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SThe Baldwin Uibray
A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
the stilU wol
See page 136.
ILLUSTRATED WITH TWENTY- THREE DRA WINGS
"w SWEET MOON, I THANK THEE FOR TRY SUNNY BEAM ;
I THANK THEE, MOON, FOR SHINING NOW SO BRIGHT."
A Mi.dssunImer Night's Dream.
CASSELL, BETTER, GALPIN & CO.:
LONDON, PARIS f NEW YORK.
[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]
THE JOURNEY THERE. 9
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 38
THE SIGN OF "THE WARREN". .60
BUBBLEBY GRANGE 93
THE JOURNEY BACK 122
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
" Woo the still world, and set the waters flushing! Frontispiece.
The Dutchman 9. .
Flying Jib 16
The Guardian of the Lake 23
A Sister of Mercy 41
"Don't! You Tickle!" 53
A Night Watchman 55
The Entrance to Bramble Glade 57
The Black-and-tan 69
" Like Greased Lightning" 72
"Where's the Seventh?" 77
Pious drops 81
A Pair of Radiant-winged Doves 91
The Tryst 95
Sir Pint-pot 101
The Douche 107
"Here we go Round the Mulberry-bush! 117
The Donkey 125
"We'll form in a ring, and we'll dance and sing." 130
A Mushroom . .134
" Dancing on the Lake's Calm Surface" 141
"Loosing her beautiful Limbs in Repose ". 144
"Whirling Upward and Onward" 147
THE JOURNEY THERE.
'- pT must have been nearly nine
o'clock. To call it dusk would
.I have been ridiculous: it was
dark, as anybody with half an
eye could see. The curtains of
i l the carriage were drawn; and
the train was still tearing along as
though it were mad-just as it had
been doing, with occasional stoppages at
dim-lighted, sleepy stations, for hours past.
After spending a whole delicious month in the
country, Etta was returning home to London.
Curled up comfortably amongst her cushions,
10 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
she was blinking solemnly across at Nurse, who
was sitting opposite. She had been doing her
best to entertain herself for a length of time by
listening to the rhyme of the wheels:-
Click-click-click clack !
When we have to go forward we can't go back !"
This, though all very well in its way, was becoming
a little monotonous from constant repetition; so
thinking it high time that some kind of protest
should be made, she put her lips down to the
carpet, and whispered: "You've really made that
Now, if there's one thing in the world that a
train-wheel-in this like a human being-detests
and abhors, it is being told that it has made the
same remark twice over. At any rate, these
instantly changed the burden of their discourse,
gabbling forth, as fast as they could utter the
"Click-click-click clon !
Click-click-cWe'll come to a stop when we can't go on
We'll come to a stop when we can't go on "
THE JOURNEY THERE. 11
And Etta felt satisfied, considering there was
much reason in what they said.
"I wonder what the time is ?" suddenly
observed Nurse, who had been looking meditative
for some few minutes past.
Etta, would not hazard a guess. "If we
only had the Dutchman here, we could tell,"
she replied. And her thoughts went back to
the old red house in bonny Devon which
she had quitted only that morning, and dwelt
lovingly upon the Dutchman-who, it must be
explained, hung upon the staircase wall, and
was a clock of honest countenance and not un-
After making this remark, Etta yawned. The
journey had been such a long one; and she really
was getting very sleepy. It is not quite clear
whether or no she even remembered to put her
hand before her mouth; though it is quite clear-
and she knew it just as well as any of us-that
mouths always should be covered up on these
12 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
Nurse, catching sight of the yawn, exclaimed:
"Dustman is coming! Even as she spoke, one
of Etta's eyes closed; and it is almost certain that
the other would have done the same, if only for
company, had not the train-wheels again suddenly
changed the subject of their discourse, muttering
"Click-click-click clop !
Click-click-click clop !
As we cannot go on we must come to a stop !"
That they spoke nothing more than the plain
unvarnished truth is evident; for before Etta
could realize what they meant the train had drawn
up; and a guard with a bull's-eye lantern, popping
his head into the window, was calling out:
"Tickets please tic-kets tic-kets tic-kets "
"How long will it be before we reach Lon-
don ?" asked.Nurse, as two picturesque little door-
ways were being snipped out of the tickets.
'n hour and a half," replied the guard, who
was evidently just as clever at snipping a word
as he was at snipping a ticket.
THE JOURNEY THERE. 13
The train went rushing along on its journey;
but somehow the voice of the guard seemed to
Etta to be mixing itself up in the most unaccount-
able way with the rumbling of the wheels.
"Tickets please! tic-kets! tic-kets! tic-tac! tic-tac!"
Ex-tra-or-din-a-ry she exclaimed. And
she was right.. For there, right opposite to her,
hung the Dutchman; and she herself was standing
on the staircase watching it; and, most extra-
ordinary of all, it was listening-listening with an
expression of deep pain to a tiny creature who was
swinging airily on its pendulum.
"Why don't you hit one your own size ? ". the
young gentleman was asking, rather rudely. "I'd
be ashamed to strike a poor little chap like the
Time-only three hours old-if I were you."
The clock wrung its hands together in despair,
and tears trickled down its honest, broad face.
"What is the use of all this ? it blubbered.
"How is it possible for me to do my duty ? You
hang on to me till I don't know whether I'm
standing on my head or my heels. And now,
14 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
stir up my works if you haven't made me lose
an hour." And, to Etta's intense astonishment,
it got down and began searching about on the
Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the little sprite,
holding his hands to his sides and enjoying the
joke consumedly. "You'll never catch it! It has
got the start of you, my dear fellow. You'll
never catch it!"
"If I don't, I'm a Dutchman!" whimpered
the poor old clock, groping about in a feeble
manner, and then attempting to gather itself up
and jog along.
Now, Etta had a tender heart, and it was
moved; so, stepping forward, she said, kindly: "I
think-if you will excuse my saying so-you are
almost run down."
Who's been running me down? demanded
the clock, turning very red in the face.
"Nobody," said Etta. I'm sure no one would
think of doing so. All I meant was that you had
run down yourself."
THE JOURNEY THERE. 15
"That's very likely," said the clock, ironically.
"I may be handsome, and I may be persevering,
but I'm not modest. I never run myself down.
And it's rude to call me nobody."
"I didn't mean it in that way at all," remarked
Etta, gently. "What I was going to say is that
I feel for you very deeply, and that, if you will
allow me, I shall be most happy, I'm sure, to wind
you up myself. You would stand a far better
chance of catching the hour, you know."
"May I ask," inquired the clock, with freezing
politeness, what you know about winding up ? "
"Well," said Etta, who really never had wound
up a clock in her life, but who did not care to say
so, "I haven't had much experience, certainly."
And she hurriedly began to think of all the things
she ever had wound up. "I've often wound up a
story, and-and even a ball of worsted- she
"I may be very soft,' interrupted the clock,
evidently a good deal nettled, "but I'm not so
soft as all that."
16 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
What's the good of talking to it? remarked
a little creature, who, seated upon a feather,
came flying through the staircase window at this
moment. "What's the good of wasting breath ?
What's the good of-however, jump up !"
"I beg your pardon? asked Etta, politely,
not quite understanding.
Jump up beside me," said the little fellow,
making room on the .feather on which he sat.
"I've been ordered to take you, you know."
Where ? asked Etta, a little alarmed. And
who has ordered you? "
"To the lake at Bubbleby Grange," replied
he; "and its guardian-the King-said we were
not to lose time."
THE JOURNEY THERE. 17
"Well, if you are sure he said so," replied
Etta, "I suppose I must go." And she seated
herself beside him, murmuring to herself, "For
of all the delicious places in the world, Bubbleby
Grange sounds the deliciousest." And away they
went. As they passed out through the window,
Etta looked back, and saw the poor old clock
still groping about for the hour, and the little
sprite laughing consumedly. '' You'll never catch
it, my dear fellow," she heard him repeat; you'll
never catch it." Then she turned to her com-
panion, whose hair was streaming wildly in the
wind, and who seemed very intent on directing
the course of the feather. "'This is very sudden,"
she said; but I must say I like it. For of
all the delicious .places in the world, Bubbleby
"You've said that before," interrupted the
Etta felt snubbed; "-What's your name?"
she asked; for she felt she must say some-
18 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
"Bless my soul and body!" cried the sprite,
in a tone of astonishment; "do you mean to
say you've never heard? And after he had
got over his surprise he smiled a very superior
"Of course I haven't," replied Etta. "How
could I have? Why, I've never seen you before."
"You have never had the pleasure of seeing
me before," he corrected; "though I don't see
what that has to do with it. Seeing isn't hearing,
is it? "
"Certainly not," replied Etta, who had been
very well taught. It's believing."
That settles it then; it clearly can't be both,"
said the sprite. Flying Jib is my name; very
much at your service," he continued with a bow
which caused the feather to sway dreadfully.
