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Title: The Elves of Mount Fern
Author: Creighton, Katherine
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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TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

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    standardized.



  THE ELVES OF MOUNT FERN

  KATHERINE CREIGHTON


[Illustration]



  _The_
  Elves of Mount Fern

  BY

  KATHERINE CREIGHTON

  Author of “Nature Songs and Stories,”
  “Nature Sketches,” etc., etc.

  [Illustration]

  _Publishers_ DORRANCE _Philadelphia_



  Copyright 1922 Dorrance & Company Inc.
  _All Rights Reserved_

  Printed in the United States of America



  To

  lovers of fairies
  everywhere

  I dedicate this book

  _and to_

  the wonderful “little people”
  who helped Cinderella, Prince Prigio and countless
  others overcome great difficulties
  in the Giant World

                                                  K. C.



CONTENTS


Chapter                                         Page

  1  The Elves of Mount Fern                      11

  2  The Lawn Party                               26

  3  The Ball                                     41

  4  Emily’s Birthday                             57

  5  The King of the Elves Visits Mount Fern      83



THE ELVES OF MOUNT FERN



THE ELVES



1

THE ELVES OF MOUNT FERN


The Elves are the dearest and most mischievous little people in all the
wide world.

They live in Elfland, and Elfland can be found in every corner of the
globe. They take up their abode on wooded hillsides, beside murmuring
streams, or in deep, leafy forests. In the dead of night, when all
the world is still, they steal forth from their dwellings and start
on their merry midnight rounds. They dance in the moonlight on soft
dewy lawns under wide-spreading trees. They visit their neighbors and
friends among elves, and their neighbors and friends among men.

The Elves can see and not be seen; they can hear and not be heard; and
are so light and nimble in their movements that they can float through
the air like a leaf in the wind.

Once upon a time there was a company of Elves that lived in a stone
wall. They had left their home in the forest glade for a season in the
_Giant World_, as they called our world--because it seemed so big to
them.

While they were wandering about in search of a place to settle, they
came upon a hole in a stone wall that exactly suited them, it was so
snug and comfortable. The Elves were very much delighted and at once
decided to make their home there.

The wall belonged to Dr. Templeton. He liked privacy, and so he had
this high stone wall built all around his garden and grounds.

But Dr. Templeton’s gardener was very lazy and careless, and when some
stones fell out of the wall, he simply rolled them over the bank. That
was easier, he thought, than mending the wall; and, besides, the wall
was so very thick that a few stones more or less did not matter in the
least.

The Elves thought it was very fortunate for them that the gardener was
so lazy and careless, and promised themselves a gay good time with a
season in the Giant World.

The members of this company of Elves were:

_Captain Featherweight_, the head of the company.

_Rainbow_, master of ceremonies.

_Rhymo_, the poet-elf.

_Tono_, the music-elf.

_Lightning_, the messenger-elf.

_Iris-Wing_, the flower-elf.

_Touchstone_, the jester.

_Owly_, the wise one.

_Slumber_, the dream-elf.

After the Elves had made a tour of all the grounds around Templeton
Hall, their Captain called them together to decide upon a name for
their new home.

“Let us call our new home ‘Scale-Cliff’,” said Tono, the music-elf.

“A very pretty idea,” said Rainbow, “but don’t you think ‘Rocklight’
would be prettier still?”

“‘Rocklight’ won’t do at all,” said Slumber, the dream-elf, “because
it suggests wakefulness--so I propose that we call it ‘Slumber-Nest’
instead.”

“Can’t you think of anything but dreams and slumber?” asked Iris-Wing,
the flower-elf. “I wouldn’t live in a place with a name like
‘Slumber-Nest’, and so I move that we call our new home ‘Rose-Bower.’”

“Pooh! pooh!” said Owly, the wise one, “‘Rose-Bower’ suggests a garden,
and a garden isn’t a house, so I think you’ll all agree with me that
‘Stone-Wall-Gap’ is much more appropriate.”

“We don’t agree, Owly,” said several of the Elves at once.

But here Captain Featherweight called the meeting to order, and ended
all dispute by declaring that the name of the new home should be “Mount
Fern”, because there was a fern growing just below, at the foot of the
wall.

As a rule, the Elves lived in peace and harmony, and they adored their
Captain. His word was law, and when any disputes arose he always acted
as judge.

After the name of the new home had been decided upon, Captain
Featherweight gave each elf his work to do in its arrangement and
furnishing, and in a very short time it was all in perfect order and
ready to live in.

The Captain was very much pleased, and complimented his Elves on their
ability to do their work well and quickly.

“And since our house is now all in perfect order,” said the Captain,
“let us have some music to celebrate the event. Tono, will you please
sing something for us?”

“With pleasure,” answered Tono. “What would you like?”

“I leave the selection entirely to you,” said the Captain.

Then Tono, who was leader of the elfin choir, played and sang:

  “Twinkle, twinkle, firefly bright,
  Through the dark and cloudy night,
  Floating gaily in the air,
  Here and there, and ev’rywhere.

  “How your cheerful little gleam,
  Joyful makes the darkness seem,
  Where you flit no elf is sad,
  Twinkle, twinkle, firefly glad.”

“I don’t see why you should sing that now,” said Owly. “It isn’t the
least bit appropriate; the fireflies are not twinkling and won’t be for
some time to come if we can judge by the look of the sky.”

“Isn’t that just like Owly?” said Slumber.

“You are always so literal, Owly,” said Rhymo. “Don’t you know that
fact hasn’t half as much to do with music and poetry as fancy?”

“Just the same,” said Owly, “I think ‘Our New Home’ would have been
much more appropriate.”

“Why can’t you be more agreeable, Owly?” asked the flower-elf.
“Anything is appropriate when you’re happy, and besides, Captain
Featherweight left the choosing to Tono, and why shouldn’t you?”

“The music was beautiful,” said Captain Featherweight. “I always love
to hear about the gay little fireflies. But look at the pink in the
east! That means that the King of Day is coming over the hills in his
chariot. To rest! To rest.”

Then the Elves of Mount Fern lay down on their soft little beds of
leaves and moss, and slumbered till starlight again.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Elves always begin their _day_ in the evening instead of the
morning, so that what is early for them is late for us, and what is
early for us is late for them.

Every evening as soon as the stars peeped out of the sky, Captain
Featherweight always gave the command: “Right! Left! Shoulder arms!”
This simply meant, “Get to work,” and was the signal for every elf to
be about his business.

All night long the gay little Elves were as busy as bees, but no matter
where they were or what they were doing, they always came back to Mount
Fern before sunrise, and rested till starlight again.

The next evening Captain Featherweight gave his usual command and every
elf began to work.

Iris-Wing, the flower-elf, scampered lightly down the fern ladder and
went about his business in the garden. Although all the Elves loved the
flowers, he was the one who took most care of them, and so the other
Elves called him “Iris-Wing, the flower-elf.”

As he wandered about from flower to flower he whispered to each a word
of good cheer. The tulips and daisies were all fast asleep and heard
not a word that he said, but the roses were as wide-awake as in broad
daylight, and they bowed to the flower-elf and said: “We’re watching
the Queen of Night climbing over the tall stone chimneys of Templeton
Hall.”

While the roses were watching the moon, the flower-elf went on, and was
just going to speak to the foxgloves when he heard two monster voices
from the Giant World.

And he listened, for he couldn’t help listening, the voices were so
loud and harsh; or so it seemed to him, although we would call them
very sweet voices.

It was Mary and Anna Templeton, the Doctor’s daughters, who were
talking.

“Mary,” said Anna, “I’ve got an idea. I want to make a mattress and
pillows for Emily’s doll, and some of the bird-houses are just bursting
with feathers. Let us fill the mattress and pillows with feathers from
the bluebirds’ house.”

“Oh, that will be perfectly lovely!” said Mary.

“And let us have them ready for her birthday,” continued Anna, “and
we’ll send a verse from the bluebirds something like this:

  “Dear Emily:
  Our feathers free,
  Without a fee,
  We all agree
  To send to thee!”

“Won’t that be fun?” laughed Mary, “but who’ll get the feathers for us?”

“I’ll get them myself,” replied Anna. “With a long stepladder I can
easily reach the bluebirds’ house. This evening we’ll make the cases,
and then tomorrow afternoon right after school we’ll get the feathers.”

The flower-elf, who was getting more and more provoked every moment,
could stand the conversation no longer, and flew swiftly back to Mount
Fern in search of the dream-elf, to whom he repeated every word he had
heard in the garden.

The dream-elf was very indignant at the thought of the bluebirds’ house
being robbed of its feathers by these monsters of the Giant World, and
he said to the flower-elf: “She shall _not_ rob the bluebirds’ house,
for I’ll beat on the drum of her ear and make her dream a horrible
dream!”

“You surely will?” urged the flower-elf.

“Without fail,” replied Slumber.

The flower-elf rubbed his hands and laughed gleefully, and then ran
back to his work in the garden.

He spoke to the tall, pink foxgloves and told them that foxgloves were
favorites of fairies all over the world.

“We are very proud to hear _you_ say so,” replied the Foxgloves, “for
everyone knows that fairies or elves are the favorites of children all
over the world.”

Then the flower-elf bowed low, and passed on to the snapdragons, and
asked them how _they_ did.

