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From Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg

 

Gimme the Ax lived in a house where everything is the same as it always was.

 

“The chimney sits on top of the house and lets the smoke out,” said Gimme the Ax. “The doorknobs open the doors. The windows are always either open or shut. We are always either upstairs or downstairs in this house. Everything is the same as it always was.”

 

So he decided to let his children name themselves.

 

“The first words they speak as soon as they learn to make words shall be their names,” he said. “They shall name themselves.”

 

When the first boy came to the house of Gimme the Ax, he was named Please Gimme. When the first girl came she was named Ax Me No Questions.

 

And both of the children had the shadows of valleys by night in their eyes and the lights of early morning, when the sun is coming up, on their foreheads.

 

And the hair on top of their heads was a dark wild grass. And they loved to turn the doorknobs, open the doors, and run out to have the wind comb their hair and touch their eyes and put its six soft fingers on their foreheads.

 

And then because no more boys came and no more girls came, Gimme the Ax said to himself, “My first boy is my last and my last girl is my first and they picked their names themselves.”

 

Please Gimme grew up and his ears got longer. Ax Me No Questions grew up and her ears got longer. And they kept on living in the house where everything is the same as it always was. They learned to say just as their father said, “The chimney sits on top of the house and lets the smoke out, the doorknobs open the doors, the windows are always either open or shut, we are always either upstairs or downstairs—everything is the same as it always was.”

 

After a while they began asking each other in the cool of the evening after they had eggs for breakfast in the morning, “Who’s who? How much? And what’s the answer?”

 

“It is too much to be too long anywhere,” said the tough old man, Gimme the Ax.

 

And Please Gimme and Ax Me No Questions, the tough son and the tough daughter of Gimme the Ax, answered their father, “It is too much to be too long anywhere.”

 

So they sold everything they had, pigs, pastures, pepper pickers, pitchforks, everything except their ragbags and a few extras.

 

When their neighbors saw them selling everything they had, the different neighbors said, “They are going to Kansas, to Kokomo, to Canada, to Kankakee, to Kalamazoo, to Kamchatka, to the Chattahoochee.”

 

One little sniffer with his eyes half shut and a mitten on his nose, laughed in his hat five ways and said, “They are going to the moon and when they get there they will find everything is the same as it always was.”

 

All the spot cash money he got for selling everything, pigs, pastures, pepper pickers, pitchforks, Gimme the Ax put in a ragbag and slung on his back like a rag picker going home.

 

Then he took Please Gimme, his oldest and youngest and only son, and Ax Me No Questions, his oldest and youngest and only daughter, and went to the railroad station.

 

The ticket agent was sitting at the window selling railroad tickets the same as always.

He took out the spot cash money

He opened the ragbag and took out all the spot cash money

 

“Do you wish a ticket to go away and come back or do you wish a ticket to go away and never come back?” the ticket agent asked wiping sleep out of his eyes.

 

“We wish a ticket to ride where the railroad tracks run off into the sky and never come back—send us far as the railroad rails go and then forty ways farther yet,” was the reply of Gimme the Ax.

 

“So far? So early? So soon?” asked the ticket agent wiping more sleep out his eyes. “Then I will give you a new ticket. It blew in. It is a long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it.”

 

Gimme the Ax thanked the ticket agent once, thanked the ticket agent twice, and then instead of thanking the ticket agent three times he opened the ragbag and took out all the spot cash money he got for selling everything, pigs, pastures, pepper pickers, pitchforks, and paid the spot cash money to the ticket agent.

 

Before he put it in his pocket he looked once, twice, three times at the long yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it.

 

Then with Please Gimme and Ax Me No Questions he got on the railroad train, showed the conductor his ticket and they started to ride to where the railroad tracks run off into the blue sky and then forty ways farther yet.

 

The train ran on and on. It came to the place where the railroad tracks run off into the blue sky. And it ran on and on chick chick-a-chick chick-a-chick chick-a-chick.

 

Sometimes the engineer hooted and tooted the whistle. Sometimes the fireman rang the bell. Sometimes the open-and-shut of the steam hog’s nose choked and spit pfisty-pfoost, pfisty-pfoost, pfisty-pfoost. But no matter what happened to the whistle and the bell and the steam hog, the train ran on and on to where the railroad tracks run off into the blue sky. And then it ran on and on more and more.

 

Sometimes Gimme the Ax looked in his pocket, put his fingers in and took out the long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it.

 

“Not even the Kings of Egypt with all their climbing camels, and all their speedy, spotted, lucky lizards, ever had a ride like this,” he said to his children.

 

Then something happened. They met another train running on the same track. One train was going one way. The other was going the other way. They met. They passed each other.

 

“What was it—what happened?” the children asked their father.

 

“One train went over, the other train went under,” he answered. “This is the Over and Under country. Nobody gets out of the way of anybody else. They either go over or under.”

 

Next they came to the country of the balloon pickers. Hanging down from the sky strung on strings so fine the eye could not see them at first, was the balloon crop of that summer. The sky was thick with balloons. Red, blue, yellow balloons, white, purple and orange balloons—peach, watermelon and potato balloons—rye loaf and wheat loaf balloons—link sausage and pork chop balloons—they floated and filled the sky.

 

The balloon pickers were walking on high stilts picking balloons. Each picker had his own stilts, long or short. For picking balloons near the ground he had short stilts. If he wanted to pick far and high he walked on a far and high pair of stilts.

 

Baby pickers on baby stilts were picking baby balloons. When they fell off the stilts the handful of balloons they were holding kept them in the air till they got their feet into the stilts again.

 

“Who is that away up there in the sky climbing like a bird in the morning?” Ax Me No Questions asked her father.

 

“He was singing too happy,” replied the father. “The songs came out of his neck and made him so light the balloons pulled him off his stilts.”

 

“Will he ever come down again back to his own people?”

 

“Yes, his heart will get heavy when his songs are all gone. Then he will drop down to his stilts again.”

 

The train was running on and on. The engineer hooted and tooted the whistle when he felt like it. The fireman rang the bell when he felt that way. And sometimes the open-and-shut of the steam hog had to go pfisty-pfoost, pfisty-pfoost.

 

“Next is the country where the circus clowns come from,” said Gimme the Ax to his son and daughter. “Keep your eyes open.”

 

They did keep their eyes open. They saw cities with ovens, long and short ovens, fat stubby ovens, lean lank ovens, all for baking either long or short clowns, or fat and stubby or lean and lank clowns.

 

After each clown was baked in the oven it was taken out into the sunshine and put up to stand like a big white doll with a red mouth leaning against the fence.

 

Two men came along to each baked clown standing still like a doll. One man threw a bucket of white fire over it. The second man pumped a wind pump with a living red wind through the red mouth.

 

The clown rubbed his eyes, opened his mouth, twisted his neck, wiggled his ears, wriggled his toes, jumped away from the fence and began turning handsprings, cartwheels, somersaults and flipflops in the sawdust ring near the fence.

 

“The next we come to is the Rootabaga Country where the big city is the Village of Liver-and-Onions,” said Gimme the Ax, looking again in his pocket to be sure he had the long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it.

 

The train ran on and on till it stopped running straight and began running in zigzags like one letter Z put next to another Z and the next and the next.

