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´╗┐Title: Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 2
Author: Sylvester, Charles Herbert
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 "Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 2" ***

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JOURNEYS THROUGH BOOKLAND

A NEW AND ORIGINAL
PLAN FOR READING APPLIED TO THE
WORLD'S BEST LITERATURE
FOR CHILDREN

BY
CHARLES H. SYLVESTER
Author of English and American Literature

VOLUME TWO
New Edition

1922



CONTENTS

AESOP

THE FALCON AND THE PARTRIDGE (From the Arabian Nights)

MINERVA AND THE OWL

THE SPARROW AND THE EAGLE (From the Arabian Nights)

THE OLD MAN AND DEATH

INFANT JOY ........ William Blake

THE BABY ........ George MacDonald

THE DISCONTENTED STONECUTTER (From the Japanese)

DISCREET HANS ........ Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm

THE POPPYLAND EXPRESS ........ St. Louis Star Sayings

BLUEBEARD

LULLABY

RUMPELSTILTZKIN ........ Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm

THE MIRROR OF MATSUYANA (From the Japanese)

A CONTRAST

THE GOLDEN TOUCH ........ Nathaniel Hawthorne

THE CHILD'S WORLD ........ W. B. Rands

THE FIR TREE ........ Hans Christian Andersen

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

PICTURE BOOKS IN WINTER ........ Robert Louis Stevenson

HOW THE WOLF WAS BOUND ........ Adapted by Anna McCaleb

THE DEATH OF BALDER ........ Adapted by Anna McCaleb

THE PUNISHMENT OF LOKI ........ Adapted by Anna McCaleb

SEVEN TIMES ONE ........ Jean Ingelow

SHUFFLE-SHOON AND AMBER-LOCKS ........ Eugene Field

AFTERWHILE ........ James Whitcomb Riley

WINDY NIGHTS ........ Robert Louis Stevenson

THE SNOW QUEEN ........ Hans Christian Andersen

THE CHIMERA ........ Nathaniel Hawthorne

A VISIT FBOM ST. NICHOLAS ........ Clement C. Moore

THE STORY OF PHAETHON

THE ENGLISH ROBIN ........ Harrison Weir

TOM, THE WATER BABY ........ Charles Kingsley

THE MILKMAID ........ Jeffreys Taylor

HOLGER DANSKE ........ Hans Christian Andersen

WHAT THE OLD MAN DOES is ALWAYS RIGHT ........ Hans Christian Andersen

THE FAIRIES OF CALDON-LOW ........ Mary Howitt

WHO STOLE THE BIRD'S NEST? ........ L. Maria Child

THE FIRST SNOWFALL ........ James Russell Lowell

THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER ........ John Ruskin

THE STORY OF ESTHER

THE DARNING-NEEDLE ........ Hans Christian Andersen

THE POTATO ........ Thomas Moore

THE QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD

ORIGIN OF THE OPAL

IN TIME'S SWING ........ Lucy Larcom

WHY THE SEA IS SALT ........ Mary Howitt

PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES

For Classification of Selections, see General Index at end of Volume X.



ILLUSTRATIONS

KAY AND GERDA AT PLAY AMONG THE FLOWEBS ... (Color Plate) Arthur
Henderson
AESOP (Halftone) ..... From Painting by Velasquez
THE OWL ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE SPARROW AND THE EAGLE ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
INFANT JOY ..... Lucille Enders
JAPANESE GATE ..... Herbert N Rudeen
THE STONECUTTER AND HIS SILKEN COUCH ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
EVERYTHING REJOICED IN A NEW GROWTH ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
BLUEBEARD ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE PASS KEY ..... Uncredited
SHE SLIPPED SILENTLY AWAY ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
SISTER ANN WATCHING FROM THE TOWER ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
RUMPELSTILTZKIN ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
AWAITING THE RETURN OF THE FATHER ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
JAPANESE LANTERN ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
HER GREATEST PLEASURE WAS TO LOOK INTO THE MIRROR ..... Herbert N.
Rudeen
YEARNING LOVE ..... Lucille Enders
THE FIGURE OF A STRANGER IN THE SUNBEAM ..... Arthur Henderson
MARYGOLD WAS A GOLDEN STATUE ..... Arthur Henderson
THE CHILD'S WORLD ..... Marion Miller
THE SWALLOWS AND THE STORK CAME ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE FAT MAN TOLD ABOUT KLUMPEY-DUMPEY ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN ..... (Halftone) Uncredited
PICTURE BOOKS IN WINTER ..... Iris Weddell White
THE GODS WERE AMAZED ..... A. H. Winkler
HODER HURLED THE DART ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
STRANGE OPAL LIGHTS FILTERED THROUGH THE WATER ..... A. H. Winkler
THOR'S HAND GRIPPED HIM ..... W. O. Reese
SHUFFLE-SHOON AND AMBER-LOCKS ..... Lucille Enders
HOLLYHOCKS ..... Donn P. Crane
THE GOBLIN AND THE MIRROR ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE SNOW-FLAKE AT LAST BECAME A MAIDEN ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THEY FLEW OVER WOODS AND LAKES ..... Herbert N Rudeen
"HE IS BLOWING BUBBLES" ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE CROW STOPPED TO LOOK AT HER ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE REINDEER RAN AS FAST AS IT COULD GO ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE SNOW QUEEN'S CASTLE ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
PEGASUS AT THE FOUNTAIN ..... Herbert N Rudeen
PEGASUS DARTED DOWN ASLANT ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
ST. NICHOLAS ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
IN VAIN PHAETHON PULLED AT THE REINS ..... Donn P. Crane
THERE WAS A LITTLE CHIMNEY SWEEP, AND HIS NAME WAS TOM ..... Donn P.
Crane
THEY CAME UP WITH A POOR IRISH WOMAN ..... Donn P. Crane
BEES AND HIVES ..... Donn P. Crane
HARTHOVER PLACE ..... Donn P. Crane
ALL RAN AFTER TOM ..... Donn P. Crane
TOM LOOKED DOWN THE CLIFF ..... Donn P. Crane
THE OLD DAME LOOKED AT TOM ..... Donn P. Crane
TOM LOOKED INTO THE CLEAR WATER ..... Donn P. Crane
SIR JOHN SEARCHING FOR TOM ..... Donn P. Crane
TOM WAS NOW A WATER BABY ..... Donn P. Crane
"OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL CREATURE!" SAID TOM ..... Donn P. Crane
TOM ESCAPED THE OTTER ..... Donn P. Crane
THE SALMON, KING OF ALL THE FISH ..... Donn P. Crane
TOM ON THE BUOY ..... Donn P. Crane
PORPOISES ..... Donn P. Crane
A LOBSTER ..... Donn P. Crane
ELLIE AND THE PROFESSOR ..... Donn P. Crane
MRS. BEDONEBYASYOUDID ..... Donn P. Crane
SHE TOOK TOM IN HER ARMS ..... Donn P. Crane
TOM FOUND THE CABINET ..... Donn P. Crane
THE LAST OF THE GAIRFOWL ..... Donn P. Crane
AND BEHOLD, IT WAS ELLIE ..... Donn P. Crane
HOLGER DANSKE ..... Arthur Henderson
THE FIGUREHEAD ..... Arthur Henderson
"MY DEAR GOOD HUSBAND" ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
THE FAIRIES OF CALDON-LOW ..... Iris Weddell White
WHO STOLE THE BIRD'S NEST? ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
"FATHER, WHO MAKES IT SNOW?" ..... Iris Weddell White
"HELLO! I'M WET, LET ME IN" ..... Donn P. Crane
"SORRY TO INCOMMODE YOU" ..... Donn P. Crane
"PRAY SIR, WERE YOU MY MUG?" ..... Donn P. Crane
"THOU HAST HAD THY SHARE OF LIFE" ..... Donn P. Crane
HE CAST THE FLASK INTO THE STREAM ..... Donn P. Crane
THE DWARF SHOOK THE DROPS INTO THE FLASK ..... Donn P. Crane
MORDECAI IN THE KING'S GATE ..... Arthur Henderson
HE PUT ON SACKCLOTH AND ASHES ..... Arthur Henderson
THEN HAMAN WAS AFRAID ..... Arthur Henderson
PLUTO SEIZED PROSERPINA ..... Arthur Henderson
IN TIME'S SWING ..... Herbert N. Rudeen
SO THE BARGAIN WAS MADE ..... Mildred Lyon



AESOP


Many centuries ago, more than six hundred years before Christ was born,
there lived in Greece a man by the name of Aesop. We do not know very
much about him, and no one can tell exactly what he wrote, or even that
he ever wrote anything.

We know he was a slave and much wiser than his masters, but whether he
was a fine, shapely man or a hunchback and a cripple we cannot be sure,
for different people have written very differently about him.

No matter what he was or how he lived, many, many stories are still told
about him, and the greater part of the fables we all like to read are
said to have been written or told by him, and everybody still calls them
Aesop's fables.

Some of the stories told about him are curious indeed. Here are a few of
them.

In those days men were sold as slaves in the market, as cattle are sold
now. One day Aesop and two other men were put up at auction. Xanthus, a
wealthy man, wanted a slave, and he said to the men: "What can you do?"

The two men bragged large about the things they could do, for both
wanted a rich master like Xanthus.

"But what can you do?" said Xanthus, turning to Aesop.

"The others can do so much and so well," said Aesop, "that there's
nothing left for me to do."

"Will you be honest and faithful if I buy you?"

"I shall be that whether you buy me or not."

"Will you promise not to run away?"

"Did you ever hear," answered Aesop, "of a bird in a cage that promised
to stay in it?"

Xanthus was so much pleased with the answers that he bought Aesop.

Some time afterward, Xanthus, wishing to give a dinner to some of his
friends, ordered Aesop to furnish the finest feast that money could buy.

The first course Aesop supplied was of tongues cooked in many ways, and
the second of tongues and the third and the fourth. Then Xanthus called
sharply to Aesop:

"Did I not tell you, sirrah, to provide the choicest dainties that money
could procure?"

"And what excels the tongue?" replied Aesop. "It is the great channel of
learning and philosophy. By this noble organ everything wise and good is
accomplished."

The company applauded Aesop's wit, and good humor was restored.

"Well," said Xanthus to the guests, "pray do me the favor of dining with
me again to-morrow. And if this is your best," continued he turning to
Aesop, "pray, to-morrow let us have some of the worst meat you can
find."

The next day, when dinner-time came, the guests were assembled. Great
was their astonishment and great the anger of Xanthus at finding that
again nothing but tongue was put upon the table.

"How, sir," said Xanthus, "should tongues be the best of meat one day,
and the worst another?"

"What," replied Aesop, "can be worse than the tongue? What wickedness is
there under the sun that it has not a part in? Treasons, violence,
injustice, and fraud are debated and resolved upon by the tongue. It is
the ruin of empires, of cities, and of private friendships."

* * * * *

At another time Xanthus very foolishly bet with a scholar that he could
drink the sea dry. Alarmed, he consulted Aesop.

"To perform your wager," said Aesop, "you know is impossible, but I will
show you how to evade it."

They accordingly met the scholar, and went with him and a great number
of people to the seashore, where Aesop had provided a table with several
large glasses upon it, and men who stood around with ladles with which
to fill the glasses.

Xanthus, instructed by Aesop, gravely took his seat at the table. The
beholders looked on with astonishment, thinking that he must surely have
lost his senses.

"My agreement," said he, turning to the scholar, "is to drink up the
sea. I said nothing of the rivers and streams that are everywhere
flowing into it. Stop up these, and I will proceed to fulfill my
engagement."

* * * * *

It is said that at one time when Xanthus started out on a long journey,
he ordered his servants to get all his things together and put them up
into bundles so that they could carry them.

When everything had been neatly tied up, Aesop went to his master and
begged for the lightest bundle. Wishing to please his favorite slave,
the master told Aesop to choose for himself the one he preferred to
carry. Looking them all over, he picked up the basket of bread and
started off with it on the journey. The other servants laughed at his
foolishness, for that basket was the heaviest of all.

When dinner-time came, Aesop was very tired, for he had had a difficult
time to carry his load for the last few hours. When they had rested,
however, they took bread from the basket, each taking an equal share.
Half the bread was eaten at this one meal, and when supper-time came the
rest of it disappeared.

For the whole remainder of the journey, which ran far into the night and
was over rough roads, up and down hills, Aesop had nothing to carry,
while the loads of the other servants grew heavier and heavier with
every step.

 The people of the neighborhood in which Aesop was a slave one day
observed him attentively looking over some poultry in a pen that was
near the roadside; and those idlers, who spent more time in prying into
other people's affairs than in adjusting their own, asked why he
bestowed his attention on those animals.

"I am surprised," replied Aesop, "to see how mankind imitate this
foolish animal."

"In what?" asked the neighbors.

"Why, in crowing so well and scratching so poorly," rejoined Aesop.

[Illustration: "AESOP" Painting by Valasquez, Madrid ]


Fables, you know, are short stories, usually about animals and things,
which are made to talk like human beings. Fables are so bright and
interesting in themselves that both children and grown-ups like to read
them. Children see first the story, and bye and bye, after they have
thought more about it and have grown older, they see how much wisdom
there is in the fables.

For an example, there is the fable of the crab and its mother. They were
strolling along the sand together when the mother said, "Child, you are
not walking gracefully. You should walk straight forward, without
twisting from side to side."

"Pray, mother," said the young one, "if you will set the example, I will
follow it."

Perhaps children will think the little crab was not very respectful, but
the lesson is plain that it is always easier to give good advice than it
is to follow it.

There is another, which teaches us to be self-reliant and resourceful. A
crow, whose throat was parched and dry with thirst, saw a pitcher in the
distance. In great joy he flew to it, but found that it held only a
little water, and even that was too near the bottom to be reached, for
all his stooping and straining.

Next he tried to overturn the pitcher, thinking that he would at least
be able to catch some of the water as it trickled out. But this he was
not strong enough to do. In the end he found some pebbles lying near,
and by dropping them one by one into the pitcher, he managed at last to
raise the water up to the very brim, and thus was able to quench his
thirst.



THE FALCON AND THE PARTRIDGE

                       From The Arabian Nights


Once upon a time a Falcon stooped from its flight and seized a
Partridge; but the latter freed himself from the seizer, and entering
his nest, hid himself there. The Falcon followed apace and called out to
him, saying:

"O imbecile, I saw you hungry in the field and took pity on you; so I
picked up for you some grain and took hold of you that you might eat;
but you fled from me, and I know not the cause of your flight, except it
were to put upon me a slight. Come out, then, and take the grain I have
brought you to eat, and much good may it do you, and with your health
agree."

When the Partridge heard these words he believed, and came out to the
Falcon, who thereupon struck his talons into him and seized him.

Cried the Partridge, "Is this that which you told me you had brought me
from the field, and whereof you told me to eat, saying, 'Much good may
it do you, and with your health agree?' Thou hast lied to me, and may
God cause what you eat of my flesh to be a killing poison in your maw!"

When the Falcon had eaten the Partridge his feathers fell off, his
strength failed, and he died on the spot. Know that he who digs for his
brother a pit, himself soon falls into it.



MINERVA AND THE OWL


"My most solemn and wise bird," said Minerva one day to her Owl, "I have
hitherto admired you for your profound silence; but I have now a mind to
have you show your ability in discourse, for silence is only admirable
in one who can, when he pleases, triumph by his eloquence and charm with
graceful conversation."

The Owl replied by solemn grimaces, and made dumb signs. Minerva bade
him lay aside that affectation and begin; but he only shook his wise
head and remained silent. Thereupon Minerva commanded him to speak
immediately, on pain of her displeasure.

The Owl, seeing no remedy, drew up close to Minerva, and whispered very
softly in her ear this sage remark: "Since the world is grown so
depraved, they ought to be esteemed most wise who have eyes to see and
wit to hold their tongues."



THE SPARROW AND THE EAGLE

From The Arabian Nights


Once a Sparrow, flitting over a flock of sheep, saw a great Eagle swoop
down upon a newly weaned lamb and carry it up in his claws and fly away.
Thereupon the Sparrow clapped his wings and said, "I will do even as
this Eagle did."

So he waxed proud in his own conceit, and, mimicking one greater than
he, flew down forthright and lighted on the back of a fat ram with a
thick fleece, that was matted by his lying till it was like woolen felt.
As soon as the Sparrow pounced upon the sheep's back he flopped his
wings to fly away, but his feet became tangled in the wool, and, however
hard he tried, he could not set himself free.

While all this was passing, the shepherd was looking on, having seen
what happened first with the Eagle and afterward with the Sparrow. So in
a great rage he came up to the wee birdie and seized him. He plucked out
his wing feathers and carried him to his children.

"What is this?" asked one of them.

"This," he answered, "is he that aped a greater than himself and came to
grief."

The Old Man and Death

A poor and toil-worn peasant, bent with years and groaning beneath the
weight of a heavy fagot of firewood which he carried, sought, weary and
sore-footed, to gain his distant cottage. Unable to bear the weight of
his burden longer, he let it fall by the roadside, and lamented his hard
fate.

"What pleasure have I known since I first drew breath in this sad world?
From dawn to dusk it has been hard work and little pay! At home is an
empty cupboard, a discontented wife, and lazy and disobedient children!
O Death! O Death! come and free me from my troubles!"

At once the ghostly King of Terrors stood before him and asked, "What do
you want with me?"

"Noth-nothing," stammered the frightened peasant, "except for you to
help me put again upon my shoulders the bundle of fagots I have let
fall!"



INFANT JOY

By William Blake


"I have no name;
  I am but two days old."
"What shall I call thee?"
  "I happy am;
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty Joy!
Sweet Joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
  Thou dost smile:
  I sing the while,
"Sweet joy befall thee!"



THE BABY

By George Macdonald


Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.

Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
Something better than any one knows.

Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get that pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into hooks and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherub's wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought of YOU, and so I am here.



THE DISCONTENTED STONECUTTER

Adapted from the Japanese


Once upon a time there was a man who worked from early morning till late
at night cutting building stones out of the solid rock. His pay was
small and hardly enough to keep his wife and children from starving. So
the poor stonecutter grew discontented and sighed and moaned bitterly
over his hard lot.

One day when his work seemed harder than usual and his troubles more
than he could bear he cried out in despair:

"Oh, I wish I could be rich and lie at ease on a soft couch with a
curtain of red silk!"

Just then a beautiful fairy floated down from heaven, and softly said,
"Thy wish is granted thee." So the poor stonecutter found himself rich
and powerful and resting easily on his silken couch with its red
curtain. As he gazed out, however, he saw the king of the country ride
by with many horsemen before and behind him, and with a great golden
sunshade held over his head. It irritated the rich man to have no
parasol over his head and to see another more powerful than himself, and
in his discontentment he exclaimed, "Would that I were a king such as
that one."

Once again his good fairy appeared, waved his wand, and said, "It shall
be as thou desirest." Immediately the man was king, and before him and
behind him rode his men-at-arms, and over his head was a golden
sunshade. But elsewhere the sun shone fiercely down and dried up the
vegetation with its terrible heat. It was reflected into the
face of the king so that even the golden sunshade did not keep him from
suffering. Once more he sighed discontentedly, "If I could only be the
sun!"

[Illustration: THE STONECUTTER AND HIS SILKEN COUCH]

Almost before he spoke he found himself to be the sun, and he began
joyously to send his fiery rays above, below and everywhere roundabout
him. He scorched the grass of the earth, and burned the faces of its
rulers and felt his power unlimited until a little cloud placed itself
between him and the earth and threw back his scorching rays. It still
angered him to find something more powerful than himself, and he wished
aloud that he might be the cloud.

[Illustration: EVERYTHING REJOICED IN A NEW GROWTH]

Again his wish was granted, and he found himself floating where he
wished through the sky. He ran between the sun and the earth and
sheltered the latter so that the grass grew green, the trees leaved out
again, and everything rejoiced in a new growth. Then he sent great
floods of rain upon the earth, filled the rivers till they overflowed,
swept homes and herds into the sea, and destroyed the works of man in
every direction. But try as he would he could not move one great rock
that stood right across his way. Though he sent waters that roared
around its base and pushed hard against it, yet it remained immovable.
Such a failure angered the man-cloud, and again he cried out, "Would
that I were a rock, so strong and immovable is it."

This time, also, his guardian angel interfered, and he found himself a
rock that withstood the sun, the wind and the waters. But then, one day,
there came along a rude stonecutter, who with chisel and heavy hammer
began to cut the great rock into small, regular building stones. "What
does this mean?" cried the rock. "Has this man power to cut me in
pieces? Surely I am weaker than he! Would I were a stonecutter!"

"As thou wishest, so shall it be," said his guardian angel, and
immediately he was again a stonecutter, working hard as before and for
small wages, but happy and contented with his lot.



DISCREET HANS

By Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm


Hans's mother asked, "Whither are you going, Hans?"

"To Grethel's," replied he.

"Behave well, Hans."

"I will take care; good-bye, mother."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans came to Grethel. "Good day," said he.

"Good day," replied Grethel. "What treasure do you bring today?"

"I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?"

Grethel presented Hans with a needle.

"Good-bye," said he.

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans took the needle, stuck it in a load of hay, and walked home behind
the wagon.

"Good evening, mother."

"Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?"

"To Grethel's."

"And what have you given her?"

"Nothing; she has given me something."

"What has Grethel given you?"

"A needle," said Hans.

"And where have you put it?"

"In the load of hay."

"Then you have behaved stupidly, Hans; you should put needles on your
coat sleeve."

"To behave better, do nothing at all," thought Hans.

"Whither are you going, Hans?"

"To Grethel's, mother."

"Behave well, Hans."

"I will take care; good-bye mother."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans came to Grethel. "Good day," said he.

"Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?"

"I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?"

Grethel gave Hans a knife.

"Good-bye, Grethel."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans took the knife, put it in his sleeve and went home.

"Good evening, mother."

"Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?"

"To Grethel's."

"And what did you take to her?"

"I took nothing; she has given something to me."

"And what did she give you?"

"A knife," said Hans.

"And where have you put it?"

"In my sleeve."

"Then you have behaved foolishly again, Hans; you should put knives in
your pocket."

"To behave better, do nothing at all," thought Hans.

"Whither are you going, Hans?"

"To Grethel's, mother."

"Behave well, Hans."

"I will take care; good-bye, mother."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans came to Grethel. "Good day, Grethel."

"Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?"

"I bring nothing; have you anything to give?"

Grethel gave Hans a young goat.

"Good-bye, Grethel."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans took the goat, tied its legs and put it in his pocket. Just as he
reached home it was suffocated.

"Good evening, mother."

"Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?"

"To Grethel's."

"And what did you take to her?"

"I took nothing; she gave to me."

"And what did Grethel give you?"

"A goat."

"Where did you put it, Hans?"

"In my pocket."

"There you acted stupidly, Hans; you should have tied the goat with a
rope."

"To behave better, do nothing," thought Hans.

"Whither away, Hans?"

"To Grethel's, mother."

"Behave well, Hans."

"I will take care; good-bye, mother."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans came to Grethel. "Good day," said he.

"Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?"

"I have nothing. Have you anything to give?"

Grethel gave Hans a piece of bacon.

"Good-bye, Grethel."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans took the bacon, tied it with a rope, and swung it to and fro, so
that the dogs came and ate it up. When he reached home he held the rope
in his hand, but there was nothing on it.

"Good evening, mother," said he.

"Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?"

"To Grethel's, mother."

"What did you take her?"

"I took nothing; she gave to me."

"And what did Grethel give you?"

"A piece of bacon," said Hans.

"And where have you put it?"

"I tied it with a rope, swung it about, and the dogs came and ate it
up."

"There you acted stupidly, Hans; you should have carried the bacon on
your head."

"To behave better, do nothing," thought Hans.

"Whither away, Hans?"

"To Grethel's, mother."

"Behave well, Hans."

"I'll take care; good-bye, mother."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans came to Grethel. "Good day," said he.

"Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?"

"I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?"

Grethel gave Hans a calf. "Good-bye," said Hans. "Good-bye," said
Grethel.

Hans took the calf, set it on his head, and the calf scratched his face.

"Good evening, mother."

"Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?"

"To Grethel's."

"What did you take to her?"

"I took nothing; she gave to me."

"And what did Grethel give you?"

"A calf," said Hans.

"And what did you do with it?"

"I set it on my head and it kicked my face."

"Then you acted stupidly, Hans; you should have led the calf home and
put it in the stall."

"To behave better, do nothing," thought Hans.

"Whither away, Hans?"

"To Grethel's, mother."

"Behave well, Hans."

"I'll take care; good-bye, mother."

"Good-bye, Hans."

Hans came to Grethel. "Good day," said he.

"Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?"

"I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?"

Grethel said, "I will go with you, Hans."

Hans tied a rope round Grethel, led her home, put her in the stall and
made the rope fast; then he went to his mother.

"Good evening, mother."

"Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?"

"To Grethel's."

"What did you take her?"

"I took nothing."

"What did Grethel give you?"

"She gave nothing; she came with me."

"And where have you left her, then?"

"I tied her with a rope, put her in the stall, and threw her some
grass."

"Then you have acted stupidly, Hans; you should have looked at her with
friendly eyes."

"To behave better, do nothing," thought Hans; and then he went into the
stall, and made sheep's eyes at Grethel.

And after that Grethel became Hans's wife.


The Brothers Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm, were very learned German scholars
who lived during the first half of the nineteenth century. They were
both professors at the University of Gottingen, and published many
important works, among them a famous dictionary. In their own country it
is, of course, these learned works which have given them much of their
fame, but in other countries they are chiefly known for their Fairy
Tales.

Most of these they did not themselves write; they simply collected and
rewrote. They would hear of some old woman who was famous for telling
stories remembered from childhood, and they would present themselves at
her cottage to bribe or wheedle her into telling them her tales. Perhaps
the promise that her words should appear in print would be enough to
induce her to talk; perhaps hours would be wasted in trying to make her
grow talkative, without success. At any rate, the Grimm brothers finally
collected enough of these stories to make a big, fat book.



THE POPPYLAND EXPRESS

St. Louis Star Sayings


The first train leaves at 6 p. m.
  For the land where the poppy blows.
The mother is the engineer,
  And the passenger laughs and crows.

The palace car is the mother's arms;
  The whistle a low, sweet strain.
The passenger winks and nods and blinks
  And goes to sleep on the train.

At 8 p. m. the next train starts
  For the poppyland afar.
The summons clear falls on the ear,
  "All aboard for the sleeping car!"

But "What is the fare to poppyland?
  I hope it is not too dear."
The fare is this--a hug and a kiss,
  And it's paid to the engineer.

So I ask of Him who children took
  On His knee in kindness great:
"Take charge, I pray, of the trains each day
  That leave at six and eight.

"Keep watch of the passengers," thus I pray,
  "For to me they are very dear;
And special ward, O gracious Lord,
  O'er the gentle engineer."



BLUEBEARD


Once upon a time there lived a great lord who had many beautiful homes
and who was fairly rolling in wealth. He had town houses and castles in
the country, all filled with rich furniture and costly vessels of gold
and silver. In spite of all his riches, however, nobody liked the man,
because of his ugly and frightful appearance. Perhaps people could have
endured his face if it had not been for a great blue beard that
frightened the women and children until they fled at his very approach.

Now, it so happened that there was living near one of his castles a fine
lady of good breeding who had two beautiful daughters. Bluebeard, for
such was the name by which he was known through all the country, saw the
two daughters and determined to have one of them for his wife. So he
proposed to the mother for one, but left it to her to decide which of
the daughters she would give him.

Neither of the daughters was willing to marry him, for neither could
make up her mind to live all her life with such a hideous blue beard,
however rich the owner might be. Moreover, they had heard, and the
report was true, that the man had been married several times before, and
no one knew what had become of his wives.

In order to become better acquainted with the women, Bluebeard invited
them and their mother to visit him at one of his castles in the country.
They accepted the invitation, and for nine delightful days they hunted
and fished over his vast estates, and for nine wonderful evenings they
feasted and danced in his magnificent rooms.

Everything went so much to their liking, and Bluebeard himself was so
gracious, that the younger girl began to think that after all his beard
was not so very blue; and so, soon after their return to town, the
mother announced that the younger daughter was ready to marry him. In a
few days the ceremony was performed, and Bluebeard took his wife to one
of his castles, where they spent a happy month.

At the end of that time Bluebeard told his wife that he was obliged to
make a long journey and would be away from home about six weeks. He
added that he hoped his wife would enjoy herself, and that he wished her
to send for her friends if she wanted them, and to spend his money as
freely as she liked in their entertainment.

"Here," he said, "are the keys of my two great storerooms, where you
will find everything you need for the house; here are the keys of the
sideboards, where you will find all the gold and silver plate for the
table; here are the keys of my money chests, where you will find gold
and silver in abundance [Illustration: a key] and many caskets
containing beautiful jewels which you have not yet seen; and here is a
pass key which will open all the rooms in the castle excepting one.

"But here is a little key which fits the lock in the door of the little
room at the end of the long gallery on the first floor. This little room
you must not enter. Open everything else, go everywhere you like, treat
everything as though it was your own; but I strictly forbid you to enter
the little room. If you even so much as put the key in the lock you may
expect to suffer direfully from my anger."

The young wife promised faithfully to observe her husband's wishes to
the letter, and he, pleased with the readiness with which she consented
to obey him, kissed her fondly, sprang into his carriage and departed on
his journey.

[Illustration: SHE SLIPPED SILENTLY AWAY]

No sooner had Bluebeard left than the friends of his wife began to
arrive. Many of them did not wait for an invitation, but came as soon as
they heard that her husband had gone with his terrible blue beard. Then
was there great merrymaking all over the house, and it was overrun from
top to bottom with the excited guests, for all were consumed with the
desire to see the treasures the castle contained. These were truly
wonderful. Rich tapestries hanging on the walls, great mirrors that
reflected the whole image of a person from head to foot, wonderful
pictures in frames of pure gold, gold and silver vessels of graceful
shape and elegant design, cabinets filled with curiosities, lights
gleaming with crystals, caskets filled with sparkling diamonds and other
precious stones without number, all served to charm and delight the
guests so that they had little time to think about their hostess.

The wife, however, soon wearied of the splendor of her home, for she
kept continually thinking about the little room at the end of the long
gallery on the first floor. The more she thought about it the more
curious she became, and finally, forgetting her good manners, she left
her guests, slipped silently away from them, and in her excitement
nearly fell the whole length of the secret stairway that led to the long
gallery. Her courage did not fail her till she reached the door of the
little room. Then she remembered how false she was to her trust, and
hesitated. Her conscience, however, was soon silenced by her curiosity,
and with a beating heart and trembling hand she pushed the little key
into the lock, and the door flew open.

The shutters of the window in the little room were closed, and at first
she could see nothing; but as her eyes became accustomed to the dim
light she saw that clotted blood covered the floor, and that hanging
from the walls by their long hair were the bloody heads of Bluebeard's
other wives, while on the floor lay their dead bodies.

When the young wife realized at what she was looking, the key fell from
her shaking hand, her heart stopped beating, and she almost fell to the
floor in horror and amazement. Recovering herself after a while, she
stooped and picked up the key, locked the door and hurried back to her
chamber. In vain she tried to compose herself and meet her guests again.
She was too frightened to control herself, and when she looked at the
little key of that awful little room at the end of the long gallery on
the first floor, she saw that it was stained with blood. She wiped the
key and wiped it, but the blood would not come off. She washed it, and
scrubbed it with sand and freestone and brick dust, but the blood would
not come off; or, if she did succeed in cleaning one side and turned the
key over, there was blood on the other side, for it was a magic key
which a fairy friend of Bluebeard's had given him.

That night the wife was terrified to hear Bluebeard returning, though
she tried to welcome him with every show of delight and affection. He
explained his sudden change of plans by saying that he had met a friend
on the road who told him that it was unnecessary for him to make the
long journey, as the business he was intending to transact had been all
done.

It was a very unhappy night she passed, but Bluebeard said nothing to
disturb her until morning, and then he presently asked her for his keys.
She gave them to him, but her hand trembled like an old woman's.
Bluebeard took the keys and looked them over carelessly.

"I see the key of the little room at the end of the long gallery on the
first floor is not with the others. Where is it?"

"It must have fallen off in the drawer where I kept the keys," she said.

"Please get it for me at once," said Bluebeard, "as I wish to go to the
room."

The wife, as white as a sheet, and almost too faint to walk, went back
to her chamber and returned, saying she could not find the key.

"But I must have it," said Bluebeard; "go again and look more carefully
for it. Certainly you cannot have lost it."

So back to the chamber went the terrified woman, and, seeing no hope of
escape, she carried the key down to her waiting husband.

Bluebeard took the key, and looking at it closely, said to his wife,
"Why is this blood spot on the key?"

"I do not know," said the wife, faintly.

"You do not know!" said Bluebeard. "Well, I know. You wanted to go to
the little room. Very well; I shall see that you get there and take your
place with the other ladies."

In despair the young woman flung herself at his feet and begged for
mercy, repenting bitterly of her curiosity. Bluebeard turned a deaf ear
to all her entreaties and was not moved in the least by her piteous
beauty.

"Hear me, madam. You must die at, once," he said.

"But give me a little time to make my peace with God," she said. "I must
have time to say my prayers."

"I will give you a quarter of an hour," answered Bluebeard, "but not a
minute more."

He turned away, and she sent for her sister, who came quickly at her
summons.

"Sister Ann," she said excitedly, "go up to the top of the tower and see
if my brothers are coming. They promised to come and see me to-day. If
they are on the road make signs to them to hurry as fast as they can. I
am in awful despair."

[Illustration: SISTER ANN WATCHING FROM THE TOWER]

Without waiting for an explanation the sister went to the top of the
tower and began her watch.

She was scarcely seated when her sister called up, "Sister Annie, do you
see any one coming?"

Annie answered, "I see nothing but the sun on the golden dust and the
grass which grows green."

In the meantime, Bluebeard, who had armed himself with a sharp, curved
scimitar, stood at the foot of the stairs waiting for his wife to come
down.

"Annie, sister Annie, do you see any one coming down the road?" cried
the wife again.

"No, I see nothing but the golden dust."

Then Bluebeard called out, "Come down quickly now, or I will come up to
you."

"One minute more," replied his wife; and then she called softly, "Annie,
sister Annie, do you see any one coming?"

"I think I see a cloud of dust a little to the left."

"Do you think it is my brothers?" said the wife.

"Alas, no, dear sister, it is only a shepherd boy with his sheep."

"Will you come down now, madam, or shall I fetch you?" Bluebeard bawled
out.

"I am coming,--indeed I will come in just a minute."

Then she called out for the last time, "Annie, sister Annie, do you see
any one coming?"

"I see," replied her sister, "two horsemen coming, but they are still a
great way off."

"Thank God," cried the wife, "it is my brothers. Urge them to make
haste." Annie replied, "I am beckoning to them. They have seen my
signals. They are galloping towards us."

Now Bluebeard called out so loudly for his wife to come down that his
voice shook the whole house. His lady, not daring to keep him waiting
any longer, hurried down the stairs, her hair streaming about her
shoulders and her face bathed in tears. She threw herself on the floor
at his feet and begged for mercy.

"There is no use in your pleading," said Bluebeard; "you must certainly
die."

Then, seizing her by the hair with his left hand, he raised his
scimitar, preparing to strike off her head. The poor woman turned her
eyes upon him and begged for a single moment to collect her thoughts.
"No," he said; "not a moment more. Commend yourself to God."

He raised his arm to strike. Just at that moment there was a loud
knocking at the gate, and Bluebeard stopped short in his bloody work.
Two officers in uniform sprang into the castle and ran upon Bluebeard
with drawn swords. The cruel man, seeing they were his wife's brothers,
tried to escape, but they followed and overtook him before he had gone
twenty steps. Though he begged for mercy they listened not to a single
word, but thrust him through and through with their swords.

The poor wife, who was almost as dead as her lord, could hardly rise to
greet her brothers, but when she learned of Bluebeard's death she
quickly recovered and embraced them heartily.

Bluebeard, it was found, had no heirs, and so all his riches came into
the possession of his wife. She was filled with thankfulness at her
rescue, and in repentance for her curiosity she gave her sister a
generous portion of her money, and established her brothers in high
positions in the army.

As for herself, she afterwards married a worthy gentleman and lived
happily to a hale old age. The beautiful town and country houses were
constantly filled with guests, who, after they had convinced themselves
that the cruel master was actually dead, made the rooms ring with their
joyous laughter and talking.



LULLABY


Come hither, little restless one,
'Tis time to shut your eyes;
The sun behind the hills has gone,
The stars are in the skies.

See, one by one they show their light--
How clear and bright they look!
Just like the fireflies in the night,
That shine beside the brook.

You do not hear the robins sing--
They're snug within their nest;
And sheltered by their mother's wing,
The little chickens rest.

The dog, he will not frolic now,
But to his kennel creeps;
The turkeys climb upon the bough,
And e'en the kitten sleeps.

The very violets in their bed
Fold up their eyelids blue,
And you, my flower, must droop your head
And close your eyelids, too.

Then join your little hands and pray
To God, who made the light,
To keep you holy all the day
And guard you through the night.



RUMPELSTILTZKIN

By Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm


There was once upon a time a poor miller who had a beautiful daughter.
It happened one day that he had an audience with the King, and in order
to appear important he told the King that he had a daughter who could
spin straw into gold.

"Now that's a talent worth having," said the King to the miller; "if
your daughter is as clever as you say, bring her to my palace tomorrow,
and I'll test her."

When the girl was brought to him, he led her into a room full of straw,
gave her a spinning-wheel and spindle, and said, "Now set to work and
spin all night, and if by early dawn you haven't spun the straw into
gold you shall die." Then he closed the door behind him and left her
alone inside.

So the poor miller's daughter sat down. She hadn't the least idea of how
to spin straw into gold, and at last she began to cry. Suddenly the door
opened, and in stepped a tiny little man who said: "Good evening, Miss
Miller-maid; why are you crying so bitterly?"

"Oh!" answered the girl, "I have to spin straw into gold, and haven't
the slightest notion how it's done." "What will you give me if I spin it
for you?" asked the manikin.

"My necklace," replied the girl.

The little man took the necklace, sat down at the wheel, and whir, whir,
whir, round it went until morning, when all the straw was spun away, and
all the bobbins were full of gold.

[Illustration: Rumpelstiltzken spinning.]

As soon as the sun rose, the King came, and when he saw the gold he was
astonished and delighted, but he wanted more of the precious metal. He
had the miller's daughter put into another room, much bigger than the
first and full of straw, and bade her, if she valued her life, spin it
all into gold before morning.

When the girl began to cry the tiny little man appeared again and said:
"What'll you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?"

"The ring from my finger," answered the girl. The manikin took the ring,
and when morning broke he had spun all the straw into glittering gold.

The King was pleased beyond measure at the sight, but he was still not
satisfied, and he had the miller's daughter brought into a yet bigger
room full of straw, and said:

"You must spin all this away in the night; but if you succeed this time
you shall become my wife."

When the girl was alone, the little man appeared for the third time, and
said: "What'll you give me if I spin the straw for you this third time?"

"I've nothing more to give," answered the girl.

"Then promise me when you are Queen to give me your first child."

Seeing no other way out of it, she promised the manikin, and he set to
work.

When the King came in the morning, and found the gold, he straightway
made her his wife. When a beautiful son was born to her, she did not
think of the little man, till all of a sudden one day he stepped into
her room and said: "Now give me what you promised."

The Queen offered the little man all the riches in her kingdom if he
would only leave her the child.

But the manikin said, "No, a living creature is dearer to me than all
the treasures in the world."

Then the Queen began to cry and sob so bitterly that the little man was
sorry for her, and said, "I'll give you three days, and if in that time
you guess my name, you may keep your child."

The Queen pondered the whole night over all the names she had ever
heard, and sent messengers to scour the land, and to pick up far and
near any names they should come across. When the little man arrived she
began with Kasper, Melchior, Belshazzer, Sheepshanks, Cruickshanks,
Spindleshanks, and so on through the long list. At every name the little
man shook his head.

At last a messenger reported, "As I came upon a high hill round the
corner of the wood, where the foxes and hares bid each other good-night,
I saw a little house, and in front of the house burned a fire, and round
the fire sprang the most grotesque little man, hopping on one leg and
crying,

     'Tomorrow I brew, today I bake,
      And then the child away I'll take;
      For little deems my royal dame
      That Rumpelstiltzken is my name!'"

When the little man stepped in afterward and asked his name she said,
"Is your name Conrad?"

"No."

"Is your name, perhaps, Rumpelstiltzken?"

"Some demon has told you that, some demon has told you that," screamed
the little man, as he vanished into the air.



THE MIRROR OF MATSUYANA


The following pretty little story comes from Japan, where it may be
found in a collection of tales for children. A long time ago a young
couple lived in the country with their only child, a beautiful little
girl whom they loved tenderly. The names of the parents cannot be told
now, for they have long been forgotten, but we know that the place where
they lived was Matsuyana, in the province of Echigo.

[Illustration: AWAITING THE RETURN OF THE FATHER]

Now it happened when the child was still very little that her father was
obliged to go to the capital of the kingdom. As it was so long a
journey, neither his wife nor his child could go with him and he
departed alone, promising to bring them many pretty gifts on his return.

The mother had never been away from the neighborhood and was not able to
get rid of some fear when she thought of the long journey her husband
must take. At the same time, however, she could not but feel pride and
satisfaction that it was her husband who was the first man in all that
region to go to the rich city where the king and the nobles lived, and
where there were so many beautiful and marvelous things to be seen.

At last, when the good wife knew that her husband would return, she
dressed her child gaily in the best clothes she had and herself in the
blue dress that she knew he liked very much.

It is not possible to describe the joy of the good woman when she saw
her husband return safe and sound. The little one clapped her hands and
laughed with delight when she saw the toys her father had brought, and
he never tired of telling of the wonderful things he had seen on his
journey and at the capital.

"To you," he said to his wife, "I have brought a thing of wonderful
power, that is called a mirror. Look and tell me what you see inside."
He handed her a little flat box of white wood, and when she opened it
she saw a metal disk. One side was white as frosted silver and
ornamented with birds and flowers raised from the surface; the other
side was shining and polished like a window-pane. Into this the young
wife gazed with pleasure and astonishment, for from the depths she saw
looking out at her a smiling face with parted lips and animated eyes.
"What do you see?" repeated the husband, charmed by her amazement and
proud to prove that he had remembered her in his absence.

"I see a pretty young woman, who looks at me and moves her lips as if
talking, and who wears--what a wonderful thing! a blue dress exactly
like mine."

"Silly one! What you see is your own sweet face," replied the man,
delighted to know that his wife did not recognize herself. "This circle
of metal is called a looking-glass. In the city, every woman has one,
although here in the country no one has seen one until to-day."

Enchanted with her gift, the woman passed several days in wonderment,
because, as I have said, this was the first time she had seen a mirror,
and consequently the first time she had seen the image of her own pretty
face. This wonderful jewel she thought too precious to be used every
day, and the little box she guarded carefully, concealing it among her
most precious treasures.

Years passed, the good man and his wife living happily through them all.
The delight of his life was the child, who was growing into the living
image of her dear mother, and who was so good and affectionate that
everybody loved her.

The mother, remembering her own passing vanity over her beauty, kept the
mirror hidden, to protect her daughter from any chance of vanity. As for
the father, no one had spoken of the glass, and he had forgotten all
about it. Thus the child grew up frank and guileless as her mother
wished, knowing nothing of her own beauty or what the mirror might
reflect.

But there came a day of terrible misfortune to this family, till then so
happy. The devoted and loving mother fell sick, and although her
daughter watched her with affectionate and tender devotion, the dear
woman grew worse and worse each day.

When she knew that she must soon pass away, she was very sad, grieving
for husband and daughter that she must leave behind on earth; and
especially was she anxious for the future of her loving daughter.
Calling the girl to the bedside, she said:

[Illustration: HER GREATEST PLEASURE WAS TO LOOK INTO THE MIRROR]

"My beloved child, you see that I am so very sick that soon I must die
and leave you and your father alone. Promise me that when I am gone,
every morning when you get up and every night when you go to bed, you
will look into the mirror which your father gave me long ago. In it, you
will see me smiling back at you, and you will know that I am ever near
to protect you."

Having spoken these words, she pointed to the place where the mirror was
hidden, and the girl, with tears on her cheeks, promised to do as her
mother wished. Tranquil and resigned, the mother then passed quickly
away.

The dutiful daughter, never forgetting her mother's wishes, each morning
and evening took the glass from the place where it was hidden and gazed
at it intently for a long time. There she saw the face of her dead
mother brilliant and smiling, not pallid and ill as it was in her last
days, but young and beautiful. To this vision each night she confided
the troubles and little faults of the day, looking to it for help and
encouragement in doing her duty. In this manner the girl grew up as if
watched over and helped by a living presence, trying always to do
nothing that could grieve or annoy her sainted mother. Her greatest
pleasure was to look into the mirror and feel that she could truthfully
say: "Mother, to-day I have been as you wished that I should be."

After a time the father observed that his daughter looked lovingly into
the mirror every morning and every evening, and appeared to converse
with it. Wondering, he asked her the cause of her strange behavior. The
girl replied:

"Father, I look every day into the glass to see my dear mother and to
speak with her."

She then related to him the last wishes of her dying mother, and assured
him that she had never failed to comply with them.

Wondering at such simplicity and loving obedience, the father shed tears
of pity and affection. Nor did he ever find the heart to explain to the
loving daughter that the image she saw in the mirror was but the
reflection of her own beautiful face. Thus, by the pure white bond of
her filial love, each day the charming girl grew more and more like her
dead mother.



A CONTRAST

[Illustration: YEARNING LOVE]


Light blue eyes:
Flaxen hair;
Rosy cheeks--
Dimples there!
These are Baby's.

Pudgy fists;
Ruddy toes;
Kissy lips--
Mother knows!
These are Baby's.

Cooing voice;
Winning smiles;
Pleading arms--
Wanton wiles!
These are Baby's.

Yearning love;
Growing fears;
Grief and worry--
All the years.
These are Mother's.



THE GOLDEN TOUCH

By Nathaniel Hawthorne


Once upon a time there lived a very rich man, and a king besides, whose
name was Midas; and he had a little daughter whom nobody but myself ever
heard of, and whose name I either never knew or have entirely forgotten.
So, because I love odd names for little girls, I choose to call her
Marygold.

This King Midas was fonder of gold than of anything else in the world.
He valued his royal crown chiefly because it was composed of that
precious metal. If he loved anything better or half so well, it was the
one little maiden who played so merrily around her father's footstool.
But the more Midas loved his daughter, the more did he desire and seek
for wealth. He thought, foolish man! that the best thing he could
possibly do for this dear child would be to bequeath her the immensest
pile of yellow, glistening coin that had ever been heaped together since
the world was made. Thus he gave all his thoughts and all his time to
this one purpose. If he ever happened to gaze for an instant at the
gold-tinted clouds of sunset, he wished that they were real gold and
that they could be squeezed safely into his strong box.

When little Marygold ran to meet him with a bunch of buttercups and
dandelions, he used to say, "Pooh, pooh, child! If these flowers were as
golden as they look, they would be worth the plucking!"

And yet in his earlier days, before he was so entirely possessed with
this insane desire for riches, King Midas had shown a great taste for
flowers. He had planted a garden in which grew the biggest and
beautifulest and sweetest roses that any mortal ever saw or smelled.
These roses were still growing in the garden, as large, as lovely, and
as fragrant as when Midas used to pass whole hours in gazing at them and
inhaling their perfume. But now, if he looked at them at all, it was
only to calculate how much the garden would be worth if each of the
innumerable rose-petals were a thin plate of gold. And though he once
was fond of music (in spite of an idle story about his ears, which were
said to resemble those of an ass), the only music for poor Midas now was
the chink of one coin against another.

At length (as people always grow more and more foolish unless they take
care to grow wiser and wiser) Midas had got to be so exceedingly
unreasonable that he could scarcely bear to see or touch any object that
was not gold. He made it his custom, therefore, to pass a large portion
of every day in a dark and dreary apartment underground, at the basement
of his palace. It was here that he kept his wealth. To this dismal hole-
-for it was little better than a dungeon--Midas betook himself whenever
he wanted to be particularly happy. Here, after carefully locking the
door, he would take a bag of gold coin, or a gold cup as big as a
washbowl, or a heavy golden bar, or a peck measure of gold dust, and
bring it from the obscure corners of the room into the one bright and
narrow sunbeam that fell from the dungeon-like window. He valued the
sunbeam for no other reason but that his treasure would not shine
without its help. And then would he reckon over the coins in the bag,
toss up the bar and catch it as it came down, sift the gold dust through
his fingers, look at the funny image of his own face as reflected in the
burnished circumference of the cup, and whisper to himself, "O Midas,
rich King Midas, what a happy man art thou!" But it was laughable to see
how the image of his face kept grinning at him out of the polished
surface of the cup. It seemed to be aware of his foolish behavior, and
to have a naughty inclination to make fun of him.

Midas called himself a happy man, but felt that he was not yet quite so
happy as he might be. The very tip-top of enjoyment would never be
reached unless the whole world were to become his treasure-room and be
filled with yellow metal which should be all his own.

Now, I need hardly remind such wise little people as you are that in the
old, old times, when King Midas was alive, a great many things came to
pass which we should consider wonderful if they were to happen in our
own day and country. And, on the other hand, a great many things take
place nowadays which seem not only wonderful to us, but at which the
people of old times would have stared their eyes out. On the whole, I
regard our own times as the stranger of the two; but, however that may
be, I must go on with my story.

[Illustration: THE FIGURE OF A STRANGER IN THE SUNBEAM]

Midas was enjoying himself in his treasure-room one day as usual, when
he perceived a shadow fall over the heaps of gold, and, looking suddenly
up, what should he behold but the figure of a stranger standing in the
bright and narrow sunbeam! It was a young man with a cheerful and ruddy
face. Whether it was the imagination of King Midas threw a yellow tinge
over everything, or whatever the cause might be, he could not help
fancying that the smile with which the stranger regarded him had a kind
of golden radiance in it. Certainly, although his figure intercepted the
sunshine, there was now a brighter gleam upon all the piled-up treasures
than before. Even the remotest corners had their share of it, and were
lighted up, when the stranger smiled, as with tips of flame and sparkles
of fire.

As Midas knew that he had carefully turned the key in the lock, and that
no mortal strength could possibly break into his treasure-room, he of
course concluded that his visitor must be something more than mortal. It
is no matter about telling you who he was. In those days, when the earth
was comparatively a new affair, it was supposed to be often the resort
of beings endowed with supernatural powers, who used to interest
themselves in the joys and sorrows of men, women, and children half
playfully and half seriously. Midas had met such beings before now, and
was not sorry to meet one of them again. The stranger's aspect, indeed,
was so good-humored and kindly, if not beneficent, that it would have
been unreasonable to suspect him of intending any mischief. It was far
more probable that he came to do Midas a favor. What could that favor be
unless to multiply his heaps of treasure?

The stranger gazed about the room, and when his lustrous smile had
glistened upon all the golden objects that were there, he turned again
to Midas.

"You are a wealthy man, friend Midas," he observed. "I doubt whether any
other four walls on earth contain so much gold as you have contrived to
pile up in this room."

"I have done pretty well--pretty well," answered Midas in a discontented
tone. "But, after all, it is but a trifle when you consider that it has
taken me my whole life to get it together. If one could live a thousand
years, he might have time to grow rich."

"What!" exclaimed the stranger. "Then you are not satisfied?"

Midas shook his head.

"And pray what would satisfy you?" asked the stranger. "Merely for the
curiosity of the thing, I should be glad to know."

Midas paused and meditated. He felt a presentiment that this stranger,
with such a golden luster in his good-humored smile, had come hither
with both the power and the purpose of gratifying his utmost wishes.
Now, therefore, was the fortunate moment when he had but to speak and
obtain whatever possible or seemingly impossible thing it might come
into his head to ask.

So he thought, and thought, and thought, and heaped up one golden
mountain upon another in his imagination, without being able to imagine
them big enough. At last a bright idea occurred to King Midas. It seemed
really as bright as the glistening metal which he loved so much.

Raising his head, he looked the lustrous stranger in the face.

"Well, Midas," observed his visitor, "I see that you have at length hit
upon something that will satisfy you. Tell me your wish."

"It is only this," replied Midas. "I am weary of collecting my treasures
with so much trouble, and beholding the heap so diminutive after I have
done my best. I wish everything that I touch to be changed to gold."

The stranger's smile grew so very broad that it seemed to fill the room
like an outburst of the sun gleaming into a shadowy dell where the
yellow autumnal leaves--for so looked the lumps and particles of gold--
lie strewn in the glow of light.

"The Golden Touch!" exclaimed he. "You certainly deserve credit, friend
Midas, for striking out so brilliant a conception. But are you quite
sure that this will satisfy you?"

"How could it fail?" said Midas.

"And will you never regret the possession of it?"

"What could induce me?" asked Midas. "I ask nothing else to render me
perfectly happy."

"Be it as you wish, then," replied the stranger, waving his hand in
token of farewell. "To-morrow at sunrise you will find yourself gifted
with the Golden Touch."

The figure of the stranger then became exceedingly bright, and Midas
involuntarily closed his eyes. On opening them again he beheld only one
yellow sunbeam in the room, and all around him the glistening of the
precious metal which he had spent his life in hoarding up.

