The Baldwin Library
w~c*. Re~ t6,
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
*~z &'' J
I" IV Lil
ON THE WAY TO THE CASTLE (p. SO)
BEYOND THE BLUE
L. T. MEADE
AUTHOR OF "FOUR ON AN ISLAND" "A WORLD OF GIRLS"
"A SWEET GIRL GRADUATE" ETC.
WITH ILL USTRATIONS
CASSELL AND COMPANY
LONDON PlARIS & MELBOURNEI
ALL EIGHTS RESERVED
MRS. STEADFAST 13
CROSS CORNERS-THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTH 18
MRS. MODESTY AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS 34
THE CAVE AND THE BLACK DOOR 49
THE CHILDREN'S GUIDE AND THE NARROW BRIDGE 62
A NEW WAY TO THE BLUE MOUNTAINS 71
PETER PIPKINS AND FUNGUS THE FERRYMAN 77
CASTLE DANGEROUS AND THE VANISHING STAIRS 90
THE COUNTRY OF THE DARK MEN 100
THE LADY IN THE GREEN DRESS 110
A WREATH OF WHITE ROSES
THE MAGICAL KIss
THE WHITE PALACE-THE KING'S COUNTRY AND MRS. DISCIPLINE'S COTTAGE
IN WINTER LAND .
ABOUT FEATHERPATE AND THE MARBLE HALLS-AND MR. PENALTY AND
HIS ROD .
THE WHITE DOVE WITH THE GOLD TNG .
LIST OF FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.
ON THE WAY TO THE CASTLE
AT THE TOP OF THE CASTLE
TRYING ON THE WREATHS .
DANGER AHEAD .
IN SUMMER LAND
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
', THE cottage where the children lived was in full
L view of the Blue Mountains.
There were four children, and they lived
quite alone in the cottage which directly
faced the Mountains. Two were girls, and two
boys. Their ages varied from eleven to four-
teen. They were healthy and happy, and full
S of good thoughts and earnest wishes to be
ready to join their father and mother when
the King of the country beyond the Mountains
sent them a message to come to him.
The father and mother of the children had gone away a little
time before to a lovely land beyond the Mountains, and the four
children had reason to believe that a message would soon come for
them to join their parents; and because they were so sure of this
they did not take a great deal of trouble about the clothes they wore,
or the cottage they lived in. They used to say to each other-
"It isn't worth while to be too particular, for when we get
beyond the Mountains we can really settle down. We shall not
be really at home until we get there."
The children had been called by their father and mother after
certain flowers. The eldest boy was Clover. He was fourteen
years old, and was a dark-eyed, strong-looking, resolute fellow.
Cowslip was his favourite sister; she was only twelve, and was a
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
pretty little slender girl, with hair as yellow as her name, and
large wide-open sky-blue eyes.
Primrose, the other sister, was thirteen, and her favourite brother
was Buttercup, the youngest of the family, a little sturdy fellow
of eleven years old, with a great deal of mischief in his face, and
a considerable amount of obstinacy in his character.
These were the four children who waited in the cottage until the
message should come to them to go to the country beyond the Mountains.
They expected it to arrive any day, but on the day when it
did come they were thinking of it less than usual, and Primrose
felt herself turning pale, and she owned to a feeling almost of
sorrow when Clover said to her-
The King has sent us a letter by the post; and we are all four
to start for the Blue Mountains early to-morrow morning."
"I am quite ready," said Cowslip; "I have nothing to say
good-bye to-I don't suppose we shall be very long walking from here
to the Blue Mountains."
But how do we know the road to take ? asked Primrose. I
don't believe those mountains are half as near as they look. I
am sure we shall take days and days going to them; and the weather
is so hot just now."
The letter which came by the post tells us all about the way,"
He went out of the cottage as he spoke, and Cowslip ran
after him and slipped her hand into his.
Buttercup was lying full length on the floor munching an
apple. His cheeks were a little flushed, and his eyes heavy-he had
been half asleep while the others were talking, and when Primrose
came up to him now he turned away from her with a sullen
look on his face.
"The message has come, Buttercup," said Primrose, "and we
are to start for the Blue Mountains to-morrow."
"I am not going! said Buttercup, turning on his side, and
continuing to munch his apple ; that is, unless a carriage has come
for me to drive in-I can't stand walking in hot weather."