"One can be too polite, you know," observed
Etta, reproachfully, as she recovered her balance.
Just then the feather suddenly drew up close by
the side of a grass path in the midst of a dense
THE JOURNEY THERE. 19
"Good evening," said the charioteer, politely
handing her down. Take the first turning on the
right, the second on the left, the third on the
right, the fourth on the left, and there you are at
the lake." And no sooner was the direction given
than there came a puff of wind, and both feather
and guide were whisked away out of sight.
"The first on the right," repeated Etta,
bewildered, pressing her hands to her head.
"That's right! shouted a voice.
The second on the left," she went on.
That's left shouted the voice. "All that's
left, I'm afraid, in your memory. But don't
trouble, I'll guide you."
"That's kind of you," said Etta.
"No, no," replied the voice. "Duty, duty !"
Then it suddenly broke forth into song in a deep
bass: "Fayland expects that ev-e-ry voice this
ni-ight wi-ill doo-oo its- "
Du-ty! Etta joined in.
"This ni-ight wi-ill doo-oo its du-ty trolled
forth the voice, finishing the bar. "You caught
20 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
the note beautifully, I must confess; but you
shouldn't interrupt. Perhaps you've never heard
the story of the little girl who had to go on talking
for ever because she interrupted; have you ? Ah !
I thought you hadn't. I'll tell it you. Once upon
a time, a voice was singing a song to a little girl,
and whilst it was pausing for a moment, she seized
the opportunity and interrupted; and a fearful
How was that ? asked Etta.
"Why, she had seized the opportunity," replied
the voice; "didn't you hear? Well, to get on
with the story. She seized the opportunity and
interrupted; and a loud crash was heard-- "
What from? asked Etta.
"She had broken the silence," replied the
voice, irritably. How slow you are! Well,
that's how it all came about. She tried and tried
to mend it, but she never could. Glue, gum, and
paste-paste, gum, and glue-but they were of
no avail. It was rather sad, wasn't it? But
THE JOURNEY THERE. 21
"No," said Etta; "that I certainly shall not,
at anything so ridiculous. You need have no
Fear shouted the voice, bombastically; I
know it not. Like my Lord Nelson, I was once
heard in my youth to ask my grandmother, Who is
Fear? We were not acquainted, you see."
"Are we coming to the lake, or are we not ? "
demanded Etta, in despair.
We are, we are," replied the voice. That is,
you are. I'm not. I'm getting rather husky, so I
think I'll avoid the lake. Lakes are invariably
"Not damp," said Etta, archly. They are
Positive, damp," meditated the voice; "com-
parative, moister; superlative, wet. I'm positive-
they're damp; they're damp-I'm positive-I'm
That's right," said Etta. "Ask me a riddle."
No," replied the voice, haughtily, I shall
not. But I wanted to make quite sure which of
22 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
us it is that was positive, and which of us damp.
We seemed to be getting mixed up. Of course it
is the lake that is damp. And mark my words: if
it doesn't take care, it will grow husky too. Every-
thing does that remains out late at night. Look at
the corn. Look at me."
Considering you are only a voice," said Etta,
" you are really not much to look at."
That's rude," observed the voice. Beauty
is but husk deep. You should never make remarks
on personal appearance. And now, as I want to
sneeze in peace, I think I'll leave you. Good even-
ing." And before Etta could attempt to realise
how a voice could sneeze in peace, she found herself
all alone in the plantation.
The night was intensely calm and beautiful.
Far away in the distance, to the right, the moon
was rising: a glorious summer moon, with a great
silvery track of light leading towards it. Which
way was she to turn ?-that was the question.
Suddenly she found herself on the grass, following
the track of light; though why, she could not have
THE JOURNEY THEEE. 23
explained. Perhaps it was because it was beautiful,
and one naturally loves to follow beautiful ways.
The rich turf made a delicious carpet to walk upon,
and the dew-drops lay upon it like scattered gems.
Somehow she got the idea into her head that they
were gems, and not dew-drops, and so her little
feet didn't feel one whit cold. It's astonishing
how warm ideas can keep one. As she tripped
along, she began to imagine she heard a low,
plaintive voice, as of one singing. Could it be?
She moved softly forward to where two tree-
shadows were lying cosily on the ground under a
wall, side by side; then she parted the tangle of
branches with her hand. It was some one singing:
he whom she knew at once to be the Fairy King.
Not that his raiment betrayed him; for he was
soberly clad in moleskin, close-fitting as a glove,
and the only crown he wore on his head was a wild
hyacinth bell. She drew in her breath and
listened. He evidently had not heard her ap-
proach, for his eyes remained fixed, with a far-away
expression, upon the great sheety lake which lay
24 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
before him glistening in the moonlight. These
were the words she heard:-
THE LAKE GUARDIAN'S SONG:
Once more do I gaze through a glimmering haze
On the water that drips from a hundred ledges;
Once more do I hear its music clear,
As it ripples amidst its rustling sedges.
"Here I stand and dream, in my lake's cool gleam,
Of the time when I dwelt in these reedy bowers;
THE JOURNEY THERE. 25
When, a guardian sprite, I flitted by night,
And worked fairy spells through the flying hours.
How I used to try, in the ages gone by,
To win the regard of the wonder-eyed mortals
Who hither would roam from their great red home
With the gambrel roof and the oaken portals !
How deeply I grieved when they disbelieved
In me, and my works, and our fairy nation !
Oh a sprite's heart bleeds when his kindly deeds
Are met with a false interpretation !
"And no longer I'd stay. So one sad day
I passed the command to my fairy legions;
And we packed up our things, and flapped our wings,
And flitted through space to remoter regions."
The singer paused, and gazed very pensively at
the great track of light the moon was making on
the water. In a little time his eyes seemed to
brighten; then he went on:-
But the ages have sped, and the past is dead,
And now Hope disperses the mist of our sadness;
For there's come to the strand of fairy-land
A rumour that fills our hearts with gladness.
26 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
That a dear little maid, gentle-mannered and staid,
Is learning to understand our races;
To captivate fays with her delicate ways,
With her tender heart, and her manifold graces.
She has broken the spell!
Every dingle and dell
Shall echo once more with our rippling laughter;
First the Undines and Gnomes shall troop back to their
Salamanders and Sylphs shall come following after.
On the back of a cloud we'll together crowd,
And we'll laugh as the wind our chariot chases.
Our sway we'll assert, 'mongst the moonbeams we'll flirt,
And we'll kiss the flowerets' upturned faces.
At night, in the park and the meadow, we'll hark
To the musical sheep-bells' tinkle tinkle !
We'll form in a ring, and we'll dance and sing,
As the waving grasses with dew drops we sprinkle.
"And the grasses shall quake, and their heads they'll
For the grasses are coy, and they love coquetting;
But they don't mind the cold, if the truth be told,
And they vastly enjoy their midnight wetting.
THE JOURNEY THERE. 27
"We'll gaze at the sky, as the hours steal by,
Till the clouds show the edge of their silvery lining;
Till the stars, in surprise, wink their soft, calm eyes,
At the rose-red light to the eastward shining.
"Then the sun shall appear; and we'll just wait to hear
Old Chanticleer utter his lusty warning;
Then like lightning we'll race, and we'll vanish in space,
Ere the sleeping world wake to the summons of
After the song was finished, the singer continued
to gaze for a time on the lake he appeared to love
so well. Etta was close to him, and was still
holding the parted branches in her hand. She
felt a little awe-stricken: the moon shone so, and
the voice of the singer had been so deliciously
melodious. Somehow, too, she began to imagine
that it was she who was the little maid referred to
as learning to understand the fays; for had she not
already made the acquaintance of Flying Jib, and
the voice, and the rest of them? And she felt
rather glad and proud, as is natural with people
alluded to in songs. Thus it was that she just
28 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
stood waiting quietly, wondering what might come
next; and did not experience the least surprise
when the King turned towards her, and asked, Is
the little maid here ? "
Yes," she replied, softly, not forgetting to
make a very pretty curtsey, I am here."
And you have never quite been here before ?"
he said, in the same quiet tone.
No, never before," replied Etta. Though I
have often thought about you," she added, anxious
that he should not consider her quite a stranger.
That's half-way to being with us," said the
King. "And the more you think of us, the more
intimate we shall become, and the fonder we shall
grow of one another. And if you go on thinking
and thinking of us, who knows but that you may
be able to call us up to see you even after you get
back to your own world ? "
My world? said Etta. Is not your world
my world? "
The King coughed. Well, not exactly," he
THE JOURNEY THERE. 29
"Then tell me, King," said Etta, earnestly,
"what world is this we are in ? "
He seemed to be considering the question, so
she felt it necessary to say, in a warning voice,
"Now, don't make anything up, King."
