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Title: As the Goose Flies
Author: Pyle, Katharine
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 "As the Goose Flies" ***

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(This file was produced from images generously made


                          As the Goose Flies

                        _Written & Illustrated_

                                 _By_

                            Katharine Pyle



                             Published by
                          Little, Brown & Co.
                                Boston

       *       *       *       *       *



                          _Copyright, 1901_,
                     BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY

                         _All rights reserved_


                PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

       *       *       *       *       *



                               Contents


        Chapter                               Page

  I     BEHIND THE BOOKCASE                     9

  II    BEYOND THE WALL                        15

  III   THE FIVE LITTLE PIGS AND THE GOAT      24

  IV    UP IN THE CLOUD-LAND                   45

  V     THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN LITTLE DWARFS   58

  VI    THE GREAT GRAY WOLF                    77

  VII   THE MAGIC LAMP                         89

  VIII  BLUEBEARD'S HOUSE                     108

  IX    BEYOND THE MIST                       120

  X     IN THE HOUSE OF THE QUEERBODIES       137

  XI    THE PRINCESS GOLDENHAIR               156

  XII   HOME AGAIN                            175

       *       *       *       *       *



List of Illustrations


  "Then away he flew toward the dark line of
    forest"                                           _Frontispiece_

  "Ellen stood at the nursery window"                     _page_   9

  "Presently she shaded her eyes with her hand
    and looked up at the sky"                             _page_  16

  "Mother Goose told her how to do it"                    _page_  22

  "Ellen thought they were the cunningest little
    things for dolls that she had ever seen"              _page_  34

  "As her eyes grew used to the gloom she saw
    a very large and very ugly goat"                      _page_  40

  "The gander and Ellen began to let the rope
    slip"                                            _face page_  55

  "There stood a little dwarf holding a great
    wooden spoon"                                         _page_  59

  "It beat and buffeted them with its wings and
    hissed so piercingly in their ears that they
    did not know what was after them"                _face page_  73

  "Close to her was an enormous gray wolf"                _page_  78

  "Spread its wings and flew up over his head"            _page_  86

  "The slaves threw themselves down before
    her"                                             _face page_  91

  "A terrible black genie appeared before her"            _page_ 100

  "Ellen climbed upon the gander's back and
    she then could just reach the knocker"                _page_ 112

  "Ellen raised the horn to her lips and blew"            _page_ 122

  "Still he kept whispering in its ear"                   _page_ 126

  "An enormous dragon lay stretched in a rocky
    defile"                                               _page_ 129

  "She saw a tall man oddly dressed in green
    and yellow"                                           _page_ 138

  "Timidly the little girl took the white hand"      _face page_ 154

  "The fairy knelt before her and lifted the edge
    of the cloak"                                         _page_ 162

  "The fairy drew his sword and pointed it at
    her"                                             _face page_ 171

  "Ellen put her ear against the golden wall"             _page_ 179

  Tailpiece                                               _page_ 183

       *       *       *       *       *



[Illustration]


_Chapter One_

_Behind the Bookcase_


Ellen stood at the nursery window looking out at the gray sky and the
wet, blowing branches of the trees. It had been raining and blowing all
day. The roof pipes poured out steady waterfalls; the lilacs bent over,
heavy with the rain. Up in the sky a bird was trying to beat its way
home against the wind.

But Ellen was not thinking of any of these things. She was thinking of
the story that her grandmother had forgotten again.

Ellen's grandmother was very old; so old that she often called Ellen by
the names of her own little children; children who had grown up or died
years and years ago. She was so old she could remember things that had
happened seventy years before, but then she forgot a great many things,
even things that had occurred only a few minutes before. Sometimes she
forgot where her spectacles were when they were pushed back on her
head. Most of all she forgot the stories she tried to tell Ellen. She
would just get to a very interesting place, and then she would push her
spectacles up on her forehead and look vaguely about her. "I forget
what came next," she would say.

Very often Ellen could help her out. "Why, granny, don't you know the
little bear's voice was so thin and shrill it woke little Silverhair
right up? Then when she opened her eyes and saw the three bears--" or,
"Why then when Jack saw the giant was fast asleep he caught up the
golden hen--" and so the little girl would go on and finish the story
for the old grandmother.

But there was one story that Ellen could not finish for her
grandmother. It was a story that she had never heard; at least she
had never heard the end of it. It was about a little princess named
Goldenlocks who always had to wear a sooty hood over her beautiful
shining hair, and who had a wicked stepmother.

Again and again the grandmother had begun the story, but she never got
further in it than where Goldenlocks was combing her hair at night all
alone in the kitchen. When she had reached that point she would stop
and say, "Ah, what was it that came next? What was it, little Clara?
Can't you remember? It's so long since I have told it." Clara was the
name by which the grandmother oftenest called Ellen.

Sometimes the little girl tried to make up an ending to the story, but
always the grandmother would shake her head. "No, no," she would cry,
"that's not it. What was it? What was it? Ah, if I could but remember!"

She worried and fretted so over the story that Ellen was always sorry
to have her begin it. Sometimes the old grandmother almost cried.

Now as the child stood looking through the window at the rainy world
outside, her thoughts were upon the story, for the grandmother had been
very unhappy over it all day; Ellen had not been able to get her to
talk or think of anything else.

The house was very quiet, for it was afternoon. The mother was busy in
the sewing-room, grandmother was taking a nap, and nurse was crooning
softly to the baby in the room across the hall.

Ellen had come to the nursery to get a book of jingles; she was going
to read aloud to her mother. Now as she turned from the window it
occurred to her that she would put the bookcase in order before she
went down to the sewing-room. That was just the thing to do on a rainy
day.

She sat down before the shelves and began pulling the books out, now
and then opening one to look at a picture or to straighten a bookmarker.

The nursery walls were covered with a flowered paper, and when Ellen
had almost emptied the shelves she noticed that the paper back of them
was of a different color from that on the rest of the room. It had not
faded. The blue color between the vines looked soft and cloudlike, too,
and almost as though it would melt away at a touch.

Ellen put her hand back to feel it.

Instead of touching a hard, cold wall as she had expected, her hand
went right through between the vines as though there were nothing
there.

Ellen rose to her knees and put both hands across the shelf. She found
she could draw the vines aside just as though they were real. She even
thought she caught a glimpse of skies and trees between them.

In haste she sprang to her feet and pushed the bookcase to one side so
that she could squeeze in behind it.

She caught hold of the wall-paper vines and drew them aside, and then
she stepped right through the wall and into the world beyond.



_Chapter Two_

_Beyond the Wall_


It was not raining at all beyond the wall. Overhead was a soft, mild
sky, neither sunny nor cloudy. Before her stretched a grassy green
meadow, and far away in the distance was a dark line of forest.

Just at the foot of the meadow was a little house. It was such a
curious little house that Ellen went nearer to look at it. It was not
set solidly upon the ground, but stood upon four fowls' legs, so that
you could look clear under it; and the roof was covered with shining
feathers that overlapped like feathers upon the back of a duck. Beside
the door, hitched to a post by a bridle just as a horse might be, was
an enormous white gander.

While Ellen stood staring with all her eyes at the house and the
gander, the door opened, and a little old woman, in buckled shoes,
with a white apron over her frock and a pointed hat on her head,
stepped out, as if to look about her and enjoy the pleasant air.

Presently she shaded her eyes with her hand and looked up at the sky;
then she looked at the meadows, and last her eyes fell upon the little
girl who stood there staring at her. The old woman gazed and gazed.

[Illustration]

"Well, I declare," she cried, "if it isn't a little girl! What are you
doing here, child?"

"I'm just looking at your house."

"But how did you happen to come here?"

"I came through the nursery wall. I didn't know it was soft before."

A number of queer-looking little people had come out from the house
while Ellen and the old woman were talking, and they gathered about in
a crowd and stared so hard and were so odd-looking that Ellen began
to feel somewhat shy. They kept coming out and coming out until she
wondered how the house could have held them all.

There was a little boy with a pig in his arms, and now and then the
pig squealed shrilly. There was a maid with a cap and apron, and her
sleeves were so full of round, heavy things that the seams looked ready
to burst. A pocket that hung at her side was full, too, and bumped
against her as she walked. She came quite close to Ellen, and the child
could tell by the smell that the things in her sleeves and pocket were
oranges. There was one who Ellen knew must be a king by the crown on
his head; he was a jolly-looking fellow, and had a pipe in one hand
and a bowl in the other.

There were big people and little people, young people and old; and a
dish and spoon came walking out with the rest. But what seemed almost
the strangest of all to Ellen was to see an old lady come riding out
through the door of the house on a white horse.

"I wonder where she keeps it," thought the little girl to herself. "I
shouldn't think it would be very pleasant to have a horse in the house
with you."

The old lady's hands were loaded with rings, and as the horse moved
there was a jingling as of bells. The words of a nursery rhyme rang
through Ellen's head in time to the jingling:--

    "_Rings on her fingers
      And bells on her toes,
    She shall have music
      Wherever she goes._"

"Why," she cried, "it's the old lady of Banbury Cross. And"--she
looked around at the crowd--"why, I do believe they're _all_ out of
Mother Goose rhymes."

"Of course they are," said the little old woman with the pointed hat.
"What did you suppose would live in Mother Goose's house?"

"And are you Mother Goose?" asked Ellen.

"Yes, I am. Don't you think I look like the pictures?"

"But--but--I didn't know you were alive. I thought you were only a
rhyme."

"Only a rhyme! Well, I should think not. How do you suppose there could
be rhymes unless there was something to make them about?"

"And all the rest, too," said Ellen dreamily, looking about her. "'Tom,
Tom, the piper's son,' and 'Dingty, Diddlety, my mammy's maid,' and
'Old King Cole'--why, they're _all_ alive. How queer it seems! I wonder
if the stories are alive, too."

"Yes, just as alive as we are."

"And the story grandmother forgot--oh, _do_ you suppose I could find
that story?"

"The story she forgot!" answered Mother Goose thoughtfully. "What was
it about?"

"Why, that's it; I don't know. Nobody knows only just grandmother, and
she's forgotten."

Mother Goose shook her head. "If every one's forgotten it, I'm afraid
it must be at the house of the Queerbodies. That's where they send all
the forgotten stories; then they make them over into new ones."

"Couldn't I go there to find it?"

"I don't know. I've never been there myself. Of course, they wouldn't
let me in. But you're a real child. Maybe you could get in. Only, how
would you get there? It's a long, long journey, through the forest and
over hills and streams."

"I don't know," said Ellen. "I've never journeyed very far; only just
to Aunt Josephine's."

Mother Goose knitted her brows and began to think hard. Suddenly her
face brightened. "I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll lend you my gander;
and he'll carry you there in short order, however far it is."

"Oh, thank you, but I don't believe I could ride him! I'd fall off, I'm
sure."

"No, you wouldn't. He goes as smoothly as a dream goose, and almost as
fast. Yes, I'll lend him to you. But there's one thing I'd like you to
do for me in return when you reach the house of the Queerbodies."

"What is that?"

"I'd like you to ask about a rhyme I used to have. I think they must
have it there, for I've lost it; and if it hasn't been made over yet,
perhaps you could manage to get it for me."

"What's its name?" asked Ellen.

"Well, it hasn't any name, but it looks like this:--

        "_Johnnykin learned to ride the wind,
        But he wouldn't let any one on behind.
              But the wind ran away
              With Johnny one day,
    And that wasn't such fun I have heard him say._"

Ellen promised to do what she could about it, and then Mother Goose
sent Little Boy Blue to unhitch the gander and bring him to them. Ellen
felt rather nervous about mounting him, but Mother Goose told her how
to do it.

[Illustration]

Then the white gander spread his wings. The wind rustled through them
like the sound made by the leaves of a book when they are turned. Up,
up rose the gander as smoothly as a bubble rises through the air and
then away he flew toward the dark line of forest that Ellen saw in the
distance.



_Chapter Three_

_The Five Little Pigs and the Goat_


On and on went the white gander so smoothly and swiftly that the
country slipped away beneath just as the leaves of a book do when
they slip from under your finger too fast for you to see the print or
pictures.

"I wonder what that is," said Ellen as a spot of red shone out among
the green beneath.

The gander stayed his wings so that Ellen could look.

It was a little red brick house. Around it were other houses that
looked as though they were built of sods. They had chimneys and from
two or three of these chimneys thin lines of smoke rose through the
still air.

As the gander hovered above them from a knoll a little way beyond
there suddenly sounded a shrill and piteous squeaking.

"Oh, what's that?" cried Ellen. "It must be a pig and I'm afraid some
one is hurting it. Oh dear!"

"Do you want to go and see mistress?" asked the gander.

Ellen said she did, so the gander turned in that direction.

When they reached the knoll they found that it was indeed a pig that
was making the noise, but Ellen could not see why it was shrieking so.
It sat there all alone under an oak tree and with its pink nose lifted
to the sky and its eyes shut it wept aloud. The tears trickled down its
bristly cheeks.

Suddenly it stopped squeaking, and getting up began quietly hunting
about for acorns, and craunching them as though it found them very good.

"What's the matter, you poor little pig?" asked Ellen, looking down at
it from the gander's back.

She had not spoken with any idea of receiving any answer.

The little pig looked up when he heard her voice. As soon as he saw
her he sat down and began squeaking so shrilly that Ellen felt like
covering her ears.

"Week! Week! Week!" he cried. "Can't find my way home."

For a moment Ellen was so surprised at hearing the pig speak that she
could not say anything. Then she asked, "Where do you live?" But the
pig did not hear her. "Where do you live?" she repeated in a louder
tone; then she shouted, "Hush!" so loudly that the little pig stopped
short with his mouth half open and the tears still standing in his eyes.

"Where do you live?" she asked for the third time.

"I live over by the wood in the little sod house next to the brick
one," answered the little pig.

"Well, isn't that it there?" and Ellen pointed to the sod houses over
which she had just flown.

The little pig looked. "Why, so it is," he cried. Then curling up his
little tail he trotted away in that direction.

The white gander flew beside him and Ellen talked as they went. "Why
didn't you see it before?"

"I was coming home from market with my brother; he's quite a big pig;
and I stopped to eat some acorns, so he said he wouldn't wait for me
any longer, and he went on and that lost me."

"But if you'd just looked you would have seen it."

"I couldn't look because I was hunting for acorns, and then I began to
cry, and then I hunted for some more acorns."

It sounded so foolish, Ellen couldn't help laughing. "I think I'd
better go home with you or you may get lost again," she said. Presently
she asked, "How many brothers have you?"

"Four," answered the pig. "One of them's going to have roast beef for
dinner." Suddenly he sat down and began to cry again.

"What in the world's the matter now?" asked Ellen in desperation.

"Oweek! Oweek! Maybe he's eaten it all."

"Well you'd better hurry home and see. If you keep on sitting here and
crying, I know you won't get any."

This thought made the little pig jump up and start toward home as fast
as his short legs would carry him.

