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LBLS-Startpiece

From
GRIMMS FAIRY TALES (Illustrated edition)
ISBN: 9788828338611

Little brother took his little sister by the hand and said, “Since our mother died, we have had no happiness; our stepmother beats us every day, and if we come near her, she kicks us away with her foot. Our meals are the hard crusts of bread that are left over. The little dog under the table is better off, for she often throws it a nice bit. May Heaven pity us! If our mother only knew! Come, we will go forth together into the wide world.”

They walked the whole day over meadows, fields, and stony places; and when it rained the little sister said, “Heaven and our hearts are weeping together.”

In the evening they came to a large forest, and they were so weary with sorrow and hunger and the long walk, that they lay down in a hollow tree and fell asleep.

The next day when they awoke, the sun was already high and shone down hot into the tree. Then the little brother said, “Little Sister, I am thirsty. If I knew of a little brook I would go and take a drink. I think I hear one running.” The little brother got up and took the little sister by the hand, and they set off to find the brook.

But the wicked stepmother was a Witch, and had seen how the two children had gone away. She had crept after them, as Witches do creep, and had bewitched all the brooks in the forest.

Now, when they found a little brook leaping brightly over the stones, the little brother was going to drink out of it, but the little sister heard how it said as it ran:

Who drinks of me, a Tiger be! Who drinks of me, a Tiger be!

Then the little sister cried, “Pray, dear little Brother, do not drink, or you will become a wild beast, and tear me to pieces.”

The little brother did not drink, although he was so thirsty, but said, “I will wait for the next spring.”

When they came to the next brook, the little sister heard this say:

Who drinks of me, a wild Wolf be! Who drinks of me, a wild Wolf be!

Then the little sister cried out, “Pray, dear little Brother, do not drink, or you will become a Wolf, and devour me.”

The little brother did not drink, and said, “I will wait until we come to the next spring, but then I must drink, say what you like; for my thirst is too great.”

And when they came to the third brook, the little sister heard how it said as it ran:

Who drinks of me, a Roebuck be! Who drinks of me, a Roebuck be!

The little sister said, “Oh, I pray you, dear little Brother, do not drink, or you will become a Roe, and run away from me.”

But the little brother had knelt by the brook, and had bent down and drunk some of the water. And as soon as the first drops touched his lips, he lay there a young Roe.

And now the little sister wept over her poor bewitched little brother, and the little Roe wept also, and sat sorrowfully near to her. But at last the girl said, “Be quiet, dear little Roe, I will never, never leave you.”

Then she untied her golden garter and put it round the Roe’s neck, and she plucked rushes and wove them into a soft cord. With this she tied the little animal and led it on; and she walked deeper and deeper into the forest.

And when they had gone a very long way, they came to a little house. The girl looked in; and as it was empty, she thought, “We can stay here and live.”

Then she sought for leaves and moss to make a soft bed for the Roe. Every morning she went out and gathered roots and berries and nuts for herself, and brought tender grass for the Roe, who ate out of her hand, and was content and played round about her. In the evening, when the little sister was tired, and had said her prayer, she laid her head upon the Roe’s back: that was her pillow, and she slept softly on it. And if only the little brother had had his human form, it would have been a delightful life.

For some time, they were alone like this in the wilderness. But it happened that the King of the country held a great hunt in the forest. Then the blasts of the horns, the barking of dogs, and the merry shouts of the huntsmen rang through the trees, and the Roe heard all, and was only too anxious to be there.

“Oh,” said he to his little sister, “let me be off to the hunt, I cannot bear it any longer;” and he begged so much that at last she agreed.

“But,” said she to him, “come back to me in the evening. I must shut my door for fear of the rough huntsmen, so knock and say, ‘My little Sister, let me in!’ that I may know you. And if you do not say that, I shall not open the door.”

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Then the young Roe sprang away; so happy was he and so merry in the open air.

The King and the huntsmen saw the pretty creature, and started after him. But they could not catch him, and when they thought that they surely had him, away he sprang through the bushes and was gone.

When it was dark he ran to the cottage, knocked, and said, “My little Sister, let me in.” Then the door was opened for him, and he jumped in, and rested himself the whole night through upon his soft bed.

The next day, the hunt went on afresh, and when the Roe again heard the bugle-horn, and the ho! ho! of the huntsmen, he had no peace, but said, “Sister, let me out, I must be off.”

His sister opened the door for him, and said, “But you must be here again in the evening and say your password.”

When the King and his huntsmen again saw the young Roe with the golden collar, they all chased him, but he was too quick and nimble for them. This went on for the whole day, but by evening the huntsmen had surrounded him, and one of them wounded him a little in the foot, so that he limped and ran slowly. Then a hunter crept after him to the cottage and heard how he said, “My little Sister, let me in,” and saw that the door was opened for him, and was shut again at once.

The huntsman took notice of it all, and went to the King and told him what he had seen and heard. Then the King said, “To-morrow we will hunt once more.”

The little sister, however, was dreadfully frightened when she saw that her little Roe was hurt. She washed the blood off him, laid herbs on the wound, and said, “Go to your bed, dear Roe, that you may get well again.”

But the wound was so slight that the Roe, next morning, did not feel it any more. And when he again heard the sport outside, he said, “I cannot bear it, I must be there. They shall not find it so easy to catch me!”

The little sister cried, and said, “This time they will kill you, and here am I alone in the forest, and forsaken by all the world. I will not let you out.”

“Then you will have me die of grief,” answered the Roe. “When I hear the bugle-horns I feel as if I must jump out of my skin.”

Then the little sister could not do otherwise, but opened the door for him with a heavy heart, and the Roe, full of health and joy, bounded away into the forest.

When the King saw him, he said to his huntsman, “Now chase him all day long till nightfall, but take care that no one does him any harm.”

As soon as the sun had set, the King said to the huntsmen, “Now come and show me the cottage in the wood;” and when he was at the door, he knocked and called out, “Dear little Sister, let me in.”

Then the door opened, and the King walked in, and there stood a maiden more lovely than any he had ever seen. The maiden was frightened when she saw, not her little Roe, but a man with a golden crown upon his head. But the King looked kindly at her, stretched out his hand, and said:

“Will you go with me to my palace and be my dear wife?”

LBLS-Main THE KING SAID, “WILL YOU BE MY DEAR WIFE”

THE KING SAID, “WILL YOU BE MY DEAR WIFE?”

“Yes, indeed,” answered the maiden, “but the little Roe must go with me. I cannot leave him.”

The King said, “He shall stay with you as long as you live, and shall want nothing.”

Just then he came running in, and the little sister again tied him with the cord of rushes, took it in her own hand, and went away with the King from the cottage.

The King took the lovely maiden upon his horse and carried her to his palace, where the wedding was held with great pomp. She was now the Queen, and they lived for a long time happily together. The Roe was tended and cherished, and ran about in the palace-garden.

But the wicked Witch, because of whom the children had gone out into the world, thought all the time that the little sister had been torn to pieces by the wild beasts in the wood, and that the little brother had been shot for a Roe by the huntsmen. Now when she heard that they were so happy, and so well off, envy and hatred rose in her heart and left her no peace, and she thought of nothing but how she could bring them again to misfortune.

Her own daughter, who was as ugly as night, and had only one eye, grumbled at her and said, “A Queen! that ought to have been my luck.”

“Only be quiet,” answered the old woman, and comforted her by saying, “when the time comes I shall be ready.”

As time went on, the Queen had a pretty little boy. It happened that the King was out hunting; so the old Witch took the form of the chambermaid, went into the room where the Queen lay, and said to her, “Come, the bath is ready. It will do you good, and give you fresh strength. Make haste before it gets cold.”

The daughter also was close by; so they carried the weak Queen into the bathroom, and put her into the bath. Then they shut the door and ran away. But in the bathroom they had made a fire of such deadly heat, that the beautiful young Queen was soon suffocated.

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When this was done, the old woman took her daughter, put a nightcap on her head, and laid her in bed in place of the Queen. She gave her too the shape and the look of the Queen, only she could not make good the lost eye. But, in order that the King might not see it, she was to lie on the side on which she had no eye.

In the evening, when he came home and heard that he had a son, he was heartily glad, and was going to the bed of his dear wife to see how she was. But the old woman quickly called out, “For your life leave the curtains closed. The Queen ought not to see the light yet, and must have rest.”

The King went away, and did not find out that a false Queen was lying in the bed.

But at midnight, when all slept, the nurse, who was sitting in the nursery by the cradle, and who was the only person awake, saw the door open and the true Queen walk in. She took the child out of the cradle, laid it on her arm and nursed it. Then she shook up its pillow, laid the child down again, and covered it with the little quilt. And she did not forget the Roe, but went into the corner where he lay, and stroked his back. Then she went quite silently out of the door again.

