"'TO BE SURE I CAN,' REPLIED THE LARK."
OUPHE OF THE WOOD
FAIRY WHO JUDGED HER NEIGHBOURS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
BE SURE I CAN,' REPLIED
HE SAT DOWN AS CLOSE TO THE FIRE AS HE COULD,
AND SPREAD OUT HIS
HANDS TO THE FLAMES"
HOME ON TOP OF IT, DRIVING THE FOUR GRAY
SHE WAS FITTING ON HER SHOES, SHE SAW THE
HE RECLINED BESIDE THE CHAFING-DISH AND
INHALED THE HEAVY PERFUME"
COULD NOT DO SO,' HE, REPLIED, 'ONLY THAT AS I
I KEEP LIGHTENING IT'"
ON THE BORDERS OF ONE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN
NEXT MOMENT A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE CREATURE STOOD
UPON HIS HAND"
DON'T GO,' CRIED HULDA.
'I AM GOING UPSTAIRS TO
FETCH MY WAND"'
PEDLAR HAD NOW SUNK UP TO HIS WAIST"
OF THE WOOD
"AN Ouphe!" perhaps you exclaim, "and pray what might that be?"
An Ouphe, fair questioner, though you may never have heard of him,
was a creature well known (by hearsay, at least) to your
great-great-grandmother. It was currently reported that every forest
had one within its precincts, who ruled over the woodmen, and
exacted tribute from them in the shape of little blocks of wood
ready hewn for the fire of his underground palace, such blocks as
are bought at shops in these degenerate days, and called in London
It was said that he had a silver axe, with which he marked those
trees that he did not object to have cut down; moreover, he was
supposed to possess great riches, and to appear but seldom above
ground, and when he did to look like an old man in all respects but
one, which was that he always carried some green ash-keys about with
him which he could not conceal, and by which he might be known.
Do I hear you say that you don't believe he ever existed? It matters
not at all to my story whether you do or not. He certainly does not
exist now. The Commissioners of Woods and Forests have much to
answer for, if it was they who put an end to his reign; but I do not
think they did; it is more likely that the spelling-book used in
woodland districts disagreed with his constitution.
After this short preface please to listen while I tell you that once
in a little black-timbered cottage, at the skirts of a wood, a young
woman sat before the fire rocking her baby, and, as she did so,
building a castle in the air: "What a good thing it would be," she
thought to herself, "if we were rich!"
It had been a bright day, but the evening was chilly; and, as she
watched the glowing logs that were blazing on her hearth, she wished
that all the lighted part of them would turn to gold.
She was very much in the habit this little wife of building
castles in the air, particularly when she bad nothing else to do, or
her husband was late in coming home to his supper. Just as she was
thinking how late he was there was a tap at the door, and an old man
walked in, who said:
"Mistress, will you give a poor man a warm at your fire?"
"And welcome," said the young woman, setting him a chair.
So he sat down as close to the fire as he could, and spread out his
hands to the flames.
"So he sat down as close to the fire as he could,
and spread out his hands to the flames."
He had a little knapsack on his back, and the young woman did not
doubt that he was an old soldier.
"Maybe you are used to the hot countries," she said.
"All countries are much the same to me," replied the stranger. "I
see nothing to find fault with in this one. You have fine
hawthorn-trees hereabouts; just now they are as white as snow; and
then you have a noble wood behind you."
"Ah, you may well say that," said the young woman. "It is a noble
wood to us; it gets us bread. My husband works in it."
"And a fine sheet of water there is in it," continued the old man. "As I sat by it to-day it was pretty to see those cranes, with red
legs, stepping from leaf to leaf of the water-lilies so lightly."
As he spoke he looked rather wistfully at a little saucepan which
stood upon the hearth.
"Why, I shouldn't wonder if you were hungry," said the young woman,
laying her baby in the cradle, and spreading a cloth on the round
table. "My husband will be home soon, and if you like to stay and
sup with him and me, you will be kindly welcome."
The old man's eyes sparkled when she said this, and he looked so
very old and seemed so weak that she pitied him. He turned a little
aside from the fire, and watched her while she set a brown loaf on
the table, and fried a few slices of bacon; but all was ready, and
the kettle had been boiling some time before there were any signs of
the husband's return.
"I never knew Will to be so late before," said the stranger. Perhaps
he is carrying his logs to the saw-pits."
"Will! exclaimed the wife. "What, you know my husband, then? I
thought you were a stranger in these parts."
"Oh, I have been past this place several times," said the old man,
looking rather confused; "and so, of course, I have heard of your
husband. Nobody's stroke in the wood is so regular and strong as
"And I can tell you he is the handiest man at home," began his wife.
"Ah, ah," said the old man, smiling at her eagerness; "and here he
comes, if I am not mistaken."
At that moment the woodman entered.
"Will," said his wife, as she took his bill-hook from him, and hung
up his hat, "here's an old soldier come to sup with us, my dear." And as she spoke, she gave her husband a gentle push toward the old
man, and made a sign that he should speak to him.
"Kindly welcome, master," said the woodman. "Wife, I'm hungry; let's
The wife turned some potatoes out of the little saucepan, set a jug
of beer on the table, and they all began to sup. The best of
everything was offered by the wife to the stranger. The husband,
after looking earnestly at him for a few minutes, kept silence.
"And where might you be going to lodge to-night, good man, if I'm
not too bold?" asked she.
The old man heaved a deep sigh, and said he supposed he must lie
out in the forest.
"Well, that would be a great pity," remarked his kind hostess. "No
wonder your bones ache if you have no better shelter." As she said
this, she looked appealingly at her husband.
"My wife, I'm thinking, would like to offer you a bed," said the
woodman; "at least, if you don't mind sleeping in this clean
kitchen, I think that we could toss you up something of that sort
that you need not disdain."
"Disdain, indeed!" said the wife. "Why, Will, when there's not a
tighter cottage than ours in all the wood, and with a curtain, as we
have, and a brick floor, and everything so good about us "
The husband laughed; the old man looked on with a twinkle in his
"I'm sure I shall be humbly grateful," said he.
Accordingly, when supper was over, they made him up a bed on the
floor, and spread clean sheets upon it of the young wife's own
spinning, and heaped several fresh logs on the fire. Then they
wished the stranger good night, and crept up the ladder to their own
snug little chamber.
"Disdain, indeed!" laughed the wife, as soon as they shut the door. "Why, Will, how could you say it? I should like to see him disdain
me and mine. It isn't often, I'll engage to say, that he sleeps in
such a well-furnished kitchen."
The husband said nothing, but secretly laughed to himself.
"What are you laughing at, Will?" said his wife, as she put out the
"Why, you soft little thing," answered the woodman, "didn't you see
that bunch of green ash-keys in his cap; and don't you know that
nobody would dare to wear them but the Ouphe of the Wood? I saw him
cutting those very keys for himself as I passed to the sawmill this
morning, and I knew him again directly, though he has disguised
himself as an old man."
"Bless us!" exclaimed the little wife; "is the Wood Ouphe in our
cottage? How frightened I am! I wish I hadn't put the candle out."
The husband laughed more and more.
"Will," said his wife, in a solemn voice, "I wonder how you dare
laugh, and that powerful creature under the very bed where you lie!"
"And she to be so pitiful over him," said the woodman, laughing till
the floor shook under him, "and to talk and boast of our house, and
insist on helping him to more potatoes, when he has a palace of his
own, and heaps of riches! Oh, dear! oh, dear!"
"Don't laugh, Will," said the wife, "and I'll make you the most
beautiful firmity 
you ever tasted tomorrow. Don't let him hear you laughing."
"Why, he comes for no harm," said the woodman. "I've never cut down
any trees that he had not marked, and I've always laid his toll of
the wood, neatly cut up, beside his foot-path, so I am not afraid. Besides, don't you know that he always pays where he lodges, and
very handsomely, too?"
"Pays, does he?" said the wife. "Well, but he is an awful creature
to have so near one. I would much rather he had really been an old
soldier. I hope he is not looking after my baby; he shall not have
him, let him offer ever so much."
The more the wife talked, the more the husband laughed at her fears,
till at length he fell asleep, whilst she lay awake, thinking and
thinking, till by degrees she forgot her fears, and began to wonder
what they might expect by way of reward. Hours appeared to pass away
during these thoughts. At length, to her great surprise, while it
was still quite dark, her husband called to her from below:
"Come down, Kitty; only come down to see what the Ouphe has left
As quickly as possible Kitty started up and dressed herself, and ran
down the ladder, and then she saw her husband kneeling on the floor
over the knapsack, which the Ouphe had left behind him. Kitty rushed
to the spot, and saw the knapsack bursting open with gold coins,
which were rolling out over the brick floor. Here was good fortune! She began to pick them up, and count them into her apron. The more
she gathered, the faster they rolled, till she left off counting,
out of breath with joy and surprise.
"What shall we do with all this money?" said the delighted woodman.
They consulted for some time. At last they decided to bury it in the
garden, all but twenty pieces, which they would spend directly. Accordingly they dug a hole and carefully hid the rest of the money,
and then the woodman went to the town, and soon returned laden with
the things they had agreed upon as desirable possessions; namely, a
leg of mutton, two bottles of wine, a necklace for Kitty, some tea
and sugar, a grand velvet waistcoat, a silver watch, a large clock,
a red silk cloak, and a hat and feather for the baby, a quilted
petticoat, a great many muffins and crumpets, a rattle, and two new
pairs of shoes.
How enchanted they both were! Kitty cooked the nice things, and they
dressed themselves in the finery, and sat down to a very good
dinner. But, alas! the woodman drank so much of the wine that he
soon got quite tipsy, and began to dance and sing. Kitty was very
much shocked; but when he proposed to dig up some more of the gold,
and go to market for some more wine and some more blue velvet
waistcoats, she remonstrated very strongly. Such was the change that
had come over this loving couple, that they presently began to
quarrel, and from words the woodman soon got to blows, and, after
beating his little wife, lay down on the floor and fell fast asleep,
while she sat crying in a corner.
The next day they both felt very miserable, and the woodman had such
a terrible headache that he could neither eat nor work; but the day
after, being pretty well again, he dug up some more gold and went to
town, where he bought such quantities of fine clothes and furniture
and so many good things to eat, that in the end he was obliged to
buy a wagon to bring them home in, and great was the delight of his
wife when she saw him coming home on the top of it, driving the four
gray horses himself.
"Coming home on top of it, driving the four grey horses himself."
began to unpack the goods and lay them out on the grass, for the
cottage was far too small to hold them.
"There are some red silk curtains with gold rods," said the woodman.
"And grand indeed they are!" exclaimed his wife, spreading them over
the onion bed.
"And here's a great looking-glass," continued the woodman, setting
one up against the outside of the cottage, for it would not go in
So they went on handing down the things, and it took nearly the
whole afternoon to empty the wagon. No wonder, when it contained,
among other things, a coral and bells for the baby, and five very
large tea-trays adorned with handsome pictures of impossible
scenery, two large sofas covered with green damask, three bonnets
trimmed with feathers and flowers, two glass tumblers for them to
drink out of, for Kitty had decided that mugs were very vulgar
things, six books bound in handsome red morocco, a mahogany table,
a large tin saucepan, a spit and silver waiter, a blue coat with
gilt buttons, a yellow waistcoat, some pictures, a dozen bottles of
wine, a quarter of lamb, cakes, tarts, pies, ale, porter, gin, silk
stockings, blue and red and white shoes, lace, ham, mirrors, three
clocks, a four-post bedstead, and a bag of sugar candy.
These articles filled the cottage and garden; the wagon stood
outside the paling. Though the little kitchen was very much
encumbered with furniture, they contrived to make a fire in it; and,
having eaten a sumptuous dinner, they drank each other's health,
using the new tumblers to their great satisfaction.
"All these things remind me that we must have another house built,"
"You may do just as you please about that, my dear," replied her
husband, with a bottle of wine in his hand.
"My dear," said Kitty, "how vulgar you are! Why don't you drink out
of one of our new tumblers, like a gentleman?"
The woodman refused, and said it was much more handy to drink it out
of the bottle.
"Handy, indeed!" retorted Kitty; "yes, and by that means none will
be left for me."
