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THE FAIRY RUBIN&TTA.-Seepaffe 6,
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FAIRY GIFTS; ^,
A WALLET OF WONDERS.
BY KATHLEEN KNOX,
AUTHOR OF 'FATHER TIME'S STORY BOOK.'
ILLUSTRATIONS BY KATE GREENAWAY.
GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS,
WEST CORNER OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD, LONDON.
E. P. DUTTON & CO., NEW YORK.
I. THE RED FOREST, 5
II. THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE, . 17
III. THE CHARMED RUBY, . 38
IV. THE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE, . 67
V. THE CRYSTAL HEART, . .. 85
VL THE ROSE OF PERPETUAL YOUT, 10
THE RED FOREST.
T was morning in
the Red Forest.
The sun was just
beginning to glint
across the mists,
and tip the leaves
of the trees with
blood-red; for as
every tree in
was a cop-
the sun turned them tl:at colour as soon as it touched
If there had been cottages about, the housewife
6 FAIRY GIFTS.
would just have been lighting the fire to make the
husband's porridge; but there were none, and so the
tiny curls of blue smoke, which look so pretty in a
landscape, were not to be seen anywhere.
For the Red Forest was at the very end of the
world, and so, of course, no one lived there, for on
dark nights they might have fallen off the edge, you
understand. There was a wall behind the Fairy's
cottage, but then nobody knew that. Did I say the
Fairy's cottage? Then, of course, you know that
some one lived there.
The Fairy Rubinetta had just opened her door, and,
like a good housewife, was preparing to sweep her door-
step with a golden broomstick shaped like a horse's
head, from which circumstance we may conclude that
it also served her for a steed, when she wanted to
ride through the air. Beside her were her two faithful
companions, a blue cat who went on three legs and
a tail, and a huge yellow dog with enormous eyes,
and one large ear standing erect on the top of his
These two placed themselves like a guard of honour,
one on each side of their mistress; the dog with his
mouth open ready to bark at the first intruder, and the
THE RED FOREST. 7
cat with her back arched, and one paw raised, ready for
a spring. As no one, however, had come near the Red
Forest for about a hundred years or so, these warlike
demonstrations were not quite so necessary as one
'Really,' said the Fairy Rubinetta, adjusting her
spectacles before beginning to sweep, 'this is getting
'I positively,' she added, after sweeping vigorously
for a minute or two, 'should like a little excitement.'
So saying, she shaded her eyes with her hand, and
looked earnestly along the Forest path, which wound in
and out round the copper beeches, never once going in a
straight line. The Fairy Rubinetta was an old woman,
as well she might be, considering that she had lived at
least three hundred and fifty years. But she carried
her years lightly, and did not look a day older, probably
not so old, as your grandmother does at this moment-
nothing like it, I should say. Indeed, the oldest Fairy
in Fairyland, who numbered about six hundred years,
was accustomed to scout the idea of the Fairy Rubinetta
being considered old.
'Old, did you say! Fiddle-de-dee, my dear; quite a
young woman yet.'
8 FAIRY GIFTS.
The Fairy Rubinetta dressed entirely in red, as
became her position as sole mistress of the Red Forest.
She had a long red cloak which covered her down to
the tips of her red shoes, a high conical hat, red like her
cloak, and on state occasions she was accustomed to draw
on a pair of long red mittens, and to crown herself with a
chaplet of copper beech leaves. So, you see, she formed,
with her blue cat and yellow dog, quite a refreshing bit
of colour. Then her figure was very neat indeed; in
fact, when she had been a young girl of about a hundred
or so, she had been the belle of all the Fairy Court balls,
and had only retired from them when other fairies
were coming forward. The Fairy Rubinetta could not
bear to be eclipsed. All this time she had been looking
along the Forest path in search of some excitement,
but as she could not discern any, she turned again to her
sweeping. Presently a whirr of wings came past the
yellow dog, and a large bird, black as jet, with a crest
of snowy feathers on its head, lit on the blue cat's nose.
'There, now!' exclaimed the old Fairy, throwing
down her broom in great excitement, 'if ever I saw the
like! So sure as a body's head begins to run on
monotonies, and excitements, and such things, some-
thing is certain to happen.'
THE RED FOREST. 9
And the Fairy bustled along the Forest path, and her
retinue, including the jet black bird, bustled after her.
Just emerging from behind one of the copper beeches
came an old man, and it was easy to see that the jet
black bird was his 'familiar,' they were so like each
other. The new-comer was dressed entirely in black,
with the exception of three snowy ostrich feathers which
waved over the crown of his steeple-shaped hat. His
eyes, too, were jet black, and very bright and piercing,
his eyebrows were also black, but his hair and beard,
which were very long, were snow-white, like the ostrich
Welcome, welcome, old friend,' cried the Fairy Rubi-
netta. 'I was just wanting a little excitement, and if I
had sat thinking for a thousand years, I could not have
guessed anything which would have pleased me better
than a visit from my old friend the Wizard Katchoo-
'Thankee, thankee, Mistress Rubinetta,' answered the
Wizard, 'I'm glad you're so pleased. If I had known, I
might have come sooner; but the fact is, I've brought
you a little too much excitement this time, if I am not
'You don't say so,' said the Fairy; 'do come in and
10 FAIRY GIFTS.
tell me about it-there, leave your bird with my cat and
dog, they'll get on right well.'
'Ay, ay, I'll warrant you they will, especially if
your cat takes a more than common fancy to my bird,'
muttered the Wizard, who appeared to be something
sharp in his temper. By this time, however, the Fairy
Rubinetta had relieved him of the wallet he carried
on his back, and had placed a bowl of smoking hot
hasty pudding before him, in consequence of which
agreeable proceedings he became much mollified.
'Great doings for you, Mistress Rubinetta,' said
the Wizard Katchookatchkan between the mouthfuls
of hasty pudding. 'I am glad to see you are get-
ting tired of your dignity in this out-o'-the-way
Tired, Sir Katchookatchkan,' said the Fairy briskly;
'and pray who told you that?'
'Why, weren't you glad to see me ? and didn't you
say you wanted excitement ? and don't I remember the
time when you were fit to snap the head off any one
who came near you ? Don't tell me!'
'Well,' admitted the Fairy, 'one does like a little
excitement now and then.'
'Ay, ay,' chuckled the Wizard, 'you may say that,
THE RED FOREST. II
Mistress Rubinetta, without any fear of not being
believed; one does-a woman does, no doubt.'
I think,' said the Fairy Rubinetta with dignity, 'you
forget, Sir Katchookatchkan, that you are speaking to
Not a bit of it,' answered the undaunted Katchoo-
katchkan, pushing his bowl aside and drawing his wallet
towards him. 'I forget-I wonder when I ever forgot
'What's in there?' inquired the Fairy, probably
thinking that she would have the worst of it if she
continued the argument.
'Ay, there it is, you see,' said the Wizard, peeping
into his wallet and peeping out again. 'You might
also say, Mistress Rubinetta, without any fear of not
being believed, that a woman is sometimes a little
curious. But now to business.'
And the Fairy Rubinetta, probably with a shadowy
recollection of how business is transacted among
people who are not fairies, placed on the table an
inkstand without any ink, and a pen without any nib,
and looked solemn.
'And now,' said the Wizard triumphantly, 'since we
have decided, Mistress Rubinetta, that you are getting
12 FAIRY GIFTS.
tired of your solitude, probably you will not object to
giving it up for a little while and becoming a Queen's
'By my red mittens!' ejaculated the Fairy Rubinetta
in horrified amazement, 'what's this you say, friend
'Because,' continued the Wizard, 'the Queen is
sending some fairy gifts to human beings, and wants
you to take them.'
'Then she may want,' said the Fairy firmly.
'So, so,' said the Wizard, leaning back in his chair.
But knowing that silence is the best way of managing
a refractory woman, he said no more. As he expected,
the Fairy Rubinetta soon came down off her high horse
and began to reason with him.
'Why,' she said, stretching out her hand and speaking
with great pathos, 'does the Queen take me away from
my peaceful and happy home, and from the loved
companions of my solitude, and bid me go amongst
human beings, racked as they are with storms, and
devoured with carking cares? Why-I say--'
'Is it of me you are asking all those questions ?'
interrupted the Wizard. How should I know the Queen's
reasons for doing things ; isn't she a woman ?'
THE RED FOREST. 13
'And let me tell you, Sir Katchookatchkan,' said
the Fairy with great sharpness, and with such a sudden
change from her former tone that the Wizard was quite
startled, 'that you have a very disrespectful way of
speaking of her Majesty, to say nothing of the manner
in which you speak to myself.'
'Whew!' said the Wizard, 'I wonder which is the
most respectful, to speak the truth about the Queen,
or to disobey her?'
'I disobey her!' exclaimed the Fairy.
'Well, you said she might want, or want must be her
master, or something of the sort.'
The Fairy Rubinetta immediately burst into tears,
and requested the Wizard to trample upon her without
loss of time. He had already trampled on the tenderest
portion of her feelings, and might as well do the same
good office for the tenderest part of her body. The
Wizard, however, did nothing of the sort, but strolled
about the room, peeping into all the Fairy's pet
corners, and exhorting her to cry as much as she
liked, tears did nobody any harm.
'What's in here?' exclaimed the Fairy savagely,
making up for her wrongs by turning the whole contents
of the Wizard's wallet out on the table. They were a
14 FAIRY GIFTS.
very odd collection, but as we shall hear plenty about
them hereafter, I will not describe them more particu-
larly now. The Wizard, however, came back to the
table, and proceeded to describe their various uses and
properties, and to tell little anecdotes about them with
so much affability, that the Fairy was quite melted, and
tearfully professed herself willing to sacrifice anything
in the cause of the dear Queen, provided her friend the
Wizard would retract what he had said about her being
tired of her solitude, which the Wizard very politely
did, and peace was restored.
'And now,' said the Wizard when this matter was
settled, 'I have so much to do, that I must not stay one
moment longer. Good day to you, Mistress Rubinetta;
it is to be hoped your cat has not been breakfasting o:1
my bird all this time.'
'And I,' said the Fairy Rubinetta, looking very
radiant considering her recent sacrifice, 'have all my
housekeeping to see to, and no end of preparations to
make, so farewell my dear friend Katchookatchkan.'
And the Wizard, shouldering his wallet and taking a
long staff in his hand, on the top of which perched the
jet black bird (which had not been eaten, though the
blue cat looked as if she had been making up her mind
THE RED FOREST. 15
about it, but had not come to a decision in time),
trudged off into the middle of the copper beeches.
After that, the Fairy Rubinetta set about her prepara-
tions, which lasted till sunset was dyeing the Red Forest
with the deepest of crimson. Then she came out of her
cottage with her red mittens on, looked all round her
muttering the words of a charm, which was to keep the
Red Forest invisible till she came back to it, kissed the
blue cat and the yellow dog with great fervour, and
exhorting them to take care of themselves and the
house, mounted her golden broomstick and rode off at
Now, my young friends, all this is only the introduc-
tion to my real story, which is the history of the Fairy
Gifts which Mistress Rubinetta brought to certain little
maidens of the Fairy Queen's acquaintance. It was
told me-this introduction, I mean-by a certain little
Fairy who comes to see me every 29th of February,
and that's how I came to know so much about it.