“We’re impatient,” said they, “and can hardly wait for the morning. We
don’t see why there should be any night when the day is so much finer.”

“I really cannot agree with you,” said Iris-Wing, “for we Elves love
starlight and moonlight much better than sunlight, and so do some
flowers, some birds, and some insects.”

“Yes, but more flowers, more birds, and more insects love day than love
night. We’ve really no patience with people who don’t love the sun. Of
all living creatures we think the bee is the best, and she loves the
sun.”

“And now, if you’re done,” said the flower-elf, “I think I shall run,
for there’s work to be done.”

When he had finished his work in the garden, Iris-Wing called at the
bluebirds’ house to tell him that hawks were abroad in the land. “And
they’re _human_,” said he, “but fear not, we’ll protect you.”

       *       *       *       *       *

At twelve o’clock that very night, the dream-elf flew through Anna’s
open window, and beat on the drum of her ear. And she dreamed, and
dreamed, and dreamed. She dreamed she was in a strange and far-off land
where the air was filled with birds, and there was such a commotion
that it deafened her. She couldn’t believe there were so many birds
in all the world, and some of them were so large and fierce that they
terrified her.

At last she saw some bluebirds coming toward her; and they grew, and
grew, and grew, until at last they were as big as cormorants. Then they
threatened her with their beaks and screamed at her:

“You would take our feathers, would you? Flint-hearted girl! Cruel!
Cruel! Cruel!”

But here General Grosbeak appeared on the scene, and commanded the
chattering to cease.

“This case,” said he, “must be tried by King Crest and his Council.”

King Crest, as you must know, was King of Birdland, and he and his
Council settled the affairs of his Kingdom.

So King Crest and his Council called a meeting to decide what should
be done if the bluebirds’ feathers were stolen, and after a long and
angry debate it was decided that, in such an event, birds of all kinds
should in future avoid the grounds around Templeton Hall, and that
those who were already there should vacate their dwellings.

“I move an amendment,” said Colonel Claw. “I move that Screech-owls
and English sparrows annoy the Doctor’s family as much as possible,
especially Anna.”

“Colonel Claw, you’ll be promoted,” said the King. “A very good idea!
All in favor of this amendment lift the right claw.”

At this, every bird lifted the right claw, and the motion was carried.

When the Council adjourned, all the birds passed Anna in single file,
and each, as he passed her, pecked her on the arm or the face until she
was black and blue.

At this point, the dream-elf, thinking his work well done, hastened
back to Mount Fern. On the way he met Tono floating about on the wings
of song. Each elf related what he had done since they parted, and both
laughed heartily at the fun they had had with the Giant World.

“And now,” said Slumber, the dream-elf, “won’t you sing the Swan song
before you retire?”

“I can’t,” said Tono, “to so small an audience, but I’ll drink your
health in a glass of honeydew before we say good-night.”



2

THE LAWN PARTY


Early the next evening, Captain Featherweight commanded Iris-Wing to
take a pitcher-plant and go in search of honeydew for breakfast.

“And I’m tired of lilydew,” said the Captain, “get clover honeydew--and
I prefer the red clover to the white.”

At this command, the flower-elf hurried off in the direction of the
apple orchard, for it was only yesterday that he had seen fine red
clover under the apple trees.

After he had filled his pitcher-plant with the sweet red clover
honeydew, he went into the rose garden to see how the roses were
growing. They were all doing beautifully, and especially the American
Beauty Rose, who was very tall and stately.

“I’m so glad to see you,” said she to the flower-elf. “I’m feeling
blue: it’s not so very gay here, and we need something to cheer us up.
Can’t you persuade Captain Featherweight to give a ball and invite the
flowers? I know he’s very hospitable or I would not ask it.”

“A request from you is a command as well as a compliment,” said the
flower-elf, “and you honor us all in the asking.”

So saying, Iris-Wing bowed low to the American Beauty Rose, and waved
his hand in adieu. But as the flower-elf was leaving the rose garden
he heard some one sobbing, and looking up, he saw that he was directly
under Anna’s bedroom window. So up he flew and sat on the window ledge,
for he wanted to know if her dream had made her change her mind about
the bluebird feathers.

Between her sobs she was telling Mary her dream, and when she had
finished, she said:

“I hate the birds! I won’t have them in the garden any longer! I’ll get
Papa to pull down all the bird houses and chain a cat to every tree!
I’m almost scared to death!”

The flower-elf chuckled merrily to himself, and started back to Mount
Fern.

When he reached the mulberry tree which stood in the middle of the
garden, he heard a “Caw! Caw! Caw!” and looking up, saw Colonel Claw
perching on one of the lower branches. Colonel Claw belonged to the
Crow family, and always dressed in black.

“Good morning, Colonel Claw,” said Iris-Wing. “Welcome to Templeton
Garden! How long do you expect to stay here?”

“That depends on circumstances,” said Colonel Claw. “I’m on duty here;
I’ve been sent to look after the interests of the bluebirds and to
report to General Grosbeak.”

“Then you’re doubly welcome, for our interests are the same,” said
Iris-Wing. “May I offer you some honeydew? It’s red clover.”

“No, I thank you,” said Colonel Claw, “I prefer grasshoppers and
caterpillars when I’m hungry.”

“Shall I catch you some?” asked the flower-elf.

“Thank you, no,” said Colonel Claw, “it’s my rule never to breakfast
until five o’clock, and I prefer them fresh.”

“Are you very hungry?” asked the flower-elf.

“Yes, _very_,” said the Colonel, “but I belong to the army, and
discipline must be maintained.”

Then Iris-Wing bowed low to Colonel Claw and bade him good evening,
saying that he hoped to see him soon at Mount Fern.

When Iris-Wing reached Mount Fern he found that breakfast was ready,
and so all the elves sat down and drank the red clover honeydew which
he had brought from the apple orchard, with some berries and nuts,
which was their usual breakfast fare.

While they sat at the table the flower-elf related all he had seen, and
heard, and done that evening. He told the elves that Colonel Claw was
in the neighborhood, and had taken up his abode in the mulberry tree.
And when he repeated the conversation he had had with that gentleman,
Captain Featherweight commanded Lightning, the messenger-elf, to catch
some grasshoppers and caterpillars for Colonel Claw just in time for
his breakfast.

“Give him my compliments,” said Captain Featherweight, “and tell him
that I shall give myself the pleasure of calling upon him tomorrow
evening.”

“And I saw the American Beauty Rose,” continued the flower-elf, “and
she wants you to give a ball and invite the flowers. She needs to be
cheered up. She said she was feeling blue, although she looked very red
and rosy.”

“One thing at a time,” said the Captain, “for I’ve just decided to
have a lawn party for the Elves of Oakdale, and Lightning will carry
them the invitations this very evening.”

  “Captain Featherweight of Mount Fern presents his compliments to
  Captain Acorn of Oakdale, and begs that Captain Acorn and his Company
  will favor Captain Featherweight and his Company with their presence
  at Mount Fern on Thursday next by the light of the moon.”

This was the form of the invitation, and Lightning carried it at once
to Oakdale.

“And what shall I say to the American Beauty Rose?” asked the
flower-elf, when Lightning had gone.

“My best respects to the American Beauty,” said Captain Featherweight,
“and tell her that it will give us much pleasure to entertain the
flowers; and that the ball shall be given two weeks from to-night in
honor of the Queen of Flowers, which, as you know, is the rose.”

Then the flower-elf departed for the rose garden to carry Captain
Featherweight’s invitation to the flowers, and before long Lightning
was seen in the distance hurrying back with Captain Acorn’s reply,
which ran thus:

  “Captain Acorn of Oakdale presents his compliments to Captain
  Featherweight of Mount Fern, and accepts with much pleasure for
  himself and his Company the most kind invitation of Captain
  Featherweight of Mount Fern.”

“And now,” said the Captain, when he had read the reply, “we must
prepare for our guests. The finest piece of lawn is under the great
white oak tree, and there we will play skyball. Between now and
Thursday I want you to pull up and carry away all the tall blades of
grass, and beat down with our feet all the rough places, so that the
lawn will be as smooth as velvet.

“And, Lightning!” continued the Captain, “we shall need new balls and
mallets for the occasion, so go to the Dwarfs of Cavedale, and tell
them to have them ready for Thursday next.”

“Of what shall the Dwarfs make them?” asked Lightning.

“The balls shall be made of purest rubber, the mallet heads of finest
ivory, and the handles of blackest ebony.”

“And how large shall they be, noble Captain?”

“Let the balls be as large as three times a sweet-pea seed, and the
mallets as large as the stamens of the Tiger-Lily.”

“Iris-Wing, you shall have charge of collecting the nectar, as well as
providing the fans for the party.”

“And what shall we use for fans?” asked the flower-elf.

“I think,” said the Captain, “the leaves of nasturtium.”

“And shall we have music?” asked Tono.

“Yes, after the game we’ll have music, and you shall have charge of it,
Tono; I leave the selection entirely to you.”

“And Owly,” continued the Captain, “please remember that you are
not responsible for the mistakes of our guests, for if I catch you
correcting anyone, I’ll send you to Doomdell.”

Now Doomdell is as bad for the elves as prison is for us, and Captain
Featherweight knew very well how to frighten Owly.

