You will bring him back to me

In the rocks on the seashore, left bare by the tide, one often finds tiny pools of water fringed with seaweed and padded with curious moss. These are the cradles which the Mermaids have trimmed prettily for the sea-babies, and where they leave the little ones when they have to go away on other business, as Mermaids do. But one never spies the sea-children in their cradles, for they are taught to tumble out and slip away into the sea if a human step should approach. You see, the fishes have told the Mer-folk cruel tales of the Land-people with their nets and hooks and lines.

 

In the softest, prettiest little cradle of all a Sea-child lay one afternoon crying to himself. He cried because he was lonesome. His mother did not love him as a baby’s mother should; for she was the silliest and the vainest of all the Mermaids. Her best friend was her looking-glass of polished pearl, and her only care was to remain young and girlish. Indeed, she bore her thousand-odd years well, even for a Mermaid. She liked the Sea-baby well enough, but she was ashamed to have him follow her about as he loved to do, because she imagined it made her seem old to be called “Mer-mother” by his lisping lips. She never had time to caress or play with him; and finally she forbade him ever to speak to her unless she spoke first. Sometimes she seemed to forget him altogether, as she left him to take care of himself, while she sat on the rocks combing her long green hair, or playing with the giddy Mermen in the caves below the sea.

 

So while the other sea-people sported or slept and were happy, her poor little Sea-child lay and cried in the green pool where the sea-anemones tickled his cheek with their soft fingers, seeking to make him laugh, and the sea-fringe curled about the scaly little tail which, like a fish, he had in place of legs. On this particular afternoon he was particularly lonesome.

 

“Ahoo!” he sobbed. “I am so unhappy! Ahoo! I want someone to love me very much!”

 

Now a kind old Stork was sitting on a rock above the baby’s head, preening his feathers in a looking-glass pool. He heard the Sea-child’s words, and he spoke in his kind, gruff voice.

 

“What is the matter, little one?” he asked.

 

At first the Sea-child was surprised to be addressed by a land bird. But he soon saw that this creature was friendly, and told him all his trouble, as babies do. “Tut tut!” said the Stork, frowning. “Your Mer-mother needs a lesson sadly.”

 

“What is a lesson?” lisped the Sea-child.

 

But the Stork was busy thinking and did not reply at once. “How would you like a change?” he asked after a time.

 

“What is a change?” asked the baby, for he was very young and ignorant.

 

“You shall see,” answered the Stork, “if you will take my advice; for I am your friend. Now listen. When next you hear a step upon the rocks do not stir from your cradle, but wait and see what will happen.” Without another word the Stork flapped away, leaving the baby to stare up at the blue sky with the tears still wet upon his cheeks, wondering what the Stork could have meant.

 

“I will not stir,” he said to himself. “Whatever happens I will wait and see.”

 

It was the Stork’s business to bring babies to the homes where babies were needed; and sometimes it was very hard to find babies enough. Even now he knew of a house upon the hill where a boy was longing for a little brother to play with. Every night Gil mentioned the matter in his prayers; every night he begged the Stork to bring him a playmate. But though the Stork had hunted far and wide through all the land he could not find a human baby to spare for the cottage on the hill. Now he had a happy idea.

 

With his long legs dangling he flew swiftly up towards the hill; and halfway there he met the boy wandering about sulkily all alone. The Stork had never before spoken to this boy, because he well knew what Gil wanted, and he hated to be teased for what he could not give. So, though he had listened sadly to the boy’s prayers, by day he had kept carefully out of sight. But now he came close overhead, and settling down stood upon one leg directly in Gil’s path.

 

“Good-afternoon,” he said. “I think I have heard you say that you wanted a little brother.”

 

Gil was surprised to have a Stork address him like this, but he was still more pleased at the happy word. “I do! Oh, I do indeed!” he cried.

 

“Would you make a good brother to him?” asked the Stork.

 

“Oh yes!” answered the boy eagerly. “A very good brother I should be.”

 

“H’m,” said the Stork. “One never can tell about these boys. I think you are selfish and jealous. But a little brother may be a good thing for you. In any case, there is little for him to lose. Will you be so good as to come with me?”

 

Without another word the Stork flew up and away toward the beach, leaving Gil staring. This certainly was a most extraordinary bird! But Gil soon decided to follow him and see what would happen, for who could tell what the Stork’s mysterious words might mean?

 

Presently, lying in his little cradle, the Sea-child heard the sound of feet scrambling up the rocks,—the sound he had been taught to fear more than anything in the world. It was his first thought to flop out of the cradle, over into the sea below; and he half turned to do so. But in a moment he remembered the Stork’s last words, and although he was trembling with fear he remained where he was.

 

Soon over the top of the rock peered the face of the boy, Gil of the hill cottage, looking straight down into the pool where the Sea-baby lay snugly on the seaweed.

 

“Oh!” cried the boy, with round black eyes fixed upon the baby’s round blue ones. “Oh!” cried the Sea-child. And it would be hard to say which of the two was more astonished. For to a Sea-child the sight of a clothed, two-legged land-boy is quite as strange as a naked little fish-tailed infant is to a human. But after the first look neither felt afraid, in spite of the terrible tales which each had heard of the other’s kind. They stared wistfully at each other, not knowing what to do next, until the Stork came forward and spoke wise words.

 

“You, land-boy Gil,” he said, “you want a little brother, do you not?” Gil nodded. “And you, Sea-child, want someone to love you? I think I can manage to please you both. But first you must kiss each other.”

 

Gil hesitated. He was a big boy of five or six, too old for kissing. Moreover the Sea-child looked cold and wet and somewhat fishy. But already the red lips of the little fellow were pouted into a round O, and the sad blue eyes were looking up at him so pleadingly that Gil bent low over the watery cradle. Then two little soft arms went about his neck, and Gil felt the heart of the Sea-child thump happily against his own.

 

“Very good,” said the Stork approvingly.

 

The Sea-child could not stand, on account of having no feet, but he lay in his pool holding Gil’s hand.

 

“Now the change is coming,” went on the Stork, and as he spoke the baby began to fall asleep. “In twelve hours,” he said to Gil, “he will become a tiny human child, and I shall carry him to the house on the hill, where he will find a loving family awaiting him. Look! Already he is losing the uniform of the sea,” and he pointed at the Sea-child’s fishy tail. Sure enough, the scales were falling away one by one, and already the shape of two little chubby legs could be seen under the skin, which was shrinking as a tadpole’s does before he becomes a frog. “When this tail is wholly gone,” declared the Stork, “he will forget what we have said to-night. He will forget his sea-home and the caves of the Mer-people. He will forget that he was once a Sea-child; and no one will ever remind him. For only you, Gil, and I shall know the secret.”

 

“And I shall never tell,” declared Gil.

 

“No, surely you will never tell,” answered the Stork gravely, “for if you tell that will be the end of all. You will lose the little brother, and you will be sorry all the rest of your life. Do not forget, Gil. Do not forget.”

 

“I shall not forget,” said Gil.

 

Again they looked at the Sea-child, and he had fallen sound asleep, still holding Gil’s hand. Now there was scarcely anything of the fish left about his little pink body; he was growing younger and younger, smaller and smaller.

 

“You must go home now, Gil,” said the Stork. “Go home and go to bed. And to-morrow when you wake there will be a little brother in the house, and you ought to be a very good boy because you have your wish.”

 

Gil gently loosened the Sea-child’s hand and ran home as the Stork bade him, but said no word of all this to anyone.

 

Now early in the morning the Stork came to the house on the hill, bringing a rosy little new baby which he laid on the bed beside Gil’s mother, and then flew away. What a hullabaloo there was then, to be sure! What a welcome for the little stranger! Gil was not the only one who had longed for a new baby in the house, and this was the prettiest little fellow ever seen. Loudest of all cheered Gil when he saw the present which the Stork had brought. “Hurrah for my little new brother!” he cried. “Now I shall have someone to play with.” That was Gil’s chief thought: now he would have someone to play with.

