come to us as he has done.  All his life he has
been wishing to come to us, and we might bear you a grudge for trying to
stop him."

Here the speaker burst into a curious, ringing laugh, which seemed to be
re-echoed by numberless other voices in the distance.

"You made him wish it," answered some one--it was Nance--sadly.

"_We_ made him wish it!  Ha, ha! ha, ha!  Did you ever hear anything
like that, my dear friends?  Why did his mother tie up his sleeves with
green ribbon before he was christened?  Answer that.  Ha, ha! ha, ha!"
And then there came another succession of rollicking laughter.

"It was to be, I suppose," said Nance.  "But you won't _keep_ him.  I
brought him here to save his life, not to lose his--"

"Hush, hush; how can you be so ill-mannered?" interrupted the other.
"_Keep_ him? of course not, _unless he wants to stay_, the pretty dear."

"But will you make him want to stay?" pleaded Nance.

"How could we?" said the other mockingly.  "How could _we_ influence
him?  He is a pupil of yours.  But if you like to change your mind, you
may come back instead of him.  Ha, ha! ha, ha! what a joke!"  And the
laughter sounded as if the creatures, whoever they were, were holding
their sides, and rolling about in the extremity of their glee.  It faded
away, gradually however, growing more and more indistinct, as if
receding into the distance.  And Con turned round on his side, and fell
asleep more soundly than ever.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

When at last he really awoke he found himself lying on a bed of soft
moss, under the shade of some great trees, for it was summer time--
summer evening time it seemed, for the light was subdued, like that of
the sun from behind a cloud.  Con started up in amazement, rubbing his
eyes to make sure he was not dreaming.  Where was he?  How could it all
be?  The last thing he remembered was losing his way in the snow-storm
on the mountain; what had become of the winter and the snow?  He looked
about him; the place he was in seemed to be a sort of forest glade; the
foliage of the trees was so thickly interlaced overhead that only little
patches of sky were here and there to be seen.  There was no sunshine;
just the same even, pale light over everything.  It gave him again the
feeling of being in a dream.  Suddenly a sound caught his ears, it was
that of running water; he turned in the direction whence it came.

It was the loveliest little brook you ever saw--"with many a curve" it
wound along through the forest, and on its banks grew the most exquisite
and wonderful variety of flowers.  Flowers of every colour, but of
shapes and forms Con had never seen before.  He stood looking at them in
bewildered delight, and as he looked, suddenly the thought for the first
time flashed into his mind--"This is fairyland!  I have got my wish at
last.  I am in fairyland!"

There was something, even to him, almost overwhelming in the idea.  He
could not move or speak, hardly even breathe.  All at once there burst
out in every direction, above his head, beneath his feet, behind him, in
front of him, _everywhere_ in fact, peals and peals of laughter--the
clearest, merriest, most irresistible laughter you ever heard.

"It's the fairies," thought Con, "but where are they?"

Where were they?  Everywhere.  There came another shrill peal of
laughter and up they sprang, all together, from every imaginable corner.
There was not a branch of a tree, hardly even a twig, it seemed to Con,
on which one was not perched.  They poked up their comical faces above
the clear water of the brook where they must have been hiding, though
how he had failed to see them there the boy could not imagine; they
started up from the ground in such numbers, that Con lifted carefully
first one foot and then the other to make sure he was not tramping upon
some of them; they actually swarmed, and Con could not make it out at
all.  Could they have only just come, or had they been there all the
time, and had something wrong with his eyes prevented his seeing them
before?  No, he couldn't make it out.

Were they like what he had expected to find them?  Hardly, at least he
was not sure.  Yet they were very pretty; they were as light and bright
and agile as--like nothing he could think of.  Their faces seemed to be
brimming over with glee; there was not a sad or anxious look among them.
They were dressed in every colour of the rainbow, I was going to say,
but that would not be true, for there were no _brilliant_ colours among
them.  In every shade that you see in the woods in autumn would be more
correct; the ladies in the soft greens and brown pinks and tender
yellows of the fading leaves, the gentlemen in the olives and
russet-browns and purples which give the deeper tints of autumn
foliage--perhaps this was the reason that Con had not at first
distinguished them from the leaves and the moss and the tree-roots where
they had lain hidden?

He stood gazing at them in silence, wondering when they were going to
leave off laughing.  At last the noise subsided, and one fairy, who had
been swinging on a bough just above Con's head, slid down and stood
before him.

"Welcome to fairyland, Connemara," he said pompously.  He was one of the
tallest among them, reaching above Con's waist.  His face, like the
rest, was full of fun, but it had a look of great determination too.
"My name is Frisken," he continued, "at least that's one of my names,
and it will do for you to use as well as any other, though up above
there they have ever so many names for me.  I am an old friend of yours,
though you may not know it, and you will find it for your interest to
please me.  We've given up kings and queens lately, we find it's better
fun without; but, considering everything, I think I may say my opinion
is considered of some importance.  Elves, do you agree with me?"

They all raised a shout of approval, and Frisken turned again to Con.
"Our laws are easy to keep," he said, "you will soon know them.  Your
duties are comprised in one word, _Play_, and if ever you attempt to do
anything else it will be the worse for you.  You interrupted us in the
middle of a dance, by-the-by.  Elves, strike up the music."

Then Frisken took Con's right hand, and a lovely little maiden clad in
the palest green, and with flowing yellow hair, took the other, and the
fairies made themselves into dozens and dozens of rings, and twirled and
whirled away to the sound of the gayest and most inspiriting music.  Con
had never enjoyed himself so much in his life, and the best of it was
the more he danced the more he wanted to dance; he jumped and whirled
and twirled as fast as any (though I have no doubt the _fairies_ thought
him rather clumsy about it), and yet without the very least feeling of
fatigue.  He felt as if he could have gone on for ever.  Suddenly the
elves stopped.

"Oh don't stop!" said Con, who was beginning to feel quite at home, "do
let's go on.  I am not a bit tired."

"_Tired_," said Frisken, contemptuously, "whoever heard such a word?
How can you be so ill-mannered?  Besides, mortal though you are, you
certainly should _not_ be tired.  Why, you're only just awake, and you
slept long enough to last you at any rate for--"

"For how long?" said Con, timidly.

But Frisken did not answer, and Con, who was rather in awe of him,
thought it best not to press the enquiry.  The fairies did not go on
dancing, however.  They were fond of variety, evidently, whether they
ever got tired or not.  They now all "adjourned" to another part of the
forest, where a grand banquet was prepared.  What the viands were, Con
had no idea, but he little cared, for they were the most delicious he
had ever tasted.  He was not a greedy boy by any means, but he did enjoy
this feast; everything was so charming; the fairies all reclined on
couches made of the same soft green moss as that on which he had found
himself lying when he first awoke, and all the time the invisible
musicians played lovely, gentle music, which, had Con not winked
violently, would have brought the tears to his eyes, for, somehow, it
made him think of home, and wonder what his mother was doing, and
whether she was in trouble about his absence.  It did not seem to affect
the fairies in the same way; they were chattering, and joking, and
laughing, just as merrily as ever; once Con caught Frisken's eye fixed
upon him, and almost immediately after, the music stopped, and the games
began.  What wonderful games they were!  I cannot tell you half of them;
one favourite one you may have heard of before--they buried a seed a
little way in the ground, and then danced round it in a circle, singing
some queer wild words which Con could not understand.  Then they all
stood still and called to Con to look; he could hardly believe his
eyes--there was the seed already a little plant, and even as he looked,
it grew, and grew, and grew, up into a great strong tree; and as the
branches rose higher and higher, the fairies caught hold of them and
rose up with them into the sky, till the tree seemed to be covered with
fruits of every shape and colour.  Con had not recovered his amazement,
when they were all down again, ready for something else.  This time,
perhaps, it would be the mouse game--a dozen or two of fairies would
turn themselves into mice, and Frisken and one or two others into cats,
and then what a chase they had!  It puzzled Con quite as much as the
seed game, for he was _sure_ he saw Frisken gobble up two or three mice,
and yet--in a moment, there they all were again in their proper fairy
forms, not one missing!  He wished he could ask Frisken to explain it,
but he had not time, for now an expedition to the treasure caves was
proposed, and off they all set, some riding on fairy piebald ponies
about the size of a rocking-horse, some driving in mother-of-pearl
chariots drawn by large white cats, some running, some dancing along.
And, oh, the treasure caves, when they got there!  All the stories Con
had ever heard of--Aladdin, and genii and pirates' buried riches, none
of them came up to these wonderful caves in the least.  There were just
_heaps_ of precious stones, all cut and polished, and, according to
fairy notions, quite ready for wear.  For they all helped themselves to
as many jewels as they wanted, strung them together on silk, with
needles that pierced them as easily as if they had been berries, and
flitted about as long as the fancy lasted, wreathed in diamonds and
rubies, and emeralds, and every sort of brilliant stone.  And then when
they had had enough of them, threw them away as ruthlessly as children
cast aside their withered daisy-chains.

And so it went on without intermission; incessant jousts and revels, and
banquets, constant laughter and joking, no pain, no fatigue, no anxiety.
For the fairies live entirely and completely in the present, past and
future have no meaning to their heedless ears, time passes as if it were
not; they have no nights or days, no summer or winter.  It is always the
same in fairyland.

But some things puzzled Con sorely.  Strangely enough, in this realm of
thoughtlessness, he was beginning to _think_ as well as to fancy, to
wish to know the whys and wherefores of things, as he had never done
before.  Now and then he tried to question Frisken, who, he felt
certain, knew all he wished to learn, but it was difficult ever to get
him to explain anything.  Once, I was very nearly saying _one day_, but
there are no such things there--Con could keep no count of time, he
could have told how many banquets he had been at, how many times they
had been to the caves, how often they had bathed in the stream, but that
was all--once, then, when Frisken seemed in a quieter mood than usual,
Con tried what he could do.

"Frisken," he said, "why is it that all the oldest looking fairies among
you are the smallest.  Why, there's the old fairy that drives the
largest chariot, he's not above half as big as you?  It seems to me they
keep getting smaller and smaller as they get older; why is it?"

"Of course they do.  What else would you have?" said Frisken.  "What an
owl the boy must be!  How can you ask such ill-mannered questions?"

"Do you mean they get smaller and smaller till they die?" said Con.

Frisken sprang to his feet with a sort of yell.  It was the first time
Con had seen him put out, but even now he seemed more terrified than
angry.  He sat down again, shaking all over.

"I don't know what you mean," he gasped; "we never mention such things."

"But what becomes of you all then--_afterwards_?" said Con, more
discreetly.

Frisken had recovered himself.

"What do you mean by your afters and befores and thens?" he said; "Isn't
_now_ enough for you?  What becomes of them? why, what becomes of things
up there in that world of yours--where do the leaves and the flowers and
the butterflies go to--eh?"

"But they are only _things_," persisted Con, "they have no--"

"_Hush_!" screamed Frisken, "how can you be so ill-mannered? come along,
the music is beginning; they are waiting for us to dance."

