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Title: Eva's Adventures in Shadow-Land
Author: Nauman, Mary D.
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: “The Toad Woman stopped fanning and looked at her.” Page
125.]



                               ADVENTURES
                                   IN
                              Shadow-Land.


                               CONTAINING

                    Eva’s Adventures in Shadow-Land.
                           By MARY D. NAUMAN.

                                  AND

                    The Merman and The Figure-Head.
                         By CLARA F. GUERNSEY.


                          TWO VOLUMES IN ONE.

                         _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS._


                              PHILADELPHIA
                         J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.
                                 1874.


       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
                        J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.,
       In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

                          Lippincott’s Press,
                             Philadelphia.



                            EVA’S ADVENTURES
                                   IN
                              SHADOW-LAND.


                                   TO
                               MY FRIEND
                                 E. W.



                               CONTENTS.


                               CHAPTER I.
                                                                    PAGE
  What Eva saw in the Pond                                             9

                               CHAPTER II.
  Eva’s First Adventure                                               15

                               CHAPTER III.
  The Gift of the Fountain                                            23

                               CHAPTER IV.
  The First Moonrise                                                  30

                                CHAPTER V.
  What Aster was                                                      36

                               CHAPTER VI.
  The Beginning of the Search                                         45

                               CHAPTER VII.
  Aster’s Misfortunes                                                 52

                              CHAPTER VIII.
  What Aster did                                                      63

                               CHAPTER IX.
  The Door in the Wall                                                73

                                CHAPTER X.
  The Valley of Rest                                                  80

                               CHAPTER XI.
  The Magic Boat                                                      92

                               CHAPTER XII.
  Down the Brook                                                     104

                              CHAPTER XIII.
  The Enchanted River                                                119

                               CHAPTER XIV.
  The Green Frog                                                     130

                               CHAPTER XV.
  In the Grotto                                                      145

                               CHAPTER XVI.
  Aster’s Story                                                      151

                              CHAPTER XVII.
  The Last of Shadow-Land                                            162



                            EVA’S ADVENTURES
                            IN SHADOW-LAND.



                               CHAPTER I.
                      _WHAT EVA SAW IN THE POND._


She had been reading fairy-tales, after her lessons were done, all the
morning; and now that dinner was over, her father gone to his office,
the baby asleep, and her mother sitting quietly sewing in the cool
parlor, Eva thought that she would go down across the field to the old
mill-pond; and sit in the grass, and make a fairy-tale for herself.

There was nothing that Eva liked better than to go and sit in the tall
grass; grass so tall that when the child, in her white dress, looped on
her plump white shoulders with blue ribbons, her bright golden curls
brushed back from her fair brow, and her blue eyes sparkling, sat down
in it, you could not see her until you were near her, and then it was
just as if you had found a picture of a little girl in a frame, or
rather a nest of soft, green grass.

All through this tall, wavy grass, down to the very edge of the pond,
grew many flowers,—violets, and buttercups, and dandelions, like little
golden suns. And as Eva sat there in the grass, she filled her lap with
the purple and yellow flowers; and all around her the bees buzzed as
though they wished to light upon the flowers in her lap; on which, at
last,—so quietly did she sit,—two black-and-golden butterflies alighted;
while a great brown beetle, with long black feelers, climbed up a tall
grass-stalk in front of her, which, bending slightly under his weight,
swung to and fro in the gentle breeze which barely stirred Eva’s golden
curls; and the field-crickets chirped, and even a snail put his horns
out of his shell to look at the little girl, sitting so quietly in the
grass among the flowers, for Eva was gentle, and neither bee, nor
butterfly, beetle, cricket, or snail were afraid of her. And this is
what Eva called making a fairy-tale for herself.

But sitting so quietly and watching the insects, and hearing their low
hum around her, at last made Eva feel drowsy; and she would have gone to
sleep, as she often did, if all of a sudden there had not sounded, just
at her feet, so that it startled her, a loud

Croak! croak!

But it frightened the two butterflies; for away they went, floating off
on their black-and-golden wings; and the brown beetle was in so much of
a hurry to run away that he tumbled off the grass-stalk on which he had
been swinging, and as soon as he could regain his legs, crept, as fast
as they could carry him, under a friendly mullein-leaf which grew near,
and hid himself; and the crickets were silent; and the bees all flew
away to their hive; and the snail drew himself and his horns into his
house, so that he looked like nothing in the world but a shell; for when
beetles, and butterflies, and crickets, and bees, and snails hear this
croak! croak! they know that it is time for them to get out of the way.

And when Eva looked down, there, just at her feet, sat a great green
toad.

She gave him a little push with her foot to make him go away; but
instead of that he only hopped the nearer, and again came—

Croak! croak!

He was entirely too near now for comfort, so the little girl jumped up,
dropping all the flowers she had gathered; and as she stood still for a
moment she thought that she heard the green toad say:

“Go to the pond! Go to the pond!”

It seemed so funny to Eva to hear a toad talk that she stood as still as
a mouse looking at him; and as she looked at him, she heard him say
again, as plain as possible:

“Go to the pond! Go to the pond!”

And then Eva did just exactly what either you or I would have done if we
had heard a great green toad talking to us. She went slowly through the
tall grass down to the very edge of the pond.

But instead of the fishes which used to swim about in the pretty clear
water, and which would come to eat the crumbs of bread she always threw
to them, and the funny, croaking frogs which used to jump and splash in
the water, she saw nothing but the same great green toad, which had
hopped down faster than she had walked, and which was now sitting on a
mossy stone near the bank. And when Eva would have turned away he
croaked again:

“Stay by the pond! Stay by the pond!”

And whether Eva wished it or not, she stood by the pond—for she really
could not help it—and looked. And it seemed to her that the sky grew
dark and the water black, as it always does before a rain; and then the
child grew frightened, and would have run away, but that just then, in
the very blackest part of the pond, she saw shining and looking up at
her a little round full moon, with a face in it; and it seemed to her,
strange though you may think it, that the eyes of the face in the moon
winked at her; and then it was gone.

And again Eva would have left the pond, but the green toad, which she
thought had suddenly grown larger, croaked more loudly:

“Stay by the pond! Stay by the pond!”

And Eva obeyed, as indeed she could not help doing; and then again, in
the pond, there came and went the little moon-face, only that this time
it was larger, and the eyes winked longer.

For the third time the child would have turned away, frightened at all
these strange doings in the pond; but for the third time the green toad,
larger than ever, croaked:

“Stay by the pond! Stay by the pond!”

So, for the third time, Eva looked at the pond; and there, for the third
time, was the shining moon-face, as large now as a real full moon,
though, when Eva looked up, there was no moon shining in the sky to be
reflected in the pond; and then the eyes in the moon-face looked harder
at her, and the toad winked at her; and then the toad was the moon and
the moon was the toad, and both seemed to change places with each other;
and at last both of them shone and winked so that Eva could not tell
them apart; and before she knew what she was doing she lay down quietly
in the tall grass, and the moon in the pond and the green toad winked at
her until she fell asleep.

Then the moon-eyes closed and the shining face faded; and the green toad
slipped quietly off his stone into the water; and still Eva slept
soundly.

And that was what Eva saw in the pond.



                              CHAPTER II.
                        _EVA’S FIRST ADVENTURE._


How long she lay there asleep the child did not know. It might only have
been for a few minutes; it might have been for hours. Yet, when she did
awake, and think it was time for her to go home, she did not understand
where she could be. The place seemed the same, yet not the same,—as
though some wonderful change had come over it during her sleep. There
was the pond, to be sure, but was it the same pond? Tall trees grew
round it, yet their branches were bare and leafless. A little brook ran
into the pond, which she was sure that she never had seen there before.
Was she still asleep? No. She was wide awake. She sprang to her feet and
looked around. The green toad was gone, so was the moon-face; her
father’s house was nowhere to be seen; there was no sun, but it was not
dark, for a light seemed to come from the earth, and yet the earth
itself did not shine; mountains rose in the distance; but, strangest of
all, these mountains sometimes bore one shape, sometimes another; at
times they were like great crouching beasts, then again like castles or
palaces, then, as you looked, they were mountains again. Strange shadows
passed over the pond, stranger shapes flitted among the trees.

Eva did not know how the change had been made, still less did she guess
that she was now in Shadow-Land.

Yet it was all so singular that, as she looked upon the changing
mountain forms, and the quaint shadows, a sudden longing came over her,
with a desire to go home, and she turned away from the pond. And as she
did so, a little fragrant purple violet, the last that was left of all
the flowers which she had gathered, and which had been tangled in her
curls, fell to the ground, melting into fragrance as it did so; and as
it fell, there passed from Eva’s mind all recollection of father,
mother, home, and the little brother cooing in his cradle: the changing
mountain forms seemed strange no longer; she forgot to wonder at the
singular earth-light, and at the absence of the sun; and noticing for
the first time that she was standing in a little path which ran along
the pond, and then followed the course of the little brook, whose waters
seemed singing the words, “Follow, follow me!” Eva wondered no longer,
but first stooping to pick up a little stick, in shape like a boy’s
cane, with a knob at one end, just like a roughly carved head, and which
was lying just at her feet, she walked along the little path, which
seemed made expressly for her to walk in.

She walked on and on, as she thought, for hours, yet there came neither
sunset nor moonrise, and there were no stars in the sky, which seemed
nearer the earth than she had ever seen it before. There were clouds, to
be sure, of shapes as strange as those of the mountains, which passed
and repassed each other, although there was no wind to move them.
Everything was silent. Even the trees, swaying, as they did, to and fro,
moved noiselessly; the only sound, save Eva’s light steps, which broke
the stillness was the silvery ripple of the brook, which kept company
with the path Eva trod, and whose waters murmured, gently, “Follow,
follow me!”

And Eva followed the murmuring brook, which seemed to her like a
pleasant companion in this silent land, where, even as there was no
sound, there was no sign of life; nothing like the real world which the
child had left, and of which, with the fall of the little violet from
her curls, she had lost all recollection; even as though that world had
never existed for her. Once or twice, as she went on, holding her little
stick in her hand, she imagined that she saw child-figures beckoning to
her; but, upon going up to them, she always found that either a rock, or
a low, leafless shrub, or else a rising wreath of mist, had deceived
her.

Yet, though she was alone, with no one near her, not even a bird to flit
merrily from tree to tree, nor an insect to buzz across her path, Eva
felt and knew no fear, and not for a moment did she care that she was
alone. The silvery ripple of the little brook, along which her path lay,
sounded like a pleasant voice in her ears; when thirsty, she drank of
its waters, which seemed to serve alike as food and drink; when tired,
she would lie fearlessly down upon its grassy margin, and sleep, as she
would imagine, only for a few minutes, for there would be no change in
the strange sky nor in the earth-light when she would awake from what it
had been when she lay down; and yet in reality she would sleep as long
as she would have done in her little bed at home.

For two whole days, which yet seemed as only a few hours, the child
followed the brook. During this time she had felt no desire to leave the
path; she had unhesitatingly obeyed the rippling voice of the brook,
which seemed to say, “Follow, follow me!” But now there was a change:
the water, at times, encroached upon the path, and rocks obstructed the
current, around which little waves broke and dashed, while strange
little flames, which yet did not burn, and gave no heat, started from
the waves, dancing on them; and misty shapes, more definite than those
she had first seen, beckoned to her to come to them. Now, Eva felt an
irresistible longing to leave the brook, and wander away; far, far into
the deep forest, away from the dancing flames and the beckoning shapes.

And once or twice she did leave the path, and turn her back upon the
brook. But every time that she stepped off the beaten track, faint
though it was, her feet grew heavy, and clung to the earth, so that she
could scarcely move; and the waves of the brook leaped higher and
higher; and the dancing flames grew brighter; and the silvery voice,
louder and clearer than ever, would call, “Follow, follow me!” till the
child was always glad to return to the path, and then once again the way
would grow easy to her feet, and the water would resume its former
tranquillity.

On, on she went, still following the course of the brook. But at last a
new sound mingled, though but faintly, with its musical ripple,—the
distant voice of falling waters. And when first this new tone reached
Eva’s ears, a few signs of life began to show themselves,—a sad-colored
moth flitted lazily across the path into the forest,—a slow-crawling
worm or hairy caterpillar hid itself under a stone as Eva passed,—the
bright eyes of a mouse would peep out at her from under the shelter of a
leaf, or else a toad would leap hastily from the path into the waters of
the brook.

Still Eva walked onward, more eagerly than ever, for though the “Follow,
follow me!” of the brook was now silent, she heard the voice of the
other waters, and at every turn in the path she looked forward eagerly
for the little joyous cascade she expected to see. For it she looked,
yet in vain: though the sound of the waters grew louder, she saw
nothing, till at last a sudden gleam of golden light, from a long
opening in the forest, fell across the now placid waters of the brook;
and Eva looked up to see, far away in this opening, a fountain playing
in clouds of golden spray, amid which danced sparkles of light; and the
path, parting abruptly from the brook which it had followed so long, led
down the opening in the forest directly to this play of waters, whose
voice Eva had heard and followed.

And as she turned away from the little brook, whose course and her own
had so long been the same, it seemed to her that even the silvery ripple
of its waters died away into silence; and, looking back once more, after
she had taken a few steps, upon the way by which she had come, lo! the
brook and its waters had wholly disappeared, and an impenetrable forest
had already closed up the path behind her.



                              CHAPTER III.
                      _THE GIFT OF THE FOUNTAIN._


I have said that Eva wondered at nothing which came to pass in this land
through which she was wandering; nothing surprised her, but the most
singular occurrences appeared natural; and so it did not seem at all
strange to her that the path and the brook should be swallowed up, as it
were, by the dark, hungry, impenetrable forest; and it was almost with a
feeling of pleasure at the change that after the one hurried glance she
gave to the path by which she had come, and which was now no longer to
be seen, that she went, still holding the little stick in her hand, up
the opening between the trees to the beautiful fountain.

And as she drew near, the bright waters of the fountain played higher
and higher, and sparkled and glistened in golden beauty; and rainbows of
many colors surrounded it, so that Eva longed to dip her hands in its
joyous flow, while the waters as they fell tinkled merrily like silvery
fairy bells; and she came nearer and nearer, thinking she had never
heard such sweet music as this water made, till she was within a few
feet of the fountain.

But when there she paused. For, out of the earth,—all round and even
under the dropping spray and the falling waters,—sprang myriads of
little rainbow-colored flames, which danced to and fro among and under
the water-drops,—like a circle of tiny, fiery sentinels, guarding the
fountain. And Eva, afraid to cross this circle of flames, for which she
was unprepared, would not have ventured nearer, but that at this very
moment the little stick which she held turned in her hand, and pointed
downward; and then Eva saw that it pointed to a little path, like that
by which she had come, which ran around the fountain; and the child
followed the path; until she had walked once, twice, thrice, around the
playing waters, and yet, though she looked for it, found no spot where
the little flame-sentinels, like faithful soldiers on duty, would permit
her to pass. And then she would have turned away from the beautiful
water,—her foot, indeed, had left the path,—when she heard a voice, even
sweeter and more silvery than the voice of the brook, coming from the
very midst of the fountain, and saying:

  “Eva! Eva! have no fear,
  To the fountain’s brink come near.”

And hearing these words, Eva stood still in surprise, yet without
obeying them. But, after a moment’s pause, the voice repeated the words.

Then, for the first time since her wanderings had begun, Eva spoke, and
her voice sounded strange in her own ears, low though it was:

“How can I cross the fire?”

A little, low, melodious laugh, like that of a merry child, answered
her; and when Eva looked to see whence it came, she saw that the little
knot upon the end of her cane was a real head, that the lips were
laughing, and that from the queer eyes came two funny little blue
flames; and as Eva looked at it, very much tempted to throw it away, the
head laughed again, and then the lips parted and said:

  “Flames, like these, of shadow birth,
  May not harm a child of earth.”

Then the voice was silent. But a thousand rainbow-colored bubbles glowed
at once all over the waters of the fountain; and on each bubble there
stood and danced a tiny elf, clad in bright colors; shapes so light and
airy that their frail supports never failed them; and the tiny flames
grew brighter, and then, as Eva still hesitated, fearing yet to cross
them, the lips of the little head spoke once more:

  “’Neath thy step they will expire—
  Fear not, Eva; cross the fire.”