 

The tracks and the rails and the ties and the spikes under the train all stopped being straight and changed to zigzags like one letter Z and another letter Z put next after the other.

 

“It seems like we go half way and then back up,” said Ax Me No Questions.

 

“Look out of the window and see if the pigs have bibs on,” said Gimme the Ax. “If the pigs are wearing bibs then this is the Rootabaga country.”

 

And they looked out of the zigzagging windows of the zigzagging cars and the first pigs they saw had bibs on. And the next pigs and the next pigs they saw all had bibs on.

 

The checker pigs had checker bibs on, the striped pigs had striped bibs on. And the polka dot pigs had polka dot bibs on.

 

“Who fixes it for the pigs to have bibs on?” Please Gimme asked his father.

 

“The fathers and mothers fix it,” answered Gimme the Ax. “The checker pigs have checker fathers and mothers. The striped pigs have striped fathers and mothers. And the polka dot pigs have polka dot fathers and mothers.”

 

And the train went zigzagging on and on running on the tracks and the rails and the spikes and the ties which were all zigzag like the letter Z and the letter Z.

 

And after a while the train zigzagged on into the Village of Liver-and-Onions, known as the biggest city in the big, big Rootabaga country.

 

And so if you are going to the Rootabaga country you will know when you get there because the railroad tracks change from straight to zigzag, the pigs have bibs on and it is the fathers and mothers who fix it.

 

And if you start to go to that country remember first you must sell everything you have, pigs, pastures, pepper pickers, pitchforks, put the spot cash money in a ragbag and go to the railroad station and ask the ticket agent for a long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it.

 

And you mustn’t be surprised if the ticket agent wipes sleep from his eyes and asks, “So far? So early? So soon?”

Ch1 End Piece

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From Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg

ISBN: 9788835814825

URL/DownLoad Link: https://bit.ly/2SaM749

RS-Cover

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KEYWORDS/TAGS: Rootabaga stories, Carl Sandburg, inspire, intellectual freedom,  curiosity, children’s stories, children’s books, Rootabaga land, American Midwest, Rootabaga country, fantastic names, fantastic creatures, Broom Can Handle It, Hot Dog the Tiger, Wind Blue Boy, Axe me no questions, Please Gimme, Fantasy stories, create the impossible, Potato Face, Blind Man, old minstrel, Village, Liver-and-Onions, post office, silliest village, village of Rootabaga, accordion, corner, unseeing eyes, lesson, never restrict, child’s imagination, unfettered minds, rules and conventions, innovations, leaps, technology, Spink, Skabootch, Zigzag Railroad, Pigs, Bibs, Circus Clown, Cream Puffs, Rusty Rats, Diamond Rabbit. Gold, Spring, Poker Face, Baboon, Toboggan-to-the-Moon, Dream, Gold Buckskin, Whincher, Blixie Bimber, Power, Jason Squiff, Popcorn Hat, Popcorn Mittens, Popcorn Shoes, Rags Habakuk, Blue Rats, Spot Cash Money, Deep Doom, Dark Doorways, Wedding Procession, Rag Doll, Broom Handle, Hat Ashes, Shovel, Snoo Foo, Jugs, Molasses, Secret Ambitions, Bimbo, Snip, Wind,  Winding, Skyscrapers,  Skyscrapers Child, Dollar Watch, Jack Rabbits, Wooden Indian,  Shaghorn Buffalo, Dear Eyes , White Horse Girl, Blue Wind Boy, Six Girls, Balloons, Gray Man, Horseback, Hagglyhoagly, Guitar, Mittens, Slipper, Moon, Sand Flat Shadows, Corn Fairies, Blue Foxes, Flongboos, Medicine Hat,

 

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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This blog, Folklore and Fairytales, which I have been posting to since 2011, has been selected by Feedspot (https://blog.feedspot.com/kids_blogs/)  as one of the Top 100 Kids Blogs on the web.

From the ebook “The Counterpane Fairy”

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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 “Favorite Fairy Tales”

JABS0-HeaderJACK was an idle, lazy boy who would do no work to support his widowed mother; and at last they both came to such poverty that the poor woman had to sell her cow to buy food to keep them from starving. She sent Jack to market with the cow, telling him to be sure and sell it for a good price.

As Jack was going along the road to market he met a butcher. The butcher offered to buy the cow in exchange for a hatful of colored beans. Jack thought the beans looked very pretty, and he was glad to be saved the long hot walk to market; so he struck the bargain on the spot and went back to his mother with the beans, while the butcher went off with the cow.

JABS1-At the top of the beanstalk he found a castle

But the poor widow was very disappointed. She scolded her son for an idle, lazy, good-for-nothing boy, and flung the beans out of the window in a passion.

Now the beans were magic beans, and the next morning, when Jack awoke, he found some of them had taken root in the night and had grown so tall, that they reached right up into the sky.

Jack was full of wonder and curiosity; and, being fond of adventure and excitement, he set out at once to climb the beanstalk, to see what was up at the top of it.

And he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed—until at last he climbed right up to the very tiptop of the beanstalk.

Then he found himself standing in a strange country. In the distance he could see a big castle; and, as he was hot and tired with his long climb, he thought he would go and ask for something to eat and drink.

JABS2-She hid Jack in the Oven

She hid Jack in the Oven

He had not gone very far before he met a fairy, who told him that the castle belonged to a wicked ogre, who had killed and eaten a great number of people.

“It was he who killed your father,” she said. “And it is your duty to do your utmost to destroy the wicked monster. Go now, and see what you can do. If you can carry off any of his treasures you are at liberty to do so—for none of them really belongs to him. He has taken them all by force from the people whom he has robbed and killed.”

Jack was delighted at the idea of this adventure, and set off in high spirits towards the castle.

The castle was farther off than he had thought, and by the time he reached the gates, it was so late that he made up his mind to ask for a night’s lodging. There was a woman standing in the doorway; but when Jack made his request, she was very frightened, and said—

JABS4-the Ogre Counted his Money

The Ogre counted his money

“Indeed, I dare not take you in and give you food and lodging. My husband is an ogre who lives on human flesh. If he were to find you here, he would think nothing of eating you up in three mouthfuls. I advise you to go away at once, before he comes home.”

But when she saw how tired and hungry Jack really was, she took him into the house and gave him plenty to eat and drink. While Jack was eating his food in the kitchen there came a loud knocking at the door. The ogre’s wife, in a great flurry, hid Jack in the oven, and then hurried to let her husband in. Jack peeped through the oven door, and saw a terrible-looking ogre, who came stamping into the kitchen, and said in a voice like thunder—

“Wife, I smell fresh meat!”

“It is only the people you are fattening in the dungeon,” said the wife.

So the ogre sat down and ate his supper. After supper, he commanded his wife to bring him his money-bags. He then began to count his money—thousands and thousands of pieces of gold and silver.

JABS5-He Stole the bags of Money and took them home

Jack stole the bags of money and fled

Jack wished he could take some of this money home to his mother; and, presently, when the ogre fell asleep, he crept out of his hiding-place, and hoisting the bags upon his shoulder, slipped quietly away with them. The ogre was snoring so loudly that it sounded like the wind in the chimney on a stormy night. So he never heard the little noise Jack made, and Jack got safely away and escaped down the beanstalk.

