The Baldwin Library
GRTSELDA HELPS THE FAIRY WOMASI
il I '
AND OTHER STORIES.
Author of "The Charm Fairy;" "Fairy Stories;" &c.
BLACKIE & SON, 49 & 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
CINDERELLA'S COUSIN, .
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS,
FAIRY DISASTER, . .
A CHRISTMAS PARTY, .
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN,
THE FAIRIES' FOUNDLING,
. . 6
. . 82
. . og9
M AMILY quarrels are very sad things, even
when the family all make it up, and kiss
and forgive each other in a little while-a
few weeks at the outside-and things go smoother,
perhaps, after the rupture than ever they did before.
Now the quarrel which occurred in a certain family
long ago was a very sad and a very serious affair
indeed; and the girl who had caused it all was never
really forgiven, not even when all of those she had
offended were dead except her own sister Tabitha; or
when, tired and weary of this world and all its troubles,
she herself died too, leaving a poor, friendless little
daughter behind her."
Little Griselda was very good and quiet and gentle
-not the least like what her mother had been when
she was young. She never fretted over their poverty,
and the poor clothes and scanty food it forced them
to put up with, or envied anyone who was better
off than herself, until at last her mother fell very ill,
and the doctor ordered her beef-tea and jelly and
port wine, and the poor wee girl had the sorrow of
knowing that there was no money to buy luxuries-
only just enough for the bare necessities of life, and
perhaps not always that.
It is very hard for anyone to be poor-really poor,
I mean; and when little Griselda's mother was quite
young-before she very foolishly ran away from her
old home to marry a man who was altogether unfit to
take care of, and beneath, her in every way-she had
been used to every comfort that money could buy.
When the troubles came, therefore, and she had to face
the world with her little daughter, with only what she
earned by needlework to support her, it was no wonder
that the poor woman's strength failed her. She
grew weaker and weaker as the years went by, until
at last she had a very severe illness; and on the
morning that Griselda the younger was fifteen, the
doctor told her kindly, but as if he was quite sure of
what he said, that her mother could not live more than
a few days, and that perhaps it would not be so long
Now Griselda had unlimited faith in this doctor.
She believed that if he chose he could do anything
with his wonderful instruments and medicines, so she
only cried bitterly, and went on imploring him to
make haste and cure her mother. But the doctor,
who though he could be kind enough sometimes, was
rather a bad-tempered man, and a very busy one, only
answered shortly that she had better stop crying and
make her mother some broth, if there was no jelly,
which was the right thing for her.
Later in the day, when Griselda was sitting quietly
at the window of the sick-room, her mother called her
to come close to the bedside, and placed a small packet
into her hand.
"It is a letter to your Aunt Tabitha," she said
faintly. "I have asked her to give you a home, and
I do not think that, hard and unforgiving as she is,
she can refuse it. I have told her that you are accus-
tomed to being useful, and can earn all I ask for you,
if she does not choose you to be brought up with her
own daughters. Can you read the address?"
Griselda read it aloud at once. She knew where
the house was quite well, and was astounded at find-
ing that she had an aunt living in such a grand place.
"Could you find your way?" asked the sick woman
'Oh, yes! But it is a great way off. I shall be
gone a long time," said Griselda doubtfully.
"Never mind that. I want you to start now, so
that I may have my mind at rest before I die. Go
So Griselda took her threadbare cloak from the peg
it occupied on the wall, and began trying to arrange
the shabby ribbons on her hat more tidily.
"You had better take my black shawl," said her
mother. "Your cloak will hardly hang together, and
that hat is almost as bad. Your Aunt Tabitha will
see the result of my foolishness, and I only hope it
won't harden her heart. Don't ask to see her, but the
servant will take the note up, and you must wait for
So poor little Griselda trudged off, feeling very small
and sad and lonely. It was indeed a long, long way,
and she was tired and footsore when she reached the
gate of her aunt's mansion; and so dusty and shabbily
dressed did she look that the grand footman, with
powdered hair and white stockings, thought she was
a beggar-girl from the streets, and was not at all in-
clined to be civil to her.
"What do you want, I should like-to know? and
what do you mean by coming to the front door and
bringing me up from the pantry?" he demanded with
such a terrible frown that the unlucky little girl was
frightened out of her wits.
I have a note for the baroness," she faltered, hold-
ing out the packet shyly.
The gorgeous footman examined it minutely.
"Any answer?" he inquired.
"Yes. Mother told me to wait."
"Oh, well, I suppose it must go up? You can stand
there out of the way," he added, pointing to a dark
corner under the stairs, which was decorated with cob-
webs and the sweepings of weeks from the hall. So
Griselda retired into the darkness, feeling much obliged
to it for hiding her from prying eyes. She waited for
some time, until at last she heard the footman's step
upon the stairs again, and he stood before her looking
a little less scornful than before.
"My lady is coming down to speak to you, so you
had better get- out of that dust-hole. Her ladyship
can't be expected to sully her silks and satins with
cobwebs for the likes of you," he observed loftily,
looking much as if Griselda had herself selected the
somewhat unpleasant situation in life which she was
occupying. She came very timidly out into the day-
light again, just as the rustling of a lady's skirts an-
nounced the approach of her Aunt Tabitha, and there
appeared a tall form dressed in crimson satin, with a
long train trailing behind it.
Griselda, who was blushing violently, felt exceed-
ingly uncomfortable, but she managed to drop a sedate
little curtsy, and stood waiting nervously to see what
the grand lady had to say.
"Your mother is very ill, I see from this?" began
the baroness, shaking the note which she held in her
"Yes, madam," said Griselda choking back an un-
ruly sob; "she is dying!"
"Well, well!" said the lady impatiently, "we must
all come to that sometime, and your mother has
brought all her troubles on herself. She seems to
have made no provision for you, so you may tell her,
in answer to this note, that when it is over, if you
come to me and behave yourself I will give you a
comfortable home. Only have the kindness to appear
in clothes which are a little less disreputable than those
you have on, and remember that you will be expected
to make yourself usefuL"
All this was said in such a stern tone, and the lady
frowned so severely, that Griselda, in spite of an idea
she had that she ought to be very much obliged, was
too much frightened to say anything but a very falter-
ing Thank you."
"You may as well go now," the lady added coldly.
So Griselda turned towards the door and was trudging
off again silently, when she was called back in a kinder
"Perhaps you would like to take these home with
you?" and the baroness held out a lovely little basket
of purple and white grapes which had been standing
on the hall table.
Griselda was almost too much overjoyed for words.
They were just what her mother wanted.
"Oh, thank you-thank you very much!" she cried
so eagerly that the proud lady could not help smil-
"You may come back for some more in a day or
two, but do not tell your mother that I sent them, and
remember that on no account will I see her, no matter
how often she asks me to do so," were her parting
words, and Griselda went down the long avenue feel-
ing that her walk had not been in vain, though she was
more pleased with the delicate grapes than with the
home which had been promised her. Life with her
own dear mother and poverty as companions was un-
comfortable enough; but she had a feeling that with
that cold, cross-looking lady and her riches it would be
far worse-in which surmise she was right, more so
than she knew at the time.
She reached her home earlier than she expected, and
went upstairs at once with the basket of grapes. But
it was too late; her mother would never want fruit or
anything else in this world again. Griselda gave only
one glance at the still white form lying on the bed, and
then she knew that she was motherless.
THEY were sad, dreary days which followed. Gris-
elda had never been very happy in that dingy
little lodging-house; she had had hunger and cold and
privations of all sorts to endure there, and they had
14 CINDERELLA'S COUSIN.
been obliged to sell long ago everything which had
once made their room bright and pretty, to buy food
with, so that there was nothing but the remembrance
that her mother had lived there to make home attrac-
tive now. Still, it was home-the only one she could
remember-and she clung to it as long as possible-
as long as she had money enough left to pay the land-
lady her rent, and to buy the little rolls of bread, which
were the cheapest form of food she could live on. The
basket of grapes took the place of butter for a time,
but they did not last for ever, any more than the small
store of coins hidden away behind the wooden bed-
stead did; and there came a day when Griselda could
no longer put off going to her aunt's house, but had
to dress herself as respectably as she could in the
garments, she had manufactured out of some of her
mother's clothes, and trudge off to the mansion with
her tiny bundle in her hand, and a sharp, home-sick
pain in her heart.
She reached the gate at last, and walked slowly up
the avenue trying to gather up her courage for the
meeting with her aunt, instead of quaking and trem-
bling as though she was going to have a tooth out.
" If only Aunt Tabitha didn't look as if she thought
herself so grand, I shouldn't feel as uncomfortable as I
do; but she has a way of making one feel like a black
beetle talking to a peacock, which takes all the stiffen-
ing out of one," sighed Griselda to herself as she waited
at the hall door for the gorgeous footman to appear in
answer to her feeble tug at the bell. She was very
nearly as much afraid of him and his magnificence as
of his mistress and hers.
He did not look quite so much as if he thought she
had no business at the front door this time, and left
her sitting down in the hall instead of standing among
the cobwebs under the stairs. Still, Griselda felt that
she was of no consequence-that there was nobody
who cared the least about her, and she could not help
being very lonely and miserable
The footman had said that her aunt was out driving
with the young ladies; and before very long there was
a sound of wheels, and a splendid red and green
chariot, drawn by four horses, drove up to the door.
The baroness got out and her two daughters followed-
Griselda could see them plainly through the window,
and she looked eagerly to seewhat her cousins were like.
They were tremendously fashionable young ladies,
dressed very showily in silks and velvets; but they
had a discontented, disagreeable expression, which
showed that their dispositions were none of the
sweetest. Several footmen came at the first sound
of wheels to open the door, help the ladies out of the
chariot, and carry in their shawls and rugs; and for a
minute or two Griselda stood unnoticed in the crowd.
But presently the baroness caught sight of her.
Oh! so you are come!" she said coldly. I must
send you up to the maid's room until you have some
decent clothes. Are those the best you possess?"
Yes, my lady," faltered Griselda, feeling bitterly
ashamed of her poverty-stricken appearance, and
wondering if she ought to address the baroness as
Aunt Tabitha, or keep to the more respectful term,
which sounded the correct thing, and came altogether
"We must see to that then," went on her ladyship.
"There are your cousins Rosalind and Matilda; you
must tryand learn to be useful to them. Mrs. Dolerums!"
"I am here, my lady." And a very fat woman,
dressed in black alpaca, waddled hastily up from the
"This is my housekeeper-Mrs. Dolerums," ex-
plained her ladyship. She will take you to the maid's
room and give directions to her for making some
respectable frocks that you can wear. They might be
made perfectly well out of some of the young ladies'
old ones, Dolerums. You will see that Higgins doesn't
go cutting any new stuff. Take the girl to her now."
And Griselda followed Mrs. Dolerums up the steep
stairs-up-up-until they came to a landing with no
carpet on the floor, where dust-pans, brushes, empty
water-cans, and all kinds of housemaids' appliances
were plentifully strewed about. The housekeeper
stopped at the open door of a small, poorly-furnished
room, where two women were sitting working. It was
full of working materials, and there were several half-
made dresses lying about.
Here's the young lady as mistress said was to have
dresses made her," observed Mrs. Dolerums, subsid-
ing into the nearest chair with a plump as she pointed
contemptuously to Griselda, who was painfully con-
scious of her shabby clothes, and looked dreadfully
"She needs them-there's no doubt of that," re-
sponded Miss Higgins, putting down her work, and
going over to a chest of drawers from which she
produced several half-worn and quite discarded gar-
ments of Rosalind's and Matilda's. "This ought to
do-and there," she said, pulling out a dark blue serge,
a faded gray woollen dress, and a white one with a
great many tears in it.
They'll do well enough-they're only a great deal
too good," snapped Mrs. Dolerums, who was too fat to
be greatly pleased at having been brought upstairs
for any purpose not directly advantageous to herself.
" You'd better keep the brat here until one of them is
ready, her ladyship doesn't want her down-stairs again in
those rags she's got on at present." So the stout house-
keeper waddled down, and Griselda stayed upstairs, and
sat on a wooden hat-box for the next four hours, when
the first dress was finished. She had never had such
good dresses as the three Higgins manufactured before,
and just at first she felt quite proud of them; but in a
few days, when she saw what splendid dresses her
cousins wore, and how many they had of them, she
could not help feeling the difference, and wondering
whether her mother would be very sorry if she knew
that her little daughter was jealous.