Thereupon another quarrel ensued, and the woodman, being by this
time quite tipsy, beat his wife again. The next day they went and
got numbers of workmen to build them a new house in their garden. It
was quite astonishing even to Kitty, who did not know much about
building, to see how quick these workmen were; in one week the house
was ready. But in the meantime the woodman, who had very often been
tipsy, felt so unwell that he could not look after them; therefore
it is not surprising that they stole a great many of his fine
things while he lay smoking on the green damask sofa which stood on
the carrot bed. Those articles which the workmen did not steal the
rain and dust spoilt; but that they thought did not much matter, for
still more than half the gold was left; so they soon furnished the
new house. And now Kitty had a servant, and used to sit every
morning on a couch dressed in silks and jewels till dinner-time,
when the most delicious hot beefsteaks and sausage padding or roast
goose were served up, with more sweet pies, fritters, tarts, and
cheese-cakes than they could possibly eat. As for the baby, he had
three elegant cots, in which he was put to sleep by turns; he was
allowed to tear his picture-books as often as he pleased, and to eat
so many sugar-plums and macaroons that they often made him quite
The woodman looked very pale and miserable, though he often said
what a fine thing it was to be rich. He never thought of going to
his work, and used generally to sit in the kitchen till dinner was
ready, watching the spit. Kitty wished she could see him looking as
well and cheerful as in old days, though she felt naturally proud
that her husband should always be dressed like a gentleman, namely,
in a blue coat, red waistcoat, and top-boots.
He and Kitty could never agree as to what should be done with the
rest of the money; in fact, no one would have known them for the
same people; they quarrelled almost every day, and lost nearly all
their love for one another. Kitty often cried herself to sleep a
thing she had never done when they were poor; she thought it was
very strange that she should be a lady, and yet not be happy. Every
morning when the woodman was sober they invented new plans for
making themselves happy, yet, strange to say, none of them
succeeded, and matters grew worse and worse. At last Kitty thought
she should be happy if she had a coach; so she went to the place
where the knapsack was buried, and began to dig; but the garden was
so trodden down that she could not dig deep enough, and soon got
tired of trying. At last she called the servant, and told her the
secret as to where the money was, promising her a gold piece if she
could dig it up. The servant dug with all her strength, and with a
great deal of trouble they got the knapsack up, and Kitty found that
not many gold pieces were left. However, she resolved to have the
coach, so she took them and went to the town, where she bought a
yellow chariot, with a most beautiful coat of arms upon it, and two
cream-colored horses to draw it.
In the meantime the maid ran to the magistrates, and told them she
had discovered something very dreadful, which was, that her mistress
had nothing to do but dig in the ground and that she could make
money come coined money: "which," said the maid, "is a very
terrible thing, and it proves that she must be a witch."
The mayor and aldermen were very much shocked, for witches were
commonly believed in in those days; and when they heard that Kitty
had dug up money that very morning, and bought a yellow coach with
it, they decided that the matter must be investigated.
When Kitty drove up to her own door, she saw the mayor and aldermen
standing in the kitchen waiting for her. She demanded what they
wanted, and they said they were come in the king's name to search
Kitty immediately ran up-stairs and took the baby out of his cradle,
lest any of them should steal him, which, of course, seemed a very
probable thing for them to do. Then she went to look for her
husband, who, shocking to relate, was quite tipsy, quarrelling and
arguing with the mayor, and she actually saw him box an alderman's
"The thing is proved," said the indignant mayor; "this woman is
certainly a witch."
Kitty was very much bewildered at this; but how much more when she
saw her husband seize the mayor yes, the very mayor himself and
shake him so hard that he actually shook his head off, and it rolled
under the dresser! "If I had not seen this with my own eyes," said
Kitty, "I could not have believed it even now it does not seem at
All the aldermen wrung their hands.
"Murder! murder!" cried the maid.
"Yes," said the aldermen, "this woman and her husband must
immediately be put to death, and the baby must be taken from them
and made a slave."
In vain Kitty fell on her knees; the proofs of their guilt were so
plain that there was no hope for mercy; and they were just going to
be led out to execution when why, then she opened her eyes, and
saw that she was lying in bed in her own little chamber where she
had lived and been so happy; her baby beside her in his wicker 
cradle was crowing and sucking his fingers.
"So, then, I have never been rich, after all," said Kitty;
was all only a dream! I thought it was very strange at the time that
a man's head should roll off."
And she heaved a deep sigh, and put her hand to her face, which was
wet with the tears she had shed when she thought that she and her
husband were going to be executed.
"I am very glad, then, my husband is not a drunken man; and he does
not beat me; but he goes to work every day, and I am as happy as a
Just then she heard her husband's good-tempered voice whistling as
he went down the ladder.
"Kitty, Kitty," said be, "come, get up, my little woman; it's later
than usual, and our good visitor will want his breakfast."
"Oh, Will, Will, do come here," answered the wife; and presently her
husband came up again, dressed in his fustian jacket, and looking
quite healthy and good-tempered not at all like the pale man in
the blue coat, who sat watching the meat while it roasted.
"Oh, Will, I have had such a frightful dream," said Kitty, and she
began to cry; "we are not going to quarrel and hate each other, are
"Why, what a silly little thing thou art to cry about a dream," said
the woodman, smiling. "No, we are not going to quarrel as I know of. Come, Kitty, remember the Ouphe."
"Oh, yes, yes, I remember," said Kitty, and she made haste to dress
herself and come down.
"Good morning, mistress; how have you slept?" said the Ouphe, in a
gentle voice, to her.
"Not so well as I could have wished, sir," said Kitty.
The Ouphe smiled. "I slept very well," he said. "The supper was
good, and kindly given, without any thought of reward."
"And that is the certain truth," interrupted Kitty: "I never had
the least thought what you were till my husband told me."
The woodman had gone out to cut some fresh cresses for his guest's
"I am sorry, mistress," said the Ouphe, "that you slept uneasily
my race are said sometimes by their presence to affect the dreams of
you mortals. Where is my knapsack? Shall I leave it behind me in
payment of bed and board?"
"Oh, no, no, I pray you don't," said the little wife, blushing and
stepping back; "you are kindly welcome to all you have had, I'm
sure: don't repay us so, sir."
"What, mistress, and why not?" asked the Ouphe, smiling. "It is as
full of gold pieces as it can hold, and I shall never miss them."
"No, I entreat you, do not," said Kitty, "and do not offer it to my
husband, for maybe he has not been warned as I have."
Just then the woodman came in.
"I have been thanking your wife for my good entertainment," said the
Ouphe, "and if there is anything in reason that I can give either of
"Will, we do very well as we are," said his wife, going up to him
and looking anxiously in his face.
"I don't deny," said the woodman, thoughtfully, "that there are one
or two things I should like my wife to have, but somehow I've not
been able to get them for her yet."
"What are they?" asked the Ouphe.
"One is a spinning-wheel," answered the woodman; "she used to spin
a good deal when she was at home with her mother."
"She shall have a spinning-wheel," replied the Ouphe; "and is there
nothing else, my good host?"
"Well," said the woodman, frankly, "since you are so obliging, we
should like a hive of bees."
"The bees you shall have also; and now, good morning both, and a
thousand thanks to you."
So saying, he took his leave, and no pressing could make him stay to
"Well," thought Kitty, when she had had a little time for
reflection, "a spinning-wheel is just what I wanted; but if people
had told me this time yesterday morning that I should be offered a
knapsack full of money, and should refuse it, I could not possibly
have believed them!"
1. Ouphe, pronounced "oof," is an old-fashioned word for
goblin or elf.
2. Firmity: generally written frumenty; wheat boiled in milk with
sugar and fruit.
3. Wicker: made of willow twigs like a basket.
THE FAIRY WHO JUDGED HER
THERE was once a
Fairy who was a good Fairy, on the whole, but she had one very bad
habit; she was too fond of finding fault with other people, and of
taking for granted that everything must be wrong if it did not
appear right to her.
One day, when she had been talking very unkindly of some
friends of hers, her mother said to her: "My child, I think if you
knew a little more of the world, you would become more charitable.
I would therefore advise you to set out on your travels; you will
find plenty of food, for the cowslips are now in bloom, and they
contain excellent honey. I need not be anxious about your
lodging, for there is no place more delightful for sleeping in than
an empty robin's nest when the young have flown. And if you
want a new gown, you can sew two tulip leaves together, which will
make you a very becoming dress, and one that I should be proud to
see you in."
The young Fairy was pleased at this permission to set out on
her travels; so she kissed her mother, and bade good-by to her
nurse, who gave her a little ball of spiders' threads to sew with,
and a beautiful little box, made of the egg-shell of a wren, to keep
her best thimble in, and took leave of her, wishing her safe home
The young Fairy then flew away till she came to a large
meadow, with a clear river flowing on one side of it, and some tall
oak-trees on the other. She sat down on a high branch in one
of these oaks, and, after her long flight, was thinking of a nap,
when, happening to look down at her little feet, she observed that
her shoes were growing shabby and faded. "Quite a disgrace, I
declare," said she. "I must look for another pair.
Perhaps two of the smallest flowers of that snapdragon which I see
growing in the hedge would fit me. I think I should like a
pair of yellow slippers." So she flew down, and, after a
little trouble, she found two flowers which fitted her very neatly,
and she was just going to return to the oak-tree, when she heard a
deep sigh beneath her, and, peeping out from her place among the
hawthorn blossoms, she saw a fine young Lark sitting in the long
grass, and looking the picture of misery.
"What is the matter with you, cousin?" asked the Fairy.
"Oh, I am so unhappy," replied the poor Lark; "I want to
build a nest, and I have got no wife."
"Why don't you look for a wife, then?" said the Fairy,
laughing at him. "Do you expect one to come and look for you?
Fly up, and sing a beautiful song in the sky, and then perhaps some
pretty hen will hear you; and perhaps, if you tell her that you will
help her to build a capital nest, and that you will sing to her all
day long, she will consent to be your wife."
"Oh, I don't like," said the Lark, "I don't like to fly up, I
am so ugly. If I were a goldfinch, and had yellow bars on my
wings, or a robin, and had red feathers on my breast, I should not
mind the defect which now I am afraid to show. But I am only a
poor brown Lark, and I know I shall never get a wife."
"I never heard of such an unreasonable bird," said the Fairy.
"You cannot expect to have everything."
"Oh, but you don't know," proceeded the Lark, that if I fly
up my feet will be seen; and no other bird has feet like mine.
My claws are enough to frighten any one, they are so long; and yet I
assure you, Fairy, I am not a cruel bird."
"Let me look at your claws," said the Fairy.
So the Lark lifted up one of his feet, which he had kept
hidden in the long grass, lest any one should see
"It looks certainly very fierce," said the Fairy. "Your
hind claw is at least an inch long, and all your toes have very
dangerous-looking points. Are you sure you never use them to
"No, never!" said the Lark, earnestly; "I never fought a
battle in my life; but yet these claws grow longer and longer, and I
am so ashamed of their being seen that I very often lie in the grass
instead of going up to sing, as I could wish."
"I think, if I were you, I would pull them off," said the
"That is easier said than done," answered the poor Lark.
"I have often got them entangled in the grass, and I scrape them
against the hard clods; but it is of no use, you cannot think how
fast they stick."
"Well, I am sorry for you," observed the Fairy; "but at the
same time I cannot but see that, in spite of what you say, you must
be a quarrelsome bird, or you would not have such long spurs."
"That is just what I am always afraid people will say,"
sighed the Lark.
"For," proceeded the Fairy, "nothing is given us to be of no
use. You would not have wings unless you were to fly, nor a
voice unless you were to sing; and so you would not have those
dreadful spurs unless you were going to fight. If your spurs
are not to fight with," continued the unkind Fairy, "I should like
to know what they are for?"
"I am sure I don't know," said the Lark, lifting up his foot
and looking at it. "Then you are not inclined to help me at
all, Fairy? I thought you might be willing to mention among my
friends that I am not a quarrelsome bird, and that I should always
take care not to hurt my wife and nestlings with my spurs."
"Appearances are very much against you," answered the Fairy;
"and it is quite plain to me that those spurs are meant to scratch
with. No, I cannot help you. Good morning."
So the Fairy withdrew to her oak bough, and the poor Lark sat
moping in the grass while the Fairy watched him. "After all,"
she thought, "I am sorry he is such a quarrelsome fellow, for that
he is such is fully proved by those long spurs."
While she was so thinking, the Grasshopper came chirping up
to the Lark, and tried to comfort him.
