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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.

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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.

 

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

ISBN: 9788835379119

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

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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,

At https://folklorefairytales.wordpress.com/page/40/ you will find the first of 40 pages, or 250+, FREE individual children’s stories, of folklore, fairytales, myths, legends, fables, poems and ditties from around the world with images and illustrations to keep children occupied during this trying time.

These are stories and tales from long ago. Follow the link to page 40 and work backwards. Here your children will find stories they have never even heard of!

Encourage your children to FEEL FREE to print these off and create their own folders of these tales. The owner of this site published these and gives his permission for you to download and print off the stories on this site for your personal use.

PLEASE SHARE with friends and family and schools in your area.

Please also browse our shop at bit.ly/GetB00ksHere for multi-story ebooks and do look for the FREE eBOOKS as well.

John Halsted
CEO Abela Publishing

Abela Fairy Image in white

Abela Publishing
Abela: Zulu, to share or distribute

ANDREW LANG’s “BROWN FAIRY BOOK”
with 32 illustrated fairy tales and children’s stories
from his collection of Many Coloured Fairy Books

BFB_Front_Cover_A5_Centered

This is the 10th Fairy Book of Many Colours compiled and edited by Andrew Lang with many exquisite illustrations by H. J. Ford. The stories in all the books are borrowed from many countries – Australia, North America, Southern Africa, New Caledonia located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, New Zealand, Kenya, Persia, Northern Europe, India, South and North America and beyond.

However much the nations in these lands differ about trifles, they all agree in liking fairy tales. Herein you will find 32 illustrated fairy tales like What the Rose did to the Cypress, The Bunyip, The Story of the Yara, The Cunning Hare, The Turtle and his Bride, The Sacred Milk of Koumongoé, The Wicked Wolverine, The Elf Maiden, Asmund and Signy and many, many more.

 

TABLE of CONTENTS

What the Rose did to the Cypress

Ball-Carrier and the Bad One

How Ball-Carrier finished his Task

The Bunyip

Father Grumbler

The Story of the Yara

The Cunning Hare

The Turtle and his Bride

How Geirald the Coward was Punished

Hábogi

How the Little Brother set Free his Big Brothers

The Sacred Milk of Koumongoé

The Wicked Wolverine

The Husband of the Rat’s Daughter

The Mermaid and the Boy

Pivi and Kabo

The Elf Maiden

How Some Wild Animals became Tame Ones

Fortune and the Wood-Cutter

The Enchanted Head

The Sister of the Sun

The Prince and the Three Fates

The Fox and the Lapp

Kisa the Cat

The Lion and the Cat

Which was the Foolishest?

Asmund and Signy

Rübezahl

Story of the King who would be Stronger than Fate

Story of Wali Dâd the Simple-hearted

Tale of a Tortoise and of a Mischievous Monkey

The Knights of the Fish

 

 

10% of the profit from the sale of this book is donated to charities.

 

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Download this ebook from: https://store.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/the-brown-fairy-book-32-illustrated-folk-and-fairy-tales/

 

Be sure to search our store for the book you want!

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HASHTAGS: #Folklore, #fairytales, #myths, #legends, #childrensstories, #bedtimestories, #fables, #AndrewLang, #HJFord, #storyteller, #book, #books, #bookstagram, #bookworm, #booklover, #bookish, #booknerd, #bookaddict, #bookme, #bookshelf, #bookaholic, #booklove, #BookNow, #bookphotography, #booking, #bookstagrammer, #booklovers, #bookstore, #booksofinstagram, #bookblogger, #bookstagramfeature, #booknerdigans, #bookquotes, #bookcover, #bookclub, #bookishfeatures, #Bookmark, #bookshop, #AbelaPublishing, #parentswithchildren, #parentsbelike, #parentstobe, #grandparentstobe, #motherswithbabes, #motherswithchildren, #toddlers, #tots, #ActionandAdventure, #childrensstories, #ChildrensBook, #fables, #FairyTales, #FarmAnimals, #Fiction, #FolkTalesandFolklore, #Folklore, #KingsandQueens, #legends, #MoralTales, #PrincesandPrincesses, #AbelaPublishing, #bedtimestories,

 

BFB_Front_Cover_A5_Centered

ANDREW LANG’s BLUE FAIRY BOOK
37 Illustrated Fairy Tales

Compiled and Edited by Andrew Lang
Illustrated by H. J. Ford

In the Blue Fairy Book you will find a set of 37 illustrated Fairy Tales collected and edited by Andrew Lang who was Britain’s answer to the Grimm brothers. Within you will find perennial favourites like

  • Hansel And Grettel,
  • Little Red Riding Hood,
  • Sleeping Beauty,
  • Beauty And The Beast,
  • Cinderella,
  • Aladdin And The Wonderful Lamp

and many more.