 

They called the baby’s name Jan. And from the first little Jan was very happy in his new home. He was happy all day in his mother’s arms; happy when his foster-father came home at night and tossed him high to the ceiling; happiest of all when Gil held him close and begged him to hurry and grow up, so that they could play together.

 

Little Jan did hurry to grow up, as fast as health and strength and happiness could make a baby grow. He grew bigger and bigger, handsomer and handsomer, the finest baby in the village, and his family loved him dearly. Every day he became more of a playmate for Gil, whom he admired more than anyone in the world. Gil petted and teased the little fellow, who, as soon as he could walk, began to follow him about like a faithful dog. Grand times the brothers had together then. They dug in the sand on the seashore, and scrambled about the cliffs. They rowed out in the harbor boats with hooks and lines, and played at being fishermen like their father, who sailed away early and came home late. They grew bigger and sturdier and handsomer, and their parents were very proud of them both, the finest lads in all the country round.

 

The years went by, and during all this time Jan never dreamed the truth which only Gil and the Stork knew about the bargain made at the sea-pool cradle. To Jan, indeed, the sea was full of strange thoughts which were not memories but were like them. He loved to look and listen alone upon the water, or in the water, or by the water. Gil often caught him staring down into the blue waves, and when he raised his head there would be a puzzled look in the little fellow’s blue eyes, as though he were trying to solve a riddle. Then Gil would laugh; whereat the wrinkle would smooth itself from Jan’s forehead, and a smile would come about his mouth. He would throw his arm about his brother’s shoulder, saying,—

 

“What strange thing is it, brother, that the old sea does to me? I think sometimes that I am bewitched.” But Gil would only laugh again, thinking his own thoughts. It gave him a pleasant important feeling to know that he was the keeper of Jan’s secret.

 

Meantime what had become of the Sea-baby’s forgotten mother? What was the pretty Mermaid doing in her home under the waves? She was learning the lesson which the Stork had meant to teach.

 

At first she had not greatly missed the Sea-baby, having other things to interest her in the lovely world where she lived. But as the sea-days went by she began to find the grotto which had been their pretty home a very lonely place indeed. She missed the little fellow playing with the shells and starfish on the floor of shining sand. She longed to see him teasing the crabs in the crevices of the rocks, or tickling the sea-anemones to make them draw in their waving fingers. She missed the round blue eyes which used to look at her so admiringly, and the little hands which had once wearied her with their caresses. She even missed the mischievous tricks which the baby sometimes used to play upon his mother, and she would have been glad once more to see him running away with her pearly mirror, or with the golden comb with which she combed her long green hair.

 

As she watched the other sea-children playing merrily with the fishes the lonely Mermaid grew very sad, for she knew that her own baby had been the prettiest of them all, and she wondered how she could ever have been ashamed of him. The other mothers were proud of their darlings, and now they scorned her because she had no little one to hold her mirror when she made her toilet, or to run her errands when she was busy at play. But the poor Mermaid was too sad to play nowadays. She no longer took any pleasure in the gay life which the Mer-folk lived beneath the waves. She wandered instead here and there, up and down the sea, calling, calling for her lost baby. The sound of her sobbing came from the sea at morning, noon, and night.

 

She did not know her child’s fate, but she feared that he had been captured by the dreadful Men-folk, who, so her people said, were ever seeking to snare the sea-creatures in their wicked nets. Day after day the unhappy Mermaid swam along the shore trying to see the places where the Men-folk dwelt, hoping that she might catch a glimpse of her lost darling. But that good hap never befell her. Indeed, even if she had seen Jan, she would not have known her baby in the sturdy boy dressed all in blue, like the other fisher-lads. Nor would Jan have known his mother in this beautiful creature of the sea. For he had quite forgotten the Mermaid who had neglected him, and if he thought of the Mer-folk at all it was as humans do, with wonder and with longing, and yet with fear.

 

Now the good old Stork who had first meddled in these matters kept one eye upon the doings in that neighborhood, and he had seen the sorrowful Mermaid wandering lonely up and down the shore. He knew it must be the Sea-child’s mother, sorry at last for her long carelessness. As the years passed he began to pity the poor creature; but when he found himself growing too soft-hearted he would shake his head firmly and say to himself,—

 

“It will not do. She is not yet punished enough, for she was very cruel. If now she could have her baby again she would soon be as thoughtless as ever. Besides, there is my promise to Gil. So long as he keeps the secret so must I.”

 

But one day, several years later, when the Stork was flying over the harbor, he spied the Mermaid lying upon a rock over which the waves dashed merrily, and she was weeping bitterly, tearing her lovely green hair. She looked so pretty and so forlorn that the bird’s kind heart was touched, and he could not help stopping to comfort her a bit. Flying close to her head he said gently,—

 

“Poor Mermaid! What is the matter?”

 

“Oh, oh!” wailed the Mermaid. “Long, long ago I lost my pretty little Sea-child, and he is not to be found anywhere, anywhere in the whole sea, for I have looked. I have been from ocean to ocean, from pole to pole. Oh, what shall I do? He is on the land, I know he is, and the wicked humans are ill-treating him.”

 

The Stork spoke slowly and gravely. “Was he so happy, then, in his sea-home? Did you love him and care for him very dearly?”

 

“No, no!” sobbed the Mermaid. “I did not love him enough. I did not make him happy. I neglected him and found him in the way, till one day he disappeared, and I shall never see him again. Oh, my baby, my little Sea-child!”

 

The Stork wiped a tear from his eye. “It is very sad,” he said. “But perhaps it will comfort you to know that he is not far away.”

 

“Oh!” cried the Mermaid, clasping her hands. “You know where he is? You will bring him back to me? Dear, dear Stork! I will give you a necklace of pearls and a necklace of coral if you will bring my baby to me again.”

 

The Stork smiled grimly, looking down at his long neck. “A necklace of pearls and a necklace of coral!” he repeated. “How becoming they would be!” Then he grew grave once more and said: “I cannot return your child to you, but I can tell you something of him. He is indeed among the humans, but he is very happy there. They love him and he loves them, and all is well—so far.”

 

“Oh, show him to me that I may take him away!” cried the Mermaid.

 

But the Stork shook his head. “No, no, for you deserted him,” he said solemnly; “now he has another mother in yonder village who loves him better than you did. He has a brother, also, whom he loves best of all. You cannot claim him so long as he is happy there.”

 

“Then shall I never see him again, wise Bird?” asked the Mermaid sadly.

 

“Perhaps,” answered the Stork. “If he should become unhappy, or if the secret should be betrayed.”

 

“Ah, then I must be again a cruel mother and hope that he may become unhappy,” sobbed the Mermaid. “I shall look for him every day in the harbor near the village, and when his face is sad I shall claim him for my own.”

 

“You will not know him,” cried the Stork, rising on his wings and flapping away. “He wears a disguise. He is like a human,—like any other fisher-boy; and he bears a human name.”

 

“Oh, tell me that name!” begged the Mermaid.

 

But the Stork only cried, “I must not tell. I have told too much already,” and he was gone.

 

“Oh, then I will love all fisher-boys for his sake,” sobbed the Mermaid as she dived down into the sea. “And some day, some day I shall find him out; for my baby is sure to be the finest of them all.”