His mother was overjoyed to see him, for she had been very anxious about him when he did not come home the night before; and she was delighted with the bags of money, which were enough to keep them in comfort and luxury for some time.

For many months Jack and his mother lived happily together; but after a while the money came to an end, and Jack made up his mind to climb the beanstalk again, and carry off some more of the ogre’s treasures.

 

JABS6 - Down came the beanstalk and doen came the ogre

Down came the beanstalk, down came the giant.

So one morning he got up early, put on a different suit of clothes, so that the ogre’s wife should not recognize him, and set out to climb the beanstalk.

And he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed—until at last he climbed to the very top and found himself in the ogre’s country again.

When he reached the castle the ogre’s wife was again standing in the doorway. But when Jack asked for a night’s lodging, she said she dared not give him one, for only a few months before she had taken in a poor boy who seemed half dead with fatigue and hunger, and in return for her kindness, he had stolen some of her husband’s money and run away in the night.

But Jack begged so hard that at last she relented. She gave him a good supper and hid him in a closet before her husband came home.

Presently there was a great noise outside and heavy footsteps that shook the castle to its foundations. It was the ogre come home. As soon as he entered the kitchen, he sniffed suspiciously, and said:

“I smell fresh meat!”

“It is only the crows on the housetops,” said his wife. “They have brought home a piece of carrion for their young.”

After supper, the ogre told his wife to fetch his hen. This hen was a very wonderful bird. Whenever the ogre said “Lay” she laid an egg of solid gold. Jack thought that if he could only get this wonderful hen to take home to his mother, they would never want any more. So when the ogre fell asleep—as he did after a little while—he came out of the closet, and, seizing the hen in his arms, made off with her. The hen squawked, but the ogre’s snoring was like the roaring of the sea when the tide is coming in, and Jack got safely down the beanstalk.

The hen laid so many golden eggs that Jack and his mother became quite rich and prosperous; and there was really no need for Jack to go again to the ogre’s country. But he liked the danger and excitement, and he remembered that the fairy had told him to take as many of the ogre’s treasures as he could; and at last, without saying a word to anybody, he started off once more to climb the magic beanstalk.

And he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed—until at last he reached the very tiptop, and stood in the ogre’s country.

This time when he reached the castle he began to be afraid that the ogre’s wife really would not let him in.

“Indeed and indeed, I dare not,” she said. “Twice lately have I given shelter to a wayfaring youth, and each time he stole some of my husband’s treasures, and made off with them. Now my husband has forbidden me, on pain of instant death, to give food or lodging to any traveler.”

JABS 7 - Jack steals the Harp

Jack took the Golden Harp which cried out for help wakening the giant.

But Jack pleaded and pleaded, and at last the good-natured woman, moved to pity by his travel-stained appearance, gave way and let him into the castle.

When the ogre came home, the wife hid Jack in the copper. As usual, the ogre’s first words were:

“Wife, wife, I smell fresh meat!” And, in spite of all his wife could say, he insisted upon searching all round the room. Jack was in a terrible fright whilst he was hunting: but fortunately, he forgot to look in the copper, and after a time he sat down to his supper.

When supper was over, the ogre told his wife to fetch his harp. Jack peeped out of the copper and saw the harp brought in and set down before the ogre. It was marvelously made; and when the ogre said “Play!” it played the finest music without being touched. Jack was enchanted, for he had never before heard such wonderful music, and he felt that he must have the harp for his own.

The ogre was soon lulled to sleep by the sweet sound of the harp; and when he was snoring heavily, Jack crept out of the copper, and taking up the harp was about to make off with it. But the harp was a fairy harp, and it called out loudly: “Master, master, master;” and, although the ogre was snoring so noisily that it was like the sound of a hundred dragons roaring at once, yet to Jack’s dismay and horror he heard the voice of his harp, and, starting to his feet with a bellow of anger, rushed after the daring thief.

Jack ran faster than he had ever run in his life before—still carrying the precious harp—while the ogre ran after him, shouting and roaring and making such a noise that it sounded like a thousand thunder storms all going at once. If he had not drunk so much wine for supper, the ogre must very soon have caught Jack; but as it was, the wine had got into his head, and so he could not run nearly so fast as usual, and Jack reached the beanstalk just in front of him.

It was a very close shave. Jack slid down the beanstalk at his top speed, calling at the top of his voice for his mother to fetch him an axe. The ogre came tumbling down the beanstalk after him; but Jack seized the axe and chopped the beanstalk off close to the root. Down came the beanstalk, down came the ogre, and falling headlong into the garden he was killed on the spot.

After this, Jack quite gave up his lazy, idle ways, and he and his mother, with the magic hen and the wonderful harp, lived in happiness and prosperity the rest of their lives.

JABS 8 - Endpiece

The good fairy watched over Jack and his Mother

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FFT-Cover

ISBN: 9788834188941
URL/Download Link: https://bit.ly/2V5riZv

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

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From Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages translated from the compiled works of Dr. W. Wägner

Tristram Teaches Isolde to Play Guitar
Tristram Teaches Isolde To Play The Guitar.

 

TRUSTY RUAL AND HIS FOSTER-SON

A furious battle was raging before the gates of the castle, for Rivalin, the lord of the place, was fighting against Morgan, his feudal superior, whose oppression had grown too great to be borne. Within the castle, Blancheflur, Rivalin’s wife, was praying fervently for her husband’s safety, as she clasped in her weak arms her little son that had been born while the din of battle filled the air.

All day long it lasted. In the evening, Rual, the marshal, hurried back into the castle bleeding, and called to his wife to save what she could, and make ready for instant flight, for King Rivalin had fallen, and the enemy threatened to blockade the castle. Queen Blancheflur heard what he said, and with a piercing cry fell back dead. Rual, seeing that nothing could be done for her, hurried the other women in their preparations, and, heedless of his own untended wounds, made ready to fly with his master’s child to a place of safety.

But while they hastened to obey the marshal, it was already too late—the castle was surrounded, and no way of escape remained. They carried the dead queen to another room, and the marshal’s wife took the baby for her own. The servants were all faithful, and when Morgan took the castle soon afterwards, he never guessed that Rivalin had left a living child. The victorious king, who honoured Rual for his fidelity to his late master, made him governor of the kingdom he had just subdued, and then went back to his own place.

Time passed on, and the foster-parents were delighted with the good qualities their pupil developed. They had had him christened Tristram, or Tristan (Sorrowful), because of the sad circumstances that had attended his birth. Rual himself taught him all knightly exercises, and got him tutors to instruct him in music, languages, and many other accomplishments.

One day some foreign merchants landed on the coast, and offered their wares for sale. Young Tristram often went down to see them, and questioned them about their country, and about the many strange lands they visited. The boy’s unusual beauty and the great knowledge he possessed aroused their cupidity. They determined to steal him, and sell him in some foreign country where he would bring a good price. So once, when he was on board their ship, they quietly raised the anchor, and set sail. Rual pursued them, but they escaped, owing to the greater swiftness of their vessel. Another danger, however, threatened to overwhelm them. A terrific storm came on, worse than any they had ever encountered before. They thought it a sign of God’s wrath, and were filled with fear and awe. In the perturbation of their souls they swore to set the boy free, and they kept their word. They put him ashore on an unknown coast, feeling assured that with his uncommon gifts he would soon make a livelihood. They were not mistaken. A troup of pilgrims happening to pass that way, Tristram joined them, and accompanied them to the court of King Mark of Cornwall. The king took the boy into his service as page, and grew very fond of him.