Whether Midas slept as usual that night the story does not say. Asleep
or awake, however, his mind was probably in the state of a child's to
whom a beautiful new plaything has been promised in the morning. At any
rate, day had hardly peeped over the hills when King Midas was broad
awake, and stretching his arms out of bed, began to touch the objects
that were within reach. He was anxious to prove whether the Golden Touch
had really come, according to the stranger's promise. So he laid his
finger on a chair by the bedside and on various other things, but was
grievously disappointed to perceive that they remained of exactly the
same substance as before. Indeed, he felt very much afraid that he had
only dreamed about the lustrous stranger, or else that the latter had
been making game of him. And what a miserable affair would it be if,
after all his hopes, Midas must content himself with what little gold he
could scrape together by ordinary means instead of creating it by a
touch.

All this while it was only the gray of the morning, with but a streak of
brightness along the edge of the sky, where Midas could not see it. He
lay in a very disconsolate mood, regretting the downfall of his hopes,
and kept growing sadder and sadder until the earliest sunbeam shone
through the window and gilded the ceiling over his head. It seemed to
Midas that this bright yellow sunbeam was reflected in rather a singular
way on the white covering of the bed. Looking more closely, what was his
astonishment and delight when he found that this linen fabric had been
transmuted to what seemed a woven texture of the purest and brightest
gold! The Golden Touch had come to him with the first sunbeam!

Midas started up in a kind of joyful frenzy, and ran about the room
grasping at everything that happened to be in his way. He seized one of
the bed-posts, and it became immediately a fluted golden pillar. He
pulled aside a window-curtain in order to admit a clear spectacle of the
wonders which he was performing, and the tassel grew heavy in his hand--
a mass of gold. He took up a book from the table. At his first touch it
assumed the appearance of such a splendidly bound and gilt-edged volume
as one often meets with nowadays, but on running his fingers through the
leaves, behold! it was a bundle of thin golden plates, in which all the
wisdom of the book had grown illegible. He hurriedly put on his clothes,
and was enraptured to see himself in a magnificent suit of gold cloth,
which retained its flexibility and softness, although it burdened him a
little with its weight. He drew out his handkerchief, which little
Marygold had hemmed for him. That was likewise gold, with the dear
child's neat and pretty stitches running all along the border in gold
thread!

Somehow or other, this last transformation did not quite please King
Midas. He would rather that his little daughter's handiwork should have
remained just the same as when she climbed his knee and put it into his
hand.

But it was not worth while to vex himself about a trifle. Midas now took
his spectacles from his pocket, and put them on his nose in order that
he might see more distinctly what he was about. In those days spectacles
for common people had not been invented, but were already worn by kings,
else how could Midas have had any? To his great perplexity, however,
excellent as the glasses were, he discovered that he could not possibly
see through them. But this was the most natural thing in the world, for
on taking them off the transparent crystals turned out to be plates of
yellow metal, and of course were worthless as spectacles, though
valuable as gold. It struck Midas as rather inconvenient that, with all
his wealth, he could never again be rich enough to own a pair of
serviceable spectacles.

"It is no great matter, nevertheless," said he to himself, very
philosophically. "We cannot expect any great good without its being
accompanied with some small inconvenience. The Golden Touch is worth the
sacrifice of a pair of spectacles at least, if not of one's very
eyesight. My own eyes will serve for ordinary purposes, and little
Marygold will soon be old enough to read to me."

Wise King Midas was so exalted by his good fortune that the palace
seemed not sufficiently spacious to contain him. He therefore went
downstairs and smiled on observing that the balustrade of the staircase
became a bar of burnished gold as his hand passed over it in his
descent.

He lifted the doorlatch (it was brass only a moment ago, but golden when
his fingers quitted it) and emerged into the garden. Here, as it
happened, he found a great number of beautiful roses in full bloom and
others in all the stages of lovely bud and blossom. Very delicious was
their fragrance in the morning breeze. Their delicate blush was one of
the fairest sights in the world, so gentle, and so full of sweet
tranquility did these roses seem to be.

But Midas knew a way to make them far more precious, according to his
way of thinking, than roses had ever been before. So he took great pains
in going from bush to bush, and exercised his magic touch most
indefatigably, until every individual flower and bud, and even the worms
at the heart of some of them, were changed to gold. By the time this
good work was completed, King Midas was summoned to breakfast, and, as
the morning air had given him an excellent appetite, he made haste back
to the palace.

What was usually a king's breakfast in the days of Midas I really do not
know and cannot stop now to investigate. To the best of my belief,
however, on this particular morning the breakfast consisted of hot
cakes, some nice little brook trout, roasted potatoes, fresh boiled
eggs, and coffee for King Midas himself, and a bowl of bread and milk
for his daughter Marygold. At all events, this is a breakfast fit to set
before a king, and, whether he had it or not, King Midas could not have
had a better.

Little Marygold had not yet made her appearance. Her father ordered her
to be called, and, seating himself at the table, awaited the child's
coming in order to begin his own breakfast. To do Midas justice, he
really loved his daughter, and loved her so much the more this morning
on account of the good fortune which had befallen him. It was not a
great while before he heard her coming along the passageway crying
bitterly. This circumstance surprised him, because Marygold was one of
the cheerfulest little people whom you would see in a summer's day, and
hardly shed a thimbleful of tears in a twelvemonth. When Midas heard her
sobs he determined to put little Marygold into better spirits by an
agreeable surprise; so, leaning across the table, he touched his
daughter's bowl (which was a china one with pretty figures all around
it) and transmuted it to gleaming gold.

Meanwhile, Marygold slowly and disconsolately opened the door and showed
herself with her apron at her eyes, still sobbing as if her heart would
break.

"How now, my little lady!" cried Midas. "What is the matter with you
this morning?"

Marygold, without taking the apron from her eyes, held out her hand, in
which was one of the roses which Midas had so recently transmuted.

"Beautiful!" exclaimed her father. "And what is there in this
magnificent golden rose to make you cry?"

"Ah, dear father!" answered the child, as well as her sobs would let
her, "it is not beautiful, but the ugliest flower that ever grew. As
soon as I was dressed I ran into the garden to gather some roses for
you, because I know you like them, and like them the better when
gathered by your little daughter. But--oh dear! dear me!--what do you
think has happened? Such a misfortune! All the beautiful roses, that
smelled so sweetly and had so many lovely blushes, are blighted and
spoiled! They are grown quite yellow, as you see this one, and have no
longer any fragrance. What can be the matter with them?"

"Pooh, my dear little girl! pray don't cry about it!" said Midas, who
was ashamed to confess that he himself had wrought the change which so
greatly afflicted her. "Sit down and eat your bread and milk. You will
find it easy enough to exchange a golden rose like that, which will last
hundreds of years, for an ordinary one, which would wither in a day."

"I don't care for such roses as this!" cried Marygold, tossing it
contemptuously away. "It has no smell, and the hard petals prick my
nose."

The child now sat down to table, but was so occupied with her grief for
the blighted roses that she did not even notice the wonderful
transmutation of her china bowl. Perhaps this was all the better, for
Marygold was accustomed to take pleasure in looking at the queer figures
and strange trees and houses that were painted on the circumference of
the bowl, and these ornaments were now entirely lost in the yellow hue
of the metal.

Midas, meanwhile, had poured out a cup of coffee; and, as a matter of
course, the coffeepot, whatever metal it may have been when he took it
up, was gold when he set it down. He thought to himself that it was
rather an extravagant style of splendor, in a king of his simple habits,
to breakfast off a service of gold, and began to be puzzled with the
difficulty of keeping his treasures safe. The cupboard and the kitchen
would no longer be a secure place of deposit for articles so valuable as
golden bowls and coffeepots.

Amid these thoughts he lifted a spoonful of coffee to his lips, and
sipping it, was astonished to perceive that the instant his lips touched
the liquid it became molten gold, and the next moment hardened into a
lump.

"Ha!" exclaimed Midas, rather aghast.

"What is the matter, father?" asked little Marygold, gazing at him with
the tears still standing in her eyes.

"Nothing, child, nothing," said Midas. "Eat your milk before it gets
quite cold."

He took one of the nice little trouts on his plate, and, by way of
experiment, touched its tail with his finger. To his horror, it was
immediately transmuted from an admirably fried brook trout into a gold
fish, though not one of those gold fishes which people often keep in
glass globes as ornaments for the parlor. No; but it was really a
metallic fish, and looked as if it had been very cunningly made by the
nicest goldsmith in the world. Its little bones were now golden wires,
its fins and tail were thin plates of gold, and there were the marks of
the fork in it, and all the delicate, frothy appearance of a nicely
fried fish exactly imitated in metal. A very pretty piece of work, as
you may suppose; only King Midas, just at that moment, would much rather
have had a real trout in his dish than this elaborate and valuable
imitation of one.

"I don't quite see," thought he to himself, "how I am to get any
breakfast."

He took one of the smoking hot cakes, and had scarcely broken it when,
to his cruel mortification, though a moment before it had been of the
whitest wheat, it assumed the yellow hue of Indian meal. To say the
truth? if it had really been a hot Indian cake Midas would have prized
it a good deal more than he now did, when its solidity and increased
weight made him too bitterly sensible that it was gold. Almost in
despair, he helped himself to a boiled egg, which immediately underwent
a change similar to those of the trout and the cake. The egg, indeed,
might have been mistaken for one of those which the famous goose in the
storybook was in the habit of laying; but King Midas was the only goose
that had had anything to do with the matter.

"Well, this is a quandary!" thought he, leaning back in his chair and
looking quite enviously at little Marygold, who was now eating her bread
and milk with great satisfaction. "Such a costly breakfast before me,
and nothing that can be eaten!"

Hoping that, by dint of great dispatch, he might avoid what he now felt
to be a considerable inconvenience, King Midas next snatched a hot
potato, and attempted to cram it into his mouth and swallow it in a
hurry. But the Golden Touch was too nimble for him. He found his mouth
full, not of mealy potato, but of solid metal, which so burned his
tongue that he roared aloud, and, jumping up from the table, began to
dance and stamp about the room both with pain and affright.

"Father, dear father!" cried little Marygold, who was a very
affectionate child, "pray what is the matter? Have you burned your
mouth?"

"Ah, dear child," groaned Midas dolefully, "I don't know what is to
become of your poor father."

And truly, my dear little folks, did you ever hear of such a pitiable
case in all your lives? Here was literally the richest breakfast that
could be set before a king, and its very richness made it absolutely
good for nothing. The poorest laborer sitting down to his crust of bread
and cup of water was far better off than King Midas, whose delicate food
was really worth its weight in gold. And what was to be done? Already,
at breakfast, Midas was excessively hungry. Would he be less so by
dinner-time? And how ravenous would be his appetite for supper, which
must undoubtedly consist of the same sort of indigestible dishes as
those now before him! How many days, think you, would he survive a
continuance of this rich fare?

These reflections so troubled wise King Midas that he began to doubt
whether, after all, riches are the one desirable thing in the world, or
even the most desirable. But this was only a passing thought. So
fascinated was Midas with the glitter of the yellow metal that he would
still have refused to give up the Golden Touch for so paltry a
consideration as a breakfast. Just imagine what a price for one meal's
victuals! It would have been the same as paying millions and millions of
money (and as many millions more as would take forever to reckon up) for
some fried trout, an egg, a potatoes a hot cake, and a cup of coffee.

"It would be quite too dear," thought Midas.

Nevertheless, so great was his hunger and the perplexity of his
situation that he again groaned aloud, and very grievously, too. Our
pretty Marygold could endure it no longer. She sat a moment gazing at
her father and trying with all the might of her little wits to find out
what was the matter with him. Then, with a sweet and sorrowful impulse
to comfort him, she started from her chair, and, running to Midas, threw
her arms affectionately about his knees. He bent down and kissed her. He
felt that his little daughter's love was worth a thousand times more
than he had gained by the Golden Touch.

"My precious, precious Marygold!" cried he.

But Marygold made no answer.

Alas, what had he done? How fatal was the gift which the stranger
bestowed! The moment the lips of Midas touched Marygold's forehead a
change had taken place. Her sweet, rosy face, so full of affection as it
had been, assumed a glittering yellow color, with yellow tear-drops
congealing on her cheeks. Her beautiful brown ringlets took the same
tint. Her soft and tender little form grew hard and inflexible within
her father's encircling arms. Oh, terrible misfortune! The victim of his
insatiable desire for wealth, little Marygold was a human child no
longer, but a golden statue!

Yes, there she was, with the questioning look of love, grief, and pity
hardened into her face. It was the prettiest and most woeful sight that
ever mortal saw. All the features and tokens of Marygold were there;
even the beloved little dimple remained in her golden chin. But, the
more perfect was this resemblance, the greater was the father's agony at
beholding this golden image, which was all that was left him of a
daughter. It had been a favorite phrase of Midas, whenever he felt
particularly fond of the child, to say that she was worth her weight in
gold. And now the phrase had become literally true. And now at last,
when it was too late, he felt how infinitely a warm and tender heart
that loved him exceeded in value all the wealth that could be piled up
betwixt the earth and sky.

It would be too sad a story if I were to tell you how Midas, in the
fullness of all his gratified desires, began to wring his hands and
bemoan himself, and how he could neither bear to look at Marygold, nor
yet to look away from her. Except when his eyes were fixed on the image,
he could not possibly believe that she was changed to gold. But,
stealing another glance, there was the precious little figure, with a
yellow tear-drop on its yellow cheek, and a look so piteous and tender
that it seemed as if that very expression must needs soften the gold and
make it flesh again. This, however, could not be. So Midas had only to
wring his hands and to wish that he were the poorest man in the wide
world if the loss of all his wealth might bring back the faintest rose-
color to his dear child's face.

While he was in this tumult of despair he suddenly beheld a stranger
standing near the door. Midas bent down his head without speaking, for
he recognized the same figure which had appeared to him the day before
in the treasure-room and had bestowed on him this disastrous faculty of
the Golden Touch.

The stranger's countenance still wore a smile which seemed to shed a
yellow luster all about the room, and gleamed on little Marygold's image
and on the other objects that had been transmuted by the touch of Midas.

"Well, friend Midas," said the stranger, "pray how do you succeed with
the Golden Touch?"

Midas shook his head.

"I am very miserable," said he.

"Very miserable, indeed!" exclaimed the stranger. "And how happens that?
Have I not faithfully kept my promise with you? Have you not everything
that your heart desired?"

"Gold is not everything," answered Midas, "and I have lost all that my
heart really cared for."

"Ah! so you have made a discovery since yesterday?" observed the
stranger. "Let us see, then. Which of these two things do you think is,
really worth the most--the gift of the Golden Touch, or one cup of
clear, cold water?"

"Oh, blessed water!" exclaimed Midas. "It will never moisten my parched
throat again."

"The Golden Touch," continued the stranger, "or a crust of bread?"

"A piece of bread," answered Midas, "is worth all the gold on earth."

"The Golden Touch," asked the stranger, "or your own little Marygold,
warm, soft, and loving, as she was an hour ago?"

[Illustration: MARYGOLD WAS A GOLDEN STATUE!]

"Oh, my child, my dear child!" cried poor Midas, wringing his hands. "I
would not have given that one small dimple in her chin for the power of
changing this whole big earth into a solid lump of gold!"

"You are wiser than you were, King Midas," said the stranger, looking
seriously at him. "Your own heart, I perceive, has not been entirely
changed from flesh to gold. Were it so, your case would indeed be
desperate. But you appear to be still capable of understanding that the
commonest things, such as lie within everybody's grasp, are more
valuable than the riches which so many mortals sigh and struggle after.
Tell me now, do you sincerely desire to rid yourself of this Golden
Touch?"

"It is hateful to me!" replied Midas.

A fly settled on his nose, but immediately fell to the floor, for it,
too, had become gold. Midas shuddered.

"Go, then," said the stranger, "and plunge into the river that glides
past the bottom of your garden. Take likewise a vase of the same water,
and sprinkle it over any object that you may desire to change back again
from gold into its former substance. If you do this in earnestness and
sincerity, it may possibly repair the mischief which your avarice has
occasioned."

King Midas bowed low, and when he lifted his head the lustrous stranger
had vanished.

You will easily believe that Midas lost no time in snatching up a great
earthen pitcher (but alas me! it was no longer earthen after he touched
it) and hastening to the riverside. As he scampered along and forced his
way through the shrubbery, it was positively marvelous to see how the
foliage turned yellow behind him, as if the autumn had been there and
nowhere else.

On reaching the river's brink he plunged headlong in, without waiting so
much as to pull off his shoes.

"Poof! poof! poof!" snorted King Midas, as his head emerged out of the
water. "Well, this is really a refreshing bath, and I think it must have
washed away the Golden Touch. And now for filling my pitcher."

As he dipped the pitcher into the water it gladdened his very heart to
see it change from gold into the same good, honest earthen vessel which
it had been before he touched it. He was conscious also of a change
within himself. A cold, hard, and heavy weight seemed to have gone out
of his bosom. No doubt his heart had been gradually losing its human
substance and transmuting itself into insensible metal, but had now
softened back again into flesh. Perceiving a violet that grew on the
bank of the river, Midas touched it with his finger, and was overjoyed
to find that the delicate flower retained its purple hue, instead of
undergoing a yellow blight. The curse of the Golden Touch had therefore
really been removed from him.

King Midas hastened back to the palace, and I suppose the servants knew
not what to make of it when they saw their royal master so carefully
bringing home an earthen pitcher of water. But that water, which was to
undo all the mischief that his folly had wrought, was more precious to
Midas than an ocean of molten gold could have been. The first thing he
did, as you need hardly be told, was to sprinkle it by handfuls over the
golden figure of little Marygold.

No sooner did it fall on her than you would have laughed to see how the
rosy color came back to the dear child's cheek, and how she began to
sneeze and sputter, and how astonished she was to find herself dripping
wet and her father still throwing more water over her.

"Pray do not, dear father!" cried she. "See how you have wet my nice
frock, which I put on only this morning."

For Marygold did not know that she had been a little golden statue, nor
could she remember anything that had happened since the moment when she
ran with outstretched arms to comfort poor King Midas.

Her father did not think it necessary to tell his beloved child how very
foolish he had been, but contented himself with showing how much wiser
he had now grown. For this purpose he led little Marygold into the
garden, where he sprinkled all the remainder of the water over the rose-
bushes, and with such good effect that above five thousand roses
recovered their beautiful bloom. There were two circumstances, however,
which, as long as he lived, used to put King Midas in mind of the Golden
Touch.

One was that the sands of the river sparkled like gold; the other, that
little Marygold's hair had now a golden tinge which he had never
observed in it before she had been transmuted by the effect of his kiss.
The change of hue was really an improvement, and made Marygold's hair
richer than in her babyhood.

When King Midas had grown quite an old man and used to trot Marygold's
children on his knee, he was fond of telling them this marvelous story,
pretty much as I have told it to you. And then he would stroke their
glossy ringlets and tell them that their hair likewise had a rich shade
of gold, which they had inherited from their mother.

"And to tell you the truth, my precious little folks," quoth King Midas,
diligently trotting the children all the while, "ever since that morning
I have hated the very sight of all other gold save this."


Hawthorne was by no means the first man who ever told about King Midas,
nor are the children who have lived since his time the first who ever
heard this story; for hundreds and hundreds of years ago, in a country
very different from ours, the little Greek children heard it told in a
language that would seem very strange to us. However, Hawthorne has by
no means told the story just as the Greek mothers or Greek nurses might
have told it to their children; he has added much which makes the story
seem more real and the characters more human.

For instance, as he says, the old myth told nothing about any daughter
of Midas's, and yet I think we are all ready to admit that we should not
love the story half so well without dear little Marygold.

Then too, the talk about Midas's spectacles and about his trotting his
grandchildren on his knee is but a little pleasant fooling on the part
of Hawthorne, for spectacles were not even thought of for centuries
after the time of old King Midas, and it is much more than unlikely that
any old Greek ever trotted children on his knee.

Hawthorne had a perfect right to make these changes in the story; for
the old myths have come down to us from so long ago that they seem to
belong to everybody, and every one forms his own ideas of them.

Thus you will see that while the author of this story thought of
Marygold as a little child who climbed up onto her father's knee, the
artists in dealing with the subject have thought of her as almost a
young woman. Which of these two ideas do you like better?



THE CHILD'S WORLD

By W. B. Rands


Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World,
With the wonderful water round you curled,
And the wonderful grass upon your breast--
World, you are beautifully dressed.

The wonderful air is over me,
And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree;
It walks on the water, and whirls the mills,
And talks to itself on the tops of the hills.

You, friendly Earth! how far do you go
With the wheat-fields that nod and the rivers that flow,
With cities and gardens, and cliffs, and isles,
And people upon you for thousands of miles?

Ah, you are so great, and I am so small,
I tremble to think of you, World, at all;
And yet, when I said my prayers to-day,
A whisper inside me seemed to say:

"You are more than the Earth, though you are such a dot--
You can love and think, and the Earth cannot!"



THE FIR TREE

By Hans Christian Andersen


Out in the forest stood a pretty little Fir Tree. It had a good place;
it could have sunlight, air there was in plenty, and all around grew
many larger comrades--pines as well as firs. But the little Fir Tree
wished ardently to become greater. It did not care for the warm sun and
the fresh air; it took no notice of the peasant children, who went about
talking together, when they had come out to look for strawberries and
raspberries. The children often came with a whole basketful, or with a
string of berries which they had strung on a straw. Then they would sit
down by the little Fir Tree and say, "How pretty and small this one is!"
The Fir Tree did not like that at all.

Next year he had grown bigger, and the following year he was taller
still.

"Oh, if I were only as tall as the others!" sighed the little Fir. "Then
I would spread my branches far around and look out from my crown into
the wide world. The birds would then build nests in my boughs, and when
the wind blew I would nod grandly."

It took no pleasure in the sunshine, in the birds, or in the red clouds
that went sailing over it morning and evening.

[Illustration: THE SWALLOWS AND THE STORK CAME]

When it was winter, and the snow lay all around, white and sparkling, a
hare would often come jumping along and spring right over the little Fir
Tree. O, that made him so angry! But two winters went by, and when the
third came, the little Tree had grown so tall that the hare was obliged
to run around it.

"Oh, to grow, to grow, and become old; that's the only fine thing in the
world," thought the Tree.

In the autumn the woodcutters always came and felled a few of the
largest trees; that was done this year, too, and the little Fir Tree,
that was now quite well grown, shuddered with fear, for the stately
trees fell to the ground with a crash, and their branches were cut off,
so that the trees looked quite naked, long and slender, and could hardly
he recognized. Then they were laid upon wagons, and the horses dragged
them away out of the wood. Where were they going? What destiny awaited
them?

In the spring, when the Swallows and the Stork came, the Tree asked
them, "Do you know where the big firs were taken? Did you meet them?"

The Swallows knew nothing about it, but the Stork looked thoughtful,
nodded his head and said: "Yes, I think so. I met many new ships when I
flew out of Egypt; on the ships were tall masts; I fancy these were the
trees. They smelt like fir. I can assure you they're stately--very
stately."

"Oh, that I were big enough to go over the sea. What kind of a thing is
this sea, and how does it look?"

"It would take long to explain all that," said the Stork, and he went
away.

"Rejoice in thy youth," said the Sunbeams; "rejoice in thy fresh growth,
and in the young life that is within thee."

And the wind kissed the Tree, and the Dew wept tears upon it; but the
Fir Tree did not understand.

When Christmas time approached, quite young trees were felled, sometimes
trees which were neither so old nor so large as this Fir Tree, that
never rested, but always wanted to go away. These beautiful young trees
kept all their branches; they were put upon wagons, and horses dragged
them away out of the wood.

"Where are they all going?" asked the Fir Tree. "They are not greater
than I--indeed, one of them was much smaller. Why do they keep all their
branches? Whither are they taken?"

"We know that! We know that!" chirped the Sparrows. "Yonder in the town
we looked in at the windows. We know where the fir trees go. We have
looked in at the windows and have seen that they are planted in the
middle of a warm room and dressed up in the greatest splendor with the
most beautiful things--gilt apples, honey-cakes, playthings, and many
hundreds of candles."

"And then?" asked the Fir Tree, trembling through all its branches. "And
then? what happens then?" "Why, we have not seen anything more. But it
was wonderful!"

"Perhaps I may be destined to this glorious end one day!" cried the Fir
Tree, rejoicing. "That is even better than traveling across the sea. How
I long for it! If it were only Christmas! Now I am great and grown up
like the rest who were led away last year. Oh, if I were only on the
wagon! If I were only in the warm room amidst all the pomp and splendor!
And then? Yes, then something even better will come, something far more
charming, else why should they adorn me so? There must be something
grander, something greater still to come; but what? Oh! I'm suffering,
I'm longing! I don't know myself what is the matter with me!"

"Rejoice in us," said Air and Sunshine. "Rejoice in thy fresh youth here
in the woodland."

The Fir Tree did not rejoice at all, but it grew and grew; winter and
summer it stood there, green, dark green. The people who saw it said,
"That's a handsome tree!" and at Christmas time it was felled before any
of the others. The axe cut deep into its marrow, and the tree fell to
the ground with a sigh; it felt a pain, a sensation of faintness, and
could not think at all of happiness, for it was sad at parting from its
home, from the place where it had grown up; it knew that it should never
again see the dear old companions, the little bushes and the flowers all
around, perhaps not even the birds. The Tree came to itself only when it
was unloaded in a yard, with other trees, and heard a man say:

"This one is famous; we want only this one!"

Now two servants came in gay liveries, and carried the Fir Tree into a
large, beautiful room. All around the walls hung pictures, and by the
great stove stood large Chinese vases with lions on the covers; there
were rocking chairs, silken sofas, great tables covered with picture
books, and toys worth a hundred times a hundred dollars; at least, the
children said so. And the Fir Tree was put into a great tub filled with
sand; but no one could see that it was a tub, for it was hung round with
green cloth, and stood on a large, many-colored carpet. Oh, how the Tree
trembled! What was to happen now? The servants, and the young ladies
also, decked it out. On one branch they hung little bags cut out of
colored paper, and every bag was filled with sweetmeats. Golden apples
and walnuts hung down as if they grew there, and more than a hundred
little candles, red, white, and blue, were fastened to the different
boughs. Dolls that looked exactly like real people--the Tree had never
seen such before--swung among the foliage, and high on the summit of the
Tree was fixed a tinsel star. It was splendid.

"This evening," said all, "this evening it will shine."

"Oh," thought the Tree, "that it were evening already! Oh that the
lights may be soon lit! When will that be done? I wonder if trees will
come out of the forest to look at me? Will the Sparrows fly against the
panes? Shall I grow fast here, and stand adorned in summer and winter?"

But the Tree had a backache from mere longing, and the backache is just
as bad for a tree as the headache for a person.

At last the candles were lighted. What a brilliance, what splendor! The
Tree trembled so in all its branches that one of the candles set fire to
a green twig, and it was scorched, but one of the young ladies hastily
put the fire out.

Now the Tree might not even tremble. Oh, that was terrible! It was so
afraid of setting fire to some of its ornaments, and it was quite
bewildered with all the brilliance. And now the folding doors were
thrown open, and a number of children rushed in as if they would have
overturned the whole Tree, while the older people followed more
deliberately. The little ones stood quite silent, but only for a minute;
then they shouted till the room rang; they danced gleefully round the
Tree; and one present after another was plucked from it.

"What are they about?" thought the Tree. "What's going to be done?"

And the candles burned down to the twigs, and as they burned down they
were extinguished, and then the children were given permission to
plunder the Tree. They rushed in upon it, so that every branch cracked
again; if it had not been fastened by the top and by the golden star to
the ceiling, the Tree certainly would have fallen down.

The children danced about with their pretty toys. No one looked at the
Tree except one old man, who came up and peeped among the branches, but
only to see if a fig or an apple had not been forgotten.

"A story! A story!" shouted the children, as they drew a little fat man
toward the Tree. He sat down just beneath it--"for then we shall be in
the green wood," said he, "and the Tree may have the advantage of
listening to my tale. But I can tell only one. Will you hear the story
of Ivede-Avede, or of Klumpey-Dumpey, who fell downstairs, and still was
raised up to honor and married the princess?"

"Ivede-Avede," cried some; "Klumpey-Dumpey," cried others, and there was
a great crying and shouting. Only the Fir Tree was silent, and thought,
"Shall I not be in it? Shall I have nothing to do in it?" But he had
been in the evening's amusement and had done what was required of him.

And the fat man told about Klumpey-Dumpey, who fell downstairs, and yet
was raised to honor and married the princess. And the children clapped
their hands, and cried, "Tell another, tell another!" for they wanted to
hear about Ivede-Avede; but they got only the story of Klumpey-Dumpey.

The Fir Tree stood quite silent and thoughtful; never had the birds in
the wood told such a story as that. Klumpey-Dumpey fell downstairs, and
yet came to honor and married the princess!

"Yes, so it happens in the world!" thought the Fir Tree, and believed it
must be true, because that was such a nice man who told it. "Well, who
can know? Perhaps I shall fall downstairs, too, and marry a princess!"
And it looked forward with pleasure to being adorned again, the next
evening, with candles and toys, gold and fruit. "To-morrow I shall not
tremble," it thought. "I shall rejoice in all my splendor. To-morrow I
shall hear the story of Klumpey-Dumpey again, and perhaps that of Ivede-
Avede, too."

And the Tree stood all night quiet and thoughtful.

In the morning the servants and the chambermaid came in.

"Now my splendor will begin afresh," thought the Tree.

But they dragged him out of the room and up-stairs to the garret, and
there they put him in a dark corner where no daylight shone.

"What's the meaning of this?" thought the Tree. "What am I to do here?
What is to happen?"

And he leaned against the wall, and thought, and thought. And he had
time enough, for days and nights went by, and nobody came up; and when
at length some one came, it was only to put some great boxes in a
corner. Now the Tree stood quite hidden away, and the supposition is
that it was quite forgotten.

[Illustration: THE FAT MAN TOLD ABOUT KLUMPEY-DUMPEY]

"Now it's winter outside," thought the Tree. "The earth is hard and
covered with snow, and people cannot plant me; therefore I suppose I'm
to be sheltered here until spring comes. How considerate that is! How
good people are! If it were only not so dark here, and so terribly
solitary! Not even a little hare! It was pretty out there in the wood,
when the snow lay thick and the hare sprang past; yes, even when he
jumped over me; but then I did not like it. It is terribly lonely up
here!"

"Piep! Piep!" said a little Mouse, and crept forward, and then came
another little one. They smelt at the Fir Tree, and then slipped among
the branches.

"It's horribly cold," said the two little Mice, "or else it would be
comfortable here. Don't you think so, you old Fir Tree?"

"I'm not old at all," said the Fir Tree. "There are many much older than
I."

"Where do you come from?" asked the Mice. "And what do you know?" They
were dreadfully inquisitive.

"Tell us about the most beautiful spot on the earth. Have you been
there? Have you been in the storeroom, where cheeses lie on the shelves,
and hams hang from the ceiling; where one dances on tallow candles, and
goes in thin and comes out fat?"

"I don't know that," replied the Tree; "but I know the wood, where the
sun shines and the birds sing." And then it told all about its youth.

And the little Mice had never heard anything of the kind; and they
listened, and said:

"What a number of things you have seen! How happy you must have been!"

"I?" replied the Fir Tree; and it thought about what it had told. "Yes,
those were really quite happy times." But then he told of the Christmas
Eve, when he had been hung with sweatmeats and candles.

"Oh!" said the little Mice, "how happy you have been, you old Fir Tree!"

"I'm not old at all," said the Tree. "I came out of the wood only this
winter. I'm only rather backward in my growth."

"What splendid stories you can tell!" said the little Mice.

And next night they came with four other little Mice, to hear what the
Tree had to relate; and the more it said, the more clearly did it
remember everything, and thought, "Those were quite merry days. But they
may come again. Klumpey-Dumpey fell downstairs, and yet he married the
princess. Perhaps I may marry a princess, too!" And then the Fir Tree
thought of a pretty little Birch Tree that grew out in the forest; for
the Fir Tree, that Birch was a real princess.

"Who's Klumpey-Dumpey?" asked the little Mice.

And then the Fir Tree told the whole story. It could remember every
single word; and the little Mice were ready to leap to the very top of
the tree with pleasure. Next night a great many more Mice came, and on
Sunday two Rats even appeared; but these thought the story was not
pretty, and the little Mice were sorry for that, for now they also did
not like it so much as before.

"Do you know only one story?" asked the Rats.

"Only that one," replied the Tree. "I heard that on the happiest evening
of my life; I did not think then how happy I was."

"That's a very miserable story. Don't you know any about bacon and
tallow candles--a storeroom story?"

"No," said the Tree.

"Then we'd rather not hear you," said the Rats. And they went back to
their own people. The little Mice at last also stayed away; and then the
Tree sighed and said, "It was very nice when they sat around me, the
merry little Mice, and listened when I spoke to them. Now that's past,
too. But I shall remember to be pleased when they take me out."

But when did that happen? Why, it was one morning that people came and
rummaged in the garret; the boxes were put away, and the Tree was
brought out; they certainly threw him rather roughly on the floor, but a
servant dragged him away at once to the stairs, where the daylight
shone.

"Now life is beginning again," thought the Tree.

It felt the fresh air and the first sunbeams, and then it was out in the
courtyard. Everything passed so quickly that the Tree quite forgot to
look at itself, there was so much to look at all around. The courtyard
was close to a garden, and there everything was blooming; the roses hung
fresh and fragrant over the little paling, the linden trees were in
blossom, and the swallows cried, "Quinze-wit! quinze-wit! my husband's
come!" But it was not the Fir Tree that they meant.

"Now I shall live!" cried the Tree, rejoicingly, and spread its branches
far out; but, alas! they were all withered and yellow, and it lay in the
corner among nettles and weeds. The tinsel star was still upon it, and
shone in the bright sunshine.

In the courtyard a couple of the merry children were playing who had
danced round the Tree at Christmas time, and had rejoiced over it. One
of the youngest ran up and tore off the golden star.

"Look what is sticking to the ugly old Fir Tree!" said the child, and he
trod on the branches till they cracked under his boots.

And the Tree looked at all the blooming flowers and the splendor of the
garden, then looked at itself, and wished it had remained in the dark
corner of the garret; it thought of its fresh youth in the wood, of the
merry Christmas Eve, and of the little Mice which had listened so
pleasantly to the story of Klumpey-Dumpey.

"Past! past!" said the old Tree. "Had I but rejoiced when I could have
done so! Past! past!"

And the servant came and chopped the Tree into little pieces; a whole
bundle lay there; it blazed brightly under the great brewing copper, and
it sighed deeply, and each sigh was like a little shot; and the
children, who were at play there, ran up, seated themselves by the fire,
looked into it, and cried "Puff! puff!" But at each explosion, which was
a deep sigh, the Tree thought of a summer day in the woods, or of a
winter night there, when the stars beamed; he thought of Christmas Eve
and of Klumpey-Dumpey, the only story he had ever heard or knew how to
tell; and thus the Tree was burned.

The boys played in the garden, and the youngest had on his breast a
golden star, which the Tree had worn on its happiest evening. Now that
was past, and the Tree's life was past, and the story is past, too:
past! past!--and that's the way with all stories.



HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN


When a man writes as beautiful and as interesting stories as Hans
Christian Andersen has written for children, we like to know something
about him; and we find that nothing that he ever wrote was much more
interesting than his own life. Certainly no one who knew him while he
was a child could have thought that he would ever have much chance of
becoming a famous man.

He was born on April 2nd, 1805, in the city of Odense, in Denmark. The
room in which he was born was kitchen, parlor, bedroom and workshop for
the whole family, for the family of Andersen had little to do with, and
little knowledge of how to make the best of what they had. The father
was a cobbler, but a cobbler who was much more interested in other
things than he was in his trade, into which he had been forced quite
contrary to his own wishes. The mother was a careless, easy-going
person, who was kind to her child, but had not the slightest idea of
training him, or of restraining any of his odd tastes. These tastes were
determined more or less by his father, who was a great reader,
particularly of plays; and we see the results of this early introduction
to the drama in Hans Christian Andersen throughout his life.

Little Hans Christian was a most extraordinary child. He was ugly, as he
remained all his life; for his body and neck were too long and too thin,
his feet and his hands were too large and too bony, his nose was large
and hooked, and his eyes were small and set like a Chinaman's. However,
it was not his looks, but his oddity, which cut him off from other
children. He would sit all day and make doll clothes, or cut dolls and
animals out of paper; and these were not things which would be likely to
make other boys like him and admire him. He had little schooling, and
even when he was a grown man he knew none too much of the grammar of his
own language.

After his father's death, when he himself was about eleven, little Hans
Christian was more solitary than before, and shut himself up still more
with his doll's clothes, his toy theaters, and his books, for he was,
like his father, very fond of reading. Especially did he like those
books which had anything about ghosts or witches or fairies in them.
While he was but a child, he wrote a play of his own, in which most of
the characters were kings and queens and princesses; and because he felt
that it could not be possible that such lofty personages would talk the
same language as ordinary people, he picked out from a dictionary, which
he managed somehow to get hold of, French words, German words, English
words, and high-sounding Danish words, and strung them all together to
make up the conversation of his characters.

It was no more than natural that such a strange, unattractive-looking
child should be made fun of by the prosaic, commonplace people of his
neighborhood, and this was untold pain to the sensitive boy. There were,
however, in the town, people of a higher class, who perceived in the boy
something beyond the ordinary, and who interested themselves in his
behalf. They had him sent to school, but he preferred to dream away his
time rather than to study, and his short period of schooling really
taught him nothing.

His mother, careless as she was, began to see that matters must change--
that the boy could not go on all his life in this aimless fashion; but
since he steadily declined to be a tailor or a cobbler, or indeed to
take up any trade, it seemed no easy question to settle. However, in
1818, there came to Odense a troupe of actors who gave plays and operas.
Young Andersen, who by making acquaintance with the billposter was
allowed to witness the performances from behind the scenes, decided at
once that he was cut out to be an actor. There was no demand for actors
in his native town, and he therefore decided to go to Copenhagen, the
capital of Denmark, there to seek his fortune.

With about five dollars in his pocket, Andersen reached Copenhagen in
September, 1819, but he found that a fortune was by no means as easily
made as he had fancied. He himself felt convinced that he should be a
famous actor, but how was he to convince any one else of this fact? From
one actor to another, from one theater manager to another he went, but
all told him that for one reason or another he was not fitted for the
stage. Particularly did Andersen resent the excuse of one manager, who
told him that he was too thin. This fault Andersen assured him that he
was only too willing to remedy, if he would only give him a chance and a
salary; but still the manager refused.

Finally the boy was destitute of money and knew not where to turn for
more, for he was too proud to go back to his native town. However, an
Italian singing teacher, Siboni, into whose home Andersen had almost
forced himself while a dinner party was in progress, became interested
in him, and with some friends provided him with enough to live on. He
also gave him singing lessons until the boy's voice gave out. Other
influential people gradually became interested in the strange creature,
who certainly did appear to have some talent, but who had even more
obvious defects; and so he lived on, supported in the most meager
fashion.

Determined to write plays if he could not play them, Andersen composed
drama after drama. He would rush into the house of a total stranger, of
whom perhaps he had heard as a patron of genius, declaim some scenes
from his plays, and then rush out, leaving his auditor in gasping
amazement. Finally he made the acquaintance of one of the directors of
the Royal Theatre, Jonas Collin, who was ever afterward his best friend.
Through the influence of this kindly man, Anderson was sent to school at
Slagelse, and as he said later, the days of his degradation were over
once and for all.

Andersen did not have an entirely pleasant time at school. He loved
systematic study no more than he had early in his life, and he did not
fall in very readily with his young companions. However, he persisted,
for he was ashamed to disappoint his patron, Collin, and by the time he
left school in 1827, he had an education of which he needed not to be
ashamed. After his return to Copenhagen, he was able to pass his
examinations satisfactorily.

[Illustration: HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN 1805-1875]

From this time on, Andersen's life was in the main happy, although he
was so sensitive and so sentimental that he was constantly fancying
grievances where none existed, and making himself miserable over
imaginary snubs. It is true that his dramatic works were not well
received, but this was because there was no real merit in them, and not,
as Andersen persisted in believing, because the critics to whom they
were submitted had grudges against him. His first works that made a
distinctly favorable impression were travel sketches, for Andersen was
all his life a great traveler, and knew how to write most charmingly and
humorously of all that he saw. His trips to other countries were all
treated most delightfully, and every book that appeared increased the
author's fame. His visit to Italy, the country which all his life he
loved above any other, also resulted in a novel, THE IMPROVISATORE,
which became immensely popular and caused Andersen to be hailed as a
future great novelist.

However, it was neither for travel sketches nor for novels that he was
to be best known, but for something entirely different, which he himself
was inclined at first to look down upon, and which many of his critics
at the outset regarded as mere child's play. These were the fairy tales
which he began in 1835, and which he published at intervals from that
time until his death. The children loved The Ugly Duckling, The Fir Tree
and The Snow Queen; but it was not only the children who loved them.
Gradually people all over the world began to realize that here was a man
who knew how to tell tales to children in so masterly a manner that even
grown folks would do well to listen to him.

Now that Andersen was at the height of his fame, he had no lack of
friends; for whether he was in Germany, or Spain, or England, he was
everywhere given ovations that were fit for a king, and was everywhere
entertained by the best people in the most sumptuous manner. At one time
he stayed for five weeks with Charles Dickens in his home at Gad's Hill,
and the two were ever afterward firm friends. All of these people loved
Andersen, not because of his fame, but because of the stories which had
brought him fame, and because he was distinctly lovable in spite of his
oddity; for Andersen was still odd. He was ugly and ungainly, and, owing
to his fondness for decoration, often dressed in the most peculiar
fashion. Then, too, he was so childishly vain of the fame which had come
to him that he was at any time quite likely to stop in a crowded street
and call across to a friend on the other side about some favorable
notice which he had just received. After people became accustomed to
this trait, however, they saw that it was but another phase of the
childlikeness which made Andersen so charming and so unlike many other
famous men.

Despite his intimate knowledge of children, Andersen was never really
fond of them. They worried him, and he, for some reason or other, never
seemed very attractive to them. But if he could be induced to tell them
or read them one of his stories, illustrating it with the queer antics
and faces which he alone knew how to make, he was certain of an
intensely interested audience.

Andersen's fame and the love felt for him at home and abroad grew with
his every year, and when he died, in 1875, his death was looked upon as
a more than national calamity. The highest people in Denmark, including
the king and queen, who had come to look upon Andersen's friendship as a
great honor, followed him to his grave; and children all over the world
sorrowed when they were told that the author of the beloved Fairy Tales
would never write them another story.



PICTURE-BOOKS IN WINTER

By Robert Louis Stevenson


Summer fading, winter comes--
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by
Wait upon the children's eye--
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see now all things are--
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies' looks--
In the picture story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books!


What we like about so fine a little poem as this is that it sets our
thoughts to flying. As we read it, we see autumn coming on, with the red
and the gold and the orange tinting the leaves. We can hear the last
notes of the birds as they wing their way through the soft blue sky to
gayer places in the warm southland. The cold comes fast, and in the
morning, as we try to play ball or gather the ripe nuts from the hazel
bushes, our thumbs tingle with the frost.

The little Scotch boy sees his robin, a little bird with a reddish-
yellow breast, come to his window, and hears the cawing of the rooks. We
in the United States can hear the rough voice of the blue-jay, or
perhaps see the busy downy woodpecker tapping industriously at the suet
we have hung in the tree for him.

A few days later the water in the pond becomes hard as stone, and we can
walk over its smooth, glittering surface, or, if we are old enough, can
make our way back and forth in widening circles to the music of our
ringing skates. When the cold grows too severe and our cheeks burn in
the wind, we can run inside, curl up in a big chair where it is warm and
cheery, and, burying our faces in our favorite books, can see once more
the little waves dancing on the pebbly shore of the pond, and hear the
babble of the brook.

What can we find in the books? Everything that makes life merry, and
everything that helps us to be true and manly. Out in the pasture the
sheep are grazing, and among them walk the shepherds, singing gaily to
the wide sky and the bright sun. When, perchance, a frisking lamb strays
near the woods where perils lie, the shepherd follows, and with the
crook at the end of his staff draws the wanderer back to safety.

These wonderful books of ours will carry us across the seas, even. We,
for instance, might go to Scotland and play with the boy Stevenson. What
a delight it would be; for the man who can write so charmingly about
children must have been a wonderfully interesting boy to play with. And
the cities we should see--quaint old Edinburgh, with its big, frowning
castle on the top of that high rugged hill, and in the castle yard, old
Mons Meg, the big cannon that every Scotch lad feels that he must crawl
into.

If that is too far away from us, we will come back to Boston, and walk
through the Common, and hear again the Yankee boys bravely complaining
to General Gage because the British soldiers have trampled down the snow
fort the youngsters have built.

But those are only real things; the more wonderful things are the flying
fairies whose deeds we may read in this very book.

But how can we write in prose the praise of the picture story-books when
Stevenson thinks he cannot do it in his pretty rhymes? Moreover, we have
just found out that the poet's chimney corner is filled with the little
ones who can read only the simplest things, and need big, fine pictures
and easy words. He was not writing for us at all--but that does not
matter. His little poem pleases us just the same.

Let us turn back and read it again--I suspect that, after all, we are
all of us small enough to sit in a chimney corner; and perhaps every
book is but a picture story-book to the man or woman who is old enough
and big enough to read it rightly.



HOW THE WOLF WAS BOUND

Adapted by Anna McCaleb


It seems strange that any one who might have lived with the gods in
their beautiful city of Asgard [Footnote: The Norse peoples believed
that their gods lived above the earth in a wonderful city named Asgard.
From this city they crossed to the earth on a bridge, which by people on
earth was known as the rainbow.] and have shared in their joys and their
good works should have preferred to associate with the ugly, wicked
giants. But that was the case with Loki--Red Loki, as he was called,
because of his red hair. He was handsome like a god; he was wise and
clever like a god--more clever than any of the other gods. In one way,
however, he differed from the others; he had a bad heart, and liked much
better to use his cleverness in getting gods and men into trouble than
in making them happy. Besides this, he was very proud, and could not
bear to submit even to Odin, the king of the gods.

"Who is Odin," [Footnote: Odin, chief of the Norse gods, had been
induced to part with one eye in exchange for wisdom.] he muttered, "that
he should be set over me? Is he more clever than I am? Is he more
handsome, with his one eye and his gray beard?" And Loki held his
handsome head high.

Proud as he was, however, he was not too proud to do a disgraceful
thing. He went off to the home of the giants and married the ugliest and
fiercest of all the giantesses. Just why he did it does not seem very
clear, for he certainly could not have loved her. Perhaps he did it just
to spite the other gods and to show them that he cared nothing for what
they thought.

But he must have repented of his act when he saw the children which the
giantess bore him, for they were certainly the most hideous and
frightful children that were ever born into the world. The daughter,
Hela, was the least awful, but even she was by no means a person one
would care to meet. She was half white and half blue, and she had such
gloomy, angry eyes that any one who looked at her sank into
unconquerable sadness and finally into death. But the other two! One was
a huge, glistening, scaly serpent, with a mouth that dripped poison, and
glaring, beady eyes; and the other was a white-fanged, red-eyed wolf.

These two monsters grew so rapidly that the king of the gods, looking
down from his throne in the heavens, was struck with fear.

"The gods themselves will not be safe if those monsters are allowed to
go unchecked," he said. "Down there in the home of the giants they will
be taught to hate the gods, and at the rate they're growing, they'll
soon be strong enough to shake our very palaces."

He sent, therefore, the strongest of his sons to fetch the children of
Loki before him. Well was it for those gathered about Odin's throne that
they were gods and goddesses, else would the eyes of Hela have sent them
to their death. Upon her, Odin looked more in pity than in anger--she
was not all bad.

"You, Hela," he said, "although it is not safe to allow you to remain
above ground, where you may do great harm to men, are not all wicked.
Honor, therefore, shall be yours, and ease; but happiness shall be far
from you. I shall make you queen over the regions of the dead--that
kingdom which is as large as nine worlds."

Then it was believed that the only honorable form of death was death in
battle; and the bravest of the heroes who died in battle were brought by
Odin's messengers, the Valkyries, who always hovered on their cloud-
horses above battlefields, to the great palace of Valhalla. Therefore
only the cowards or the weak, who died in their beds, went to the
underground realm, and Hela knew that they were not subjects of whom she
could be proud. Nevertheless, she went without a word.

Odin, then, without speaking, suddenly stooped and seized in his strong
arms the wriggling, slippery serpent. Over the wall of the city he threw
it, and the gods watched it as it fell down, down, down, until at last
it sank from sight into the sea. This was by no means the last of the
serpent, however; under the water it grew and grew until it was so large
that it formed a girdle about the whole earth, and could hold its tail
in its mouth.

The question as to what should be done with the great wolf, Fenris, was
not so easily answered. It seemed to all the gods that he had grown
larger and fiercer in the brief time he had stood before them, and none
of them dared touch him. At length some one whispered, "Let us kill
him," and the wolf turned and showed his teeth at the speaker; for as he
was the son of Loki, he could understand and speak the language of the
gods.

"That cannot be," said Odin. "Have we not sworn that the streets of our
city shall never be stained with blood? Let us leave the matter until
another time."

So the wolf was permitted to roam about Asgard, and the gods all tried
to be kind to him, for they thought that by their kindness they might
tame him. However, he grew stronger and stronger and more and more
vicious, until only Tyr, [Footnote: Tyr was the Norse war-god.] the
bravest of all the gods, dared go near him to give him food. One day, as
the gods sat in their council hall, they heard the wolf howling through
the streets.

"How long," said Odin, "is our city to be made hideous by such noises?
We must bind Fenris the wolf."

Silence followed his words, for all knew what a serious thing it was
that Odin proposed. Fenris must be bound--that was true; but who would
dare attempt the task? And what chain could ever hold him? At length
Thor [Footnote: Thor, god of thunder, was the strongest of all the gods]
arose, and all sighed with relief; for if any one could bind the wolf,
it was Thor. "I will make a chain," he said, "stronger than ever chain
was before, and then we shall find some way to fasten it upon him."

Thor strode to his smithy, and heaped his fire high. All night he worked
at his anvil; whenever any of the gods awakened they could hear the
clank! clank! clank! of his great hammer, and could see from their
windows the sparks from his smithy shining through the gloom. In the
morning the chain was finished, and all wondered at its strength, Then
Thor called to the huge wolf and said:

"Fenris, you are stronger than any of the gods. We cannot break this
chain, but for you it will be mere child's play. Let yourself be bound
with it, that we may see how great your strength really is."

Now the wolf knew his might better than any of them did, and he suffered
himself to be bound fast. Then he arose, stretched himself as if he were
just waking from a nap, and calmly walked off, leaving the fragments of
the chain on the ground. The amazed gods looked at each other with
fright in their eyes--what could they do?

"I will make a stronger chain," said Thor, undiscouraged. And again he
went to his smithy, where he worked all day and all night.

"This is the strongest chain that can ever be made," he said, when he
presented it to the gods. "If this will not hold him, nothing can."

Calling the wolf, they flattered him and praised his strength, and
finally persuaded him to let himself be bound with this chain, "just for
a joke." You may be sure, however, that they said nothing about its
being the strongest chain that could ever be made.

Fenris pretended to lie helpless for a time; then he struggled to his
feet, shook his mighty limbs, tossed his hideous head--and the chain
snapped, and fell into a hundred pieces! Then indeed there was
consternation among the gods; but Odin, the all-wise, had a sudden
helpful thought. Calling his swiftest messenger, he said:

"Go to the dwarfs in their underground smithy. Tell them to forge for us
a chain which cannot be broken; and do you make all haste, for the wolf
grows stronger each moment."

[Illustration: THE GODS WERE AMAZED]

Off hastened the messenger, and in less time than it takes to tell it he
was with the dwarfs, giving them the message from Odin. The little men
bustled about here and there, gathering up the materials of which the
chain was to be made; and when these were all collected and piled in a
heap, you might have looked and looked, and you would have seen nothing!
For this extraordinary chain was made of such things as the roots of
mountains, the sound of a cat's footsteps, a woman's beard, the spittle
of birds and the voice of fishes. When it was finished the messenger
hurried back to Asgard and displayed it proudly to the anxious gods. It
was as fine and soft as a silken string, but the gods knew the
workmanship of the dwarfs, and had no fear.

"It will be easy," they said, "to persuade Fenris to let himself be
bound with this."

But they were mistaken. The wolf looked at the soft, shining cord
suspiciously, and said:

"If that is what it looks to be, I shall gain no honor from breaking it;
if it has been made by magic, I shall never free myself."

"But we will free you," cried the gods. "This is but a game to test your
strength."

"Not you," growled the wolf. "I've lived here long enough to know that
if I don't look out for myself, no one else will look out for me."

"All right, if you are afraid," said Thor, with a shrug of his
shoulders. And the wolf replied, "To show that I am no more cowardly
than the gods, I will suffer myself to be bound if one of you will put
his hand into my mouth."