 

Now the years went by, and the parents of Gil and Jan were dead. The two brothers were tall and sturdy and stout, the finest lads in the whole country. But as their shadows grew taller and broader when they walked together across the sand, so another shadow which had begun to fall between them grew and grew. It was the shadow of Gil’s selfishness and jealousy. So long as Jan was smaller and weaker than he, Gil was quite content, and never ceased to be grateful for the little brother who had come to be his playmate. But suddenly, as it seemed, he found that Jan was almost as big as himself; for the boy had thriven wondrously, though there were still several years which Jan could never make up. Gil was still the leader, but Jan was not far behind; and Jan himself led all the other boys when his brother was not by. Everyone loved Jan, for he was kind and merry, while Gil was often gloomy and disagreeable. Gil wanted to be first in everything, but there began to be some things that Jan could do better than he. It made Gil angry to hear his brother praised; it made him sulky and malicious, and sometimes he spoke unkindly to Jan, which caused the blue eyes to fill with tears. For, big fellow though he was, Jan was five years younger, and he was a sensitive lad, loving Gil more than anything else in the world. Gil’s unkindness hurt Jan deeply, but could not make him love his brother less.

 

Both boys were famous swimmers. Gil was still the stronger of the two, and he could outswim any lad in town. As for Jan, the fishermen declared that he took to the water like a fish. No one in all the village could turn and twist, dive and glide and play such graceful pranks, flashing whitely through the waves, as did Jan. This was a great trouble to Gil, who wished to be foremost in this as in everything else. He was a selfish fellow; he had wanted a playmate to follow and admire him. He had not bargained for a comrade who might become a rival. And he seemed to love his brother less and less as the days went by.

 

One beautiful summer day Gil and Jan called together the other boys, the best swimmers in the village, and they all went down to the bay to swim. They played all sorts of water-games, in which the two brothers were leaders. They dived and floated and chased one another like fishes through the water. Jan, especially, won shouts of applause for his wonderful diving, for the other boys liked him, and were proud of him, glad to see him win. This again made Gil jealous and angry. Jan dived once more and remained under water so long that the boys began to fear that he would never come up; and in his wicked heart Gil half hoped that it was to be so. For it had come about that Gil began to wish he had no brother at all. So different was he from the boy who made the eager bargain with the good old Stork.

 

At last Jan’s head came out of the water, bubbling and blowing, and the boys set up a cheer. Never before had any one in the village performed such a feat as that. But Jan did not answer their cheers with his usual merry laugh. Something was troubling him which made him look strange to the others. As soon as he reached the shore he ran up to Gil and whispered in his brother’s ear a curious story.

 

“Oh, Gil!” he cried. “Such a strange feeling I have had! Down below there as I was swimming along I seemed to hear a strange sound like a cry, and then, surely, I felt something cling close to me, like soft arms. Gil, Gil, what could it have been? I have heard tell of the Mermaidens who are said to live in these waters. Some even say that they have seen them afar off on the rocks where the spray dashed highest. Gil, could it have been a Mermaid who touched me and seemed to pull me down as if to keep me under the water forever? I could hardly draw away, Gil. Tell me what you think it means?”

 

Gil was too angry at Jan’s success to answer kindly. He sneered, remembering the secret which only he and the Stork knew.

 

“There are slimy folk, half fish and half human, people say. The less one has to do with them the better. I think you are half fish yourself, Jan. It is no credit to you that you are able to swim!” So spoke Gil, breaking the promise which he had once given.

 

On the minute came a hoarse cry overhead, and a great Stork flapped down the sky, fixing his sharp eyes upon Gil, as if in warning.

 

“Why, how strangely the Stork acts!” cried Jan.

 

Gil bit his lip and said no more, but from that moment he hated his brother wickedly, knowing that the Stork was still watching over the child whom he had taken from the sea.

 

But Jan had no time to ask Gil what he meant by the strange words which he had just spoken, for at that moment several of the boys came running up to them. “Ho, Gil! Ho, Jan!” they cried. “Let us have a race! Come, let us swim out to the Round Rock and back. And the winner of this race shall be champion of the village. Come, boys, make ready for the race!”

 

Gil’s face brightened, for he had ever been the strongest swimmer on the bay, and now he could afford to be kind to poor Jan, whose blue eyes were clouded and unhappy, because of Gil’s former harsh words and manner.

 

“Ho! The race, the race!” cried Gil. “Come, Jan, you can dive like a fish. Now let us see how you can swim. One, two, three! We are off!”

 

The boys sprang, laughing, into the water. Jan needed but a kind word from his brother to make him happy again. Off they started for the Round Rock, where the spray was dashing high.

 

The black heads bobbed up and down in the waves, drawing nearer and nearer to the rock. Gradually they separated, and some fell behind. The lads could not all keep up the gay strokes with which they had begun the race. Four held the lead; Boise and Cadoc, the lighthouse-keeper’s sons, Gil, and Jan.

 

Almost abreast they rounded the rock, and began the long stretch back to the beach. Soon Boise began to fall behind. In a little while Cadoc’s strength failed also. They shouted, laughingly, that they were fairly beaten, and those who were on shore began to cry encouragement to the two brothers, who alone were left in the race.

 

“Gil! Jan! Oh, Gil! Oh, Jan! Hasten, lads, for one of you is the champion. Hurrah! Hurrah!”

 

Gil was in high spirits, for he was still in the lead. “Hurry, little brother,” he cried, “or I shall beat you badly. Oho! You can dive, but that is scarcely swimming, my fine lad. You had better hurry, or I win.”

 

And Jan did hurry. He put forth all his strength as he had never done before. Soon the black heads bobbed side by side in the water, and Gil ceased to laugh and jest, for it was now a struggle in good earnest. He shut his teeth angrily, straining forward with all his might. But push as he would, Jan kept close beside. At last, when within a few yards of the beach, Jan gave a little laughing shout and shot through the water like a flash. He had been saving his strength for this,—and he had won!

 

The other boys dragged him up the beach with shouts and cheers of welcome to the new champion, while Gil, who had borne that title for so long, crawled ashore unaided.

 

“Hurrah for Jan!” they cried, tossing their caps and dancing happily, for Jan was a great favorite. “Hurrah for the little brother! Now Gil must take the second place. You are the big brother now!” And they laughed and jeered at Gil,—not maliciously, but because they were pleased with Jan.

 

Jan ran to Gil and held out his hand for his brother’s congratulations, but Gil thrust it aside. “It was not a fair race!” he sputtered. “Unfair, unfair, I vow!”

 

The others gathered around, surprised to see Gil so angry and with such wild eyes.

 

“Gil, oh, Gil! What do you mean?” cried Jan, turning very pale. “Why was it not a fair race, brother?”

 

“Brother! You are no brother of mine!” shouted Gil, beside himself with rage. “You are a changeling,—half fish, half sea-monster. You were helped in this race by the sea-people; you cannot deny it. I saw one push you to the shore. You could not have beaten me else. Everyone knows that I am the better swimmer, though I am no fish.”

 

“Nonsense!” cried Boise, clapping Gil on the shoulder with a laugh. “You talk foolishness, Gil. There are no sea-folk in these waters; those are old women’s tales. It was a fair race, I say, and Jan is our champion.”

 

But Jan heeded only the cruel words which his brother had spoken. “Gil, what do you mean?” he asked again, trembling with a new fear. “I was not helped by anyone.”

 

“Ha!” cried Gil, pointing at him fiercely, “see him tremble, see his guilty looks! He knows that I speak true. The Mermaid helped him. He is half fish. He came out of the sea and was no real brother of mine, but a Merbaby. A Mermaid was his mother!”

 

At these words a whirring sound was heard in the air overhead, and a second time the Stork appeared, flapping across the scene out to sea, where he alighted upon the Round Rock. But Gil was too angry even to notice him.

 

“Gil, Gil, tell me how this can be?” begged Jan, going up to his brother and laying a pleading hand upon his arm.

 

But Gil shook him off, crying, “It is true! He is half fish and the sea-folk helped him. It was not a fair race. Let us try it again.”