"Not for the world," replied he. It scarcely
has a name," he continued, thoughtfully; suppose
we christen it."
"Let's," said Etta.
What do you say to the World of Fancy ?"
asked the King.
"Delicious! answered Etta, decisively.
"Then so let it be," said the King. "And
should you like to travel in it to-night ? "
I should love to," exclaimed Etta, clasping her
hands together in her enthusiasm.
But no sooner had she uttered the words than
the King had disappeared. Could she have been
dreaming? There was the lake, and there lay the
great track of light across it; but look which way
she would, no King was to be seen. Still she felt
no fear. Everything seemed to have come about
30 A 11OONBEAM TANGLE.
so naturally, and so she thought, "I'll just wait
and see what comes next." And she had not to
wait long. As she let loose the branches which
she had been holding apart, she found herself
standing in a bower. At her feet lay a baby lake
-much such a lake as the one she had just shut
out from her view, but not a tenth part the size.
Though it was in shadow, yet it was exquisitely
clear. Gazing into its depths, she saw what she
imagined to be a reflection of her own face, and
she stooped down to inspect it more closely.
Suddenly a voice came singing to her from out
of the water:-
"Thus commands the Chief : Take a burdock least
From here, where the water-plants rise,
Thick-ribbed and cool, from their shadowy pool,
And draw it across your eyes "
"Well," said Etta, in astonishment, if you are
my face, you certainly are not my voice." Stretch-
ing out her hand as she spoke, she grasped the
stem of one of the water-plants, broke it as neatly
THE JOURNEY THERE. 31
as she could, and drew the great flappy leaf across
her eyes, as she had been bidden to. Directly she
removed it from her face she saw a great eddy
circling in the pool, from the midst of which a
sprite suddenly leapt forth, just as a fish might
have done, except that he managed to land
dexterously on the bank. Etta thought she had
never looked upon a handsomer little creature.
His dress, whatever it may have been made of,
was radiantly beautiful. It reminded her of the
gleaming armour which a trout wears on holiday
occasions-as when he leaps three feet sheer out of
the water after a May-fly. Jewels shone from his
wings, and one, a great ruby, shed its ruddy rays
from the base of a feather in his cap.
They keep one under bravely, when they've
a mind to," he said, confidentially, pointing to the
burdock leaf which Etta had dropped in her sur-
prise, and throwing back over his shoulders his
wet, curly locks. "Next to water-lillies, I know
of none like burdock for playing tricks with one
under water. You may ask, 'Why didn't I fix
32 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
my teeth into its calf ? So I did; but for all
the effect it had on it, it might as well have been
the calf of a Lord Mayor's footman. One is just
as full of pith as the other."
Now Etta had always heard that it was straw
that the calf of a Lord Mayor's footman was
stuffed with; but as it really didn't in the least
matter which it was, she did not say so.
"So henceforward," said the sprite, giving his
locks one final shake, and looking up into her
face, "I am to be your guide. Let us start on
our travels at once, for it grows late. Pass out
of the bower, cross the turf, and meet me where
the firs border the plantation." And Etta found
herself again alone.
"They all seem to fancy I know my way about
here," she said to herself; and though it really
is very odd, I half fancy I do myself."
When she had emerged from the bower, and
found herself standing beside an old brick wall
which she had not noticed before, she paused to
meditate. He spoke of its being late," she said;
THE JOURNEY THERE. 33
" and now I come to think of it, it really must
be. Long after dark; long after bed-time--"
"That's what I'm doing," yawned a very
sleepy voice. 'm longing after bed-time."
Etta looked round quickly, a little startled
to find that the voice she heard was that of one
of the two tree-shadows which she had noticed
lying cosily side by side as she had entered the
arbour. One of them was still resting there
comfortably, close to the wall; but the other
was sprawling on the grass, and was nodding its
head to and fro in the most melancholy manner
possible. It was evidently this one that had
spoken; for, as Etta turned towards it, it con-
tinued to complain sadly.
"I shouldn't have expected it of him," it said,
"I really shouldn't. To be kicked out of bed by
a stranger is bad enough; but by one's own
brother! It casts a damper not only on one's
body, but on the best affections of one's heart! "
And it leant its head forward, and continued to
nod as though its neck would break.
34 .A MOONBEAM TAXGLE.
"Little boy," replied the other, in a patronising
tone, "it pains me to treat you thus. If I were
to allow you to go to bed when you pleased, you
would always be in bed. It is my duty-my
duty as an elder brother-to bring you up hardy."
And, with another prodigious yawn, it turned over
on its side.
Noble sentiments! sneered the younger;
" but weak-oh! very weak-grammar."
"I don't want no grammar," retorted the elder.
" All I want is a wall. Nuffin like a wall to put
your back against when you have to kick a brother
out of bed."
That's where he has the pull of me," mur-
mured the younger.
You are mistaken, little boy. That's where
I have the push of you." And at the spright-
liness of his own remark, the elder brother
effectually woke up, and laughed so convulsively
that the whole bed shook.
"There is a point," muttered the one on the
grass, fixing its eye on the moon, "when a shadow,
THE JOURNEY THERE. 35
like a worm, will turn. That point is reached."
And as it spoke it staggered to its feet.
Now Etta saw that it was very angry, and
that there was likely to be a desperate fight for
the bed. She suddenly recollected, too, that her
little guide would be waiting for her at the border
of the plantation; so she felt that if she wanted
to make peace between the shadows, she would
have to make it at once. She accordingly pounced
down upon the younger, caught him up by the
waist, and before the elder could guess what she
was about, she had popped him into bed by his
side. Both of them were so astonished at what
had happened that they could only lie on their
backs and look up, blinking, into her face.
"There!" she said, shaking her finger at the
elder; "if you kick him out again, I'll come back
and put him nearest to the wall. And if you,"
she continued, turning to the younger, "sneer at
him about his grammar, I'll let you lie on the
grass till morning."
Neither replied: both continued to blink in
36 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
the greatest astonishment, and so Etta turned
away as if to go; but stepping behind the trunk
of a great oak, waited to see what would happen.
Thinking she was gone, the younger shadow
turned to the elder, and whispered in a very hypo-
critical tone :-
"My anger, dearest brother, I will do my best to smother;
Of your many little failings 1 will cease to speak.
I will no more contradict you, though one sentiment I'll
That however strong your legs may be your grammar's
"Th'en I'll treat you as I find you,"
replied the elder, ominously;
"and I may as well remind you
Of a certain little proverb-let those laugh who win :
That though the night air's still, out of bed it's damp and
And that though you're back beside me, you are not
tucked in !"
"Tuck me in Tuck me in!" bellowed the
younger piteously, as the elder planted his back
THE JOURNEY THERE. 37
firmly against the wall and gathered up his
Etta darted from behind her tree, dragged a
great coverlet of leaves right over the shadows'
faces, and shook them both up together. Then
she listened attentively. Is very, very weak !"
she heard a stifled voice call out, evidently in
reference to the grammar; and another voice,
which sounded like that of the elder brother,
mutter, Nuffin like a wall! "Well," she
said, in despair, "you'll have to fight it out be-
tween yourselves." And gathering up her dress,
she turned and sped away towards the great belt
of firs which girdled the plantation.
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY.
ETTA reached the outskirts of the plantation with-
out meeting with further adventures, and there
found, seated beneath one of the dark-boughed,
sweet-scented firs, her little guide awaiting her.
He leapt to his feet as he saw her approach, and,
doffing his jewelled cap, advanced to meet her. "I
hope you are not growing impatient," she said.
" What with tree-shadows to look after, and trees
themselves to thread one's way between, one can't
travel very fast in these parts."
At that he placed one of his hands upon his
heart, and with his cap still held in the other,
bowed so low that his curly locks almost swept the
ground. "I am your Page," he said, with deep
1BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 39
reverence, "appointed by the King to do your
Etta gazed at him in admiration, and blew him
a kiss. Your manners," she said, "are as charm-
ing as your livery." She felt inclined to kiss him
outright; but abstained, reflecting that he was her
Page, and that it would not be etiquette to do so.
"May I guide you to the Bramble Glade ? lie
asked, replacing his cap on his curls; "the spot
where we assemble to arrange our midnight
Delightful!" cried Etta, clapping her hands
together. "Lead on, little Page, and I will
.Without further ado her guide turned, and
flitted rapidly ahead. Shall I sing to you as I
fly ?" lie paused to ask.
Yes. Sing to me of the night," said Etta,
overcome by the solemn beauty of the hour.
His jewelled wings flashed as he hovered in
front of her in the banded moon-rays; and she
kept her eyes fixed upon him as she ran along
40 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
lightly in his wake. Soon his sweet, clear voice
fell upon her ear. These were his words:-
When hush-voiced Night, with fingers light,
Has led mankind into Dreamy-land;
When odours sweet of the red-brown peat
Come wafted from where the pine-stoles stand;
Young Jack-o'-the-Hedge and Lady Sedge
Go rambling together by brooklet and wold,
And the dew-maid hems with clustered gems
The frock of the gay marsh-marigold.
