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THE DEW BABIES
,---~-.^ ,-'^- : ,.. '^i
"DIRECTLY HIE STOOD UP, IT ROSE IN THE AIR, AND AWAY
THEY WENT" (page 19).
,BT W.T.WI1 ITEM 8AD
HAZELL, WATSON, AND VINEY, LD.,
LONDON AND AYLESBURY.
THE DEW BABIES
THE PRINCE AND THE MERMAID
THE WOOING OF WENNA
ROBIN AND RAGA
NESSA THE SNOW-MAIDEN
THE DWARFS' REDEMPTION
MARIN THE MERMAN .
MARIN, PRINCE OF THE MARCHES
THE DEFIANCE OF THE FATES
The Dew Babies
THE DEW BABIES
T HREE sisters sat busily spinning, and the threads
that ran through their nimble fingers were of
many hues-of silver and gold and purple; but
some were of a grey, grey tint, and sombre dark
They worked in silence, and they measured the
threads into lengths, and they cut them off. They
even heeded not the pattern they wove, not caring
whether it was gay with many colours, or sombre with
greys and black. The particular piece they had just
begun ought to be most beautiful when finished, for
the gold was most brilliant, and the purple even more
so, and there was plenty of grey and black to make
a sharp contrast.
Once the sun got up very early indeed, because he
liked to see his old friend, the world, looking its very
This unwonted early rising surprised a leaf so much
that it trembled and shook off a large drop of dew.
The glistening thing rolled to the edge of the leaf,
and then, drip-drop, it separated and fell to the ground,
two distinct little transparent globes-and that's where
all the trouble began.
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As the shining water-drops each touched the earth,
two little people sprang into existence, and, without
looking round, they started off, the one facing north,
and the other south, and the leaf danced and, swayed
in the breeze, singing as it did so:
The ways of life divide, divide,
The paths of earth are wide, are wide
One to the north, the frozen land,
One to the south, the sunny strand;
But neither heart shall be content
Till freed from his sad banishment.
So hasten, hasten, little feet,
Journey together to make life sweet."
So it came about that the Queen of the North found
herself possessed of a wonderfully handsome boy, and
the Queen of the South was equally delighted with the
most charming little baby girl ever seen. How surprised
they would have been had they known it was all owing
to the sun, a leaf, and a glittering drop of dew i
As the boy grew up, his nurses and attendants were
driven wild by his constant queries. What makes the
flowers bloom so in this part of the garden?" "Why
does the fruit ripen here so quickly?" "Why does
the sun shine into my room so?" And they would
answer him, "Oh, because it's a south aspect," and, for
some unknown reason, the word "south" struck pleasantly
on his ear. And one day when he was leaning out of
his window, playing with the leaves of the climbing,
star-flowered jasmine, a voice seemed to whisper:
"Come to the south I For hidden there
Is a flower so sweet,
Is a flower so rare:
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It will fill your life divine
With a scent so fair,
And a scent so fine:
'Twill rival that of the fir and pine;
'Twill shame the white of the stainless snow,
From thy golden chain 'twill steal the glow;
'Twill snatch the blue from the cloud-flecked sky,
Rival the light of the stars on high.
Then hasten, oh hasten, restless feet,
If you journey alone, life yields no sweet."
"Who sings to me ?" demanded the little Prince.
"The South Wind," came the soft answer.
"Oh, show yourself, please; oh, show me something
that knows the south!"
Then, for one brief moment, a form floated across
his vision, a glimpse of transparent, golden raiment, of
a face whose tenderness of expression seemed love
personified, and of white hands filled with blossoms-
only a glimpse, and then nothing remained; but a
perfume lingered on the air, a scent as if all the roses
in the world had come to worship. Then the Prince
clapped his hands with joy.
I must find it-the flowers and the sunny south,"
and he ran through the palace, and away over the frozen
snow, and the fast-falling flakes powdered his dark
brown locks, and gathered on his little shoulders, and
crept down his collar, so that he jumped at the cold,
and shook himself, and cried:
Help me, little White Feathers, help me to find the
And the Snow-Flakes replied:
"We cannot help you, little Prince; you must go
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And the strong North Wind blew fiercely, and cried
"Son of the bold strong northern line,
Why seekest thou a softer clime?
No breath can strengthen thee as mine."
"Good friend, whoever you may be, I cannot stop. Oh,
I'll come back again, but I must find the south, the sunny
Then the wind fled howling to its mountain cavern, and
it bent the pine-trees and scattered the gathered snow from
their branches as it roared on its way.
It was very cold, and the thoughtless little Prince had
started off without any coat or wrap; so that, in the
palace, the Queen-Mother was saying:
"That naughty little boy has gone off without his coat
again; he'll have such a cold in the morning."
And he had! And he sneezed so loudly and so often
that he woke up a cross old white bear.
"Bless me, child," said Bruin, yawning, "where's your
"Well, you know," explained Eric, "I didn't stop to
see if I'd got one when I came out."
"Then call at a shop on your way," suggested Bruin,
and went to sleep again.
He might have told me the way south," thought Eric.
Then he came to the open sea, and sat down by the
shore, and watched the huge icebergs slowly floating
Whilst he listlessly wondered what to do next, feeling
so cold and hungry, and half inclined to go home again,
The Dew Babies 7
a big wave rippled to his feet, and broke in a cascade of
white foam, and from its midst sprang a most charming
little maiden, fully dressed in seaweed fastened together
by pink coral, and when the long, brown, ribbon-like
by pink coral, and when the long, brown, ribbon-like
8 The Dew Babies
weed blew aside in the wind, her white limbs shone
"Dear me !" said Eric. How pretty you are "
"Yes, I know," replied the little one; "we have to be,
because Father Neptune is so particular."
Do you know the way to the south ?" asked the Prince,
You see, he had one idea very firmly fixed in his mind;
and if you keep on long enough asking the same question,
you are sure to get it answered sooner or later.
"Come with me," said the wise Sea-fairy, not wishing
to display her ignorance. And Eric, liking her appear-
ance, was quite willing to follow her, wishing to believe
she did know the way. But he thought he suddenly smelt
a lovely scent of roses, and heard a voice say :
"The way to the south is hard to find
(Turn not aside, turn not aside)
Be ye weary, and the welcome kind;
Still press on, pause not nor wait;
The flower may wither if you be late
(Turn not aside, turn not aside)."
"Did you smell the roses :and hear the song ?" cried
Roses ? What are roses ?" asked his companion.
"Flowers, of course," impatiently answered the boy.
"Sometimes pink or white or red; and they have queer
little leaves all folded and folded, and little green flies
live on the stalks."
I never heard of such things," interrupted the Sea-
fairy, "and I'll show you something much better than
The Dew Babies 9
"Oh, you can't!"
But all the same, he jumped up and ran after the little
sea-maiden, in his curiosity forgetting all about the song
Why, I am there!"
Of course you are Seeing's believing, isn't it ?"
For many months Eric remained, lost in wonderment
The Dew Babies
at the beauty of all he saw, petted and spoiled by every
inmate of the sea-palace, who had never before seen such
a handsome lad as this. But one day, playing hide-and-
seek with the fairies, he lost himself and wandered a long
way among the grottoes and caves. As he listened to
the tuneful flow of the waves, in and out of the rocks,
it formed itself into a lullaby:
"To and fro, we come and go,
Day and night, our wavelets light
Ever ebb and flow;
Like the wayward thoughts of men,
Ever changing, ever ranging,
Onward flow and backward go.
"Sleep, then, slumber, little lad,
Take your pleasure and be glad,
Leave the quest to othersi
Whilst you linger, moments fly,
Flowers blossom, bloom, and die."
Eric leaped to his feet, not waiting to hear more.
Oh, the flowers, and the sunny south; I must find
them, and I will!" And straightway a golden sunbeam
shot through the deep waters, and along its path sped
the Prince, and once more found himself on the shores
of the ice-bound sea. Away in the distance shone the
pinnacles and domes of his father's palace, but he never
thought of returning. Perhaps he was too young to
understand how his mother's heart would be breaking.
But he felt very lonesome, and, hoping no one would see
his tears, he gulped down a sob or two.
Far away in the blossoming south, a dainty little maiden
was swinging in a hammock made entirely of roses, and
The Dew Babies
the most charming of all the rosebuds was the little
wistful face crowned with golden curls.
"Who was Boreas? And why was he rude?" she
asked, suddenly. There was no reply; the drowsy heat
had overcome her usually alert governess, and-fearful
to think of-there was no one to answer the Princess's
-R ?r n~~)
"A DAINTY LITTLE MAIDEN WAS SWINGING IN A HAMMOCK."
question. Now the little lady was angry, for she had
been laughed at because she said she liked the cold
North Wind, and the one who laughed had muttered
something about rude Boreas."
"And," she thought to herself, "I didn't say anything
about anybody, but about the wind."
But I am a body," said a clear, ringing voice.
The Dew Babies
"Please, oh, please, where are you? Are you really
rude? It's a little rude to make me jump," she added.
"I am only rude when I am angry. Look up and
see what I am like."
Donna looked up to the bright blue sky, and there-
poised like a bird before it makes its downward swoop
for prey-was the North Wind himself.
Donna didn't know anything about Boreas, and, being
only a little girl, she didn't think anything about
"features"; all she knew was that a figure whose gar-
ments glittered like ice, with wings white and soft "like
snowflakes," was smiling at her.
"Come and see the north, little one," he said.
Donna sat up eagerly.
"How can I go ?" she demanded.
As she spoke a sea-gull circled round her head, and
gracefully settled at her side. Without pausing to think
of such inconveniences as size, Donna, guessing rightly,
seated herself upon his back, and found she just fitted in
most comfortably between his wings. Then he slowly
rose in the air, and *by the side of the North Wind they
travelled rapidly away. The governess awoke with a
shriek of fright at what she saw, and fled screaming to
the palace. Then there was a hue and cry far and
near, but no Princess was found, though report said they
even sent ships to scour the coast, and climbed all the
trees for miles around.