The next morning, the nurse asked the guards whether anyone had come into the palace during the night, but they answered, “No, we have seen no one.”

She came thus many nights and never spoke a word. The nurse always saw her, but she did not dare to tell anyone about it.

When some time had passed in this manner, the Queen began to speak in the night, and said:

How fares my child, how fares my Roe? Twice shall I come, then never moe!

The nurse did not answer, but when the Queen had gone again, went to the King and told him all.

The King said, “Ah, heavens! what is this? To-morrow night I will watch by the child.”

In the evening he went into the nursery, and at midnight the Queen again appeared, and said:

How fares my child, how fares my Roe? Once shall I come, then never moe!

And she nursed the child as she was wont to do before she disappeared. The King dared not speak to her, but on the next night he watched again. Then she said:

How fares my child, How fares my Roe? This time I come, then never moe!

At that the King could not restrain himself. He sprang toward her, and said, “You can be none other than my dear wife.”

She answered, “Yes, I am your dear wife,” and at the same moment she received life again, and by God’s grace became fresh, rosy, and full of health.

Then she told the King the evil deed which the wicked Witch and her daughter had been guilty of toward her. The King ordered both to be led before the judge, and judgment was delivered against them. The daughter was taken into the forest where she was torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the Witch was cast into the fire and miserably burnt.

And as soon as she was burnt the Roe changed his shape, and received his human form again. So the little sister and little brother lived happily together all their lives.

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From GRIMMS FAIRY STORIES

ISBN: 9788828338611

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://bit.ly/2ykGU33

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KEYWORDS/TAGS: Grimms Fairy Stories, fairy tales, folklore, myths, legends, children’s stories, childrens stories, bygone era, fairydom, fairy land, classic stories, children’s bedtime stories, happy place, happiness, Goose, Girl, Little Brother, Little Sister, Hansel, Grethel, Grettel, Shiver, Dummling, Three Feathers, Snow White, Catherine, Frederick, Valiant,  Little Tailor, Little Red Cap, Golden Goose, Bearskin, Cinderella, Faithful John, Water Of Life, Thumbling, Briar Rose, Six Swans, Rapunzel, Mother Holle, Frog Prince, Travels, Tom Thumb, Snow White, Rose Red, Three Little Men, Wood, Rumpelstiltskin, Little One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes

From the ebook THE VILLAGE OF HIDE AND SEEK

By B. T. WILSON

TThe hot sun was now standing directly over the tops of the trees, and, as the moving shade had left the Vagabond with a part of his circle of children out in its broiling rays, he was glad indeed to pause with his story while they all rose at his request and formed a new circle farther in under the sheltering branches. Four of the boys leaped from the ground and scampered away to bring the water as the Vagabond had requested.

When the new circle was formed, one of the little girls,—a sweet-faced darling of not more than five years, pushed herself away from the others, and with a feeling of pride, took a seat by the side of the Vagabond, where she sat looking into his face quite anxious for him to go on with his story.

The boys were not slow in returning from the well; and in order to assure themselves that the water would reach the parched lips of their companions fresh and cool, they had unbound the old oaken bucket from the well pole and were bearing it along, dripping full, between them. The water soon arrived, and by order of the Vagabond it was passed around, he not even forgetting to first wait upon the little lady who, so honored, sat proudly by his side. When they were all comfortably seated in the shade at last, it was thus he continued his interesting tale:

“After the two children had eaten all they possibly could, just as many of you drank all the water you possibly could, the dwarfs and brownies came hurrying up the stairs and were not long in removing the dishes and table. The brownies, in a most winning manner, insisted upon their eating more, for there was enough left to feed a dozen hungry children, but they were forced to reluctantly decline.

“The sun-tanned brownie, who removed the dishes from in front of Maud, looked too funny for anything with his long-peaked cap set aslant on his little round head and roguishly pushed over to one side. On his face appeared a broad grin as he took the dishes under his arm, and gazing intently toward little Maud, said in a shy, half-whisper though sufficiently loud for her to hear: “Pretty girl!”

“Then without waiting a reply, he made one wild, hilarious plunge, dishes and all, down the balustrade. Nor did he stop when he struck the ground, but hurried away toward the mountain, halting only for a second when half way up its steep side to wave her an affectionate adieu with his funny round cap. Thus waving he passed from sight under the sheltering trees that grew along the mountain way, while the children turned to view other parts of the beautiful valley.

“‘What broad, golden stream is that, Aunt Twaddles?’ inquired little Arthur, as he pointed toward the Work Shops of Santa Claus.

“‘Aunt Twaddles’ glanced up as he spoke and looking in the direction of the golden stream, she replied.

“‘That, my darlings, is Taffy River.’

“‘Taffy River!’ exclaimed the children in one breath. Then Arthur, in an excited tone, continued: ‘You don’t mean to tell us, Aunt Twaddles, that taffy flows in a river like that!’

“The children stood anxiously awaiting her reply.

“‘Yes, darlings! Oh, yes!’ she replied. ‘Taffy River gets its start up at Honey Springs in the lower end of Ice Cream Valley and flows, as you see, down between Ginger Bread Hills and Cake Mountain, then on past the Work Shops of Santa Claus and empties into Lake Fudge, over beyond the Pop-Corn Fields where you see the reindeer.’

“Arthur was so bewildered he did not know what to say; while little Maud stood with her mouth open in such a manner that she was quite amusing to look upon. Suddenly she exclaimed:

“‘Mercy, Aunt Twaddles! Is that white field pop corn? Why I thought it was snow!’

“‘No! no! my children!’ smilingly exclaimed the good lady. ‘That field is all pop corn. You see,’ she continued, ‘we never have either rain or snow here. Not a particle of water is ever permitted to fall in this enchanted valley, not even a drop of dew; for if it should, though it was only a tear, something dreadful would surely happen. This is not our will, but the will of Heaven; and if you watch, you will see for yourselves.’

“‘Aunt Twaddles’ touched another button in the arm of her golden chair and gazed calmly over the valley.

“While they were waiting for something unusual to happen, little Maud roused from a spell of deep thought and inquired:

“‘Aunt Twaddles, does any of Taffy River ever empty into the Shenandoah?’ And her eyes sparkled at the thought.

“‘Ah, no, darling,’ replied the generous old woman with a knowing smile. ‘When the children of the earth are good, Santa Claus takes most of it on his journey at Christmas time; but when they are naughty it overflows Lake Fudge and is wasted among the surrounding hills.’

“‘Aunt Twaddles’ seemed somewhat impatient and again pressing the button with a firm hand, the children were greatly surprised to behold a heavy, dark cloud rising in the west. Leaping upward it came flying angrily over the summit of Ginger Bread Hills; then dashing furiously against the tall sides of Cake Mountain it rolled upward with the sound of deep, muttering thunder and spread over the entire sky.

“The wind came howling bitterly down the beautiful valley with a sudden dash and roar, and again turned the sign above the factory of Santa Claus out of reasonable position.

“Strong trees bent low before the breath of the on-coming storm, while the entire end of Beauty Valley grew suddenly dark. All the dolls of the village hastened into their play-houses as fast as their little legs could carry them. Santa Claus came out of his factory and, arching his eyebrows with the palms of his wide-open hands, cast a sweeping glance over the threatening sky and then disappeared within.

“The doors throughout this great factory were suddenly closed. Windows came down with a bang. Louder and louder the shrill wind howled with a wintry wail and in a few moments a blinding snowstorm of pop corn buried the distant field in a spotless coverlet of white.

“‘Aunt Twaddles’ touched another button in the arm of her chair. Suddenly the clouds melted away into a veil of thin mist and again the sun poured down its wealth of golden glory.

“Up went the windows in the factory of Santa Claus. The dolls rushed out of their play-houses and danced once more upon the green, while a mighty host of brownies rushed from the factories into the field and began to gather basket after basket of pop corn to be made into pop-corn balls on the banks of Taffy River.

“‘Aunt Twaddles’ sat back in her chair, smiling silently, for she had watched the expressions upon the faces of the children during the wonderful storm.

“The scene was indeed most marvelous and it was a long time before either of the children ventured to say a word, for the wonderful workings of nature, all under control of the little, shining buttons, mystified them beyond utterance.

“Suddenly they beheld a little brownie hurrying from the factory toward the throne. ‘Aunt Twaddles’ arose when she saw him coming.

“‘Here comes a messenger,’ she said, ‘and something must be wrong.’

“In another second he bounded up the onyx steps and soon afterward stood trembling before them.

“‘What is it, Spit?’ inquired ‘Aunt Twaddles’ as she gazed down upon him.

“‘Spit,’ for that was the name of the brownie, looked up into her face as he stood awed by her presence.