Meantime Rual had sought his foster-son everywhere, and was broken-hearted at not being able to find him, or hear any news of him. He wandered from one country to another, begging his way. At last, footsore and weary, he arrived at King Mark’s court. Tristram greeted him with joy, and took him to the king.

When Mark heard who the supposed beggar was, he exclaimed angrily:

“What! Are you the former marshal of the traitor Rivalin, who stole away my sister Blancheflur?”

“Sire,” replied Rual, “love made him do so. The Lady Blancheflur had been secretly married to my master before she went away from here. She and her husband are both dead, and this youth,” laying his hand on Tristram’s shoulder, “whom I have brought up from his infancy, and whom I have sought for years, is their only child.”

The king was astonished to hear this tale, and was pleased to find that his favourite page was in reality his nephew. Rual remained in Cornwall with his foster-son, for, his wife being dead, he did not care to return home, and again endure Morgan’s despotic sway.

Tristram grew up to be a tall and handsome man, a brave warrior, and a noble knight, as much beloved in peace as in war. But although he lived a full and joyous life, he could not forget his native land, and often mourned over the thought that his fellow-countrymen and rightful subjects groaned under the tyranny of a foreign oppressor. He at last explained his feelings on the subject to his uncle, who gave him men and ships, telling him to go and set his people free, but making him promise to return to Cornwall afterwards, as he had appointed him to succeed him on the throne.

The expedition was successful. Morgan was defeated and slain, and Tristram was crowned King of Parmenia. He remained for a year longer in his native land, settling all differences, and arranging matters for the good of his subjects. Having done this, he made Rual governor of the realm, and returned to Cornwall as he had promised.

ISOLDE (YSEULT, ISOUD)

On his arrival there, he found everyone in great distress. King Gurmun of Ireland had, during his absence, invaded Cornwall, and, with the help of his brother-in-law Morolt, a powerful chief and great warrior, had subdued the country, and forced King Mark to pay him tribute; and a shameful tribute it was. By the treaty with Gurmun, the Cornish king was bound to send thirty handsome boys of noble birth to Ireland every year, to be sold as slaves for the benefit of the Irish king. On the very day of Tristram’s return, Mark was about to deliver the thirty boys into the hands of grim Morolt, Gurmun’s messenger, who had come to receive them.

Tristram was very angry when he heard the news, and told the knights they were cowards ever to have consented to such an arrangement. Then going straight to Morolt, he tore up the treaty, saying it was too inhuman to be kept. Morolt’s only answer was to draw his sword and challenge him to single combat. He accepted, and the fight began. After some time, Morolt, having severely wounded Tristram, cried:

“Yield, Sir Tristram: I feel pity for your youth. Yield, and my sister, Queen Isolde, shall cure your wound, for she alone can heal a wound made by my poisoned blade.”

“Death rather,” exclaimed the young knight, and making a mighty effort, he split his adversary’s head open from crown to jaw.

This settled the matter. The Irish returned home sadly, bearing with them the corpse of their hero, while the victor went back to his uncle’s palace. His wound was washed and bound, but it would not heal. It continued to fester, in spite of the use of balm, and other herbs of well-known excellence. An experienced doctor who was called in to see the patient, said that only the Irish queen Isolde, and her daughter of the same name, possessed the art of drawing such poison out of a wound. So Tristram determined to go to Ireland in the guise of a minstrel, and seek healing at the hands of the queen, although he knew that Gurmun had sworn to kill him and every Cornishman who had the misfortune to fall into his hands.

At length he reached the Irish court, and there he played and sang so beautifully that the queen sent for him, and begged him to teach his art to her young daughter Isolde. The minstrel found the princess an attentive pupil; and while teaching her, and listening to her sweet voice as she sang some plaintive ditty, he would even forget for a time the pain of his wound. And she, in learning from him, learnt to love him with all the strength of her innocent young heart.

The days went on, and the pain of his wound grew worse and worse. Then he told the queen of his suffering, and asked her to heal him. This she at once consented to do, and a few weeks later he was cured. He now sang with greater power than before, and the king was so charmed with his music that he would have liked to keep him forever at his court. But, fearful of discovery, Tristram determined to be gone while yet there was time.

On his return to Cornwall, he was joyfully received by all except the great lords, who foresaw that King Mark would make him his heir, and they did not wish to have a foreigner to rule over them. They wished the king to marry, and Tristram, finding what was in their minds, himself advised his uncle to choose a wife, saying that the Princess Isolde of Ireland would be the most suitable person for him to wed. After some deliberation, it was agreed that Tristram should go to King Gurmun as his uncle’s ambassador, to ask for the hand of the princess.

Arrived in Ireland, he set out for the royal residence. On the way he heard heralds proclaiming that the king would give his daughter in marriage to whoever slew a dragon that was devastating the land, provided he who rescued the country were of noble birth.

Tristram sought out the dragon, and, after a long struggle, killed it; then cutting out the tongue of the creature, as a proof that he had really slain it, he turned to go; but the pestiferous breath of the monster so overpowered him, that he sank backward into the morass out of which the dragon had come.

Tristram slays the dragon
Tristram slays the dragon

Struggle as he might, he could not free himself, for he had sunk up to the shoulders. While in this miserable plight, he saw a horseman approach, cut off the head of the dead monster, and then ride away.

The horseman was sewer (head waiter) at the palace. He showed the king the dragon’s head, and boldly demanded the meed of victory. The queen, who knew the man well, and held him to be a coward, did not believe his tale; so she went with her train to the dragon’s hole, and discovered the real hero in the morass. His bloody sword, and the dragons tongue showed that it was he who had done the deed. He was quite insensible when he was taken out of the morass and carried to the palace. The princess at once recognised him to be the minstrel who had before visited Ireland, and hoped that his birth was sufficiently good to enable him to win the prize. The queen gave him a sleeping potion, and told him to keep quiet. Then taking her daughter into the next room, she showed her the horrible tongue of the lind-worm, and the sword with which the creature was slain.

“Look,” she said, “the minstrel is the real hero of this adventure, and not that cowardly sewer.”

She left the room, adding that the truth would soon be known. Isolde took up the sword and examined it. She saw that a bit of the blade was broken off.

“Merciful heaven,” she cried, “surely he cannot be the——” She ceased, and took from a drawer the splinter of steel she had drawn out of the wound on her uncle’s head. She fitted the splinter to the blade, and saw that it was as she had feared.

“Ha,” she went on, trembling with anger, “he is the murderer of my uncle Morolt. He must die, die by my hand, and be slain with his own weapon.”

Seizing the sword in a firmer grip, she went into the room where Tristram was sleeping, and swung the sword over his head; but as she did so, he smiled as in a happy dream, and she could not do the deed. Then it seemed to her that she saw her uncle looking at her reproachfully, and she nerved her heart to strike, but at that moment her hand was seized by her mother, who had entered unnoticed.