It was very hard to be good and contented-every-
thing was very hard, for no one seemed to care about
the unlucky little girl, no one ever spoke to her except
to order her to do something-to dust the china, to
mend the carpets, to run errands-to do anything and
everything which nobody else cared to do. Very often
she went without her dinner or tea, just because no
one remembered to give it to her, for the baroness
would not allow her to eat in the dining-room with
herself and her daughters, and Griselda shrank instinc-
tively from the servants' hall; besides, the only time
she appeared there Mrs. Dolerums told her sharply
that it was not the place for her, and the cook gave
her a piece of bread and butter to eat outside. So
that altogether she felt very much like the poor little
kittens who lose their way in London, and go mewing
piteously about from house to house until some one
takes pity on them and gives them a home.
Rosalind and Matildawent out to a greatmanyparties,
but, of course, though Griselda as she grew older often
helped to dress them, she was never taken to any of
the nice places they went to, and even when there
was a party at home she was never allowed to appear
--indeed, she had not a dress in which it would have
been possible for her to do so, for several years had
gone by, and she had grown taller than either of her
cousins, so that their old things did not fit her as well
as they used to. The baroness gave an extra big party
to celebrate the twenty-first birthday of her eldest
daughter, and Griselda was nearly run off her feet for
two or three days before it, helping the servants to get
things ready. She was quite worn out when the event-
ful evening came, but she brushed out both the sisters'
thick hair and curled and braided it, because she did
it so much better than anyone else-even the baroness'
own maid, who, as she was wont to announce in the
servants' hall, had spent a small fortune in learning the
art of hair-dressing.
Rosalind and Matilda were busy talking over the
clothes and jewels they meant to wear; but that matter
was soon settled, and then they began discussing all
the guests who had been invited, particularly a certain
Prince Jasper, who had just arrived from foreign parts,
and of whom everyone was talking.
"They say he is so wonderfully handsome and
charming in every way," murmured Matilda wist-
"Yes; ard they say that the kingdom his father is
going to give him when he returns is one of the most
magnificent in the land; and he is enormously rich as
it is. I hope we shall have plenty of opportunities of
talking to him, sister," observed Rosalind, who was
I wish there was any chance of my seeing this won-
derful prince," sighed Griselda. "One would think I
must be a far-off cousin of Cinderella's-of a Cinder-
ella without a fairy godmother at least. I never have
a minute to enjoy myself in."
"Mama would say you were an ungrateful little
brat if she heard you!" exclaimed Rosalind sharply.
"She was telling Mrs. Dolerums the other day that
you are very lucky to have such a comfortable home,
and ought to do a great deal more than you do in
return for it. Do plait my hair more smoothly, for
"Never mind," whispered Matilda, who saw great
hot tears welling up in her cousin's blue eyes, "if you
hide in the gallery, over the hall, you will see us all
coming out of the dining-room after supper, and you
will know the prince, because he always wears a dia-
mond star on his left shoulder."
So Griselda, who wisely determined to see as much
of the fun as she could, hid behind a great stuffed
eagle in the gallery; and just when she was getting so
tired of waiting that she felt almost inclined to go to
bed the dining-room door opened, the musicians in
the hall began playing some lively music, and all the
guests trooped out into the dancing-room beyond.
Rosalind was talking very fast to a tall, handsome
young man, and when he turned half round to look at
a picture she was showing him Griselda saw that he
had a splendid diamond star flashing on his left shoul-
der. So she knew that she had seen the prince; and
then, feeling very tired and lonely and unhappy, she
went off to her little bed, so as to be ready to get up
at five o'clock and help to put the rooms straight again
as soon as the guests had all gone away.
Now, as Griselda had a good conscience, she usually
slept very soundly indeed. But that night she had a
dream which made a great impression upon her. She
dreamed that when she went out for her usual daily
walk along the road which ran outside the avenue she
noticed a path running through a little wood there
was, which she had never seen before-I mean that
she had never seen the path, not the wood. Her
dream was very real and vivid, and she could remem-
ber quite distinctly every turning she took, for she
turned down the path at once. It led right through
the wood, until at last she came to a place where there
were two large trees a good way apart, with an extra-
ordinary amount of thick ivy hanging from the upper
branches, so that it made quite a curtain down to the
ground. Then Griselda pushed the festoons of ivy
aside, and, stepping through it, found herself in a large
square space which had been carefully cleared away in
the middle of the wood, with little groups of shrubs
planted here and there-some of the biggest with a
seat under them-and a large well of beautifully clear
water in the middle. Griselda went on dreaming that
she sat down on the most comfortable seat to rest,
that presently she heard a step, and that when she
looked up she saw Prince Jasper, with his diamond
star flashing away in the sunlight, standing beside her
looking at her very earnestly. She woke up with a
start just then, for the clock on the landing was strik-
ing five, and she knew it was time to get up; but her
head was full of her dream all the time she was dress-
ing, though later on in the day, when she was in the
midst of her work, she forgot all about it. But the
next night she dreamt exactly the same dream over
again, and so she did on the third, only that that time
the prince came and sat down beside her. Now, on
the third morning Griselda awoke feeling very excited.
All these repetitions of the same dream naturally made
a great impression on her, and when she had done her
morning's work and was ready for her daily walk she
determined to find her way to the wood she had seen
in her dream and look for the path.
"I have passed the wood very often without seeing
it, certainly," she said to herself; "but then I never
noticed very particularly, and the trees are thick near
So she made her way down the long avenue out .on
:to the road, and when she came to the wood she
poked about among the trees, and there, sure enough,
was the path just as she had dreamt it was. So she
went along it until she came to the curtain of ivy
between the two large trees that she had dreamt of,
pushed it aside, stepped into the open space, and sat
down on the very seat that she had occupied in her
dream. Then she waited, feeling excited and breath-
less, and hardly knowing what to expect. Only she
felt sure that something was going to happen. And so
Presently there was a sound of footsteps coming
from the opposite side of the wood to which Griselda
had entered. They were slow, irregular, rather feeble
footsteps, not like those of a strong young man; but
Griselda, whose head was full of her dream, did not
notice that. So when, instead of Prince Jasper, there
appeared through the bushes a very old woman, dressed
in a scarlet cloak, high-heeled shoes, and a tall black
hat-altogether in the Mother Hubbard style-besides
being cu il.. i;-Led, she was a little disappointed.
The old woman seemed very weak and infirm. She
helped herself along with a big gold-headed stick
which she carried, and she had a horn water-bottle
slung over her shoulder. When she reached the well
she tried several times to go down the steep steps
which led to it, and then, finding she could not manage
them, she tried to lower the bottle by its chain, and
fill it that way. Now Griselda was always only too
pleased at getting an opportunity of helping anyone;
so, though she felt a little afraid of the old woman,
she got up at once and offered to draw the water for
her. The old lady thanked her and drank a deep
draught of the fresh clear water with which Griselda
had filled the bottle.
Then she looked at the girl rather queerly, and told
her to fetch a bundle of weeds, which someone had left
lying about on the other side of the well. Griselda
brought them, feeling decidedly bewildered.
"Thank you. I know all your troubles, Griselda,
and the qd'eh of the fairies, who has had her eye upon
you for some time, sent me to put matters straight for
you. She likes to look after everyone who is treated
unkindly or unfairly, and has not a fairy godmother
like Cinderella. She sent Puck to regulate your
dreams three nights ago, and as you have found your
way here, I suppose he attended to his business
properly for once. The first things you want are
decent clothes, and with them I have orders to pro-
vide you." Whereupon the old lady touched the
bundle of weeds with her stick, and it immediately
became a gray woollen cloak-rather a shabby one-
exactly like what Griselda was wearing, in fact.
"I daresay you don't think that a very splendid
article; but that is only because you don't know any-
thing about it," she observed. "Take your own cloak
off, and put on this one."
Griselda obeyed without a word. The old woman's
behaviour was very strange certainly, but she looked
too kind to mean any harm. As soon as the old cloak
fell upon the ground it turned of its own accord into
a bundle of weeds, which looked just like what the new
one had been made out of. Griselda was too much
astonished to do anything but stare, and stood quietly
waiting to see what would happen next
"That is a magic cloak," went on the old woman.
"It looks exactly like your old one to mortal eyes, but
any lady in the land would give all her jewels to pos-
sess it, if she only knew what it is precisely. You
need never be shabbily dressed any more-except
when it suits you. You have only to twist the third
button from the top once whenever you want to look
nice, and you will be dressed immediately in the most
handsome clothes and jewels imaginable-as far as is
suitable to the occasion at least-without so much as
the trouble of putting them on. When you wish to re-
sume your ordinary clothes again you have only to wish
to do so and you will be attired at once just as you
were when you twisted the button. Good-bye, Gris-
elda, there are better times in store. I recommend
you to try the properties of that button now;" with
which bit of advice the wonderful old woman vanished.
Griselda naturally felt very curious to see if the old
woman had really spoken the truth, so she promptly
did as she was told, and twisted the button. When,
lo and behold! in the twinkling of an eye-in less
26 CINDERELLA'S COUSIN.
time than it would take you to say Peter Perkins--
every garment that she had on was changed; all her
worn-out, dowdy-looking clothes disappeared com-
pletely, even the wonderful cloak, and she felt a
beautiful costume of blue velvet trimmed with fur slip
on to her almost imperceptibly. She looked at her
feet: they were stowed away into the most fascinating
little shoes, showing blue silk stockings; her hands
were covered with delicate kid gloves; and looking
down into the clear water she could see that her hat
was one of the prettiest she had ever beheld.
This," murmured the astonished girl to herself, "is
really very like Cinderella."
She felt a little pull at the back of her dress just
then, though when she turned round there was no one
in sight; but she was conscious of some invisible force
which seemed to drag her in the direction of the seat
she had quitted, and, feeling tired, she went and sat
down there. She was ready for a rest after all the
excitement, and she had done a hard morning's work,
which was some excuse perhaps. At anyrate, instead
of staying wide awake, as she intended, to see what
would happen next, she quietly dropped off to sleep
in the corner of the seat. And there, looking very
lovely in her soft fur and velvet, Prince Jasper found
her when he came to take his usual walk through the
wood, which was part of the property of the people
he was staying with. He stopped in astonishment to
CINDERELLA'S COUSIN. 27
look at the sleeping girl; but very soon his astonish-
ment turned to admiration, for he thought among all
the grand ladies he had been seeing lately there was
not one a quarter so beautiful and sweet-looking as
she. Griselda was so sound asleep that she did not
wake for some time, although the prince was so en-
raptured and so much taken up with looking at her
that he dropped first his eye-glass and then his walking-
stick; indeed, before her big gray eyes opened at last
he had fallen hopelessly in love with her, and had
quite made'up his mind to do everything in his power
to win this charming princess-it never struck him
that she could be anything less- exalted than a princess
-for his wife.
"She is just what my father always hoped that I
should bring home-" But when he had got as far as
this in his meditations Griselda opened her eyes in
Like most other people, she waserather ashamed of
being caught asleep, and she was a little startled at
finding the prince standing over her, though, oddly
enough, she had just been screaming about him again.
But she very soon lost all her shyness, and in about
five minutes she was chattering away, telling him the
true story of her sad life, as if she had known him
since she was two years old. Prince Jasper was very
much surprised when he heard the I.o:itiou she was
really in, but he was very much pleased too, because
it gave him a better chance of winning her quickly.
And Griselda was so charmed with him, and so pleased
with his kind way of talking, that, being in the habit of
making up her mind at once whenever she had any-
thing to make it up about, she promised to marry him
as soon as possible when he asked her-which was
after they had been talking together for about an hour.
And as things were done much more quickly in those
days than they are now, they decided that he should
come in his chariot to take her away the next day, so
that the ceremony could be performed at a conven-
iently early hour; and having arranged everything as
comfortably as they could they proceeded to walk
back together as far as the road, when Griselda said
good-bye to the prince; and then, as soon as he was
out of sight, she wished for her old clothes again, in
which she made her way home as fast as possible.
She was busy dusting the. rooms upstairs when she
heard Prince Jasper arrive in his chariot the next
morning. He was shown into one of the reception
rooms where the baroness was sitting, and as soon as
Griselda heard the door shut she twisted her button,
with the result that she was dressed immediately in a
splendid wedding dress of white satin and diamonds;
and then she waited impatiently at the top of the stairs.