When they reached the sod house next to the brick one another pig
was standing in the doorway looking out. He was larger than Ellen's
companion.

He stared hard at the little girl and her gander, but when he spoke it
was to the little pig. "You naughty little pig, why didn't you come
home?"

The little pig did not answer this question. "Has Middling finished his
roast beef?" he asked.

"There's some fat left."

As the little pig hurried in through the door, Ellen asked of the
other, "Is this your house?"

"Yes," grunted the pig.

Three other pigs had appeared in the doorway by this time. They all
stared at the little girl.

"It's a dear little house," said Ellen.

"Would you like to look inside?" asked the largest pig.

Ellen said she would.

She slipped from the gander and the pigs made way for her to go in; but
she only looked through the doorway, without entering. The littlest pig
was seated at a table eating beef fat as fast as he could. Ellen did
not think he ate very nicely.

"It's a dear little house," she repeated.

Then she looked about her. At the window of one of the other houses she
caught a glimpse of a head. It looked like a cat's head.

"Who live in all these other houses?" she asked.

"Well, in that brick house lives another pig," answered the pig they
called Middling. "Sometimes he comes to see us, but he doesn't have
_very_ much to do with us, because he's in a story; a _real_ story you
know, and we're only in a rhyme."

"What story is he in?" asked Ellen.

"The story of the wolf that huffed and puffed and blew the house in. He
had two brothers, and one built a house of leaves and one built a house
of straw, and the wolf came and blew their houses in and ate them up,
but this one built his house of bricks, so when the wolf came to it--"

"Oh, yes, I know that story," interrupted Ellen, for she had heard it
so often she was rather tired of it. "Who lives in the house beyond
that?"

"The seven little kids. A wolf really did swallow them once, but their
mother cut him open with her scissors while he was asleep and they all
got out."

"And who lives in the little furry house with the chimneys like
pointed ears?"

"An old cat. She's nothing but a rhyme. She's very particular, though.
Why, one time she was just as _mad_ at her kittens, just because they
lost some mittens she had knitted for them."

So Middling went on talking of all the people who lived in the village,
while Ellen listened and wondered. It seemed so strange she could
hardly believe it was all true.

"What fun you must have together!" she said at last.

The pigs looked at each other and grunted. "We would have," said a slim
pig that the others called Ringling, "if it wasn't for an old goat that
lives in a cave down at the end of the street."

"Oh, but he's a naughty one," broke in Thumbie, the fattest pig. "He's
always doing mischief and playing tricks on us."

"That was a bad trick he played on you, Thumbie," said Middling.

"What was that?" asked the little girl.

"Well, we were all away except Thumbie, and he was asleep in the
doorway, and the old goat saw him and brought a paint pot and painted
his back so it looked like a big fat face lying there. So when we came
home we didn't know what it was, and we were scared, but Thumbie woke
up and began to get up, and Ringling she squeaked, 'Run! run! Big face
is after us,' so we all began to run. Thumbie he saw us all running,
so he got scared too, and he ran after us, and the faster we ran the
faster he ran. After a while he tripped and fell, and then he began to
cry and we knew who it was."

"Oh, yes, he's as mean as mean can be," went on Middling. "Why, one
time when our raspberries were ripe old Shave-head came here--"

"Who's Shave-head?" interrupted Ellen.

"Oh, he's the goat. Old Shave-head came here and asked if he couldn't
have some of our raspberries, and we said yes he could if he'd give
us a present, and he said he would, so he went home and brought a big
pannikin and put it on the table. It was covered.

"Then he went out in the garden and began to pick raspberries as fast
as ever he could.

"We all sat round and wondered what was in the pannikin.

"Littlesie guessed it was acorns, and Thumbie thought it was apple
parings, and I thought it was pancakes because it was in a pannikin."

"And what was it?" asked Ellen, very much interested.

"Well, it was a joke," said Middling slowly. "He'd fixed up a sort
of big jumping-jack inside, and when we took off the lid it jumped
out at us and said, 'Woof!' It scared us so we all squeaked and
jumped back in our chairs, and the chairs upset and down we came,
_clatterly-slam-bang_!"

Ellen could not help laughing at that.

"He painted all our dolls, too," said Fatty, "and almost spoiled them."

"Have you dolls?" cried Ellen in surprise.

[Illustration]

"Oh, yes, indeed. I'll show them to you," and Thumbie ran into the
house to get them. When he brought them out Ellen thought they were
the cunningest little things for dolls that she had ever seen. They
were little wooden pigs just like the real pigs themselves only very
small. But they were painted in the funniest way. One was bright purple
with a yellow nose, and one was pea-green with red legs, another was
sky-blue spotted all over with pink, and the other two were just as
funny-looking.

After Ellen had looked at them she asked, "Did the goat paint them that
way?"

"Yes, he did, and I think it's real mean." It was Middling who answered.

"What are some of the other tricks he plays?"

Middling thought awhile. "I don't remember any more."

"There was that Fourth-o'-July trick he played on the mother of the
seven kids," suggested Ringling.

"Oh, yes. That was mean too; she's so good. She bakes us cookies
sometimes and then she gives the old goat some. She's always good to
him and nobody likes him either."

"What was the trick?"

"He took torpedoes and put them all down the path at the Mother Goat's.
It was a gravel path, and she thought the torpedoes were just part of
it. Fourth-o'-July morning she came out to get a pail of water and when
she struck a torpedo with her hard hoof it went off, bang! It scared
her so she jumped up in the air, and when she came down it was on some
more torpedoes. Bang! bang! they went. Every time she made a leap and
came down some more torpedoes went off. Mother Goat was so scared she
went to bed for all the rest of the day, and it was Fourth-o'-July,
too. I just wish we could drive him away."

"So do we," cried all the other pigs. "Then we'd be happy. He's just an
ugly old baldhead, anyway."

"I never saw a bald goat," said Ellen.

"His master shaved him," said Ringling, "he was so bad."

"Why? What did he do?"

"Well, his master had three sons, and he sent them one at a time to
take the goat out to pasture. Every time before the boy brought the
goat home he would ask, 'Goat, have you had enough?' And the goat
would answer:

    "'_I am satisfied quite;
    No more can I bite._'

Then the boy would bring him home and put him in the stable. But the
father always wanted to be sure his goat had had enough, so he would go
out himself and say, 'Goat have you had enough to-day?' Then it would
answer:

    "'_I only jumped about the fields,
    And never found a bite._'

It made the father so angry to think his sons should have treated the
goat that way that he drove them away from home."

"I know," Ellen interrupted. "Then when the father found out that the
goat had deceived him and made him send his sons away--"

"He shaved the goat's head and drove it away with a yard-stick," cried
Middling, raising his voice. He wanted to tell the story himself.
"Then it hid in a bear's cave--"

"I know."

"And the bear was afraid to go home, for he could just see the goat's
eyes shining in the cave and he didn't know what it was, and he was
afraid to go in; but a bee said it would see, so it went in and stung
the goat on the head and then the goat jumped out of the cave and ran
till it came here, and I do wish somebody would take it away."

"I would," said Ellen, "if I knew where to take it." She was not afraid
of the goat, for she had a pet one at home that drew a little wagon.

Littlesie, who had finished his roast beef and had come to the door,
looked frightened. "You couldn't," he cried. "Why Baldhead would butt
you right over if you tried to touch him."

"Mistress," said the white gander, "I know how you could make the goat
go away."

"How?" asked Ellen.

Then the gander told his plan, while Ellen and all the five pigs
listened.

"Good, good," cried the pigs when they had heard it, and they clapped
their hoofs and leaped up into the air.

Ellen, too, thought it a good plan and said she would do everything as
the gander told her.

The pigs showed her where the goat lived, and then they ran back home,
for the gander said it would be better for Ellen and him to go to see
the goat by themselves.

It was in a sort of a cave under a hillock that he lived. The cave had
but one window and that was only a hole through the earth, but it had a
doorway and a wooden door.

There Ellen knocked and a rough voice within asked, "Who is that
knocking at my door?"

And Ellen answered, "Some one who never was here before."

Again the rough voice spoke:

    "_Then lift the latch that I may see
    Who dares to come and knock for me._"

Then Ellen lifted the latch and after a moment's hesitation pushed open
the door and stepped inside.

[Illustration]

At first it seemed so dark in the cave after the brightness outside
that she could see nothing, but as her eyes grew used to the gloom she
saw that one end of the cave was almost filled with straw, and upon
this was sitting a very large and very ugly goat.

His hair was rough and shaggy; his head was shaved and his little eyes
looked at Ellen fiercely from under his curving horns.

"What do you mean by coming and disturbing me here in my cave?" he
asked.

His voice was so very harsh that for a moment Ellen was rather
frightened, but she remembered her pet goat at home and spoke up
bravely:

"If you please, I've come to ask you whether you won't go away and find
some other place to live."

"_Go!_" cried the goat, half rising. "Me go?"

"Yes," answered Ellen. "You see, you tease and bother the animals that
live here so much that they all want you to go, and I told the pigs I
would come and tell you."

"Then you can tell them," howled the goat in a rage, "that I'll never
go. Have I sent three sons packing from their father's house and
frightened a bear from his cave to be ordered out of my house at last
by some pigs?"

"I don't know," said Ellen, "but you'll have to go anyway."

"I won't go," howled the goat.

"Yes, you'll have to," said Ellen.

"But I won't," howled the goat.

Then Ellen did what the gander had told her to do. She put her hands to
her mouth and buzzed into them like a bee.

The goat started up as though he had been shot. Ever since he had been
stung out of the bear's cave there was nothing in the world that he
feared like a bee. He began to shiver and shake, and his bald head
turned quite pale, "Oh don't sting me," he cried. "Please don't, and
I'll do whatever you wish."

"Then come with me," said Ellen, "and I won't hurt you."

"What are you going to do with me," asked the goat quite meekly,
getting up and coming to her.

"I don't know just yet, but you can't stay here any longer. I'll try to
find a good home for you somewheres."

Then she fastened a stout twine, that the pigs had given her, about the
goat's neck, and led him forth.

The animals in the village had heard from the pigs how Ellen had gone
to try to get the old goat to go away, and they were all standing at
their doors watching.

They had expected to see Ellen and the gander come running from the
cave with the old goat butting them.

How surprised they were to see their enemy come out trotting meekly
at Ellen's heels, following wherever she chose to lead it. They all
murmured together of their surprise but they were still too much afraid
of the goat to shout or show the delight they felt.

Ellen nodded shyly to the animals as she walked down the street.

When she reached the pigs' house they were all watching for her.
Middling ran out and pushed something into her hand. "It's a present
for you," he whispered. Then he ran back to join the others, but he was
so glad the goat was going that he could not help jumping up into the
air and squeaking as he ran.

The present he had given Ellen was the prettiest of the little wooden
pigs; the one that was painted sky-blue with pink spots.



_Chapter Four_

_Up in the Cloud-Land_


Ellen walked on toward the forest, followed by the white gander and
the goat. She wondered what she could do with the goat. She could not
take it with her, and if she turned it loose it would go and worry some
other animals, she was sure.

Over toward the right at the very edge of the wood was a house. Ellen
thought perhaps the people who lived there would take care of the goat,
so she went over toward it.

When she reached the house, she found it was a very comfortable one
with a porch covered with vines, and a stable and out-buildings at the
back.

On the porch sat a gray-haired woman dressed in silk. She was looking
up toward the quiet sky and listening to music that sounded from within
the house. Ellen had never heard such beautiful music in all her life.
As long as it sounded she could do nothing but stand and listen.
Through the open window the little girl could see the top of a golden
harp. She supposed some one must be playing on it, but she had never
known before that any one in the world could play as beautifully as
that.

When the music stopped the woman on the porch stirred and sighed. Then
she lowered her eyes and her gaze fell upon Ellen. She rose and came to
the edge of the porch. "Good-morning, child," she said. "Did you want
to see me?"

"Yes," said Ellen. "I wanted to know whether you didn't want a goat."

"Why, no," answered the woman with some surprise, "I don't. We have
all the animals about the place that we want."

"I wish you _would_ take this one," urged Ellen. "I don't know what to
do with it."

"How do you come to be leading it about the country? Is it your goat?"

"Not exactly." She began to tell the woman all her story of how she
had followed the little pig to the village; of how she had found the
animals were being worried by the goat, and of how she had made it come
away with her. It all sounded so strange, Ellen was half afraid the
woman would not believe it. She did not seem to think it surprising,
however; but when Ellen had ended she shook her head. "No," she said;
"we wouldn't want such a mischievous animal about, I'm sure; but I'll
ask my son." Then she called, "Jack, Jack!"

In answer a tall, stout lad came to the door. "What is it, mother?" he
asked.

"Here's a child who has a goat, and she says this, that, and the
other" (and the woman repeated Ellen's story). "Now the end of the
matter is, she wants to leave the goat here with us."

"I don't see how we can--" began the lad slowly, when suddenly he
stopped and listened intently with a strange, scared look on his face.

His mother caught him by the arm. "What is it, Jack?" she cried. "What
are you listening to? It isn't--"

Jack nodded without answering.

And now all listened, and Ellen knew that a sound she had heard some
minutes before, without particularly noticing it, was the voice of
some one weeping and complaining. The voice was very faint and far
off, but in the silence the little girl could make out the words, "I
can't get down! I can't get down! Woe is me, but it's lonely up here."
Ellen could not tell where the voice came from, but it seemed to come
from the sky. There was silence for a moment and then it began again
lamenting and weeping.

The woman threw her silk apron over her head and began to rock herself
and sob. "Oh, the poor thing! I can't stand it, Jack," she cried.
"You've got to get her down somehow. You've _got_ to."

The lad had turned somewhat pale. "What can I do, mother?" he asked.
"You know I've tried everything I know, but there's never a ladder in
all the world that would reach that far, and we have no more such beans
as those."

"Who is it?" asked Ellen in a whisper.

The woman put down her apron and wiped her eyes. "It's that giant's
poor wife," she answered. "You see it all came from Jack's selling our
cow for a hatful of beans. I punished him well for it, but what good
did that do? Then he planted them, and one of them grew so fast it grew
right up to the sky."

"Oh; Jack and the Beanstalk!" cried Ellen.

"Then nothing would do but Jack must climb up and see what was at the
top of the beanstalk. He climbed and he climbed," the woman went on,
her voice broken by sobs, "until at last he climbed right up to the
sky. There he found a wonderful country and a giant had a castle there.
The giant was very rich. Besides his other treasures he had two bags of
golden money, a golden hen, and a golden harp that played of itself.
Perhaps you heard the harp playing as you came up."

"Yes, I did," said Ellen.