“Wretched child,” she cried, “what are you doing? Are you mad?”

Isolde told the queen that this was Tristram, her uncle’s murderer; and the mother answered:

“I loved my brother dearly, but I cannot revenge him, for this man has saved our people from the dragon, and a nation is worth more than a single man, however dear to our hearts.”

Isolde confessed that her mother was right, and let her resentment die.

When Tristram had recovered, he did not show the dragon’s tongue in proof of what he had done, but challenged the sewer to trial by combat. Now the man had often fought before, but when he saw Tristram come forth to meet him in the lists, his heart died within him, and he confessed his guilt. King Gurmun thereupon ordered the recreant knight’s shield to be broken, and sent him forth a banished man.

Tristram then fetched the dragon’s tongue, and was at once proclaimed victor amid the acclamation of the people.

Great was the astonishment of all, when Tristram, instead of claiming the princess’ hand, proceeded to woo her for his uncle King Mark, of Cornwall. Gurmun had such a dislike to King Mark that he would have refused him as a son-in-law point-blank, if Queen Isolde had not taken part in the debate, and shown the wisdom of giving way. So Tristram received a gracious answer from the king, and was content. No one thought of asking the maiden if she were willing to marry the old king of Cornwall. She was a princess, and princesses were never allowed a choice, when reasons of State demanded that they should marry some particular person.

THE LOVE-POTION

The princess went on board Tristram’s vessel, which was about to sail for Cornwall. Her dresses and jewels were there also, and as soon as her old nurse and faithful companion came down to the ship, they were to set sail. Brangäne was closeted with the queen, who wished to say a few last words in private.

“Look, Brangäne,” said the mother, “take this goblet, and keep it carefully. It contains a drink made of the expressed juices of certain plants, and is a love-potion. See that my daughter and her husband both drink it on their marriage day, and all will yet be well.”

The nurse promised to be careful, and took leave of the queen.

Wind and weather were favourable to the voyagers. One day when Tristram had been singing and playing to the princess for a long time, and trying his best to distract her thoughts from dwelling on her dead uncle, her old home, and the unknown future, he became so thirsty that before beginning another song he was fain to ask for something to drink. One of the attendants opened a cupboard, and finding there a goblet with a drink all ready prepared, supposed that the nurse had made it in case it were wanted, and took it to Tristram, who handed the cup first to Isolde that she might pledge him, as was the custom. The princess raised the cup to her lips and drank a little; but finding it very good, she put it to her lips again, and drank half the contents. Then she returned it to Tristram, who finished it at a draught.

Their eyes met, and they knew that they loved each other.

When Brangäne came in a few minutes later, and saw the empty goblet upon the table, she burst into tears, and bemoaned what had occurred, saying that the queen had given her the love-potion to administer to Isolde and King Mark upon their wedding-day. But the princess comforted her by asserting that no harm was done, for human beings had free will, and could struggle against enchantment. And struggle they did; but their love was strong.

The ship reached the harbour, and King Mark came down to meet his nephew and his bride. He was much pleased with the appearance of the princess, whom he welcomed with all ceremony. The marriage took place, and King Mark thought himself a happy man.

All went on quietly for some time, so carefully did the nurse conceal her lady’s love for Sir Tristram; but after a time people began to whisper, and at length the whisper reached the ears of the king. At first he would not believe the truth of what he heard, but afterwards the thing was proved to him so clearly that he could no longer doubt. He determined to bring the lovers to trial. Meanwhile Brangäne had discovered that the king knew all; she therefore warned Tristram, and fled into the forest with him and Isolde. There they hid themselves in a cave for a long time. But winter was coming on, and the nurse feared for her darling’s life if she remained in such a place during the frost and snow.

Tristam Kneeled before Isolde
Tristram kneels before Isolde

One day as they were talking over what were best to be done, King Mark suddenly appeared amongst them. Brangäne stepped forward, and assured him that the stories that he had been told were all gossip; and the king, who loved both Tristram and Isolde, willingly believed her, and took them home with him.

But the effect of the philter had not yet passed off, nor had the young people conquered their love. Whispers again arose about the court, and Tristram could not call any of the whisperers to account, for he knew that he had dishonoured the name of knight, and had ill repaid his uncle’s kindness. Isolde, too, was miserable. They both made up their minds that they must part, and as they said farewell, it was with the fervent hope that the magic potion would have lost its power by the time they met again.

Tristram went away. He wandered through Normandy and Alemannia; he fought many battles, and led a bold, adventurous life, but he could not forget Isolde. At last he came to the kingdom of Arundel, and there he found King Jovelin and his son Kaedin hiding in a thatched cottage in a great forest, from the bands of robbers who had overrun the land. It was late in the evening when he arrived at the solitary house, where he met with a kind reception. The lovely daughter of his host, curiously enough, was also named Isolde, to which was added the appellation of “la blanche mains.” It did him good to be with the maiden and her father. He promised them his aid, and for this purpose went to visit his own kingdom. There he found his presence much wanted, for old Rual was dead, and all was confusion in the land. His first action was to re-establish order and good government, after which he called out his troops, and marched to Arundel to help King Jovelin. He fought the robbers there, chased them out of the land, replaced the king on his throne, and made friends with Kaedin. Weeks passed, and he became engaged to Isolde of the white hand. He vainly hoped that being married to another woman would cure him of his love for the Queen of Cornwall, and he knew that the princess loved him.

His betrothal did not bring him peace. His affection for the Lady Isolde grew no stronger, so in despair he put off his marriage, and, unable to feign a love he did not feel, went out to seek death at the hands of the robber hordes that had again invaded the country. He conquered them, and forced them to fly. On his return from this expedition, his marriage day was fixed; but one evening he was induced to accompany his friend Kaedin on a dangerous adventure, and during the combat to which this led, he received a spear thrust in the breast. He fell senseless to the ground. Kaedin carried him out of the fight, and took him home to the palace, where Isolde succeeded in bringing him to himself again.

Every one hoped that he would soon recover from his wound; but instead of that he grew worse. One day he said that the Queen of Cornwall had a remedy that would cure him, if she could only be induced to bring it. Kaedin at once set off for Cornwall to appeal to her compassion. No sooner had the queen heard his tale than she persuaded King Mark to let her go to Arundel, and cure his nephew. Armed with his permission, she started on her long journey by sea and land, and never rested till she arrived at King Jovelin’s palace. There she was greeted with the sad words, “You have come too late—he is dying.” They led her to his couch, and she knelt down and took his hand. A slight pressure showed that he knew who she was; next moment he opened his eyes, gazed at her with a sad and loving look, and then died. She bent over him and kissed him, and in that kiss her spirit passed away. They were buried three days later under the same grave-mound in the distant land of Arundel.

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EPaRotMA-Cover

Tristram and Isolde – A Free Romance from Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages

Translated from the compiled works of Dr. W. Wägner.

ISBN: 9788834192702

URL/Download Link:  http://bit.ly/2t2usSv

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

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From the eBook “The Rainbow Cat” by Rose Fyleman

 

THERE was once a prince who was very brave, good and handsome. He was quite young, too, and before he settled down to learning how to rule the kingdom which would one day be his, he was sent by his father out a-travelling into the world.