You will also find some of the tales are less well-known, even so, they are equally fascinating and entertaining all the same.

As to whether there are really any fairies or not, is a difficult question to answer.  The Editor never saw any himself, but he knew several people who have seen them-in the Scottish Highlands – and heard their music.  So, if ever you are ever near Nether Lochaber (16km/10m south west of Fort William), be sure to go to the Fairy Hill, and you may hear the music yourself, as grown-up people have often done. The only stipulation is that you must go on a fine day, but remember this poem as the little folk may ask you to recite it to gain entry to their magical kingdom.

Books Yellow, Red, and Green and Blue,
All true, or just as good as true,
And here’s the Blue Book just for YOU!

Hard is the path from A to Z,
And puzzling to a curly head,
Yet leads to Books—Green, Yellow and Red.

For every child should understand
That letters from the first were planned
To guide us into Fairy Land.

So labour at your Alphabet,
For by that learning shall you get
To lands where Fairies may be met.

And going where this pathway goes,
You too, at last, may find, who knows?
The Garden of the Singing Rose.

Download Link: https://store.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/andrew-langs-blue-fairy-book-37-illustrated-fairy-tales/

10% of the Publisher’s profit from the sale of this book will be donated to Charities.

YESTERDAYS BOOKS raising funds for TODAYS CHARITIES

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HASTAGS: #Folklore, #fairytales, #fables, #myths, #legends, #childrensstories, #bedtime, #childrensBooks, #Bluefairybook, #path, #curlyhead, #letters, #FairyLand, #learn, #Alphabet, #Fairies, #pathway, #Garden, #SingingRose, #bronzering, #prince, #hyacinth, #princess, #eastofthesun, #westofthemoon, #yellowdwarf, #redridinghood, #sleepingbeauty, #woods, #Cinderella, #glassslipper, #Aladdin, #wonderfullamp, #youth, #fear, #rumpelstiltzkin, #beauty, #beast, #mastermaid, #sea, #salt, #mastercat, #pussinboots, #Felicia, #potofpinks, #whitecat, #water #lily, #goldspinners, #terriblehead, #prettygoldilocks, #Whittington, #cat, #wonderfulsheep, #littlethumb, #tomthumb, alibaba, #fortythieves, #Hansel, #Grettel, #snowwhite, #rosered, #goosegirl, #toads, #diamonds, #princedarling, #bluebeard, #trustyjohn, #brave, #littletailor, #voyagetoLilliput, #glasshill, #princeahmed, #paribanou, #jack, #giantkiller, #blackbull, #norroway, #redetin,

FFMAL_Front_Cover

Folklore, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends
from Around the World

Compiled by John Halsted

In this FREE EBOOK you will find 15 stories which have been selected from the books that make up the series “Fairy Tales, Folklore, Myths and Legends from Around the World”

Herein you will find stories from ancient Celtic England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. As well as Roma and Gypsy stories which have travelled across Europe from the Black Sea region. There are also stories from the Zulus and Bushmen of South Africa, to the Orient, the Silk Route, the Vikings, the Red Indians of North America and beyond.
The books in the series are rare and out of print books and have been republished as part of a Social Enterprise project where the main aim is to give a large portion of the profits to charity. In fact 10% of the profit from each book sold is donated to charities that specialise in educational scholarships for the underprivileged; and the beneficiaries of these scholarships are spread around the globe.

We also encourage you to pass this FREE eBook on to anyone and everyone you know, especially teachers, parents with young children, expecting parents and first-time grandparents.