"All these things Jack managed to steal, one at a time, and brought
them down the beanstalk with him. That was all right enough, for
those things had once belonged to Jack's father, and had been stolen
from him by the giant. Jack had no trouble in getting away with the
bags of money and the hen, but the time he brought the harp the giant
discovered him and chased him. He came clambering down the beanstalk
after the lad, and would have killed us both without doubt, but Jack
ran in and got a hatchet and chopped down the beanstalk. The giant,
who was only half way down, fell with it and was killed, and I never
was sorry for him a moment, for he was a wicked, cruel giant. The only
thing I grieve about is his poor wife. She was so good to Jack, and now
she is left there all alone in the giant's house, and no way of getting
her down again, as far as I can see."

The woman began to sob again more bitterly than ever. As for Jack, he
turned away and, putting his arm against the wall, hid his face in it.

The white gander plucked Ellen by the skirt. "Mistress, Mistress! Come
with me a moment," he whispered.

Ellen followed him a little apart.

"I think I might help you to get the giant's wife down," he said.

"How would you do it?"

"Do you mount upon my back and I'll fly up there with you, for wings
can fly where never ladder can reach. When we're once up there we'll
soon find some way to get her down."

Ellen was pleased with this advice, and returning to the porch she told
Jack and his mother what the gander had said.

They were filled with joy and gratitude. "If you only will get her down
there is nothing you can ask for that we will not give you," cried the
mother, "even the golden harp itself."

Ellen seated herself upon the gander's back and gathered the reins into
her fingers. Then the bird spread its strong wings and rose in the
air. Up and up it flew. The sky seemed to grow nearer and Jack and his
mother and the old bald goat shrank to mere specks below.

Up, up, until Ellen grew dizzy with the height and closed her eyes.

There was a slight jar, and then the gander spoke, "Mistress, we are
here."

Ellen unclosed her eyes and looked about her. She was in a wide gray
country, such as she had never seen before. Everything about her was
gray, the trees, the grass, the streams and sky--everything; and not
far away was a gigantic, shadowy gray castle.

Close to where the gander had alighted stood a little old woman with
her hands clasped. She was looking at Ellen with wide, wondering eyes.
Presently she came nearer, and timidly stretching out her hand she
touched Ellen with her finger. "Are you real, or are you only a dream?"
she asked.

"Why I'm real, of course," said Ellen.

The little old woman caught her by the arm and began to sob with joy.
"Oh, I'm so glad, so glad," she cried. "I've been so lonely up here.
You won't go away and leave me here alone again, will you?"

"I've come to take you down," said Ellen.

"Oh, that's better still. It's many a long and weary year since my foot
has been on the dear green grass. But how will you get me down?"

"I thought maybe the gander would carry us," said Ellen, but the white
gander shook his head.

"No, no; my wings are not strong enough for that, and if I should fall
we would all three break our necks."

"Then what shall we do?"

"I have a rope," said the little old woman timidly. "While I have been
up here alone I spent my time making it, and now I think it is long
enough. I often thought I would try to lower myself to the earth by it,
but I was afraid."

Ellen looked at the gander. "That might do," he said. "Bring it here,
and bring a basket, too; the biggest one you have."

The little old woman hastened away, and in a short time returned with
the rope and a basket.

"Now tie them together," said the gander.

Ellen and the old woman did this, seeing to it that the knots were
tight.

[Illustration]


Then the white gander made Ellen twist the rope around a tree, so that
the basket would hang down just over the cloudy edge of the sky country.

"Now get in the basket," said the gander.

The little old woman looked rather frightened, but she did as she was
bid. Then the gander and Ellen began to let the rope slip, and as it
slipped the basket slowly sank from sight. The weight did not seem
great because of the rope's being twisted about the tree.

Down and down went the basket and the little old woman in it; down and
down went the rope. Ellen thought they never would get done letting
it slip. At last there was no more pull on it. "She has reached the
ground," said the gander. "And now, mistress, get on my back and we
will fly down."

"Oh, I'm almost afraid, we are so far up."

"Shut your eyes and hold me by the neck."

Ellen seated herself upon the gander's back. Then she clasped her arms
about its neck and closed her eyes, as she was bid and then the gander
flew out over the edge of the cloud-land.

It took but a little while for them to find themselves once more down
in front of the vine-covered porch, and there was the little old woman
with Jack and his mother, and they were joyful indeed.

"And now what will you have as a reward?" asked Jack's mother. "Will
you have the golden harp? Or will you have a bag of golden money? Or
what?"

But Ellen said she would not take anything, for she did not wish to
burden down the gander. All she asked was that they would keep the goat
and be kind to him, and that they would tell her how to get to the
Queerbodies' House.

"The first I will gladly do," said Jack's mother, "but as to the
second, all I can tell you is that the Queerbodies' House lies on the
other side of the forest; but if you ask the forest folk, no doubt they
can direct you how to go."

"This you must take at least," cried the little old woman; "it is all
I brought from the gray country." She lifted her skirt, and from the
pocket of the petticoat beneath she drew out an egg. It was just the
size of a hen's egg and shaped like one, but Ellen exclaimed with
admiration when she saw it, for it was all of pure yellow gold, and
shone like glass. "Take it," said the little old woman, "I have no need
of it now, for Jack and his mother have promised that I shall live here
with them and share all that they have. You see you can easily carry
this."

Ellen took the egg and thanked the little old woman. Then bidding
good-by to all, she seated herself upon her gander, and away they flew
so swiftly that almost immediately the vine-covered house was far away,
and they found themselves at the edge of the deep, green forest.



_Chapter Five_

_The House of the Seven Little Dwarfs_


"Mistress," said the gander, "you will have to alight now if we are to
go in here in search of the forest folk. It would only bruise my wings
for nothing if I tried to fly where the trees are so thick."

"Very well," answered Ellen, stepping down from his back to the ground.
"And I do believe," she added, "that I see a house now beyond those
bushes. Don't you?"

"Yes, I believe I do," said the gander. "Let us go over in that
direction and see."

A very short walk brought them to the house. It was a very cunning
little house, with a door and windows just about large enough for a
large child.

Ellen went up to the door and knocked. She could hear some one rattling
about inside and moving things around, but there was no answer to her
rap, so she knocked again.

[Illustration]

A moment's silence followed, and then the door was suddenly and
violently thrown open. There stood a little dwarf holding a great
wooden spoon in his hand as though it were a club. His eyes had a
scared look.

"Who are you, and what do you want here?" he cried, in a voice that he
tried to make very big and bold, though it trembled in spite of him.

"I am Ellen," answered the little girl, "and I stopped here to ask if
you could tell me the way to the Queerbodies' house."

"Oh, is that all," said the dwarf with a sigh of relief. "I was afraid
when you first knocked that you might be one of those bad underground
dwarfs. But come in; come in. I don't know the way myself, but maybe
one of my brothers may. They'll be here soon if you'll come in and wait
a bit. I'm just cooking dinner for them."

"Thank you," said Ellen. "May my gander come in too?"

"Yes, yes; bring him in."

As Ellen followed the dwarf into the house she looked about her and
thought it was the very cunningest little house she had ever seen.
In the middle of the room was a long low table set with seven wooden
bowls, seven wooden forks, and seven wooden spoons. Around the table
were seven little chairs just the right size for children or dwarfs.
There were also a wooden dresser painted red, a dough-trough, a clock,
and a settee; but everything was small. Ellen thought what fun it would
be to keep house there.

The only big thing in the room was a huge black pot that stood on the
stove, and in which something was cooking. The dwarf was obliged to
stand on a stool in order to reach over and stir it with his big spoon.

"Porridge," he said looking over his shoulder at Ellen. Then he
repeated in a tone of contempt, "_Porridge!_" Giving it a last stir he
stepped down from the stool, and using all his strength he pushed the
pot to the back part of the stove. Then he came and sat down opposite
to Ellen.

"I suppose you think porridge is a strange thing to have for dinner,"
he said, still speaking bitterly. "So do I. And to think I had a good
dinner all ready and cooked just a little while ago!"

"What became of it?" asked Ellen.

"Why I just went a little way into the forest to see if my brothers
were coming, and in that little time that I was away those bad
underground dwarfs were here, and when I came back the meat was gone,
and the potatoes were gone, and ashes were dropped in the soup, so it
was fit for nothing but to be thrown out. Oh, they're bad ones, they
are."

"So then you cooked some porridge?"

"It was the best I could do at this hour of the day. There'll be
grumbling enough about it when my brothers come home. Those underground
dwarfs are always up to some mischief or other. They weren't so much
trouble--indeed they didn't trouble us at all as long as the good
Bear Prince was about. They were too much afraid of him even if he was
enchanted; but he broke the enchantment and married Snow-White and went
to live in his castle, far away. Now the underground dwarfs have no
one to be afraid of, and we daren't leave the house alone a minute or
they're up to some mischief."

Ellen sat staring at the dwarf. She knew the story of that Bear Prince
very well. It was all about how he came to the house where Rose-Red and
Snow-White lived and asked for shelter one bitter winter night. He was
in the shape of a bear then because he had been enchanted by a wicked
dwarf, but afterward he caught the dwarf and killed him, and then his
bear-skin dropped from him. So he came back to his true shape of a
handsome prince and married little Snow-White. Ellen knew the story
almost by heart, but never before had she believed that it was really
true.

"And did you really see that enchanted Prince with your very own eyes?"
she asked.

"Oh, yes; we knew him well while he was a bear. Many and many a time
has he lain there before that very stove snoring away. But after he
once began going to the widow's house he stopped coming here. The widow
was the mother of Snow-White and Rose-Red.

"Perhaps it was just as well though, anyway. He might have frightened
our own beautiful Snowdrop, for she was keeping house for us then."

"Who was Snowdrop?" asked Ellen.

"She was the daughter of a king, but she had a wicked stepmother who
hated her. The stepmother gave her to a huntsman bidding him kill
her, but the man had pity on the poor child. He helped her to escape
and then killed a deer and took its heart to the wicked stepmother,
pretending it was Snowdrop's heart. Then Snowdrop came here to live
with us. We sheltered her and loved her, but the wicked stepmother
hunted her out and came here to take the poor child's life."

"Oh, I know," cried Ellen eagerly. "It's the story of the magic mirror."

But the dwarf went on as though he had not heard her. His thoughts were
all of those past days when Snowdrop had made their little house bright
with her beauty. "Yes, she came here, that wicked Queen. She came in
disguise while we were away, pretending to have laces and stays for
sale. We had warned Snowdrop to beware of all strangers, but the child
was so good and innocent herself that she could not think harm of any
one.

"She talked to the stepmother and looked at her wares without knowing
her. She bought a beautiful pair of stays, too. Then the wicked Queen
said she would lace them up for her. She laced them, and suddenly drew
the cord so tight that Snowdrop could not breathe, but fell down as
though dead.

"She was not dead, however, and when we came home we cut the cord so
she could breathe, and so we saved her.

"Once the wicked one brought a poisoned comb and gave it to Snowdrop,
and as soon as it was put in her hair Snowdrop fell down as though
dead. Then too we saved her, drawing out the comb.

"But the third time we could do nothing. It was a piece of a poisoned
apple that the stepmother brought her. Snowdrop took a bite of the
apple and it lodged in her throat. When we came home, there she lay on
the floor as though dead and we could not tell what it was that ailed
her.

"We put her in a crystal casket, meaning to keep her always.

"But a prince came by that way and saw Snowdrop lying there motionless.
Though she could not move nor speak he loved her so dearly that when
he begged for her we could not refuse him. We gave her to him and he
carried her away, but on the journey the apple jolted out and she
opened her eyes and spoke and lived.

"She is a great queen now, but she has never forgotten us. Every month
she comes to see us in her great chariot drawn by six white horses and
with out-riders. Oh, you should see her then, so grand and beautiful.
But she is not proud. She sits and eats with us just as she used to do.
Yes, and she cooked us a dinner, too, one time. Cooked it with her own
royal hands, laughing all the while."

"Oh, I _wish_ I could see her," cried Ellen.

The dwarf sat smiling to himself and rubbing one hand over the hairy
back of the other.

Suddenly he started from his thoughts. "There come my brothers," he
cried.

Gathering up the wooden bowls he carried them over to the porridge pot
and began to fill them.

There was a sound of footsteps and voices outside, and presently in
through the doorway came six more sturdy dwarfs, all looking as like
the one by the stove as one pea is like another. They all stopped and
stared at Ellen. "Who is this?" asked one of them.

"Oh, it's just a child from the real world," said the dwarf by the
stove. "Nothing to be afraid of. She just stopped here to ask her way
to the Queerbodies' house, but I don't know how to tell her."

"I know the way," said one of the new-comers. "But sit down, child; you
must have a bite and a sup with us before you go."

"Thank you, I don't think I'm hungry," said Ellen.

"What's this?" cried another dwarf, eying the porridge that had been
set before him. "Where's our good dinner of soup and meat?"

While the stay-at-home told his story of the lost dinner the looks of
the other dwarfs grew blacker and blacker. "See now," cried one of
them, striking his hairy fist upon the table; "'tis just as I tell you;
those underground dwarfs grow more bold and mischievous every day.
There's nothing for it but for two of us to stay at home, one to cook
and one to act as guard."

"But, brother, how can we do that?" asked another. "Our hands are few
enough as it is, for the work to be done."

"If there were but some way to frighten them off," said another
mournfully. "But I don't see how we could do that."

"Why don't you make a scarecrow to frighten them away? That's the way
we do at home," Ellen suggested.

"What is a scarecrow?" asked another dwarf hopefully, but when Ellen
told him he shook his head. "No, no; they're so quick they'd guess in a
minute that we were trying to trick them, and that it couldn't move."

"Well, I know what we'll do," cried Ellen. "We won't make a scarecrow;
we'll make a scare-gander. We'll dress the gander up like a figure and
it shall sit there quietly, and then, when the dwarfs come in to look
at it, it can fly up and beat them with its wings so they'll never dare
to come back again."

The gander stretched its great wings up and beat them loudly. "Yes,
yes," it hissed.

"That might do," said the dwarfs; "but first we'll have our dinners,
for we have been working hard and we're hungry."

So, as soon as they had finished eating their porridge they dressed
the white gander. Ellen put her hat on its head and her shoes on its
feet. They tied an apron that had belonged to Snowdrop about his neck,
and put on a veil that hung down over his beak. Then they set him in a
chair, and he looked so funny that Ellen could hardly help laughing.

"Now we'll all go back to our work," said the oldest dwarf, "and when
those evil ones count that all seven of us have gone they'll soon be
here to see what mischief they can do about the house."

So the dwarfs all put on their caps, and, shouldering their drills and
picks, off they started, leaving the white gander sitting in the chair.

As for Ellen, she hid in the dresser, keeping the door just a crack
open so she could see out.

She had only been in there a few minutes when there was a noise at the
window and an evil looking dwarf peered in. He peered all about the
kitchen and then he cried, "It's all right. They've all gone and left
the house to take care of itself. They'll be sorry enough they left it
when they come back. Quick! In, all of us, and see what mischief we can
do."

With that he dropped back from the window, and in a minute a great
crowd of dwarfs came tumbling in through the door. They were not as
large as the good dwarfs, but they looked so spiteful and evil that
Ellen was frightened and wished she and her white gander were well out
of it.