"I have heard all that the Fairy said to you," he observed,
"and I really do not see that it need make you unhappy. I have
known you some time, and have never seen you fight or look out of
temper; therefore I will spread a report that you are a very
good-tempered bird, and that you are looking out for a wife."
The Lark upon this thanked the Grasshopper warmly.
"At the same time," remarked the Grasshopper, "I should be
glad if you could tell me what is the use of those claws, because
the question might be asked me, and I should not know what to
"Grasshopper," replied the Lark, "I cannot imagine what they
are for that is the real truth."
"Well," said the kind Grasshopper, "perhaps time will show."
So he went away, and the Lark, delighted with his promise to
speak well of him, flew up into the air, and the higher he went the
sweeter and the louder he sang. He was so happy, and he poured
forth such delightful notes, so clear and thrilling, that the little
ants who were carrying grains to their burrow stopped and put down
their burdens to listen; and the doves ceased cooing, and the little
field-mice came and sat in the openings of their holes; and the
Fairy, who had just begun to doze, woke up delighted; and a pretty
brown Lark, who had been sitting under some great foxglove leaves,
peeped out and exclaimed, "I never heard such a beautiful song in my
"It was sung by my friend, the Skylark," said the
Grasshopper, who just then happened to be on a leaf near her.
"He is a very good-tempered bird, and he wants a wife."
"Hush!" said the pretty brown Lark. "I want to hear the
end of that wonderful song."
For just then the Skylark, far up in the heaven, burst forth
again, and sang better than ever so well, indeed, that every
creature in the field sat still to listen; and the little brown Lark
under the foxglove leaves held her breath, for she was afraid of
losing a single note.
"Well done, my friend!" exclaimed the Grasshopper, when at
length he came down panting, and with tired wings; and then he told
him how much his friend the brown Lark, who lived by the foxglove,
had been pleased with his song, and he took the poor Skylark to see
The Skylark walked as carefully as he could, that she might
not see his feet; and he thought he had never seen such a pretty
bird in his life. But when she told him how much she loved
music, he sprang up again into the blue sky as if he was not at all
tired, and sang anew, clearer and sweeter than before. He was
so glad to think that he could please her.
He sang several songs, and the Grasshopper did not fail to
praise him, and say what a cheerful, kind bird he was. The
consequence was, that when he asked the brown Lark to overlook his
spurs and be his wife, she said:
"I will see about it, for I do not mind your spurs
"I am very glad of that," said the Skylark. "I was
afraid you would disapprove of them."
"Not at all," she replied. "On the contrary, now I
think of it, I should not have liked you to have short claws like
other birds; but I cannot exactly say why, for they seem to be of no
use in particular."
This was very good news for the Skylark, and he sang such
delightful songs in consequence, that he very soon won his wife; and
they built a delightful little nest in the grass, which made him so
happy that he almost forgot to be sorry about his long spurs.
The Fairy, meanwhile, flew about from field to field, and I
am sorry to say that she seldom went anywhere without saying
something unkind or ill-natured; for, as I told you before, she was
very hasty, and had a sad habit of judging her neighbours.
She had been several days wandering about in search of
adventures, when one afternoon she came back to the old oak-tree,
because she wanted a new pair of shoes, and there were none to be
had so pretty as those made of the yellow snapdragon flower in the
hedge hard by.
While she was fitting on her shoes, she saw the Lark's
"While she was fitting on her shoes, she saw the Lark's friend."
"How do you do, Grasshopper?" asked the Fairy.
"Thank you, I am very well and very happy," said the
Grasshopper; "people are always so kind to me."
"Indeed!" replied the Fairy. "I wish I could say that
they were always kind to me. How is that quarrelsome Lark who
found such a pretty brown mate the other day?"
"He is not a quarrelsome bird indeed," replied the
Grasshopper. "I wish you would not say that he is."
"Oh, well, we need not quarrel about that," said the Fairy,
laughing; "I have seen the world, Grasshopper, and I know a few
things, depend upon it. Your friend the Lark does not wear
those long spurs for nothing."
The Grasshopper did not choose to contend with the Fairy, who
all this time was busily fitting yellow slippers to her tiny feet.
When, however, she had found a pair to her mind
"Suppose you come and see the eggs that our pretty friend the
Lark has got in her nest," asked the Grasshopper. "Three pink
eggs spotted with brown. I am sure she will show them to you
Off they set together; but what was their surprise to find
the poor little brown Lark sitting on them with rumpled feathers,
drooping head, and trembling limbs.
"Ah, my pretty eggs!" said the Lark, as soon as she could
speak, "I am so miserable about them they will be trodden on, they
will certainly be found."
"What is the matter?" asked the Grasshopper. "Perhaps
we can help you."
"Dear Grasshopper," said the Lark, "I have just heard the
farmer and his son talking on the other side of the hedge, and the
farmer said that to-morrow morning he should begin to cut this
"That is a great pity," said the Grasshopper. "What a
sad thing it was that you laid your eggs on the ground!"
"Larks always do," said the poor little brown bird; and I did
not know how to make a fine nest such as those in the hedges.
Oh, my pretty eggs! my heart aches for them! I shall never
hear my little nestlings chirp!"
So the poor Lark moaned and lamented, and neither the
Grasshopper nor the Fairy could do anything to help her. At
last her mate dropped down from the white cloud where he had been
singing, and when he saw her drooping, and the Grasshopper and the
Fairy sitting silently before her, he inquired in a great fright
what the matter was.
So they told him, and at first he was very much shocked; but
presently he lifted first one and then the other of his feet, and
examined his long spurs.
"He does not sympathize much with his poor mate," whispered
the Fairy; but the Grasshopper took no notice of the speech.
Still the Lark looked at his spurs, and seemed to be very
deep in thought.
"If I had only laid my eggs on the other side of the hedge,"
sighed the poor mother, "among the corn, there would have been
plenty of time to rear my birds before harvest time."
"My dear," answered her mate, "don't be unhappy." And
so saying, he hopped up to the eggs, and laying one foot upon the
prettiest, he clasped it with his long spurs. Strange to say,
it exactly fitted them.
"Oh, my clever mate!" cried the poor little mother, reviving;
"do you think you can carry them away for me?"
"To be sure I can," replied the Lark, beginning slowly and
carefully to hop on with the egg in his right foot; "nothing more
easy. I have often thought it was likely that our eggs would
be disturbed in this meadow; but it never occurred to me till this
moment that I could provide against this misfortune. I have
often wondered what my spurs could be for, and now I see." So
saying, he hopped gently on till he came to the hedge, and then got
through it, still holding the egg, till he found a nice little
hollow place in among the corn, and there he laid it and came back
for the others.
"'To be sure I can,' replied the Lark."
"Hurrah!" cried the Grasshopper, "Larkspurs forever!"
The Fairy said nothing, but she felt heartily ashamed of
herself. She sat looking on till the happy Lark had carried
the last of his eggs to a safe place, and had called his mate to
come and sit on them. Then, when he sprang up into the sky
again, exulting and rejoicing and singing to his mate that now he
was quite happy, because he knew what his long spurs were for, she
stole gently away, saying to herself, "Well, I could not have
believed such a thing. I thought he must be a quarrelsome bird
as his spurs were so long; but it appears that I was wrong, after
THE PRINCE'S DREAM
IF we may credit
the fable, there is a tower in the midst of a great Asiatic plain,
wherein is confined a prince who was placed there in his earliest
infancy, with many slaves and attendants, and all the luxuries that
are compatible with imprisonment.
Whether he was brought there from some motive of state,
whether to conceal him from enemies, or to deprive him of rights,
has not transpired; but it is certain that up to the date of this
little history he had never set his foot outside the walls of that
high tower, and that of the vast world without he knew only the
green plains which surrounded it; the flocks and the birds of that
region were all his experience of living creatures, and all the men
he saw outside were shepherds.
And yet he was not utterly deprived of change, for sometimes
one of his attendants would be ordered away, and his place would be
supplied by a new one. The prince would never weary of
questioning this fresh companion, and of letting him talk of cities,
of ships, of forests, of merchandise, of kings; but though in turns
they all tried to satisfy his curiosity, they could not succeed in
conveying very distinct notions to his mind; partly because there
was nothing in the tower to which they could compare the external
world, partly because, having chiefly lived lives of seclusion and
indolence in Eastern palaces, they knew it only by hearsay
At length, one day, a venerable man of a noble presence was
brought to the tower, with soldiers to guard him and slaves to
attend him. The prince was glad of his presence, though at
first he seldom opened his lips, and it was manifest that
confinement made him miserable. With restless feet he would
wander from window to window of the stone tower, and mount from
story to story; but mount as high as he would there was still
nothing to be seen but the vast, unvarying plain, clothed with
scanty grass, and flooded with the glaring sunshine; flocks and
herds and shepherds moved across it sometimes, but nothing else, not
even a shadow, for there was no cloud in the sky to cast one.
The old man, however, always treated the prince with respect, and
answered his questions with a great deal of patience, till at length
he found a pleasure in satisfying his curiosity, which so much
pleased the poor young prisoner, that, as a great condescension, be
invited him to come out on the roof of the tower and drink sherbet
with him in the cool of the evening, and tell him of the country
beyond the desert, and what seas are like, and mountains, and towns.
"I have learnt much from my attendants, and know this world
pretty well by hearsay," said the prince, as they reclined on the
rich carpet which was spread on the roof.
The old man smiled, but did not answer; perhaps because he
did not care to undeceive his young companion, perhaps because so
many slaves were present, some of whom were serving them with fruit,
and others burning rich odours on a little chafing-dish that stood
"But there are some words to which I never could attach any
particular meaning," proceeded the prince, as the slaves began to
retire, "and three in particular that my attendants cannot satisfy
me upon, or are reluctant to do so."
"What words are those, my prince?" asked the old man.
The prince turned on his elbow to be sure that the last slave had
descended the tower stairs, then replied:
"O man of much knowledge, the words are these Labour, and
Liberty, and Gold."
"Prince," said the old man, "I do not wonder that it has been
hard to make thee understand the first, the nature of it, and the
cause why most men are born to it; as for the second, it would be
treason for thee and me to do more than whisper it here, and sigh
for it when none are listening; but the third need hardly puzzle
thee; thy hookah 
is bright with it; all thy jewels are set in it; gold is inlaid in
the ivory of thy bath; thy cup and thy dish are of gold, and golden
threads are wrought into thy raiment."
"That is true," replied the prince, "and if I had not seen
and handled this gold, perhaps I might not find its merits so hard
to understand; but I possess it in abundance, and it does not feed
me, nor make music for me, nor fan me when the sun is hot, nor cause
me to sleep when I am weary; therefore when my slaves have told me
how merchants go out and brave the perilous wind and sea, and live
in the unstable ships, and run risks from shipwreck and pirates, and
when, having asked them why they have done this, they have answered,
'For gold,' I have found it hard to believe them; and when they have
told me how men have lied, and robbed, and deceived; how they have
murdered one another, and leagued together to depose kings, to
oppress provinces, and all for gold then I have said to myself,
either my slaves have combined to make me believe that which is not,
or this gold must be very different from the yellow stuff that this
coin is made of, this coin which is of no use but to have a hole
pierced through it and hang to my girdle, that it may tinkle when I
"Notwithstanding this," said the old man, "nothing can be
done without gold; for it is better than bread, and fruit, and
music, for it can buy them all, since all men love it, and have
agreed to exchange it for whatever they may need."
"How so?" asked the prince.
"If a man has many loaves he cannot eat them all," answered
the old man; "therefore he goes to his neighbour and says, 'I have
bread and thou hast a coin of gold let us exchange;' so he
receives the gold and goes to another man, saying, 'Thou hast two
houses and I have none; lend me one of thy houses to live in, and I
will give thee my gold;' thus again they exchange."
"It is well," said the prince; "but in time of drought, if
there is no bread in a city, can they make it of gold?"
"Not so," answered the old man, "but they must send their
gold to a city where there is food, and bring that back instead of
"But if there was a famine all over the world," asked the
prince, "what would they do then?"
"Why, then, and only then," said the old man, they must
starve, and the gold would be nought, for it can only be changed for
that which is; it cannot make that which is not."
"And where do they get gold?" asked the prince. "Is it
the precious fruit of some rare tree, or have they whereby they can
draw it down from the sky at sunset? "
"Some of it," said the old man, "they dig out of the ground."