“‘Twaddles!’ he exclaimed, ‘during the storm the lightning struck a wooden doll in the village and hurt it mighty badly.’

“As this sad bit of news fell on the ears of ‘Aunt Twaddles,’ she dismissed the brownie with a wave of her hand and sank back in her chair, and the children could see that she was much distressed.

“‘Come! come!’ she said to herself at last, ‘we must not grieve so much over accidents, for they are often the will of Heaven.’

“She arose and greeted the children with a glad smile.

“‘Aunt Twaddles,’ inquired Arthur, ‘does Santa Claus always live here?’

“Instantly, ‘Aunt Twaddles’ stepped back from the children and paused. She stood near the steps of the golden throne, her hand resting upon the white polished onyx post that ornamented the end of the beautiful balustrade, and turning to them, she said:

“‘Yes, children, Santa Claus always lives here and I am his sister.’

“As she spoke the last word, a magical change came over her entire features.

“Instead of the fat, flabby, emotionless countenance the children had long known and loved, each careworn line withered instantly away, and in place came the bloom and smile of eternal youth and beauty; while the ungainly and ponderous weight that had so encumbered her journeys, disappeared all in a moment, until she now looked more like a beautiful fairy than the dear, good ‘Aunt Twaddles’ of old.

“All the odd, ill-fitting garments, with the long, heavy skirt to which they had so firmly clung for their lives while climbing the face of the cliff, were changed before their very eyes into raiments of rich lace and gold; and she stood before them in her true character, no longer ‘Aunt Twaddles,’ the herb woman, but the fairy sister of Santa Claus, more lovely by far than any doll they had ever beheld.

illus115 All the odd, ill-fitting garments were changed into raiments of gold
“All the odd, ill-fitting garments were changed into raiments of gold.”

“‘You see me now, darlings, as no mortal eye has ever beheld me. Amid the common walks of life, when gathering wintergreen, spices, and herbs on the mountain, with which to flavor the candy for Santa Claus, I am awkward and ugly, fat, and ungainly, and I care not; for the rarest of womanly beauty on earth lies not in the looks, but the heart. But here, in this haven of blissful repose, you now behold me as I truly am;—not Aunt Twaddles, the herb woman, but Twaddles, the Queen of the Dolls, and the ruler who reigns over the Village of Hide and Seek.’

“Awed beyond measure and wrapt in admiring silence, the poor children stood trembling in the presence of the queen. Nor could they reconcile themselves to the sudden change, for ‘Aunt Twaddles,’ the herb woman, had always been so good and kind to them.

“Little Maud suddenly sank to her knees on the throne, and cried aloud in a pitiful voice:

“‘Oh, dear queen, how beautiful you are! But please be your dear self again, for I love the Aunt Twaddles who has always been so good to me.’

“Before she could finish her heart-rending plea, the beautiful Doll Queen folded her to her bosom and covered the face of the child with sweet, motherly caresses.

“‘Come! come!’ she said softly, at last. ‘We will make a tour of Beauty Valley, or, as the dolls of the village all love to call it, ‘The Land of Santa Claus.’ And she unclasped Maud from her arms.

“The Queen touched a bell on a silver stand and at the faint sound a beautiful white-winged dove, with a pale blue ribbon about its snowy neck, came flying from a near-by olive tree and lit upon the edge of the throne before them.

“The children, much interested in the unusual sight, drew back toward the opposite side of the throne as if fearing they might frighten the bird away; but the Queen, smiling so sweetly that they felt like falling to their knees and worshipping her, turned to them as she exclaimed:

“‘Have no fear, my darlings, for you cannot frighten it away. This bird is my private messenger that always finds Kimbo when I want him.’

“The Queen waved her hands with a graceful, easy motion, and the dove rose in the air on its snowy wings. Three times it circled above the throne, and then took its course toward the buildings of Santa Claus and passed out of sight.

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ISBN: 9788834175361

URL/DownLoad Link: https://bit.ly/2VAo8Mn

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TAGS: Village of Hide and Seek, fairy tales, fairytales, folklore, myths, legends, children’s stories, children’s books, children’s fantasy, fables, bedtime stories, wonderland, parents with children, parents to be, grandparents, mothers with children, mothers to be, nursery school, king, kindergarten, kindergarden, Arthur, Aunt Twaddles, beautiful, Claus, dolls, Dreams, face, far, golden, great, Island, journey, magical, Maud, merry, happy, , mountain, old, path, palace, prince, princess, pennyroyal, Queen, River, Santa Claus,, stream, sweet, tall, throne, Vagabond, valley, village, water, wild, well, wonderland

From the ebook Sylvie and Bruno
The sequel to Alice in Wonderland
By Lewis Carrol

He Thought He Saw A Buffalo

I said something, in the act of waking, I felt sure: the hoarse stifled cry was still ringing in my ears, even if the startled look of my fellow-traveler had not been evidence enough: but what could I possibly say by way of apology?

“I hope I didn’t frighten you?” I stammered out at last. “I have no idea what I said. I was dreaming.”

“You said ‘Uggug indeed!’” the young lady replied, with quivering lips that would curve themselves into a smile, in spite of all her efforts to look grave. “At least—you didn’t say it—you shouted it!”

“I’m very sorry,” was all I could say, feeling very penitent and helpless. “She has Sylvie’s eyes!” I thought to myself, half-doubting whether, even now, I were fairly awake. “And that sweet look of innocent wonder is all Sylvie’s, too. But Sylvie hasn’t got that calm resolute mouth—nor that far-away look of dreamy sadness, like one that has had some deep sorrow, very long ago——” And the thick-coming fancies almost prevented my hearing the lady’s next words.

“If you had had a ‘Shilling Dreadful’ in your hand,” she proceeded, “something about Ghosts—or Dynamite—or Midnight Murder—one could understand it: those things aren’t worth the shilling, unless they give one a Nightmare. But really—with only a medical treatise, you know——” and she glanced, with a pretty shrug of contempt, at the book over which I had fallen asleep.

Her friendliness, and utter unreserve, took me aback for a moment; yet there was no touch of forwardness, or boldness, about the child—for child, almost, she seemed to be: I guessed her at scarcely over twenty—all was the innocent frankness of some angelic visitant, new to the ways of earth and the conventionalisms—or, if you will, the barbarisms—of Society. “Even so,” I mused, “will Sylvie look and speak, in another ten years.”

“You don’t care for Ghosts, then,” I ventured to suggest, “unless they are really terrifying?”

“Quite so,” the lady assented. “The regular Railway-Ghosts—I mean the Ghosts of ordinary Railway-literature—are very poor affairs. I feel inclined to say, with Alexander Selkirk, ‘Their tameness is shocking to me’! And they never do any Midnight Murders. They couldn’t ‘welter in gore,’ to save their lives!”

“‘Weltering in gore’ is a very expressive phrase, certainly. Can it be done in any fluid, I wonder?”

“I think not,” the lady readily replied—quite as if she had thought it out, long ago. “It has to be something thick. For instance, you might welter in bread-sauce. That, being white, would be more suitable for a Ghost, supposing it wished to welter!”

“You have a real good terrifying Ghost in that book?” I hinted.

“How could you guess?” she exclaimed with the most engaging frankness, and placed the volume in my hands. I opened it eagerly, with a not unpleasant thrill (like what a good ghost-story gives one) at the ‘uncanny’ coincidence of my having so unexpectedly divined the subject of her studies.

It was a book of Domestic Cookery, open at the article ‘Bread Sauce.’

I returned the book, looking, I suppose, a little blank, as the lady laughed merrily at my discomfiture. “It’s far more exciting than some of the modern ghosts, I assure you! Now there was a Ghost last month—I don’t mean a real Ghost in—in Supernature—but in a Magazine. It was a perfectly flavourless Ghost. It wouldn’t have frightened a mouse! It wasn’t a Ghost that one would even offer a chair to!”

“Three score years and ten, baldness, and spectacles, have their advantages after all!” I said to myself. “Instead of a bashful youth and maiden, gasping out monosyllables at awful intervals, here we have an old man and a child, quite at their ease, talking as if they had known each other for years! Then you think,” I continued aloud, “that we ought sometimes to ask a Ghost to sit down? But have we any authority for it? In Shakespeare, for instance—there are plenty of ghosts there—does Shakespeare ever give the stage-direction ‘hands chair to Ghost’?”

The lady looked puzzled and thoughtful for a moment: then she almost clapped her hands. “Yes, yes, he does!” she cried. “He makes Hamlet say ‘Rest, rest, perturbed Spirit!’”

“And that, I suppose, means an easy-chair?”