But it was with a heavy heart that Con joined the dance.  He was
beginning to be very tired of this beautiful fairyland, and to wish very
much that he could go home to the cottage on the mountain, to his father
and mother, even to his lessons!  A shudder ran through him as old tales
that he had heard or read, and scarcely understood, returned to his
mind--of children stolen by the fairies who _never_ went home again till
too late, and who then in despair returned to their beautiful prison to
become all that was left to them to be, fairies themselves, _things_,
like the flowers and the butterflies--supposing already it was too late
for him? quickly as the time had passed, for all he knew, he had been a
century in fairyland!

But he had to dance and to sing and to play incessantly like the others.
He must not let them suspect his discontent or he would lose all chance
of escape.  He watched his opportunity for getting more information out
of Frisken.

"Do you never go `up there?'" he asked him once, using the fairy word
for the world he had left, "for a change you know, and to play tricks on
people--that must be such fun."

Frisken nodded his head mysteriously.  He was delighted to see what a
regular elfin Con was growing.

"Sometimes," he said.  "It's all very well for a little while, but I
couldn't stay there long.  The air is so thick--ugh--and the cold and
the darkness!  You wouldn't believe, would you, now that you know what
it's like down here, that fairies have been known to go up there and to
_stay_ by their own choice--to become clumsy, miserable, short-lived
mortals?"

"What made them?" said Con.

"Oh, a stupid idea that if they stayed up there they would have the
chance of growing into--oh, nonsense, don't let us talk of anything so
disagreeable.  Come and have some games."

But Con persisted.  He had discovered that when he got Frisken all to
himself he had a strange power of _forcing_ him to answer his questions.

"Was old Nance once down here?" he asked suddenly.  Frisken wriggled.

"What if she was?" he said, "she's not worth speaking about."

"Why did she go up there?" said Con.

"She was bewitched," answered Frisken.  "I cannot think why you like to
talk about such stupid things.  You have forgotten about things up
there; luckily for you you came down here before you had learnt much.
Did you ever hear talk of a stupid thing they call `love' up there?
That took her up, and then she stayed because she got more nonsense in
her head."

"_I_ love my mother and my father," said Con stoutly.

"Nonsense," said Frisken, "you make me feel sick.  You must forget all
that.  Come along and make a tree."

But Con did not forget.  He thought about it all constantly, and he
understood much that he had never dreamt of before.  He grew to detest
his life among the fairies, and to long and plan for escape.  But how to
manage it he had no notion; which was the way "up" the fairies carefully
concealed from him, and he had no clue to guide him.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Nance!  Nance! are you there?  O dear Nance! do let me out, and take me
home to my mother again.  O Nance!  Nance!"

It was Con.  He had managed to escape from Frisken and the others,
amusing themselves in the treasure caves, and had made his way along a
narrow winding passage in the rock, with a vague idea that as it went
"up" it would perhaps prove to be a way out of fairyland.  He had passed
the little cave where Nance had warmed him by the fire, and the sight of
it had brought back a misty feeling that Nance had had something to do
with that night's adventures.  Now he was standing at the end of the
passage, the way was stopped by a great wall of rock, he could go no
farther.  In an agony of fear lest his fairy jailers should overtake
him, he beat upon the rock and cried for his old friend's help.  For
some time he got no answer, then suddenly, just as he fancied he heard
the rush of the elves behind him in hot pursuit, he caught the sound of
his own name whispered softly through the rocky door.

"Connemara," a voice said, "I will strike the door three times, but
stand back or it may crush you."

He crept back into a corner and listened for the taps.  One, two, three,
and the tremendously heavy door of stone rolled back without a sound,
and in a moment Con was back in the stupid old world again!  There stood
Nance; she put her arms round him and kissed him without speaking.  Then
"run home, Connemara," she said, "run home fast, and do not linger.
There is light enough to see the way, and there will soon be more."

"But come with me, dear Nance.  I want to tell you all about it.  Come
home with me and I will tell mother you saved me."

But Nance shook her head.  "I cannot," she said, sorrowfully; "run home,
I entreat you."

He obeyed her, but turned to look back when he had run a little way.
Nance was no longer there.

It was early morning, but it was winter time.  The ground was covered
with snow beginning to sparkle in the red light of the rising sun.  The
dear old sun!  How glad Con was to see his round face again.  The world
looked just the same as when he had left it, but suddenly a dreadful
fear seized Con.  How would he find all at home?  How long had he been
away?  Could it be a hundred years, or fifty, or even only seven, what a
terrible change he would find.  He thought of "little Bridget" in the
ballad, and shivered.  He was almost afraid to open the garden door and
run in.  But everything looked the same; and, yes--there to his delight
was old Evan the gardener already at work, apparently no older than when
last he had seen him--it must be all right, Evan was _so_ old, that to
see him there at all told that no great time could have passed.

"You've come home early this morning, Master Con," he said.  "Master and
Missis came back last night in all that storm, but they weren't
frightened about you, as they had the message that you had stayed at
school."

"What do you mean, Evan--what message?  Who said I had stayed at
school?" "_Last night_--could it have been only _last night_," he
whispered to himself.

"A little boy brought the message, the queerest little chap you ever
saw--not as big as you by half hardly, but speaking quite like a man.  I
met him myself on my way home, and turned back again to tell.  What a
rough night it was to be sure!"

Feeling as if he were dreaming, Con turned to the house.  There on the
doorstep stood his mother, looking not a little astonished at seeing
him.

"Why, Con, dear," she exclaimed, "you _have_ come over early this
morning.  Did you get home-sick in one night?"

But Con had flung his arms round her neck, and was kissing her
_dreadfully_.  "O mother, mother!  I _am_ so glad to see you again," he
cried.

"You queer boy.  Why, I declare he has tears in his eyes!" his mother
exclaimed.  "Why, Con, dear, you seem as if you had been away a year
instead of a night."

"I will tell you all about it, mother.  But, oh! please, why did you tie
up my sleeves with green ribbon before I was christened?"

His mother stared.  "Now who could have told you that, child?" she said.
"It was silly of me, but I only did it to tease old nurse, who was full
of fancies.  Besides the days of fairy stealings are over, Con, though I
have often thought nurse would have been alarmed if she had known how
full of fairy fancies you were, my boy."

"Mother, mother! listen, it is _quite_ true," said Con, and he hastened
to pour out the story of his wonderful adventure.  His mother _did_ look
astonished, but naturally enough she _could_ not believe it.  She would
have it he had fallen asleep at old Nance's cottage and dreamt it all.

"But who was the boy that brought the message then?" said Con.  "I
_know_ he was a fairy."

And his mother could not tell what to say.

"I know what to do," he went on; "will you come with me to Nance's
cottage and ask _her_?" and to this his mother agreed.

And that very morning to the old woman's cottage they went.  It was in
perfect order as usual, not a speck of dust to be seen; the little bed
made, and not a stool out of its place.  But there was no fire burning
in the little hearth--and no Nance to be seen.  Con ran all about,
calling her, but she had utterly disappeared.  He threw himself on the
ground, sobbing bitterly.

"She has gone back to them instead of me--to prevent them coming after
me," he cried, "and oh! she will be so unhappy."

And nothing that his mother could say would console him.

But a night or two afterwards the boy had a dream, or a vision, which
comforted him.  He thought he saw Nance; Nance with her kind, strange
smile, and she told him not to be troubled.  "I have only gone back for
a time," she said, "and they cannot hold me, Connemara.  I shall have
conquered after all.  You will never see me again here.  I am soon going
to a country very far away.  I shall never come back to my little
cottage, but still we may meet again and you must not grieve for me."

So Con's mind was at peace about his old friend.  Of course she never
came back, and before long her cottage was pulled down.  No one could
say to whom it belonged, but no one objected to its destruction.  She
had been a witch they said, and it was best to do away with her
dwelling.

What Con's mother really came in the end to think about his story, I
cannot say; nor do I know if she ever told his father.  I fancy Con
seldom, if ever, spoke about it again.  But as all who knew him when he
grew up to be a man could testify, his taste of the land of "all play
and no work," never did him any harm.

CHAPTER FIVE.

MARY ANN JOLLY.

  "But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
  As I played in the heath one day;
  And I cried for her more than a week, dears--"

They say that the world--and of course that means the people in it--has
changed very much in the last half century or so.  I daresay in some
ways this is true, but it is not in all.  There are some ways in which I
hope and think people will never change much.  Hearts will never change,
I hope--good, kind hearts who love and trust each other I mean; and
little children, they surely will always be found the same,--simple and
faithful, happy and honest; why, the very word _childlike_ would cease
to have any meaning were the natures it describes to alter.

Looking back over more than fifty years to a child life then, far away
from here, flowing peacefully on, I recognise the same nature, the same
innocent, unsuspicious enjoyment, the same quaint, so-called
"old-fashioned" ways that now-a-days I find in the children growing up
about me.  The little ones of to-day enjoy a _shorter_ childhood, there
is more haste to hurry them forward in the race--we would almost seem to
begrudge them their playtime--but that I think is the only real
difference.  My darlings are children after all; they love the sunshine
and the flowers, mud-pies and mischief, dolls and story-books, as
fervently as ever.  And long may they do so!

My child of fifty years ago was in all essentials a real child.  Yet
again, in some particulars, she was exceptional, and exceptionally
placed.  She had never travelled fifty miles from her home, and that
home was far away in the country, in Scotland.  And a Scottish country
home in those days was far removed from the bustle and turmoil and
excitement of the great haunts of men.  Am I getting beyond you,
children, dear?  Am I using words and thinking thoughts you can scarcely
follow?  Well, I won't forget again.  I will tell you my simple story in
simple words.

This long-ago little girl was named Janet.  She was the youngest of
several brothers and sisters, some of whom, when she was born even, were
already out in the world.  They were, on the whole, a happy, united
family; they had their troubles, and disagreements perhaps too,
sometimes, but in one thing they all joined, and that was in loving and
petting little Janet.  How well she remembers even now, all across the
long half century, how the big brothers would dispute as to which of
them should carry her in her flowered chintz dressing-gown, perched like
a tiny queen on their shoulders, to father's and mother's room to say
good-morning; how on Hallowe'en the rosiest apples and finest nuts were
for "wee Janet;" how the big sisters would work for hours at her dolls'
clothes; how, dearest memory of all, the kind, often careworn, studious
father would read aloud to her, hour after hour, as she lay on the
hearth-rug, coiled up at his feet.

For little Janet could not read much to herself.  She was not blind, but
her sight was imperfect, and unless the greatest care had been taken she
might, by the time she grew up, have lost it altogether.  To look at her
you would not have known there was anything wrong with her blue eyes;
the injury was the result of an accident in her infancy, by which one of
the delicate sight nerves had been hurt, though not so as to prevent the
hope of cure.  But for several years she was hardly allowed to use her
eyes at all.  She used to wear a shade whenever she was in a bright
light, and she was forbidden to read, or to sew, or to do anything which
called for much seeing.  How she learnt to read I do not know--I do not
think she could have told you herself--but still it is certain that she
did learn; perhaps her kind father taught her this, and many more things
than either he or she suspected in the long hours she used to lie by his
study fire, sometimes talking to him in the intervals of his writing,
sometimes listening with intense eagerness to the legends and ballads
his heart delighted in, sometimes only making stories to herself as she
sat on the hearth-rug playing with her dolls.