We have not, however, seen the last of the Fairy
Rubinetta yet, though for the present we will leave
her to ride through the air as fast as she can on her
C .~ -.-.-
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE.
SHERE was once a certain
S little village in a certain
Little corner of the world,
S which was especially dear
to the heart of the
Fairy Queen. I do
S. not know exactly why,
S except that it was a cosy
little village, extremely re-
S tired, for there were no
means of getting at it, and
no means of getting away
from it, so that the villagers were born, lived, and died
in it, not only without thinking of anything different,
but without even dreaming that there was anything
different. Now this was just the place, as you must
18 FAIRY GIFTS.
see at once, for fairies; and, in fact, to the outside-world,
Cornertown, which was the name of our little village,
had quite an uncanny reputation, which would have
greatly shocked the inhabitants had they known it; but
not having anything to do with the outside world, they
did not know that fairies had gone out of fashion, and
took them quite as a matter of course, while in all
other matters they were extremely well-behaved, went
out to tea with the utmost gentility, and were devoted
to all the proprieties of life.
Cornertown was not a particularly pretty place, at
least it was only surrounded by the 'meadows, groves,
and streams' which are but the 'common sights' of
this work-a-day world of ours. The sunshine and
the spring flowers were no brighter here than else-
where, the birds nested and sang, and the children
grew and laughed, and sent their shrill voices through
the summer evening air to the listening mothers at
home, in just the same manner that is common to
every Cornertown in the world. There were nothing
but common little cottages, too, with quite common
sort of folks in them, who were devoted to keeping
house (ay, and husband and children too, in very good
order!), and suchlike common occupations. There had
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 19
once been a poet in Cornertown, who had written a
poem about one of the cottages, and called the curl
of blue smoke from its chimney 'the incense from the
household altar of the hearth,' which sentiment had
been immensely admired by the Cornertonians, though
not very clearly understood. In fact, the people of
Cornertown were a simple-minded and simple-hearted
race of beings, which was the reason the Queen of the
Fairies had always loved them,-fairies being an essen-
tially old-fashioned set of people.
It was at this place that the Fairy Rubinetta arrived
one night on her broomstick. She had made herself
invisible, and was determined to remain so till she
could find out about all the inhabitants, and determine
who was to become the fortunate possessor of the first
of her fairy gifts. Accordingly, when all the village
was asleep, she took a ride through the town on her
broomstick, and came down every chimney in order to
find out what was going on in the houses. Every one
was in bed, but that did not hinder her purpose; quite
the contrary, indeed, for when one is asleep one is
always truthful, and the Fairy Rubinetta wanted to
find out people's thoughts. So in every bedchamber
where any one lay dreaming, she placed herself close
20 FAIRY GIFTS.
to their ears and listened, in order to find out their
dreams. In some cases she whispered to them herself,
and according as the sleepers took the dreams thus
imparted to them, she was able to judge of the state
of their thoughts and feelings. Now, I am sorry to
say, the Fairy Rubinetta did not look quite amiable
while this was going forward. In fact, the more she
found out, the crosser she became; and when all the
houses but one had been entered, she looked, to use
the expressive words of the Wizard Katchookatchkan,
'fit to snap the head off any one who came near her.'
'Now,' she exclaimed, stamping her foot on the floor,
'I call this simply atrocious! What can the Queen
have been thinking of, to let her dominions go to rack
and ruin in this way ? But it's all that old Katchoo-
katchkan's doing. I'll burn my red mittens if it isn't!
Well, at all events, I'm the right woman in the right
place kere, and no mistake.' And she rode on her golden
steed down the chimney of the last cottage in the row,
and alighted on the floor with a plump, enough to
awaken any one who was not sleeping with a clear
conscience and an innocent heart. But this was Susie's
bedroom, and she possessed both, bless her!
The Fairy Rubinetta was half mollified as she looked
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 2
round the room, and before even glancing at the sleeper,
proceeded to examine every article of furniture. This
did not take her long, for there were but few things
to examine. There was a little chest of drawers, on
which stood a tiny mirror, a still tinier pin-cushion,
with 'Susie' arranged in pins, and a hymn-book. In-
side the drawers, which the Fairy had the curiosity
to open, lay a few (very few) neatly folded articles
of clothing, very clean, but, alas! sadly darned and
patched, at which, however, the Fairy nodded and
smiled approvingly. There was a white dimity curtain
to the bed too, which had also its share of patches,
at which the Fairy's face became positively radiant.
Lastly, she looked at the sleeper. As we have said,
Susie had a clear conscience and an innocent heart;
but though she slept soundly she did not look happy.
There were traces of tears on her cheeks, and two
large crystal drops were just forcing their way from
under the closed lids. The Fairy Rubinetta seated
herself close to Susie's left ear, and listened for a
long time. Sometimes she smiled and sometimes
she frowned, but evidently not at the dreamer, for
her hand lay tenderly on her forehead, and sometimes
smoothed it, as if to smooth out one or two lines
22 FAIRY GIFTS.
which had come across it in the night. At last she
bent down and whispered something into Susie's ear.
Then the tears vanished, dried up in the light of a
sunny smile which had come on the fair round face,
evidently more accustomed to smiles than tears. Susie
stirred and murmured in her sleep, and the Fairy
Rubinetta got up looking much more amiable than
she had done before, and mounting her broomstick,
disappeared up the chimney.
By this time it was morning; and an early sunbeam
coming in through Susie's blind, was so taken with
the sight of her closed eyes, that it shone on them with
all its might and main, in order to coax them open.
And sunbeams being bold little fellows, and not to be
daunted, it succeeded, and Susie sprang out of bed with
a joyous bound, and ran to open the window.
'Oh, what a lovely morning!' she exclaimed; 'how
glad mother will be to see it! I wonder what made
me so unhappy last night, I feel quite different this
morning; and I had such a happy dream, only I
quite forget it now-I am so sorry.'
And Susie proceeded to dress herself as quickly as
she could, thinking of her dream all the time. After
she was dressed, she had to go and make the fire in the
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 23
kitchen, and set on the kettle to boil. Then she had to
set her room in order, and to dress her mother, who was
ailing. When this was done, it was time to get the
breakfast ready; and very daintily did Susie make it for
her mother, and great pride did she take in her house-
wifery. After the breakfast things were washed up and
cleared away, Susie and her mother sat down to their
day's work, which was the making of coarse garments
for the field-labourers. All this time Susie chattered
away merrily, about the fine morning, the bird on the
window sill, the cows going to pasture, and all sorts of
simple talk of this description, which sounded in the
mother's ears every day like the songs of angels.
'And oh, mother,' said Susie, 'I had such a funny
dream last night. I only remember a littleAbit of it, but
I dreamt that I got the prize after all, and it was given
me by a funny little old woman in a red cloak, and
what do you think it was? A long darning needle!'
and Susie laughed merrily. But a cloud came over the
Why aren't you going to school this morning, Susie ?'
'Why, mother,' said Susie gently, 'do you think I'd
leave you to do all this work by yourself- and you
with such a headache too ? What are you thinking of.
24 FAIRY GIFTS.
mother? It's not pretty of you to say that, and me
The mother sighed and said half to herself:
'It breaks my heart-and you so fond of your book
'Now, mother,' said Susie, 'what ate you thinking
of? Don't you know that I can read and write, and
say the multiplication table, and heaps of towns and
rivers and verses of poetry off by heart, and make a
shirt, and cook the dinner, and sweep a room, and
how much more ought I to know?'
'But the prize, Susie, the prize !'
Susie looked sober, and stitched away vigorously.
'Well, mother, I suppose my dream was right, and
my prize is to be a needle and thread;' and she held
up her needle with a merry laugh, which brought a smile
to the sick woman's face.
'There, that's right!' exclaimed Susie energetically.
' And now, mother, we'll get on with our work, and leave
schools and prizes to take care of themselves.'
The mother was cheered and comforted, but she
little guessed of the tears which Susie had shed in
secret about this same prize. And it was all the fault
of that wicked Wizard Katchookatchkan. Some time
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 25
before, he had made a descent on innocent old-fashioned
little Cornertown, and set all the mothers and school
teachers by the ears. It was on this wise. Cornertown
had a school which taught all the young ideas how
to shoot, till they were fourteen, at which age it con-
sidered their education complete, and shot them out
again, to make room for a new supply. And not a
moment too soon, for there was plenty of work at home
for the girls to do,-no end of making and mending,
washing, sweeping, cleaning, and cooking, all which oc-
cupations the simple-minded mothers of Cornertown
considered the sole duty of woman. But, alas! in an
evil day, a dapper little man dressed in black, who
delivered lectures so eloquent that nobody could make
out what he meant, had appeared in Cornertown and
taught them their dutr after a different fashion. And
this was Katchookatchkan in disguise; and from the day
he made his appearance with a bundle of lectures under
his arm, to the day he carried them and himself away
again, all peace had been at an end for the unlucky
inhabitants of Cornertown. For he had told them that
their female education was shamefully neglected; that
their daughters' minds had to be educated into harmony
with all things; that they were some day to be mothers
26 FAIRY GIFTS.
of great men, and therefore they were at once to stop
cooking dinners and making baby-clothes, and learn
the first principles of geometry: at which unknown
word a dreadful sensation had run through the ranks
of Cornertown housewives, who sat listening to him, and
one sensitive little mother had burst into tears, and
declared to her next-door neighbour, that she had
always thought she was not fit for the sphere she moved
in, and that she would at once take her baby (aged four
months) away from Cornertown into a mountainous
country, in order to educate its mind into harmony
with all things by showing it the beautiful scenery.
Fortunately for Cornertown, however, the Wizard, grow-
ing tired of this piece of mischief as he had done of a
great many others, soon took himself off, and had such
a fit of laughing at the effects he left behind him, that
he made himself ill for a week. And now you see what
a state of things the Fairy Rubinetta found in Corner-
town; no wonder for her to look cross. Everybody's
head was full of female education and geometry, com-
bined with rights, the latter being of a somewhat un-
certain and vague description. The school teachers
having been left to blunder on-by themselves, had set
on-foot a most alarmiringscheme of education, and had
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 27
announced that a prize of five pounds was to be
awarded to whatever 'young maid' (Cornertown was
primitive still, you see) should write the best, essay on
Female Education and the First Principles of Geometry.
Of course there were a good many candidates, and
amongst them Susie, who, though she knew nothing of
the principles of geometry, first or last, knew very well
that five pounds: added to the sum her mother had
already laid by, would be enough to buy a cow-the
grand object of Susie's ambition.. This was the light
in which the matter presented itself to Susie's practical
little mind. But, alas what time had Susie for study-
ing geometry, when her mother's daily bread depended
on her own ten fingers? There was Barbara (the
younger sister of the mother who was going to take
her baby into a mountainous country), she might do
very well, for nobody had ever yet been able to make
her do anything useful, so perhaps that was good train-
ing for female education; but as for Susie, who was
wanted every minute of the day, it never occurred to
her to think that it might be too difficult for her. Not
a bit of it. Female education and the first principles
of geometry had need to be tougher things than Susie
took them to be, if the high ambition of buying a cow,
28 FAIRY GIFTS.
and the strong motive of a child's love, were not able
to overcome them. And yet-and yet-the time was
slipping on, there was more work to do than ever, and
the night on which the Fairy Rubinetta had paid her
a visit, Susie had cried herself to sleep.