“And Rainbow, on account of your tact, I put you in charge of the whole
affair. You must oversee the others and be sure that their work is well
done.”

The Elves of Mount Fern were as busy as bees all that week, and when
Thursday evening came round they were ready for their guests.

Captain Featherweight was always prompt, and if he had anything to do,
he always got it done in time.

When the moon was high in the sky the Elves of Oakdale arrived at Mount
Fern. And after the greetings were over, they all sat down on fresh
green moss-mounds which had been brought in for the occasion.

Then Rainbow, who was master of ceremonies, commanded Lightning to pass
around some apple-blossom honeydew in bluebell cups; and after they had
partaken of the sparkling nectar, Captain Featherweight, arm-in-arm
with Captain Acorn, led the way to Oaktree Lawn.

When they were all assembled there, Lightning presented Captain Acorn
with the choicest of the mallets and balls, and the play began.

In Skyball the target is the face of the moon, and the player who comes
nearest the mark, wins the game.

Captain Acorn, as guest, had first play.

Rainbow held his ball for him, and as soon as Captain Acorn called
out “ready,” Rainbow dropped the ball, which Captain Acorn with one
tremendous swing sent whizzing off toward the moon. Lightning followed
the ball, and placed a stake where it fell.

Captain Featherweight played next, and he was followed by Okla of
Oakdale.

Then it was Rainbow’s turn, and he was followed by another of the Elves
of Oakdale, and so on, until all the Elves of Oakdale, and all the
Elves of Mount Fern, had played.

When the game was over they all flew off to look at the stakes, and it
was found that Captain Acorn’s ball was nearest the moon.

It was a jolly game, and Captain Featherweight, who did not think it
polite to win on his own grounds, was very glad that Captain Acorn was
able to carry off the cup.

It was only a simple buttercup, but, although they grew in plenty
everywhere, Captain Acorn was just as proud as if it had been made of
silver or gold, for the _honor_ was just as great.

When the game was over Lightning gave each elf a fan, and while they
were resting and fanning themselves, he passed red clover honeydew in
lily-cups.

Then Tono and his orchestra played and sang some beautiful music. Their
musical instruments were blades of grass, wind-flowers, Canterbury
bells, and trumpet honeysuckles.

First they played and sang:

_Moon and Stars_

  “Said the moon to the stars: ‘You are always the same,
  And your lights are so tiny, I think them quite tame;
  You just twinkle and twinkle in red, white and blue,
  Have you noticed the wonderful things I can do?

  “‘Sometimes I’m a crescent, a pale silver line,
  An arc of a circle--I think it quite fine.
  Then again I am round, with my face full of light,
  And everyone thinks me a wonderful sight.’”

“That is really fine,” said Captain Acorn. “Won’t you favor us with
something else?”

“With pleasure,” answered Tono, and then he and his orchestra played
and sang _Three Crows_.

  “Three crows there were once who sat on a tree,
  Fa-lo, fa-la, fa-lee!
  Said one ‘I should like to sail o’er the sea,’
  Fa-lo, fa-la, fa-lee!
  The other two looked so gloomy and blue,
  Fa-lo, fa-la, fa-lee!
  Said they: ‘If you do, we’ll surely go too,’
  Fa-lo, fa-la, fa-lee!”

I should have said they _tried_ to play _Three Crows_, for they had no
sooner started than Colonel Claw, who was sitting on a branch of the
mulberry tree and watching the whole performance, set up such a “Caw!
caw! caw!” that Tono was obliged to stop the music and try something
else.

After that they sang about the silvery swans, and Colonel Claw became
quite quiet and subdued, for it did not interest him in the least when
they sang of other people.

Then Captain Acorn thanked Captain Featherweight for the game and the
music and said it was now time to sing _Oh, Joy to be Elves!_ This was
the song that the elves always sang at parting.

  “Oh, Joy to be Elves!
    To float on a breeze,
  And dance on the tops
    Of the tallest of trees!
  Oh, joy to be fairies,
    And ride on a cloud,
  Whether the wind
    Blow softly or loud!

  “Oh, joy to be Elves!
    To roam o’er the sky,
  And race with the swiftest
    Of birds when they fly!
  Oh, joy to be fairies!
    To sail o’er the sea,
  And care not a clover,
    What happens to be!

  “Oh, joy to be Elves!
    The world is all ours:
  The hills and the valleys,
    The fruits and the flowers!
  The moonlight and starlight,
    The clouds in the sky,
  Oh, joy to be fairies!
    Good-bye! Good-bye!”

Then Captain Acorn and his Company bade adieu to the Elves of Mount
Fern, saying that they hoped to see them soon at Oakdale.

Thus ended the lawn party.



3

THE BALL


The next evening, at starlight, Captain Featherweight said it was time
to begin preparations for the ball.

“The ballroom shall be the soft velvet lawn under the Linden tree, and
we’ll dance by the light of the pale silver moon. But we’ll have to
provide ourselves with fireflies too, in case a cloud should cover up
the moon.

“So, Owly, you will please be diligent in catching fireflies between
now and next Thursday evening, for I want thousands of them. So many
fireflies, tied by gossamer threads to the lower branches of the Linden
tree, will make us quite independent of the moon.

“And Lightning,” continued the Captain, “it shall be your duty to
provide seats for the ladies, and I know of none more comfortable than
fresh green moss-mounds. And we’ll arrange them in a circle around the
Linden tree.

“And Tono, you will of course have charge of the music, and I want you
to invite the butterflies to accompany the orchestra.”

  “The butterflies’ soft minstrelsy
    Shall tune our hearts to sweet accord,
  But beetles, wasps, and bumblebees,
    We cannot have, they’re much too forward.

  “Our berries, fruits, and honeydew
    Would disappear by magic sure,
  If we these creatures should invite--
    Their very names I can’t endure!

  “The flowers we’ll invite this time,
    And by the fireflies’ light we’ll see
  Their various shades of every hue,
    And all their gorgeous broidery”

said Rhymo, who never lost an opportunity to make poetry.

“Aren’t you a little late with the last verse?” asked Owly. “We’ve
already invited the flowers. If you _must_ make poetry, why not try to
make it in time?”

“Good poetry is always in time,” said Rhymo. “Just ask Captain
Featherweight if that isn’t so.”

But the Captain was far too busy to pay much attention to Rhymo and
Owly. He was thinking about the girdles.

There is nothing an elf prizes so much as a girdle, and Captain
Featherweight decided to have special girdles made just for the ball in
honor of the flowers.

“Rainbow,” said he, “and you too, Iris-Wing, shall have charge of
designing the girdles.”

“And see that each one is appropriate,” said Touchstone, “and since
Owly is so very wise, let his girdle be made of Solomon’s-Seal.”

This pleased the other elves so much that they asked the Captain to
allow Touchstone to help in designing all the girdles.

“I don’t think any one as silly as Touchstone should have charge of
anything,” said Owly.

“Have a care,” said Touchstone, “or your girdle shall be made of
Nettles instead of Solomon’s-Seal.”

“I’m bored,” said Owly, “and I’ll just run away until the girdle
question is settled.”

“And what shall the dream-elf’s be made of?” asked Iris-Wing.

“Oh, of Eyebright and Wake-Robin,” said Touchstone.

“And Rhymo’s shall be made of Laurel leaves,” said Rainbow.

“Why not of Poet-Asters?” asked Touchstone.

But the other elves paid no attention to this joke, and Touchstone
continued: “When it comes to my turn, I want to decide for myself.”

“And Lightning, our swift-footed messenger’s girdle shall be made of
the common Speedwell,” said Iris-Wing.

“And Tono’s shall be made of the Bluebells of Scotland,” said Rainbow.

“And mine,” said Touchstone, “shall be made of the Jewel-weed, for a
jester is always a jewel.”

“And Rainbow’s,” said the flower-elf, “shall be made of the blue
Forget-Me-Not, for he will always be remembered on account of his
sweetness and tact.”

“And Iris-Wing’s shall be made of the elves’ favorite flower, the tall
pink Foxglove,” said Rainbow.

“And now for our Captain’s! Three cheers for the kindest of Captains!
His girdle shall be made of roses--to show that his Company loves him!”

“Rainbow,” said the Captain, “I appoint you Master of Ceremonies. You
shall have charge of everything, and if any disputes arise, you must
settle them.

“Right! Left! Shoulder arms!”

This, as you know, meant, “Get to work.”

At this command every elf scampered off in high glee.

Rainbow, Iris-Wing, and Touchstone went at once to Cavedale to talk
with the Dwarfs about the girdles for the ball. And they decided that
they should all be of finely wrought silver, except the Captain’s which
should be made of pure gold.

Owly went in search of fireflies and brought home hundreds of them
that first night, for an elf can fly faster than fireflies, and has no
trouble in catching them if they can only be found.

Lightning went in search of moss-mounds, and flew back and forth
so swiftly between Mount Fern and the soft woodsy dells where the
moss-mounds grow that the very first evening he had almost enough for
the ball.

But when he showed them to Rainbow, he found that some of them were not
fresh enough, or fine enough, or high enough, or low enough, or large
enough, or small enough, or firm enough, or soft enough; and he had to
throw half of them away, and go in quest of more. Rainbow was very
particular, and perfection was his law of life.