There are many quaint little stories of this long-ago maiden that you
would like to hear, I think.  One comes back to my mind as I write.  It
is about a mysterious holly bush in the garden of Janet's home, which
one year took it into its head to grow all on one side, in the queerest
way you ever saw.  This holly bush stood in a rather conspicuous
position, just outside the breakfast-room window, and Janet's father was
struck by the peculiar crookedness which afflicted it, and one morning
he went out to examine it more closely.  He soon found the reason--the
main branch had been stunted by half an orange skin, which had been
fitted upon it most neatly and closely, like a cap, just where it was
sprouting most vigorously.  Janet's father was greatly surprised.  "Dear
me, dear me," he exclaimed as he came in; "what a curious thing.  How
could this ever have got on to the holly bush?  An old orange skin, you
see," he went on, holding it up to the assembled family party.  Little
Janet was there, in her usual place by her father's chair.

"Was it on the robin's bush, father?" she asked.

"The robin's bush, Janet?  What do you mean?"

"The bush the wee robin perches on when he comes to sing in the
morning," she answered readily.  "A long, long time ago, I tied an
orange skin on, to make a soft place for the dear robin's feet.  The
bush was _so_ prickly, I could not bear to see him stand upon it."

And to this day the crooked holly bush tells of the little child's
tenderness.

Then there is another old story of Janet, how, once being sorely
troubled with toothache, and anxious to bear it uncomplainingly "like a
woman," she was found, after being searched for everywhere fast asleep
in the "byre," her little cheek pillowed on the soft skin of a few days'
old calf.  "Its breath was so sweet, and it felt so soft and warm, it
seemed to take the ache away," she said.

And another old memory of little Janet on a visit at an uncle's, put to
sleep in a room alone, and feeling frightened by a sudden gale of wind
that rose in the night, howling among the trees and sweeping down the
hills.  Poor little Janet!  It seemed to her she was far, far away from
everybody, and the wind, as it were, took mortal form and voice, and
threatened her, till she could bear it no longer.  Up she got, all in
the dark, and wandered away down the stairs and passages of the rambling
old house, till at last a faint glimmer of light led her to a modest
little room in the neighbourhood of the kitchen, where old Jamie, the
faithful serving-man, who had seen pass away more than one generation of
the family he was devoted to, was sitting up reading his Bible before
going to bed.  How well Janet remembers it even now!  The old man's
start of surprise at the unexpected apparition of wee missy, how he took
her on his knee and turned over the pages of "the Book," to read to her
words of gentle comfort, even for a little child's alarm; how Jesus
hushed the winds and waves, and bade them be still; how not a hair of
the head of even tiny Janet could be injured without the Father's
knowledge; how she had indeed no reason to fear; till, soothed and
reassured, the child let the good old man lead her back to bed again,
where she slept soundly till morning.

But all this time I am very long of introducing to you, children, the
real heroine of this story--not Janet, but who then?  Janet's dearest
and most tenderly prized doll--"Mary Ann Jolly."

She was one of several, but the best beloved of all, though why it would
have been difficult to say.  She was certainly not pretty; indeed, to
tell the truth, I fear I must own that she was decidedly ugly And an
ugly doll in those days _was_ an ugly doll, my dears.  For whether
little girls have altered much or not since the days of Janet's
childhood, there can be no two opinions about dolls; _they_ have altered
tremendously, and undoubtedly for the better.  There were what people
_thought_ very pretty dolls then, and Janet possessed two or three of
these.  There was "Lady Lucy Manners," an elegant blonde, with flaxen
ringlets and pink kid hands and arms; there was "Master Ronald," a
gallant sailor laddie, with crisp black curls and goggle bead eyes;
there were two or three others--Arabellas or Clarissas, I cannot tell
you their exact names; on the whole, for that time, Janet had a goodly
array of dolls.  But still, dearest of all was Mary Ann Jolly.  I think
her faithfulness, her thorough reliableness, must have been her charm;
she never melted, wept tears of wax--that is to say, to the detriment of
her complexion, when placed too near the nursery fire.  She never broke
an artery and collapsed through loss of sawdust.  These weaknesses were
not at all in her way, for she was of wood, wooden.  Her features were
oil-painted on her face, like the figure-head of a ship, and would stand
washing.  Her hair was a good honest black-silk wig, with sewn-on curls,
and the whole affair could be removed at pleasure; but oh, my dear
children, she _was_ ugly.  Where she had come from originally I cannot
say.  I feel almost sure it was from no authorised doll manufactory.  I
rather think she was home-made to some extent, and I consider it highly
probable that her beautiful features were the production of the village
painter.  But none of these trifling details are of consequence;
wherever she had come from, whatever her origin, she was herself--good,
faithful Mary Ann Jolly.

One summer time there came trouble to the neighbourhood where little
Janet's home was.  A fever of some kind broke out in several villages,
and its victims were principally children.  For the elder ones of the
family--such of them, that is to say, as were at home--but little fear
was felt by their parents; but for Janet and the brother next to her,
Hughie, only three years older than she, they were anxious and uneasy.
Hughie was taken from the school, a few miles distant, to which every
day he used to ride on his little rough pony, and for the time Janet and
he were allowed to run wild.  They spent the long sunny days, for it was
the height of summer, in the woods or on the hills, as happy as two
young fawns, thinking, in their innocence, "the fever," to them but the
name of an unknown and unrealisable possibility, rather a lucky thing
than otherwise.

And Hughie was a trusty guardian for his delicate little sister.  He was
a brave and manly little fellow; awkward and shy to strangers, but
honest as the day, and with plenty of mother-wit about him.  Janet
looked up to him with affection and admiration not altogether unmixed
with awe.  Hughie was great at "knowing best," in their childish
perplexities, and, for all his tenderness, somewhat impatient of "want
of sense," or thoughtlessness.

One day the two children, accompanied as usual by Hughie's dog "Caesar,"
and the no less faithful Mary Ann Jolly, had wandered farther than their
wont from home.  Janet had set her heart on some beautiful water
forget-me-nots, which, in a rash moment, Hughie had told her that he had
seen growing on the banks of a little stream that flowed through a sort
of gorge between the hills.  It was quite three miles from home--a long
walk for Janet, but Hughie knew his way perfectly--he was not the kind
of boy ever to lose it; the day was lovely, and the burn ran nowhere
near the direction they had been forbidden to take--that of the infected
village.  But Hughie, wise though he was, did not know or remember that
close to the spot for which he was aiming ran a road leading directly
from this village to the ten miles distant little town of Linnside, and
even had he thought of it, the possibility of any danger to themselves
attending the fact would probably never have struck him.  There was
another way to Linnside from their home, so Hughie's ignorance or
forgetfulness was natural.

The way down to the edge of the burn was steep and difficult, for the
shrubs and bushes grew thickly together, and there was no proper path.

"Stay you here, Janet," he said, finding for the child a seat on a nice
flat stone at the entrance to the gorge; "I'll be back before you know I
am gone, and I'll get the flowers much better without you, little woman;
and Mary Ann will be company like."

Janet obeyed without any reluctance.  She had implicit faith in Hughie.
But after a while Mary Ann confided to her that she was "wearying" of
sitting still, and Janet thought it could do no harm to take a turn up
and down the sloping field where Hughie had left her.  She wandered to a
gate a few yards off, and, finding it open, wandered a little farther,
till, without knowing it, she was within a stone's throw of the road I
mentioned.  And here an unexpected sight met Janet's eyes, and made her
lose all thought of Hughie and the forget-me-nots, and how frightened he
would be at missing her.  Drawn up in a corner by some trees stood one
of those travelling houses on wheels, in which I suppose every child
that ever was born has at one time or other thought that it would be
delightful to live.  Janet had never seen one before, and she gazed at
it in astonishment, till another still more interesting object caught
her attention.

It was a child--a little girl just about her own age, a dark-eyed,
dark-haired, brown-skinned, but very, very thin little girl, lying on a
heap of old shawls and blankets on the grass by the side of the movable
house.  She seemed to be quite alone--there was no one in the waggon
apparently, no sound to be heard; she lay quite still, one thin little
hand under her head, the other clasping tightly some two or three poor
flowers--a daisy or two, a dandelion, and some buttercups--which she had
managed to reach without moving from her couch.  Janet, from under her
little green shade, stared at her, and she returned the stare with
interest, for all around was so still that the slight rustle made by the
little intruder caught her sharp ear at once.  But after a moment her
eyes wandered down from Janet's fair childish face, on which she seemed
to think she had bestowed enough attention, and settled themselves on
the lovely object nestling in the little girl's maternal embrace.  A
smile of pleasure broke over her face.

"What's yon?" she said, suddenly.

"What's _what_?" said Janet.

"_Yon_," repeated the child, pointing with her disengaged hand to the
faithful Mary Ann.

"_That_," exclaimed Janet.  "That's my doll.  That's Mary Ann Jolly.
Did you never see a doll?"

"No," replied the brown-skinned waif, "never.  She's awfu' bonny."

Janet's maternal vanity was gratified.

"She's guid and she's bonny," she said, unconsciously imitating, with
ludicrous exactness, her own old nurse's pet expression when she was
pleased with her.  She hugged Mary Ann closer to her as she spoke.
"You'd like to have a dolly too, wouldn't you, little girl?"

The child smiled.

"I couldna _gie_ her tae ye," said Janet, relapsing into Scotch, with a
feeling that "high English" would probably be lost upon her new friend.
"But ye micht tak' her for a minute in yer ain airms, if ye like?"

"Ay wad I," said the child, and Janet stepped closer to her and
deposited Mary Ann in her arms.

"Canna ye stan' or walk aboot?  Hae ye nae legs?" she inquired.

"Legs," repeated the child, "what for shud' I no hae legs?  I canna rin
aboot i' the noo; I've nae been weel, but I'll sune be better.  Eh my!
but she's awfu' fine," she went on, caressing Mary Ann as she spoke.

But at this moment the bark of a dog interrupted the friendly
conversation.  Caesar appeared, and Janet started forward to reclaim her
property, her heart for the first time misgiving her as to "what Hughie
would say."  Just as she was taking Mary Ann out of the little vagrant's
arms, Hughie came up.  He was hot, breathless, anxious, and, as a
natural consequence of the last especially, angry.

"Naughty Janet, bad girl," he exclaimed, in his excitement growing more
"Scotch" than usual.  "What for didna ye bide whaur I left ye?  I
couldna think what had become o' ye; bad girl.  And wha's that ye're
clavering wi'?  Shame on ye, Janet."