. In the meantime, that much-aggrieved dame went to
the middle of a thick wood outside Cornertown, and,
stamping her foot three times on the ground, muttered
a charm so powerful that a shiver ran through every
tree in the wood, though there was not a breath of
wind. Immediately there came a whirr of wings,
and the jet black bird with the snowy crest perched
on the Fairy's shoulder. At the same time the
Wizard Katchookatchkan emerged from behind a
'Well, Mistress Rubinetta,' cried he, 'what's the
matter now ? Couldn't you leave me a minute's peace?
I thought you had your work cut out for you here.'
'You may well say that,' answered the Fairy grimly;
'are you not ashamed of yourself, poisoning the minds
of the Fairy Queen's favourite people in this atrocious
'Poisoning, Mistress Rubinetta! Now, I call that
a good joke! Why, woman, you've been shut up so
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 29
long that you don't know what's going on in the world.
It's prejudice, rank prejudice, I tell you. Why, the
march of intellect'-
'The march of intellect won't cook the dinner,'
observed the Fairy scornfully.
'Well, no,' said the Wizard, 'not perhaps directly,
but indirectly it will, for my system teaches you the
first principles of'-
'Rubbish!' shouted the Fairy Rubinetta in a tower-
ing rage. 'I've a very good mind to teach you the first
principles of a good kicking, Sir Katchookatchkan.'
'Well, well,' said the Wizard, 'don't excite yourself,
Mistress Rubinetta. If I have taught the people wrong,
it's your business to teach them right again; no one
can say that that's not a fair division of labour. And
now, if that's all you've got to say to me, I may as
well be off;' and the Wizard and his jet black bird
That evening, when Susie came back from driving
some of the neighbours' cows home from pasture, she
found a very funny little old woman, a stranger in
Cornertown, sitting in the chimney-corner with her
mother. She was dressed entirely in red, with long
red mittens on her arms, and such an odd way of
30 FAIRY GIFTS.
nodding her head and mincing with her feet, that
Susie found it hard not to laugh.
And so, my young maid,' said the visitor, in a very
shrill voice, 'I hear you can do fine sewing. A very
useful accomplishment for a young maid, very useful
indeed;' and the little old woman nodded at least
'Now, my young maid,' she continued, 'what do
you say to this?' and she unfolded a beautifully fine
garment, which looked as if it had been sewn with
gold, and was so ethereal in its texture that Susie
and her mother were quite dazzled.
'Now, my young maid,' said the little old woman,
'I want nine more garments worked exactly like this,
as soon as ever you can, and I will pay you well for
'But I could not do anything half so beautiful as
this,' said Susie.
The little old woman smiled, nodded, minced, and
bridled in a highly significant manner.
'Never you mind, my young maid. I never give
people work that they can't do; but you must promise
me one thing, not to work with any but this needle;'
and she held out a long needle with a gold eye.
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 31
'And now, my young maid,' said the little old woman,
sidling towards the door,' I will leave you to do your
work, but don't forget that you have a powerful friend
in red mittens.' With which parting sentiment the
powerful friend in red mittens suddenly vanished, but
whether through the door or the keyhole, Susie and
her mother were too much bewildered to be able to
determine. Susie was the first to recover herself.
'See, mother,' she cried, with a merry laugh, 'here's
my prize-a long needle after all!'
'Who can she be, Susie?' said the mother.
'A very old-fashioned dame, who thinks a great deal
more of her own needles than of any one else's,' said
Susie gaily. 'Never mind, mother, if she pays us
well, I'm sure I'm very willing to use the old body's
And Susie proceeded to make her mother's tea. But
after tea Susie and her mother were more amazed than
ever. No sooner did the gold-eyed needle begin to
work, than the seams flew with the rapidity of lightning,
and every stitch shone like burnished gold. No matter
what coarse common stuff or thread might be used, the
result was the same. Susie and her mother knew not
what to think, but they were too innocent to be alarmed,
32 FAIRY GIFTS.
and the mother at last came to the conclusion that Susie
had been taken under the protection of a rich and
powerful Fairy-at which conclusion she was extremely
happy and thankful, but thought it no more than Susie
deserved. In course of time, and a very short time too,
for the needle worked like a telegraph wire, the garments
were finished and neatly folded, ready for the little old
woman's inspection; but although Susie looked from
window and door every evening at sunset, no little old
woman made her appearance.
In the meantime the great prize day dawned on
Cornertown. I need not say that Susie had no essay,
but she and her mother went to see the proceedings
notwithstanding; and perhaps they were as good judges
as any one else. The hall was hung with maps and
large sheets of what Susie called 'cristy crosty lines'
(possibly the first principles of geometry). The candi-
dates looked extremely imposing with long rolls under
their arms, each with her features composed into the
expression their owner considered the most intellectual.
The judges were running round and round the room,
whispering in corners, tapping rulers on tables, and
otherwise conducting themselves in an extremely intel-
TIIE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 33
At last the clock struck, and the first candidate
stepped forward and proceeded to read her essay aloud.
It happened to be Barbara, and as she had three essays,
none of them finished, and each more amazingly intel-
lectual than the last, the operation promised to be a
long one. In the middle of the most eloquent passage
of the second, Susie, however, fell fast asleep, and only
awoke in time to add her meed of applause to the
finishing up of the fortieth and last essay, which the
sensitive young mother declared, wiping her eyes, to
have been quite touching.
And now came the important business of deciding to
whom the prize was to be awarded. After about an
hour and a half of hard talking, five of the judges re-
tired in high dudgeon (one in tears), and left the sixth
to decide the matter alone. There is no saying how
long this might have taken-indeed, I doubt whether it
would have been settled to this day-had not a little old
woman in a red cloak and long red mittens quietly
walked up to the table and announced herself as perfect
mistress of female education in all its branches, and
therefore quite competent to judge of the intellectual
efforts of the young Cornertown maidens. Every one
was too much amazed and secretly too much relieved to
34 FAIRY GIFTS.
dispute the matter, and the little old woman proceeded
The first thing she did was to take up the bundle of
essays, turn them rapidly round in her fingers, blow
upon them, and lo and behold !-they all flew out of the
window in the shape of a bundle of feathers; nay, I am
not sure that a further transformation did not take
place, for after they had flown a little way, a mysterious
sound was heard, so much like the 'ga, ga, ga' of a
gander, that I prefer not to dwell upon such a degrad-
The second thing this dreadful old woman did, was
to tap three times upon the table, and-heigh, presto!
-a pile of gossamer garments sewn with gold, and of
such ethereal texture that every one was quite dazzled,
appeared in their place.
The third thing she did was still more awful. She
stamped three times on the ground, and muttered the
words of a charm so powerful that it nearly blew the
roof off the house. Immediately there came a whirr of
wings, and the jet black bird with the snowy crest lit on
her shoulder. At the same time his master walked
coolly down the chimney.
But before any of the horrified Cornertonians had
TIE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 35
time even to draw breath, the room was suddenly filled
with a rosy vapour, which gradually condensed into a
floating cloud, and on it appeared, fair and fragile,
graceful and lovely, beaming and brilliant, the illustrious
patroness of Cornertown, the Fairy Queen herself.
With a gracious smile her Majesty sprang off her
cloud and alighted gracefully on the table. Then turn-
ing to the Fairy Rubinetta, she thus addressed her:
'I am glad to see, most illustrious Fairy, that you
have done your duty, and fought bravely on our behalf.
I am glad to find that you have found some one worthy
of the first of our Fairy gifts ; and I am very glad, most
illustrious Fairy, and you people of Cornertown, to know
that the forty essays on Female Education and the
First Principles of Geometry have been resolved (since
you like philosophy) into their component parts-namely,
trifles light as air!'
Here the Queen paused as if for applause, which the
people of Cornertown were too much discomfited to
give. Then, assuming a severe aspect, she thus con-
People of Cornertown, I am grieved to find that you
are no longer the simple-minded, simple-hearted race
wHlch was once so dear to my heart. Where are the
36 FAIRY GIFTS.
household virtues-the thrift, the deftness, the neatness,
the industry, which were once the ornaments of your
young maidens? Where is the love of home-the care
for home which was once the dower of your young
wives ? Where is the faith in a housewife's sphere-
lowly and lofty-which was once the sole science of
your mothers? Gone swallowed up in the first
principles of'- Here the Queen's eloquence was itself
swallowed up in an emphatic and sympathetic 'pah!'
from the Fairy Rubinetta.
'Oh, my dear people of Cornertown,' resumed the
Queen, 'come back to your first faith. Leave all these
matters to the outside world, where possibly they may
have some business; and do you bring all your virtues,
all your powers, all your intellects, and offer them up on
the household altar of the hearth.'
With which unparalleled burst of eloquence the
Queen concluded her speech, and the Cornertown public
(including the Wizard Katchookatchkan) immediately
went temporarily mad, threw up its cap, and declared
that it had always thought so, it had always said so, and,
'what's more, had always done so.
In the meantime the Fairy Queen bestowed the prize
on Susie in consideration of her proficiency in fine
THE GOLD-EYED NEEDLE. 37
sewing, and the Fairy Rubinetta presented her with the
gold-eyed needle, to keep for ever and aye.
And the needle was named by Susie, Industria, and
was the means of procuring untold riches to herself and
her mother, and to her children and grandchildren after
And, wonderful to relate, the gold-eyed needle some-
times (not often) makes its appearance among the
maidens of the present day; and whenever it does, it
is a sure and certain guarantee of honour, riches, and
prosperity to its owner.
TIE CHARMED RUBY.
"1/ ER -I.ERRY Molly had never
been seen to cry since
she was a baby in
i1 s confidently asserted
'/" lby those who know
S her. I think Corner-
\ town would have con-
sidered itself in a bad way if Molly had ever done
anything else than go singing down the street with
a voice like a skylark, or else laughing at every-
thing that most people grumble about; and Molly's
laugh was really like a burst of music, so no wonder
she was the idol of Cornertown. But everything goes
by contraries in this world, especially in places patron-
THE CHARMED RUBY. 39
ized by the Fairies'; and Molly's mother not only cried
a good deal, but scolded a good deal too, at all times
and seasons, except when Molly's father was at home,
who scolded a good deal more. But, bless you !-Molly
never cared for that, but went on skipping about and
singing just as merrily as ever, quite a treasure in the
house, as you, in common with every other sensible
person, will observe; but no-people never know when
they are well off, and Molly's mother not only failed
to appreciate her daughter's cheerfulness, but took it as
a personal insult directed against herself.
'All very well for a heartless creature like you, Molly,
with no sense of all I have gone through and given up
for your sake, when I might have been rich and happy
Molly knew very well what her mother had given up,
or rather what had given up her mother; she had heard
it often enough, and had formed her own opinion on the
matter long ago. This was how it was: Molly's mother
had had two great misfortunes in her life. One was,
that she had been very beautiful, and the other that she
had been, in consequence, adopted by her Fairy God-
mother, who had given up Fairydom and settled down
as an old woman with a long nose. Now, Molly was
40 FAIRY GIFTS.
not in the least like her mother, being not at all
beautiful, in fact rather plain, as I have noticed cheerful
people often are. Neither had she ever seen a Fairy,
nor did she want to see one, nor, as her mother took
pains to impress upon her, was she at all likely to see
one, not being beautiful. But she had heard a good
deal about one, which made up for it.