Hearing this, Eva stepped forward. As she did so, the little stick
dropped or slipped from her hand, and, rolling into the fountain,
disappeared in its waters; and at every step she took she saw that the
little flames died away, as the voice had said, under her feet; till,
when she reached the fountain’s brink, they were all gone, and no trace
of them was left. As she looked at the waters, they seemed to become
solid, and shape themselves into an image carved as it were out of pure,
shining gold, yet glowing with many colors; and then, slowly, slowly,
with a sound like distant music, the beautiful, wonderful thing began to
sink into the earth; and Eva, her tiny hands clasped, her fair cheeks
flushed, her soft blue eyes sparkling, stood in silence and looked. And
just as the magic fountain, which, when the child first came up to it,
had been so high that its waters played far above her head, had sunk so
low that Eva, had she wished, might have laid her hand upon its summit,
she saw, cradled as it were, on the very crest of what had been the
golden water, a tiny figure; not like one of the elves which had danced
on the rainbow-bubbles, but like a sleeping child, which Eva thought, at
first, was only a doll lying there, in its green-and-scarlet velvet
dress; and for a moment the slow, descending motion of the fountain
stopped, and Eva heard these words, in the same voice which had spoken
before through the lips of the little head, though this time it came
from the fountain:

  “Take it, Eva, ’tis thy fate,
  See, for thee the waters wait.”

Obedient to the voice, the child stretched forth her hand, and as her
slight fingers closed upon the little, motionless form, a bright and
dazzling crimson light seemed to flash everywhere, and the water, losing
its solidity, began once more to gleam and sparkle, and to sink again
into the earth; and in another moment it was gone, and in the place
where the fountain had played there was now a bed of soft, green moss,
through and around which was twined a vine, whose leaves were mingled
with clusters of bright scarlet berries. Then for the first time she
missed her little stick; and she looked for it, but it was nowhere to be
found.

And then the sky grew dark, as the glorious crimson light slowly faded
away, and one by one stars peeped out from the sky; and Eva, still
clasping the little figure which had come so strangely to her, to her
heart, lay down quietly upon the soft, green moss, which seemed to have
sprung up there expressly as a bed for her, and before many minutes had
passed she was asleep.

But while she slept, there hovered over her two fair white forms, who
looked at her and smiled, and then one of them whispered to the other,
in the silvery voice of the brook:

“The worst is over.”

“No,” the other replied. “Although the boy is safe, for a time, in the
hands of his protector, his punishment is not yet over. Love must teach
him obedience,—that alone can appease and work out the will of Fate.”

“And we can do no more for him!”

“We can only wait, and hope.”

A moment later, and the two bright forms were gone. And, watched by the
twinkling stars, lulled by the low murmur of the gentle breeze playing
among the trees of the great forest, the fair child slept, holding
clasped to her innocent breast the helpless figure which had come to her
as the gift of the fountain.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                         _THE FIRST MOONRISE._


But sleep does not last forever, and after a time Eva awoke. And when
she first sat up, and looked around her, she could not understand, for a
moment, how it could be that everything was so changed; why the brook
should be gone, and its voice silenced; the path no more to be seen; and
how she should be sitting on this soft bed of velvety-green moss, with
the little figure lying in her lap. Then, all at once, she remembered
all that had happened the day before,—and as she thought it over, like a
pleasant, yet indistinct dream, she recalled the two fair forms which
had hovered over her sleep,—faintly conscious of their presence, though
unaware of the words which they had spoken. Whether they were real, or
only a dream, Eva did not know; she only recalled them mistily; for, in
this strange, silent land, through which she was wandering, she never
knew what was real or what unreal,—it was all alike to her.

And as nothing that happened astonished her, so never for one moment did
her thoughts go back to the father and mother she had left, or to the
little baby-brother cooing in his cradle. It was as though they never
had existed, so completely were they forgotten. The Present, such as it
was, had effaced all memory of that Past.

Sitting on her soft, mossy bed, still holding in her little hands the
motionless little figure which the fountain had left her, and which, Eva
knew,—though how she knew it she could not tell,—was something to be
cared for and guarded, as being more helpless than herself. Eva thought
over all the adventures of the day before, and while she wondered what
would come next, she wished she could once more hear the pleasant murmur
of the brook which had guided her, for what purpose she knew not, to
this spot.

Only a few moments had passed since the child awoke, when a low, musical
chime rang through the forest. It died away and then returned; and then
came again and again, in tones so marvellously sweet that Eva, who had
just taken the little figure into her hands, dropped him into her lap,
and pushed her long golden curls away from her face, the better to
listen to the melody.

Once more it came, and once more died away into silence. And then there
was a low, rushing sound, and, far in the distance, Eva saw arise, as it
were from out of the earth, among the trees, the tiny silver crescent of
a young new moon,—and as she looked at it, it rose higher and higher,
and faster and faster, till it reached, in a few minutes, the very
centre of the sky, the child’s blue eyes still following it; and when
once there it paused, and floated among the strange, gleaming clouds,
which surrounded it, like a little shining boat.

With a sudden impulse Eva bent down and kissed the little figure lying
in her lap; and then she looked up at the crescent of the moon, as upon
the face of an old friend; and she would have sat there longer watching
it, but that all at once a little, weak voice said:

“I am awake again, and there is my home.”

Then there came a hurried exclamation of surprise, and Eva looked down
from the moon’s crescent to see that the little figure which she had
taken from the crest of the fountain had suddenly, as it were, been
gifted by her kiss, with life, motion, and speech, and that he was now
standing in her lap, evidently as much astonished at seeing her as she
was at the change which had come over him.

But their mutual surprise did not last; for the little mannikin began to
laugh as Eva’s blue eyes grew larger and rounder, and when at last she
asked, “Who are you?” he put his head to one side, in the most comical
manner, and, taking off the plumed cap which he wore, he made her a very
low bow.

[Illustration: “—taking off the plumed hat which he wore, he made her a
very low bow.”]

“I know now who you are,” he said. “You are Eva, and you will have to
take care of me,—that is all you were sent here for.”

Eva laughed. “Suppose I should not want to take care of such a little
thing as you are?”

“You will not have any choice in the matter,—you cannot help yourself.”

“Why?”

“Because THEY have said it.”

“I may not choose to do it.”

“What is the use of talking,” the boy went on, “when you know that you
will?”

And such were the answers that he persisted in giving to all her
inquiries.

“You said you knew who I was,” Eva went on; “but how did you know it?”

“They told me.”

“Who are THEY?”

“They led you here to me, and for me. You must not ask so many
questions.”

“May I not even ask your name?”

“You ought to know that without my telling you. But, as you don’t, I
will answer you. It is Aster.”

“Aster? Aster?” Eva slowly repeated; “it seems to me that I have heard
that name before.”

“You never did,” was the somewhat sullen answer; “for no one but myself
has any right to it.”

“Yet I am very sure that I have heard it before, at——”

“Hush! hush! You must never say that here,” said the miniature boy,
climbing up on Eva’s shoulder, and laying his hand upon her lips. “You
know as well as I do that you never heard my name before.”

“I thought I had,” Eva said, looking lovingly at the little figure
nestling among her golden curls; “but I now know that I never did.
Still, I would like to know who you are. Are you a fairy?”

“I am not a fairy, but you are all mine,” Aster said, gayly. “But you
must be careful with me, and never lose me, or else——”

“What?”

“I do not know. They are watching us.”

Who “THEY” were, Eva could not induce him to say. For even when he did
try to explain, his words were all so confused that Eva could not
understand at all what he meant, although he seemed to speak plainly;
and the only thing that she could really learn from him was this,—that
she must not ask questions, and that THEY were THEY.

Which is all very strange to us; but it appears that Eva was at last
satisfied, because Aster seemed to think that she should understand it
just as he did, and that nothing further need, consequently, be said on
the subject.



                               CHAPTER V.
                           _WHAT ASTER WAS._


For several days the two, Eva and Aster, wandered through the forest
with no object in view, and returned every evening to rest upon the
soft, mossy bed which now covered the place where the golden fountain
had once played. The scarlet berries of the vine surrounding it gave
them food. The young moon, floating in the sky, gave them light; for
while she shone, it was their day; when, suddenly as she arose, she
would drop from the centre of the sky, then came their night; and the
hours of her absence were spent in sleep.

So, at stated intervals, the moon sprang suddenly from the earth, shone
there, replacing the faint earth-light which, during her absence, had
guided Eva, and which still shone when she was not to be seen; then,
after her hours were over, she as suddenly descended; and her rising and
her setting were alike accompanied by the same weird music which had
heralded her first coming, though its notes were fainter than those
which had hailed the rising of the young new moon.

But every time that the moon returned it seemed to Eva that she grew
brighter and larger, and that she shed more light upon the earth. And as
the light grew brighter, pale white flowers began here and there to
bloom, flowers which drooped and closed their petals as soon as the moon
fell from the sky; flowers which, as Eva thought, murmured a low song as
she passed them, yet a song whose words she never could distinguish. And
at last she noticed that, as the silver crescent of the moon broadened,
the slight form of Aster seemed to grow and to expand; so that he was no
longer the tiny doll-like figure which she had taken from the fountain’s
crest, but more like a boy of four years old.

Yet this change, although it was singular, was only a source of pleasure
to the child. It gave her a companion, not merely a plaything, for until
now she had looked upon Aster in that light,—something which, though it
could talk, walk, sleep, and eat, was only a new toy, to be taken care
of and prized as such. She never had looked upon Aster otherwise.

At last, when the moon had reached her first quarter, and the two,
enjoying her pure light, sat on their mossy bed, Eva asked the boy the
same question she had asked him the day her first kiss had awakened him:

“Tell me who you are.”

“I am Aster.”

“I know that,” Eva said, laying her hand on the boy’s shoulder; “but
that is only your name.”

“I shall be as large as you are, soon,” Aster said, raising his
star-like eyes to the moon as he spoke. “When she is round, I shall be
as tall as you are, Eva.”

Eva laughed. “How do you know?”

“It will be; because it must be.”

“You are Aster,” Eva said, slowly, “and I know how you came to me; but
why did you come?”

“You will know then.”

“When?”

“When the moon is round.”

“Why not now?”

“They will not let you.”

And with this answer Eva was forced to be content. But every day they
would stand side by side, and every day Aster grew taller and taller;
and every day the moon grew broader and brighter.

At last she rose, a round, perfect orb, to her station in the sky; and
as Eva, awakened by the loud music which told of her coming, sat up to
see and wonder at the bright light she cast, Aster came quietly behind
her, and, laying his hands on her shoulders, said:

“Look at me, Eva. The day has come, and I am as tall as you are.”

Eva sprang to her feet. As she did so, Aster put his arm around her, and
she saw that there was now no difference in their height,—they were
exactly the same size. And, strange to say, his clothes had grown with
him, and their rich, soft velvet fitted him now as perfectly as it had
done when Eva first took him, small and helpless, from the crest of the
golden fountain.

“I can tell you now who I am,” the beautiful boy said, “for to-day THEY
cannot silence me; this one day when I can be my own self again. You
ought to know, Eva, without my telling you, and you would know, if you
were like me; but you are not as I am.”

“Why not?” Eva asked, in surprise.

“Because you are only a little earth-maiden.”

Eva laughed, “What is that?” She had wholly, as we know, forgotten the
past.

“I cannot tell you,” Aster said, slowly. “I only know what THEY have
told me about you.”

“And that?”

“I do not know. But you are not like me, Eva. We are very different.
Look at your dress, and then at mine.”

In truth, every here and there upon the rich velvet of Aster’s dress
were soils and stains, while not a spot discolored the pure white Eva
wore.

“Now do you see?” Aster asked. “You know that we are in Shadow-Land, and
it can only affect things which are like itself; it cannot harm you or
deceive you.”

“Do you belong here?”

“No,” Aster said, “I came from there,” pointing to the round full moon
above their heads. “I wish I was there again.”

“Why don’t you go back, then?”

“I can’t, unless you help me. They who sent me here say so.”

“Why did they send you here?”

“Because up there,” pointing to the moon, “I lost my flower, and
everything which is lost there falls into Shadow-Land, as everything
which is lost in Fairy-Land falls into the Enchanted River; and so they
sent me here to find it again, because a prince cannot live there
without his flower; and I cannot find it unless you help me. Now you
know who I am, Eva,—the moon-prince, Aster.”

“Then must I say Prince Aster?”

“No; to you I am only Aster. And I know that it will be hard for you to
find the flower, for I cannot help you, or tell you what it is like. I
know that the Green Frog has hidden it, and you are the only person who
can help me to find it, and then you must give it to me. They say we
shall have trouble.”

“But we will find it at last?”

“When my punishment for losing it is over. To-morrow we must leave this
place, for after this moon the moss will be gone.”

“You know where to go, then?”

“No; I can only follow you. I have no power here; you will have to take
care of me.”

And then Aster began to sing, and this was the song which he sung:

  Till my flower bloom again,
  We may seek, yet seek in vain.
  Till ’tis plucked by Eva’s hand,
  We must roam through Shadow-Land.

  Only this does Aster know,
  Through hard trials he must go;
  Eva’s hand must guide him on
  Till his flower again be won.

  She must wander far and near,
  Led by songs he may not hear;
  Should she lose me from her hand,
  Worse my fate in Shadow-Land.

Then Aster threw himself down on the soft moss at Eva’s feet. But when
she asked him where he had learned the words of his song, he could not
tell her. Just then a cloud came over the face of the moon, hiding her
from their sight; and as the darkness came over everything, only leaving
for a moment the pale earth-light, it seemed to Eva that there were
faces looking at her, peeping from behind every tree; and then a light
breeze sprang up, just moving the flowers, and from the bell of one of
them seemed to come these words, all in verse, for in Fairy-Land and in
Shadow-Land people seldom speak in plain prose as we do:

  O’er this spot do THEY have power,
  Not here groweth Aster’s flower.
    Wander, Eva, wander on
    Till thy hand the prize hath won.

Then the breeze died away, and the voice was silent; and Eva saw that
Aster was asleep, and, frightened at the faces which made grimaces and
mocked at her, more angrily, she thought, on account of the warning the
flower had sung, she touched him to awaken him; and as she did so the
cloud passed from the face of the moon, and as once more her pure, clear
light returned, the ugly, threatening faces vanished, and Aster awoke.
But when Eva tried to tell him of what she had seen and heard during his
short sleep, she could only say these words:

  Moss shall harden into stone,
    Faces mock you o’er the sand;
    Leading Aster by the hand,
  From this spot ye must be gone.

Then Aster laughed, because Eva declared that these were not the words
which the flower had spoken; yet every time that she tried to recollect
and repeat them, she could only say the same thing over. Then she began
to try and tell him about the faces, and when she began to speak of
them, suddenly the full moon sank from the sky, and all was dark; and
then a strange drowsiness came over the children, and Eva and Aster,
nestled in each other’s arms, lay down to sleep upon the soft, green
moss, knowing that with the next moonrise they must go forth in search,
of Aster’s lost flower.



                              CHAPTER VI.
                     _THE BEGINNING OF THE SEARCH._


When the two children, after their sleep, awoke to see the moon rise to
her station in the sky, they were not surprised to find that her fair,
round proportions were already changed. But when Eva turned to Aster,
she saw that he, too, was smaller than when they had lain down to rest;
and she knew at once, almost as if she had been told, that the
Moon-Prince would in future wax and wane as did the orb from which he
had been banished; that this was part of his punishment; and now she
understood why it was that Aster had said she would have to take care of
him. But as she stood, thinking of this, Aster suddenly touched her
hand, and directly over the mossy bed on which they had slept, and which
had never been crushed by their weight, but was always fresh, Eva saw
again the mocking faces which had disturbed her the night before; but
only for a moment, and then they were gone. And even as she looked, she
saw that the soft green moss began to shrivel, dry up, and crumble away,
as though in a fire; and a moment later it was all gone, and in its
place was a heap of rough sand and stone, instead of the velvety moss
and the vine with its scarlet berries.

“The faces have done it,” Eva said, clasping Aster’s hand tightly, as
she watched the rapid change.

“The faces!” Aster said, scornfully. “Eva, you are dreaming; there were
no faces there.”

“I saw them,” Eva began; but Aster interrupted her.

“I tell you, Eva, you saw no faces, there was nothing there. I told you
that the moss would be gone the next time that the moon rose; and you
see I told you the truth. We must leave this place.”

“Where shall we go?”

“I don’t know. We cannot stay here. What did the flower say to you, Eva?

  When soft moss shall change to stone,
  From this spot ye must be gone.”

Even as Aster spoke, Eva saw a faint little path at her feet, like that
which she had first followed. Looking back, wishing it might lead her
again to the pleasant little brook, and that she might return to it,
instead of going on into the forest, she saw that the sand and stone had
grown into a huge wall, or rather a mound, over which she never could
have climbed, and which would prevent her return. As if Aster had read
her thoughts, he said to her,—

“There is no going back, Eva; we can only go forward.”