He darted forward, snatched his little sister roughly by the arm,
dropping the precious forget-me-nots in his flurry, and dragged Janet
away, making her run so fast that she burst out sobbing with fear and
consternation.  She could not understand it; it was not like Hughie to
be so fierce and rough.

"You are very, very unkind," she began, as soon as her brother allowed
her to stop to take breath.  "Why should I nae speak to the puir wee
girl?  She looked sae ill lying there her lane, and she was sae
extraordinar' pleased wi' Mary Ann."

"You let her touch Mary Ann, did ye?" said Hughie, stopping short.  "I
couldna have believed, Janet, you'd be such a fule.  A big girl, ten
years old, to ken nae better!  It's `fare-ye-weel' to Mary Ann any way,
and you have yourself to thank for it."  They were standing near the
spot where Hughie had left his sister while he clambered down to the
burn, and before Janet had the least idea of his intention, Hughie
seized the unfortunate doll, and pitched her, with all his strength,
far, far away down among the brushwood of the glen.

For an instant Janet stood in perfect silence.  She was too
thunderstruck, too utterly appalled and stunned, to take in the reality
of what had happened.  She had never seen Hughie in a passion in her
life; never in all their childish quarrels had he been harsh or
"bullying," as I fear too many boys of his age are to their little
sisters.  She gazed at him in terrified consternation, slowly, very
slowly taking in the fact--to her almost as dreadful as if he had
committed a murder--that Hughie had thrown away Mary Ann--her own dear,
dear Mary Ann; and Hughie, her own brother had done it!  Had he lost his
senses?

"Hughie," she gasped out at last; that was all.

Hughie looked uneasy, but tried to hide it.

"Come on, Janet," he said, "it's getting late.  We must put our best
foot foremost, or nurse will be angry."

But Janet took no notice of what he said.

"Hughie," she repeated, "are ye no gaun to get me Mary Ann back again?"

Hughie laughed, half contemptuously.  "Get her back again," he said.
"She's ower weel hidden for me or anybody to get her back again.  And
why should I want her back when I've just the noo thrown her awa'?  Na,
na, Janet, you'll have to put up wi' the loss of Mary Ann; and I only
hope you won't have to put up wi' waur.  It's your own fault; though
maybe I shouldna' have left her," he added to himself.

"Hughie, you've broke my heart," said Janet.  "What _did_ you do it
for?"

"If you'd an ounce of sense you'd know," said Hughie; "and if you don't,
_I'm_ no gaun to tell."  And in dreary silence the two children made
their way home--Hughie, provoked, angry, and uneasy, yet
self-reproachful and sore-hearted; Janet in an anguish of bereavement
and indignation, yet through it all not without little gleams of faith
in Hughie still, that mysteriously cruel though his conduct appeared,
there must yet somehow have been a good reason for it.

It was not for long, however, that she understood it.  She did not know
that immediately they got home honest Hughie went to his father and told
him all that had happened, taking blame to himself manfully for having
for an instant left Janet alone.

"And you say she does not understand at all why you threw the doll
away," said Janet's father.  "Did she not notice that the little girl
had been ill?"

"O yes, but she took no heed of it," Hughie replied.  "She thinks it was
just awfu' unkind of me to get in such a temper.  I would like her to
know why it was, but I thought maybe I had better not explain till I had
told you."

"You were quite right, Hughie," said his father; "and I think it is
better to leave it.  Wee Janet is so impressionable and fanciful, it
would not do for her to begin thinking she had caught the fever from the
child.  We must leave it in God's hands, and trust no ill will come of
it.  And the first day I can go to Linnside you shall come with me, and
we'll buy her a new doll."

"Thank you, father," said Hughie gratefully.  But he stopped as he was
leaving the room, with his hand on the door handle, to say,
half-laughing, half-pathetically, "I'm hardly thinking, father, that any
new doll will make up to wee Janet for Mary Ann."

Janet heard nothing of this conversation, however, and the silence which
was, perhaps mistakenly, preserved about the loss of her favourite added
to the mysterious sadness of her fate.  The poor little girl moped and
pined, but said nothing.  To Hughie her manner was gently reproachful,
but nothing more.  But all her brightness and playfulness had deserted
her; she hung about listless and uninterested, and for some days there
was not an hour during which one or other of her doting relations--
father, mother, sisters, and brothers--did not make up his or her mind
that their darling was smitten by the terrible blast of the fever.

A week, ten days, nearly a fortnight passed, and they began to breathe
more freely.  Then one day the father, remembering his promise, took
Hughie with him to the town to buy a new doll for Janet, instead of her
old favourite.  I cannot describe to you the one they bought, but I know
it was the prettiest that money could get at Linnside, and Hughie came
home in great spirits with the treasure in his arms.

"Janet, Janet," he shouted, as soon as he had jumped off his pony,
"where are you, Janet?  Come and see what I've got for you!"

Janet came slowly out of the study, where she had been lying coiled up
on the floor, near the low window, watching for her father's return.

"I'm here, Hughie," she said, trying to look interested and bright,
though the effort was not very successful.

But Hughie was too excited and eager to notice her manner.

"Look here, Janet," he exclaimed, unwrapping the paper which covered
Miss Dolly.  "Now, isn't _she_ a beauty?  Far before that daft-like old
Mary Ann; eh, Janet?"

Janet took the new doll in her hands.  "She's bonny," she said,
hesitatingly.  "It's very kind of you, Hughie; but I wish, I wish you
hadn't.  I don't care for her.  I dinna mean to vex ye, Hughie," she
continued, sadly, "but I canna help it.  I want, oh I do want my ain
Mary Ann!"

She put the new doll down on the hall table, burst into tears, and ran
away to the nursery.

"She's just demented about that Mary Ann," said Hughie to his father,
who had followed him into the hall.

"I'm sorry for your disappointment, my boy," said his father, "but you
must not take it to heart.  I don't think wee Janet can be well."

He was right.  What they had so dreaded came at last, just as they had
begun to hope that the danger was over.  The next morning saw little
Janet down with the fever.  Ah, then, what sad days of anxiety and
watching followed!  How softly everybody crept about--a vain precaution,
for poor Janet was unconscious of everything about her.  How careworn
and tear-stained were all the faces of the household--parents, brothers
and sisters, and servants!  What sad little bulletins, costing sixpence
if not a shilling each in those days, children, were sent off by post
every day to the absent ones, with the tidings still of "No better,"
gradually growing into the still worse, "Very little hope."  It must
have been a touching sight to see a whole household so cast down about
the fate of one tiny, delicate child.

And poor Hughie was the worst of all.  They had tried to keep him
separate from his sister, but it was no use.  He had managed to creep
into the room and kiss her unobserved, and then he had it all his own
way--all the harm was done.  But he could hardly hear to hear her
innocent ravings, they were so often about the lost Mary Ann, and
Hughie's strange cruelty in throwing her away.  "I canna think what came
over Hughie to do it," she would say, over and over again.  "I want no
new dollies I only want Mary Ann."

Then there came a day on which the doctor said the disease was at its
height--a few hours would show on which side the victory was to be; and
the anxious faces grew more anxious still, and the silent prayers more
frequent.  But for many hours of this day Hughie was absent, and the
others, in their intense thought about Janet, scarcely missed him.  He
came home late in the summer evening, with something in his arms, hidden
under his jacket.  And somehow his face looked more hopeful and happy
than for days past.

"How is she?" he asked breathlessly of the first person he met.  It was
one of the elder sisters.

"Better," she replied, with the tears in her eyes.  "O Hughie, how can
we thank God enough?  She has wakened quite herself, and the doctor says
now there is only weakness to fight against.  She has been asking for
you, Hughie.  You may go up and say good-night.  Where have you been all
the afternoon?"

But Hughie was already half way up the stairs.  He crept into Janet's
room, where the mother was on guard.  She made a sign to him to come to
the bed where little Janet lay, pale, and thin and fragile, but peaceful
and conscious.

"Good-night, wee Janet," Hughie whispered; "I'm sae glad wee Janet's
better."

"Good-night, Hughie," she answered softly.

"Kiss me, Hughie."

"I've some one else here to kiss you, wee Janet," he said.

Janet looked up inquiringly.

"You must not excite her, Hughie," the mother whispered.  But Hughie
knew what he was about.  He drew from under his jacket a queer, familiar
figure.  It was Mary Ann Jolly!  There had been no rain, fortunately for
her, during her exposure to the weather, and she was sturdy enough to
have stood a few showers, even had there been any.  She really looked in
no way the worse for her adventure, as Hughie laid her gently down on
the pillow beside Janet.

"It's no one to excite her, mother," he said.  "It's no stranger; only
Mary Ann.  She's been away paying a visit to the fairies in the glen,
and I think she must have enjoyed it.  She's looking as bonny as ever,
and she was in no hurry to come home.  I had to shout for her all over
the glen before I could make her hear.  Are you glad she's come, Janet?"

Janet's eyes were glistening.  "O Hughie," she whispered, "kiss me
again.  I can sleep _so_ well now."

The crisis no doubt had been passed before this, but still it is certain
that Janet's recovery was faster far than had been expected.  And for
this she and Hughie, and some of the elder ones, too, I fancy, gave the
credit to the return of her favourite.  Hughie was well rewarded for his
several hours of patient searching in the glen; and I am happy to tell
you that he did not catch the fever.

He would have been an elderly, almost an old man by now had he lived--
good, kind Hughie.  But that was not God's will for him.  He died long
ago, in the prime of his youthful manhood; and it is to his little
grand-nephews and nieces that wee Janet's daughter has been telling this
simple story of a long-ago little girl, and a long-ago doll, poor old
Mary Ann Jolly!

CHAPTER SIX.

TOO BAD.

  "It is the mynd that maketh good or ill,
  That maketh wretch or happie, rich or poore."

  _Spenser_.

"It's too bad!" said Miss Judy; "I declare it's really _too bad_!" and
she came stumping along the road; after her nurse, looking decidedly
"put out."

"It would be something new if it wasn't too bad with you, Miss Judy,
about something or other," said, nurse coolly.

Miss Judy was a kind-hearted, gentle-mannered little girl.  She was
pretty and healthy and clever--the sort of child any parents might have
been proud of, any brothers and sisters fond of, had not all her
niceness been spoiled by one most disagreeable fault.  She was _always_
grumbling.  The hot days of summer, the cold days of winter, the rain,
the wind, the dust, might, to hear her speak, have been expressly
contrived to annoy her.  When it was fine, and the children were to go
out a walk, Miss Judy was sure to have something she particularly wanted
to stay in for; when it rained, and the house was evidently the best
place for little people, Miss Judy was quite certain to have set her
heart upon going out.  She grumbled at having to get up, she grumbled at
having to go to bed, she grumbled at lessons, she grumbled at play; she
_could_ not see that little contradictions and annoyances come to
everybody in the world, and that the only way to do is to meet them
bravely and sensibly.  She really seemed to believe that nobody had so
much to bear as she; that on her poor little shoulders all the
tiresomenesses and disappointments, and "going the wrong way" of things,
were heaped in double, and more than double quantities, and she
persuaded herself that everybody she saw was better off in every way
than herself, and that no one else had such troubles to bear.  So,
children, you will not be surprised to hear that poor Miss Judy was not
loved or respected as much as some little girls who perhaps _really_
deserved love and respect less.  For this ugly disagreeable fault of
hers hid all her good qualities; and just as flowers cannot flourish
when shaded from the nice bright sun by some rank, wide-spreading weed,
so Judy's pretty blossoms of kindness and unselfishness and
truthfulness, which were all really _there_, were choked and withered by
this poisonous habit of grumbling.