The Fairy Godmother had evidently been of a very
discontented turn of mind, Molly thought, for the whole
substance of her discourse with her godchild seemed
to have been endless lamentations for the beauties and
glories of Fairyland, which she had left behind her for
ever. Molly had a shrewd suspicion that she had not'
left Fairyland of her own accord, else why should she
not have gone back there ? So her beautiful godchild
had grown up with a great contempt for everything
human, and a great veneration for everything super-
human, in which catalogue she counted herself and her
When the Fairy Godmother's time came to die,-or
rather to dissolve into vapour and disappear, which
is the Fairies' mode of dying,-she called her godchild
to her side and proceeded to impart to her a very
THE CHARMED RUBY. 41
'My dearest godchild,' she said, 'if you wish to be
always rich, beautiful, fortunate, and happy, you must
without fail become possessor of the Charmed Ruby.'
'Oh,' .cried Molly's mother, clapping her hands, 'do
give it me, dear Godmother!'
'Godchild,' answered the Fairy more solemnly than
ever, 'it is not mine to give, I wish it were; you must
get it for yourself.'
'And where, dear pretty Godmother, is it to be
found ?' asked Molly's mother, who, in common with
most other ladies, was extremely desirous of being
made beautiful for ever.
'I am not pretty,' said the Fairy with some sharp-
ness, 'I am old and ugly; nor do I think you have
the slightest chance of getting the Ruby, if you do
not accustom yourself to speak the truth.'
Molly's mother pouted, but she was rather afraid of
the old Fairy, so that was all she dared do.
'The Charmed Ruby,' said the Fairy, 'is, where
everything else is that is worth having, in Fairyland.
It is guarded by two Clocks.'
'Clocks !' echoed Molly's mother, much amazed.
'Yes,' answered the Fairy, 'Clocks-they were once
Watches, but it is so many hundred years since any one
42 FAIRY GIFTS.
has got the Ruby, that they have grown into Clocks.
They tick without ceasing, but they don't show the time
of day; they show some other curious things which I
am not at liberty to mention. They are perpetually
walking round and round the Fairy Queen's crystal foot-
stool, under which the Charmed Ruby lies in a hen's
egg. Now, my dear godchild, your only chance of
happiness and good fortune is by getting this Ruby;
but to do this you will have to go through a good
Molly's mother declared there was nothing she was
not able to go through, should it even be a stone wall;
at which the Fairy Godmother smiled grimly, and
'You will have to travel in a perfectly straight line
from this towards the setting sun. By turning neither
to the right hand nor the left, you come to it at last.
When you are pretty near, you must wait till the
moment when you can look at it without winking, and
when it presents itself to you in the shape of a large
round mirror. You must then go up and touch it
with whatever weapon you have in your hand at the
time. It will immediately shiver into a thousand
THE CHARMED RUBY. 43
'Oh! oh!' exclaimed Molly's mother, 'won't it kill
'And you will find yourself,' resumed the Fairy
majestically, 'in Fairyland, and will obtain the Ruby
or not, according as the Clocks approve or disapprove
'Then I may not get it, after all,' said Molly's
'That,' said the Fairy, 'is according as you conduct
yourself. You may stop as long and as often as you
like on your way, provided you keep a straight line,
and never swerve either to the right hand or the left.
You will meet with a good many adventures and mis-
adventures on your way, no doubt; but if you keep a
true brave heart to the last, all will be well. And now,
my dear godchild, I feel I am getting very thin-and
I must say farewell.'
The Fairy Godmother was indeed getting very thin,
so thin that her godchild could scarcely see her, so
thin that in five minutes she had dissolved into a vapour
Molly was somewhat at fault as to the remainder of
her mother's narrative. She had certainly set out in
order to procure the Ruby; but, according to her own
44 FAIRY GIFTS.
account, she had met with so many malicious persons
on the way, one and all bent on frustrating her inten-
tion, that she had never succeeded in getting it. Molly
knew that to her cost. For her mother being neither
fortunate, happy, nor rich, had fretted all her beauty
away, and spent her time bewailing her sad fate, and
attributing it entirely to the deliberate malice of her
Fairy Godmother. In the meantime, merry Molly
went on her way rejoicing, and cast Fairies and Rubies
to the winds.
But, you see, things always happen to people who
don't want them; and though Molly would never have
dreamt of getting the Charmed Ruby for herself, it so
turned out that she had to go and hunt for it after all.
For Molly's mother came to such a climax of fretting
and wounded feelings, that she took to her bed and
declared that she would certainly die unless she could
get the Ruby. Now Molly was very fond of her
mother, and very unwilling to let her die for want of a
bit of red stone, which was Molly's irreverent way of
looking at it; so, after thinking over the matter for a
little while, she came to the conclusion that she herself
was the proper person to go. Molly was very prompt
in all her proceedings; so one evening, after driving
THE CHARMED RUBY. 45
in her cow from pasture, she got a large piece of
brown bread, kissed her mother, telling her not to
expect her till she saw her, and went singing down
the street with her face towards the dying glory in
The first person she met was a crying child, to
whom she gave her piece of brown bread.
'There now,' said Molly cheerfully, 'I have nothing
at all; well, so much the better, I can walk all the
faster,'-and she trudged on till she left the town far
behind her, and came to a dark forest, where she lay
down under a tree and fell fast asleep.
She was awoke by a touch on her shoulder, but on
opening her eyes could not at first see anything. At
last she became aware (for seeing is hardly the word)
of a little man standing in the middle of a moonbeam,
which lay on the path before her. It was only by
holding her head in a particular position that she could
see him at all, for he was not only very attenuated, but
was perfectly transparent, and looked, so Molly thought,
as if he were made of skim milk.
'Well ?' said Molly.
'Well ?' said the little manr made of skim milk.
"I beg your pardon,' said Molly, 'but it's rather hard
46 FAIRY GIFTS.
at first to speak to a person one doesn't quite see. I
hope you won't be offended if I ask who you are?'
'Not at all,' said the little man politely; 'perhaps
you may have heard of the great Wizard Katchoo-
'No,' said Molly.
'It doesn't matter at all,' said the little man, I am
his son Fantantariboo, of Moonystruck Hall, hard by.
It was told me by my daughter Vagariana, who is a
prophetess in these parts, that if I went into the Forest
to-night at midnight, and stood in the middle of a moon-
beam, I should find a guest, whom I was to invite to
Moonystruck Hall, which I accordingly do, and very
cordially I am sure;' and the little man waved his
hand in the most engaging manner possible. Molly
looked up, and certainly did see a magnificent castle
right in the path before her. It seemed to partake
somewhat of the character of its master, for it was per-
perfectly transparent, and Molly could see long vistas
of parks and gardens at its other side. Its walls were
built of some bluish-white material, which shone at
times with great brilliancy, and at other times seemed
to melt away and almost entirely disappear. Altogether
its appearance was bewildering in the extreme. Molly
T, It, ,,
41 1 ~i
. .; b . I . .
1_- : .
43 FAIRY GIFTS.
thought a minute, it was in a straight line on her way,
at least it was but a few feet on one side, and that would
not matter. So Molly got up and graciously accepted
the invitation to penetrate the mysteries of Moonystruck
'Pray, allow me,' said the little man, beckoning to
her to stand beside him. Molly did so, and the moon-
beam immediately flickered up from the ground and
bore them straight through one of the windows in
Moonystruck Hall. The contrast between the interior
of the castle and the outside world almost took away
Molly's breath. She had left a dark wood, whose
masses of foliage were but dimly lit up by a stray
moonbeam, and she found a burst of sunshine, a per-
fume of flowers, songs of birds, and the most ravishing
scenery that the world has ever beheld. The whole
castle consisted of one vast hall, with numberless win-
dows on each side. Through one, you looked upon
lordly parks and pleasure-grounds all a-blaze with
blossoms; through another, on grim craggy mountains
crowned with snow and begirt with purple heather;
through another, an exquisite rural scenery, deep, quiet
valleys and country lanes; through another, on grand
tropical forests, with its chatter of monkeys and strange
THE CHARMED RUBY. 49
bright-cololred birds. Through another might be seen
groups of lovely children at play; through another,
marble statuary and all the wonders of art. In fact,
there was no end to these wonderful windows; you
might walk for miles and miles along this vast hall,
and never come to the end. There was nothing ex-
traordinary in the hall itself, it looked bare and com-
fortless enough, if you turned your gaze inward,-all its
glory and brightness lay outside the windows. What
struck Molly particularly, was that it no longer looked
transparent and unsubstantial; it appeared to be built
of blocks of solid marble, and Fantantariboo had com-
pletely lost his 'skim-milky' appearance. It was only
in the murky atmosphere of the outside world that he
and his mansion took such a shadowy appearance.
There were vast numbers of persons in Moonystruck
Hall, but Molly never saw them either speak to or look
at each other. Each haunted his favourite window, and
took no more notice of the rest than if they had been
so many phantoms.
Fantantariboo had two daughters, whom he hastened
to introduce to Molly. Vagariana, the prophetess, was,
as Molly thought, very pretty but extremely flighty,
and was dressed in a robe, every inch of which was
50 FAIRY GIFTS.
of a different colour. She was very attenuated, like
her father, and looked not unlike a walking rainbow.
Reverina, the second daughter, was dressed entirely
in soft grey, and was very fair and gentle-looking, but
though she had very pretty blue eyes, Molly soon
discovered that she was quite blind. A magnificent
banquet was spread in honour of the new arrival, to
which Molly did ample justice, curious and unsub-
stantial as were the viands. She was then conducted
by Vagariana to the Chamber of Dreams, a recess
under one of the windows.
'I have a number of little attendant sprites,' said
Vagariana, 'who shall visit you to-night. They will
keep flapping their rainbow-coloured wings over your
head, and you shall see how light and refreshing your
slumbers will be.'
So Molly went to sleep, and the nature of her visions
may be inferred from the nature of the spot in which
they came to her.
The next day Molly spent in wandering from one
window to another in a perfect ecstasy of wonder and
admiration. There were no clocks, indeed there was
no time at all in Moonystruck Hall, so it might have
been one day or it might have been a hundred, before
THE CHARMED RUBY. 51
Molly finally settled on one window. It represented
a quiet, lonely valley spangled with daisies and per-
fumed with hawthorn bushes. The songs of birds filled
the air all day long, and a deep peace and tranquillity
brooded over the scene. A little cottage nestled
among the trees, and it was on this little solitary house
that all Molly's interest was centred. She watched
the children playing round the door, growing up,
marrying (there was no time, you know, in Moonystruck
Hall), and still dwelling in this little ivied cottage where
neither care nor discontent could ever come. It was
always summer too, and round about, on placid lakes
and in balmy woods, the sun never ceased to shine. It
was a very homely scene, but, you see, Molly having
been brought up in Cornertown, was but a homely
maiden herself. Thus the hours in Moonystruck Hall
flitted by, and the Charmed Ruby faded from Molly's
But one day Fantantariboo went on a journey, and
according to the invariable custom of Bluebeards in
all ages and generations, told Molly that she was free
to roam over the Hall and look through any window
she pleased, but that she was on no account to open a
certain little wooden door beneath one of the windows.