Now the baroness felt sure that Prince Jasper had
come for one of her own daughters; and when she
found that it was Griselda, the little household drudge,
whom he wanted, her rage knew no bounds. She rang
the bell furiously, intending to tell the footman to turn
him out of the house, but the prince walked out into the
hall at once of his own accord, where he found Griselda
waiting for him, blushing and smiling and looking very
beautiful, though rather as if she did not know what
to do with her long train, which, without exaggeration,
was about twelve yards long. He told her to follow
him into the chariot as quickly as possible; but just as
they got to the hall door Rosalind and Matilda, who
had heard something going on, appeared from the
other side, and the angry baroness popped out of
the reception room. They could hardly believe their
eyes when they saw Griselda in her magnificent dress;
but Rosalind, who was possessed of most of the sense
of the family, immediately concluded that the fairies
had something to do with it, and set an example,
which the others followed, of throwing her slippers and
a jar of rice, which Mrs. Dolerums was carrying down
from the store-room, after the retreating chariot.
Prince Jasper and Griselda were as happy as they
deserved to be ever after; though the latter's magic
cloak got mislaid on the journey, and she never saw
the old woman again.
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
ONG ago there lived an old man named
Snidell, who when he died left two sons
totally unprovided for. The eldest, Carl,
was generally considered stupid, but he was honest
and good; while the youngest, Hans, was renowned
for nothing but his cleverness and cunning.
The two boys both felt that there was not much to
be done in the small village where they had spent
their lives. There were no rich people. It was a
place where there were plenty ready to sell but few to
buy, and altogether it presented no opening for young
men who had their bread to earn and nothing but
their wits to begin upon. So they both decided to
beg their way to the nearest town, which was some
way off, and when they got there to look about them
smartly, and turn their hands to anything which would
bring in enough to keep them from starving. At
first both boys worked equally well, running errands,
holding horses, blacking boots, or doing any other
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
odd jobs which came in their way; and presently,
when they had managed to save a little capital to buy
stock with, they both tried selling flowers, sweets, or
fruit in the streets, as so many other boys did.
Carl was much more industrious than Hans. He
was always the first at his post in the morning and
the last to leave it at night, and he never stood about
the town chattering with idle boys, but used to walk
steadily through the busiest parts of the streets with
his basket in the most business-like manner possible,
always on the look-out for a chance customer. Never-
theless, though Hans would frequently waste half the
morning and all the afternoon in amusing himself, at
the end of the week his profits were often nearly
double those of his brother, and Carl was fairly
puzzled to know how he managed to make so much
money. Now the truth of the matter was that Carl
was always scrupulously honest, he would have starved
rather than take a penny which did not belong to
him. He never tried to sell flowers which he had kept
in water for days as fresh gathered; he always gave
full measure of whatever he sold, and he never would
make sure of extra profit for himself by buying up any
of the exceedingly cheap fruit, of which some dis-
honest people had always a large supply, but which
was known to have been stolen from various large
gardens near the town. Hans, on the contrary, never
considered whether he was earning his money honestly
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
or not. As long as the little leather bag he kept sewed
inside his clothes grew steadily heavier every week,
and the bulk of its contents turned first from copper
to silver and then from silver to gold, he was quite
satisfied, and ready to boast of his "luck" to anyone
who would listen to him. His brother Carl, indeed,
he knew too well to trust with the secret of his bad
ways. But evil companions are always to be had for
the asking, so that very soon Hans had plenty of what
he called friends, and the more prosperous he grew
the fonder these precious friends appeared to be of
him. They all looked down on Carl, who plodded
steadily on, not saving money with any great rapidity,
in spite of his frugal ways and hard work; and Hans,
as well as others, voted him a stupid fellow.
Carl put up with all the taunts patiently. He began
to think that he really must be stupid enough to de-
serve them, and to wish that he was quick and sharp
like his brother. It is a true saying that Honesty is
the best policy;" but in this world, for a time at least,
the wicked sometimes prosper wonderfully, though, as
a rule, only for a time.
At last Hans grew rich enough to discard his basket
entirely, stock a fixed wooden stall, and set up for him-
self in grand style. One day Carl, who was taking
some fruit to an old lady who had ordered it, came
suddenly upon Hans, who was very busy selling cherries
to a number of children. Carl had not seen his brother
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS. 33
for some days, so he waited silently and without being
observed while the children were being attended to.
When they were gone he touched his brother on the
shoulder. Hans started and looked confused.
Where in the world did you spring from? I never
heard you come up!" he exclaimed.
"I saw you were serving and did not like to inter-
rupt," observed Carl, looking wistfully at the heaps
of fruit and sweetmeats. It would be long indeed
before he could afford such a stock. "You seem to
be doing an uncommonly good business," he added,
Hans, somehow, did not seem at all pleased to see
his brother. He only mumbled something in reply,
and proceeded to bundle a lot of paper bags and
weights and measures behind some baskets in the
corner. A tin cup, marked one quart," slipped from
the heap and fell at Carl's feet. He picked it up and
was just going to replace it-Hans happened to be
looking the other way-when he saw something which
arrested his attention. Yes-surely there could be no
mistake-positively about an inch and three-quarters
above the right one there was a false bottom in the
measure. The fall must have loosened it, and it had
slipped from its place. Carl drew a deep breath-he
was too much shocked and astonished to speak a word.
Just then Hans turned round sharply. He became per-
fectly white with fear, and uttered an angry exclamation.
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
"What are you meddling with that for? It's no
business of yours, is it?"
"Oh, Hans!" Carl held up the false bottom with
a horror-stricken face.
"Drop that! Put it back-down among the baskets,
can't you!" exclaimed Hans in alarm. At any moment
some customer might pass by. "Put it down, I say!
I should be ruined if anyone saw it!"
Carl threw away the measure with a gesture of dis-
gust. "Hans, it is cheating/ If you were found out
you would be ruined, as you say-you might be sent
to prison! For pity's sake burn all those dreadful
things, and promise me that you won't use them any
But Hans only flew into a rage. He knew his
brother would tell no tales, and his only anxiety was
to get rid of him before the passers-by noticed what
was going on.
So Carl went on his way to the old lady's house,
taking her fruit and a very disturbed mind with him.
He understood partly now how it was that Hans had
managed to get on so fast, and envied him no longer.
He had never been so contented with his own humble
lot as he was that evening when he went home to the
little room he had hired, put the fruit he had not sold
safely away for the next day, and reflected that though
his savings-box was not so heavy as it might be, it was
still much fuller than it had been a short time ago,
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
and all it contained had been honestly earned. After
that day he seldom saw his brother. They had dif-
ferent companions, they lived in different parts of the
town; and besides, since that scene about the false
measures Hans had done his best to avoid speaking,
even if they met in the street.
So the years went on and the two boys grew into
men, and they both prospered, but in different degrees.
Hans became a rich man, with very little to trouble him
but his bad conscience; while many unpleasant things
-sickness, loss of friends, and poverty-sometimes
came upon Carl at different periods of his life, before
he amassed the modest fortune with which he at last
decided to retire. Now it was very strange, but though
by this time the brothers had discontinued all inter-
course with each other, they both had the same wish,
and that was to go back to their native village, build
a house there, and live in it for the rest of their days.
And stranger still, though neither of them knew any-
thing of the other's movements, it was on exactly the
same day that they both arranged to start, only Hans
set out about three hours before Carl did, and there-
fore we will describe his journey first.
He got a capital horse to ride upon, and he collected
all his money in gold and bank-notes, put it into three
strong canvas sacks, and took it with him, hidden as
much as possible under his cloak. There was a bright
moon, and it was a lovely night for a .ride; so for
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
some hours, until he got right out into the country, all
went well. But by and by his steed began to exhibit
very marked signs of.discomfort. Then all at once
the moon passed behind a cloud for an instant, and
immediately some soft, weird, mysterious music struck
up. Hans' horse stood stock-still-except that it
trembled violently-and refused to stir a step. Then
the moon emerged from the bank of clouds and he
saw what he wanted to see-the musicians. Only the
sight was so strange and uncanny that, if he had not
been too astonished to do anything at all, he would
have yelled with fright. On one side of the road was a
great dead tree, and scrambling about all over its big
bare branches were dozens and dozens of little elves,
in the usual costume of tight-fitting green, and some
of them with queer-looking musical instruments in
When the clouds had left the moon behind them
altogether, and she was shining out as bright and clear
as ever, a most remarkable thing occurred. Every single
elf on the tree-except the musicians, who went on
playing their unearthly music with the utmost diligence
-shook out a small pair of wings from between its
shoulders, and they all came flying in a perfect shoal
towards Hans. They settled all over him and his
horse, just like so many exaggerated bumble-bees; but
at first they made no attempt at hurting him-and they
were too light to cause inconvenience-so he sat still,
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
trembling nearly as much as the horse did, and feeling
that great drops of perspiration were coming out on
his brow. Then all at once the music stopped, the
elves-every one that he could see, at least-folded
their arms and put their heads on one side as if they
were expecting something, and a marvellously clear,
distinct little voice, which seemed to proceed from the
hawthorn-bush opposite the dead tree, began to speak:
"You have sacrificed a great deal for that gold, Hans
Snidell," it began-" peace of mind, honour, and a
good conscience; it is to be hoped that you are satisfied
with your bargain. How about all the poor children
who came to you with the pennies they had saved to
buy cherries with? Do you like to think now that you
cheated them-that you didn't give full value for their
little savings? Do you remember with how many
deleterious substances you adulterated your toffee and
barley-sugar? Or all those dried hawthorn leaves that
you used to mix with the tea when you were a little
boy?" The voice stopped as if some kind of an
answer were expected; but Hans, who sat on his horse
still, pale, and trembling, was in no condition to give
The music struck up again then, only it was faint
and soft and weird no longer-there were trumpets
and drums at work somewhere, though they weren't
visible, and the tune they played was very gay and
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
"Take them away from him! 'Take all those gold
pieces he's so fond of away from him! What are you
wasting time for?" It was the voice again. And no
sooner were the words uttered than up jumped all the
little elves which had found seats on divers parts of
Hans and his steed, and began tugging violently at the
strong cords which bound the mouths of the sacks.
One of them was not firmly tied, and the rough hand-
ling of the elves loosened it, so that a little stream of
gold began to pour out upon the ground, and the sight
of his precious coins ebbing away from him maddened
Hans. He found the use of his limbs again, drew his
broadsword from its sheath, and began flourishing and
poking it about among the little men in a most masterly
manner, but with unfortunately not the slightest result.
For the lives of his small tormentors seemed charmed,
as no doubt they were, and they evaded the terrible
weapon without the least difficulty, until at last Hans
was awkward enough to drop it, when, to his intense
astonishment, it twined into a spotted snake, and glided
off through the bushes. The elves were having it all
their own way; they had got hold of every one of the
three sacks between them, and now, without the
smallest compunction, they coolly emptied all the piles
and piles of golden sovereigns that Hans had been
treasuring so carefully out on to the muddy road. For
a second he saw them shimmering in the moonlight,
and then to his utter horror a change came almost im-
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
perceptibly over the bright coins-their colour seemed
to become deadened, their shape altered queerly;
then a little cloud came before the moon again, and
when it passed away there were no gold pieces lying
on the ground at all-only a heap of withered yellow
leaves. And the shock of seeing his hoard vanish was
too much for Hans, so that his head sank down upon
the horse's neck, and he became unconscious.
Then the elves knew that they had done their work,
so they strapped him firmly on to the saddle with a very
strong kind of grass, which fairies often use for rope,
and let his unfortunate steed trot off with him in what-
ever direction it pleased.
Carl bought a sack for his savings too; but when
they were all changed into gold they did not half fill
the sack, and he rather foolishly, as his landlady ob-
served, had them all changed back again into silver.
Then he got upon his horse, sack and all, and set out
for his birthplace with a light heart. He took the same
road as Hans had taken, and like him met with nothing
extraordinary until he came to the dead tree, which
was just after the elves had finished with his brother.
Then he heard the mysterious music going on, and in
the distance, through a gap in the bushes, he saw a ring
of lovely little fairies dancing round a big red toadstool.
He stopped for a ininute or two to watch them,
because he knew very well that it is not once in a hun-
dred years that anyone has the chance of seeing such
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
a sight; and, not being troubled with a bad conscience,
he did not feel in the least afraid. Presently the music
stopped, and, as soon as the last note died away, the
fairies vanished; but though Carl waited a minute or
two to see if they would not reappear, he saw no more
of them, and therefore rode quietly on again, for he
wanted to reach his destination-that is, the farmhouse
at which he meant to sleep-in time to get a good rest
before morning. But presently his sack of silver became
very uncomfortable; he felt sure that it was moving of
its own accord, and began to wonder if he had inad-
vertently inclosed a live cat or two with his savings.
He peeped furtively under his cloak, but the movement
had stopped, only in the uncertain light the bundle
looked twice the size that it had been when he set out.