"What mischief shall we begin with?" cried one.

"Let's pull all the pots and pans out of the dresser first," said
another, "and see what ones we can break."

"Yes, yes," cried still others.

Several of them started over toward the dresser where Ellen was hidden,
and if they had found her there it would have gone hard with her, but
at the same moment one of them cried, "Oh, look here! Just see this
puppet they've dressed up. Did they think they could scare us with
that? Let's tear it to pieces before we do anything else."

All the dwarfs rushed pell-mell toward the chair where the gander sat,
dressed in Ellen's hat and shoes and with a veil over its face. It sat
as still as a stone until they were close upon it. Then up rose the
great white gander with a hiss. It spread its wide strong wings,
and before the dwarfs could escape it had brought them down with such
a blow that three of the dwarfs were knocked head over heels. The rest
cried out in terror at the sight, and hastened towards the door, but
the goose was after them.

[Illustration]

It beat and buffeted them with its wings and hissed so piercingly in
their ears that they did not know what was after them. Out through the
door they went and away over stump and through brier with the great
white gander after them. The forest re-echoed with their harsh cries of
fear.

The good dwarfs heard it, and came hastening home to learn how Ellen's
plot had succeeded. Just after they came in, back came the gander, and
if ever a bird laughed it was laughing then.

"Mistress, did I not beat them well?"

"You did indeed," said Ellen, and all the dwarfs agreed with a loud
voice.

Then Ellen showed them how to take a pillow and dress it up as the
gander had been dressed. They set it in a chair and moved the chair in
front of the window, so that when you look at it from the outside it
was exactly as though it were the gander itself sitting there. "I think
they'll be afraid ever to come near the house again as long as that is
there," said Ellen.

"They will indeed," cried all the dwarfs.

Then the child again begged them to tell her which way she was to go to
find the Queerbodies' house.

"That's easily told," answered the oldest dwarf. "All you have to do is
to watch the leaves and follow the way they turn, and that will soon
bring you where you want to go."

"How queer!" cried Ellen. "With us the leaves turn every which way, as
the wind happens to blow."

"I don't see much use in that," said the dwarf. "I don't see how you
ever find your way through the woods if that's the way they do. Come,
look here."

He led Ellen out under the trees in front of the house. There was no
breath of air and the leaves all hung motionless. "Now take a few
steps," said the dwarf. Ellen did so and immediately all the leaves
stirred and began pointing toward the right, like wise little green
fingers. "That's your way," said the dwarf. "Only remember and follow
the direction they point out and you can't lose it."

Ellen thanked the kindly dwarfs, and she and her gander started briskly
off toward the right.

On and on they went, and after a while they passed close to where there
was a great heap of rocks; something kept bobbing about back of this
heap, now appearing, now disappearing. At first Ellen thought it was a
big bird, but as she went nearer the gander spoke: "Mistress, it's one
of those wicked dwarfs."

Ellen stopped short, feeling rather frightened, but now the dwarf
climbed on top of the rock and called to her: "Child, child, did you
see a little house in the woods as you came along?"

"Yes, I did," answered Ellen.

"And did you stop there?"

"Yes, I did."

"And did you see anything of the big doll that beats you with flails?"
He meant the gander and its wings.

"Oh, yes," said Ellen; "I saw that too."

"And is it still there?"

"No, they haven't that one, but they have another doll half as big
again. It sits by the window, and if you'll go and look you'll see it
there now."

"No, no," cried the dwarf. "If that's true we'll never go near the
house again," and away he went, hopping over the rocks and disappearing
in a big crack, and Ellen saw no more of him or his kind.



_Chapter Six_

_The Great Gray Wolf_


On and on went Ellen and the gander, following the pointing of the
leaves, and all the while the forest kept growing deeper and greener
and lonelier.

There were no flowers now as there had been at first, but here and
there on the trees or ground grew wonderful fungi. Some were yellow
as gold, some were red as blood, and still others were streaked and
spotted as beautifully as sea-shells. The only flowers to be seen were
the wax-white "Indian-pipes" and there were whole clumps of them.

Ellen had just stooped to pick some, when suddenly the gander hissed,
and at the same moment a harsh voice spoke so close to her ear that it
made her start, "Good morning!"

[Illustration]

Ellen glanced around, and there, standing close to her, was an enormous
gray wolf, ragged and scarred. The sound of his paws had been so
muffled by the moss that she had not heard him coming.

"Good morning," answered Ellen, her heart beating a little faster at
sight of him.

"Where are you going this pleasant day?" asked the wolf.

"I am on my way to the Queerbodies' house."

"The Queerbodies! I never heard of them. Are they good to eat?" said
the wolf. Then he added hastily, "No, no; I don't mean that. I meant
are they pleasant, merry people?"

"I don't know," answered Ellen. "I've never seen them, and I'm not sure
whether I can find them at all. But if I mean to get to their house
to-day I think I'd better be going; so good-bye," and she began to walk
on, for she did not like to be there in that lonely spot with a great
gray wolf for company.

The wolf, however, trotted along beside her. "Not good-bye," he said,
"for I have nothing to do just now, so I'll just go with you part of
the way for the sake of the walk and the company."

Ellen said nothing, but quickened her steps, while the gander and the
gray wolf kept up with her, the one on one side, the other on the
other.

Presently the wolf began again. "Now about those Queerbodies, it's
curious I never heard of them, for I thought I knew everybody
hereabouts: the dwarfs, and Little Red Riding Hood, and the three
bears, and--" he hesitated for a moment, and then added with a gulp,
"and the woodsmen; but no Queerbodies that I ever heard tell of."

"Who lives there?" asked Ellen, pointing to a little house she had just
caught sight of in a dank and lonely glade. It had occurred to her that
she might stop there for a glass of water and so rid herself of the
wolf's company.

The wolf grinned, as though he guessed her thought. "Nobody lives there
now. Queer looking house isn't it?"

Ellen thought it was indeed a queer looking house. "Why, what is it
made of?" she asked.

"Bread and cake and barley sugar. But wouldn't you like to see it
closer? You might eat some of it, too, if you like, for no one ever
visits it now except the wind and rain."

Ellen walked over toward the house, while the wolf stopped a moment to
bite out a burr that had stuck between his toes. "I'll be with you in a
moment," he called after her.

"Mistress," said the gander stretching up its neck to whisper in
Ellen's ear, "that old Gray-coat means no good to us."

"He frightens me," Ellen whispered back, "but what can I do?"

"He isn't looking now. Let's slip inside the house and lock the door."

Ellen glanced back over her shoulder. The wolf was still busy over the
burr, but it was some distance to the house. "Do you think we can get
there before him?" she asked.

"We can but try."

"Come, then," and Ellen began to run toward the house; while the gander
ran beside her, helping himself along with his wings.

At the noise they made, the wolf looked up, and then with a howl of
rage came tearing after them with long swift bounds. By the time Ellen
and the gander were on the threshold of the house he was at the foot of
the steps, but, turning, the little girl slammed the door and shot the
bolt into place.

With a howl of rage, the wolf flung himself against it so that it shook
again, and Ellen and the gander trembled as they stood within; but the
good door held, the bolt was true, and the wolf might do his worst;
they were safe from him for the time at least.

Finding that he could do nothing, old Gray-coat sat down panting, his
fierce eyes fixed upon the house. "Wait a bit," he muttered to himself.
"You have escaped me this time, but I have as much time to spend as
you, and how will it be when you have to come out again?"

Ellen, who heard this, looked at the gander. "What he says is true,"
she whispered. "We are safe now, but we can't stay here; and how are
we to get away without his catching us?"

"Let us think about that, perhaps we can contrive some way," the gander
made answer.

He began to look about. The inside of the house was not built of cake
and bread like the outside, but of wood, and the furniture was wooden
also. At one end of the room was a great iron cage with a door and a
padlock and key to fasten it. The cage was open at the top, but the
bars were too high for any one but a monkey to climb out over them.

"I believe I know exactly what house this is," Ellen cried suddenly.
"It's the house where Hänsel and Gretel came when they were lost in the
forest; the house where the wicked witch lived. And this is the cage
where she kept Hänsel. You know she put him in the cage and shut the
door and fastened him in."

Stooping, she picked up some hard red bits of shell from the floor.
"Crabs' claws! Yes, now I know it's the same. Don't you know the story
says, 'the best of food was cooked for poor Hänsel, but Gretel received
nothing to eat but crabs' claws.'"

The gander walked into the cage and looked it over carefully.
"Mistress, I believe I can get rid of the wolf," he said.

"How is that?"

"In this way," and the gander began to tell his scheme, while the
little girl listened eagerly. "Yes, yes," she cried; "that might do.
And I'm to hide in the cupboard while you open the door. Yes, and then
to slip out and fasten the lock. Yes, I'll do it."

After they had their plan all arranged Ellen did as she said. She
tiptoed across the floor and hid herself in the closet.

The gander waited until she was safely settled and all was quiet, and
then he waddled over to the house door and peeped out through the
keyhole. There at the foot of the steps sat the wolf, his red tongue
hanging out over his long white teeth, his fierce eyes fixed on the
house.

Suddenly with a rattle and noise the gander unbolted the door and flung
it open. Like a flash the wolf bounded up and into the house. He gave a
glance about him. Ellen was not to be seen, because she was hiding in
the cupboard, but there was the plump white gander. It had flown away
from the door as if in a great fright and into the cage. "Just where it
is easy to catch you!" cried the wolf, as he bounded into the cage in
pursuit of it, every tooth in his head showing.

The gander, however, was not to be so easily caught as the wolf had
thought. In a moment it spread its wings and flew up over his head,
while at the same time Ellen slipped out of the cupboard and shut the
cage door, turning the key, tick-a-lock.

There was the wolf safely fastened behind the iron bars, but the
gander flew out over the top of the cage and alighted on the floor at
Ellen's side. "Come, Mistress," he said, "the way is clear now, and we
can journey on as soon as we choose."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

How the wicked old wolf did howl and threaten! But it was no good.
Ellen and the gander let him make all the noise he chose, but they left
him there. All they would do was to promise to send the first woodsman
they met in the woods to take charge of the cruel old Gray-coat.

They had scarcely travelled beyond sound of his howls when they met a
huntsman with horn and gun journeying along under the trees. He greeted
the two, and would have passed on, but Ellen stopped him.

"If you please," said she, "there's a wolf fastened in a cage in the
little cake house back there. If you live near here would you mind
taking care of him and seeing that he gets food and water?"

"A wolf!" cried the huntsman. "Who caught it?"

"This gander and I," and Ellen began telling the huntsman all about
their meeting it, and what a narrow escape they had had.

The huntsman could not wonder enough. "I know that old wolf well
enough," he said. "You have had a narrow escape, child. That is the
same wolf that came so near to eating up Red Riding Hood." The man
then went on to say that he would get some of his fellows and they
would bind the wolf and carry him to King Thrush-beard, who was making
a collection of wild animals.

He begged the little girl to come with him as the king would be sure to
give a large reward for such a large, fierce beast, but Ellen said she
had no time. She must hasten on if she wished to reach the Queerbodies'
house that day.

"Then at least accept this horn," and the huntsman unslung the one that
he carried at his shoulder. "It is all I have to offer you, but it may
serve to remind you of your adventure."

Ellen thought the horn very pretty, and was delighted. She thanked the
huntsman, and then, bidding him good-by, she and her gander started
forward once more upon their journey.



_Chapter Seven_

_The Magic Lamp_


"Mistress, I think we must be coming to the end of the forest," said
the gander. "The trees are not so close together, and I seem to see a
light beyond."

"I hope we are," answered the little girl.

"Once we are out from under the trees I can use my wings and then we'll
get along faster," the gander added.

Even sooner than he had thought, they came to the edge of the forest,
where the open country began. It seemed very bright after the leafy
shade where they had travelled so long.

Before them was the gentle slope of a hill, and away beyond it stood a
castle that shone like gold against the sky. "Oh see," cried Ellen, "a
castle. Let's go nearer and look at it."

"Very well," answered the gander. "Seat yourself upon my back and we'll
soon be there."

As the little girl was settling herself between his wings they heard a
far-off sound of trumpets, and saw a number of people coming out of the
castle. Even at that distance she could tell by the way the sunlight
glittered on their clothing that they must be very magnificently
dressed. There were horses, too, with nodding plumes. They all seemed
to be forming in a procession, and then with another sound of trumpets
they began to move away in an opposite direction.

"Oh hurry," cried Ellen, almost falling off the gander in her
eagerness. "It must be a parade."

The gander spread his wings and flew as fast as he could, but when he
reached the castle the procession had disappeared. No one was to be
seen but two slavesstanding at the foot of the steps before the
door. They were very magnificent, being dressed all in cloth of gold,
and wearing about their necks collars of diamonds and rubies.

[Illustration]

"Was that a parade that just went away?" asked Ellen, as the gander
alighted softly upon the palace steps.

The slaves seemed struck with terror and amazement at her sudden
appearance. They threw themselves down before her hiding their eyes.
"Do not harm us," they cried. "We are only poor slaves."

"Why I'm not going to hurt you," said Ellen. "I couldn't, anyway. I'm
only a little girl."

"But surely you must be a magician to ride through the air in this
way," and one of the slaves raised his head a little.

Ellen felt like laughing. "No, I'm not anything but a child, and this
is Mother Goose's gander."

The slaves now rose from the ground with a relieved look, "And you are
really not a magician?"

"No, of course not. But what was all that we saw? We thought it was a
parade."

"It was our master Aladdin with his slaves and guards riding away to
pay a visit to his father-in-law, the sultan."

"_Aladdin!_ Do you mean the Aladdin who has the wonderful lamp?"

"Even the same."

"Oh, I do wish I could see the lamp," and the child clasped her hands
in her eagerness. "I never believed it was true before. Don't you think
he would let me look at it?"

"He is away now, as we have just told you."

"But couldn't you let me see it? I've always wondered what it looked
like, and thought what I'd wish for, if I had it."

The slaves looked at her suspiciously and began to whisper together.
Then one of them turned to her again and spoke, "I cannot promise,"
he said, "but if you will be pleased to follow me it may be that the
soldiers will allow you to see the lamp."

The gander plucked at Ellens sleeve. "Mistress, Mistress, do not follow
him," he whispered. "I don't know why, but I fear danger."

Ellen, however, was too eager to heed what the gander said. It was too
wonderful a chance to lose; the chance of really seeing--perhaps even
handling--the lamp of Aladdin. So she drew her sleeve away, and as the
slaves led the way she followed them into a great hallway all of gold,
set with patterns of rubies and emeralds.

The hall was empty with no one in sight except themselves, though Ellen
could hear a distant sound of music and singing from some other part of
the castle.

Along the hall they went, and up a flight of golden steps. After this
there was another hall and more stairs and winding ways, until Ellen
felt completely lost.