So the preparations went on, and when Thursday evening came around the
busy little elves had everything in readiness. And when the hour of the
ball drew nigh, they were waiting to receive their guests.

The Elves of Mount Fern looked beautiful that summer evening. All were
elegantly dressed, and each was looking his very best, for the Dwarfs
had taken great pains with the girdles.

Captain Featherweight was dressed in purple and gold, because, as he
said to the other elves, kings and queens from time immemorial had
always dressed in purple and gold; and as he was the representative in
Templeton Gardens of the King and Queen of the elves, it was only right
that he should dress to honor his rank.

Rainbow was dressed in pale blue, and with his girdle of Forget-Me-Not
and a white lace collar he looked more like a flower than an elf.

Rhymo, the poet-elf, was dressed in white and green--and of course his
girdle of Laurel leaves, which the three elves had designed and the
Dwarfs of Cavedale had wrought.

Slumber, the dream-elf, was dressed in silvery grey, and in addition to
his girdle of Eyebright and Wake-Robin, he wore a Poppy in his hair,
for the Poppy, as you know, is the emblem of forgetfulness. But it was
only a silver Poppy, not a real Poppy of course, for the ball was in
honor of the flowers, and _all_ the flowers were expected to join in
the dance.

The Linden tree was a magnificent sight that summer evening, with its
myriads of tiny fireflies twinkling like little stars. It was like
giant candelabra in the centre of a ballroom, only far more beautiful.
And the lawn underneath was as smooth as the smoothest velvet, and at
regular intervals there were soft comfortable seats of fresh green
moss-mounds.

Rhymo saw the flowers coming and burst forth into verse:

  “At last the gala night appeared,
  The moon was bright, the air was clear,
  And just at twelve from far and near,
  The flowers in couples did appear.”

Captain Featherweight was radiant in his golden girdle of roses. When
the flowers appeared he and the other elves greeted them graciously,
and led each one to a comfortable seat made of soft green moss-mounds.

Then Rainbow gave a signal to Tono and the music began.

The opening music was _Welcome to Mount Fern!_

  “O welcome to Mount Fern,
    Ye flowers bright and gay,
  Your presence would brighten
    The rosiest day;
  Your smiles and your sunshine
    Great happiness bring,
  So mortals and fairies
    Your praises do sing!”

Tono had composed the music and Rhymo the words, just for the occasion,
and the beautiful flowers bowed their heads in grateful acknowledgment
of the compliment that had been paid them.

When the opening music had ceased, Captain Featherweight declared that
it was now time to open the ball, and with a very low bow he offered
his arm to the American Beauty Rose, led her to the centre of the lawn,
and the dance began.

“How beautiful you are to-night,” said the Captain.

“That’s because I’m happy to be in such good company,” said the
American Beauty. “But I’m not always so happy, and lately I’ve been
feeling quite blue. What _do_ you think Doctor Templeton is going to do
with the Roses? Why, only a week ago, I heard him telling his wife that
he thought it looked more dignified to have nothing but _lawn_ in the
front of the house, and that he thought he would move the Rose garden
to the back of the house near the shrubbery. I don’t know when I have
felt so humiliated! I really don’t think I could stand it! Why, when I
lived at White Oaks, I was the pride of the family, and was given the
most prominent part of the garden, in front of the parlor window. And
every morning early, and many times through the day, Mrs. Chesterton
came to see me. And she called me ‘Queenie’ and ‘Beauty,’ and said I
was a joy and delight.”

“And so you are,” said the Captain, “for everyone knows that the Rose
is the queen of all flowers.”

These kind words quite cheered up the American Beauty, and she blushed
a deeper crimson as she and the Captain glided away over the soft
velvet lawn.

Rhymo was dancing with a Pansy.

“Look at that Daffodil over there,” said he, “see how gloomy he looks,
and the Amaranth is trying to cheer him up. I’ll make a verse about
him--if you are fond of poetry?”

“Yes, very,” said the Pansy.

“Then listen to this,” said Rhymo, “and remember it, for it is worth
remembering:

  “A Daffodil walked past in gloom,
    And a friar’s coat his form encased;
  He boasted Mediterranean birth,
    The lawn with solemn mien he paced.

  “The Amaranth took him by the hand,
    And whispered words of faith and cheer:
  ‘Another glorious world awaits
    The spirits of our departed dear’.”

“That’s beautiful,” said the Pansy, “but I don’t know anyone more
sorrowful than the Hyacinth, and if I were Captain Featherweight I
wouldn’t invite either him or the Daffodil to a dance. Isn’t he afraid
they’ll spoil his party?”

“He couldn’t leave them out, you know,” said Rhymo, “because all the
flowers were invited; and besides, they won’t hurt anyone. And even if
they should, Tono’s music would soon cheer one up again. Shall I put
the Hyacinth into verse for you?”

“Please do,” said the Pansy.

  “The Hyacinth and Poppy next,
    Went walking side by side,
  The Hyacinth was sorrowful,
    His grief he could not hide.

  “The Poppy soothed him as a child,
    Told him his griefs were vain:
  ‘Forget your sorrows, Sir,’ she said,
    ‘Their ev’ry pang disdain.’”

“I declare I feel blue,” said the Pansy. “Can’t you think of anything
more cheerful than grief and sorrow, Rhymo?”

“Yes, indeed,” said the poet-elf. “All the flowers are more cheerful
than the Daffodil and Hyacinth, and we’ll not think of them any more.”

“Look at that vain Narcissus,” said the Pansy, “he always makes me
angry.”

“I’ll put him into verse too if you’ll be kind enough to listen,” said
the poet-elf.

“Yes, indeed,” said the Pansy, who was very good-natured.

“You’re an angel,” said Rhymo, “you are so appreciative.”

  “On the arm of a vain Narcissus, next,
    Was seen a Violet hanging low,
  Her modesty did but enhance
    His egotism all aglow.”

“That’s fine,” said the Pansy, “but suppose you lead me to a seat and
finish your verses afterwards, for I’m beginning to feel a little
tired.”

When they were seated comfortably on one of the fresh green
moss-mounds, a Tulip and a Lily-of-the-Valley waltzed past them, and
Rhymo burst again into verse:

  “The Tulip did appropriate
    The Lily-of-the-Valley sweet,
  With manly stride and bow profound,
    He led her to a vacant seat.”

“Keep right on with your poetry,” said the Pansy. “Don’t stop to give
comments, but make a verse as each couple passes us.”

“You’re the most delightful partner I’ve ever had,” said the poet-elf,
“you’re so sympathetic.”

  “The beautiful Forget-Me-Not
    Was lover, true and tried,
  Of dainty Daisy innocent,--
    And he walked by her side.

  “A red Rose danced with a Lily fair,
    And he said as he whispered in her ear,
  ‘My pure sweet Lily, you are my queen,
    I love you, dear. I love you, dear!’

  “The gorgeous Sunflower, bold and brave,
  Approached the shy, white Cyclamen--”

But here the poet-elf looked hard at the Pansy, and saw that she was
fainting; so he brought her a drink of water, in an acorn cup, and
begged her pardon a thousand times.

“And please don’t tell Captain Featherweight about the poetry,”
implored Rhymo, “for if he thinks I’ve bored you, he’ll send me to
Doomdell.”

Then Rainbow came along and asked the Pansy for the favor of a dance;
and Rhymo, who saw no one without a partner, sat on a moss-mound and
watched the dancers.

The music was grand, and the flap! flap! of the butterflies’ wings beat
time with the strains of the orchestra.

The Elves were happy and so were their guests, for Captain
Featherweight was a charming host, and even the Daffodil and Hyacinth
were enjoying themselves.

The flowers were truly beautiful, and were so light and airy in their
movements that it was a delight to watch them. And they danced until
the morning light dimmed the glow of the fireflies; and then all the
flowers, led by the American Beauty Rose, thanked Captain Featherweight
for the honor he had done them, curtsied low to him and all his
company, and bade them adieu.

Thus ended the ball.



4

EMILY’S BIRTHDAY


At starlight the next evening the Elves of Mount Fern were up and about
their business as usual.

“I think,” said the Captain, “that we’ll stay here for a long time. I
like the neighborhood. I like the trees and the garden and the birds;
and I think we’re just as well off here as anywhere else for the
present. I’m fond of Colonel Claw, too; he’s a good fellow even if he
is a crow.”

“Speaking of angels makes them appear,” said Touchstone, “for here he
comes.”

When Colonel Claw arrived at Mount Fern he was cordially welcomed by
all the Elves.

“Have a perch,” said the Captain, “and make yourself at home.”

Rainbow thought of everything, and as soon as he knew that Colonel Claw
was in the neighborhood he had the branch of a tree brought in and
fixed in one of the cracks of the wall, for it isn’t good form for a
crow to sit on a chair or a moss-mound.

“I just dropped in to see if you intended to celebrate Emily’s birthday
in any way,” said Colonel Claw. “It is only a week from today, and as
the bluebirds’ house is still undisturbed I thought it would not be
amiss to call a council of the birds in the neighborhood, and see if
they would be willing to serenade her.”

“A capital idea,” said Captain Featherweight, “for nothing adds so much
to a festive occasion as good music. And I don’t know any music more
delightful than a bird chorus.