52 FAIRY GIFTS.
So Molly immediately made up her mind to open that
little wooden door without loss of time. It was very
long before she could discover it at all, and still longer
before she found out that her little finger would serve
instead of a key. When opened, however, such a blaze
of light struck on Molly's astonished eyes, that for
some time she could not see a thing. When her eyes
grew accustomed to the light, she found that the door
opened into a small space which looked as if she could
easily stretch her arm across it. At the farther end
was a- crystal canopy shaped like a footstool; under
it, on a crimson velvet cushion, lay a broken hen's egg,
and inside it a magnificent Ruby, flaming with red light.
Molly gave a loud cry, the memory of her expedition
and of her mother rushed back to her mind, and she
stretched out her hand to take the Ruby. But it was
just a finger's-length out of her reach, and all her efforts
were vain. Molly sat down on the floor and began
to cry heartily, while the wooden door which she had
let out of her hand shut to with such a bang that Molly
could never afterwards find out where it opened. In
the meantime, however, Vagariana came to her, and
soon lured her back to her window.
When Fantantariboo came back to Moonystruck
THE CHARMED RUBY. 53
HIall, Molly very boldly asked for the Charmed Ruby.
He was very angry to find that his injunction had been
disobeyed, and declared that what she had seen had
been but a phantom; but seeing that Molly was firm,
he promised that she should have it. In order to fulfil
this promise, he led poor Molly a pretty dance through
all the windows of the hall. There seemed no end
to the vistas of woods, gardens, and valleys through
which she found herself condemned to wander; while
as for the Charmed Ruby, it was always just a stone's
throw in front of her-now behind a tree, now in a
valley, now on a hillside. Molly was thoroughly dis-
gusted, and longed for nothing so much as to get out
of Moonystruck Hall, but that was not so easily
managed. There was one window in the hall which
Molly noticed that the Enchanter Fantantariboo (for
as such she considered him) never bade her look out
of. It was only a skylight, he said, and there was
nothing interesting to be seen from it. But one day
Molly, in melancholy mood, chanced to wander in that
direction, and seeing Reverina looking with her sightless
eyes out of this window, Molly went up to her and
looked out too. It was the only window out of which
there was some chance of seeing what really lay outside.
54 FAIRY GIFTS.
Instead of valleys or woods, she saw far away in the
distance the setting sun sinking into the west, but so
far away that it looked like a mere star, and Molly felt
as if she were in another world. Between her and the
road which led straight to the west, and which now lay
steeped in its glorious rays, stretched a dark and thorny
waste. Thus far had Molly's 'few feet' led her out
of her way. Poor Molly was in despair; it was im-
possible to get through the window, for the material
of which it was composed, though perfectly clear and
transparent, was quite impenetrable, and the Enchanter
alone knew the secret of its opening. But after long
and careful search, Molly discovered an old rotten hasp,
and above it in tiny letters of tarnished gold, 'The way
out.' She uttered a cry of joy, and was about to raise
the hasp, when Reverina said very softly, 'Not now-
wait.' Fantantariboo was close behind, so Molly retired
to her own window, and soon fell fast asleep.
"As I have said, there was no time in Moonystruck
Hall, but the people generally slept all at once, so when
Molly awoke she was not surprised to find no one
awake but herself and Reverina. The Enchanter's
daughter seized Molly and led her swiftly towards the
window, which was already open.
THE CHARMED RUBY. 55
'Go, go,' she whispered, 'go quickly before I tempt
you to delay, and the opportunity be lost. You are too
young to -waste your life in this dreadful place. You
would speedily become as I am, blind, then deaf, then
dumb, and finally you would be frozen to death or
blasted by lightning, and so, miserably perish. This is
the fate that sooner or later overtakes all who linger
here too long. Take these spectacles with you; they
are of little use here, but will serve you well where you
Molly took the spectacles which Reverina offered
her, and sprang from the window. No sooner had she
touched the ground than with a tremendous clap of
thunder, and the sudden rush of a whirlwind, Moony-
struck Hall and all it contained was whisked away
to the other end of the world. Nothing remained
but the cool morning breeze and the thorny waste
through which Molly had to travel before she could
reach the straight road which led towards the west.
As we have seen, however, Molly was not one to
make mountains out of molehills, so she set out with-
out further ado, singing merrily all the time. It was
hard work, for the thorns and thistles hurt her feet, and
the place was full of serpents and noxious creatures
56 FAIRY GIFTS.
which kept her in terror of her life; but Molly had an
idea that she was under the protection of some power-
ful Fairy, which kept her up wonderfully, for she
would certainly have been starved to death if she had
not found a large piece of brown bread beside her every
morning. It looked exactly like the piece she had
given to the crying child in Cornertown, and Molly
naturally concluded that it was a Fairy gift, and re-
joiced accordingly. She had now been travelling in
the straight road for a good many days without any
adventure, and began to conclude that she would reach
the Setting Sun in safety, when one morning, on awak-
ing from her night's sleep, she found an ugly old woman
standing before her. She was dressed entirely in brown,
and had a dull, peevish, discontented-looking face.
'How did you come into my wood?' said this
amiable apparition in slow, measured accents, which
produced an irresistible inclination in Molly to yawn.
'I don't know, I am sure,'answered Molly; 'I did
not know it was yours, but I will leave it again if you
'Not so fast,' said the old woman, with a grim smile.
'People who come into my wood don't find it so easy
to get out again. You must grind in my mill.'
THE CHARMED RUBY. 57
Molly began to shiver, for the old woman looked
quite wicked. She got up and tried to run away, but
her feet felt as if leaden weights were attached to them,
and she could not stir a step.
'Ha, ha!' said the old woman, in the same slow,
heavy tones, 'it is no use, my pretty maid ; I have laid
my spells on you, and you must work my will,-follow
The way the old woman led her was straight towards
the west, which comforted Molly not a little. They
penetrated deep into the wood which Molly had entered
unwittingly the night before. It grew darker and
darker at every step, and more difficult to get through.
Drops of moisture fell at regular intervals from the top-
most boughs of the trees, and soaked into the ground,
which felt like a quaking bog. The dripping sound
they made was the only sound that could be heard as
it s-emed for miles round ; not a solitary bird twittered
on a branch, not a solitary ray of sunlight glanced
across the dense, dead brown foliage of the trees.
At last the old woman stopped before a tumble-down
hut, thatched with dead leaves, and standing, or rather
tottering, on the edge of a stagnant pond.
'This is my home,' said she; 'is it not a fair
58 FAIRY GIFTS.
abode? they call it Weariful Waste. I am the
Fairy Morna, and men say that I am a witch, but
that is not the case. I am a Fairy. Now, I am
going in to get a sleep, and you must grind in my
'But there is nothing to grind,' said Molly, looking
into the mill, which was like a barrel organ, and had a
handle which creaked something in the tone of the
Fairy Morna's voice.
No matter,' said the old woman, you must grind it
all the same; and mind, I have laid my spells on you,
and you will not be able to stop unless I give you
And so Molly found it. She remained the unwilling
guest of the Fairy Morna for what seemed at least a
year. As in Moonystruck Hall, there was no time in
Weariful Waste, so Molly could not tell how long it
was, more especially as she never once caught sight of
Molly had several other duties to perform besides
grinding; she had to cook the dinner, sweep the hut,
and make the bed for the Fairy Morna; to bring water
from the stagnant pond; to spin with a distaff and
spindle, which apparently possessed the peculiar property
THE CHARMED RUBY. 59
of never allowing the work to get done; and to grind,
grind, grind till she wondered the mill did not wear out,
especially as there never was anything in it. The air of
the wood grew every day more leaden and oppressive to
Molly's senses. There was not a sign of life in it, not so
much as a fly or a dandelion leaf. Molly at last grew
thin and pale, and a dimness came over her eyes, which
made her fear that the same fate which overtook the
inhabitants of Moonystruck Hall was also reserved for
those of Weariful Waste, and that she would end in
becoming blind, deaf, dumb, and crippled.
In this dilemma she one day bethought her of the
spectacles Reverina had given her, and which she had
never looked at since. She put them on. What a
change! The dead brown of the foliage changed to
vivid rose colour as if bathed in light from the west;
the stagnant pond shone like liquid gems; and a faint
breeze rustled through the wood, and seemed to quicken
everything into life. All was light and motion. When
the Fairy Morna hobbled out of her hut, and Molly
hastily took off the spectacles and everything was as
before, it was quite clear that the rose-coloured spec-
tacles were made of the same material as the win-
dows of Moonystruck Hall, and Molly was very glad to
60 FAIRY GIFTS.
find it so. She wore them now at every opportunity,
and it is quite astonishing how many discoveries she
made with them. First, it was a tiny rill which flowed
down a rock into the stagnant pond; quite a thread of
water, but it was clear, and sweet, and sparkling, and
gave a wonderful relish to Molly's daily meal of brown
bread. Then it was the fact that the under side of all
the brown leaves in the wood was gold colour. This
Molly would never have found out by herself, but no
sooner were the magic spectacles brought into play than
a breeze came through the lifeless wood, and turning up
the leaves irradiated their gold with its own rose-colour,
and so made them appear as if bathed in perpetual
Delighted as Molly was with this discovery, the next
was still more wonderful. She found out one day,
whilst at her grinding, that there was actually a bird in
the wood Not that she ever could see it, even with the
spectacles on, but she heard it, and that was enough.
It made even the grinding pleasant, for that was the
time it always chose to sing its sweetest song. It was
only a common thrush after all; but is not the 'mavis'
a fit bird for Fairyland? The lark, it is true, sings
sweetly and soars high, but the mavis that sits on a
THE CHARMED RUBY. 61
homely bush beside our cottage window, and sings in
rainy weather and on dark days, that is the Fairy bird
for me. And so Molly thought. In fact, she began to
find Weariful Waste quite beautiful; and one day when
the bird had ceased, she took up the strain, and in the
gladness of her heart began to sing so gaily and hope-
fully that the leaves of the trees took to rustling im-
Out came the Fairy Morna in dire wrath and dismay.
'Who's making that noise in my wood ?' croaked she;
and Molly stood confessed with her spectacles on.
'Wretched child,' said the old Fairy, shaking her
crutch at her, 'will nothing make you either blind, deaf,
dumb, or crippled?'
'No,' said Molly boldly, 'not while I have my
'I knew it,' cried the Fairy; 'you have been in
Moonystruck Hall, and have got out safe, so you are
no fit guest for me. Here, take this and begone.'
With these words she flung the distaff she held in her
hand at Molly, and, hobbling in again, banged the
door behind her. Molly stooped to pick up the distaff,
but no sooner had she touched it than Weariful Waste
disappeared in a twinkling, and she found herself lying
62 FAIRY GIFTS.
at the foot of a tree on the straight road to the west,
with her piece of brown bread beside her.
Molly had now got over the longest and most difficult
part of her journey; there remained but the Sunward
Hills to climb, and those lay straight before her. It
was behind these that the sun sank; and so close were
they, that the radiance never left them day or night,
and Molly could see every foot of the way. So she
set forward with renewed hope.
Very few people seemed to live among the Sunward
Hills, and those who did had bright, peaceful faces,
which did Molly's heart good to look upon. And,
indeed, it was no wonder, it must be a pleasant thing to
live so close to the sun. Molly's invisible mavis accom-
panied her on her way, and every evening sang on the
bushes beside her; but she had no longer any use for
her spectacles, for nothing could well make things look
brighter than they did, to Molly's own unaided eyes.