Then he told the prince of ancient rivers running through
terrible deserts, whose sands glitter with golden grains and are
yellow in the fierce heat of the sun, and of dreary mines where the
Indian slaves work in gangs tied together, never seeing the light of
day; and lastly (for he was a man of much knowledge, and had
travelled far), he told him of the valley of the, Sacramento in the
New World, and of those mountains where the people of Europe send
their criminals, and where now their free men pour forth to gather
gold, and dig for it as hard as if for life; sitting up by it at
night lest any should take it from them, giving up houses and
country, and wife and children, for the sake of a few feet of mud,
whence they dig clay that glitters as they wash it; and how they
sift it and rock it as patiently as if it were their own children in
the cradle, and afterward carry it in their bosoms, and forego on
account of it safety and rest.
"But, prince," he went on, seeing that the young man was
absorbed in his narrative, "if you would pass your word to me never
to betray me, I would procure for you a sight of the external world,
and in a trance you should see those places where gold is dug, and
traverse those regions forbidden to your mortal footsteps."
Upon this, the prince threw himself at the old man's feet,
and promised heartily to observe the secrecy required, and entreated
that, for however short a time, he might be suffered to see this
Then, if we may credit the story, the old man drew nearer to
the chafing-dish which stood between them, and having fanned the
dying embers in it, cast upon them a certain powder and some herbs,
from whence as they burnt a peculiar smoke arose. As their
vapours spread, he desired the prince to draw near and inhale them,
and then (says the fable) assured him that when he should sleep he
would find himself, in his dream, at whatever place he might desire,
with this strange advantage, that he should see things in their
truth and reality as well as in their outward shows.
So the prince, not without some fear, prepared to obey; but
first he drank his sherbet, and handed over the golden cup to the
old man by way of recompense; then he reclined beside the
chafing-dish and inhaled the heavy perfume till he became
overpowered with sleep, and sank down upon the carpet in a dream.
"Then he reclined beside the chafing-dish and inhaled
the heavy perfume."
The prince knew not where he was, but a green country was
floating before him, and he found himself standing in a marshy
valley where a few wretchθd
cottages were scattered here and there with no means of
communication. There was a river, but it had overflowed its
banks and made the central land impassable, the fences had been
broken down by it, and the fields of corn laid low; a few wretchθd
peasants were wandering about there; they looked half-clad and
half-starved. "A miserable valley, indeed!" exclaimed the
prince; but as he said it a man came down from the hills with a
great bag of gold in his hand.
"This valley is mine," said he to the people; "I have bought
it for gold. Now make banks that the river may not overflow,
and I will give you gold; also make fences and plant fields, and
cover in the roofs of your houses, and buy yourselves richer
clothing." So the people did so, and as the gold got lower in
the bag the valley grew fairer and greener, till the prince
exclaimed, "O gold, I see your value now! O wonderful,
But presently the valley melted away like a mist, and the
prince saw an army besieging a city; he heard a general haranguing
his soldiers to urge them on, and the soldiers shouting and
battering the walls; but shortly, when the city was well-nigh taken,
he saw some men secretly giving gold among the soldiers, so much of
it that they threw down their arms to pick it up, and said that the
walls were so strong that they could not throw them down. "O
powerful gold!" thought the prince thou art stronger than the city
After that it seemed to him that he was walking about in a
desert country, and in his dream he thought, "Now I know what labour
is, for I have seen it, and its benefits; and I know what liberty
is, for I have tasted it; I can wander where I will, and no man
questions me; but gold is more strange to me than ever, for I have
seen it buy both liberty and labour." Shortly after this he
saw a great crowd digging upon a barren hill, and when he drew near
be understood that he was to see the place whence the gold came.
He came up and stood a long time watching the people as they
toiled ready to faint in the sun, so great was the labour of digging
up the gold.
He saw some who had much and could not trust any one to help
them to carry it, binding it in bundles over their shoulders, and
bending and groaning under its weight; he saw others hide it in the
ground, and watch the place clothed in rags, that none might suspect
that they were rich; but some, on the contrary, who had dug up an
unusual quantity, he saw dancing and singing, and vaunting their
success, till robbers waylaid them when they slept, and rifled their
bundles and carried their golden sand away.
"All these men are mad," thought the prince, "and this
pernicious gold has made them so."
After this, as he wandered here and there, he saw groups of
people smelting the gold under the shadow of the trees, and he
observed that a dancing, quivering vapour rose up from it which
dazzled their eyes, and distorted everything that they looked at;
arraying it also in different colours from the true one. He
observed that this vapour from the gold caused all things to rock
and reel before the eyes of those who looked through it, and also,
by some strange affinity, it drew their hearts toward those who
carried much gold on their persons, so that they called them good
and beautiful; it also caused them to see darkness and dullness in
the faces of those who had carried none. "This," thought the
prince, "is very strange;" but not being able to explain it, he went
still farther, and there he saw more people. Each of these had
adorned himself with a broad golden girdle, and was sitting in the
shade, while other men waited on them.
"What ails these people?" he inquired of one who was looking
on, for he observed a peculiar air of weariness and dullness in
their faces. He was answered that the girdles were very tight
and heavy, and being bound over the regions of the heart, were
supposed to impede its action, and prevent it from beating high, and
also to chill the wearer, as, being of opaque material, the warm
sunshine of the earth could not get through to warm them.
"Why, then, do they not break them asunder," exclaimed the
prince, "and fling them away?"
"Break them asunder!" cried the man; "why, what a madman you
must be; they are made of the purest gold!"
"Forgive my ignorance," replied the prince; "I am a
So he walked on, for feelings of delicacy prevented him from
gazing any longer at the men with the golden girdles; but as he went
he pondered on the misery he had seen, and thought to himself that
this golden sand did more mischief than all the poisons of the
apothecary; for it dazzled the eyes of some, it strained the hearts
of others, it bowed down the heads of many to the earth with its
weight; it was a sore labour to gather it, and when it was gathered
the robber might carry it away; it would be a good thing, he
thought, if there were none of it.
After this he came to a place where were sitting some agθd
widows and some orphan children of the gold-diggers, who were
helpless and destitute; they were weeping and bemoaning themselves,
but stopped at the approach of a man whose appearance attracted the
prince, for he had a very great bundle of gold on his back, and yet
it did not bow him down at all; his apparel was rich, but he had no
girdle on, and his face was anything but sad.
"Sir," said the prince to him, "you have a great burden; you
are fortunate to be able to stand under it."
"I could not do so," he replied, "only that as I go on I keep
lightening it;" and as he passed each of the widows, he threw gold
to her, and, stooping down, hid pieces of it in the bosoms of the
"'I could not do so,' he replied, 'only that as I go
on I keep lightening it.'"
"You have no girdle," said the prince.
"I once had one," answered the gold-gatherer; "but it was so
tight over my breast that my heart grew cold under it, and almost
ceased to beat. Having a great quantity of gold on my back, I
felt almost at the last gasp; so I threw off my girdle, and being on
the bank of a river, which I knew not how to cross, I was about to
fling it in, I was so vexed! 'But no,' thought I, 'there are
many people waiting here to cross besides myself. I will make
my girdle into a bridge, and we will cross over on it.'"
"Turn your girdle into a bridge!" said the prince,
doubtfully, for he did not quite understand.
The man explained himself.
"And, then, sir, after that," he continued, "I turned
one-half of my burden into bread, and gave it to these poor people.
Since then I have not been oppressed by its weight, however heavy it
may have been; for few men have a heavier one. In fact, I
gather more from day to day."
As the man kept speaking, he scattered his gold right and
left with a cheerful countenance, and the prince was about to reply,
when suddenly a great trembling under his feet made him fall to the
ground. The refining fires of the gold-gatherers sprang up
into flames, and then went out; night fell over everything on the
earth, and nothing was visible in the sky but the stars of the
"It is past midnight," thought the prince, "for the stars of
the cross begin to bend."
He raised himself upon his elbow, and tried to pierce the
darkness, but could not. At length a slender blue flame darted
out, as from ashes in a chafing-dish, and by the light of it he saw
the strange pattern of his carpet and the cushions lying about.
He did not recognize them at first, but presently he knew that he
was lying in his usual place, at the top of his tower.
"Wake up, prince," said the old man.
The prince sat up and sighed, and the old man inquired what
he had seen.
"O man of much learning!" answered the prince, "I have seen
that this is a wonderful world; I have seen the value of labour, and
I know the uses of it; I have tasted the sweetness of liberty, and
am grateful, though it was but in a dream; but as for that other
word that was so great a mystery to me, I only know this, that it
must remain a mystery forever, since I am fain to believe that all
men are bent on getting it; though, once gotten, it causeth them
endless disquietude, only second to their discomfort that are
without it. I am fain to believe that they can procure with it
whatever they most desire, and yet that it cankers their hearts and
dazzles their eyes; that it is their nature and their duty to gather
it; and yet that, when once gathered, the best thing they can do is
to scatter it!"
The next morning, when he awoke, the old man was gone.
He had taken with him the golden cup. And the sentinel was
also gone, none knew whither. Perhaps the old man had turned
his golden cup into a golden key.
1. Hookah: a kind of pipe for smoking tobacco, used
in Eastern Europe and Asia.
MY father and
mother were gone out for the day, and had left me charge of the
children. It was very hot, and they kept up a continual fidget. I
bore it patiently for some time, for children will be restless in
hot weather, but at length I requested that they would get something
"Why don't you work, or paint, or read, Hatty? I demanded of my
"I'm tired of always grounding those swans," said Harriet, "and my
crochet is so difficult; I seem to do it quite right, and yet it
"Then why don't you write your diary?
"Oh, because Charlie won't write his."
"A very bad reason; his not writing leaves you the more to say;
besides, I thought you promised mamma you would persevere if she
would give you a book."
"And so we did for a long time," said Charlie; "why, I wrote pages
and pages of mine. Look here!"
So saying, he produced a copy-book with a marbled cover, and showed
me that it was about half-full of writing in large text.
"If you wrote all that yourself, I should think you might write
"Oh, but I am so tired of it, and besides, this is such a very hot
"I know that, and to have you leaning on my knee makes me no cooler;
but I have something for you to do just now, which I think you will
"Oh, what is it, sister? May we both do it?"
"Yes, if you like. You may go into the field to gardener, and ask
him to get me a water-lily out of the stream; I want one to finish
my sketch with."
"You really do want one? you are not pretending, just to give us
something to do?
"No, I really want one; you see these in the glass begin to wither."
"Make haste then, Hatty. Sister, you shall have the very best lily
we can find."
Thereupon they ran off, leaving me to inspect the diary. Its first
page was garnished with the resemblance of a large swan with curly
wings; from his beak proceeded the owner's name in full, and
underneath were his lucubration. The first few pages ran as follows:
"Wednesday. To-day mamma said, as all the others were writing
diaries, I might do one too if I liked, so I said I should, and I
shall write it every day till I am grown up. I did a long division
sum, a very hard one. We dined early to-day, and we had a boiled leg
of mutton and an apple pudding, but I shall not say another time
what we had for dinner, because I shall have plenty of other things
"Friday. Gardener has been mending the palings; he gave me
five nails; they were very good ones, such as I like. He said if any
boy that he knew was to pull nails out of his wall trees when he'd
done them, he should certainly tell their papa of them. Aunt Fanny
came and took away Sophy to spend a fortnight. Uncle Tom came too;
he said I was a fine boy, and gave me a shilling."
"Saturday. My half-holiday. Hurrah! I went and bought two
hoop-sticks for me and Hatty; they cost four-pence each."
"Sunday. On Sunday I went to church."
"Monday. To-day I had a cold, and after school I was just
going to bowl my hoop when Orris said to mamma it rained, and ma
said she couldn't think of my going out in the rain, and so I
couldn't go. After that Orris called me to come into her room, and
gave me a four-penny piece and two pictures, so now I've got
eight-pence. Orris is very kind, but sometimes she thinks she ought
to command, because she is the eldest."
"Tuesday. I shall not write my diary every day, unless I
"Wednesday. I dined late with papa and mamma and the elder
ones: it rained. If the others won't tell me what to say, of course
I don't know."
"Friday. I went to the shop and bought some tin tax. I don't
like writing diaries particularly. It will be a good thing to leave
off till the holidays."