Each gurgling rill can babble and trill,
And dimple and laugh to its heart's content;
And the woodbine gay throw its swinging spray
Round the neck of the maple, on love intent;
The moon-beams bright on the turf alight,
And kiss the daisies which nestle there;
And the fays take their fill, over valley and hill,
Of the love and laughter that freight the air."
By the time the song was finished the two had
reached a grassy knoll beneath the branches of
a giant oak, and there Etta paused to take breath.
She had scarcely recovered it when she became
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 41
aware of a most importunate babel of voices,
clamouring loudly high above her head. Gazing
up between the interwoven branches, she discovered
.pf'- t* /,
",.4 -^ ^
the exact spot from whence it proceeded. On one
of the topmost boughs was a hawk's nest, over the
edge of which half-a-dozen bare little heads,
supported by as many outstretched bare little
necks, were to be seen vociferously demanding
42 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
food. Bending over the nest, with warning finger,
endeavouring to quell the excitement of a large
family of fledglings, was a fay. "Hush little
ones," she was whispering softly. Be patient !"
Now Etta's curiosity was aroused, for this was
the first fairy of her own sex whom she had seen.
" Who is she?" she asked of the Page, in a low
"A Sister of Mercy," he replied.
"No !" said Etta, incredulously; "she can
hardly be that. Look at her hat."
"A bonnet is unnecessary," replied the Page, a
little hurt at being disbelieved. "A Sister of
Mercy is none the less a Sister of Mercy because
she wears a hat."
"Well," said Etta, "they certainly never do
so in my world."
Perhaps they don't have to climb trees so
often in your world," suggested the Page.
"No," replied Etta, a little shocked at the idea.
" I've certainly never seen a Sister of Mercy climb
a tree. Why should she, indeed ? "
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 43
Why, to still the cries of the fledglings, to be
sure. Why shouldn't she? argued the Page.
Then Etta laughed, as people will do when a
new idea suddenly dawns upon them. I'll tell
you why, you dear little Page," she said. "It is
because the fledglings which the Sisters of Mercy
tend in my world are real babies, and not bird
babies. That's why."
"I'd rather tend bird babies," cried the fairy,
from above, who, though she had appeared not to
hear what was being said, had really been listening
all the time.
"Why ? Etta asked.
Oh, for many reasons," replied the Sister of
Mercy. "For instance, bird babies soon get
fledged, and other babies never do."
"Not all over, certainly," replied Etta, cau-
tiously. "But I've often seen them with feathers
in their hats." She did not care to have real
babies run down.
"Bird babies sing much earlier," continued
the Sister of Mercy.
44 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
Etta ruminated. Real babies crow very early,"
she said, stoutly.
"Perhaps they don't get so many lob-worms
given to them," suggested the Page.
"No," cried Etta, who was very glad to get
some one to say a word in favour of real babies,
"not nearly; and yet they crow early." And
feeling very triumphant in having got the better of
the argument thus far, she thought she had better
cut it short; so she leant forward and whispered,
"Lead on Page! And the Page led on.
Out again from under the spreading branches
into the glorious moonlight, tripping lightly over
the soft carpet of grass to the beat of her Page's
jewelled wings, and never feeling fatigued, Etta
sped along. By towering elms, which stood out
massively against the deep blue sky; by straight-
stoled ashes, which drooped their branches in great
leafy cascades a hundred feet above her head; by
scented firs; by silver-stemmed birches; and yet she
never tired. One dark-leaved denizen of the planta-
tion attracted her attention while she was yet far.
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY, 45
from it. As she neared it, she observed that it
had apparently been riven by lightning; one of its
limbs being missing, and the portion of the trunk
from which it was severed showing forth white and
jagged. The ground sloped down gently from its
base towards the level stretch of turf which
bordered the plantation. As Etta reached the
knoll which it formed, she was intensely surprised
to observe a huge pile of pennies, surmounted by a
black board, which bore, in great white characters,
the following inscription:-
"The smallest contributions thankfully received."
Before this notice the Page drew up, and
whispered, One penny to pay."
"Gladly," said Etta, throwing a penny on to
the pile; "but what for ?"
"Ah tell her," sobbed somebody.
Etta looked up, a little startled, thinking it was
the tree which had spoken; but if it were, it was
certainly able to control its expression most
46 A MOONBEAM3 TANGLE.
marvellously. She had rarely seen a tree look
more.unconscious of having made a remark.
"They are going to make a new limb for it,"
whispered the Page, pointing to the riven trunk;
"and limbs are rather expensive."
And is that to pay for it? asked Etta, sink-
ing her voice.
Yes; it's a branch bank, you see," replied the
Page. "There's scarcely enough yet, I'm afraid,"
he continued, reflectively, "to make a very big
"Why, you don't mean to say they are going
to make a limb out of the pennies; are they?"
whispered Etta, not quite understanding.
"Yes; the tree's a Copper-beech, you know,"
explained the Page.
Oh, I see," murmured Etta, feeling a little
Perhaps you would like to hear its history,"
suggested the Page.
"Well, yes," replied Etta, "if it's not very
long, I think I should."
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 47
"Tell it," urged the Page, in an encouraging
tone, turning to the tree.
For a few moments the Copper-beech seemed to
be turning the question over in its mind; then it
replied in a husky voice-
"I am willing, I am willing; it may bring us all relief.
Though the incidents are thrilling, I'll endeavour to be brief.
Oh bend your head in sympathy, and let your salt tears
For each one who pays her penny makes a point of doing so."
"Have you your handkerchief ready ? whis-
pered the Page.
"Alas! no," replied Etta, after feeling in her
pocket. I haven't got one."
"Bring her a dock leaf," cried the Beech,
imperiously. And it was not till one had been
brought, and Etta was holding it in readiness to
staunch her tears, that the tree would consent to
"Will you make the usual announcements? "
it asked, turning to the Page.
48 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
With pleasure," replied the Page; and then,
in a formal manner, shouted out, His parentage !"
The Beech swayed itself to and fro, and then
trolled out the following:-
THE SONG OF THE COPPER-BEECH.
My father, I'm told, in the days of old, was a fine old family
Who used to reside at the sad sea-side with my aged mother
I am pained to relate that their direful fate was to shelter a
And to share in their plot was their first-born's lot-their plot
by the ribbed sea-sand."
"His earliest recollections !" announced the
Page; and the Copper-beech proceeded:-
"When I first raised my head from my little brown bed, my
mother cried, 'Now for his name.'
But my father replied, as the waves lie eyed, 'Oh bother.
They're all the same.
He's a good deal too near to the water, my dear. I trust he's
beyond its reach.'
'Happy thought!' answered she, as she turned to me, 'Suppose
we christen him Beech !'"
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 49
"His youth!" announced the Page; and the
"I grew and I grew till all was blue; I became so strong and
I shot up above my early love--a blush-rose that blushed on
I'd the handsomest shoots and the tidiest roots-so I've oft
heard my mother say-
That- ever you'd see on a youthful tree in the course of a
"His departure, and the effect it had on one of
his aged parents announced the Page; and the
Copper-beech again caught up the strain:-
"As the years rolled by, I began to sigh for a little excitement
So I flitted apace, and took up my place in the woods of
But soon after I left, my poor mother, bereft, enveloped herself
And ere six months had sped o'er her aged head, she hied to
the silent tomb."
"The tragic manner in which he now became
an orphan!" announced the Page. But the
50 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
Copper-beech was weeping, and it was some time
before it could manage its last verse. It ran as
"When I come to tell of what next befell--how the heart of
my father broke-
My sorrow increases: he was chopped into pieces, and ended
his days in smoke.
From all home-ties now torn, an orphan forlorn, I determined,
with many a sigh,
To take up this station and seek consolation from the pennies
of passers by."
"It is rather melancholy," murmured Etta.
Yes," blubbered the wretched orphan ;
" you'll find that dock leaf very handy. There's
only one penny extra to pay for it, and we won't
be particular about time. When you've quite
finished with it you can hand it over to me."
Etta felt constrained to make some pretence
of passing it over her eyes; then, handing it to
the Copper-beech, she said: "I wouldn't deprive
you of it for worlds, you poor, poor thing!"
After a pause, she continued, And now, if you
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 51
are sufficiently recovered, you shall tell me how
you came to lose your limb."
"Tell her," whispered the Beech to the Page,
with intense sadness; I can't."
"There was an awful hurricane; and it
selected the poor orphan to break upon," replied
"It had to," murmured the orphan.
"It had to," solemnly repeated the Page.
Suddenly stooping down, the Copper-beech
caught up the branch bank to its bosom, and
shaking the vast collection of pennies together
by way of an accompaniment, trolled out in an
Oh the wind and the rain-waves broke,
As they always do break, on me!