 

“Nonsense!” cried the other boys indignantly. “It was a fair race. Jan need not try again, for he is our champion. We will have it so.”

 

But Jan was looking at Gil strangely, and the light was gone out of his eyes. His face was very white. “I did not know that you cared so much to win,” he said to Gil in a low voice. Then he turned to the others. “If my brother thinks it was not a fair race let us two try again. Let us swim once more to the Round Rock and back; and the winner shall be declared the village champion.” For Jan meant this time to let his brother beat. What did he care about anything now, since Gil hated him so much that he could tell that story?

 

“Well, let them try the race again, since Jan will have it so,” cried the boys, grumbling and casting scornful looks at Gil, who had never been so unpopular with them as at this moment.

 

Once more the two sprang into the waves and started for the Round Rock, where the spray was dashing merrily over the plumage of the Stork as he stood there upon one leg, trying not to mind the wetness which he hated. For he was talking earnestly with a pretty Mermaid who sat on the rock in the surf, wringing her hands.

 

“It is he! It is he!” she cried. “I know him now. It is the lad whom they call Jan, the finest swimmer of them all. Oh, he dives like a fish! He swims like a true Sea-child. He is my own baby, my little one! I followed, I watched him. I could hardly keep my hands from him. Tell me, dear Stork, is he not indeed my own?”

 

The Stork looked at her gravely. “It is no longer a secret,” he said, “for Jan has been betrayed. He who is now Jan the unhappy mortal boy was once your unhappy Sea-baby.”

 

“Unhappy! Oh, is he unhappy?” cried the Mermaid. “Then at last I may claim him as you promised. I may take him home once more to our fair sea-home, to cherish him and make him happier than he ever was in all his little life. But tell me, dear Stork, will he not be my own little Sea-child again? I would not have him in his strange, ugly human guise, but as my own little fish-tailed baby.”

 

“When you kiss him,” said the Stork, “when you throw your arms about his neck and speak to him in the sea-language, he will become a Sea-child once more, as he was when I found him in his cradle on the rocks. But look! Yonder he comes. A second race has begun, and they swim this way. Wait until they have turned the rock, and then it will be your turn. Ah, Gil! You have ill kept your promise to me!”

 

Yes, the race between the brothers was two thirds over. Side by side as before the two black heads pushed through the waves. Both faces were white and drawn, and there was no joy in either. Gil’s was pale with anger, Jan’s only with sadness. He loved his brother still, but he knew that Gil loved him no more.

 

They were nearing the shore where the boys waited breathlessly for the end of this strange contest. Suddenly Jan turned his face towards Gil and gave him one look. “You will win, brother,” he breathed brokenly, “my strength is failing. You are the better swimmer, after all. Tell the lads that I confess it. Go on and come in as the champion.”

 

He thought that Gil might turn to see whether he needed aid. But Gil made no sign save to quicken his strokes, which had begun to lag, for in truth he was very weary. He pushed on with only a desire to win the shore and to triumph over his younger brother. With a sigh Jan saw him shoot ahead, then turning over on his back he began to float carelessly. He would not make another effort. It was then that he saw the Stork circling close over his head; and it did not seem so very strange when the Stork said to him,—

 

“Swim, Jan! You are the better swimmer; you can beat him yet.”

 

“I know; but I do not wish to beat,” said Jan wearily. “He would only hate me the more.”

 

“There is one who loves you more than ever he did,” said the Stork gently. “Will you go home to your sea-mother, the beautiful Mermaid?”

 

“The Mermaid!” cried Jan; “then it is true. My real home is not upon the shore?”

 

“Your real home is here, in the waves. Beneath them your mother waits.”

 

“Then I need not go back to that other home,” said Jan, “that home where I am hated?”

 

“Ah, you will be loved in this sea-home,” said the Stork. “You will be very happy there. Come, come, Mermaid! Kiss your child and take him home.”

 

Then Jan felt two soft arms come around his neck and two soft lips pressed upon his own. “Dear child!” whispered a soft voice, “come with me to your beautiful sea-home and be happy always.” A strange, drowsy feeling came over him, and he forgot how to be sad. He felt himself growing younger and younger. The world beyond the waves looked unreal and odd. He forgot why he was there; he forgot the race, the boys, Gil, and all his trouble. But instead he began to remember things of a wonderful dream. He closed his eyes; the sea rocked him gently, as in a cradle, and slowly, slowly, with the soft arms of the Mermaid about him, and her green hair twining through his fingers, he sank down through the water. As he sank the likeness of a human boy faded from him, and he became once more a fresh, fair little Sea-child, with a scaly tail and plump, merry face. The Mer-folk came to greet him. The fishes darted about him playfully. The sea-anemones beckoned him with enticing fingers. The Sea-child was at home again, and the sea was kind.

 

So Gil became the champion; but that was little pleasure to him, as you can fancy. For he remembered, he remembered, and he could not forget. He thought, like all the village, that Jan had been drowned through his brother’s selfishness and jealousy. He forgave himself less even than the whole village could forgive him for the loss of their favorite; for he knew better than they how much more he was to blame, because he had broken the promise which kept Jan by him. If he had known how happy the Sea-child now was in the home from which he had come to be Gil’s brother, perhaps Gil would not have lived thereafter so sad a life. The Stork might have told him the truth. But the wise old Stork would not. That was to be Gil’s punishment,—to remember and regret and to reproach himself always for the selfishness and jealousy which had cost him a loving brother.

===============

Let Him Prove it

Oh, give me for a little space
To see with childlike eyes
This curious world, our dwelling-place
Of wonder and surprise. . . .

 

The long, long road from Day to Night
Winds on through constant change,
Whereon one hazards with delight
Adventures new and strange;

 

The wonders of the earth and sky!
The magic of the sea!
The mysteries of beast and fly,
Of bird and flower and tree!

 

One feels the breath of holy things
Unseen along the road,
The whispering of angel wings,
The neighboring of Good.

 

And Beauty must be good and true,
One battles for her sake;
But Wickedness is foul to view,
So one cannot mistake. . . .

 

Ah, give me with the childlike sight
The simple tongue and clear
Wherewith to read the vision right
Unto a childish ear.

 

===============

From: THE FLOWER PRINCESS – Four Short Fantasy Stories for Children

ISBN: 9788835379119

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://bit.ly/2WQ6c2C

==============

KEYWORDS/TAGS: The Flower Princess, Little Friend, Mermaid’s Child, Ten Blowers, Folklore, fairy tale, myth, legend, fable, childrens story, storyteller, baby, beauty, blonde, Child, Christmas, dove, fair, family, Fleurette, flower, Fortemain, garden, Gil, heart, hill, Jan, Joyeuse, King, lost love, Mermaid, merry, morning mother, music, palace, Pierre, Prince, Princess, race, Sea-child, secret, snow, Stork, strange, throne, time, village, voice, words, Let Him Prove It, Princess Fleurette, Clap Her Hands, Joy, Help Comes, Blow For Our King,

One nice, warm sunny day, when it was too hot to stay inside the den among the rocks, the nice bears were all out in front, lying in the shade of the woods.

“Oh, my! How hot it is!” cried Dido, and he opened his mouth wide, and let his red tongue hang out, for animals, such as dogs and bears, cool themselves off that way. You must have seen your dog, when he had run fast, after a cat, perhaps, open his mouth and breathe fast, with his tongue hanging out.

“Let’s go swimming in the lake again!” cried Dido to his brothers.

“All right,” agreed Gruffo.

“We’ll all go,” said Mr. Bear. “Come along.”

So off through the woods walked the family of bears toward the cool, blue lake, high up in the mountains. Dido could hardly wait to get there, and as soon as he saw, through the trees, the sparkle of the water he began to run. He ran so fast that he stumbled over a stone, and fell down.