The stories in this volume are:
The Lost Message
The Further Adventures Of Eut-Le-Ten
The Vampire
The Slippers Of The Twelve Princesses
King O’toole And St. Kevin
The Young King Of Easaidh Ruadh.
The Story Of Gelert
Tom Tit Tot
Lawkamercyme
The Perfidious Vizier
The Magic Of The Old Monk
Gulambara And Sulambara
The Rabbi’s Bogey-Man
The Story Of The Boy And The Old Woman, And How The Wasp Got His Small Waist
Twas The Night Before Christmas

So we invite to download this FREE ebook, and then sit back and be prepared to laugh or be amazed at the antics and outcomes of these magical stories.
=========================
Download this FREE book via our StreetLib store at: https://store.streetlib.com/en/various/folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-childrens-stories-from-around-the-world/

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HASHTAGS: #book, #books, #bookstagram, #bookworm, #booklover, #bookish, #booknerd, #bookaddict, #bookme, #bookshelf, #bookaholic, #booklove, #BookNow, #bookphotography, #booking, #bookstagrammer, #booklovers, #bookstore, #booksofinstagram, #bookblogger, #bookstagramfeature, #booknerdigans, #bookquotes, #bookcover, #bookclub, #bookishfeatures, #Bookmark, #bookshop, #AbelaPublishing, #fairytales, #folklore, #myths, #legends, #childrensstories, #bygoneera, #fairydom, #magical, #ethereal, #fairyland, #classicstories, #childrensbedtimestories, #happyplace, #happiness, #LostMessage, #Adventures, #EutLeTen, #Vampire, #Slippers, #TwelvePrincesses, #12, #KingO’toole, #StKevin, #goose, #YoungKing, #EasaidhRuadh, #StoryOfGelert, #Bethgellert, #Bedgelert, #TomTitTot, #Lawkamercyme, #LordHaveMercyonMe, #Perfidious Vizier, #MagicOfTheOldMonk, #Gulambara, #Sulambara, #Rabbi, #BogeyMan, #Boy, #OldWoman, #Wasp, #SmallWaist, #NightBeforeChristmas, #Vikingedition,

 

 

 

TOSOTS-Front-Cover

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SUN 8 illustrated fairy stories for children. The stories in this volume by Evelyn Sharp are original stories, not retellings of fairy stories from the mists of time like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty etc.

They are:
The Weird Witch Of The Willow-Herb
The Magician’s Tea-Party
The Hundredth Princess
Somebody Else’s Prince
The Tears Of Princess Prunella
The Palace On The Floor
The Lady Daffodilia
The Kite That Went To The Moon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evelyn Jane Sharp (1869–1955) was a key figure in two major British women’s suffrage societies, the militant Women’s Social and Political Union and the United Suffragists and an established author. She helped found the United Suffragists and became editor of Votes for Women during the First World War. She was twice imprisoned and became a tax resister. An established author who had published in The Yellow Book, she was especially well known for her children’s fiction, namely, All the Way to Fairyland (1898) and The Other Side of the Sun (1900). REVIEW
Miss Sharp has wit, wisdom, and imagination for her initial equipment, but she possesses also what is rarer far—the accent and the point of view. For instance, she would never introduce a bicycle into this old-fashioned country. She knows perfectly well that if there should be any occasion for hurry—which is rarely the case in Fairyland—naturally you take a rocking-horse.—The Academy, Literature Review, London.

10% of the net sale will be donated to charities by the publisher.
.
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Get the book via StreetLib at https://store.streetlib.com/en/evelyn-sharp/the-other-side-of-the-sun-8-illustrated-original-fairy-stories/

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.
#book #books #bookstagram #bookworm #booklover #bookish #booknerd #bookaddict #bookme #bookshelf #bookaholic #booklove #BookNow #bookphotography #booking #bookstagrammer #booklovers #bookstore #booksofinstagram #bookblogger #bookstagramfeature #booknerdigans #bookquotes #bookcover #bookclub #bookishfeatures #Bookmark #bookshop #AbelaPublishing

The start of October sees MAORI FOLKLORE taking a commanding lead, followed by GYPSY FOLKTALES – book 1 with our final two books – NORTH CORNWALL FAIRIES AND LEGENDS and TWENTY TALES FROM ALONG THE AMBER ROAD level pegging for 3rd place.