“I thought myself of engaging the insect choir to serenade her, but
before deciding that, I wished to consult you. I want the choir to
perform in the evening, and I wondered if the insects would be safe
from the Night-Hawks and Whippoorwills.”

“They surely will for that one evening,” said Colonel Claw, “for
I’ll send a carrier-pigeon with a note to General Grosbeak this very
evening.”

“How will this do?”

  “Colonel Claw presents his compliments to General Grosbeak. He begs
  to state that Emily Templeton’s birthday is a week from today, and
  craves his kind permission to issue a proclamation to Night-Hawks,
  Whippoorwills, and other insect-destroyers to stay away from
  Templeton Gardens on the evening of that day, as it is hoped that the
  insect choir will take part in the celebration of Emily’s birthday.”

“That is excellent,” said Captain Featherweight, “but do you think he
will grant your request?”

“He’ll know,” said Colonel Claw, “that I wouldn’t have asked this for
Emily if anything had happened to the bluebirds’ house.”

Then Colonel Claw departed, saying that he hoped to be able soon to
show Captain Featherweight General Grosbeak’s reply.

After he had gone, the Captain called his elves together to decide what
they should give Emily for a birthday present.

“I move that we give her a violin, so that she can have music wherever
she goes,” said Tono.

“A violin isn’t music,” said Owly, “and how could she have music
wherever she goes when she can’t even play a note? You’re so
unpractical, Tono. Let’s hear a suggestion from some one else.”

“I suggest a book of poems,” said Rhymo, “and I’ll add some of my own.
A book never gets out of tune, and is a constant source of delight.”

“That depends entirely on the book,” said Owly, who didn’t at all
approve of Rhymo’s suggestion.

“Don’t you think a bouquet would be nicer than anything else?” asked
the flower-elf.

“No,” said Owly, “because the house will be full of them anyway.
That would be like carrying fish to a fisherman. Can no one think of
anything more suitable and appropriate?”

“I can,” said Slumber, “for I dreamed only last night that Emily wanted
a necklace.”

“The best suggestion I have heard,” said the Captain. “A necklace is
just the thing, and I’ll send Lightning this very evening to the Dwarfs
of Cavedale to ask them to have it ready for her birthday.

“And Tono, you will please compose some music for the occasion, and
Rhymo will make some verses to suit the music. Or perhaps it would be
better the other way around, but I leave that entirely to you.

“With the insect choir, the bird chorus, the elfin choir and orchestra,
Emily’s birthday will be very well celebrated.”

“Shall I make a verse to accompany the necklace?” asked Rhymo.

“Not a bad idea,” said the Captain.

“Shall I engage the insect choir?” asked Lightning.

“That is my business,” said Tono. “Anything that has to do with music,
you will please leave to me. I’ll attend to that this very evening.”

“Not at all,” said Captain Featherweight, “not unless we hear from
Colonel Claw. How would you like to have the insect choir devoured in
the midst of the serenade?”

Then the music-elf bowed low to the Captain in token of obedience, and
said: “Your word is law, noble Captain.”

“Right! Left! Shoulder arms!” called the Captain.

At this command every elf scampered off and went to work. Iris-Wing
went into the orchard to see if the bees that had been working there
during the day had done their work well. But the flower-elf did not
think so, and he called at the honey-bees’ hive to say that he was not
quite satisfied.

The bees were very indignant that the quality of their work should be
questioned, until the flower-elf explained that the elves had charge
of the growing of plants, and that he was responsible for Templeton
Grounds.

“Captain Featherweight,” said he, “is very strict, and if I don’t make
a good report I’ll lose my place and be sent to Doomdell.”

“We understand,” said the bees, “and accept your apology.”

“And then, of course, it may perhaps be barely possible,” suggested a
sister bee, “that the work of the dying honey-bee was somewhat at fault.

  “The honey-bees were humming
    In a smiling orchard gay,
  They were working hard for honey,
    And were up since break of day.

  “Many trips to many blossoms
    Helped to fill the honey-sacs,
  And the richly powdered stamens
    Showered gold upon their backs.

  “Said one sister to another:
    ‘Why is it you linger so?
  Who will feed you in the winter,
    When the food supply is low?’

  “‘I’ll report you at the Homestead,
    And the Sisters shall decide,
  At the Council of the Bee Bread,--
    If you’ll longer there reside.’

  “‘I don’t care for Queen or Council,
    I don’t care for hive or bees,
  I am weary carrying honey
    To the Homestead from the trees.

  “‘Cant you see my wings are shattered,
    And my flight is growing slow?
  I am all in rags and tatters,
    And am ready now to go

  “‘To the land of blessed perfume,
    To the haven of the blest,
  Where all toil and care are ended,
    And the honey-bees have rest!’”

These verses made the flower-elf very thoughtful--so thoughtful that he
flew straight into Rainbow, who was flying in another direction.

“Excuse _me_!” exclaimed Rainbow; which meant, of course, “Excuse
_you_!”

And when Iris-Wing recited the story of the dying honey-bee, Rainbow
almost shed a tear--a thing that had never been heard of among the
Elves of Mount Fern.

Then Iris-Wing passed on to the veranda where the Doctor’s daughters,
Mary and Anna, were shelling peas for the cook. He felt very indignant
whenever he thought of the bluebird feathers, even though they were
safe in the nest, for he felt sure that Anna still had the _will_ to
rob the birds. He wore his invisible cap, and could see and not be seen.

“I’m tired shelling peas,” said Anna, “and I don’t see why the cook
can’t shell them herself.”

“You know Mother told us that she wouldn’t have time tomorrow,” said
Mary, “and I think it is fun anyway. The poor peas have never seen the
light except through a thick veil. They are really prisoners and we are
helping to set them free.”

“You are always thinking of such queer things, Mary, that I don’t
believe you feel about anything as other people do.”

But Anna soon went to work with a will, and in a short time the peas
were all shelled.

“I’ll take them into the kitchen,” said Mary, “and while I’m gone,
suppose you go after the clothes that we’re making for Emily’s doll.”

In a short time they were both on the veranda again, and very busily
engaged in sewing for Emily’s birthday.

“What are we going to do for feathers for the mattress and pillows?”
asked Mary.

“Why, haven’t I told you?” asked Anna. “I asked Mother about it, and
she said she had a pillow which she didn’t need and that we might have
it for Emily’s doll. If I’d only asked her in the first place, I don’t
believe I would have had that horrible dream.”

When the flower-elf heard this, he departed, for he had a great many
things to attend to that evening.

He wanted to see how the wildflowers were growing in the woods
nearby, for it occurred to him that although Emily might have all the
cultivated flowers that she wished for on her birthday, a bouquet of
wildflowers could not be amiss. So off he started in search of them,
and when he was quite sure that he knew exactly where all the different
kinds grew, he flew back to Mount Fern.

When he arrived there, he found that all the other elves were at home
and were listening to General Grosbeak’s reply, which Colonel Claw had
just brought over. It ran thus:

  “General Grosbeak presents his compliments to Colonel Claw, and begs
  to state that it will give him much pleasure to issue an order to
  all insect-destroyers to avoid the grounds of Templeton Hall on the
  evening of Emily’s birthday.”

“And now, Tono,” said Captain Featherweight, “you have my full
permission to go ahead and do your best for Emily’s birthday.

“And Lightning, you may go now to the Dwarfs of Cavedale and tell them
to have the necklace ready for a week from to-night. And let it be
wrought of fine filigree gold,--in a dainty design of lilies and roses.”

After the Captain had given commands to all the elves as to what the
duty of each should be for the following week, they all ran away and
began to make plans for their work.

“Tono,” said Rhymo, “I want your advice. You know I have to make a
verse to accompany the necklace; how would this do?

  “A necklace by the elves designed
  Of rose and lily intertwined,
  And by the Dwarfs of Cavedale wrought:
  A birthday gift to you we’ve brought.”

“It may be all right,” said Tono, “but if I were you I’d make several,
and then let the Captain decide which he likes best.”

“A very fine idea,” said Rhymo, who liked nothing better than making
verses, “and I’ll compose something bright and gay, for we must not
forget it’s for a festive occasion.”

“I’ll just go now,” said Tono, “and see that all the musical
instruments are in perfect tune.”

When Rhymo was left alone he busied himself with making verses that
should be both happy and pleasing, trying first one rhyme and then
another, and wondering which would please Emily most. For Captain
Featherweight had told him that the object of birthday parties was to
make the owner of the birthday glad and happy!

When the verses were finished he brought them to Tono, who was busy
selecting the insect choir and testing their voices so that there
should be no discordant note. This was the insects’ first lesson from
Tono, and after a careful practice he dismissed them, saying, that the
next rehearsal should be the following evening at the same place and
hour.

As soon as the insects were gone, the elfin choir appeared, accompanied
by the elfin orchestra with their wind instruments, stringed
instruments, cymbals and drums. And Tono took the verses which
Rhymo had made and set them to music, and never before in all their
experience had the elfin choir and orchestra received such a drilling
and training.

And at the same place and hour every night for a week, the elfin
musicians came to the practice.

Every elf was busily engaged in doing his best for Emily’s birthday,
for if the Elves of Mount Fern undertook to do work, they always aimed
at perfection.