At last they came to a barred and bolted door before which stood two
soldiers with drawn swords in their hands. As they saw Ellen and the
gander coming up the hall they crossed their swords before the door.
"Who are these whom you have dared to bring hither?" they cried to the
slaves.

The slaves made a deep reverence. "If you please," answered one of
them, "it is one who says she is a child, and who comes begging to see
the lamp of Aladdin."

Ellen began to feel somewhat timid, the soldiers looked at her so
frowningly and suspiciously. "If you don't mind," she began, "I thought
I would like to see it, but if it's too much trouble, of course it
doesn't matter."

The foremost slave advanced with great respect and began whispering to
the soldiers. They frowned more and more heavily as they listened. At
last as the slave finished whispering they lowered their swords. "Very
well," said one of them to Ellen, "you shall see the lamp." He made a
motion and the slaves sprang forward and unbolted and unbarred the door.

At a gesture from the soldier Ellen stepped inside. On the instant, and
before the gander had time to follow her in, the door was shut behind
her with a crash, and she heard the bolts and bars falling into place.

With a sudden fear she turned and tried to open the door. It was fast.
They had made her a prisoner. "Let me out! Let me out!" she called, but
there was no answer. "It's nothing but a fairy tale," whispered the
child to herself. "Nothing but a fairy tale, so of course they can't
hurt me, but I wish my gander was in here, too. I wonder why they shut
the door, anyway. They said I might come in." Then a sudden suspicion
struck her. "I wonder if they thought I had come here to steal the
lamp?" Breathing rather fast, she turned and looked about her. The room
where she stood was very large and high. Like the halls it was made
entirely of gold, and the walls were polished until it seemed as though
they must be too slippery for even a fly to crawl upon them. There was
no door except the one by which she had come in, and though there were
two windows they were very narrow, and set so high in the wall that it
would have needed a long ladder to climb up to them. Ellen walked all
around the room. There seemed no possible way of getting out.

Half way up one of the walls and far out of reach was a little shelf
set with rubies and diamonds and other precious stones, and upon this
shelf stood a battered, rusty old lamp. As Ellen's eyes fell upon it
she felt sure it must be the magic lamp.

Suddenly she was startled by something coming against the opening of
one of the windows and darkening it. There was a sound of brushing and
rustling, and her gander flew down beside her. "Here I am, Mistress,"
he said.

"Oh dear, Gander," cried Ellen, "I'm so glad you've come! Why did they
shut the door?"

"Well, from the talk I heard around me, they were afraid you wanted to
steal that lamp up there on the shelf and run away with it, and that's
why they locked you in here. I don't see why any one should want to
steal that lamp though. Why it's not even gold,--nothing but copper."

"No, but then I think it must be Aladdin's magic lamp," Ellen explained.

She found that the gander had never even heard of the lamp and the
genie, so she told him all about it. She told him of its being a magic
lamp, and of how, if any one rubbed it a great genie would appear who
would do whatever he was told to do by the one who held the lamp.

"Well!" said the gander, drawing a long breath as she finished. "No
wonder they thought you wanted to steal it, if it's like that. Why it's
as good as a wishing stone."

"But of course I didn't want to take it," cried Ellen indignantly. "Why
didn't they ask me, and I'd have told them I didn't."

"Well, the great thing now is how are you to get out?" said the gander.

"Why don't you take me up on your wings and fly out of the window?"

The gander looked up doubtfully at the narrow slit where he had just
come in. "I'm afraid I can't. That window was a tight fit even for me,
and I never could get you through."

"Then what _am_ I to do?"

The gander thought for awhile. "Did you say that if you held that lamp
and rubbed it a genie would come?"

"Yes, I suppose he would."

"And he would do whatever you bade him?"

"Yes."

"Then the thing for you to do is to rub the lamp and when the genie
comes to tell him to set you free."

Ellen felt frightened at the idea of calling up a great black genie.
"But I couldn't reach the lamp away up there, even if I wanted to," she
said.

"No trouble about that," and the gander spread his wings, "I can help
you there." So saying, he flew up to where the shelf was. As he reached
it he struck at the lamp with his wing, but he missed it; again he
tried, and this time he just grazed it with his feathers; a third time
and then he struck it fairly and the lamp fell clattering and rattling
and rolled across the golden floor to Ellen's feet.

Trembling, the little girl picked it up.

"Rub it; rub it, Mistress," said the gander. "I hear the soldiers
coming."

But Ellen hesitated. "I'm afraid," she cried.

"Quick," and the gander flapped his wings in his excitement. "If they
catch you again you may never get away."

Then Ellen brushed her thumb across the side of the lamp.

[Illustration]

Immediately, and with a sound like a thunder-clap a terrible black
genie appeared before her. "What wouldst thou have?" he cried in a
great voice. "I am ready to obey thee as thy slave and the slave of all
those who have the lamp in their hands."

The little girl was so frightened at the sight of this terrible being
she had called up that she stood there unable to move.

"Speak, Mistress!" cried the gander, "for here come the soldiers."

And indeed at that moment the door was thrown open and the soldiers
burst into the room. They had heard the noise of the genie's coming
and were afraid Ellen was getting away. But as they saw a terrible
black being crouching there before the little girl, they shrank back in
terror. The next instant, however, one of the boldest of them sprang
forward to tear the lamp from Ellen's hands.

At that she found her voice. "I wish," she cried, "to be in a place of
safety with my gander."

Immediately, before she could catch her breath, she found herself being
whisked through the air by the genie. Then before she could catch her
breath she was set gently upon the ground.

When she could look about her she saw that she and the gander were
standing on a grassy plain some distance from the castle. She still
held the lamp in her hands, and the genie was still with her.

"Hast thou any further commands?" asked he, in his terrible voice.

"No," answered Ellen, trembling violently.

"Then I will go," said the genie, and he began to fade away.

"Oh, wait a minute," the child called after him. "What shall I do with
the lamp?"

"Wouldst thou not wish to keep it?"

"Why no, it isn't mine."

"Shall I return it to the castle?"

"Oh no, Mistress," the gander interrupted, "they might rub it and tell
the genie to bring us back and keep us prisoners."

"Then destroy it," the genie suggested.

"But what would become of Aladdin and his castle and everything if I
did?"

"They would stay as they are. And moreover if the lamp were destroyed
he would no longer be tormented with fears lest an enemy should steal
it and send me to destroy all he has."

"Very well," said Ellen, "I'll do it. But I can't break the lamp. How
_can_ I destroy it?"

"I will cause the earth to open,--to open down to the great fires
below. Then throw the lamp in and the flames will destroy it."

"Very well," said the little girl.

The genie struck his foot upon the ground and muttered some magic
words. Immediately the ground was rent open, and down in this chasm
could be heard the roaring of the under fires. "Make haste," he cried.
"Cast the lamp into the flames or they will devour thee."

Hardly knowing what she did Ellen threw the lamp from her down into the
fiery chasm.

Immediately there was a loud roaring like thunder. The earth and sky
seemed to shake and the castle to tremble from its foundation to its
highest turret. A mist came before Ellen's eyes. When it cleared away
all was still. The chasm had closed and the distant castle was still in
its place.

The gander, which had crouched down in its terror with its head and
neck stretched along the ground, arose slowly and looked about it.

The genie had become as thin as smoke, but he was standing there dark
and gigantic as before. "I am free! I am free!" he cried in a joyful
voice. "At last I may come and go as I choose, no longer a slave of the
lamp. It is you, child, who have freed me, and I am not ungrateful,
as you shall soon see. If I have made Aladdin rich and powerful, I
will make you ten times more so. You shall have a castle even more
magnificent than his with slaves and treasures and horses and chariots."

Ellen gasped. "Oh no," she said, "I don't think I want all that. I have
to go home pretty soon, and I don't believe I'd like to have to live in
a castle."

"But you could still go home," said the genie. "You could go home
in such magnificence as you never dreamed of, with outriders and
trumpeters and dressed in cloth of gold and precious stones."

But the thought of such magnificence frightened Ellen. "No, no," she
repeated. "I'm afraid my mother wouldn't like it."

The genie looked disappointed. "Well," he said, "Of course, it's just
as you like." He was still fading away and growing more mistlike.

"I wish," Ellen exclaimed, "that Aladdin knew what had become of the
lamp."

"Thy wish shall be granted," answered the genie. "I will myself tell
him that it has been destroyed. And now farewell, and remember if thou
shouldst ever wish to have that castle thou needst only clap thy hands
three times and call upon the genie of the lamp to fulfil his promise
and it shall be thine."

The genie had grown so transparent now that it was only by straining
her eyes that Ellen could still see his shape as one sees an empty
glass. Then he was gone entirely. "Thank you very much," she called
after him. She waited a moment and as there was no answer she called
again, "Thank you!" Then she turned to the gander. "I think he's gone,"
she said, adding in a whisper, "and I'm glad he has, because he _did_
frighten me a little, he was so very big and black."

The gander made no answer except to ask Ellen if she were ready to go.
He seemed anxious for them to be on their way once more, so the little
girl mounted on his back and they were soon flying swiftly along.

"I hope," said Ellen after a silence, "that Aladdin won't mind about
the lamp being burned up."

"I should think he would be glad," replied the gander. "He must have
been terribly afraid all the time that enemies would get it and make
the genie destroy him and his castle."

"Yes, that is true," said Ellen; then she added after another silence,
"And how glad that poor genie was that I had set him free at last."



_Chapter Eight_

_Bluebeard's House_


"Mistress, do you see that gray mist before us?" said the gander. "I
think we have reached the border of the Fairy Tale Country, and beyond
that mist lies the country of the Queerbodies."

Ellen drew rein, and the gander allowed himself to sink slowly to the
ground. There he folded and settled his wings, and he and his mistress
stood looking at the wall of mist before them. It was like the mist
that hangs over streams in the early morning. They could not tell at
all how high it was. Sometimes it looked quite low, and sometimes it
seemed to reach up to the sky itself so that they could not tell where
one ended and the other began.

"Look," cried Ellen in a whisper. "Do you suppose that is one of the
Queerbodies?"

A gigantic shadow had appeared upon the wall of mist. It moved with
such tremendous strides that it was out of sight in a moment. And now
they saw other shadows. Some seemed to be bending over and taking up
handfuls of earth and examining them as if in search of something.
Others seemed to reach up as if after invisible fruit. Some were
talking and nodding together, and every now and then one would turn and
hurry away, as if suddenly remembering some business.

They were not all as big as the first shadow, though some of them
stretched up so high that their heads and shoulders were lost in the
grayness of the sky.

"They must be the Queerbodies," said the gander in a low tone, "for I'm
sure they're not fairy tales."

"But they look so big,--like giants. Do you think they'll hurt us?
Just suppose they were wicked giants who ate children like so many
radishes." Ellen had read some place in a fairy story of giants who did
that.

"Maybe we'd better stop and ask some place," suggested the gander. "If
they ate children I'm sure they'd eat ganders too, for some people who
don't eat children at all eat ganders."

Then Ellen looked about and saw that not far away stood a very large,
fine house. It was not by any means as magnificent as Aladdin's, but
still it was very handsome.

"Let us ask at that house," said Ellen. "They live so close to the mist
that I'm sure they must know what goes on beyond, even if they have
never been there."

The gander was more than willing for this; so he took Ellen up and
flew with her to the house. There she alighted and mounted the steps,
but the door was so very grand and tall that she could not reach the
knocker, and had to knock with her knuckles.

There was a moment's silence, and then a voice within called, "Sister
Anne, Sister Anne, did you hear anything?"

Another voice answered, "I heard the brushing of the vine leaves
against the lattice, but I heard nothing else."

"Your knuckles are too soft, Mistress," said the gander; "let me
knock," and with his bill he struck against the door.

Again the same voice within called, "Sister Anne, Sister Anne, do you
hear nothing now?" And the second voice answered, "I hear a woodpecker
tapping upon a branch outside, but that is all."

"Mistress, it is no use," said the gander, "you will have to climb upon
my back so as to reach the knocker, or they will never hear us."

So Ellen climbed upon the gander's back and then she found she could
just reach the knocker. Rap, rap, rap! she struck upon the door.

"Sister Anne, Sister Anne, do you still hear nothing?" cried the first
voice.

[Illustration]

"Yes, now I hear some one knocking upon the door."

In a moment the door opened and a lady stood in the doorway gazing with
wonder at the child and the gander.

"What is it, Sister? Who is there?" called the first voice impatiently.

"It's a child," answered the lady in the doorway. "A real child it
looks like."

Almost instantly another lady came hurrying down the hall and joined
the one at the door. She was more beautiful than the first, but her
face had a scared look as though she had once had such a fright that
she had never gotten over it.

"Why, yes, it is a real child," she cried. "You are a real child,
aren't you? Where did you come from, and where are you going? Is that
your gander? What are you going to do with it?"

There were so many questions that Ellen hardly knew which to answer
first, but she began, "I came through the nursery wall, and I'm trying
to find the Queerbodies' house, and this is Mother Goose's gander. She
just lent it to me for awhile."

"Going to the Queerbodies' house!" The beautiful lady glanced at her
sister. Then she took Ellen by the hand and drew her gently in. "Come
in and tell me all about it."

"I think I must hurry on," said Ellen. "It's been a longer journey than
I thought;" but she allowed herself to be drawn in.

The room where the strange ladies took her was very magnificently
furnished, and there the beautiful one whose name was Fatima made her
sit in a big armed chair. She offered another chair to the gander and
he seated himself in it as gravely as possible, resting his wings on
the arms. "And now," cried Fatima eagerly, "tell me all about it."

So Ellen began and told her about her journey, while Fatima listened
with her chin in her hand, and her eyes never leaving the child's face.
Sister Anne listened too. "But now," Ellen ended, "I feel afraid to go
any further, for it looks as though there were giants beyond that mist.
Do you know whether they're cross giants or not?"

Fatima started up and clasped her hands. "Oh if I only knew what they
_are_ like," she cried. "I watch from my window and long so to know
what they are doing and how they look that sometimes it seems as if I
could not bear it. Some day I know I shall go through the mist just to
find out."

"Fatima! Fatima!" cried Sister Anne warningly. Then she added, turning
to Ellen, "She's so curious. She always has been so, and that's what
all her troubles came from."

"Oh yes," murmured Fatima, dropping back in her chair. "I suppose you
know my story? I suppose you've heard of Bluebeard, haven't you?" and
leaning forward again she looked eagerly at Ellen.

"Oh yes, I have all about him in a book at home. It has colored
pictures, and there's a picture of Fatima with her hair all down, and
one of Sister Anne up on the tower and the brothers coming in, and ever
so many more."

"Oh yes, I shall never forget that time when my brothers came rushing
in. And then that day when I looked in the room and saw all the heads
in a row and dropped the key--" Fatima shuddered, and hid her face in
her hands.

"Are you really that Fatima?" asked Ellen. She was afraid it was hardly
polite to ask, but she did want so much to know.