The Princess had a vague idea that she would be back
soon, and was so interested in all she saw that she quite
forgot the palace. Privately, she thought riding on a
The Dew Babies
sea-gull's back was much nicer than learning lessons and
sewing seams with a needle that would get hot and sticky.
Now the North Wind had long been the devoted
servant of the King of the North, and hearing the lamenta-
tion concerning the loss of the boy Prince, he thought to
fill the void in the Queen's heart by bringing the little
Princess to her.
"A boy or a girl, what does it matter ?" he muttered,
"and the little one has always been longing for the north.
She ought to be happy."
"I am cold," murmured Donna.
"But you have what you wish," said the wind.
"But that does not make me warm," shivered the child.
She was always a little persistent.
At length they alighted at the gates of the glittering
palace; when the noise of an arrival broke on the ears
of the Queen, she ran in a very undignified manner to
see if it could be Eric. She felt sure it was, and so great
was her disappointment that, sad to relate, she shook the
poor little Princess for being only a girl, and then sat
down and wept. Donna was ruffled; she to be shaken,
and when she was so cold, too I And'forthwith she wept;
then there was nothing for the maids of honour to do
but to,weep too, and so they wept!
This amazed the North Wind. What a totally un-
expected end to his (seemingly) well-laid plan! So, like
a discreet courtier, he withdrew, leaving other folks to
clear up the muddle.
The saving grace came from Donna. When she heard
such a chorus of weeping, she lifted her head and looked;
her gaze riveted itself upon the maids, who, as in duty
The Dew Babies
bound, were behaving exactly like their royal mistress.
This was too much for Donna-she burst into a merry
peal of laughter. It acted like magic. A frightened
glance assured the maidens that the Queen was not
angry at this unseemly mirth, and, carefully watching,
they stopped crying, and laughed too.
"Do they always do that?" Donna asked, slipping one
cold little hand into that of the Queen.
They are exceedingly well-bred," replied the Queen.
"How funny!" said Donna, laughing again. Then,
suddenly stopping, she said: Oh, I'm so hungry, please
give me something to eat," and two big tears would
come into her large grey eyes.
The motherly heart of the Queen beat true under the
velvet and lace, and gathering up her white train in one
hand, and still holding Donna by the other, she ran
into the banqueting hall. "She was so young," Donna
explained late on.
The King was giving a grand dinner to the big-wigs,
and his amazement can be better imagined than described
when the Queen suddenly invaded his presence with a
pack of flying maidens at her heels, and holding a breath-
less little girl by one hand. The King was many
years older than his lovely young wife, and it was
the prettiest sight in the world to see the white head
bent so lovingly over the jewelled crowned one at his
For one moment the Queen stood gazing almost shyly
at the assembled guests. Then, looking every inch a
Queen, she said majestically, though the dimples would
The Dew Babies
"My lords, you will grant my little guest a seat at
your table ? "
They gasped-this was all contrary to court etiquette;
but somehow, since the Queen had come, that was always
getting upset, and no one was one bit the worse-rather
better, in fact.
So Donna sat at the corner of the table by the King,
and the Queen would wait on her, and the big lords
smiled on her, and even the King forgot his outraged
ceremonial laws and also smiled beamingly upon them all.
Donna would have felt shy, had she not been so very
hungry, but her small person was completely taken up
with the desire to satisfy her hunger.
The Queen had often heard people say, How nice
it is to have a little girl; one can dress her so prettily."
She tried to fill the void in her heart by devising costumes
of all sorts and conditions for Donna. But the pretty
frocks would fall from her hands, and her heart would
pine for the naughty little boy who hated to be dressed.
However, in time she grew very fond of the little girl,
who would listen with delight to long, long stories of
Eric-how he fell down in front of the most pompous
lordling and tripped him up, how he once put cobbler's
wax on his tutor's chair, and then ran away to play
when his enemy was fairly rooted to the spot," etc., etc.
One day Donna found a window framed with yellow
jasmine, and she at once felt a queer tugging at her
I believe I feel hungry at my heart," she said aloud.
" Somehow, I want something or somebody."
But the next minute she was happily playing in the
The Dew Babies
courtyard of the palace; but the Queen, who had heard
her remark, knew exactly how she felt.
"Are you very brave, darling?" she asked.
"What is brave?"
The Queen looked puzzled.
"Well, well, not being frightened at things or
"I'm not frightened at you or the dear, dear King.
Not even at the North Wind, when he is rude; he only
blows my hair into my eyes-but it does sting some-
times," she added, as an afterthought.
"Then come with me," said the Queen. "I am not
brave, and I am frightened; you must help me."
So she stole along, with a warning finger held up to
Donna when she broke into her usual chatter. It's for
my bonny boy," she said. And presently there flew by
the palace two lovely white swans.
"The wild birds already," said the King, looking up
from his plans of fortifications.
So things were getting worse and worse-here was
Eric sobbing by the sea-shore, the palace in the South
enveloped in mourning, and now the old King was
broken-hearted to find his lovely wife gone, and her
bonny foundling too.
It was a fairy who had come to steal our Queen,"
said every one; but that did not cure the evil. Only
the North Wind sobbed round the palace to think how,
he had blundered. He wasn't a bit consoled when an
old owl told him that a good many people did more
harm than good by well-meant intentions.
He only felt miserably wretched, the more so because
"PRESENTLY THERE FLEW BY THE PALACE TWO LOVELY WHITE SWANS."
The Dew Babies
the old King never uttered a word of reproach. But
one day he called Boreas to him, and said:
"Go, find my treasures for me-I must guard my
people, I cannot go."
So after that time the people said:
"Dear me! How persistently the wind blows from
They didn't know, poor things, that the North Wind
was searching every nook and corner. He tore away
south, knowing his little Prince must be there, and the
snow-fairies had told him that "the Queen-Mother would
find her darling, because love would show her the way."
And the pretty Princess would be there too, with the
Queen. Thus the southern folk had quite a spell of
Far down under the earth, three stern maidens sat
spinning and measuring and snipping their threads.
"The grey threads are turning to gold," said one to
"But you have forgotten the black that is to follow,"
replied the third.
Eric would have been hopelessly lost had it not been
for the swallows.
"We are flying south, little boy; come with us,"
I cannot fly," said Eric, sadly.
No, we have thought of that, and we have sent one of
our brothers to beg the magic carpet from the cunning
dwarfs. We will wait; it will only make us a little late,"
The Dew Babies
So they waited until the messenger came flying slowly
along. It was such a bit of a carpet, only room for Eric's
feet upon it. But directly he stood up, it rose in the air,
and away they went, southward at last. The swallows
told him of many things: of trees loaded with golden
fruit, of luscious grapes hanging in purple clusters, of roses
plentiful as grass blades, of skies blue, deep blue, and of
waters almost rivalling them in colour, and over all, warm,
mellow, golden sunlight.
Are you a King's son ?" asked one of them. "We
will take you to the palace of the King of the South; we
have our nests there too."
"Yes, and I was nesting there for the first time," said
another, "when the Princess was born. Donna, they
"That means a gift," said a wise young bird.
"And the carpet ?" said Eric.
"The dwarfs said you might keep that; you might need
it again. Good-bye! they all twittered, "good-bye !"
and left him standing in the garden of the palace. It was
evening, just after sunset, and a soft wind gently stirred
the leaves, and once more Eric heard the voice of the
South Wind, singing:
Late, too lately
The bird has flown,
Empty nest 1
The fault's your own.
"Late, too late!
The budding flower
The appointed hour.
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"Late, too late I
You tarried long,
The South Wind's song."
"I have found the south !" thought Eric, defiantly. He
did not know he had been months with the sea-fairies.
Time passes so quickly when one is pleasantly employed.
When he reached the doors of the palace, a big sentry
was on duty, and barred his entrance, demanding the
password. But the swallows had told him that. Once
inside, he was bewildered by lights and noise, and the
number of officials who crowded round him; but he
bravely asked to see the King.
Eyes and hands were cast heavenwards at the bare idea.
"Straight to the King, indeed!"
"Well, why not?" asked the boy.
"Oh," they said, first you have to get permission
from the Lord High Chamberlain, then you have to wait
three days to give him time to find out all about you;
then the Master of the Robes has to fix on a costume for
you that will not clash with all the others; then the
Public Deportment has to teach you the proper bow."
Please stop !" cried Eric, in despair. I don't think I
want to see the King."
Just then a grand fanfare of trumpets sounded, and they
all fell upon their knees-all but Eric, who was too
interested to care about etiquette-so that when the King
and Queen came into the hall, they beheld a bowing,
kneeling crowd, and in their midst, standing upright, his
face flushed with excitement, the handsomest lad in
Christendom. And he saw a rather feeble-looking man,
"ERIC GATHERED THE WILD FLOWERS."
The Dew Babies
with weak blue eyes and a diffident smile, walking by the
side of a woman of exquisite southern loveliness. But
there was something so kingly in the weak-faced man's
aspect, that instinctively Eric dropped on one knee. He
was too young to know that it was a kingly nature
enshrined in a feeble casing.
"Why-- began the King ; and then all the officials
jumped to their feet, and after about ten minutes of
bewildering formalities a grand-looking courtier stepped
up to Eric and bade him come to the King's presence.
Nothing loth, Eric, at their bidding, poured forth his tale,
even to the song of the wind. Then the Queen smiled
sadly, and replied:
Little boy, the missing bird is my child, my Donna,"
and making a sign to the nobles, she passed alone from
When Eric heard all about the little Princess, he was
fired with the idea of at once setting out to find her again.
But the old King prayed him to stay and cheer him with
his presence; and, somehow, he could not refuse. He
loved to see the mild blue eyes bent beamingly upon
him; and when the monarch could escape from the
burden of court affairs, he loved to wander with Eric
through the gardens and woods which surrounded the
palace. Eric gathered the wild flowers, and made imitation
crowns of them, and placed them on the King's grey head,
and paid court to him in such ridiculous imitation of
the courtiers that King JEoan laughed till the tears ran
down his cheeks. They were happy days spent in the
flower-strewn woods, where the sun glinted through
the interlaced branches of the trees, and deepened
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the colour on the butterflies' wings, and made the water-
drops sparkle like rare gems.