I do not really remember what it was she was grumbling at this
particular morning.  I daresay it was that the roads were muddy, for it
was autumn, and Judy's home was in the country.  Or, possibly, it was
only that nurse had told her to walk a little quicker, and that
immediately her boots began to hurt her, or the place on her heel where
once there _had been_ a chilblain got sore, or the elastic of her hat
was too loose, and her hat came flopping down on to her face.  It might
have been any of these things.  Whatever it was, it was "too bad."
_That_, whenever Miss Judy was concerned, you might be quite, quite sure
of.

They were returning home from rather a long walk.  It was autumn, as I
said, and there had been a week or two of almost constant rain, and
certainly country lanes are _not_ very pleasant at such times.  If Judy
had not grumbled so at everything, she might have been forgiven for this
special grumble (if it was about the roads), I do think.  It was getting
chilly and raw, and the clouds looked as if the rain was more than half
thinking of turning back on its journey to "Spain," or wherever it was
it had set off to.  Nurse hurried on; she was afraid of the little ones
in the perambulator catching cold, and she could not spare time to talk
to Miss Judy any longer.

Judy came after her slowly; they were just passing some cottages, and at
the door of one of them stood a girl of about Judy's age, with her mouth
open, staring at "the little gentry."  She had heard what had passed
between Judy and her nurse, and was thinking it over in her own way.
Suddenly Judy caught sight of her.

"What are you staring at so?" she said sharply.  "It's too bad of you.
You are a rude little girl.  I'll tell nurse how rude you are."

Judy did not generally speak so crossly, especially not to poor
children, for she had really nice feelings about such things, but she
was very much put out, and ashamed too, that her ill-natured words to
nurse should have been overheard, so she expressed her vexation to the
first object that came in her way.  The little girl did not leave off
staring at her; in fact she did so harder than before.  But she answered
Judy gently, growing rather red as she did so; and Judy felt her
irritation cool.

"I didn't mean no offence," she said.  "I were just looking at you, and
thinking to be sure how nice you had everything, and a wondering how it
could be as you weren't pleased."

"Who said I wasn't pleased?" said Judy.

"You said as something was a deal too bad," replied the child.

"Well, so it was,--it must have been, I mean,--or else I wouldn't have
said so," answered Judy, who, to tell the truth, had by this time quite
forgotten what particular trouble had been the cause of her last
grumble.  "How do you mean that I have everything so nice?"

"Your things, miss--your jacket and your frock, and all them things.
And you live in such a fine house, and has servants to do for you and
all.  O my! wouldn't I change with you.  Nothing would never be too bad
for _me_ if _I_ was you, miss."

"I daresay you think so," said Judy importantly, "but that just shows
that you don't know better.  _I_ can tell you I have a great, great many
troubles and things to bear that you have no idea of.  Indeed, I daresay
you are _far_ happier than I.  You are not bothered about keeping your
frocks clean, and not getting your feet wet, and all those horrible
things.  And about lessons--I daresay you have no trouble at all about
lessons.  You don't go to school, do you?"

"Not now, miss.  It's more than six months since I've been.  Mother's
wanted me so badly to mind baby.  Father did say as perhaps I should go
again for a bit come Christmas," answered the little girl, who was
growing quite at ease with Judy.

"And do you like going?" said Judy.

"Pretty well, but it's a long walk--winter time 'specially," said the
child; "not but what most things is hard then to them as lives in places
like ours.  'Tisn't like for you, miss, with lots of fires, and no need
for to go out if it's cold or wet."

"Indeed _I_ have to go out very often--indeed, always almost when I
don't want," retorted Judy.  "Not that I should mind the walk, to
school.  I should like it; it would be far nicer than horrid lessons at
home, cooped up in the same room all the time, with no change.  You
don't understand a bit; I am quite _sure_ you haven't as many troubles
as I."  The little girl smiled, but hardly seemed convinced.  "Seems to
me, miss, as if you couldn't hardly know, unless you tried, what things
is like in places like ours," she said.

But before Judy could reply, a voice from inside the cottage called out,
"Betsy my girl, what are you about so long?  Father'll be in directly,
and there's the tea to see to."

The voice was far from unkind, but its effect on Betsy was
instantaneous.

"I must go, miss," she said; "mother's calling;" and off she ran.

"How nice and funny it must be to set the tea for her father," thought
Judy, as she walked on.  "I should like that sort of work.  What a silly
girl she is not to see how much fewer troubles she has than I.  I only
wish--"

"_What_ did you say you wished?" interrupted a voice that seemed to come
out of the hedge, so suddenly did its owner appear before Judy.

"I didn't say I wished anything--at least I didn't know I was speaking
aloud," said the little girl, as soon as she found voice to reply.

The person who had spoken to her was a little old woman, with a scarlet
cloak that nearly covered her.  She had a basket on her arm, and looked
as if she was returning from market.  There was nothing very remarkable
about her, and yet Judy felt startled and a little frightened, she did
not quite know why.

"I didn't know I was speaking aloud," she repeated, staring half timidly
at the old woman.

"Didn't you?" she replied.  "Well, now I think of it, I don't remember
saying that you did.  There's more kinds of speaking than with tongue
and words.  What should you say if I were to tell you what it was you
were wishing just now?"

"I don't know," said Judy, growing more alarmed "I think, please, I had
better run on.  Nurse will be wondering where I am."

"You didn't think of that when you were standing chattering to little
Betsy just now," said the old woman.

"Did you hear us?" asked Judy, her astonishment almost overcoming her
alarm.  "Where were you standing?  I didn't see you."

"I daresay not.  There's many things besides what _you_ see, my dear.
For instance, you don't see why Betsy should think it would be a fine
thing to be you, and perhaps _Betsy_ doesn't see why you should think it
would be a fine thing to be in her place instead of in your own."

Judy's eyes opened wider and wider.  "Did you hear all that?" she
exclaimed.

The old woman smiled.

"So you really would like to be Betsy for a change?" she said.

"Not exactly for a _change_," answered Judy.  "It isn't that I am
_tired_ of being myself, but I am sure no other little girl in the world
has so many troubles; that is why I would rather be Betsy.  You have no
idea what troubles I have," she went on, "and I can never do _anything_
I like.  It's always `Miss Judy, you must,' or `Miss Judy, you mustn't,'
all day long.  And if ever I am merry for a little, then nurse tells me
I shall wake baby.  O! he _is_ such a cross baby!"

"And do you think _Betsy's_ baby brothers and sisters are never cross?"
inquired the old woman.

"O no, I daresay they are; but then she's allowed to scold them and
punish them, and _I_ may never say anything, however tiresome the little
ones are.  If I might put baby in the corner when he is naughty, I would
soon cure him.  But I may never do _anything_ I want; it's _too_ bad."

"Poor thing, poor thing! it _is_ too bad, a great deal too bad.  I do
feel for you," said the old woman.

But when Judy looked up at her there was a queer twinkle in her eyes,
which made her by no means sure whether she was laughing at her or not.
The little girl felt more than half inclined to be affronted, but before
she had time to decide the point, the old woman interrupted her.

"Look here, my dear," she said, lifting up the lid of the basket on her
arm; "to show you that I am in earnest, see what I will do for you.
Here is a nice rosy-cheeked apple; put it into your pocket, and don't
let any one see it, and when you are in bed at night, if you are still
of the same mind about being Betsy instead of yourself, just take a bite
of the apple, then turn round and go to sleep, and in the morning you
shall see what you shall see."

Half hesitatingly, Judy put out her hand for the apple.

"Thank you very much," she said, "but--"

"But what?" said the old woman rather sharply.

"Must I _always_ be Betsy, if I try being her?"

"Bless the child, what will she have?" exclaimed the old woman.  "No,
you needn't go on being Betsy if you don't want.  Keep the apple, take
care you don't lose it, and when you've had enough of a change, take
another bite.  But after that, remember the apple can do no more for
you."

"I daresay I shall not want it to do anything for me once I have left
off being myself," said Judy.  "Oh, how nice it will be not to have
nurse ordering me about all day long, and not to be bothered about
keeping my frock clean, and to have no lessons!"

"I'm glad you're pleased," said the old woman.  "Now, good-bye; you
won't see me again till you want me."

"Good-bye, and thank"--"Thank you very much," she was going to have
said, holding out her hand as she spoke--for remember she was not a rude
or ill-mannered little girl by any means--but, lo and behold, there was
nobody there! the old woman had disappeared!  Judy rubbed her eyes, and
stared about her in every direction, but there was nothing to be seen--
nothing, that is to say, in the least like an old woman, only some birds
hopping about quite unconcernedly, and a tiny field-mouse, who peeped up
at Judy for an instant with its bright little eyes, and then scurried
off to its hole.

It was growing late and dusk, the mists were creeping up from the not
far distant sea, and the hills were thinking of putting on their
night-caps, and retiring from view.  Judy felt a little strange and
"eerie," as she stood there alone in the lane.  She could almost have
fancied she had been dreaming, but there was the rosy-cheeked apple in
her hand, proof positive to the contrary.  So Judy decided that the best
thing she could do was to run home as fast as she could, and consider at
her leisure if she should make use of the little old woman's gift.

It was nearly dark when she reached the garden gate--at least the trees
on each side of the carriage-drive made it seem so.  Judy had never been
out so late alone before, and she felt rather frightened as to what
nurse would say.  The side door was open, so she ran in, and went
straight up to the nursery.  Just as she got upstairs she met nurse, her
shawl and bonnet on, her kind old face looking hot and anxious.  At
sight of the truant she stopped short.

"So there you are, Miss Judy," she exclaimed; "and a nice fright you've
given me.  It's my turn to speak about `too bad' _now_, I think.  It
really was too bad of you to stay behind like that, and me never
thinking but what you were close behind till this moment; at least, that
you had come in close behind, and had stayed down in the drawing-room
for a little.  You've frightened me out of my wits, you naughty child;
and if only your mamma was at home, I would go straight down-stairs, and
tell her it's more than I can put up with."

"It's more than I can put up with to be scolded so for nothing," said
Judy crossly, and with a tone in her voice new to her, and which rather
took nurse aback.  She had not meant to be harsh to the child, but she
had been really frightened, and, as is often the case, on finding there
had been no cause for her alarm, a feeling of provocation took its
place.

"You should not speak so, Miss Judy," she said quietly, for she was wise
enough not to wish to irritate the little girl, whom she truly loved,
further.