"Yes, she is," Sister Anne answered for her, for Fatima seemed unable
to speak. "And I often remind her of all the troubles her curiosity
brought on her that time. A little more and her head would have been
chopped off; but she doesn't seem to have learned anything. She'd go
off to the Queerbodies' country now if I'd let her, just so as to see
what they're like. Then the first thing she knew they'd be making her
into another story, and she'd never get back."

"Yes, I _do_ want to know," cried Fatima. She leaned forward, and
caught Ellen by the wrist so suddenly that it startled her. "Couldn't
_you_ come back and tell me all about it," she cried.

"Why I--I don't know whether I come back this way; I hoped there was
a shorter way home," and Ellen's lip trembled, for she was getting a
little tired of her long journeyings in spite of her wish to find the
lost story.

"Then your gander; maybe he could come back."

"Oh yes," answered the gander, "I'll have to come back this way. But
the thing is, do we want to go any further. I didn't like the looks of
those giants myself."

"Oh yes," urged Fatima. "I wouldn't be afraid. Maybe it's only their
shadows that are so big. And then I tell you what; I'll give you
something that may help you along. Look!" With fingers that trembled
with eagerness she drew a key-ring from her pocket and slipped from it
a key. The key seemed to be of pure gold, but upon one side of it was a
rusty spot. Ellen wondered whether it was the key that had unlocked the
door of the forbidden chamber.

"Take this," said Fatima. "It is a magic key, and there is never a lock
it will not fit nor a catch it will not undo."

Ellen was slow about taking it. She glanced at the gander. "I don't
believe I want to go back, but I don't know."

The gander answered her look. "We'll go on then," he said, "and if we
have that key they can't keep us locked up, and my wings will be always
good to carry us out of trouble."

"And you'll bring me back word?" cried Fatima.

"Yes, I will," the gander promised.

And now Fatima was eager for them to go. It seemed as though she could
not wait to have her curiosity satisfied. Sister Anne would have had
them stay and rest awhile and have some refreshment after their long
journey, but Fatima could not hide her impatience to have them start.
And indeed Ellen and the gander were in as much haste as she.

Fatima went with them to the very edge of the wall of mist and the
last thing they heard as they plunged into it was her voice calling
after them, "Don't forget, you are to bring me word, and make haste;
make haste."



_Chapter Nine_

_Beyond the Mist_


"Oh how cold and still and gray," cried Ellen. They were in the very
heart of the mist. She could hear the steady beat of the gander's
wings, but the grayness around was so thick that she could see nothing
but the dim outline of his neck before her. She would not have known
whether they were moving at all if it had not been for the stir of air
against her face.

"Mistress, do you see light before us?" asked the gander.

"No, nothing but the grayness."

"One might travel around and around in this mist, and yet never find
one's way out," said the gander half to itself.

On and on it flew. "Is there no light before us yet?" it asked again,
and its wings seemed to flag.

"No, there is nothing."

"Can you hear any sound?"

Ellen listened. "Nothing but the beating of your wings."

"Mistress, I no longer know whether I am flying forward or not. For all
I can tell I may be going around in a circle."

The child looked helplessly about her.

"I wonder if I were to blow upon the horn the huntsman gave me whether
some one would hear and answer?" she suggested.

"You might try it."

Ellen raised the horn to her lips and blew. They both listened, but
there was no reply.

Again she blew. Still silence.

The third time she drew a deep breath and blew with all her might. The
gander stayed his flight to listen, and now, away toward the right
hand, there sounded a faint halloo. The gander turned and flew in that
direction, and they had gone but a little way when the grayness before
them grew lighter. Another moment or so, and they were through the
mists and out upon the other side.

[Illustration]

But Ellen looked about her in dismay. They were in the midst of a great
barren desert. There was no tree nor house in sight, no bird nor
living thing.

Yes, there was one thing alive, for just as Ellen thought this,
something stirred and stood up from a heap of rocks nearby. It was a
lad of about twelve or thirteen. At first Ellen thought it was the son
of the gardener they had at home; it certainly looked like him. The
little girl was very fond of this lad, though people used to say he was
queer and not quite right in his mind. He often made up stories and
told them to her. She never had felt as glad to see him, though, as she
felt then. When she went closer, however, the lad did not seem to know
her, so she wondered whether it was the gardener's son after all. It
certainly looked like him.

"Was that you blowing a horn?" asked the lad.

"Yes; we were lost in the mist and wanted to get out, but we wanted to
get out on the side where the Queerbodies live."

"Well, this is it."

Ellen looked about her. "But where are they? I saw their shadows on the
mist."

The lad laughed. "Oh that's nothing. Why, I used to see their shadows
against the sky even when I was at home, but you'll have to travel far
from here before you find them. I suppose you have a compass."

"No. What for?"

"To find your way across the desert. Now I have a compass all right,
but I'm so tired I can't go a step further." The lad paused and looked
at the gander. "I don't suppose your gander could carry double?"

"No, I couldn't," answered the gander.

"Well, I didn't think you could, but it's too bad, for I could have
told you how to go. If I only had brought anything to begin with I'd
make something to ride on; but I didn't know the journey would be so
long and weary."

"Do you mean," said Ellen, "that if you had anything to begin with you
could _really_ make something to ride on?"

"Oh yes. Almost everybody, before they start out for the Queerbodies',
learns to make something out of nothing; but I was in such a hurry to
start I only learned to make much out of little, and that's the trouble
now."

"Haven't you anything in your pocket to begin on?" asked Ellen, for the
lad's pockets were bulging with something that jingled every time he
moved.

"Nothing that would do. It must be something that was once alive. Now
you don't happen to have such a thing about you as a twig or a chip of
wood?"

"No. That is, nothing but a little wooden pig, and it was never alive."

"No, but the wood was when it was growing. Will you let me see it?"

As Ellen drew the toy from her pocket the boy took it from her
eagerly. His eyes sparkled. "The very thing!" he cried. "I can make a
magnificent riding-horse out of this." Holding the pig to his mouth,
the boy began to whisper magic in its wooden ear. As he did so the pig
began to grow. It grew and it grew, while Ellen stared in wonder.

When it was too large for the boy to hold in his hands he set it down
on the ground. Still he kept whispering in its ear and the pig kept on
growing, until at last it was as large as a pony.

When it was that big the lad stopped. "There!" he said to Ellen,
looking at the pig with pride, "how is that for a riding-horse?"

[Illustration]

"I think it's fine, but I shouldn't call it a riding-_horse_; I think
it's more of a riding-_pig_."

"All the same," said the lad. "Now the next thing is a bridle. When a
magic pig like this once does start going it won't stop for a word. I
suppose you haven't anything about you that would serve for a bridle."

"Nothing but this," and Ellen touched the golden chain that the dwarfs
had hung about her neck.

"That will do," cried the boy; "give it here." He seemed to feel so
sure that Ellen would lend him the chain that she did not know how to
say no, so she took it off and handed it to him.

The lad quickly arranged it as a bridle, and then before he mounted the
pig he took out his compass and made sure of the direction in which
they were to go.

"And now I'm ready," he cried; "follow me."

With that he leaped on the pig's back, and no sooner had he touched
it than away it went like the wind. Its blue legs with the pink spots
twinkled along so fast that it took all the gander knew to keep up with
them.

On and on they went; the wind whistled past Ellen's ears, and the
ground sped away beneath so fast that she grew almost dizzy.

The lad, however, did not seem to mind how fast they went. Now and then
he settled himself more comfortably on the pig's back, and now and then
he took out his compass and looked at it to make sure they were going
in the right direction.

After they had gone a long distance in this way he drew rein. "There!"
he said, "the desert is passed; but there is a greater danger than it
to come."

"What is that?"

"Look!" And the lad pointed.

Ellen looked, and then she saw that what she had thought was a stretch
of grass and rocks before them, was really an enormous green and gray
dragon that lay stretched in a rocky defile.

His neck and tail were coiled upon the ground; his wings stretched up
the rocky walls on each side of him, and their tips were like tall
green trees against the sky. Presently he turned his head and Ellen
could see his big blinking eyes, each as big as a barrel. He yawned and
his mouth was like a red cavern.

Ellen was frightened.

"Suppose he comes at us," she whispered.

[Illustration]

"Oh no, he won't pay any attention to us," the lad assured her. "That
is, unless we try to go past him, and then he'd snap us up in a
twinkling."

"Couldn't we go round?"

"No, this is the only way, right between these rocks."

"I could fly over," said the gander boldly.

The lad laughed. "Fly over! Why look at his wings. He'd catch you in a
minute. Have you ever seen a bird after a little butterfly? That's the
way he'd catch you if you tried any such tricks as that."

"Then what _are_ we to do?" asked Ellen.

"Wait," answered the lad. "They'll come to feed him after a while;
maybe in a week or so; and after he's been fed he always sleeps for ten
minutes; then we can safely go past, for nothing will waken him for
those ten minutes. You might hit him on the head with an axe and he
wouldn't stir."

"A week or so!" cried Ellen in dismay. "Why I can't wait a week or so,
I have to be home this evening before dark."

"Well, I don't see what we can do unless you have something to feed him
with."

"I have a golden egg. That's all."

"A golden egg!" cried the lad joyfully. "Why didn't you say so before?
Why, it's just the thing. Give it to me."

He took the egg from Ellen and slowly rode over toward the dragon. The
great creature watched him with its blinking eyes, and when the lad
seemed to be coming too near it raised its head and hissed warningly.
Ellen trembled, the sound was so loud and terrible, as though a dozen
engines were letting off steam all at once.

The lad, however, did not seem at all frightened. He checked the pig
and motioned to the dragon to open its mouth. Ellen had seen people
motion to the elephant at the Zoo in that same way when they wanted it
to lift up its trunk, and open its mouth to have peanuts thrown in.

The dragon seemed to understand, for after the boy had motioned once
or twice it opened its great jaws. Then the lad threw the golden egg
in, and it seemed just as small a thing for the dragon as a peanut or a
currant would to an elephant.

The dragon waited a while with its mouth still open for the boy to
throw some more in. As he did not do this, however, it closed its mouth
and began to chew the golden egg.

It chewed, and it chewed, and it chewed, and all the while it chewed it
seemed to be growing sleepier and sleepier. At last it swallowed the
egg, and then its eyes shut tight and it went fast asleep.

The boy turned and beckoned to Ellen. "Come on," he shouted at the top
of his lungs.

"Oh don't talk so loud," Ellen whispered, coming up to him as fast as
she could. "You might waken him."

The lad burst into a shout of laughter that made the little girl
tremble. "Not I," he cried. "He'll sleep for nine minutes yet. One
minute has gone already."

"Then let's hurry."

The gander flew up and on, and the boy was not slow to follow, riding
his blue and pink pig right over the dragon. Ellen was in terror lest
it should waken in spite of what the boy had said, but he did not seem
in the least afraid. He even seemed to take pleasure in making the
pig trot the full length of the dragon's tail just as children take
pleasure in walking along a railroad track.

At last they were safely over, and Ellen drew a sigh of relief.

On and on they went, and instead of the rocky walls on either side of
them growing lower they grew higher and higher, arching over more and
more until at last they met and made a sort of gallery. There was very
little light here, and when at last the pig stopped and the gander
settled to the ground Ellen had to look twice before she saw that they
were in front of a heavily barred door. "Where are we now?" she asked.

The eyes of the boy were flashing with eagerness. "It is the door of
the Queerbodies' house," he cried. He sprang from the pig, and, taking
hold of the handle, he tried to open it. "Locked!" he added.

Slipping his hand into his pocket he drew from it a whole handful of
keys. Then Ellen knew that they were what had jingled every time he
moved.

He began to try one key after another, but none of them seemed to fit.

As he was busy in this way a curious roar sounded through the gallery,
echoing and re-echoing from the rocky walls. "What's that?" cried Ellen.

"Oh, only the dragon yawning. He must have wakened up," answered the
lad coolly, still busy with his keys.

"But won't he follow us?"

"No; he only guards the entrance to the defile."

Finding that none of the keys he first held would open the lock the
lad had drawn out another handful; but these were no better than the
others. One after another he tried all that he had, but not any would
unlock the door. Having tried the last of all, the boy threw it down
and sank upon the floor in despair.

"It is no good," he cried. "It is just as I feared. And yet I've been
collecting those keys for the last seven months."

"Can't you unlock it?"

"No."

"Then what are you going to do?"

"I don't know. I didn't mind the desert or the dragon, but this was
what I was afraid of all along."

"Mistress," said the gander, "Where is the key that the lady Fatima
gave you? If what she said was true, it should unlock the door."

"Oh yes!" cried Ellen. "I forgot it."

With eager fingers she took the key from her pocket and pressed it into
the lad's hand. "Try this," she said.

Very hopelessly the boy arose and put the key to the lock. His face
changed as he found it seemed to go in it easily. He turned the key,
the lock slipped back, the door opened, and Ellen, following close at
his heels, entered at last the House of the Queerbodies.



_Chapter Ten_

_In the House of the Queerbodies_


Ellen and her companions were standing in a circular golden hall. All
around the hall were arched doorways, and overhead, supported by golden
pillars, was a blue dome studded with jewels that shone like stars.
There were no windows to be seen, but all the hall was filled with a
clear and pleasant light that seemed to come from the dome.

As Ellen looked wonderingly about, she heard a tapping sound behind
her, and turning saw a tall man oddly dressed in green and yellow, and
holding in his hand an ivory rod tipped with gold. It was this rod that
she had heard as it tapped on the floor.

[Illustration]

The man stood looking at her and her friends in silence for a few
moments.

Then he said, "Now how did you all get in here I should like to know;
I have not opened the door to any one this morning."

"I had a key," answered Ellen, "and it fitted the door, so this lad
unlocked it. We didn't know there was any one here to open it for us."

"Yes, I am the keeper of the gate, but I don't open for every one that
knocks. But how did you find your way to the door, in the first place?"

"I came on this gander; it's Mother Goose's gander, you know."

"Oh, then, that is all right. But how about this lad? Did he come on
the gander too?"

"No, I came on the pig," answered the boy, speaking for himself.

"I don't know that pig. Where did you get it?"

The lad told him. The gate-keeper shook his head. "It isn't really your
pig, you know. You ought to have made it out of nothing. But did you
come across the desert?"

"Yes."

"And you passed the dragon?"

"Yes."

"And unlocked the door! Well, I suppose it's all right. And what do you
want to set about, now that you are here?"

"I should like to try my hand at fitting a puzzle together," answered
the lad boldly.

Ellen stared. She had never heard anything so curious; for the lad to
have come all that way and through all those dangers, and then want to
play with a puzzle the first thing.

The gate-keeper, however, did not seem at all surprised. He walked over
to one of the golden pillars and took a key from the bunch at his side.
And now Ellen noticed that in each of the pillars was a narrow door.
The gate-keeper unlocked the one in front of which he stood, and when
he opened it the little girl could see that the pillar was hollow and
fitted with shelves just like a closet. From a shelf the man took a
box of puzzle blocks and put it in the lad's hand.