Carl was very much astonished at its appearance, but
he was getting too tired to take much notice of any-
thing. If he had been less sleepy he would probably
have investigated the matter there and then; as it was,
his thoughts were so much taken up with the prospect
of a hot supper and a warm bed, that all his energies
were absorbed in endeavouring to reach the inn as
soon as possible.
But the next morning when Carl was waiting for his
breakfast things were different, and he examined his
sack with amazement. He untied the strings rather
fearfully and peeped inside, for he remembered that
it was just after he had seen the fairies that it had
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
begun to swell in such an unaccountable manner, and
he half expected to find his hoard turned to stones or
leaves, or something of that description. So he was
by no means prepared for the sight which met his eyes
when all those knots, which his landlady had considered
to be essential, were undone. The sack was filled to
its brim with shining gold pieces-all the silver coins
had disappeared, and gold ones in some mysterious
manner had taken their place. Carl could hardly
believe his eyes; but he had sense enough to promptly
lock the door of his room before he turned all his
treasure out on to the middle of the floor, so as to
satisfy himself that there was no mistake. You should
have seen how all the gold glittered when the sack was
emptied; but Carl's attention was distracted from it
by some little round glass marbles-about fifty there
were of them-which seemed to have been lying at the
bottom. At least for a moment he thought they were
glass, but they flashed and sparkled so in the sunlight
that he saw they must be diamonds. And the strangest
thing of all was that, instead of rolling about in every
direction, as round things usually do, they collected
themselves together in a most orderly manner until
they formed a sentence: With Titania's good wishes."
Carl stared open-mouthed, for this seemed to prove
beyond doubt that he had had a gift straight from the
fairies; but the breakfast bell rang just then, and being
a strictly practical man, he proceeded to gather the
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
treasure up and pop it into the sack again without
further reflection-diamonds and all. This gave his
coffee time to cool, so that he was not obliged to waste
time waiting until it was in a fit condition to drink, and
was very soon ready to start on his travels again. He
reached his native village nearly two hours earlier than
he expected; but we may as well draw a veil over the
meetings with some of his old friends, and the emotions
which all the familiar scenes of childhood awakened
within his breast, because that sort of thing has been
depicted so very frequently by far abler pens than mine.
Suffice it to say that he proceeded to arrange for the
building of his house immediately, and that when it
was built and furnished in gorgeous style, he was still
able to afford to endow a hospital, which had had to
stand empty and useless for years and years because"
there was no money to keep it up.
When the patients began to pour in Carl used to go
two or three times a week to write their letters, read to
them, or do anything he could to alleviate their suffer-
ings. You may imagine how surprised he was one fine
day to recognize in a starving man, who had been
brought in from the streets nearly crippled with rheu-
matic fever, his brother Hans, who he had imagined
to be still prospering as he had been when they met
Carl had him removed at once to his own house,
where he was taken care of, and treated with the
THE INVISIBLE MUSICIANS.
greatest respect as if he had been a prince of royal
blood, or, to say the least of it, a visitor of distinction.
Carl believed in heaping coals of fire on people's heads;
he never allowed himself to remember that when Hans
was rich he had never tried to help him on in the world.
On the contrary, he now behaved as if he and his
brother had always been on terms of the greatest affec-
tion; and as soon as Hans was well enough to leave his
bed, Carl insisted on his accepting exactly half of the
fairy queen's gift-minus, of course, what had been
spent on the hospital and in building the house.
Hans was overcome at this new proof of his brother's
goodness and unselfishness-so much so, that he firmly
resolved to turn over a new leaf for the future; the
consequence of which was that both he and his brother
were honoured and respected by all who knew them
henceforth, which was fortunate, as they both lived to
enjoy the esteem of their friends to a great age.
<-... ^ Ss .
N the days when there were fairies, and witches,
and enchantments, and everything delightful
of that kind, there lived a king and queen.
Now this king and queen were very great and power-
ful and prosperous; they lived in the most beautiful
palace surrounded by the most beautiful gardens that
ever were seen, they had everything in fact that money
could buy, and therefore some people supposed that
they must be very happy indeed. But, as a matter of
fact, they were no happier-perhaps not so happy-as
some of the poorest of their subjects. For the truth
of the matter was that they had one great trouble,
which utterly spoilt their lives, and which money could
not help them to get rid of.
They had no children, and this made them both so
unhappy that sometimes they were quite unable to en
joy anything. The king longed passionately for a son
to succeed him on his throne, while the queen, who
dearly loved children of all sorts, wished most for a
little daughter. She was so miserable at times, poor
woman, that she used to spend whole nights in crying
bitterly, instead of going to sleep and indulging in
pleasant dreams, as the king used to say that he hoped
she would do every evening when he said good-night
to her. The maids of honour did not like this at all,
and no wonder, for if the queen cried very much they
were sure to be called up two or three times in the
night to get her clean pillow-cases, as she often
managed to soak several with her tears; and, ever
since the time when she had kept him awake for two
nights running by walking up and down the room and
groaning with neuralgia, the king had declared that he
considered a damp pillow-case to be most injurious.
But all the crying in the world never did anyone
very much good, and in spite of all their sorrow the
king and queen were childless still, as the years went
by, until at last they quite gave up hope, and began to
think seriously of adopting a family of little orphans.
The palace garden was bounded on one side by
a thick wood, which abounded in all kinds of wild-
flowers, and was the home of hundreds of squirrels,
rabbits, badgers, and every sort of harmless wild
animal imaginable. The queen loved nature, and
enjoyed the rambling wood with its great trees and
all its uncultivated treasures far more than she did
the beautiful garden with its artificial rockeries and
fountains, and all the myriads of stiff flower-beds,
filled with the choicest plants which the gardener
could obtain for love or money, artistically arranged
with a due regard to the shape and colour of their
blossoms. The king had taken great pains about
getting rid of all the wolves and poisonous snakes
which used to live there, and he had been so suc-
cessful that now it was perfectly safe for anybody to
walk from one end to the other without any fear of
being molested by anything more dangerous than a
tribe of midges, a horsefly, or a stray mosquito.
There were wasps and bees, of course, but they are
really most peaceable insects, and very seldom sting
people who do not annoy them.
So it happened that one day when there was nothing
they cared more about to do, the king and queen went
for a long walk together through the wood, and every-
thing was so fresh and pleasant that, as is often the
case when people go out with no particular object,
they went a great deal further than they had intended.
All at once Queen Christina caught sight of what
looked like about a quarter of a butterfly fluttering
on the ground. She was just stepping forward to
examine it when a large robin suddenly flew down
from a holly-tree close by and began pecking at the
wretched insect, whose wings were so knocked about
that it could hardly fly at all, in a most cruel manner.
Now the queen was so kind and tender-hearted that
she niever could bear to see anything suffering pain,
and besides she was a great lover of fair-play. If the
robin could have understood human language she
would have told him what a coward he was, and ad-
vised him to fight an animal of his own size, but as
it was there was nothing for it but to poke valiantly at
him with her lace parasol, and so force him to relin-
quish his prey. But the robin showed a most extra-
ordinary indifference to the queen's attempts at alarm-
ing him. He just hopped from one side to the other,
still holding the unlucky wounded butterfly in his
beak, and giving vent to shrill little calls, as though
he expected someone to hear them and come to his
assistance. And sure enough there was a fluttering of
wings overhead, and the queen felt a little bird alight-
ing on each of her shoulders, and a second later a
sharp beak seized the softest part of each of her ears
and began to worry them just as the bird on the ground
was worrying the butterfly.
Queen Christina screamed as loud as she could and
tried to frighten all the birds away; but there was
something remarkable about them, for they did not
seem the least afraid of her, and her delicate ears were
becoming very sore indeed from the two robins' re-
peated pecks, when the king, who had stayed behind
to feast upon some ripe blackberries which had at-
tracted his attention, suddenly turned his head to see
what all the noise was about, and having ascertained,
much to his astonishment, that his wife was being at-
tacked by robins, hurried to the rescue and soon put
the birds to rout with his walking-stick.
He was horrified to find that the queen's right ear
was bleeding, and hastened to dress it with some white
vaseline that he always carried in his pocket; while
she began telling him the whole story of the vicious
robins, until something happened which struck them
both dumb with astonishment.
The poor, mangled-looking butterfly suddenly raised
its long body straight up, while a thick cloud of white
smoke rose from the ground and completely enveloped
it. When the smoke had cleared away the butterfly
was nowhere to be seen, and in its place there stood a
lovely little fairy, dressed in pale sea-green, with a pair
of wings like those appertaining to a bumble-bee
peeping from between her shoulders.
"You little know what you have done for me!" she
said to the astonished queen. I have been a butterfly
for the last twenty years-ever since a disagreeable old
witch who got me into her power turned me into one,
saying that I never should regain my proper shape
again until a beautiful queen actually shed her blood
in my defence. There are, as I soon found, so very
few queens kind-hearted enough to care about the
fate of a poor butterfly in the world, that I had al-
most given up hope, for though I have been nearly
pecked to death in about fifty different palace gardens,
you are the first royal lady who has ever so much as
tried to help me. I know that you are very rich and
great and powerful, but still there are some things that
money cannot buy, and scarcely anything you could
ask would be too hard for me to grant, so I give you
a wish for yourself, and, as I know you like to make
others happy, one for the king too. Tell me-what
can I do for you?"
"I should like," gasped the king, almost choking
with eagerness-"above all things in this world I should
like a little son. Not a particularly little one, though,"
he added on second thoughts.
"And I," cried the queen, trembling with excite-
ment, "should bless you for ever if I -could only have
a daughter. But surely it is asking too much?"
The fairy laughed.
Not a bit-not the least bit too much," she said.
"Both your wishes shall be granted, and gladly too.
This day week you shall have the two babies, and
what is more, on the day of their christening I shall
come and give them each a useful present. Now you
may as well go home-it is lucky for us all that we met."
Whereupon there arose from the ground another cloud
of smoke, and when it cleared away the wonderful
little figure had vanished just as suddenly as it came.
Queen Christina and the king gazed at each other
in silent astonishment. They felt exactly as if they
had been asleep, and dreaming some very marvellous
dream which was far too good to come true. The
queen began pinching her own arm violently so as to
be quite sure that she really was awake.
"Do you suppose she really can get us children?"
she inquired doubtfully.
She certainly promised to do so, and they say that
fairies always keep their word," replied the king, trying
to look wise though he only felt puzzled.
"At anyrate, a week is not very long to wait, and I
think we had better say nothing about it until the time
comes," said the queen, who knew how difficult her
husband found it to keep a secret, and was proud of
being able to do it herself. "The people would all
be so disappointed if it turns out to be a-"
"Take in?" suggested the king promptly.
"Well, whatever you like to call it Only think
what rejoicings there will be if a little prince and
princess really do arrive! They will peal the bells from
one end of the kingdom to the other, and you will
have to give about fifty oxen to be roasted whole in
all the villages round about; though it is a great mis-
take to roast them whole really, because some of the
meat is sure to be burnt to a cinder, while some is
scarcely cooked at all," observed Queen Christina, who
was a wise woman and not above studying cookery
theoretically. "But the poor people have so little
sense. They think far .more of the grand sight and
the excitement than of getting good meat for their
Here her royal highness's moralizings were broken
in upon by a terrific peal of thunder, and a small band
of maids of honour, who had seen the storm gathering
from the palace windows, appeared through the thicket,
followed by pages carrying umbrellas, goloshes, and
mackintoshes, all of which the royal pair hastily donned,
preparatory to scuttling home through the rain as fast
Time always seems long when one is in a hurry to
skip over a certain part of it as fast as possible, and
the week which followed that remarkable adventure
with the butterfly, the robins, and the fairy in the
wood was no exception to the rule. The king and
queen actually succeeded in keeping their secret to
themselves for six whole days, but on the seventh they
could not resist confiding it to one or two personal
friends, who, of course, faithfully promised that it should
go no further-a promise, I am sorry to say, which
they did not keep; although, to tell the truth, they did
not believe one word of the whole story, but one
and all concluded that the royal pair had eaten some-
thing which had disagreed with them at supper the
night before, and that consequently they had both
been troubled with strange and unaccountable dreams.
Suspense had a very marked effect on the king and
queen. His majesty vented most of the uncomfort-
able results of his disturbed state of mind on the cook
by sending down indignant complaints of almost every
dish which appeared at table, until that unlucky func-
tionary was on the point of tendering his resignation,
which he would have done, no doubt, had it not been
for a rumour of the expected arrival of not only a
little prince but a little princess, which reached his
ears through a long-eared and communicative kitchen-
maid, and which threw the whole lower regions into
a pleasing condition of intense excitement.