“An American rocking-chair, I think——”

“Fayfield Junction, my Lady, change for Elveston!” the guard announced, flinging open the door of the carriage: and we soon found ourselves, with all our portable property around us, on the platform.

The accommodation, provided for passengers waiting at this Junction, was distinctly inadequate—a single wooden bench, apparently intended for three sitters only: and even this was already partially occupied by a very old man, in a smock frock, who sat, with rounded shoulders and drooping head, and with hands clasped on the top of his stick so as to make a sort of pillow for that wrinkled face with its look of patient weariness.

“Come, you be off!” the Station-master roughly accosted the poor old man. “You be off, and make way for your betters! This way, my Lady!” he added in a perfectly different tone. “If your Ladyship will take a seat, the train will be up in a few minutes.” The cringing servility of his manner was due, no doubt, to the address legible on the pile of luggage, which announced their owner to be “Lady Muriel Orme, passenger to Elveston, viâ Fayfield Junction.”

As I watched the old man slowly rise to his feet, and hobble a few paces down the platform, the lines came to my lips:—

“From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,
With toil his stiffen’d limbs he rear’d;
A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.”

But the lady scarcely noticed the little incident. After one glance at the ‘banished man,’ who stood tremulously leaning on his stick, she turned to me. “This is not an American rocking-chair, by any means! Yet may I say,” slightly changing her place, so as to make room for me beside her, “may I say, in Hamlet’s words, ‘Rest, rest——’” she broke off with a silvery laugh.

i062 COME, YOU BE OFF
‘COME, YOU BE OFF!’

“‘—perturbed Spirit!’” I finished the sentence for her. “Yes, that describes a railway-traveler exactly! And here is an instance of it,” I added, as the tiny local train drew up alongside the platform, and the porters bustled about, opening carriage-doors—one of them helping the poor old man to hoist himself into a third-class carriage, while another of them obsequiously conducted the lady and myself into a first-class.

She paused, before following him, to watch the progress of the other passenger. “Poor old man!” she said. “How weak and ill he looks! It was a shame to let him be turned away like that. I’m very sorry——” At this moment it dawned on me that these words were not addressed to me, but that she was unconsciously thinking aloud. I moved away a few steps, and waited to follow her into the carriage, where I resumed the conversation.

“Shakespeare must have traveled by rail, if only in a dream: ‘perturbed Spirit’ is such a happy phrase.”

“‘Perturbed’ referring, no doubt,” she rejoined, “to the sensational booklets peculiar to the Rail. If Steam has done nothing else, it has at least added a whole new Species to English Literature!”

“No doubt of it,” I echoed. “The true origin of all our medical books—and all our cookery-books——”

“No, no!” she broke in merrily. “I didn’t mean our Literature! We are quite abnormal. But the booklets—the little thrilling romances, where the Murder comes at page fifteen, and the Wedding at page forty—surely they are due to Steam?”

“And when we travel by Electricity—if I may venture to develop your theory—we shall have leaflets instead of booklets, and the Murder and the Wedding will come on the same page.”

“A development worthy of Darwin!” the lady exclaimed enthusiastically. “Only you reverse his theory. Instead of developing a mouse into an elephant, you would develop an elephant into a mouse!” But here we plunged into a tunnel, and I leaned back and closed my eyes for a moment, trying to recall a few of the incidents of my recent dream.

“I thought I saw——” I murmured sleepily: and then the phrase insisted on conjugating itself, and ran into “you thought you saw—he thought he saw——” and then it suddenly went off into a song:—

“He thought he saw an Elephant,
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
‘At length I realise,’ he said,
‘The bitterness of Life!’”

And what a wild being it was who sang these wild words! A Gardener he seemed to be—yet surely a mad one, by the way he brandished his rake—madder, by the way he broke, ever and anon, into a frantic jig—maddest of all, by the shriek in which he brought out the last words of the stanza!

It was so far a description of himself that he had the feet of an Elephant: but the rest of him was skin and bone: and the wisps of loose straw, that bristled all about him, suggested that he had been originally stuffed with it, and that nearly all the stuffing had come out.

Sylvie and Bruno waited patiently till the end of the first verse. Then Sylvie advanced alone (Bruno having suddenly turned shy) and timidly introduced herself with the words “Please, I’m Sylvie!”

“And who’s that other thing?” said the Gardener.

“What thing?” said Sylvie, looking round. “Oh, that’s Bruno. He’s my brother.”

“Was he your brother yesterday?” the Gardener anxiously enquired.

“Course I were!” cried Bruno, who had gradually crept nearer, and didn’t at all like being talked about without having his share in the conversation.

i066 THE GARDENER
THE GARDENER

“Ah, well!” the Gardener said with a kind of groan. “Things change so, here. Whenever I look again, it’s sure to be something different! Yet I does my duty! I gets up wriggle-early at five——”

“If I was oo,” said Bruno, “I wouldn’t wriggle so early. It’s as bad as being a worm!” he added, in an undertone to Sylvie.

“But you shouldn’t be lazy in the morning, Bruno,” said Sylvie. “Remember, it’s the early bird that picks up the worm!”

“It may, if it likes!” Bruno said with a slight yawn. “I don’t like eating worms, one bit. I always stop in bed till the early bird has picked them up!”

“I wonder you’ve the face to tell me such fibs!” cried the Gardener.

To which Bruno wisely replied “Oo don’t want a face to tell fibs wiz—only a mouf.”

Sylvie discreetly changed the subject. “And did you plant all these flowers?” she said. “What a lovely garden you’ve made! Do you know, I’d like to live here always!”

“In the winter-nights——” the Gardener was beginning.

“But I’d nearly forgotten what we came about!” Sylvie interrupted. “Would you please let us through into the road? There’s a poor old beggar just gone out—and he’s very hungry—and Bruno wants to give him his cake, you know!”

“It’s as much as my place is worth!” the Gardener muttered, taking a key from his pocket, and beginning to unlock a door in the garden-wall.

“How much are it wurf?” Bruno innocently enquired.

But the Gardener only grinned. “That’s a secret!” he said. “Mind you come back quick!” he called after the children, as they passed out into the road. I had just time to follow them, before he shut the door again.

We hurried down the road, and very soon caught sight of the old Beggar, about a quarter of a mile ahead of us, and the children at once set off running to overtake him. Lightly and swiftly they skimmed over the ground, and I could not in the least understand how it was I kept up with them so easily. But the unsolved problem did not worry me so much as at another time it might have done, there were so many other things to attend to.

The old Beggar must have been very deaf, as he paid no attention whatever to Bruno’s eager shouting, but trudged wearily on, never pausing until the child got in front of him and held up the slice of cake. The poor little fellow was quite out of breath, and could only utter the one word “Cake!”—not with the gloomy decision with which Her Excellency had so lately pronounced it, but with a sweet childish timidity, looking up into the old man’s face with eyes that loved ‘all things both great and small.’

The old man snatched it from him, and devoured it greedily, as some hungry wild beast might have done, but never a word of thanks did he give his little benefactor—only growled “More, more!” and glared at the half-frightened children.

“There is no more!” Sylvie said with tears in her eyes. “I’d eaten mine. It was a shame to let you be turned away like that. I’m very sorry——”

I lost the rest of the sentence, for my mind had recurred, with a great shock of surprise, to Lady Muriel Orme, who had so lately uttered these very words of Sylvie’s—yes, and in Sylvie’s own voice, and with Sylvie’s gentle pleading eyes!

“Follow me!” were the next words I heard, as the old man waved his hand, with a dignified grace that ill suited his ragged dress, over a bush, that stood by the road side, which began instantly to sink into the earth. At another time I might have doubted the evidence of my eyes, or at least have felt some astonishment: but, in this strange scene, my whole being seemed absorbed in strong curiosity as to what would happen next.

When the bush had sunk quite out of our sight, marble steps were seen, leading downwards into darkness. The old man led the way, and we eagerly followed.

The staircase was so dark, at first, that I could only just see the forms of the children, as, hand-in-hand, they groped their way down after their guide: but it got lighter every moment, with a strange silvery brightness, that seemed to exist in the air, as there were no lamps visible; and, when at last we reached a level floor, the room, in which we found ourselves, was almost as light as day.

It was eight-sided, having in each angle a slender pillar, round which silken draperies were twined. The wall between the pillars was entirely covered, to the height of six or seven feet, with creepers, from which hung quantities of ripe fruit and of brilliant flowers, that almost hid the leaves.

In another place, perchance, I might have wondered to see fruit and flowers growing together: here, my chief wonder was that neither fruit nor flowers were such as I had ever seen before. Higher up, each wall contained a circular window of coloured glass; and over all was an arched roof, that seemed to be spangled all over with jewels.

i072 A BEGGARS PALACE
A BEGGAR’S PALACE

With hardly less wonder, I turned this way and that, trying to make out how in the world we had come in: for there was no door: and all the walls were thickly covered with the lovely creepers.