"That's your room in there," he said, pointing to one of the arched
doorways.

The lad took the puzzle, and hastened away with such eager joy that he
seemed to have quite forgotten Ellen and everything, even the magic pig
that followed close at his heels.

The little girl looked after him. "I should think if he just wanted a
puzzle he could have gotten one at home," she said.

"Not such puzzles as these," answered the man. "Did you ever see a
Queerbodies' puzzle when it was finished?"

"I don't think I did."

"Then come here, and I'll show you some."

The man led Ellen over to a large case and opening the lid he bade
her look in. There, all placed in rows, were countless boxes of
puzzles,--puzzles that were finished. As Ellen looked she gave a
little cry of astonishment and delight. The pictures she saw were just
such as one might see upon any puzzle blocks,--pictures of children
swinging in a garden, of a farm-yard scene, or a child's birthday
party. The difference was that all of these were alive. The swing
really swung up and down; the trees and flowers stirred their leaves;
the tiny cows switched their tails to scare away flies too small for
Ellen to see, and a cock upon the fence swelled his neck and crowed.
The children at the party looked at the gifts and then began to play.
Ellen even fancied that she could hear their voices very tiny and clear
as they laughed and talked together.

"Do you have puzzles like that at home?" asked the keeper of the gate.

"Oh no," cried Ellen. She drew a long breath as the man closed the
case. "Can everybody that comes here make puzzles like those?"

"No, indeed. Sometimes even when they get the puzzles finished they
don't come alive, and then they're good for nothing but to be thrown
away. Do you see all these doorways?"

"Yes."

"Well, there are people in all those rooms, and in every room they're
doing something different."

"What are some of the things they do?"

"Over there," and the man pointed to one of the doorways, "they're
making garments out of thin air; in the room next to that they're
stringing stars."

"Stringing stars?"

"Yes. They fish for them with nets from the windows and then string
them for crowns and necklaces. It's very pretty to see. Then there's a
whole room where they do nothing but make forgotten stories over into
new ones."

"Oh! Oh!" cried Ellen, clasping her hands. "That's what I came for. I
came to look for a forgotten story. _Do_ you suppose it's there?"

"Why, I don't know. I shouldn't wonder. But do you want to make it
over?"

"No, I want to find it the way it is. My grandmamma used to know it,
but she's forgotten it now, so I want to find it, so as to tell her
about it."

"Well, I don't know," said the man doubtfully. "We might go and ask
about it. I don't know very much about the different rooms myself, but
come and we'll see."

The room of the forgotten stories, to which the gate-keeper now led
Ellen was very large. So large that when the little girl stood in the
doorway and looked about her she could hardly see where it ended. Upon
the floor in rows stood countless golden jars. Among these rows figures
were moving about or pausing at different jars to take something from
them. They all seemed very busy, though Ellen could not make out what
they were doing at first.

Quite near the door a girl or a woman was standing; Ellen could not
tell which she was. She looked like a woman, but her hair hung down
her back in a heavy plait. She wore some sort of loose brown garments.
Her hands were clasped before her and she seemed to be thinking deeply;
so deeply that she did not notice the gate-keeper nor Ellen nor the
gander as they stood looking at her.

Suddenly she began to smile to herself, and, bending over one of the
jars, she thrust her hand into it and brought it forth filled with
some substance like wet clay, only much more beautiful than clay, for
it glistened and shone between her fingers with all the colors of the
rainbow. This she began to pat and mould into shape as she held it,
humming softly to herself meanwhile as if from sheer happiness.

The gate-keeper waited a few minutes to see whether she would notice
him, and then he tapped upon the floor with his ivory staff. The
Queerbody looked around at the sound.

"Excuse me," said the man, "but here's a little girl who has just come,
and she says she's come to look for a forgotten story; can you tell her
anything about it?"

The Queerbody gazed earnestly at Ellen. "A forgotten story!" she
repeated slowly. "This is the place to come for forgotten stories, but
it may be that it has been made into something else. How long is it
since it was forgotten,--this story that you want?"

Ellen told her a long time; ever since her grandmother was a little
girl.

The Queerbody shook her head. "I'm afraid it may have been made over,"
she said; "but there's no telling. There are some stories that have
been here for many, many years; this one I was just beginning to use,
for instance," and she held out her hands full of the shimmering stuff
for Ellen to see.

"Why, is that a forgotten story?" asked Ellen. "I didn't know stories
ever looked like that."

"This is only part of a story. When a story has been forgotten it
is all divided up and put into different jars. Wondercluff we call
it then. When we make a new story we take a handful from this and a
handful from that, and when it's done you'd never know it was just old
things pieced together. But what did your forgotten story look like?
Can you tell me anything about it?"

Ellen could not tell her very much. "It was about a little princess
called Goldenhair, and she had a wicked stepmother. The stepmother made
her wear a sooty hood, but the fairies helped the princess. Then one
time Goldenhair was combing her hair in the scullery and the stepmother
came in and made her cut all her hair off; and I don't know the rest."

The Queerbody began to laugh. She held out the handful of wondercluff
toward Ellen. "Why this is a part of that very story," she cried, "and
you came just in time. A little later and it would have been made into
something else. Wait a bit. See if I can't put it together."

She reached down into other jars, and took out handful after handful of
different wondercluff. Heaping it on a marble table she began to pat
and mould it, working deftly with her slim long fingers. And as she
worked, beneath her hands a figure began to grow.

Ellen watched, as if fascinated.

First the head with a golden crown. "It must have a crown because the
story's about a princess and royal folk," the Queerbody explained. Next
appeared the body in a long flowing robe fastened by an embroidered
girdle. Then beautiful white hands and arms. At last it was all done
but the feet.

With her eyes fixed lovingly upon the figure she had made, the
Queerbody reached down into a jar that she had not touched before.
Suddenly her look changed. The smile faded from her face and she
turned her eyes on Ellen. "Oh, I forgot," she said in a low, sad voice.
She drew her hand from the jar. There was nothing in it.

"What did you forget?" asked the little girl.

"I forgot the castle. I can't finish the story after all."

"But why not? She's all done but her feet. I should think you could
easily do those."

"No, you see they have to be made of castle wondercluff. There was a
castle in the story, and I haven't used any of that yet."

"What _do_ you mean?"

"You see, when a story is broken to pieces all the parts of it are put
in different jars, as I told you. All the king wondercluff in a jar,
and birds in another jar, magic in another, witches in another, and so
on. All the castles were put in this jar, and now I remember another
Queerbody was making a story this morning and she used the last piece
of castle there was. Look for yourself. The jar is empty."

Ellen looked in the jar. There was nothing there. "Can't you use
something else?"

"Of course not." The Queerbody spoke with some impatience. "Don't you
remember the story begins with a castle where the princess lives?"

Suddenly, like a flash, Ellen remembered the genie and his promise. At
the same moment the gander plucked at her sleeve. "Mistress, the castle
you were promised," he whispered. There was no need of his reminding
her.

"If I were to get a castle for you could you finish the story?" she
asked the Queerbody hesitatingly.

"Yes, but where could you get a castle, you little girl?"

"I think I can get one." Ellen looked about. "We'd better go out in the
hall," she whispered. She was afraid if she summoned the genie in there
it would frighten the busy people around her.

She led the way back into the silent, empty hall while the gatekeeper
and the Queerbody followed her wondering.

Ellen walked on until she stood under the centre of the dome. Then she
stopped and looked at the others. "You needn't be afraid," she said,
"he won't hurt you;" but she herself felt a little nervous at the idea
of calling up the genie again. However, she drew a long breath, and
then, clapping her hands three times, she summoned him to appear.

There was a loud noise as of thunder that made the gander cower behind
Ellen, while the gatekeeper and the Queerbody trembled and turned pale.
Immediately the genie appeared, more gigantic and terrible-looking than
ever.

"Thou hast called me, and I am here at thy command," he said to Ellen.
"Wilt thou now have the castle, the treasures, the slaves and horsemen
that I promised thee?"

"Not the treasures and all that," answered Ellen, and her voice
sounded very little and soft after the genie's, "but I should like the
castle now if I may have it?"

"It shall be thine. And where wilt thou have it?"

"I'd like it in a golden jar over in that room," said Ellen, pointing
over to the forgotten story room.

"In a jar!" cried the genie in amaze, and he scowled as though he
thought Ellen was making fun of him. But when she explained how it was,
and why she wanted the castle, he burst into a roar of laughter that
echoed and re-echoed against the blue dome. "I have heard of a genie in
a bottle, but never of a castle in a jar," he cried. "However, it shall
be thine. But hast thou no further wishes?"

"No, that's all," said Ellen.

"Then look in the jar and thou wilt find it there. Henceforth I appear
to thee no more."

Immediately, and with another crash as of thunder, the genie was
resolved into air and disappeared. For a moment the hall seemed
clouded with a thin gray vapor and then that too faded away and all was
as it had been before.

Ellen and the others looked at each other while the gander craned its
neck this way and that, as if to make sure that the genie had really
gone.

The Queerbody was the first to speak. She drew a long breath. "I
shouldn't like to see _him_ again," she said. "But I wonder if he
really put the castle there."

"I believe he did," said Ellen.

"Let us go and see." The Queerbody was all eagerness.

They hastened back to the room of the forgotten stories and bent over
the castle jar. The Queerbody gave a cry of joy. It was half full of
glistening wondercluff.

Reaching down into the jar she brought out great handfuls that shone
and glistened. "_Now_ I can finish the story," she cried.

She began patting and moulding with hands that trembled with eagerness
and under her fingers the silvery feet of the fairy tale seemed almost
to shape themselves. Then suddenly the figure stood complete, a tall
and shining lady with a crown upon her head. The eyes, however, were
blank and unseeing, and there was no breath to stir the silver robe.

"Take her hand," the Queerbody said to Ellen.

Timidly the little girl took the white hand of the Fairy Tale in hers.
It was very cold, but as she held it, it seemed to grow warm and soft
in her fingers.

"Speak to her," the Queerbody now commanded. At first Ellen could not
think of what to say. Then, "Are you,--are you the forgotten Story I
came to find?" she whispered.

Slowly the color flushed into the Fairy Tale's face; the life came into
her eyes. Slowly very slowly she turned her head and looked down into
Ellen's eager face. "Am I that Story?" she murmured. "Look in my
eyes and see."

[Illustration]

She bent toward the child, and Ellen looked into her eyes. Such
wonderful eyes they were. As she looked, Ellen seemed to lose herself
in their clear depths. She lost all sense of where she was--even of the
lady herself.

She never could tell afterward whether the lady spoke and told her the
story, or whether she saw it mirrored in those eyes, or whether she was
herself the little Princess Goldenhair living it all, but this was the
fairy tale.



_Chapter Eleven_

_The Princess Goldenhair_


There were once a king and queen who had no children, though they
greatly longed for them.

One day the queen was sitting at the window sewing, and the sunlight
shone upon the golden thimble she wore, so that it fairly dazzled the
eyes. "I wish," said the queen, "that I had a little daughter and that
her hair was as golden as my thimble in the sun."

Soon after this a daughter was indeed born to the queen, and the hair
upon her head was of pure gold, but in the hour that she was born the
queen herself died.

As the little princess grew up, her hair was the wonder of all and
because it was so beautiful she was always called the Princess
Goldenhair or Goldilocks.

The king was prouder of his daughter's beauty than of all his
treasures, and there was nothing he loved better than to see her
unfasten her shining hair and shake it down about her, and then it was
so long and bright that it covered her like a golden mantle.

But one day the king went hunting, and in the chase he rode so fast
that at last he left all his followers behind.

He had reached a deep and lonely glade when suddenly his horse reared
under him, and there, standing directly in his path was a beautiful
woman dressed all in black. Her hair, too, was black as a raven's wing
and her eyes were strangely bright. She stood looking at the king and
she did not speak.

The king did not speak either, at first, for there was something in her
look that made him ill at ease, even while he wondered at her beauty.

"Who are you?" he said at last; but she made no answer. Then he
questioned her whence she came, but she was still silent. But when he
asked her if she would go back to the palace with him she nodded her
head. So the king took her up before him and rode home with her.

After that the stranger lived at the palace. She spoke little and when
she did her voice was hoarse and croaking, but she was very beautiful,
and the king loved her and made her his queen.

There were great rejoicings over the marriage; but Goldenhair wept and
wept; she feared the stepmother with her black hair and her bright
round eyes.

Nevertheless at first the new queen was kind enough to the child. But
then, little by little, she began to show the hatred she felt toward
her. After a while it was nothing but hard words and harder looks.
Above all, she could not bear the sight of the princess's hair, but
shuddered every time she saw it. After a while she had a dark hood
made, and she obliged the princess to wear it, so that her hair might
be hidden.

The child never dared to take off the hood by day, but every evening
after the maids had left the scullery she would steal down there with
a candle. It was very dark in the scullery, and the mice and beetles
scuttled to and fro, but as Goldenhair opened the door she would say,

    "_Nimble mice that fear the light,
    Small, black beetles of the night,
    Shadows lurking here and there,
    I pray you fright not Goldenhair._"

Then the mice and the beetles would noiselessly disappear in the
cracks; the shadows would shrink into corners, and entering, Goldenhair
would take off her hood, and shake down her hair to comb and brush its
shining lengths. Then she would bind it up again and cover it with her
hood before she went up into the castle.

The stepmother knew nothing of this, but every day she grew bolder in
her hate. She took from Goldenhair all the beautiful clothes and jewels
that her father had had made for her and gave her instead things scarce
better than those a kitchen wench might wear.

However the princess made no complaint, and the king her father did not
even seem to notice it. It was as though the wicked queen had cast a
spell over him so that he could see or think of no one but her.

One day when Goldenhair's heart was very heavy she wandered off by
herself into the deep forest that lay all about the palace.

She had not gone far when her cloak caught upon a thorn-bush and was
torn. When she saw the rent she was frightened, for she knew her cruel
stepmother would make it an excuse for punishing her; and at the
thought of her helplessness the child threw herself down at the foot
of a tree and began to weep.

Suddenly a voice beside her said, "Why do you weep so bitterly,
Princess?"

Goldenhair looked up, and there, standing close beside her, was a fairy
youth. He was very small, and was dressed all in green and silver. He
had a cap upon his head, and about his neck was a chain, from which
hung a jewel that sparkled brighter than a diamond.

Goldenhair gazed at him wonderingly. "I am weeping because I have torn
my cloak," she answered, "and I am afraid my stepmother will punish
me." And with that she began to sob again.

Then the fairy felt sorry for her, as he had never felt sorry for any
one before. "Do not weep," he said, "and I may be able to help you."

With that he stepped to a toadstool close by, and, feeling under it,
he drew out a toadstool thorn, invisible to mortal eyes. This he
threaded with a strand of spider-web silk, and then he placed it in
Goldenhair's fingers. "Draw together the edges of the cloak where it is
torn," he said, "and sew it with this."