For if a wave break upon anything
It must break on the Beech ; d'ye see "
A willow listening to the chorus, and musing
on the unrelenting habit of fate, wept bitterly,
and deliberately sat down amongst some sur-
52 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
rounding ashes; and two firs which were standing
by bent their feathery heads into little arches,
and pined for those better times which, they
felt assured, must be in store for their poor
"It really is very sad," murmured Etta. "I
think we will contribute another penny, and move
on." And no sooner was the penny contributed
than the Page flapped his wings, and moved
onwards, Etta following.
"Sh-sh!" exclaimed the guide, suddenly
coming to a full stop; and then, stepping softly
behind a bush, pointed through it towards some-
thing on the other side.
Etta moved up beside him, and peeped between
the leaves which he held apart. Lying before her
on its back was a yellow snail-shell, black-barred
and shiny, over which was leaning a very small
sprite, with very long eyelashes. Come, gee-up!"
he was saying, as he looked down into the depths
of the shell. "It's time I was beginning my
watch. The eggs will be getting cold."
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 53
"Full time," whispered the Page in a severe
tone to Etta.
As the snail-shell still lay upon its back with-
out attempting to move, the sprite thrust a grass
wand which he held in his hand down into the
depths of it, and began in a very matter of fact
way to rake it about.
Don't! You tickle !" said something from
the depths, in rather a squelchy voice.
Gee-up then Gee-up exclaimed the
sprite. If the Page were to pop down upon us
we should get reported."
Etta looked at the Page, and the Page
54 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
I've never felt the loss of my wings so much
as I have since you've been told off to me to make
up for them," observed the sprite, complainingly.
" Directly you've gobbled up your allowance, you
always go off to sleep. I tell you what it is, old
fellow "-another prod with the wand-" I shall
dock your rations."
The shell rolled over lazily on its side; two
horns protruded from it, and finally half a body.
The little sprite then vaulted on to its back; and
the snail, urged forward by sundry prods from
the wand, proceeded slowly to climb up the trunk
of the tree, and out upon one of its lower branches.
Following with her eyes the direction in which
it was moving, Etta caught sight of a bird's nest,
tucked into a little sheltered bower of leaves.
Upon arriving at this the sprite halted, and took
up his post to watch the eggs. The snail then
turned, to make its way down again, and, arriving
at the spot where Etta had first seen it, began
voraciously to eat a large leaf. I don't know
what he meant by saying he would dock my
BRAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 55
allowance. It's dock already," it remarked;
" and," it continued, taking another huge mouth-
ful, remarkably fine dock too."
The Page had arisen, and was proceeding on
his way. Etta now trotted up abreast of him.
' *." -'
"What did the sprite mean when he spoke
about being reported?" she asked.
"He meant," replied the Page, "that he had
been appointed to look after that nest. His duty
is to feel the eggs from time to time when the
56 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
old bird is away; and if he finds them getting
cold, then to call her back again. The King
doesn't like the eggs to get cold, you know."
"Nor do I," said Etta, thinking of one morn-
ing when she had the misfortune to come down
very late for breakfast; "I know of nothing so
unpleasant as a cold egg." Considering that the
remark was perhaps a little too general, she added,
"Soft-boiled, you know; not hard."
But the Page was not to be drawn into ex-
pressing an opinion on the egg question. His
thoughts were evidently still running on the
guilt of the sprite. "He was late-very late-
in performing his duty," he said, with some
severity. It's true," he added, reflectively,
" that his snail is a very lazy one."
"Has each sprite got a snail ? asked Etta.
Only those who have lost their wings," replied
the Page. They are allowed one snail each, and
"Then have some of the sprites lost their
wings ?" asked Etta, reflecting that a wing would
BIAMBLE GLADE. THE ENTRY. 57
be about the last thing that a person could lose,
and feeling a little bewildered. How did they
come to lose them, pray ?"
"Well," replied the Page, evasively, "it's rather
a delicate subject. Perhaps you had better ask
them themselves. Here we are at the Bramble
Glade, and there are lots of them within."
,,zI '. i- '
Yes, there they indeed were, at the entrance to
the Bramble Glade; and at sight of it Etta gave a
cry of delight, and bounded forward. Sloping
towards it in gentle undulations, the turf seemed
58 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
to form a thicker and softer carpet than any she
had yet trodden; and on either side a thousand
glow-worms stood like sentries to line the approach.
None of them moved a muscle as Etta, following
her guide, trotted on between them. It is very
questionable whether sentries can. They certainly
never do. These only glowed, and that they did
to perfection. When Etta had passed the last of
them, the Page stepped suddenly on one side, and,
taking off his jewelled hat with a low bow, made
way for her to pass. Before her was a great arch
of bramble boughs, through which she could see a
long, leafy corridor. Crowding up to the entrance
were hundreds of bright-eyed little sprites, who
were all crying "Welcome !" As far as her eye
could travel into the recesses of the hall, more
bright-eyed little sprites were assembled to greet
her; and with one voice they too were crying
"Welcome!" She felt her own eyes brighten as
she passed under the archway, and stood beneath a
great vaulted roof in their midst. There's music
in your voices," she cried, beaming down upon the
BRAMBLE GTADE. THE ENTRY. 59
whole array of them. If there's one thing in the
world I love to be, it is "-and she paused, with
her finger upon her lips.
What ? what ?" they demanded, clustering
round her in hundreds, and leaning forward with
their hands held to their ears to catch her reply.
Welcome !" she whispered, with a rapturous
THE SIGN OF "THE WARREN."
WHEN Etta recovered from her first surprise after
her entry into the Bramble Glade, and her eyes
began to grow accustomed to the subdued light,
she managed to look about her. The first objects
to attract her attention were a number of gaily-
emblazoned shields which hung at the further end
of the hall, and illustrated various mottoes inscribed
beneath them. These seemed familiar to her.
" The surly bird becomes infirm; " Take care of
the animals, and the pounds will take care of them-
selves;" "The nearer the friend the deeper the
cut; " Still wines send you to sleep," she was able
to read; at others she had merely time to glance.
The air which blew through the leafy walls was
THE SIGN OF THE TWARRBE." 61
delightfully warm and balmy, and she observed
with approval that all the little creatures about her
were very suitably clad. Some wore closely-fitting
garments made of the lightest frog-skin; others
had on dresses woven of flower petals; whilst the
wardrobe of one, who appeared to be engaged in
writing verses with a wand of grass upon a
bramble-leaf, seemed to consist solely of a warm
pair of knitted eyebrows. To be sure there was
not much furniture in the place; but then, .as Etta
reasoned with herself, what does one want with
furniture where the turf is a carpet, and every
mound a delicious cushion ? She was still looking
about her, taking observations, when the Page
suddenly announced, The Master of the Cere-
monies !" and, looking down, she found the little
dignitary alluded to kneeling on the ground before
her, gazing up reverently into her face with a pair
of mild blue eyes.
"Well?" she asked, encouragingly.
He consulted an immense roll of notes which he
held in his hand. You'll make me nervous if you
62 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
talk so much," he said. Then he swelled out his
chest to its utmost capacity, and exclaimed, "Behold
the fruit which contains the gift of the King !"
"Where ? asked Etta.
After again hurriedly consulting his notes, he
pointed towards the further end of the hall, and
there she saw a gigantic blackberry, posted around
which sentry glow-worms were keeping guard.
"Let us hold a meeting," cried one of the
assembly; and the others ranged themselves in
widening circles round Etta and the Master of the
Ceremonies and the blackberry.
"But what does the fruit contain?" asked
Etta, unable to restrain her curiosity.
"Tell! shouted the Master of the Ceremonies,
turning towards it. And no sooner was the magical
word uttered than down the blackberry fell divided
in two pieces, disclosing the most exquisite little
pair of wings it had ever been Etta's lot to
"Oh-h-h !" she exclaimed, rapturously, as she
THE SIGN OF "THE WABREN." 63
"I must protest," called out the sprite who had
been writing; I really must."
"Enter it in the books!" shouted back the
Master of the Ceremonies.
"Entered! cried the sprite, after scratching
the bramble-leaf with his wand.
Why do you protest ? asked the Master.
The other scratched his ear doubtfully, and
drew his knitted brows closer over his eyes.
"Because it is always some one's duty to protest at
a meeting," he said, after a pause; and then
murmured softly, "and Fayland expects that every
sprite this night will do his duty; every one
present chiming in at the last word.
"Quite true," replied the Master. "It is
indeed a solemn and a beautiful thought!" And he
became lost in a reverie as he reflected over its
Hadn't we better be getting on ?" asked Etta,
a little impatiently.
The Master recalled his wandering thoughts.