I had only got so far when the children ran in with a beautiful
water-lily. They had scarcely deposited it in my hand when they both
exclaimed in a breath:
"And what are we to do now?"
"You may bring me a glass of water to put it in."
This was soon done, and then the question was repeated. I saw there
was but one chance of quiet, so I resolved to make a virtue of
necessity, and say that if they would each immediately begin some
ordinary occupation, I would tell them a story. What child was ever
proof against a story?
"But we are to choose what it shall be about?" said one of them.
"Oh, never mind why. Shall we tell her, Harriet? Well, it's because
you tell cheating stories: you say, 'I'll tell you a story about a
girl, or a cottage, or a thimble, or anything you like,' and it
really is something about us."
"You may choose, then."
"Then it shall be about the lily we got for you."
"Give me ten minutes to think about it, and collect your needles and
Upon this they brought together a heap of articles which they were
not at all likely to want, and after altering the position of their
stools and discussing what they would do, and changing their minds
many times, declared at length that they were quite ready.
"Now begin, please. There was once "So I accordingly began. "There was once a boy who was very fond of pictures. There were not
many pictures for him to look at, for his mother, who was a widow,
lived on the borders of one of the great American forests. She had
come out from England with her husband, and now that he was dead,
the few pictures hanging on her walls were almost the only luxuries
"Lived on the borders of one
of the great American forests."
would often spend his holidays in trying to copy them, but as he had
very little application, he often threw his half-finished drawings
away, and once he was heard to say that he wished some kind-hearted
fairy would take it in hand and finish it for him.
"'Child,' said the mother, 'for my part I don't believe there are
any such things as fairies. I never saw one, and your father never
did; but by all accounts, if fairies there be, they are a jealous
and revengeful race. Mind your books, my child, and never mind the
"'Very well, mother,' said the boy.
"'It makes me sad to see you stand gazing at the pictures,' said his
mother, coming up to him and laying her hand on his curly head; 'why, child, pictures can't feed a body, pictures can't clothe a
body, and a log of wood is far better to burn and warm a body.'
"'All that is quite true, mother,' said the boy.
"'Then why do you keep looking at them, child?'
"The boy hesitated, and then answered, 'I don't know, mother.'
"'You don't know! nor I neither. Why, child, you look at the dumb
things as if you loved them. Put on your cap and run out to play.'
"So the boy went out, and wandered toward the forest till he came to
the brink of a sheet of water. It was too small to be called a lake,
but it was deep, clear, and overhung with crowds of trees. It was
evening, and the sun was getting low. There was a narrow strip of
land stretching out into the water. Pine-trees grew upon it; and
here and there a plane-tree or a sumach dipped its large leaves
over, and seemed intent on watching its own clear reflection.
"The boy stood still, and thought how delightful it was to see the
sun red and glorious between the black trunks of the pine-trees. Then he looked up into the abyss of clear sky overhead, and thought
how beautiful it was to see the little frail clouds folded over one
another like a belt of rose-coloured waves. Then he drew still nearer
to the water, and saw how they were all reflected down there among
the leaves and flowers of the lilies; and he wished he were a
painter, for he said to himself, 'I am sure there are no trees in
the world with such beautiful leaves as these pines; I am sure there
are no other clouds in the world so lovely as these; I know this is
the sweetest piece of water in the world, and, if I could paint it,
every one else would know it too.' He stood still for awhile,
watching the water-lilies as they closed their leaves for the night,
and listening to the slight sound they made when they dipped their
heads under water. 'The sun has been playing tricks with these
lilies as well as with the clouds,' he said to himself, 'for when I
passed by in the morning they swayed about like floating snowballs,
and now there is not a bud of them that has not got a rosy side. I
must gather one, and see if I cannot make a drawing of it.' So he
gathered a lily, sat down with it in his hand, and tried very hard
to make a correct sketch of it in a blank leaf of his copy-book. He
was far more patient than usual, but he succeeded so little to his
own satisfaction, that at length he threw down the book, and,
looking into the cup of his lily, said to it, in a sorrowful voice,
'Ah, what use is it my trying to copy anything so beautiful as you
are? How much I wish I were a painter!'
"As he said these words he felt a slight quivering in the flower;
and, while he looked, the cluster of stamens at the bottom of the
cup floated upward, and glittered like a crown of gold; the dewdrops
which hung upon them changed into diamonds before his eyes; the
white petals flowed together; the tall pistil was a golden wand; and
the next moment a beautiful little creature stood upon his hand,
clad in a robe of the purest white, and scarcely taller than the
flower from which she sprung.
"The next moment
a beautiful little creature stood upon his hand."
"Struck with astonishment, the boy kept silence. She lifted up her
face, and opened her lips more than once. He expected her to say
some wonderful thing; but, when at length she did speak, she only
said, 'Child, are you happy?'
"'No,' said the boy, in a low voice, 'because I want to paint, and
"'How do you know that you cannot?' asked the fairy.
"'Oh, fairy,' replied the boy, 'because I have tried a great many
times. It is of no use trying any longer.'
"'What if I were to help you?' said the fairy.
"'There would then indeed be some pleasure in the work and some
chance of success,' said the boy.
"'I was just closing my leaves for the night,' answered the fairy,
'when you drew me out of the water; and I should have made you feel
the effects of my resentment if it had not happened that you are the
favourite of our race. Under the water, at the bottom of this lake,
are our palaces and castles; and when, after visiting the upper
world, we wish to return to them, we close one of these lilies over
us, and sink in it to our home. The wish that I heard you utter just
now induced me to appear to you. I know a powerful charm which will
ensure your success and the accomplishment of your highest wishes;
but it is one which requires a great deal of care and patience in
the working, and I cannot put you in possession of it unless you
will promise the most implicit obedience to my directions.'
"'Spirit of a water-lily!' said the boy, 'I promise with all my
"'Go home, then,' continued the fairy, 'and you will find lying on
the threshold a little key: take it up.'
"'I will,' answered the boy; 'and what then shall I do?'
"'Carry it to the nearest pine-tree,' said the fairy, 'strike the
trunk with it, and a keyhole will appear. Do not be afraid to unlock
that magic door. Slip in your hand, and you will bring out a
wonderful palette. I have not time now to tell you half its virtues,
but they will soon unfold themselves. You must be very careful to
paint with colours from that palette every day. On this depends the
success of the charm. You will find that it will soon give grace to
your figures and beauty to your colouring; and I promise you that,
if you do not break the spell, you shall not only in a few years be
able to produce as beautiful a copy of these flowers as can be
wished, but your name shall become known to fame, and your genius
shall be honoured, and your pictures admired on both sides the
"'Can it be possible?' said the boy; and the hand trembled on which
stood the fairy.
"'It shall be so, if only you do not break the charm,' said the
fairy; 'but lest, like the rest of your ungrateful race, you should
forget what you owe to me, and even when you grow older begin to
doubt whether you have ever seen me, the lily you gathered will
never fade till my promise is accomplished.'
"So saying, she gathered around her the folds of her robe, crossed
her arms, and dropping her head on her breast, trembled slightly;
and, before the boy could remark the change, he had nothing in his
hand but a flower.
"He looked up. All the beautiful rosy flowers were faded to a shady
gray. The gold had disappeared from the water, and the forest was
dense and gloomy. He arose with the lily in his hand, went slowly
home, laid it in a casket to protect it from injury, and then
proceeded to search for the palette, which he shortly found; and,
lest he should break the spell, he began to use it that very night.
"Who would not like to have a fairy friend? Who would not like to
work with a magic palette? Every day its virtues become more
apparent. He worked very hard, and it was astonishing how soon he
improved. His deep, heavy outlines soon became light and clear; and
his colouring began to assume a transparent delicacy. He was so
delighted with the fairy present that he even did more than was
required of him. He spent nearly all his leisure time in using it,
and often passed whole days beside the sheet of water in the forest. He painted it when the sun shone, and it was spotted all over with
the reflection of fleeting white clouds; he painted it covered with
water-lilies rocking on the ripples; by moonlight, when two or three
stars in the empty sky shone down upon it; and at sunset, when it
lay trembling like liquid gold.
"But the fairy never came to look at his work. He often called to
her when he had been more than usually successful; but she never
made him any answer, nor took the least notice of his entreaties
that he might see her again.
"So a long time several years passed away. He was grown up to be
a man, and he had never broken the charm; he still worked every day
with his magic palette.
"No one in these parts cared at all for his pictures. His mother's
friends told him he would never get his bread by painting; his
mother herself was sorry that he chose to waste his leisure so; and
the more because the pictures on her walls were brighter far than
his, and had clouds and trees of far clearer colour, not like the
common clouds and misty hills that he was so fond of painting, and
his faintly coloured distant forest, with uncertain and variable
hues, such as she could see any day when she looked out at her
"It made the young man unhappy to hear all this fault found with his
proceedings, but it never made him leave off using the fairy's
palette, though about this time he himself began to doubt whether he
should ever be a painter. One evening he sat at his easel, trying in
vain to give the expression he wished to an angel's face, which
seemed to get less and less like the face in his heart with every
touch he gave it. On a sudden he threw down his brush, and with a
feeling of bitter disappointment upbraided himself for what he now
thought his folly in listening to the fairy, and accepting her
delusive gift. What had he got by it hitherto? Nothing but his
mother's regrets and the ridicule of his companions. He threw
himself on his bed. It grew dark; he could no longer be vexed with
the sight of his unfinished angel; and angel he fell asleep and
forgot his sorrow.
"In the middle of the night he suddenly awoke. His chamber was full
of moonlight. The lid of the casket where he kept the lily had
sprung open, and his fairy friend stood near it.
"'American painter,' she said, in a reproachful voice, 'since you
think I have been rather a foe than a friend to you, I am ready to
take back my gift.'
"But sleep had now cooled the young painter's mind, and softened his
feelings of vexation, so that he did not find himself at all willing
to part with the palette. While he hesitated how to excuse himself,
she further said, 'But if you still wish to try what it can do for
you, take this ring which my sister sends you; wear it, and it will
greatly assist the charm.'
"The youth held out his hand and took the ring. As he cast his eyes
upon it, the fairy vanished. He turned it to the moonlight, and saw
that it was set with a stone of a transparent blue colour. It had
the property of reflecting everything bright that came near it; and
there was a word engravers upon it. He thought he could not be
sure but he thought the word was 'Hope.'
"After this, and during a long time, I can tell you no more about
him: whether he finished the angel's face, and whether it pleased
him at last, I do not know. I only know that, in process of time,
his mother died that he came to Europe and that he was quite
unknown and very poor.
"The next thing recorded of him is this, that on a sudden he became
famous. The world began to admire his works, and to seek his
company. He was considered a great man, and wealth and honours
flowed in upon him. It happened to him that one day in travelling he
came to a great city, where there was a large collection of
pictures. He went to see them, and among them he saw many of his own
pictures; some of them he had painted before he had left his forest
home; others were of more recent date. All the people and all the
painters praised them. But there was one that they liked better than
the others; and when he heard them call it his masterpiece, he went
and sat down opposite to it, that he might think over again some of
the thoughts that he had had when he painted it.
"It was a picture of a little child, holding in its hands several
beautiful water-lilies; and the crowd that gathered round it praised
the lightness of the drapery, the beauty of the infant form, the
soft light shed down upon it, and, above all, the innocent
expression of the baby features.
"He was pleased, but not elated. He called to mind the words of his
fairy benefactress, and acknowledged to himself that at length they
were certainly fulfilled.
"And then it drew toward evening, and the people one by one
disappeared, till he was left alone with his masterpiece. The
excitement of the day had made him anxious for repose. He was
thinking of leaving the place, when suddenly he fell asleep, and
dreamed that he was standing behind the sheet of water in his native
country, and lingering, as of old, to watch the rays of the setting
sun as they melted away from its surface. He thought, too, that his
beautiful lily was in his hand, and that while he looked at it the
leaves withered and fell at his feet. Then followed a confused
recollection of his conversation with the fairy; and after that his
thoughts became clearer, and, though still asleep, he remembered
where he was, and in what place he was sitting. His impressions
became more vivid. He dreamed that something lightly touched his
hand. He looked up, and his fairy benefactress was at his side,
standing on the arm of his chair.