“Oh, Dido!” called his mother. “You must be more careful. You must not go so fast. Something will happen to you some day if you do not look where you are going.”

“I didn’t hurt myself that time, anyhow,” answered Dido, as he got up, and jumped into the lake. There he swam about, as did the father and mother bear, and the other two cubs. Dido splashed his brothers every time he came near them, but they did not mind, for he was such a cute little fellow and he meant no harm. Besides, it was so warm that the more water they had on them the better Gruffo and Muffo liked it.

“It makes me hungry to go in swimming,” said Mrs. Bear. “I am going off in the woods to look for some berries.”

“I’m coming, too,” said Dido. “For I am hungry myself.”

Soon Mrs. Bear found a bush on which were growing some big red berries. These she pulled off with her forepaws, which were, to her, almost like our hands are to us, and the mother bear filled her mouth with the fruit. Dido did the same, and soon he was not as hungry as he had been. Then along came Mr. Bear, with Gruffo and Muffo, and they, too, ate the red berries off the bushes.

All at once Mr. Bear stopped eating, and, lifting his nose up in the air, sniffed very hard two or three times.

“What is the matter?” asked Mrs. Bear quickly.

“I think I smell a man,” answered the papa bear. “See if you can smell anything.”

Mrs. Bear lifted her nose up in the air and she, also, sniffed. Bears, you know, as do most wild animals, use their noses as much as they do their eyes to tell when there is danger. And to wild animals a man, nearly always, means danger. If you were out in the woods, and could not see any one, you could not tell, just by smelling the air, whether some person was near you or not—that is, unless they had a lot of perfume on them, and then, if the wind was blowing toward you, why you might smell that.

But bears have much better noses for smelling than have we, and they can smell a man in the woods even if he has no cologne on him.

“Sniff! Sniff!” went Mr. Bear.

“Sniff! Sniff!” went Mrs. Bear.

“Yes, I can surely smell a man,” the papa bear said in a low voice. “It is the first time I have known them to come around here.”

“And so can I smell a man,” added Mrs. Bear. “We had better get away from here.”

Then the bears ran off through the woods to their den. For though big bears are very strong and can fight well, they would much rather run away from a man than fight him, unless they find they cannot get away. For when a man goes into the woods where there are bears he nearly always has a gun with him, and while bears know they are stronger than a man they also know that a gun is stronger than a dozen bears.

When Dido, with his brothers and father and mother, got back to the den in the rocks, the little bear cub saw that his father was worried about something. Mr. Bear walked up and down in front of the pile of rocks, sniffing the air, and looking on all sides.

“What is the matter, Papa?” asked Dido, in bear talk, of course.

“It’s that man I smelled in the woods,” said Mr. Bear. “I fear he may find our den.”

“Well, what if he does?” asked Dido.

“Then it would not be safe for us to stay here,” answered Mrs. Bear. “If men are coming into our woods it is time for us to go away.”

“What! go away from our nice den?” asked Gruffo. For though the den was only a hole in the rocks, with a pile of leaves in one corner for a bed, still, to the bears, it was as much a home as your house is to you.

“Yes, it would not be safe to stay while men are around,” said Mr. Bear. “That is the first time I have ever smelled them in our woods. Though a friend of mine, Mr. Lion, who lives farther down the mountain, said he has often seen men near his cave. Once some men on elephants chased him, but he got away.”

“Have you ever seen a man?” asked Dido of his father.

“Oh, yes, often, but always afar off. And the men did not see me.”

“What does a man look like?” asked Dido, for he had never seen any, though he had heard of them.

“A man is a queer creature,” said Mr. Bear. “He walks up on his hind feet, as we do sometimes, but when he walks on his four feet he can only go slowly, like a baby. Even you could run away from a man on his four feet, Dido.”

“How queer!” said the little bear.

“But don’t try it,” said Mrs. Bear quickly. “Keep away from men, Dido, for they might shoot you with one of their guns.”

“What else is a man like?” the little bear asked.

“Well, he has a skin that he can take off and put on again,” said Mr. Bear.

“Oh, how very funny!” cried Dido. “Take off his skin? I should think it would hurt!”

“It doesn’t seem to,” said the papa bear. “I don’t understand how they do it, but they do.”

Of course what Mr. Bear thought was skin was a man’s clothes, which he takes off and puts on again. But though bears are very wise and smart in their own way, they don’t know much about men, except to be afraid of them.

“I do not like it that men are coming up in our woods,” said Mr. Bear. “It means danger. So be careful, Dido, and you, too, Gruffo and Muffo, that you do not go too far away. Perhaps the man has come up here to set a trap to catch us.”

“What is a trap?” asked Dido.

“It is something dangerous, to catch bears,” his mother told him. “Some traps are made of iron, and they have sharp teeth in them that catch bears by the leg and hurt very much. Other traps are like a big box, made of logs. If you go in one of these box traps the door will shut and you can not get out.”

“What happens then?” asked Dido.

“Then the man comes and gets you.”

“And what does he do with you?” the little bear cub wanted to know.

“That I cannot say,” answered Mrs. Bear. “Perhaps your father knows.”

Mr. Bear shook his head.

“All I know,” he answered, “is that the man takes you away if he finds you in his trap. But where he takes you I do not know, for I was never caught, and I hope I never will be.”

“I hope so, too,” said Dido, and he sniffed the air to see if he could smell the man, but he could not.

For a number of days after that the bears did not go far from their den in the rocks. They were afraid the man might shoot them.

But, after a while, all the berries and sweet roots close by had been eaten, and the bears had to go farther off. Besides, they wanted some fish, and they must go to the lake or river to catch them. So after Mr. Bear had carefully sniffed the air, and had not smelled the man-smell, the bears started off through the woods again to get something to eat.

Dido ran here and there, sometimes on ahead and again he would stay behind, slipping up back of his brothers to tickle them. Oh, but Dido was a jolly little bear, always looking for fun.

The bears found some more red berries, and a few blue ones, and some sweet roots, and they also caught some fish, which made a good dinner for them. Then they went swimming in the lake again before going back to their den.

In the afternoon, when Gruffo was asleep in the shade, Dido went softly up to him, and poured a paw full of water in his brother’s ear.

“Wuff! Ouch! What’s that? Is it raining?” cried Gruffo, suddenly waking up. Then he saw that Dido had played the trick on him, and he ran after the little bear. But Dido climbed up a tree to get away, and he did it in such a funny way, his little short tail going around like a Fourth of July pinwheel, that Gruffo had to sit down and laugh.

“Oh, you are such a funny cut-up bear!” he said, laughing harder than ever, and when a bear laughs he can’t very well climb a tree.

“Come on down, I won’t do anything to you,” said Gruffo, after a while, so Dido came down. Then he turned somersaults on a pile of soft leaves. Next he stood on his hind legs, and began striking at a swinging branch of a tree with his front paws, as you have seen a kitten play with a cord of a window curtain.

Dido climed a tree to escape
But Dido climbed up a tree to get away.

 “Dido is getting to be a real cute little cub,” said Mrs. Bear.

Then, all of a sudden, Dido struck at the tree branch, but he did not hit it and he fell over backward.

“Look out!” cried Mr. Bear. “You’ll hurt yourself, Dido.”

“I didn’t hurt myself that time,” said the little bear, “for I fell on some soft, green moss.”

“Well, there will not always be moss for you to fall on,” his mother said. “So look out.”

One day, when Mr. Bear came back from a long trip in the woods, he brought some wild honey in his paws. And oh! how good it tasted to Dido and Gruffo and Muffo!

“Show me where the bee-tree is, Papa,” begged Dido. “I want to get some more honey.”

“It is too far away,” answered the papa bear. “Besides, I saw a man in the woods as I was getting the honey out of a hollow tree. It would not be safe for you to go near it when men are around.”