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MAORI FOLKLORE containing 23 Maori Myths and Legends
download link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/sir-george-grey/maori-folklore-or-the-ancient-traditional-history-of-the-new-zealanders/

GYPSY FOLK TALES - BOOK ONE Illustrated edition

GYPSY FOLKTALES Book 1 – 36 Illustrated Gypsy Tales from stories from Turkey, Romania and Bukowina

Download link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/gypsy-folk-tales-book-one-36-illustrated-gypsy-tales/

NCFAL-Front_Cover_A5_Centered.png

NORTH CORNWALL FAIRIES AND LEGENDS – 13 Legends from the land of Poldark in England’s West Country

Download link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/north-cornwall-fairies-and-legends-13-legends-from-englands-west-country/

9781910882641 Twenty Tales from Along The Amber Road - centralised

TWENTY TALES FROM ALONG THE AMBER ROAD – 20 Stories from Russia to Italy

Download link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/john-halsted/twenty-tales-from-along-the-amber-road-stories-from-russia-to-italy/

 

Abela Fairy Image in white

For 330+ more folklore and fairytale books visit our specialist store at: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/search

TON-Front-Cover

By Howard Pease

 

The tales which make up this volume all appeared in print in various publications before 1899 (some of which have since gone out of circulation).

 

‘A Long Main,’ ‘In Memoriov’m,’ in the National Observer; ‘The Protégé,’ in the Queen; ‘Quaker John and Yankee Bill,’ ‘T’Owd Squire,’ ‘An Ammytoor Detective,’ in the Newcastle Courant; ‘À l’Outrance,’ in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle; and the remaining six in the Newcastle Daily Leader.

 

So popular were they that the author was persuaded to put them into one volume “Tales of Northumbria”. But why Northumbria you ask? Well some of them stretch back in time to when the term Northumbria was still in use.

Herein you will find 13 tales from Northumbria, Northumberland and the surrounding area.

 

These are:

‘A Long Main’

The Squire’s Last Ride

À L’outrance

‘T’owd Squire’

An ‘Ammytoor’ Detective

‘In Memoriov’m’

‘The Heckler’ Upon Womenfolk

The ‘Caleb Jay’

Geordie Armstrong ‘The Jesu-Yte’

‘Geordie Ride-The-Stang’

Yankee Bill And Quaker John

The Protégé

The Spanish Doubloon

 

This volume is sure to keep you enchanted for hours, if only not because of the story’s content, but because of their quality, and they will have you coming back for more time-and-again.

 

ISBN: 9788828374541

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/howard-pease/tales-of-northumbria-13-tales-from-northern-england/

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KEYWORDS/TAGS: folklore, fairy tales, myths, legend, land, , stories, wonder tales, A Long Main, Squire, Last Ride, L’outrance, T’owd, Ammytoor, Detective, In Memoriov’m, memoriam, Heckler, Womenfolk, Caleb Jay, Geordie Armstrong, The Jesu-Yte, Jesuit, Ride-The-Stang, Yankee Bill, Quaker John, Protégé, Spanish, Doubloon, short stories, characters

JUST ADDED 4 sets of old and forgotten images to our CLASSIC ILLUSTRATIONS archive which can be viewed at https://shoptly.com/fairytaleimages

 

The NEW Additions are:

 

  1. 47 Images and 20 illustrated capitals in Black and White by John D Batten from MORE CELTIC FAIRY TALES compiled by Joseph Jacobs.

Black and white illustrations are ideal for printing off and giving to children to colour in.

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://shoptly.com/i/wcf

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  1. 11 Classic Fairy Tale Illustrations by ALICEA POLSON from WONDERWINGS AND OTHER STORIES by Edith Howes – 3 in colour plus a complimentary image of the original cover.

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://shoptly.com/i/wkm

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  1. 6 Classic Children’s Illustrations in colour by GEORGE W. HOOD from THE NORWEGIAN BOOK OF FAIRY TALES compiled and retold by Clara Stroebe

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://shoptly.com/i/wod

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  1. 8 Classic Children’s Illustrations by GEORGE W. HOOD from The Book of Swedish Fairy Tales compiled and retold by Clara Stroebe

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://shoptly.com/i/wok

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Just added to our growing archive of classic children’s illustrations:

 

31 Classic Fairy Tale Illustrations from WHITE ELEPHANT TALES OF INDIA plus 8 story header illustrations.

Download link: https://shoptly.com/i/wk6

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Also Two sets of illustrations from Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit –

 

42 Classic Fairy Tale Illustrations from TOLD BY UNCLE REMUS ILLUSTRATED BY A. B. FROST, J. M. CONDE AND FRANK UERBECK GROSSET & DUNLAP

Download Link: https://shoptly.com/i/wkd

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61 Classic Fairy Tale Illustrations by an Unknown Artist from UNCLE REMIS AND BRER RABBIT

Download Link: https://shoptly.com/i/wkj

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To view all 59 sets of images, click on https://shoptly.com/fairytaleimages – includes sets from Peter Rabbit & friends by Beatrix Potter