"'O wonderful enchantress!' said the dreaming painter, 'do not
vanish before I have had time to thank you for your magic gift. I
have nothing to offer you but my gratitude in return; for the
diamonds of this world are too heavy for such an ethereal being, and
the gold of this world is useless to you who have no wants that it
can supply. The fame I have acquired I cannot impart to you, for few
of my race believe in the existence of yours. What, then, can I do? I can only thank you for your goodness. But tell me at least your
name, if you have a name, that I may cut it on a ring, and wear it
always on my finger.'
"'My name,' replied the fairy, 'is Perseverance.'"
"Well!" said the children, looking at each other, "she has cheated
us after all!"
A LOST WAND
MORE than a
hundred years ago, at the foot of a wild mountain in Norway, stood
an old castle, which even at the time I write of was so much out of
repair as in some parts to be scarcely habitable.
In a hall of this castle a party of children met once on
Twelfth-night to play at Christmas games and dance with little
Hulda, the only child of the lord and lady.
The winters in Norway are very cold, and the snow and ice lie
for months on the ground; but the night on which these merry
children met it froze with more than ordinary severity, and a keen
wind shook the trees without, and roared in the wide chimneys like
Little Hullo's mother, as the evening wore on, kept calling
on the servants to heap on fresh logs of wood, and these, when the
long flames crept around them, sent up showers of sparks that lit up
the brown walls, ornamented with the horns of deer and goats, and
made it look as cheerful and gay as the faces of the children.
Hullo's grandmother had sent her a great cake, and when the children
had played enough at all the games they could think of, the old
gray-headed servants brought it in and set it on the table, together
with a great many other nice things such as people eat in Norway
pasties made of reindeer meat, and castles of the sweet pastry
sparkling with sugar ornaments of ships and flowers and crowns, and
cranberry pies, and whipped cream as white as the snow outside; but
nothing was admired so much as the great cake, and when the children
saw it they set up a shout which woke the two hounds who were
sleeping on the hearths, and they began to bark, which roused all
the four dogs in the kennels outside who had not been invited to see
either the cake or the games, and they barked, too, shaking and
shivering with cold, and then a great lump of snow slid down from
the roof, and fell with a dull sound like distant thunder on the
pavement of the yard.
"Hurrah! " cried the children, "the dogs and the snow are
helping us to shout in honour of the cake."
All this time more and more nice things were coming in
fritters, roasted grouse, frosted apples, and buttered crabs.
As the old servants came shivering along the passages, they said,
"It is a good thing that children are not late with their suppers;
if the confects had been kept long in the larder they would have
frozen on the dishes."
Nobody wished to wait at all; so, as soon as the supper was
ready, they all sat down, more wood was heaped on to the fire, and
when the moon shone in at the deep casements, and glittered on the
dropping snowflakes outside, it only served to make the children
more merry over their supper to think how bright and warm everything
This cake was a real treasure, such as in the days of the
fairies, who still lived in certain parts of Norway, was known to be
of the kind they loved. A piece of it was always cut and laid
outside in the snow, in case they should wish to taste it.
Hulda's grandmother had also dropped a ring into this cake before it
was put into the oven, and it is well known that whoever gets such a
ring in his or her slice of cake has only to wish for something
directly, and the fairies are bound to give it, if they possibly
can. There have been cases known when the fairies could not
give it, and then, of course, they were not to blame.
On this occasion the children said: "Let us all be ready with
our wishes, because sometimes people have been known to lose them
from being so long making up their minds when the ring has come to
"Yes," cried the eldest boy. "It does not seem fair
that only one should wish. I am the eldest. I begin.
I shall wish that Twelfth-night would come twice a year."
"They cannot give you that, I am sure," said Friedrich, his
brother, who sat by him.
"Then," said the boy, "I wish father may take me with him the
next time he goes out bear-shooting."
"I wish for a white kitten with blue eyes," said a little
girl whose name was Therese.
"I shall wish to find an amber necklace that does not belong
to any one," said another little girl.
"I wish to be a king," said a boy whose name was Karl.
"No, I think I shall wish to be the burgomaster, that I may go on
board the ships in the harbour, and make their captains show me what
is in them. I shall see how the sailors make their sails go
"I shall wish to marry Hulda," said another boy; "when I am a
man I mean. And besides that, I wish I may find a black puppy
in my room at home, for I love dogs."
"But that is not fair," said the other children. "You
must only wish for one thing, as we did."
"But I really wish for both," said the boy.
"If you wish for both perhaps you will get neither," said
"Well, then," answered the boy, "I wish for the puppy."
And so they all went on wishing till at last it came wishing
to Hullo's turn.
"What do you wish for, my child?" said her mother.
"Not for anything at all," she answered, shaking her head.
"Oh, but you must wish for something!" cried all the
"Yes," said her mother, "and I am now going to cut the cake.
See, Hulda, the knife is going into it. Think of something."
"Well, then," answered the little girl, "I cannot think of
anything else, so I shall wish that you may all have your wishes."
Upon this the knife went crunching down into the cake, the
children gave three cheers, and the white waxen tulip bud at the top
came tumbling on the table, and while they were all looking it
opened its leaves, and out of the middle of it stepped a beautiful
little fairy woman, no taller than your finger. She had a
white robe on, a little crown on her long yellow hair; there were
two wings on her shoulders, just like the downy brown wings of a
butterfly, and in her hand she had a little sceptre sparkling with
"Only one wish," she said, jumping down on to the table, and
speaking with the smallest little voice you ever heard. "Your
fathers and mothers were always contented if we gave them one wish
As she spoke, Hulda's mother gave a slice of cake to each
child, and, when Hulda took hers, out dropped the ring, and fell
clattering on her platter.
"Only one wish," repeated the fairy. And the children
were all so much astonished (for even in those days fairies were but
rarely seen) that none of them spoke a word, not even in a whisper.
"Only one wish. Speak, then, little Hulda, for I am one of
that race which delights to give pleasure and to do good. Is
there really nothing that you wish, for you shall certainly have it
if there is?"
"There was nothing, dear fairy, before I saw you," answered
the little girl, in a hesitating tone.
"But now there is?" asked the fairy. "Tell it me, then,
and you shall have it."
"I wish for that pretty little sceptre of yours," said Hulda,
pointing to the fairy's wand.
The moment Hulda said this the fairy shuddered and became
pale, her brilliant colours faded, and she looked to the children's
eyes like a thin white mist standing still in her place. The
sceptre, on the contrary, became brighter than ever, and the
precious stones glowed like burning coals.
"Dear child," she sighed, in a faint, mournful voice, "I had
better have left you with the gift of your satisfied, contented
heart, than thus have urged you to form a wish to my destruction.
Alas! alas! my power and my happiness fade from me, and are as if
they had never been. My wand must now go to you, who can make
no use of it, and I must flutter about forlornly and alone in the
cold world, with no more ability to do good, and waste away my time
a helpless and defenceless thing."
"Oh, no, no!" replied little Hulda. "Do not speak so
mournfully, dear fairy. I did not wish at first to ask for it.
I will not take the wand if it is of value to you, and I should be
grieved to have it against your will."
"Child," said the fairy, "you do not know our nature. I
have said whatever you wished should be yours. I cannot alter
this decree; it must be so. Take my wand; and I entreat you to
guard it carefully, and never to give it away lest it should get
into the hands of my enemy; for if once it should, I shall become
his miserable little slave. Keep my wand with care; it is of
no use to you, but in the course of years it is possible I may be
able to regain it, and on Midsummer night I shall for a few hours
return to my present shape, and be able for a short time to talk
with you again."
"Dear fairy," said little Hulda, weeping, and putting out her
hand for the wand, which the fairy held to her, "is there nothing
else that I can do for you?"
"Nothing, nothing," said the fairy, who had now become so
transparent and dim that they could scarcely see her; only the wings
on her shoulders remained, and their bright colours had changed to a
dusky brown. "I have long contended with my bitter enemy, the
chief of the tribe of the gnomes the ill-natured, spiteful gnomes.
Their desire is as much to do harm to mortals as it is mine to do
them good. If now he should find me I shall be at his mercy.
It was decreed long ages ago that I should one day lose my wand, and
it depends in some degree upon you, little Hulda, whether I shall
ever receive it again. Farewell."
And now nothing was visible but the wings; the fairy had
changed into a moth, with large brown wings freckled with dark eyes,
and it stood trembling upon the table, till at length, when the
children had watched it some time, it fluttered toward the window
and beat against the panes, as if it wished to be released, so they
opened the casement and let it out in the wind and cold.
Poor little thing! They were very sorry for it; but
after a while they nearly forgot it, for they were but children.
Little Hulda only remembered it, and she carefully enclosed the
beautiful sceptre in a small box. But Midsummer day passed by,
and several other Midsummer days, and still Hulda saw nothing and
heard nothing of the fairy. She then began to fear that she
must be dead, and it was a long time since she had looked at the
wand, when one day in the middle of the Norway summer, as she was
playing on one of the deep bay windows of the castle, she saw a
pedlar with a pack on his back coming slowly up the avenue of
pine-trees, and singing a merry song.
"Can I speak to the lady of this castle?" he said to Hulda,
making at the same time a very low bow.
Hulda did not much like him, he had such restless black eyes
and such a cunning smile. His face showed that he was a
foreigner; it was as brown as a nut. His dress also was very
strange; he wore a red turban, and had large earrings in his ears,
and silver chains wound round and round his ankles.
Hulda replied that her mother was gone to the fair at
Christiana, and would not be back for several days.
"Can I then speak with the lord of the castle?" asked the
"My father is gone out to fish in the fiord," replied little
Hulda; "he will not return for some time, and the maids and the men
are all gone to make hay in the fields; there is no one left at home
but me and my old nurse." The pedlar was very much delighted
to hear this. However, he pretended to be disappointed.
"It is very unfortunate," he said, "that your honoured
parents are not at home, for I have got some things here of such
wonderful beauty that nothing could have given them so much pleasure
as to have feasted their eyes with the sight of them rings,
bracelets, lockets, pictures in short, there is nothing beautiful
that I have not got in my pack, and if your parents could have seen
them they would have given all the money they had in the world
rather than not have bought some of them."
"Good pedlar," said little Hulda, "could you not be so very
kind as just to let me have a sight of them?"
The pedlar at first pretended to be unwilling, but after he
had looked all across the wide heath and seen that there was no one
coming, and that the hounds by the doorway were fast asleep in the
sun, and the very pigeons on the roof had all got their heads under
their wings, he ventured to step across the threshold into the bay
window, and begin to open his pack and display all his fine things,
taking care to set them out in the sunshine, which made them glitter
Little Hulda had never seen anything half so splendid before.
There were little glasses set round with diamonds, and hung with
small tinkling bells which made delightful music whenever they were
shaken; ropes of pearls which had a more fragrant scent than
bean-fields or hyacinths; rings, the precious stones of which
changed colour as you frowned or smiled upon them; silver boxes that
could play tunes; pictures of beautiful ladies and gentlemen, set
with emeralds, with devices in coral at the back; little golden
snakes, with brilliant eyes that would move about; and so many other
rare and splendid jewels that Hulda was quite dazzled, and stood
looking at them with blushing cheeks and a beating heart, so much
she wished that she might have one of them.
"Well, young lady," said the cunning pedlar, "how do you find
these jewels? Did I boast too much of their beauty?"
"Oh, no!" said Hulda, "I did not think there had been
anything so beautiful in the world. I did not think even our
queen had such fine jewels as these. Thank you, pedlar, for
the sight of them."
"Will you buy something, then, of a poor man?" answered the
pedlar. "I've travelled a great distance, and not sold
anything this many a day."
"I should be very glad to buy," said little Hulda, "but I
have scarcely any money; not half the price of one of these jewels,
I am sure."
Now there was lying on the table an ancient signet-ring set
with a large opal.
"Maybe the young lady would not mind parting with this?" said
he, taking it up. "I could give her a new one for it of the
"Oh, no, thank you!" cried Hulda, hastily, "I must not do so.
This ring is my mother's, and was left her by my grandmother."
The pedlar looked disappointed. However, he put the
ring down, and said, "But if my young lady has no money, perhaps she
has some old trinkets or toys that she would not mind parting with
a coral and bells, or a silver mug, or a necklace, or, in short,
anything that she keeps put away, and that is of no use to her?"