But good times as well as bad times come to an end.
One day, every one was crowding to the window to see
two strange birds that had settled in the garden, close to
the lake. Of course, every man among the courtiers ran
for his gun to shoot them, promising the feathers to the
lady of his choice for adornment. Fortunately, the Queen,
hearing the commotion, and learning the cause, bade them
leave the birds unmolested. Imagine their amazement
when these birds three times encircled the lake, thrice
dipped in the clear water, and lo! as they reached the
bank, their white feathers fell in a heap at their feet, and
two human beings stepped over the lawns. Eric and the
Queen were the first to know what had happened, and
before the astonished court could gasp for breath, they
were half-way down the big marble staircase, Eric to fling
himself into his mother's arms, and the Queen to fall on
her knees, laughing and crying all in a breath, while she
hugged close to her breast her long-lost darling.
The wind blew a sudden gust, and all the swallows
twittered violently. "The North Wind at this time of year!"
they said. But it was only Boreas, who had tracked and
followed his royal mistress, and was now expressing his
joy at the success 'of his mission when woof! he was off
to tell the King of the North, and to bring him to the spot.
When the two Mother-Queens at last left off kissing
and cuddling their respective darlings, Eric and Donna
caught sight of each other, and stood solemnly gazing,
then the southern Queen said:
Be friends, dearie I" and Donna shyly held up her little
The Dew Babies
rose-bud face for a kiss. Eric got very red in the face, but
he bent down and kissed the dainty maiden-and found he
liked it very much indeed. By this time, King JEoan
had arrived on the scene, and Donna flew to his arms,
nestling her bonnie head close to his grey one, smiled
upon every one, and said, pointing to the Queen:
"Father dear, this is my beautiful lady from the north."
And then they all began to talk at once, and there was
such a babel that no one noticed the sudden arrival of
Boreas and the King of the North. Donna was the first
to spy them out, and there was not much court formality
about her introductions.
Nothing would satisfy the imperious little maiden but
that they should all stay together for a time, and so the
King of the North had to despatch Boreas with a message
to his most reliable minister to govern the kingdom for
him. It was quite a pleasant spot in the busy lives of
the four elders, and vastly they enjoyed it. The King
and Queen of the South retired with their guests to their
summer palace, and instituted a vice-King and Queen,
who most rigorously enforced every detail of court
etiquette-so much so, indeed, that immediately on the
return of the real King and Queen a reform was set
on foot, which resulted in the formulating of a new rule,
one ever afterwards sternly enforced, and that was-
When at length the reluctant friends parted, King
.Eoan had promised to visit the King of the North
that same winter. Donna and Eric instantly planned
a grand ice carnival, at which every one was to appear
in fancy dress.
The Dew Babies 25
"Dear me," said the swallow, the next day, "how the
Princess is weeping! I really ought to find out why,
but it would never do to let my eggs grow cold."
"Certainly not, my dear," replied her mate, "so I
will go." And he did, and sat on the eaves of Donna's
window, and heard her sob for very sorrow because her
little playfellow had gone away. The winter seemed
such a very long way off.
One of the stern sisters lifted a mass of shining threads,
which almost hid the grey beneath.
The Prince and the Mermaid
THE PRINCE AND THE MERMAID
BECAUSE Eric had forgotten the sea-fairies, it
must not be supposed they had forgotten him.
On the contrary, he was most faithfully remem-
bered, especially by the pretty one who had found him
by the sea-shore and brought him to Neptune's palace.
On the memorable day when they had played hide-
and-seek among the rocks and caverns, Algrette had
continued her search for Eric long after every one else
had given it up. Finally, she too gave up looking for
him, but did not cease to think of him. Day after day,
she thought over a certain plan she had in her mind,
and at last determined to carry it out. It was nothing
more nor less than to visit the dread Sea-witch, and ask
to be shown where Eric was, and what he was doing.
Therefore, one night, when every now and then the
moon was hidden behind great banks of drifting clouds,
she stole quietly away from her sister fays, and started
off to the Water-witch's cavern. By the fitful rays of the
moon, she could see the great sea-monsters at rest;
some rocking to and fro on the waves, others sleeping
deep down in the dark recesses of pools and rocky
caverns; once, she almost came within reach of the horrid
flabby sucker of an octopus, and recoiled in terror, feeling
almost too frightened to proceed.
'The Dew Babies
With a desperate effort, she summoned up all her
courage and, heedless of the quick pit-a-pat of her heart,
bravely went on her way.
At last, a bright light streaming on the water warned
her that her journey was at an end.
"Come in, little dear," cried a croaking voice; "I am
waiting for you."
How did you know I was coming?" asked Algrette,
with a sinking heart.
"Ho! ho! That's nothing to what I can find out,
pretty one; give me one of your pearls, and I'll tell
you all you want to know."
But, somehow, the words died on Algrette's lips, she
could not bring herself to utter the reason that had
brought her there, and she turned to flee home again.
Not so fast," cried the witch, in an angry tone; "do
you suppose you'll get off so easily? I'll show you
who's mistress here," and before the poor sea-fairy could
utter a cry for help, a skinny hand seized her by the
shoulder and dragged her into the cave, and the witch,
clapping a big stone over the entrance, sat down to gloat
over her prey.
"Corals and pearls, my pretty dear, are very valuable.
Old Neptune doesn't like sham things in his court, I
And as she spoke, she plucked off the fastenings of
Algrette's robe of brown seaweed, which dropped to the
ground, so that her only covering was the long, brown-
gold hair which fell to her feet, as the greedy witch
snatched off the pearl-embroidered snood.
Algrette buried her face in her hands and wept bitterly.
The Prince and the Mermaid 31
The old Sea-witch, flinging her a coarse piece of sail-cloth
taken from some wreck, stood grinning from ear to ear.
t :, /
-- 4-N 7 .'" -, '"-
',' "AST .',/ ,,1 HER O R-NY-- "S -,. A '"
.. ...... ....
"AT LAST HER JOURNEY WAS AT AN END."
Look into the cauldron, Miss High-and-Mighty! she
Algrette shrinkingly did as she was told, and as the
bubbling waters settled into a dead calm, she saw every
The Dew Babies
detail of Eric's life since the day he had left her. She
saw him listen to the wavelets' song, then joyfully spring
up the sun-ray's path to earth again, only to sit sobbing
by the sea-shore. She watched him wander aimlessly for
days, until the swallows came to his rescue; she saw him
meet with his mother in the southern palace garden,
and she saw him kiss the lovely little southern Princess,
Donna. Then she could bear it no longer, and sank on
the ground sobbing as if her heart would break.
While the poor fairy lay weeping so bitterly, the old
witch advanced slowly to her side, muttering as she came,
and waving her arms aloft. Gradually a deep sleep stole
over Aigrette, and a curious change crept over her; her
body was completely covered with shining green scales,
and her pretty feet disappeared in a finny tail-in short,
she was changed into a mermaid. In the morning, when
she awoke, a loathing seized her as she caught sight of
herself in the shining water. Only her pretty hair and
lovely face remained as before; even her heart was
changed, and instead of longing to see her little playmate
once more, because she loved him, she now hated him
and wished to do him harm. The old witch chuckled to
herself at the mischief she had wrought.
For a day or two, Algrette wandered aimlessly about
the cavern, and the Sea-witch said nothing, but on the
third day she cried sharply:
Now, mooney, just come to school and learn to be
useful," and poor Algrette followed meekly enough. They
soon came to a large pool of deep, clear water, where
many other mermaids were disporting. The old witch
sat down on a great stone and began shouting her
The Prince and the Mermaid 33
directions. She taught them to lure sailors on to the
cruel rocks, to anger the winds so that they lashed the
waves into fury; to coax the grey sea-fog to creep
suddenly over the sea and blot out every landmark.
After hours of hard work, the wicked old witch left her
pupils, and they all crowded round the new-comer to hear
why she had come; and they in turn told their own tales.
The eldest of them all added :
"There is only one moment when we are free from
the witch's power. When the clock strikes twelve on
Christmas Eve, we resume our own form, and if only
some good deed can be done at that hour, we shall be
free for ever."
"Have you ever tried it?" asked Algrette, rather
Oh, dear no! I'm nearly always asleep at midnight
in winter, it is so cold."
Algrette found that many weary days had to be gone
through before she was allowed to try to work her wicked
wiles; but each day the task grew easier, and one
morning the Water-witch said to her:
If you work well from to-day, in a year I will do
anything that you ask," knowing all the time that
Aigrette had but one wish, to work harm to Eric. The
next day, Algrette began to work in earnest, and so
completely had the witch succeeded in her wicked teaching,
that not a single thought of pity for the victims ever
stirred the mermaid's heart.
At length, Christmas Eve drew near, and the little
mermaids grew thoughtful as they planned how they
might escape at the midnight hour. But the old witch
The Dew Babies
had no mind to lose her useful band, therefore a little
before midnight she appeared, followed by a number of
Come for a broom-race," she cried, "and the winner
shall go wherever she likes for a whole day and night."
Then there was a commotion; each mermaid seated
herself on a broom-steed, and at once the whole company
rose in the air. And a very pretty sight they were, too;
the moonlight shone on their glittering green scales and
waving hair, and they all sang most divinely, their clear
voices rising and falling in the sweetest harmony. No
wonder the sailors fell victims to their snares, and this
is what they sang:
"Hurrah! hurrah! to ride at night
Over the billows flecked with light,
Over the meadows dim and green,
By pale rays of the sad moon seen;
Through the air like a rushing wind
Cities and villages left behind;
Chasing the ships, whose white sails shine
Like diamonds drawn from a secret mine,
Skimming the tops of the heaving waves
Whose waters hide the dead men's graves.