"But no carriage has come, Buttercup, dear; and what is
more, no carriage will come. We have to walk every step of the
way, and it is all up-hill, and it is sure to be horridly rough and
dusty, and disagreeable. I can't think why the King has sent
for us to join father and mother in such hot weather."
"And when does Clover mean to start? asked Buttercup.
"Early, very early to-morrow morning, just when the sun rises."
"Catch me waking at that hour," said Buttercup, taking up
another apple and beginning to eat it. Why, I should be quite
ill if I got up when the sun rose. I am not very well as it is.
I have no appetite for anything but apples."
"Perhaps you eat too many apples."
"No, I don't-I know what's good for me. I am very sleepy,
and I have got a headache, so you had better go and join the others,
Primrose did not say any more. She went and stood on the
path outside the cottage, and shading her eyes with one little brown
hand, looked in the direction of the Mountains.
The sun had set by this time, and the blue mist which always
surrounded these strange and beautiful Mountains was pierced through
and through with opal and rose-coloured and violet rays. The
extreme tops of the Mountains, which were covered with eternal
snow, looked now in the sunset as if they were all dressed up in
jewels. Primrose could not help clasping her hands and looking
at them with sudden love and longing.
Oh! I should like to be at the other side," she murmured, but
I'm afraid of the long tiring journey."
As she spoke these words Clover and Cowslip came up to her.
Cowslip put her arm round her waist, and Clover looked into her eyes.
He had a wonderful strong way with him, and when he looked
at Primrose she felt new courage coming into her heart.
We needn't be a bit afraid," said Clover. If we obey the
directions in my letter we are certain to get safe to the Mountains
in a few days."
"We had better go to bed now," said Cowslip, for the
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
sun has almost set, and we must be on our road when he rises
Clover and Cowslip went into the house, and Primrose followed
them after a moment or two.
Buttercup was already in a sound and heavy sleep. He and
Clover slept in one room in the tiny cottage, and Primrose and
Cowslip in another.
It seemed to Primrose that she had only just dropped to sleep
when she felt someone shaking her, and heard voices in her ears.
"Get up, Primrose," said Cowslip; "the sun has risen. It is a
lovely fresh morning, and Clover says we ought to be off."
"Do leave me alone," said Primrose, without opening her eyes.
" It is only barely the middle of the night. No one can expect me to
start at this hour."
But it isn't the middle of the night, Primrose. It is three
o'clock on a lovely summer's morning, and you really must wake
up-you really must."
But though Cowslip bent over Primrose and coaxed, entreated, and
very nearly cried, she could not get the little girl to stir, and
presently she had to go out to Clover and tell him the result of
"I have fared no better with Buttercup," he said. "I can't
get him to move. There's nothing whatever for it, Cowslip, but for
us to start alone."
Oh," said Cowslip, beginning to cry, how dreadfully cruel
that would be "
"The King said," replied Clover, "that we were to start on
our journey this morning when the sun rose. Whatever happens,
I for one must obey the King."
"Oh, Clover, and so must I," said Cowslip, springing to his
side and slipping her hand through his arm.
-HE dew was on the grass, and the exquisite
feeling of early morning was over everything,
S-^ when the two children walked down the path
which led straight to the Blue Mountains.
Withstanding their sorrow at leaving Prim-
rose and Buttercup behind them, could not
S- -- help singing as they went.
4 Ii-- "Fancy the joy of seeing father and
mother so soon again," exclaimed Cowslip
Sin a cheerful tone. Oh, how glad I am
that the summons has come for us to go to
the King's country, although I do wish that
S--'- :.the others would come with us."
They will follow in good time," replied
SClover. That is the thought that comforts
me. And now let us walk as quickly as we
can, Cowslip, for by-and-by the day will be
S very hot; the dew will have all dried up,
S- and we shall be so tired we shall find it
impossible to make any progress at all."
The path on which the children walked was quite plainly
discernible, even amidst the long wet grass, and they had little
difficulty in following it.
After two or three hours, the heat which Clover spoke of became
intensely great, and Cowslip wanted to sit down and rest.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
We must walk on until we find a little shelter," said Clover.
"If we sit under a tree we shall be all right; but it is not safe
to rest here with this burning sun beating on our heads."
There's a cottage over yonder," said Cowslip. Please look
in your letter, Clover, and find out if it is one of the King's Inns
where we may rest. Oh, I should be glad of a nice comfortable
breakfast, for I am both tired and hungry."