"No," said the little girl, "I don't think I have got
anything of the kind. Oh, yes! to be sure, I have got
somewhere up-stairs a little gold wand, which I was told not to give
away; but I'm afraid she who gave it me must have been dead a long
while, and it is of no use keeping it any longer."
Now this pedlar was the fairy's enemy. He had long
suspected that the wand must be concealed somewhere in that region,
and near the sea, and he had disguised himself, and gone out
wandering among the farmhouses and huts and castles to try if he
could hear some tidings of it, and get it if possible into his
power. The moment he heard Hulda mention her gold wand, he
became excessively anxious to see it. He was a gnome, and when
his malicious eyes gleamed with delight they shot out a burning ray,
which scorched the hound who was lying asleep close at hand, and he
sprang up and barked at him.
"Peace, peace, Rhan!" cried little Hulda; "lie down, you
unmannerly hound!" The dog shrank back again growling, and the
pedlar said in a careless tone to Hulda:
"Well, lady, I have no objection just to look at the little
gold wand, and see if it is worth anything."
"But I am not sure that I could part with it," said Hulda.
"Very well," replied the pedlar, "as you please; but I may as
well look at it. I should hope these beautiful things need not
go begging." As he spoke he began carefully to lock up some of
the jewels in their little boxes, as if he meant to go away.
"Oh, don't go," cried Hulda. "I am going upstairs to
fetch my wand. I shall not be long; pray wait for me."
"'Oh, don't go,'
cried Hulda. 'I am going upstairs to fetch my wand.'"
Nothing was further from the pedlar's thought
than to go away, and while little Hulda was running up to look for
the wand he panted so hard for fear that after all he might not be
able to get it that he woke the other hound, who came up to him, and
smelt his leg.
"What sort of a creature is this?" said the old hound to his
companion, speaking, of course, in the dogs' language.
"I'm sure I can't say," answered the other. "I wonder
what he is made of, he smells of mushrooms! quite earthy, I
declare! as if he had lived underground all his life."
"Let us stand one on each side of him, and watch that he
doesn't steal anything."
So the two dogs stood staring at him; but the pedlar was too
cunning for them. He looked out of the window, and said, "I
think I see the master coming," upon which they both turned to look
across the heath, and the pedlar snatched up the opal ring, and hid
it in his vest. When they turned around he was folding up his
trinkets again as calmly as possible. "One cannot be too
careful to count one's goods," he said, gravely. "Honest
people often get cheated in houses like these, and honest as these
two dogs look, I know where one of them hid that leg-of-mutton bone
that he stole yesterday!" Upon hearing this the dogs sneaked
under the table ashamed of themselves. "I would not have it on
my conscience that I robbed my master for the best bone in the
world," continued the pedlar, and as he said this he took up a
little silver horn belonging to the lord of the castle, and, having
tapped it with his knuckle to see whether the metal was pure, folded
it up in cotton, and put it in his pack with the, rest of his
Presently Hulda came down with a little box in her hand, out
of which she took the fairy's wand.
The pedlar was so transported at the sight of it that he
could scarcely conceal his joy; but he knew that unless he could get
it by fair means it would be of no use to him.
"How dim it looks!" said little Hulda; "the stones used to be
so very bright when first I had it."
"Ah! that is a sign that the person who gave it you is dead,"
said the deceitful pedlar.
"I am sorry to hear she is dead," said Hulda, with a sigh.
"Well, then, pedlar, as that is the case, I will part with the wand
if you can give me one of your fine bracelets instead of it."
The pedlar's hand trembled with anxiety as he held it out for
the wand, but the moment he had got possession of it all his
"There," he said, "you have got a very handsome bracelet in
your hand. It is worth a great deal more than the wand.
You may keep it. I have no time to waste; I must be gone."
So saying, he hastily snatched up the rest of his jewels, thrust
them into his pack, and slung it over his shoulder, leaving Hulda
looking after him with the bracelet in her hand. She saw him
walk rapidly along the heath till he came to a gravel-pit, very
deep, and with overhanging sides. He swung himself over by the
branches of the trees.
"What can he be going to do there?" she said to herself.
"But I will run after him, for I don't like this bracelet half so
well as some of the others."
So Hulda ran till she came to the edge of the gravel-pit, but
was so much surprised that she could not say a word. There
were the great footmarks made by the pedlar down the steep sides of
the pit; and at the bottom she saw him sitting in the mud, digging a
hole with his hands.
"Hi!" he said, putting his head down. "Some of you come
up. I've got the wand at last. Come and help me down
with my pack."
"I'm coming," answered a voice, speaking under the ground;
and presently up came a head, all covered with earth, through the
hole the pedlar had made. It was shaggy with hair, and had two
little bright eyes, like those of a mole. Hulda thought she
had never seen such a curious little man. He was dressed in
brown clothes, and had a red-peaked cap on his head; and he and the
pedlar soon laid the pack at the bottom of the hole, and began to
stamp upon it, dancing and singing with great vehemence. As
they went on the pack sank lower and lower, till at last, as they
still stood upon it, Hulda could see only their heads and shoulders.
In a little time longer she could only see the top of the red cap;
and then the two little men disappeared altogether, and the ground
closed over them, and the white nettles and marsh marigolds waved
their heads over the place as if nothing had happened.
Hulda walked away sadly and slowly. She looked at the
beautiful bracelet, and wished she had not parted with the wand for
it, for she now began to fear that the pedlar had deceived her.
Nevertheless, who would not be delighted to have such a fine jewel?
It consisted of a gold hoop, set with turquoise, and on the clasp
was a beautiful bird, with open wings, all made of gold, and which
quivered as Hulda carried it. Hulda looked at its bright eyes
ruby eyes, which sparkled in the sunshine and at its crest, all
powdered with pearls, and she forgot her regret.
"My beautiful bird!" she said, "I will not hide you in a dark
box, as the pedlar did. I will wear you on my wrist, and let
you see all my toys, and you shall be carried every day into the
garden, that the flowers may see how elegant you are. But
stop! I think I see a little dust on your wings. I must
rub it off." So saying, Hulda took up her frock and began gently
rubbing the bird's wings, when, to her utter astonishment, it opened
its pretty beak and sang:
"My master, oh, my master,
The brown hard-hearted gnome,
He goes down faster, faster,
To his dreary home.
Little Hulda sold her
Golden wand for me,
Though the fairy told her
That must never be
Never she must never
Let the treasure go.
Ah! lost forever,
Woe! woe! woe!"
The bird sang in such a sorrowful voice, and fluttered its
golden wings so mournfully, that Hulda wept.
"Alas! alas!" she said, "I have done very wrong. I have
lost the wand forever! Oh, what shall I do, dear little bird?
Do tell me."
But the bird did not sing again, and it was now time to go to
bed. The old nurse came out to fetch Hulda. She had been
looking all over the castle for her, and been wondering where she
could have hidden herself.
In Norway, at midsummer, the nights are so short that the sun
only dips under the hills time enough to let one or two stars peep
out before he appears again. The people, therefore, go to bed
in the broad sunlight.
"Child," said the old nurse, "look how late you are it is
nearly midnight. Come, it is full time for bed. This is
"Midsummer day!" repeated Hulda. "Ah, how sorry I am!
Then this is a day when I might have seen the fairy. How very,
very foolish I have been!"
Hulda laid her beautiful bracelet upon a table in her room,
where she could see it, and kissed the little bird before she got
into bed. She had been asleep a long time when a little
sobbing voice suddenly awoke her, and she sat up to listen.
The house was perfectly still; her cat was curled up at the door,
fast asleep; her bird's head was under its wing; a long sunbeam was
slanting down through an opening in the green window-curtain, and
the motes danced merrily in it.
"What could that noise have been?" said little Hulda, lying
down again. She had no sooner laid her head on the pillow than
she heard it again; and, turning round quickly to look at the
bracelet, she saw the little bird fluttering its wings, and close to
it, with her hands covering her face, the beautiful, long lost
"Oh, fairy, fairy! what have I done!" said Hulda. You
will never see your wand again. The gnome has got it, and he
has carried it down under the ground, where he will hide it from us
The fairy could not look up, nor answer. She remained
weeping, with her hands before her face, till the little golden bird
began to chirp.
"Sing to us again, I pray you, beautiful bird!" said Hulda;
"for you are not friendly to the gnome. I am sure you are
sorry for the poor fairy."
"Child," said the fairy, "be cautious what you say that
gnome is my enemy; he disguised himself as a pedlar the better to
deceive you, and now he has got my wand he can discover where I am;
he will be constantly pursuing me, and I shall have no peace; if
once I fall into his hands, I shall be his slave forever. The
bird is not his friend, for the race of gnomes have no friends.
Speak to it again, and see if it will sing to you, for you are its
"Sing to me, sweet bird," said Hulda, in a caressing tone,
and the little bird quivered its wings and bowed its head several
times; then it opened its beak and sang:
"Where's the ring?
Oh the ring, my master stole the ring,
And he holds it while I sing,
In the middle of the world.
Where's the ring?
Where the long green Lizard curled
All its length, and made a spring
Fifty leagues along.
There he stands,
With his brown hands,
And sings to the Lizard a wonderful song.
And he gives the white stone to that Lizard fell,
For he fears it and loves it passing well."
"What!" said Hulda, "did the pedlar steal my mother's ring
that old opal ring which I told him I could not let him have?"
"Child," replied the fairy, "be not sorry for his treachery;
this theft I look to for my last hope for recovering the wand."
"How so?" asked Hulda.
"It is a common thing among mortals," replied the fairy, "to
say the thing which is not true, and do the thing which is not
honest; but among the other races of beings who inhabit this world
the penalty of mocking and imitating the vices of you, the superior
race, is, that if ever one of us can be convicted of it, that one,
be it gnome, sprite, or fairy, is never permitted to appear in the
likeness of humanity again, nor to walk about on the face of the
land which is your inheritance. Now the gnomes hate one
another, and if it should be discovered by the brethren of this my
enemy that he stole the opal ring, they will not fail to betray him.
There is, therefore, no doubt, little Hulda, that he carries both
the ring and the wand about with him wherever he goes, and if in all
your walks and during your whole life you should see him again, and
go boldly up to him and demand the stolen stone, he will be
compelled instantly to burrow his way down again into the earth, and
leave behind him all his ill-gotten gains."
"There is, then, still some hope," said Hulda, in a happier
voice; "but where, dear fairy, have you hidden yourself so long?"
"I have passed a dreary time," replied the fairy. "I
have been compelled to leave Europe and fly across to Africa, for my
enemy inhabits that great hollow dome which is the centre of the
earth, and he can only come up in Europe; but my poor little brown
wings were often so weary in my flight across the sea that I wished,
like the birds, I could drop into the waves and die; for what was to
me the use of immortality when I could no longer soothe the sorrow
of mortals? But I cannot die; and after I had fluttered across
into Egypt, where the glaring light of the sun almost blinded me, I
was thankful to find a ruined tomb or temple underground, where
great marble sarcophagi were ranged around the walls, and where in
the dusky light I could rest from my travels, in a place where I
only knew the difference between night and day by the redness of the
one sunbeam which stole in through a crevice, and the silvery blue
of the moonbeam that succeeded it.
"In that temple there was no sound but the rustling of the
bats' wings as they flew in before dawn, or sometimes the chirping
of a swallow which had lost its way, and was frightened to see all
the grim marble faces gazing at it. But the quietness did me
good, and I waited, hoping that the young King of Sweden would
marry, and that an heir would be born to him (for I am a Swedish
fairy), and then I should recover my liberty according to an ancient
statute of the fairy realm, and my wand would also come again into
my possession; but alas! he is dead, and the reason you see me
to-day is, that, like the rest of my race, I am come to strew leaves
on his grave and recount his virtues. I must now return, for
the birds are stirring; I hear the cows lowing to be milked, and the
maids singing as they go out with their pails. Farewell,
little Hulda; guard well the bracelet; I must to my ruined temple
again. Happy for me will be the day when you see my enemy (if
that day ever comes) the bird will warn you of his neighbourhood by
pecking your hand.
"One moment stay, dear fairy," said Hulda. "Where am I most
likely to see the gnome?"
"In the south," replied the fairy, "for they love hot
sunshine. I can stay no longer. Farewell."
"So saying, the fairy again became a moth and fluttered to
the window. Little Hulda opened it, the brown moth settled for
a moment upon her lips as if it wished to kiss her, and then it flew
out into the sunshine, away and away.