Aster’s words were true. The wall of stone, which a few moments had been
enough to build up behind them, seemed to come closer and closer, as
though to shut them out from the place where they had been; and,
clasping Aster’s hand tightly, Eva and the boy walked slowly on, in the
little path which lay before them.

For days the two went on, walking while the moon shone, and sleeping
when her light was hid. At each moonrise they were awakened by the
strains of music, which, as the moon waned, grew sadder and more
mournful; while that accompanying her setting became at last a low, sad
moaning, and each day she grew smaller, and, in sympathy with her, Aster
seemed to dwindle and wane, and he became more and more helpless, till
at last, when the moon was reduced to a thin crescent, the little prince
was once more as small as he was when Eva first received him.

Yet, through all these changes, the two went slowly on through the dark
forest, which opened on either side of the path to let them pass, and
closed again behind them. Were they thirsty, they were sure to find some
tiny spring, issuing as at a wish from the earth; were they hungry, some
wild fruit or berry was always to be found. But not once did Eva leave
the path. What it was that kept her in it, she could not tell,—except
that every time she felt the slightest desire to go into the forest; she
saw the same hateful faces which had peeped at her for the first time
when the cloud had passed over the face of the full moon, and which had
mocked at her from above the soft mossy bed when it had been turned into
the stony wall which had forced them to go forward, and she thought they
forbade her to go near them. But Aster, in spite of all her efforts to
detain him in the path, would sometimes run away from her, saying he saw
some beautiful flower which he must gather, or else some sweet
child-face which smiled upon him; but each time that he did this, he was
sure to hasten back to Eva, saying that either thorns had pierced or
else nettles stung him; and then he would hide his face in the folds of
Eva’s white dress, trembling, and saying that THEY were there, and had
frightened him.

Still, Eva could never find out from the boy who THEY were. For Aster,
though he sometimes tried, could not tell her; it seemed as if he was
not allowed to speak, and the child began to think that the faces which
haunted her, and THEY of whom Aster so often spoke, were only different
manifestations of the same power, which seemed to follow them wherever
they went, seeking an opportunity to hurt them, although as yet no harm
had been done.

Once, before Aster grew so small, Eva asked him why it was that they
were thus followed.

“It is not you that THEY are following; THEY would do me harm if I were
to fall into their hands; but I am safe while you keep me. You are
beyond their reach.”

But, though Aster knew this, it seemed to Eva that he dared, and tried,
to put himself in the power of THEY, whom he seemed to dread,—for it was
only when the faces looked at her from behind tree or shrub that Aster
desired to leave her, and only then that he spoke of THEY who always
frightened him back to her side. He never alluded to the flower they
sought; only once, when Eva asked him what it was like, he said to her:

“I cannot describe it to you; you will know it when you see it.”

“How shall I know it?” Eva asked.

“You will know it when the time comes.”

But, though Eva looked carefully for the flower, she never saw it. There
were flowers enough along the path, but the right one was not to be
seen. She did not know—how could she?—that the search was only begun,
and that not till after long wanderings and many troubles to Aster would
she be able to find for him the flower which he had lost, and without
which he could never regain his home.



                              CHAPTER VII.
                         _ASTER’S MISFORTUNES._


At last, even the thin crescent of the moon disappeared, and once more
Aster lay motionless, and, as it were, without life, the same tiny,
helpless thing which Eva had taken from the crest of the fountain. Once
more she wandered, alone,—for what companionship could she find in the
senseless little figure which she carried about with her?—through the
strange, dream-like country in which she now found herself. But,
wherever she went, a feeling she could not explain nor understand made
her hold the helpless little prince close, never for a moment letting
him pass from her loving clasp.

Once more, too, the faint earth-light shone, instead of the vanished
moon. And Eva thought that while Aster lay helpless, there were fewer
difficulties in her path; the faces no longer appeared to torment and
harass her; the way seemed easier to her feet; more and brighter flowers
bloomed along the path; and the misty, shadowy shapes which were to be
seen at intervals passing among the close-set trunks of the trees were
fair and lovely to look upon.

But this quiet was not to last. Again, after a time, the music rang
triumphantly through the forest; and again, as the young moon sprang to
her station overhead, Aster awoke, to all appearance unconscious of the
time he had slept, and of the distance which Eva had carried him. As he
grew, with the moon, it seemed to her that he was changed; that he was
no longer the gentle, loving boy who had wandered with her when the
first moon shone: something elfish, imp-like, and changeable had come
over him.

Then, too, as day by day the path led them on into the forest, which
seemed endless, the trees altered their shape. Sometimes they were
circled with huge, twining snakes, which Eva thought seemed coiled
there, ready to seize her as she passed, though when near them they
proved to be nothing but huge vines climbing up the trees. Here and
there in the path lay huge stones, which you might think at first sight
were insurmountable, obstructing their further progress; yet, if either
Eva’s foot touched them, or the hem of her white dress brushed ever so
lightly against them, they would always fade away, like a shadow, into
utter nothingness, or else would roll slowly away to one side, leaving
the path clear. But when Aster saw the stones he would cry, and say that
they would crush him if he passed them, and the only way in which Eva
could soothe him was by taking him up in her arms and carrying him past
the stones, while he hid his face, so as not to see them, in her long,
golden curls.

[Illustration: “As day by day the path led them on into the forest, the
trees altered their shape.”]

Every now and then, in spite of what he had often told Eva,—that she,
and she only, could find and give him the flower which he had
lost,—Aster would declare to her that he saw it blooming in places where
she saw nothing but nettles or ugly weeds, but which he would always
insist were beds of the most beautiful flowers. These flowers, he said,
called to him to come and gather them; while Eva thought that warning
voices bade her pass them by, and that she saw over or else among them
shadows of the same hateful faces which she dreaded. But it was useless
to try and convince Aster of this; she soon learned that nothing ever
presented the same appearance to him that it did to her.

In consequence, whenever Aster insisted upon leaving the path, as he
often did, Eva watched him with a kind of terror, and never felt he was
safe unless she led him by the hand. Placed, as he was, under her care,
she felt sure that when with her no danger could come near him, nothing
harm him. Still, if he had enemies in this great forest, he had friends,
too; for once, when he stooped to gather a flower which bloomed near the
path, she heard it say:

  “Guard thou well thy charge to-day,
  There is danger in the way.”

But Aster laughed joyfully, as he looked up without gathering the
flower, and said:

“Did you hear what the flower told me, Eva? That was the reason why I
did not pick it, for it said that I should have much pleasure to-day.”

Eva only smiled; she said nothing; she had learned that Aster would not
bear being contradicted. But she quietly resolved to be more watchful
than ever; for, from what she had heard the flower say, she thought that
efforts would be made to take the little prince from her.

She was wrong, however, for the day passed, the moon disappeared, and,
as nothing had happened to disturb them, she began to think that perhaps
she had been mistaken, and that Aster had been right regarding the words
which the flower had spoken; for he had, all that day, been cheerful and
gentle. But, that night, she was awakened from her sleep by Aster’s
talking, as though to himself, in a rambling, disconnected manner, of
THEY whom he seemed to fear; and this being the first time for days—not
since he had awakened from the stupor into which the disappearance of
the moon had thrown him—that he had mentioned or even appeared to think
of these nameless yet formidable beings, she guessed, seeing that
Aster’s words were spoken, as it were, in a dream, and unconsciously to
himself, that the coming day contained more danger to him than any of
the preceding ones.

It was, notwithstanding, with a feeling of relief that Eva at last saw
the moon arise, and once more she and Aster set out on their journey. He
never referred to the words which had awakened her. No strange sights or
sounds came to disturb them. There was utter stillness all around; and
as hour after hour passed, and Aster walked quietly by her side, Eva
began to think that her anxiety had all been for nothing, and she
relaxed a little of her watchfulness.

At last they came to a place where every plant along the path was hung
with filmy, gossamer, delicate webs, and in each web sat a spider. And
every spider was different,—no two of them being alike. And, as they
passed these patient spinners, Aster clung closely to Eva’s hand, saying
that he was afraid of being entangled among their webs, or else stung by
them; although to her it appeared as though the spiders did not even
notice them as they passed. Then all of a sudden the webs and the
insects were gone; and the children saw crawling slowly in the path, as
if it was afraid of them and wanted to get out of their way, a spider
larger than any of those they had seen; a spider whose body was ringed
with scarlet and gold, whose long, slender black legs shone like
polished jet, and whose eyes were like bright-green emeralds; a spider
handsome enough to be the king of all the spiders.

And while Eva was admiring the beautiful colors of the insect, Aster let
go her hand, and, stooping down, passed his finger gently over its gold
and scarlet back. Then the spider raised its head, and looked at Eva
with its bright-green eyes, which, as Eva gazed at them, appeared to
grow larger and brighter, and dazzled her own; and then a mist seemed to
come over them, and everything began to fade slowly away; and she never
noticed how Aster went, slowly, nearer and nearer to the insect,
crouching down into the path as he did so, nor how the spider, by
degrees, began to grow larger, and moved towards the side of the path,
till a sudden cry from Aster, “Eva! Eva! help me!” roused her from the
trance in which she stood, in which she saw nothing but the emerald
eyes, like two gleaming lights; and then she saw that the beautiful
spider had enveloped Aster in a large web which it had spun around him,
and was dragging him off the path, to carry him away with it.

But Eva was not going to lose her charge. Springing forward, she threw
her arms around him. And as her dress touched the web, it fell off,
releasing him; and the spider, unfolding a pair of blue wings, flew into
the forest with a loud cry of disappointment; and as it flew away, its
shape changed, and Eva, looking after it, with her arms still around
Aster, saw that it had one of the terrible faces which she had seen so
often before. Then it disappeared, and the two went on, or rather tried
to go on, for Aster complained that his feet were fastened to the
ground; and then Eva saw that they were still tangled in some of the
spider’s web; and both Eva and Aster tried in vain to break it. But Eva
was nearly in despair, when, as she stooped, one of her long golden
curls brushed against the web, and then it melted away and vanished like
smoke.

Then, and not till then, were they able to go on. But Aster walked
forward unwillingly, and complained that he was tired, and began to
insist upon Eva’s stopping to rest. But she felt that they would not be
safe until after the moon was gone, and so they went on. At every mossy
stone, every fair cluster of flowers, Aster would insist upon stopping,
but Eva would not listen to him, for she always heard, at these places,
a friendly voice which said, “Go on, go on;” and so they went on.

But at last Aster, who did nothing but complain of weariness, told Eva
that he could and would go no farther. Seeing a great, velvety, green
mushroom growing in the path, he ran and sat down upon it, saying that
it was a seat which had been made and put there for him, and that Eva
should not share it.

He had scarcely said this, had scarcely seated himself, when the
mushroom changed into a great green frog, which, with Aster seated
astride upon its back, began to hop nimbly away in the direction of the
forest. But Eva, whose eyes had never for a moment left the boy, sprang
forward, and before Aster—pleased at the motion of the frog—could say a
word, she had dragged him off his strange steed, which turned and
snapped at her, but, instead of touching her, caught the skirt of
Aster’s coat in his mouth and held on to it till Eva’s efforts tore it
from him, leaving, however, a small piece of the velvet in the frog’s
mouth. Even then he tried to seize Aster again, and it was not till
Eva’s dress touched him that he turned to leave them, still holding in
his mouth the scrap torn from Aster’s coat, and as he hopped off the
path he faded away just like a shadow.

Then, too, the moon sank from the sky, and the two children, completely
worn out, lay down and slept, and Eva knew that for a little while, at
least, Aster was safe, because as she lay down she heard a little song
which said;

  Tranquil be your sleep,
    Peaceful be your rest,
  We a watch will keep,
    Naught shall you molest;
      Sleep, Eva, sleep.

  Where our light may shine,
    Where we weave our charm,
  In our magic line,
    Naught may cause you harm;
      Sleep, Aster, sleep.

Then all was still. But though Eva, trusting to this song, was not
afraid to lie down and sleep, she never knew that while they did sleep a
circle of tiny shining lamps, like fairy-lamps, gleamed all around
them,—a magic circle which nothing could pass. And although both the
spider and the green frog returned, bringing with them the piece of
Aster’s coat, by means of which they hoped to steal him away from Eva
while he was asleep, they could not pass the circle which the Light
Elves had drawn around the sleeping pair, and, after many vain efforts
to cross it, they vanished.

And the grateful elves had watched and saved Aster because Eva, that
morning, seeing a shapeless, helpless worm lying near a stone, which was
about to fall and crush it, had tenderly picked up the worm, and laid it
carefully on a cool, green leaf, out of danger. The grateful Light
Elf,—for such she was,—being compelled to wear the form of a worm while
the moonlight lasted, had come with her companions to return what
service she could and give Eva a peaceful rest.

So, as ever, Good overcomes Evil, and no service, no matter how small or
how trifling it may seem, is ever wasted or thrown away.



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                           _WHAT ASTER DID._


The farther the progress which the children made into the forest, the
wilder and more singular became the country through which they passed.
Shadows cast by no visible forms went before them in the path,—shadows
which shook, moved, and trembled; which seemed as if they might all at
once become real forms; shadows which had something dreadful about them,
so that Eva was glad they were always in advance of her, and that her
foot never had to touch the ground on which they lay. The color of the
moon’s light was changed. She shone with a pale greenish lustre. No
green plants, no beautiful flowers, grew in the stony, rocky soil
through which their path now lay. It produced things like sticks full of
thorns. Under the stones lay hidden long, slender lizards, or coiled-up
serpents with forked and fiery-red tongues; things like dry twigs, which
would suddenly display many legs and run away. Slow-crawling, hairy
caterpillars, and round, fat, slimy worms, lay everywhere. Things like
insects, which yet had no life, grew, instead of flowers, on the thorny
sticks which stood among the stones. One of these things, in shape like
a dragon-fly, Aster picked; but he immediately dropped it, and said that
it had stung him; and from that time Eva thought that he became more and
more perverse, and that he was every day less like the gentle,
affectionate boy she had been so glad to receive as a companion. She
saw, too, that, while her own dress retained its spotless whiteness
which nothing seemed to affect, his became every day more and more
soiled and stained.

She missed, too, the low, sweet songs which had been sung by the
flowers. To be sure, she had not always been able to distinguish their
words; but they had been friendly, and had warned her of every danger
before it came; but this was all over. Every night, as soon as the moon
was gone, creatures like bats, with shining heads, came in great
numbers, flying around, and moaning in a sad, mournful way which was
most pitiful to hear.

As the moon neared the full, stranger shadows and shapes came near. Yet
the two went on, following the path, though Eva sometimes imagined that
the inhabitants of this strange country were opposed to their passing
through it. The music which had been always heard at the rising and
setting of the moon grew fainter and fainter, till at last her ascent
and fall came in perfect silence. Then the strange shadows disappeared,
but the path led through a stonier and more rocky country, where all was
wild and barren, and where, after the moon was gone, little, dancing
flames played on the stones. Sometimes it was hard, indeed almost
impossible, for the two children to climb over the rough places in their
path; and Aster was very often discouraged; but Eva persevered, for she
felt that the flower they sought could never be found in this barren and
dreary land.

I have said that Aster became every day more obstinate and perverse.
Sometimes Eva thought that the strange flower, like a dragon-fly, which
he had picked, and which he said stung him, had changed him, and that
was the reason why he tried to annoy her in every possible way. He knew
how uneasy she was when he was not with her; yet, knowing this, it was
his greatest delight to hide himself behind some large stone, and after
she had looked for him for a long time without finding him, afraid that
his enemies had carried him off, he would jump out upon her with a loud
mocking cry; he would pull her hair, he would try to soil her white
dress, by throwing mud and dirt upon it, to make it, as he said, like
his own, which was all stained and soiled, and then, when he found that
he could not discolor its whiteness, he would throw himself down on the
ground, and kick and scream, and tell Eva that he hated her, and that he
wished THEY would come and carry her away.

One day, when Aster had been worse than ever, and the way had been
stonier and harder than it had ever been before, Eva began to think that
it was of no use to go on, or to look for the flower lost so long ago by
the imp-like boy, whose powers of annoying her seemed to increase as he
grew smaller with the moon. She sat down upon one of the rough stones,
and great tears gathered in her eyes. And as, one by one, they rolled
down her cheeks and fell to the ground, everything around her seemed to
grow vague and dim; and at her feet, just where the tear-drops fell,
there came a bed of round green leaves, under whose shelter bloomed and
nodded a multitude of tiny purple flowers; violets, whose sweet
fragrance, rising, made a misty cloud, through which Eva caught faint
glimpses of a pond, and a house near it, and then the house seemed to
change into a cosy parlor. And by the window of this parlor a lady was
sitting sewing, and rocking a cradle with her foot, and singing to a
baby boy who was kicking and crowing in the cradle; and then the child
heard her mother’s voice calling, softly, “Eva, Eva!” But before these
memories came fully back, Aster came up, and angrily crushed and
trampled the sweet violets under his feet; and as he did so the cloud
and its pictures disappeared, and Eva forgot them; only she was very
sorry for the dear little flowers that Aster had killed.