But the honey tasted so good to Dido that the little bear cub made up his mind that he simply must have more.

“I know what I’ll do,” he said to himself. “When none of the others are watching me I am going off by myself in the woods and look for a bee-tree to get some honey. I don’t believe there’s any danger.”

So about a week after this, one day, Dido saw his two brothers asleep outside the den. Mr. Bear had gone off to the lake, perhaps to catch some fish, and Mrs. Bear was in the den, stirring up the leaves that made the bed, so it would be softer to lie on.

“Now’s my chance,” thought Dido, in the way bears have of thinking. “I’ll just slip off in the woods by myself, and find a honey-tree. I’ll bring some honey home, too,” said Dido, for he was not a selfish little bear.

Walking softly, so as not to awaken his brothers, and so his mother, making the leaf-bed in the den, would not know what he was doing, away slipped Dido to the woods.

He shuffled along, now and then finding some red berries to eat, or a bit of sweet root, and every little while he would lift his nose up in the air, as he had seen his father do, and sniff to see if he could smell a man-smell.

“But I don’t smell any,” said Dido. “I guess it’s all right.”

Then, all at once, he felt a little wind blowing toward him, and on the breeze came the nicest smell.

“Oh, it’s honey!” cried Dido. “It’s honey! I have found the honey-tree! Oh, how glad I am!”

He hurried on through the woods, coming nearer and nearer to the honey smell all the while, until, after a bit, he saw in among the trees something square, like a box, made of little logs piled together. And inside the thing like a box was a pile of honey. Dido could see it and smell it. But he did not rush up in a great hurry.

“That doesn’t look like the honey-tree father told about,” the little bear cub thought. “He said he had to climb a tree. This honey is low down. Still it is honey, so this must be a honey-tree, and if it is low down so much the better for me. I will not have to climb.”

Dido sniffed the air again. He wanted to see if there was a man-smell about. But all he could smell was the honey.

“Oh, I guess it’s all right,” said the bear cub. “I’m so hungry for that honey I can’t wait! Here I go!”

Dido fairly ran into the box and began to eat the honey on the floor of it. But, no sooner had he taken a bite, than suddenly a queer thing happened.

Bang! went something behind Dido, and when he looked around he saw that the box was shut tight. A sliding door had fallen down and poor Dido was a prisoner……

DTDB-Cover

From: “Dido the Dancing Bear”

ISBN: 9788835390220

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By Birdsall Otis Edey

Gnomes were teddy’s favorites. He had no brothers and sisters, so was obliged to make up games for himself, and invent people to play with him, and the people were almost always gnomes.

At the foot of the lawn which stretched before the house where he lived, stood an oak-tree. This tree was so old that the trunk was quite hollow, and teddy could squeeze inside it by making himself small. It was here that all his wonderful adventures began. He always went to the oak every morning, vaguely hoping at some time to catch sight of a belated elf, who might be lurking about after the day had really begun.

It had been raining for two days, and teddy had been kept indoors with a cold, which he hated very much, so on the third morning, when mamma allowed him to run out for a little while he made all haste to the oak-tree, because he felt that something would be changed and he was quite disappointed to find everything looking just as usual. But when he went inside, however, there was a difference; a small trap door, with a brass ring in it, had appeared in the bottom of the tree.

Teddy was delighted, as he was sure the door had not been there two days ago, and he couldn’t imagine what it was for. In a minute he was trying to get it open, tugging at the brass ring as hard as he could. It was a tough struggle, but the door yielded at last, and so suddenly that teddy fell over backward out through the opening of the tree. He didn’t mind that, and was up in a jiffy, looking down the black hole which he had uncovered.

At first he couldn’t see anything, then gradually made out some steps, at the bottom of which it seemed to be lighter. Ted hesitated, it was dark at the top, and he didn’t know how far away the light might be, but he made up his mind to go down, and he went cautiously, backward, as on a ladder. It was a long flight. When he reached the bottom step at last, he saw that the light came from an opening at the end of the passage, and was much farther off than it looked, but he kept on and when at last he arrived where it was brighter, he found himself in a new and strange country.

To his surprise everything was blue,—grass, leaves on the trees, flowers, all a deep, lovely blue, like the sea. Teddy stared about in much astonishment. There was no one in sight, but he heard a sort of soft, humming sound, like people singing. It seemed to come from the left, so he ran off in that direction, and on turning a corner, saw a hill in front of him, up which he climbed, and there the funniest sight met his eyes.

Below, in a round clearing, was an open-air workshop. Tools of all kinds stood about, and in the center of a furnace in full blast, and hard at work were hundreds of little, blue gnomes. They were all hammering, sawing, and planing, making wooden tables and chairs of a very curious kind that teddy had never seen before. They kept up an odd, chanting song, as they worked, and this was what teddy had heard. The words were something like these:

“let us sing as we work,
as hard as we’re able,
let us sing as we finish
each chair, and each table.

The giants will come,
if we cease from our song,
and eat us all up,
so sing, sing along.”

Another curious thing teddy noticed, was the presence of about a hundred blue elephants. They walked in solemn procession around the outskirts of the open space, each one holding with his trunk the tail of the one in front of him. Occasionally, the largest would put up his trunk and trumpet, and then they all would do the same, solemnly turn around, and walk the other way.

While teddy stood watching these strange sights one of the gnomes, who seemed to be an overseer, looked up and saw him. He gave a cry, which was echoed by the others, then with one accord they stopped working, ran up the hill, and threw themselves on the ground before teddy, shouting.

“He has come, he has come, our preserver, our preserver!” teddy was a good deal embarrassed at this reception, and didn’t know exactly what to say, so he took off his hat, and bowed very politely, and said nothing. The gnomes, on the contrary, talked all the time, and all together, which made a great deal of noise, and was pretty confusing. Teddy heard the word “giant,” again and again, also the word “kill,” and he wondered if he were to kill a giant, and if so, with what. After a while, they seemed to realize that he didn’t understand so they all fell back a little way, and the leader, the one who had given notice of teddy’s arrival, stepped forward and said:

“teddy, we are glad to see you. We have watched you for a long, long time, and always hoped to have a visit from you, but we were obliged to wait before putting up the steps and the trap door, until you yourself had expressed a desire to help us, which you did last saturday. Perhaps you remember saving one of my people from being killed by a cat on saturday.”

Teddy looked puzzled. “it was a frog i saved,” he said. “topsy was going to eat it, and i was afraid she would get sick.”

“it was not a frog,” said the gnome with much displeasure, “you may have thought it was a frog, but it was not.” he seemed so put out that teddy felt himself growing very red and embarrassed.

“i am sure i am very sorry,” he said, “and i am glad i was able to help you.”

The gnome continued, but with much severity, “you then said, after you had driven away the savage animal,——”

“topsy is not a savage animal,” interrupted ted, “she is a very nice cat.”

“she is a savage animal to us,” said the gnome, and all the other gnomes repeated, “savage animal,” in a sort of a growl.

“as i was saying,” the gnome went on, “after having driven away the savage animal, you said you wished you could be like the celebrated “jack the giant-killer,” and then we decided you would help us, and we put up the steps and door.”

“what am i to do, now that i am here?” asked teddy, much perplexed, “am i to kill a giant?”

“you are to kill six,” replied the gnome, calmly, while a joyful chorus of “six” came from the hundreds of little gnomes standing by.

“six,” echoed teddy, faintly, “i—i don’t think i could kill six, i’m not sure i could kill one, alone.”

not kill the six giants,” said the gnome, in a voice of anger and surprise, “then why did you come?”

“i don’t know,” and teddy began to wish heartily that he had never found the trap door, and never visited gnome-land.