"At so supreme a moment, perhaps we had," he
64 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
said. "Allow me to present the gift." He
stepped forward as he spoke, and lifting the
delicately woven wings in his hand, attached them
lightly to Etta's shoulders.
"They fit beautifully," she exclaimed, after she
had moved them gently to and fro. "Convey my
thanks to the King." And two messengers sped
down the hall and away through the archway into
"And now we are on the subject of wings,"
she continued, may I ask how it is that some of
you have them, whilst others have not ? "
Those who had not, averted their faces, and
Etta suddenly remembered that her Page had
warned her of the painfulness of the subject.
" Oh I am so sorry! she exclaimed, impulsively
feeling in her pocket for some sweets to distribute,
as all right-minded maidens would do under such
circumstances. Don't tell me how you lost your
wings unless you like to, you dear little things."
"Do you know, I really think we might tell
her," suggested the Master of the Ceremonies.
THE SIGN OF "THE WARREN." 65
"We might! we might!" responded the
assembly, putting its head thoughtfully on one
It might relieve our feelings," continued the
"It relieved the Copper-beech's," said Etta,
encouragingly. But recollecting that she had
come to an end of her pennies, she secretly deter-
mined that whatever might happen she would
accept the loan of no more dock-leaves.
"We will tell her!" exclaimed the Master,
with sudden determination. Then, seating himself
directly opposite to her, he sang the following,
HOW THE WINGLESS SPRITES BECAME WINGLESS.
Once the sun had climbed high in a cloudless blue sky,
And his rays on the earth were alighting;
We were tired with play, and the heat of the day
Made the water look very inviting.
So we loosened the strings of our gossamer wings,
And next we stepped out of our dresses.
66 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
So soft was the gleam of our silvery stream:
So cool were the wavelets' caresses 1
"First we dabbled our toes where the troutlets repose,
And we gazed at the swift swallows skimming;
Then we plunged in apace, and we started in chase:
We are all pretty good hands at swimming.
It was not long before we espied, on the shore,
A maiden forlornly a-walking.
Her head was bent low, as she paced to and fro,
And aloud to herself she was talking.
"In a choked voice she said, Now I would I were dead !
(Her poor eyes with tear-drops were brimming.)
This hat is a fright and from morning till night
I go searching in vain for some trimming !'
And it then came to pass that she saw, on the grass,
These wings we had left, and forgotten.
She turned softly round, took a seat on the ground,
And whipped out a needle and cotton.
It was done in a trice; and, 'I think that looks nice 1'
She said, in a tone of reflection.
Then she rose up and went, with a sigh of content,
And we-put on our clothes in dejection.
THE SIGN OF "THE WARREN." 07
"Then we thought of the cost of these wings we had lost,
And we grew rather solemn about them.
But we've altered our mind since we've each come to find
We can do pretty fairly without them."
The song ended, all the sprites, who had
shivered fitfully when the needle and cotton and
such items were mentioned, slapped one another on
the back, and repeated, "We can do pretty fairly
I'm sure you can," exclaimed Etta, cheerfully.
"And now tell me, Has the song relieved your
Most of them," replied the assembly.
And we can easily drown the others," chimed
in the Master of the Ceremonies, as though he
were speaking of a litter of puppies-" in work.
Be off, all of you, and bid our sisters to the tryst!
Let the spot be the gates of Bubbleby Grange, and
the hour that at which the moon has climbed
above the tallest railing."
"Houp-la!" cried the assembly. And then
trooped away with the utmost eagerness to convey
68 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
the message. In a few moments the leafy hall
was almost empty, only a couple of attendants
remaining behind to take further orders.
"And now we are alone, let's have supper,"
exclaimed the Master of the Ceremonies, somewhat
greedily. The question is, Do you like Welsh
"The answer is, I've never tried it," replied
He looked surprised. Then let me strongly
recommend you to," he said; and if you don't
at first succeed, try, try, try again. I'll serve
you one up."
"First catch your rabbit, then cook him,"
remarked one of the attendants, thoughtfully.
"That's the duty of the Black-and-tan,"
observed the other; and then added softly, "and
Fayland expects that every dog this night will do
his duty! the others joining in, as usual, at the
The Master of the Ceremonies leapt to his feet.
exclaiming, "So hey for the bold Black-and-tan!"
THE SIGN OF "THE WARREN." 69
And in the most unceremonious manner the three
rushed out into the moonlight.
"In quest of the supper, I presume," said
Etta to the Page. And as he nodded, she gathered
up her skirts and gave chase.
When the two had emerged from the hall,
Etta caught sight of a low swinging bough some
thirty or forty yards off, seated upon which, and
talking earnestly with the dearest little Terrier
it had ever been her lot to behold, were two of
the three sprites.
"What's the use of a rabbit unless he's
70 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
Welsh?" the Master of the Ceremonies was
asking, as le airily waved his hand.
Thinking this was a riddle, and fearing that it
might be given up before she could arrive, Etta
called out, on the impulse of the moment, "Non-
sense Any other is just as useful. For instance,
"Wrong! shouted the Master of the Cere-
monies. "I dismiss the appeal with costs. A
Rush'un is as full of pith as the calf of a Lord
Mayor's footman, and is only ornamental, not
useful. What says the Terrier? Are there any
Welsh to be had ? "
The Terrier yelped seven times distinctly.
Which, being interpreted, means that there's
a whole family of seven who have taken a warren
in the neighbourhood, if he could but discover its
whereabouts," explained the faithful Page.
"Chase two of our old friends past, and. we'll
cross-examine them," said the Master of the Cere-
monies to the dog. He dismounted from the
bough as he spoke, and, followed by the two
THE SIGN OF "THE WARREN." 71
attendants, secreted himself in the dense foliage
which hemmed in the glade.
"What shall we see?" asked Etta, as she
stepped behind the trunk of an oak on the other
side, towards which the Page had beckoned her.
"Sport," he replied, briefly, and stroked her
wings. She moved them gently to and fro, and
began to feel almost as light on her feet as she did
in her heart.
In the meantime the Black-and-tan had scam-
pered away over the turf and was now out of sight.
Perfect stillness reigned; and Etta, looking down
the moonlit glade, became lost in a reverie. She
must have nearly fallen asleep, for after a little
while she found herself debating whether, under
any circumstances whatever, it might become the
duty of a Flap-doodle to change its name; and if
so, under what circumstances. When she had
arrived at this stage, her meditations were suddenly
cut short by the sharp bark of the Terrier, and by
the sound of pattering footsteps. Stepping forward
eagerly, and peeping out from behind the tree-
72 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
trunk, she saw, racing along towards her, two
elderly but swift-footed rabbits. On they came,
shoulder to shoulder, with even stride. She felt
her heart beat faster as they neared the spot where
the sprites were concealed. They were twenty
yards off-ten-they were passing it! Suddenly
the branches parted, and with lightning-like dex-
terity the Master of the Ceremonies and one of his
attendants leapt forth and vaulted upon the backs
of the panic-stricken bunnies. On they flew, like
greased lightning, Etta and the Page now following
in close pursuit. The hair of the riders streamed
THE SIGN OF "THE TVARREN." 73
out behind them as the pace grew faster and faster;
and Etta felt her own doing the same, as, with feet
scarce touching the ground, she sped along with
the trusty Page in their wake.
Before the end of the glade was reached, the
rabbits seemed to recover their presence of mind.
"I'm getting hot," observed one of them, slightly
slackening his pace.
"You shouldn't wear fur in summer, my gay
old buck," remarked his rider, winking at his
companion as he gave the unfortunate animal a
prod with a grass wand he had snatched up in the
"Yoicks! exclaimed the rabbit, impulsively;
but immediately correcting himself, halloed faintly,
"Pull up!" shouted the Master of the Cere-
monies. And the two rabbits were pulled up with
a horrid jerk close beside a luxuriant bed of sow-
"They look pretty succulent," he continued,
thoughtfully, giving his steed a prod to attract his
74 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
attention, and pointing with his wand to the
"They do. Dash my whiskers! they do,"
replied the old rabbit, licking his lips.
"Split my ear and put my toe through it
if I've ever seen finer thistles!" chimed in the
"Humph! ejaculated the Master of the Cere-
Oh, certainly," replied one of the steeds, who
appeared to be rather nervous after what had
happened; and the other murmured politely,
"With pleasure, I'm sure."
"It strikes me you are a pair of old bachelors,"
remarked the attendant, suddenly noticing that
they hadn't so much as a single shirt button to
share between them.
"We are, we are!" they replied in a breath,
with such feeling that Etta expected them to add,
"Thank heaven but they abstained.
"Not fond of baby-rabbits, I presume," con-
tinued the attendant.
THE SIGN OF "THE WAB EN." 75
"Can't abide 'em," responded the old bachelors,
without a moment's hesitation. They gobble up
the thistles like Colorado beetles."