Now on a level with yon bright star,
Then darting off to the moon afar.
Down the path of the Milky Way,
With none to order 'go' or 'stay.'
Timid ones, look 'tis Christmas night:
Shiver and shake at the witches' flight."
All this time their flight grew quicker and quicker, and
the song faster and faster. Then the witch screamed :
"The red star is the goal! and every single rider began
to ride at a madder rate than ever. And it was Algrette
"AT ONCE THE WHOLE COMPANY ROSE IN THE AIR."
The Dew Babies
who reached the red star first. Then the witch bade her
go where she should for the time allowed, namely, one
day and night.
And it was long past midnight, and the mermaids had
never even noticed that their tails and fins had disappeared
for a time. Their hearts felt queer, but they thought that
was because they were riding so quickly. So they were
safe in the witch's power for another year.
Meanwhile, Algrette and her broom were steadily
journeying north, and each moment that passed brought
a fiercer and fiercer delight to her heart-she would be
able to bring mischief to Eric, who had forgotten
At the northern palace, all was noise, and confusion, and
merry-making. A grand ice carnival was being held,
numbers of children in disguises of all kinds were flitting
rapidly up and down the icy surface of the palace lake.
Of course, King .Eoan and his wife and little Donna
were there, the most honoured guests; Donna was arrayed
as a very charming sea-fairy, because Eric had so often
told her about the pretty one who had met him on the
sea-shore. How Algrette laughed in her heart when she
saw this! How easy it made her task! In less time
than it takes to relate, she had descended from her queer
steed and assumed a form the same as Donna's. Eric
came flashing up the lake, his skates scarcely touching
"Come, Donna, come, you promised to skate with me
to the island."
But it is so dark," said the false Donna.
It's all right with me," said Eric, in a lordly tone. So
', ,. .4 -; \
"EVERY DAY, THESE TWO CAME TO THE LAKE."s
The Dew Babies
a trembling little hand was put into his, and away they
Before her charm could work, Aigrette needed to form
a circle; therefore, when Eric-proposed to skate round
the island, she agreed with apparent reluctance, but as
the circle joined, there was a crash of breaking ice, and
both skaters disappeared in the dark, cold waters.
Not many moments later, swaying lights came round
the bend of the lake, and anxious voices called repeatedly
for the little Prince. But no answer was received. Then
there was a cry of "Danger!" and cautious skating
brought the searchers to the island, and there in the
treacherous ice was the rent which told its sad tale. Then
how quickly shouts of joy became turned into sounds
of sorrow and weeping! At early dawn, another party
of searchers came to the fatal spot, but no trace of Eric
could be found; he had completely disappeared. Donna
and the Queen-Mother remained long after every one else
had gone away, and Donna nodded her wise little head.
I don't believe Eric is drowned," she said.
"Oh, why? why?" cried the Queen, ready to cling
to any straw of hope.
"I don't know, but I don't believe it," answered the
illogical little girl. (" Illogical is what Humpty-Dumpty
would call a portmanteau word-you can pack a lot of
meaning into it.)
Every day, these two came to the lake, and Donna
wove wreaths from the marsh-mallows, or reed-grasses,
and floated them on the water, and sang to them, hoping
the song would somehow reach Eric. Then she made
a raft of water-lilies, and at night stole down to it with
The Prince and the Mermaid 39
the Queen for a companion, and they explored every
bit of the lake, but with no success. One night, she was
partly rewarded, for a voice sang to her in reply to her
"Sweet dew-maiden, cease thy care,
But when Christmas dawneth fair,
Then draw near and haunt this shore,
Eric thou wilt see once more."
There now," cried Donna, triumphantly, "I knew he
wasn't dead 1" and she clapped her hands and danced
about on the raft, so that it was quite a wonder it was
not upset. The Queen fairly cried for joy, and was
almost as excited as Donna. After that night, all the
court wondered how it was that the Mother-Queen bore
her loss so quietly. Boreas knew, for he had been at
the lake-side, just pleasantly ruffling the waters, and had
heard the song too. But when neither Donna nor the
Queen mentioned the matter, he too kept silence. They
knew they would only be laughed at, because they could
prove nothing. So they wisely awaited the course of
events. Donna soon bade farewell to her dear northern
friends, and went away southwards, having persuaded
her mother to promise she should return before the next
As soon as Eric ceased struggling in the cold icy
water, Algrette called her broom-steed to her side, and,
seating herself upon it, clasped the boy's form in her arms.
Presently, Eric stirred slightly and murmured:
"Where am I ?"
The Dew Babies
Riding through the air with me," replied Aigrette.
And who are you ?" queried the boy, slowly regaining
Look and see-that is, if you have not forgotten me."
Eric gazed on her face at first in a puzzled manner,
then he suddenly remembered:
The sea-fairy-Algrette-but what am I doing here ?"
I pulled you out of the water when the ice gave way,"
wickedly replied Algrette.
"I remember," said Eric, with a shudder; "and oh!
I was skating with Donna. Is she safe? Tell me, be
"Yes!" said the mermaid, briefly, all her anger
returning at the sound of Donna's name.
"But- began Eric, still wondering at his strange
"Yes!" cried Algrette, fiercely, "you didn't remember
me when you ran away from the sea-fairies, and now
you'll have to, or you will be sorry for it."
This roused Eric's temper, and he tried to free himself
from her encircling arms.
If you do, you'll fall and be killed," said Algrette,
So he sat still, feeling more and more angry every
moment. They were rushing through the air at a
tremendous pace, for Algrette knew that they must end
their strange journey ere the sun rose, and already a chill
grey light was creeping into the east. They were nearer
the earth now, and Eric could see that it had been a busy
night for the frost-fairies. Every tree was clothed in a
dainty white garb, the roads were hard as iron, every little
The Prince and the Mermaid 41
puddle a miniature frozen lake; every grass blade wore
a frosted veil, long icicles hung from the cottage eaves,
and wonderful scenes were painted on every window.
"THEY WERE RUSHING THROUGH THE AIR AT A TREMENDOUS PACE."
And now the sun was getting up to see that everything
had been done properly, and he threw a searching red
light in every nook and cranny. Then, being well pleased,
he burst into a cheerful though wintry smile, and each
The Dew Babies
frost-fairy mounted a snow-flake, and the wind whirled
them home. And Eric and Aigrette landed by the
"So, you're back early," said the witch; "what are
you going to do with that prize ?"
Make him like us," answered Aigrette, cruelly.
"You shall not make me do anything," cried Eric,
"Try," said the witch to Algrette, who had by this
time become her favourite pupil. So the mermaid re-
peated the charm, and made the passes and signs, and
alas for Eric! deep sleep seized him in spite of his
resistance, and when, after some hours, he once more
awoke, he was surrounded by several little mermen, and
his heart felt like a lump of lead, all but one tiny corner.
"Play with us," cried his new companions, as they
roughly dragged him to the pond. Then the same
process was gone through as when Algrette was captured,
and Eric was taught all the wicked tricks he was
compelled to perform.
Fortunately, Algrette was only a beginner, and she
had forgotten one word of her charm, and this left just
a tiny corner of Eric's heart untouched. He was a wise
little boy, too, and had learnt many things in his search
for the south, therefore he appeared to be very docile
and quiet, but all the time he was planning and planning
how to get away again. The old witch had not noticed
where Algrette had failed, because her attention had
been called off at that moment by her cauldron boiling
over and scalding her foot, so she was far from suspect-
ing any mischief. When every one else had gone to his
The Prince and the Mermaid 43
appointed task, Eric would slip behind a huge rock, or
lie still at the bottom of a quiet pool hidden from sight
by the seaweed, and he would think with all his might.
But the old witch was very powerful, and he was almost
despairing, for he had been a prisoner nearly a year
before any way of escape occurred to him. At last,
when almost hopeless, he was drawn from his hiding-
place by a grand commotion in the pond, and he found
that the old witch had at last over-reached herself, and
this was the cause: the little mermen had helped to
wreck a good ship laden with toys, and at the sight of
the marbles, and' tops, and whips, and horses, and other
delightful things, each merman felt his heart go thump,
and they fell on their spoil with a shout of delight.
Imagine their anger then when the Water-witch confiscated
all their plunder because in their excitement they had
allowed the sailors to be rescued. This was Eric's chance,
and he incited the band to such a state of wrath that
they all rushed in a body to the cavern and fell upon
the old witch, who was too taken by surprise to offer any
resistance. They bound her to her chair with the thongs
from the captured whips; they tied bags of marbles
all round her waist, and gagged her mouth with the
flags and sails from the boats. Then they lifted her
up on a hurdle made from the magic broomsticks, and
shouted aloud their intention to drown her.
"But she wop't drown," said Eric; "she has a charmed
Here was a poser ; no one had thought of that.
"We must be quick," shouted the little Prince, "or
she'll begin to weave spells on us."
The Dew Babies
"The very thing!" cried one bright little merman,
who had been a long time in the witch's service, and,
stepping forward, he uttered this awful charm:
"Sleep, now sleep, for a hundred years
Wake not for laughter nor for tears.
Summer and winter, fair springtime,
Autumn with its mellow prime,
One hundred times shall come and go
Ere again you shall wake to sow
Evil seeds in heart and mind.
The whirlwind reap, you've sown the wind.
Slumber, and may the dream-god rare
In your slumbers double your care.
Dream of all the ill you have wrought,
Fight with the waves as those have fought
Who by our wiles which you have led
Sleep alone in the deep sea bed."
And the whole company raised their arms on high,
and chanted together:
Sleep, sleep till the years have fled,
Dreadless now your cavern dread;
Sleep, sleep on, but know no rest-
We, your slaves, have worked our best."
And then they waved their arms to the music pf
the drowsy measure, and nodded their heads as if falling
asleep. At last, the horrible eyes of the Sea-witch closed,
and there she slept, and, for aught one knows, may be
"You've done. it!" said a voice at the entrance of
the cave. Here we are all enchanted by this horrible
old woman, and she only can free us, and you've sent
her to sleep for a hundred years!" And Algrette,
followed by the mermaids, entered the cave.