Poor little flowers, which tried to do her good! For it seemed to her
that with their last breath of perfume there came a low voice, which
whispered. “Beware of the stones,”—and that was all. And then she asked
Aster why he had destroyed the harmless flowers, which had only come to
warn them.

“They only came to do me harm,” Aster said, angrily. “They would have
taken you away from me, and I should never have seen you again. You
shall not go away from me yet, for I can never get home without you;
after I have done with you, why, then you may go.”

“Where?” Eva asked, pained at this selfish speech.

“Into what is to be,—out of Shadow-Land into what is to come, but is not
yet.”

“I do not understand you.”

“You will know when the time comes. I crushed the flowers because they
were part of what is to come; they had no right here.”

Nothing more was said; but Aster seemed restless and uneasy until they
left the place where the violets had bloomed. Yet nothing disturbed
them, and on they went, till Eva began to wonder where the stones could
be of which the voice had said, “Beware!”

At last, when there was only a tiny crescent of the moon, like a faint
silver line, floating in the sky, and Aster’s figure, like it, was once
more reduced to its smallest dimensions, the forest through which they
had wandered for so long ended; and as they passed from it, a low cry of
surprise from Aster made Eva look down, as she saw that his eyes were
fixed upon the earth; and then she saw with equal surprise that, while
she walked along the rough, stony path without leaving any impression,
every step that Aster took left a deep, plain track, and that in each of
these tracks there was either a frog or a spider, which would disappear
while she looked at them.

Then a sudden turn in the path brought them to a place where a huge pile
of rocks, like an immense stone wall built by giants, rose up before
them. A faint breath of violets seemed to come, and then pass away, and
as it did, Eva knew that these were the stones of which she had been
warned.

At that very moment there was a flash of light, and a star fell from the
sky, near the moon.

“A falling star, how pretty it is!” Eva said, as she watched the bright
thing, which seemed to fall behind the stone wall. “Did you see it,
Aster?”

“You don’t know anything, Eva,” was his reply, “I told you once before
that everything which was lost in the moon fell into Shadow-Land, and
that was something bright which fell just now.”

But this had nothing to do with the wall, which must be climbed. How,
Eva did not know. She was almost afraid to try it; and so she stood,
looking at it, when Aster, who, ever since he had crushed the violets,
had followed her in silence, except when he had spoken of the shooting
star, with his eyes bent on the ground, suddenly ran forward to the
wall, and began to look eagerly into every crevice between the stones.

“What are you looking for?” Eva asked him. “Come back to me, Aster; it
is not safe for you there without me.”

“I will look,” Aster said. “The bright thing you called a star was my
flower. It is here, and I am going to find it.”

“Don’t!” Eva said, imploringly, as the boy tried to creep into one of
the crevices between the stones. “Remember Aster, that the moon is
nearly gone, and if she should disappear, you will go to sleep, and then
you will have to stay in there until she returns.”

“I don’t care!” Aster said, crossly, “If, as I know I shall, I find my
flower in here, the moon will have no more power over me, for I shall
then be myself; and you may go on alone into what will come. Besides,
the piece which was torn off my coat is in there, and I am going to get
it. If I do go to sleep, I can lie down in here, and rest; you can mark
the place and wait for me, if you choose. I don’t intend to obey you any
longer; you are nothing but a little girl, and I am a prince.”

Eva’s hand was on Aster’s shoulders and when he found she would not
remove it, he raised his own, and struck her. Not till then did the
child unwillingly release him, seeing that all her efforts to detain him
would be in vain. Then, without saying another word, Aster crept slowly
into the crevice. And Eva, picking up a white stone which lay at her
feet; made a mark over the place with it. As she did this, the faint
silver light of the moon faded from the sky; there was a loud croaking
as of frogs, and then she heard the shrill cry of the spider which had
spun the web around Aster; and then it grew very dark, and a sudden
drowsiness came over her, which she could not resist; and, lying down
upon a stone under the crevice into which Aster had crept, Eva fell
asleep.



                              CHAPTER IX.
                        _THE DOOR IN THE WALL._


It was with a start that, after the darkness had gone, Eva awoke from
the dull, heavy sleep into which she had fallen; and for a moment she
could not recollect how it was that she should be lying upon a stone at
the foot of this huge rocky wall, or why she should be alone, without
Aster near her. She looked for him, thinking that perhaps he might have
hidden himself, only to tease her; but he was nowhere to be found. She
called him, hoping that he might hear and answer her; but there was no
reply,—only the rocks echoed back the sound of her own voice, which
said, “Aster, Aster! where are you?” and then another echo seemed to
answer, mockingly, “Where?”

But all this only lasted for a few moments. Then all at once Eva
remembered the falling star; the warning which the violets had given
her; the blow, which, coming as it did from Aster’s hand, had so deeply
grieved her; her efforts to detain him at her side, which had all proved
useless; and how, after the boy had crept into one of the crevices of
the wall, declaring he went there in search of his flower, she had
picked up a stone, which she now found she still held in her hand, and
marked the place. Then she felt relieved, for she knew that this was the
time when Aster would be asleep, as he always was when the moon was
absent, and consequently he could not move from the place into which he
had crept. She thought, therefore, that, whenever she chose, she would
find him, and, taking him again under her care, carry him away from this
barren and stony waste.

Encouraged and relieved by this thought, she did not look for Aster any
longer, but went to a little spring bubbling up between two rough
stones, and which was the only pleasant thing she could see in this
rocky place. She knelt down by it, for she was thirsty, to drink from
its cool and sparkling waters, and then to wash her face and hands in
them; and as she dipped her hands in the spring, the little ripples they
made whispered, softly, “Over yonder! over yonder!” but Eva was not sure
if she really had heard these words; or only imagined them.

Refreshed by the cool waters she went back to the great, rough, stone
wall, intending to secure her charge, and then try to go on. But what
was her surprise, on returning, as she thought, to the same stone on
which she had slept, to see that there were so many stones just exactly
like it, that she could not find the one she wanted! and, what was still
stranger, she saw that over every little hole, every tiny cavity in the
stone, there was a white mark exactly like the one which she had made
over the crevice into which Aster had crept, and she could not say which
of them all was hers.

She was in despair for a moment. How was she to find, among all these
holes, each with the same white mark over it, the one in which Aster was
asleep? Then she remembered that standing still and looking at the wall
would do no good; that if she wanted to find Aster she must look for
him; and Eva determined to examine every hole she saw, in hopes that
with patience and perseverance she might at last succeed in finding her
lost charge, of whom, in spite of all the trouble he had given her, she
had grown very fond.

But if she had been surprised at seeing a white mark over every hole,
instead of the one she had made, she was still more astonished when she
saw that in every cranny which she examined there sat either a large
black-legged spider, with a gold and scarlet back, and eyes which shone
in the dark like little bright stars, or else there squatted snugly in
it a huge green frog, with a wide mouth and projecting black eyes; while
just beyond her reach there would flutter every now and then a little
green flag, like the scrap of velvet, as Eva thought, which the teeth of
the frog had torn from Aster’s coat.

Yet the child climbed slowly up the wall, fearless of the spiders and
the frogs, which she knew had no power to harm her, even if they had
wished it. But seeing them, and knowing, as she did, that these two
creatures, in the forest through which they held passed, had tried to
get possession of Aster, Eva began to fear that by creeping into the
hole he had put himself in their power, and that she would never be able
to find him again.

She went on, however, looking carefully into every tiny cavity; but
always with the same result. No Aster was to be seen: only huge spiders
and squatting frogs stared at her from every cranny. And, as she climbed
up higher and higher, she found that the rocky wall was like a giant
staircase; and when she looked back, noticing that the stones she
displaced, as she climbed up, only rolled a short time and then made no
noise as they fell, and thinking that after her search was over she
would return to the little spring and wait there patiently until the
moon rose again, when, as she hoped, Aster, if she did not find him now,
would wake up and come back to her, she saw that she could never return
to the spring. For the steps by which she had come were gone, melting
one by one into the face of the rock, changing into a steep precipice
behind her; and at its foot were curling mists and vapors, among which
she saw dimly the hateful, mocking faces she had seen before. Go back
she could not, for every step, as she passed it, melted into the
precipice; to look back made her dizzy. She must go upward.

For the first time since she had begun to climb the wall, which had
changed, as she climbed, into steps, and then into a precipice, Eva was
afraid. But there was no choice left for her; go on she must; and,
accordingly, on she went, till she came to a place where the rock rose,
so high that she could not see its top, in a smooth, unbroken wall, over
which she could not possibly climb, and a narrow path ran along its
base; and as yet she had not seen nor heard anything of the truant
Aster.

She walked slowly along the foot of the great blank wall, tired and
discouraged. What to do now, she did not know. She could not go back,
for there was the frightful precipice; in front was the wall, along
which she was walking. Poor Eva was almost ready to cry, when all of a
sudden she saw a door, cut in the stone, and the door was shut. But she
heard, behind this door, the silvery voices and ringing laughter of
children, and then a great longing came over her to go in and join them,
and she thought that perhaps Aster might be with them.

Yet, although she tried, she could not open the door. She heard the
merry voices of the children, and, hearing them as plainly as she did,
she thought it was strange that they did not hear her and open the door
to her; for, try as she would, she could not open it. And then she grew
tired of trying, and would have gone on, when, looking once more at the
door to see if there was any way of opening it which she could possibly
have neglected, she saw cut across the door, in deep, old-fashioned,
moss-grown letters, the word

                                _Knock._

Then, gathering courage, Eva raised her tiny hand, and knocked. Once,
and no answer came. Again, and with the same result. A third time, and
then the merry voices of the children, and their gay laughter, ceased,
and Eva hoped that her appeal was heard.



                               CHAPTER X.
                         _THE VALLEY OF REST._


Eva waited for a moment, with as much patience as she could, in hopes
that the door might now be opened for her. Vain hopes, for the ringing
laughter and the merry voices began again; and once more Eva would have
been discouraged, if the thought had not come that perhaps her gentle
knocking had not been heard, and once more she tapped, louder this time,
at the door.

A voice within immediately asked, “Who knocks?”

“I—Eva,” was the child’s reply.

“Eva may enter.”

Poor child! She thought the permission was useless, for the door
remained as tightly shut as ever.

“Why do you not come in?” the same voice asked, after a pause, “You are
permitted.”

“I cannot come in, because the door is shut,” Eva said.

“Take the key and unlock it.”

But Eva, after looking around carefully, could see no key, and so she
said, “I do not know where the key can be.”

“Look under your right foot,” said the voice within; and Eva, stepping
to one side, saw lying, just where her foot had been, a queer little
key, which she picked up; and seeing a key-hole among the quaint letters
of the inscription, she found the little key just fitted it; and on
turning it, the door flew open, and, as it did, a band of beautiful
children came forward to meet her, though not one of them crossed the
threshold of the door, and they bade her welcome. But when Eva would
have gone in, it seemed to her that invisible hands prevented her
entrance; and then one of the children, seeing that she still held in
her hand the white stone she had picked up near the spring, and with
which she had made the mark over Aster’s hiding-place, told her to throw
it away, for that nothing from Shadow-Land could be brought into their
valley; and then to be careful and not touch the threshold of the door,
but to step over it. And Eva did as they told her; but when she threw
the white stone over the precipice, it changed into a large white moth
as it left her hand; and Eva, watching it, saw one of the faces rise
from out of the curling mists to meet it, and then the moth changed into
a face like the one she had first seen, and then both disappeared among
the mists and vapors. And the moment she passed through the door, it
closed suddenly behind her, and could not be told from the solid rock;
and Eva saw that she was in a place totally different from anything she
had ever seen before in her wanderings.

She found that she was now in a large, grassy valley, in the midst of
which was built a beautiful rose-colored palace, shining like a star.
Flowers of the gayest hues bloomed all through the grass; fountains of
musical water, surrounded with rainbows, played here and there; birds
and butterflies of brilliant colors flew among the flowers, and were so
tame that they would alight on the children’s hands, and the birds were
so wise that they could talk, and tell the most interesting stories,
which you never grew tired of hearing. A little brook ran sparkling
through the valley, and groups of beautiful children were playing on its
banks, among whom Eva looked—but looked in vain—for Aster.

The children gathered around her, asking where she came from, if she was
the Queen who was to reign over them, and if she was not going to live
always with them. And when Eva tried to explain how she had come, and
asked them if they knew where Aster was, they joined hands and danced in
a circle around her to their own singing, and then one of them gave her
the leaves of a flower to eat. Now the leaves of this flower were
delicious, and as sweet as honey to the taste, and one never wearied of
eating them; and as Eva ate them, all memory of Shadow-Land and of Aster
faded from her mind, and she was content to remain in the valley with
the children.

It was a pleasant life that she led in this peaceful valley, surrounded,
as it was, and shut in by high, insurmountable, and steep rocks, over
which nothing without wings could go; in which the children dwelt, and
where there was neither sun nor moon, but only a soft, rosy light, which
never hurt or dazzled the eyes, and where nothing ever happened which
could disturb the peace of the place. To chase the brilliant
butterflies, to listen to the songs and stories of the birds, to dance
on the soft green grass, and gather flowers to make fragrant wreaths and
garlands with which to decorate the beautiful palace in which, when
darkness came over the valley, they all assembled, and where tables,
spread with the most delicious fruits, always stood ready for them,—such
was the life that Eva and the children led in the Valley of Rest.

But at last a day came when the children told Eva that, as their custom
was, they must leave the valley and carry baskets of flowers and fruit
to the Queen for whom they had at first taken her. She could not go with
them now, they said, but the next time that they went they would take
her with them. They would be gone the next morning before she was awake,
and she would be alone for that day in the valley; but then they would
return; and the only favor they asked of her was this,—that she would
not go near the brook, nor play upon its banks, while they were absent.

Eva willingly promised this. Such a little thing as it was to promise,
when she would have the whole fair valley to herself, to go where she
pleased, and to do what she pleased! It would be very easy to keep away
from the brook.

But when once more the soft, rosy light came, and the darkness was gone,
and Eva awoke to find herself lying, all alone, on her little bed in the
palace, and to know that all the children were indeed gone, though only
for a time, a strange restlessness came over her, and she felt that she
could not stay all alone in the palace. She would go out of it into the
valley. But she was no better off there. She gathered flowers and made
beautiful wreaths and bouquets, but there was no one to admire them when
they were made. The rainbows around the fountains were less brilliant;
the birds were all gone with the children, so that she could not listen
to their songs or the stories they might have told her. She might play
and dance, but what fun was there in that, when she had no companions to
dance and play with her? Eva thought she never had spent such a stupid,
long, dull day in all her life; and she wished it was over. The only
thing which seemed as merry as ever was the little brook, which she had
promised to avoid, yet which rippled along so joyously that it was as
much as Eva could do to keep away from it.

But she remembered her promise to the children, and turning her back
upon the brook, she went and sat down near one of the fountains. She had
only been there for a few moments, when she felt something pull her
dress; and looking round to see what it was,—wondering if the children
could possibly have returned,—she saw, to her great surprise, a huge
green toad, which had hold of her dress, and which, when she looked at
it, said:

“Croak! croak!”

Then Eva knew that she had seen the toad before, and she began to wonder
how it had gotten into the Valley of Rest, where she never had seen
anything like it. But she did not have much time for wonder; for the
toad, giving her dress another pull, said to her, “Come to the brook!
Come to the brook!” And then it began to hop towards the brook just as
fast as it could go.

She forgot her promise to the children, and, just exactly as she had
done once before, she obeyed the toad, and went down to the brook. And
when she got there, she could not imagine why the toad wanted her to go
there, for he was nowhere to be seen, and the brook looked just as it
always did. But she sat down by it, and watched the merry water as it
rippled along over its pebbly bed. Then, soothed by the low murmur it
made, she lay down on the grass and fell asleep. And while she was
asleep she had a dream; and this is what she dreamed:

She saw Aster, his dress torn, dirty, and ragged, his long curls
tangled; tired and sad, and compelled to carry burdens of stone too
heavy for him to lift. And when he wanted to rest, two figures, with the
faces which Eva had seen in the forest and among the curling mists and
vapors at the foot of the precipice, beat him with rods full of thorns.
And then a huge red-and-black spider would sting him in the foot, or a
great green frog, with prominent black eyes, would threaten to swallow
him; and then the boy would cry, and call for Eva to come and help him.

Then the frog would say:

“Why did you let me tear your coat?”