And now Molly had reached the very end of the
world. She had climbed to the top of the highest
mountain, where the atmosphere was as clear and pure
as a diamond; where everything was as still as if no
footfall had ever broken its silence, and where a wide
blue lake lay sleeping in the sunshine. She sat down
THE CHARMED RUBY. 63
on the edge of the lake, to wait till the sun which was
still high above her head should assume the appearance
of a huge mirror ready to dip beneath the waves. Molly
did not know with what weapon she would be able to
open the crystal gates, but determined to try the efficacy
of both distaff and spectacles. The lake had been very
still all day, but as the time drew near it began to ebb
and flow, and rise into a thousand ripples, which shone
like molten gold. Molly covered her eyes with her
hands, for the brilliance of the approaching sun was
more than she could bear. But presently she felt her
seat moving, as if the waves were floating her off; and
looking up, she saw the round, bright orb like a gigantic
wall of crystal rising right before her. She sprang up
and across the lake, which hardened into solid gold
as her feet touched it, and touched the crystal
wall with both distaff and spectacles. In a twinkling
the sun flew open, and a crowd of graceful forms
drew Molly in, and with a joyous burst of song wel-
comed her to Fairyland.
It would take me a year at least to tell you all the
wonders which Molly saw in Fairyland with one glance
of her eye. Moonystruck Hall was nothing to it, and
Molly agreed heartily with her mother's Fairy God-
64 FAIRY GIFTS.
mother, who had declared that nothing worth having
was to be found out of it. In due course she was
conducted into the presence of the Fairy Queen, who
was seated on a silver mushroom,-a throne which all
her Court considered very elegant. Her feet rested
on a crystal footstool, beneath which, in a hen's egg,
lay the Charmed Ruby. But what a ruby! it was like
a miniature sun, no wonder Fairyland was so bright.
Round the Queen's throne patrolled two tall and solemn
Clocks, whose faces showed all the adventures which
every one had ever gone through-to get the Ruby. It
was with no small astonishment that Molly saw one
of the hundred hands of these Clocks pointing to all
that she herself had gone through, and ticking solemnly
as it had ticked for thousands of years.
After a little fairy music had been performed by an
invisible band, and the maidens of the Court had danced
with the tips of their toes upon nothing, for Molly's
gratification, a banquet, was served in her honour, at
which was displayed a vast amount of airy magnificence,
and still more airy cookery. After that the Queen
requested to know what had brought Molly to Fairy-
land. Instructed by the Master of the Ceremonies,
Molly bent on one knee and related her adventures,
TIE CHARMED RUBY. G5
every one of which was ticked off as it occurred by
the Clocks. After she had finished, a breathless silence
prevailed throughout the Court, and Molly anxiously
awaited the Queen's decision.
' What o'clock is it?' inquired the Fairy Queen, with
the most gracious of smiles.
Molly was considerably amazed at this abrupt speech,
especially as she did not know how to read the time
off the face of such strange Clocks as these.
'Look,' said the Queen, 'at the largest golden hand
of each Clock, and tell me where it points.'
'It points,' said Molly, 'to the Ruby.'
'Well for you,' answered the Queen, with another
gracious smile, 'that they do not point backwards; the
Clocks approve of you. Take, then, the Charmed Ruby,
and be happy all your life.' So saying, the Fairy
Queen placed the Charmed Ruby in Molly's hand ; but,
for all that, there still remained, to Molly's great wonder,
a Ruby in the hen's egg. Molly tried to thank the
Queen, but a blast of silver bugles from a band of
Fairies drowned her voice. The Queen smiled and
nodded, and saying a few magic words, waved her wand
three times across Molly's eyes. Each time a brilliant
flash of light issued from the wand, and Mol'y closed
66 FAIRY GIFTS.
her eyes, dazzled by the brilliance. When she opened
them again, the Charmed Ruby was still in her hand,
but she herself was standing at her cottage door in
Molly's mother did not long enjoy the Charmed
Ruby; indeed, I doubt very much whether it ever could
have had any efficacy with her, but after she died it
remained in Molly's family for generations, and I dare-
say is there still. At all events, this much I can vouch
for, that whenever a merry Molly goes singing about
the world, there is certain to be a Charmed Ruby in
her possession, also a pair of rose-coloured spectacles,
and not unfrequently a distaff as well.
So there's a riddle for you.
THE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE.
S T lay at the bottom of a ditch,
S rrand a common looking little
brown thing it was. Nancy
S--. $ stood at the top, and a
."- 'i' common-looking little
"" s brown thing she was.
I For her frock was
.brown, and so was her
hair; and both were
Jt V very shiny, the one
with age and the other
'' \ with smoothness. Her
eyes were brown, and
as for her face and
hands-well, they were
clean, and likewise brown! You never would have
thought, to look at her, that such a big soul dwelt in
such a tiny body, but it was so all the same.
63 FAIRY GIFTS.
The purse did not look inviting, for it was by no
means smart; but Nancy did not mind that, not being
smart herself. She was thinking that it would do nicely
to hold her pennies; and as her pennies were very like
angels in their visits, there was no danger of wearing
it out too soon. So Nancy picked up the purse and
carried it home.
She had no sooner got home than she found that,
being Saturday night, there were all the children to
wash; and as Nancy was blessed with seven brothers
and one little sister, you may easily imagine that she
did not get much time to examine her purse before
going to bed. Then when bed-time came her mother
was cross, as she always was on Saturday night, from
having so many children to wash; so she gave Nancy
no candle to go to bed by, which was generally her
wvay of showing her crossness. So Nancy popped her
purse into a little treasure-box that she had, and which
contained, besides the purse, one brass button, and went
to bed in the dark. Nancy's parents were very poor,
the poorest people in Cornertown, but they were very
hardworking, and taught their children to be so too.
So Nancy never had much time for play, and certainly
none for idling.
THE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE. 69
One day her mother said to her, Now you are grown
a big girl, and it is quite time for you to be earning
some money for yourself; we must look out for a situa-
tion for you.'
Nancy was overjoyed. Oh yes, mother!' cried she,
clapping her hands; 'and then father can buy a pig.'
'A pig!' echoed the mother, 'look to clothing your-
self and putting bread into your mouth first, child,
and then it will be time to begin thinking about pigs.'
But Nancy had an idea that she was going to get
rich as fast as ever she could; and as she had often
heard her father wish for a pig, she had made up her
mind to buy one, and so she haunted all the pig-styes
for miles round, and soon grew very learned on the
In the meantime a situation had been found for her
with an old woman who had lately come to live in
Cornertown. No one knew anything about this old
woman, and so, of course, every one told the most
startling stories about her. They said she was a witch,
and she really did look something like one. She was
always in a red cloak and long red mittens, and she
spent most of her time in the woods, hunting for herbs,
with which she cured the most complicated diseases. I
70 FAIRY GIFTS.
am afraid, though, she did not find much gratitude in
Cornertown; one man especially was so proud of
having a disease that no doctor could cure, and that
none of his neighbours had ever heard of, that when
the old woman cured him with some of her herbs, he
flew into a violent passion, and forbade her ever to
darken his doors again. Nancy, however, did not much
care whether her new mistress was a witch or not; she
promised to give her good wages, and she had a pig,
which was an immense recommendation in Nancy's
'Now, my young maid,' said the Witch, as soon as
Nancy made her appearance, 'I mean to give yon
plenty to eat, and good wages,-more than most young
maids like you get,-and in return for this you must
have no eyes, no ears, no nose, and no tongue. Do
you understand me, my young maid?'
Nancy didn't, but she curtsied.
'Very well, then,' said the Witch, 'take your basket
and come with me into the woods.'
So Nancy followed her new mistress, and found that
her most arduous duty consisted in holding the basket
for the Witch to put in the herbs and plants she
gathered. In the evening, the Witch went through
TIE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE. f
sundry incantations with bottles, and candles, and red-
hot coals, which frightened Nancy nearly out of her
wits; but she wisely sat still, and did not appear to
In the meantime the prospects of the pig were getting
quite brilliant. Nancy's parents were so overjoyed at
the good wages their daughter received, that they gave
her every week a penny out of them for herself. Nancy
now had six, and began to think herself quite a miser
to lay by so much money.
'Now, my young maid,' said the old woman, 'you
will have to go on a journey for me,-all my young
maids do,-and if you conduct yourself well, you shall
Nancy inwardly quaked, but professed herself willing
to go to the end of the world for her mistress.
'It's not quite so far as that,' said the old dame,
'but nearer it than you think-much nearer. The Red
Forest is at the end of the world, but I only want
you to go as far as the Blue Woods.'
'And where, please,' said Nancy, 'are the Blue
'Never you mind,' said her mistress, 'they're as the
crow flies, and it flies every Saturday at two o'clock
72 FAIRY GIFTS.
in the morning, so you have nothing to do but
follow it. But now listen: as soon as you get to
the Blue Woods, you're to go and stand in the very
middle, which you will know to be the middle by a
large blue tulip growing there; you are then to look
inside the tulip, and you will find a four-leaved sham-
rock, which you are to divide and throw the leaves to
the four quarters whence come the four winds; at each
leaf you are to say one line of the four that I shall teach
you, and then throw yourself down on your face and
wait for whatever happens.'
By this time Nancy was not only inwardly but out-
wardly quaking, and very vehemently indeed; having,
however, quite lost the power of speech, she gazed into
the Witch's face with a stony horror, which her mistress
took for extreme submission, and proceeded accordingly.
'Now mind you must learn this charm off by heart;
but after you have once learnt it, you must never repeat
it again till you come to the Blue Woods.'
And with slow and sublime utterance the Witch
repeated the following mysterious and terrible words:
'Fan Tan, Katch Kan, Hodge Podge, Ho!
Fudge Pudge, Hish Hash, Donkey, go;
Take three grains'of a Merry Andrew's brains,
And boil them down in a Guinea Pig's toe.'
THE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE. 73
Nancy's teeth chattered to such a degree that she
could scarcely repeat the words ; but having once done
so, they became so firmly fixed in her mind, that there
was no need to repeat them a second time.
'And now, my young maid,' said the Witch, 'you need
take nothing with you except a little brown purse,
which you keep in a box at home, and which you found
at the bottom of a ditch. Take that and all that's in it.'
Nancy curtsied and withdrew in a state of extreme
When Saturday came, Nancy opened her door at two
o'clock in the morning, and found outside a jet black
bird with a crest of snowy feathers, which, as soon as she
appeared, spread its wings and soared away with such
rapidity, that Nancy had some difficulty in keeping it in
sight. Fortunately there was a bright moon and plenty
of light, which served to show Nancy not only the bird,
but a variety of other curious things, which probably are
only seen at night, and by some one who has a witch's
spell in his head. There was no end to the little
creatures that Nancy saw all wide awake and chatter-
ing. The birds were busy telling each other their
dreams; and it was very funny to he.r them talking
about their nightmares of departed worms, and the
7 ( FAIRY GIFTS.
visions of approaching flies that had visited their
slumbers. Bright-coloured little fishes peeped up out
of every brook, and Nancy even fancied she caught
sight of an elf or two asleep; but if so, it jumped back
immediately into the water, or into a flowercup, and
so might have been only a raindrop or a moonbeam
after all. Presently, however, Nancy met with an ad-
venture herself. This was in the shape of a large blue
cat, which was sitting by the roadside, with a smart em-
broidered handkerchief up to its face, weeping most
'Dear Pussy,' said Nancy; 'why do you weep so
'Alas,' said the afflicted Puss, 'I was going with my
mistress's eggs to market, and I dropped them, and
they all broke into smithereens; and they were worth a
silver penny-what shall I do?'