Queen Christina, in spite of her naturally gentle dis-
position, was a constant source of annoyance to her
unfortunate maids of honour during those last few
days. She was not of a sanguine temperament, and
had almost convinced herself that what had been pro-
mised was far too good to come true; but still she
could not help trusting the fairy, and feeling very im-
patient for the day when the babies had been promised
to arrive. Like all other days that we have had the
opportunity of waiting long enough for it came at last.
Very early in the morning-before it was quite light-
there were messengers on horseback flying from one
end of the kingdom to the other announcing, with
a blast of trumpets, that the little prince and princess
had actually arrived at the palace at last; and long
before the hour when most people are usually awake all
the bells in the country were ringing out a merry peal,
and there was not a cottage within fifty miles of the
palace that had not the gayest flags its inhabitants could
get hold of flying from every conspicuous spot that it
was possible to tie them from. The palace itself was
splendidly illumined every night for a week, by which
time their majesties had arranged to have the double
christening, and sent out all the invitations for what
was going, of course, to be a very grand affair. One
thing which troubled both the royal parents was, that
as they did not know the fairy's name or address they
could not send her one of the exquisite little ivory
cards of invitation, with a hand-painted miniature of
both babies, surrounded with orange blossom and
maidenhair, which had been prepared for all the
guests of distinction.
"But she said she would come; and as they say
fairies know everything I don't see why they shouldn't
find out the date of the christening for themselves,
without our troubling ourselves about it," said her
majesty after a long discussion about what was to be
"Only think what a dreadful pity it will be if she
takes offence, and our children lose their chance of
a fairy godmother!" growled the king, who had a
tendency to look at the darkest side of things.
"Well, it can't be helped, so don't fret about it, for
goodness sake!" replied the queen sharply. "I firmly
believe she will find her way to the christening of her
own accord, and I shall certainly order a place to be
laid for her, so let us say no more about it."
Preparations had been made for a most magnificent
banquet, and the largest dining-hall in the palace was
crowded with illustrious guests on the day of the chris-
tening. With two exceptions everyone was beaming
with delight and excitement, for the royal infants were
being exhibited, and gave universal satisfaction. But
on the brows of their majesties were dark clouds,
brought there by disappointment and suspense. For
though every invited guest had arrived half an hour
ago not a sign of the fairy had appeared, and they
began to feel almost sure that she was really not going
to come. But just as a tall footman dressed in blue
and yellow, with a powdered pig-tail, threw open the
doors which led to the room where the banquet had
been prepared, her majesty uttered an exclamation.
"Look! Look out of the window!" she gasped-a
command which about a.hundred pairs of eyes im-
mediately obeyed, or at least endeavoured to do so.
Something enveloped in a thick cloud of white
smoke was flying rapidly past, making apparently for
the hall door. "It is a broomstick-I am sure it is a
gigantic broomstick!-and there is a figure riding upon
it-it is the fairy at last!" she cried, inwardly blessing
the particular maid of honour who had happened to
tie a capital pair of opera-glasses to the end of her
"I'm sure it's a blessing we hadn't gone into the
other room-she would have been seriously displeased
if we had begun without her, no doubt," observed the
king, who was always very angry if his own soup was
cold, and had been getting fidgety. Really it is a
great mercy," he whispered again thankfully, as the
door opened and the footman announced Fairy Dis-
aster!" in rather an awe-struck voice. And instead of
the lovely little figure that their majesties had expected,
into the room there walked a lanky, weird-looking
person with a copper-coloured face and gleaming eyes,
dressed from head to foot in some. black shiny stuff
like thin American cloth, with the exception of a tall
plume of bright scarlet feathers on the top of her head,
which matched her red leather boots and a mysterious-
looking wand from which there issued puffs of smoke,
and which she carried in her left hand-or rather claw,
for it was not much more. She was about four feet
high, and she was grinning maliciously from ear to
Silence fell upon the company as this horrible ap-
parition appeared, with the exception of the queen,
who immediately shrieked aloud.
"I am not quite the visitor you were expecting, I
fear," observed the wicked fairy, in a voice like the
creaking of a door whose hinges had not been oiled
for years. "But your majesty did me the honour to
undo some of my handiwork a week ago, and I felt
obliged to come and thank you in my own peculiar
manner." Here the hideous creature licked her lips
like a cat who has just been enjoying a fresh herring,
and looked round to see the effect of her sarcastic way
of putting things. I had much pleasure in deciding
on some suitable gifts for your precious children on
my way here this morning," she went on. But the
queen's feelings were getting too much for her.
My precious children will do perfectly well without
anything you may wish to give them," she broke in.
" I assure you that neither the king nor myself would
allow them to touch anything of yours with a pair of
tongs-or with anything else, for the matter of that."
"Ha-ha-ha!" The old lady laughed a derisive, but
rather discomforted, little laugh. "It won't be neces-
sary for their pretty pink fingers to touch what I mean
to give, and they would be only too glad to do without
my gifts if I would let them, which I won't. I hereby
give and present impartially to both the dear infants
the worst tempers, the most unpleasant voices, the
ugliest faces, the most miserable health, the greatest
absence of brains-" But, with the exception of the
wicked fairy who was speaking, everyone in the room
was loyal to the backbone; and she had gone not only
a little, but a great deal, too far. Consequently, before
she could finish her string of disagreeable qualities,
there arose from the assembled company a perfect
howl of rage and indignation, and every gentleman in
the room who carried a revolver promptly drew it from
his belt and aimed deliberately at the old witch.
"Fire, gentlemen! How I do wish you'd fire!" ex-
claimed the king anxiously. He was getting nervous.
And at the royal command about thirty pistols and
revolvers were discharged simultaneously at different
parts of the wicked fairy. Now, as most of the gentle-
men of the court were very good shots, and none of the
pistols had missed fire, everyone expected when the
cloud of smoke had cleared away to find her about as
dead as anything or anybody could be; but to their
complete astonishment she was nothing of the sort,
but on the contrary more lively than ever, although
there were actually one or two big holes in her body,
through which the bullets had penetrated. This time
all the maids of honour and some of the visitors
shrieked as well as the queen, and the gentlemen
began firing again as hard and fast as they could.
But it was of no use, for, as they ought to have
guessed she would be, the old thing was protected
by all kinds of spells and charms, which rendered her
quite invulnerable to mortal firearms, and she only
danced about, laughing and shaking her ugly old head
in a manner which she intended to be exceedingly
Bang! bang! went the pistols, and thicker and thicker
grew the clouds of smoke; some of the ladies were
fainting from the noise and the smell of powder; but it
was all no good-the Fairy Disaster was just as lively,
and more derisive than ever. Just when even the
gentlemen were coming to the conclusion that she was
too much for them, and that they would soon be out
of ammunition, the king, who, not being a particularly
good shot, had judiciously backed to an out-of-the-
way situation near the window, suddenly threw open
the sash and gave vent to a shout of joy. All eyes
were turned to the window, and everybody made a
point of holding their breath, as an oversized butter-
fly, with the very fairy that their majesties had been
expecting seated upon it, holding little silk reins in
one hand and a tiny gilt bow and arrow in the other,
flew right through the open window. It alighted upon
an enormous india-rubber plant by the window-seat,
while its rider threw down the reins and aimed de-
liberately at the old witch. The diminutive arrow
pierced right through her head, and had a good deal
more effect than all the powder and shot which had
gone into or through it before, for, to the astonishment
of everyone, she immediately fell down dead. Then
when the shouts of applause had subsided, and the
royal parents had expressed their gratitude and thank-
fulness in rather a clumsy fashion, for they were a little
bewildered at all that had taken place, the Butterfly
Fairy proceeded to explain how angry the wicked Fairy
Disaster had been when she found her spell was broken,
and how she had sworn to be revenged upon the queen
and her little children. "There was only one arrow
in the world that would have killed her, and only her
death could have saved your babies from her cruel
spells. I have flown all over the kingdom on my
faithful steed searching for it, and at last the old
Wizard of the Mountain showed me where it was
hidden," she added, when she had presented the little
princess and prince with every desirable quality that
ever existed, having previously volunteered to be their
All's well that ends well, and, in spite of its bad
beginning, that day of the double christening was the
happiest that their majesties had enjoyed for many a
long year, and, fortunately, what pleased them pleased
their people too.
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
[ iNCE upon a time, in the good old days when
Knighthood was well within the reach of all
enterprising gentlemen, there lived a certain
Sir Diamid de Hamel. He had a splendid castle,
with gardens and pleasure-grounds, and terraces and
woods and bowling-greens, and everything else that
a castle ought to have, all round it. He had numbers
of horses, more servants than the old housekeeper
could find work for, and, best of all, plenty of
money. So whenever his name was mentioned people
always said that he was very lucky, and took it for
granted that, as a natural consequence, he was also
very happy. But, as a matter of fact, these good
people were a little out in their reckoning, for Sir
Diamid was no happier than a great many other
people not nearly so well off as he was. It is all very
well to have a beautiful castle with capital grounds,
and to be able to indulge in every luxury that money
can buy, but a man wants something besides all this.
k" N-1 q
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
And when he came home after a long day's hunting,
or shooting, or fishing, or whatever was going on, the
castle felt very big and lonely. He got tired of having
no companions but his dogs and horses, or the mice and
rats who careered at their own sweet will among the un-
used passages; and he used to envy even some of his
own labourers and serving-men who had wives and
children to brighten their homes, and enliven the long
winter evenings with childish prattle, and those winning
ways of women for which all bachelors, old or young,
have some sort of an envious longing. But there came
a day when all that was put an end to, and Sir Diamid
brought home a lovely young bride. Lady Gretchen
made great changes at the castle. She had all the
dingy, dull-looking furniture taken away, and got all
kinds of pretty things from the nearest town to take its
place. She drove about in the great lumbering chariot,
which was the fashion then, and made friends with the
neighbours; and she used to worry Sir Diamid into
giving grand parties and receptions, to which hundreds
of people were invited. Presently a little daughter
arrived, and about a year and a half after that there
came another one, so that Sir Diamid was reduced to
envying his labourers no longer. Lady Gretchen used
to sing gay songs in the evening, and accompany her-
self on her guitar, and when Maud and Ella-as she
called the children-were old enough they learned to
dance to the music, for the floors were so firm, the
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
carpets so soft, and their tiny shoes so thin that they
could romp quite easily without making much noise. So
for a time everything in the castle went on very quietly
and peacefully. The children grew taller and stronger
and rosier every day; only Ella was a disappointment to
her parents in one way, because, instead of being beauti-
ful like Maud, she was not even pretty-she was quite
plain, and her governess declared that she was rather
stupid as well. Now nobody ought to have minded
that very much, because she was good-tempered and
amiable and patient; but unfortunately everyone did,
so that very often when Maud was brought down to
the drawing-room to be praised and admired by
visitors, poor little Ella was left all alone upstairs with
no one to notice her, or take the least interest in what
she was doing. This was better for her in reality than
being petted and spoiled and made much of continu-
ally as Maud was. But she was not old enough to
understand the necessity for being philosophical in
this weary, unfair world, and it did seem dreadfully
hard sometimes. By and by there came a change.
Men were wanted for the great war which was going
on, and Sir Diamid was one of the first to offer himself,
his vassals, and his money for the service of his king
Lady Gretchen sobbed bitterly when she stood at
the door to watch him go off, and the little girls cried
too. Maud looked lovely with the sun shining on her
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
golden hair, and her father smiled proudly as he kissed
her twice; but Ella had wept till her eyes and nose
were all swollen and red, which made her look plainer
than ever, and he only kissed her once, and frowned
while he did so, as though it were her fault, poor
child, that she was not better looking! The days
went by very heavily and slowly after that. Sir Diamid
had promised to write and tell them how things were
going, but months had passed since he set out for the
wars, and no one in or near the castle had heard a
word about him since. Lady Gretchen tried to bear
up, and keep strong and brave as a soldier's wife
should. But suspense is harder than anything else to
endure, and she grew thinner and paler every day, so
that when at last all her doubts and fears deepened
into certainty, and she realized that her husband must
be dead, or he never would have left her so long with-
out news, she gave up the struggle altogether and let
herself sink by degrees into a confirmed invalid. And,
in addition to other troubles, the money was nearly
all gone; for Sir Diamid's loyalty and generosity had
made him imprudent, and he had given nearly every-
thing he possessed to help pay the expenses of the
war, so that instead of living in luxury, and having
everything she wanted, poor Lady Gretchen had to
sell every horse in the stables, let the beautiful fields
and gardens and orchards round the castle to anyone
who would pay a good rent for them, and send away
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
all the servants except the old housekeeper, who
refused to go, and a girl named Emma, who had
been under kitchen-maid. Everything which could be
done without had to go, and even then it was all she
could do to feed and dress herself and the children
properly, much less to keep up appearances, so that
people should not know how low the De Hamels, who
used to hold their heads so high, had sunk. Appear-
ances had to be counted among those things which it
is possible to do without, and therefore, to a great
extent, Lady Gretchen was obliged to leave them to
their own devices. But you will be very tired of all
this long rigmarole, children, and I must make an
effort to get on to the real story.