“We are safe here, my darlings!” said the old man, laying a hand on Sylvie’s shoulder, and bending down to kiss her. Sylvie drew back hastily, with an offended air: but in another moment, with a glad cry of “Why, it’s Father!”, she had run into his arms.

“Father! Father!” Bruno repeated: and, while the happy children were being hugged and kissed, I could but rub my eyes and say “Where, then, are the rags gone to?”; for the old man was now dressed in royal robes that glittered with jewels and gold embroidery, and wore a circlet of gold around his head.

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A Free Story from the ebook Sylvie and Bruno
The sequel to Alice in Wonderland
By Lewis Carrol – with just as much silliness and fantasy as Alice in Wonderland

ISBN: 9788834181546

URL/Download Link: https://bit.ly/2XCSsZo

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TAGS: #SylvieandBruno, #LewisCarroll, #folklore, #fairytales, #mythsandlegends, #childrensstories, #bedtime, #stories, #parentswithchildren, #fables, #storyteller, #aliceinwonderland, #sequel, #babies, #mothers, #fathers, #grandparents, #fables, #moraltale, #Bruno, #LadySylvie, #Alexander, #American, #angelic, #bald, #Beggar, #bitterness, #bold, #bones, #carriage, #children, #circlet, #Cooking, #drapes, #easy-chair, #Elephant, #Elveston, #Fayfield, #flowers, #garden, #Gardener, #garden-wall, #Ghost, #gold, #golden, #innocence, #innocent, #Junction, #lady, #Literature, #merrily, #mice, #Midnight, #mouse, #Muriel, #old man, #Orme, #Palace, #rocking-chair, #royal, #run, #running, #sackcloth, #sadness, #Selkirk, #Shakespeare, #Spirit, #steam train, #Sylvie and Bruno, #wriggle, #wrinkled, #young, #youth,

From the ebook “The Counterpane Fairy”

POGC-01 Header

T EDDY was all alone, for his mother had been up with him so much the night before that at about four o’clock in the afternoon she said that she was going to lie down for a little while.

 

The room where Teddy lay was very pleasant, with two big windows, and the furniture covered with gay old-fashioned India calico. His mother had set a glass of milk on the table beside his bed, and left the stair door ajar so that he could call Hannah, the cook, if he wanted anything, and then she had gone over to her own room.

 

The little boy had always enjoyed being ill, for then he was read aloud to and had lemonade, but this had been a real illness, and though he was better now, the doctor still would not let him have anything but milk and gruel. He was feeling rather lonely, too, though the fire crackled cheerfully, and he could hear Hannah singing to herself in the kitchen below.

 

Teddy turned over the leaves of Robinson Crusoe for a while, looking at the gaily colored pictures, and then he closed it and called, “Hannah!” The singing in the kitchen below ceased, and Teddy knew that Hannah was listening. “Hannah!” he called again.

 

At the second call Hannah came hurrying up the stairs and into the room. “What do you want, Teddy?” she asked.

 

“Hannah, I want to ask mamma something,” said Teddy.

 

“Oh,” said Hannah, “you wouldn’t want me to call your poor mother, would you, when she was up with you the whole of last night and has just gone to lie down a bit?”

 

“I want to ask her something,” repeated Teddy.

 

“You ask me what you want to know,” suggested Hannah. “Your poor mother’s so tired that I’m sure you are too much of a man to want me to call her.”

 

“Well, I want to ask her if I may have a cracker,” said Teddy.

 

“Oh, no; you couldn’t have that,” said Hannah. “Don’t you know that the doctor said you mustn’t have anything but milk and gruel? Did you want to ask her anything else?”

 

“No,” said Teddy, and his lip trembled.

 

After that Hannah went down-stairs to her work again, and Teddy lay staring out of the window at the windy gray clouds that were sweeping across the April sky. He grew lonelier and lonelier and a lump rose in his throat; presently a big tear trickled down his cheek and dripped off his chin.

 

“Oh dear, oh dear!” said a little voice just back of the hill his knees made as he lay with them drawn up in bed; “what a hill to climb!”

 

Teddy stopped crying and gazed wonderingly toward where the voice came from, and presently over the top of his knees appeared a brown peaked hood, a tiny withered face, a flapping brown cloak, and last of all two small feet in buckled shoes. It was a little old woman, so weazened and brown that she looked more like a dried leaf than anything else.

 

She seated herself on Teddy’s knees and gazed down at him solemnly, and she was so light that he felt her weight no more than if she had been a feather.

 

Teddy lay staring at her for a while, and then he asked, “Who are you?”

 

“I’m the Counterpane Fairy,” said the little figure, in a thin little voice.

 

“I don’t know what that is,” said Teddy.

 

“Well,” said the Counterpane Fairy, “it’s the sort of a fairy that lives in houses and watches out for the children. I used to be one of the court fairies, but I grew tired of that. There was nothing in it, you know.”

 

“Nothing in what?” asked Teddy.

 

“Nothing in the court life. All day the fairies were swinging in spider-webs and sipping honey-dew, or playing games of hide-and-go-seek. The only comfort I had was with an old field-mouse who lived at the edge of the wood, and I used to spend a great deal of time with her; I used to take care of her babies when she was out hunting for something to eat; cunning little things they were, — five of them, all fat and soft, and with such funny little tails.”

 

“What became of them?”

 

“Oh, they moved away. They left before I did. As soon as they were old enough, Mother Field-mouse went. She said she couldn’t stand the court fairies. They were always playing tricks on her, stopping up the door of her house with sticks and acorns, and making faces at her babies until they almost drove them into fits. So after that I left too.”

 

“Where did you go?”

 

“Oh, hither and yon. Mostly where there were little sick boys and girls.”

 

“Do you like little boys?”

 

“Yes, when they don’t cry,” said the Counterpane Fairy, staring at him very hard.

 

“Well, I was lonely,” said Teddy. “I wanted my mamma.”

 

“Yes, I know, but you oughtn’t to have cried. I came to you, though, because you were lonely and sick, and I thought maybe you would like me to show you a story.”

 

“Do you mean tell me a story?” asked Teddy.

 

“No,” said the fairy, “I mean show you a story. It’s a game I invented after I joined the Counterpane Fairies. Choose any one of the squares of the counterpane and I will show you how to play it. That’s all you have to do, — to choose a square.”

 

Teddy looked the counterpane over carefully. “I think I’ll choose that yellow square,” he said, “because it looks so nice and bright.”

 

“Very well,” said the Counterpane Fairy. “Look straight at it and don’t turn your eyes away until I count seven times seven and then you shall see the story of it.”

 

Teddy fixed his eyes on the square and the fairy began to count. “One–two–three–four,” she counted; Teddy heard her voice, thin and clear as the hissing of the logs on the hearth. “Don’t look away from the square,” she cried. “Five–six–seven” –it seemed to Teddy that the yellow silk square was turning to a mist before his eyes and wrapping everything about him in a golden glow. “Thirteen–fourteen” –the fairy counted on and on. “Forty-six–forty-seven–forty-eight–FORTY-NINE!”

 

At the words forty-nine, the Counterpane Fairy clapped her hands and Teddy looked about him. He was no longer in a golden mist. He was standing in a wonderful enchanted garden. The sky was like the golden sky at sunset, and the grass was so thickly set with tiny yellow flowers that it looked like a golden carpet. From this garden stretched a long flight of glass steps. They reached up and up and up to a great golden castle with shining domes and turrets.

 

“Listen!” said the Counterpane Fairy. “In that golden castle there lies an enchanted princess. For more than a hundred years she has been lying there waiting for the hero who is to come and rescue her, and you are the hero who can do it if you will.”

 

With that the fairy led him to a little pool close by, and bade him look in the water. When Teddy looked, he saw himself standing there in the golden garden, and he did not appear as he ever had before. He was tall and strong and beautiful, like a hero.

 

“Yes,” said Teddy, “I will do it.”

 

At these words, from the grass, the bushes, and the tress around, suddenly started a flock of golden birds. They circled about him and over him, clapping their wings and singing triumphantly. Their song reminded Teddy of the blackbirds that sang on the lawn at home in the early spring, when the daffodils were up. Then in a moment they were all gone, and the garden was still again.

 

Their song had filled his heart with a longing for great deeds, and, without pausing longer, he ran to the glass steps and began to mount them.

 

Up and up and up he went. Once he turned and waved his hand to the Counterpane Fairy in the golden garden far below. She waved her hand in answer, and he heard her voice faint and clear. “Good-bye! Good-bye! Be brave and strong, and beware of that that is little and gray.”