We want to adopt one," exclaimed the Master
of the Ceremonies, benevolently. "There's an old
Welsh lady with a whole family of them some-
where in the neighbourhood. The question is,
Where is she to be found ?"
"At the sign of 'The Warren,' promptly
responded the steeds; and then paused, as though
they had been tempted into saying too much.
Take us to the sign of The Warren,' urged
the Master of the Ceremonies, gently, and you
shall spend all the rest of the night among the
sow-thistles. There "
"And wouldn't the old lady just comb our
hair for us, neither; that's all! exclaimed the two,
relapsing into very undignified language at the
"She wouldn't see you," urged the tempter,
artfully edging his steed a little nearer to the bank.
"And think of the sow-thistles! "
76 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
The old bachelors could hold out no longer.
They simply swung round on their hind legs and
sped off with their riders in search of the family.
Doubling back along the glade, they soon reached
open country, and crossing a couple of fields, came
to a tall hedge, at which they drew up. Etta, who
arrived with the Page a moment later, peeped
through it, and described on the other side a little
range of sandy, yellow mountains, above which
swung the sign of "The Warren." Hard by the
largest of these sat an old lady-rabbit, surrounded
by seven as dear little babies as a mother's heart
could wish. They were as round as powder-puffs,
and softer; and each of their pretty little tails
showed white against the green grass as they
frisked merrily at play. The Master of the Cere-
monies and his companion now silently dismounted,
and the two old bachelors made off, looking rather
ashamed of themselves, as from time to time they
turned to cast a glance behind.
Etta watched the sprites with the greatest
interest, wondering what would happen next, yet
THE SIGN OF THE WARRENN" 77
fearing to ask a question, even of the faithful Page.
Seizing an opportune moment when the old lady-
rabbit's back was turned, the Master of the Cere-
monies suddenly stepped through the hedge, and
deftly caught up one of the babies by its long
flapping ears. His movements were almost noise-
less, yet not so noiseless as to escape the ear of the
anxious mother. Rapidly turning her head, she
caught sight of him. He had concealed the baby
behind his back, and now bowed to her in the
most polite manner imaginable; but without so
much as a nod in return, she began counting over
78 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
her darlings. "One, two, three, four, five, six,"
Etta heard her mutter to herself. "Where's the
seventh ? she asked, eyeing the thief sternly.
"No, no, you mistake," he said, soothingly.
"The seventh must have been yourself."
Notwithstanding the tone he employed, his
words failed to satisfy the anxious mother.
"How many are you? she asked, turning to
The most intelligent-looking of the number
abstractedly scratched his ear with his toe, and
replied softly, We are seven."
Search the galleries," cried the mother, giving
two sounding thuds on the ground with her hind
legs ; and then added, C-nf-s-n t-ke th-m "
"Her native tongue-Welsh," murmured the
Page to Etta, in explanation.
"It's not! cried the mother, indignantly. She
"She means it's tied into one," whispered the
Etta began to wonder how she would untie it,
THE SIGN OF THE WARREN." 79
and decided that whatever language she might
learn, it should certainly never be Welsh.
In a few moments the six, who had scampered
into the caves, looked out and exclaimed unani-
mously, "Not at home !"
Barricade the entrances and get to bed," cried
the mother, in a heart-broken voice. And no
sooner was the order given than all the little grey
noses were withdrawn, and showers of earth ap-
peared in their stead. In a few moments the
entrances were completely blocked.
"And now," said the heart-broken mother,
turning to the Master of the Ceremonies, "I shall
indulge in three hysterics and die." Her eyes
shone upon him like burnished brass. May the
sign of 'The Warren' creak above you when I am
no more, as it has often, of old, creaked above me,"
she cried; and rolling over on her side with a con-
vulsive struggle, she whispered in a sepulchral
"Cold water!" cried the Master of the Cere-
monies, nervously. But nobody fetched any.
80 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
Two !" whispered the old rabbit, with another
Burn a feather under her nose!" roared one
of the attendants to the other, who had just arrived
upon the scene.
Three !" muttered the mother, indulging in
her last hysteric, and permitting her limbs to
The three sprites gathered round the body in
the utmost alarm; and the intelligent baby seized
the opportunity for wriggling out of its captor's
The usual funeral rites, I suppose ?" inquired
one of the attendants.
The other nodded, and at once turned aside
to shed a few pious tears.
Six armfuls of leaves will be wanted," ob-
served the Master of the Ceremonies, taking the
measurement of the poor bunny. And then all
three solemnly departed to fetch them.
All this time Etta had remained behind the
hedge. So quickly had the death come about
THE SIGN OF THE WARREN." 81
that she had only had time to pity, not to render
aid. She was just about to step forward, when,
to her astonishment, she saw one of the eyes of
the dead rabbit unclose; and, a moment later,
the dead rabbit herself jump up, place her arm
seemed somewhat startled, but immediately re-
82 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
covering herself, she blew a kiss to Etta through
the hedge, murmuring melodiously, "'Twas but
a little pious fraud," in the notes of which Etta
recognized her old friend, the Little Faded
Flower. Then she waltzed away among the
mountains, only pausing for a moment to call
out, "Good evening!"
"The doors are barricaded!" cried Etta.
The front doors," shouted the old rabbit, cor-
recting her. But what matter? We are not
proud. We'll go in at the back." The words
came very faintly, for she was already far away.
That is as knowing an old rabbit as I have
ever met," exclaimed Etta to herself, reflectively.
Just then she heard the footsteps of the returning
sprites, and she waited with some curiosity to see
what would happen. When they reached the
hedge they came to a standstill, and searched
about for the body. Not finding it, they seemed
at first to imagine that they had mistaken the
spot; but having reassured themselves on that
point, they began to look serious. After a few
THE SIGN OF THE WARREN." 83
moments had elapsed, during which neither of
them spoke, the Master of the Ceremonies ex-
claimed, in a mortified tone, "It strikes me we
shed those pious drops a little too soon."
Just then the sign of The Warren" gave an
ominous creak, and they all started nervously.
Pausing to mutter something about its being time
they were back at the Glade, just to save their
dignity, they turned and fled.
Shall we follow?" asked the Page, who had
for some time been sitting with his back propped
up against a hemlock stem, ruminating.
Etta flapped her wings and said, Yes." As
they sped along, side by side, she asked, What
comes next, Page ? "
The tryst at Bubbleby Grange," he answered,
promptly, turning a somersault in the air out of
pure gladness of heart.
Then the Glade was reached, and the double
line of glowing sentries was passed, and Etta
found herself once more in the leafy hall, among
the assembled sprites.
84 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
What are your ages ? she asked, imagining,
as she looked down upon them, that they had
grown a little in stature during her absence.
"Four," they replied, unanimously.
"How very, very odd!" she exclaimed.
What is ? they inquired.
Why," replied Etta, that you should all be
the same age, and that that age should be four."
We must solemnly protest that the age ot
a sprite can't be odd," observed the Master of the
Ceremonies, earnestly, shaking his head from
side to side. Many other things may be, you
know," he continued, kindly. For instance"-
and he began to warble:-
A flap-doodle may be, or a two-headed baby,
Or a whistling oyster or cod."
But whatever you make of it,"
chimed in the assembly,
our davies we'll take of it
That the age of a sprite can't be odd."
THE SIGN OF THE WARREN." 85
continued the Master of the Ceremonies, thought-
"may look it; a mud-pie, if you cook it;
Or a pin with a head that will nod."
But whatever you make of it,"
chimed in the assembly,
our davies we'll take of it
That the age of a sprite can't be odd."
And pray why can't it ? asked Etta, feeling
a little irritated by the intensely positive tone in
which the assembly had shouted. If you all
really happen to be four years old, your ages are
even, I will allow; but to say that the age of a
sprite can't be odd, is absurd."
We are rarely any other age than four," re-
plied the Master of the Ceremonies. And the as-
sembly softly shook its head, and murmured once
more, Whatever you make of it, our davies we'll
take of it, that the age of a sprite can't be odd."
86 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
"I don't care how rarely you are any other
age," said Etta, feeling it her duty to enlighten
their ignorance. If you are ever five years old,
or say, for instance, three, then your ages may be
No," persisted the Master of the Ceremonies,
" they would still be even."
And pray, how could that be ?" asked Etta.
Well, you see," he replied, softly, "five or
three would be such an exceptional age that it
would be even five, or even three."
"Whatever you make of it, our davies we'll
take of it," croaked the assemblage.
If you do," cried Etta, pressing her hands
to her ears, and stamping her foot on the ground,
"you will drive me mad."
Read a proverb," whispered the Master of
the Ceremonies, in a tone of the utmost concern,
" read a proverb. I know of nothing like a pro-
verb to put one right when one's wrong." And
he took Etta by the arm, and led her gently to
the long array of scrolls at the end of the hall,
THE SIGN OF "THE WARREN." 87
on which the devices were emblazoned. When
I've once repeated to myself, 1Te surly bird be-
comes infirm, or even Take care of the animals and
fte pounds will take care of themselves, I feel-I
feel-oh! I know not how right I feel!" And
he clasped his hands together, and gazed in an
ecstasy at the inscriptions.