 

The king gave his son a beautiful white horse and a bagful of big gold pieces, and told him to come back when the money was all spent.

 

His mother made him a blue velvet mantle embroidered with silver, and she also gave him a hat with a blue feather in it.

 

“I want my son to look nice when he goes out riding into the world,” she said.

 

HE RODE AWAY ON HIS WHITE HORSE AND WAVED TO HIS MOTHER AND FATHER
He rode away on his white horse and turned to wave his hand to his mother and father
before he went over the hill-top.

 

“How handsome he looks,” said his mother, wiping away a tear or two.

 

“Well, that’s nothing to cry about,” said his father, and blew his nose. Then they went back into the palace and continued ruling.

 

The prince rode on and on.

 

Wherever he went people were very nice to him, even when he got beyond the borders of his own kingdom where he was no longer known.

 

It is not every day that a handsome prince comes riding along on a white horse, and moreover with a bagful of fine gold pieces to spend.

 

All the girls ran out to look at him as he passed, and when he stayed anywhere, even for a short time, people seemed to get to know about it at once and asked him to their houses and gave grand parties in his honour and made so much of him altogether that he was in some danger of getting thoroughly spoiled.

 

But he had been very well brought up, and he had a naturally amiable disposition.

 

Besides, he had always been told by his mother that if you are a prince you must try hard to behave as a prince should, and be modest, considerate, and very polite to everyone.

 

One morning close on midday, he came to a tiny village which he did not know at all.

 

He was rather hungry after his ride, and as he passed down the narrow little street he became aware of a delicious smell of new bread.

 

It came from the open door of the village baker’s, and as he glanced in he saw a pile of beautiful, crisp new rolls heaped up in a big white basket.

 

He got down off his horse and went in.

 

“I should like to buy one of those nice little rolls,” he said to the baker’s daughter, who stood behind the counter.

 

She was very pretty. She had blue, shining eyes and fair smooth hair, and when she smiled it was like sunshine on a flowery meadow.

 

The prince ate up his roll and then another and yet another, and while he ate he talked to the baker’s daughter. But no one can eat more than three rolls one after another, and at last he felt that the time had come to pay for what he had had and ride on his way.

 

But, as it happened, he had no small change, nothing but a gold piece such as those which he had in his bag.

 

The baker’s daughter hadn’t enough money in the whole shop to change such a big gold piece, her father having set off that very morning with all the money in the till in order to buy a sack of flour from the miller in the next village.

The Prince sampled a cake from the Bakers daughter
The Prince sampled the girls wares

She had never even seen so large a gold coin before. She wanted to give him the rolls for nothing, but of course he wouldn’t hear of that, and when he said it didn’t matter about the change she wouldn’t hear of that either.

 

“Then there’s nothing for it,” said the prince, “but for me to stay in the village until I have eaten as much as my gold piece will pay for.”

 

As a matter of fact he was really quite glad of an excuse to stay, the baker’s daughter was so very pretty, and he was getting a little tired of travelling.

 

He pottered about in the bakehouse all the afternoon and watched her making the dough for her delicious rolls.

 

He even offered to help her.

 

His blue mantle got rather floury, but he didn’t mind that in the least.

 

The baker’s daughter was rather worried that such a fine gentleman should get in such a mess.

 

She didn’t know he was a prince, otherwise she might have been more worried still.

 

In the evening, when the baker returned, the prince asked if he could put him up for a couple of nights.

 

The baker was a kindly and simple old soul. “Gladly, gladly,” he said, rubbing his hands together and smiling, for the village was a small one and they were very poor, and he was glad to make a little extra money.

 

The prince stayed a whole week at the baker’s house. By that time, what with the bread he had eaten—though he was careful not to eat much and always to choose the cheapest—and the price of his lodging, about half of the gold piece was spent, and the baker’s daughter was able to give him the change from the money she had taken in the shop.

 

So he had no excuse for staying any longer, which grieved him because he had grown very fond of the baker’s daughter and did not like leaving her.

 

But he had an idea that his mother and father would not think her a very suitable bride for him, for princes cannot always marry whom they please, and so he rode sadly away.

 

But the farther he went the sadder he became, and at the end of two months he could bear it no longer, and so one fine morning he turned his horse’s head round and rode back again the way he had come.

 

“She is good and clever and beautiful,” he said. “What more can one want in a wife? When my mother and father see her they will love her as much as I do and will be quite willing that I should marry her.” Which really was very optimistic of him.

 

But alas, when he came to the village and sought the baker’s shop, he was met by strange faces.

 

The baker had died a month since, he was told, and his daughter had left the village and gone out into the world to work for her living, for she could not manage the bakehouse by herself and there was none to help her now that her father was gone.

 

The prince was very, very troubled and unhappy. He tried to find out something more about her, but his efforts were fruitless; no one seemed to know what had become of her.

 

“I will search the world over till I find her,” he said, “even if it take me the whole of my life.”

 

He wandered on and on, always making fresh inquiries, always hoping to hear something of his lost love, but always in vain.

 

And at last he got back to his own kingdom.

 

When his mother and father saw him they were horrified to find how pale and thin he had grown.

 

“Travelling doesn’t seem to suit you, my son,” said his father, looking at him rather seriously and stroking his beard.

 

“The poor boy is tired out,” said his mother. “He’ll look better when he’s had a good rest and some proper food. I don’t suppose he’s ever had a really wholesome meal in those foreign parts.”

 

But the prince remained thin and sad and listless, and at last he told his father and mother the cause of his unhappiness. At first they were a little upset at the idea of his wanting to marry so humble a person as the daughter of a village baker—“But that of course,” thought the prince, “is only because they don’t know her.”

 

And after a time, when they saw how unhappy he was and that all the distractions with which they provided him were unavailing, and that his one idea was to go out into the world again and search for the baker’s daughter, they were so troubled that they felt they would be only too glad if he could have the wish of his heart fulfilled.

 

And then one day as the prince was sitting quietly at breakfast with his parents he jumped up suddenly with an expression of the greatest excitement and joy.

 

“What is it, my son?” said his astonished mother.

 

The prince couldn’t speak for a moment. For one thing he was too excited, and for another his mouth was full of bread, and I told you before how well brought up he was.

 

But he pointed to the dish of breakfast rolls and kept on nodding his head and swallowing as hard as he could.

 

The king and queen thought at first that sorrow had affected his brain, but the prince was able to explain very soon. “The rolls, the rolls,” he said. “Her rolls, hers. No one else could make them so good. She must be here.” And he rushed off to the kitchen without further ado.

 

And there, sure enough, he found the baker’s daughter, peeling potatoes over the sink.

 

By the merest chance she had taken a place as kitchen-maid in the king’s palace, though she hadn’t the faintest idea, when she did so, that the king’s son was the same person as the handsome stranger who had once stayed in her father’s house.

 

And though she had been there a month she had never seen him. How should she? King’s palaces are big places, and the kitchen-maids stay in the kitchen premises, so that she and the prince might never have come face to face at all if it had not happened that, owing to the illness of the royal roll-maker, she had undertaken to make the breakfast rolls that morning.