And the faces would ask:

“Why did you lose your flower?”

And then the spider would say:

“Why did you creep into the rock?”

And to all this Aster would only answer with the cry, “Eva! Eva! help
me!”

Then one of the faces said, angrily:

“We shall punish you here until three things are done, because through
three things you fell into our power. First. Eva must find your coat.
Second. She must get the piece to mend it with. Third. She must find
you. But you need not call her, because she cannot hear you; for she is
in the Valley of Rest with the Happy Children, who are the Dawn Fairies,
and she has forgotten you. And there are many dangers to pass in
Shadow-Land before, she can come to you; and she will not come, unless
she hears you call.”

Then they would beat him again; and Aster would cry, louder than ever,
“Eva! Eva! help me!”

And then the dream passed away, and Eva awoke. And it seemed to her that
Aster’s voice mingled with the rippling of the water, and it cried,
piteously, “Eva! Eva! help me!”

And then Eva knew why it was that the children had begged her not to go
near the brook while they were gone; because its voice would bring back
to her all that she had forgotten. For now, as she sat by it, she
remembered everything that the leaves of the flower which she had eaten
had made her forget; and she sprang to her feet, determined to follow
the course of the brook, and let it lead her to where Aster was.

She went all through the fair valley, along the margin of the brook with
whose waters Aster’s voice still seemed to mingle. It led her at last to
the high rocks, which, like a steep wall, surrounded the valley, and
where a low cavern, the roof of which was only a few inches above the
surface of the water, received the brook. Eva could not enter it,
neither could she climb the steep precipice-like wall; and, with Aster’s
voice still sounding piteously in her ears, with a heavy heart, after
several fruitless efforts to climb the rocks, she went back to the
palace, determined to wait for the return of the children; for, although
she had been very happy while with them, and was unwilling to leave
them, she intended to ask them how she could leave the peaceful Valley
of Rest, and if they would provide her with the means of continuing her
search for Aster.

Had Eva consulted her own wishes, and been able to carry them out, she
would not have waited one moment, but would have gone at once out into
Shadow-Land, which she now knew lay all around the valley. She knew,
too, that the little brook running through the valley, and which had
brought her Aster’s cry for help, was the same whose “Follow, follow
me!” had led her to the golden fountain from whose crest she had
received her little charge. But how to leave the valley she did not
know. She could do nothing by herself,—she must wait till the return of
the children,—so that she could scarcely be patient till the hours of
darkness came, knowing that during them, and before the soft, rosy light
could dawn again, that they would be with her.

There was nothing for it, however, but patience, and at last, after a
day which had seemed at least a year long, darkness covered the valley;
and although Eva had fully intended to keep awake until the children’s
return, her eyes, try and resolve as she might, would not stay open, and
she slept.



                              CHAPTER XI.
                           _THE MAGIC BOAT._


Morning came, and Eva awoke, to find that she was all alone in the
palace, and to wonder at the utter stillness around her. There was no
song of birds to be heard,—no fall of musical waters,—no merry
children’s ringing laughter and sweet voices. To all intents and
purposes the palace seemed as deserted as it had been the day before.
And wondering at all this, Eva rose, and went out of the palace to look
for her companions.

They had returned; but when she saw them she understood why everything
was so still. For, instead of the merry songs and joyous games and
dances with which they had been accustomed to begin the day, they were
gathered in little groups, and every face wore a sad and mournful
expression. They seemed troubled, and every now and then one of them
would point to the brook, and then shake her head; and Eva was going to
ask them what could possibly have happened, and what the matter was,
when they saw her; and then the whole crowd came around her, and before
she could say a word, they exclaimed, with one voice:

“Oh, Eva! Eva! what have you done? You forgot your promise; you went to
the brook, and you heard its story?”

Then it came into Eva’s mind that she must leave the children, who
seemed so sorry for what she had done, and she hung her head and said,
timidly:

“I could not help it.”

“It is true, and only what we feared,” one of them said,—the same one
who had spoken to Eva through the door. “We knew how it would be before
we left you. You could not help it, for it was Fate, and no promise can
bar the power, no wishes change the will, of Fate.”

Then Eva began to tell them her story. And they all listened, and when
she told them how the green toad had pulled her dress, another of the
children spoke and told Eva that the green toad was Aster’s friend, and
would do all it could to help him. That, just before she came to the
valley, it had been there and told them she was coming. And then Eva
finished her story, and begged them to let her go.

“We cannot keep you,” they said to her, “even if we wished it. We would
like to keep you with us; but the green toad has commanded us to help
you, so far as lies in our power. But we cannot save you from the
dangers of the way. They, who are more powerful than our Queen, have
forbidden it, and will not allow us to tell you what these dangers are,
or how you can avoid them or escape them. That you will learn on the
Enchanted River, down which you will have to go, and we must, if you ask
us, furnish you with the means of reaching it. You cannot go there
unless we help you, and we cannot keep you here if we would.”

“Will I find Aster?” Eva asked.

“That will depend upon yourself,” one of the children said, exactly as
if she was telling a story she had heard. “If Aster had obeyed you, as
he should have done, and as he was expected to do, your journey would
have ended here, in this Valley of Rest, and we, who are the Dawn
Fairies, would have been able to take his flower from the Night and
Shadow Elves; but the loss of part of his coat gave them power over him,
because Darkness always swallows up Light whenever it can; and so, just
at the entrance of this place, on the verge between Shadow and Dawn,
they succeeded in luring him away from you.”

Then they told Eva that for a certain time, which had now expired,
Aster’s enemies had been able to prevent her seeking for him. “During
that time,” they went on, “we were permitted to receive you; but then
since Aster’s friends have been able to speak to you by means of the
brook, though they can do nothing to rescue or to help him, for you are
the only person who can release him from the power of the Elves of
Shadow-Land; and since you have heard the voice, and are willing to
follow it, we can only, much as we would like to keep you with us, help
you, and let you go.”

“Has she no choice?” another asked. “Could she not, if she chose, remain
with us, instead of exposing herself to the dangers through which she
must pass?”

“I would rather go,” Eva began, “if I may choose.”

“You are right,” the first one who had spoken went on. “It is your fate,
and,” using, as Eva remembered, words that Aster had spoken long before,
and which seemed to be a proverb among the elves and fairies, “it will
be, because it must be.”

And then Eva heard, above the voices of the children and mingling with
them, the words which had come to her along the waters of the brook, but
spoken this time more plaintively than ever:

“Eva! Eva! help me!”

And the children heard, for they said:

“You will not hear those words after you leave our valley. For, in the
region through which you must pass, Aster’s friends have no power; you
will have to depend wholly upon yourself. And”—as the waters of the
little brook, by whose margin they were standing, began to ripple along
faster, and murmur louder, while the musical fountains began to play,
and the birds to sing—“and now you must leave us: everything is in
readiness, and the time has come.”

Then, with Eva in their midst, the children began to walk slowly along
the brook, which no longer brought Aster’s voice with it. On they went,
through the calm valley; not, however, as Eva had expected, to the door
in the rock through which she had entered, and which she had never been
able to find again,—though she had looked for it the day before, but in
the opposite direction,—towards the cavern in which the waters of the
brook disappeared. She asked why she was not to be allowed to seek for
Aster among the rocky, stony wastes in which he had disappeared.

“Because that is all over, and you cannot go back into the Past,” was
the reply. “Nothing, which has once happened there, or been seen there,
remains in Shadow-Land.”

They had come, by this time, to the cavern, and Eva saw that its roof
was higher above the brook than it had been the day before; and that,
floating on the water, which was here as smooth and still as glass,
there were a great many pure white lilies, and that every now and then a
speckled trout would jump from the water, and send a shower of crystal
drops to sparkle on the green leaves around the white lilies.

“There lies your way,” the children said, pointing to the cavern and the
brook. “But we must give you the means of going down the brook to the
place where it meets the Enchanted River. Beyond that we cannot help
you. We can only send you, in our boat, down the brook.”

At these words Eva looked up in great surprise, for no boat was to be
seen, and she could not imagine where one was to come from. But then one
of the children clapped her hands, and, as she did so, a lily-bud slowly
rose from the water, and then opened, till it was larger and whiter than
any of the other lilies. And then, while all looked on in silence, the
pure white leaves of the lily fell into the water and melted away in it
like snow; and then another waved her hands in the air, and immediately,
on the stalk from which the lily-petals had fallen, there grew a pod.
And when the pod had stopped growing, a third, stooping by the brook,
dipped her hands into the water, and the lily-pod detached itself from
its stem, and came floating to the bank.

Then the one who had clapped her hands took the pod out of the water and
laid it on the bank. The second opened it and taking from out of it six
round speckled seeds, laid them in the hands of the third. Then the
third threw these six seeds, one by one, into the water, and as each
seed touched the water it changed into a beautiful, large speckled
trout; and one by one the six trout, gently moving their fins, ranged
themselves in a line, their heads to the bank, and remained there,
waiting.

Then the three children, lifting up the empty lily-pod, placed it gently
upon the brook, and Eva saw that, as it lay on the smooth waters, it had
become a little boat. And then the six trout, one by one, swam from the
line which they had formed, and ranged themselves around it, one at the
bow and one at the stern, and two on each side; and while she looked at
the tiny boat it grew longer and broader, and at either end it rose in a
graceful curve, finished at bow and stern with an open lily-cup; and
then the calm surface of the water broke into a thousand little ripples,
rocking the lilies to and fro, which bent as though they were saluting
the little vessel, along whose sides the tiny waves flowed caressingly.

The children then told Eva that everything was ready, and that it was
time for her to enter the boat which they had prepared for her, and
which the six Fish Fairies would guide down the brook. But Eva
hesitated, for the boat, she thought, was too small for her. One of the
children, seeing that Eva hesitated, told her not to be afraid, for the
boat was built in such a way, being a magic boat, that it would hold any
one for whom it was made. So Eva did as she was told, and, stepping
lightly into the boat, she found that it was just the right size for
her; though she did not exactly know if it was she that had grown
smaller or the boat which had grown larger.

As she sat down, the children told her to be careful and eat nothing
except what the trout, who were to guide the boat, would bring her; and
in return she was to take care of them, and let no one molest them, for
the Fish Fairies are the weakest of all the fairies, though they can go
where the others dare not even be seen. When the boat had taken her as
far as it could, it would leave her, and return to the Valley of Rest.

Then, all joining hands, the children began to sing; and this is what
they sung:

      Little boat,
      Gently float,
  With your sweet freight laden;
      Evil charm
      May not harm
  Eva, the earth-maiden.

      On her way,
      Night and day,
  Bear her onward ever;
      Till she land
      On the strand
  Of th’ Enchanted River.

      On this spot
      Linger not!
  ’Tis the appointed hour!
      Little boat,
      Onward float,
  Led by magic power.

As the last words were sung, the boat, apparently of its own accord,
moved into the centre of the brook, its bow pointing to the cavern. Then
it paused for a moment, till the six speckled trout could come and take
their places around it. And then, with a smooth, gliding motion, it went
towards the entrance of the cavern, which suddenly raised its arch so as
to admit the magic boat. When it was just under the arch, the boat
stopped for a moment, and as Eva looked back, she saw that the children
were already going back to the palace, singing as they went,—the bright,
rosy light, and the rainbow-surrounded fountains, and the beautiful
birds, seemed more charming than ever in contrast with the Dark Unknown
into which she was going.

Then the boat shot forward again, and the arch of the cavern, which had
been raised to allow the boat to enter, dropped behind her like a
curtain, shutting out the Valley of Rest from Eva’s sight.

The rest she had enjoyed there was over,—her wanderings had again begun.



                              CHAPTER XII.
                           _DOWN THE BROOK._


It was not without a moment’s fear that Eva saw the arch of the cavern
close behind her, shutting her into silence; and surrounding her with a
darkness which could not only be seen, but which was almost to be felt.
At least so it seemed in contrast with the bright valley which she had
left; but before many minutes had passed, or the boat had gone very far,
her eyes became accustomed to the change, the intense blackness which
surrounded her softened into a pale, dim gray; and then Eva saw that she
was in a low arched place, like a long tunnel cut in the solid rock.
Every now and then a drop of water would fall splashing into the brook
from the roof, or else a little wave would break, rippling against the
wall; but those were the only sounds to be heard.

Even the boat glided along noiselessly, with a smooth, uniform
motion,—and the tiny waves, which occasionally ruffled the surface of
the dark, still water, passed under her without Eva’s noticing them.
Leaning over the side, Eva could just see in the water the dim outlines
of the trout, which swam along noiselessly in their respective places.
Then all at once it grew lighter, and in the two cups of the lilies in
which the curved prow and stern of the boat ended, she saw that a pale,
blue flame was burning, and she knew then that from these blue flames
came all the dim gray light which illumined the cavern. And presently,
without thinking, she dipped her hand into the brook, and right away the
water all around it was full of bright sparkles, and yet these little
sparkles did not burn her; and then one of the six speckled trout came
and rubbed his head softly against Eva’s hand, and asked her what she
wanted.

Eva stroked the trout’s back, and said,—

“Nothing.”

“Well, when you do want anything,” the trout said to her, “just dip your
hand into the water, and one of us will come to you. Then you must ask
for what you want, and if we can get it for you we will; and when you
are hungry we will bring you something to eat.”

Eva thanked the trout, and said she would be sure to ask when she wanted
anything. And then she took her hand out of the water, and the trout
went back to his place, and Eva lay down quietly in the bottom of the
boat, for she was tired of sitting up, and looked at the roof of the
cavern. It was all rough and uneven, high above the water in some places
and near it in others, with bright stones set here and there in it,
which shone and sparkled like diamonds or little stars whenever the boat
passed under them, or the light from the flames burning in the
lily-cups, which Eva called her lamps, fell upon them. But there was no
sign of life in the cavern, except that every now and then things like
bats, frightened by the light, would fly out of holes in the wall away
back into the darkness.

The boat went on and on, though there seemed no current in the water
over which it glided, till, as Eva thought, they must have travelled for
days. Sometimes she would sleep, and the boat went on just the same;
when she was hungry, she would dip her hand into the water, and the
trout would bring her a basket filled with the fruit which grew in the
Valley of Rest. But Eva began to be very tired of the long journey
through the cavern; and she was wondering to herself how much farther
they would have to go, when all of a sudden the little blue flames
burning in the lily-cups flickered for a moment, and then, seemingly
gathering themselves together, shot up to the roof of the cavern and
disappeared, leaving everything again in total darkness; and Eva was
just going to ask the trout what this meant, when she saw, far away in
the distance before her, what looked to her like a tiny, yet beautiful
blue star shining.

This little star, which was yet far away, seemed so fair and lovely that
Eva said, without intending to speak, “O little boat, if only you would
sail faster, and go near the pretty star!” And, just as if the boat had
heard and understood the words, it began to move faster,—or was it the
star which grew larger and larger, and came to meet them? No! it surely
was no star, for the blue spot became larger and still larger, and then
the cavern grew lighter and lighter, till, when she was near enough, Eva
saw that what she had taken for a star was the arched entrance into the
rock, and the light it shed was the pure light of day pouring into the
darkness of the cavern.

But it did not look so very inviting when the boat came nearer. Beyond
the arch the air was full of curling mists and vapors, like those which
Eva had seen at the foot of the precipice, and through these mists and
vapors she caught dim glimpses of the same old hateful faces she had
seen so often before. Just before the boat reached the arch, one of the
six trout, putting his head above the water, said to her:

“Stop the boat.”

“How can I?” Eva asked, in surprise.

“Speak to her; she will obey you.”

And, to Eva’s great astonishment, as soon as the words, spoken very
doubtingly, “Little boat, wait,” passed her lips, the little vessel
stopped, and lay without moving on the water.

Then the same trout which had spoken to her previously put his head
again out of the water and said:

“Before we go on, among the mists and vapors which lie beyond the
cavern, it is well to tell you to be prepared. You must be on your
guard, for THEY who dwell on the margin of the Brook of Mists will do
everything in their power to prevent your reaching the Enchanted River.
You will have to be careful, not only for yourself but for us, and no
matter what they whom we meet may ask you to do, you must refuse,
however trifling it may seem. Beyond the cavern we have no power to warn
you; you must judge for yourself.”

More than this, the trout went on, they were not permitted to say to
her. So Eva thanked them, and promised to remember what they had told
her; and then she told the little boat to go on, and once more the
little vessel glided forward with each trout in its own place.

They proceeded slowly; the curling mists and vapors always before
them,—and, as Eva noticed, always behind them, although they were never
close to the boat,—just as if she carried a free space along with her,
and that the mists were not allowed to come within a certain distance of
her.