To refuse to do this was, as the gods knew, to admit that they had meant
trickery, and thus to make Fenris hate them worse than ever. But what
one of them was willing to sacrifice his hand? Thor was no coward, but
he knew that he was the chief defender of the gods, and he could not let
himself be maimed. However, they did not have to wait long, for Tyr came
forward, and thrust his hand into the wolf's mouth.

The wolf, his suspicions quieted, let himself be wrapped and bound with
the cord; and then, as he had done with the other chains, he stretched
himself--or tried to. For the magic rope but drew tighter and tighter
for all his struggling, until it cut into his very skin. Enraged, he
brought his great teeth sharply together, and bit off Tyr's hand at the
wrist. Then he howled and snapped and growled, until the gods, unwilling
to have their peace disturbed, thrust a sword into his mouth, so that
the hilt rested upon his lower jaw and the point pierced the roof of his
mouth. They next fastened the cord to a rock, and left the wolf to
writhe and struggle and shake the earth. So they were freed for a time
from their enemy, but at the cost of Tyr's hand.



THE DEATH OF BALDER

Adapted by Anna McCaleb


Of all the gods in Asgard, Balder was most beloved; for no one had ever
seen him frown, and his smile and the light of his eyes made all happy
who looked at him. And of all who dwelt in Asgard or ever gained
admission there, Loki was most hated. Clever as he was, he used his
cleverness to harass the other gods and to make them wretched, and often
he attempted real crimes against them. It was natural enough that Loki,
slighted and frowned upon, should hate Balder the beautiful, even though
Balder himself had never spoken an unkind word to him.

"I cannot bear the sight of his shining hair and happy eyes," muttered
Loki to himself. "If I could just blot them out of Asgard I should be
revenging myself upon the gods for their bitterness toward me, for harm
to Balder would hurt them more than harm to themselves."

One morning the assembled gods noticed that when Balder came among them
he looked less radiant than usual, and they gathered about him, begging
that he tell them what was wrong.

"It's nothing! It's nothing!" said Balder; and he forced a smile, but it
was not his old smile. It reminded them all of the faint light the sun
sheds when a thin cloud has drifted before it.

All day long, as they went about their tasks and their pleasures, the
gods were conscious of a feeling of gloom; and when they stopped and
questioned themselves, they found that the cause lay in the diminished
brightness of Balder's smile. When, the next morning, Balder again came
slowly to the great hall of the gods and showed a careworn face, Odin
and Frigga, his father and mother, drew him apart and implored him to
tell them the cause of his grief.

"My son," spoke Odin, "it is not well that this gloom should rest on all
the gods, and they not know the cause. Perhaps we, your father and your
mother, may help you."

At last Balder told them that for two nights he had had strange,
haunting dreams; what they were he could not remember clearly when he
awoke, but he could not shake off their depressing effect.

"I only know," he said, "that there was ever a thick cloud, which
drifted between me and the sun, and there were confused sounds of woe,
and travelings in dark, difficult places."

Now the gods knew well that their dreams were messages given them by the
Norns, or Fates, and not for a moment did Odin and Frigga venture to
laugh at Balder's fears. They soothed him, however, by promising to find
some means of warding off any danger that might be threatening him.
Somewhat cheered, Balder went home to his palace to comfort his
distressed wife, Nanna, while Odin and Frigga discussed measures for
their son's safety.

"I," said Odin, "shall ride to the domains of Hela, queen of the dead,
and question the great prophetess who lies buried there, as to what
Balder's dream may mean." And mounting Sleipnir, his eight-footed steed,
he rode away.

Across the rainbow bridge he passed, out of the light, and down, down,
down into the dark, hopeless realm of Hela. As he rode by the gate he
saw that preparations for a feast were being made within. A gloomy feast
it would have to be in those drear regions, but evidently it was being
spread for some honored guest, for rich tapestries and rings of gold
covered the couches, and vessels of gold graced the tables. Past the
gate rode Odin, to a grave without the wall, where for ages long the
greatest of all prophetesses had lain buried. Here, in this dark, chill
place, was to be spoken the fate of Balder, bringer of light.

Solemnly Odin chanted the awful charms that had power to raise the dead,
and king of gods as he was, he started when the grave opened, and the
prophetess, veiled in mist, rose before him.

"Who art thou?" she demanded in hollow, ghost-like tones. "And what
canst thou wish to know so weighty that only I, long dead, can answer
thee?"

Knowing that she would refuse to answer him should she know who he
really was, Odin concealed his identity, and simply asked for whom the
feast was preparing in Hela's realm.

"For Balder, light of gods and men," replied the prophetess.

"And who shall dare to strike him down?" cried Odin.

"By the hand of his blind brother Hoder shall he fall. And now let me
rest." And the prophetess sank again into her tomb, leaving Odin with a
heart more heavy and chill than the darkness which closed round him.

Meanwhile Frigga had busied herself with a plan which her mother love
had suggested. First to all the gods in Asgard, then through all the
earth did she go, saying, "Promise me--swear to me--that you will never
hurt Balder." Every bird, every beast, every creeping thing; all plants,
stones and metals; all diseases and poisons known to gods and men; fire,
water, earth, air--all things gladly took oath to do Balder no harm.

"For do not we," they cried to Frigga, "love him even as you do? And why
then should we harm him?"

Gladly Frigga took her way toward home, feeling certain that she had
saved Balder forever. As she was about to enter Odin's palace, Valhalla,
she noticed on a branch of an oak that grew there, a tiny, weak-looking
shrub. "That mistletoe is too young to promise, and too weak to do any
harm," said Frigga; and she passed it by.

All the gods rejoiced with her when she told of her success; even Odin
partially shook off his fears, as he told the younger gods and the
heroes who dwelt with him in his palace to go and seek enjoyment after
their period of gloom. To the great playground of the gods they
hastened, and there they invented a new game. Balder, smiling as of old,
took his stand in the midst, and all the others hurled at him weapons,
stones and sticks, and even hit at him with their battle-axes. They grew
very merry over this pastime, for do what they would, none of them could
harm Balder; the missiles either fell short, or dropped to his feet
harmless.

Loki, passing by, was at first amazed when he saw Balder being used as a
target; then, when he saw that Balder remained unhurt through all, he
became angry--he could not bear this proof of the fact that all things
loved Balder. Hastening away, he disguised himself as an old woman and
hobbled off to Fensalir, the mansion of Frigga.

"Do you know," said this old woman, entering the room where Frigga sat
spinning, "that the gods and heroes are playing a very dangerous game?
They are hurling all sorts of things at your son Balder, who stands in
their midst."

"That is not a dangerous game," replied Frigga, smiling serenely. "Last
year it might have been, but now all things have given me their solemn
oath not to harm Balder."

"Well, well, well," said the old woman, "isn't that wonderful? To think
that any being should be so much beloved that everything should promise
not to hurt him! You said EVERYTHING, did you not?"

"Yes," replied Frigga. "That is, it really amounts to everything. There
is one tiny parasite, the mistletoe, which grows on the Valhalla oak,
which I did not bother with."

Once out of sight of Frigga, Loki moved rapidly enough; and shortly he
appeared, in his own form, among the gods, who were still shouting with
joy over their game. In his hand he carried a dart; but who could have
guessed, to look at it, that it had been fashioned from the mistletoe on
the Valhalla oak?

Outside of the circle of the gods stood Hoder, Balder's blind brother,
and there was no smile on his face. Loki approached him and asked
craftily:

"Why do you not join in the game? Are you not afraid that Balder will
think you are jealous of his good fortune if you take no part in this
sport they have invented in his honor?"

[Illustration: HODER HURLED THE DART]

"Alas!" said poor Hoder, "I am left out of all the sports of the gods.
How can I, with my sightless eyes, tell where Balder is? And you see
that I have nothing in my hand. What, then, could I throw?"

"I have here a little dart that I will give you," replied Loki. "And
since you cannot direct your aim, I will guide your arm."

Joyfully Hoder thanked him, and when Loki indicated the direction in
which he was to throw, he hurled the dart with all his might.
Unswervingly flew the mistletoe dart, and instead of falling at Balder's
feet, it lodged in his heart, so that he fell dead on the grass.

Then, instead of the laughter which Hoder waited to hear, there went up
a shuddering wail of terror; and angry hands seized Hoder and angry
voices were in his ear.

"What have I done?" he pleaded. "I but wished to show honor to Balder as
the rest have done."

"And you have killed him!" they cried. "You shall die yourself."

"Peace! Peace!" said Heimdal. "Such a deed of violence must not stain
the home of the gods. Moreover, Hoder did it all unwittingly. It was
Loki who directed his aim, and we are all to blame that we allowed him
to set foot on our playground."

Bitter indeed was Hoder's grief, and he implored his heart-broken
mother, Frigga, that he might be allowed to take Balder's place in dark
Hela's realm.

"Not you alone," she replied, "but any of the gods, would willingly die
for Balder. But not in that way can he be brought back to Asgard. There
is one chance--speak to Hermod, fleetest of the gods; tell him to take
Odin's horse, Sleipnir, and ride to Hela's abode. Perchance, if he
entreat her, she may give Balder up." Hermod, at the word of the
despairing Hoder, mounted the eight-footed steed, and set off on the
perilous journey.

Meanwhile, the other gods prepared the funeral pyre for Balder,
determined that it should be worthy of the beloved and honored god.
Great pine trees were felled and piled upon the deck of Ringhorn,
Balder's ship; tapestry hangings, garlands of flowers and ornaments of
gold and silver were heaped upon the pyre.

And finally, in sad procession, came the gods, bearing Balder's body,
which they placed upon the flowers. His horse and his dogs were killed
and placed beside him, that they might be with him to serve him in the
underworld. Then one after one of the gods stepped forward and chanted
their farewells; but when Nanna's turn came, she was unable to speak.
Her heart broke, and her spirit fled to join that of her husband. The
gods could not sorrow for her death; they knew that the abode of the
dead would have less terrors for the loving pair if they could be
together there, so without tears they laid her beside her husband.

Last of all, Odin advanced and cast upon the pyre his treasured ring,
Draupnir, gift of the dwarfs, as an offering to his dead son. Then Thor,
with a touch of his hammer, which caused the lightning, set fire to the
pile, and the ship, with sails set, was launched.

In solemn silence the gods watched the ship float out upon the sea.

   "And wreathed in smoke, the ship stood out to sea.
    Soon with a roaring rose the mighty fire,
    And the pile crackled; and between the logs
    Sharp quivering tongues of flame shot out, and leapt,
    Curling and darting, higher, till they lick'd
    The summit of the pile, the dead, the mast,
    And ate the shriveling sails; but still the ship
    Drove on, ablaze above her hull with fire.
    And the gods stood upon the beach and gazed,
    And while they gazed, the sun went lurid down
    Into the smoke-wrapt sea, and night came on.
    Then the wind fell, with night, and there was calm;
    But through the night they watched the burning ship
    Still carried o'er the distant waters on,
    Farther and farther, like an eye of fire.
    And long, in the far dark, blazed Balder's pile;
    But fainter, as the stars rose high, it flared;
    The bodies were consumed, ash choked the pile.
    And as, in a decaying winter fire,
    A charr'd log, falling, makes a shower of sparks--
    So with a shower of sparks the pile fell in,
    Reddening the sea around; and all was dark."
[Footnote: The poetic quotations in this story are from
Matthew Arnold's Balder Dead.]

Then, when all was over, the gods went mournfully back to their homes,
there to await the return of Hermod. Their palaces were brightly
illuminated, but no lights shone from the windows of Breidablik,
Balder's palace; and as long as that was dark, the gods cared little for
the brilliance of their own dwellings.

Hermod, in the meantime, had journeyed across the rainbow bridge, and on
and on toward the north until he reached the Giall river, which runs
between the regions of Hela and the upper world. Well the guard of the
bridge knew, when she heard on the bridge the noise of the horse's feet,
that it was no shade who was crossing; but when Hermod told his errand,
he was allowed to go on. And now his way led over trackless, slippery
ice, on which scarce any other horse could have kept his footing; and
surely no other horse could have leapt, as did Sleipnir, the gate to
Hela's own realm. Once within, Hermod came rapidly into the presence of
the queen, and on his knees before her implored her to allow Balder to
return to the light and the upper air.

    "'For Heaven was Balder born, the city of gods
      And heroes, where they live in light and joy.
      Thither restore him, for his place is there!'"

Hela remained unmoved by his pleadings; and what wonder? For she was
Loki's daughter, and knew by whose act Balder had been sent below.
Finally she said:

"Hermod, I shall try whether the protestations that all things lament
Balder are indeed true. Return to Asgard; and if, through all the earth,
all things, living and dead, weep for Balder, he shall return. But if
one thing in all the world refuses to shed tears, here he shall stay."

Cheered by this promise, Hermod turned to depart, but before he left he
talked with Balder and with Nanna, his wife. They told him that all
honor which could be paid to any one in the realms of the dead was paid
to them; that Balder was made the judge in disputes between the shades.
But despite that, the days were weary, hopeless; no joy was there,
nothing substantial--just days and nights of unvarying twilight, with
never a gleam of real brightness. Nor would Balder admit that there was
cause for rejoicing in the promise of Hela. "Well we know the family of
Loki. Were there not some trick, Hela would never have spoken that
word."

Nevertheless, it was with a heart lighter than at his coming that Hermod
set out on his return journey. And when he reached Asgard there was
rejoicing among the gods. For the first time since Balder's death, there
were the sounds of cheerful hurryings to and fro and of gods calling
each to each as they set out upon their tasks; for all the gods wanted a
part in the work of bringing Balder back to life.

In twos and threes they rode throughout all the world, and soon "all
that lived, and all without life, wept." Trees, stones, flowers, metals
joined willingly in grief for Balder the beautiful; and most of the gods
speedily returned in joy. But Hermod, as he rode, came to the mouth of a
dark cave where sat an old hag named Thok. Years long she had sat there,
and the gods knew her well, for she always cried out mockingly to all
who passed by; but Hermod could not know that to-day Loki had changed
forms with the old hag, and that it was really that enemy of the gods
who sat before him. Dismounting, he besought the old woman to weep for
Balder, as all things in heaven and earth had promised to do. But in a
shrill voice she cried:

"With dry tears will Thok weep for Balder. Let Hela keep her prey."

And as she fled, with harsh laughter, to the cave's depth, Hermod knew
that it was Loki who had this second time stolen life from Balder.

Sadly he rode back to Asgard, and in silent grief the gods heard his
tale; for they knew that brightness was gone forever from the abode of
the gods--that Balder the beautiful should return no more.


This story of Balder is one of those myths which were invented to
explain natural happenings. The ancient peoples, knowing nothing about
science, could not account for such things as the rising and setting of
the sun and the change from summer to winter; and they made up
explanations which in time grew into interesting stories.

Some students believe that in this story the death of Balder (the sun)
by the hand of Hoder (darkness) represents the going down of the sun at
each day's close.

Another explanation, and a more probable one, is that the death of
Balder represents the close of the short northern summer and the coming
on of the long winter. That is, the dreary winter, with its darkness, is
represented by Hoder, who had strength, but could not make use of it to
aid men or gods; who could, however, with his blind strength, slay
Balder, who stood for the blessed, life-giving qualities of the summer
sun.

Loki represented fire. He had in him elements of good, but because of
the fact that he had used his power often to harm, as does fire, instead
of to bless, he was feared and hated and avoided; and thus he became
jealous of Balder.

For a myth which the Greeks and Romans invented about the sun, see the
story of Phaethon, in this volume.

[Illustration: STRANGE OPAL LIGHTS FILTERED THROUGH THE WATER]



THE PUNISHMENT OF LOKI

Adapted by Anna McCaleb


After Balder's death the gods felt that they had little to make them
happy. Their thoughts dwelt always on their loss, or on their desire to
punish Loki; and in neither of these thoughts was there any joy, for to
the pure minds of the gods, the thought of violence could bring nothing
but pain.

One day the sea-god Aegir sent to the dwellers in Asgard an invitation
to a banquet in his sea caverns, and all accepted except Thor, who had
business that called him elsewhere. On the appointed morning they
appeared at Aegir's palace, and while at first they forced themselves to
smile and appear cheerful, in compliment to their host, they soon found
themselves, because of the novelty of all about them, becoming genuinely
interested. The palace was of coral, pink and white--rough on the
outside, but smooth and polished within; and the floors were strewn with
sand so fine and white that it looked like marble. Draperies of bright-
colored seaweed hung everywhere, and the gay sea flowers met their eyes
at every turn, while the dishes and cups in which the feast was served
were the most delicate pearl-tinted shells. Strange opal lights filtered
through the water and into the banqueting hall, and great whales and sea
snakes looked in through the windows on the gods as they sat at table.

All was cheerfulness and merriment, but suddenly the gods felt a chill
come over them, as if a wind from Hela's ice-bound realm had rushed
past. Turning, they saw Loki on the threshold. With a muttered excuse
for his lateness he slipped into his seat; and then, since none except
his host greeted him, and since the merry talk was not resumed, he
glanced about the table and said:

"Pretty manners are these! Does no one pledge me in wine? Does no one
have a word for me?"

Painfully the gods forced themselves to take up their conversation,
though all avoided talking directly to Loki, whose expression became
more lowering every moment. At length Odin turned to his host.

"This servant, Funfeng, is deft and skilful. Even in my palace I have
not his superior."

Aegir bowed. "Since the king of the gods is pleased with Funfeng,
Funfeng is no longer my servant, but the servant of Odin. He shall wait
upon the heroes in Valhalla."

With a cry of jealous rage Loki sprang to his feet. "Never!" he cried,
and he struck Funfeng so violently that he fell dead.

All the gods leaped up, and they drove Loki from the palace, commanding
him never to appear in their presence again; but scarcely had they
seated themselves to resume their interrupted feast, when the crafty god
again entered the room. Not waiting for them to speak, he began to
revile them. His words came in a rapid stream; he stopped not to draw
breath. Beginning with Odin, he attacked the gods in turn, mocking their
physical peculiarities, recounting every deed which they had done that
was not to their credit, shaming them because he had always been able to
elude them easily, and because only he could help them out of their
difficulties. Finally he came to Sif, Thor's golden-haired wife, whom
long before he had robbed of her tresses.

"As for Sif," he began, "I could tell a tale of her that--"

But he went no further, for a peal of thunder drowned his words, and a
blinding flash of lightning made him cover his eyes with his hands. The
gods sighed in relief, for Thor stood among them, his eyes shooting
fire.

"Already," he cried, "has Aegir's palace been stained with blood to-day.
I will not, therefore, kill you here. But if ever you appear before my
eyes again, I shall smite you; and if ever you dare to speak Sif's name,
I shall hear it though I am in the uttermost parts of the earth, and I
shall have vengeance."

"Well spoken, son Thor," said Odin. "But I too have something to say to
Loki. We shall permit you to go unharmed to-day, but if you care for
your life, hide yourself. We shall seek you; and the gods have keen
eyes. And if we find you out, you shall die."

Sullen, frightened, Loki withdrew. He wandered about long in the most
barren, desolate parts of the earth, cursing the gods and hating
himself. At length he found a spot which he felt sure would be hidden
even from Odin's eyes. It was in a steep, rocky valley, where nothing
grew, and where no sound ever came except the weird noise of the wind as
it swept through the narrow passes, and the chatter of a mountain stream
as it leapt down the rocks.

Here, in this solitary place, Loki built himself a hut of piled-up
rocks. Four walls had the hut, and in each wall was a door, for Loki
wished to be able to see the gods, from whatever direction they
approached, and to make his escape. He had always been a famous
fisherman, and now the fish which he took from the stream formed his
only food.

Sometimes he changed himself into a salmon and floated about in the
quieter places of the stream. He never talked with the other fish who
lived in the stream, but somehow he felt less lonely with those living
things about him than he did in his solitary hut on the mountain side.

One day (for Loki was a very clever workman) he began to fashion
something, the like of which there had not been in the world before.
This was a net for fishing; and so interested did Loki become in
twisting and knotting the cords, that he almost forgot to keep watch for
his enemies, the gods. The net was almost finished, when one afternoon
Loki raised his head and saw through one of his doors three gods
approaching--Odin, Thor and Heimdal, wisest of the gods. With a curse he
tossed his net upon the fire--"THEY shall never have it!"--and slipped
from his hut. Splash! And there was a huge salmon deep down in the
stream, while Loki was nowhere to be seen.

The gods were greatly disappointed when they entered the hut; they had
been so sure that at last they had found the hiding place of the wicked
one, and it seemed they had missed him again. However, they knew his
power of disguising himself, and they were not utterly discouraged.

"He has not been gone long," said Heimdal, "for look--the fire still
burns. And what is this upon the fire?" And he drew out the partly
burned fish net.

"What can it be?" asked Odin. "It is too coarse for any sort of covering
for the body, and not strong enough to use in entangling an enemy."

"Wait!" said Heimdal. "I have it--I have it! It's a net for fishing--
Loki was always a fisherman. See," he exclaimed excitedly, "you take it
SO," thrusting one end into Thor's hand, "and you drag it through the
water SO. The water runs through and the fish are held. O, clever Loki!"

"But why," asked Thor, "should he burn it up, when he has spent so much
work upon it?"

"I don't know," said Heimdal musingly, "unless--unless. Where could he
hide except in that stream, and how could he conceal himself there
without changing himself to a fish? Mark my words. Loki is there, and he
feared we might catch him with his own net."

"That," said Odin, "would be a form of justice for which one would
scarcely dare hope. I fear the net is too badly burned for use."

"Not so," replied Heimdal. "Here is more flax, and we can easily repair
the damage the fire has done."

So the three gods sat upon the floor of the hut and mended the burned
net, keeping an eye always on the stream, that Loki might not make his
escape. And when the net was ready they went forth, and with it dragged
the stream. Not a fish did they catch, for Loki had frightened the real
fish away, and he himself was hiding between two big stones, so that the
net passed over him.

"The thing is too light," said Thor. "It does not touch the bottom."

"That we can soon change," replied Heimdal, and he set about fastening
stones to the lower edge of the net.

Again they began to drag the river, and this time Loki feared that he
could not escape. But just as the net almost touched him, he gave a
mighty leap and sprang clear of the net. The silvery flash, the sudden
splash, startled the gods, so that they almost dropped the net; but it
told them what they wanted to know--Loki WAS in the stream. Turning,
they dragged the net down the stream, driving Loki nearer and nearer to
the sheer drop of the waterfall, down which he dared not plunge.
Desperate, he made another leap, and again he almost escaped; but Thor's
quick eyes saw him, Thor's strong, iron-gloved hand gripped him. The
great salmon struggled, but Thor held it fast by the tail, and finally
flung it out upon the bank.

[Illustration: THOR'S HAND GRIPPED HIM]

Loki, within the fish, vowed to himself that he would not return to his
own shape; but the fish's body could not live long out of the water, and
soon he found himself growing weak and faint. At length, therefore, he
was obliged to assume his own form, and there he stood, handsome, but
evil-looking, before the waiting gods.

"It hurts us," said Odin, "that we should be forced to treat one of our
own kind in this way. Perhaps even now--tell us that you do regret your
past wickedness, that you are sorry for the trouble you have caused the
gods, that you grieve sometimes for Balder's death."

"I grieve," said Loki, "only that I have caused so little trouble among
the gods; I regret only that the days for pitting my cleverness against
your stupidity are at an end--for I ask for no mercy. As for Balder's
death, it has been my chief cause for rejoicing as I have dwelt here in
this solitary place."

Shocked by his hardness, the gods led him away to the punishment which
they had planned for him. The other gods met them by the way, and troops
of dwarfs and elves and human beings and animals sprang up on every
side, and followed them. And in the hearts of all these followers there
was joy, for Loki had never done them anything but harm; and besides,
had he not slain Balder, the beautiful, the beloved?

But in the hearts of the gods there was pain, for Loki was of their own
number, and far back in the beginnings of time, before he had become
wicked, he had been their great pride, by reason of his cleverness.

They passed, a noisy procession, to a dark, underground cavern, a damp,
slimy place, where snakes looked out from their holes, and toads sat
upon the stones. Here were three sharp-pointed rocks, which Thor pierced
with holes; and to these rocks they bound the wretched Loki with chains
of adamant.

"Here he shall stay," said Odin, "until the last great day shall come
for gods and men."

A giantess, whose son Loki had killed, came with a great serpent, which
she fastened directly over Loki's head; and from the serpent's mouth
dripped poison, which fell, drop by drop, upon Loki's upturned face. His
wife, Sigyn, could not bear to see her husband in such agony, so she
took her stand beside him, cup in hand, and caught the poison as it
fell. There through the ages on ages she stood, relieving Loki's pain,
and trying to cheer him, for whom there was no cheer. When the cup was
filled and she had to go to the cavern's mouth to empty it, then the
venom fell on Loki's face, and in his terrible pain he struggled and
writhed until the earth shook. And all the people, startled at their
work or from their sleep, cried, "Loki's earthquake!"



SEVEN TIMES ONE

By Jean Ingelow


There's no dew left on the daisies and clover,
There's no rain left in heaven;
I've said my "seven times" over and over--
Seven times one are seven.

I am so old, so old I can write a letter;
My birthday lessons are done;
The lambs play always, they know no better;
They are only one times one.

O moon! in the night I have seen you sailing
And shining so round and low;
You were bright! ah, bright! but your light is failing--
You are nothing now but a bow.

You moon, have you done something wrong in heaven,
That God has hidden your face?
I hope if you have you will soon be forgiven,
And shine again in your place.

O velvet bee, you're a dusty fellow,
You've powdered your legs with gold!
O brave marsh marybuds, rich and yellow,
Give me your money to hold!

O columbine, open your folded wrapper,
Where two twin turtledoves dwell!
O cuckoopint, toll me the purple clapper
That hangs in your clear green bell!

And show me your nest with the young ones in it;
I will not steal them away;
I am old! you may trust me, linnet, linnet--
I am seven times one to-day.



SHUFFLE-SHOON AND AMBER-LOCKS
[Footnote: From 'Love Songs of Childhood'. Copyright, 1894,
by Eugene Field, published by Charles Scribner's Sons.]

By Eugene Field


Shuffle-Shoon and Amber-Locks
Sit together, building blocks;
Shuffle-Shoon is old and gray,
Amber-Locks a little child.

But together at their play
Age and Youth are reconciled,
And with sympathetic glee
Build their castles fair to see.

"When I grow to be a man,"
(So the wee one's prattle ran),
"I shall build a castle so--
With a gateway broad and grand;
Here a pretty vine shall grow,
There a soldier guard shall stand;
And the tower shall be so high,
Folks will wonder, by and by!"

Shuffle-Shoon quoth: "Yes, I know;
Thus I builded long ago!
Here a gate and there a wall,
Here a window, there a door;
Here a steeple wondrous tall
Riseth ever more and more!
But the years have leveled low
What I builded long ago!"

So they gossip at their play,
Heedless of the fleeting day;
One speaks of the Long Ago
Where his dead hopes buried lie;
One with chubby cheeks aglow
Prattleth of the By-and-By;
Side by side, they build their blocks--
Shuffle-Shoon and Amber-Locks.



AFTERWHILE
[Footnote: From the poem to Afterwhiles by James
Whitcomb Riley. Used by special permission of the
publishers--The Bobbs-Merrill Company.]

By James Whitcomb Riley


Afterwhile we have in view
The old home to journey to:
Where the Mother is, and where
Her sweet welcome waits us there.
How we'll click the latch that locks
In the pinks and hollyhocks,
And leap up the path once more
Where she waits us at the door;
How we'll greet the dear old smile
And the warm tears--afterwhile.



WINDY NIGHTS

By ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON


Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?
Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.



THE SNOW QUEEN

By Hans Christian Andersen


THE FIRST STORY

WHICH TREATS OF THE MIRROR AND FRAGMENTS


Look you, now we're going to begin. When we are at the end of the story
we shall know more than we do now, for he was a bad goblin. He was one
of the very worst, for he was a demon. One day he was in very good
spirits, for he had made a mirror which had this peculiarity, that
everything good and beautiful that was reflected in it shrank together
into almost nothing, but that whatever was worthless and looked ugly
became prominent and looked worse than ever. The most lovely landscapes
seen in this mirror looked like boiled spinach, and the best people
became hideous, or stood on their heads and had no bodies; their faces
were so distorted as to be unrecognizable, and a single freckle was
shown spread out over nose and mouth. That was very amusing, the demon
said. When good, pious thoughts passed through any person's mind these
were again shown in the mirror, so that the demon chuckled at his
artistic invention.

Those who visited the goblin school--for he kept a goblin school--
declared everywhere that a wonder had been wrought. For now, they
asserted, one could see, for the first time, how the world and the
people in it really looked. Now they wanted to fly up to heaven, to
sneer and scoff at the angels themselves. The higher they flew with the
mirror, the more it grinned; they could scarcely hold it fast. They flew
higher and higher, and then the mirror trembled so terribly amid its
grinning that it fell down out of their hands to the earth, where it was
shattered into a hundred million million and more fragments.

And now this mirror occasioned much more unhappiness than before; for
some of the fragments were scarcely as large as a barleycorn, and these
flew about in the world, and whenever they flew into any one's eye they
stuck there, and that person saw everything wrongly, or had only eyes
for the bad side of a thing, for every little fragment of the mirror had
retained the power which the whole glass possessed. A few persons even
got a fragment of the mirror into their hearts, and that was terrible
indeed, for such a heart became a block of ice. A few fragments of the
mirror were so large that they were used as window panes, but it was a
bad thing to look at one's friends through these panes: other pieces
were made into spectacles, and then it went badly when people put on
these spectacles to see rightly, and to be just; and then the demon
laughed till his paunch shook, for it tickled him so. But without, some
little fragments of glass still floated about in the air--and now we
shall hear



THE SECOND STORY

A LITTLE BOY AND A LITTLE GIRL


In the great town, where there are many houses, and so many people that
there is not room enough for every one to have a little garden, and
where consequently most persons are compelled to be content with flowers
in pots, were two poor children who possessed a garden somewhat larger
than a flowerpot. They were not brother and sister, but they loved each
other quite as much as if they had been. Their parents lived just
opposite each other in two garrets, there where the roof of one
neighbor's house joined that of another. And where the water pipe ran
between the two houses was a little window; one had only to step across
the pipe to get from one window to the other.

The parents of each child had a great box, in which grew kitchen herbs
that they used, and a little rosebush; there was one in each box, and
they grew famously. Now, it occurred to the parents to place the boxes
across the pipe, so that they reached from one window to another, and
looked quite like two embankments of flowers. Pea plants hung down over
the boxes, and the rosebushes shot forth long twigs, which clustered
round the windows and bent down toward each other; it was almost like a
triumphal arch of flowers and leaves. As the boxes were very high, and
the children knew that they might not creep upon them, they often
obtained permission to step out upon the roof behind the boxes, and to
sit upon their little stools under the roses, and there they could play
capitally.

In the winter time there was an end of this amusement. The windows were
sometimes quite frozen over. But then they warmed copper shillings on
the stove, and held the warm coins against the frozen pane; and this
made a capital peep-hole, so round! so round! and behind it gleamed a
pretty mild eye at each window; and these eyes belonged to the little
boy and the little girl. His name was Kay and the little girl's was
Gerda.

In the summer they could get to one another at one bound; but in the
winter they had to go down and up the long staircase, while the snow was
pelting without.

"Those are the white bees swarming," said the old grandmother.

"Have they a queen bee?" asked the little boy. For he knew that there is
one among the real bees.

"Yes, they have one," replied grandmamma. "She always flies where they
swarm thickest. She is the largest of them all, and never remains quiet
upon the earth; she flies up again into the black cloud. Many a midnight
she is flying through the streets of the town, and looks in at the
windows, and then they freeze in such a strange way, and look like
flowers."

"Yes, I've seen that!" cried both the children; and now they knew that
it was true.

[Illustration: THE SNOWFLAKE AT LAST BECAME A MAIDEN]

"Can the Snow Queen come in here?" asked the little girl.

"Only let her come," cried the boy; "I'll set her upon the warm stove,
and then she'll melt."

But grandmother smoothed his hair, and told some other tales. In the
evening, when little Kay was at home and half undressed, he clambered
upon the chair by the window, and looked through the little hole. A few
flakes of snow were falling outside, and one of them, the largest of
them all, remained lying on the edge of one of the flower boxes.

The snowflake grew larger and larger, and at last became a maiden
clothed in the finest white gauze, put together of millions of starry
flakes. She was beautiful and delicate, but of ice--of shining,
glittering ice. Yet she was alive; her eyes flashed like two clear
stars, but there was no peace or rest in them. She nodded toward the
window, and beckoned with her hand. The little boy was frightened, and
sprang down from the chair; then it seemed as if a great bird flew by
outside, in front of the window.

Next day there was a clear frost, and then the spring came; the sun
shone, the green sprouted forth, the swallows built nests, the windows
were opened, and the little children again sat in their garden high up
in the roof, over all the floors.

How splendidly the roses bloomed this summer! The little girl had
learned a psalm, in which mention was made of roses; and, in speaking of
roses, she thought of her own; and she sang it to the little boy, and he
sang, too:

    "The roses will fade and pass away,
     But we the Christ-child shall see one day."

And the little ones held each other by the hand, kissed the roses,
looked at God's bright sunshine, and spoke to it, as if the Christ-child
were there. What splendid summer days those were! How beautiful it was
without, among the fresh rosebushes!

Kay and Gerda sat and looked at the picture book of beasts and birds.
Then it was, while the clock was just striking twelve on the church
tower, that Kay said:

"Oh! something struck my heart and pricked me in the eye." The little
girl fell upon his neck; he blinked his eyes. No, there was nothing at
all to be seen.

"I think it is gone," said he; but it was not gone. It was just one of
those glass fragments which sprang from the mirror--the magic mirror
that we remember well, the ugly glass that made every great and good
thing which was mirrored in it to seem small and mean, but in which the
mean and the wicked things were brought out in relief, and every fault
was noticeable at once. Poor little Kay had also received a splinter
just in his heart, and that will now soon become like a lump of ice. It
did not hurt him now, but the splinter was still there.

"Why do you cry?" he asked. "You look ugly like that. There's nothing
the matter with me. Oh, fie!" he suddenly exclaimed, "that rose is worm-
eaten, and this one is quite crooked. After all, they're ugly roses.
They're like the box in they stand."

And then he kicked the box with his foot, and tore both the roses off.

"Kay, what are you about?" cried the little girl.

And when he noticed her fright he tore off another rose, and then sprang
in at his own window, away from pretty little Gerda.

When she afterward came with her picture book, he said it was only fit
for babies in arms; and when his grandmother told stories he always came
in with a BUT; and when he could manage it, he would get behind her, put
on a pair of spectacles, and talk just as she did; he could do that very
cleverly, and the people laughed at him. Soon he could mimic the speech
and the gait of everybody in the street. Everything that was peculiar or
ugly about people, Kay would imitate; and every one said, "That boy must
certainly have a remarkable genius." But it was the glass that struck
deep in his heart; so it happened that he even teased little Gerda, who
loved him with all her heart.

His games now became quite different from what they were before; they
became quite sensible. One winter's day when it snowed he came out with
a great burning glass, held up the blue tail of his coat, and let the
snowflakes fall upon it.

"Now look at the glass, Gerda," said he.

And every flake of snow was magnified, and looked like a splendid
flower, or a star with ten points--it was beautiful to behold.

"See how clever that is," said Kay. "That's much more interesting than
real flowers; and there's not a single fault in it--they're quite
regular until they begin to melt."

Soon after, Kay came in thick gloves, and with his sledge upon his back.
He called up to Gerda. "I've got leave to go into the great square,
where the other boys play;" and he was gone.

In the great square the boldest among the boys often tied their sledges
to the country people's carts, and thus rode with them a good way. They
went capitally. When they were in the midst of their playing there came
a great sledge. It was painted quite white, and in it sat somebody
wrapped in a rough, white fur, with a white, rough cap on his head. The
sledge drove twice round the square, and Kay bound his little sledge to
it, and so he drove on with it. It went faster and faster, straight into
the next street. The man who drove turned round and nodded in a familiar
way to Kay; it was as if they knew one another. Each time when Kay
wanted to cast loose his little sledge, the stranger nodded again, and
then Kay remained where he was, and thus they drove out at the town
gate. Then the snow began to fall so rapidly that the boy could not see
a hand's breadth before him; but still he drove on. Now he hastily
dropped the cord, so as to get loose from the great sledge; but that was
no use, for his sledge was fast bound to the other, and they went on
like the wind. Then he called out quite loudly, but nobody heard him;
and the snow beat down, and the sledge flew onward. Every now and then
it gave a jump, and they seemed to be flying over hedges and ditches.
The boy was quite frightened. He wanted to say his prayer, but could
remember nothing but the multiplication table.

The snowflakes became larger and larger; at last they looked like white
fowls. All at once they sprang aside, the great sledge stopped, and the
person who had driven it rose up. The fur and the cap were made
altogether of ice. It was A LADY, tall and slender, and brilliantly
white: it was the Snow Queen!

"We have driven well!" said she. "But why do you tremble with cold?
Creep into my fur."

And she seated him beside her in her own sledge, and wrapped the fur
round him, and he felt as if he sank into a snowdrift.

"Are you still cold?" asked she, and then she kissed him on the
forehead.

Oh, that was colder than ice; it went quite through to his heart, half
of which was already a lump of ice. He felt as if he were going to die,
but only for a moment; for then he seemed quite well, and he did not
notice the cold all about him.

"My sledge! Don't forget my sledge."

That was the first thing he thought of; and it was bound fast to one of
the white chickens, and this chicken flew behind him with the sledge
upon its back. The Snow Queen kissed Kay again, and then he had
forgotten little Gerda, his grandmother, and all at home.

"Now you shall have no more kisses," said she, "for if you did I should
kiss you to death."

Kay looked at her. She was so beautiful, he could not imagine a more
sensible or lovely face; she did not appear to him to be made of ice
now, as she did when she sat at the window and beckoned to him. In his
eyes she was perfect; he did not feel at all afraid. He told her that he
could do mental arithmetic as far as fractions; that he knew the number
of square miles and the number of inhabitants in the country. And she
always smiled, and then it seemed to him that what he knew was not
enough. And he looked up into the wide sky, and she flew with him high
up upon the black cloud, and the storm blew and whistled; it seemed as
though the wind sang old songs. They flew over woods and lakes, over sea
and land; below them the cold wind roared, the wolves howled, the snow
crackled; over them flew the black, screaming crows; but above all the
moon shone bright and clear, and Kay looked at the long, long winter
night; by day he slept at the feet of the Queen.



THE THIRD STORY

THE FLOWER GARDEN OF THE WOMAN WHO COULD CONJURE


But how did it fare with little Gerda when Kay did not return? What
could have become of him? No one knew, no one could give information.
The boys only told that they had seen him bind his sledge to another
very large one, which had driven along the street and out at the town
gate. Nobody knew what had become of him; many tears were shed, and
little Gerda especially wept long and bitterly. Then she said he was
dead--he had been drowned in the river which flowed close by their
school. Oh, those were very dark, long winter days! But now spring came,
with warmer sunshine.

"Kay is dead and gone," said little Gerda.

"I don't believe it," said the Sunshine.

"He is dead and gone," said she to the Sparrows. "We don't believe it,"
they replied; and at last little Gerda did not believe it herself.

"I will put on my new red shoes," she said one morning--"those that Kay
has never seen; and then I will go down to the river, and ask for him."

It was still very early; she kissed the old grandmother, who was still
asleep, put on her red shoes, and went quite alone out of the town gate
toward the river.

"Is it true that you have taken my little playmate from me? I will give
you my red shoes if you will give him back to me."

And it seemed to her as if the waves nodded quite strangely; and then
she took her red shoes, which she liked best of anything she possessed,
and threw them both into the river; but they fell close to the shore,
and the little wavelets carried them back to her, to the land. It seemed
as if the river would not take from her the dearest things she possessed
because he had not her little Kay. But she thought she had not thrown
the shoes far enough out, so she crept into a boat that lay among the
reeds, went to the other end of the boat, and threw the shoes from
thence into the water; but the boat was not bound fast, and at the
movement she made it glided away from the shore. She noticed it, and
hurried to get back; but before she reached the other end, the boat was
a yard from the bank, and it drifted away faster than before.

Then little Gerda was very much frightened, and began to cry; but no one
heard her except the Sparrows, and they could not carry her to land; but
they flew along the shore, and sang, as if to console her, "Here we are!
here we are!" The boat drove on with the stream, and little Gerda sat
quite still, with only her stockings on her feet; her little red shoes
floated along behind her, but they could not come up to the boat, for
that made more way.

It was very pretty on both shores. There were beautiful flowers, old
trees, and slopes with sheep and cows; but not ONE person was to be
seen.

"Perhaps the river will carry me to little Kay," thought Gerda.

And then she became more cheerful, and rose up, and for many hours she
watched the charming green banks; then she came to a great cherry
orchard, in which stood a little house with remarkable blue and red
windows; it had a thatched roof, and without stood two wooden soldiers,
who presented arms to those who sailed past.

[Illustration: THEY FLEW OVER WOODS AND LAKES]

Gerda called to them, for she thought they were alive, but of course
they did not answer. She came quite close to them. The river carried the
boat toward the shore.

Gerda called still louder, and then there came out of the house an old
woman leaning on a crutch; she had on a great velvet hat, painted over
with the finest flowers.

"You poor little child!" said the old woman. "How did you manage to come
on the great rolling river, and to float thus far out into the world?"

And then the old woman went quite into the water, seized the boat with
her crutch stick, drew it to land, and lifted little Gerda out. And
Gerda was glad to be on dry land again, though she felt a little afraid
of the strange old woman.

"Come and tell me who you are, and how you came here," said the old
lady. And Gerda told her everything; and the old woman shook her head,
and said, "Hem! hem!" And when Gerda had told everything, and asked if
she had not seen little Kay, the woman said that he had not yet come by,
but that he probably would soon come. Gerda was not to be sorrowful, but
to look at the flowers and taste the cherries, for they were better than
any picture book, for each one of them could tell a story. Then she took
Gerda by the hand and led her into the little house, and locked the
door.

The windows were very high, and the panes were red, blue and yellow; the
daylight shone in a remarkable way, with different colors. On the table
stood the finest cherries, and Gerda ate as many of them as she liked,
for she had leave to do so. While she was eating them, the old lady
combed Gerda's hair with a golden comb, and the yellow hair hung softly
round the friendly little face, which looked as blooming as a rose.

"I have long wished for such a dear little girl as you," said the old
lady. "Now you shall see how well we shall live with one another."

And as the ancient dame combed her hair, Gerda forgot her adopted
brother Kay more and more; for this old woman could conjure, but she was
not a wicked witch. She only practiced a little magic for her own
amusement, and wanted to keep little Gerda. Therefore she went into the
garden, stretched out her crutch toward all the rosebushes, and,
beautiful as they were, they all sank into the earth, and one could not
tell where they had stood. The old woman was afraid that, if the little
girl saw roses, she would think of her own, and remember little Kay, and
run away.

Now Gerda was led out into the flower garden. What fragrance was there,
and what loveliness! Every conceivable flower was there in full bloom;
there were some for every season; no picture book could be gayer and
prettier. Gerda jumped high for joy, and played till the sun went down
behind the high cherry trees; then she was put into a lovely bed, with
red silk pillows stuffed with blue violets, and she slept there, and
dreamed as gloriously as a queen on her wedding day.

Next day she played again with the flowers in the warm sunshine; and
thus many days went by. Gerda knew every flower; but, many as there were
of them, it still seemed to her as if one were wanting, but which one
she did not know. One day she sat looking at the old lady's hat with the
painted flowers, and the prettiest of them all was a rose. The old lady
had forgotten to efface it from her hat when she caused the others to
disappear. But so it always is when one does not keep one's wits about
one.

"What, are there no roses here?" cried Gerda.

And she went among the beds, and searched and searched, but there was
not one to be found. Then she sat down and wept; her tears fell just
upon a spot where a rosebush lay buried, and when the warm tears
moistened the earth, the tree at once sprouted up as blooming as when it
had sunk; and Gerda embraced it, kissed the roses, and thought of the
beautiful roses at home, and also of little Kay.

"Oh, how I have been detained!" said the little girl. "I wanted to seek
for little Kay! Do you not know where he is?" she asked the roses. "Do
you think he is dead?"

"He is not dead," the roses answered. "We have been in the ground. All
the dead people are there, but Kay is not there."

"Thank you," said little Gerda, and she went to the other flowers,
looked into their cups, and asked, "Do you know where little Kay is?"

But every flower stood in the sun thinking only of her own story, or
fancy tale. Gerda heard many, many, of them; but not one knew anything
of Kay.

And what did the Tiger Lily say?

"Do you hear the drum, 'Rub-dub'? There are only two notes, always 'rub-
dub'! Hear the mourning song of the women; hear the call of the priests.
The Hindoo widow stands in her long red mantle on the funeral pile; the
flames rise up around her and her dead husband; but the Hindoo woman is
thinking of the living one here in the circle, of him whose eyes burn
hotter than flames, whose fiery glances have burned into her soul more
ardently than the flames themselves, which are soon to burn her body to
ashes. Can the flame of the heart die in the flame of the funeral pile?"

"I don't understand that at all!" said little Gerda.

"That's my story," said the Lily.

What says the Convolvulus?

"Over the narrow road looms an old knightly castle; thickly the ivy
grows over the crumbling red walls, leaf by leaf up to the balcony,
where stands a beautiful girl; she bends over the balustrade and glances
up the road. No rose on its branch is fresher than she; no apple blossom
wafted onward by the wind floats more lightly along. How her costly
silks rustle! 'Comes he not yet?'"

"Is it Kay whom you mean?" asked little Gerda.

"I'm only speaking of a story--my dream," replied the Convolvulus.

What said the little Snowdrop?

"Between the trees a long board hangs by ropes; that is a swing. Two
pretty little girls, with clothes white as snow and long green silk
ribbons on their hats, are sitting upon it, swinging. Their brother, who
is greater than they, stands in the swing, and has slung his arm round
the rope to hold himself, for in one hand he has a little saucer, and in
the other a clay pipe. He is blowing bubbles. The swing flies, and the
bubbles rise with beautiful, changing colors; the last still hangs from
the pipe bowl, swaying in the wind. The swing flies on; the little black
dog, light as the bubbles, stands up on his hind legs, and wants to be
taken into the swing: it flies on, and the dog falls, barks, and grows
angry, for he is teased, and the bubble bursts. A swinging board and a
bursting bubble--that is my song."

"It may be very pretty, what you're telling, but you speak it so
mournfully, and you don't mention little Kay at all."

[Illustration: "HE IS BLOWING BUBBLES"]

What do the Hyacinths say?

"There were three beautiful sisters, transparent and delicate. The dress
of one was red, that of the second blue, and that of the third quite
white; hand in hand they danced by the calm lake in the bright
moonlight. They were not elves; they were human beings. It was so sweet
and fragrant there! The girls disappeared in the forest, and the sweet
fragrance became stronger: three coffins, with three beautiful maidens
lying in them, glided from the wood-thicket across the lake; the
glowworms flew gleaming about them like little hovering lights. Are the
dancing girls sleeping, or are they dead? The flower scent says they are
dead, and the evening bell tolls their knell."

"You make me quite sorrowful," said little Gerda. "You scent so
strongly, I cannot help thinking of the dead maidens. Ah! is little Kay
really dead? The Roses have been down in the earth, and they say he is
not."

"Kling! klang!" tolled the Hyacinth bells. "We are not tolling for
little Kay--we don't know him; we only sing our song, the only one we
know."

And Gerda went to the Buttercup, gleaming forth from the green leaves.

"You are a little bright sun," said Gerda. "Tell me, if you know, where
I may find my companion."

And the Buttercup shone so gaily, and looked back at Gerda. What song
might the Buttercup sing? It was not about Kay.

"In a little courtyard the clear sun shone warm on the first day of
spring. The sunbeams glided down the white wall of the neighboring
house; close by grew the first yellow flower, glancing like gold in the
bright sun's ray. The old grandmother sat out of doors in her chair; her
granddaughter, a poor, handsome maid-servant, was coming home for a
short visit. She kissed her grandmother. There was gold, heart's gold,
in that blessed kiss--gold in the mouth, gold in the south, gold in the
morning hour. See, that's my little story," said the Buttercup.

"My poor old grandmother!" sighed Gerda. "Yes, she is surely longing for
me and grieving for me, just as she did for little Kay. But I shall soon
go home and take Kay with me. There is no use of my asking the flowers;
they know only their own song, and give me no information." And then she
tied her little frock round her, that she might run the faster; but the
Jonquil struck against her leg as she sprang over it, and she stopped to
look at the tall yellow flower, and asked, "Do you, perhaps, know
anything of little Kay?"

And she bent quite down to the flower, and what did it say?

"I can see myself! I can see myself!" said the Jonquil. "Oh! oh! how I
smell! Up in the little room in the gable stands a little dancing girl.
She stands sometimes on one foot, sometimes on both; she seems to tread
on all the world. She's nothing but an ocular delusion: she pours water
out of a teapot on a bit of stuff--it is her bodice. 'Cleanliness is a
fine thing,' she says; her white frock hangs on a hook; it has been
washed in the teapot too, and dried on the roof. She puts it on and ties
her saffron handkerchief round her neck, and the dress looks all the
whiter. Point your toes! look how she seems to stand on a stalk. I can
see myself! I can see myself!"

"I don't care at all about that," said Gerda. "You need not tell me
that."

And then she ran to the end of the garden. The door was locked, but she
pressed against the rusty lock, and it broke off, the door sprang open,
and little Gerda ran with naked feet out into the wide world. She looked
back three times, but no one was there to pursue her. At last she could
run no longer, and seated herself on a great stone; and when she looked
round the summer was over--it was late in autumn. One could not notice
that in the beautiful garden, where there was always sunshine, and where
the flowers of every season always bloomed.

"Alas! how I have loitered!" said little Gerda. "Autumn has come. I may
not rest again."

And she rose up to go on. Oh! how sore and tired her little feet were.
All around it looked cold and bleak; the long willow leaves were quite
yellow, and the dew fell down like water; one leaf after another
dropped; only the sloe-thorn still bore fruit, but the sloes were sour,
and set the teeth on edge. Oh! how gray and gloomy it looked--the wide
world!



THE FOURTH STORY

THE PRINCE WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN KAY


Gerda was compelled to rest again; then there came hopping across the
snow, just opposite the spot where she was sitting, a great Crow. This
Crow stopped a long time to look at her, nodding its head, and then it
said, "Krah! krah! Good day! good day!" It could not pronounce better,
but it felt friendly toward the little girl, and asked where she was
going all alone in the wide world. The word "alone" Gerda understood
very well, and felt how much it expressed; and she told the Crow the
story of her whole life and fortunes, and asked if it had not seen Kay.

[Illustration: THE CROW STOPPED TO LOOK]

And the Crow nodded very gravely, and said:

"That may be! that may be!"

"What? do you think so?" cried the little girl, and nearly pressed the
Crow to death, she kissed it so.

"Gently, gently!" said the Crow. "I think I know. I believe it may be
little Kay; but he has certainly forgotten you, with the princess."

"Does he live with a princess?" asked Gerda.

"Yes; listen," said the Crow. "But it's so difficult for me to speak
your language. If you know the Crow's language, I can tell it much
better."

"No, I never learned it," said Gerda; "but my grandmother understood it,
and could speak the language, too. I only wish I had learned it."

"That doesn't matter," said the Crow. "But it will go badly."

And then the Crow told what it knew.

"In the country in which we now are lives a princess who is quite
wonderfully clever; but then she has read all the newspapers in the
world, and has forgotten them again, she is so clever. Lately she was
sitting on the throne--and that's not so pleasant as is generally
supposed--and she began to sing a song, and it was just this: 'Why
should I not marry now?' You see, there was something in that," said the
Crow. "And so she wanted to marry, but she wished for a husband who
could answer when he was spoken to, not one who only stood and looked
handsome, for that was wearisome. And so she had all her maids of honor
summoned, and when they heard her intention they were very glad. 'I like
that,' said they; 'I thought the very same thing the other day.' You may
be sure that every word I am telling you is true," added the Crow. "I
have a tame sweetheart who goes about freely in the castle, and she told
me everything."

Of course the sweetheart was a crow, for one crow always finds out
another, and birds of a feather flock together.

"Newspapers were published directly, with a border of hearts and the
princess's initials. One could read in them that every young man who was
good-looking might come to the castle and speak with the princess, and
him who spoke so that one could hear he was at home there, and who spoke
best, the princess, would choose for her husband. Yes, yes," said the
Crow, "you may believe me. It's as true as that I sit here. Young men
came flocking in; there was a great crowding and much running to and
fro, but no one succeeded the first or second day. They could all speak
well when they were out in the streets, but when they entered at the
palace gates, and saw the guards standing in their silver lace, and went
up the staircase, and saw the lackeys in their golden liveries, and the
great lighted halls, they became confused. And when they stood before
the throne itself, on which the princess sat, they could do nothing but
repeat the last word she had spoken, and she did not care to hear her
own words again. It was just as if the people in there had taken some
narcotic and fallen asleep till they got into the street again, for not
till then were they able to speak. There stood a whole row of them, from
the town gate to the palace gate. I went out myself to see it," said the
Crow. "They were hungry and thirsty, but in the palace they did not
receive so much as a glass of lukewarm water. A few of the wisest had
brought bread and butter with them, but they would not share with their
neighbors, for they thought, 'Let him look hungry, and the princess
won't have him.'"