'Dear Pussy,' said Nancy, 'I haven't a silver penny,
but perhaps a copper one will do instead; if so, take it
The blue cat got up and made a profound curtsey,
then it rubbed its head politely against Nancy's hand,
and taking the penny in its mouth, waved its tail and
disappeared into a wood. Nancy walked on, greatly
76 FAIRY GIFTS.
pleased, and not even regretting her precious pig money.
She had not gone far before she met a huge yellow
dog, with but one ear, which ear was however very
erect. It was holding its head up and howling most
'Dear Doggy,' said Nancy, 'don't howl so, I beseech
you; but tell me, what can I do for you ?'
'Ochone, ochone,' howled the dog (he must have been
of Irish extraction), 'what will my mistress say ? She
gave me a basket of butter to take to market, and it
all fell into the river and melted away,-and it was
worth a penny with a hole in it.'
'Dear Doggy,' said Nancy, 'I haven't got a penny
with a hole in it, but here is one without one, if that
The dog rose on his hind legs and made a bow,
then licked Nancy's hand with much elegance, and
went off with the penny.
Nancy jogged on contentedly for a little while,
until she came to a tiny little old woman who was
sitting on a bank sobbing and wringing her hands at
a great rate.
Dear old woman,' said Nancy, 'pray tell me what
is your trouble ?'
TIE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE. 77
'Oh, deary me,' said the old woman, 'I was going to
market with a jug of milk on my head, when the jug
broke, and all the milk ran down my back; oh, deary,
deary me, and it was worth a penny with a queen's
head on it!'
Dear old woman,' said Nancy, 'I haven't got a penny
with a queen's head on it, but here is one with a king's;
pray take it, and buy some more milk.'
The old woman got up and took the penny with a
shower of thanks and blessings which she screamed
after Nancy till she was out of sight.
'Now,' said Nancy, 'I have but three pennies re-
maining, and if I don't take care I shall have no pig.'
It was still in the night, as you may perceive from
so many wonderful things happening, but it was
certainly the longest night Nancy had ever known.
I don't think I shall give away any more pennies,'
At this moment she met a little child crying.
'Dear little child,' said Nancy, 'why do you cry?'
'Oh!' sobbed the little child, 'I am so hungry, and
I have lost my big brown cake in the wood.'
'Don't cry,' said Nancy, 'here is a penny to buy
78 FAIRY GIFTS.
The little child took the penny and was gone like
a flash. Nancy thought it must have melted away
like the yellow dog's butter. Presently a lame old
man came hobbling up, shivering from head to foot.
'Why do you shiver, old man?' asked Nancy.
'Ah, me!' said the old man, 'it's cold, cold for my
old bones, and a thief has run off with my cloak. Ah,
me, but it's cold-cold'-
'Don't shiver,' said Nancy, 'here are two pennies,
it's all I have, perhaps that will buy a cloak.'
The old man took the pennies; but at that mo-
ment the sun, which had been peeping up for a little
while, bounced up in a great hurry, and Nancy not
only lost sight of the old man, but found herself
standing in the very middle of the Blue Woods, with-
out at all knowing how she had got there. She felt
a little heavy-hearted at the loss of her pennies; I
must confess, but after all it could not be helped,
and the next thing was to find the blue tulip. This
was easily done, the blue tulip being decidedly the
most conspicuous object in the landscape, and she
picked the four leaved shamrock from the centre,
and proceeded to repeat the charm in much fear
THE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE. 79
'Fan Tan, Katch Kan, Hodge Podge, Ho I
Fudge Pudge, Hish Hash, Donkey, go;
Take three grains of a Merry Andrew's brains,
And boil them down in a Guinea Pig's toe.'
At each line she flung a leaf in a different direction,
and no sooner was the last line out of her mouth than
a furious wind came from every quarter, and meeting
in the centre, caused such a violent whirlwind, that it
would have certainly thrown her down to the ground
if she had not been already there. This lasted for
exactly four minutes, then the jet black bird came and
fluttered round her head, and a voice said:
Get up, child. If you want me, that's not the way
to have me.'
Nancy got up in a great fright, and saw what looked
to her a terrible apparition, but who was no other than
our old friend the Wizard Katchookatchkan.
Well, child,' said this personage, seating himself on
the stump of a tree, the top of which had just been
carried off by the whirlwind, 'what are you doing
I don't know, please, sir,' said Nancy.
'Humph !' said the Wizard; 'who sent you? Per-
haps you know that.'
80 FAIRY GIFTS.
'Please, sir, my mistress,' said Nancy.
'Humph! I might have known it,' muttered the
Wizard. 'Now, child, what did you find in the blue
tulip-tell me that ?'
'Please, sir, a four-leaved shamrock,' said Nancy,
'which I threw away, as my mistress bade me.'
'Hum!' said the Wizard; 'and don't you know,
child, that whoever finds the four-leaved shamrock
finds untold wealth?'
'No, sir, please,' said Nancy, who probably thought
that the four-leaved shamrock had caused her to lose
'Hum!' said the Wizard ; 'what have you done with
all the money in your brown purse ?'
'Please, sir, I gave it away,' said Nancy.
'Gave it away!' shouted the Wizard.
'Yes, sir-please-I couldn't help it,' pleaded poor
The Wizard struck his staff on the ground with such
violence, that sparks flew from the end of it.
'Now, by my bird and staff,' quoth he,' I've been up
and down the world a thousand years, and never yet
met with any one who wasn't able to help giving his
money away. You must be a genius,--one never knows
THE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE. 81
where to have them, and I begin to see why your
mistress allowed you to find the four-leaved shamrock,
the first time any one has found it for many a long
year; people do say, there is no such thing-ha, ha!'
-and the Wizard chuckled grimly, to Nancy's great
'Now stop a bit,' said he. So saying he struck his
staff on the ground, and immediately the blue cat, the
yellow dog, the little old woman, the child, and the old
man came trooping into the Blue Woods.
'Are these the creatures you gave your money to ?'
said the Wizard, looking at them with much disgust.
But before Nancy could speak, the objects of her bounty
rushed to her, uttering cries of joy and thankfulness,
while the blue cat and yellow dog, in the exuberance
of their gratitude, joined hands-paws, I mean-and
danced a Scotch reel, which, as it requires a good deal
of howling, suited them to a T. Nancy was so much
overcome at the sight, that she sat down on the ground
and added her voice to the chorus of cries going on
'Now by my bird and staff,' shouted the old Wizard
in a perfect frenzy of rage, 'have done, will you, for a
pack of fools ; a body can't hear himself think with the
82 FAIRY GIFTS.
row you are kicking up,-hold your tongues, or I shall
take off every one of your heads.'
Immediately there was a dead silence; but when
Nancy looked up, lo and behold! there was nobody
there but the Wizard Katchookatchkan and her mis-
tress with the red mittens.
'Well, Mistress Rubinetta,' said the Wizard, 'it's
something new for some one to come and hunt for the
four-leaved shamrock, and begin by giving all his
'Just so,' said the Fairy Rubinetta, 'and let me tell
you, Sir Katchookatchkan, that no one shall, by my
good leave, find the four-leaved shamrock unless he is
willing to do that, or something like it.'
'Humph,' said the Wizard; 'I know you teach a new
system at Cornertown.'
'Now, my young maid,' said the Fairy Rubinetta,
turning to Nancy, 'you must know that I am a Fairy,
and that it was I who appeared to you in different
shapes, and to whom you gave your money. I am
much pleased with you-take this as a reward;' and she
held out a penny. Nancy thanked her mistress, and
put it into her purse.
'Now take it out again,' said the Fairy.
THE INEXHAUSTIBLE PURSE. 83
Nancy took out of her purse, not one penny, but
'Humph,' muttered the Wizard, 'a body wouldn't
take long to get rich at that rate.'
'Now, my young maid,' said the Fairy Rubinetta,
'you see the value of your little brown purse: for
every penny that you put into it, two more will come
out of it; but you must not forget that you must keep
putting pennies into it, for it is not good to get rich
without working for it. And you must also know, that
if ever you refuse to give to those who need, for every
penny you put into it, two more will disappear out of
it. For only those who have inexhaustible hearts
deserve inexhaustible purses.'
Nancy was overwhelmed with gratitude, and, as you
may imagine, speedily grew so rich that she was able
to build a large house for herself and her parents, and
to keep not one pig, but a hundred, finally marrying a
king's son, who had been a swineherd in his youth,
and was therefore able to sympathize with Nancy's
peculiar tastes. And history further goes on to state,
that all the country round had cause to bless Nancy's
rich purse and richer heart; and that she never lost
two pennies by refusing to give one.
84 FAIRY GIFTS.
As for the four-leaved shamrock, there probably is
one in the Blue Woods at this moment; for though
many people want to get rich, very few take the right
way about it. They will not believe, you see, that a
blessing rests on every penny given to those in greater
need than themselves; and until they do, I am afraid
more pennies will disappear out of their purses than
they ever put into them. Supposing you try the ex-
i J .
THE CRYSTAL HEART.
""UST out of Cornertown,
; li where a stile leads across
\ __.- a grass meadow, and a
clear, rapid brook gurgles
and whispers all the
f 's -'--- summer's day, stood
-- u ij --- a cottage that nobody
...' [e iJ ever went near. And
. yet it was such a cosy
..spot, warm and soft
-. as a bird's nest.
SBut the Corner-
S/ tonians said it was
haunted; and so it was, but by nothing half so harmless
as a ghost. A ghost, dear children, never speaks unless
it is spoken to, and not always then; and many
were those who would have been deeply thankful if the
ghost which haunted this cottage had always acted
86 FAIRY GIFTS.
on the same excellent principle. For the owner of it
was a shrew-a scolding wife and a cruel stepmother.