Lightning was busy in all sorts of ways, for whenever there was a
message to send or an errand to run, the Captain always called on
Lightning.

Rainbow was a kind of court of last appeal before the time came for
the final rehearsal on the eve of Emily’s birthday, when Captain
Featherweight was to judge of everything.

Colonel Claw, too, was busy all that week selecting the sweetest
singers for the bird chorus; for although he did not sing himself, but
only conversed, he was very particular as to the birds he should ask to
take part in the celebration.

So he invited the musical Blackbird, but as he is a very great mimic,
Colonel Claw warned him to be on his guard against imitating the rough
and hoarse notes of other birds. He also invited the Bobolink, the Song
Sparrow, the Vesper Sparrow, the Wood Pewee, the Indigo Bunting, the
Robin, the Purple Finch, the Vireo, the Meadow Lark, the Veery, the
Hermit Thrush, the Bluebird, and all the Warblers who might serve as a
background or accompaniment.

The Cedar Bird was Colonel Claw’s great problem, because, as he said,
“His voice is inferior.”

But he knew the Cedar Bird would be very much hurt if he did not
invite him, and he knew too that Dr. Templeton and all his family were
particularly fond of the Cedar Bird family. And so Colonel Claw was
puzzled and perplexed, and he carried his difficulty to Rainbow and
laid the case before him.

Rainbow advised Colonel Claw to invite the Cedar Bird, “For,” said he,
“it is to be such a gay and festive occasion that there should be no
sad hearts in Templeton Garden. But tell him to be sure to sing softly,
softly.”

“Dear sir, kind sir,” said Colonel Claw, “you are always so amiable,
and your counsel so admirable, that I take your advice; your wish is my
law.”

And so Colonel Claw invited the Cedar Bird, and _he_ kept saying
“softly,” “softly,” so that there should be no mistake as to what was
required of him.

And all the birds entered into the spirit of the celebration, and came
each day in joyous throngs to the practice. They were greatly excited
all that week, for they had never before been asked to take part in the
festivities of a little girl’s birthday. And they spent far more time
than usual in preening their feathers and taking their baths, until
they felt that they were looking their very best.

The insects, too, were very particular about their appearance, and swam
and dove in the pool of the fountain, and dried themselves in the sun
so that there should be no particles of dust sticking to them.

And on Thursday, the great day, Colonel Claw, Tono, and Rainbow marched
all the birds and insects down to the river for their final bath and
preening.

They used the surface of the water as a mirror. And when they were
perfectly clean, Colonel Claw commanded all the birds to alight on the
nearest tree to plume and arrange their feathers.

And Tono, who had charge of the insects, told them to fly to some
shrubs that were growing near the river.

“When I blow three blasts on my bugle,” said Tono, “fly quickly to
Templeton Garden and alight on the flowering hawthorne that grows north
of the mulberry tree.”

“And when I give three caws,” said Colonel Claw to the birds in the oak
tree, “fly swiftly to Temple Garden and alight on the tall elm tree to
the east of the mulberry tree.”

Then Tono and Rainbow returned to Mount Fern, and Colonel Claw to his
perch in the mulberry tree.

Colonel Claw knew all about the birthday party, for he had heard of it
from the Elves, who in turn had heard Mary and Anna talking about it.

He knew that after the guests arrived they were to have supper at the
Hall, and that after supper they were all to come out to the garden and
play games around the mulberry tree.

The party was at eight o’clock, and precisely at eight Colonel Claw
gave three loud caws to the birds in the oak tree, Tono blew three long
blasts on his bugle, and as soon as these signals were given, the
birds and the insects all flew away to the hawthorne and elm, near the
mulberry tree.

When the elves arrived at Templeton Hall they heard strains from a
giant orchestra, and the air was rich with the fragrance of flowers.
They entered unobserved, for an elf has many ways of making himself
invisible, and does not have to be seen unless he wants to be.

Emily was standing in the middle of the parlor dressed in fine Persian
lawn, adorned with blue ribbons.

And soon the door-bell rang, and again and again and again, until all
the guests were assembled. And they each wished Emily very many happy
returns of the day.

Then Emily led her guests to a large veranda all covered with roses and
clematis, and there supper was served.

The tables were covered with beautiful flowers and all kinds of fruit,
and turkey, chicken and tongue, hot rolls and hot biscuits, and brown
bread and butter, after which came the ice cream and cake.

And _such_ a cake!

It was made in the form of a great big shoe, and lined with silver
paper. Inside the shoe there were dolls and toys for every one of the
guests, and a great big doll for Emily--just like the old woman who
lived in a shoe! And all the little guests said it was the nicest and
funniest birthday cake they had ever seen.

And as soon as supper was over Emily led her guests to the mulberry
tree which stood in the middle of the garden.

Dr. Templeton was prouder of this tree than of anything else in the
garden, for he believed it to be a great-grandchild of the mulberry
tree which Shakespeare planted at Stratford so long ago. And whenever
there was company at Templeton Hall, Dr. Templeton always brought them
out to the garden to show them the mulberry tree.

On the evening of Emily’s birthday it was hung with Chinese lanterns
from the top to the bottom--in all the gay colors of the rainbow. And
around this beautiful tree, Emily and her guests danced and played
games by the light of the lanterns until the birthday party was over.

But just then a strange thing occurred--not strange to the elves, who
knew all about it, but to Emily, her guests, and her Father and Mother.

For Rainbow, the elf, appeared on the green and a daintier little
gentleman never was seen. His blue satin coat, with silvery leaves
embroidered in wreaths, his white silken hose and gilt-buckled shoes,
and his blue Forget-Me-Not girdle, made an exquisite picture.

With three very low bows he flew straight to Emily, and told her that
the insect choir would be pleased to favor her with some music in honor
of her birthday. Then Rainbow made a motion to Tono, who had charge of
the insect choir. Tono gave the word of command, and the fiddlers,
drummers, and pipers of the insect world appeared.

The short-horned Grasshoppers were there with their bows and fiddles;
the musical Cicadas were also there with their high-tuned kettle drums;
and the meadow Grasshoppers were playing: “Zip, zip, zee-e-e! Zip, zip,
zee-e-e!”

The pale-green, bashful Katydids, who are usually heard but not seen,
were also there singing with all their might: “Katy did! she did, she
did, she didn’t!” over and over again.

And the cheery crickets with their happy chirpings, sang: “Cheer-up!
cheer-up! cheer-up!”

They all sang and played most heartily, all in honor of Emily’s
birthday. And when they had finished there was loud applause and cries
of “More! more!”

But just at that moment Colonel Claw stepped forward, and told them
that the birds also would be pleased to favor Emily and her guests with
some music.

A Starling, whom Colonel Claw had taught to make a speech for the
occasion, stepped forward and said that as all the birds in Templeton
Garden had been most kindly treated, and had even had fine, comfortable
houses provided for them, they wanted to show their appreciation by
helping to celebrate Emily’s birthday.

Then the Starling, bowing low, turned to Emily and added: “In the name
of all the birds of Templeton Garden, I wish you a great many happy
returns!”

So saying he returned to the elm tree. Colonel Claw gave the word of
command, and the music began.

The birds are the sweetest of all sweet singers, and the chorus was
grand. It was a billow of song that rose and fell like the waves of a
mighty ocean. At times no one voice could be heard distinctly; again,
the flute-like notes of the Wood Thrush, the Purple Finch’s rich,
melodious warble, or the beautiful trill of the Vireo could be heard
quite plainly above the chorus.

The birds were jubilant. Never before had they sung with so much
strength and sweetness. And when at last the music died away in gentle
cadences, Emily and her friends clapped their hands in glee, and said
they had never in all their lives heard anything so beautiful.

Then Tono, at a signal from Captain Featherweight, bowed low before
Emily and said: “The elves of Mount Fern take this opportunity to
express their thanks for their comfortable home in Templeton Garden,
and beg that their choir and orchestra may be allowed to take part in
the celebration of your birthday.”

Emily was very much delighted and said that any one was fortunate who
had the elves for friends.

So the elfin choir and orchestra flew up into the large white oak tree
that stood near the mulberry tree. And there they played and sang the
music which Rhymo and Tono had composed for the occasion:

_The Wish of the Elves._

  “’Tis a festive occasion
    Which brings us today,
  To sing thy high praises
    In musical lay!
  Your life in its morning
    Dawns glorious and bright,
  With promise of sunshine,
    And gladness and light.
  May future years bring thee
    The gifts most sublime,
  Great courage and wisdom,
    And hope for all time!”

Emily knew she had never heard anything half so wonderful. She told
her Father and Mother that this was the most splendid day she had ever
lived, and that she did not know how she was ever going to wait until
her next birthday--for she thought birthdays were the very nicest days
in all the year.

Just as she said this, she saw Captain Featherweight and Rhymo coming
toward her. The Captain carried a box, and she wondered if she were
really going to get another present after all she had already received.

Rhymo began to speak, and he recited the verse he had made for the
necklace:

  “The Elves of Mount Fern
  Are so glad to discern
  When a young girl is kind, good and wise,
  That they’re prone to reward,
  When her birthday comes round,
  With a gift that will gladden her eyes.
  Accept then this necklace of gold,
  And the wish that you’ll never grow old
  In faith, hope and charity,
  Truth in its rarity,
  Goodness and kindness untold.”