"But Kay, little Kay?" asked Gerda. "When did he come? Was he among the
crowd?"

"Wait! wait! We're just coming to him. It was on the third day that
there came a little personage, without horse or carriage, walking quite
merrily up to the castle. His eyes sparkled like yours; he had fine long
hair, but his clothes were shabby."

"That was Kay!" cried Gerda, rejoicing. "Oh, then, I have found him!"
And she clapped her hands.

"He had a little knapsack on his back," observed the Crow.

"No, that must certainly have been his sledge," said Gerda, "for he went
away with a sledge."

"That may well be," said the Crow, "for I did not look at it very
closely. But this much I know from my tame sweetheart, that when he
passed under the palace gate and saw the life guards in silver, and
mounted the staircase and saw the lackeys in gold, he was not in the
least embarrassed. He nodded, and said to them, 'It must be tedious work
standing on the stairs--I'd rather go in.' The halls shone full of
light; privy councilors and Excellencies walked about with bare feet,
and carried golden vessels; any one might have become solemn; and his
boots creaked most noisily, but he was not embarrassed."

"That is certainly Kay!" cried Gerda. "He had new boots on; I've heard
them creak in grandmother's room."

"Yes, certainly they creaked," resumed the Crow. "And he went boldly in
to the princess herself, who sat on a pearl that was as big as a
spinning wheel, and all the maids of honor with their attendants, and
all the cavaliers with their followers, and the followers of their
followers, who themselves kept a page apiece, were standing round; and
the nearer they stood to the door, the prouder they looked. The
followers' followers' pages could hardly be looked at, so proudly did
they stand in the doorway!"

"That must be terrible!" faltered little Gerda. "And yet Kay won the
princess?"

"If I had not been a crow, I would have married her myself,
notwithstanding that I am engaged. They say he spoke as well as I can
when I speak the crows' language; I heard that from my tame sweetheart.
He was merry and agreeable; he had not come to marry, only to hear the
wisdom of the princess; and he approved of her, and she of him."

"Yes, certainly that was Kay!" said Gerda. "He was so clever; he could
do mental arithmetic up to fractions. Oh! won't you lead me to the
castle, too?"

"That's easily said," replied the Crow. "But how are we to manage it?
I'll talk it over with my tame sweetheart: she can probably advise us;
for this I must tell you--a little girl like yourself will never get
leave to go completely in."

"Yes, I shall get leave," said Gerda. "When Kay hears that I'm there
he'll come out directly, and bring me in."

"Wait for me yonder at the grating," said the Crow; and it wagged its
head and flew away.

It was late in the evening when the Crow came back.

"Rax! rax!" it said. "I'm to greet you kindly from my sweetheart, and
here's a little loaf for you. She took it from the kitchen. There's
plenty of bread there, and you must be hungry. You can't possibly get
into the palace, for you are barefooted, and the guards in silver and
the lackeys in gold would not allow it. But don't cry; you shall go up.
My sweetheart knows a little back staircase that leads up to the
bedroom, and she knows where she can get the key."

And they went into the garden, into the great avenue, where one leaf was
falling down after another; and when the lights were extinguished in the
palace, one after the other, the Crow led Gerda to a back door, which
stood ajar.

Oh, how Gerda's heart beat with fear and longing! It was just as if she
had been going to do something wicked; and yet she only wanted to know
whether it was little Kay. Yes, it must be he. She thought so deeply of
his clear eyes and his long hair; she could fancy she saw how he smiled,
as he had smiled at home when they sat among the roses. He would
certainly be glad to see her; to hear what a long distance she had come
for his sake; to know how sorry they had all been at home when he did
not come back. Oh, what a fear and what a joy that was!

Now they were on the staircase. A little lamp was burning upon a
cupboard, and in the middle of the floor stood the tame Crow, turning
her head on every side and looking at Gerda, who courtesied as her
grandmother had taught her to do.

"My betrothed has spoken to me very favorably of you, my little lady,"
said the tame Crow. "Your history, as it may be called, is very moving.
Will you take the lamp? then I will precede you. We will go the straight
way, and then we shall meet nobody."

"I feel as if some one were coming after us," said Gerda, as something
rushed by her. It seemed like a shadow on the wall; horses with flying
manes and thin legs, hunters, and ladies and gentlemen on horseback.

"These are only dreams," said the Crow; "they are coming to carry the
high masters' thoughts out hunting. That's all the better, for you may
look at them the more closely, in bed. But I hope, when you are taken
into favor and get promotion, you will show a grateful heart."

"Of that we may be sure!" observed the Crow from the wood.

Now they came into the first hall; it was hung with rose-colored satin,
and artificial flowers were worked on the walls. And here the dreams
again came flitting by them, but they moved so quickly that Gerda could
not see the high-born lords and ladies. Each hall was more splendid than
the last; yes, one could almost become bewildered! Now they were in the
bedchamber. Here the ceiling was like a great palm tree with leaves of
glass, of costly glass, and in the middle of the floor two beds hung on
a thick stalk of gold, and each of them looked like a lily. One of them
was white, and in that lay the princess; the other was red, and in that
Gerda was to seek little Kay. She bent one of the red leaves aside, and
then she saw a little brown neck. Oh, that was Kay! She called out his
name quite loud, and held the lamp toward him. The dreams rushed into
the room again on horseback--he awoke, turned his head, and--it was not
little Kay!

The prince was only like him in the neck, but he was young and good-
looking; and the princess looked up, blinking, from the white lily, and
asked who was there. Then little Gerda wept, and told her history, and
all that the Crows had done for her.

"You poor child!" said the prince and princess.

And they praised the Crows, and said that they were not angry with them
at all, but the Crows were not to do it again. However, they should be
rewarded.

"Will you fly out free," asked the princess, "or will you have fixed
positions as court Crows, with the right to everything that is left in
the kitchen?"

And the two Crows bowed, and begged for fixed positions, for they
thought of their old age, and said, "It is so good to have some
provisions for one's old days," as they called them.

And the prince got up out of his bed, and let Gerda sleep in it, and he
could not do more than that. She folded her little hands and thought,
"How good men and animals are!" and then she shut her eyes and went
quietly to sleep. All the dreams came flying in again, looking like
angels, and they drew a little sledge, on which Kay sat nodding; but all
this was only a dream, and therefore it was gone again as soon as she
awoke.

The next day she was clothed from head to foot in velvet; and an offer
was made to her that she should stay in the castle and enjoy pleasant
times, but she only begged for a little carriage, with a horse to draw
it, and a pair of little boots; then she would drive out into the world
and seek for Kay.

And she received not only boots, but a muff likewise, and was neatly
dressed; and when she was ready to depart, a coach, made of pure gold,
stopped before the door. Upon it shone like a star the coat of arms of
the prince and princess; coachmen, footmen, and outriders--for there
were outriders, too--sat on horseback, with gold crowns on their heads.
The prince and princess themselves helped her into the carriage, and
wished her all good fortune. The forest Crow, who was now married,
accompanied her the first three miles; he sat by Gerda's side, for he
could not bear riding backward; the other Crow stood in the doorway,
flapping her wings; she did not go with them, for she suffered from
headache that had come on since she had obtained a fixed position and
was allowed to eat too much. The coach was lined with sugar biscuits,
and in the seat there were gingerbread, nuts, and fruit.

"Farewell, farewell!" cried the prince and princess; and little Gerda
wept, and the Crow wept.

So they went on for the first three miles, and then the Crow said good-
bye, and that was the heaviest parting of all. The Crow flew up on a
tree, and beat his black wings as long as he could see the coach, which
glittered like the bright sunshine.



THE FIFTH STORY

THE LITTLE ROBBER GIRL


They drove on through the thick forest, but the coach gleamed like a
torch. It dazzled the robbers' eyes, and they could not bear it.

"That is gold! that is gold!" cried they; and they rushed forward,
seized the horses, killed the postilions, the coachmen, and the footmen,
and then pulled little Gerda out of the carriage.

"She is fat--she is pretty--she is fed with nut kernels!" said the old
robber woman, who had a very long matted beard and shaggy eyebrows that
hung down over her eyes. "She's as good as a little pet lamb; how I
shall relish her!"

And she drew out her shining knife, that gleamed in a horrible way.

"Oh!" screamed the old woman at the same moment: for her own daughter,
who hung at her back, bit her ear in a very naughty and spiteful manner.
"You ugly brat!" screamed the old woman; and she had not time to kill
Gerda.

"She shall play with me!" said the little robber girl. "She shall give
me her muff and her pretty dress, and sleep with me in my bed!"

And then the girl gave another bite, so that the woman jumped high up,
and turned right round, and all the robbers laughed, and said:

"Look how she dances with her calf."

"I want to go into the carriage," said the little robber girl,

And she would have her own way, for she was spoiled and very obstinate;
and she and Gerda sat in the carriage, and drove over stock and stone
deep into the forest. The little robber girl was as big as Gerda, but
stronger and more broad-shouldered, and she had a brown skin; her eyes
were quite black, and they looked almost mournful. She clasped little
Gerda round the waist, and said:

"They shall not kill you as long as I am not angry with you. I suppose
you are a princess?"

"No," replied Gerda. And she told all that had happened to her, and how
fond she was of little Kay.

The robber girl looked at her seriously, nodded slightly, and said:

"They shall not kill you, even if I do get angry with you, for then I
will do it myself."

And then she dried Gerda's eyes, and put her two hands into the
beautiful muff that was so soft and warm.

Now the coach stopped, and they were in the courtyard of a robber
castle. It had burst from the top to the ground; ravens and crows flew
out of the great holes, and big bulldogs--each of which looked as if he
could devour a man--jumped high up, but did not bark, for that was
forbidden.

In the great, old, smoky hall, a bright fire burned upon the stone
floor; the smoke passed along under the ceiling, and had to seek an exit
for itself. A great cauldron of soup was boiling and hares and rabbits
were roasting on the spit.

"You shall sleep to-night with me and all my little animals," said the
robber girl.

They had something to eat and drink, and then went to a corner, where
straw and carpets were spread out. Above these sat on laths and perches
more than a hundred pigeons, and all seemed asleep, but they turned a
little when the two little girls came.

"All these belong to me," said the little robber girl; and she quickly
seized one of the nearest, held it by the feet, and shook it so that it
flapped its wings. "Kiss it!" she cried, and beat it in Gerda's face.
"There sit the wood rascals," she continued, pointing to a number of
laths that had been nailed in front of a hole in the wall, "Those are
wood rascals, those two; they fly away directly if one does not keep
them well locked up. And here's my old sweetheart 'Ba.'" Arid she pulled
out by the horn a Reindeer, that was tied up, and had a polished copper
ring round its neck. "We're obliged to keep him tight, too, or he'd run
away from us. Every evening I tickle his neck with a sharp knife, and
he's badly frightened at that."

And the little girl drew a long knife from a cleft in the wall, and let
it glide over the Reindeer's neck; the poor creature kicked out its
legs, and the little robber girl laughed, and drew Gerda into bed with
her.

"Do you keep the knife while you're asleep?" asked Gerda, and looked at
it in a frightened way.

"I always sleep with my knife," replied the robber girl. "One does not
know what may happen. But now tell me again what you told me just now
about little Kay, and why you came out into the wide world."

And Gerda told it again from the beginning; and the Wood Pigeons cooed
above them in their cage, and the other pigeons slept. The little robber
girl put her arm round Gerda's neck, held her knife in the other hand,
and slept so that one could hear her; but Gerda could not close her eyes
at all--she did not know whether she was to live or die.

The robbers sat round the fire, sang and drank, and the old robber woman
tumbled about. It was quite terrible for a little girl to behold. Then
the Wood Pigeons said: "Coo! coo! we have seen little Kay. A white owl
was carrying his sledge; he sat in the Snow Queen's carriage, which
drove close by the forest as we lay in our nests. She blew upon us young
pigeons, and all died except us two. Coo! coo!"

"What are you saying there?" asked Gerda. "Whither was the Snow Queen
traveling? Do you know anything about it?"

"She was probably journeying to Lapland, for there they have always ice
and snow. Ask the Reindeer that is tied to the cord."

[Illustration: THE REINDEER RAN AS FAST AS IT COULD GO]

"There is ice and snow yonder, and it is glorious and fine," said the
Reindeer. "There one may run about free in great glittering plains.
There the Snow Queen has her summer tent; but her strong castle is up
toward the North Pole, on the island that's called Spitzbergen."

"O Kay, little Kay!" cried Gerda.

"You must lie still," exclaimed the robber girl, "or I shall thrust my
knife into your body."

In the morning Gerda told her all that the Wood Pigeons had said, and
the robber girl looked quite serious, and nodded her head and said,
"That's all the same, that's all the same!"

"Do you know where Lapland is?" she asked the Reindeer.

"Who should know better than I?" the creature replied, and its eyes
sparkled in its head. "I was born and bred there; I ran about there in
the snow fields."

"Listen!" said the robber girl to Gerda. "You see all our men have gone
away. Only mother is here still, and she'll stay; but toward noon she
drinks out of the big bottle, and then she sleeps for a little while;
then I'll do something for you."

Then she sprang out of bed, and clasped her mother round the neck and
pulled her beard, crying:

"Good morning, my own old nanny goat." And her mother filliped her nose
till it was red and blue; and it was all done for pure love.

When the mother had drunk out of her bottle and had gone to sleep upon
it, the robber girl went to the Reindeer, and said:

"I should like very much to tickle you a few times more with the knife,
for you are very funny then; but it's all the same. I'll loosen your
cord and help you out, so that you may run to Lapland; but you must use
your legs well, and carry this little girl to the palace of the Snow
Queen, where her playfellow is. You've heard what she told me, for she
spoke loud enough, and you were listening."

The Reindeer sprang up high for joy. The robber girl lifted little Gerda
on its back, and had the forethought to tie her fast, and even to give
her her own little cushion as a saddle.

"There are your fur boots for you," she said, "for it's growing cold;
but I shall keep the muff, for that's so very pretty. Still, you shall
not be cold, for all that; here's my mother's big muffles--they'll just
reach up to your elbows. Now you look just like my ugly mother."

And Gerda wept for joy.

"I can't bear to see you whimper," said the little robber girl. "No, you
just ought to look very glad. And here are two loaves and a ham for you;
now you won't be hungry."

These were tied on the Reindeer's back. The little robber girl opened
the door, coaxed in all the big dogs, and then cut the rope with her
sharp knife, and said to the Reindeer:

"Now run, but take good care of the little girl."

And Gerda stretched out her hands with the big muffles toward the little
robber girl, and said, "Farewell."

And the Reindeer ran over stock and stone, away through the great
forest, over marshes and steppes, as fast as it could go. The wolves
howled, and the ravens croaked. "Hiss! hiss!" sounded through the air.
It seemed as if the sky were flashing fire.

"Those are my old Northern Lights," said the Reindeer. "Look how they
glow!" And then it ran on faster than ever, day and night.



THE SIXTH STORY

THE LAPLAND WOMAN AND THE FINLAND WOMAN


At a little hut they stopped. It was very humble; the roof sloped down
almost to the ground, and the door was so low that the family had to
creep on their stomachs when they wanted to go in or out. No one was in
the house but an old Lapland woman, cooking fish by the light of a
train-oil lamp; and the Reindeer told Gerda's whole history, but it
related its own first, for this seemed to the Reindeer the more
important of the two. Gerda was so exhausted by the cold that she could
not speak.

"Oh, you poor things," said the Lapland woman; "you've a long way to run
yet! You must go more than a hundred miles into Finmark, for the Snow
Queen is there, staying in the country, and burning Bengal Lights every
evening. I'll write a few words on a dried cod, for I have no paper, and
I'll give you that as a letter to the Finland woman; she can give you
better information than I."

And when Gerda had been warmed and refreshed with food and drink, the
Lapland woman wrote a few words on a dried codfish, and telling Gerda to
take care of these, tied her again on the Reindeer, and the Reindeer
sprang away. Flash! flash! The whole night long the most beautiful blue
Northern Lights were burning.

And then they got to Finmark, and knocked at the chimney of the Finland
woman; for she had not even a hut.

There was such a heat in the chimney that the woman herself went about
almost naked. She at once loosened little Gerda's dress and took off the
child's muffles and boots; otherwise it would have been too hot for her
to bear. Then she laid a piece of ice on the Reindeer's head, and read
what was written on the codfish; she read it three times, and when she
knew it by heart, she popped the fish into the soup-cauldron, for it was
eatable, and she never wasted anything.

Now the Reindeer first told his own story, and then little Gerda's; and
the Finland woman blinked with her clever eyes, but said nothing.

"You are very clever," said the Reindeer. "I know you can tie all the
winds of the world together with a bit of twine; if the seaman unties
one knot, he has a good wind; if he loosens the second, it blows hard;
but if he unties the third and fourth, there comes such a tempest that
the forests are thrown down. Won't you give the little girl a draught,
so that she may get twelve men's power, and overcome the Snow Queen?"

"Twelve men's power!" repeated the Finland woman. "Great use that would
be!"

And she went to a bed and brought out a great rolled-up fur, and
unrolled it; wonderful characters were written upon it, and the Finland
woman read until the perspiration ran down her forehead.

But the Reindeer again begged so hard for little Gerda, and Gerda looked
at the Finland woman with such beseeching eyes, full of tears, that she
began to blink again with her own, and drew the Reindeer into a corner,
and whispered to him, while she laid fresh ice upon his head.

"Little Kay is certainly at the Snow Queen's, and finds everything there
to his taste and thinks it is the best place in the world; but that is
because he has a splinter of glass in his eye, and a little fragment in
his heart; but these must be got out, or he will never be a human being
again, and the Snow Queen will keep her power over him."

"But cannot you give something to little Gerda, so as to give her power
over all this?"

"I can give her no greater power than she possesses already; don't you
see how great that is? Don't you see how men and animals are obliged to
serve her, and how she gets on so well in the world, with her naked
feet? She cannot receive her power from us; it consists in this--that
she is a dear, innocent child. If she herself cannot penetrate to the
Snow Queen and get the glass out of little Kay, we can be of no use! Two
miles from here the Snow Queen's garden begins; you can carry the little
girl thither; set her down by the great bush that stands with its red
berries in the snow. Don't stand gossiping, but make haste, and get back
here!"

And then the Finland woman lifted little Gerda on the Reindeer, which
ran as fast as it could.

"Oh, I haven't my boots! I haven't my muffles!" cried Gerda.

She soon noticed that in the cutting cold; but the Reindeer dared not
stop. It ran till it came to the bush with the red berries; there it set
Gerda down, and kissed her on the mouth, and great big tears ran down
the creature's cheeks; and then it ran back, as fast as it could. There
stood poor Gerda without shoes, without gloves, in the midst of the
terrible, cold Finmark.

She ran forward as fast as possible; then came a whole regiment of
snowflakes; but they did not fall down from the sky, for that was quite
bright, and shone with the Northern Lights: the snowflakes ran along the
ground, and the nearer they came, the larger they grew. Gerda still
remembered how large and beautiful the snowflakes had appeared when she
had looked at them through the burning glass. But here they were
certainly far larger and much more terrible--they were alive. They were
advance posts of the Snow Queen, and had the strangest shapes. A few
looked like ugly great porcupines; others like knots formed of snakes,
which stretched forth their heads; and others like little fat bears,
whose hair stood up on end; all were brilliantly white, all were living
snowflakes.

Then little Gerda said her prayer; and the cold was so great that she
could see her own breath, which went forth out of her mouth like smoke.
The breath became thicker and thicker, and formed itself into little
angels, who grew and grew whenever they touched the earth; and all had
helmets on their heads, and shields and spears in their hands. Their
number increased, and when Gerda had finished her prayer a whole legion
stood round about her, and struck with their spears at the terrible
snowflakes, so that these were shattered into a thousand pieces; and
little Gerda could go forward afresh, with good courage. The angels
stroked her hands and feet, and then she felt less how cold it was, and
hastened on to the Snow Queen's palace.

But now we must see what Kay was doing. He was not thinking of little
Gerda, and least of all that she was standing in front of the palace.

[Illustration: THE SNOW QUEEN'S CASTLE]



THE SEVENTH STORY

OF THE SNOW QUEEN'S CASTLE, AND WHAT HAPPENED THERE AT LAST


The walls of the palace were formed of the drifting snow, and the
windows and doors of the cutting winds. There were more than a hundred
halls, all blown together by the snow; the greatest of these extended
for several miles; the strong Northern Lights illuminated them all, and
how great and empty, how icily cold and shining they all were! Never was
merriment there--not even a little bear's ball, at which the storm could
have played the music, while the bears walked about on their hind legs
and showed off their pretty manners; never any little sport of mouth-
slapping or bars-touch; never any little coffee gossip among the young
lady white foxes. Empty, vast, and cold were the halls of the Snow
Queen. The Northern Lights flamed so brightly that one could count them
where they stood highest and lowest. In the midst of this immense empty
snow hall was a frozen lake, which had burst into a thousand pieces; but
each piece was like the rest, so that it was a perfect work of art; and
in the middle of the lake sat the Snow Queen, when she was at home, and
then she said that she sat in the Mirror of Reason, and that this was
the only one, and the best in the world.

Little Kay was quite blue with cold--indeed, almost black! but he did
not notice it, for she had kissed the cold shudderings away from him,
and his heart was like a lump of ice. He dragged a few sharp, flat
pieces of ice to and fro, joining them together in all kinds of ways,
for he wanted to achieve something with them. It was just like when we
have little tablets of wood, and lay them together to form figures--what
we call the Chinese game. Kay also went and laid figures, and, indeed,
very artistic ones. That was the icy game of Reason. In his eyes these
figures were very remarkable and of the highest importance; that was
because of the fragment of glass sticking in his eye. He laid out the
figures so that they formed a word--but he could never manage to lay
down the word as he wished to have it--the word eternity. The Snow Queen
had said:

"If you can find out this figure, you shall be your own master, and I
will give you the whole world and a pair of new skates."

But he could not.

"Now I'll hasten away to the warm lands," said the Snow Queen. "I will
go and look into the black spots." These were the volcanoes, Etna and
Vesuvius, as they are called. "I shall whiten them a little! That's
necessary; that will do the grapes and lemons good."

And the Snow Queen flew away, and Kay sat quite alone in the great icy
hall that was miles in extent, and looked at his pieces of ice, and
thought so deeply that cracks were heard inside him; one would have
thought that he was frozen.

Then it happened that little Gerda stepped through the great gate into
the wide hall. Here reigned cutting winds, but she prayed a prayer, and
the winds lay down as if they would have gone to sleep; and she stepped
into the great, empty, cold halls, and beheld Kay; she knew him, and
flew to him, and embraced him, and held him fast, and called out:

"Kay, dear little Kay! I have found you!"

But he sat quite still, stiff and cold. Then little Gerda wept hot
tears, that fell upon his breast; they penetrated into his heart, they
thawed the lump of ice, and consumed the little piece of glass in it. He
looked at her, and she sang:

"The roses will fade and pass away,
 But we the Christ-child shall see one day."

Then Kay burst into tears; he wept so that the splinter of glass came
out of his eye. Now he recognized her, and cried rejoicingly:

"Gerda, dear Gerda! where have you been all this time? And where have I
been?" And he looked all around him. "How cold it is here! How large and
void!"

And he clung to Gerda, and she laughed and wept for joy. It was so
glorious that even the pieces of ice round about danced for joy; and
when they were tired and lay down, they formed themselves into just the
letters of which the Snow Queen had said that if he found them out he
should be his own master, and she would give him the whole world and a
new pair of skates.

And Gerda kissed his cheeks, and they became blooming; she kissed his
eyes, and they shone like her own; she kissed his hands and feet, and he
then became well and merry. The Snow Queen might now come home; his word
of release stood written in shining characters of ice.

And they took one another by the hand, and wandered forth from the great
palace of ice. They spoke of the grandmother and of the roses on the
roof; and where they went the winds rested and the sun burst forth; and
when they came to the bush with the red berries, the Reindeer was
standing there waiting; it had brought another young Reindeer, which
gave the children warm milk, and kissed them on the mouth. Then they
carried Kay and Gerda, first to the Finnish woman, where they warmed
themselves thoroughly in the hot room, and received instructions for
their journey home; and then to the Lapland woman, who had made them new
clothes and put their sledge in order.

The Reindeer and the young one sprang at their side, and followed them
as far as the boundary of the country. There the first green sprouted
forth, and there they took leave of the two Reindeer and the Lapland
woman. "Farewell!" said all. And the first little birds began to
twitter, the forest was decked with green buds, and out of it, on a
beautiful horse (which Gerda knew, for it was the same that had drawn
her golden coach) a young girl came riding, with a shining red cap on
her head and a pair of pistols in the holsters. This was the little
robber girl, who had grown tired of staying at home, and wished to go
first to the north, and if that did not suit her, to some other region.
She knew Gerda at once, and Gerda knew her too; and it was a right merry
meeting.

"You are a fine fellow to gad about!" she said to little Kay. "I should
like to know if you deserve that one should run to the end of the world
after you?"

But Gerda patted her cheeks, and asked after the prince and princess.

"They've gone to foreign countries," said the robber girl.

"But the Crow?" said Gerda.

"The Crow is dead," answered the other. "The tame one has become a
widow, and goes about with an end of black worsted thread round her leg.
She complains most lamentably, but it's all talk. But now tell me how
you have fared, and how you caught him."

And Gerda and Kay told their story.

"Snipp-snapp-snurre-purre-basellurre!" said the robber girl.

And she took them both by the hand, and promised that if she ever came
through their town, she would come up and pay them a visit. And then she
rode away into the wide world.

But Gerda and Kay went hand in hand, and as they went it became
beautiful spring, with green and with flowers. The church bells sounded,
and they recognized the high steeples and the great town; it was the one
in which they lived, and they went to the grandmother's door, and up the
stairs, and into the room, where everything remained in its usual place.
The big clock was going "Tick! tack!" and the hands were turning; but as
they went through the rooms they noticed that they had become grown-up
people. The roses out on the roof-gutter were blooming in at the open
window, and there stood the children's chairs, and Kay and Gerda sat
upon the chairs, and held each other by the hand. They had forgotten the
cold, empty splendor at the Snow Queen's like a heavy dream. The
grandmother was sitting in God's bright sunshine, and read aloud out of
the Bible, "Except ye become as little children, ye shall in no wise
enter into the kingdom of God."

And Kay and Gerda looked into each other's eyes, and all at once they
understood the old song:

"The roses will fade and pass away,
 But we the Christ-child shall see one day."

There they both sat, grown up, and yet children--children in heart; and
it was summer--warm, delightful summer.



HOW TO REMEMBER THE STORY


When we read a good long story like The Snow Queen, we enjoy it and
think we should like to remember it. If it is really good we ought to
remember it, not only because of its excellence, but, in the case of an
old story, because we so often find allusions to it in our other
reading. The best way to fix a story in mind is to make an outline of
the incidents, or plot. Then we can see the whole thing almost at a
glance, and so remembrance is made easy.

A good outline of The Snow Queen would appear something like this:

I. The Goblin's Mirror. (Enlarges evil; distorts and diminishes good.)
   1. The Mirror is broken.

II. Kay and Gerda.
   1. The little rose garden.
   2. Pieces of the mirror find their way into Kay's eye and heart.
   3. The Snow Queen.
     a. Finds Kay.
     b. Carries him away.
     c. Makes him forget Gerda.
III. Gerda's Search for Kay.
   1. Carried away by the river.
   2. Rescued by the old witch.
IV. In the Flower garden.
   1. The rose reminds Gerda of Kay.
   2. Gerda questions the flowers.
     a. The Tiger Lily.
     b. The Convolvulus.
     c. The Snowdrop.
     d. The Hyacinth.
     e. The Buttercup.
     f. The Jonquil.
V. Gerda Continues Her Search in Autumn.
   1. Gerda meets the Crow and follows him.
     a. The princess's castle,
     b. The prince is not Kay.
     c. Gerda in rich clothes continues her search in a carriage.
VI. Gerda meets the Robbers.
   1. The old woman claims Gerda.
   2. The robber girl fancies Gerda.
   3. The Wood Pigeons tell about Kay.
   4. The Reindeer carries Gerda on her search.
VII. Gerda's Journey on the Reindeer.
   1. The Lapland woman,
     a. Cares for Gerda.
     b. Sends message on a codfish.
   2. The Finland woman.
     a. Cares for Gerda.
     b. Tells what has happened to Kay.
     c. Tells what ails Kay and says Kay may be saved by the power of
        innocent girlhood.
VIII. Kay's Rescue.
   1. At the Snow Queen's palace.
     a. Kay cannot write eternity.
     b. The Snow Queen leaves for Italy.
     c. Gerda finds Kay.
     d. Her tears melt his icy heart.
     e. Her song brings tears that clear his eyes.
     f. Kay knows Gerda.
     g. Pieces of ice spell the word eternity.
h. Gerda's kisses restore Kay to warmth and health.
   2. The return journey.
     a. The reindeer.
     b. The Finland woman.
     c. The Lapland woman.
     d. The prince and princess.
     e. The robber girl.
   3. Gerda and Kay at home.



A GOOD LESSON TO LEARN


There is little use in reading if we do not get from it something that
makes us wiser, better or nobler, or that gives us an inspiration to
work harder and make more of ourselves. I think the author of The Snow
Queen meant that we should get something more than a half-hour's
enjoyment out of his beautiful story.

He makes us like little Kay and his sweet friend Gerda, and then saddens
us with Kay's misfortunes. We do not like to see him become
crossgrained, mean in disposition and stony hearted.

Then we learn to admire the faithfulness and courage and bravery of
Gerda, and follow her to the Snow Queen's palace, afraid every moment
she will not find Kay.

When she does find him, it is her tears of sympathy that melt his icy
heart, her sweet faith in the Christ-child that clears his eyes, and her
love that brings him back to life.

Of course this is all a fairy story; but children and all the race of
grownups, even, may learn that it is only by innocence, sympathy and
love that the wickedness in the world can be overcome.



THE CHIMERA

By Nathaniel Hawthorne


Once, in the old, old times (for all the strange things which I tell you
about happened long before anybody can remember), a fountain gushed out
of a hillside in the marvelous land of Greece. And, for aught I know,
after so many thousand years it is still gushing out of the very
selfsame spot. At any rate, there was the pleasant fountain welling
freshly forth and sparkling adown the hillside in the golden sunset when
a handsome young man named Bellerophon drew near its margin. In his hand
he held a bridle studded with brilliant gems and adorned with a golden
bit. Seeing an old man and another of middle age and a little boy near
the fountain, and likewise a maiden who was dipping up some of the water
in a pitcher, he paused and begged that he might refresh himself with a
draught.

"This is very delicious water," he said to the maiden as he rinsed and
filled her pitcher after drinking out of it. "Will you be kind enough to
tell me whether the fountain has any name?"

"Yes, it is called the Fountain of Pirene," answered the maiden; and
then she added, "My grandmother has told me that this clear fountain was
once a beautiful woman; and when her son was killed by the arrows of the
huntress Diana, she melted all away into tears. And so the water which
you find so cool and sweet is the sorrow of that poor mother's heart!"

"I should not have dreamed," observed the young stranger, "that so clear
a wellspring, with its gush and gurgle and its cheery dance out of the
shade into the sunlight, had so much as one tear-drop in its bosom. And,
this, then, is Pirene? I thank you, pretty maiden, for telling me its
name. I have come from a far-away country to find this very spot."

A middle-aged country fellow (he had driven his cow to drink out of the
spring) stared hard at young Bellerophon and at the handsome bridle
which he carried in his hand.

"The watercourses must be getting low, friend, in your part of the
world," remarked he, "if you come so far only to find the Fountain of
Pirene. But pray, have you lost a horse? I see you carry the bridle in
your hand; and a very pretty one it is, with that double row of bright
stones upon it. If the horse was as fine as the bridle, you are much to
be pitied for losing him."

"I have lost no horse," said Bellerophon with a smile, "but I happen to
be seeking a very famous one, which, as wise people have informed me,
must be found hereabouts if anywhere. Do you know whether the winged
horse Pegasus still haunts the Fountain of Pirene, as he used to do?"

But then the country fellow laughed.

Some of you, my little friends, have probably heard that this Pegasus
was a snow-white steed with beautiful silvery wings, who spent most of
his time on the summit of Mount Helicon. He was as wild and as swift and
as buoyant in his flight through the air as any eagle that ever soared
into the clouds. There was nothing else like him in the world. He had no
mate, he had never been backed or bridled by a master, and for many a
long year he led a solitary and a happy life.

Oh, how fine a thing it is to be a winged horse! Sleeping at night, as
he did, on a lofty mountain top, and passing the greater part of the day
in the air, Pegasus seemed hardly to be a creature of the earth.
Whenever he was seen up very high above people's heads, with the
sunshine on his silvery wings, you would have thought that he belonged
to the sky, and that, skimming a little too low, he had got astray among
our mists and vapors and was seeking his way back again. It was very
pretty to behold him plunge into the fleecy bosom of a bright cloud and
be lost in it for a moment or two, and then break forth from the other
side. Or in a sullen rainstorm, when there was a gray pavement of clouds
over the whole sky, it would sometimes happen that the winged horse
descended right through it, and the glad light of the upper region would
gleam after him. In another instant, it is true, both Pegasus and the
pleasant light would be gone away together. But any one that was
fortunate enough to see this wondrous spectacle felt cheerful the whole
day afterward, and as much longer as the storm lasted.

In the summer time and in the most beautiful of weather Pegasus often
alighted on the solid earth, and, closing his silvery wings, would
gallop over hill and dale for pastime as fleetly as the wind. Oftener
than in any other place he had been seen near the Fountain of Pirene,
drinking the delicious water or rolling himself upon the soft grass of
the margin. Sometimes, too (but Pegasus was very dainty in his food), he
would crop a few of the clover-blossoms that happened to be sweetest. To
the Fountain of Pirene, therefore, people's great-grandfathers had been
in the habit of going (as long as they were youthful and retained their
faith in winged horses) in hopes of getting a glimpse at the beautiful
Pegasus. But of late years he had been very seldom seen. Indeed, there
were many of the country folks dwelling within half an hour's walk of
the fountain who had never beheld Pegasus, and did not believe that
there was any such creature in existence. The country fellow to whom
Bellerophon was speaking chanced to be one of those incredulous persons.

[Illustration: PEGASUS AT THE FOUNTAIN]

And that was the reason why he laughed.

"Pegasus, indeed!" cried he, turning up his nose as high as such a flat
nose could be turned up. "Pegasus, indeed! A winged horse, truly! Why,
friend, are you in your senses? Of what use would wings be to a horse?
Could he drag the plow so well, think you? To be sure, there might be a
little saving in the expense of shoes, but then how would a man like to
see his horse flying out of the stable window?--yes, or whisking him up
above the clouds when he only wanted to ride to mill? No, no! I don't
believe in Pegasus. There never was such a ridiculous kind of a horse-
fowl made!"

"I have reason to think otherwise," said Bellerophon quietly.

And then he turned to an old gray man who was leaning on a staff and
listening very attentively with his head stretched forward and one hand
at his ear, because for the last twenty years he had been getting rather
deaf.

"And what say you, venerable sir?" inquired he. "In your younger days, I
should imagine, you must frequently have seen the winged steed."

"Ah, young stranger, my memory is very poor," said the aged man. "When I
was a lad, if I remember rightly, I used to believe there was such a
horse, and so did everybody else. But nowadays I hardly know what to
think, and very seldom think about the winged horse at all. If I ever
saw the creature, it was a long, long while ago; and, to tell you the
truth, I doubt whether I ever did see him. One day, to be sure, when I
was quite a youth, I remember seeing some hoof-prints round about the
brink of the fountain. Pegasus might have made those hoof-marks, and so
might some other horse."

"And have you never seen him, my fair maiden?" asked Bellerophon of the
girl, who stood with the pitcher on her head while this talk went on.
"You surely could see Pegasus if anybody can, for your eyes are very
bright."

"Once I thought I saw him," replied the maiden, with a smile and a
blush. "It was either Pegasus or a large white bird a very great way up
in the air. And one other time, as I was coming to the fountain with my
pitcher, I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that
was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. But it startled me,
nevertheless, so that I ran home without filling my pitcher."

"That was truly a pity!" said Bellerophon.

And he turned to the child whom I mentioned at the beginning of the
story, and who was gazing at him, as children are apt to gaze at
strangers, with his rosy mouth wide open.

"Well, my little fellow," cried Bellerophon, playfully pulling one of
his curls, "I suppose you have often seen the winged horse."

"That I have," answered the child very readily. "I saw him yesterday and
many times before."

"You are a fine little man!" said Bellerophon, drawing the child closer
to him. "Come, tell me all about it."

"Why," replied the child, "I often come here to sail little boats in the
fountain and to gather pretty pebbles out of its basin. And sometimes,
when I look down into the water, I see the image of the winged horse in
the picture of the sky that is there. I wish he would come down and take
me on his back and let me ride him up to the moon. But if I so much as
stir to look at him, he flies far away, out of sight."

And Bellerophon put his faith in the child who had seen the image of
Pegasus in the water, and in the maiden who had heard him neigh so
melodiously, rather than in the middle-aged clown who believed only in
cart horses, or in the old man who had forgotten the beautiful things of
his youth.

Therefore he haunted about the Fountain of Pirene for a great many days
afterward. He kept continually on the watch, looking upward at the sky
or else down into the water, hoping forever that he should see either
the reflected image of the winged horse or the marvelous reality. He
held the bridle with its bright gems and golden bit always ready in his
hand. The rustic people who dwelt in the neighborhood and drove their
cattle to the fountain to drink would often laugh at poor Bellerophon,
and sometimes take him pretty severely to task. They told him that an
able-bodied young man like himself ought to have better business than to
be wasting his time in such an idle pursuit. They offered to sell him a
horse if he wanted one, and when Bellerophon declined the purchase they
tried to drive a bargain with him for his fine bridle.

Even the country boys thought him so very foolish that they used to have
a great deal of sport about him, and were rude enough not to care a fig
although Bellerophon saw and heard it. One little urchin, for example,
would play Pegasus, and cut the oddest imaginable capers by way of
flying, while one of his schoolfellows would scamper after him holding
forth a twist of bulrushes which was intended to represent Bellerophon's
ornamental bridle. But the gentle child who had seen the picture of
Pegasus in the water comforted the young stranger more than all the
naughty boys could torment him. The dear little fellow in his play-hours
often sat down beside him, and, without speaking a word, would look down
into the fountain and up toward the sky with so innocent a faith that
Bellerophon could not help feeling encouraged.

Now, you will perhaps wish to be told why it was that Bellerophon had
undertaken to catch the winged horse, and we shall find no better
opportunity to speak about this matter than while he is waiting for
Pegasus to appear.

If I were to relate the whole of Bellerophon's previous adventures, they
might easily grow into a very long story. It will be quite enough to say
that in a certain country of Asia a terrible monster called a Chimera
had made its appearance, and was doing more mischief than could be
talked about between now and sunset. According to the best accounts
which I have been able to obtain, this Chimera was nearly, if not quite,
the ugliest and most poisonous creature, and the strangest and
unaccountablest, and the hardest to fight with and the most difficult to
run away from, that ever came out of the earth's inside. It had a tail
like a boa constrictor, its body was like I do not care what, and it had
three separate heads, one of which was a lion's, the second a goat's,
and the third an abominably great snake's; and a hot blast of fire came
flaming out of each of its three mouths. Being an earthly monster, I
doubt whether it had any wings; but, wings or no, it ran like a goat and
a lion, and wriggled along like a serpent, and thus contrived to make
about as much speed as all the three together.

Oh, the mischief and mischief and mischief that this naughty creature
did! With its flaming breath it could set a forest on fire or burn up a
field of grain, or, for that matter, a village with all its fences and
houses. It laid waste the whole country round about, and used to eat up
people and animals alive, and cook them afterwards in the burning oven
of its stomach. Mercy on us, little children! I hope neither you nor I
will ever happen to meet a Chimera.

While the hateful beast (if a beast we can anywise call it) was doing
all these horrible things, it so chanced that Bellerophon came to that
part of the world on a visit to the king. The king's name was Iobates,
and Lycia was the country which he ruled over. Bellerophon was one of
the bravest youths in the world, and desired nothing so much as to do
some valiant and beneficent deed, such as would make all mankind admire
and love him. In those days the only way for a young man to distinguish
himself was by fighting battles, either with the enemies of his country
or with wicked giants or with troublesome dragons or with wild beasts,
when he could find nothing more dangerous to encounter. King Iobates,
perceiving the courage of his youthful visitor, proposed to him to go
and fight the Chimera, which everybody else was afraid of, and which,
unless it should be soon killed, was likely to convert Lycia into a
desert. Bellerophon hesitated not a moment, but assured the king that he
would either slay this dreaded Chimera or perish in the attempt.

But, in the first place, as the monster was so prodigiously swift, he
bethought himself that he should never win the victory by fighting on
foot. The wisest thing he could do, therefore, was to get the very best
and fleetest horse that could anywhere be found. And what other horse in
all the world was half so fleet as the marvelous horse Pegasus, who had
wings as well as legs, and was even more active in the air than on the
earth? To be sure, a great many people denied that there was any such
horse with wings, and said that the stories about him were all poetry
and nonsense. But, wonderful as it appeared, Bellerophon believed that
Pegasus was a real steed, and hoped that he himself might be fortunate
enough to find him; and once fairly mounted on his back, he would be
able to fight the Chimera at better advantage.

And this was the purpose with which he had traveled from Lycia to Greece
and had brought the beautifully ornamented bridle in his hand. It was an
enchanted bridle. If he could only succeed in putting the golden bit
into the mouth of Pegasus, the winged horse would be submissive, and
would own Bellerophon for his master, and fly whithersoever he might
choose to turn the rein.

But, indeed, it was a weary and anxious time while Bellerophon waited
and waited for Pegasus, in hopes that he would come and drink at the
fountain of Pirene. He was afraid lest King Iobates should imagine that
he had fled from the Chimera. It pained him, too, to think how much
mischief the monster was doing, while he himself, instead of fighting
with it, was compelled to sit idly poring over the bright waters of
Pirene as they gushed out of the sparkling sand. And as Pegasus came
thither so seldom in these latter years, and scarcely alighted there
more than once in a lifetime, Bellerophon feared that he might grow an
old man, and have no strength left in his arms nor courage in his heart,
before the winged horse would appear. Oh, how heavily passes the time
while an adventurous youth is yearning to do his part in life and to
gather in the harvest of his renown! How hard a lesson it is to wait!
Our life is brief, and how much of it is spent in teaching us only this!

Well was it for Bellerophon that the gentle child had grown so fond of
him and was never weary of keeping him company. Every morning the child
gave him a new hope to put in his bosom instead of yesterday's withered
one.

"Dear Bellerophon," he would cry, looking up hopefully into his face, "I
think we shall see Pegasus to-day."

And at length, if it had not been for the little boy's unwavering faith,
Bellerophon would have given up all hope, and would have gone back to
Lycia and have done his best to slay the Chimera without the help of the
winged horse. And in that case poor Bellerophon would at least have been
terribly scorched by the creature's breath, and would most probably have
been killed and devoured. Nobody should ever try to fight an earthborn
Chimera unless he can first get upon the back of an aerial steed.

One morning the child spoke to Bellerophon even more hopefully than
usual.

"Dear, dear Bellerophon," cried he, "I know not why it is, but I feel as
if we should certainly see Pegasus to-day."

And all that day he would not stir a step from Bellerophon's side; so
they ate a crust of bread together, and drank some of the water of the
fountain. In the afternoon, there they sat, and Bellerophon had thrown
his arm around the child, who likewise had put one of his little hands
into Bellerophon's. The latter was lost in his own thoughts, and was
fixing his eyes vacantly on the trunks of the trees that over-shadowed
the fountain. But the gentle child was gazing down into the water; he
was grieved, for Bellerophon's sake, that the hope of another day should
be deceived like so many before it, and two or three quiet teardrops
fell from his eyes and mingled with what were said to be the many tears
of Pirene, when she wept for her slain children.

But, when he least thought of it, Bellerophon felt the pressure of the
child's little hand and heard a soft, almost breathless, whisper:

"See there, dear Bellerophon! There is an image in the water."

The young man looked down into the dimpling mirror of the fountain, and
saw what he took to be the reflection of a bird which seemed to be
flying at a great height in the air, with a gleam of sunshine on its
snowy or silvery wings.

"What a splendid bird it must be!" said he. "And how very large it
looks, though it must really be flying higher than the clouds!"

"It makes me tremble," whispered the child. "I am afraid to look up into
the air. It is very beautiful, and yet I dare only look at its image in
the water. Dear Bellerophon, do you not see that it is no bird? It, is
the winged horse Pegasus."

Bellerophon's heart began to throb. He gazed keenly upward, but could
not see the winged creature, whether bird or horse, because just then it
had plunged into the fleecy depths of a summer cloud. It was but a
moment, however, before the object reappeared, sinking lightly down out
of the cloud, although still at a vast distance from the earth.
Bellerophon caught the child in his arms and shrank back with him, so
that they were both hidden among the thick shrubbery which grew all
around the fountain. Not that he was afraid of any harm, but he dreaded
lest, if Pegasus caught a glimpse of them, he would fly far away and
alight in some inaccessible mountain top. For it was really the winged
horse. After they had expected him so long, he was coming to quench his
thirst with the water of Pirene.

Nearer and nearer came the aerial wonder, flying in great circles, as
you may have seen a dove when about to alight. Downward came Pegasus, in
those wide, sweeping circles which grew narrower and narrower still as
he gradually approached the earth. The nigher the view of him, the more
beautiful he was and the more marvelous the sweep of his silvery wings.
At last, with so light a pressure as hardly to bend the grass about the
fountain or imprint a hoof-tramp in the sand of its margin, he alighted,
and, stooping his wild head, began to drink. He drew in the water with
long and pleasant sighs and tranquil pauses of enjoyment, and then
another draught, and another, and another. For nowhere in the world or
up among the clouds did Pegasus love any water as he loved this of
Pirene. And when his thirst was slaked he cropped a few of the honey-
blossoms of the clover, delicately tasting them, but not caring to make
a hearty meal, because the herbage just beneath the clouds on the lofty
sides of Mount Helicon suited his palate better than this ordinary
grass.

After thus drinking to his heart's content, and in his dainty fashion
condescending to take a little food, the winged horse began to caper to
and fro, and dance, as it were, out of mere idleness and sport. There
never was a more playful creature made than this very Pegasus. So there
he frisked in a way that it delights me to think about, fluttering his
great wings as lightly as ever did a linnet, and running little races
half on earth and half in air, and which I know not whether to call a
flight or a gallop. When a creature is perfectly able to fly, he
sometimes chooses to run just for the pastime of the thing; and so did
Pegasus, although it cost him some little trouble to keep his hoofs so
near the ground. Bellerophon, meanwhile, holding the child's hand,
peeped forth from the shrubbery, and thought that never was any sight so
beautiful as this, nor ever a horse's eyes so wild and spirited as those
of Pegasus.

Once or twice Pegasus stopped and snuffed the air, pricking up his ears,
tossing his head, and turning it on all sides, as if he partly suspected
some mischief or other. Seeing nothing, however, and hearing no sound,
he soon began his antics again. At length--not that he was weary, but
only idle and luxurious--Pegasus folded his wings and lay down on the
soft green turf. But, being too full of aerial life to remain quiet for
many moments together, he soon rolled over on his back with his four
slender legs in the air. It was beautiful to see him, this one solitary
creature whose mate had never been created, but who needed no companion,
and, living a great many hundred years, was as happy as the centuries
were long. The more he did such things as mortal horses are accustomed
to do, the less earthly and the more wonderful he seemed. Bellerophon
and the child almost held their breath, partly from a delightful awe,
but still more because they dreaded lest the slightest stir or murmur
should send him up with the speed of an arrow-flight into the farthest
blue of the sky. Finally, when he had had enough of rolling over and
over, Pegasus turned himself about, and, indolently, like any other
horse, put out his forelegs in order to rise from the ground; and
Bellerophon, who had guessed that he would do so, darted suddenly from
the thicket and leaped astride of his back.

Yes, there he sat, on the back of the winged horse!

But what a bound did Pegasus make when, for the first time, he felt the
weight of a mortal man upon his loins! A bound, indeed! Before he had
time to draw a breath Bellerophon found himself five hundred feet aloft,
and still shooting upward, while the winged horse snorted and trembled
with terror and anger. Upward he went, up, up, up, until he plunged into
the cold, misty bosom of a cloud at which, only a little while before,
Bellerophon had been gazing and fancying it a very pleasant spot. Then
again, out of the heart of the cloud, Pegasus shot down like a
thunderbolt, as if he meant to dash both himself and his rider head-long
against a rock. Then he went through about a thousand of the wildest
caprioles that had ever been performed either by a bird or a horse.

I cannot tell you half that he did. He skimmed straight forward, and
sideways, and backward. He reared himself erect, with his forelegs on a
wreath of mist and his hind legs on nothing at all. He flung out his
heels behind and put down his head between his legs, with his wings
pointing right upward. At about two miles' height above the earth he
turned a somersault, so that Bellerophon's heels were where his head
should have been, and he seemed to look down into the sky, instead of
up. He twisted his head about, and, looking Bellerophon in the face,
with fire flashing from his eyes, made a terrible attempt to bite him.
He fluttered his pinions so wildly that one of the silver feathers was
shaken out, and, floating earthward, was picked up by the child, who
kept it as long as he lived in memory of Pegasus and Bellerophon.

But the latter (who, as you may judge, was as good a horseman as ever
galloped) had been watching his opportunity, and at last clapped the
golden bit of the enchanted bridle between the winged steed's jaws. No
sooner was this done than Pegasus became as manageable as if he had
taken food all his life out of Bellerophon's hand. To speak what I
really feel, it was almost a sadness to see so wild a creature grow
suddenly so tame. And Pegasus seemed to feel it so likewise. He looked
round to Bellerophon with tears in his beautiful eyes, instead of the
fire that so recently flashed from them. But when Bellerophon patted his
head and spoke a few authoritative, yet kind and soothing words, another
look came into the eyes of Pegasus; for he was glad at heart, after so
many lonely centuries, to have found a companion and a master. Thus it
always is with winged horses and with all such wild and solitary
creatures. If you can catch and overcome them, it is the surest way to
win their love.

While Pegasus had been doing his utmost to shake Bellerophon off his
back, he had flown a very long distance, and they had come within sight
of a lofty mountain by the time the bit was in his mouth. Bellerophon
had seen this mountain before, and knew it to be Helicon, on the summit
of which was the winged horse's abode. Thither (after looking gently
into his rider's face, as if to ask leave) Pegasus now flew, and,
alighting, waited patiently until Bellerophon should please to dismount.
The young man accordingly leaped from his steed's back, but still held
him fast by the bridle. Meeting his eyes, however, he was so affected by
the gentleness of his aspect and by his beauty, and by the thought of
the free life which Pegasus had heretofore lived, that he could not bear
to keep him a prisoner if he really desired his liberty.

Obeying this generous impulse, he slipped the enchanted bridle off the
head of Pegasus and took the bit from his mouth.

"Leave me, Pegasus!" said he. "Either leave me or love me."

In an instant the winged horse shot almost out of sight, soaring
straight upward from the summit of Mount Helicon. Being long after
sunset, it was now twilight on the mountain top and dusky evening over
all the country round about. But Pegasus flew so high that he overtook
the departed day, and was bathed in the upper radiance of the sun.
Ascending higher and higher, he looked like a bright speck, and at last
could no longer be seen in the hollow waste of the sky. And Bellerophon
was afraid that he should never behold him more. But while he was
lamenting his own folly the bright speck reappeared, and drew nearer and
nearer until it descended lower than the sunshine; and behold, Pegasus
had come back! After this trial there was no more fear of the winged
horse's making his escape. He and Bellerophon were friends, and put
loving faith in one another.

That night they lay down and slept together, with Bellerophon's arm
about the neck of Pegasus, not as a caution, but for kindness. And they
awoke at peep of day and bade one another good morning, each in his own
language.

In this manner Bellerophon and the wondrous steed spent several days,
and grew better acquainted and fonder of each other all the time. They
went on long aerial journeys, and sometimes ascended so high that the
earth looked hardly bigger than the moon. They visited different
countries and amazed the inhabitants, who thought that the beautiful
young man on the back of the winged horse must have come down out of the
sky. A thousand miles a day was no more than an easy space for the fleet
Pegasus to pass over. Bellerophon was delighted with this kind of life,
and would have liked nothing better than to live always in the same way,
aloft in the clear atmosphere; for it was always sunny weather up there,
however cheerless and rainy it might be in the lower region. But he
could not forget the horrible Chimera which he had promised King Iobates
to slay. So at last, when he had become well accustomed to feats of
horsemanship in the air, and could manage Pegasus with the least motion
of his hand, and had taught him to obey his voice, he determined to
attempt the performance of this perilous adventure.

At daybreak, therefore, as soon as he unclosed his eyes, he gently
pinched the winged horse's ear in order to arouse him. Pegasus
immediately started from the ground and pranced about a quarter of a
mile aloft, and made a grand sweep around the mountain top by way of
showing that he was wide awake and ready for any kind of an excursion.
During the whole of this little flight, he uttered a loud, brisk, and
melodious neigh, and finally came down at Bellerophon's side as lightly
as you ever saw a sparrow hop upon a twig.