The years went on and on and on, until at last
Maud had attained the dignified age of twelve years,
while Ella was ten and a half. Lady Gretchen was
not much better off than she used to be, though she
had learnt to do more with what she had; so, as there
were still no horses to draw the old family red and
yellow chariot, which had a big coach-house all to
itself now, and no other children living within walking
distance, Maud and Ella generally had to get on with
only each other for company, and very seldom had
a chance of meeting any other young people, which
was a misfortune. Up to the time I write of, they had
never been to so much as one party; but when they
went into their mother's room to say "Good morning"
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
on Christmas-day, she showed them an invitation for
them both, which, as she promised to accept it, was
the cause of great excitement.
Do you remember that picture of a Christmas-tree
in your red story-book, Maud? I wonder if this one
will be anything like it?" said Ella as she followed her
sister out into the passage.
Oh, it will be ever so much finer and bigger than
that, depend upon it! Lady Willerton is sure to do
everything in grand style, and I only wish she had
been here to give a party last Christmas," replied
Maud looking very wise, or at least trying to do so.
For days the children could talk and think of nothing
but the coming party, and the pretty white dresses
which were being made for them to wear at it, so that
when the eventful day at last arrived they were both
in a tremendous state of wild excitement. Ella was
shut up in the nursery with Emma the maid-servant,
who was curling her hair ready for the evening, so that
Maud was forced to perambulate the house alone, for
she was not inclined to go out and felt it quite impos-
sible to keep still. She visited the spare room-next
to Lady Gretchen's-where the little muslin frocks
were lying on the bed, to take a last look before they
were put on, and then she wandered idly down-stairs
in search of amusement. On the stairs she met Mrs.
Dowdney the housekeeper, carrying up a cup of beef-
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
"Is that for mother? Oh, let me take it!" cried
Very well, Miss Maud, only mind you are careful,"
said the good woman resigning the little tray at once.
If it had been Ella who had asked, it was ten to one
if she would have been trusted with the beef-tea; but
Maud almost always got her own way. She went very
carefully upstairs and knocked at her mother's door.
It was ajar, but there was no answer, so she peeped in
cautiously and saw that her mother was asleep.
"Dear me, how tiresome! I suppose I must wait
for a while," she muttered discontentedly; and for want
of something to do she sauntered into the spare room
again for another look at the party dresses. How
fresh and sweet and pretty they looked! Maud bent
over the bed and fingered the delicate fabric gently.
But, alas, she forgot the tiny tray with the beef-tea in
her other hand, and in a moment the mischief was
done! The cup and saucer slid along the slippery
tray, and before Maud saw what was happening about
a wine-glassful of its contents had been spilt on one
of the white muslin dresses. Maud steadied the tray
with an exclamation of dismay.
"It is quite spoilt-and it's mine-the one with the
pink ribbons!" she cried in despair. Ella's were blue.
Yes, it was quite spoilt, for a little liquid in the wrong
place goes a long way, and the great dark patches on
the pure white material were growing larger every
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
minute. Maud put the tray down on a small table
which stood near, and clasped her hands with every
appearance of woe. And yet, if she had had sense
enough to know it, matters were by no means so bad
as they might have been. She had ruined her frock
certainly. She would have to go to the party in an
old one, or else stay at home altogether; but beyond
a little carelessness she had nothing to be ashamed of.
Accidents happen to everyone, and up to the present
time she had done nothing 'actually very wrong. But
now a wicked spirit put it into her heart to do some-
thing very bad indeed-to make the whole affair a
great deal worse than it was already.
On the table by the bed were a pair of scissors, a
reel of cotton, and a needle-book. Emma had left
them there when she had put the last touches to the
little frocks. Maud was a handy child at all kinds of
needle-work, and in less than ten minutes she had
taken off all the bows from the dresses and changed
the colours-tacked Ella's blue bows on to the soiled
garment and her own pink ribbons on to the other,
which was fresh and clean still. Ella was exception-
ally large for her age, while Maud was small for hers,
so that both frocks would be of exactly the same size,
and there was not much danger of anybody noticing
the change of bows. But how was the spilt beef-tea to
be accounted for? Maud stood hesitating and shaking
with fright, unable to make up her mind.
68 A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
Miew-miew-miew! The cat jumped out unex-
pectedly from behind a curtain, and Maud, taken off
her guard and rendered nervous by her bad con-
science, screamed aloud. But the next minute that
wicked spirit was at work again, and hastily closing
the door after her, so as to shut in the unfortunate
pussy, she ran down the stairs and out of a back door
into the woods. Poor Topsy would not be able to
resist the beef-tea. Perhaps Mrs. Dowdney would
open the door suddenly, find her busy with it, and,
of course, conclude that she was the culprit. It cer-
tainly would be quite natural to suppose that, as the
cat was found shut up with the frocks and the beef-tea,
she was the cause of the accident, and Maud felt that
there was not much fear of discovery; but though she
forgot that the presence of the tray in the spare room
would have to be accounted for, she felt anything but
happy as she wandered about the woods and fields,
which were theirs still.
At last she heard the big castle clock strike, and
knew it was time to go in and be dressed. So she
went in at the front door this time, and almost the
first thing she saw was Ella sitting in a little heap on
the stairs, and sobbing bitterly.
"Why, what's the matter?" asked Maud, feeling
exceedingly uncomfortable. She knew what it was
"It's all that horrid Topsy!" sobbed Ella. "Mrs.
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
Dowdney says she gave you mother's beef-tea to carry
up, and then mother was asleep and she supposes you
put the tray on the table in the spare room, and Topsy
got in and she's upset ever so much over my new frock.
It's quite spoilt. Mother says I can't wear it!" Ella's
face was hidden in her hands, or she could hardly have
helped seeing how red and generally guilty her sister
looked. But there was nothing ill-natured about her,
and she never even thought of blaming Maud for
having left the beef-tea so near the precious dresses,
or even saying that the accident would not have
happened but for her carelessness, which it most cer-
tainly would not.
"What are you going to do then?" Maud felt
almost inclined to be brave, and confess what she had
done, but unfortunately her courage failed her.
"Emma is tacking all the blue bows on to that
cream-coloured calico that I used to wear in the
summer. It looks so shabby by yours; but if I hadn't
had it I couldn't have gone at all. So mother says I
am very lucky." And Ella made a most praiseworthy
effort to dry her tears and look cheerful. She always
did try and make the best of a bad job, which is more
than can be said of most people. And when they got
to Lady Willerton's she enjoyed herself so heartily that
she forgot her tumbled-looking dress altogether. She
got on with all the other children much better than
Maud did, because she did not want the best of every-
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
thing for herself, and was ready to do just what was
being done, instead of looking cross and ill-tempered
whenever the game or dance happened to be not
quite what she would have chosen.
The Christmas-tree itself was even more splendid
than the children had imagined that it was going to be,
and they were delighted with the presents they had
from it. Every child had a box of crackers, a large
box of bon-bons, and a handsome gift of some sort
besides. Maud got a beautiful walking and talking
doll, dressed in the height of the fashion, and Ella a
big morocco-covered box, lined with velvet and locking
with a golden key.
"It will just do for my jewelry when I am old
enough to have some, but I shall use it for a work-
box now," she said gleefully, trying not to feel jealous
of Maud's walking and talking doll, which was the
most wonderful thing of the kind that either of the
children had ever seen. And you don't know what
delicious sweets there were in those boxes. All the
children wondered where they came from, and one or
two of the most romantic declared that Lady Willerton
must have got them from Fairyland on purpose for
the Christmas-tree, they were so much better than any
other kind of goodies which had ever been seen or
heard of before. Little Ella popped one great clear,
white one into her mouth almost as soon as her box
was given to her, and like everyone else she was
A CHRISTMAS PARTY. 71
puzzled to know what the flavouring was, but it was
so very nice that she determined to eat no more her-
self but keep them all for her mother, who was fond
of some kinds of sweet things. Maud, I am sorry to
say, did not remember this fact, or think of anyone
but herself when she found out how good the bon-
bons were; indeed, whenever she could get away into
a corner by herself, she kept cramming one after an-
other into her mouth, until by the end of the evening
her box was empty.
Both children got rather sleepy during the long
drive home, but Maud, who had eaten a great many
more sweet things at supper and during the evening
than were good for her, got dreadfully hot and thirsty
"I do wish we had some water, Ella?" she said
"I'll bring a little bottle next time, if we ever go to
a party again; and I do hope we shall," returned Ella.
"It doesn't do me much good to think of what you
are going to do next time," muttered Maud crossly.
" I wish I had some of those nice juicy bon-bons left,"
she added, hoping that her sister had and that she
would take the hint.
"You don't mean to say you have eaten them all!"
exclaimed Ella in surprise. I saved most of mine
for mother, but you can have one if you like, of
course." And she held out the box. Maud promptly
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
picked out the biggest she could find-it was a green
"Thanks. How lovely they look in the moonlight!
Just see how those. white ones are sparkling!" she
said. But Ella was getting too sleepy to take much
Presently Maud uttered an exclamation of disgust.
That bon-bon you gave me hasn't a particle of taste
-it's as cold as ice and as hard as a bullet," she an-
nounced, forgetting that she had selected it herself.
Ella opened her eyes unwillingly.
Oh, nonsense!-the only one I had was delicious,
and I don't want to give you any more, because I am
sure mother would like them. Why don't you try and
go to sleep till we get home?" She herself was fast
asleep again almost before the words were out of her
mouth. Maude made a little grimace, and threw the
unsatisfactory sweetmeat out of the window; then, as
she was getting tired too, and it was dull with no one
to talk to, she wisely took her sister's advice until they
drove up to the castle and had to wake up and bundle
off to the night nursery, taking their presents with
them, that they might be available the first thing next
Ella opened her eyes first-she generally woke early,
though this morning, of course, after last night's dissi-
pation, it was rather later than usual. She stretched
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
her hand out for the morocco-covered box, which was
on a chair at her bedside, with the crackers and bon-
bons, took the little golden key from under her pillow,
and turned the lock with all a child's pleasure in
examining a new possession. It did strike her as she
lifted the box that it was tremendously heavy; but know-
ing that there had been nothing in it last night, she was
not in the least prepared for the sight which met her
astonished gaze when the lid flew open. It was filled
-positively filled-with glittering gold coins-the very
brightest, newest-looking gold coins that Ella had ever
"Maud! Maud!" she cried. "Do wake up, and
look here!" Maud sat up in bed and rubbed her
"Look where? What's the matter? Can't you leave
me alone?" she said crossly. But Ella was too excited
to notice whether people were cross or not.
"Why, this box hadn't a thing in it last night! I
meant to use it for a work-box, only it seemed rather
too big!" she cried. And now it is as full as it'll hold
of sovereigns or half sovereigns, I don't know which!
And it looks to me bigger too! Isn't it odd?"
Very!" ejaculated Maud, with eyes as round as a
shilling. "Look in the bon-bon box-perhaps they've
turned into gold too!"
Ella lifted the lid and peeped in. There was a
change in the goodies, but it wasn't altogether a satis-
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
factory one. They had lost their crystallized, sugary
appearance, and they had a hard glassy sort of look,
though their colours were as brilliant as ever, and they
sparkled wonderfully when the light fell on them. She
fingered them doubtfully, and at last put one to her
"I do believe they've all turned to glass!" she cried
in a very disappointed voice. "And I did so want
mother to have some. I'm sure she'd have liked them
better than jelly or anything else. It all seems so
"Why, don't you remember the one you gave me
last night had no taste, and was as hard as a stone-I
had to throw it away! You must have got a bad box,"
put in Maud.
"It isn't that," said Ella thoughtfully. "They were
all right before we left Willerton last night. Something
has happened since then; and besides, where did all
this gold come from?"
If I found a box of mine full of money unexpec-
tedly, I should be too glad to care where it came from,"
grumbled Maud, who had been eagerly examining her
own presents in the hope of discovering a heap of
hidden treasure somewhere. And that box of yours
is about four times the size it looked last night! It
must have hundreds and hundreds of pounds in it!
You'll be as rich as a Jewess-and it isn't fair!"