[Illustration]

The princess looked at her fingers, but she could see nothing. Still,
she could feel the magic strand. Wondering, she drew the edges of the
rent together, and began stitching with the invisible needle; and as
she stitched, the torn edges twisted and wove together again, so that
they became whole as they had been before.

When she had finished, the fairy knelt before her and lifted the edge
of the cloak. "Look," he said; "now no one could know that it had ever
been torn." And then immediately he vanished like a breath.

Goldenhair rubbed her eyes and looked about her. The forest was very
still. There was not a living thing to be seen, not even a bird or a
squirrel. She lifted her cloak and looked, but she could not see where
it had been mended. Then suddenly she felt afraid, and, turning, she
ran back to the castle as fast as she could.

All the rest of the day she thought and thought about the fairy, and
wondered whether she had really seen him, but she could scarcely
believe it.

The next night when it grew dark Goldenhair stole down as usual to the
scullery to comb her hair. She made sure that no one was there, and
then she took off her hood and shook down her locks. When she had done
that, they almost covered her with their golden strands. She began to
brush and comb them, and as she brushed she sang:--

    "_I comb my locks, I comb my locks!
      My father is a king;
    My stepmother has hair as black
      As any raven's wing._

    "_I comb my locks, I comb my locks!
      She bids me bind them tight;
    She makes me wear a sooty hood
      To hide them from her sight._

    "_I comb my locks, I comb my locks!
      Alas! that only here
    I dare to lay my hood aside
      And brush them without fear._"

Having brushed her hair until it shone, Goldenhair bound it up again,
and covered its brightness with her hood. She took up her candle and
was about to leave the scullery when she heard a sound as of some one
sighing sadly.

She listened, but all was still. "'Twas only the wind that sighed
beneath the door," she said to herself, and again she was about to go
when she heard the sighing once more, and this time she knew that it
was not the wind. The sound came from the outer door of the scullery,
the one that opened into the forest.

Goldenhair was frightened, but yet she could not think of any one being
in distress without longing to help them. She crept over to the door
and laid her ear against it. "Who is there?" she asked.

There was no answer, but she heard some one grieving softly on the
other side of the door. Then all was still.

"Who is there?" repeated Goldenhair. "If it is some one in trouble,
speak."

There was no answer, but a sigh so sad that it went to the heart. She
hesitated no longer, but opened the door.

The draught of wind almost blew out her candle, but she put her hand
around it to shelter it, and by its light she saw leaning against the
doorway the same fairy she had seen in the forest.

The princess looked and wondered. "Why are you here?" she asked. "Did
you come to look for me?"

"Alas," sighed the fairy, "I would that I had never seen you."

"Why do you say that?" asked the princess.

"Because if I had not seen you weeping in the forest I would not have
broken the fairy laws, teaching you to mend your cloak with magic such
as fairies alone should use. It is for this that sorrow has come upon
me and I have been banished from the fairy court. Now I must journey
out in the huge rough world like an outcast, until I have accomplished
the task set me by the fairy queen for a punishment."

When Goldenhair heard this she was greatly troubled, for she felt that
she was indeed the cause of it all.

"What is this task they have set you?" she asked in a trembling voice.

"It is to weave a net of magic gold; the net in whose meshes alone can
be caught a wicked enchantress who has been haunting this forest. For a
long time she has been darkening it with her wicked spells and now upon
me has fallen the heavy task of ridding the forest of her."

"But is this magic gold so hard to find? You are a fairy and surely you
should know where to seek it."

    "_Though I am as old as the oldest tree
    Such gold I never yet did see._

Only this much I know for this the queen told me; it is gold--

    _That lives and yet is not alive;
    That comes neither from earth nor water;
    Softer than silk and harder to weld than steel._"

    "_Gold that lives and yet is not alive;
    That comes neither from earth nor water;
    Softer than silk but harder to weld than steel_"

the princess murmured softly to herself. Then suddenly she gave a
cry of joy. Setting down the candle, she slipped off her hood and
shook down her hair, so that it fell all about her, glittering in the
candle-light. "Is not this the magic gold?" she cried. "See! It lives
and yet it is not alive. It comes neither from the earth nor from the
water, and it is softer than silk and yet all the hammers in the world
could not weld one strand of it."

The fairy cried aloud in his wonder and admiration. "It is indeed the
magic gold."

"Then take it,--take it and weave your net," cried Goldenhair.

With hands that trembled with eagerness she drew from her pocket a pair
of golden scissors that had been her mother's. With these she clipped
strand after strand of the shiny locks, and they fell at the fairy's
feet; they lay there in a shining heap.

"Enough! enough!" he cried.

"Then, quick," said the princess, "let us begin to knot them into a
net."

"No need of that," answered the fairy. "There is a quicker way than
that." Drawing his fairy sword from its sheath, he struck it lightly
upon the shining locks.

          "_Fold on fold,
          Magic gold,
    Into a net be knotted and rolled_,"

he cried. At his spell the silken locks began to twist themselves; they
rolled into strands and knotted together in meshes until they were a
golden net.

Suddenly the princess turned her head and looked behind her. She had
heard a sound at the scullery door. The next moment it was thrown open,
and there stood the stepmother, peering in with an evil look. Behind
her was the king.

"Look," cried the queen, pointing at Goldenhair. "Is it not just as I
told you? The girl knows that I hate the very sight of her hair, and
that I gave her a hood to wear that I might not see it; yet at every
chance she has she slips away to comb her locks and weave her wicked
spells."

"Do you indeed dare to weave your spells against the queen?" cried the
king angrily,--for he was under the enchantment of the wicked queen,
and he believed all that she wished him to.

Goldenhair began to weep. "Alas!" she sobbed, "I know no spells, and I
thought that if I came here to comb my hair she would never see it."

Suddenly the stepmother spied the scissors, which Goldenhair had let
fall upon the floor. Stooping, she snatched them up. "Since you will
heed nothing that I say, there is but one way left; your hair shall be
shorn close to your head, even to the last lock."

But at this moment the fairy stepped forward from the shadow in which
he had been standing. In the dark scullery he seemed to shine with
light. "There is no need of that," he cried. "I know you, wicked
enchantress; and the net has already been woven that shall break
your evil spells."

[Illustration]

The queen gave a hoarse cry and shrank back; but in a moment the fairy
had caught up the net from the floor and cast it over her. It was in
vain that she struggled; the net only drew closer and closer about her.

"Why, what is this?" cried the king, but the queen only croaked
hoarsely in reply.

The fairy drew his sword and pointed it at her. "By the power of the
magic net take your true shape, false queen," he cried. And then--it
was no longer a woman who struggled in the net, but only a great black
raven, with a curving beak and cruel, angry eyes. It struggled there a
while, and then flew out into the dark forest, dragging the net with
it, and croaking hoarsely as it went.

"Let her go," said the fairy, "for, whatever becomes of her, her power
has now gone forever."

Suddenly there was a soft strain of music, and the scullery was filled
with rosy light. "They are coming, are coming for me," cried the fairy,
and his face grew bright with joy. The next moment the fairy queen
stood beside him, and with her were a great crowd of attendant fairies.

The banished elf sank upon his knee before her, but she raised him
graciously.

"Your task has been well done," she said. "You have freed the forest
from the evil magic that has been haunting it, and now you shall return
to the fairy court; and not only this, but you shall be my favorite
page and follow in my train."

Once more the fairy knelt before her to kiss her hand.

The queen turned to Goldenhair. "And you, dear child," she said, "you
have suffered so much here,--leave it all. Come with us, and with one
touch of my wand you shall become a fairy too."

But at this the king started forward. With the breaking of the evil
spell all his former love for his little daughter had returned. "Do
not leave me, Goldenhair," he cried.

"No," said Goldenhair to the fairy, "he is my father, and I may not
leave him; he would be lonely without me, now that the queen has gone."

"Then, farewell," cried the fairies. "The forest calls us, and we have
already lingered too long. Farewell, farewell, Goldenhair." So saying,
they disappeared, the light and music fading with them.

They were never seen in the castle again; but often in the wood the
princess would come upon them dancing in their fairy rings, or hear
them call to her from flowers or clumps of fern, for they did not hide
from her as they do from others.

Time went on, and many kings and princes sought the hand of Goldenhair
in marriage; but she would have none of them.

At last the old king died, and then suddenly there appeared at the
court a tall and noble youth. All wondered at his beauty, but no one
but Goldenhair knew that it was the fairy of the wood, who had become a
mortal being for her sake.

She loved him and gave him her hand, and they were married; and after
that they ruled the kingdom together in great peace and happiness.



_Chapter Twelve_

_Home Again_


Ellen looked about her. She was still standing in the golden room of
the Queerbodies' house. Before her was the Fairy Tale, smiling down
into her face with shining eyes. There, too, were the gander and the
Queerbody.

"Is that the story?" the Queerbody asked.

Ellen clasped her hands. "Oh, yes," she cried, looking up into the
Fairy Tale's face. "I'm sure you're the one. There were Goldenhair and
the sooty hood and all. You 'll stay made up now, won't you?"

"Yes," answered the Story; "and more than that, I'm going back with you
too."

Ellen gave a little cry of delight. She took the Story's hand in hers,
and it was so smooth and white she laid her cheek against it, and then
kissed it softly.

"But how about the rhyme?" asked the gander.

"Oh, yes; I'd forgotten to ask for that." Then Ellen told the Queerbody
how she had promised Mother Goose that she would try to find a
forgotten rhyme for her. The child couldn't tell the Queerbody exactly
what the rhyme was, of course, because it was a forgotten one, but she
explained as well as she could.

The Queerbody seemed to know which one she meant. "Oh, yes, I can
easily make that over; but if I do, you must promise to remember it and
say it sometimes after you go back."

Ellen was very willing to promise.

Then the Queerbody bent over another jar and took out some wondercluff.
She patted and twisted and pulled, and then she set what she had made
upon the floor. It was a funny-looking little rhyme, with a brown
belted coat and a pointed cap, and a broad grin on its fat, round face.

"Quank! quank!" cried the gander. "There he is again."

The Rhyme blinked and looked about him, and then he spoke, still
grinning broadly.

"Hello! I guess I've been forgotten, haven't I? But somebody seems to
have brought me back. Well, there's the old gander, same as ever." He
ran over and caught hold of the gander's bridle. "Give me a ride?" he
asked.

"Yes, I'm going to carry you back with me."

"Oh, goody, goody!" And the Rhyme hopped up and down as though its toes
were made of rubber.

But Ellen looked anxious. "I wonder how we're all to get back," she
said, with a glance at the Fairy Tale. "I don't believe the gander can
carry us all."

"Oh, you're not going back with me," he answered. "The journey's too
long for that, and there's an easier way."

"Yes, a much easier way," chimed in the Queerbody. "Why, it's so easy
that sometimes I go home without even trying."

Ellen wondered. "Do you? And then you have to come all that long way to
get here again?"

"No, it's shorter when you know the way. Sometimes I get back in a
minute. But put your ear against the wall and listen."

Ellen put her ear against the golden wall. As she listened she gave
a little gasp of amazement, and yet what she heard was not so very
wonderful; it was only the voices of her mother and the seamstress
talking quietly together in the sewing-room.

Presently the voices grew fainter. Ellen leaned harder against the wall
to catch their tones. Then all in a moment the wall yielded to her
weight, just as a snowdrift might, and she fell through it.

[Illustration]

She put out her hands to save herself, and caught hold of something
hard and solid; it was the shelf of the bookcase. She was back in her
own familiar nursery. She looked about her. There was no sign of where
she had come through, no break in wall or ceiling. With a little cry
she leaned forward and thrust her hands back between the book-shelves.
They touched only the hard, cold wall. The vines were only painted on
the paper; they would not draw aside under her eager fingers.

As Ellen turned from the bookcase she saw the shape of the Fairy Tale
standing between her and the window. She was sure she saw it. It smiled
and waved its hand to her, and then it was gone like the fading of
one's breath upon the window-pane.

"Dear Fairy Tale, where are you?" cried Ellen; but there was no reply.

Ellen waited a moment. "Fairy Tale!" she whispered.

Still silence.

Opening the door into the entry, the little girl ran down to the
sewing-room as fast as she could. "Mamma, mamma!" she called.

She burst like a little whirlwind into the room where her mother
and the seamstress were quietly at work, and threw herself into
her mother's lap. "I've been having the queerest time," she cried
excitedly; "and you never could guess where I've been; never."

"Wait," said her mother; "you're tumbling my work. And how excited you
are, dear!"

She put aside her sewing, and took the little girl upon her lap. "Now,
what have you been doing?"

Breathlessly and with flushing cheeks Ellen told her mother all about
her journey and her strange adventures on her way to the Queerbodies'
house.

The mother listened and wondered. "That was a wonderful dream, indeed,"
she said.

"A dream! Why, it wasn't a dream, mamma. It really happened. And then
I saw the Fairy Tale after I came back. And then the Forgotten Story
itself; I couldn't have dreamed all that, you know."

"But, my dear, it couldn't have been anything but a dream."

"Well, wait. I'm going to go down and tell grandmamma about it; and if
it's the same story, then you know it _must_ be true."

"Very well; only go down quietly, for she may not have wakened from her
nap yet."

When Ellen peeped in through her grandmother's door, however, she
saw the old lady sitting over in her rocking-chair near the window,
knitting.

"May I come in?" she asked.

"Yes, yes, come in, little Clara. I was just wondering where you and
all the other children were."

The child drew up a little stool and sat down by her grandmother's
knee. "Granny," she said, trying to speak quietly, "I think I know what
happened to little Goldenhair now. Shall I tell you the story?"

"Yes, do, my dear."

So Ellen told her grandmother the story of Goldenhair.

The grandmother listened, smiling and nodding her head. After a while
she grew so interested that she pushed her glasses up on top of her
cap.

"Yes, yes, that is it. I didn't know anybody remembered that story any
more, but that is the way I heard it when I was a child."

"Then it's true," cried the child triumphantly; "and I really did find
the Queerbodies' house, and see them making stories."

"Ah, yes, I knew a Queerbody once, and she used to make
stories;--verses, too. She was a lovely girl. It was long ago."

"And did she tell you all about the Queerbodies' house and the golden
jars?"

But the grandmother shook her head. "It is a long time ago, and I
forget. I am so old--so old, little Clara."

"I knew it was n't a dream," murmured the child; and as she sat there
by her grandmother's knee she felt the Fairy Tale was there, smiling
gently upon them both, even though no one could see her.

       *       *       *       *       *

By Katharine Pyle

  THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL
  AS THE GOOSE FLIES
  NANCY RUTLEDGE
  IN THE GREEN FOREST
  WONDER TALES RETOLD
  TALES OF FOLK AND FAIRIES
  TALES OF WONDER AND MAGIC
  FAIRY TALES FROM FAR AND NEAR

       *       *       *       *       *





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