The Prince and the Mermaid 45
"Who cares ?" said the bold little merman recklessly.
"I am very happy as I am, and intend to remain so."
And he swam off with a defiant whisk of his tail. Some
of the tiny mermaids began to weep, and refused to
be comforted, and they all looked so funny, wiping their
eyes with the ends of their tails, that some of them began
"Go away, all of you," cried Eric, with a frown. "I
must think about things."
Obediently they all trooped out, all but Algrette and
Eric, and a queer couple they looked in the awful cavern
with the sleeping figure of the old witch in the midst,
and her cauldron seething and boiling in one corner.
"You can't do anything for them," said Aigrette, but
each one can help himself."
"How ?" asked Eric, crossly.
"Why, on Christmas Eve at midnight when our own
forms come back to us," replied Algrette. And though
they sat there till daybreak no better plan presented
So they called every one in, and told them to set
out and keep careful note of the time, and when it
came, to be ready to take their chance. There was no
help for it, and so each one journeyed forth and tried
his or her best. Some got tired of trying, and gave
it up altogether, and remained mermaids and mermen
all their lives; that is why sailors hear the sweet
singing, even to this day. Others managed to fulfil the
conditions, and were able to resume their proper shape,
and to lead happy and useful lives, but it took them a
long, long time. Eric and Algrette decided to journey
The Dew Babies
together, that is to say, Algrette said she would come
with Eric, and it was that wholesome corner of Eric's
heart that would not let him say No" to her.
It is very sad, but nevertheless very true, that he and
his companion'quarrelled a great deal. First, as to which
way they should go, secondly, as to how they should go,
and, thirdly-and by no means lastly-as to why they
Eric declared he should go north and swim close to
the shore, sometimes landing, as there was no use staying
in the witch's old home. Algrette wanted to go south
on a broomstick, or else stay where they were. In the
end, she dissolved into tears, and said she would stay by
herself. Then, of course, Eric-as she well knew-could
not think of starting off alone, and spent some miserable
days loitering about the neighbourhood.
Having shown her power over him, Algrette graciously
condescended to go where he liked, and in the manner
he wished, and for a time there was peace.
They had one very terrible adventure which nearly
ended their quarrels for ever. They were so intent upon
saying disagreeable things to one another that they walked
straight into a trap laid by a wary old shark. It was a
wonder they were not instantly gobbled up, but the
monster had fortunately just dined, and was consequently
in a good temper. Therefore, he only lazily looked at
them, contemplating how he would have them served for
"Oh dear," whispered Algrette, what shall we do
now? And it's all your own fault for not letting me
have my own way."
The Prince and the Mermaid 47
"It's not!" began Eric, and then added, "I am not
going to quarrel now, I am going to get free!"
"Sing !" said the shark, in such a sudden manner that
they both jumped violently. "You are always singing
to the sailors, now sing to me," and he closed his great
jaws with a snap.
Poor Algrette this was a very different matter to
singing when floating free on the top of foamy waves,
or when sunning herself on the big cruel rocks. She
opened her mouth, but not a sound came.
"She can't sing in this net," said Eric boldly; "you
must let her put her head out." And he cut a small
rent with his sharp fins; he hadn't a penknife handy.
The shark made a move as if to snap at them, but
changed his mind, and lazily rolled from side to side.
"Now," whispered Eric, "sing, and don't look round
So Algrette bravely began, but at the end of the first
verse, the shark said:
"That's very silly; I know more about the sea than
you do. Sing something funny."
"Oh dear!" moaned Algrette, in despair. She had
been singing her best and sweetest song.
"Make up a rhyme; never mind the meaning," said
the ever-ready Eric in a whisper.
So, with a courage born of despair, Algrette began:
"A bird and a dog and a heathen Chinee
Set sail in a boat but ne'er got to sea.
They rowed might and main for twenty-one days
To find out at last they were in Hampton Maze."
"Ha! ha laughed the shark "very good! Go on;
The Dew Babies
that's something like a song; teach me the chorus, and I'll
There isn't any chorus-" began Algrette.
"Then it isn't a song," interrupted the shark.
I mean," added Algrette, hastily, having received a
warning touch from Eric, "that I'd forgotten it; please
say it after me."
"Slowly, then," said the lazy shark.
"A heathen Chinee and a bird and a dog
Set sail in a boat that wasn't a log,
For twenty-one days they rowed in the dark
Only to find they were still in the park."
"Good little girl! said the shark, approvingly, when
Algrette had repeated the chorus six times. Now, as
reward, one of you may go free."
"Which one?" asked Eric, who had been hopelessly
trying to get the net undone at one corner.
"Oh, settle that between yourselves; one of you will
be quite enough for supper, and by breakfast-time I
daresay I'll catch something else."
Eric thought of Donna, and his mother, and his dear
old home, and he began to struggle to enlarge the hole
made for the mermaid's head.
Oh, let me out," he cried, but Algrette said nothing,
only gazed mournfully at the little Prince.
"Yes, let him go," said the shark, "and I'll keep you
to sing to me."
Then Eric suddenly saw how selfish he was, and he
quickly turned to Aigrette:
Go-you go," he said.
The Prince and the Mermaid 49
The mermaid needed no second bidding. As soon as
the shark lifted the corner of the net, she darted away.
Eric felt just a little disappointed that she did not even
say good-bye to him.
The shark sighed as she went, and then fell asleep with
one eye open to keep a sharp look-out on Eric.
Just then, the little prisoner seemed to hear such a
ringing of bells, now soft, now loud, as if all the church
bells had fallen into the sea and were rung by the moving
waters. Then he heard twelve loud, solemn strokes, and,
looking downwards, saw to his amazement that his finny
tail and scales had disappeared, and he was once more
a real little Prince.
"It must be twelve o'clock on Christmas Eve," he
thought, "and oh! it is just a year since I last saw
Donna, and I want every one so," and two big tears
rolled down his cheeks. However, he soon gave up crying,
and fell to wondering what his end would be.
I shan't like to be crunched up by that horrid old
shark," he murmured.
At length, day began to break; the shark woke up,
yawned loudly. Eric shuddered at the sight of his big
"Good-morning, sir," he said. He was always a polite
"Good-morning," grunted the shark. Then he added,
as he caught sight of Eric, "Halloa, why, you're a little
boy now; you were a merman last night."
I know," said Eric, modestly. I didn't know it was
Christmas Eve when I let Algrette go."
"What are you talking about?" grumbled the shark.
The Dew Babies
Then Eric began to tell him of the witch, and of the
one way of escape open to those she had 'in her power.
Seeing the shark grow interested, Eric made a long tale
of it, with the happy idea'of putting off the final moment.
He fancied once he heard a rumbling sound-yes, there
it was again, and then it grew nearer and nearer, and
such a sight burst upon his expectant gaze!
Racing over the waves, scattering foam on all sides,
came Neptune's car, a big shell of glistening mother-
of-pearl, drawn by four-and-twenty winged sea-horses.
Neptune himself was standing upright in the car, holding
his trident in his right hand, and by his left stood Algrette,
no longer a mermaid, but a delicate, lovely sea-fairy, her
long hair streaming behind her, her eyes bright, and her
cheeks rosy with excitement.
The shark wasn't lazy one minute more when he
understood what had happened. He simply fled away
as fast as he could. Father Neptune was not to be
baffled; he hurled his huge trident at the retreating
monster, and a horrible streak of red gradually dyed the
water and told of the result.
"There, there he is!" cried Algrette. "Oh! I'm so
glad he didn't have time to eat you."
"Release the boy," ordered Neptune, in a voice that
sounded like thunder. His attendants flew to carry out
his command, and then Eric was brought to the car.
"What say you, boy, at having brought us from our
throne to set you free?" demanded Neptune, with a
frown, which was belied by the merry twinkle of
"Thank you very much," said Eric, bowing politely.
The Prince and the Mermaid 51
"If you would come to my father's kingdom, I am sure
he would be pleased to see you."
"Ho, indeed," growled Neptune, "and where may
NEPTUNE HIMSELF WAS STANDING UPRIGHT IN THE CAR."
The little Prince plunged into a long account of its
whereabouts, then Neptune said:
So. Some day we'll come. Meanwhile, go and report
yourself to your mother. But, remember, twelve months
4 \`' I
M W F I-
The Dew Babies
from to-day you must return to us, and do us homage
for our favour."
Then Eric seemed to be seized by many invisible hands;
he caught one more glimpse of Algrette and Neptune in
the car, and then he became insensible.
An intense feeling of cold restored him to his senses;
he was lying on the ice on the lake in the palace gardens;
he tried to move, but felt too weak. Then he thought he
saw a light advancing towards the lake. Yes, and it was
followed by another light. Then his eyes closed again,
and he was just slipping off into unconsciousness when
two well-known voices broke on his ear. It was his
mother and Donna.
It did not take long to rouse the palace, and amid
exclamations of joy, wonder, and relief, Eric was carried
indoors, fed, and warmed into life again. When fully
recovered, he sat up and recounted his adventures to
an admiring circle, and quite enjoyed the effect he
"Mother, when I go back to Father Neptune, may
I not bring Algrette to see you all ?"
"Do not talk of leaving us again," cried the Queen,
"He must go," said the King; "he has given his
In the morning, on the island in the lake, there stood,
to the surprise of every one, the most beautiful statue
of a sea-fairy. It was of exquisite white marble, so
beautifully carved that it seemed to be possessed of life
-one might even declare so, seeing the parted lips and
" RECOUNTED HIS ADVENTURES TO AN ADMIRING CIRCLE."
r j, I
54 The Dew Babies
It was Aigrette, who had begged and obtained this
boon from Neptune, that by day as a marble figure
she should watch over Eric, and at night should resume
her own form and keep at bay the evil spirits of the
deep, whom the wicked Water-witch had created and
set to work.