There was a long silence, in which teddy shifted his feet, twisted his cap into a string, and felt very unhappy and awkward. Then the silence was broken by the biggest gnome, who came a little closer to teddy, and said, calmly, but firmly;

“you expressed a wish to kill a giant, here there are six, who come every night, when we are asleep and cannot sing, and when our elephants are obliged to leave us to attend to their other duties. When we wake in the morning, we find our work all undone and broken, our tools made useless, and often many of our number killed. You must rid us of these pests, and if you cannot think of a way now, you must remain here in captivity until you do.” so speaking he led teddy to a cave in the side of the hill, and pushed him in.

“when you are ready,” he said, “you have only to blow this whistle loudly, twice, and you will be released,” then the door closed, and teddy found himself alone.

For a few minutes all he heard was the pattering of hundreds of little feet, going down the hill, then the chanting song commenced again, and he knew that they had gone back to their work.

Teddy was thoroughly frightened; he had no idea how to kill giants, though he had often thought about it, but now that the chance had come he couldn’t think of a single way to accomplish it, and after a while he began to cry. While he was crying very hard, he heard a scratchy sound, and looking up, saw a little red squirrel, coming in through a crack in the cave. The squirrel winked very solemnly with one bright eye, and then remarked,

“i wouldn’t cry if i were you.”

“what would you do?” said ted, rather put out by the squirrel’s tone.

“i’d go to work,” was the answer, delivered with another wink.

“i don’t know how to,” said teddy, “and i can’t get out if i did know.”

“you must find mamma know-all,” said the squirrel whisking his tail, “she will help you, she knows you well, she is in your house a lot of the time.”

“at my house?” said teddy, much surprised, “whereabouts?”

“that would be telling,” and the squirrel winked again.

Teddy rose to his feet, “let us go and find her at once,” he said, “if i have to do this thing there is no use in waiting any longer.”

“now you are acting with some sense,” said the squirrel, “blow your whistle and tell them you must be let out any way, that you can’t think locked up, and then start to your left, thro’ the woods and i will join you,” with that he scurried into the darkness, and disappeared.

Teddy then blew his whistle twice, loudly, and instantly the door opened, and he walked out. No one was in sight, so he obeyed the squirrel’s instructions, and ran to the woods, where the squirrel joined him. He walked quite a long way with little “red-tail” sitting on his shoulder, and at last arrived at a house, on the side of a steep hill. Here “red-tail” got down from teddy’s shoulder, and hid in a tree.

“i don’t like mamma know-all,” he said, “you can talk to her.”

So teddy knocked at the door, and a funny, little old woman came out. Teddy told her his troubles, and she agreed to help him.

“i’ve known for a long time how to kill the giants,” she said, “but nobody has ever thought to ask me to help, and i can’t think why they supposed a little boy like you could do it without me. I’m going to give you three oranges, which you must peel as you need them. The looking-glass sea is at the top of this hill, and the giants live on the other side of the sea. Do not use the oranges unless you have to, and above all things, do not step on the peel.”

Teddy thanked her very much, took the oranges, and began promptly to climb the hill, where the squirrel was waiting for him.

They soon reached the top, and before them, stretched the looking-glass sea. Directly opposite stood the gray castle belonging to the six giants. It had six enormous doors, six enormous windows, one over each door, and also six chimneys. It stood so close to the edge of the sea, that teddy saw its reflection quite clearly, which made it seem twice its real size. He stared at the castle in hopeless despair.

“they must be large giants,” he said.

“they are,” answered the squirrel, “the very largest.”

“i suppose i’d better cross the sea,” remarked teddy.

“i suppose you’d better try to cross the sea,” said the squirrel.

So teddy put one foot on the edge, then the other foot and then he took one step, and then he landed flat on his back with a most awful thump. This both surprised and hurt him, and he crawled on his hands and knees to the bank, feeling discouraged.

“i think i had better peel an orange,” he said, ” i’ll never be able to walk over.”

The squirrel agreed to this, and they did it together, being very careful to throw the peel behind them, so that they should not step on it.

Just as they finished, the orange slipped from teddy’s hand, skipped off on the sea, and turned into a pair of beautiful big wheels, all nicely rubber tired, like bicycle wheels, and with a little seat swung in between them. Teddy was much delighted, and lost no time in taking the seat. The wheels instantly began to roll over the sea, and when he was very nearly across he saw to his horror, looming up on the opposite bank, a very large bright green griffin, with a long scaly tail, and very big claws. The wheels seemed to be as frightened as teddy, for they stopped short, and teddy and the griffin looked at each other. Finally the griffin roared at him.

“what do you want here boy?” teddy didn’t wish to say what he really wanted, so he gave a pleasant smile, and said:

“i came to see you.” the griffin looked as if he didn’t believe that, and invited teddy ashore, but teddy was not to be caught so easily, and he invited the griffin to come out on the looking-glass sea. This the griffin refused to do, and teddy asked the wheels to wheel him as close to the bank as was safe, which they did, then the little seat lowered him to the ice, and the wheels disappeared.

Teddy sat there and looked at the griffin, and wondered what the next move should be, when it suddenly occurred to him that it was time to use another orange. There was no place to leave the peel except on the sea, but the squirrel managed to carry the pieces quite off to the right, so that they wouldn’t be in the way.

When teddy had finished peeling, the orange slipped out of his hand, just as the other had done, shot to the bank, and promptly turned into a dozen little cakes.

“have some cake,” said teddy.

“you come and hand them to me,” said the griffin.

“no, you reach them for yourself,” said teddy, “they are near the edge.”

Now the griffin liked cakes, very much indeed, and these had pink frosting on them, and looked very delicious, so he gingerly leaned over the edge, and took one, and finding it good, ate them all.

Just as he finished the last one, he began to bellow and roar, and made such a noise that the giants all woke up, and each one rushed to a window, and pushed out his head.

The Giants Awoke and rushed to their windows

Now these giants were very peculiar. Each had different colored hair, and a great deal of it,—the first one black, the second brown, the third white, the fourth yellow, the fifth red and the sixth bright green. As they stuck out their heads, each through his own window, they presented a very fascinating and yet, awful appearance. They seemed much upset at hearing the griffin roar and see him stagger around, and they shouted to him all together.

“what is the matter? What has happened?”

“i’m killed,” said the griffin, “and by that dreadful little boy. Come out and put an end to him,” and with that he exploded, and flew up into the sky, like a big green cloud.

The giants screamed with rage, and calling to teddy to wait till they came down, each drew in his head and disappeared: but they re-appeared in a minute, armed with enormous clubs, and were soon at the edge of the sea.

“come here,” they called, “come here, you young rascal,” and shook their sticks at him, but teddy sat where he was, and laughed, they looked so funny, all standing on the bank, with their different colored hair.

Finally the one with the red hair became so angry that he stepped on the looking-glass sea, and put his foot on the orange peel that the squirrel had laid in a nice heap. His feet flew out from under him just as teddy’s had done, and he came down with such an awful crash that he went right through and disappeared.

“there’s one gone,” said the squirrel, pleased “and easily too. Now how about the other five?”

“i don’t know,” said teddy doubtfully, “had i better peel the last orange?”

“i suppose you had,” said the squirrel, “it’s your last chance, and if it doesn’t work, we’re lost.”

Teddy nodded as he was too busy to answer. He was throwing the pieces of peel at the giants, and as he threw them they turned into little sharp stones, and hit them, and hurt them and that made them still more angry, and they called all the louder to him, but they didn’t dare step on the sea.

When teddy finished the orange he laid it carefully down beside him, and waited to see what would happen. For at least five minutes it stayed where he had put it, and then it disappeared and teddy began to be awfully frightened, when all of a sudden he heard a very strange sound, and turned to look in the direction from which it came. The sound continued drawing nearer and nearer. It was a funny noise, swishy and squashy, now faint, now loud, but surely coming closer all the time. The giants heard it, and grew uneasy; they pressed to the shore of the sea, and threatened teddy more and more with their clubs.