But Judy was not to be so easily pacified.

"It's too bad," she began as usual; "it's a great deal too bad, that I
should never be allowed to do the least thing I want; to be scolded so
for nothing at all--just staying out for two or three minutes;" and she
"banged about" the nursery, dragging her hat off, and kicking her boots
into the corner in an extremely indignant manner.

Nurse felt much distressed.  To Judy's grumbling she was accustomed, but
this was worse than grumbling.  "What can have come over the child?" she
said to herself, but to Judy she thought it best to say nothing at all.
All through tea Judy looked far from amiable; she hardly spoke, though a
faint "Too bad" was now and then heard from her direction.  Poor nurse
had not a very pleasant time of it, for the "cross" infection spread,
as, alas! it is too apt to do, and little Lena, Judy's four-years'-old
sister, grew peevish and discontented, and pinched Master Baby, in
return for which he, as was to be expected, set up a dismal howl.

"Naughty, horrid little things!" said Judy.  "If I had _my_ way with
them, they should both be whipped and put to bed."

"Hush, Miss Judy!" said nurse.  "If you would be pleasant and help to
amuse them, they would not be so cross."

"I've something else to do than to amuse such ill-natured little
things," said Judy.

"Well I should think it _was_ time you learnt your lessons for
to-morrow," said nurse.  "We've had tea so late, it will soon be time
for you to be dressed to go down to the drawing-room to your papa.
There are some gentlemen dining with him to-night."

"I can't bear going down when mamma's away," said Judy.  "It's too bad
of her to go away and leave us."

"For shame, Miss Judy, to speak so, when you know that it's only because
your poor aunt is so ill that your mamma had to go away.  Now get your
books, there's a good girl, and do your lessons."

"I'm not going to do them," said Judy, with sudden resolution.  "I
needn't unless I like.  I don't think I shall ever do any more.  It's
too bad I should never have a minute of time to myself."

Nurse really began to think the little girl must be going to be ill.
Never, in all her experience of her, had she known her so cross.  It was
the same all the evening.  Judy grumbled and stormed at everything; she
would not stand still to have her hair brushed, or her pretty white
muslin frock fastened; and when she came upstairs she was more ill
pleased than before, because, just as she was beginning to amuse herself
with some pictures, her papa told her he thought it was time for little
girls to be in bed.  How often, while she was being undressed, she
declared that something or other was "too bad," I really could not
undertake to say.  She grumbled at her nice warm bath, she grumbled at
her hair being combed out, she grumbled at having to go to bed when she
wasn't "the least bit sleepy," she grumbled at everything and everybody,
herself, included, for she came to the resolution that she really would
not be herself any longer!  No sooner had nurse and the candle left the
room than Judy drew out the apple, which, while nurse was not looking,
she had managed to hide under her pillow, took a good big bite of it,
turned round on her side, and, notwithstanding that her little heart was
beating much faster than usual, half with excitement, half with fear, at
what she had done, in two minutes she was sound asleep.

"Betsy, Betsy girl, it's time you were stirring.  Up with you, child;
you must look sharp."

What voice was that? who could it be, shouting so loudly, and waking her
up in the middle of the night?  Judy for a moment felt very indignant,
but she was extremely sleepy, and determined to think she was dreaming;
so she turned round, and was just dozing off, when again she heard the
cry:

"Betsy, Betsy, wake up with thee.  Whatever's come to the child this
morning?"

The voice seemed to come nearer and nearer, and at last a thump on the
wall, close to Judy's head, it seemed to her, fairly startled her awake.

"Up with thee, child," sounded close to her ear.  "Baby's been that
cross all night I've had scarce a wink o' sleep.  Thee mustn't lie
snoring there."

Suddenly all returned to Judy's memory.  She was not herself; she was
Betsy.

"I'm coming," she called out, hardly knowing what she was saying; and
then the person on the other side of the wall seemed to be satisfied,
for Judy now heard her walking about, clattering fire-irons and pots and
pans, evidently employed in tidying the kitchen.

It was still what Judy thought quite dark.  She had some idea of calling
for a light, but whom to call to she did not know.  So, feeling very
strange and rather frightened, she got timidly out of bed, and by the
little light that came in at the small square window, began to look
about her.  What a queer little place it was!  Not a room really, only a
sort of "lean-to" at one side of the kitchen, barely large enough for
the narrow, rickety little bedstead, and one old chair that stood beside
it, answering several purposes besides its proper one, for on it was
placed a cracked basin and jug, and a tiny bit of looking-glass, without
a frame, fastened by a piece of string to the only remaining bar.
Betsy's clothes lay in the bed, which was but poorly provided with
proper blankets--the sheets were clean--everything in the place was as
clean as poverty _can_ be, and indeed Betsy was, and considered herself
to be, a very fortunate little girl for having a "room" of her own at
all; but to Judy, Judy who had had no training like Betsy's, Judy who
found every crumple in a rose leaf "too bad," Judy who knew as little of
other people's lives and other people's troubles as the man in the
moon,--you can fancy, my dears, how the room of which little Betsy was
so proud looked to _Judy_!  But she had a spirit of her own, ready
though she was to grumble.  With a little shiver, she began to try to
dress herself in the well-mended clothes, so different from her own
daintily-trimmed little garments--for _washing_ she felt to be out of
the question; it was really _too_ cold, and besides there were no soap,
or sponges, or towels to be seen.

"I don't care," she said to herself stoutly, as she wriggled first into
one garment and then into another.  "I don't care.  Any way I shall have
no lessons to learn, and I shall not be bothered about keeping my frock
clean.  But I do wish the fairy had left me my own hair," she went on
regretfully, examining the thick dark locks that hung round her face,
and kept tumbling into her eyes, "my hair is _much_ nicer.  I don't
believe Betsy ever has hers properly brushed, it _is_ so tuggy.  And
what brown hands I've got, and such crooked nails.  I wonder if Betsy's
mother will cut them for me; I wonder if--"

She was interrupted by another summons.

"Betsy, girl, what _are_ you after this morning?  I be getting downright
cross with you, child.  There's father'll be back for breakfast
directly, and you not helped me by a hand's turn this blessed morning."
Judy started.  She only stopped to fasten the last button of her little
dark cotton frock, and calling out, "I'm coming," opened the rough door
of the little bed-room, and found herself in the kitchen.  There sat
Betsy's mother, with the baby on her knee, and the baby but one tumbling
about at her feet, while she vainly tried to fasten the frock of another
little fellow of three, who sturdily refused to stand still.

"You must finish dressing Jock," she said, on catching sight of Judy;
"Jock's a naughty boy, won't stand still for mammy to dress him; naughty
Jock," she continued, giving him a little shake as she got up, which
sent him howling across the room to Judy.  "It's too bad of you, Betsy,
to be so lazy this morning, and me so tired with no sleep, and the
little ones all crying; if I tell father he'll be for giving it thee,
lass, to make thee stir about a bit quicker."

"He'll give me _what_?" said Judy, perplexed.  "I don't understand."

"Hold thy tongue; I'll have none of that answering back, child," said
Betsy's mother, tired and out of patience, poor woman, though you must
not think she was either harsh or unkind, for she was a very kind, good
mother.

"Jock, let me dress you," said Judy, turning to the little boy, with a
vague idea that it would be rather amusing to act nurse to him.  Jock
came towards her willingly enough, but Judy found the business less easy
than she had expected.  There was a button missing on his little
petticoat, which she did not find out in time to prevent her fastening
it all crooked; and when she tried to undo it again, Jock's patience was
exhausted, and he went careering round the kitchen, Judy after him, till
the mother in despair caught hold of him, and completed the task.

"Your fingers seem to be all thumbs this morning," she said testily.
"You've not swep' up a bit, nor made th' fire, nor nothing.  Go and
fetch water now to fill th' kettle, or father'll be in afore it's on the
boil."

Judy turned to the fireplace, and, with some difficulty, managed to lug
the heavy old kettle as far as the front door.  Just outside stood the
pump, but try as she might she could not get the water to flow.  She was
ready to cry with vexation, pumping had always seemed such nice easy
work; she had often watched the children of these very cottages filling
their kettles and jugs, and had envied them the fun; but now when she
had it to do she found it very different--_very_ poor fun, if indeed fun
at all!  At last she got the water to begin to come, a poor miserable
little trickle; at this rate the kettle would _never_ be filled, and her
tears were preparing to descend, when a rough hearty voice made her
jump.  It was Betsy's father.

"Pump's stiff this morning, is it, my lass?" he called out as he came up
the path.  "Let's have a hand at it;" and with his vigorous pull the
water quickly appeared.  He lifted the kettle into the kitchen, greatly
to Judy's relief; but Betsy's mother took a different view of the
matter.

"I don't know what's come to Betsy this morning," she said.  "Lazy's no
word for her.  The porridge is ready, but there'll be no time to make
thee a cup of coffee, father.  She's been close upon a quarter of an
hour filling the kettle, and baby's so cross this morning I can't put
her down."

"I must make my breakfast of porridge then," said the father; "but
Betsy, girl, it's new for thee to be lazy, my lass."

Judy felt humbled and mortified, but she said nothing.  Somehow she felt
as if she could not defend herself, though she knew she had honestly
done her best.  The words "too bad" rose to her lips, but she did not
utter them.  She began to wonder how little Betsy managed to get through
her daily tasks, easy as she had imagined them to be.

The porridge was not much to her taste, but she tried to eat it.
Perhaps it was not so much the porridge itself, for it was good of its
kind, which took away her appetite, as the want of the many little
things to which she was so accustomed that their absence made her for
the first time think of them at all.  The nice white tablecloth and
silver spoons on the nursery table, the neat, pretty room, and freshly
dressed little brothers and sisters--all were very different from the
rough board, and the pewter spoons, and Betsy's father and big brothers
hurriedly devouring the great bowls of porridge, while the three little
ones cried or quarrelled incessantly.  "After all," thought Judy,
"perhaps it is a good thing to have _rather_ a strict nurse, even if she
is very fussy about being neat and all that."

But yet she felt very sorry for Betsy's mother, when she looked at her
thin, careworn face, and noticed how patient she was with the babies,
and how cheerfully she answered all "father's" remarks.  And there began
to dawn in the little girl's mind a faint idea that perhaps there were
troubles and difficulties in the world such as she had never dreamt of,
that there are a good many "too bads" in other people's lots as well as
in Miss Judy's.

Breakfast over, her troubles began again.  It was washing-day, and just
as she was looking forward to a ramble in the fields in glorious
independence of nurse's warnings about spoiling her frock, her dreams
were put an end to by Betsy's mother's summoning her to take her place
at the tub.  And oh, my dears, _real_ washing is very different work
from the dolls' laundressing--standing round a wash-hand basin placed on
a nursery chair, and wasting ever so much beautiful honey-soap in nice
clean hot water, and then when the little fat hands are all "crumply"
and puffy "like real washerwomen's," rinsing out the miniature garments
in still nicer clean cold water, and hanging them round the nursery
guard to dry, and most likely ending up by coaxing nurse to clear away
all the mess you have made, and to promise to let you iron dolly's clean
clothes the next wet afternoon--which you think so delightful.  Judy's
arms ached sorely, sorely, and her head ached too, and she felt all
steamy and hot and weary, when at last her share of it was over, and,
"for a change," she was instructed to take the two youngest out for a
walk up the lane, while mother boiled the potatoes for dinner.