"Oh! I'll give you-" began Ella; but she stopped
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
suddenly, and both children gave a little gasp of amaze-
ment. A quick flash of light passed the window, there
was a rustling among the ivy which hung around it,
the sash opened of its own accord, and a quaint, weird
little figure, dressed in tight-fitting green clothes and
a red cap with a peacock's feather in it, peeped round
the corner. It was like the pictures of elves in the
children's fairy story-books. The little man stood still
on the window-sill for about a minute, doing nothing
except stare at the children in a manner, which, to say
the least of it, was very rude. Then he indulged in a
short, silvery laugh. Something was making Maud
very uncomfortable, the elf's piercing gaze altogether
disagreed with her, and when he began to talk she felt
an unaccountable inclination to hide under the bed-
"I know all about you two young ladies," he began
with rather a conceited air. Individuals who are as
small as I am, and can hide in all sorts of out-of-the-
way places, see a great deal more of the world than
mortals imagine. I and my friends have an exceed-
ingly good opinion of you, Miss Ella; you possess sense
and modesty and unselfishness-qualities which the
fairies invariably admire; and besides that, you aren't
always treated quite fairly-people slight you because
they don't think you are pretty, just as if it matters
whether little girls are pretty or not, so long as they are
good! And there are other things which you might
76 A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
complain of, though, after having carefully studied your
character, I feel quite sure that you won't. So, her
majesty Titania sent me with the gold pieces last
"Oh, thank you so much!" broke in Ella. "We
were just wondering where they could have come from;
but-I suppose it wasn't you who turned all my bon-
bons into glass?"
Glass!" shrieked the little man. If ever I heard
the like of that! Glass, indeed! Much you know
Well, but they have got hard and smooth, just like
glass-and they don't taste of anything," persisted Ella,
who had an inquiring mind, and liked to understand
"They are jewels-precious stones, you unappre-
ciative little monkey!" cried the elf, losing patience
altogether. "The white ones are diamonds, the red
rubies, the blue sapphires, the yellow topazes, the green
emeralds, and the violet amethysts. Every one of
those big diamonds is worth a fortune, and the boxful
represents as large an amount of riches as you will
know what to do with." Ella sat bolt upright in bed
with her tumbled hair falling all about her shoulders,
too astonished to speak a word. Maud, who had been
drinking in eagerly every syllable the little man uttered,
was very nearly crying. She had been thoroughly
delighted and pleased with her walking and talking
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
doll seven or eight hours ago, but it by no means
satisfied her now.
"Why haven't I got any gold or precious stones or
anything, but just what was given me?" she asked
"You-you, indeed!" And the elf regarded her
with supreme contempt. I only wonder that you're
not ashamed to ask such a question! Did you dream
of the beef-tea you spilt on your own frock? Or did
it ever occur to you that Puck and one or two others,
myself included, might have been hiding in the curtains
or somewhere else when you were changing the bows,
so that everyone should think it was your sister's frock
that was spoilt and not yours? Poor pussy! it's
rather hard lines that she should suffer for a naughty
little girl's misdemeanours-they locked her up in the
coal cellar without any milk last night! Gold and
precious stones, indeed! Birch rods and bread and
water is more the style of thing you deserve, I fancy!
Such impudence!" And with this final burst of indig-
nation, the little man shook out a pair of tiny wings
from between his shoulders, and flew off like a sparrow
or a cock robin.
"Then that accounts for it!" ejaculated a solemn
voice at the door. Both children turned round-Maud
with her cheeks as red as a beet-root-and there at the
door, with a hot-water can in one hand and a broom-
stick in the other, stood Emma with her mouth
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
and eyes wide open. She must have heard every
If I didn't think there was something wrong about
them bows! It never seemed to me that I could have
sewed 'em on to white frocks with blue cotton-not
the pink ones, leastways! And to think of Miss Ella
wearing nothing but her shabby old calico, and that
poor cat left crying for its supper all along of you and
your deceitful ways, Miss Maud!" went on Emma in
"a sorrowful tone of righteous anger. "Whatever will
your mama say?" What, indeed! Maud never spent
such a wretched day in her life as that one was.
Everyone was angry and disgusted, and she had
enough right feeling to know how very much reason
there was for being ashamed of herself.
Her disgrace was a sad blot on all the rejoicings
that there were over the fairies' gifts to her sister,
which were far more valuable than either of the girls
had any idea of. Lady Gretchen could hardly believe
her eyes when she saw the box of precious stones, and
heard the wonderful way in which they and the gold
pieces had arrived. She thought it only right to let
Lady Willerton know what had happened, and she
was quite as much surprised as everyone else, which
is saying a good deal. The jewels sold for ever so
many thousand pounds, so that the De Hamels were
as well off as they had been, even in their most pros-
perous days, and all the grounds about the castle were
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
what Ella called unlet" again. So the children had
all the old play-grounds they had missed so sorely for
their own once more. Maud was dreadfully sulky
and ill-tempered for a long while, even after she had
been forgiven. She had always been the favourite,
and had the best of everything before, and she found
it very hard to see how much was made of Ella, and
to know that all the good fortune had come through
her. However, Ella was so sweet and unselfish, and
so anxious to share everything she had with her sister
in the nicest, most delicate manner possible, that no
one could feel ill-naturedly towards her for long to-
gether, so that things went pretty smoothly after the
first few days.
It was later in the year-just the time when the
primroses and all the spring flowers were in their
greatest beauty, and Lady Gretchen had been out in
the woods with the children, for she was stronger now.
They were just coming up to the hall door by a side-
walk leading from the shrubbery, when they heard the
sound of hoofs, and a horseman appeared round the
bend of the avenue riding tremendously fast. They
had so few visitors that Lady Gretchen was interested
enough to wait for a glimpse of this one's face. Some-
thing about him was familiar to her, and all at once
she threw down her parasol and uttered a scream.
The stranger sprang from his horse, flung off the great
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
slouched hat which he wore, and- I need hardly
take the trouble of describing what happened exactly,
because if any of you children have ever read a fairy
story before-and in these days that you have done so
goes without saying, as the French people put it-you
will know that this was Sir Diamid at last, come back
from the wars safe and sound, and that he, Lady
Gretchen, Maud, and Ella all lived happy ever after.
But there is one little thing which I forgot to tell
you. About two months ago the whole village was
ringing with the good fortune of a wandering pedlar,
who had had hard work to make a scanty livelihood
for years past, by going all over the country from
house to house with his wares. But one fine winter's
day, when he was traversing the road between Willer-
ton and the De Hamels' castle, he sat down, as he
often did, on a bank by the road's side. Now, it hap-
pened to be a windy day, and as he rested his weary
limbs and munched his simple dinner-it was only
bread with a little rather nasty-looking cheese-the
wind amused itself by playing and frolicking with
some of the dead leaves with which the bank was
covered. And when the pedlar, who was a tidy man,
had rammed the bit of paper that his cheese had been
wrapped in right down into the soft earth with his
staff, so that it might not be an eyesore to anyone, his
eyes fell upon something bright and green and glitter-
ing, which sparkled marvellously in the sunlight. Just
A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
for a moment he thought it was a glass marble which
some careless schoolboy had dropped; but he was a
very knowing pedlar, and a short examination pretty
nearly convinced him that it was no marble, but one
of the most beautiful emeralds ever seen that he had
alighted upon; and emeralds are such valuable stones
that this one made the pedlar quite a rich man for his
station of life, insomuch that he and his wife and
children were enabled to emulate the grand folks at
the castle, and live happy ever after.
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
ILLIE and Mabel lived in a cottage with their
grandmother. It was a very pretty cottage,
with plenty of room in it, and a nice large
garden full of fruit and flowers and trees, with lots of
little rockeries and summer-houses, and hiding-places
of all sorts for the children to amuse themselves in on
Saturday afternoons, or in the holidays which came
twice a year-at Christmas and at midsummer. But
it was neither Christmas nor midsummer at the time I
write of. It was just in the most beautiful part of the
spring-when the birds are singing their gayest songs,
and when the violets and primroses are all in their
greatest beauty. "The very time of the year when
people ought to be out of doors all day enjoying them-
selves, instead of being shut up in that fusty school-
house doing sums and learning lessons!" grumbled
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
Willie to Mabel as they trudged home rather later
than usual one sunshiny afternoon. They had been
kept in, both of them, for being inattentive and care-
less over their lessons, and perhaps that was what
made them so discontented and ill-tempered.
"Yes," sighed Mabel, "it's too bad! I wish the
schoolmistress would get measles again, like she did
last summer, and then we should get another holiday;
or if granny would only let us stay away for a week, as
Johnnie Williams' did! We could take our dinner with
us and go for long, long walks over the fields to look
for the fairies, as we used to say we would do in the
Yes. Do you see that little mountain, Mabel? The
short, round one which looks so much nearer than the
others," broke in Willie abruptly.
"The one with the flat top and the path leading up
"Yes, of course, I meant that one. It is quite
different from the others somehow, and it looks just
the place for fairies. It is more like a giant toad-
stool than anything else; and it says in the beginning
of your book of fairy stories that there are always toad-
stools where the fairies are. If we had a holiday I am
sure we could walk there, now that you are ten years
old; and even if we didn't find the fairies we might
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
have all sorts of adventures. We could take our tea
as well as dinner, and then it wouldn't matter if we
weren't in till bed-time."
But would granny let us?"
Yes, of course. We needn't tell her that we were
going to look for the fairies, because she doesn't believe
in them," said Willie, who, I am sorry to say, was
inclined to be deceitful. "She would only think we
were going to look for cowslips or blue-bells, and if
she was busy she would be glad to get rid of us. I
know we hinder her dreadfully, if she is washing or
baking or sewing."
"Yes; only she is so kind that she doesn't mind,"
said Mabel doubtfully. They always had to take their
dinner with them to school, as most of the other chil-
dren did, because it was too far to come home for it,
and sometimes in the holidays they had been allowed
to take their tea out into the fields; but going away to
spend the whole day out of doors by themselves was
another matter, and she felt pretty sure that granny
would not permit it. Willie, in spite of his fine talk-
ing, was of the same opinion really, as he showed by
his next remark.
"I don't believe it would matter if we didn't go to
school one day; we haven't missed a day this term.
Just suppose we were to play truant?"
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
"Oh, Willie!" Mabel was dreadfully shocked at
first; but Willie was a whole year older than she was,
and he almost always managed to make her do what
he wanted, so that before they reached the little lattice-
gate of their garden, she had let herself be persuaded
that it would be no harm to try and reach the Toadstool
Mountain on the morrow, instead of going quietly off
to school as usual.
"Teacher was so cross to-day that it will serve her
right," observed Willie, who, like many other trouble-
some little girls and boys, was under the impression
that his schoolmistress quite enjoyed teaching him,
and found fault with him chiefly for her own amuse-
ment. Mabel said nothing; but she did not feel
comfortable in her own mind, and her conscience
pricked her so sharply that it was long past ten o'clock
that night before she got to sleep. Both the children
were up at six o'clock the next morning, and there was
no peace until they had packed their dinners up in the
little brown bag, which Willie always carried over his
shoulder, and started off, almost before they had done
breakfast-an hour earlier than usual. Granny noticed,
when they had been gone about twenty minutes, that
they had left all their school-books behind them. For
a little while she half expected they would come run-
ning back for them; then, when it was too late for that,
86 THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
she concluded that they would borrow some from their
school-fellows; and finally put the two little straps of
books in their usual place behind the shutter, and for-
got all about them. As for Willie and Mabel, they
took each other's hands as soon as they were outside
the gate, and ran down the road until they were quite
out of sight of the cottage, as fast as possible. Con-
science, as we read in Shakespeare, makes cowards
of us all; and the feeling that they were doing wrong
made them afraid that granny would suspect some-
thing, and call them back to know why they had started
so early, whereas the poor old woman hardly thought
about it at all. She knew that they sometimes took
flowers to. their teacher, and when there were not
many in the garden they often made expeditions early
in the morning to the woods close by to get some, so
she simply supposed thp little monkeys had some pro-
ject of that kind in their heads then.
Willie and Mabel ran on together until they were
quite tired, and then, as they had come to a most con-
venient stile, leading to some of the fields which lay
before the Toadstool Mountain, they sat down on it
to rest and talk over what they meant to do.