She had a husband who was, properly speaking, the
master of the place, but he had long ago given up his
rights; if he had ever attempted to speak he could not
have been heard, poor man-so he never did. He had
one daughter by his first wife, and she was so good and
so patient, so sweet and so pretty, that every one loved
her, and she was always called little Mother Meg. But
of course the stepmother hated her all the more, espe-
cially as her own daughter, though she was very hand-
some, was a perfect little fury, and never went by any
other name than Wicked Wanda. Now Wicked Wanda's
godmother was a witch, one of your regular old-fashioned
witches, who nourish venomous serpents in their bosoms,
and can brew potions that would kill any one even to
look at, or make people love you whether they like it or
not, and all sorts of other comfortable things. She lived,
too, in the very middle of a dreary black marsh, of which
the air was so noxious that no one who had not sucked
the blood of a new-born baby could live in it for a minute,
and so she was well secured against morning calls. But
when she had been at Wicked Wanda's christening she
had given her a charm which would enable her to come
THE CRYSTAL HEART. 87
and see her whenever she liked, and Wicked Wanda had
now determined to make use of it. The fact was, that
as Wicked Wanda grew up, she became more and more
jealous of little Mother Meg, and was ready to tear out
her eyes whenever any one liked or admired her. She
had long made poor Meg's life miserable: she had
hidden away all her best clothes, wrung the necks of her
pet birds, trampled down her favourite flowers, besides
getting her mother to impose on her such long and
severe tasks, that poor Meg had no time for her only
pleasure, which was to wander during the long summer
evenings on the banks of the river, and play with and
tell stories to any of the little Cornertown children who
were not afraid to venture so far. But all Wicked
Wanda's efforts were vain; little Mother Meg was so
patient and sweet, so anxious to please her stepmother
and make her half-sister love her, that they only hated
her the more because they could not make her as
wicked as themselves. At last, when Wicked Wanda
heard a rumour that the richest farmer in Cornertown
had fallen in love with Meg, and wanted to marry her,
matters came to a climax. Wicked Wanda grew so
furious that she behaved like a maniac, and every one
was afraid to come near her. She stamped and raved,
88 FAIRY GIFTS.
and kicked and screamed, and bit and scratched, and
finally, when every one in the house was skulking in the
darkest corner they could find, she fell into a fit of the
sulks, and locking her door, announced her intention of
starving herself to death.
It was now the stepmother's turn to take up the
'My dear, sweet little dove of a daughter,' said she,
cautiously approaching the door and holding the handle
tight lest her dear little dove of a daughter should sud-
denly dart out and pull her hair, 'pray do not afflict
yourself so terribly, but come out and tell your own
mother what ails you.'
'Get along with you,' said the dove.
My dear little angel,' said the mother, 'what do you
wish me to do for you ?-say but the word, and it shall
'Kill Meg,' replied the angel promptly.
'My own darling,' said the mother, 'it would give
me the greatest pleasure to fulfil such a natural and
laudable desire, but you know that Meg is protected by
a powerful Fairy, and I dare not do anything against
'Then never say you love me!' shouted Wicked
TIE CRYSTAL HEART. 8)
Wanda, and the crash of a table and a few articles of
crockery immediately followed.
'Angel of a daughter of mine!' said the mother,
' would it not be best to go and consult your godmother
in the Black Marshes?'
'Get along with you,' replied Wicked Wanda; but
this was only to gain time. In reality she thought it
a good suggestion, only she was not willing to say so,
as it did not come from herself. The mother looked
round with a congratulatory air, and applying her ear
to the keyhole, remained silent for a few minutes.
'Now then,' cried Wicked Wanda, in a voice like a
small hurricane, 'what do you go running off for, you
useless old frump?'
'My angel,' replied the mother, 'you told me to get
'Well, and why didn't you, then?' cried her dutiful
daughter, opening the door. 'I am going to my god-
mother,' said she; 'but don't fancy it's at your bidding
-I thought of it myself long ago.'
I have no doubt you did, my little poppet,' said
her mother submissively.
And so this worthy scion of a noble race took her
charm, which was the toe-nail of a murderer, blessed
90 FAIRY GIFTS.
by the Witch, and a bottle of new milk as a present
for her godmother, and set out on her journey to the
Black Marshes. After a great many days of toilsome
travelling, which by no means improved the temper
of Wicked Wanda, she at last arrived at her god-
mother's abode. The Witch knew she was coming,
and had adorned herself with a crown of scorpions,
which shone like jewels, and a chain and bracelets of
amber-coloured serpents; her eyes were red and sunken,
her hair bristled like a porcupine, and her nose and
chin were so close together that she could only mumble
and hiss-in fact, she looked extremely bewitching. She
embraced her goddaughter warmly, complimented her
on her improved beauty, and then begged to know
what she could do for her.
'For I do not suppose, my dear godchild,' said she,
with a hideous grin, 'that you would come to see me
unless you wanted something.'
'No; you are about right there,' replied Wicked
Wanda, who was not much more ceremonious with
her godmother than with her mother. 'It is not likely
I would choose to come to such a detestable place
otherwise; nor do I find you so pretty to look at
THE CRYSTAL HEART. 91
'Say you so, my pretty dear?' said the Witch with
another grin ; 'then take heed you do not become like
me some fine day.'
'A likely story,' said Wicked Wanda, tossing her
'You want me,' said the Witch abruptly, 'to take
some one out of your way.'
'Yes,' replied Wicked Wanda; 'and not only that,
but as this is my birthday I want you to give me some-
thing which will make every one love and admire me
'A pretty little piece of work,' said the Witch; 'but
I think it can be done with one drawback.'
'And what's that?' asked Wicked Wanda eagerly.
'Why, there's your half-sister; I am afraid I cannot
kill her, she is protected by a powerful Fairy.'
'No matter!' exclaimed Wicked Wanda impatiently,
'let the worm live, if only I be irresistible.'
'Ay! but that is not all. You must know that this
is your sister's birthday as well as yours; and I am
bound by a powerful oath, for every gift which I give
you to give her one as well, which might neutralize its
At these words Wicked Wanda was transported with
92 FAIRY GIFTS.
rage; she sprang up from her seat, stamped and raved,
tore her hair, and probably would have torn her god-
mother's too, if the Witch had not pointed a serpent at
her with an air of authority.
'Stop!' said she, 'I did not say that it would
neutralize its effect.'
Wicked Wanda was quieted, and.the Witch continued:
'I happen to have by me a few worthless gifts, one
of which I will send your sister. For you, however,
I have something more powerful, but it remains to be
seen whether you are brave enough to accept it. Here
it is,'-and she held up a small, brilliantly green serpent,
with yellow eyes and a red forked tongue. If you
carry this in your bosom, you will become so beautiful
that no one will be able to resist you, and any one
who dares to try will perish at once, withered up by a
glance from your eyes.'
Wicked Wanda's eyes sparkled with joy.
'But won't it sting?' she asked doubtfully.
'Sting!' muttered the Witch; 'ay, it will sting your
very heart;' then she continued in a louder tone, 'you
will not feel it, or at least not after a little. But what
is a little pain compared to '-
'Oh, dear godmother!' exclaimed Wicked Wanda,
94 FAIRY GIFTS.
clasping her hands. 'Give it me now at once-I cannot
The Witch sprinkled a few drops from a caldron,
that was always simmering on her fire, on the serpent's
head, muttered a few words over it, kissed it fervently,
and placed it in her godchild's bosom. The serpent
uncoiled itself, hissed, and darted its forked tongue at
her white skin.
'Ah!' exclaimed Wicked Wanda, shrinking a little,
'it is only a prick-if that's all, I can bear it.'
'Ay, bear it,' muttered the Witch, 'you'd better,-
and now, take this to your sister and begone.'
She held out, as she spoke, a piece of bright crystal,
shaped like a heart.
'What are its properties?' asked Wicked Wanda,
examining it curiously as it lay on the palm of her
hand. But the Witch had returned to her occupa-
tion of stirring the caldron on the fire, and gave no sign
of having heard her. So Wicked Wanda, seeing that
nothing further was to be got out of the Witch, had
nothing for it but to take the crystal heart and trudge
As soon as the stepmother and little Mother Meg
saw Wicked Wanda again, they uttered cries of
THE CRYSTAL HEART. 95
astonishment and admiration; for she had grown so
dazzlingly beautiful that nothing like her beauty was
to be seen anywhere, and all Cornertown was soon at
her feet. Wicked Wanda was full of malicious triumph,
for one of the first victories was the rich young farmer
who had been courting Meg, but who had no sooner
seen Wicked Wanda than he vowed and declared no
one but her should be his wife. So poor Meg had to
give him up without a word. But she bore no malice
against her half-sister; on the contrary, she loved her
for her beauty, and asked for nothing better than to
spend all the day making her clothes, and half the night
combing out her long beautiful raven locks. But when
the evening before the wedding came, poor Meg, who
had been more than usually ill-treated by her stepmother
and sister, wandered out to the river-side, and feeling
very miserable, sat down amongst the rushes and wept
bitterly. She was roused by a step beside her, and
looking up, saw a funny little old woman in a red cloak
and long red mittens.
'My young, maid,' said the old woman, 'why do you
weep so bitterly ?'
Meg was so frightened that she could not say a word.
'Do not be afraid of me,' said the old woman; 'I am
96 FAIRY GIFTS.
the Fairy Rubinetta, and have been your friend for a
long time, though you have never seen me before, so
tell me your grief without fear.'
Thus encouraged, Meg poured out the whole history
of her woes.
'And do you not hate them very much, and wish to
punish them?'asked the Fairy; 'because if you wish,
I can do them a good deal of harm!'
'No, madam,' replied Meg, 'I only want them to be
made good, and to love me more.'
The Fairy shook her head. 'That, I am afraid, is
beyond my power,' said she; 'and, indeed, it is not
much I can do for you until the spell is worked out.
If, however, you really do not wish them harm, and
would rather wait for them to get better, there is one
thing you can do towards it. Do you wear the crystal
"heart I sent you?'
'They made me do so,' said Meg; 'but I thought it
was the Witch's gift, and that frightened me very much.'
'No such thing,' said the old Fairy, 'it is my gift,
and if you wear it always it will ensure you happiness
and love, though a good deal of pain as well. It ex-
hales, as you perceive, a delicious perfume which will
be only the sweeter when you are unhappy. It opens
THE CRYSTAL HEART. 97
with a spring, but you may not open it now; in time
to come, when every one loves you and thinks you have
reached perfection, you may do so, and find out what it
is which has been so sweet. And now, farewell,'-and
the Fairy Rubinetta vanished, and little Mother Meg
went home much comforted.
The next day Wicked Wanda was married, and went
off triumphantly with her young farmer, leaving Meg
to the tender mercies of her mother, who was quite
delighted to get rid of her daughter and have the
field all to herself.
And now poor Meg had a fine time of it, but she was
just as good and as patient as ever. In about a year,
however, the stepmother fell ill, and became so violent
that she made herself worse and worse. No one would
c'ay near her except Meg,-her husband had long since
run away. But Meg kept faithful, and patiently nursed
her stepmother, till she grew so bad that it was very
plain she could not live another night. Then Meg felt
very lonely and desolate in the little cottage, which
no one came near, and sat beside her stepmother watch-
ing her asleep, and dreading lest every breath should
be her last. At last the stepmother opened her eyes
and called to Meg to come near her. Meg obeyed in
98 FAIRY GIFTS.
fear and trembling, for she had often done so before,
and nearly had her eyes scratched out for her pains.
'Meg,' said her stepmother very solemnly, 'I have
had a frightful dream. I dreamt that the Witch came
and told me that she had given a venomous serpent
to my daughter, and bade her carry it in her bosom,
and that it would cause every one to worship her, or
else die. But it will end in stinging her to death. And
then the Witch shook her staff at me, and grinned
horribly in my very face. And this I dreamt three
times, so I know it must be true. And now I feel that
I am dying fast; but before I die, you must promise
me one thing. Keep watch for Wicked Wanda. I feel
that you alone can save her, that you alone will remain
faithful to her, that you alone will pity and forgive her.
I feel that some day at sunset she will come back
to you wretched and forsaken; promise me to keep a
home for her,'-and the dying woman caught hold of
Meg's arm and held it as if in a vice; but before Meg
could stammer out the words of promise, the hold
relaxed, and her cruel stepmother fell back on the
The little cottage by the river-side now became as
happy as before it was miserable; for though little