"Well done, dear Pegasus! well done, my sky-skimmer!" cried Bellerophon,
fondly stroking the horse's neck. "And now, my fleet and beautiful
friend, we must break our fast. To-day we are to fight the terrible
Chimera."

As soon as they had eaten their morning meal and drunk some sparkling
water from a spring called Hippocrene, Pegasus held out his head of his
own accord so that his master might put on the bridle. Then, with a
great many playful leaps and airy caperings, he showed his impatience to
be gone, while Bellerophon was girding on his sword and hanging his
shield about his neck and preparing himself for battle. When everything
was ready, the rider mounted, and (as was his custom when going a long
distance) ascended five miles perpendicularly, so as the better to see
whither he was directing his course. He then turned the head of Pegasus
toward the east, and set out for Lycia. In their flight they overtook an
eagle, and came so nigh him, before he could get out of their way, that
Bellerophon might easily have caught him by the leg. Hastening onward at
this rate, it was still early in the forenoon when they beheld the lofty
mountains of Lycia with their deep and shaggy valleys. If Bellerophon
had been told truly, it was in one of those dismal valleys that the
hideous Chimera had taken up its abode.

Being now so near their journey's end, the winged horse gradually
descended with his rider, and they took advantage of some clouds that
were floating over the mountain tops in order to conceal themselves.
Hovering on the upper surface of a cloud and peeping over its edge,
Bellerophon had a pretty distinct view of the mountainous part of Lycia,
and could look into all its shadowy vales at once. It was a wild,
savage, and rocky tract of high and precipitous hills. In the more level
part of the country there were ruins of burned houses, and here and
there the carcasses of dead cattle strewn about the pastures where they
had been feeding.

"The Chimera must have done this mischief," thought Bellerophon. "But
where can the monster be?"

As I have already said, there was nothing remarkable to be detected at
first sight in any of the valleys and dells that lay among the
precipitous heights of the mountains--nothing at all, unless, indeed, it
were three spires of black smoke which issued from what seemed to be the
mouth of a cavern and clambered sullenly into the atmosphere. Before
reaching the mountain top these three black smoke-wreaths mingled
themselves into one. The cavern was almost directly beneath the winged
horse and his rider, at the distance of about a thousand feet. The
smoke, as it crept heavily upward, had an ugly, sulphurous, stifling
scent which caused Pegasus to snort and Bellerophon to sneeze. So
disagreeable was it to the marvelous steed (who was accustomed to
breathe only the purest air) that he waved his wings and shot half a
mile out of the range of this offensive vapor.

But on looking behind him, Bellerophon saw something that induced him
first to draw the bridle and then to turn Pegasus about. He made a sign,
which the winged horse understood, and sunk slowly through the air until
his hoofs were scarcely more than a man's height above the rocky bottom
of the valley. In front, as far off as you could throw a stone, was the
cavern's mouth with the three smoke-wreaths oozing out of it. And what
else did Bellerophon behold there?

There seemed to be a heap of strange and terrible creatures curled up
within the cavern. Their bodies lay so close together that Bellerophon
could not distinguish them apart; but, judging by their heads, one of
these creatures was a huge snake, the second a fierce lion, and the
third an ugly goat.

The lion and the goat were asleep; the snake was broad awake, and kept
staring around him with a great pair of fiery eyes. But--and this was
the most wonderful part of the matter--the three spires of smoke
evidently issued from the nostrils of these three heads! So strange was
the spectacle, that, though Bellerophon had been all along expecting it,
the truth did not immediately occur to him that here was the terrible
three-headed Chimera. He had found out the Chimera's cavern. The snake,
the lion, and the goat, as he supposed them to be, were not three
separate creatures, but one monster!

The wicked, hateful thing! Slumbering as two thirds of it were, it still
held in its abominable claws the remnant of an unfortunate lamb--or
possibly (but I hate to think so) it was a dear little boy--which its
three mouths had been gnawing before two of them fell asleep!

All at once Bellerophon started as from a dream, and knew it to be the
Chimera. Pegasus seemed to know it at the same instant, and sent forth a
neigh that sounded like the call of a trumpet to battle. At this sound
the three heads reared themselves erect and belched out great flashes of
flame. Before Bellerophon had time to consider what to do next, the
monster flung itself out of the cavern and sprung straight toward him,
with its immense claws extended and its snaky tail twisting itself
venomously behind. If Pegasus had not been as nimble as a bird, both he
and his rider would have been overthrown by the Chimera's headlong rush,
and thus the battle have been ended before it was well begun. But the
winged horse was not to be caught so. In the twinkling of an eye he was
up aloft, halfway to the clouds, snorting with anger. He shuddered, too,
not with affright, but with utter disgust at the loathsomeness of this
poisonous thing with three heads.

[Illustration: PEGASUS DARTED DOWN ASLANT TOWARD THE CHIMERA'S THREE-
FOLD HEAD.]

The Chimera, on the other hand, raised itself up so as to stand
absolutely on the tip end of its tail, with its talons pawing fiercely
in the air and its three heads spluttering fire at Pegasus and his
rider. My stars! how it roared and hissed and bellowed! Bellerophon,
meanwhile, was fitting his shield on his arm and drawing his sword.

"Now, my beloved Pegasus," he whispered in the winged horse's ear, "thou
must help me to slay this insufferable monster, or else thou shalt fly
back to thy solitary mountain peak without thy friend Bellerophon. For
either the Chimera dies, or its three mouths shall gnaw this head of
mine, which has slumbered upon thy neck."

Pegasus whinnied, and, turning back his head, rubbed his nose tenderly
against his rider's cheek. It was his way of telling him that, though he
had wings and was an immortal horse, yet he would perish, if it were
possible for immortality to perish, rather than leave Bellerophon
behind.

"I thank you, Pegasus," answered Bellerophon. "Now, then, let us make a
dash at the monster!"

Uttering these words, he shook the bridle, and Pegasus darted down
aslant, as swift as the flight of an arrow, right toward the Chimera's
three-fold head, which all this time was poking itself as high as it
could into the air. As he came within arm's length, Bellerophon made a
cut at the monster, but was carried onward by his steed before he could
see whether the blow had been successful. Pegasus continued his course,
but soon wheeled round at about the same distance from the Chimera as
before. Bellerophon then perceived that he had cut the goat's head of
the monster almost off, so that it dangled downward by the skin, and
seemed quite dead. But, to make amends, the snake's head and the lion's
head had taken all the fierceness of the dead one into themselves, and
spit flame and hissed and roared with more fury than before.

"Never mind, my brave Pegasus!" cried Bellerophon. "With another stroke
like that we will surely stop either its hissing or its roaring."

And again he shook the bridle. Dashing aslant-wise as before, the winged
horse made another arrow-flight toward the Chimera, and Bellerophon
aimed another downright stroke at one of the two remaining heads as he
shot by. But this time neither he nor Pegasus escaped so well as at
first. With one of its claws the Chimera had given the young man a deep
scratch in his shoulder, and had slightly damaged the left wing of the
flying steed with the other. On his part, Bellerophon had mortally
wounded the lion's head of the monster, insomuch that it now hung
downward, with its fire almost extinguished, and sending out gasps of
thick black smoke. The snake's head, however (which was the only one now
left), was twice as fierce and venomous as ever before. It belched forth
shoots of fire five hundred yards long, and emitted hisses so loud, so
harsh, and so ear-piercing that King Iobates heard them fifty miles off,
and trembled till the throne shook under him.

"Well-a-day!" thought the poor king; "the Chimera is certainly coming to
devour me."

Meanwhile Pegasus had again paused in the air and neighed angrily, while
sparkles of a pure crystal flame darted out of his eyes. How unlike the
lurid fire of the Chimera! The aerial steed's spirit was all aroused,
and so was that of Bellerophon.

"Dost thou bleed, my immortal horse?" cried the young man, caring less
for his own hurt than for the anguish of this glorious creature that
ought never to have tasted pain. "The execrable Chimera shall pay for
this mischief with his last head."

Then he shook the bridle, shouted loudly and guided Pegasus, not
aslantwise as before, but straight at the monster's hideous front. So
rapid was the onset that it seemed but a dazzle and a flash before
Bellerophon was at close gripes with his enemy.

The Chimera by this time, after losing its second head, had got into a
red-hot passion of pain and rampant rage. It so flounced about, half on
earth and partly in the air, that it was impossible to say which element
it rested upon. It opened its snake jaws to such an abominable width
that Pegasus might almost, I was going to say, have flown right down its
throat, wings outspread, rider and all! At their approach it shot out a
tremendous blast of its fiery breath and enveloped Bellerophon and his
steed in a perfect atmosphere of flame, singeing the wings of Pegasus,
scorching off one whole side of the young man's ringlets, and making
them both far hotter than was comfortable from head to foot.

But this was nothing to what followed.

When the airy rush of the winged horse had brought him within the
distance of a hundred yards, the Chimera gave a spring, and flung its
huge, awkward, venomous and utterly detestable carcass right upon poor
Pegasus, clung round him with might and main, and tied up its snaky tail
into a knot! Up flew the aerial steed, higher, higher, above the
mountain peaks, above the clouds, and almost out of sight of the solid
earth. But still the earth-born monster kept its hold and was borne
upward along with the creature of light and air. Bellerophon, meanwhile,
turning about, found himself face to face with the ugly grimness of the
Chimera's visage, and could only avoid being scorched to death or bitten
right in twain by holding up his shield. Over the upper edge of the
shield he looked sternly into the savage eyes of the monster.

But the Chimera was so mad and wild with pain that it did not guard
itself so well as might else have been the case. Perhaps, after all, the
best way to fight a Chimera is by getting as close to it as you can. In
its efforts to stick its horrible iron claws into its enemy the creature
left its own breast quite exposed, and, perceiving this, Bellerophon
thrust his sword up to the hilt into its cruel heart. Immediately the
snaky tail untied its knot. The monster let go its hold of Pegasus and
fell from that vast height downward, while the fire within its bosom,
instead of being put out, burned fiercer than ever, and quickly began to
consume the dead carcass. Thus it fell out of the sky all aflame, and
(it being nightfall before it reached the earth) was mistaken for a
shooting star or a comet. But at early sunrise some cottagers were going
to their day's labor, and saw, to their astonishment, that several acres
of ground were strewn with black ashes. In the middle of a field there
was a heap of whitened bones a great deal higher than a haystack.
Nothing else was ever seen of the dreadful Chimera. And when Bellerophon
had won the victory he bent forward and kissed Pegasus, while the tears
stood in his eyes.

"Back, now, my beloved steed!" said he. "Back to the fountain of
Pirene!"

Pegasus skimmed through the air quicker than ever he did before, and
reached the fountain in a very short time. And there he found the old
man leaning on his staff, and the country fellow watering his cow, and
the pretty maiden filling her pitcher.

"I remember now," quoth the old man, "I saw this winged horse once
before, when I was quite a lad. But he was ten times handsomer in those
days."

"I own a cart horse worth three of him," said the country fellow. "If
this pony were mine, the first thing I should do would be to clip his
wings."

But the poor maiden said nothing, for she had always the luck to be
afraid at the wrong time. So she ran away, and let her pitcher tumble
down, and broke it.

"Where is the gentle child," asked Bellerophon, "who used to keep me
company, and never lost his faith, and never was weary of gazing into
the fountain?"

"Here am I, dear Bellerophon!" said the child softly.

For the little boy had spent day after day on the margin of Pirene,
waiting for his friend to come back; but when he perceived Bellerophon
descending through the clouds, mounted on the winged horse, he had
shrunk back into the shrubbery. He was a delicate and tender child, and
dreaded lest the old man and the country fellow should see the tears
gushing from his eyes.

"Thou hast won the victory," said he joyfully, running to the knee of
Bellerophon, who still sat on the back of Pegasus. "I knew thou
wouldst."

"Yes, dear child!" replied Bellerophon, alighting from the winged horse.
"But if thy faith had not helped me, I should never have waited for
Pegasus, and never have gone up above the clouds, and never have
conquered the terrible Chimera. Thou, my little friend, hast done it
all. And now let us give Pegasus his liberty." So he slipped off the
enchanted bridle from the head of the marvelous steed.

"Be free for evermore, my Pegasus!" cried he, with a shade of sadness in
his tone. "Be as free as thou art fleet."

But Pegasus rested his head on Bellerophon's shoulder, and would not
take flight.

"Well, then," said Bellerophon, caressing the airy horse, "thou shalt be
with me as long as thou wilt, and we will go together forthwith and tell
King Iobates that the Chimera is destroyed."

Then Bellerophon embraced the gentle child and promised to come to him
again, and departed. But in after years that child took higher flights
upon the aerial steed than ever did Bellerophon, and achieved more
honorable deeds than his friend's victory over the Chimera. For, gentle
and tender as he was, he grew to be a mighty poet!



A VISIT FROM SAINT NICHOLAS

By Clement C. Moore


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,--
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys,--and Saint Nicholas, too.
And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump,--a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed, when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose,
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"


Clement Clarke Moore, who wrote this poem, published a whole volume of
poems, but none of the others is as famous as is this. It was written
for his own children, and he did not even know that it was to be
published. It appeared in the Troy Sentinel in 1823, just two days
before Christmas, and we can imagine how delighted children were when
they had it read to them for the first time. It is not a great poem; but
no Christmas poem that has been published since has been half as popular
with children, and even grown people like it for its jolliness and its
Christmas spirit.



THE STORY OF PHAETHON


Phaeton, the son of the nymph Clymene, was very proud of his mother's
beauty, and used to boast of it greatly to his playmates. Tired of the
boy's bragging and conceit, one of his friends said to him one day:

"You're very willing to talk about your mother, but I notice you never
speak of your father. Are you ashamed of him?"

"No, I'm not," replied Phaethon, trying to look unabashed.

"Well, then, tell us about him. If he were anything great, you would be
willing enough to brag about him."

And because Phaethon kept quiet, all of his playmates began to jeer at
him, cruelly enough.

"You don't know your father. You've never seen him," they cried.

Phaethon would not cry before them, but there were tears of shame and
anger in his eyes as he told the story to his mother.

"Never mind, my boy," she said soothingly, "To-morrow you shall tell
them the name of your father, and that will stop their taunts. Come, let
me whisper it to you."

When Phaethon heard what she had to tell him, his eyes shone with joy
and pride, and he could scarce wait for morning to carry his news to his
mocking friends. He was first at the meeting-place, but he would say
nothing until all his playmates were gathered. Then he said, quietly,
but O, so proudly:

"My father is Apollo, the sun-god!"

For a moment there was silence; then came a burst of laughter from the
group crowded about Phaethon.

"A likely story! Who ever heard anything so ridiculous? It's quite plain
that your mother is ashamed of your father, and is trying to throw you
off the track."

Again Phaethon ran home, his cheeks burning, his eyes flashing, and
again he told his mother all that had passed.

"It's too late to do anything about it to-day," said Clymene, "but to-
morrow you shall go yourself to your father's palace, before he sets out
on his trip across the sky; and if he is pleased with you, he will give
you some proof that you are really his son."

Long before daylight the next morning Phaethon set out, and with his
mother's directions in mind, walked straight east until he came to the
dazzling palace of the sun. Had he not been a bold youth, he would have
been frightened and turned back; but he was determined to prove his
boasts, and passed on into the palace. At last, on a great golden
throne, he saw his father--surely a more glorious father than ever boy
had before. So glorious was he that Phaethon dared not approach him
closely, as the light about the throne was blinding. When Apollo
recognized him, however, he took off the crown of rays from about his
head and called to Phaethon to approach fearlessly.

As the boy stood before the throne, he was a son of whom no father, even
Apollo, needed to be ashamed; and as he hurried into his story, the sun-
god smiled at the signs of his impetuous temper.

"You're willing to own me for your son, aren't you?" finished Phaethon.

"To be sure I am," replied the sun-god; "and that your mates may never
have chance to doubt it more, I swear by the terrible Styx [Footnote:
The Styx was one of the great rivers of Hades. The oath by the Styx was
regarded as so binding that even a god could not break it without being
punished severely for his perjury. Any god who broke his oath was
obliged to drink of the black waters of the Styx which kept him in utter
unconsciousness for a year; and after his return to consciousness he was
banished for nine years from Olympus.] to give you any proof you ask."

It did not take Phaethon long to decide--he had made up his mind on the
way; and his words fairly tumbled over each other as he cried eagerly:

"Then I'll drive the sun-chariot for a day!"

Apollo was horrified, for he knew that he alone of the gods could manage
the fiery steeds; and if great Jupiter himself could not do it, what
would happen if they were placed in the power of this slight boy? He
begged Phaethon to release him from his promise, but--

"You promised, you promised!" repeated the boy. "You swore by the Styx,
and you CAN'T break your word."

This was true, as Apollo knew well; and at length, with a sigh, he
turned and called to his servants, the Hours, who stood ready to attend
him on his journey:

"Harness my steeds, and make sure that everything is right about the
chariot."

While this was being done, Apollo explained carefully to his son the
dangers of the way, hoping yet to turn him from his purpose.

"The path runs steeply upward at first," he said, "and with all their
strength the horses can scarce drag the chariot. During the middle of
the day the course is high, high in the heavens, and it will sicken you
and make you dizzy if you look down. But the latter part of the drive is
most dangerous, for it slopes rapidly down, and if the horses are not
tightly reined in, horses, chariot and driver will fall headlong into
the sea."

Nothing frightened Phaethon.

"You see," he explained, "it's not as if I didn't know how to drive.
I've often driven my grandfather's horses, and they are wild and
strong."

By this time the magnificent golden chariot and the six horses of white
fire were ready, and after one last plea to his son, Apollo permitted
him to mount the seat. He anointed the boy's face with a cooling lotion,
that the heat might not scorch him, and placed the crown of beams about
his head.

"And now," he said, "you must be off. Already the people on earth are
wondering why the sun does not rise. Do remember, my boy, not to use the
whip, and to choose a path across the heavens which is neither too high
nor too low."

With but scant attention to his father's advice, Phaethon gave the word
to his steeds and dashed out of the gates which Aurora opened for him.
And thus began a day which the gods on Olympus and the people on earth
never forgot.

[Illustration: IN VAIN PHAETHON PULLED AT THE REINS.]

The horses easily perceived that some other hand than their master's
held the lines, and they promptly became unmanageable. In vain Phaethon
pulled at the reins; in vain he called the steeds by name. Up the sky
they dashed, and then, first to the south, then to the north, they took
their zigzag course across the heavens. What a sight it must have
presented from below, this sun reeling crazily about the sky! Worst of
all, however, the horses did not keep at the same distance from the
earth. First they went down, down, until they almost touched the
mountain tops. Trees, grass, wheat, flowers, all were scorched and
blackened; and one great tract in Africa was so parched that nothing has
since been able to grow upon it. Rivers were dried up, the snow on the
mountain tops was melted, and, strangest of all, the people in the
country over which the sun-chariot was passing were burned black.
[Footnote: In this way the ancients explained the great desert of
Sahara, and the dark color of the people of Africa.] Then, rising, the
horses dragged the chariot so far from the earth that intense, bitter
cold killed off much of the vegetation which the fierce heat had spared.

Poor Phaethon could do nothing but clutch the seat and shut his eyes. He
dared not look down, lest he lose his balance and fall; he dared not
look about him, for there were, in all parts of the heavens, the most
terrifying animals--a great scorpion, a lion, two bears, a huge crab.
[Footnote: These terrifying animals which Phaethon saw in the sky were
the groups of stars, the constellations to which the ancients gave the
names of animals etc. We know the Big Dipper, or Great Bear, for we may
see it in the north any clear night.] Vainly he repented of his
rashness; sadly he wondered in what way his death would come.

It came suddenly--so suddenly that poor Phaethon did not feel the pain
of it. For Jupiter, when he saw the sun rocking about the heavens, did
not stop to inquire who the unknown charioteer was; he knew it was not
Apollo, and he knew the earth was being ruined--that was enough. Seizing
one of his biggest thunderbolts, he hurled it with all his might, and
Phaethon fell, flaming, from his lofty seat into the Eridanus River;
while the horses, whom no thunderbolt could harm, trotted quietly back
to their stalls. Clymene bewailed her son's death bitterly, and his
companions, grieved that their taunts should have driven their comrade
to his destruction, helped her to erect over his grave a stone on which
were these words:

"Lies buried here young Phaethon, who sought
 To guide his father's chariot of flame.
 What though he failed? No death ignoble his
 Who fared to meet it with such lofty aim."

 Most of the Greek myths had meanings; they were not simply fairy
stories. And while we have no means now of finding the meanings of some
of them, many of them are so clear that we can understand exactly what
the Greeks meant to teach by them. By far the most numerous are the so-
called "nature myths"--myths which they invented to explain the
happenings which they saw constantly about them in the natural world. Of
these nature myths the story of Phaethon is one.

The ancients believed that drought was caused by the sun's coming too
close to the earth; but how could Apollo, experienced driver of the sun-
chariot, ever be so careless as to drive close enough to the earth to
burn it? It was easy enough to imagine that the chariot, when it did
such damage, was being driven by some reckless person who knew not how
to guide it. But then arose the necessity of explaining Apollo's
willingness to trust such a reckless person with so great a task; and
what more likely than that the inexperienced charioteer was Apollo's
beloved son, who had induced his father to grant his rash request?
Gradually details were added, until the story took the form in which we
have it.

As the drought of summer is often brought to a close by a storm which is
accompanied by thunder and lightning, and which hides the light of the
sun, so in the story Phaethon's ruinous drive is brought to an end by
the thunderbolt of Jupiter; while the horses, trotting back home before
their time, leave the world in comparative darkness.

It must not be supposed that some one just sat down one day and said, "I
will tell a story which shall explain drought and the ending of
drought." This story, like all the others, grew up gradually. Perhaps,
one day, in time of drought, some one said to his neighbor, "The chariot
of Apollo is coming too close to the earth," and perhaps his neighbor
replied, "Some one who knows not how to guide the white horses is
driving it." Such language might in time easily become the common
language for describing times of drought; and so, at length, would grow
up, out of what was at first merely a description, in figurative
language, of a natural happening, a story, in dramatic form.



THE ENGLISH ROBIN

By Harrison Weir


See yon robin on the spray;
  Look ye how his tiny form
Swells, as when his merry lay
  Gushes forth amid the storm.

Though the snow is falling fast,
  Specking o'er his coat with white,
Though loud roars the chilly blast,
  And the evening's lost in night,

Yet from out the darkness dreary
  Cometh still that cheerful note;
Praiseful aye, and never weary,
  Is that little warbling throat.

Thank him for his lesson's sake,
  Thank God's gentle minstrel there,
Who, when storms make others quake,
  Sings of days that brighter were.


The English robin is not the bird we call robin redbreast in the United
States. Our robin is a big, lordly chap about ten inches long, but the
English robin is not more than five and a half inches long; that is, it
is smaller than an English sparrow. The robin of the poem has an olive-
green back and a breast of yellowish red, and in habits it is like our
warblers. It is a sweet singer, and a confiding, friendly little thing,
so that English children are very fond of it, and English writers are
continually referring to it.



TOM, THE WATER BABY

By Charles Kingsley


INTRODUCTORY NOTE


Charles Kingsley, who was born in 1819, and became Canon of the Church
of England at Chester, wrote, in addition to his interesting and
brilliant novels, The Water Babies, which is a charming fairy story for
young people. It is, however, one of those stories that can be read more
than once, and read by all classes of people.

Besides telling the delightful story of Tom, the water baby, and his
wonderful adventures on land and in water, Canon Kingsley gives in a
very amusing style accounts of many of the animals that live in and near
the water. But he brings them all into the story in such a way that they
seem to be real, living characters, and you are almost as much
interested in the stately salmon and his wife, or even in the funny old
lobster, as you would be if they were actual human beings.

As the story was written originally, there was a great deal in it for
children of much larger growth than those who will read it here. In some
respects the story resembles Gulliver's Travels, for Kingsley took
occasion to be satirical about many of the things which men and women
say, do and believe. Some of this satire children will enjoy thoroughly,
but some of it could not be understood well except by persons who have
lived in this world for many years. Accordingly, in this book, we have
thought it best to leave out some things, giving you only the story of
Tom, and hoping that when you young readers grow to manhood or womanhood
you will find The Water Babies, complete, a good story to read. You will
enjoy recalling the delight you have in it now, and will find out that
even a children's story may be so told as to keep a man thinking.

Moreover, the story was written by an Englishman for an English boy, and
there are a great many allusions to things that only English boys
appreciate or understand, and it has seemed wise to omit most of these.
On the other hand, nothing has been omitted to weaken the story of Tom,
and nothing has been added to destroy the charm of Canon Kingsley's
writing.



CHAPTER I


Once upon a time there was a little chimney-sweep, [Footnote: A boy
would have a hard time crawling through some of our chimneys nowadays,
but years ago, when houses had open fireplaces instead of steam plants,
there was a network of huge chimneys through which a small boy could
easily work his way, brushing off the soot as he went.] and his name was
Tom. That is a short name, and you have heard it before, so you will not
have much trouble in remembering it. He lived in a great town in the
North country, where there were plenty of chimneys to sweep, and plenty
of money for Tom to earn and his master to spend. He could not read nor
write, and did not care to do either; and he never washed himself, for
there was no water up the court where he lived. He had never been taught
to say his prayers. He never had heard of God, or of Christ, except in
words which you never have heard, and which it would have been well if
he had never heard.

[Illustration: THERE WAS A LITTLE CHIMNEY SWEEP, AND HIS NAME WAS TOM.]

He cried half his time, and laughed the other half. He cried when he had
to climb the dark flues, rubbing his poor knees and elbows raw; and when
the soot got into his eyes, which it did every day in the week; and when
his master beat him, which he did every day in the week; and when he had
not enough to eat, which happened every day in the week likewise. And he
laughed the other half of the day, when he was tossing halfpennies with
the other boys, or playing leapfrog over the posts, or bowling stones at
the horses' legs as they trotted by, which last was excellent fun, when
there was a wall at hand behind which to hide.

As for chimneysweeping, and being hungry, and being beaten, he took all
that for the way of the world, like the rain and snow and thunder, and
stood manfully with his back to it till it was over, as his old donkey
did to a hailstorm; and then shook his ears and was as jolly as ever;
and thought of the fine times coming, when he would be a man, and a
master sweep, [Footnote: A master sweep was a man who had grown too
large to climb up chimneys, but who kept boys whom he hired out for that
purpose.] and sit in the public-house with a quart of beer and a long
pipe, and play cards for silver money, and wear velveteens and ankle-
jacks, and keep a white bulldog with one gray ear, and carry her puppies
in his pocket, just like a man. And he would have apprentices, one, two,
three, if he could. How he would bully them, and knock them about, just
as his master did to him; and make them carry home the soot sacks, while
he rode before them on his donkey, with a pipe in his mouth and a flower
in his buttonhole, like a king at the head of his army. Yes, there were
good times coming; and when his master let him have a pull at the
leavings of his beer, Tom was the jolliest boy in the whole town.

One day a smart little groom rode into the court where Tom lived, and
halloed to him to know where Mr. Grimes, the chimney-sweep, lived. Now,
Mr. Grimes was Tom's own master, and Tom was a good man of business, and
always civil to customers, so he proceeded to take orders.

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

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

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

Harthover Place was really a grand place, even for the rich North
country, and Sir John a grand old man, whom even Mr. Grimes respected;
for not only could he send Mr. Grimes to prison when he deserved it, as
he did once or twice a week; not only did he own all the land about for
miles; not only was he as jolly, honest, sensible squire as ever kept a
pack of hounds, who would do what he thought right by his neighbors, as
well as get what he thought right for himself; but what was more, he
weighed full fifteen stone, was nobody knew how many inches round the
chest, and could have thrashed Mr. Grimes himself in fair fight, which
very few folk round there could do, and which, my dear little boy, would
not have been right for him to do, as a great many things are not which
one can do, and would like very much to do. So Mr. Grimes touched his
hat to him when he rode through the town, and thought that that made up
for his poaching Sir John's pheasants.

So Tom and his master set out; Grimes rode the donkey in front, and Tom
and the brushes walked behind; out of the court, and up the street, past
the closed window shutters, and the winking weary policemen, and the
roofs all shining gray in the gray dawn. They passed through the
pitmen's village, all shut up and silent now, and through the turn-pike;
and then they were out in the real country, and plodding along the black
dusty road, between black slag walls, with no sound but the groaning and
thumping of the pit-engine in the next field. But soon the road grew
white, and the walls likewise; and at the wall's foot grew long grass
and gay flowers, all drenched with dew; and instead of the groaning of
the pit-engine, they heard the skylark, saying his matins high up in the
air, and the pit-bird warbling in the sedges, as he had warbled all
night long.

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

[Illustration: THEY CAME UP WITH A POOR IRISHWOMAN.]

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

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

"This is a hard road for a gradely [Footnote: GRADELY, or GRAITHLY, is
an old word which meant DECENT or COMELY.] foot like that. Will ye up,
lass, and ride behind me?"

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

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

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

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

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

At last, at the bottom of a hill, they came to a spring; a real North
country fountain, like one of those in Sicily or Greece, where the old
heathen fancied the nymphs [Footnote: The nymphs, according to the
ancient Greeks, were divinities in the shape of beautiful maidens, who
lived in the woods or in springs and streams.] sat cooling themselves
the hot summer's day, while the shepherds peeped at them from behind the
bushes. Out of a low cave of rock, at the foot of a limestone crag, the
great fountain rose, quelling, and bubbling, and gurgling, so clear that
you could not tell where the water ended and the air began; and ran away
under the road, a stream large enough to turn a mill; among blue
geranium, and golden globeflower, and wild raspberry, and the bird
cherry with its tassels of snow. [Footnote: These are English flowers,
but you probably know some of them. The wild geranium, for instance,
with its pinkish-purple flowers, is common in our woods. The globeflower
is of rather a pale yellow, and its petals curl in so that it looks like
a ball.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Stop!" said the Irishwoman. "I have one more word for you both; for you
will both see me again before all is over. THOSE THAT WISH TO BE CLEAN,
CLEAN THEY WILL BE; AND THOSE THAT WISH TO BE FOUL, FOUL THEY WILL BE.
REMEMBER."

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

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

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

And now they had gone three miles and more, and came to Sir John's lodge
gates. Grimes rang at the gate, and out came a keeper [Footnote: A
keeper is a man appointed, on a large estate, to see that no one
trespasses on the grounds or poaches the game.] on the spot, and opened.

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

[Illustration.]

"Not if it's in the bottom of the soot bag," quoth Grimes, and at that
he laughed; and the keeper laughed and said: "If that's thy sort, I may
as well walk up with thee to the hall."

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

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

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

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

"What are bees?" asked Tom.

"What make honey."

"What is honey?" asked Tom.

"Thou hold thy noise," said Grimes.

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

Grimes laughed, for he took that for a compliment.

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

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

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

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

"Not now."

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

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

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

[Illustration: HARTHOVER PLACE.]

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

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

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

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

The other picture was that of a man nailed to a cross, which surprised
Tom much. He fancied that he had seen something like it in a shop
window. But why was it there? "Poor man," thought Tom, "and he looks so
kind and quiet." But why should the lady have such a sad picture as that
in her room? Perhaps it was some kinsman of hers, who had been murdered
by the savages in foreign parts, and she kept it there for a
remembrance. And Tom felt sad, and awed, and turned to look at something
else. The next thing he saw, and that, too, puzzled him, was a washing-
stand, with ewers and basins, and soap and brushes, and towels, and a
large bath full of clean water--what a heap of things all for washing!
"She must be a very dirty lady," thought Tom, "by my master's rule, to
want as much scrubbing as all that. But she must be very cunning to put
the dirt out of the way so well afterwards, for I don't see a speck
about the room, not even on the very towels."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He did not need to drop out, though he would have done so bravely
enough; for all under the window spread a tree, with great leaves and
sweet white flowers, almost as big as his head. It was magnolia, I
suppose; but Tom knew nothing about that, and cared less; for down the
tree he went, like a cat, and across the garden lawn, and over the iron
railings, and up the park towards the wood, leaving the old nurse to
scream murder and fire at the window.

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

[Illustration.]

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

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

Tom, of course, made for the woods. He had never been in a wood in his
life; but he was sharp enough to know that he might hide in a bush, or
swarm up a tree, and, altogether, had more chance there than in the
open.

But when he got into the wood, he found it a very different sort of
place from what he had fancied. He pushed into a thick cover of
rhododendrons, and found himself at once caught in a trap. The boughs
laid hold of his legs and arms, poked him in his face and his stomach,
made him shut his eyes tight (though that was no great loss, for he
could not see at best a yard before his nose); and when he got through
the rhododendrons, the hassock-grass and sedges tumbled him over, and
cut his poor little fingers afterwards most spitefully; the birches
birched him as soundly as if he had been a nobleman at Eton, [Footnote:
Eton is one of the most famous of English public schools. The young
British nobles here meet and associate with the young commoners in the
most democratic manner.] and over the face, too (which is not fair
swishing, as all brave boys will agree).

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

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

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

And there he was, out on the great grouse moors, which the country folk
called Harthover Fell--[Footnote: FELL is the name given, in parts of
England, to moors, or stretches of high, open country of any sort.]
heather and bog and rock, stretching away and up, up to the very sky.

Now, Tom was a cunning little fellow--as cunning as an old Exmoor
[Footnote: Exmoor is a region in Somersetshire and Devonshire, in
England. It was formerly a forest, but is now a moor, and is a favorite
resort of the deer.] stag. Why not? Though he was but ten years old, he
had lived longer than most stags, and had more wits to start with into
the bargain.

He knew as well as a stag that if he backed he might throw the hounds
out. So the first thing he did when he was over the wall was to make the
neatest double, sharp to his right, and run along under the wall for
nearly half a mile. Meanwhile the gardener and the groom, the dairymaid
and the ploughman, and all the hue and cry together, went on ahead half
a mile in the very opposite direction, and inside the wall, leaving him
a mile off on the outside; while Tom heard their shouts die away in the
woods and chuckled to himself merrily.

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

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

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

And now Tom was right away into the heather, over a moor growing more
and more broken and hilly, but not so rough but that little Tom could
jog along well enough, and find time, too, to stare about at the strange
place, which was like a new world to him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration.]

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER II


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

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

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

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

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

Then bump down a two-foot step of limestone.

Then another bit of grass and flowers.

Then bump down a one-foot step.

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

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

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

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

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

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

At last he got to the bottom. But, behold, it was not the bottom--as
people usually find when they are coming down a mountain. For at the
foot of the crag were heaps and heaps of fallen limestone of every size
from that of your head to that of a stage-waggon, with holes between
them full of sweet heath fern; and before Tom got through them, he was
out in the bright sunshine again; and then he felt, once for all and
suddenly, as people generally do, that he was b-e-a-t, beat. You must
expect to be beat a few times in your life, little man, if you live such
a life as a man ought to live, let you be as strong and healthy as you
may; and when you are, you will find it a very ugly feeling. I hope that
that day you may have a stout, staunch friend by you who is not beat;
for, if you have not, you had best lie where you are, and wait for
better times, as poor Tom did.

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: THE OLD DAME LOOKED AT TOM]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Water," said Tom.

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

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

"Where didst come from?" said the dame.

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

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

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

"And how got ye up there?"

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

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

"No."

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

"I can't."

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

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

"Is it Sunday?"

"No, then; why should it be?"

"Because I hear the church bells ringing so."

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

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

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

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

But Tom did not fall asleep.

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

[Illustration.]

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

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

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

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

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

"Where have you been?" they asked her.

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

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

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

Then the fairies were sad, because they could not play with their new
brother; but they always did what they were told. And their queen
floated away down the river; and whither she went, thither she came.

But all this Tom, of course, never saw or heard; and perhaps if he had
it would have made little difference in the story; for he was so hot and
thirsty, and longed so to be clean for once, that he tumbled himself as
quick as he could into the clear, cool stream.

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

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

The kind old dame came back at twelve, when school was over, to look at
Tom; but there was no Tom there. She looked about for his footprints;
but the ground was so hard that there was no slot, as they say in dear
old North Devon.

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

  * * * * *

When Sir John and the rest of them had run themselves out of breath, and
lost Tom, they went back again, looking very foolish. And they looked
more foolish still when Sir John heard more of the story from the nurse;
and more foolish still, again, when they heard the whole story from Miss
Ellie, the little lady in white.

All she had seen was a poor little black chimney-sweep, crying and
sobbing, and going to get up the chimney again. Of course, she was very
much frightened; and no wonder. But that was all. The boy had taken
nothing in the room; by the mark of his little sooty feet, they could
see that he had never been off the hearth rug till the nurse caught hold
of him. It was all a mistake.

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

But no Tom came back to Mr. Grimes that evening; and he went to the
police office, to tell them to look out for the boy. But no Tom was
heard of.

So Mr. Grimes came up to Harthover next day with a very sour face; but
when he got there, Sir John was over the hills and far away; and Mr.
Grimes had to sit in the outer servants' hall all day, and drink strong
ale to wash away his sorrows; and they were washed away long before Sir
John came back. For good Sir John had slept very badly that night; and
he said to his lady, "My dear, the boy must have got over into the
grouse moors, and lost himself; and he lies very heavily on my
conscience, poor little lad. But I know what I will do."

So, at five the next morning up he got, and bade them bring his shooting
pony, and the keeper to come on his pony, and the huntsman, and the
first whip, and the second whip, and the underkeeper with the bloodhound
in a leash--a great dog as tall as a calf, of the colour of a gravel
walk, with mahogany ears and nose, and a throat like a church bell. They
took him up to the place where Tom had gone into the wood; and there the
hound lifted up his mighty voice, and told them all he knew.

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

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

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

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

"Heaven forgive us!" said Sir John. "If we find him at all, we shall
find him lying at the bottom."

And he slapped his great hand upon his great thigh, and said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: SIR JOHN SEARCHING FOR TOM]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Tom?

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

A water baby? You never heard of a water baby? Perhaps not. That is the
very reason why this story was written. There are a great many things in
the world which you never heard of; and a great many more which nobody
ever heard of; and a great many things, too, which nobody will ever hear
of.

No water babies, indeed? Why, wise men of old said that everything on
earth had its double in the water; and you may see that that is, if not
quite true, still quite as true as most other theories which you are
likely to hear for many a day. There are land babies--then why not water
babies? ARE THERE NOT WATER RATS, WATER FLIES, WATER CRICKETS, WATER
CRABS, WATER TORTOISES, WATER SCORPIONS, WATER TIGERS AND SO ON WITHOUT
END?

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

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

But good Sir John did not understand all this, and he took it into his
head that Tom was drowned. When they looked into the empty pockets of
his shell, and found no jewels there, nor money--nothing but three
marbles, and a brass button with a string to it--then Sir John did
something as like crying as ever he did in his life, and blamed himself
more bitterly than he need have done. So he cried, and the groom-boy
cried, and the huntsman cried, and the dame cried, and the little girl
cried, and the dairymaid cried, and the old nurse cried (for it was
somewhat her fault), and my lady cried, for though people have wigs,
that is no reason why they should not have hearts; but the keeper did
not cry, though he had been so good-natured to Tom the morning before;
for he was so dried up with running after poachers, that you could no
more get tears out of him than milk out of leather; and Grimes did not
cry, for Sir John gave him ten pounds, and he drank it all in a week.

Sir John sent, far and wide, to find Tom's father and mother; but he
might have looked till Doomsday for them, for one was dead, and the
other was in Botany Bay. [Footnote: Botany Bay was originally the name
of a settlement established in New South Wales, in Eastern Australia,
for the reception of criminals from England. Later, the name came to be
applied to any distant colony to which criminals were transported.] And
the little girl would not play with her dolls for a whole week, and
never forgot poor little Tom. And soon my lady put a pretty little
tombstone over Tom's shell in the little churchyard in Vendale.

And the dame decked it with garlands every Sunday, till she grew so old
that she could not stir abroad; then the little children decked it for
her. And always she sang an old, old song, as she sat spinning what she
called her wedding dress. The children could not understand it, but they
liked it none the less for that; for it was very sweet and very sad; and
that was enough for them. And these are the words of it:--

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

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

[Illustration.]

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

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

Now, if you don't like my story, then go to the schoolroom and learn
your multiplication table, and see if you like that better. Some people,
no doubt, would do so. So much the better for us, if not for them. It
takes all sorts, they say, to make a world.



CHAPTER III


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now you must know that all the things under the water talk; only not
such a language as ours; but such as horses, and dogs, and cows, and
birds talk to each other; and Tom soon learned to understand them and
talk to them; so that he might have had very pleasant company if he had
only been a good boy. But I am sorry to say, he was too like some other
little boys, very fond of hunting and tormenting creatures for mere
sport, till they were all afraid of him, and got out of his way, or
crept into their shells; so he had no one to speak to or play with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: "OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL CREATURE! SAID TOM.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Very neat and quiet indeed," said Tom.

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

"And what will become of your wife?"

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

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

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

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

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

And no more Tom could. For the little rogue had jumped clean out of his
own skin, and left it standing on Tom's knee, eyes, wings, legs, tail,
exactly as if it had been alive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"To drive dull care away-ay-ay!"

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

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

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

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

Tom asked the dragon fly what it could be; but of course, with his short
sight, he could not even see it, though it was not ten yards away. So
Tom took the neatest little header into the water, and started off to
see for himself; and, when he came near, the ball turned out to be four
or five beautiful otters, many times larger than Tom, who were swimming
about, and rolling, and diving, and twisting, and wrestling, and
cuddling, and kissing, and biting, and scratching, in the most charming
fashion that ever was seen.

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

[Illustration: TOM ESCAPED THE OTTER]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What are salmon?" asked Tom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the otter grew so sentimental (for otters can be very sentimental
when they choose, like a good many people who are both cruel and greedy,
and no good to anybody at all) that she sailed solemnly away down the
burn, and Tom saw her no more for that time.

And lucky it was for her that she did so; for no sooner was she gone,
than down the bank came seven rough terrier dogs, snuffing and yapping,
and grubbing and splashing, in full cry after the otter. Tom hid among
the water lilies till they were gone; for he could not guess that they
were the water fairies come to help him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A full hundred yards broad it was, sliding on from broad pool to broad
shallow, and broad shallow to broad pool, over great fields of shingle,
under oak and ash coverts, past low cliffs of sandstone, past green
meadows, and fair parks, and a great house of gray stone, and brown
moors above, and here and there against the sky the smoking chimney of a
colliery.

[Illustration: THE SALMON, KING OF ALL THE FISH]

But Tom thought nothing about what the river was like. All his fancy
was, to get down to the wide, wide sea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a well-bred old salmon he was!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No indeed, poor little dear; but how sad for him to live among such
people as caddises, who have actually six legs, the nasty things; and
dragon flies, too! why they are not even good to eat; for I tried them
once, and they are all hard and empty; and as for trout, every one knows
what they are." Whereon she curled up her lip, and looked dreadfully
scornful, while her husband curled up his, too, till he looked as proud
as Alcibiades. [Footnote: Alcibiades was a particularly handsome and
particularly proud Greek, who lived in the time of the great wars
between the two Greek states of Athens and Sparta. He took part in these
wars, first on the side of Athens, then on the side of Sparta, and
finally succeeded in gaining the hatred of both states by his treachery
and unscrupulousness. He went into exile, but was finally put to death
by the Persians at the command of the Athenians and Spartans (404 B.
C.)]

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

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



CHAPTER IV


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

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

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

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

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

And he heard a voice say:

"There was a fish rose."

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

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

"Tak' that muckle fellow, lad; he's ower fifteen punds; and haud your
hand steady." [Footnote: MUCKLE is an old English word meaning LARGE.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He might have made himself easy, poor little man; Mr. Grimes did not
turn into a water baby, or anything like one at all. But he did not make
himself easy; and a long time he was fearful lest he should meet Grimes
suddenly in some deep pool. He could not know that the fairies had
carried him away, and put him, where they put everything which falls
into the water, exactly where it ought to be.

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration]

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

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

To have come all this way, and faced so many dangers, and yet to find no
water babies! How hard! Well, it did seem hard; but people, even little
babies, cannot have all they want without waiting for it, and working
for it too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: PORPOISES]

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then he left the buoy, and used to go along the sands and round the
rocks, and come out in the night--like the forsaken Merman [Footnote:
This beautiful poem which Kingsley speaks of here is Matthew Arnold's
The Forsaken Merman, which you will find in Volume VII of these books.]
in Mr. Arnold's beautiful, beautiful poem, which you must learn by heart
some day--and sit upon a point of rock, among the shining sea weeds, in
the low October tides, and cry and call for the water babies; but he
never heard a voice call in return. And at last, with his fretting and
crying, he grew quite lean and thin.

But one day among the rocks he found a playfellow. It was not a water
baby, alas! but it was a lobster; and a very distinguished lobster he
was; for he had live barnacles on his claws, which is a great mark of
distinction in lobsterdom, and no more to be bought for money than a
good conscience or the Victoria Cross. [Footnote: The Victoria Cross is
a decoration awarded British soldiers or sailors for distinguished
bravery. The crosses are made from cannon captured in the Crimean War,
and bear, under the crowned lion which is the British royal crest, the
words "For Valour". No other military decoration is so prized.]

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

[Illustration: A LOBSTER]

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

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

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

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

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

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

It befell (to go on a second time), that Sir John, hunting all day and
dining at five, fell asleep every evening, and snored so terribly that
all the windows in Harthover shook, and the soot fell down the chimneys.
Whereon my Lady, being no more able to get conversation out of him than
a song out of a dead nightingale, determined to go off and leave him and
the doctor and Captain Swinger, the agent, to snore in concert every
evening to their hearts' content. So she started for the seaside with
all the children, in order to put herself and them into condition by
mild applications of iodine.

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

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

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

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

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

The professor, however, was not the least of little Ellie's opinion.

"But why are there not water babies?" asked Ellie.

I trust and hope that it was because the professor trod at that moment
on the edge of a very sharp mussel, and hurt one of his corns sadly,
that he answered quite sharply, forgetting that he was a scientific man,
"Because there ain't."

Which was not even good English, my dear little boy; for, as you must
know, the professor ought to have said, if he was so angry as to say
anything of the kind--Because there are not: or are none: or are none of
them. And he groped with his net under the weeds so violently, that he
caught poor little Tom. He felt the net very heavy; lifted it out
quickly, with Tom all entangled in the meshes.

"Dear me!" he cried. "What a large pink Holothurian; [Footnote: The
Holothurians are curious creatures, such as the sea cucumbers or the sea
slugs. One genus or class of them is known as the Synapta. These
creatures are quite rudimentary, and have, as the professor's next
remark will tell you, no eyes. A Cephalopod is higher in the scale, and
has well-developed eyes.] with hands, too! It must be connected with
Synapta." And he took him out.

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

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

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

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

Now, if the professor had said to Ellie, "Yes, my darling, it is a water
baby, and a very wonderful thing it is; and it shows how little I know
of the wonders of nature in spite of forty years of honest labour;"--I
think that, if the professor had said that, little Ellie would have
believed him more firmly, and respected him more deeply, and loved him
better, than ever she had done before. But he was of a different
opinion. He hesitated a moment. He longed to keep Tom, and yet he half
wished he never had caught him; and at last he quite longed to get rid
of him. So he turned away and poked Tom with his finger, for want of
anything better to do; and said carelessly, "My dear little maid, you
must have dreamt of water babies last night, your head is so full of
them."

[Illustration: ELLIE AND THE PROFESSOR]

Now Tom had been in the most horrible and unspeakable fright all the
while; for it was fixed in his little head that if a man with clothes on
caught him, he might put clothes on him too, and make a dirty black
chimney-sweep of him again. But when the professor poked him, it was
more than he could bear; and, between fright and rage, he turned to bay
valiantly, and bit the professor's finger till it bled.

"Oh! ah! yah!" cried he; and glad of an excuse to be rid of Tom, dropped
him on to the seaweed, and thence he dived into the water and was gone
in a moment. "But it was a water baby, and I heard it speak!" cried
Ellie. "Ah, it is gone!" And she jumped off the rock to try and catch
Tom.

Too late! and what was worse, as she sprang down, she slipped, and fell
some six feet with her head on a sharp rock, and lay quite still. The
professor picked her up, and tried to waken her, and called to her, and
cried over her, for he loved her very much; but she would not waken at
all. So he took her up in his arms and carried her to her governess, and
they all went home; and little Ellie was put to bed, and lay there quite
still; only now and then she woke up and called out about the water
baby; but no one knew what she meant, and the professor did not tell,
for he was ashamed to tell.

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



CHAPTER V


But what became of little Tom?

He slipped away off the rocks into the water, as I said before. But he
could not help thinking of little Ellie. He did not remember who she
was; but he knew that she was a little girl, though she was larger than
he was now. That is not surprising; size has nothing to do with kindred.
A tiny weed may be first cousin to a great tree; and a little dog like
Vick knows that Lioness is a dog too, though she is twenty times larger
than herself.

So Tom knew that Ellie was a little girl, and thought about her all that
day, and longed to have had her to play with; but he had soon to think
of something else.

And here is the account of what happened to him, as it was published
next morning in the Waterproof Gazette, on the finest watered paper, for
the use of the great fairy, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, who reads the news
very carefully every morning, and especially the police cases.

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

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

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

"Why did you get in?"

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

"Where did you get in?"

"Through that round hole at the top."

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

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

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

Tom looked at the trap, and having more wit than the lobster, he saw
plainly enough what was the matter; as you may if you will look at a
lobster-pot. [Footnote: You will understand from the lobster's
description of his attempt to get out of the "cage of green withes" in
which he found himself, that the lobster pot had hooks or spikes which
were bent in toward the center, so that the opening in the top was but
small.] "Stop a bit," said Tom. "Turn your tail up to me, and I'll pull
you through hindforemost, and then you won't stick in the spikes."

But the lobster was so stupid and clumsy that he couldn't hit the hole.
Like a great many fox hunters, he was very sharp as long as he was in
his own country; but as soon as they get out of it they lose their
heads; and so the lobster, so to speak, lost his tail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the lobster would not let go.

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

And that was the end of the wicked otter.

But the lobster would not let go.

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

But the lobster would not let go.

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

Tom asked the lobster why he never thought of letting go. He said very
determinedly that it was a point of honour among lobsters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What shall I help you at?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now when Tom got to the home of the water babies, in Saint Brandan's
fairy isle, he found that the isle stood all on pillars, and that its
roots were full of caves. There were pillars of black basalt and pillars
of green and crimson serpentine; and pillars ribboned with red and white
and yellow sandstone; and there were blue grottoes and white grottoes,
all curtained and draped with seaweeds, purple and crimson, green and
brown; and strewn with soft white sand, on which the water babies sleep
every night. But, to keep the place clean and sweet, the crabs picked up
all the scraps off the floor and ate them like so many monkeys; while
the rocks were covered with ten thousand sea anemones, and corals and
madrepores, who scavenged the water all day long, and kept it nice and
pure. But, to make up to them for having to do such nasty work, they
were not left black and dirty, as poor chimney-sweeps and dustmen are.
No; the fairies are more considerate and just than that, and have
dressed them all in the most beautiful colours and patterns, till they
look like vast flower beds of gay blossoms.

And, instead of watchmen and policemen to keep out nasty things at
night, there were thousands and thousands of water snakes, and most
wonderful creatures they were.

They were dressed in green velvet, and black velvet, and purple velvet;
and were all jointed in rings; and some of them had three hundred brains
apiece, so that they must have been uncommonly shrewd detectives; and
some had eyes in their tails; and some had eyes in every joint, so that
they kept a very sharp lookout; and when they wanted a baby snake, they
just grew one at the end of their own tails, and when it was able to
take care of itself it dropped off; so that they brought up their
families very cheaply. But if any nasty thing came by, out they rushed
upon it; and then out of each of their hundreds of feet there sprang a
whole cutler's shop of
 Scythes,    Creeses,
 Billhooks,  Ghoorka swords,
 Pickaxes,   Tucks,
 Forks,      Javelins,
 Penknives,  Lances,
 Rapiers,    Halberts.
 Sabres,     Gisarines,
 Yataghans,  Poleaxes,
 Fishhooks,  Corkscrews,
 Bradawls,   Pins,
 Gimlets,    Needles,
    And so forth,
which stabbed, shot, poked, pricked, scratched, ripped, pinked, and
crimped those naughty beasts so terribly that they had to run for their
lives, or else be chopped into small pieces and be eaten afterwards.

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

[Illustration: MRS. BEDONEBYASYOUDID]

But I wish Tom had given up all his naughty tricks, and left off
tormenting dumb animals now that he had plenty of playfellows to amuse
him. Instead of that, I am sorry to say, he would meddle with the
creatures, all but the water snakes, for they would stand no nonsense.
So he tickled the madrepores, to make them shut up; and frightened the
crabs, to make them hide in the sand and peep out at him with the tips
of their eyes; and put stones into the anemones' [Footnote: The anemones
spoken of here are not to be confused with the flowers which grow on
land. The sea anemones are alive, but the circles of tentacles about
their mouths make them look like flowers of the most beautiful colors.
They have no eyes, and of course could not see what Tom was offering
them.] mouths, to make them fancy that their dinner was coming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Who told you that?" said Tom.

"You did yourself, this very minute."