The babies were very tiresome, and though Judy was quite at liberty to
manage them in her own way, and to punish them as she had never ventured
to punish Lena and Harry at home, she did not find it of much use.  She
wondered "how ever the real Betsy did;" and I fancy the babies too
wondered a good deal in their own way as to what had come over their big
sister to-day.  Altogether the walk was very far from a pleasure to any
of the three, and when at last Judy managed to drag her weary self, and
her two hot, cross little charges home again to the cottage, she was by
no means in an amiable humour.  She would have liked to sit down and
rest, and she would have liked to wash her face and hands, and brush her
hair--Judy who at home _always_ grumbled at nurse's summons to "come and
be tidied"--but there was no time for anything of the kind.  Dinner--the
potatoes, that is to say--was ready, and the table must be set at once,
ready for father and the boys, and Betsy's mother told her to "look
sharp and bustle about," in a way that Judy felt to be really a great
deal "too bad."  She was hungry, however, and ate her share of potatoes,
flavoured with a little dripping and salt, with more appetite than she
had sometimes felt for roast mutton and rice pudding, though all the
same she would have been exceedingly glad of a little gravy, or even of
a plateful of _sago_ pudding, which generally was by no means a
favourite dish of hers.

"Me and the boys won't be home till late," said the father, as he rose
to go; "there's a piece o' work master wants done this week, and he'll
pay us extray to stay a couple of hours.  Betsy must bring us our tea."

Judy's spirits rose.  She would have a walk by herself any way,
unplagued by babies, and the idea of it gave her some patience for the
afternoon's task of darning stockings, which she found was expected of
her.  Just at first the darning was rather amusing, but after a while
she began to be sadly tired of it.  It was very different from sitting
still for a quarter of an hour, with nurse patiently instructing her,
and praising her whenever she did well; _these_ stockings were so very
harsh and coarse, and the holes were so enormous, and the basketful so
huge!

"I'll _never_ get them done," she exclaimed at last.  "I think it's too
bad to make a little girl like me or Betsy do such hard work; and I
think her father and brothers must make holes in their horrid stockings
on purpose, I do.  I'll _not_ do any more."

She shoved the basket into a corner, and looked about for amusement.
The babies were asleep, and Jock was playing in a corner, and mother,
poor body, was still busy in the wash-house--Judy could find nothing to
play with.  There were no books in the cottage, except an old _Farmers'
Almanac_, a Bible and Prayer-book, and one or two numbers of a _People's
Miscellany_, which Judy looked into, but found she could not understand.
How she wished for some of her books at home!  Even those she had read
two or three times through, and was always grumbling at in consequence,
would have been a great treasure; _even_ a history or geography book
would have been better than nothing.

Suddenly the clock struck, and Betsy's mother called out from the
wash-house,--

"It's three o'clock--time for you to be going with the tea.  Set the
kettle on, Betsy, and I'll come and make it and cut the bread.  It'll
take you more nor half-an-hour to walk to Farmer Maxwell's where they're
working this week."

Judy was staring out of the window.  "It's beginning to rain," she said
dolefully.

"Well, what if it is," replied Betsy's mother, "Father and boys can't
want their tea because it's raining.  Get thy old cloak, child.  My
goodness me!" she went on, as she came into the kitchen, "she hasn't got
the kettle on yet?  Betsy, it's too bad of thee, it is for sure; there's
not a thing but what's been wrong to-day."

Judy's conscience pricked her about the stockings, so, without
attempting to defend herself, she fetched the old cloak she had seen
hanging in Betsy's room, and, drawing the hood over her head, stood
meekly waiting, while the mother cut the great hunches of bread, made
the tea, and poured it into the two tin cans, which the little girl was
to carry to the farm.

It did not rain much when she first set off, so though it was a good two
miles' walk, she was only moderately wet when she got to the farm.  One
of the boys was on the look-out for her, or rather for their tea, which
he at once took possession of and ran off with, advising Judy to make
haste home, it was going to rain like blazes.  But poor Judy found it no
easy matter to follow his counsel; her arms were still aching with the
weight of the baby in the morning, and her wrist was chafed with the
handle of one of the tin pails, which she could not manage otherwise to
carry, the old cloak was poor protection against the driving rain, and,
worst of all, Betsy's old boots had several holes in them, and a sharp
stone had made its way through the sole of the left one, cutting and
hurting her foot.  She stumbled along for some way, feeling very
miserable, till at last, quite unable to go farther, she sat down under
the hedge, and burst into tears.

"So you haven't found things quite so pleasant as you expected, eh, Miss
Judy?  You don't find walking in Betsy's shoes quite such an easy matter
after all?" said a voice at her side; and, looking up, lo and behold!
there, standing before her, Judy saw the old woman with the scarlet
cloak.

"I don't think it is kind of you to laugh at me," she sobbed.

"It's `too bad,' is it, eh, Miss Judy?"

Judy sobbed more vigorously, but did not answer.

"Come, now," said the old woman kindly.  "Let's talk it over quietly.
Are you beginning to understand that other people's lives have troubles
and difficulties as well as yours--that little Betsy, for instance,
might find things `too bad' a good many times in the course of the day,
if she was so inclined?"

"Yes," said Judy humbly.

"And on the whole," continued the fairy, "you would rather be yourself
than any one else--eh, Miss Judy?"

"Oh yes, yes, a _great_ deal rather," said Judy eagerly.  "Mayn't I be
myself again now this very minute, and go home to tea in the nursery?
Oh, I _would_ so like!  It seems ever so long since I saw Lena and Harry
and nurse, and you said yesterday I needn't keep on being Betsy if I
didn't like."

"Not quite so fast, my dear," said the old woman.  "It's only four
o'clock; you must finish the day's work.  Go back to the cottage and
wait patiently till bed-time, and then--you know what to do--you haven't
lost your apple?"

"No," said Judy, feeling in her pocket.  "I have it safe."

"That's all right.  Now jump up, my dear, and hasten home, or Betsy's
mother will be wondering what has become of you."

Judy got up slowly.  "I'm _so_ wet," she said, "and oh! my foot's _so_
sore.  These horrible boots!  I think it's too--"

"Hush!" said the fairy.  "How would you like me to make you stay as you
are, till you quite leave off that habit of grumbling.  I'm not sure but
what it would be a good thing for her," she added, consideringly, as if
thinking aloud.

"O no, _please_ don't," said Judy, "please, _please_ don't.  I do beg
your pardon; I didn't mean to say it, and I _won't_ say it any more."

"Then off with you; your foot won't be so bad as you think," said the
fairy.

"Thank you," replied Judy, fancying already that it hurt her less.  She
had turned to go when she stopped.

"Well," said the old woman, "what's the matter now?"

"Nothing," answered Judy, "but only I was thinking, if I am myself again
to-morrow morning, and Betsy's herself, what will they all think? nurse
and all, I mean; and if I try to explain, I'm sure they'll never believe
me--they'll say I'm talking nonsense.  Nurse always says `rubbish' if we
make up fairy stories, or anything like that."

The old woman smiled curiously.

"Many wiser people than nurse think that `rubbish' settles whatever they
don't understand," she said.  "But never you mind, Judy.  You needn't
trouble your head about what any one will think.  No one ever will be
the wiser but you and I.  When Betsy wakes in her own little bed in the
morning, she will only think she has had a curious dream--a dream,
perhaps, which will do her no harm--and nurse will think nothing but
that Miss Judy has been cured of grumbling in a wonderful way.  For if
you're _not_ cured it will be _my_ turn to say it's too bad!--will it
not?"

"Yes," said Judy, laughing.  "Thank you so much, kind fairy.  Won't you
come and see me again sometimes?"

But the last words were spoken to the air, for while Judy was uttering
them the old woman had disappeared, and only the little field-mouse
again, with bright sparkling eyes, ran across the path, looking up
fearlessly at Judy as it passed her.

And Judy never did see the old woman again.  She went back to the
cottage, bearing bravely the pain of her wounded foot, which was not so
very bad after all, and the discomfort of her wet clothes.

And though Betsy's mother scolded her for having been so slow about her
errand, she did not grumble or complain, but did her best to help the
poor woman with the evening's work.  All the same, I can tell you, she
was _very_ glad to get to bed at night, and you may be sure she did not
forget to take a great big bite of her apple.

"When I am myself again, I'll spend the six shillings I have in my
money-box to buy Betsy a nice new print frock instead of that ugly old
one that got so soaked to-day," was her last thought before she fell
asleep.

And oh! my dears, _can_ you imagine how delightful it was to find
herself in the morning, her real own self again?  She felt it was almost
_too good_ to be true.  And, since then, it has been seldom if ever,
that Miss Judy has been heard to grumble, or that anything has been
declared to be "too bad."

CHAPTER SEVEN.

CHARLIE'S DISAPPOINTMENT.

  "O sweet and blessed country
  That eager hearts expect."

One cold winter's evening about Christmas time, Charlie, a little boy of
six years old, sat reading with his mother.  It was Sunday evening, and
he had been looking at the pictures in his "Children's Bible," till his
mother put down her own book and began to read verses to him out of his
_real_ Bible, in explanation of some of the pictures.  With one of these
especially, Charlie was very much pleased.  It represented a great many
people, men and women and children, and animals of every kind, all
together, looking very peaceful and happy in a beautiful garden.
Charlie could not pronounce the word at the foot of the picture; it was
so very long.

"The--what is it, mother?" he asked.

"The Millennium," his mother told him, and then she went on to explain
what this long word meant, and read him some strange, beautiful verses
about it, out of the big Bible.  Charlie sat with his blue eyes fixed on
her, listening to every word, and thinking this the most wonderful story
he had ever heard yet.  "And it is not like a fairy story, is it mother,
for it is in the Bible?  Oh, I do so wish God would let the millennium
come now--immediately--mother, while I am a little boy, and you, just
like what you are!  I should not care nearly so much for it if you were
old, mother, or if I was a big man."

"I hope, my darling, the bigger you get the _more_ you will care for
it," said his mother.  Charlie looked puzzled, but seeing that he was
thinking so deeply, that she feared he would think away his sleep (as he
sometimes did, and it was nearly bed-time), she went to the piano and
sang his favourite hymn--

  "Jerusalem the golden,
  With milk and honey blest."

Charlie listened with delight; and when it was over went and kissed his
mother for good-night, and trotted off to bed, his mind full of the
words he had been hearing.