So, for a time, they went quietly down the brook. And Eva, seeing that
nothing happened, began to wonder why the trout had told her to be
careful; and she was looking over the side of the boat at her own face
reflected in the clear water, in which not a fish was to be seen, except
those with her, when suddenly the boat began to rock to and fro, as she
never had done before; and when Eva turned round to ascertain the cause
of this rocking, there, perched on the side of the boat, was a great
black jackdaw.

But, oh! what a very queer-looking jackdaw he was, to be sure! Every
here and there he had peacock feathers stuck in among his plumage, and
it was easy to see that they were only put in for show. It was as much
as Eva could do to keep from laughing when she looked at him.

“Caw! caw!” cried the jackdaw, with his head to one side, just as if he
thought himself the finest bird in the world. “I am hungry, little girl,
for I have flown a long way to-day, and I want to know if you won’t give
me something to eat.”

“I would, with pleasure,” Eva said, “if I had any corn with me, for that
is what jackdaws eat.”

The jackdaw tossed his head at this.

“Pooh! you are silly; can’t you see I’m a peacock? Just look at my fine
feathers, and tell me what you suppose I want with corn? If you really
are willing to give me something to eat, why, I’ll take one of those
fine, fat fish swimming near the boat.”

“That I cannot let you do,” Eva said. “I know who you are, now: you are
the bird who stole the peacock’s feathers; I saw a picture of you in a
little book I once read.”

“Found out! Found out!” cawed the jackdaw; and, with that, off he flew;
and he was in such a hurry to be gone that he dropped two of the long
feathers which had been in his tail, and Eva picked them up and stuck
them into the side of the boat.

Then one of the trout, after the jackdaw was gone, put his head up out
of the water and said:

“It is a good thing for all of us that you said ‘no’ to the bird. For,
if you had said he might take one of us, he would not have touched us,
but would have pecked a hole in the boat, and she would have sunk to the
bottom of the brook. We should have had to leave you, and then you never
could have reached the Enchanted River.”

“Where is the Enchanted River?” Eva asked the trout.

He answered, “It runs through Shadow-Land.”

“And where are we?”

“We are on the Brook of Mists, which empties into the Enchanted River,
You came out of Shadow-Land when you entered the Valley of Rest.”

Then the boat went on quietly again. Only for a time, however, and
presently Eva heard a voice, in a squeaky tone, calling to her:

“Stop, little girl, and take me in.”

[Illustration: “Stop, little girl, and take me in.”]

And there, apparently crawling along the surface of the water, was a
queer little dwarf. He had a large head, with round, green eyes; a fat,
round body; and he was dressed in a yellow coat with scarlet facings,
and his legs were so long and thin that they bent under him as he
walked. And when he came up to the boat and laid his hand upon it, Eva
saw that it was not a hand, but only a sharp black claw.

“Take me in!” he repeated.

Eva peeped at the trout over the side of the boat before she answered
him, but they were taking no notice of the dwarf, and were swimming
along as quietly as ever.

“Take me in!” he squeaked again.

“No,” Eva said; “the boat is too small to hold us both.”

“Then give me one of those peacock feathers to fan myself with.”

“I must refuse you,” Eva went on; “but perhaps the jackdaw, who was here
not long since, might supply you, as he did me.”

“You are very unkind,” the dwarf said. “Come, now, I will give you such
a pretty flower if you will only let me go a little way with you; a
star-flower. Aster means—a star.”

Eva shook her head. “I cannot.”

“Why?”

“Because I think I saw you in the forest.”

And just as Eva said these words, a change came over the dwarf; he was
the same, yet not the same, and she saw that he was nothing but a huge
spider, and that instead of walking on the water, as she had supposed,
he had come to the boat on a web stretched across the brook, on which he
was now running away just as fast as he could.

Then another of the trout put up his head, and said:

“You did well to refuse him, for if he had gotten into the boat, or if
you had given him the feather, he would have put a bandage over your
eyes, so that you could not see, and then would have spun a web around
you and the boat, and nobody knows how you ever would have got out of
it.”

“He could not do it in the forest,” Eva said; “how could he do it here?”

“Because first you were only brought into Shadow-Land; this time you
came into it. Such as he can only control those who allow him. He could
only have power over you by your own act and deed.”

And once more the boat went on. But after awhile she was hailed
again,—and Eva bade her stop.

This time Eva was surprised to see that the call came from a little old
woman crouched upon a stone which rose above the water. A very ugly old
woman she was, too; for she had a very wide mouth and a pair of
prominent, staring black eyes, and she was wrapped in a green shawl, and
talked in an odd little croaking voice.

“Where are you going?” she asked Eva. Eva only smiled, for she could not
tell the old woman what she did not know herself.

“I know,” the old woman said, nodding her head, and without waiting for
a reply, “you are looking for Aster and his coat.”

“How do you know?” Eva began; but the old woman interrupted her:

“Never you mind how I know it; it is enough for you that I do know it.
And if you really want to find Aster, I can tell you where he is, and
put you in the way of finding him.”

“If you only would,” Eva said, eagerly.

“You must first take me into the boat, and then give me one of your
curls.”

“No,” Eva said, remembering what the trout had told her; “that I cannot
do.”

Then the old woman grew angry, and she jumped off the stone, as if she
wanted to get into the boat. But as she jumped, Eva spoke to the boat,
and she moved on; and then the old woman fell into the water. And Eva
saw that the old woman, changing her shape as soon as she touched the
water, was nothing but the same great green frog she had seen before;
and that her shawl was the piece torn from Aster’s coat which it was
part of her business to find.

The third trout popped his head up out of the water:

“If you only could have known, and had given us the curl that the Green
Frog asked you for, we would have made a net of it, in which we could
have caught the frog, and then the hardest part of your task would have
been over; for then you could have taken the piece of Aster’s coat away
from her.”

“If you only had told me,” Eva said. “But it seems that you can only
speak when it is too late.”

“Because when higher powers are present we must be silent. We are never
allowed to speak till after they have spoken, and are gone.”

“Then, how could you have caught the frog?”

“Through the power you would have given us. But nothing can stop us or
molest us now.”

Then the boat went on, down the brook, and nothing more happened to stop
her progress. On she went, till at last, all of a sudden, the mists and
vapors before her vanished, and Eva saw, just in front of her, what
seemed the open mouth of a huge serpent ready to devour them. But the
boat went on until it came near the terrible jaws, and then Eva saw that
they were only two great rocks, one on each side of the brook,—and the
boat passed unhurt between them. And just beyond them the water stopped
short; and then the boat came to a pause, and nothing that Eva could say
or do would move her one inch.

And then another of the trout put up his head, and told Eva she should
bid the boat go to the shore; which she did; and the boat obeyed, and
then stopped again, her bow resting on the shore.

“We can do no more for you,” the trout then told her. “We must now go
home, for there, where the brook stops, the Enchanted River runs. On it
our boat cannot go, and in it we cannot live; so, though we would like
to help you, we cannot.”

Then Eva thanked them for what they had done, and taking one of her long
bright curls, she tied part of it round each trout’s neck, where it
shone like a collar of gold. And they told her that she should keep the
rest of the curl, and if at any time she was in trouble from which she
could not escape, and was near water, and thought that they could help
her, she should throw the rest of the curl into the water, and they
would come to her.

Then, holding in her hand the two feathers the jackdaw had dropped,
which the trout told her might be useful, Eva bade the trout farewell,
and stepped on shore. And as her foot touched the ground, the boat moved
off into the stream, and waited there.

And presently Eva said, “Go home, little boat,” and the boat
immediately, with the trout, began to go up the brook. She watched it
till it was out of sight, and then the child stood alone on the banks of
the Enchanted River.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                         _THE ENCHANTED RIVER._


Eva had heard so much about this wonderful stream that, as she stood
upon its banks, she could scarcely realize that she had at last reached
it. And it looked quiet enough, now that she had come to it. It had
seemed to her that the waters of the Brook of Mists had ended in
nothing; but now, as she stood upon the river-bank, and looked back, she
could see no water. The curling mists and vapors had spread over and
covered all the way by which she had come, and the only things left to
show the place of the brook were the two black rocks, half hid, half
revealed, by the mists playing around them. But to remain there, looking
back, would, as Eva well knew, never do. Her way lay down the river, and
she might as well go boldly forward. So, slowly and carefully, she began
to walk along the bank.

Quiet as the river had at first seemed, it was not very long before Eva
found that it deserved its name. What she thought was land would very
often prove to be water; and then again places which seemed to be a
broad expanse of river would afford her a firm foothold. Here and there
were sheets of what Eva thought at first was ice, so smooth and glassy
did it look, yet it would not be cold to the touch. The river had no
perceptible banks,—it was almost impossible to tell where earth ended
and water began. Yet, walking along, sometimes with the water splashing
above her ankles, Eva’s feet were never wet. The trees along the river
seemed to walk on, and little green flames, tipped with orange, danced
among them. Once one of these little flames fell on Eva’s dress, and
when, fearing it might burn her, she brushed it off, she found that it
was nothing but a harmless green leaf, with a golden tip, which had
dropped from a tree hanging over the river.

Many wonderful things, too, lay on the bottom of the river. Eva saw
them, and remembered dimly what they were as she caught sight of them
through the clear water, though she could not tell where she ever had
heard of them. An old lamp, rusty and cracked, she knew was Aladdin’s
wonderful lamp; near it lay Cinderella’s little glass slippers; not far
off was Blue Beard’s key; and the next thing that she saw was Jack’s
famous bean-stalk. Seeing these things, and many more, she began to
wonder if the flower which Aster had lost could possibly be among them,
or if the piece of his coat was there; when she suddenly remembered that
she had seen the latter in the possession of the Green Frog.

On she went, meeting no one and with no hindrance in her way. Then she
saw a tiny worm, writhing, as if in pain, and trying to crawl away from
a twig which lay on it and seemed to hold it. And pitying the feeble
creature, even more helpless than she was, Eva stooped and took it from
under the twig, and laid it gently down again. The twig immediately put
forth many legs and ran away, and the worm crept into a hole near by.
And a few minutes later Eva saw an old woman sitting in the water and
warming her hands over a fire built upon a stone, and the child went up
to her, and asked her if she would tell her where Aster was. But the old
woman would not even look at her; she only shook her head and mumbled
something which sounded like “Ask my sister,” and then she seemed, as
Eva stood by her, to fall apart and melt away, and then there was
nothing left of her except a little vapor, and the child saw that the
fire was only a little heap of the same green leaves which she had seen
among the trees.

And Eva went on, eager to leave a place where such strange things as
this happened. Then the river seemed to disappear, and only a number of
little pools of water were left. Picking her way carefully among them,
in one she saw a poor, half-drowned mouse struggling, unable to get out;
and when Eva saw it she took the little animal in her hand and laid it
on dry land. It never even looked at her, but crept shyly away, as if it
was afraid of her, and hiding itself under a leaf, Eva saw it no more.

Weary and tired, the child went slowly onward. At last the pools of
water were all gone, and the river flowed on as before, but its waters
were now white like milk. Tall, shadowy forms every now and then rose
from it, and made threatening gestures; yet they always vanished before
she came up to them. The banks of the river became high and steep, and
Eva was compelled to walk in its bed; at times these rocky sides were so
close together that it looked as if it would be almost impossible to
pass between them; then again it would spread out into a vast expanse,
with no visible limit, or else the water would run, not _down_, but _up_
a rocky slope; it would smoke, and yet the water would be freezingly
cold; masses of something as clear as ice would float in this smoking
water, which were so warm that Eva could scarcely bear her hand upon
them; on one of these masses lay a bird, like a robin, worn and
exhausted, its feathers all wet and ruffled. Eva took it up tenderly,
smoothed and dried its plumage, and held it till it was warm. And then
the bird, seemingly impatient of her gentle hold, struggled to get free,
and Eva released it, and in another moment it was gone too.

And then she came to where another old woman sat on a rock, around which
the milky waters were foaming, and mists and vapors rose above and
behind her. To this old woman she also spoke, and asked her the same
question which she had asked before,—where Aster was. And in reply she
was told that still farther down the river, at the Cascade of Rocks, was
where the Toad-Woman lived, and that perhaps she might tell Eva what it
was that she wished to know. “But,” the Mist-Woman added, “my sister
will not always answer those who speak to her, and I cannot tell you how
to make her.” And, as she spoke, the vapors thickened and gathered
around her for a moment, and then melted away, and the Mist-Woman had
vanished with them, and nothing was left except the bare rock.

The child began to think that the wonders of the river would never
cease, and that her journey down it would be endless. Yet, tired as she
was, she persevered, and went on until all the water was gone, and only
stones and rocks lay in its former bed. But, strange to say, as Eva
walked among the stones and rocks, she found they were only shadows.
Then, all at once, a loud noise, as of falling stones, met her ear, and
on coming to a sudden turn in the river, she saw that the noise was
caused by what she at once knew was the Cascade of Rocks; for from a
high precipice crossing the river’s bed fell an endless stream of huge
stones, and seated in a sort of cavern, just behind the fall, there was
a third old woman, with a head like that of a toad, fanning herself with
a fan made of peacock’s feathers.

Eva was at first afraid to go near the woman, lest the stones should
fall and crush her. But at last she ventured to go near, and she saw
that at her approach the stones parted, as though to make room for her;
and summoning all her courage, she went close to the cascade, and
finding that none of the stones touched her, but rather got out of her
way, she walked into the grotto.

The Toad-Woman stopped fanning and looked at her. Then she took a pair
of spectacles out of her pocket and put them on, and Eva thought she
looked funnier than ever. And then she asked:

“What do you want?”

And Eva answered, “I am looking for Aster.”

“I’ve not got him,” the old woman said.

“I know,” Eva replied; “but I was told that you might be able to tell me
where he was.”

“Hum!” the Toad-Woman said. “You have, then, come down the Enchanted
River, and seen my sister, the Mist-Woman. But even that won’t help you,
though she did let you pass her, and though the stones did not trouble
you. I do know where Aster is, but I promised my cousin that I would
only tell it to the person who would bring me back the two feathers that
her servant the jackdaw stole out of my fan.”

She held up her fan as she said this, and Eva saw that two feathers out
of it were gone. And then the child remembered the two feathers which
the jackdaw had dropped in the boat, and which, as the trout had advised
her, she had brought with her from the brook. So she showed them to the
woman, and asked her if these were not the same ones which she had lost.
And the Toad-Woman was very much astonished, for they were the very
feathers she had been talking about.

“Take a seat,” she said to Eva, “and tell me how you got them.”

And then a great big brown toad hopped out of his hole when he heard his
mistress say this, bringing a three-legged stool on his back. He put it
down before Eva, and then went back to his hole, and Eva sat down on the
stool and looked at the Toad-Woman.

“Now, tell me about it,” said the Toad-Woman,

So Eva had to begin at the beginning and tell the whole story. And every
time that she said anything about the green toad the old woman would nod
her head, as much as to say, “I know all about that.” But she never
interrupted Eva; only when she was done she said to her:

“I am the only person who can help you now, and as you brought me back
my feathers, I will do what I can for you. The Green Frog, who has done
all this harm, is a distant cousin of mine, but she delights in doing
mischief, and we have not been friends since her servant the jackdaw
stole the feathers out of my fan. She it is who has got Aster, and you
cannot find him until you get his coat, and the piece of it. You will
have to work for them, for I cannot help you there; all I can do for you
will be to send you where she lives.”

Then Eva thanked the Toad-Woman very earnestly, who told her that she
must be content to remain with her for that night, and the next morning
that she would tell her where the Green Frog lived, and what she should
do when she got there.

So that night Eva slept in the grotto behind the Cascade of Rocks. The
Toad-Woman waked her up very early in the morning. She had a dress in
her hand, just the color of mud, which she told Eva to put on.

“Leave your white dress here with me,” she said. “Because you will have
to deal with the things and the inhabitants of Shadow-Land, and it
would, if it touched them, change them all into mists and shadows. Then,
too, you must not be recognized.”

Then the Toad-Woman tied Eva’s head up in a cap, so as to hide all her
golden curls, and made her wash her face and hands in some water which
she gave her. Then she told her to go and look at herself in a little
pool of water which was just outside of the grotto, and Eva could not
help laughing when she saw herself, for face, hands, cap, and dress were
all the same color.

“My cousin lives on the other side of the Cascade of Rocks,” the
Toad-Woman went on. “Go to her—one of my servants will show you the
way—and ask her to hire you. She will not recognize you, but will take
you, and will tell you that if you do your work well you may name your
own wages at the end of each week. You will be able to do any work she
may give you, and at the end of every week she will ask you what wages
you want. Tell her you cannot say without asking your mother. Then she
will tell you to go and ask her, and you must then come to me, and I
will tell you what to say. In the mean time I will take care of your
dress till you need it again.”