 

When the king and queen saw how sweet and beautiful she was they made no objection to her as a bride for their son, and so he asked her at once to marry him, which she consented to do, for she loved him as much as he loved her.

 

“I don’t know that I should have chosen a baker’s daughter for our son’s wife,” said the queen to her husband when they talked it over that evening. “But she’s certainly a charming girl, and quite nice people go into business nowadays.”

 

“She’ll make him an excellent wife,” said the king. “Those rolls were delicious.”

 

So they got married quite soon after. The wedding was a rather quiet one because the bride was in mourning for her father, whom she had loved dearly. All the same, it was a very nice affair, and everybody was most jolly and gay. The prince and his wife had a beautiful house not very far from the palace, and I think it is extremely likely that they lived happily ever after.

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THE PRINCE AND THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER – A Free Story

From the eBook “The Rainbow Cat” by Rose Fyleman

ISBN: 9788835349068

URL/DownLoad Link: http://bit.ly/2ScrFPj

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A Free Story from Abela Publishing

From “This Way to Christmas” by Ruth Sawyer

 

Two months had passed since David had come to the Hill Country—two months in which he had thrown himself with all the stoutness of heart he could muster into the new life and the things Johanna had promised. He had spent long, crisp November days with Barney in the woods, watching him fell the trees marked for fire-wood and learning to use his end of a cross-cut saw. When the snow came and the lumber roads were packed hard for sledding he had shared in the driving of the team and the piling of the logs. He had learned to skee and to snow-shoe; already he had dulled his skates on the pond above the beaver dam. Yet in spite of all these things, in spite of Barney’s good-natured comradeship and Johanna’s faithful care and love, the ache in his heart had grown deeper until his loneliness seemed to shut him in like the snow-capped hills about him. And now it was seven days before Christmas—and not a word had been said concerning it.

a-country-christmas

Christmas in the Hill Country

David had begun to wonder if in all that country of bare hilltops and empty valleys, of snow and fir-tree and wild creature, there was anything out of which one could possibly make a Christmas. And slowly the conviction had been borne in upon him that there was not. The very thought of the toy-stores in the city, of the windows with their displays of Christmas knickknacks, of the street booths covered with greens, of what the boys on the block were doing and talking about, of the memories of all the other Christmases that had been, brought unspeakable pangs to his soul. He wondered how he was ever going to stand it—this Christmas that was no Christmas.

And this is how it happened that at dusk-hour, seven days before Christmas, a very low-spirited boy of eight—going-on-nine—sat curled up on the window-seat of the lodge, looking out through the diamond panes and wishing with all his heart that he was somebody else in some other place and that it was some other time of the year.

Barney was always bedding down the horses at this time and Johanna was getting supper; and as there was never anything in particular for David to do it had become a custom with him to watch for the lighting of the lamps in the cabins of the “heathen.” There were four cabins—only one was a cottage; and he could see them all from the lodge by a mere change of position or window. Somehow he liked them, or thought he should like them if he knew them, in spite of all the unalluring things Johanna had said about them. According to her the families who lived in them were outcasts, speaking strange tongues and worshiping strange gods, and quite unfit to cross the door-steps of honest Christian folk. David hardly knew whether Barney shared this opinion or not. Barney teased Johanna a good deal and laughed at her remarks every time she aired her grievance: that there should be no decent neighbors like themselves on all that barren hilltop. In his own heart David clung persistently to the feeling that he should like them all if he ever got near enough to make their acquaintance.

It was always the “lunger’s” lamp that shone out first in the dusk. David could usually tell to the minute when it would be lighted by watching the shadow on the foot-hill. Johanna was uncertain from what country these neighbors had come, but she thought it was Portugal. And Portuguese! Words always failed her when she tried to convey to David the exact place that Portuguese held among the heathen; but he was under the impression that it must be very near the top. One of these neighbors was sick with bad lungs, so his family had come to try the open-air cure of the hills; and they had been here since early spring. David never saw their tiny spark of a light spring out against the dark of the gathering gloom that he did not make a wish that the “lunger” might be a good deal better the next day.

Across the ridge from the foot-hill lay the lumber-camp, and here David always looked for the second light. The camp was temporarily deserted, the company having decided to wait a year or two before cutting down any more timber, and the loggers had been sent to another camp farther north. Only the cook, an old negro, had remained behind to guard the property from fire and poachers, and he it was that lighted in his shack the solitary lamp that sent its twinkling greeting up to David every night.

Straight down the hill shone the third light from the trapper’s cabin, and it was always close to dark before that was lighted. What the trapper’s nationality was Johanna had never happened to specify; but she had often declared that he was one of those bad-looking dark men from the East—Asia, perhaps; and she had not a doubt that he had come to the woods to escape the law. David’s mental picture of him was something quite dreadful; and yet when his light sprang out of the dark and twinkled at him up the white slope he always found himself desperately sorry for the trapper, alone by himself with the creatures he had trapped or shot—and his thoughts.

The fourth light came through another window, shining up from the opposite slope of the hill—the slope that led toward the station and the village beyond. This was the flagman’s light and it hung in the little hut by the junction where the main railroad crossed the circuit line. It was always lighted when David looked for it, and he always sat watching until he should see the colored signal-lights swing out on the track beyond, for then he knew the flagman’s work was over for the day—that is, if all was well on the road. It happened sometimes, however, that there was a snow-slide down the ravine above the crossing, or sometimes a storm uprooted a tree and hurled it across the track, and then the flagman was on guard all night. Now, the flagman was German; and Johanna’s voice always took on a particularly forbidding and contemptuous tone whenever she spoke of him. David had often marveled at this, for in the city his father had friends who were German and they were very good friends. Once David had spoken his mind:

“I don’t see why you call him a heathen, Johanna, just because he was born in the country that’s making the war. It wasn’t his fault—and I don’t see why that’s any reason for treating him as if he had made the trouble himself.”

“Well, how do ye think we’d be treated if we were over there now in that heathen’s country? Sure, ye wouldn’t find them loving us any to speak of.” Johanna’s lips had curled scornfully. “Ye can take my word for it, laddy, if we were there the same as he’s here we would be counting ourselves lucky to be alive at all, and not expecting to be asked in for any tea-drinking parties.”

It troubled David, none the less, this strange unfriendliness of Johanna’s; and this night the weight of it hung particularly heavy upon him. He turned back to his window-nook with a heart made heavier by this condition of alienage. No family, no neighbors, no Christmas—it was a dreary outlook; and he could not picture a single face or a single hearthside behind those four lights that blinked at him in such a friendly fashion.

A dozen yards from the Trappers cabin

They posted the sign a dozen yards from the Trappers cabin

He realized suddenly that he was very tired. Half the day he had spent clearing a space on the beaver pond big enough for skating; and clearing off a day’s fall of snow with a shovel and a broom is hard work. He leaned against the window niche and pillowed his head on his arm. He guessed he would go to bed right after supper. Wouldn’t it be fun now, if he could wish himself into one of those cabins, whichever one he chose, and see what was happening there this minute? If he had found the locked-out fairy Johanna had talked so much about he might have learned wishing magic from him. What had happened to the fairy, anyway? Of course it was half a tale and half a joke; nevertheless the locked-out fairy had continued to seem very real to him through these two months of isolation, and wherever he had gone his eye had been always alert for some sign of him. Unbelievable as it may seem, the failure to find him had brought keen disappointment. David had speculated many times as to where he might be living, where he would find his food, how he would keep himself warm. A fairy’s clothes were very light, according to Johanna. Undoubtedly he had come over in just his green jerkin and knee-breeches, with stockings and slippers to match; and these were not fit covering for winter weather like this.