 

Then Teddy turned his face toward the castle, and in a moment he was standing before the great shining gates.

 

He raised his hand and struck bravely upon the door. There was no answer. Again he struck upon it, and his blow rang through the hall inside; then he opened the door and went in.

 

The hall was five-sided, and all of pure gold, as clear and shining as glass. Upon three sides of it were three arched doors; one was of emerald, one was of ruby, and one was of diamond; they were arched, and tall, and wide, — fit for a hero to go through. The question was, behind which one lay the enchanted princess.

 

While Teddy stood there looking at them and wondering, he heard a little thin voice, that seemed to be singing to itself, and this is what it sang:

 

“In and out and out and in,
Quick as a flash I weave and spin.
Some may mistake and some forget,
But I’ll have my spider-web finished yet.”

 

When Teddy heard the song, he knew that someone must be awake in the enchanted castle, so he began looking about him.

 

On the fourth side of the wall there hung a curtain of silvery-gray spider-web, and the voice seemed to come from it. The hero went toward it, but he saw nothing, for the spider that was spinning it moved so fast that no eyes could follow it. Presently it paused up in the left-hand corner of the web, and then Teddy saw it. It looked very little to have spun all that curtain of silvery web.

 

As Teddy stood looking at it, it began to sing again:

 

“Here in my shining web I sit,
To look about and rest a bit.
I rest myself a bit and then,
Quick as a flash, I begin again.”

 

“Mistress Spinner! Mistress Spinner!” cried Teddy. “Can you tell me where to find the enchanted princess who lies asleep waiting for me to come and rescue her?”

 

The spider sat quite still for a while, and then it said in a voice as thin as a hair: “You must go through the emerald door; you must go through the emerald door. What so fit as the emerald door for the hero who would do great deeds?”

 

Teddy did not so much as stay to thank the little gray spinner, he was in such a hurry to find the princess, but turning he sprang to the emerald door, flung it open, and stepped outside.

 

He found himself standing on the glass steps, and as his foot touched the topmost one the whole flight closed up like an umbrella, and in a moment Teddy was sliding down the smooth glass pane, faster and faster and faster until he could hardly catch his breath.

 

The next thing he knew he was standing in the golden garden, and there was the Counterpane Fairy beside him looking at him sadly. “You should have known better than to try the emerald door,” she said; “and now shall we break the story?”

 

“Oh, no, no!” cried Teddy, and he was still the hero. “Let me try once more, for it may be I can yet save the princess.”

 

Then the Counterpane Fairy smiled. “Very well,” she said, “you shall try again; but remember what I told you, beware of that that is little and gray, and take this with you, for it may be of use.” Stooping, she picked up a blade of grass from the ground and handed it to him.

 

The hero took it wondering, and in his hands it was changed to a sword that shone so brightly that it dazzled his eyes. Then he turned, and there was the long flight of glass steps leading up to the golden castle just as before; so thrusting the magic sword into his belt, he ran nimbly up and up and up, and not until he reached the very topmost step did he turn and look back to wave farewell to the Counterpane Fairy below. She waved her hand to him. “Remember,” she called, “beware of what is little and gray.”

 

He opened the door and went into the five-sided golden hall, and there were the three doors just as before, and the spider spinning and singing on the fourth side:

 

“Now the brave hero is wiser indeed;
He may have failed once, but he still may succeed.
Dull are the emeralds; diamonds are bright;
So is his wisdom that shines as the light.”

 

“The diamond door!” cried Teddy. “Yes, that is the door that I should have tried. How could I have thought the emerald door was it?” and opening the diamond door he stepped through it.

 

He hardly had time to see that he was standing at the top of the glass steps, before –br-r-r-r! –they had shut up again into a smooth glass hill, and there he was spinning down them so fast that the wind whistled past his ears.

 

In less time than it takes to tell, he was back again for the third time in the golden garden, with the Counterpane Fairy standing before him, and he was ashamed to raise his eyes.

 

“So!” said the Counterpane Fairy. “Did you know no better than to open the diamond door?”

 

“No,” said Teddy, “I knew no better.”

 

“Then,” said the fairy, “if you can pay no better heed to my warnings than that, the princess must wait for another hero, for you are not the one.”

 

“Let me try but once more,” cried Teddy, “for this time I shall surely find her.”

 

“Then you may try once more and for the last time,” said the fairy, “but beware of what is little and gray.” Stooping she picked from the grass beside her a fallen acorn cup and handed it to him. “Take this with you,” she said, “for it may serve you well.”

 

As he took it from her, it was changed in his hand to a goblet of gold set round with precious stones. He thrust it into his bosom, for he was in haste, and turning he ran for the third time up the flight of glass steps. This time so eager was he that he never once paused to look back, but all the time he ran on up and up he was wondering what it was that she meant about her warning. She had said, “Beware of what is little and gray.” What had he seen that was little and gray?

 

As soon as he reached the great golden hall he walked over to the curtain of spider-web. The spider was spinning so fast that it was little more than a gray streak, but presently it stopped up in the left-hand corner of the web. As the hero looked at it he saw that it was little and gray. Then it began to sing to him in its little thin voice:

 

“Great hero, wiser than ever before,
Try the red door, try the red door.
Open the door that is ruby, and then
You never need search for the princess again.”

 

“No, I will not open the ruby door,” cried Teddy. “Twice have you sent me back to the golden garden, and now you shall fool me no more.”

 

As he said this he saw that one corner of the spider-web curtain was still unfinished, in spite of the spider’s haste, and underneath was something that looked like a little yellow door. Then suddenly he knew that that was the door he must go through. He caught hold of the curtain and pulled, but it was as strong as steel. Quick as a flash he snatched from his belt the magic sword, and with one blow the curtain was cut in two, and fell at his feet.

 

He heard the little gray spider calling to him in its thin voice, but he paid no heed, for he had opened the little yellow door and stooped his head and entered.

 

Beyond was a great courtyard all of gold, and with a fountain leaping and splashing back into a golden basin in the middle. Bet what he saw first of all was the enchanted princess, who lay stretched out as if asleep upon a couch all covered with cloth of gold. He knew she was a princess, because she was so beautiful and because she wore a golden crown.

 

He stood looking at her without stirring, and at last he whispered: “Princess! Princess! I have come to save you.”

 

Still she did not stir. He bent and touched her, but she lay there in her enchanted sleep, and her eyes did not open. Then Teddy looked about him, and seeing the fountain he drew the magic cup from his bosom and, filling it, sprinkled the hands and face of the princess with the water.

 

Then her eyes opened and she raised herself upon her elbow and smiled. “Have you come at last?” she cried.

 

“Yes,” answered Teddy, “I have come.”

 

The princess looked about her. “But what became of the spider?” she said. Then Teddy, too, looked about, and there was the spider running across the floor toward where the princess lay.

 

Quickly he sprang from her side and set his foot upon it. There was a thin squeak and then –there was nothing left of the little gray spinner but a tiny gray smudge on the floor.

 

Instantly the golden castle was shaken from top to bottom, and there was a sound of many voices shouting outside. The princess rose to her feet and caught the hero by the hand. “You have broken the enchantment,” she cried, “and now you shall be the King of the Golden Castle and reign with me.”

 

“Oh, but I can’t,” said Teddy, “because –because—”

 

But the princess drew him out with her through the hall, and there they were at the head of the flight of glass steps. A great host of soldiers and courtiers were running up it. They were dressed in cloth of gold, and they shouted at the sight of Teddy: “Hail to the hero! Hail to the hero!” and Teddy knew them by their voices for the golden birds that had fluttered around him in the garden below.

 

“And all this is yours,” said the beautiful princess, turning toward him with—

 

“So that is the story of the yellow square,” said the Counterpane Fairy.

 

Teddy looked about him. The golden castle was gone, and the stairs, and the shouting courtiers.

 

He was lying in bed with the silk coverlet over his little knees and Hannah was still singing in the kitchen below.

 

“Did you like it?” asked the fairy.

 

Teddy heaved a deep sigh. “Oh! Wasn’t it beautiful?” he said. Then he lay for a while thinking and smiling. “Wasn’t the princess lovely?” he whispered half to himself.

 

The Counterpane Fairy got up slowly and stiffly, and picked up the staff that she had laid down beside her. “Well, I must be journeying on,” she said.

 

“Oh, no, no!” cried Teddy. “Please don’t go yet.”

 

“Yes, I must,” said the Counterpane Fairy. “I hear your mother coming.”

 

“But will you come back again?” cried Teddy.

 

The Counterpane Fairy made no answer. She was walking down the other side of the bedquilt hill, and Teddy heard her voice, little and thin, dying away in the distance: “Oh dear, dear, dear! What a hill to go down! What a hill it is! Oh dear, dear, dear!”