Suddenly, just as teddy had begun to think mammy-know-all had gone back on him altogether, a cloud of great white birds appeared, thousands of them, all flapping their wings together, till it sounded like the roll of drums. They descended upon the giants, pecking them with their bills, and smothering them with their wings, till the giants in desperation, ran out on the sea, and all fell through!

The very second the green one sank out of sight, the looking-glass sea turned into water, and teddy and the squirrel were glad enough to scramble into a piece of orange peel which had turned into a little yellow boat.

Just as they were wondering which way they ought to go they heard a great hullabaloo from the opposite shore, and there were all the gnomes, ranged along the bank, shouting and waving at teddy, begging him to make haste over, that they might crown him their king.

But teddy didn’t want to go over, he didn’t want to be a king, he was tired of the gnomes, and their blue elephants, and their hollow trees, and he didn’t propose to go back, and be told to kill anything more, so he asked the squirrel if he knew how he could get home some other way, and the squirrel said, “shut your eyes, and say:

One, two, three,
oak tree, oak tree.”

It was no sooner said than done, and immediately he found himself in the hollow oak, at the foot of the steps, and lost no time in climbing to the top. As he shut the trap door behind him, he heard the shouts of the gnomes, calling him to come back, and be their king, but he and the squirrel fastened the trap door in its place, quickly, and then a very funny thing happened.

The squirrel who had been so friendly just the minute before, suddenly became very wild, and ran chattering out of the oak-tree, and though teddy ran after him, called him, begged him to come back, reminded him of the lovely time they had just had, he only ran further away, and finally disappeared up a beech-tree leaving teddy standing disconsolately at the foot, wondering whether the thing had really happened, or whether it was all a dream!

URL: Https://Bit.Ly/33jtnzf

FORMAT: Ebook:woke

STUDY OF AN OLD MAN (MILAN)

STUDY OF AN OLD MAN (Milan)
from the ebook THE DRAWINGS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI
49 pen and ink sketches and studies by the Master

 

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THE HEAD OF CHRIST (BRERA GALLERY, MILAN)

THE HEAD OF CHRIST
in the Brera Gallery, Milan from the ebook THE DRAWINGS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI
49 pen and ink sketches and studies by the Master

 

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PORTRAIT OF ISABELLA D'ESTE (LOUVRE)

PORTRAIT OF ISABELLA D’ESTE (in the LOUVRE)
from the ebook THE DRAWINGS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI
49 pen and ink sketches and studies by the Master

 

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TIMOTHY BEGAN TO DANCE, THE CABIN ALSO BEGAN TO DANCE, THE TABLE DANCED from the story NIKITA THE FOOTLESS AND THE TERRIBLE TSAR in The Russian Story Book

TIMOTHY BEGAN TO DANCE, THE CABIN ALSO BEGAN TO DANCE, THE TABLE DANCED from the story of NIKITA THE FOOTLESS AND THE TERRIBLE TSAR in The Russian Story Book collated and retold by Richard Wilson, illustrated by Frank C. Papé.

 

In an ancient kingdom of Holy Russia there reigned a ruler so fierce that he was known as the Terrible Tsar. Having earned his terrible reputation he took great care not to lose it for it proved very useful to him.

By-and-by the Terrible Tsar made up his mind to marry, and he wrote a proclamation in golden ink on a large piece of crimson velvet, and sent a herald into every town and village to read the announcement, which was to this effect—that whoever should find for him a bride who was ruddier than the sun, fairer than the moon, and whiter than snow should be given a reward so great that he would be forced to spend most of his time in computing its value. And so the competition was on. But what sane woman would want to marry such a terrible man?

 

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Russian fairy tales, folklore, myths and legends, images for children, classic images, children’s imaginations, children’s stories, bygone era, fairydom, fairy land, classic stories, children’s bedtime stories, fables, parents to be, parents be like, fairy tale images, fables, childrens images, images for babies, nursey images, Ilya, Cloudfall, Svyatogor, Nightingale, Robber, Falcon  The Hunter, Adventure Of The Burning White Stone, Quiet Dunai, Princess Apraxia, Kiev, Novgorod, Caspian Sea, Nikitich, Marina, Court Of Vladimir, Visitor From India, Glorious, Kasyan, Dream Maiden, Stavr The Noble, Woman’s Wiles, the Golden Horde, Whirlwind The Whistler, Kingdoms Of Copper, Silver, Gold, Vasily The Turbulent, Nikita The Footless, Terrible Tsar, Peerless Beauty, Cake-Baker

QZOI-Cover_A5_Centered

QUEEN ZIXI of IX
More adventures in the Land of Oz
L. Frank Baum author of the Wizard of Oz

“Queen Zixi of Ix” was written by L Frank Baum, author of the many books in the Oz series, and illustrated by F Richardson with 86 exquisitely detailed drawings.

Our story starts on the night of a full moon – the fairies ruled by Queen Lurlene are dancing in the Forest of Burzee. Lurlene calls a halt to it, for “one may grow weary even of merrymaking”. To divert themselves, another fairy recommends that they make something they can imbue with fairy magic. After several ideas are considered and rejected, the fairies decide to make a magic cloak that can grant its wearer one wish. The fairy who proposed it, Espa, and Queen Lulea agree that such a cloak will benefit mortals greatly. However, its wish-granting power cannot be used if the cloak is stolen from its previous wearer. After the fairies finish the golden cloak, Ereol arrives from the kingdom of Noland whose king has just died. On the advice of the Man in the Moon, Ereol is dispatched to Noland to give the magic cloak to the first unhappy person she meets.

 

The deed done the fairies return to Fairyland and they watch and wait to see what happens – and some amazing things do happen which lead to adventures across Noland and Ix. Some amazing things are wished for and given with the magic cloak. But what are they. Well you’ll have to download and read this book for yourself.

 

At some point word of the cloak spreads afar and Queen Zixi hears of it and desires it for herself. Then somone steals the cloak and a search is otganised. During the search for the cloak many journeys have to be taken to find it. But just what happens on these journeys. Well, you’ll just have to download the book to find out for yourself.

YESTERDAY’S BOOKS FOR TODAY’S CHARITIES.

10% of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to charity.

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MARION MARLOWE
From Farm to Fortune

A book for Old Fashioned Teenage Girls

Marion Marlowe From Farm to Fortune

Farm girl Marion Marlowe is on her way home when she stops to take in the surrounding countryside. “Same farms, same hills, same animals! Oh, I’m just sick of country life and a farm life!” Little does she know that her circumstances are about to change! A magnificent singer, she breaks into song and might readily be forgiven for glorying in her superb natural talent.

 

On arrival at home, she finds Dolores, or Dollie as she was called, weeping in the yard. She tells Marion that her father, not for the first time, wants her to enter a loveless marriage with the detestable Silas Johnson, which she has refused to do.

 

Time passes and a mysterious Mr Carlos Lawson appears at the farm, which causes unease with Marion. She also overhears a conversation between Silas and her father and realises that Silas has a hold on her father and is wanting Dollie in exchange. Despite her misgivings she confides in Carlos Lawson and instantly regrets what she has done.

 

While helping the orphan Bert Jackson escape from the orphanage after one beating too many, she discovers that Dollie, too, has runaway. Only she hasn’t runaway but been abducted by the black-hearted Carlos Lawson and the two have gone to New York.

 

Marion sees the rescue of her sister as a valid excuse to escape the confines of the farm and plans to go to New York in search of her sister. She then packs and leaves for the city on a quest to find her sister.

 

Join Marion Marlowe on this, the first of her many adventures in 1900’s New York city.

 

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