Little Hulda watched her till her pretty wings were lost in
the blue distance; then she turned and took her bracelet, and put it
on her wrist, where, from that day forward, she always wore it night
Hulda now grew tall, and became a fair young maiden, and she
often wished for the day when she might go down to the south, that
she might have a better chance of seeing the cruel gnome, and as she
sat at work in her room alone she often asked the bird to sing to
her, but he never sang any other songs than the two she had heard at
And now two full years had passed away, and it was again the
height of the Norway summer, but the fairy had not made her
As the days began to shorten, Hulda's cheeks lost their
bright colour, and her steps their merry lightness; she became pale
and wan. Her parents were grieved to see her change so fast,
but they hoped, as the weary winter came on, that the cheerful fire
and gay company would revive her; but she grew worse and worse, till
she could scarcely walk alone through the rooms where she had played
so happily, and all the physicians shook their heads and said,
"Alas! alas! the lord and lady of the castle may well look sad:
nothing can save their fair daughter, and before the spring comes
she will sink into an early grave."
The first yellow leaves now began to drop, and showed that
winter was near at hand.
"My sweet Hulda," said her mother to her one day, as she was
lying upon a couch looking out into the sunshine, "is there anything
you can think of that would do you good, or any place we can go to
that you think might revive you? "
"I had only one wish," replied Hulda, "but that, dear mother,
I cannot have."
"Why not, dear child?" said her father. "Let us hear
what your wish was."
"I wished that before I died I might be able to go into the
south and see that wicked pedlar, that if possible I might repair
the mischief I had done to the fairy by restoring her the wand."
"Does she wish to go into the south?" said the physicians.
"Then it will be as well to indulge her, but nothing can save her
life; and if she leaves her native country she will return to it no
"I am willing to go," said Hulda, "for the fairy's sake."
So they put her on a pillion, and took her slowly on to the
south by short distances, as she could bear it. And as she
left the old castle, the wind tossed some yellow leaves against her,
and then whirled them away across the heath to the forest.
"Yellow leaves, yellow leaves,
Through the long wood paths
How fast do ye stray!"
The yellow leaves answered:
"We go to lie down
Where the spring snowdrops grow,
Their young roots to cherish
Through frost and through snow."
Then Hulda said again to the leaves:
"Yellow leaves, yellow leaves,
Faded and few,
What will the spring flowers
Matter to you?"
And the leaves said:
"We shall not see, them,
When gaily they bloom,
But sure they will love us
For guarding their tomb."
Then Hulda said:
"The yellow leaves are like me: I am going away from my place
for the sake of the poor fairy, who now lies hidden in the dark
Egyptian ruin; but if I am so happy as to recover her wand by my
care, she will come back glad and white, like the snowdrops when
winter is over, and she will love my memory when I am laid asleep in
So they set out on their journey, and every day went a little
distance toward the south, till at last, on Christmas Eve, they came
to an ancient city at the foot of a range of mountains.
"What a strange Christmas this is!" said Hulda, when she
looked out the next morning. "Let us stay here, mother, for we
are far enough to the south. Look how the red berries hang on
yonder tree, and these myrtles on the porch are fresh and green, and
a few roses bloom still on the sunny side of the window."
It was so fine and warm that the next day they carried Hulda
to a green bank where she could sit down. It was close by some
public gardens, and the people were coming and going. She fell
into a doze as she sat with her mother watching her, and in her
half-dream she heard the voices of the passers-by, and what they
said about her, till suddenly a voice which she remembered made her
wake with a start, and as she opened her frightened eyes, there,
with his pack on his back, and his cunning eyes fixed upon her,
stood the pedlar.
"Stop him!" cried Hulda, starting up. "Mother, help me
to run after him!"
"After whom, my child?" asked her mother.
"After the pedlar," said Hulda. "He was here but now,
but before I had time to speak to him, he stepped behind that
thorn-bush and disappeared."
"So that is Hulda," said the pedlar to himself, as he went
down the steep path into the middle of the world. "She looks
as if a few days more would be all she has to live. I will not
come here any more till the spring, and then she will be dead, and I
shall have nothing to fear."
But Hulda did not die. See what a good thing it is to
be kind. The soft, warm air of the south revived her by
degrees so much, that by the end of the year she could walk in the
public garden and delight in the warm sunshine; in another month she
could ride with her father to see all the strange old castles in
that neighbourhood, and by the end of February she was as well as
ever she had been in her life; and all this came from her desire to
do good to the fairy by going to the south.
"And now," thought the pedlar, "there is no doubt that the
daisies are growing on Hulda's grave by this time, so I will go up
again to the outside of the world, and sell my wares to the people
who resort to those public places."
So one day when in that warm climate the spring flowers were
already blooming on the hillsides, up he came close to the ruined
walls of a castle, and set his pack down beside him to rest after
the fatigues of his journey.
"This is a cool, shady place," he said, looking round, "and
these dark yew-trees conceal it very well from the road. I
shall come here always in the middle of the day, when the sun is too
hot, and count over my gains. How hard my mistress, the
Lizard, makes me work! Who would have thought she would have
wished to deck her green head with opals down there, where there are
only a tribe of brown gnomes to see her? But I have not given
her that one out of the ring which I stole, nor three others that I
conjured out of the crozier of the priest as I knelt at the altar,
and they thought I was rehearsing a prayer to the Virgin."
After resting some time, the pedlar took up his pack and went
boldly on to the gardens, never doubting but that Hulda was dead;
but it so happened that at that moment Hulda and her mother sat at
work in a shady part of the garden under some elder-trees.
"What is the matter, my sweet bird?" said Hulda, for the bird
pecked her wrist, and fluttered its wings, and opened its beak as if
it were very much frightened.
"Let us go, mother, and look about us," said Hulda.
So they both got up and wandered all over the gardens; but
the pedlar, in the meantime, had walked on toward the town, and they
saw nothing of him.
"Sing to me, my sweet bird," said Hulda that night as she lay
down to sleep. "Tell me why you pecked my wrist."
Then the bird sang to her:
"Who came from the ruin, the ivy-clad ruin,
With old shaking arches, all moss overgrown,
Where the flitter-bat hideth,
The limber snake glideth,
And chill water drips from the slimy green stone?"
"Who did?" asked Hulda. "Not the pedlar, surely?
Tell me, my pretty bird." But the bird only chirped a little
and fluttered its golden wings, so Hulda ceased to ask it, and
presently fell asleep, but the bird woke her by pecking her wrist
very early, almost before sunrise, and sang:
"Who dips a brown hand in the chill shaded water,
The water that drips from a slimy green stone?
Who flings his red cap
At the owlets that flap
Their white wings in his face as he sits there alone?"
Hulda, upon hearing this, arose in great haste and dressed
herself; then she went to her father and mother, and entreated that
they would come with her to the old ruin. It was now broad
day, so they all three set out together. It was a very hot
morning, the dust lay thick upon the road, and there was not air
enough to stir the thick leaves of the trees which hung overhead.
They had not gone far before they found themselves in a crowd
of people, all going toward the castle ruin, for there, they told
Hulda, the pedlar, the famous pedlar from the north, who sold such
fine wares, was going to perform some feats of jugglery of most
"Child," whispered Hulda's mother, "nothing could be more
fortunate for us; let us mingle with the crowd and get close to the
Hulda assented to her mother's wish, but the heat and dust,
together with her own intense desire to rescue the lost wand, made
her tremble so that she had great difficulty in walking. They
went among gypsies, fruit-women, peasant girls, children, travelling
musicians, common soldiers, and labourers; the heat increased, and
the dust and the noise, and at last Hulda and her parents were borne
forward into the old ruin among a rush of people running and
huzzaing, and heard the pedlar shout to them:
"Keep back, good people; leave a space before me; leave a
large space between me and you."
So they pressed back again, jostling and crowding each other,
and left an open space before him from which he looked at them with
his cunning black eyes, and with one hand dabbling in the cold water
of the spring.
The place was open to the sky, and the broken arches and
walls were covered with thick ivy and wall flowers. The pedlar
sat on a large gray stone, with his red cap on and his brown fingers
adorned with splendid rings, and he spread them out and waved his
hands to the people with ostentatious ceremony.
"Now, good people," he said, without rising from his seat,
"you are about to see the finest, rarest, and most wonderful
exhibition of the conjuring art ever known!"
"Stop!" cried a woman's voice from the crowd, and a young
girl rushed wildly forward from the people, who had been trying to
hold her back.
"I impeach you before all these witnesses!" she cried,
seizing him by the hand. "See justice done, good people.
I impeach you, pedlar. Where's the ring my mother's ring
which you stole on Midsummer's day in the castle?"
"Good people," said the pedlar, pulling his red cap over his
face, and speaking in a mild, fawning voice, "I hope you'll protect
me. I hope you won't see me insulted."
"My ring, my ring!" cried Hulda; "he wore it on his finger
"Show your hand like a man!" said the people. "If the
lady says falsely, can't you face her and tell her so? Never
hold it down so cowardly!"
The pedlar had tucked his feet under him, and when the people
cried out to him to let the rings on his hand be seen, he had
already burrowed with them up to his knees in the earth.
"Oh, he will go down into the earth!" cried Hulda. "But
I will not let go! Pedlar, pedlar, it is useless! If I
follow you before the Lizard, your mistress, I will not let go!"
The pedlar turned his terrified, cowardly eyes upon Hulda,
and sank lower and lower. The people were too frightened to
"Stop, child," cried her mother. "Oh, he will go down
and drag thee with him."
But Hulda would not and could not let go. The pedlar
had now sunk up to his waist. Her mother wrung her hands, and
in an instant the earth closed upon them both, and, after falling in
the dark down a steep abyss, they found themselves, not at all the
worse, standing in a dimly lighted cave with a large table in it
piled with mouldy books. Behind the table was a smooth and
perfectly round hole in the wall about the size of a cartwheel.
"The pedlar had
now sunk up to his waist."
Hulda looked that way, and saw how intensely dark
it was through this hole, and she was wondering where it led to when
an enormous green Lizard put its head through into the cave, and
gazed at her with its great brown eyes.
"What is thy demand, fine child of the daylight?" said the
"Princess," replied Hulda, "I demand that this thy servant
should give up to me a ring which he stole in my father's castle
when I was a child."
The pedlar no sooner heard Hulda boldly demand her rights
than he fell on his knees and began to cry for mercy.
"Mercy rests with this maiden," said the Lizard. At the
same time she darted out her tongue, which was several yards is
length and like a scarlet thread, and with it stripped the ring from
the gnome's finger and gave it to Hulda.
"Speak, maiden, what reparation do you demand of this
culprit, and what shall be his punishment?"
"Great princess," replied Hilda, "let him restore to me a
golden wand which I sold to him, for it belongs to a fairy whom he
has long persecuted."
"Here it is, here it is!" cried the cowardly gnome, putting
his hand into his bosom and pulling it out, shaking all the time,
and crying out most piteously, "Oh, don't let me be banished from
"After this double crime no mercy can be shown you," said the
Lizard, and she twined her scarlet tongue round him, and drew him
through the hole to herself. At the same instant it closed,
and a crack came in the roof of the cave, through which the sunshine
stole, and as Hulda looked up in flew a brown moth and settled on
the magic bracelet. She touched the moth with the wand, and
instantly it stood upon her wrist a beautiful and joyous fairy.
She took her wand from Hulda's hand, and stood for a moment looking
gratefully in her face without speaking. Then she said to the
"Art thou my own again, and wilt thou serve me?"
"Try me," said the wand.
So she struck the wall with it, and said, "Cleave, wall! "
and a hole came in the wall large enough for Hulda to creep through,
and she found herself at the foot of a staircase hewn in the rock,
and, after walking up it for three hours, she came out in the old
ruined castle, and was astonished to see that the sun had set.
The moment she appeared her father and mother, who had given her
over for lost, clasped her in their arms and wept for joy as they
"My child," said her father, "how happy thou lookest, not as
if thou hadst been down in the dark earth!"
Hulda kissed her parents and smiled upon them; then she
turned to look for the fairy, but she was gone. So they all
three walked home in the twilight, and the next day Hulda set out
again with her parents to return to the old castle in Norway.
As for the fairy, she was happy from that day in the possession of
her wand; but the little golden bird folded its wings and never sang
any songs again.