Eva listened attentively to all that the Toad-Woman said to her, and
thanked her for her advice. And then the woman called her servant, and
the same big brown toad who had brought the stool, and who, by the way,
was just the color of Eva’s dress, hopped out of his hole, and his
mistress bade him take Eva to where the Green Frog lived.



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                           _THE GREEN FROG._


Following the toad, and saying good-bye to his mistress, Eva passed
unhurt through the falling stones, and picked her way carefully among
those which lay in the bed of the river, till they came to the turn at
which she had first caught sight of the Cascade of Rocks. There the toad
hopped quickly on shore, and then he hopped across a large plain of mud,
in which grew a multitude of toad-stools, and on every toad-stool, or
mushroom, there sat either a frog or a toad, and in the mud at their
feet were countless numbers of snakes and lizards, their long, shining
bodies and tails coiled around the stalks of the toad-stools.

It was almost impossible for Eva to make any progress through the mud,
over which the toad, big as he was, hopped so lightly. Still, she
succeeded in crossing the field after him, though when they reached a
firmer soil, Eva was fairly ashamed of her dress, on which there was so
much mud; and when they came to a little pool of clear water, in which
she saw herself reflected, she wondered for a moment who that dirty
little girl could be; and then she laughed to think how very different
this little mud-stained figure was from the white-robed maiden who had
passed without a soil or a spot on her dress through the forests of
Shadow-Land.

At last they came in sight of a little hut, built of rough stones, with
a huge toad-stool for a roof, directly in the middle of a field, which
was full of little pools of water. The field was surrounded by a strange
fence, in which the posts were all toad-stools, and the rails all
spider-webs. On each toad-stool a green frog was sitting, and in every
web there hung either a red or a black spider. When they came to this
fence, the toad, after going up to one of the green frogs and croaking
something to him, turned round without so much as saying “good-bye” to
Eva, and hopped away just as fast as he could go; and then one of the
toad-stools; with the web attached to it, swung open as if it had been
on a hinge, so that Eva could enter the inclosure.

She went up to the door of the hut and knocked. And the third time that
she knocked the door was opened by a large jackdaw, which Eva
immediately recognized as the same bird which she had seen on the brook,
dressed in the peacock feathers which he had stolen from the
Toad-Woman’s fan; but although she knew him in a moment, he evidently
did not know her, she was so very muddy, and so unlike her own self. In
the hut, on a toad-stool, which served as a chair, sat the same Green
Frog, with a little shawl over her shoulders, she had seen before, which
had tried to carry Aster off, and had torn his coat; and it was with
some little hesitation that Eva went up to her, and curtsied to her. And
then, as she had been told, she asked the Frog if she needed a servant.

The Green Frog inspected her from head to foot.

“You are pretty dirty,” she said to Eva, “and I don’t think that I ever
saw you before. But that don’t matter. You will have to work
out-of-doors, and if you do your work properly, at the end of the week
you may ask for your own wages. But if you don’t work well, I will give
you nothing, but I will turn you into a frog, and put you on a
toad-stool, as I have done with a great many before you.”

Eva thought to herself that perhaps the Frog never before had a servant
like herself, so she told her that she was still willing to hire
herself. Then the Frog told the jackdaw to take the new servant out and
tell her what she was to do.

So the jackdaw hopped out, and Eva followed him. And when he told her
what her work for that week was to be, she thought it was very funny
work. And then he told her she might do as she pleased for the rest of
that day, but the next morning she must go to work. And Eva amused
herself by looking everywhere for Aster, But he was not to be seen.
Only, just over the back-door of the hut, there hung a little wire cage,
and in it there sat a little green bird, which screamed whenever the
jackdaw or the Frog even looked at it. And when it began to grow dark,
these two took the little bird out of his cage and picked out his tail
and wing-feathers, the bird screaming and struggling all the time, and
then they put him back into the cage. And it was just as much afraid of
Eva as it was of the jackdaw and the Frog.

There was neither sun nor moon in this place,—as in the forest, when the
moon was gone, all the light seemed to come from the earth. And every
morning Eva noticed that the tail and wing-feathers of the little green
bird had grown again, though every evening either the Frog or the
jackdaw pulled them out.

I said that when Eva was told of the work she would have to do she
thought it was very queer work. Every morning, when the light drove away
the darkness, she was to wipe off and dust the tops of the toad-stools
on which the frogs sat, and she thought it would be very easy to do. So
she tried to do it, and the jackdaw stood on one foot and cawed at her
all the time,—and the more she rubbed and wiped the top of the
toad-stool post the dirtier it became,—and she was nearly in despair,
when she heard one of the frogs whisper to the other,—

“If she would only catch the jackdaw and sweep one off with his tail,
she would have no more trouble.”

And Eva did as the frog had said, and though the jackdaw screamed and
struggled, and tried to get away, it did him no good. But she found that
when she had swept one toad-stool off that all the rest were as clean
and nice as possible, and there was nothing more to be done to any of
them. And every evening before the Green Frog went to sleep—she slept
every night in a little pond or pool in the corner of the hut—Eva had to
walk around the inclosure and count the spiders and see that their webs
were whole. But she never had any trouble,—the webs were always whole;
and one of the spiders was sure to tell her how many of them there were.

So a whole week went by, and every morning Eva caught the jackdaw and
swept one toad-stool off with his tail. Now, Mr. Jackdaw did not at all
approve of this, and in the morning, when he saw Eva coming, he would
run away and hide himself. Then Eva would stoop down and pretend to
whisper to one of the frogs; and the jackdaw, who was very inquisitive,
would be so terribly afraid that something might be said that he would
like to hear, that he would come running up in a great hurry, only to be
caught and used as a living duster.

And when the week was over Eva presented herself to the Green Frog, and
asked for her wages. And then the old Frog asked her what she wanted.
And Eva did as the Toad-Woman had told her, and said she would like to
go and consult her mother. This she was allowed to do, and Eva returned,
by the same road by which the brown toad had led her, to the grotto
behind the Cascade of Rocks.

There sat the Toad-Woman, fanning herself, just as if she had never
moved since Eva first saw her. And she knew all about the work Eva had
to do without Eva’s telling her. She told Eva to ask for the little
green coat which hung at the head of her mistress’s bed (if you can call
a pool of water a bed). “She will refuse you,” the woman went on, “but
you must insist. You have earned it, and will get it in the end.”

Eva thanked her, and then returned to the hut. And sitting in the door
was the Frog; and she said to her that she was ready for her wages.

“What am I to give you?” croaked the Frog.

“Nothing but the little green coat which hangs at the head of your bed.”

Then the Frog told her that she could not give her that, and offered her
all sorts of beautiful things instead. But Eva insisted upon having the
little green coat; and as fairies—even when they are bad fairies—are
compelled to keep their promises or else lose their power, the Frog had
to keep her word; and she told Eva that if she could find the little
coat she might have it.

So Eva went into the hut and looked over the pool in which the Frog
slept; and hanging against the wall were little green coats innumerable,
which surprised Eva, for she never had seen anything hanging there
before; and they all looked so much alike that she did not know which to
choose. Then it seemed to her that a mist gathered in her eyes, and she
raised her hand to rub it away, and then she saw, sitting on one of the
little green coats, a beautiful, pure white moth; and then Eva saw that
the other coats were only shadows, and the one on which the white moth
sat was Aster’s coat. So she took it down, and the moth never moved,—and
then it spoke:

“Do you remember the tiny worm that you saved from the crawling twig? I
was that worm; and this is the first opportunity I have had to thank you
for saving my life, and the best service I could render you was this.”

And without waiting to be thanked, the white moth spread her wings and
was gone.

The Green Frog was angry enough when she saw that Eva had chosen
rightly. But there was nothing to be done, only she grumbled to herself
and said,—she did not know that Eva heard her:

“The coat is useless without the piece.”

However, she hired Eva on the same terms for another week. For she
thought that if the new servant failed this time she would not only
change her into a frog, but get the little coat back. And the work Eva
had to do this week was to empty, and then refill with fresh water every
morning, the pool in which the Frog slept, and they gave her a pail with
no bottom to do it with.

And Eva would have been in a sad way if she had not heard the jackdaw
say, as he stood by the pool:

“Our new servant is caught at last; for, if she did take me for a broom
last week, she will never have sense enough to know that if she shakes
her pail over the pool and says ‘Water, go,’ it will empty itself, and
then ‘Water, come,’ and she will have no more trouble.”

And then out hopped the jackdaw, and never knew that Eva heard him. And
she found he was right; and she noticed, too, that this week they only
pulled out the little green bird’s wing-feathers, and never touched his
tail.

She did her work this time without any trouble. At the end of the week
it was the same thing over again about the wages, and again Eva went to
the Toad-Woman, and was told what she should do.

So she said to the Green Frog, “My coat is useless as long as it has a
hole in it. You can give me the jackdaw’s best cravat to mend it with.”

The Frog laughed at this, and told Eva to go and get it. She did not
know that the jackdaw, being fond of dress, and a thief, had stolen the
piece of Aster’s coat for that purpose. However, she found it out soon
enough, and when Eva went to look for it,—behold! a great spider had
spun a web around it,—a web so strong that she could not break it. And
after trying a long time, she was nearly in despair, when she saw a
little gray mouse come out of a hole, and, climbing up to the web, gnaw
and bite at it with its sharp teeth till it cut it all through; and then
it brought and laid in her hand the same piece of velvet which had been
torn out of Aster’s coat. Then the little mouse said to her:

“You saved me from being drowned, and I am not ungrateful.” And then it
crept back into its hole.

But when the Green Frog saw what Eva had, she was very angry, and
determined to give her something which was harder to do than anything
she had yet tried. So for the third week Eva’s work was to wash and keep
the shawl clean which the Frog wore when she went out. And the first
time that Eva tried to wash it she found that the harder she rubbed it,
and the more she tried to clean it, the dirtier it became. But late in
the day she heard the Green Frog say to the jackdaw:

“I’ll get my coat back, and you shall have your cravat again, for the
servant is such a dunce that she will never learn that the only way to
clean my shawl is to lay it on a toad-stool, and to walk around it three
times, and say every time, ‘Shawl, be clean.’”

But Eva’s ears were given to her for use, and, consequently, every night
the shawl was like new. And this week she saw that they only plucked one
of the little bird’s wings. The end of the week came, and Eva,
instructed by the Toad-Woman, asked for her wages.

“What is it this time?”

“I want the little green bird that hangs in the cage over the
back-door.”

“No,” said the Frog, “I cannot give him to you.”

“You cannot help it,” Eva said, quietly; “you promised to pay me, and I
have earned my wages.”

“Who told you anything about the little green bird,” the Frog went on.
“He won’t sing for you, and you had better let me give you a purse full
of gold.”

But no, Eva would take nothing but the bird, and at last the Frog told
her to go and take him, if she could find him. And then she went into
the hut, grumbling and talking to herself.

Eva went to the back of the house to look for the little green bird.
When she got there she did not know what to do, for there were at least
fifty cages there, and in each cage was a little green bird, and cages
and birds were all exactly alike,—there was no telling them apart,—and
which the one she wanted could be Eva did not know. And if she chose the
wrong one, all her work would be lost.

Yet, look as she might, she could not tell which was the right one. Then
there was a flutter of wings in the air, and then she felt something
pull her dress, and there at her feet was a beautiful bird, holding her
dress in its beak, and it led her round and round the cages, and every
cage that her dress touched melted away and disappeared, till there was
only one cage and one bird left, and then the new bird never hesitated,
but lit on the top of this cage, and then he said to Eva:

“This is Aster, who was changed by the Green Frog into this form. He
cannot regain his own shape without you, and the Toad-Woman will tell
you what you are to do. As soon as the Frog misses him she will know who
you are, which she does not yet know, and she will do her best to get
him away from you. Go at once, and without any delay, to the Cascade of
Rocks. Your friend there will help you. And remember that a kind action
never goes unrewarded.”

And then the bird was gone, and Eva was alone. She tried to open the
cage and take the little green bird out, but there was no such thing as
opening it. So she took the cage, and the coat, which she had mended,
and the piece had grown into the velvet, so that you never could tell
that it had been torn, and without going again into the hut or telling
the Frog she had found the bird, she went, for the last time, by the
same road by which she had come, to the grotto of the Toad-Woman.

But she had not been gone many minutes before the Green Frog, wondering
that her servant did not return to hire herself again, went in search of
her. And the moment she saw that the bird was gone she knew who Eva was,
and that she had discovered Aster; and, angry at herself for her own
stupidity, she immediately set off in pursuit, hoping it was not yet too
late to regain the prizes she had lost.



                              CHAPTER XV.
                            _IN THE GROTTO._


It was with a light heart that Eva passed over the muddy way which lay
between the hut and the cascade. As rapidly as she could, she went
along. The little bird screamed and cried incessantly, and Eva feared,
that hearing him, the frogs inhabiting this region might, by their
croakings, give the alarm, and bring their powerful mistress on her
track before she reached the grotto. But the frogs were all, or else
seemed to be, asleep, and she passed them unnoticed.

In a very short time, which yet seemed to Eva like hours, she reached
the grotto. Here she felt comparatively safe, and she would gladly have
rested, but the Toad-Woman, telling her she had no time to lose, for the
Green Frog knew of her escape, and that she herself was well aware of
all that had happened at the hut, bade her change her dress.

Now, what Eva most wanted was to see Aster restored to his original
shape. But, without a word, she obeyed the woman, and put on her own
white dress again. It was so nice to get rid of that horrid, mud-colored
thing she had been wearing, to shake down her long curls, instead of
having them tied up in a little plain cap, and to have the ugly brown
dye come off her face and hands. Eva was more than glad,—she enjoyed the
change.

“Now we will help Aster,” said the Toad-Woman. But the question was, how
to open the cage and to get the bird out. For the cage had no door, and
the bird flew round and round it, screaming and pecking at Eva’s hands,
till the child was nearly ready to cry. “The Frog has still power,
through her enchantments, over him,” the woman said. “Give me the cage,
and let me see what I can do.”

So she took up the cage and said some words which Eva did not
understand, and then drew a circle in the air over it with her hand; and
then, to Eva’s great amazement, a door in the cage opened and the woman
put her hand in it and took out the bird, which screamed louder and
pecked harder than ever.

“Now,” said the Toad-Woman, “we must make all the haste we can. We must
find Aster before the Frog gets here. I’ll hold the bird’s head, and you
take his tail, and then pull,—pull as hard as you can.”

All this was so queer to Eva, who thought they had found Aster, that she
could not understand it. But the old woman saw her trouble, and, without
getting angry or impatient, as some fairies would have done, she said to
Eva:

“Aster is sewed up in the bird’s skin. And we can only get him out by
tearing it apart. Make haste, there is no time to be lost.”

So the old woman at the head, and Eva at the tail, pulled, and pulled,
and pulled. And the harder they pulled, the more the bird screamed and
cried, till Eva pitied him so that she could scarcely bear to hurt him.
But whenever she would want to stop the Toad-Woman would tell her to
pull harder.

[Illustration: “So the old woman at the head, and Eva at the tail,
pulled, and pulled.”]

Such a tough skin as it was, to be sure! There seemed to be no such
thing as tearing it, and the Toad-Woman said that Aster must have been
very naughty before he fell into the Green Frog’s hands. And Eva, much
as she loved Aster, could not contradict this.

But at last the bird left off screaming, and hung between them as if it
was dead. And then, as the two pulled, it got larger and longer, and the
feathers were farther apart, and then all of a sudden the skin gave way
and vanished, where, Eva did not know, and from it there dropped, just
in time for Eva to save it from falling to the floor of the grotto,
Aster’s tiny figure, motionless, and as it were, asleep, and just like
what he had been when Eva first received him, except that his coat was
in her hands; and the Toad-Woman had only time enough to tell her to put
it on him, and Eva had just obeyed, and was stooping to kiss the little
prince as he lay in her lap, when they heard a loud croak, and with a
long leap the Green Frog was in the grotto.

But as soon as she saw Eva, standing there in her spotless white robe,
holding the unconscious little prince, she knew how it was that he had
been taken from her, and that her power over him was nearly gone. Yet
she knew that if she could once again obtain possession of him that no
one could rescue him; and as Eva had once submitted to her, she had no
power of herself, as she before possessed, to protect him. And without
even looking at the Toad-Woman, she was going to leap upon Aster, and
try and snatch him from Eva’s arms, when the Toad-Woman, taking from her
pocket a curl, which even in that moment Eva recognized as part of the
one which she had cut to give to the trout, and which had lain,
forgotten ever since, in the pocket of her own white dress, dropped it
on the ground. And as the hair touched the ground a spring of clear
water came bubbling up, and in it Eva saw her friends, the six trout,
whom she recognized by the golden collars they wore; and the Green Frog
was so surprised that she stopped to look, and then the water covered
her, and before she could move, the trout, as they had once said they
could do, swam up to her and enveloped her in a net made of these golden
hairs, which the Frog could not break, and then, in spite of all her
efforts to escape, and her loud croakings, the floor of the grotto
opened, and spring, trout, and Frog were gone in a moment.