As a trivet," suggested Etta.
I don't think it's a trivet," said the Master,
As ninepence," suggested Etta.
"That's it! that's it!" he cried, a great joy
taking possession of him. "As right as nine-
pence!" Then, observing that Etta was reading,
he asked, softly, Do they comfort you? "
"Not much," replied Etta, gazing down into
his mild, blue eyes; "not much."
"Ah, it takes some little time before you can
feel their effects," he murmured, a little dis-
appointedly, as he felt her pulse. You mustn't
expect too much of them, you know."
"I won't," said Etta, earnestly.
'A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
I always think it's unkind to expect too much
of a proverb," he continued, dreamily; "though I
will say they're wonderfully staunch as a rule."
After a short pause he clambered up on the pedestal
which, earlier in the night, had supported the
gigantic blackberry that held Etta's wings, and
shouted out, What say our sisters? "
That they will come," answered the assembly.
"And the trysting-place ? "
The gates of Bubbleby Grange," answered the
"And the hour? "
Ten fleeting minutes from this," replied the
assembly, which evidently wanted to be off.
"Have we ever been known to keep ladies
waiting ? "
"Never," replied the assembly, impatiently.
And never shall be," cried the Master of the
Ceremonies. "Yet now that I am up here," he
continued, wistfully, "I should keenly enjoy
dancing a fandango for you. Of all graceful
exercises, I know of nothing like a fandango."
THE SIGN OF THE TVARREN." 89
"Can't you postpone it? the assembly entreated.
"I suppose I must. But you sympathise with
Deeply," replied the assembly.
Then the meeting is adjourned," cried the
Master of the Ceremonies. And hardly was the
dismissal given before the hall was again mar-
vellously emptied. Then he looked around, and
muttered, "I must do it; I must! And placing
his leg about his neck, he hopped gracefully round
the pedestal on the very points of his toes. What
do you think of it ? he asked, untying himself,
and lightly jumping down.
"Wonderful!" said Etta. "But a very little
of it, I should think, would go a very long way."
He looked gratified. Suddenly turning to
where the Page was seated on the ground, he
exclaimed, in a severe tone, The Page is asleep! "
So he was. Etta had almost forgotten her
little guide,, and she now began to feel some
remorse at her neglect of him. She touched him
gently on the shoulder to attract his attention.
90 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
"You don't suppose that will wake him, do
you ?" asked the Master of the Ceremonies, looking
at her in surprise. We shall have to roll him
over." And suiting the action to the word, he
rolled him over.
"The answer-they will come; the tryst-the
gates of Bubbleby; the hour-ten fleeting minutes
from this;" observed the Page, collectedly, as he
rubbed his eyes.
And you dreamt all that ? asked the Master
of the Ceremonies, with a gasp of astonishment.
I made a point of doing so," replied the Page,
"Well," muttered the Master of the Cere-
monies, drawing on a pair of goloshes and hurrying
down the hall, "a proverb's a useful thing in its
way; but a dream-bless my heart, if a dream
isn't the handiest thing to have about you on
a midsummer night that has yet been invented."
And with that he disappeared through the gate-
"Shall we be off to the doves' roost," asked
THE SIGN OF THE WARREN." 91
the Page, to see that the messengers are ready
to attend the tryst ? "
Etta said Yes," and followed him out into the
moonlight, and away towards the plantation.
"Do you hear them? he asked, a little later,
as he halted under an oak.
The softest of cooing reached Etta's ears; and
looking up, she saw, seated on a bough, a pair of
radiant-winged doves. Two winged sprites were
conversing with them, and others were sporting in
and out of the leaves and twigs amongst which they
92 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
stood. One of the former had thrown his arm
about the neck of one, and the other was explaining
something very earnestly to the other; and both
the doves were cooing as though they quite under-
stood it all, and more too. Were ever voices so
sweet and low!
"You beauties Etta called up to them.
They looked down; and one of the sprites
catching sight of the Page, explained that they
were just off to the tryst. Whilst he was speaking,
the other sprite slipped on his frog-skin overalls,
and mounted his feathered steed.
"Delightful! cried Etta, clapping her hands.
Truly delightful. The Page and I will follow."
But looking round, she discovered that the Page
had again fallen off to sleep. This is too bad,"
she said, touching his shoulder. But he did not
awake; and so, seeing that both the sprites were
mounted, and remembering what the Master of the
Ceremonies had said, she called out to them, Turn
the Page over!" And the doves descended, and
their riders turned the Page over.
AFTER giving two or three prodigious yawns, and
observing Etta's reproachful gaze fixed upon him,
the Page murmured, confusedly, "Let us change
the subject." Pointing to the two fast receding
sprites, who appeared to be growing smaller and
smaller in the distance with every wing-beat of the
doves which bore them, he took Etta's hand, and
whispered softly, "Drink! "
Seeing nothing else convenient, she drank in a
deep draught of air, as does one who is about
to dip her head beneath the waters; upon which
the Page cried in a loud voice, Are you ready ? "
Off!" exclaimed Etta, without deigning to
answer the question. And off they whirled.
94 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
Now, this journey was a longer one than
ever they had taken before; for even after
the plantation was left behind, and the two
meadows were crossed, and a bubbling brook was
forded, on they went. Suddenly the two doves,
on which their eyes had been throughout stead-
fastly fixed, wheeled off to the right, and passed
beneath an avenue of elms, solemn as the aisle of
a church, and much more beautiful. The moon-
rays were falling between the branches, and
strewing themselves in a netted tracery upon the
ground beneath. Gazing down upon the delicate
lace-work as she sped lightly over it, Etta gently
pressed the Page's hand to attract his attention,
and murmured, "I feel as though I were treading
Impossible!" he exclaimed; adding, in an
assuring tone, You're in Fairyland, you know."
There's no doubt about that," murmured Etta
to herself; for just then she became aware of the
presence of myriads of little people, who were
assembled at the further end of the avenue where
BUBBLEBY GRANGE. 95
the doves had settled. Looking intently towards
them, she discerned a great gateway and an iron
railing, and beyond it a lodge. As she drew
96 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
closer, she was able to see that the assembly
consisted of little people of both sexes-those of
her own being, of course, infinitely the more
beautiful. Each of their movements-and they
appeared never to be still-was a marvel of grace.
From their heads shone star diadems, and their
silky tresses waved softly in the air as they swayed,
and undulated, and pirouetted in ever-changing
groups. They had apparently been awaiting the
advent of the winged sprites, for as the two
descended they gathered around them. He who
had not donned his frog-skin overalls, wand in
hand, now leaped lightly upon a stone step in
front of the great iron gate; and the fairies, still
swaying, and undulating, and pirouetting, grouped
themselves about him.
They are going to sing-I know they are !"
"I won't deny it. They usually do on these
occasions," assented the Page.
Pausing in her undulations, one of the fays,
who had mounted the step by the gate and was
BUBBLEBY GRANGE. 97
standing just behind the wand-bearer, gurgled
forth melodiously a verse to begin with:-
When the night air caresses our waving tresses,
When the dew-wet hours are flying apace,
With hearts light-beating, we hold our meeting
Once more at our well-loved trysting place."
Then one of her sisters caught up the strain:-
O'er leafy bowers and sweet-scented flowers
The rising moon sheds her silvery beams.
Now shadows go creeping, and mortals are sleeping-
Wandering far in the land o' dreams."
A third proceeded with it:-
"Around their dwelling let soft notes swelling
Sigh through the air with a cadence sweet.
Let winged forms tripping go airily slipping,
Just brushing the ground with their twinkling feet."
Suddenly wheeling round to a little gnome at
her side, and transfixing him with her glance, the
first singer imperiously issued an order:--
98 A MOONBEAM TANGLE.
Small apparition, set forth on thy mission !
Speed through the vale to our glade afar!
Away to your duty! Bring forth in their beauty
Our carpet of gold and our silver car !"
Bowing to the ground with the utmost ceremony,
he was apparently going to make a speech in reply,
when his mistress, with great presence of mind,
tapped her wand upon the step and cut him
Right about face, Sir Quicken your pace, Sir !
We would pass through the gates, and the lawn invade.
So don't keep us waiting by standing prating,
But fly, like the wind, to the Bramble Glade !"
The tone she used, and the manner in which
she twirled her wand, were so urgent that, without
waiting to utter a word in reply, he made off in the
direction indicated as fast as his short legs would
carry him. Marvellously fast he must have sped,
for hardly had Etta time to arrange her thoughts
on the subject of his errand before she again caught
sight of him. Behind him was the car, glittering