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

"Yes; every one tells me exactly what they have done wrong; and that
without knowing it themselves, So there is no use trying to hide
anything from me. Now go, and be a good boy, and I will put no more
pebbles in your mouth, if you put none in other creatures'." "I did not
know there was any harm in it," said Tom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And first she called up all the doctors who give little children so much
physic (they were most of them old ones; for the young ones have learnt
better), and she set them all in a row; and very rueful they looked; for
they knew what was coming.

And first she pulled all their teeth out; and then she bled them all
round; and then she dosed them with calomel, and jalap, and salts and
senna, and brimstone and treacle; and horrible faces they made; and then
she gave them a great emetic of mustard and water, and began all over
again; and that was the way she spent the morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Pray, ma'am, may I ask you a question?"

"Certainly, my little dear."

"Why don't you bring all the bad masters here and serve them out, too?
The butties [Footnote: Butty, in the English coal-mining regions, is the
name given to a man who takes a contract to work out a certain area of
coal. He employs other people to work for him. A nailer is a man who
makes nails.] that knock about the poor collier-boys; and the nailers
that file off their lads' noses and hammer their fingers; and all the
master sweeps, like my master Grimes? I saw him fall into the water long
ago; so I surely expected he would have been here. I'm sure he was bad
enough to me."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And she took up two great armfuls of babies--nine hundred under one arm
and thirteen hundred under the other--and threw them away, right and
left, into the water. But they did not even take their thumbs out of
their mouths, but came paddling and wriggling back to her like so many
tadpoles, till you could see nothing of her from head to foot for the
swarm of little babies.

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

[Illustration: SHE TOOK TOM IN HER ARMS]

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VI


Here I come to the very saddest part of all my story.

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

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

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

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

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

Some people may say, "But why did she not keep her cupboard locked?"
Well, I know. It may seem a very strange thing, but she never does keep
her cupboard locked; every one may go and taste for himself, and fare
accordingly. It is very odd, but so it is; and I am quite sure that she
knows best. Perhaps she wishes people to learn to keep their fingers out
of the fire by having them burned. She took off her spectacles, because
she did not like to see too much; and in her pity she arched up her
eyebrows into her very hair, and her eyes grew so wide that they would
have taken in all the sorrows of the world, and filled with great big
tears, as they too often do.

[Illustration: TOM FOUND THE CABINET]

But all she said was: "Ah, you poor little dear! you are just like all
the rest."

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

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

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

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

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

No. She leaves that for anxious parents and teachers (lazy ones, some
call them), who, instead of giving children a fair trial, such as they
would expect and demand for themselves, force them by fright to confess
their own faults--which is so cruel and unfair that no judge on the
bench dare do it to the wickedest thief or murderer, for the good
British law forbids it--ay, and even punish them to make them confess,
which is so detestable a crime that it is never committed now.

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

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

But when he put the sweets into his mouth, he hated the taste of them;
and they made him so sick that he had to get away as fast as he could;
and terribly sick he was, and very cross and unhappy, all the week
after. Then, when next week came, he had his share again; and again the
fairy looked him full in the face; but more sadly than she had ever
looked. And he could not bear the sweets; but took them again in spite
of himself.

And when Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby came, he wanted to be cuddled like
the rest; but she said very seriously: "I should like to cuddle you, but
I cannot; you are so horny and prickly."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, I think it is time for you to go to school; so I shall fetch you
a schoolmistress, who will teach you how to get rid of your prickles."
And so she went away.

Tom was frightened at the notion of a schoolmistress; for he thought she
would certainly come with a birch-rod or a cane; but he comforted
himself, at last, that she might be something like the old woman in
Vendale--which she was not in the least; for when the fairy brought her,
she was the most beautiful little girl that ever was seen, with long
curls floating behind her like a golden cloud, and long robes floating
all round her like a silver one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To a very beautiful place, she said.

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

Ah! that is just what she could not say. And it is strange, but true,
that no one can say; and that those who have been oftenest in it, or
even nearest to it, can say least about it, and make people understand
least what it is like.

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

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

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

"You must ask the fairies that."

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

"Little boys who are only fit to play with sea beasts cannot go there,"
she said. "THOSE WHO GO THERE MUST GO FIRST WHERE THEY DO NOT LIKE, AND
DO WHAT THEY DO NOT LIKE, AND HELP SOMEBODY THEY DO NOT LIKE."

"Why, did Ellie do that?"

"Ask her."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And at that Tom cried bitterly.

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

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

"Why do you want that?"

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

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

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

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

And she took out of one of her cupboards (she had all sorts of
mysterious cupboards in the cracks of the rocks) the most wonderful
water-proof book, full of such photographs as never were seen. For she
had found out photography (and this is a fact) more than 13,598,000
years before anybody was born; and what is more, her photographs did not
merely represent light and shade, as ours do, but colour also. And
therefore her photographs were very curious and famous, and the children
looked with great delight at the opening of the book.

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

In the first picture they saw these Doasyoulikes living in the land of
Readymade, at the foot of the Happy-go-lucky Mountains, where flapdoodle
[Footnote: Flapdoodle is the food on which fools are supposed to be
fed.] grows wild; and if you want to know what that is, you must read
Peter Simple. [Footnote: Peter Simple is a novel by Captain Marryat.]

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes."

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

"Yes."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And in the next five hundred years they were all dead and gone, by bad
food and wild beasts and hunters; all except one tremendous old fellow
with jaws like a jack, who stood full seven feet high; and M. Du Chaillu
[Footnote: Paul du Chaillu, who was born in 1835, in New Orleans,
Louisiana, made some very remarkable discoveries during his explorations
in Africa--so wonderful, in fact, that people refused to believe them.
He was the first man to observe the habits of gorillas, and to obtain
specimens.] came up to him, and shot him, as he stood roaring and
thumping his breast. And he remembered that his ancestors had once been
men, and tried to say, "Am I not a man and a brother?" but had forgotten
how to use his tongue; and then he tried to call for a doctor, but he
had forgotten the word for one, So all he said was "Ubboboo!" and died.

And that was the end of the great and jolly nation of the Doasyoulikes.
And when Tom and Ellie came to the end of the book, they looked very sad
and solemn; and they had good reason so to do, for they really fancied
that the men were apes.

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VII


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: Tom looking up at a bird wearing glasses on a boulder.]

So he asked all the beasts in the sea, and all the birds in the air, but
none of them knew the way to Shiny Wall. For why? He was still too far
down south. But for that there was a remedy. And so he swam northward,
day after day, till at last he met the King of the Herrings, with a
currycomb growing out of his nose, and a sprat in his mouth for a cigar,
and asked him the way to Shiny Wall; so he bolted the sprat head
foremost, and said:

"If I were you, young gentleman, I should go to the Allalonestone, and
ask the last of the Gairfowl. [Footnote: Gairfoul, or garefowl, was
another name for the great auk. This bird was about thirty inches long,
and its wings were so small in proportion to its body that it could not
fly. There have been no great auks since about the middle of the
nineteenth century.] She is of a very ancient clan, very nearly as
ancient as my own; and knows a good deal which these modern upstarts
don't, as ladies of old houses are likely to do."

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

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

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

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

And away Tom went for seven days and seven nights due northwest, till he
came to a great cod-bank, the like of which he never saw before.

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

And instead of wings, she had two little feathery arms, with which she
fanned herself, and complained of the dreadful heat.

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

"Have you wings? Can you fly?"

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

"Then I shall have great pleasure in talking to you, my dear. It is
quite refreshing nowadays to see anything without wings. They must all
have wings, forsooth, now, every new upstart sort of bird, and fly. What
can they want with flying, and raising themselves above their proper
station in life? In the days of my ancestors no birds ever thought of
having wings, and did very well without; and now they all laugh at me
because I keep to the good old fashion."

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

"Shiny Wall? Who should know better than I? We all came from Shiny Wall,
thousands of years ago, when it was decently cold, and the climate was
fit for gentlefolk; but now, we have quite gone down in the world, my
dear, and have nothing left but our honour. And I am the last of my
family. A friend of mine and I came and settled on this rock when we
were young, to be out of the way of low people. Once we were a great
nation, and spread over all the Northern Isles. But men shot us so, and
knocked us on the head and took our eggs--why, if you will believe it,
they say that on the coast of Labrador the sailors used to lay a plank
from the rock on board the thing called their ship, and drive us along
the plank by hundreds, till we tumbled down in the ship's waist in
heaps, and then, I suppose, they ate us, the nasty fellows! Well--but--
what was I saying? At last, there were none of us left, except on the
old Gairfowlskerry, just off the Iceland coast, up which no man could
climb. Even there we had no peace; for one day, when I was quite a young
girl, the land rocked, and the sea boiled, and the sky grew dark, and
all the air was filled with smoke and dust, and down tumbled the old
Gairfowlskerry into the sea. The dovekies and marrocks, [Footnote: The
dovekies and the marrocks, or marrots, are smaller birds belonging to
the auk family.] of course, all flew away; but we were too proud to do
that. Some of us were dashed to pieces, and the rest drowned, and so
here I am left alone. And soon I shall be gone, my little dear, and
nobody will miss me; and then the poor stone will be left all alone."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the way, in a wrecked ship Tom found a little black and tan terrier
dog, which began barking and snapping at him, and would not let him come
near.

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

And the poor little dog?

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

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

And there they fell in with a whole flock of mollymocks, [Footnote: The
mollymocks, or mallemawks, are petrels, larger than the stormy petrels.]
who were feeding on a dead whale.

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

So the petrels called to the mollys; but they were so busy and greedy,
gobbling and packing and spluttering and fighting over the blubber, that
they did not take the least notice.

"Come, come," said the petrels, "you lazy, greedy lubbers, this young
gentleman is going to Mother Carey, and if you don't attend to him, you
won't earn your discharge from her, you know."

"Greedy we are," said a great, fat old molly, "but lazy we ain't; and as
for lubbers, we're no more lubbers than you. Let's have a look at the
lad."

And he flapped right into Tom's face, and stared at him in the most
impudent way (for the mollys are audacious fellows, as all whalers
know), and then asked him where he hailed from, and what land he sighted
last.

And when Tom told him, he seemed pleased, and said he was a good plucked
one to have got so far.

"Come along, lads," he said to the rest, "and give this little chap a
cast over the pack, for Mother Carey's sake. We've eaten blubber enough
for to-day, and we'll e'en work out a bit of our time by helping the
lad."

So the mollys took Tom up on their backs, and flew off with him,
laughing and joking--and oh, how they did smell of train oil!

And now they came to the edge of the pack, and beyond it they could see
Shiny Wall looming, through mist, and snow, and storm. But the pack
rolled horribly upon the swell, and the ice giants fought and roared,
and leapt upon each other's backs, and ground each other to powder, so
that Tom was afraid to venture among them, lest he should be ground to
powder too.

But the good mollys took Tom and his dog up, and flew with them safe
over the pack and the roaring ice giants, and set them down at the foot
of Shiny Wall.

"And where is the gate?" asked Tom.

"There is no gate," said the mollys.

"No gate?" cried Tom, aghast.

"None; never a crack of one, and that's the whole of the secret, as
better fellows, lad, than you have found to their cost; and if there had
been, they'd have killed by now every right whale [Footnote: A right
whale is a whale which yields much whalebone and much oil; it is so
called because it is the "right" whale to take.] that swims the sea."

"What am I to do, then?"

"Dive under the floe, to be sure, if you have pluck,"

"I've not come so far to turn now," said Tom; "so here goes for a
header."

"A lucky voyage to you, lad," said the mollys; "we knew you were one of
the right sort. So good-bye." "Why don't you come too?" asked Tom.

But the mollys only wailed sadly, "We can't go yet, we can't go yet,"
and flew away over the pack.

So Tom dived under the great white gate which never was opened yet, and
went on in black darkness, at the bottom of the sea, for seven days and
seven nights. And yet he was not a bit frightened. Why should he be? He
was a brave English lad, whose business is to go out and see all the
world.

And at last he saw the light, and clear, clear water overhead; and up he
came a thousand fathoms, among clouds of sea moths, which fluttered
round his head. There were moths with pink heads and wings and opal
bodies, that flapped about slowly; moths with brown wings that flapped
about quickly; yellow shrimps that hopped and skipped most quickly of
all; and jellies of all the colours in the world, that neither hopped
nor skipped, but only dawdled and yawned, and would not get out of his
way. The dog snapped at them till his jaws were tired; but Tom hardly
minded them at all, he was so eager to get to the top of the water, and
see the pool where the good whales go.

And a very large pool it was, miles and miles across, though the air was
so clear that the ice cliffs on the opposite side looked as if they were
close at hand. All round it the ice cliffs rose, in walls and spires and
battlements, and caves and bridges, and stories and galleries, in which
the ice fairies live, and drive away the storms and clouds, that Mother
Carey's pool may lie calm from year's end to year's end. And the sun
acted policeman, and walked round outside every day, peeping just over
the top of the ice wall, to see that all went right; and now and then he
played conjuring tricks, or had an exhibition of fireworks, to amuse the
ice fairies. For he would make himself into four or five suns at once,
or paint the sky with rings and crosses and crescents of white fire, and
stick himself in the middle of them, and wink at the fairies; and I
daresay they were very much amused, for anything's fun in the country.

And there the good whales lay, the happy, sleepy beasts, upon the still
oily sea. They were all right whales, you must know, and finners, and
razor-backs, and bottle-noses, and spotted sea unicorns with long ivory
horns. But the sperm whales are such raging, ramping, roaring,
rumbustious fellows, that, if Mother Carey let them in, there would be
no more peace in Peacepool. So she packs them away in a great pond by
themselves at the South Pole, two hundred and sixty-three miles south-
southeast of Mount Erebus, the great volcano in the ice; and there they
butt each other with their ugly noses, day and night from year's end to
year's end.

Tom swam up to the nearest whale, and asked the way to Mother Carey.

"There she sits in the middle," said the whale.

Tom looked; but he could see nothing in the middle of the pool but one
peaked iceberg, and he said so.

"That's Mother Carey," said the whale, "as you will find when you get to
her. There she sits making old beasts into new all the year round."

"How does she do that?"

"That's her concern, not mine," said the old whale; and yawned so wide
(for he was very large) that there swam into his mouth 943 sea moths,
13,846 jellyfish no bigger than pins' heads, a string of salpae nine
yards long, and forty-three little ice crabs, who gave each other a
parting pinch all round, tucked their legs under their stomachs, and
determined to die decently, like Julius Caesar.

"I suppose," said Tom, "she cuts up a great whale like you into a whole
shoal of porpoises?"

At which the old whale laughed so violently that he coughed up all the
creatures; who swam away again, very thankful at having escaped out of
that terrible whalebone net of his, from which bourne no traveler
returns; and Tom went on to the iceberg, wondering.

And when he came near it, it took the form of the grandest old lady he
had ever seen--a white marble lady, sitting on a white marble throne.
And from the foot of the throne there swam away, out and out into the
sea, millions of newborn creatures, of more shapes and colours than man
ever dreamed. And they were Mother Carey's children, whom she makes out
of the sea water all day long.

She sat quite still with her chin upon her hand, looking down into the
sea with two great, grand blue eyes, as blue as the sea itself. Her hair
was as white as the snow, for she was very, very old--in fact, as old as
anything which you are likely to come across, except the difference
between right and wrong. And when she saw Tom, she looked at him very
kindly.

"What do you want, my little man? It is long since I have seen a water
baby here."

Tom told her his errand, and asked the way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.

"You ought to know yourself, for you have been there already,"

"Have I, ma'am? I'm sure I forgot all about it."

"Then look at me."

And as Tom looked into her great blue eyes, he recollected the way
perfectly.

Now, was not that strange?

"Thank you, ma'am," said Tom. "Then I won't trouble your ladyship any
more; I hear you are very busy."

"And now, my pretty little man," said Mother Carey, "you are sure you
know the way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere?" Tom thought; and behold, he
had forgotten it utterly.

"That is because you took your eyes off me."

Tom looked at her again, and recollected; and then looked away, and
forgot in an instant.

"But what am I to do, ma'am? For I can't keep looking at you when I am
somewhere else."

"You must do without me, as most people have to do, for nine hundred and
ninety-nine thousandths of their lives; and look at the dog instead; for
he knows the way well enough, and will not forget it. Besides, you may
meet some very queer-tempered people there, who will not let you pass
without this passport of mine, which you must hang round your neck and
take care of; and, of course, as the dog will always go behind you, you
must go the whole way backward."

"Backward!" cried Tom. "Then I shall not be able to see my way."

"On the contrary, if you look forward, you will not see a step before
you, and be certain to go wrong; but if you look behind you, and watch
carefully whatever you have passed, and especially keep your eye on the
dog, who goes by instinct, and therefore can't go wrong, then you will
know what is coming next, as plainly as if you saw it in a looking-
glass."

Tom was very much astonished; but he obeyed her, for he had learnt
always to believe what the fairies told him.

Tom was very sorely tried; for though, by keeping the dog to heels (or
rather to toes, for he had to walk backward), he could see pretty well
which way the dog was hunting, yet it was much slower work to go
backwards than to go forwards.

But I am proud to say that, though Tom had not been to Cambridge--for if
he had he would have certainly been senior wrangler--he was such a
little dogged, hard, gnarly, foursquare brick of an English boy, that he
never turned his head round once all the way from Peacepool to the
Other-end-of-Nowhere; but kept his eye on the dog, and let him pick out
the scent, hot or cold, straight or crooked, wet or dry, up hill or down
dale; by which means he never made a mistake, or had to retrace a single
step.



CHAPTER VIII AND LAST


Now, as soon as Tom had left Peacepool, he came to the white lap of the
great sea mother, ten thousand fathoms deep; where she makes world-pap
all day long, for the steam giants to knead, and the fire giants to
bake, till it has risen and hardened into mountain-loaves and island-
cakes.

And there Tom was very near being kneaded up in the world-pap, and
turned into a fossil water baby; which would have astonished the
Geological Society of New Zealand some hundreds of thousands of years
hence.

For as he walked along in the silence of the sea twilight, on the soft
white ocean floor, he was aware of a hissing, and a roaring, and a
thumping, and a pumping, as of all the steam engines in the world at
once. And when he came near, the water grew boiling hot; not that that
hurt him in the least; but it also grew as foul as gruel; and every
moment he stumbled over dead shells, and fish, and sharks, and seals,
and whales, which had been killed by the hot water.

And at last he came to the great sea serpent himself, lying dead at the
bottom; and as he was too thick to scramble over, Tom had to walk round
him three quarters of a mile and more, which put him out of his path
sadly; and when he had got round, he came to the place called Stop. And
there he stopped, and just in time.

For he was on the edge of a vast hole in the bottom of the sea, up which
was rushing and roaring clear steam enough to work all the engines in
the world at once; so clear, indeed, that it was quite light at moments,
and Tom could see almost up to the top of the water above, and down
below into the pit for nobody knows how far.

But as soon as he bent his head over the edge, he got such a rap on the
nose from pebbles, that he jumped back again; for the steam, as it
rushed up, rasped away the sides of the hole, and hurled it up into the
sea in a shower of mud and gravel and ashes; and then it spread all
around, and sank again, and covered in the dead fish so fast, that
before Tom had stood there five minutes he was buried in silt up to his
ankles, and began to be afraid that he should have been buried alive.

And perhaps he would have been, but that while he was thinking, the
whole piece of ground on which he stood was torn up and blown upwards,
and away flew Tom a mile up through the sea, wondering what was coming
next.

At last he stopped--thump! and found himself tight in the legs of the
most wonderful bogy which he had ever seen.

It had I don't know how many wings, as big as the sails of a windmill,
and spread out in a ring like them; and with them it hovered over the
steam which rushed up, as a ball hovers over the top of a fountain. And
for every wing before it had a leg below, with a claw like a comb at the
tip, and a nostril at the root; and in the middle it had no stomach and
one eye; and as for its mouth, that was all on one side, as the
madreporiform tubercle in a starfish is. Well, it was a very strange
beast; but no stranger than some dozens which you may see.

"What do you want here," it cried quite peevishly, "getting in my way?"
and it tried to drop Tom; but he held on tight to its claws, thinking
himself safer where he was.

So Tom told him who he was, and what his errand was. And the thing
winked its one eye, and sneered:

"I am too old to be taken in in that way. You are come after gold--I
know you are."

"Gold! What is gold!" And really Tom did not know; but the suspicious
old bogy would not believe him.

But after a while Tom began to understand a little. For, as the vapours
came up out of the hole, the bogy smelt them with his nostrils, and
combed them and sorted them with his combs; and then, when they steamed
up through them against his wings, they were changed into showers and
streams of metal. From one wing fell gold dust, and from another silver,
and from another copper, and from another tin, and from another lead,
and so on, and sank into the soft mud, into veins and cracks, and
hardened there. Whereby it comes to pass that the rocks are full of
metal.

But, all of a sudden, somebody shut off the steam below, and the hole
was left empty in an instant; and then down rushed the water into the
hole, in such a whirlpool that the bogy spun round and round as fast as
a teetotum. But that was all in his day's work, like a fair fall with
the hounds; so all he did was to say to Tom:

"Now is your time, youngster, to get down, if you are in earnest, which
I don't believe."

"You'll soon see," said Tom; and away he went, as bold as Baron
Munchausen, and shot down the rushing cataract like a salmon at
Ballisodare.

And when he got to the bottom, he swam till he was washed on shore safe
upon the Other-end-of-Nowhere; and he found it, to his surprise, as most
other people do, much more like This-end-of-Somewhere than he had been
in the habit of expecting.

There Tom saw ploughs drawing horses, nails driving hammers, birds'
nests taking boys, books making authors, bulls keeping china shops,
monkeys shaving cats, dead dogs drilling live lions, and, in short,
every one set to do something which he had not learnt, because in what
he had learnt, or pretended to learn, he had failed.

On the borders of that island he found Gotham, where the wise men live;
the same who dragged the pond because the moon had fallen into it, and
planted a hedge round the cuckoo, to keep spring all the year. And he
found them bricking up the town gate, because it was so wide that little
folks could not get through.

So he went on, for it was no business of his; only he could not help
saying that in his country if the kitten could not get in at the same
hole as the cat, she might stay outside and mew.

Then Tom came to a very famous island, which was called, in the days of
the great traveler Captain Gulliver, the Isle of Laputa. [Footnote:
Swift describes, in Gulliver's Travels, a flying island, called Laputa.
The inhabitants were quacks, so absorbed in their false science that
they had eyes and ears for nothing else, and were therefore followed
about by servants who "flapped" them with a blown-up bladder, when they
were expected to hear or to see or to say anything.] But Mrs.
Bedonebyasyoudid has named it over again, the Isle of Tomtoddies, all
heads and no bodies.

And when Tom came near it, he heard such a grumbling and grunting and
growling and wailing and weeping and whining that he thought people must
be ringing little pigs, or cropping puppies' ears, or drowning kittens;
but when he came nearer still, he began to hear words among the noise;
which was the Tomtoddies' song which they sing morning and evening, and
all night too, to their great idol Examination--

"I CAN'T LEARN MY LESSON; THE EXAMINER'S COMING!"

And that was the only song which they knew.

And when Tom got on shore the first thing he saw was a great pillar, on
one side of which was inscribed, "Playthings not allowed here;" at which
he was so shocked that he would not stay to see what was written on the
other side. Then he looked round for the people of the island; but
instead of men, women, and children, he found nothing but turnips and
radishes, beets and mangold wurzel, without a single green leaf among
them, and half of them burst and decayed, with toadstools growing out of
them. Those which were left began crying to Tom, in half a dozen
different languages at once, and all of them badly spoken, "I can't
learn my lesson; do come and help me!"

"And what good on earth would it do you if I did help you?" quoth Tom.

Well, they didn't know that; all they knew was the examiner was coming.

Then Tom stumbled on the hugest and softest nimblecomequick turnip you
ever saw filling a hole in a crop of swedes, and it cried to him, "Can
you tell me anything at all about anything you like?"

"About what?" says Tom.

"About anything you like; for as fast as I learn things I forget them
again. So my mamma says that my intellect is not adapted for methodic
science, and says that I must go in for general information."

Tom told him that he did not know general information, nor any officers
in the army; only he had a friend once that went for a drummer; but he
could tell him a great many strange things which he had seen in his
travels.

So he told him prettily enough, while the poor turnip listened very
carefully; and the more he listened, the more he forgot, and the more
water ran out of him.

Tom thought he was crying; but it was only his poor brains running away,
from being worked so hard; and as Tom talked, the unhappy turnip
streamed down all over with juice, and split and shrank till nothing was
left of him but rind and water; whereat Tom ran away in a fright, for he
thought he might be taken up for killing the turnip.

But, on the contrary, the turnip's parents were highly delighted, and
considered him a saint and a martyr, and put up a long inscription over
his tomb about his wonderful talents, early development, and
unparalleled precocity. Were they not a foolish couple? But there was
still a more foolish couple next to them, who were beating a wretched
little radish, no bigger than my thumb, for sullenness and obstinacy and
wilful stupidity, and never knew that the reason why it couldn't learn
or hardly even speak was, that there was a great worm inside it eating
out all its brains. But even they are no foolisher than some hundred
score of papas and mammas, who fetch the rod when they ought to fetch a
new toy, and send to the dark cupboard instead of to the doctor.

Tom was so puzzled and frightened with all he saw, that he was longing
to ask the meaning of it; and at last he stumbled over a respectable old
stick lying half covered with earth. But a very stout and worthy stick
it was, for it belonged to good Roger Ascham [Footnote: Roger Ascham was
a famous English scholar and writer of the sixteenth century. He was
teacher of languages to Princess, afterward Queen, Elizabeth, and later,
was Latin secretary to both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.] in old
time.

"You see," said the stick, "they were as pretty little children once as
you could wish to see, and might have been so still if they had been
only left to grow up like human beings, and then handed over to me; but
their foolish fathers and mothers, instead of letting them pick flowers,
and make dirt-pies, and get birds' nests, and dance round the gooseberry
bush, as little children should, kept them always at lessons, working,
working, working, learning week-day lessons all week-days, and Sunday
lessons all Sunday, and weekly examinations every Saturday, and monthly
examinations every month, and yearly examinations every year, everything
seven times over, as if once was not enough, and enough as good as a
feast--till their brains grew big, and their bodies grew small, and they
were all changed into turnips, with little but water inside; and still
their foolish parents actually pick the leaves off them as fast as they
grow, lest they should have anything green about them."

"Ah!" said Tom, "if Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby knew of it she would send
them a lot of tops, and balls, and marbles, and nine-pins, and make them
all as jolly as sand-boys."

"It would be no use," said the stick. "They can't play now, if they
tried. Don't you see how their legs have turned to roots and grown into
the ground, by never taking any exercise, but sapping and moping always
in the same place.

"But here comes the Examiner-of-all-Examiners. So you had better get
away, I warn you, or he will examine you and your dog into the bargain,
and set him to examine all the other dogs, and you to examine all the
other water babies. There is no escaping out of his hands, for his nose
is nine thousand miles long, and can go down chimneys, and through
keyholes, upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber, examining all
little boys, and the little boys' tutors likewise. But when he is
thrashed--so Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid has promised me--I shall have the
thrashing of him; and if I don't lay it on with a will it's a pity."

Tom went off, but rather slowly and surlily; for he was somewhat minded
to face this same Examiner-of-all-Examiners, who came striding among the
poor turnips, binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and laying
them on little children's shoulders, like the Scribes and Pharisees of
old, and not touching the same with one of his fingers; for he had
plenty of money, and a fine house to live in; which was more than the
poor turnips had.

And next he came to Oldwisefabledom, where the folks were all heathens,
and worshipped a howling ape.

And there he found a little boy sitting in the middle of the road, and
crying bitterly.

"What are you crying for?" said Tom.

"Because I am not so frightened as I could wish to be."

"Not frightened? You are a queer little chap; but, if you want to be
frightened, here goes--Boo!"

"Ah," said the little boy, "that is very kind of you; but I don't feel
that it has made any impression."

Tom offered to upset him, punch him, stamp on him, fettle him over the
head with a brick, or anything else whatsoever which would give him the
slightest comfort.

But he only thanked Tom very civilly, in fine long words which he had
heard other folk use, and which, therefore, he thought were fit and
proper to use himself; and cried on till his papa and mamma came.

Then Tom came to a very quiet place, called Leaveheavenalone. And there
the sun was drawing water out of the sea to make steam-threads, and the
wind was twisting them up to make cloud-patterns, till they had worked
between them the loveliest wedding veil of Chantilly lace, and hung it
up in their own Crystal Palace for any one to buy who could afford it;
while the good old sea never grudged, for she knew they would pay her
back honestly. So the sun span, and the wind wove, and all went well
with the great steam loom; as is likely, considering--and considering--
and considering---

And at last, after innumerable adventures, each more wonderful than the
last, Tom saw before him a huge building.

He walked towards it, wondering what it was, and having a strange fancy
that he might find Mr. Grimes inside it, till he saw running toward him,
and shouting "Stop!" three or four people, who, when they came nearer,
were nothing else than policemen's truncheons, running along without
legs or arms.

Tom was not astonished. He was long past that. Neither was he
frightened; for he had been doing no harm.

So he stopped; and when the foremost truncheon came up and asked his
business, he showed Mother Carey's pass; and the truncheon looked at it
in the oddest fashion; for he had one eye in the middle of his upper
end, so that when he looked at anything, being quite stiff, he had to
slope himself, and poke himself, till it was a wonder why he did not
tumble over; but, being quite full of the spirit of justice (as all
policemen, and their truncheons, ought to be), he was always in a
position of stable equilibrium, whichever way he put himself.

"All right--pass on," said he at last. And then he added: "I had better
go with you, young man." And Tom had no objection, for such company was
both respectable and safe; so the truncheon coiled its thong neatly
round its handle, to prevent tripping itself up--for the thong had got
loose in running--and marched on by Tom's side.

"Why have you no policeman to carry you?" asked Tom after a while.

"Because we are not like those clumsy-made truncheons in the land world,
which cannot go with-out having a whole man to carry them about. We do
our own work for ourselves; and do it very well, though I say it who
should not."

"Then why have you a thong to your handle?" asked Tom.

"To hang ourselves up by, of course, when we are off duty."

Tom had got his answer, and had no more to say, till they came up to the
great iron door of the prison. And there the truncheon knocked twice,
with its own head.

A wicket in the door opened, and out looked a tremendous old brass
blunderbuss charged up to the muzzle with slugs, who was the porter; and
Tom started back a little at the sight of him.

"What case is this?" he asked in a deep voice, out of his broad bell
mouth.

"If you please, sir, it is no case; only a young gentleman from her
ladyship, who wants to see Grimes, the master sweep."

"Grimes?" said the blunderbuss. And he pulled in his muzzle, perhaps to
look over his prison lists.

"Grimes is up chimney No. 345," he said from inside. "So the young
gentleman had better go on to the roof."

Tom looked up at the enormous wall, which seemed at least ninety miles
high, and wondered how he should ever get up; but when he hinted that to
the truncheon, it settled the matter in a moment. For it whisked round,
and gave him such a shove behind as sent him up to the roof in no time,
with his little dog under his arm.

And there he walked along the leads, till he met another truncheon, and
told him his errand.

"Very good," it said. "Come along; but it will be of no use. He is the
most unremorseful, hard-hearted, foul-mouthed fellow I have in charge;
and thinks about nothing but beer and pipes, which are not allowed here,
of course."

So they walked along over the leads, and very sooty they were, and Tom
thought the chimneys must want sweeping very much. But he was surprised
to see that the soot did not stick to his feet, or dirty them in the
least. Neither did the live coals, which were lying about in plenty,
burn him; for he was a water baby.

And at last they came to chimney No. 345. Out of the top of it, his head
and shoulders just showing, stuck poor Mr. Grimes, so sooty, and
bleared, and ugly, that Tom could hardly bear to look at him. And in his
mouth was a pipe; but it was not alight, though he was pulling at it
with all his might.

"Attention, Mr. Grimes," said the truncheon; "here is a gentleman come
to see you."

But Mr. Grimes only said bad words, and kept grumbling, "My pipe won't
draw. My pipe won't draw."

"Keep a civil tongue, and attend!" said the truncheon; and popped up
just like Punch, hitting Grimes such a crack over the head with itself,
that his brains rattled inside like a dried walnut in its shell. He
tried to get his hands out, and rub the place; but he could not, for
they were stuck fast in the chimney. Now he was forced to attend.

"Hey!" he said, "why, it's Tom! I suppose you have come here to laugh at
me, you spiteful little atomy?"

Tom assured him he had not, but only wanted to help him.

"I don't want anything except beer, and that I can't get; and a light to
this bothering pipe, and that I can't get either."

"I'll get you one," said Tom; and he took up a live coal (there were
plenty lying about) and put it to Grimes' pipe; but it went out
instantly.

"It's no use," said the truncheon, leaning itself up against the chimney
and looking on. "I tell you, it is no use. His heart is so cold that it
freezes everything that comes near him, You will see that presently,
plain enough."

"Oh, of course, it's my fault. Everything's always my fault," said
Grimes. "Now don't go to hit me again" (for the truncheon started
upright, and looked very wicked); "you know, if my arms were only free,
you daren't hit me then."

The truncheon leant back against the chimney, and took no notice of the
personal insult, like a well-trained policeman as it was, though it was
ready enough to avenge any transgression against morality or order.

"But can't I help you in any other way? Can't I help you to get out of
this chimney?" said Tom.

"No," interposed the truncheon; "he has come to the place where
everybody must help himself; and he will find it out, I hope, before he
has done with me."

"Oh, yes," said Grimes, "of course it's me. Did I ask to be brought here
into the prison? Did I ask to be set to sweep your foul chimneys? Did I
ask to have lighted straw put under me to make me go up? Did I ask to
stick fast in the very first chimney of all, because it was so
shamefully clogged up with soot? Did I ask to stay here--I don't know
how long--a hundred years, I do believe, and never get my pipe, nor my
beer, nor nothing fit for a beast, let alone a man?"

"No," answered a solemn voice behind. "No more did Tom, when you behaved
to him in the very same way."

It was Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid. And when the truncheon saw her, it started
bolt upright--Attention!--and made such a low bow, that if it had not
been full of the spirit of justice, it must have tumbled on its end, and
probably hurt its one eye. And Tom made his bow too.

"Oh, ma'am," he said, "don't think about me; that's all past and gone,
and good times and bad times and all times pass over. But may not I help
poor Mr. Grimes? Mayn't I try and get some of these bricks away, that he
may move his arms?"

"You may try, of course," she said.

So Tom pulled and tugged at the bricks, but he could not move one. And
then he tried to wipe Mr. Grimes' face, but the soot would not come off.

"Oh, dear!" he said. "I have come all this way, through all these
terrible places, to help you, and now I am of no use at all."

"You had best leave me alone," said Grimes; "you are a good-natured,
forgiving little chap, and that's truth; but you'd best be off. The
hail's coming on soon, and it will beat the eyes out of your little
head."

"What hail?"

"Why, hail that falls every evening here; and till it comes close to me,
it's like so much warm rain; but then it comes to hail over my head, and
knocks me about like small shot."

"That hail will never come any more," said the strange lady. "I have
told you before what it was. It was your mother's tears, those which she
shed when she prayed for you by her bedside; but your cold heart froze
it into hail. But she is gone to heaven now, and will weep no more for
her graceless son."

Then Grimes was silent awhile; and then he looked very sad.

"So my old mother's gone, and I never there to speak to her! Ah! a good
woman she was, and might have been a happy one, in her little school
there in Vendale, if it hadn't been for me and my bad ways."

"Did she keep the school at Vendale?" asked Tom. And then he told Grimes
all the story of his going to her house, and how she could not abide the
sight of a chimney-sweep, and then how kind she was, and how he turned
into a water baby.

"Ah!" said Grimes, "good reason she had to hate the sight of a chimney-
sweep. I ran away from her and took up with the sweeps, and never let
her know where I was, nor sent her a penny to help her, and now it's too
late--too late!" said Mr. Grimes.

And he began crying and blubbering like a great baby, till his pipe
dropped out of his mouth, and broke all to bits.

"Oh, dear, if I was but a little chap in Vendale again, to see the clear
beck, and the apple orchard, and the yew hedge, how different I would go
on! But it's too late now. So you go along, you kind little chap, and
don't stand to look at a man crying, that's old enough to be your
father, and never feared the face of man, nor of worse neither. But I'm
beat now, and beat I must be. I've made my bed, and I must lie on it.
Foul I would be, and foul I am. as an Irishwoman said to me once; and
little I heeded it. It's all my own fault: but it's too late." And he
cried so bitterly that Tom began crying too.

"Never too late," said the fairy, in such a strange soft, new voice that
Tom looked up at her; and she was so beautiful for the moment, that Tom
half fancied she was her sister.

No more was it too late. For as poor Grimes cried and blubbered on, his
own tears did what his mother's could not do, and Tom's could not do,
and nobody's on earth could do for him; for they washed the soot off his
face and off his clothes; and then they washed the mortar away from
between the bricks; and the chimney crumbled down; and Grimes began to
get out of it.

Up jumped the truncheon, and was going to hit him on the crown a
tremendous thump, and drive him down again like a cork into a bottle.
But the strange lady put it aside.

"Will you obey me if I give you a chance?"

"As you please, ma'am. You're stronger than me--that I know too well,
and wiser than me, I know too well also. And as for being my own master,
I've fared ill enough with that as yet. So whatever your ladyship
pleases to order me; for I'm beat, and that's the truth."

"Be it so then--you may come out. But remember, disobey me again, and
into a worse place still you go."

"I beg pardon, ma'am, but I never disobeyed you that I know of. I never
had the honour of setting eyes upon you till I came to these ugly
quarters."

"Never saw me? Who said to you, 'Those that will, be foul, foul they
will be'?"

Grimes looked up; and Tom looked up too; for the voice was that of the
Irishwoman who met them the day that they went out together to
Harthover. "I gave you your warning then, but you gave it yourself a
thousand times before and since. Every bad word that you said--every
cruel and mean thing that you did--every time that you got tipsy--every
day that you went dirty--you were disobeying me, whether you knew it or
not."

"If I'd only known, ma'am---"

"You knew well enough that you were disobeying something, though you did
not know it was me. But come out and take your chance. Perhaps it may be
your last."

So Grimes stepped out of the chimney, and really, if it had not been for
the scars on his face, he looked as clean and respectable as a master
sweep need look.

"Take him away," she said to the truncheon, "and give him his ticket of
leave."

"And what is he to do, ma'am?"

"Get him to sweep out the crater of Etna; he will find some very steady
men working out their time there, who will teach him his business: but
mind, if that crater gets choked again, and there is an earthquake in
consequence, bring them all to me, and I shall investigate the case very
severely."

So the truncheon marched off Mr. Grimes, looking as meek as a drowned
worm.

And for aught I know, or do not know, he is sweeping the crater of Etna
to this very day.

"And now," said the fairy to Tom, "your work here is done. You may as
well go back again."

"I should he glad enough to go," said Tom, "but how am I to get up that
great hole again, now the steam has stopped blowing?"

"I will take you up the back stairs, but I must bandage your eyes first;
for I never allow anybody to see those back stairs of mine."

"I am sure I shall not tell anybody about them, ma'am, if you bid me
not."

"Aha! So you think, my little man. But you would soon forget your
promise if you got back into the land world. I never put things into
little folks' heads which are but too likely to come there of
themselves. So come--now I must bandage your eyes."

So she tied the bandage on his eyes with one hand, and with the other
she took it off.

"Now," she said, "you are safe up the stairs." Tom opened his eyes very
wide, and his mouth, too; for he had not, as he thought, moved a single
step. But, when he looked round him, there could be no doubt that he was
safe up the back stairs, whatsoever they may be, which no man is going
to tell you, for the plain reason that no man knows.

The first thing which Tom saw was the black cedars, high and sharp
against the rosy dawn; and Saint Brandan's Isle reflected double in the
still, broad, silver sea. The wind sang softly in the cedars, and the
water sang among the caves: the sea birds sang as they streamed out into
the ocean, and the land birds as they built among the boughs; and the
air was so full of song that it stirred Saint Brandan and her hermits,
as they slumbered in the shade; and they moved their good old lips, and
sang their morning hymn amid their dreams. But among all the songs one
came across the water more sweet and clear than all; for it was the song
of a young girl's voice.

And what was the song which she sang? Ah, my little man, I am too old to
sing that song, and you too young to understand it. But have patience,
and keep your eye single, and your hands clean, and you will learn some
day to sing it yourself, without needing any man to teach you.

And as Tom neared the island, there sat upon a rock the most graceful
creature that ever was seen, looking down, with her chin upon her hand,
and paddling with her feet in the water. And when they came to her she
looked up, and behold, it was Ellie.

"Oh, Miss Ellie," said he, "how you are grown!"

"Oh, Tom," said she, "how you are grown, too!"

And no wonder; they were both quite grown up--he into a tall man, and
she into a beautiful woman.

"Perhaps I may be grown," she said. "I have had time enough; for I have
been sitting here waiting for you many a hundred years, till I thought
you were never coming."

"Many a hundred years?" thought Tom; but he had seen so much in his
travels that he had quite given up being astonished; and, indeed, he
could think of nothing but Ellie. So he stood and looked at Ellie, and
Ellie looked at him; and they liked the employment so much that they
stood and looked for seven years more, and neither spoke nor stirred.

At last they heard the fairy say, "Attention, children. Are you never
going to look at me again?"

"We have been looking at you all this while," they said. And so they
thought they had been.

"Then look at me once more," she said.

They looked--and both of them cried out at once, "Oh, who are you, after
all?"

"You are our dear Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby."

"No, you are good Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid; but you are grown quite
beautiful now!"

"To you," said the fairy. "But look again."

"You are Mother Carey," said Tom, in a very low, solemn voice; for he
had found out something which made him very happy, and yet frightened
him more than all that he had ever seen.

"But you are grown quite young again."

"To you," said the fairy. "Look again."

"You are the Irishwoman who met me the day I went to Harthover!"

And when they looked she was neither of them, and yet all of them at
once.

"My name is written in my eyes, if you have eyes to see it there."

And they looked into her great, deep, soft eyes, and they changed again
and again into every hue, as the light changes in a diamond.

"Now read my name," said she, at last.

And her eyes flashed, for one moment, clear, white, blazing light; but
the children could not read her name; for they were dazzled, and hid
their faces in their hands.

"Not yet, young things, not yet," said she, smiling; and then she turned
to Ellie.

"You may take him home with you now on Sundays, Ellie. He has won his
spurs in the great battle, and become fit to go with you and be a man,
because he has done the thing he did not like."

So Tom went home with Ellie on Sundays, and sometimes on week-days, too;
and he is now a great man of science, and can plan railroads, and steam
engines, and electric telegraphs, and rifled guns, and so forth; and
knows everything about everything, except why a hen's egg doesn't turn
into a crocodile, and two or three other little things. And all this
from what he learnt when he was a water baby, underneath the sea.

"And of course Tom married Ellie?"

My dear child, what a silly notion! Don't you know that no one ever
marries in a fairy tale, under the rank of a prince or a princess?

"And Tom's dog?"

Oh, you may see him any clear night in July; for the old dog star was so
worn out by the last three hot summers that there have been no dog days
since; so that they had to take him down and put Tom's dog up in his
place. Therefore, as new brooms sweep clean, we may hope for some warm
weather this year. And that is the end of my story.



MORAL

And now, my dear little man, what should we learn from this parable?

We should learn thirty-seven or thirty-nine things, I am not exactly
sure which; but one thing, at least, we may learn, and that is this--
when we see efts in the pond, never to throw stones at them, or catch
them with crooked pins. For these efts are nothing else but the water
babies who are stupid and dirty, and will not learn their lessons and
keep themselves clean; and therefore, their skulls grow flat, their jaws
grow out, and their brains grow small, and their tails grow long, and
their skins grow dirty and spotted, and they never get into the clear
rivers, much less into the great wide sea, but hang about in dirty
ponds, and live in the mud, and eat worms, as they deserve to do.

But that is no reason why you should ill-use them; but only why you
should pity them, and be kind to them, and hope that some day they will
wake up, and be ashamed of their nasty, dirty, lazy, stupid life, and
try to amend, and become something better once more. For, perhaps, if
they do so, then after 379,423 years, nine months, thirteen days, two
hours, and twenty-one minutes, if they work very hard and wash very hard
all that time, their brains may grow bigger, and their jaws grow
smaller, and their tails wither off, and they will turn into water
babies again, and perhaps after that into land babies; and after that
perhaps into grown men.

Meanwhile, do you learn your lessons, and thank God that you have plenty
of cold water to wash in; and wash in it too, like a true Englishman.
And then, if my story is not true, something better is; and if I am not
quite right, still you will be, as long as you stick to hard work and
cold water.

But remember always, as I told you at first, that this is all a fairy
tale, and only fun and pretence; and, therefore, you are not to believe
a word of it, even if it is true.



THE MILKMAID

By Jeffreys Taylor


A milkmaid, who poised a full pail on her head,
Thus mused on her prospects in life, it is said:
"Let me see,--I should think that this milk will procure
One hundred good eggs, or fourscore, to be sure.

"Well then,--stop a bit,--it must not be forgotten,
Some of these may be broken, and some may be rotten;
But if twenty for accident should be detached,
It will leave me just sixty sound eggs to be hatched.

"Well, sixty sound eggs,--no, sound chickens, I mean:
Of these some may die,--we'll suppose seventeen;
Seventeen! not so many,--say ten at the most,
Which will leave fifty chickens to boil or to roast.

"But then there's their barley; how much will they need?
Why, they take but one grain at a time when they feed,--
So that's a mere trifle; now then, let us see,
At a fair market price how much money there'll be.

"Six shillings a pair--five--four--three-and-six--
To prevent all mistakes, that low price I will fix;
Now what will that make? fifty chickens, I said,--
Fifty times three-and-sixpence--I'LL ASK BROTHER NED.

"Oh, but stop,--three-and-sixpence a PAIR I must sell 'em;
Well, a pair is a couple,--now then let us tell 'em;
A couple in fifty will go (my poor brain!)
Why, just a score times, and five pair will remain.

"Twenty-five pair of fowls--now how tiresome it is
That I can't reckon up so much money as this!
Well, there's no use in trying, so let's give a guess,--
I'll say twenty pounds, AND IT CAN'T BE NO LESS.

"Twenty pounds, I am certain, will buy me a cow,
Thirty geese, and two turkeys,--eight pigs and a sow;
Now if these turn out well, at the end of the year,
I shall fill both my pockets with guineas, 'tis clear."

Forgetting her burden, when this she had said,
The maid superciliously tossed up her head:
When, alas for her prospects! her milk-pail descended,
And so all her schemes for the future were ended.

This moral, I think, may be safely attached,--
"Reckon not on your chickens before they are hatched."


This amusing little poem may be made to seem even funnier if we stop to
think what an absurd little milkmaid she really was! Let us ask
ourselves a few questions:

How many quarts of milk were probably in the pail? How many dozen eggs
in a hundred? What is milk worth a quart? What are eggs worth a dozen?
Was she carrying enough milk to buy a hundred, or even fourscore, good
eggs?

Does a farmer count on having sixty out of eighty eggs hatch
successfully? If he has sixty chickens hatched, can he count with
certainty on fifty growing big enough to boil or roast?

Is it true that the cost of the grain to feed them is a mere trifle?

How much is an English shilling in our money? Is a dollar and a half a
pair too much to expect for good chickens? Is eighty-seven and a half
cents too small a price for a pair? Is twenty pounds too much or too
little for twenty-five pairs of chickens at three shillings and sixpence
per pair?

If she could get twenty pounds for her chickens, could she buy a cow,
thirty geese, two turkeys and a sow with a litter of eight pigs for the
money?



HOLGER DANSKE

By Hans Christian Andersen


NOTE.--The first paragraphs of this story contain an old Danish legend
which Hans Christian Andersen uses very skilfully. We can imagine that
the story would mean a great deal more to boys of Denmark than it does
to us, for they would be a great deal more familiar with the people
referred to than we are; but there is so much in the story that is not
confined to Denmark, and it is told in such a fascinating way, that even
the boys of the United States will find it interesting.

In Denmark there lies a castle named Kronenburgh. It lies close by the
Oer Sound, where the ships pass through by hundreds every day--English,
Russian, and likewise Prussian ships. And they salute the old castle
with cannons--'Boom!' And the castle answers with a 'Boom!' for that's
what the cannons say instead of 'Good day' and 'Thank you!' In winter no
ships sail there, for the whole sea is covered with ice quite across to
the Swedish coast; but it has quite the look of a highroad. There wave
the Danish flag and the Swedish flag, and Danes and Swedes say 'Good
day' and 'Thank you!' to each other, not with cannons, but with a
friendly grasp of the hand; and one gets white bread and biscuits from
the other--for strange fare tastes best.

"But the most beautiful of all is the old Kronenburgh; and here it is
that Holger Danske sits in the deep, dark cellar, where nobody goes. He
is clad in iron and steel, and leans his head on his strong arm; his
long beard hangs down over the marble table, and has grown into it. He
sleeps and dreams, but in his dreams he sees everything that happens up
there in Denmark. Every Christmas Eve comes an angel, and tells him that
what he has dreamed is right, and that he may go to sleep in quiet, for
that Denmark is not yet in any real danger; but when once such a danger
comes, then old Holger Danske will rouse himself, so that the table
shall burst when he draws out his beard! Then he will come forth and
strike, so that it shall be heard in all the countries in the world."

An old grandfather sat and told his little grandson all this about
Holger Danske; and the little boy knew that what his grandfather told
him was true. And while the old man sat and told his story, he carved an
image which was to represent Holger Danske, and to be fastened to the
prow of a ship; for the old grandfather was a carver of figureheads,
that is, one who cuts out the figures fastened to the front of ships,
from which every ship is named. And here he had cut out Holger Danske,
who stood there proudly with his long beard, and held the broad battle-
sword in one hand, while with the other he leaned upon the Danish arms.

And the old grandfather told him so much about distinguished men and
women, that it appeared at last to the little grandson as if he knew as
much as Holger Danske himself, who, after all, could only dream; and
when the little fellow was in his bed, he thought so much of it, that he
actually pressed his chin against the coverlet, and fancied he had a
long beard that had grown fast to it.

But the old grandfather remained sitting at his work, and carved away at
the last part of it; and this was the Danish coat of arms. When he had
finished, he looked at the whole, and thought of all he had read and
heard, and that he had told this evening to the little boy; and he
nodded, and wiped his spectacles, and put them on again, and said:

"Yes, in my time Holger Danske will probably not come; but the boy in
the bed yonder may get to see him, and be there when the struggle really
comes."

And the good old grandfather nodded again; and the more he looked at
Holger Danske, the more plain did it become to him that it was a good
image he had carved. It seemed really to gain color, and the armor
appeared to gleam like iron and steel; the hearts in the Danish arms
became redder and redder, and the lions with the golden crowns on their
heads leaped up. [Footnote: The Danish arms consist of three lions and
nine hearts.]

"That's the most beautiful coat of arms there is in the world!" said the
old man. "The lions are strength, and the heart is gentleness and love!"

And he looked at the uppermost lion, and thought of King Canute, who
bound great England to the throne of Denmark; and he looked at the
second lion, and thought of Waldemar, who united Denmark and conquered
the Wendish lands; and he glanced at the third lion, and remembered
Margaret, who united Denmark, Sweden and Norway. But while he looked at
the red hearts, they gleamed more brightly than before; they became
flames, and his heart followed each of them.

[Illustration: HOLGER DANSKE]

The first heart led him into a dark, narrow prison; there sat a
prisoner, a beautiful woman, the daughter of King Christian IV, Eleanor
Ulfeld; [Footnote: This princess was the wife of Corfitz Ulfeld, who was
accused of high treason. Her only crime was the most faithful love to
her unhappy consort; but she was compelled to pass twenty-two years in a
horrible dungeon, until her persecutor, Queen Sophia Amelia, was dead.]
and the flame, which was shaped like a rose, attached itself to her
bosom and blossomed, so that it became one with the heart of her, the
noblest and best of all Danish women.

And his spirit followed the second flame, which led him out upon the
sea, where the cannons thundered and the ships lay shrouded in smoke;
and the flame fastened itself in the shape of a ribbon of honor on the
breast of Hvitfeld, as he blew himself and his ship into the air, that
he might save the fleet.[Footnote: In the naval battle in Kjoge Bay
between the Danes and the Swedes, in 1710, Hvitfeld's ship, the
Danebrog, took fire. To save the town of Kjoge, and the Danish fleet,
which was being driven by the wind toward his vessel, he blew himself
and his whole crew into the air.]

And the third flame led him to the wretched huts of Greenland, where the
preacher Hans Egede [Footnote: Hans Egede went to Greenland in 1721, and
toiled there during fifteen years among incredible hardships and
privations. Not only did he spread Christianity, but exhibited in
himself a remarkable example of a Christian man.] wrought, with love in
every word and deed; the flame was a star on his breast, another heart
in the Danish arms.