Then Captain Featherweight took the necklace of fine filigree gold and
placed it around Emily’s neck.

And Emily felt like a Queen, and she told her Father and Mother that
she was the happiest girl in all the wide world.

Thus ended the birthday party.



5

THE KING OF THE ELVES VISITS MOUNT FERN


The next evening, while the elves were at breakfast, Lightning informed
Captain Featherweight that the King of the Elves was coming to visit
Mount Fern.

“That is good news,” said the Captain, “are you sure it is true?”

“Quite sure,” said Lightning, “for I saw Okla of Oakdale, and he told
me that the King is now visiting Elmsdale; and from Elmsdale he’s
coming to Oakdale; and from Oakdale he’s coming to Mount Fern.”

“That is really good news!” said the Captain.

“And what shall we do to entertain him?” asked Rainbow.

“Nothing at all,” said the Captain, “for when the King goes visiting he
always takes his entertainers with him. He has his own musicians, his
own jesters, and his own actors.

“The King does this in his own defence, for he says it is a King’s
privilege not to be entertained unless he wants to be. So we’ll only
have to receive him.”

“Shall I make a poem for him?” asked Rhymo.

“Not at all,” said the Captain, “for he has his own Court poet, who is
the best in the world, and if he wants a poem he has only to say so.”

“Won’t we have anything extra to do before he comes?” asked the
flower-elf.

“Oh, yes!” replied the Captain, “and you especially, Iris-Wing, will be
very busy, for the King is most particular about the care of plants,
and if a single plant is neglected it makes him unhappy. So I want
Templeton Garden to be a perfect bower of well-kept plants when the
King comes to visit us.”

“Shall I be asked to sing or play?” asked Tono.

“I should say not,” replied the Captain, “for the King always travels
with his own musicians, and if he wants any music he has only to say
so.”

“And how shall we address him?” asked Slumber.

“As ‘Noble King,’ ‘Your Majesty,’ or ‘Your Royal Highness’,” said the
Captain.

“If there is any doubt as to which he prefers, couldn’t we address him
as ‘Your Royal Majesty’s Noble Highness’?” asked Touchstone.

“Silence!” commanded Captain Featherweight. “This is no time for
jesting, and if any elf from this time forward be found guilty of
jesting about the King, he shall forthwith be sent to Doomdell. This
time I spare you, Touchstone.”

“Shall I touch stone next time, noble Captain?” asked Touchstone.

But as soon as he saw that the Captain was really angry that he should
joke in this way about the prison walls of Doomdell, he immediately
got down on bended knee and begged the Captain’s pardon. And Captain
Featherweight, who was anxious that they should all live in harmony,
graciously granted it.

“And Owly,” continued the Captain, “I warn _you_ not to be too clever.
I should think Prince Prigio would be a warning to you. Don’t you
remember how everybody hated him because he was so very clever and let
everybody know it? And that it was only when he concealed the fact and
_seemed_ no cleverer than other people that they began to love him?”

“I’ll do my best,” said Owly, “but if I am as clever as you say, it is
my nature to be so and I cannot help it.”

“You can be clever and tactful, too,” said the Captain. “Take Rainbow
for your model, and learn of him.

“And if you ask a question of the King, you must say: ‘Your Royal
Highness, may I be permitted to ask----’ and so forth.

“But you must _not_ say: ‘May I ask--your Royal Highness?’ ‘Your Royal
Highness’ or ‘Your Majesty’ must always come before ‘I’ or ‘me’ when
you are addressing the King.”

“Rainbow, as usual, I put you in charge of the whole affair. You must
instruct the others in the proper etiquette for the occasion.”

“Shall I gather countless fireflies for the illumination?” asked
Lightning.

“Not fireflies, but glowworms,” said the Captain. “They are rarer and
will therefore do the King more honor.

“And we’ll send to the Dwarfs of Cavedale, and have them make a
thousand silver filigree lanterns to hold the glowworms, and hang from
the ceilings of Mount Fern, and from the branches of trees near our
dwelling.

“And the floors shall be carpeted with the petals of roses; and the
walls hung with star-flower and forget-me-not.

“And the sweetest and freshest of honeydew must be collected, with the
ripest and most luscious of the fruits, and the most perfect of the
nuts.

“And now I think this is all I need tell you, for, as I said before,
the King will manage his own entertainment.

“Right! Left! Shoulder arms!”

At this command every elf went to work.

The flower-elf ran off to the mulberry tree in search of Colonel Claw.
He found him perching on one of the lower branches, so up he flew and
sat beside him. And he told him all about the expected visit of the
King.

“There is nothing the King so much dislikes as an ill-kept garden,”
said the flower-elf. “And so I have come to ask your kind assistance
in a battle against the canker-worms, grubs, beetles, ants and other
insects that eat out the life of the flowers.”

“I’ll do my best,” said Colonel Claw. “I’ll get all the birds in the
neighborhood to wage incessant warfare against all the enemies of the
flowers! And I’ll begin this very hour.”

“A thousand thanks,” said Iris-Wing, “you have my undying gratitude,
and if I can ever help you, be sure I will.”

Then the flower-elf bade adieu to Colonel Claw and went in search of
Slumber.

He found him resting on a bank of fern-moss, and told him that he
wanted him to make the gardener dream such dreams as would make that
lazy fellow do the work of his life.

“I don’t know how you are going to do it,” said the flower-elf, “but it
will have to be done.”

“Leave that to me,” said Slumber, “for I am sure I can manage it. Think
of the bluebirds’ feathers and doubt not.”

“I trust you entirely,” said the flower-elf, “and I know that all will
be well.

“But now I must go and see where the best honeydew is to be found. And
while I am testing the honeydew I will just make a note of the nuts and
fruits that I happen to see.”

So saying he departed waving his hand in adieu.

Lightning went to the Dwarfs of Cavedale and ordered a thousand
lanterns of filigree silver.

Tono trained his choir and orchestra so that he would be prepared if
the King should ask him to sing or play.

Rhymo made verses all night long, for he did not want to be caught
napping if the King should ask him for one of his poems.

Rainbow was carefully planning the details, and every one came to him
for advice.

When the gardener had gone to bed for the night, Slumber entered his
cottage noiselessly, softly entered his sleeping-room, and gently beat
on the drum of his ear.

And the gardener dreamed and dreamed. He thought he was on a desert
plain, and he was very thirsty--so thirsty that he did not care for
anything in the world but _water_. His throat was parched; the sky was
red; the grass was brown; the sun was scorching!

And there was not a drop of water in sight! There were no clouds in the
sky to bring rain, nor a sign of moisture anywhere!

Just as he thought he could stand it no longer, a frightful hobgoblin
with black wings and piercing eyes came hovering over him, and cried in
a voice of thunder:

“You’re thirsty, are you?”

“‘Thirsty,’” sighed the gardener, “I’m dying of thirst!”

“Go first and water the flowers; then you may drink,” said the goblin,
as he flew up in the air uttering a horrid shriek.

But the gardener dreamed again: this time he was starving; and there
was not a scrap of food in sight, not even a grain of corn to satisfy
his gnawing hunger.

And when he thought he could stand it no longer, the same frightful
hobgoblin came flying toward him, and flapped its great wings and cried:

“You’re hungry, are you?”

“So hungry that I’m fainting,” whispered the gardener.

“Go first and feed your plants, and then you may eat,” said the goblin.
Then away he flew and left him alone as before.

But the gardener dreamed still again, and this time he thought he was
in his own cottage. The walls of the cottage began to shrink; and the
tables and chairs and everything else in the room began to move toward
him. The windows shut of themselves; the shades rolled down; the air
grew close and stifling.

And he couldn’t escape, for just as soon as he moved one chair away,
another one took its place.

The chairs and tables moved nearer and nearer; and the gardener was so
weary that he wanted to sink on the floor; but there was not room, for
everything in the cottage piled itself right up against him so that he
could not move.

The air grew thicker and thicker, and the night grew blacker and
blacker, but not so black that he could not see the goblin coming
toward him.

And the goblin flew straight to the gardener, flapped its heavy wings,
and shouted at him:

“You’re cramped for room, are you?”

“I’m dying,” said the gardener.

“Then help the plants to live. Pull up the weeds, give the plants room,
and you may live yourself,” said the goblin as he flew away in the
darkness.

At this point the dream-elf, thinking his work well done, hastened back
to Mount Fern.

“Some dreams,” said he to himself, “are good for a gardener, and I
think this one will be.”

Very early the next morning the flower-elf and Slumber went into the
garden to see what was happening there.

And lo and behold! Colonel Claw was at work with a whole host of birds,
destroying the insects that eat out the life of the flowers. Such a
chattering you never did hear, for they sang and talked as they worked.

A host of Warblers was destroying plant-lice, canker-worms, and
caterpillars.

Catbirds were waging warfare against grasshoppers, beetles, and other
insects.

Swallows were flying hither and thither in search of insects, and
catching their prey on the wing; and each as he passed a friend or a
brother cried out:

“Hurry up, there is work to be done!”

The Flickers were ridding the garden of ants, and gaily they worked and
well.

And Sparrows were eating the seeds of the weeds, so that none might
escape to grow up and choke out the flowers.