CHRISTMAS was at hand, but in her room in the
palace the sorrowful Queen of the North sat
weeping. Two days hence, her boy, the darling
of her heart, must fulfil his promise and visit Neptune in
his sea-kingdom; and the mother's heart trembled lest
evil should await him. Presently, she rose from her seat
and stood gazing into her magic crystal. As the mist
cleared away, three figures appeared to her gaze, and she
listened intently until she could hear their voices. They
were three grim-looking women, clothed in sombre
garments, and they were busily spinning with distaffs
made of ebony wood. Said one :
The bright threads are giving out again."
And the second answered:
How should sorrow be clad ? "
And the third replied:
In darkest hues."
Then the Queen bent nearer to the crystal and cried:
Oh, stern sisters, pity Pity for my son !"
Hark said the first sister.
Who dares invade our silence?" cried the second.
Fate is not unkind," replied the third, more gently.
"A brave man is his own fate." And the mist swept
across the glass, and the Queen could hear no more.
The Dew Babies
At that moment, her maidens came to array her for
the final feast in honour of Eric's departure. The
"Speeding Banquet," as it was called, was an honoured
institution in that northern palace, and one for the King's
son must indeed be royally observed. So they combed
and brushed the Queen's shining hair, and bound it with
a snood glittering with diamonds. They clothed her in
a robe of dazzling whiteness, and bound her waist with a
golden belt, and shod her tiny feet with the daintiest
slippers, upon which diamonds twinkled and shone with
every movement. At the door of her apartment, she
was met by the stately old King, also royally clad. But
better than all the glitter and magnificence was the love
which shone in his eyes as they rested on his beautiful
wife, and a rivalling light shone in the Queen's eyes as
they glanced from her noble husband to her handsome son.
In the banqueting room, every preparation was com-
pleted. Flowers, music, dainty viands, generous wine,
everything was ready, and as the guests assembled, troops
of trained attendants ministered to their needs as silently
and as quickly as if each one had been shod with winged
sandals. Then away to the ball-room, which was in
fact the huge lake roofed in by a tent, from the ceiling of
which hung numberless lights, each one shaped like a
beautiful star; and in the centre of the tent in the place
of honour was the statue of Algrette almost hidden by
the masses of sweet-smelling flowers, and in front of it
was placed the throne, so that she looked like a guardian
spirit waiting and watching.
When the royal party had taken up their position, the
dances and pageants began. First, a band of twelve
Algrette's Sacrifice 59
ice-fairies came and danced before the throne, then came
a huge car drawn by six white bears, and in it a
lovely snow-maiden, and behind her, and astride another
white bear, rode Jack Frost, and he sang a song so droll
that all the courtiers shook with laughter. Many other
quaint or charming groups passed by the throne. But
every moment the Queen grew more and more sorrowful,
and Eric became thoughtful.
At last came the minstrel, the most revered personage
of the court, and Eric's master in song-craft. The Queen
left her throne to welcome him, and the King held out
his right hand in fellowship, while Eric ran to his master's
side and reverently kissed his hand. Then, amidst a
hushed silence, the rippling sound of the harp rang out,
and the mellow voice accompanied it. The old King
bowed his head, and the Queen made no effort to hide
"Sorrow comes as well as laughter,
Tears will follow smiles;
Who can tell till the hereafter
Which the most beguiles ?
"Sorrow 'tis that always teaches
What we needs must know;
Shows the path which always reaches
From this vale below.
"Gladsome maiden, welcome sorrow
As thou would'st a joy;
Chide not at the sad to-morrow,
Life is not a toy.
"I'Tis the brave and noble-hearted
Who can best rejoice:
Tremble not though you be parted,
Let right govern choice."
The Dew Babies
Then he swept his hands over the strings, and the
melody passed into a joyous measure, and smiles decked
the faces of the listeners almost before the tears were dry.
"Sweet is youth and hope and beauty,
Glide we now with dancing feet;
Tread a measure grand and stately,
Listen to the music sweet.
Mother Nature taught a lesson
By creating seasons four;
Spring it is who chases winter
From our bleak and snowy shore.
"Summer days are crowned with flowers,
Autumn bright with golden grain;
So let each one hail life brightly,
Welcome be both joy and pain.
"When you hear the song-bird singing
To his mate in flowering thorn,
Mind you that the nest was building
'Ere the downy brood was born.
"So lift up your gladsome voices
Vying with the birds in song;
Know that if to-day bring sorrow
Love and joy will come ere long."
The youths and maidens crowded to the far end of
the spacious ball-room for the dance, and the minstrel
tuned his harp to a graver lay, and sang of war and
daring deeds, and the grave councillors nodded their
heads in approval. Eric stayed to listen, for he felt too
solemn to join the dancers. He rested his hands on
the base of the statue of Aigrette, and in moving accidently
touched the white, sculptured foot. He started, for he
felt not cold marble, but warm, soft flesh. He was about
to call aloud in his astonishment, but, glancing upward,
" HE SWEPT HIS HANDS OVER THE STRINGS."
The Dew Babies
saw a warning look in Algrette's eyes, and a smothered
"It is I, myself; start from this place, and I can help you."
So Eric kept silence, wondering what would happen
next. Soon after midnight, when the guests had departed,
the King called Eric to his side, saying:
"My boy, are you ready? You must not be late.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, you must be in
I am ready," said Eric, sorrowfully; "but I may say
good-bye to Donna first?"
"Certainly," said the King, smiling in spite of his sadness;
"bid our dear southern friends send the little maiden to cheer
our loneliness,, and beg them to come also if they willl"
Then Eric turned to his mother, and they said a long,
Meanwhile, the magic carpet had been brought in and
laid at Eric's feet.
"To the palace of King Iban,' commanded the
Prince, and in a flash the scene"faded from his gaze,
and in place of ice and snow he was surrounded by
flower-laden bushes, and trees in full leaf. He hurried
up the familiar stairway of marble, and reached the
throne-room of King IEoan. He, together with the
Queen and Donna, was just preparing for a morning ride,
for time was in advance of that of the northern kingdom.
How pleased they all were to see'him, but not surprised,
as it was an old promise that Eric should come and
bid them farewell.
"What can Neptune want with you?" asked Donna, not
for the first time, for she was very curious on the subject.
"I really do not know," said Eric, thoughtfully.
"I wish you hadn't to go," petulantly remarked the
Princess; "no one knows how long you will be away,
or what's going to happen, or anything," and here she
began to cry.
"Oh, stop, Donna, please said Eric, in a husky voice,'
and it is very certain he would have cried too had not
the Queen come to the rescue with the suggestion that
they should all ride to the sea-shore, and there say
good-bye to the traveller. They straightway forgot their
sorrow in a mad scamper over the hard dry sand.
Such a bonnie pair," sighed the Queen-Mother.
"Let us hope they will always journey together,"
rejoined the King. "When we are weary, and our day
is nearly over, we shall rejoice in their joys, and sorrow
in their griefs. Our own will be drawing to a close then,
lady mine." And in silence they moved, side by side,
by the rippling blue waters.
"Now I must go," said Eric, desperately, and he leapt
from his pony, and flung the reins to an attendant groom.
"Good-bye, once more, every one," and Eric manfully
stood upright on his magic carpet and waved his hand,
and then the strange steed rose in the air like a bird,
up and up, then darted downwards as a swallow does,
and, cleaving the waves, set out for Neptune's home.
"Oh I" said Eric; for there, standing by his side,
was Algrette, He had forgotten all about her.
S"Are you rot pleased to see me ?" she asked, a little
"Why, yes," said Eric, doubtfully; he did not quite
see why she wanted to come. "Girls are no use in
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adventures," he privately thought. But his loneliness
soon made him feel glad she had come, and they chatted
merrily about their dreadful adventures with the witch,
and the greedy, lazy shark.
Father Neptune was cross," said Algrette. He
has a lot of trouble with the sea-things; they are so
greedy, and quarrel so much."
What did he say when you got there?"
He was dreadfully angry because I went, and says
he'd a good mind to let you be eaten so that it might
teach me to stay at home for the future. But I cried so
that he came himself instead of sending any one else."
"Do you know why he wants me?" asked Eric, a
"You'll soon see," replied Algrette, wisely. "Here
we are," she added, as the carpet suddenly stopped its
flight; "you had better go alone."
Eric slowly followed the pathway that led to the
palace. It was built of huge rocks worn smooth by the
constant wash of the waves; wonderful anemones made
gay the approach, and many-hued seaweeds festooned
The Prince felt very timid as he came to the hall
where Neptune sat, surrounded by his tritons.
"Ha, the boy!" cried Neptune; "he has kept his
word; brave lad !"
Eric advanced, and bowed low.
"Will your Majesty let me carry out your request ?"
he asked, wondering whatever he could do for the powerful
"Draw near, Prince, and listen," said Neptune.
Algrette's Sacrifice 65
The tritons drew back, so that the King and the boy
were practically alone.
"Many years ago," said Neptune, "we owned a black
pearl of priceless value, for when evil threatened us it
became white, as an ordinary pearl, resuming its colour
again when the evil had been averted; the same thing
happened if an enemy, by guile, gained admittance to
our court. One day it was missing. Elfin, the invisible
King of the dwarfs, had carried it off, before our very
eyes, and no one has been able to bring it back to me.
Many have undertaken the quest, and all have failed.
What say you, Prince?"
"My life is yours," replied Eric; I will go."
"You speak bravely; may you fare successfully, and
any reward you ask is yours."
Eric bowed himself from the royal presence, and re-
turned to Algrette to tell her of his task.
"Then," said the sea-fairy, I can be of use to you, for
the witch once sent me to dwarf-land."
The next moment, there stood in her place a charming
sea-page, and but for the laughing eyes and brown-gold
hair, Eric would never have guessed what had happened.
"Now," remarked the page, "you needn't mind a girl
Eric blushed guiltily; she had guessed his thoughts.
They seated themselves at the base of a big rock, and
planned their journey.