And the spirit of the old grandfather flew on before the waving flames,
for his spirit knew whither the flames desired to go. In the humble room
of the peasant woman stood Frederick VI., writing his name with chalk on
the beam.[Footnote: On a journey on the west coast of Jutland, the King
visited an old woman. When he had already quitted her house, the woman
ran after him, and begged him, as a remembrance, to write his name upon
a beam; the King turned back, and complied. During his whole lifetime he
felt and worked for the peasant class; therefore the Danish peasants
begged to be allowed to carry his coffin to the royal vault at
Roeskilde, four Danish miles from Copenhagen.] The flame trembled on his
breast, and trembled in his heart; in the peasant's lowly room his
heart, too, became a heart in the Danish arms. And the old grandfather
dried his eyes, for he had known King Frederick with the silvery locks
and honest blue eyes, and had lived for him; he folded his hands, and
looked in silence straight before him.

Then came the daughter-in-law of the old grandfather, and said it was
late, and he ought now to rest; for the supper table was spread.

"But it is beautiful, what you have done, grandfather!" said she.
"Holger Danske, and all our old coat of arms! It seems to me just as if
I had seen that face before!"

"No, that can scarcely be," replied the old grandfather; "but I have
seen it, and I have tried to carve it in wood as I have kept it in my
memory. It was when the English lay in front of the wharf, on the Danish
2d of April [Footnote: On the 2d of April, 1801, occurred the naval
battle between the Danes and the English, under Sir Hyde Parker and
Nelson.] when we showed that we were old Danes. In the Denmark, on board
which I was, in Steen Bille's squadron, I had a man at my side--it
seemed as if the bullets were afraid of him! Merrily he sang old songs,
and shot and fought as if he were something more than a man. I remember
his face yet; but whence he came, and whither he went, I know not--
nobody knows. I have often thought he might have been old Holger Danske
himself, who had swum down from the Kronenburgh, and aided us in the
hour of danger; that was my idea, and there stands his picture."

And the statue threw its great shadow up against the wall, and even over
part of the ceiling; it looked as though the real Holger Danske were
standing behind it, for the shadow moved, but this might have been
because the flame of the candle did not burn steadily.

And the daughter-in-law kissed the old grandfather, and led him to the
great armchair by the table; and she and her husband, who was the son of
the old man, and father of the little boy in bed, sat and ate their
supper; and the grandfather spoke of the Danish lions and of the Danish
hearts, of strength and of gentleness; and quite clearly did he explain
that there was another strength besides the power that lies in the
sword; and he pointed to the shelf on which were the old books, where
stood the plays of Kolberg, which had been read so often, for they were
very amusing; one could almost fancy one recognized the people of bygone
days in them.

"See, he knew how to strike, too," said the grandfather; "he scourged
the foolishness and prejudice of the people so long as he could." And
the grandfather nodded at the mirror, above which stood the calendar,
with the "Round Tower" [Footnote: The astronomical observatory at
Copenhagen.] on it, and said, "Tycho Brahe was also one who used the
sword, not to cut into flesh and bone, but to build up a plainer way
among all the stars of heaven. And then HE, whose father belonged to my
calling, the son of the figurehead carver, he whom we have ourselves
seen, with his silver hairs and his broad shoulders, he whose name is
spoken of in all lands! Yes, HE was a sculptor; _I_ am only a carver.
Yes, Holger Danske may come in many forms, so that one hears in every
country of Denmark's strength. Shall we now drink the health of Bertel?"
[Footnote: Bertel Thorwaldsen, the great Danish sculptor.]

[Illustration: THE FIGUREHEAD]

But the little lad in the bed saw plainly the old Kronenburgh, with the
Oer Sound, and the real Holger Danske, who sat deep below, with his
beard grown through the marble table, dreaming of all that happens up
here. Holger Danske also dreamed of the little, humble room where the
carver sat; he heard all that passed, and nodded in his sleep, and said:

"Yes, remember me, ye Danish folk; remember me. I shall come in the hour
of need."

And without, by the Kronenburgh, shone the bright day, and the wind
carried the note of the hunting horn over from the neighboring land; the
ship sailed past, and saluted, "Boom! boom!" and from the Kronenburgh
came the reply, "Boom! boom!" But Holger Danske did not awake, however
loudly they shot, for it was only "Good day" and "Thank you!"

There must be another kind of shooting before he awakes; but he will
awake, for there is faith in Holger Danske.

Can you see Holger Danske "clad in iron and steel?" Where have you seen
a picture of such clothing? Is it not curious that his beard is said to
have grown into the marble? He must have been sitting there for many
centuries for such a thing to happen! Do you not understand that the
little boy did not KNOW that Holger Danske was in the deep cellar, but
merely believed it to be true? If so, why does the story say he KNEW it?

When you read that the Danish Arms consist of "three lions and nine
hearts," what do you see? Has the United States any arms? What are they?

Do you know a legend about King Canute and the waves of the sea? Can you
find out anything more about Waldemar and Margaret?

Do you think the man whose face was carved into a figurehead was really
Holger Danske? Do you think it possible that the grandfather could mean
that every brave man who fights for his country is a Holger Danske? Can
you imagine the great figure of Holger Danske throwing its shadow on the
wall and seeming to move about in the candle light? Does the grandfather
believe that such heroes can do other things than fight?

What do you know about Thorwaldsen? Did you ever see a picture of his
beautiful statue of Christ? Did the little boy see any other Holger
Danske than the one whose beard was grown into the marble table?

Has a Holger ever come to save this United States from great danger?
Would you call Washington and Longfellow and Hawthorne, Holgers? Why?
Can you name a few men whom the grandfather, had he been an American,
might have said were Holgers? Do you not believe that if the people of
the United States need a great man he will be forthcoming if we have
faith that he will come?

Do you not think that the little Danish boy, by his dreaming about
Holger Danske, might have come to be the very one to aid his country
most? Is it worth while for each of us to try to be a Holger?



WHAT THE OLD MAN DOES IS ALWAYS RIGHT

By Hans Christian Andersen


I will tell you the story which was told to me when I was a little boy.
Every time I thought of the story it seemed to me to become more and
more charming; for it is with stories as it is with many people--they
become better as they grow older.

I take it for granted that you have been in the country, and have seen a
very old farmhouse with a thatched roof, and mosses and small plants
growing wild upon the thatch. There is a stork's nest on the summit of
the gable; for we can't do without the stork. The walls of the house are
sloping, and the windows are low, and only one of the latter is made so
that it will open. The baking-oven sticks out of the wall like a little
fat body. The elder tree hangs over the paling, and beneath its
branches, at the foot of the paling, is a pool of water in which a few
ducks are disporting themselves. There is a yard dog, too, who barks at
all comers.

Just such a farmhouse stood out in the country; and in this house dwelt
an old couple--a peasant and his wife. Small as was their property,
there was one article among it that they could do without--a horse, that
lived on the grass it found by the side of the highroad. The old peasant
rode into the town on this horse; and often his neighbors borrowed it of
him, and rendered the old couple some service in return for the loan of
it. But they thought it would be best if they sold the horse, or
exchanged it for something that might be more useful to them. But what
might this SOMETHING be?

"You'll know that best, old man," said the wife. "It is fair day to-day,
so ride into town, and get rid of the horse for money, or make a good
exchange; whichever you do will be right to me. Ride off to the fair."

And she fastened his neckerchief for him, for she could do that better
than he could; and she tied it in a double bow, for she could do that
very prettily. Then she brushed his hat round and round with the palm of
her hand, and gave him a kiss. So he rode away upon the horse that was
to be sold or to be bartered for something else. Yes, the old man knew
what he was about.

The sun shone hotly down, and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky. The
road was very dusty, for many people, who were all bound for the fair,
were driving, or riding, or walking upon it. There was no shelter
anywhere from the sunbeams.

Among the rest, a man was trudging along, driving a cow to the fair. The
cow was as beautiful a creature as any cow can be.

"She gives good milk, I'm sure," said the peasant. "That would be a very
good exchange--the cow for the horse."

"Hallo, you there with the cow!" he said; "I tell you what--I fancy a
horse costs more than a cow, but I don't care for that; a cow would be
more useful to me. If you like, we'll exchange."

"To be sure I will," returned the man; and they exchanged accordingly.

So that was settled, and the peasant might have turned back, for he had
done the business he came to do; but as he had once made up his mind to
go to the fair, he determined to proceed, merely to have a look at it;
and so he went on to the town with his cow.

Leading the animal, he strode sturdily on; and after a short time he
overtook a man who was driving a sheep. It was a good fat sheep, with a
fine fleece on its back.

"I should like to have that fellow," said our peasant to himself. "He
would find plenty of grass by our palings, and in the winter we could
keep him in the room with us. Perhaps it would be more practical to have
a sheep instead of a cow. Shall we exchange?"

The man with the sheep was quite ready, and the bargain was struck. So
our peasant went on in the highroad with his sheep.

Soon he overtook another man, who came into the road from a field,
carrying a great goose under his arm.

"That's a heavy thing you have there. It has plenty of feathers and
plenty of fat, and would look well tied to a string, and paddling in the
water at our place. That would be something for my old woman; she could
make much profit out of it. How often she has said, 'If we only had a
goose!' Now, perhaps, she can have one. Shall we exchange? I'll give you
my sheep for your goose, and thank you into the bargain."

The other man had not the least objection; and accordingly they
exchanged, and our peasant became the owner of the goose.

By this time he was very near the town. The crowd on the highroad became
greater and greater; there was quite a crush of men and cattle. They
walked in the road, and close by the paling; and at the barrier they
even walked into the tollman's potato field, where his own fowl was
strutting about with a string to its legs, lest it should take fright at
the crowd, and stray away, and so be lost. This fowl had short tail
feathers, and winked with both its eyes, and looked very cunning.
"Cluck! cluck!" said the fowl. What it thought when it said this I
cannot tell you; but as soon as our good man saw it, he thought, "That's
the finest fowl I've ever seen in my life! Why, it's finer than our
parson's brood hen. On my word, I should like to have that fowl. A fowl
can always find a grain or two, and can almost keep itself. I think it
would be a good exchange if I could get that in exchange for my goose.
Shall we exchange?" he asked the toll taker.

"Exchange!" repeated the man; "well, that would not be a bad thing."

And so they exchanged; the toll taker at the barrier kept the goose, and
the peasant carried away the fowl.

Now, he had done a good deal of business on his way to the fair, and he
was hot and tired. He wanted something to eat and to drink; and soon he
was in front of the inn. He was just about to step in, when the hostler
came out; so they met at the door. The hostler was carrying a sack.

"What have you in that sack?" asked the peasant.

"Rotten apples," answered the hostler; "a whole sackful of them--enough
to feed the pigs with."

"Why, that's terrible waste! I should like to take them to my old woman
at home. Last year the old tree by the turf-hole only bore a single
apple, and we kept it in the cupboard till it was quite rotten and
spoiled, 'It was always property,' my old woman said; but here she could
see a quantity of property--a whole sackful. Yes, I shall be glad to
show them to her."

"What will you give me for the sackful?" asked the hostler.

"What will I give? I will give my fowl in exchange."

And he gave the fowl accordingly, and received the apples, which he
carried into the guest room. He leaned the sack carefully by the stove,
and then went to the table. But the stove was hot; he had not thought of
that. Many guests were present--horse dealers, ox-herds, and two
Englishmen--and the two Englishmen were so rich that their pockets
bulged out with gold coins, and almost burst; and they could wager, too,
as you shall hear.

Hiss-s-s! hiss-s-s! What was that by the stove? The apples were
beginning to roast.

"What is that?"

"Why, do you know---" said our peasant.

And he told the whole story of the horse that he had exchanged for a
cow, and all the rest of it down to the apples.

"Well, your old woman will give it you well when you get home," said one
of the Englishmen. "There will be a disturbance."

"What?--give me what?" said the peasant.

"She will kiss me, and say, 'What the old man does is always right.'"

"Shall we wager?" said the Englishman. "We'll wager coined gold by the
ton--a hundred pounds to the hundredweight!"

"A bushel will be enough," replied the peasant. "I can only set the
bushel of apples against it; and I'll throw myself and my old woman into
the bargain--and I fancy that's piling up the measure."

"Done--taken!"

And the bet was made. The host's carriage came up, and the Englishmen
got in, and the peasant got in; away they went, and soon they stopped
before the peasant's hut.

"Good evening, old woman."

"Good evening, old man."

"I've made exchange."

"Yes, you understand what you're about," said the woman.

And she embraced him, and paid no attention to the stranger guests, nor
did she notice the sack.

"I got a cow in exchange for the horse," said he.

"Heaven be thanked!" said she. "What glorious milk we shall now have,
and butter and cheese upon the table! That was a most capital exchange!"

"Yes, but I exchanged the cow for a sheep."

"Ah, that's better still!" cried the wife. "You always think of
everything; we have just pasture enough for a sheep. Ewe's milk and
cheese, and woolen jackets and stockings! The cow cannot give those, and
her hairs will only come off. How you think of everything!"

"But I changed away the sheep for a goose."

"Then this year we shall have really roast goose to eat, my dear old
man. You are always thinking of something to give me pleasure. How
charming that is! We can let the goose walk about with a string to her
leg, and she'll grow fatter still before we roast her."

"But I gave away the goose for a fowl," said the man.

[Illustration: "MY DEAR GOOD HUSBAND!"]

"A fowl? That WAS a good exchange!" replied the woman. "The fowl will
lay eggs and hatch them, and we shall soon have chickens; we shall have
a whole poultry yard! Oh, that's just what I was wishing for."

"Yes, but I exchanged the fowl for a sack of shriveled apples."

"What!--I must positively kiss you for that," exclaimed the wife, "My
dear, good husband! Now I'll tell you something. Do you know, you had
hardly left me this morning, before I began thinking how I could give
you something very nice this evening. I thought it should be pancakes
with savory herbs. I had eggs, and bacon too; but I wanted herbs. So I
went over to the schoolmaster's--they have herbs there, I know--but the
schoolmistress is a mean woman, though she looks so sweet. I begged her
to lend me a handful of herbs, 'Lend!' she answered me; 'nothing at all
grows in our garden, not even a shriveled apple. I could not even lend
you a shriveled apple, my dear woman.' But now _I_ can lend HER twenty,
or a whole sackful. That I'm very glad of; that makes me laugh!" And
with that she gave him a sounding kiss.

"I like that!" exclaimed both the Englishmen together. "Always going
downhill, and always merry; that's worth the money."

So they paid a hundredweight of gold to the peasant, who was not
scolded, but kissed.

Yes, it always pays, when the wife sees and always asserts that her
husband knows best, and that whatever he does is right.

You see, that is my story. I heard it when I was a child; and now you
have heard it too, and know that "What the old man does is always
right."



THE FAIRIES OF THE CALDON-LOW

By Mary Howitt


"And where have you been, my Mary,
   And where have you been from me?"
"I've been to the top of the Caldon-Low,
   The midsummer night to see!"

"And what did you see, my Mary,
   All up on the Caldon-Low?"
"I saw the blithe sunshine come down,
   And I saw the merry winds blow."

"And what did you hear, my Mary,
   All up on the Caldon-Hill?"
"I heard the drops of water made,
   And I heard the corn-ears fill."

"Oh, tell me all, my Mary--
   All, all that ever you know;
 For you must have seen the fairies
   Last night on the Caldon-Low."

"Then take me on your knee, mother,
   And listen, mother of mine:
 A hundred fairies danced last night,
   And the harpers they were nine;

"And merry was the glee of the harp-strings,
   And their dancing feet so small;
 But, oh! the sound of their talking
   Was merrier far than all!"

 [Illustration]

"And what were the words, my Mary,
   That you did hear them say?"
"I'll tell you all, my mother,
   But let me have my way.

"And some they played with the water,
   And rolled it down the hill;
 'And this,' they said, 'shall speedily turn
   The poor old miller's mill;

"'For there has been no water
   Ever since the first of May;
 And a busy man shall the miller be
   By the dawning of the day!

"'Oh, the miller, how he will laugh,
   When he sees the milldam rise!
 The jolly old miller, how he will laugh,
   Till the tears fill both his eyes!'

"'And some they seized the little winds,
   That sounded over the hill,
 And each put a horn into his mouth,
   And blew so sharp and shrill!

[Illustration]

"'And there,' said they, 'the merry winds go
   Away from every horn;
 And those shall clear the mildew dank
   From the blind old widow's corn:

"'Oh, the poor blind widow--
   Though she has been blind so long,
 She'll be merry enough when the mildew's gone,
   And the corn stands stiff and strong!'

"And some they brought the brown linseed,
   And flung it down from the Low;
 'And this,' said they, 'by the sunrise,
   In the weaver's croft shall grow!

"'Oh, the poor lame weaver!
   How will he laugh outright
 When he sees his dwindling flax field
   All full of flowers by night!'

"And then up spoke a brownie,
   With a long beard on his chin;
 'I have spun up all the tow,' said he,
  'And I want some more to spin.

"'I've spun a piece of hempen cloth,
   And I want to spin another--
 A little sheet for Mary's bed
   And an apron for her mother!'

"And with that I could not help but laugh,
   And I laughed out loud and free;
 And then on the top of the Caldon-Low
   There was no one left but me.

"And all on the top of the Caldon-Low
  The mists were cold and gray,
And nothing I saw but the mossy stones
  That round about me lay.

"But as I came down from the hilltop,
  I heard, afar below,
How busy the jolly miller was,
  And how merry the wheel did go.

"And I peeped into the widow's field,
   And, sure enough, was seen
 The yellow ears of the mildewed corn
   All standing stiff and green!

"And down by the weaver's croft I stole,
   To see if the flax were high;
 But I saw the weaver at his gate
   With the good news in his eye!

"Now, this is all that I heard, mother,
   And all that I did see;
 So, prithee, make my bed, mother,
   For I'm tired as I can be!"



WHO STOLE THE BIRD'S NEST?

By L. Maria Child


  "To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!
   Will you listen to me?
   Who stole four eggs I laid,
   And the nice nest I made?"

"Not I," said the cow; "Moo-oo!
Such a thing I'd never do.
I gave you a wisp of hay,
But didn't take your nest away.
Not I," said the cow; "Moo-oo!
Such a thing I'd never do."

  "To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!
   Will you listen to me?
   Who stole four eggs I laid,
   And the nice nest I made?"

  "Bob-o'-link! Bob-o'-link!
   Now, what do you think?
   Who stole a nest away
   From the plum tree, to-day?"

"Not I," said the dog; "Bow-wow!
I wouldn't be so mean, anyhow!
I gave hairs the nest to make,
But the nest I did not take.
Not I," said the dog; "Bow-wow!
I'm not so mean, anyhow."

[Illustration]

  "To-whit I to-whit! to-whee!
   Will you listen to me?
   Who stole four eggs I laid,
   And the nice nest I made?"

  "Bob-o'-link! Bob-o'-link!
   Now what do you think?
   Who stole a nest away
   From the plum tree, to-day?"

  "Coo-coo! Coo-coo! Coo-coo!
   Let me speak a word, too!
   Who stole that pretty nest
   From little yellow-breast?"

"Not I," said the sheep; "Oh, no!
I wouldn't treat a poor bird so.
I gave wool the nest to line,
But the nest was none of mine.
Baa! Baa!" said the sheep; "Oh, no.
I wouldn't treat a poor bird so."

  "To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!
   Will you listen to me?
   Who stole four eggs I laid,
   And the nice nest I made?"

[Illustration]

  "Bob-o'-link! Bob-o'-link!
   Now, what do you think?
   Who stole a nest away
   From the plum tree, to-day?"

  "Coo-coo! Coo-coo! Coo-coo!
   Let me speak a word, too!
   Who stole that pretty nest
   From little yellow-breast?"

  "Caw! Caw!" cried the crow;
  "I should like to know
   What thief took away
   A bird's nest to-day?"

"Cluck! Cluck!" said the hen,
"Don't ask me again.
Why, I haven't a chick
Would do such a trick.
We all gave her a feather,
And she wove them together.
I'd scorn to intrude
On her and her brood.
Cluck! Cluck!" said the hen,
"Don't ask me again."

  "Chirr-a-whirr! Chirr-a-whirr!
   All the birds make a stir!
   Let us find out his name,
   And all cry, 'For shame!'"

  "I would not rob a bird,"
   Said little Mary Green;
  "I think I never heard
   Of anything so mean."

  "It is very cruel, too,"
   Said little Alice Neal;
  "I wonder if he knew
   How sad the bird would feel?"

A little boy hung down his head,
And went and hid behind the bed;
For HE stole that pretty nest
From poor little yellow-breast;
And he felt so full of shame,
He didn't like to tell his name.


In this little dialogue, what part do the birds take? What part do the
animals take?



THE FIRST SNOWFALL

By James Russell Lovell


The snow had begun in the gloaming,
  And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
  With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
  Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm tree
  Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
  Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down,
  And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
  The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snowbirds,
  Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
  Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
  As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
  Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?"
And I told of the good All-father
  Who cares for us here below.

[Illustration]

Again I looked at the snowfall,
  And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
  When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
  That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
  The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
  "The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
  Alone can make it fall!"

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
  And she, kissing back, could not know
That MY kiss was given to her sister,
  Folded close under deepening snow.
[Footnote: Lowell refers here to a daughter, Blanche, who died shortly
before the birth of his daughter Rosa.]



THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER

By John Ruskin


I


In a secluded and mountainous part of Styria there was, in old time, a
valley of the most surprising and luxuriant fertility. It was surrounded
on all sides by steep and rocky mountains, rising into peaks, which were
always covered with snow, and from which a number of torrents descended
in constant cataracts. One of these fell westward, over the face of a
crag so high that, when the sun had set to everything else, and all
below was darkness, his beams still shone full upon this waterfall, so
that it looked like a shower of gold. It was therefore called by the
people of the neighborhood the Golden River. It was strange that none of
these streams fell into the valley itself. They all descended on the
other side of the mountains, and wound away through broad plains and by
populous cities. But the clouds were drawn so constantly to the snowy
hills, and rested so softly in the circular hollow, that, in time of
drought and heat, when all the country round was burned up, there was
still rain in the little valley; and its crops were so heavy, and its
hay so high, and its apples so red, and its grapes so blue, and its wine
so rich, and its honey so sweet, that it was a marvel to every one who
beheld it, and was commonly called the Treasure Valley.

The whole of this little valley belonged to three brothers, called
Schwartz, Hans, and Gluck. Schwartz and Hans, the two elder brothers,
were very ugly men, with overhanging eyebrows and small, dull eyes,
which were always half shut, so that you couldn't see into them, and
always fancied they saw very far into you. They lived by farming the
Treasure Valley, and very good farmers they were. They killed everything
that did not pay for its eating. They shot the blackbirds, because they
pecked the fruit; and killed the hedgehogs, lest they should suck the
cows; they poisoned the crickets for eating the crumbs in the kitchen;
and smothered the cicadas, which used to sing all summer in the lime
trees. They worked their servants without any wages, till they would not
work any more, and then quarrelled with them, and turned them out of
doors without paying them. It would have been very odd if, with such a
farm, and such a system of farming, they hadn't got very rich; and very
rich they did get. They generally contrived to keep their corn by them
till it was very dear, and then sell it for twice its value; they had
heaps of gold lying about on their floors, yet it was never known that
they had given so much as a penny or a crust in charity; they never went
to mass; grumbled perpetually at paying tithes; and were, in a word, of
so cruel and grinding a temper, as to receive from all those with whom
they had any dealings, the nickname of the "Black Brothers."

The youngest brother, Gluck, was as completely opposed, in both
appearance and character, to his seniors as could possibly be imagined
or desired. He was not above twelve years old, fair, blue-eyed. and kind
in temper to every living thing. He did not, of course, agree
particularly well with his brothers, or, rather, they did not agree with
him. He was usually appointed to the honorable office of turnspit, when
there was anything to roast, which was not often; for, to do the
brothers justice, they were hardly less sparing upon themselves than
upon other people. At other times he used to clean the shoes, the
floors, and sometimes the plates, occasionally getting what was left on
them, by way of encouragement, and a wholesome quantity of dry blows, by
way of education.

Things went on in this manner for a long time. At last came a very wet
summer, and everything went wrong in the country round. The hay had
hardly been got in, when the haystacks were floated bodily down to the
sea by an inundation; the vines were cut to pieces with the hail; the
corn was all killed by a black blight; only in the Treasure Valley, as
usual, all was safe. As it had rain when there was rain nowhere else, so
it had sun when there was sun nowhere else. Everybody came to buy corn
at the farm, and went away pouring maledictions on the Black Brothers.
They asked what they liked, and got it, except from the poor people, who
could only beg, and several of whom were starved at their very door,
without the slightest regard or notice.

It was drawing toward winter, and very cold weather, when one day the
two elder brothers had gone out, with their usual warning to little
Gluck, who was left to mind the roast, that he was to let nobody in, and
give nothing out. Gluck sat down quite close to the fire, for it was
raining very hard, and the kitchen walls were by no means dry or
comfortable looking. He turned and turned, and the roast got nice and
brown. "What a pity," thought Gluck, "my brothers never ask anybody to
dinner. I'm sure, when they've got such a nice piece of mutton as this,
and nobody else has got so much as a piece of dry bread, it would do
their hearts good to have somebody to eat it with them."

Just as he spoke, there came a double knock at the house door, yet heavy
and dull, as though the knocker had been tied up--more like a puff than
a knock.

"It must be the wind," said Gluck; "nobody else would venture to knock
double knocks at our door."

No; it wasn't the wind; there it came again very hard, and, what was
particularly astounding, the knocker seemed to be in a hurry, and not to
be in the least afraid of the consequences. Gluck went to the window,
opened it, and put his head out to see who it was.

It was the most extraordinary-looking little gentleman he had ever seen
in his life. He had a very large nose, slightly brass-colored; his
cheeks were very round and very red, and might have warranted a
supposition that he had been blowing a refractory fire for the last
eight-and-forty hours; his eyes twinkled merrily through long silky
eyelashes, his mustaches curled twice round like a corkscrew on each
side of his mouth, and his hair, of a curious mixed pepper-and-salt
color, descended far over his shoulders. He was about four feet six in
height, and wore a conical-pointed cap of nearly the same altitude,
decorated with a black feather some three feet long. His doublet was
prolonged behind into something resembling a violent exaggeration of
what is now termed a "swallow-tail," but was much obscured by the
swelling folds of an enormous black, glossy-looking cloak, which must
have been very much too long in calm weather, as the wind, whistling
round the old house, carried it clear out from the wearer's shoulders to
about four times his own length.

[Illustration: "HELLO, I'M WET, LET ME IN"]

Gluck was so perfectly paralyzed by the singular appearance of his
visitor that he remained fixed without uttering a word, until the old
gentleman, having performed another and a more energetic concerto on the
knocker, turned round to look after his fly-away cloak. In so doing he
caught sight of Gluck's little yellow head jammed in the window, with
his mouth and eyes very wide open indeed.

"Hello!" said the little gentleman, "that's not the way to answer the
door; I'm wet, let me in."

To do the little gentleman justice, he was wet. His feather hung down
between his legs like a beaten puppy's tail, dripping like an umbrella;
and from the ends of his mustaches the water was running into his waist
coat pockets, and out again like a mill-stream.

"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck; "I'm very sorry, but I really can't."

"Can't what?" said the old gentleman,

"I can't let you in, sir--I can't indeed; my brothers would beat me to
death, sir, if I thought of such a thing. What do you want, sir?"

"Want?" said the old gentleman petulantly; "I want fire and shelter; and
there's your great fire there blazing, crackling, and dancing on the
walls, with nobody to feel it. Let me in, I say; I only want to warm
myself."

Gluck had had his head, by this time, so long out of the window that he
began to feel it was really unpleasantly cold, and when he turned, and
saw the beautiful fire rustling and roaring, and throwing long bright
tongues up the chimney, as if it were licking its chops at the savory
smell of the leg of mutton, his heart melted within him that it should
be burning away for nothing. "He does look very wet," said little Gluck;
"I'll just let him in for a quarter of an hour." Round he went to the
door, and opened it; and as the little gentleman walked in, through the
house came a gust of wind that made the old chimneys totter.

"That's a good boy," said the little gentleman. "Never mind your
brothers. I'll talk to them."

"Pray, sir, don't do any such thing," said Gluck. "I can't let you stay
till they come; they'd be the death of me!"

"Dear me," said the old gentleman, "I'm very sorry to hear that. How
long may I stay?"

"Only till the mutton's done, sir," replied Gluck, "and it's very
brown."

Then the old gentleman walked into the kitchen, and sat himself down on
the hob, with the top of his cap accommodated up the chimney, for it was
a great deal too high for the roof.

"You'll soon dry there, sir," said Gluck, and sat down again to turn the
mutton. But the old gentleman did NOT dry there, but went on drip, drip,
dripping among the cinders, and the fire fizzed and sputtered, and began
to look very black and uncomfortable; never was such a cloak; every fold
in it ran like a gutter.

"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck at length, after watching the water
spreading in long quicksilver-like streams over the floor for a quarter
of an hour; "mayn't I take your cloak?"

"No, thank you," said the old gentleman.

"Your cap, sir?"

"I'm all right, thank you," said the old gentleman, rather gruffly.

"But--sir--I'm very sorry," said Gluck hesitatingly; "but--really, sir--
you're putting the fire out."

"It'll take longer to do the mutton then," replied his visitor, dryly.

Gluck was very much puzzled by the behavior of his guest; it was such a
strange mixture of coolness and humility. He turned away at the string
meditatively for another five minutes.

"That mutton looks very nice," said the old gentleman, at length. "Can't
you give me a little bit?"

"Impossible, sir," said Gluck.

"I'm very hungry," continued the old gentleman; "I've had nothing to eat
yesterday, nor to-day. They surely couldn't miss a bit from the
knuckle!"

He spoke in so very melancholy a tone that it quite melted Gluck's
heart. "They promised me one slice to-day, sir," said he; "I can give
you that, but not a bit more."

"That's a good boy," said the old gentleman again.

Then Gluck warmed a plate and sharpened a knife. "I don't care if I do
get beaten for it," thought he. Just as he had cut a large slice out of
the mutton, there came a tremendous rap at the door. The old gentleman
jumped off the hob, as if it had suddenly become inconveniently warm.
Gluck fitted the slice into the mutton again, with desperate efforts at
exactitude, and ran to open the door.

"What did you keep us waiting in the rain for?" said Schwartz, as he
walked in, throwing his umbrella in Gluck's face.

"Ay! what for, indeed, you little vagabond?" said Hans, administering an
educational box on the ear, as he followed his brother into the kitchen.

"Bless my soul!" said Schwartz, when he opened the door.

"Amen," said the little gentleman, who had taken his cap off, and was
standing in the middle of the kitchen, bowing with the utmost possible
velocity.

"Who's that?" said Schwartz, catching up a rolling-pin, and turning to
Gluck with a fierce frown.

"I don't know, indeed, brother," said Gluck, in great terror.

"How did he get in?" roared Schwartz.

"My dear brother," said Gluck deprecatingly, "he was so very wet!"

The rolling-pin was descending on Gluck's head; but, at the instant, the
old gentleman interposed his conical cap, on which it crashed with a
shock that shook the water out of it all over the room. What was very
odd, the rolling-pin no sooner touched the cap, than it flew out of
Schwartz's hand, spinning like a straw in a high wind, and fell into the
corner at the further end of the room.

"Who are you, sir?" demanded Schwartz, turning upon him.

"What's your business?" snarled Hans.

"I'm a poor old man, sir," the little gentleman began very modestly,
"and I saw your fire through the window, and begged shelter for a
quarter of an hour."

"Have the goodness to walk out again, then," said Schwartz. "We've quite
water enough in our kitchen, without making it a drying-house."

"It's a cold day to turn an old man out in, sir; look at my gray hairs."
They hung down to his shoulders, as I told you before.

"Ay!" said Hans, "there are enough of them to keep you warm. Walk!"

"I'm very, very hungry, sir; couldn't you spare me a bit of bread before
I go?"

"Bread, indeed!" said Schwartz; "do you suppose we've nothing to do with
our bread but to give it to such red-nosed fellows as you?"

"Why don't you sell your feather?" said Hans, sneeringly. "Out with
you."

"A little bit," said the old gentleman.

"Be off!" said Schwartz.

"Pray, gentlemen."

"Off, and be hanged!" cried Hans, seizing him by the collar. But he had
no sooner touched the old gentleman's collar, than away he went after
the rolling-pin, spinning round and round, till he fell into the corner
on the top of it. Then Schwartz was very angry, and ran at the old
gentleman to turn him out; but he also had hardly touched him, when away
he went after Hans and the rolling-pin, and hit his head against the
wall as he tumbled into the corner. And so there they lay, all three.

Then the old gentleman spun himself round with velocity in the opposite
direction; continued to spin until his long cloak was all wound neatly
about him; clapped his cap on his head, very much on one side (for it
could not stand upright without going through the ceiling), gave an
additional twist to his corkscrew mustaches, and replied with perfect
coolness: "Gentlemen, I wish you a very good morning. At twelve o'clock
to-night I'll call again; after such a refusal of hospitality as I have
just experienced, you will not be surprised if that visit is the last I
ever pay you."

"If I ever catch you here again," muttered Schwartz, coming, half
frightened, out of the corner--but before he could finish his sentence,
the old gentleman had shut the house door behind him with a great bang;
and past the window, at the same instant, drove a wreath of ragged
cloud, that whirled and rolled away down the valley in all manner of
shapes; turning over and over in the air: and melting away at last in a
gush of rain.

"A very pretty business, indeed, Mr. Gluck!" said Schwartz. "Dish the
mutton, sir. If ever I catch you at such a trick again--Bless me, why
the mutton's been cut!"

"You promised me one slice, brother, you know," said Gluck.

"Oh! and you were cutting it hot, I suppose, and going to catch all the
gravy. It'll be long before I promise you such a thing again. Leave the
room, sir; and have the kindness to wait in the coal-cellar till I call
you."

Gluck left the room melancholy enough. The brothers ate as much mutton
as they could, locked the rest in the cupboard, and proceeded to get
very drunk after dinner.

Such a night as it was! Howling wind and rushing rain without
intermission. The brothers had just sense enough left to put up all the
shutters, and double bar the door, before they went to bed. They usually
slept in the same room. As the clock struck twelve, they were both
awakened by a tremendous crash. Their door burst open with a violence
that shook the house from top to bottom.

"What's that?" cried Schwartz, starting up in his bed.

"Only I," said the little gentleman.

The two brothers sat up on their bolster, and stared into the darkness.
The room was full of water, and by a misty moonbeam, which found its way
through a hole in the shutter, they could see, in the midst of it, an
enormous foam globe, spinning round, and bobbing up and down like a
cork, on which, as on a most luxurious cushion, reclined the little old
gentleman, cap and all.

There was plenty of room for it now, for the roof was off.

"Sorry to incommode you," said their visitor ironically. "I'm afraid
your beds are dampish; perhaps you had better go to your brother's room;
I've left the ceiling on there."

They required no second admonition, but rushed into Gluck's room, wet
through, and in an agony of terror.

"You'll find my card on the kitchen table," the old gentleman called
after them. "Remember, the LAST visit."

"Pray Heaven it may be!" said Schwartz, shuddering. And the foam globe
disappeared.

Dawn came at last, and the two brothers looked out of Gluck's little
window in the morning. The Treasure Valley was one mass of ruin and
desolation. The inundation had swept away trees, crops, and cattle, and
left, in their stead, a waste of red sand and gray mud.

[Illustration with caption: "SORRY TO INCOMMODE YOU"]

The two brothers crept, shivering and horror-struck, into the kitchen.
The water had gutted the whole first floor: corn, money, almost every
movable thing had been swept away, and there was left only a small white
card on the kitchen table.

On it, in large, breezy, long-legged letters, were engraved the words:

                 Southwest Wind, Esquire.



II


Southwest Wind, Esquire, was as good as his word. After the momentous
visit above related, he entered the Treasure Valley no more; and, what
was worse, he had so much influence with his relations, the West Winds
in general, and used it so effectually, that they all adopted a similar
line of conduct. So no rain fell in the valley from one year's end to
another. Though everything remained green and flourishing in the plains
below, the inheritance of the Three Brothers was a desert. What had once
been the richest soil in the kingdom became a shifting heap of red sand;
and the brothers, unable longer to contend with the adverse skies,
abandoned their valueless patrimony in despair, to seek some means of
gaining a livelihood among the cities and people of the plains. All
their money was gone, and they had nothing left but some curious, old-
fashioned pieces of gold plate, the last remnants of their ill-gotten
wealth.

"Suppose we turn goldsmiths?" said Schwartz to Hans, as they entered the
large city. "It is a good knave's trade: we can put a great deal of
copper into the gold, without any one's finding it out."

The thought was agreed to be a very good one; they hired a furnace, and
turned goldsmiths. But two slight circumstances affected their trade:
the first, that people did not approve of the coppered gold, the second,
that the two elder brothers, whenever they had sold anything, used to
leave little Gluck to mind the furnace, and go and drink out the money
in the alehouse next door. So they melted all their gold, without making
money enough to buy more, and were at last reduced to one large
drinking-mug, which an uncle of his had given to little Gluck, and which
he was very fond of, and would not have parted with for the world;
though he never drank anything out of it but milk and water. The mug was
a very odd mug to look at. The handle was formed of two wreaths of
flowing golden hair, so finely spun that it looked more like silk than
like metal, and these wreaths descended into, and mixed with, a beard
and whiskers, of the same exquisite workmanship, which surrounded and
decorated a very fierce little face, of the reddest gold imaginable,
right in the front of the mug, with a pair of eyes in it which seemed to
command its whole circumference. It was impossible to drink out of the
mug without being subjected to an intense gaze out of the side of these
eyes; and Schwartz positively averred that once, after emptying it full
of Rhenish seventeen times, he had seen them wink! When it came to the
mug's turn to be made into spoons, it half broke poor little Gluck's
heart; but the brothers only laughed at him, tossed the mug into the
melting pot, and staggered out to the alehouse; leaving him, as usual,
to pour the gold into bars, when it was all ready.

When they were gone, Gluck took a farewell look at his old friend in the
melting pot, The flowing hair was all gone; nothing remained but the red
nose, and the sparkling eyes, which looked more malicious than ever.
"And no wonder," thought Gluck, "after being treated in that way." He
sauntered disconsolately to the window, and sat himself down to catch
the fresh evening air, and escape the hot breath of the furnace. Now
this window commanded a direct view of the range of mountains which, as
I told you before, overhung the Treasure Valley, and more especially of
the peak from which fell the Golden River. It was just at the close of
the day, and, when Gluck sat down at the window, he saw the rocks of the
mountain tops all crimson and purple with the sunset; and there were
bright tongues of fiery cloud burning and quivering about them; and the
river, brighter than all, fell, in a waving column of pure gold, from
precipice to precipice, with the double arch of a broad purple rainbow
stretched across it, flushing and fading alternately in the wreaths of
spray.

"Ah!" said Gluck aloud, after he had looked at it for a little while,
"if that river were really all gold, what a nice thing it would be!"

"No, it wouldn't, Gluck," said a clear, metallic voice, close at his
ear.

"Bless me, what's that?" exclaimed Gluck, jumping up. There was nobody
there. He looked round the room, and under the table, and a great many
times behind him, but there was certainly nobody there, and he sat down
again at the window. This time he didn't speak, but he couldn't help
thinking again that it would be very convenient if the river were really
all gold.

"Not at all, my boy," said the same voice, louder than before.

"Bless me!" said Gluck again, "what IS that?" He looked again into all
the corners and cupboards, and then began turning round and round, as
fast as he could, in the middle of the room, thinking there was somebody
behind him, when the same voice struck again on his ear. It was singing
now very merrily, "Lala-lira-la"; no words, only a soft running
effervescent melody, something like that of a kettle on the boil. Gluck
looked out of the window. No, it was certainly in the house. Upstairs,
and downstairs. No, it was certainly in that very room, coming in
quicker time and clearer notes every moment, "Lala-lira-la." All at once
it struck Gluck that it sounded louder near the furnace. He ran to the
opening and looked in; yes, he saw right; it seemed to be coming, not
only out of the furnace, but out of the pot. He uncovered it, and ran
back in a great fright, for the pot was certainly singing! He stood in
the furthest corner of the room, with his hands up, and his mouth open,
for a minute or two, when the singing stopped, and the voice became
clear and pronunciative.

"Hollo!" said the voice. Gluck made no answer.

"Hollo, Gluck, my boy," said the pot again.

Gluck summoned all his energies, walked straight up to the crucible,
drew it out of the furnace, and looked in. The gold was all melted, and
its surface as smooth and polished as a river; but instead of its
reflecting little Gluck's head, as he looked in, he saw meeting his
glance, from beneath the gold, the red nose and the sharp eyes of his
old friend of the mug, a thousand times redder and sharper than ever he
had seen them in his life.

"Come, Gluck, my boy," said the voice out of the pot again, "I'm all
right; pour me out."

But Gluck was too much astonished to do anything of the kind.

"Pour me out, I say," said the voice rather gruffly,

Still Gluck couldn't move.

"WILL you pour me out?" said the voice passionately, "I'm too hot."

By a violent effort, Gluck recovered the use of his limbs, took hold of
the crucible, and sloped it so as to pour out the gold. But instead of a
liquid stream, there came out, first, a pair of pretty little yellow
legs, then some coat tails, then a pair of arms stuck akimbo, and,
finally, the well-known head of his friend the mug; all which articles,
uniting as they rolled out, stood up energetically on the floor, in the
shape of a little golden dwarf, about a foot and a half high.

"That's right;" said the dwarf, stretching out first his legs, and then
his arms, and then shaking his head up and down, and as far round as it
would go, for five minutes, without stopping, apparently with the view
of ascertaining if he were quite correctly put together; while Gluck
stood contemplating him in speechless amazement. He was dressed in a
slashed doublet of spun gold, so fine in its texture that the prismatic
colors gleamed over it, as if on a surface of mother-of-pearl; and over
this brilliant doublet his hair and beard fell full halfway to the
ground, in waving curls, so exquisitely delicate that Gluck could hardly
tell where they ended; they seemed to melt into air. The features of the
face, however, were by no means finished with the same delicacy; they
were rather coarse, slightly inclining to coppery in complexion, and
indicative, in expression, of a very pertinacious and intractable
disposition in their small proprietor. When the dwarf had finished his
self-examination, he turned his small, sharp eyes full on Gluck, and
stared at him deliberately for a minute or two. "No, it wouldn't, Gluck,
my boy," said the little man.

This was certainly rather an abrupt and unconnected mode of commencing
conversation. It might indeed be supposed to refer to the course of
Gluck's thoughts, which had first produced the dwarf's observations out
of the pot; but whatever it referred to, Gluck had no inclination to
dispute the dictum.

"Wouldn't it, sir?" said Gluck, very mildly and submissively indeed.

"No," said the dwarf conclusively. "No, it wouldn't." And with that, the
dwarf pulled his cap hard over his brows, and took two turns of three
feet long, up and down the room, lifting his legs very high, and setting
them down very hard. This pause gave time for Gluck to collect his
thoughts a little, and, seeing no great reason to view his diminutive
visitor with dread, and feeling his curiosity overcome his amazement, he
ventured on a question of peculiar delicacy.

"Pray, sir," said Gluck, rather hesitatingly, "were you my mug!"

On which the little man turned sharp round, walked straight up to Gluck,
and drew himself up to his full height. "I," said the little man, "am
the King of the Golden River." Whereupon he turned about again, and took
two more turns, some six feet long, in order to allow time for the
consternation which this announcement produced in his auditor to
evaporate. After which he again walked up to Gluck and stood still, as
if expecting some comment on his communication.

Gluck determined to say something, at all events. "I hope your majesty
is very well," said Gluck.

"Listen!" said the little man, deigning no reply to this polite inquiry.
"I am the King of what you mortals call the Golden River. The shape you
saw me in was owing to the malice of a stronger king, from whose
enchantments you have this instant freed me. What I have seen of you,
and your conduct to your wicked brothers, renders me willing to serve
you; therefore attend to what I tell you. Whoever shall climb to the top
of that mountain from which you see the Golden River issue, and shall
cast into the stream at its source three drops of holy water, for him,
and for him only, the river shall turn to gold. But no one failing in
his first can succeed in a second attempt; and if any one shall cast
unholy water into the river, it will overwhelm him, and he will become a
black stone." So saying, the King of the Golden River turned away, and
deliberately walked into the center of the hottest flame of the furnace.
His figure became red, red, white, transparent, dazzling--a blaze of
intense light--rose, trembled, and disappeared. The King of the Golden
River had evaporated.

"Oh!" cried poor Gluck, running to look up the chimney after him; "oh
dear, dear, dear me! My mug! my mug! my mug!"



III


The King of the Golden River had hardly made his extraordinary exit
before Hans and Schwartz came roaring into the house, very savagely
drunk. The discovery of the total loss of their last piece of plate had
the effect of sobering them just enough to enable them to stand over
Gluck, beating him very steadily for a quarter of an hour; at the
expiration of which period they dropped into a couple of chairs, and
requested to know what he had got to say for himself. Gluck told them
his story, of which of course they did not believe a word. They beat him
again, till their arms were tired, and staggered to bed. In the morning,
however, the steadiness with which he adhered to his story obtained him
some degree of credence; the immediate consequence of which was, that
the two brothers, after wrangling a long time on the knotty question
which of them should try his fortune first, drew their swords, and began
fighting. The noise of the fray alarmed the neighbors, who, finding they
could not pacify the combatants, sent for the constable.

Hans, on hearing this, contrived to escape, and hid himself; but
Schwartz was taken before the magistrate, fined for breaking the peace,
and having drunk out his last penny the evening before, was thrown into
prison till he should pay.

When Hans heard this, he was much delighted, and determined to set out
immediately for the Golden River. How to get the holy water was the
question. He went to the priest, but the priest could not give any holy
water to so abandoned a character. So Hans went to vespers in the
evening for the first time in his life, and, under pretence of crossing
himself, stole a cupful, and returned home in triumph.

Next morning he got up before the sun rose, put the holy water into a
strong flask, and two bottles of wine and some meat in a basket, slung
them over his back, took his alpine staff in his hand, and set off for
the mountains.

On his way out of the town he had to pass the prison, and as he looked
in at the windows, whom should he see but Schwartz himself peeping out
of the bars, and looking very disconsolate.

"Good morning, brother," said Hans; "have you any message for the King
of the Golden River?"

Schwartz gnashed his teeth with rage, and shook the bars with all his
strength; but Hans only laughed at him, and advising him to make himself
comfortable till he came back again, shouldered his basket, shook the
bottle of holy water in Schwartz's face till it frothed again, and
marched off in the highest spirits in the world.

It was, indeed, a morning that might have made any one happy, even with
no Golden River to seek for. Level lines of dewy mist lay stretched
along the valley, out of which rose the massy mountains--their lower
cliffs in pale gray shadow, hardly distinguishable from the floating
vapor, but gradually ascending till they caught the sunlight, which ran
in sharp touches of ruddy color along the angular crags, and pierced, in
long level rays, through their fringes of spear-like pine. Far above
shot up red splintered masses of castellated rock, jagged and shivered
into myriads of fantastic forms, with here and there a streak of sunlit
snow, traced down their chasms like a line of forked lightning; and, far
beyond, and far above all these, fainter than the morning cloud, but
purer and changeless, slept, in the blue sky, the utmost peaks of the
eternal snow.

The Golden River, which sprang from one of the lower and snowless
elevations, was now nearly in shadow; all but the uppermost jets of
spray, which rose like slow smoke above the undulating line of the
cataract, and floated away in feeble wreaths upon the morning wind.

On this object, and on this alone, Hans's eyes and thoughts were fixed;
forgetting the distance he had to traverse, he set off at an imprudent
rate of walking, which greatly exhausted him before he had scaled the
first range of the green and low hills. He was, moreover, surprised, on
surmounting them, to find that a large glacier, of whose existence,
notwithstanding his previous knowledge of the mountains, he had been
absolutely ignorant, lay between him and the source of the Golden River.
He entered on it with the boldness of a practiced mountaineer; yet he
thought he had never traversed so strange or so dangerous a glacier in
his life. The ice was excessively slippery; and out of all its chasms
came wild sounds of gushing water: not monotonous or low, but changeful
and loud, rising occasionally into drifting passages of wild melody,
then breaking off into short, melancholy tones, or sudden shrieks,
resembling those of human voices in distress or pain. The ice was broken
into thousands of confused shapes, but none, Hans thought, like the
ordinary forms of splintered ice. There seemed a curious EXPRESSION
about all their outlines--a perpetual resemblance to living features,
distorted and scornful. Myriads of deceitful shadows and lurid lights
played and floated about and through the pale blue pinnacles, dazzling
and confusing the sight of the traveler; while his ears grew dull and
his head giddy with the constant gush and roar of the concealed waters.
These painful circumstances increased upon him as he advanced; the ice
crashed and yawned into fresh chasms at his feet, tottering spires
nodded around him, and fell thundering across his path; and though he
had repeatedly faced these dangers on the most terrific glaciers, and in
the wildest weather, it was with a new and oppressive feeling of panic-
terror that he leaped the last chasm, and flung himself, exhausted and
shuddering on the firm turf of the mountain.

He had been compelled to abandon his basket of food, which became a
perilous incumbrance on the glacier, and had now no means of refreshing
himself but by breaking off and eating some of the pieces of ice. This,
however, relieved his thirst; an hour's repose recruited his hardy
frame, and, with the indomitable spirit of avarice, he resumed his
laborious journey.

His way now lay straight up a ridge of bare, red rocks, without a blade
of grass to ease the foot or a projecting angle to afford an inch of
shade from the south sun. It was past noon, and the rays beat intensely
upon the steep path, while the whole atmosphere was motionless, and
penetrated with heat. Intense thirst was soon added to the bodily
fatigue with which Hans was now afflicted; glance after glance he cast
on the flask of water which hung at his belt. "Three drops are enough,"
at last thought he; "I may, at least, cool my lips with it."

He opened the flask, and was raising it to his lips, when his eye fell
on an object lying on the rock beside him; he thought it moved. It was a
small dog, apparently in the last agony of death from thirst. Its tongue
was out, its jaws dry, its limbs extended lifelessly, and a swarm of
black ants were crawling about its lips and throat. Its eye moved to the
bottle which Hans held in his hand. He raised it, drank, spurned the
animal with his foot, and passed on. And he did not know how it was, but
he thought that a strange shadow had suddenly come across the blue sky.

The path became steeper and more rugged every moment; and the high hill
air, instead of refreshing him, seemed to throw his blood into a fever.
The noise of the hill cataracts sounded like mockery in his ears; they
were all distant, and his thirst increased every moment. Another hour
passed, and he again looked down to the flask at his side; it was half
empty, but there was much more than three drops in it. He stopped to
open it, and again, as he did so, something moved in the path above him.
It was a fair child, stretched nearly lifeless on the rock, its breast
heaving with thirst, its eyes closed, and its lips parched and burning.
Hans eyed it deliberately, drank, and passed on. And a dark gray cloud
came over the sun, and long snake-like shadows crept up along the
mountain sides. Hans struggled on. The sun was sinking, but its descent
seemed to bring no coolness; the leaden weight of the dead air pressed
upon his brow and heart, but the goal was near. He saw the cataract of
the Golden River springing from the hillside, scarcely five hundred feet
above him. He paused for a moment to breathe, and sprang on to complete
his task.

At this instant a faint cry fell on his ear. He turned, and saw a gray-
haired old man extended on the rocks. His eyes were sunk, his features
deadly pale, and gathered into an expression of despair. "Water!"--he
stretched his arms to Hans, and cried feebly--"Water! I am dying."

[Illustration: THOU HAST HAD THY SHARE OF LIFE]

"I have none," replied Hans; "thou hast had thy share of life." He
strode over the prostrate body, and darted on. And a flash of blue
lightning rose out of the east, shaped like a sword; it shook thrice
over the whole heaven, and left it dark with one heavy, impenetrable
shade. The sun was setting; it plunged toward the horizon like a red-hot
ball.

The roar of the Golden River rose on Hans's ear. He stood at the brink
of the chasm through which it ran. Its waves were filled with the red
glory of the sunset; they shook their crests like tongues of fire, and
flashes of bloody light gleamed along their foam. Their sound came
mightier and mightier on his senses; his brain grew giddy with the
prolonged thunder. Shuddering, he drew the flask from his girdle, and
hurled it into the centre of the torrent. As he did so, an icy chill
shot through his limbs; he staggered, shrieked, and fell. The water
closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly into the
night, as it gushed over

                      The Black Stone.



IV


Poor little Gluck waited very anxiously alone in the house for Hans's
return. Finding he did not come back, he was terribly frightened, and
went and told Schwartz in the prison all that had happened. Then
Schwartz was very much pleased, and said that Hans must certainly have
been turned into a black stone, and he should have all the gold to
himself. But Gluck was very sorry, and cried all night. When he got up
in the morning, there was no bread in the house, nor any money; so Gluck
went and hired himself to another goldsmith, and he worked so hard, and
so neatly, and so long every day, that he soon got money enough together
to pay his brother's fine, and he went and gave it all to Schwartz, and
Schwartz got out of prison. Then Schwartz was quite pleased, and said he
should have some of the gold of the river. But Gluck only begged he
would go and see what had become of Hans.

Now when Schwartz had heard that Hans had stolen the holy water, he
thought to himself that such a proceeding might not be considered
altogether correct by the King of the Golden River, and determined to
manage matters better. So he took some more of Gluck's money, and went
to a bad priest, who gave him some holy water very readily for it. Then
Schwartz was sure it was all quite right. So Schwartz got up early in
the morning before the sun rose, and took some bread and wine in a
basket, and put his holy water in a flask, and set off for the
mountains.