It all passed in less time than can be told, and once more Eva and the
Toad-Woman were alone.

“Your hardest work is over,” the woman said to her. “The three tasks are
done; you have found Aster, his coat, and its piece. Here you cannot
stay any longer. When the moon is full again Aster’s long-lost flower
will bloom, and you will find it.”

And then a sudden darkness came over everything, and when, a moment
later, the light returned, nothing was as it had been. The Toad-Woman,
her grotto, and the Cascade of Rocks were gone, and when Eva heard the
music which heralded the coming of the moon, and saw the silver crescent
rise to its place, and Aster once more woke from his sleep, she could
scarcely realize that she was again in the old, familiar forest, and the
past seemed like a dream.

For in that moment of darkness, the Enchanted River had disappeared, and
Eva knew that the search in truth was nearly over.



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                            _ASTER’S STORY._


Once more Eva and Aster, hand in hand, wandered, as they both had feared
they would never again be allowed to do, through the forest, by the
light of the fair young moon, which looked down upon them from the sky.
And nothing came now to disturb them; no hideous faces mocked at them
from behind shrub or tree; no hostile beings, in shape of spider or of
frog, strove to take Aster from his young guardian. Nor were they
limited, as before, to the narrow path which had previously confined
their steps; but they might wander, unmolested, as their fancy led them,
through the forest. Shadows still surrounded them, yet these shadows
were fair and lovely to look upon: groups of sweet child-figures at
play, or fair faces which smiled on the two as they passed.

Flowers, too, more brilliant and beautiful in hue than any they had yet
found, bloomed wherever they looked. Not the pale, scentless blossoms
they had seen before, but flowers which greeted them with rich perfume,
and whose bells and chalice-like cups, touched lightly by the dress of
the children as they passed, rang forth in bright and joyous melody. In
the bells of the flowers sat and swung tiny and beautiful shapes, which
Aster told Eva were the Flower Fairies, the gentlest of the race, whose
sole duty was to carry perfume to, and color the flowers. Some bathed in
the dewdrops on the leaves, others rode, seated on beautiful
butterflies, but all seemed gay and happy.

The light shed by the growing crescent of the moon seemed brighter; the
soft music which hailed her coming more joyous and triumphant; the
clouds, reflecting the moon’s light, wore a rich, rosy tint, reminding
Eva of the light in the Valley of Rest; the grass was green, and soft as
velvet,—the little sparkling brooks which they occasionally crossed all
sung the same song:

  When will Eva’s task be done?
  When will Aster’s flow’r be won?
  When his robes from stains are free,—
  When the moon’s orb round shall be,—
  Then the trial will be done,
  Then shall Aster’s flow’r be won.

For a few days, however, Eva noticed that Aster seemed dull and
spiritless. He scarcely ever spoke, but walked quietly by her side.
Nothing seemed to attract his attention, nothing made him smile; but
every now and then, when they would cross one of the little brooks, and
it would sing its song, he would look down upon his dress, and say,
sadly:

“It will never be bright again!”

Yet Eva noticed that he was careful never to trample on the flowers, or
to hurt anything in their path. And as, day after day, the moon
brightened and broadened, and Aster grew with her increase, Eva saw that
the sad, mournful expression in his eyes vanished, and they regained
their former starlike brilliancy. By slow degrees the spots and the
stains upon his dress disappeared; and, as they faded away, Aster became
once more his own playful and happy self. Never before had he been as
gentle or as docile and affectionate as he now was, though he was very
silent; and Eva thought, could he only be always as he was now she would
be content never to leave him; and she began to think, almost with
dread, of their approaching separation.

On and on they went, till they came to a place where a tiny spring,
bright as a living diamond, gushed up joyously, singing to itself for
very gladness. Soft green mosses and pure white flowers grew around it;
and when Aster saw it, he sprang forward with a joyous cry, and seating
himself near it, he beckoned to Eva to follow his example.

Then, for the first time since the two had been together, for he had
never before mentioned the past, so that Eva almost thought he had
forgotten it, Aster asked her to tell him how she ever had found him
again.

And once more Eva told the story,—this time to an interested
listener,—how, after she missed him, she had sought him, but in vain,
among the marked holes, and, seeking him, had climbed the rock to the
door of the Valley of Rest; how she had been admitted, and had dwelt
among the Happy Children till, the day of their absence, the little
brook had brought her the piteous cry, “Eva! Eva! help me!” How this cry
had recalled all she had forgotten, how the Dawn Fairies had given her
the magic boat, in which she had gone through the cavern and down the
Brook of Mists,—and then, leaving the boat, had gone, all alone, up the
Enchanted River to the grotto of the Toad-Woman behind the Cascade of
Rocks; how the woman had advised her, and how she had served the Green
Frog; what the moth, the mouse, and the bird had done for her; how the
skin covering the little green bird had been torn; and how, after the
Frog was carried away by the friendly Fish Fairies, she had known that
the worst was over, and the search nearly done.

Aster listened, and when Eva paused, he began; and it seemed to her
that, as he told his story, he spoke as he had never before spoken,—as
if he was older, and more matured.

“I can tell you now,” he said, “now that it is all nearly over, who THEY
were of whom you used to wonder that I spoke. The Green Frog and her
servants were the visible forms of THEY to whom my punishment was
committed. Yet, had I obeyed you,—which was part of my trial,—you, under
whose care my friends, who advised you in the shape of the toad and the
Toad-Woman, were allowed to place me, but little of this trouble would
have come upon me. If I failed in obedience to you,—such was the
condition,—if THEY gained the slightest hold upon me,—I must fall wholly
into their power, and then only, if you really wished it, could your
Love have power to overcome their Hate. And you know, Eva, how I fell
into their hands.”

“Yes, I know,” Eva said; “but I do not yet see why you crept into the
crevice in the rock.”

“How could I help it?” Aster asked. “After all I had done, and all that
had happened before! Because what must be, will be, and THEY made me.”

“And then, after you went into the rock?” Eva asked, eagerly. “Remember,
I know nothing of that.”

Then Aster told her how, in the crevice of the rock, he had found that
the Green Frog lay in wait for him. How she and her servants had taken
him, bound and tied with the same spider’s web from which Eva had, once
before, in the forest, released him, to her hut in the field of mud. And
how, when there, he had to lie in the mud, as a footstool for the
Frog,—and that every night she made him stand before her, and would
laugh at him, and ask him why Eva and his friends did not come to help
him.

“I was too proud,” Aster said, “and too angry, to call for you. I
thought I should, by myself, be able to escape. I tried, but the power
of THEY who kept me was too great for me, and I never once succeeded
even in passing the strange fence around the hut.

“But all the time, Eva, I knew—and it was part of my punishment—that an
appeal to you could be heard, and that you would come to help me. But
that I—I, a prince,—powerful at home, and only weak now because I had
lost such a trifling thing as a flower, should be compelled to ask help
of one who was able to help me only because she was gentler and kinder
than I was,—I could not do it. Meantime, the Green Frog laughed at my
efforts to escape. Yet, do what she would to me, I never called for you.
She might hang me up in the spider’s web,—she might threaten to crush
me,—I was silent.

“At last I could stand it no longer, I must help to carry heavy stones,
and when their weight nearly crushed me,—for though only shadows to you,
they were realities to me,—I would have rested, the spider would sting
me and scorch me with his poisonous breath,—the jackdaw peck me,—and the
Green Frog would threaten to swallow me, and tell me that now you never
would come to me, for the Dawn Fairies had made you forget me. And not
till then, when they told me you had forgotten me, did I speak; and the
only words that I said were these, ‘Eva! Eva! help me!’”

“Yes,” Eva said, “those are the same words that the brook brought me.”
And then she told Aster about her dream: how the faces had asked why he
lost his flower; and the frog had spoken of his coat; and the spider
asked why he crept into the rock; and how, between it all, had come the
wailing cry of “Eva! Eva! help me!”

Then, too, Aster told her how they had spoken of what she must do, and
that they thought she never would do it, or know what was to be done.
And then he went on:

“But at last the Green Frog grew angry, when she found that, no matter
what she said or did, I only answered, ‘Eva! Eva! help me!’ For then,
making her servants strip off my coat, she touched me with a stick, and
said to me:

“‘You shall never let Eva hear you. I will silence you.’

“And, as she spoke, I was changed all at once into the little green bird
in whose shape you found me. And then the Frog, putting me in a cage,
said:

“‘You can never get out till your friend gets the piece of your coat,
the coat itself, and then finds you. If she does these things, you may
be free; but these things she cannot do unless others help her; and not
till after all these things are done can she hope to find your flower
again.’

“The rest, Eva, you know.”

As Aster spoke, Eva looked at him. And she saw that, on the rich, green
velvet of his dress, only a few tiny spots and stains were left; and
then she began to wonder what would happen when the moon would again be
full, and the flower they had sought so long should bloom and be found.
Would Aster then return to his home? and, as for herself, what would
become of her?

But she did not wonder long, for the soft music which attended the
disappearance of the moon thrilled through the forest, and Eva and
Aster, by the side of the spring, lay down and slept. And, once more, as
on the first night that Eva, holding the tiny form of Aster to her
heart, had slept on the mossy bed where once the golden fountain had
played, the two fair white forms bent over the sleeping children, and
one said:

“The punishment is over.”

“Yes,” was the other’s reply, “Love has overcome Hate, and Aster has
been led back, through its gentle influences, to his true self once
more.”

Yet, even as they spoke, two figures, with the hateful faces Eva had
seen, crept slowly up through the darkness to where the children lay.
But the white forms, hovering over their sleep, spoke:

“Go back, oh, evil fairies! to the dark shadows among which ye dwell!
Here your power is over, and our Prince is a prince once more.”

And, with a low cry of disappointment and rage, the two, turning away
from the bright forms, shrank into the darkness, and were seen no more.
Then, with a smile on their beautiful faces, the two bright forms bent
caressingly over the sleepers; and a moment later they, too, were gone,
and Eva and Aster were alone.



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                       _THE LAST OF SHADOW-LAND._


Once again there rang through the forest a strain of rich and gleeful
music. Once more the moon rose, a bright, unbroken circle, to her
station in the sky. A soft, rosy light lingered everywhere; flowers of
rarer beauty than ever, bloomed in profusion; the murmur of the spring
was sweeter than ever, and as Eva awoke, and looked at Aster, she saw
that neither spot nor stain defaced his rich dress, but that it was as
unsullied as her own. And as she looked upon her young companion, now as
tall as herself, and with something in his bearing Eva had never been
conscious of before,—something noble and princelike,—she heard a voice
from the spring murmuring, in soft, melodious tones:

  “’Tis the hour!
  Aster’s flower
    Here shall bloom!”

And oh! what a sweet smile curved Aster’s lips as he heard these words!
Yet, when Eva would have spoken, he laid his hand gently upon her mouth,
as though to command silence; and the child, feeling that their
positions, somehow, were strangely reversed,—that it was now Aster’s
turn to command and hers to obey,—was silent.

The two stood, looking into the dear water of the spring. Then Aster
seated himself on the moss, in silence, and beckoned to Eva to do the
same, and without hesitating she followed his example.

They sat, not a word passing between them, and on each fair face was a
different expression. On Aster’s was all joyous expectation, all smiles
and happiness; on Eva’s there was a serious look, almost amounting to
mournfulness. It pained her, more than she was willing to confess, to
think that, after all she had borne and done for Aster, he should
welcome their separation so gladly; for, however much they might wish to
remain together, the finding of the flower would be the signal for their
parting; and the toil and trouble through, which Eva had passed for
Aster’s sake had only the more endeared him to her. He seemed already
far, far away from her, and Eva knew she was no longer necessary to him.

And as Eva, sitting by Aster’s side, thought of all this, somehow the
place where they sat seemed to grow more familiar; another and a
well-known sound mingled with the other sounds of the forest,—the voice
of falling waters. And then, as Aster’s face grew brighter and more
expectant, and his starlike eyes sparkled, Eva felt a sudden dimness
gather in her own, and first one large tear and then another rolled down
her cheeks, and dropped, as she bent over it, into the waters of the
little spring.

But she was wholly unprepared for what followed. Aster sprang to his
feet, and the words, “Look, Eva, look!” passed his lips. And as Eva, her
hand now clasped in his, looked, the spring bubbled and foamed, and
then, its waters parting, up rose from its bosom the Golden Fountain,
with its clouds of glistening, golden spray; its rainbow sparkles of
colored light; its musical falls and its dancing elves, as she had long
since seen it.

Nor was this all. For, even as the children gazed, there appeared in the
calm water at the foot of the fountain a bud, folded in soft, green
leaves; and, by slow degrees, as Eva looked, the bud rose from the
encircling foliage, and its stem grew higher and higher, and then,
slowly and gracefully, its pure white petals opened, like a fair and
stainless ivory cup enfolding a golden torch, and it breathed forth the
fragrance of many violets: and, as Eva looked, she knew that the search
was over, and the pure white lily before them was Aster’s flower, won at
last.

Then Eva’s blue eyes shone with joy, and her fair cheeks flushed, and
she turned to Aster:

“Aster, be glad; for your flower is won, and all that remains is for you
to pluck it.”

“No,” he said, slowly; “that is not for me to do. I can only receive it
as your gift, Eva; I am not worthy to gather it,—that can only be done
by your hand.”

And Eva, bending over the water, plucked the beautiful lily, with its
long stem, and laid it in Aster’s hand. And, as his fingers clasped the
gift, a swell of music thrilled through the air, and Eva saw, hovering
over them, the two fair, white forms which had come before, and which
she at once knew had, under the shapes of the toad and the Toad-Woman,
led and advised her, and she pointed them out to Aster. And, as Aster
raised his eyes to them, they beckoned to him, and smiled upon Eva; and
she knew that all was over, and the moment had come for them to part.

Still, not a word passed between them. Eva’s eyes were fixed upon
Aster,—his were raised to the bright hovering forms. Then, holding the
lily in his hand, he turned to Eva and pressed his lips to her brow.

“That was the kiss with which you woke me, Eva, given back to you,—this
is because I love you.”

He kissed her lips, and as he did so a bright crimson light flashed
suddenly around them, dazzling Eva’s blue eyes, so that she
involuntarily closed them, and then the sweet breath of violets floated
around them, and all was still.


Eva sat up, and rubbed her eyes. Tall, wavy grass grew all around her,
violets, dandelions, and buttercups bloomed through it, and her lap was
full of the pretty field-flowers. Bees were buzzing and collecting
honey,—butterflies floated lazily about on their black-and-golden
wings,—the brown beetle, with his long black feelers, swung on the tall
grass-stalk,—the crickets chirped,—the snail had put out his horns,—the
old mill-pond glistened and shone in the long, slanting rays of the
setting sun,—there was her father’s house,—everything was just as it
used to be, except the green toad, and that was a very important
exception.

And while Eva was rubbing her eyes, and trying to think where she could
be, and what all this meant, she heard the tea-bell ring, and as that
was very easy to understand, she got up and went to the house. She
peeped through the window before she went in, and everything seemed
right in there. For her mother was just folding up her work,—the baby
was crowing and playing with his rattle in the cradle,—strawberries and
cream and sponge-cake were on the table; and when Eva came quietly in,
and slipped into her seat by her father, he put his hand on her curls,
and asked her if she had had a nice time down by the pond the whole
afternoon.

“Yes, papa,” was all Eva could say, and then she paid very strict
attention to her saucer of ripe strawberries covered with cream.

Presently her mother said:

“My little girl had a nice long nap this afternoon. I called her once,
and she only raised her head for a minute, and then down it went again.”

Papa laughed.

“Strawberries and cream waked her up at last.”

And Eva never said a word.


But to this day she never sees a shooting-star without wondering what
has been lost in the moon,—she never sees a toad without thinking it may
be a fairy in disguise, and every lily recalls Aster and his flower.

For Eva believes in fairies. Why should she not? She knows all about
them. She has never told any one,—not even papa, though he never laughs
at her; but if Eva should live to be an old woman—and I hope she
may!—she will never forget her

                       Adventures in Shadow-Land.



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)

--Released the other part of this printed volume, The Merman and The
  Figure-Head, as a separate Gutenberg edition, but retained the
  original combined title-page as a bibliographic record.





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