"The dwarfs live under the Fire Mountain," said
Algrette, and they are cunning and powerful, but kind
if you make friends of them."
But they will never give up the pearl ?"
The Dew Babies
"No, so we cannot be friendly."
"Let us get to the mountain first, and trust to our
luck," decided Eric, and again the precious carpet came
into use, and carried them to the foot of the mountain.
Now," said Algrette, follow me, for I know the way.
When the old witch sent me here for a charmed herb, she
told me where the hidden opening was."
They groped their way through a carefully concealed
hole in the rock, and a winding tunnel of about half-a-
mile, and came to a wonderful spot, and in sight of the
city of the dwarfs.
"We are so big," whispered Eric, I am nearly as big
as their houses."
"It will offend them," said Algrette; "let me see if I
remember one of the old witch's charms," and she repeated
an unintelligible sentence. Instantly, both she and Eric
grew as tiny as the dwarfs.
"I don't like this," said the boy.
"Never mind," replied the tiny page, "now we can
venture among them."
"Suppose you forgot how to make us big again!"
"I won't do that," laughed Algrette. They walked
boldly into the central square in the city.
Tiny little people not two feet high were hurrying hither
and thither, miniature horses drew tiny waggons loaded
with a few priceless gems, or gold dust. There were birds
and flowers in abundance, but all so tiny that Eric nearly
laughed aloud. Algrette laid a warning hand on his lips.
There was one little house with its door invitingly open,
so Eric went up to it and spoke to the dwarf who stood
"THEY CAME TO A WONDERFUL SPOT, AND IN SIGHT OF THE CITY OF
in the doorway. Is your master at home ?"
"What is your business ? I am the master," replied the
dwarf, looking keenly at Eric. -
I Y I
The Dew Babies
"Oh!" said the latter, unabashed, "I and my page
are travelling through your land to sell diamonds or
exchange them for other goods. Will you deal with
"Come in, then," said the dwarf, still keeping his
bright eye fixed on the Prince; "let me see your goods."
They obediently followed the dwarf through the entrance
hall into a sort of counting-house, where many other dwarfs
were busily sorting jewels, and piling up little heaps of
golden coins. Eric displayed a richly jewelled knife,
"We carry our stones thus, to avoid arousing suspicion
among the robbers."
The merchant dwarf examined the diamonds minutely,
thus giving the two plenty of time to look about them.
Then Algrette entered into conversation with one of
the other dwarfs, and appeared pleased with what she
learned. In the end, they were courteously bidden to
rest the night at the merchant's house, and gladly
consented to do so. Eric was led to a sumptuous guest-
room, and Algrette, as a page, was accommodated in a
less formal manner. At dawn, the two met, and Algrette
had gleaned far more from the servant dwarfs than
Eric had from the master.
"The pearl is placed in the King's crown; therefore
how are we to get near it without being discovered?
It will betray us."
"King Elfin is so cunning, too," said Eric.
"The only plan I can think of is this," continued
Algrette: "the present minister of state is disliked by the
people; they say he is greedy for gold. Now, there
is to be a state meeting to-day week. Can we help
to feed the feeling against him? Then, when we enter
the meeting and the pearl changes colour, raise a cry
S'A TRAITOR! A TRAITOR !' SHOUTED ERIC."
of 'A traitor, a traitor!' Have your carpet ready;
snatch the crown, which will make us invisible, and
make off while the confusion lasts."
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"The very thing!" cried Eric, exultingly. "You are
the cleverest page that ever lived."
Then they separated, and from that hour by looks
and words influenced the ill-feeling against the state
minister, so that by the time the day arrived their task
was almost an easy one.
Sure enough, no sooner did Eric and Algrette enter
than the pearl changed its colour. But as they came
in at one door, the minister came in at the other.
"A traitor! A traitor! Look at the magic pearl I"
shouted Eric. "Down with the minister I Help for
the people, and the King!"
There was an uproar in a minute.; every one flew to
seize the astounded and supposed traitor. Eric leapt
on the throne, snatched the crown, uttered the word of
command, and carpet and Eric and crown disappeared
in a flash.
But alas In his excitement he did not notice that
Algrette had been separated from him by the rush of
the crowd, and it was not until the willing carpet
stopped at Neptune's feet that he knew what had
Halloa I Have they made a dwarf of you ?" said
Neptune, rising from his throne and grasping his longed-
for treasure. "Boy, you shall have everything you wish
if I can grant it to you," he began, but Eric interrupted
him, too anxious to wait for more, or to rememember
how tiny he was.
".I must go back. Algrette is left behind."
Algrette ? said Neptune, wonderingly; "is she in
mischief again ? "
Then Eric breathlessly told his story.
"It is death to return," said Neptune, "and we have
no power towhelp you when you are once inside Elfin's
I must go," Eric repeated.
"Then the good spirits of the air help you," muttered
Neptune, "for I cannot; come and claim your reward
hereafter. That is, if you come out of it alive," he
added to himself.
Eric again ordered his magic carpet to start, and
turned his face to dwarf-land once more, this time with
a heavy heart full of fears.
When Algrette realized what had happened, fhe rushed
for one of the doors and fled to the woods on the
far side of the city. If she could remain hidden till
dark, she could escape, and, once at the tunnel, could
exercise her charms, which were nearly all powerless
in dwarf-land. She tried to convert herself to her
natural form, but every effort failed; no sea-charm could
work in that atmosphere. So she crept into the midst
of a dense bush, and waited as well as she could till
darkness should come to her aid. Presently two dwarfs
came by, and she crouched still lower. One was
Yes, crown and all."
But surely," replied the other, "there must be some
trace of the thief and his man."
"Not a vestige," was the reply, "and I am sorry for
them if they are caught."
Aigrette shuddered. What horrible fate awaited her
if she did not manage to escape?
The Dew Babies
When at length dusk deepened into darkness she
crept forth and made for the least frequented gate of
the city, through which it was necessary to cross in order
to reach the tunnel. Her heart beat so fast that she
could scarcely breathe. She gained the great square
in safety, but in crossing it the greatest danger had to
be faced. She reached the fountain, when the sound of
footsteps almost made her heart stop beating. She
hastily drew forth one of the brazen cups and made as
if she were drinking. The dwarfs passed by and went
off in the opposite direction. She had almost reached
the small gate, when she espied several dwarfs gathered
round it earnestly talking; with a despairing sigh, she
turned to try the larger gate, when, alas! she was
caught by the arm, and a voice cried loudly:
"Help! The thief!"
In a moment the moonlit square was crowded with
dwarfs, who hurried in from all directions.
"To the King! To the King!" they shouted, and
Algrette gave herself up for lost, as she was dragged
away to the royal palace. When some degree of
order had been gained, Algrette was left standing in
front of the throne with her hands securely bound, and
a couple of jailers on either side. King Elfin bent a
pair of piercingly bright eyes upon the prisoner. He
then said sternly:
"You are assuming a form not your own," and he
lifted his right hand, and made three majestic signs, and
immediately the page disappeared, and a lovely tiny
sea-fairy stood in his place. A murmur of admiration
ran through the crowd.
"HE LIFTED HIS RIGHT HAND AND MADE THREE MAJESTIC SIGNS."
The Dew Babies
King Elfin leaned forward and said softly:
"Beautiful maiden, not in a prison shalt thou perish!
Thou shalt be our bride, honoured and loved by all our
people. Jailer, unbind the cords."
And so the bewildered Algrette stood free and un-
"What sayest thou, maiden ?" asked the King. "Thy
beauty has gained thy pardon. But one thing is required
of thee: tell the name and whereabouts of the youth
who came with thee."
"I cannot," replied the sea-maiden, fearlessly. "Surely
your wisdom will find the answer to that question."
The King frowned.
Do not try our patience too far," he said; "we com-
mand thee to speak."
Aigrette remained silent.
Speak, maiden," said an aged dwarf, in a kindly tone;
"risk not your life by disobeying."
Still Algrette remained speechless.
"Away with her!" cried the King, now as angry as
before he had been kind and merciful. "Away with
her, and put out her eyes."
Silent horror seized the crowd, as they fell back to
make a pathway for the unfortunate maiden.
Bring her here in one hour," commanded the cruel
dwarf King. If she repent not, her hands shall suffer
The long hour dragged by. The King frowned, and
muttered, and moved uneasily on his throne.
Then a groan burst from the crowd as the sightless
maiden, most beautiful in her suffering, was again led
into the presence chamber. But neither threats nor
promises could draw an answer from Aigrette.
"If she answer not by noon to-morrow, let her be
burned to death in the market-square," commanded the
now implacable King.
In silence the crowd withdrew, and Algrette was led
off to prison again.
All this time Eric was pacing like a madman up and
down the Fire Mountain slope. His magic carpet could
only carry him to the place known to its master, and
Eric could not find the concealed entrance to the dwarf
In despair, at length he cried aloud:
"Oh, Spirits of the Air, send help before it is too
Then, all at once, the divinest music rang in his ears,
and three wondrous denizens of the air appeared before
his astonished gaze. They were white-robed, and crowned
with wondrous white flowers, with a scent which rivalled
that of violets for sweetness. They showed Eric the
hidden opening, and bade him call upon them again in
his hour of need. Little dreaming of the scene that
was to meet his eyes, he hurried through the winding
pathway, and when he emerged the blinding sunshine
struck fiercely in his face. The roads were deserted.
With beating heart he hurried to the square. There,
bound to the stake, was Algrette, mute, with sightless
eyes. With a horrified cry, Eric bounded to her side.
Too late The flames were creeping upward. The
crowd cheered in spite of themselves, as they saw Eric
bravely strive to free his companion from her perilous
The Dew Babies
position. But the smoke choked and blinded him.
Again he called upon the Spirits of the Air, and in a
moment they appeared in answer to his cry. One
touched the flames and they turned to crimson roses:
one touched the faggots, and they became blossoming
almond trees, but the third cried in a terrible voice:
"Oh, hearts of stone,
So shall ye be
Until this maid
Shall set you free."