 

Then the door opened and his mother came in. She was looking rested, and she smiled at him lovingly, but the little brown Counterpane Fairy was gone.

Couterpane Fairy Background

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TCP-Cover

ISBN: 9788834181928

URL/Download Link: https://bit.ly/2XypbiD

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From the ebook – The Boy Apprenticed to an Enchanter

Frontis

We lived for a whole moon in Babylon, my master Zabulun and I, before the danger that was greater than the danger that is upon me now showed itself to me. Just before the hour of the market we would go through the streets of the city and toward the great market place. Throngs of people would be there, gathered together for buying or selling, or for talk of the happenings of the day before. My master would take me to a shady place, and we would sit there, resting or refreshing ourselves with draughts of the wine of the palm.

And Zabulun would tell me that the King we had spoken with was the most foolish King who had ever ruled over Babylon. “Great and terrible he seems when he sits upon his throne in his palace,” Zabulun would say, “but for all that he is foolish, and he delights more to come into the market and hear the talk of strangers than to sit in his council chamber.”

Again and again Zabulun would speak of the King, and he would say: “Often he comes here, and he sits in the market place and talks with all comers, which is against the customs of the Kings of Babylon. We will see him come here, and we will watch him do what is reported of him.”

Seated in the market in a shady place I would watch the throngs that moved about there. I saw the merchants who had come down the river in such round boats as we had voyaged in. They brought casks of the wine of the palm to the market. And I saw those who had come from Arabia with spices, and my master would tell me how these spices had been gathered. Some had frankincense that grows on trees that are guarded by winged serpents. Only with smoke of burning styrax could they drive the serpents from the trees. And others had cassia that is found in a shallow lake guarded by fierce, bat-like creatures. To gather it men have to cover themselves all over with the hides of cattle, leaving openings for their eyes only. And there are the merchants who have the ladanum that settles on low bushes, and that sticks to the beards of he-goats that go amongst the bushes. Others have the cinnamon that is used by birds to build their nests against high cliffs. Men cannot climb these cliffs to gather the sticks of cinnamon, but they make the birds bring into their nests such weights as break the nests down and so strew on the ground the sticks of cinnamon. They slaughter cattle under the cliffs, and the birds fly into their nests with great pieces of the meat, and the weight of these pieces of meat breaks down the nests. And so men gather cinnamon in Arabia.

And one day my master showed me the King of Babylon as he came into the market place.

He wore a black cloak that had only one stripe of purple in it, and a boy went beside him holding an Indian hound in a leash. Having come into the market the King seated himself in a special place, and he drank wine and ate honey cakes, and talked with the strangers that were brought before him, and let himself be gaped at by throngs of people. And then, from one to another of those who were around him, my master and I heard it said, “The King, surely, has had remarkable dreams.”

In three days my master was sent for by the King, and he came into the palace again bringing me with him, and he was saluted as a Magus. The King’s dreams were told to him. The first dream was of a drinking cup that blazed with fire, and the second dream was of a ram-headed man with golden horns, and the third dream was of a soldier in a black cloak. All those dreams, according to those in the palace who considered dreams, were of a treasure. Zabulun, my master, agreed that assuredly they were of a treasure, knowing that whatever the King dreamed of after he had put the thought of a treasure into the minds of those in the palace would be thought to be of that and of nothing else.

Then speaking as a Magus he told them that the blazing fire of the drinking cup, the golden horns on the ram-headed man, and the blackness of the soldier’s cloak all signified the Tower of Babylon. The King and the ancient dwarf became very silent when my master spoke of the tower.

Chapter 5

It was then that the Enchanter took the staff that was made of two serpents twisting together into his right hand, and declared that in order to make the dream of the tower cease to trouble him, the King should sacrifice a black cock in the lowest place of the tower.

Wine was brought us then, and my master and I drank, and this time no bitterness had been put into the wine. We were given permission to go, and we went from the palace.

As for the King and the ancient dwarf who was with him, they took horses and they rode to the Tower of Babylon, the dwarf bringing with him a black cock for the sacrifice. Harut and Marut, the sleeping guardians of Babylon, they looked on, but they went past them and within the tower. In the lowest place in the tower they made preparations for the sacrifice of the black cock.

Zabulun and I sat in the market place and waited, for my master said to me, “That which happens to the King, no matter how great it may be, he will speak of it in the market. We shall wait here and see if the King will come here on his way back from the tower.”

So in the market place we sat, my master and I. And in the tower the King and the ancient dwarf took the black cock and fastened him by a leg to a ring that was in a very light board in the floor. The cock, fluttering upward, lifted the board. Looking down they saw a chamber beneath. They went down into that chamber, the King and the ancient dwarf, and behold! they found in it a treasure of silver pieces, each piece marked with the mark of a King of the old times in Babylon.

Soon Zabulun, seated in the shade in the market place, showed me the King and the ancient dwarf as they came amongst the throng. The King seated himself in his special place and drank wine and ate cakes of honey. My master, watching him from afar, knew that he talked about the treasure he had found. For the dwarf who went with him opened a leather bag and showed certain pieces that made those around them gape in wonder.

Not long were the King and the ancient dwarf there before the Hour of the Market came to its close. Those in the market left and went to their homes. My master and I likewise departed. But those who had listened to the King brought with them the memory of the wonder they had been told about. A treasure was hidden beneath the tower—that was the thought that now possessed every one. And when dusk had fallen upon the city companies of men made their way toward the tower, carrying with them spades and mattocks. The next day, when the King came with the ancient dwarf, he found that all around the tower, and all around the place where Harut and Marut slept, trenches and holes had been dug.

He himself, with a company of men, went down into the lower chamber where the treasure of silver pieces had been found, and there they began to delve. The King found no treasure that day.

When he came out of the lower chamber he found many around the tower digging and delving. He forbade them to do this, and he set guards around the tower. But in the night those who were set to guard the tower began to delve.

The digging and delving within and around the tower went on in secret as well as openly. My master took me to show me what was being done. “Foolish is the King, and foolish are the people of Babylon,” he said. “What I have told you will befall them. Very soon they will strike at the foundations of the tower, and the tower will stand no more. Then will I take to myself the Magic Mirror, and make myself the master of the Babylonians.”

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From “The King of Babylon” – from The Boy Apprenticed to an Enchanter

ISBN: 9788835366966

DOWNLOAD LINK: http://bit.ly/2v2DzDP

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KEYWORDS/TAGS: Boy apprenticed to an Enchanter, action, mystery, adventure, intrigue, Eean, Zabulun, Merlin, magician, bird of gold, bramble gatherer, daughter, son, fisherman, King Manus, horses, steal, theft, Tower of Babylon, Genii, defiance, quest, seek, Chiron the Centaur, Hermes Trismegistus, master, helpmeet, magic, Island of the White Tower, defeat, western ocean, final, battle, journey, voyage, expedition, conjuror, mission, hunt, apprentice, novice, story, tale, midsummer,

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From Abela Publishing

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It was during my holidays in Cornwall that I next met Shin Shira.

 

I had ridden by motor-car from Helston to the Lizard, and after scrambling over rugged cliffs for some time, following the white stones put by the coastguards to mark the way, I found myself at last at the most beautiful little bay imaginable, called Kynance Cove.

 

The tide was low, and from the glittering white sands, tall jagged rocks rose up, covered with coloured seaweed; which, together with the deep blue and green of the sky and sea, made a perfect feast of colour for the eyes.

 

On the shore I met an amiable young guide, who, for sixpence, undertook to show me some caves in the rocks which are not generally discovered by visitors.

 

They were very fine caves, one of them being called The Princess’s Parlour; and while we were exploring this, I suddenly heard a roar as of some mighty animal in terrible pain.

I turned to the guide with, I expect, rather a white face, for an explanation.

 

He smiled at my alarm, however, and told me that it was “only the Bellows,” and suggested a visit to the spot whence the sound proceeded.

 

We scrambled out of the cave and descended to the sands again, and passing behind a tall rock called The Tower, we saw a curious sight.

 

There sitting on another rock just behind me was the little Yellow Dwarf Shin Shira
There sitting on another rock just behind me
was the little Yellow Dwarf Shin Shira

 

From between two enormous boulders came at intervals a great cloud of fine spray, which puffed up into the air for about twenty feet, accompanied by the roaring noise that I had previously noticed. My young guide explained to me that the noise and the spray were caused by the air in the hollow between the two boulders being forcibly expelled through a narrow slit in the rocks as each wave of the incoming tide entered. Having made this quite clear to me, he took his departure, warning me not to remain too long on the sands, as the tide was coming in rather rapidly.