Like his brother, he was much surprised at the sight of the glacier, and
had great difficulty in crossing it, even after leaving his basket
behind him.

The day was cloudless, but not bright; a heavy purple haze was hanging
over the sky, and the hills looked lowering and gloomy. And as Schwartz
climbed the steep rock path, the thirst came upon him, as it had upon
his brother, until he lifted his flask to his lips to drink. Then he saw
the fair child lying near him on the rocks, and it cried to him, and
moaned for water.

"Water, indeed," said Schwartz; "I haven't half enough for myself," and
passed on. And as he went he thought the sunbeams grew more dim, and he
saw a low bank of black cloud rising out of the west; and when he had
climbed for another hour the thirst overcame him again, and he would
have drunk. Then he saw the old man lying before him on the path, and
heard him cry out for water.

"Water, indeed," said Schwartz; "I haven't half enough for myself," and
on he went.

[Illustration: HE CAST THE FLASK INTO THE STREAM]

Then again the light seemed to fade from before his eyes, and he looked
up, and, behold, a mist, of the color of blood, had come over the sun;
and the bank of black cloud had risen very high, and its edges were
tossing and tumbling like the waves of the angry sea. And they cast long
shadows, which flickered over Schwartz's path.

Then Schwartz climbed for another hour, and again his thirst returned;
and as he lifted his flask to his lips, he thought he saw his brother
Hans lying exhausted on the path before him, and, as he gazed, the
figure stretched its arms to him, and cried for water. "Ha, ha!" laughed
Schwartz, "are you there? Remember the prison bars, my boy. Water,
indeed! do you suppose I carried it all the way up here for you?" And he
strode over the figure; yet, as he passed, he thought he saw a strange
expression of mockery about its lips. And when he had gone a few yards
farther, he looked back; but the figure was not there.

And a sudden horror came over Schwartz, he knew not why; but the thirst
for gold prevailed over his fear, and he rushed on. And the bank of
black cloud rose to the zenith, and out of it came bursts of spiry
lightning, and waves of darkness seemed to heave and float between their
flashes, over the whole heavens. And the sky where the sun was setting
was all level, and like a lake of blood; and a strong wind came out of
that sky, tearing its crimson clouds into fragments, and scattering them
far into the darkness. And when Schwartz stood by the brink of the
Golden River, its waves were black like thunder-clouds, but their foam
was like fire; and the roar of the waters below and the thunder above
met, as he cast the flask into the stream. And, as he did so, the
lightning glared in his eyes, and the earth gave way beneath him, and
the waters closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly
into the night, as it gushed over

                    The Two Black Stones.



V


When Gluck found that Schwartz did not come back, he was very sorry, and
did not know what to do. He had no money, and was obliged to go and hire
himself again to the goldsmith, who worked him very hard, and gave him
very little money. So, after a month or two, Gluck grew tired, and made
up his mind to go and try his fortune with the Golden River. "The little
king looked very kind," thought he. "I don't think he will turn me into
a black stone." So he went to the priest, and the priest gave him some
holy water as soon as he asked for it. Then Gluck took some bread in his
basket, and the bottle of water, and set off very early for the
mountains.

If the glacier had occasioned a great deal of fatigue to his brothers,
it was twenty times worse for him, who was neither so strong nor so
practiced on the mountains. He had several very bad falls, lost his
basket and bread, and was very much frightened at the strange noises
under the ice. He lay a long time to rest on the grass, after he had got
over, and began to climb the hill just in the hottest part of the day.
When he had climbed for an hour, he got dreadfully thirsty, and was
going to drink like his brothers, when he saw an old man coming down the
path above him, looking very feeble, and leaning on a staff.

"My son," said the old man, "I am faint with thirst; give me some of
that water."

Then Gluck looked at him, and when he saw that he was pale and weary, he
gave him the water.

"Only pray don't drink it all," said Gluck. But the old man drank a
great deal, and gave him back the bottle two thirds empty. Then he bade
him good speed, and Gluck went on again merrily. And the path became
easier to his feet, and two or three blades of grass appeared upon it,
and some grasshoppers began singing on the bank beside it; and Gluck
thought he had never heard such merry singing.

Then he went on for another hour, and the thirst increased on him so
that he thought he should be forced to drink. But, as he raised the
flask, he saw a little child lying panting by the roadside, and it cried
out piteously for water. Then Gluck struggled with himself and
determined to bear the thirst a little longer; and he put the bottle to
the child's lips, and it drank it all but a few drops. Then it smiled on
him and got up, and ran down the hill; and Gluck looked after it, till
it became as small as a little star, and then turned, and began climbing
again. And then there were all kinds of sweet flowers growing on the
rocks, bright green moss, with pale pink starry flowers, and soft-belled
gentians, more blue than the sky at its deepest, and pure white
transparent lilies. And crimson and purple butterflies darted hither and
thither, and the sky sent down such pure light that Gluck had never felt
so happy in his life.

Yet, when he had climbed for another hour, his thirst became intolerable
again; and, when he looked at his bottle, he saw that there were only
five or six drops left in it, and he could not venture to drink. And as
he was hanging the flask to his belt again, he saw a little dog lying on
the rocks, gasping for breath--just as Hans had seen it on the day of
his ascent. And Gluck stopped and looked at it, and then at the Golden
River, not five hundred yards above him; and he thought of the dwarf's
words, that no one could succeed, except in his first attempt; and he
tried to pass the dog, but it whined piteously, and Gluck stopped again.
"Poor beastie," said Gluck, "it'll be dead when I come down again, if I
don't help it." Then he looked closer and closer at it, and its eye
turned on him so mournfully that he could not stand it. "Confound the
King and his gold too," said Gluck; and he opened the flask, and poured
all the water into the dog's mouth.

The dog sprang up and stood on its hind legs. Its tail disappeared, its
ears became long, longer, silky, golden; its nose became very red, its
eyes became very twinkling; in three seconds the dog was gone, and
before Gluck stood his old acquaintance, the King of the Golden River.

"Thank you," said the monarch; "but don't be frightened, it's all
right"; for Gluck showed manifest symptoms of consternation at this
unlooked-for reply to his last observation. "Why didn't you come
before," continued the dwarf, "instead of sending me those rascally
brothers of yours, for me to have the trouble of turning into stones?
Very hard stones they make, too."

"Oh dear me!" said Gluck; "have you really been so cruel?"

"Cruel?" said the dwarf; "they poured unholy water into my stream; do
you suppose I'm going to allow that?"

[Illustration: THE DWARF SHOOK THE DROPS INTO THE FLASK]

"Why," said Gluck, "I am sure, sir--your Majesty, I mean--they got the
water out of the church font."

"Very probably," replied the dwarf; "but," and his countenance grew
stern as he spoke, "the water which has been refused to the cry of the
weary and dying is unholy, though it had been blessed by every saint in
heaven; and the water which is found in the vessel of mercy is holy,
though it had been denied with corpses."

So saying, the dwarf stooped and plucked a lily that grew at his feet.
On its white leaves hung three drops of clear dew, and the dwarf shook
them into the flask which Gluck held in his hand. "Cast these into the
river," he said, "and descend on the other side of the mountains into
the Treasure Valley. And so good speed."

As he spoke, the figure of the dwarf became indistinct. The playing
colors of his robe formed themselves into a prismatic mist of dewy
light; he stood for an instant veiled with them as with the belt of a
broad rainbow. The colors grew faint, the mist rose into the air; the
monarch had evaporated.

And Gluck climbed to the brink of the Golden River, and its waves were
as clear as crystal and as brilliant as the sun.

And when he cast the three drops of dew into the stream, there opened
where they fell a small circular whirlpool, into which the waters
descended with a musical noise.

Gluck stood watching it for some time, very much disappointed, because
not only the river was not turned into gold, but its waters seemed much
diminished in quantity. Yet he obeyed his friend the dwarf, and
descended the other side of the mountains, toward the Treasure Valley;
and, as he went, he thought he heard the noise of water working its way
under the ground. And when he came in sight of the Treasure Valley,
behold, a river, like the Golden River, was springing from a new cleft
of the rocks above it, and was flowing in innumerable streams among the
dry heaps of red sand.

And as Gluck gazed, fresh grass sprang beside the new streams, and
creeping plants grew, and climbed among the moistening soil. Young
flowers opened suddenly along the river sides, as stars leap out when
twilight is deepening, and thickets of myrtle and tendrils of vine cast
lengthening shadows over the valley as they grew. And thus the Treasure
Valley became a garden again, and the inheritance which had been lost by
cruelty was regained by love.

And Gluck went and dwelt in the valley, and the poor were never driven
from his door; so that his barns became full of corn, and his house of
treasure. And, for him, the river had, according to the dwarf's promise,
become a River of Gold.

And to this day the inhabitants of the valley point out the place where
the three drops of holy dew were cast into the stream, and trace the
course of the Golden River under the ground, until it emerges in the
Treasure Valley. And at the top of the cataract of the Golden River are
still to be seen two black stones, round which the waters howl
mournfully every day at sunset; and these stones are still called, by
the people of the valley,

                   The Black Brothers.


It would be a rather hard thing to choose the very best fairy story, but
there are a great many persons who would say that, everything
considered, The King of the Golden River is the finest. Many like The
Ugly Duckling, by Hans Christian Andersen, and it certainly is a
beautiful story. We must remember in comparing the two that The Ugly
Duckling has probably lost something in being translated into the
English, for it is almost impossible to make a translation as perfect as
the original. For the reason just given, perhaps, The King of the Golden
River excels as literature, and almost every boy or girl is glad to
study the story enough to understand what makes it so very fine.

As soon as we have read it we feel that it is an interesting story, and
that we are really the better for reading it. We cannot follow the
fortunes of little Gluck without feeling our hearts grow warmer at his
kindly acts, or without knowing that the hospitality, self-denial,
sympathy and generosity that he shows are some of the finest traits of
human character. Moreover, we are inspired with the desire to be like
Gluck, and to curb any inclination to become like his two dark brothers.

What we wish to do, however, in this brief study, is to try to find some
other points less noticeable, perhaps, but equally interesting, in which
this story excels many others. Now, one of these points is the
remarkably brilliant way in which things are described by Mr. Ruskin.

We remember that he was a famous English writer who had a very high
regard for painting, and who wrote about pictures until he made the
world believe many of the sensible things he said. Naturally, the writer
who had such an appreciation for pictures would be particular in
description. In other words, we should expect him to paint for us
beautiful word pictures. In this we are not disappointed, when we reach,
for instance, the description of the beautiful morning when Hans started
out on his journey to the Golden River. You will find it in an early
part of the third section of the story.

It is not necessary for Ruskin to describe the view that lay before
Hans, but his love for the beautiful and his passion for colors made him
sketch for us the imaginary beauties that lay before the selfish and
avaricious man. On our part we must try to see the picture as the author
saw it when he wrote.

Imagine rising before us a valley, surrounded on both sides by massive
mountains. The valley, we may say, runs north and south, and we are at
the south end of it, for on the cliffs at the west side the sun is
shining, its long level rays piercing the fringe of pines and touching
with a ruddy color the tops of the mountains. It would be a difficult
matter to climb the masses of castellated rock shivered into numberless
curious forms, for they extend far into the region of eternal snow, and
from where we stand it seems as though they pierce the blue heavens. The
snow line is not level along the cliffs, for in places the drifts lie
deep in chasms which, from a distance, look like branching rivers of
pure white, or, as Ruskin says, when lighted by the sun, appear like
"lines of forked lightning." At one end of the valley we may see the
Golden River, surging, possibly, from the eastern wall, as it is almost
wholly in the shadow; yet there are dashes of spray which the shining
sun turns to gold. Between the Golden River and ourselves lie some broad
fields of ice. In fact, the picture is not altogether one of beauty, for
there is a suggestion of sublimity and awe mixed with the view which
causes us to shudder in spite of the glowing radiance of the morning. In
the next paragraph Hans is shown proceeding on his journey, and then the
depressing elements in the picture become clearer.

What did Hans find that surprised him? Did it appear a longer walk to
the Golden River than he had anticipated? What was the nature of the
ice? If a person were crossing a glacier, would sounds of rushing water
tend to frighten him? Was the surface of the glacier smooth? Were there
many fragments of ice that seemed to take human form? Why are the
shadows called deceitful? What are lurid lights? What effect did the
sights and sounds have upon Hans? Had Hans been in similar dangers
before? Were these dangers worse than ever before, or was Hans in the
mood to be disturbed by them?

When you have answered the questions in the last paragraph, finish for
yourselves the picture of the valley as we first sketched it. Close your
eyes and try to see the valley, mountains, sunlight, great rocks,
yawning chasms, and the enormous fragments of ice that looked like
terrible beings ready to devour any one who came near them. When you
have done this, you will realize the power of Ruskin's descriptions.

Now compare the valley as Hans saw it with the valley as Schwartz and
Gluck saw it. What changes are there in the picture?

There are other descriptions in the story besides those of the valley
and the Golden River. It would be interesting to go through and compare
the different pictures which Ruskin gives us of the King of the Golden
River. If we should do this we might gather our information and put it
into a table something like this:


THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER

I. First Appearance.

1. He is an extraordinary-looking little gentleman.
2. Nose,--large and slightly brass-colored.
3. Cheeks,--round and very red.
4. Eyes,--twinkling under silky lashes.
5. Mustaches,--curled twice around.
6. Hair,--long and of a curious mixed pepper-and-salt color.
7. Height,--four feet six.
8. Clothing:
    a. Cap,--conical-pointed, four feet six inches (nearly).
    (1) Black feather, three feet long.
    b. Doublet.
    c. Coat,--exaggerated swallow-tail.
    d. Cloak,--enormous, black, glossy-looking, eighteen feet long.

II. Second Appearance (spinning on the globe of foam).

1. Cap and all as before.

III. Third Appearance.

1. The drinking-mug.
a. The handle of two wreaths of golden hair descending and mixing
       with the beard and whiskers.
    b. Face,--small, fierce, reddish-gold.
    c. Nose,--red.
    d. Eyes,--sharp.

2. The King.
    a. Height,--one and a half feet; a golden dwarf.
    b. Legs,--little and yellow.
    c. Face,--as before.
    d. Doublet,--slashed, of spun gold, prismatic colors.
    e. Hair,--exquisitely delicate curls.
    f. Features,--coppery, fierce and determined in expression.

IV. Fourth Appearance.

1. Same as in third appearance.

V. Different Forms the King Assumes:

1. To Hans:
a. A small dog, dying of thirst; tongue hanging out, jaws dry;
   almost lifeless; ants crawling about its lips and throat.
b. A fair child, nearly lifeless; breast heaving with thirst; eyes
   closed; lips parched and burning.
   c.  An old man; sunken features; deadly pale and expressing despair.

2. To Schwartz:
    a. The fair child as it appeared to Hans.
    b. The old man who appeared to Hans.
    c. Brother Hans exhausted and begging for water.

3. To Gluck:
    a. An old man leaning on a staff.
    b. A little child panting by the roadside.
    c. A little dog gasping for breath, which changes into the king.

There are a great many things besides vivid descriptions that make The
King of the Golden River a fine story. But it is not a good idea to
study any selection in literature too long or too hard, for in so doing
we are likely to lose our interest in the selection or even to take a
dislike to it. You know if we look too long at a beautiful sunset our
eyes grow weary and we seem to lose our power to admire it, but when the
next evening comes, with another glorious sunset, we are just as much
interested in it as ever. So it is with reading. If a thing is really
brilliant, we may look at it so long that our minds become tired; but we
can leave it for a while and come back to it with renewed interest.

Accordingly, when we have studied the descriptions of The King of the
Golden River we have probably done enough for one day or one time, at
least. Some other time we shall enjoy returning to it and finding new
things. For instance, we might like to see how many beautiful sentences,
or what great thoughts we can find well expressed.

Of the fine quotations here are two:

"And there were bright tongues of fiery cloud burning and quivering
about them; and the river, brighter than all, fell, in a waving column
of pure gold."

"A flash of blue lightning rose out of the east, shaped like a sword; it
shook thrice over the whole heaven, and left it dark with one heavy,
impenetrable shade."



THE STORY OF ESTHER


I


Now it came to pass in the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus, when
the king sat on the throne which is in Shushan the palace, he made a
feast unto all his princes and servants, and showed the riches of his
glorious kingdom for many days.

And when these days were expired, the king made a feast in Shushan the
palace, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace.

The silken hangings were white, green, and blue, fastened with cords of
fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble; and the
couches were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and
white, and black marble.

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry, he commanded
the chamberlains that served in his presence to bring Vashti the queen
before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes
her beauty; for she was fair to look on.

But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his
chamberlains; therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in
him.

Then the king said to the wise men, "What shall I do unto Queen Vashti
because she has not performed the commandment of the King?"

And they answered before the king, "Vashti the queen hath done wrong not
to the king only, but also to the princes and to all the people in all
the provinces of the king's dominions. Therefore, if it please the king,
let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among
the laws of the Persians and the Medes, which may not be altered,
'Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus;' and let the king give
her royal estate unto another that is better than she."

And the saying pleased the king and the princes, and the king did
according to the word of the wise men.



II


After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was appeased, the
servants that ministered unto the king said, "Let there be fair young
virgins sought for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all
the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair
young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto
the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, and let the maiden which
pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti."

And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.

Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was
Mordecai, who had been carried from Jerusalem into captivity by
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and who brought up Esther, his
uncle's daughter. She had neither father nor mother, and the maid was
fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai took for his own daughter. So it came
to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree were heard, and when
many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, that Esther
was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hege.

The maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him, and he
preferred her and her maids unto the best in the house of the women. And
Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know
how Esther did, and what should become of her.

So Esther was taken unto King Ahasuerus, and the king loved Esther above
all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than
all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her
queen instead of Vashti.

Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants,
even Esther's feast.

And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then
Mordecai sat in the king's gate.

Esther had not yet told her kindred nor her people, as Mordecai had
charged her; for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when
she was brought up by him.

In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's
chamberlains, who kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on
the king Ahasuerus.

And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen;
and Esther told the king thereof in Mordecai's name.

And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found true;
therefore they were both hanged on a tree.



III


After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of
Hammedatha, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes
that were with him.

And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and
reverenced Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But
Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.

Then the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, said unto
Mordecai, "Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?"

Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened
not unto them, that they told Haman, for Mordecai had told them that he
was a Jew.

And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then
was Haman full of wrath.

And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; wherefore Haman
sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of
Ahasuerus, even all the people of Mordecai.

And Haman said unto King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered
abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy
kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people, neither keep they
the king's laws; therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer
them.

"If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed,
and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that
have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's
treasuries."

[Illustration: MORDECAI IN THE KING'S GATE]

And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman, the
son of Hammedatha, the Jews' enemy, and said:

"The people are given to thee to do with them as it seemeth good to
thee."

Then were the king's scribes called, and there was written according to
all that Haman had commanded, unto the king's lieutenants, governors and
rulers of every province, and to every people in the kingdom after their
own language. And it was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and
sealed with the king's ring.

And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to
destroy and to kill all Jews, both young and old, little children and
women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month,
and to take the spoil of them for a prey.



IV


When Mordecai perceived all that was done, he rent his clothes, and put
on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and
cried with a loud and a bitter cry; and came even before the king's
gate, for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.

And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his
decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and
weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told her about Mordecai.
Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe
Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him; but he received it
not.

Then called Esther for the chamberlain whom the king had appointed to
attend upon her, and sent him to Mordecai to know what it was, and why
it was that he mourned. And the chamberlain went forth to Mordecai unto
the street of the city which was before the King's gate.

And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him.

Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at
Shushan to destroy the Jews, to show it unto Esther, and to charge her
that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and
to make request before him for her people.

The chamberlain came and told Esther the words of Mordecai, and again
Esther sent to Mordecai, saying:

"All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do
know, that for every one, whether man or woman, that shall come unto the
king into the inner court, when he is not called, there is one law to
put him to death; except those to whom the king shall hold out the
golden sceptre; but I have not been called to come in unto the king
these thirty days."

And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.

Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, "Think not with thyself that
thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than the other Jews.

"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall
deliverance arise to the Jews from another source; but thou and thy
father's house shall be destroyed. Who knoweth whether thou art not come
to the kingdom for such a purpose as this?"

[Illustration: HE PUT ON SACKCLOTH WITH ASHES]

Then Esther bade them return this answer:

"Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast
ye for me, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day; I
also, and my maidens, will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the
king, although it is not according to the law; and if I perish, I
perish."

So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had
commanded him.



V


Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal
apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house; and the king
sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of
the house.

And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court,
that she obtained favour in his sight; and the king held out to Esther
the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and
touched the top of the sceptre. Then said the king unto her, "What wilt
thou, Queen Esther? and what is thy request? It shall be given thee even
to the half of my kingdom."

And Esther answered, "If it seem good unto the king, let the king and
Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him."

Then the king said, "Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther
hath said."

So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

And the king said unto Esther at the banquet, "What is thy petition and
thy request, and it shall be given thee even to the half of my kingdom."

Then answered Esther, and said, "My petition and my request is: If I
have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to
grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman
come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and on the morrow I
will make my request as the king hath said."

Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when
Haman saw, in the king's gate, that Mordecai stood not up, nor moved for
him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman
refrained himself; and when he came home, he sent and called for his
friends, and his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches,
and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king
had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and
servants of the king.

Haman said moreover, "Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with
the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to-
morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.

"Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew
sitting at the king's gate."

Then said his wife and all his friends, "Let a gallows be made of fifty
cubits high, and to-morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be
hanged thereon; then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet."
And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.



VI


On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the
book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

And it was found written therein that Mordecai had told of the two
keepers of the door who had sought to lay hand on King Ahasuerus.

And the king said, "What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai
for this?"

Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, "There is
nothing done for him."

And the king said, "Who is in the court?"

Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to ask
the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.

And the king's servants said unto Ahasuerus, "Behold, Haman standeth in
the court."

And the king said, "Let him come in."

So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, "What shall be done unto
the man whom the king delighteth to honour?"

Now Haman thought in his heart, "To whom would the king delight to do
honour more than to myself?" And Haman answered the king, "For the man
whom the king delighteth to honour, let the royal apparel be brought
which the king weareth, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the
crown royal which is set upon his head. And let this apparel and horse
be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that
they may array the man whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him
on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him,
'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.'"

Then the king said to Haman, "Make haste, and take the apparel and the
horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that
sitteth at the king's gate; let nothing fail of all that thou hast
spoken."

Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and
brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed
before him, "Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth
to honour."

And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his
house, mourning, and having his head covered.

And Haman told his wife and all his friends everything that had befallen
him.

Then said his wise men and his wife, "If Mordecai be of the seed of the
Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail
against him, but shalt surely fall before him."

And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains,
and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.



VII


So the king and Haman came to the banquet with Esther the queen.

And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of
wine, "What is thy petition, Queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee;
and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of
the kingdom."

Then Esther the queen answered and said, "If I have found favour in thy
sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my
petition, and my people at my request, for we are sold, I and my people,
to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for
bondmen and bondwomen only, I had held my tongue."

Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, "Who is
he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?"

And Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." Then
Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

And one of the chamberlains said before the king, "Behold, the gallows
fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken
good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman."

Then the king said, "Hang him thereon."

So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.
Then was the king's wrath pacified.



VIII


And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto
her. And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and
gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet,
and besought him with tears to put away the mischief that Haman had
devised against the Jews.

Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose
and stood before the king, and said, "If it please the king, and if I
have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the
king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the
letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to
destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces; for how can I
endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I
endure to see the destruction of my kindred?"

[Illustration: THEN HAMAN WAS AFRAID]

Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen, and to Mordecai the
Jew, "Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have
hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.

"Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and
seal it with the king's ring; for the writing which is written in the
king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse."

Then were the king's scribes called, and it was written according to all
that Mordecai commanded, unto the Jews, unto every province and unto
every people according to their writing, and according to their
language.

And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of
blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of
fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour.

And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's
commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast
and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the
fear of the Jews fell upon them.


The story of Esther as told here is taken from the book of Esther in the
Bible. It has been abridged slightly, and a few words changed.



THE DARNING-NEEDLE

By Hans Christian Andersen


There was once a Darning-Needle who thought herself so fine, she
imagined she was an embroidering needle.

"Take care, and mind you hold me tight!" she said to the Fingers which
took her out. "Don't let me fall! If I fall on the ground I shall
certainly never be found again, for I am so fine!"

"That's as it may be," said the Fingers; and they grasped her round the
body.

"See, I'm coming with a train!" said the Darning-Needle, and she drew a
long thread after her, but there was no knot in the thread.

The Fingers pointed the needle just at the cook's slipper, in which the
upper leather had burst, and was to be sewn together.

"That's vulgar work," said the Darning-Needle. "I shall never get
through. I'm breaking! I'm breaking!" And she really broke. "Did I not
say so?" said the Darning-Needle; "I'm too fine." "Now it's quite
useless," said the Fingers; but they were obliged to hold her fast, all
the same; for the cook dropped some sealing wax upon the needle, and
pinned her kerchief about her neck with it.

"So now I'm a breastpin!" said the Darning-Needle. "I knew very well
that I should come to honor; when one is something, one comes to
something."

And she laughed quietly to herself--and one can never see when a
Darning-Needle laughs. There she sat, as proud as if she were in a state
coach, and looked all about her.

"May I be permitted to ask if you are gold?" she inquired of the Pin,
her neighbor. "You have a very pretty appearance, and a peculiar head,
but it is only little. You must take pains to grow, for it's not every
one that has sealing wax dropped upon him."

And the Darning-Needle drew herself up so proudly that she fell out of
the handkerchief right into the sink, which the cook was rinsing out.

"Now we're going on a journey," said the Darning-Needle. "If I only
don't get lost!"

But she really was lost.

"I'm too fine for this world," she observed, as she lay in the gutter.
"But I know who I am, and there's always something in that."

So the Darning-Needle kept her proud behavior, and did not lose her good
humor. And things of many kinds swam over her--chips and straws and
pieces of old newspapers.

"Only look how they sail!" said the Darning-Needle. "They don't know
what is under them! I'm here; I remain firmly here. See, there goes a
chip thinking of nothing in the world but himself--of a chip! There's a
straw going by now. How he turns? How he twirls about! Don't think only
of yourself; you might easily run up against a stone. There swims a bit
of newspaper. What's written upon it has long been forgotten, and yet it
gives itself airs. I sit quietly and patiently here. I know who I am,
and I shall remain what I am."

One day something lay close beside her that glittered splendidly; then
the Darning-Needle believed that it was a diamond; but it was a Bit of
broken Bottle; and because it shone, the Darning-Needle spoke to it,
introducing herself as a breastpin.

"I suppose you are a diamond?" she observed.

"Why, yes, something of that kind."

And then each believed the other to be a very valuable thing; and they
began speaking about the world, and how very conceited it was.

"I have been in a lady's box," said the Darning-Needle, "and this lady
was a cook. She had five fingers on each hand, and I never saw anything
so conceited as those five fingers. And yet they were only there that
they might take me out of the box, and put me back into it."

"Were they of good birth?" asked the Bit of Bottle.

"No, indeed," replied the Darning-Needle, "but very haughty. There were
five brothers, all of the Finger family. They kept very proudly
together, though they were of different lengths. The outermost, the
Thumbling, was short and fat; he walked out in front of the ranks, and
had only one joint in his back, and could only make a single bow; but he
said if he were hacked off from a man, that man was useless for service
in war. Dainty-Mouth, the second finger, thrust himself into sweet and
sour, pointed to the sun and moon, and gave the impression when they
wrote. Longman, the third, looked at all the others over his shoulder.
Goldborder, the fourth, went about with a golden belt round his waist;
and little Playman did nothing at all, and was proud of it. There was
nothing but bragging among them, and therefore I went away."

"And now we sit here and glitter!" said the Bit of Bottle.

At that moment more water came into the gutter, so that it overflowed,
and the Bit of Bottle was carried away.

"So, he is disposed of," observed the Darning-Needle. "I remain here; I
am too fine. But that's my pride, and my pride is honorable." And
proudly she sat there, and had many great thoughts. "I could almost
believe I had been born of a sunbeam, I'm so fine. It really appears to
me as if the sunbeams were always seeking for me under the water. Ah!
I'm so fine that my mother cannot find me. If I had my old eye, which
broke off, I think I should cry; but no, I should not do that; it's not
genteel to cry."

One day a couple of street boys lay grubbing in the gutter, where they
sometimes found old nails, farthings, and similar treasures. It was
dirty work, but they took great delight in it.

"Oh!" cried one, who had pricked himself with the Darning-Needle.
"There's a fellow for you."

"I'm not a fellow, I'm a young lady," said the Darning-Needle.

But nobody listened to her. The sealing wax had come off, and she had
turned black; but black makes one look slender, and she thought herself
finer even than before.

"Here comes an eggshell sailing along," said the boys; and they stuck
the Darning-Needle fast into the eggshell.

"White walls, and black myself! that looks well," remarked the Darning-
Needle. "Now one can see me. I only hope I shall not be seasick!" But
she was not seasick at all. "One is proof against seasickness if one has
a steel stomach and does not forget that one is a little more than an
ordinary person! The finer one is, the more one can bear."

"Crack!" went the eggshell, for a hand-barrow went over her.

"How it crushes one!" said the Darning-Needle. "I'm getting seasick now
--I'm quite sick."

But she was not really sick, though the hand-barrow had run over her;
she lay there at full length, and there she may lie.



THE POTATO

By Thomas Moore


 I'm a careless potato, and care not a pin
     How into existence I came;
 If they planted me drill-wise, or dibbled me in,
     To me 'tis exactly the same.
 The bean and the pea may more loftily tower,
     But I care not a button for them;
 Defiance I nod with my beautiful flower
     When the earth is hoed up to my stem.



THE QUEEN OF THE UNDER-WORLD


Ceres, goddess of agriculture, had one daughter, named Proserpina, whom
she loved more than anything else in earth or sky. Sometimes Proserpina
accompanied her mother as she journeyed over the earth in her dragon-
car, making the corn grow; sometimes she traveled about the earth by
herself, tending the flowers, which were her special care; but what she
liked best was to stray with her companions, the nymphs, on the slopes
of Mount AEtna,

                         "I, a maiden, dwelt
 With loved Demeter[FN below] on the sunny plains
 Of our own Sicily. There, day by day,
 I sported with my playmate goddesses
 In virgin freedom. Budding age made gay
 Our lightsome feet, and on the flowery slopes
 We wandered daily, gathering flowers to weave
 In careless garlands for our locks, and passed
 The days in innocent gladness."

[Footnote: The Greeks and Romans, while they believed in many of the
same gods, had different names for them. The Latin names are the ones
most commonly used. Thus the goddess whom the Romans called Ceres, the
Greeks knew as Demeter, while her daughter, Proserpina, was by the
Greeks called Persephone. The poetic quotations used in this story are
from the Epic of Hades, by Lewis Morris.]

All the year round the maidens enjoyed these pleasures, for never yet
had the change of seasons appeared upon the earth; never had the cold,
sunless days come to make the earth barren.

                        "There was then
 Summer nor winter, springtide nor the time
 Of harvest, but the soft unfailing sun
 Shone always, and the sowing time was one
 With reaping; fruit and flower together sprung
 Upon the trees; and the blade and ripened ear
 Together clothed the plains."

One day while they played and laughed and sang, vying with each other as
to which could make the most beautiful garlands, they were startled by a
strange rumbling sound. Nearer it came, louder it grew; and suddenly to
the frightened eyes of the maidens there appeared a great chariot, drawn
by four wild-looking, foam-flecked black steeds. Not long did the girls
gaze at the horses or the chariot--all eyes were drawn in fascination to
the driver of the car. He was handsome as only a god could be, and yet
so gloomy that all knew instantly he could be none other than Pluto,
king of the underworld.

Suddenly, while his horses were almost at full speed, he jerked them to
a standstill. Then he sprang to the ground, seized Proserpina in his
arms, mounted his chariot, and was off before the frightened nymphs
could catch their breath to cry out. Poor Prosperina screamed and wept,
but no one was near to help her or even to hear her. On they flew, Pluto
doing his best to console the weeping girl, but refusing, with a stern
shake of the head and a black frown, her plea that she might be allowed
to return to her own home, or at least to bid farewell to her mother.

[Illustration: PLUTO SEIZED PROSERPINA]

"Never!" he exclaimed. "I have as much right as the other gods to a
beautiful wife; and since I knew that you, whom I had seen and loved,
would not go with me willingly, I took this way to compel you."

When they came at last to the bank of a raging river, and were obliged
to halt, Proserpina redoubled her cries, but still no one heard. Pluto,
fuming and fretting and calling down curses on the River Cyane, which
thus opposed his passage, seized his great two-pronged fork and struck
the earth a terrific blow. To Proserpina's horror a great cavern opened
before them, into which they were rapidly whirled. Then, with a crash,
the chasm closed behind them, and they moved on in utter darkness. The
horses seemed to find their way as easily as in the light, however, and
Pluto heaved a sigh of relief as the last of the daylight disappeared.

"Do not tremble so, my fair Proserpina," he said, in a voice far from
unkind. "When your eyes become accustomed to the gloom, you will find it
much more restful than the glare we have left behind us."

Proserpina's only reply was "My mother! O, my poor mother!" And truly
Ceres deserved pity. She had hastened at evening back to her home in
Sicily, happy in the thought of seeing her daughter, only to find that
daughter gone. The nymphs had retreated, long before, to their beds of
seaweed in the green ocean, and no one else could give the poor
distracted mother any news. When black night had really settled over the
earth, Ceres closed the door of her home, vowing never to open it until
she returned with Proserpina. Then, lighting a torch, she set forth,
alone and on foot, to seek her daughter.

From country to country she roamed, all over the earth, neither eating
nor sleeping, but spending day and night in her search. Of every one she
met she demanded, "Have you seen my daughter?"

No one recognized her; and small wonder, for her grief had changed her
in appearance from a radiant goddess to a haggard, sad-eyed old woman.
"Mad," whispered people as they passed her; for her clothes were ragged
and flapping about her, and always, even in the brightest sunlight, she
bore in her hand the lighted torch.

One day, weary and hopeless, she sank upon a stone by the roadside, and
sat there with her head in her hands, wondering to what land she could
next turn her footsteps.

A soft, pitying voice broke in upon her grief, and she raised her head
to see two young girls standing before her.

"Poor old woman," said one, "why are you so sad?"

"Ah," cried Ceres, "when I look upon you I am sadder still, for I have
lost my only child."

Impulsively the older girl held out her hand. "Come with us," she urged.
"We are the daughters of the king of this country, and were but now
seeking through the city for a nurse for our baby brother, Triptolemus.
You, who have lost the child you loved--will you not take charge of our
brother and bestow on him some of your love?"

Touched by their kindness, Ceres followed them; and indeed, she felt the
first joy she had known since the disappearance of her daughter when the
little prince was put into her arms. But such a weak, puny, wailing
princelet as he was! Ceres smiled down at him, and bent her head and
kissed him; when, to the utter amazement of those gathered about, he
ceased the crying which he had kept up for days, smiled, and clapped his
little hands.

And, unless their eyes much deceived them, he began to grow round and
rosy and well!

"Will you give this child entirely into my keeping?" asked Ceres.

"Gladly, gladly!" exclaimed the mother, Metanira. For who would not have
been glad to engage a nurse whose mere touch worked such wonders?

But as the child's bedtime drew near, Metanira became worried and
restless. No one but herself had ever tended him before--was it really
safe to trust this stranger? At least, she would watch; and quietly she
stole to the door which separated her own apartment from that which had
been given to Ceres. The stranger sat before the hearth, with the
crowing, happy baby on her knee. Gently she drew off his clothing,
gently she anointed him with some liquid, the delicious perfume of which
reached Metanira. Then, murmuring some sounding, rhythmic words, she
leaned forward and placed him on the glowing coals.

Shrieking, Metanira rushed into the room and caught up her baby, burning
herself badly in the act; and furiously she turned to the aged nurse.

"How dare you--" she began; but there she stopped; for before her stood,
not the ragged stranger, but a woman taller than mortal, with flowing
yellow hair, bound with a wreath of wheat ears and red poppies. And from
her face shone a light so bright that Metanira was well-nigh blinded.

"O queen," she said gravely, "thy curiosity and thy lack of faith have
cost thy son dear. Immortality was the gift I meant to bestow upon him,
but now he shall grow old and die at last as other men." And with these
words the goddess vanished. [Footnote: Although Ceres was unable to do
all she wished for Triptolemus, she did not forget him. When he grew up
she loaned him her dragon-car and sent him about the world teaching
people how to till the soil, and, in particular, to use the plow. It was
Triptolemus who instituted the great festival at Eleusis which was held
in honor of Ceres.]

Still finding no trace of her daughter, Ceres cursed the earth and
forbade it to bring forth fruit until Proserpina should be found.

                    "Then on all lands
 She cast the spell of barrenness; the wheat
 Was blighted in the ear, the purple grapes
 Blushed no more on the vines."

Great indeed must have been the anguish of this kindest of all goddesses
when she could bring herself to adopt such measures. Even the grief and
want of the people among whom she moved could not waken her pity.

One day, when her wanderings had brought her back to Italy, Ceres came
to the bank of the Cyane River, and there, glittering at her feet, was
the girdle which she had watched her daughter put on the last day she
saw her. Torn between hope and fear, Ceres snatched it up. Had
Proserpina, then, been drowned in this raging river? At any rate, it was
much, after all these months, to find something which her dear daughter
had touched, and with renewed energy she started on. As she rested, late
in the day, by the side of a cool, sparkling fountain, she fancied she
heard words mingling with the splashing of the water. Holding her
breath, she listened:

"O Ceres," came the words, scarcely distinguishable, "I made a long
journey underground, to cool my waters ere they burst forth at this
point. As I passed through the lower world, I saw, seated beside Pluto
on his gloomy throne, a queen, crowned with stars and poppies. Strangely
like Proserpina she looked."

The words died away, and Ceres, knowing well that none but the king of
gods could help her now, hastened to Olympus and cast herself at the
feet of Jupiter.

"Listen, O father of gods and men," she said. "What is that sound which
you hear rising from the earth?"

"It sounds to me," replied Jupiter, "like the wailing of men, joined
with the bleating of sheep and the lowing of cattle. Who is afflicting
my people on earth?"

"It is I," replied Ceres sternly; "I, of old their best friend. Never
shall spear of grass or blade of corn show above the ground, never shall
blossom or fruit appear on any tree, until my beloved daughter is
brought back to me from the realm of Pluto."

Then indeed there was consternation on Olympus; for Jupiter did not wish
to anger his brother, and yet, how could he let the earth continue to be
barren? There was much consulting of the Fates, those three dread
sisters whose decrees even Jupiter could not break, and finally Jupiter
called Mercury to him, and said:

"Hasten to the lower world, and lead thence Proserpina, the daughter of
Ceres. Only, if during her stay there she have allowed food to pass her
lips, she shall not return."

Meanwhile, Proserpina had been dwelling in gloom. How could one whose
chief care had been the flowers, whose chief joy had been to stray
abroad in the sunshine with gay companions, be happy in a realm where
the sun never shone, where no flowers ever grew save the white, sleep-
bringing poppies, where she had no companions except the gloomy king of
the dead? Pluto was kind to her, he showered jewels upon her, and
gorgeous raiment; but what meant such things to her when she could not
delight with them the eyes of her mother and her friends? The dead over
whom she reigned she could not even make happy, and the only one who
seemed to have profited at all by her coming to Hades was Pluto, who was
of a certainty somewhat less stern and gloomy.

Of all the food that had been set before Proserpina since she entered
Hades, nothing had tempted her but a pomegranate, and of that she had
eaten but six seeds. This one taste of food, however, she soon had
reason to regret, for ere long Mercury, Jupiter's messenger, stood
before Pluto and cried with a flourish:

"Hear the decree of mighty Jupiter and of the Fates, powerful over all.
The Lady Proserpina shall return with me, the messenger of mighty
Jupiter, to the upper world. Only, if she have allowed food to pass her
lips, she shall not return, but shall remain queen of the dead forever."

Proserpina turned pale--paler than her months underground had made her--
but she said nothing. Then, from the throng of spirits who had crowded
round to see the messenger of the gods, stepped forth one, Ascalaphus.
No pity for the white-faced, sad-eyed queen moved him as he told how he
had seen Proserpina eat of the pomegranate. Poor Proserpina felt that
she would never see her beloved mother again, and was overwhelmed with
grief when the messenger of the gods, the first cheerful personage she
had seen since leaving earth, turned to depart.

Mercury was a kindly god, and he described to his father and the Fates
most touchingly the grief of Proserpina. Ceres joined her tears with
those of her daughter, and the Fates finally decreed that while
Proserpina must spend underground one month of every year for each
pomegranate seed she had eaten, she might spend the rest of her time on
earth. Back hastened Mercury with the new decree, and Pluto unwillingly
let his wife go. She bade him an almost affectionate farewell, for after
all, he had been good to her, and she might quite have loved him had his
abode been a less gloomy place. Up the dark and dangerous passages to
earth Mercury conducted her, and it was strange to see how, as she
stepped forth into the sunshine, her pallor and her sadness left her,
and she became the bright-eyed, happy Proserpina of old. And not only in
her did the change appear. About her, on all sides, the grass and corn
came shooting through the dry brown earth. Violets, hyacinths, daisies
were everywhere, and Proserpina stooped and caressed them, with a gay
laugh. But what was her joy when she saw at the door of her home Mother
Ceres, with arms outstretched to greet her! Not even the thought of the
separation which must surely come again could sadden their meeting. For
that day they sat together and talked of all that had happened in the
weary months gone by; but the next morning Ceres mounted her dragon-car
for the first time in many, many days, and set forth to the fields to
tend the new grain, while Proserpina ran to the seashore and with a
happy shout called the nymphs, her old companions, from their seaweed
beds.

Each year thereafter, when Proserpina was led by Mercury to Pluto's
kingdom, Ceres, in grief and anger, shut herself up and would not attend
to her duties, so that the earth was barren and drear. Each year, with
the return of Proserpina, the flash of green ran across the fields and
announced her coming before she appeared in sight. And all the people,
weary and depressed after the hard, bitter months, joyed with Ceres at
her daughter's approach, and cried with her, "She comes! She comes!
Proserpina!"

This story, like that of Phaethon, is a nature myth; that is, it
accounts for natural phenomena which the Greeks saw about them. As they
conceived of Ceres, the earth goddess, as the kindest of the immortals,
and of her daughter, Proserpina, the goddess of flowers and beautifying
vegetation, as always young and happy, they found it hard to explain the
barrenness of the winter months. Why should Ceres and Proserpina neglect
the earth during a part of the year, so that it would bring forth
nothing, no matter how much care was bestowed upon it?

We must remember that the people who invented these stories really
believed that the earth produced grain and fruit because some goddess
bestowed upon it her care. They even fancied, sometimes, as they entered
their fields, that they saw Ceres, with her dragon-car and her crown of
wheat ears, vanishing before them. And they did not say, during winter
months, "The ground is hard and frozen, and thus cannot give food to the
plants;" or, "The seed must lie underground for a time before it can
send its roots down and its leaves up, and bring forth fruit." They
said, "Mother Ceres is neglecting the earth."

What more natural, then, than that they should imagine that the earth
goddess was mourning for the loss of something and refusing to attend to
her duties? And since the flowers, the special care of Ceres's daughter,
disappeared at the same time, it seemed most likely that it was this
daughter who had disappeared, stolen and held captive underground. When,
each year, the time of her captivity was at an end, Ceres went joyfully
back to her work, the flowers and grass once more appeared--in a word,
it was spring.

Looked at in a slightly different way, Proserpina represented the seed
which is placed underground. For a time it is held there, apparently
gone forever; but at last it appears above the earth in fresher,
brighter guise, just as the daughter of Ceres reappeared.

It is held by some that this myth is a symbol or allegory of the death
of man and his ultimate resurrection. That, however, does not seem
extremely likely, as the ancients, although they believed in the life of
the soul after death, conceived of that life as something far from
pleasant, even for those who had led good lives.


The story of Proserpina has been used as a subject for many paintings.
One of the best-known of these is Rosetti's "Persephone," which shows
her as she stands, sad-eyed, with the bitten fruit in her hand.



ORIGIN OF THE OPAL


A dewdrop came, with a spark of flame
  He had caught from the sun's last ray,
To a violet's breast, where he lay at rest
  Till the hours brought back the day.

The rose looked down, with a blush and frown;
  But she smiled all at once, to view
Her own bright form, with its coloring warm,
  Reflected back by the dew.

Then the stranger took a stolen look
  At the sky, so soft and blue;
And a leaflet green, with its silver sheen,
  Was seen by the idler too.

A cold north wind, as he thus reclined,
  Of a sudden raged around;
And a maiden fair, who was walking there,
  Next morning, an OPAL found.



IN TIME'S SWING

By Lucy Larcom


Father Time, your footsteps go
Lightly as the falling snow.
In your swing I'm sitting, see!
Push me softly; one, two, three,
Twelve times only. Like a sheet,
Spread the snow beneath my feet.
Singing merrily, let me swing
Out of winter into spring.

Swing me out, and swing me in!
Trees are bare, but birds begin
Twittering to the peeping leaves,
On the bough beneath the eaves
Wait,--one lilac bud I saw.
Icy hillsides feel the thaw;
April chased off March to-day;
Now I catch a glimpse of May.

Oh, the smell of sprouting grass!
In a blur the violets pass.
Whispering from the wildwood come
Mayflower's breath and insect's hum.
Roses carpeting the ground;
Thrushes, orioles, warbling sound:
Swing me low, and swing me high,
To the warm clouds of July.

Slower now, for at my side
White pond lilies open wide.
Underneath the pine's tall spire
Cardinal blossoms burn like fire.
They are gone; the golden-rod
Flashes from the dark green sod.
Crickets in the grass I hear;
Asters light the fading year.

[Illustration: Father Time pushes the swing]

Slower still! October weaves
Rainbows of the forest leaves.
Gentians fringed, like eyes of blue,
Glimmer out of sleety dew.
Meadow-green I sadly miss:
Winds through withered sedges hiss.
Oh, 'tis snowing, swing me fast,
While December shivers past!

Frosty-bearded Father Time,
Stop your footfall on the rime!
Hard you push, your hand is rough;
You have swung me long enough.
"Nay, no stopping," say you? Well,
Some of your best stories tell,
While you swing me--gently, do!--
From the Old Year to the New.


The title tells you that this poem is not about a real swing, under an
apple tree. Why is Time asked to push "twelve times only"? What month is
it when the swinging begins? How many times does the swing move in the
first stanza? How many times in the second? Do the birds begin to
twitter while the trees are still bare? Should we expect to see lilac
buds in February or March?

Do you know the "smell of sprouting grass"? Do the violets pass in May?
Does it seem to you that the author has chosen the right flowers and
birds to represent each month? Do the pond lilies, the cardinal
blossoms, the golden-rod, the asters, and the gentians follow each other
in that order?

If you are familiar with the flowers mentioned, you will know that they
almost all grow in damp, marshy places. Where do sedges grow? Does it
not seem to you that the illustrations are particularly well chosen?

There is a series of beautiful little pictures in the words, "underneath
the pine's tall spire cardinal blossoms burn like fire"; "the golden-rod
flashes from the dark green sod"; "asters light the fading year";
"gentians fringed ...glimmer out of sleety dew."



WHY THE SEA IS SALT

By Mary Howitt


There were, in very ancient times, two brothers, one of whom was rich,
and the other poor. Christmas was approaching, but the poor man had
nothing in the house for a Christmas dinner; so he went to his brother
and asked him for a trifling gift.

The rich man was ill-natured, and when he heard his brother's request he
looked very surly. But as Christmas is a time when even the worst people
give gifts, he took a fine ham down from the chimney, where it was
hanging to smoke, threw it at his brother, and bade him be gone and
never show his face again.

The poor man thanked his brother for the ham, put it under his arm, and
went his way. He had to pass through a great forest on his way home, and
when he reached the thickest part of it, he saw an old man, with a long,
white beard, hewing timber. "Good evening," said the poor man.

"Good evening," returned the old man, raising himself from his work, and
looking at him. "That is a fine ham you are carrying."

On hearing this, the poor man told him all about the ham and how it was
obtained.

"It is lucky for you," says the old man, "that you have met with me. If
you will take that ham into the land of the dwarfs, the entrance to
which lies just under the roots of this tree, you can make a capital
bargain with it; for the dwarfs are very fond of ham, and rarely get
any. But mind what I say; you must not sell it for money, but demand for
it the old hand-mill which stands behind the door. When you come back
I'll show you how to use it."

The poor man thanked his new friend, who showed him the door under a
stone below the roots of the tree, and by this door he entered into the
land of the dwarfs. No sooner had he set foot in it than the dwarfs
swarmed about him, attracted by the smell of the ham. They offered him
queer, old-fashioned money and gold and silver ore for it; but he
refused all their tempting offers, and said that he would sell it only
for the old hand-mill behind the door. At this the dwarfs held up their
little old hands and looked quite perplexed.

"We cannot make a bargain, it seems," said the poor man, "so I'll bid
you all good day."

The fragrance of the ham had by this time reached the remote parts of
the land. The dwarfs came flocking around in little troops, leaving
their work of digging out precious ores, eager for the ham. "Let him
have the old mill," said some of the newcomers; "it is quite out of
order, and he does not know how to use it. Let him have it, and we will
have the ham."

So the bargain was made. The poor man took the old hand-mill, which was
a little thing, not half so large as the ham, and went back to the
woods. Here the old man showed him how to use it. All this had taken up
a great deal of time, and it was midnight before he reached home.

"Where in the world have you been?" said his wife. "Here I have been
waiting and waiting, and we have no wood to make a fire, nor anything to
put into the porridge-pot for our Christmas supper."

[Illustration: SO THE BARGAIN WAS MADE]

The house was dark and cold; but the poor man bade his wife wait and see
what would happen. He placed the little hand-mill on the table, and
began to turn the crank. First, out there came some grand, lighted wax
candles, and a fire on the hearth, and a porridge-pot boiling over it,
because in his mind he said they should come first. Then he ground out a
tablecloth, and dishes, and spoons, and knives and forks, and napkins.

He was himself astonished at his good luck, as you may believe; and his
wife was almost beside herself with joy and astonishment. Well, they had
a capital supper; and after it was eaten, they ground out of the mill
every possible thing to make their house and themselves warm and
comfortable. So they had a merry Christmas eve and morning, made merrier
by the thought that they need never want again.

When the people went by the house to church the next day, they could
hardly believe their eyes. There was glass in the windows instead of
wooden shutters, and the poor man and his wife, dressed in new clothes,
were seen devoutly kneeling in the church.

"There is something very strange in all this," said every one.

"Something very strange indeed," said the rich man, when three days
afterwards he received an invitation from his once poor brother to a
grand feast. And what a feast it was! The table was covered with a cloth
as white as snow, and the dishes were all of silver or gold. The rich
man could not in his great house, and with all his wealth, set out such
a table, or serve such food.

"Where did you get all these things?" exclaimed he. His brother told him
all about the bargain he had made with the dwarfs, and putting the mill
on the table, ground out boots and shoes, coats and cloaks, stockings,
gowns, and blankets, and bade his wife give them to the poor people that
had gathered about the house to get a sight of the grand feast the poor
brother had made for the rich one, and to sniff the delightful odors
that came from the kitchen.

The rich man was very envious of his brother's good fortune, and wanted
to borrow the mill, intending--for he was not an honest man--never to
return it again. His brother would not lend it, for the old man with the
white beard had told him never to sell or lend it to any one, no matter
what inducements might be offered.

Some years went by, and at last the possessor of the mill built himself
a grand castle on a rock by the sea, facing west. Its windows,
reflecting the golden sunset, could be seen far out from the shore, and
it became a noted landmark for sailors. Strangers from foreign parts
often came to see this castle and the wonderful mill, of which the most
extraordinary tales were told.

At length a great foreign merchant came, and when he had seen the mill,
inquired whether it would grind salt. Being told that it would, he
wanted to buy it, for he traded in salt, and thought that if he owned
the mill he could supply all his customers without taking long and
dangerous voyages.

The man would not sell it, of course. He was so rich now that he did not
want to use it for himself; but every Christmas he ground out food and
clothes and coal for the poor, and nice presents for the little
children. So he rejected all the offers of the rich merchant, who,
however, determined to have it. He bribed one of the man's servants to
let him go into the castle at night, and he stole the mill and sailed
away in triumph, feeling certain that his fortune was made.

He had scarcely got out to sea before he determined to set the mill to
work. "Now, mill, grind salt," said he; "grind salt with all your
might!--Salt, salt, and nothing but salt!" The mill began to grind, and
the sailors to fill the sacks; but these were soon full, and in spite of
all that could be done, it began to fill the ship.

The dishonest merchant was now very much frightened. What was to be
done? The mill would not stop grinding; and at last the ship was
overloaded, and down it went, making a great whirlpool where it sank.

The ship went to pieces; but the mill stands on the bottom of the sea,
and keeps grinding out "salt, salt, nothing but salt!" That is the
reason, say the peasants of Denmark and Norway, why the sea is salt.





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