The dwarfs uttered a cry for pity, and fell on their
knees. But the word had been spoken, and each man
was then and there turned to stone-the King on his
throne, the soldier at his post, the jailers at the stake.
Algrette stretched out her hands to Eric, weeping for
joy, and Eric wept for pity.
Take me to your home," whispered Algrette; "your
mother will be sorry for me too."
Then Eric led her through the silent streets, shuddering
as he saw the stony figures still standing or working as
they had been ere their doom was pronounced. The
Spirits of the Air accompanied them from the kingdom,
and then Eric spread his magic carpet, and, bidding them
farewell, once more set out for home.
How tenderly the blind maid was received by the
Queen-Mother, and the King made her his special favourite
till Donna, coming on her usual visits, was almost jealous
of her. But one glance at the sightless eyes melted the
heart of that dear little lady, and she rejoiced to see her
smile when she cried in her ear:
"Donna has come again."
And Algrette was happy, happier than when she had
-~ ~ ~ .a.-
"THREE WONDROUS DENIZENS OF THE AIR APPEARED BEFORE HIS
been a lovely, merry little sea-maiden sporting in Neptune's
palace, much happier than when the wicked witch had
The Dew Babies
made her so powerful for evil. And when, after long years,
her end came, instead of passing into a beautiful, but
soulless sea-flower, she gained an entrance into the spirit
world, and became one of the wondrous beings of the
air, able to help those in need when they called for aid.
Eric never went back to claim his reward from Neptune;
he hated to be reminded of the time that had cost Algrette
so dear. Peaceful years followed, and Donna grew up
into a lovely Princess, and Eric became a brave and noble
Prince. The old King of the South lived to see his
dearest wish fulfilled, and the two kingdoms united
under the rule of Eric the Ever-Ready, and his Queen,
Donna the Gift-Bestower. Their parents abdicated in
their favour that they might have nothing to distract
their attention from the wonderful doings of their loved
ones. And when it came to little Erics and Donnas--
why, then, that is "quite another story."
HE old King of the North lay dying; his couch,
covered with white furs, had been wheeled to
the window so that his eyes could glance over
the country stretching far away into the dim distance.
He was well content. His days had been spent in useful-
ness, his people had been happy under his sway, and in
his son and successor he saw many noble qualities which
bespoke the future wise and brave ruler. If he had one
regret, it was in leaving the wife of his love, who, with
bent head, wept at the foot of his couch.
'"-Dry your tears, my wife," he said, "my work is
finished, but yours has begun again," and he smiled
meaningly in the direction of the royal nursery, where he
knew a bonny lad and lass (the children of his son
and successor) were quietly playing. Then the brave
Queen dried her eyes that she might not sadden his
last few hours. Eric and his wife Donna entered, and
took their places silently at the side of the Queen-
'Deal well with thy people, Eric; so shall they deal
with thee," murmured the dying monarch. The sun sank
into the crimsoned ocean, and the King's sceptre slipped
from his hand.
The Dew Babies
"Our good King is dead!" mourned his sorrowing
Two peaceful years had passed by under the vigorous
but loving rule of Eric the Ever-Ready, and the royal
household was beloved by every one. The stately Queen-
Mother never failed to advise the young and impetuous
Donna, and the sightless Algrette was supreme in the
nursery, where the youngsters romped and played.
One hour of his busy day Eric devoted to Algrette and
the little ones, whilst Donna played and sang with them
like a very child among children. Somehow, her heart
would not grow old.
It was summer in the northern land, and they were
all gathered together in what was called the "White
Garden." This was one of Donna's pretty fancies; she
had loved the blossoms of the sunny south, and now she
ordered all white flowers to be planted-a delicate com-
pliment to her husband's snow-clad land. So here waved
roses of every kind, but all bore snow-white blossoms;
white pinks scented the air, stately white lilies stood
sentinel at every corner, and, queen of them all, the white
moss-rose hung her green veiled buds in tempting profusion
to the passer-by. In this beautiful spot, the whole family
had gathered, and now Algrette was talking to the King
in a very solemn manner.
Yes," she was saying, "do you not think that I should
go? You see, the Air Spirits said only I could set the
dwarfs at liberty. It is many years since their stony
forms were fixed motionless in their city."
But," objected Eric, why set them free? Will they
"ERIC THE EVER-READY AND DONNA."
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not work evil again? Remember, they were not noted
for good deeds." He could never forgive them the cruel
act of taking away Algrette's eyesight.
"So long as they are stone, they can never repent of
evil done. Is it not human to give them their chance?"
You shall not fall into their clutches again," said Eric,
decidedly; "to-morrow, I will consult the Wise Man of
the Mountain ; very likely I can do the work for you."
But your people? "
"They will have my Queen."
Algrette could not stifle the pain at her heart as Eric's
voice softened at the very mention of his wife. But
every year the ache was growing less and less, and soon
it would vanish for ever.
No more solemn words were spoken; Donna and
the little ones claimed all their attention, and the joyous
moments flew by on rapid wing. They had made a
ball of sweet-smelling white blossoms, and tossed it from
one to the other. Every time a petal fell, it became
a white snow-flake, and flew off to the south to be stored
up for winter use to keep warm the flower-roots when
King Winter rode forth on his icy wind-steed.
Next day, Eric called for Boreas, and the strong North
Wind at once answered to'the summons, only too delighted
to serve his dearly loved master.
"Boreas," said the King, "how shall we best reach the
dwelling of the Wise Man of the Mountain ?"
Part of the way I will show your Majesty," answered
Boreas. Will it please you to call the golden eagle ?"
Yes, indeed," said the King.
Instantly Boreas uttered a low musical cry, and, behold !
the palace stood a beautiful golden eagle,
of reins or trappings, and Eric lightly placed
ERIC STEADIED HIMSELF AGAINST THE NECK OF THE BIRD."
his foot on the back of it, and steadied himself against
the neck of the bird by placing one hand firmly there.
Boreas needed nothing but his own strong wings.
C -; -`-
86 The Dew Babies
The King felt delighted at the swift passage through
the air, and he said merrily to Boreas:
"Do you remember when I ran away to find the
south-oh, ever so many years ago?"
"Yes, indeed, your Majesty! replied Boreas.
"And you brought the Princess to me, O brave North
Wind!" said Eric, "for without you Ii doubt if she
would ever have journeyed northward."
The Fates willed it," said Boreas, modestly.
The word "Fates" struck harshly on Eric's ear, and
he wondered how the weird sisters fared with their
spinning. But not for long did he feel mournful. They
had now reached the end of the .gentle mountain slopes,
where the streams ran tempestuously downward filled to
the brim by the melted snow from the glaciers above;
now the slopes grew steeper and steeper, not even
pines or firs raised their storm-tossed branches to the
I will leave you here," said Boreas, anxiously scanning
the barren icy region. "You must call for the guide, as
soon as I go; but I do not like your Majesty being here
Do not fear for me, good friend; the Fates will not
cut my thread of life just yet."
Though he spoke lightly, he shuddered.
I am cold he said to himself, but added aloud, In
a few hours I will return to you."
Do but utter the name of Boreas, and he will be at
your feet," said the strong North Wind. Then, followed
by his eagle, he dropped to the earth below as a hawk
drops on its prey.
Algrette's Atonement 87
"A guide, a guide cried Eric, loudly, stamping on the
HE SUDDENLY OBSERVED BY HIS SIDE A BIG GREY OWL."
"Too-wit! Too-whoo !" echoed on all sides; and out
of the fast gathering gloom shone round yellow eyes.
"Not so many of you !" cried Eric, laughing; "I said
a guide, not guides."
88 The Dew Babies
"Too-wit! Too-whoo !" came mockingly.
Does that mean you will all come, or none of you ? "
"Very will, then!" said Eric, impatiently, I shall go
on alone." This time there was no answer, but as Eric
strode forward he suddenly observed by his side a big
"Oh! said Eric, "then you have kindly consented to
show me the way ?"
"You would not have found it alone."
Why not, my wise friend ? "
"You speak truly. Wisdom shows the way. Im-
patient youth rushes on blindly and often misses what
Eric liked the look and speech of the wise grey owl,
so he begged him to tell him something to remember
in time of impatient hurry.
Hasten not! The flight of time
Speeds too soon this life of thine ;
Soon the grey where shineth gold,
Eyes grow dimmer, hearts grow cold.
"Let this be your golden rule-
Always hark to wisdom cool,
This is true as sun rules day,
Safety lies in middle way."
"Thank you," said Eric, "but doesn't wisdom often
lead to cowardice, then ?"
He thought the owl laughed, but on looking up the
bird appeared as solemn as an owl."
"Good-bye," he said, "wisdom has done its best for
you." And again Eric heard a chuckle of laughter. But
"THE WISE MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN."
90 The Dew Babies
the bird had disappeared, and he found himself in the
presence of the famous Wise Man of the Mountain.
His cavern was hewn out of solid ice, huge icicles hung
from the roof, and every article of furniture was of
frozen snow. Over all this shone the softest crimson
light, which came from a wonderful lamp upheld by the
raised arms of the statue of a woman carved with faultless
skill, and by whose side blinked the big grey owl. Seated
so that the rays from the lamp fell directly on his book
was the Wise Man himself.
Eric bowed low.
"Your need, fair stranger?" asked the owner of the
Eric stated how Algrette wished the dwarfs to be
restored to life, and that he himself would undertake
the task, if possible, sooner than she should run any
"The gentle maiden is right in her wish to restore
them to life that they may atone for their evil. But
fate decreed that she herself should go. Why anger
the stern sisters by disobedience?"
But Eric was obstinate.
"She shall not go," he declared, over and over again;
"if power can be given me to restore life to their stony
limbs, I will go, but Algrette has suffered enough at their
hands. She shall not go."
"But by setting yourself against fate you may bring
about what you wish to avoid."
"Then let them stay as stone for ever."
There you are wise for your own sakes. But, remember,
their punishment is endless, or not, according to your will.