 

I sat for some time alone on the rocks, gazing with fascinated interest at the curious effect produced by the clouds of spray coming from “the Bellows,” and was at last just turning to go when I started in surprise, for there, sitting on another rock just behind me, was the little Yellow Dwarf, Shin Shira, energetically fanning himself with the little yellow fan which I had noticed at our previous meeting.

 

There just beyond the rocks was a terrible dragon
There just beyond the rocks was a terrible dragon

 

“Oh! it’s you, is it?” he remarked, when he caught sight of my face. “I thought I recognised the back view; you see it was the last I saw of you when I paid you that visit in your study.”

“And disappeared so very suddenly,” I answered, going up and offering my hand, for I was very pleased to see the little man again.

 

“I was obliged to. You know of my unfortunate affliction in having to appear or disappear whenever my fairy great-great-great-grandmother wishes. He’s safe enough, isn’t he?” he added, inconsequently nodding his head towards “the Bellows.”

 

“Who is? What do you mean?” I inquired.

 

“The dragon, of course,” said Shin Shira.

 

“The dragon!” I exclaimed.

 

“Certainly—you know that there’s a dragon imprisoned behind those rocks, don’t you?”

I laughed.

 

“No,” I said, “although I must admit that I was at first inclined to think that something of the sort was concealed there. I’ve had it all explained to me, though,” and I proceeded to inform him of what the guide had told me concerning the matter.

 

“Pooh! Rubbish! He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said Shin Shira contemptuously; “I’ll tell you the real story of those rocks as it occurred, let’s see—about eight or nine hundred years ago. I remember it quite well, for it was one of those occasions when I was most distressed at having to disappear at what was for me the very worst possible moment.”

I settled myself comfortably on the rocks beside Shin Shira and prepared to listen with great interest.

 

“Let’s think for a moment,” said the little Yellow Dwarf, looking about him.

 

“It began—oh, yes! I know now. In that cave over yonder—I was eight or nine hundred years younger then, and a very warm-blooded and impressionable young fellow at that time; and I can remember being struck with the extreme beauty of the charming Princess whom I discovered in tears there when I suddenly appeared.

 

“The cave itself was hung about with the most beautiful silken curtains and tapestries, and on the floor were spread rugs and carpets and cushions of Oriental magnificence. Tiny tables, inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl, were scattered about, on which were caskets filled with beautiful jewels and rare curios from foreign lands.

 

“The Princess herself was reclining on one of the cushions, sobbing as though her heart would break, and her beautiful hair was lying in dishevelled glory about her shoulders.

“I was afraid of alarming her, so I coughed slightly to attract her attention.

 

“She started up immediately with a look of terror, but was calmed in an instant when she saw who it was.

 

“‘Oh!’ she cried, ‘have you slain him? You must have done in order to have reached here. Oh! have you come to save me?’ and she looked at me with wild, eager eyes.

 

“‘Calm yourself, fair lady!’ said I. ‘What is it that alarms you? Be sure that I will do all in my power to protect you from any evil that threatens you.’

 

“‘The Dragon!’ gasped the Princess. ‘Have you not slain him? How else can you have entered? He lies at the door of the cave.’

 

“She caught me by the hand and led me to the entrance, and then, clasping one hand over her eyes and shuddering with terror, she pointed to where, a short distance beyond, under the shadow of some rocks, lay a terrible Dragon, watching with cruel and expectant eyes for any prey that might come his way.

 

“‘I cannot get away from here except I pass him, and I have been imprisoned here now for two days,’ sobbed the Princess. ‘The King, my father, must indeed be distraught at my absence,’ and she burst into fresh weeping.

 

“I pressed her to tell me how she came there, and she explained to me that one day, while walking on the sands with one of her maidens in attendance, they had together discovered this cave, which was only accessible at low tide; and they had secretly brought the rugs and tapestries and other furniture with which the cave was filled and made a bower of it, to which the Princess was wont to retire whenever she wished to be alone.

 

“And, venturing here two days since without attendance, the Princess had found, when she had wished to depart, the terrible monster lying in her path.

 

“‘And so,’ she cried, ‘I have been a prisoner all this time.’

 

“I cheered her as well as I was able, and turned to my little book to see if by chance it gave me any directions how I might slay a Dragon by means of my fairy powers; and I read there that though one might not slay it (for a Dragon lives for a thousand years), one might rob it of its power by casting at it a jewel of great brilliancy, at the same time wishing that he might become dazed and impotent till one could escape, and it would be so.

 

“I told this to the Princess, and she hastened to unfasten from her bosom a jewel of great value set in gold of curious workmanship, which she gave to me, imploring me at the same time to do immediately as the book directed.

 

“‘Nay,’ said I, ‘the jewel is yours; you must cast it at the Dragon, and I will wish that the fairies may aid us.’

 

“And so we stood at the door of the cave, and the Dragon, seeing us, came forward with wide-opened jaws.

 

“The Princess clung to my arm with one hand, but with the other she cast the jewel, while with all my desire I wished that my fairy powers might not fail me now.

“Whether, however, it was that the fairies willed it so, or perchance because she was a girl, the Princess’s aim was not straight, and she hit, not the Dragon, but a great boulder in the shadow of which he was lurking; and then a truly remarkable thing occurred, for the boulder, immediately it was struck by the jewel, tumbled forward, and falling upon one beside it, imprisoned the Dragon between the two, where he has remained to this day.”

 

And Shin Shira pointed dramatically to the rocks, from which an extra large puff of spray belched forth, with a groan and a cry which almost convinced me that what he told me must be true.

 

“And what became of the Princess after that?” I inquired, being anxious to hear the end of the story.

 

“Why,” resumed Shin Shira, “we picked up the jewel and hurried away from the spot, and presently came at the top of the cliffs to the Castle, the ruins of which may still be seen up yonder—to where the King dwelt.

 

“I cannot tell you with what joy the Princess was received, nor with what honour and favour I was rewarded by the King—and, indeed, by all of the people—as the Princess’s deliverer.

“It is enough to say that the King called a great assembly of people, and before them all said that as a fitting reward he should give me the fairest jewel in all his kingdom, and handed me the very stone which had been cast at the Dragon, and which was valuable beyond price, being one of the most perfect and flawless stones in the world.

 

“I was glad enough to have the gem, but I had fallen madly in love with the Princess’s beauty, so I made bold to remind the King that the fairest jewel in his kingdom was not the gem he had given me, but the Princess, his daughter.

 

“The answer pleased the King and the people, though I remember sometimes sadly, even now, that the Princess’s face fell as she heard the King declare that his word should be kept, and the fairest jewel of all, even the Princess herself, should be mine.

“But now, alas! comes the sorrowful part, for, before the ceremony of our marriage could be

 

completed, I was doomed by the fairies to disappear, and so I lost forever my beautiful bride,” and Shin Shira gave a deep sigh. “The jewel though,” he added, “remained mine, and I have always worn it in the front of my turban in honour and memory of the lovely Princess. You may like to see it,” and Shin Shira reached up to his head for the turban in which I had noticed the jewel sparkling only a moment before.

 

It was gone!

 

“Dear me! I’m disappearing again myself, I’m afraid,” said Shin Shira, looking down at his legs, from which the feet had already vanished.

 

“Good-bye!” he had just time to call out, before he departed in a little yellow flicker.

“Hi! Hi!” I heard voices shouting, and looking up to the cliffs I saw some people waving frantically. “Come up quickly, or you’ll be cut off,” they shouted.

 

And I hurried along the sands, only just in time, for I had been so interested in Shin Shira’s story that I had not noticed how the tide had been creeping up. I shall have a good look at that jewel in Shin Shira’s turban next time I see him—and as for “the Bellows,” I hardly know which explanation to accept, Shin Shira’s or that of the guide.

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Mystery No. II – SHIN SHIRA AND THE DRAGON

From the MYSTERIOUS SHIN SHIRA by G.E. FARROW

ISBN: 9788835351115

To download this ebook, CLICK HERE >> http://bit.ly/35reu1J

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TAGS/KEYWORDS: Mysterious Shin Shira, Victorian, London, Magician, magical being, appear, disappear, , little one, time, Lionel, great King, friend, yellow, jewel, Princess, Dwarf, Duchess, Queen, Majesty, turban, beautiful, strange, extraordinary, Chief, book, Baghdad, Shah, crystal, fairies, Grand, stone, gentleman, Shin Shira, Magic, diamond, Dick, Mustapha, Oriental, Slave, gracious, Fridge, power, Panjandrum, Magic Carpet, Royal Court, Lady, Lord, disappear, Physician, adventure, action, Marjorie, MYSTERY, Dragon, Roc, Lame Duck, Betty, Appear, Dragon, magic Carpet , Mad Bull, Queen Of Hearts, illusion,

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.

 

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

ISBN: 9788835379119

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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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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.

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