It felt cold at first, in his little crib, and he began thinking how
nice it would be if the summer were back again.  But he soon fell
asleep.  It seemed to him that he woke almost in a minute, and he felt
surprised to see that there was already broad daylight in the room.
Indeed, he felt exceedingly surprised, for these dark winter mornings he
always woke before dawn, and now the sun was shining brightly, as if it
had been at work for some hours.  It looked so pleasant and cheerful
that he lay still to enjoy it.  Now I must tell you that Charlie had a
baby brother, and that both these little boys were taken care of by a
good old woman who had been nurse to their mother when she was a little
girl.  Nurse was very good and kind and true, but I must say that
sometimes she was very cross.  Perhaps it was that she was getting old,
and that little boys teased her, not being always able to remember about
being gentle and good: that is to say, Charlie himself, for the baby was
really too little either to remember or forget.  Nurse's worst time was
first thing in the morning; she nearly always had a cross face on when
she came to wake Charlie, and to tell him to get up.  He once heard some
of the servants saying that nurse very often got out of the wrong side
of her bed; and that day he vexed her very much without knowing why,
for, after thinking a long time about what it could mean, he went all
round her bed to see if there could be any nails or sharp pieces of wood
sticking out at one side, which perhaps hurt her feet as she stepped
out.  Nurse came in while he was examining her bed, and when he told her
what he was doing, and what he had heard Anne say, she was really very
angry indeed, though he could not see that he had done anything naughty.

But this morning I am telling you about that Charlie lay in bed thinking
how pretty the sunlight was, he was quite surprised to see nurse's face
when she came to the bedside to wake him.  She spoke so sweetly, and
really looked quite pretty.  Her face had such a nice smile and looked
so kind, and nearly all the wrinkles were gone.

"Dear nurse," he said, "how nice you look!"  This seemed to please her
still more, for she kissed him, and then washed and dressed him, without
once pulling or pushing him the least little bit; just as if she had
never felt cross in her life.

When he was dressed he ran out into the garden, and, to his surprise, it
was quite changed from the night before.  The grass was bright and
green, the trees were all covered with leaves, and the whole garden was
full of the loveliest flowers he had ever seen; and the singing of the
birds was prettier than he could possibly describe.  There were many
butterflies and other summer insects flying about, and making a
delicious sort of sweet humming, which seemed to join in with the birds'
singing.  Indeed Charlie could almost have believed the flowers
themselves were singing, for a lovely music filled the whole air, and
all the musicians, even the grasshoppers, kept in tune together in a
wonderful way.  The song sounded to Charlie very like "Jerusalem the
Golden," only there were no words.  He ran about the garden so much,
that at last he thought he would like a drink of new milk, and he went
into the yard to look for the dairy-maid.  There was no one there; but
he forgot all about the milk, in astonishment at what he saw.  "Tiger,"
the great fierce watch dog, whom his papa would never let him go near,
was unchained, lying peacefully on his back in the sun, and Charlie's
two lovely kittens rolling over and over him, Tiger patting them gently
with his paws, and looking so pleased that Charlie almost thought he was
smiling.  And more wonderful still, his mother's pet canaries were also
loose in the yard, one hopping about close to Tiger's nose, and the
other actually perched on the back of Muff, the tabby cat, whom, all her
life, his mother had never succeeded in curing of her sad love of eating
canary birds.  Charlie's first thought was to drive away Muff and rescue
the birds; but as he ran forward to do so, Muff came and rubbed herself
gently against him with a soft, sweet purr, and the canary flew off
Muff's back on to his shoulder, where it gave a little trill of
pleasure, and then flew back again to its friend the cat.  Suddenly some
words flashed into Charlie's mind: "They shall neither hurt nor
destroy," he said slowly, and then it all seemed plain to him.  "The
Millennium has come," he cried, with inexpressible joy, "Oh! how glad I
am; I must run and tell mother this minute," and off he set.  But as he
ran towards the house, glancing up, thoughtful for others as was his
habit, to the window of his mother's room, he saw that the blind was
still drawn down, and remembered that he must not disturb her yet,
though his little heart was bursting with impatience to tell her the
beautiful news.  "I might, any way, run and tell Lily at once," thought
he, and he set off at full speed towards the farm where his little
friend lived.  But he had not gone half way when he recollected that to
get to Lily's home he must pass the smithy, a place he was frightened to
go near even with his nurse, for Black Tom, the smith, was a very
terrible person.  He was often intoxicated, and used then to swear most
awfully; and, indeed, Lily had once told Charlie in confidence that her
nurse had said she felt pretty sure Black Tom would not think anything
at all of eating little boys and girls.  Dreadful as he thought him,
Charlie could not believe that Black Tom was quite as wicked as this;
but still he trembled as he drew near the smithy.  But how amazed he
felt, when he got within sight of it, to see Tom standing at the door,
washed and brushed up to such an extent, that the child hardly
recognised his old aversion!

Tom's employment was more wonderful still.  He was playing with Lily,
who was sitting perched upon his shoulder, laughing and screaming with
delight.  As soon as she saw Charlie she slid down, and holding Tom's
great rough hand in her tiny one, pulled him along the lane towards her
little friend.

"Tom is not exactly a bear or a lion," thought Charlie, with a somewhat
misty recollection of one of the verses his mother had read to him,
running in his head; "but he's quite as fierce, and it says `A little
child shall lead them.'"

"O Charlie!" exclaimed Lily, when she drew near, "Tom is so good.  I
have been riding on his back up and down the lane ever so long, and do
look what a nice, pretty clean face he has got!"

But Charlie felt so eager to explain to Lily what he knew to be the
cause of this extraordinary transformation, that he could not wait to
speak to Tom.

"Come along the lane with me Lily," he said, "I have wonderful things to
tell you."

So the two trotted off together, Tom smiling after them.  A little up
the lane the music of the birds and insects, and flowers, which Charlie
had been hearing all the morning, sounded clearer and fuller than ever;
and somehow Lily seemed to know of herself, without his telling her, all
about the Millennium having come, even though she was such a little
girl, only five years old.

"Isn't the music beautiful, Lily?  Don't you think it is `Jerusalem the
Golden?'"

"_I_ have been thinking all the morning that it was `There is a happy
land,'" replied she, "but look, Charlie, at that great white thing
coming along the road."  Just where they had got to, the lane ran into
the highway, and looking where Lily pointed, Charlie saw the great white
thing she spoke of, moving towards them.  As it came nearer they saw
that it was a crowd of children, of all ages and sizes, dressed alike in
pure white, which shone in the sun as they marched along.  They sang as
they walked, and Charlie thought he heard the words--

  "For ever and for ever,
  Are clad in robes of white."

One little boy, somewhat in advance of the others, as soon as he caught
sight of Charlie and Lily, ran forward to meet them, and Charlie saw
that it was his friend, little Frank Grey, the miller's son.

"O Charlie!" he exclaimed, "are you there already?  We were coming to
fetch you and Lily.  You must come with us."

"Where are you going to?" said Charlie.

"Don't you know?" said Frank.  "We are all going to meet the Prince, who
is coming this morning to live among us."

"The Prince of Wales, do you mean?" asked Charlie.

"O no!" replied his friend, "a greater Prince than he is.  The Prince of
the Golden City."

"Is that the same as `Jerusalem the Golden,' do you think?"

"I daresay it is," said Frank, "but the Prince has a great many names,
each more beautiful than the other.  Some call him the `Prince of
Peace.'"

"I know that name," said little Lily, softly, "it is _very_ pretty."

"But," said Charlie, "you are all so beautifully dressed.  Lily and I
must run home for our best frocks first."

"O no!" said Frank, "you are just as nicely dressed as we are."  And
Charlie looked down at his own clothes and Lily's, and saw to his
surprise that both their dresses were of pure shining white, like those
of the other children.  It puzzled him a good deal, for he felt sure he
remembered his nurse putting on his little plaid stuff coat and brown
holland pinafore that morning.  But a new thought struck him.  "Don't
you think, Frank, I had better run home and tell mother, for fear she
should not like me to go?"

"O no!" again answered Frank; "she is _sure_ to let you go, for _all_
the boys and girls in the country are coming, and we have several more
to call for still; besides the fathers and mothers themselves will soon
be coming after us in another procession, so you will see your mother
directly."

Quite happy now, Charlie and Lily joined the children, marching all in
twos and twos, keeping time to the music they were singing, which
Charlie felt sure was "Jerusalem the Golden," though Lily _would_ sing
"Happy Land," for all he could say to her.  However, it did not matter,
for it seemed to do just as well, and all their voices suited
beautifully.  They went on as happily as could be, not feeling the least
tired, though it was a good way.  Charlie was turning to ask Frank some
more questions about the Prince they were going to meet, when he was
startled by some one calling him from behind, "Charlie!  Charlie!" the
voice sounding rather sharply, and seeming to jar against the sweet
singing.  He looked round, and there, hastening after him was nurse,
with, alas! her _old_ face on, not the pretty new one.  She came on
quickly, and soon reached him, catching him rather roughly by the arm.
Charlie gave a cry of distress, and--woke! to find himself, poor little
boy, in his crib on a dull gloomy winter morning, and nurse shaking him
a little, to wake him, and speaking very crossly.  It was too much.  Six
years could not bear the terrible contrast, and little Charlie sat up in
bed and burst into tears.

"Oh, it's not true, it's not true," he cried, and nurse looked crosser
than before.

"The child's going out of his mind!" exclaimed she, vainly endeavouring
to stop his tears.  His little heart bursting with sorrow, poor Charlie
got slowly out of bed, and sitting down on the floor, shaking with sobs
and cold, began to try to put on his socks.  But just then a tap came to
the door, and a voice said, "Is that my Charlie crying, first thing on a
Monday morning?"  And Charlie jumped up and ran, all shaking and
shivering, to his nice warm mother, who took him in her arms and carried
him off just as he was, to dress him in her own room, where there was a
beautiful fire; and there poor Charlie told his story.  He could not
help crying again when he came to the end and tried to describe his
bitter disappointment.  His mother did not speak, and he began to fear
she was displeased; but when he looked up in her face, and saw tears in
her pretty kind eyes, he knew she was not vexed with him.

"My poor dear little boy," she said, and then she comforted him so
sweetly that the tears went away.  And after breakfast she talked to
Charlie again about the Millennium, and explained about it a little
more, to him.  She said he must not be unhappy because his dream was not
true, for she thought it was a beautiful dream, and there was one way in
which he might make it true.  Little boy though he was, there need be no
delay in his welcoming the Prince of Peace into the country of his own
heart, and year by year devoting himself more and more earnestly to that
blessed service, till in God's own good time he should be one of the
happy dwellers in the "Golden City" above.

So that, after all, Charlie's wonderful dream did not remain the source
of sorrow and disappointment to him.  And I think it was one of the
things that helped him to grow up a good man, for he never forgot it.
One special good result it had, I know.  It roused an interest in Black
Tom, whom every one had feared and hated, and no one had ever tried to
love, which never rested till gradually, and by slow degrees, the poor
smith became a very different being from the fierce man who had been the
terror of Charlie's childhood.





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