David smiled through half-shut eyes. The fairy might steal a pelt from the trapper’s supply; that would certainly keep him warm; and if he were anything of a tailor he could make himself a cap and a coat in no time. Or, better yet, he might pick out one that just fitted him and creep into it without having to make it over; a mink’s skin would be about the right size, or a squirrel’s. His smile deepened at his own conceit. Then something in the dusk outside caught his eye. Some small creature was hopping across the snow toward the lodge.

David flattened his nose to the window to see better, and made out very distinctly the pointed ears, curved back, and long, bushy tail of a squirrel—a gray squirrel. At once he thought of some nuts in his jacket pocket, nuts left over from an after-dinner cracking. He dug for them successfully, and opening the window a little he dropped them out. Nearer came the squirrel, fearlessly eager, oblivious of the eyes that were watching him with growing interest. He reached the nuts and was nosing them about for the most appetizing when he sat up suddenly on his hind legs, clutching the nut of his choice between his forepaws, and cocking his head as he did so toward the window.

The effect on David was magical. He gave his eyes one insistent rub and then he opened the window wider.

“Come in,” he called, softly. “Please do come in!”

For he had seen under the alert little ears something quite different from the sharp nose and whiskers of the every-day squirrel. There were a pair of blue eyes that winked outrageously at him, while a round, smooth face wrinkled into smiles and a mouth knowingly grinned at him. It was the locked-out fairy at last!

He bobbed his head at David’s invitation, fastened his little white teeth firmly in the nut, and scrambled up the bush that grew just outside. A minute more and he was through the window and down beside David on the seat.

“Ah—ee, laddy, where have your eyes been this fortnight?” he asked. “I’ve whisked about ye and chattered down at ye from half a score o’ pine-trees—and ye never saw me!”

David colored shamefully.

“Never mind. ’Tis a compliment ye’ve been paying to my art,” and the fairy cocked his head and whisked his tail and hopped about in the most convincing fashion.

David held his sides and rocked back and forth with merriment. “It’s perfect,” he laughed; “simply perfect!”

“Aye, ’tis fair; but I’ve not mastered the knack o’ the tail yet. I can swing it grand, but I can’t curl it up stylish. I can fool the mortals easy enough, but ye should see the looks the squirrels give me sometimes when I’m after trying to show off before them.”

There was nothing but admiration in David’s look of response. “The coat fits you splendidly,” he said.

“Sure—’tis as snug as if it grew on me. But I miss my pockets, and I’m not liking the color as well as if it were green.”

David laughed again. “Why, I believe you are as Irish as Johanna.”

“And why shouldn’t I be? Faith, there are worse faults, I’m thinking. Now tell me, laddy, what’s ailing ye? Ye’ve been more than uncommon downhearted lately.”

“How did you know?”

“Could a wee fairy man be watching ye for a fortnight, coming and going, and not know?”

“Well, it’s lonesomeness; lonesomeness and Christmas.” David owned up to it bravely.

“’Tis easy guessing ye’re lonesome—that’s an ailment that’s growing chronic on this hillside. But what’s the matter with Christmas?”

“There isn’t any. There isn’t going to be any Christmas!” And having at last given utterance to his state of mind, David finished with a sorrowful wail.

“And why isn’t there, then? Tell me that.”

“You can’t make Christmas out of miles of snow and acres of fir-trees. What’s a boy going to do when there aren’t any stores or things to buy, or Christmas fixings, or people, and nobody goes about with secrets or surprises?”

The fairy pushed back the top of his head and the gray ears fell off like a fur hood, showing the fairy’s own tow head beneath. He reached for his thinking-lock and pulled it vigorously.

“I should say,” he said at last, “that a boy could do comfortably without them. Sure, weren’t there Christmases long before there were toy-shops? No, no, laddy. Christmas lies in the hearts and memories of good folk, and ye’ll find it wherever ye can find them!”

David shook his head doubtfully.

“I don’t see how that can be; but even suppose it’s true, there aren’t even good folk here.”

The fairy grinned derisively and wagged his furry paw in the direction of the lights shining on the hillside:

“What’s the meaning of that, and that, and that? Now I should be calling them good folk, the same as ye here.”

“Hush!” David looked furtively toward the door that led into the kitchen. “It wouldn’t do to let Johanna hear you. Why, she thinks—”

The fairy raised a silencing paw to his lips.

“Whist, there, laddy! If ye are after wanting to find Christmas ye’d best begin by passing on naught but kind sayings. Maybe ye are not knowing it, but they are the very cairn that mark the way to Christmas. Now I’ll drive a bargain with ye. If ye’ll start out and look for Christmas I’ll agree to help ye find the road to it.”

“Yes,” agreed David, eagerly.

“But there’s one thing ye must promise me. To put out of your mind for all time these notions that ye are bound to find Christmas hanging with the tinsel balls to the Christmas tree or tied to the end of a stocking. Ye must make up your mind to find it with your heart and not with your fingers and your eyes.”

“But,” objected David, “how can you have Christmas without Christmas things?”

“Ye can’t. But ye’ve got the wrong idea entirely about the things. Ye say now that it’s turkey and plum-cake and the presents ye give and the presents ye get; and I say ’tis thinkings and feelings and sayings and rememberings. I’m not meaning, mind ye, that there is anything the matter with the first lot, and there’s many a fine Christmas that has them in, but they’ll never make a Christmas of themselves, not in a thousand years. And what’s more, ye can do grand without them.”

David rubbed his forehead in abject bewilderment. It was all very hard to understand; and as far as he could see the fairy was pointing out a day that sounded like any ordinary day of the year and not at all like Christmas. But, thanks to Johanna, David had an absolute faith in the infallibility of fairies. If he said so it must be true; at least it was worth trying. So he held out his hand and the fairy laid a furry paw over the ball of his forefinger in solemn compact.

“It’s a bargain,” David said.

“It is that,” agreed the fairy. “And there’s nothing now to hinder my going.”

He pulled the gray ears over his tow head again until there was only a small part of fairy left.

“Don’t ye be forgetting,” he reminded David as he slipped through the window. “I’ll be on the watch out for ye the morrow.”

David watched him scramble down the bush, stopping a moment at the bottom to gather up the remainder of the nuts, which he stuffed away miraculously somewhere between his cheek and the fur. Then he raised a furry paw to his ear in a silent salute.

“Good-by,” said David, softly, “good-by. I’m so glad you came.”

And it seemed to him that he heard from over the snow the fairy’s good-by in Gaelic, just as Barney or Johanna might have said it: “Beanacht leat!

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TWtC_Front_Cover-w-border

THE LOCKED OUT FAIRY from the eBook THIS WAY TO CHRISTMAS by RUTH SAWYER.

ISBN: 9788835362913

URL/Download Link: https://bit.ly/2JTVpg4

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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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BATTE-Cover

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,