"Do you think we can get there by dinner-time?"
inquired Mabel rather wistfully. Now Willie knew a
little more than his sister did about distances, and
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
there was a soft, hazy, blue mist hanging about the
Toadstool Mountain, which warned him that it was
not as near to them as it might be. Still, dinner-time
was a long way off, and he answered pretty confidently:
Yes, of course we shall-unless you get a thorn in
your foot as you did last spring, or do something silly
of that sort." And then the children went on again,
through field after field, running and walking and sit-
ting down to rest by turns-stopping to gather handfuls
of the beautiful spring flowers too sometimes, though,
I am sorry to say, they always ended by getting tired
of carrying them and throwing the poor things down
to die, even before they had begun to wither. The
sun was very hot for the time of year; it beat down
with its powerful rays on the children's heads; and I
don't know if it was that, or the way they had gobbled
down their breakfasts, but presently they both began
to feel rather sick and dizzy. They were tired and
dusty too; but though they had really walked several
miles, the Toadstool Mountain didn't look one bit
nearer than it had from the stile. At last Mabel, who
was not very brave, and, of course, was a good deal
more tired than Willie, began to cry.
I don't believe we shall ever get there," she sobbed.
"It looks just as far off as ever. I believe the fairies
move it a step backwards every time we take one for-
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
wards. And I'm so hungry!" Willie was hungry too,
only he had not liked to be the first to say so.
"Suppose we sit down and have dinner?" he sug-
gested rather doubtfully, wishing they had brought
more provisions. But Mabel jumped at the idea.
"Oh, do let us!" she exclaimed. "I am sure we
shall be able to walk ever so much better afterwards!"
So they sat down among the buttercups and ate the
Cornish pasty and treacle sandwiches with which the
little brown bag was filled. Rather a funny dinner,
you will think; but out in the fields, when you have
been walking since seven o'clock, and didn't eat much
breakfast, nearly everything tastes nice. Mabel had
a tiny drinking-cup, which she always carried about
with her in her pocket, but neither of the children had
anything to drink out of it-they always got their water
from a pump in the school-yard, and they had forgotten
in the morning that pumps do not grow ready made
among the blackberry and hawthorn bushes.
"We must go on till we come to a stream or well
or something," said Willie, looking disconsolately at the
empty cup. "But I'm dreadfully thirsty."
At last they heard a little stream bubbling away in
the distance. The sound guided them to its banks,
and Mabel, when they got there, nearly jumped for
joy. It was a perfect little brook, the water was as
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
clear as crystal-so clear that they could see whole
families of tiny fish swimming about in it, and there
were patches of the true water forget-me-not and a few
lovely white water-lilies growing among the stones.
Mabel was the first to bend down and fill the cup with
water, but she started back half frightened.
"Willie, it sounds as if the water was talking!" she
"Stuff and nonsense !" exclaimed Willie contemptu-
ously, but he too looked a little pale when he lifted up
"It does sound like something-only I can't make
out what!" he gasped. Whereupon the voice in the
stream became gradually louder until it was quite
He who would the goblins see
To the Toadstool Mount must flee,
Follow the crow with the salt oa its tail
Over the hill and into the dale.'
The children looked at each other. Somehow they
did not feel frightened now.
"This really' is like Fairyland at last," whispered
Mabel. There are streams and rivers that talk in
ever so many of the stories in my fairy-book, and
people always do what they tell them to. And look!
Oh, Willie, there's the crow!" And sure enough, hop-
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
ping about two or three yards in front of them, was
a large black crow, with a small pinch of salt resting
on the middle of his tail. He kept looking over his
shoulder at the children, as much as to say, "Follow
Goblins aren't quite the same as fairies, I'm afraid,"
said Willie. Still, as we are here, I suppose we had
better see all there is to be seen." So the children
took each other's hands again and began walking after
the crow, who set off hopping in a most business-like
fashion, when he saw that they meant to follow him,
as fast as possible; and after that, though the children
were walking a great deal faster than they had before,
they forgot all about being tired, even when the crow
led them up a steep hill, without slackening his pace
at all. Willie gave a cry of astonishment when they
got to the top.
"Why, there is the Toadstool Mountain quite close
to us-just across the valley!" And so it was. They
ran down the hill they were on and across the dale
after their black guide, who seemed in a greater hurry
than ever, now that their destination was nearly
reached, until they came to the foot of the mountain.
Then Mabel began to hang back a little. Oh,
Willie, it looks so queer-I'm afraid!" she whispered.
To tell the truth, Master Willie was feeling very uncom-
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
fortable himself, only, of course, he had no intention
of showing it.
"Rubbish! There's nothing to be afraid of!" he
said rather faintly. "Come along, the old bird is
growing impatient." So on they went, scrambling up
the mountain side until at last they actually came to
the top, and there was a big, round, black hole, about
three times the size of Mabel's new hoop. The crow
stopped at the edge of the hole and began to ferret
about among some dead leaves and bits of stick which
were lying around it. Presently he selected two pieces
of rough-looking flint stone, and began striking them
together with his beak and one claw in a most ingeni-
ous manner. It must have been fairy flint, because
instead of only a few little sparks a regular jet of flame
came out of it, just as if he had struck a match-only,
instead of going out at once, it went on burning quite
steadily, and the flame got bigger and bigger, until it
looked just like a little torch. By the light it gave the
children could see right down the hole. It reminded
them of some pictures they had once seen of the crater
of a volcano-only, instead of having nothing but a
lot of lava inside, it had a queer kind of winding stone
staircase, which, as far as the children could see, had
no ending at all. However, as soon as the crow had
got his torch into working order he proceeded to hop
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
down the stairs, holding it rather gingerly in his beak,
and turning his head every other second to make sure
that Mabel and Willie were following him, which,
after a whispered consultation, they very imprudently
It seemed to both the children as if those stairs
must go right down to the middle of the earth and
then out at the other side. But just when they were
getting so tired that they could hardly keep on going
down them any longer the crow came to a sudden
stand-still and dropped his torch, which went out
promptly. Then the children saw, very dimly at first,
but more distinctly as their eyes grew accustomed to
the semi-darkness, a big door right in front of them.
It did not fit quite properly into the wall, because the
light from the other side showed through all the cracks
and from underneath it, as well as through the key-
hole. The crow put his head under his wing for a
moment, and drew out in his beak a little thing which
looked like a nut, but was really a tiny whistle. He
grasped it firmly with one claw and blew quite a shrill
blast-not unlike a fog-signal, if you know what that
is. Whereupon, almost immediately, the door opened
slowly, its hinges grating harshly, as if they had grown
stiff and rusty from not being used, and a large white
goblin with an enormous head and glittering green
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
eyes appeared through it. Then the crow, who evi-
dently considered that his work was done, disappeared
up the stairs a great deal quicker than he came down.
THE goblin eyed the children and the children eyed
the goblin. He was taller than Willie, and his
body was not unlike what a Polar bear would look
like if he stood on his hind-legs, but his head was
something between that of a man and a gorilla, only
that all the hair on it-and there was a great deal-
was white to match the rest of him. He had some-
thing hanging on his left arm which looked rather like
a lot of platted grass; but before the children had re-
covered from their astonishment sufficiently to say or
do anything whatever, he suddenly untwisted the whole
coil and produced two long funny-looking loops from
it, one of which he immediately threw over each of
their heads. Then he drew the cord so tightly round
their necks that they could only just breathe, and pro-
ceeded to lead them both off with him through the
door, which shut after them, into a long dark passage,
which felt exceedingly cold, damp, and generally un-
comfortable. They made several attempts to get away,
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
although, even if they had managed to do so, they
certainly would not have been able to find their way
back again, particularly as they would not have known
how to open the big door; but as it happened, though
the platted grass looked quite easy to break, the goblin
must have cast some kind of spell over it, because it
felt as hard and strong as a thick iron chain.
At last they came to another door which opened
into a strange kind of garden. In the distance there
were a quantity of fairies dancing, while a number of
little goblins-about half the size of the one who was
leading the children-were careering around them in
a ring, as though they were making it their business to
guard the fairies from any intruders from the outside
world. One or two mischievous-looking elves, dressed
in close-fitting green costumes, were dodging about in
different parts of the garden. There was a rather un-
natural-looking bright blue sky overhead, and all the
light seemed to come from the moon and stars, which
were shining brightly. There were lots of flowers of
all kinds in the garden, but in the part through which
the goblin was leading the children there was nothing
but roses-only they were such roses, so large and fine,
and so many of them !-indeed, some of the trees were
so covered with blossoms that there were hardly any
leaves to be seen. Presently they came to what
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
looked like a space inclosed by a thick white stone
fence with a red top; but on closer inspection it turned
out to be made entirely of giant toadstools. The
goblin touched a secret spring somewhere, and im-
mediately about a yard of toadstools sank into the
ground in a most mysterious manner, leaving a gap
through which they all three entered the inclosure.
As soon as.they were all safe inside the piece of wall
which had made way for them rose out of the ground
again, and joined itself to the rest with a little click.
Then the children looked round to see what the place
was like. There were dozens and dozens of pink and
yellow rose bushes in it. There was a big, pretty-look-
ing, brown wooden summer-house, at one end, and in
the middle were two enormously tall pillars, one yellow
and the other different shades of pink.
The goblin looked anxiously about, as though he
did not see something he wanted, and presently he
drew a whistle, like the one the raven had used, from
his pocket and whistled three times. Whereupon there
was a scuffling behind some rose bushes close to them,
and in a moment or two a little man, about half the
size of Willie, appeared from underneath them. He
was dressed in green like the elves which were playing
about outside, only he had a small peacock's feather
stuck in his cap, which gave him a most comical
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
appearance. He looked very sleepy, and by no means
best pleased at being disturbed.
"Sleeping at this time of night! Why, the moon
rose an hour ago!" exclaimed the goblin contemptu-
ously. What under the earth were you doing all
day, Beanstalk?" The elf looked decidedly discon-
certed, but wisely endeavoured to make no excuse.
He stood eyeing the children in an inquiring manner.
"Truants!" explained the goblin with a wave of his
arm. "I leave them in your charge for the present,
so you must show them what to do and how to do it."
And having delivered himself of this speech the goblin
Beanstalk regarded the children with anything but
an amiable glance.
Why you wretched little mortals can't behave your-
selves properly in your own land is what puzzles me!"
he observed impatiently. You are the third lot of
children that have been brought down here for run-
ning away from school this last hundred years, and if
you are as stupid and lazy as the others I'm sure I
hope you'll be the last I shall have to look after.
There's a trowel and a pot of mortar for each of you."
He held out two pretty little silver trowels and two
small blue china boxes, which the children took with
wide open eyes.
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
"What are we to do with them, please?" asked
"You might have guessed that," replied the elf
crossly. "You have got to build a pillar exactly the
same size as the other two between you. When it is
done you may go back to your home-and glad enough
you'll be when the time comes, I can tell you."
Willie brightened up a little after this; he thought
it would be on the whole rather amusing to build a
"But where are the stones or bricks or whatever it
is that we're to use?" he inquired.
"Stones or bricks indeed!" echoed the little man
contemptuously. "Those pillars are made of solid
rose leaves, stuck together with that mortar I gave you,
and nothing else. Just fill those baskets with some
from the bushes over there, and I'll show you how to
do it." So the children picked up two fair-sized baskets
which lay on the ground, and began to fill them as fast
as they could.
That's right," said the elf encouragingly, when they
reappeared with the rose leaves. "Now, just lay a
thin layer of the leaves on this ring." And he drew a
circle of about half a yard in diameter on the soft sand
with his foot. "Now spread some mortar over them,
and then put another layer. If you work hard you
THE TOADSTOOL MOUNTAIN.
ought to do at least three inches a day, and the pillar
has only to be a quarter of a mile high, so no dibtib
you will finish it sometime. I am going off t 'amuse
myself now, but the work is so simple that you can
hardly manage to make a mistake." With Which com-
forting reflection the little man promptly vhaished.
Willie and Mabel did their vetr best. At firt they
thought the whole thing rather fun, but 'sodfi their
backs began to ache with the constaht 'o-.,piFilg,. they
scratched their hands in the bushes, and besides; they
weie gitin very hwunl-r, though they lad bnly 'done
about half an inch of the pillar. At last N:ibt! 'sat
down on the ground in despair.
SIt seems hours and hours since wed had diihne,"
she said pitifully. And I'm so tired and ''lingry thAi
I cai't go dii any longer."
'i Perhaps if we call as loud .s vd bail that old
goblii or the little man will hear, and bingr us some
ibod," suggested Willie. But neither the gobliti nor
the little man did hear-or at anyrate they did n'ot
heed, though both the children screamed till they were
I don't feel inclined to stay herd till I'Pi staited 1d
death, and don't recommend ybu to do Id either,' e-
ihaiked Willie as soon as he had recovered his oihe.
SShup ds'e we try td run away. it would be quite