All the birds helped in the work, and destroyed all the harmful insects
and weed seeds.

And this army of birds had just got to work when the gardener appeared
on the scene. He came much earlier than usual; and he fed and watered
the plants; and he weeded and spaded and hoed; and not a single plant
was neglected.

And early each morning Colonel Claw marshalled his army of birds to do
battle against the plants’ enemies.

And early each morning the gardener, too, kept on with his weeding and
hoeing.

So that the garden grew and flourished. The flowers were blooming with
happiness, and they smiled and nodded their beautiful heads while they
said to the gardener:

“Dear sir, you are kindness itself.”

And all the elves were delighted, especially the flower-elf.

Dr. Templeton, too, was delighted, and he and his wife came oftener
than usual to walk in the garden and admire the beautiful flowers.

One evening at starlight the Captain received a message from the King,
saying that before a week would go by he would visit Mount Fern, for he
planned to be there on Tuesday next at the full of the moon.

At last the great night arrived, and the elves were all dressed in oak
leaves in honor of the King (for the oak is the King’s favorite tree).

And of course they wore their girdles, for on a great occasion an elf
would no more think of going without a girdle, than a young lady would
think of going to a party without her slippers.

From the entrance to Templeton Garden, all the way to Mount Fern, the
path-way was strewn with flowers and studded with arches.

The first arch was made of _laurel_ to show that the elves honored
their King: the second was made of _roses_ to show that they loved
him: and the third arch was made of _pansies_ to show that they always
thought of him.

The arches and shrubbery were hung with silver filigree lanterns, and
the glowworms shone and shed their soft lights around.

And Lightning, the messenger-elf, who had been sent out in the evening
to watch for the arrival of the King, returned in great haste just at
midnight to say that the King was coming--for the King’s herald had
blown three blasts on his bugle to proclaim His Majesty’s approach.

Then the Elves of Mount Fern took their silver trumpets and blew three
answering blasts as a greeting to all the King’s company.

Two elves were stationed at each of the arches, and they bowed down on
bended knee as the King passed by, and cried: “All hail, noble King!”

And when the King and his retinue arrived at Mount Fern, Captain
Featherweight was there to receive them.

After the greetings were over, Rainbow and Iris-Wing led the King to a
flower-throne which was made of the softest and sweetest of pansies.

Then Rainbow took a golden goblet and bowed down before the King, and
said: “Noble King, will you drink?”

“I will,” said the King.

So Rainbow took a pitcher-plant and poured out some sparkling nectar;
and the King took the goblet and drank and refreshed himself.

Iris-Wing bowed down before the King and asked:

“Noble King, will you eat?”

“I will,” said the King.

Then Iris-Wing took the freshest and ripest of nuts, and the most
luscious of fruits, and brought these to the King. And he ate and
enjoyed them.

When the King had partaken of nuts and berries and nectar, he said to
the Captain.

“Captain Featherweight, I long have wanted to visit you and your
Company, but duties of state have prevented. I am delighted with Mount
Fern!

“Your home is a bower; your furnishings dainty and elegant; and your
fare is delicious.

“Tomorrow we’ll visit the gardens. This evening we’ll spend in quiet
conversing, in puzzles and riddles, conundrums and puns. I love a good
joke when I’m tired of affairs of the kingdom.”

Captain Featherweight, bowing low, replied: “Your Majesty’s wish is our
pleasure.”

Then the King, looking up at the ceiling, was struck by the soft glow
of the filigree lanterns, and asked the Captain what lighting he used.

Bowing low, the Captain replied: “The light of the glowworm.”

The King was delighted and said that he himself had never once thought
of glowworms, but had always used firefly lanterns. Then he called his
secretary and told him to make a note of the lighting of Mount Fern.

After that he called his musicians and told them to set the lighting of
Mount Fern to music, and this was the song that they sang:

  “Sparkle, burnished lanterns,
  Silver lanterns!
  What a lot of glowworms,
  Great and small;
  How your lights are shedding
  Forth their radiance,
  Over King and Captain--
  And elves all!”

After the music the King called Iris-Wing and asked him what flowers he
grew in the garden.

“Noble King,” said the flower-elf, “there are pansies, narcissi and
roses, rosemary and rue, and daffodils, lilies and daisies, and violets
blue.”

“That is well,” said the King. “Is that all?”

“Not at all,” said the elf.

But just here Touchstone came forward and bowed down before the King
and said: “Your Highness, may I be permitted to speak?”

“You may,” said the King.

“Noble King, there are blondes and brunettes in the garden.”

“What! Blondes and brunettes, do you say?”

“Yes, your Highness,” said Touchstone “the brunette is Black-eyed
Susan, and Blue-eyed Mary’s the blonde.”

“Ha! Ha!” laughed the King. “I see,” said he, “and what other strange
plants do you grow?”

“What is seen on the western sky at sunset,” answered Touchstone.

“And what is that?” asked the King.

“Golden-Glow,” said the elf.

“That is bright,” remarked the King, “and what else do you grow in your
garden?”

“We grow animals, too, in the garden!”

“What? Animals, too, in the garden!”

“Yes, your Highness,” said Touchstone, “we grow the Bear-berry, the
Tiger-Lily and the Dande-Lion!”

“How true!” laughed the King, “and what next?”

“A knave in church,” said the jester.

“Very many, I fear,” the King agreed. “But what is yours?”

“Why, Jack-in-the-Pulpit,” said he.

“Ha! Ha!” laughed the King, “you’ve done well, and now I am most
anxious to examine that wonderful garden of yours.”

“Will your Majesty go to the garden _now_?” asked the flower-elf.

“I will,” said the King.

Then Captain Featherweight and Iris-Wing escorted the King all
over the garden and grounds around Templeton Hall. And the King was
delighted, and gave the Captain and the flower-elf much praise.

“Yours is the best-kept garden I’ve seen in my travels,” said he, “and
as a reward for your diligence, interest, and skill, I’ll give _you_,
Iris-Wing, a girdle of gold.”

Now in Elfland a golden girdle is scarcely ever worn except by the
Captain of a Company. And to be presented with one was in itself a
great honor; but to be presented with a golden girdle by the _King_ was
a very great honor indeed!

Then the flower-elf bowed low to the King of the elves, and made
answer: “Your Highness, you honor me greatly.”

“Arise,” said the King, “you are worthy. I’ll have the girdle designed
by the Dwarfs of the Court, and you and the elves of Mount Fern will
come there to receive it one year from today.”

When they had made a tour of the flower garden they went into the
orchard; and they found that the woodpeckers, nut-hatches and
creepers had done their work thoroughly, for there was not a sign of a
caterpillar anywhere, nor the eggs of any insect.

The lawns too were just as well kept, for they were all smooth and
velvety, and not a weed could be found.

And the more he examined the grounds, the more pleased was the King,
and he constantly cried: “Captain Featherweight, I am delighted.”

As soon as he had returned to Mount Fern he said to the Captain: “Let
your elves be seated around me on the soft rose-petals so lavishly
strewn on the floor, as a carpet.”

Then he told them all how delighted he was with his visit to Mount
Fern; and how much he enjoyed the birds, the trees and the flowers in
Templeton Garden.

“And do not forget that a year from to-night you’re to come to the
Court of the King of the elves, where the flower-elf shall receive a
golden girdle for work well done in the garden.

“And all the other elves of Mount Fern shall receive a prize for work
well done in the Company.

“And--as this is the best-trained Company I have seen in my travels--I
shall give you, Captain Featherweight, an old and priceless Egyptian
amulet worth more than its weight in rubies.

“But now I must say good-night, for tomorrow I’m off to the woodlands.”

When the King had retired for the night, Captain Featherweight made a
motion to Slumber to go to the King of the elves, and help him dream
pleasant dreams.

Then Slumber sat by his bedside and helped him to dream this dream:

The King dreamed he sat by a running river that sparkled and shone in
the moonlight, as it rolled over the stones at the bottom in ripples
of gleaming silver. And on either side of the flowing river were the
softest, greenest, freshest moss-covered banks; while at a little
distance magnificent oaks and elms cast their beautiful shadows
beneath. And the birds sang in the tree-tops and carolled gaily with
health and happiness.

The air was cool and sweet; the flowers were bright and gay; all nature
was glad; and the King of the elves was happy.

And soon he saw coming toward him a chariot of roses drawn by
thirty-three humming-birds, three in a row.

The chariot stopped near the King, and one of the humming-birds bowed
and said:

“Noble King, your Empire is all the world; and we have come to take you
over land and sea; over high mountains, and rocky billows, to the land
of the rising sun. Arise and sit in our chariot.”

Then the King arose and sat in the chariot, and the birds flew ever
onward--past snow-clad peaks and tall cathedral spires, past green
fields and rustling corn--on, on, on through the bright clear air till
they came to the land of the rising sun.

And as soon as they entered there they heard the blowing of trumpets
and beating of drums, and a million voices cried:

“Hail, King of the elves! Noble King of the elves!”

And the sweetest flowers nodded their beautiful heads, and welcomed the
King and cried:

“Our noble protector, all hail!”

The next evening at starlight the King of the elves set off for the
woodlands. And Captain Featherweight and his Company escorted him and
his retinue far past the walls of Templeton Garden before they returned
to Mount Fern.


THE END





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