"But I have something in my pocket that we can eat," said
We will keep that for the present. Let's hurry on to the
cottage, and try to find out if it is really one of the King's Inns."
Clover stood still at these words, and opened his letter, to which
was fastened a map of the roads. He traced the line of red which ran
through it, and which carefully pointed out the path on which the
children were to walk.
The next moment he gave a glad exclamation.
That cottage is one of the King's Inns," he said. "We will go
to it as quickly as we can, Cowslip. I am sure they will give us
breakfast, and anyhow we can rest there for a little."
The children were not long coming to the door of the pretty
cottage. It stood back in a little corner, which was full of gay
flowers, and in the centre of which was a tiny path, with a box-edge
on each side.
"What dear old-fashioned flowers !" exclaimed Cowslip. There
are marigolds, and heaps of daisies, and Canterbury bells, and- "
But Clover scarcely heard her. He walked quickly up the box-
lined path and knocked at the door.
The next moment it was opened by a tall woman dressed in grey.
I think," said Clover, that this must be one of the King's Inns."
"Certainly, my dear," she said-a smile broke out over her face as
the boy spoke the words. If you two are going to the country
beyond the Blue Mountains, you are right welcome," she exclaimed.
" Come in, I have breakfast waiting for you both."
The children entered the cottage, which was extremely small
and very neat. They were taken into a tiny little parlour which
was all decked with sea-shells, and which somehow resembled a
sea cave. There were several pictures on the walls. All these
pictures related to the sea. In some the sea was calm, in others there
was a storm. The sea pictures were all put into frames covered with
sea-shells. There were bunches of sea-weed fastened on the walls, and
little baskets made of shells, filled with dry sea-weed, stood on the
mantelpiece. There was even a faint smell of the sea, which must
have come from the shells and sea-weed.
Cowslip uttered a pleased cry as she entered the pretty little room.
Clover went straight up to one of the pictures, and examined it
"I always bring children into this room," said the lady, whose
name was Mrs. Steadfast. "The children who come to me, and
who rest in this inn, are at the beginning of a dangerous journey, and
I like to bring them in here to show them these pictures of the
sea, and to assure them that if only they have courage, and don't
go away from the right path, they will reach the haven. You see
that picture there, my little boy? That represents a ship riding
into haven. She is rather tattered, and her sails are torn, but she is
safe. You too will have dangers to go through, but you will get
safely into harbour, if only you have courage, and never leave the
"Oh, I am sure we never will," replied Cowslip, looking full
into the grey eyes of the lady.
"I think you will try to be faithful," she replied, pushing the
hair from Cowslip's earnest face; "and now sit down and rest, both of
you, while I get breakfast."
She bustled out of the room. The children seated themselves
in two little easy chairs which seemed to fit them exactly, and,
long before breakfast had arrived, tired little Cowslip fell fast asleep.
The lady presently brought in a tray which held two bowls filled
with wholesome bread and milk.
"This is the best breakfast of all for you both," she said. The
bread is no ordinary bread, and the milk comes from a cow which
is sent to me every year by the King. This milk is good and sweet,
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
and has a wonderful strengthening power about it. When you have
eaten your breakfast, you will be able to go for a long time without
any other meal. In particular, you will be able to avoid the
temptations held out to you by the old man at the Cross Corners.
Ah, but I see this dear child has fallen asleep. Help me, Clover, to
lay her on the sofa. She must not have her breakfast until she
has had her sleep out, but you can eat yours, my little man."
"Only we ought not to delay," said Clover, "for the Blue
Mountains are a long way off, Mrs. Steadfast, and if we don't
walk quickly we shall certainly be overtaken by the night before we
In no case will you reach them to-night," said Mrs. Steadfast,
"but if you walk quickly, and, in particular, try to avoid the temptations
which will reach you at the Cross Corners, you may get to the Palace
of Truth by the evening. The sisters who keep the palace will
gladly give you beds. Yes, Cowslip had better have her sleep
out, for if she does not have it, she will drop asleep by-and-by on the
road, and that would really hinder you in your journey. Eat up
your own breakfast, Clover. When you have finished, you may go
out and look at my garden, if you like."
So Clover ate his bread and milk and thought that he had never
tasted such delicious food before. While he ate, every trace of fatigue
left him, and before he had finished he felt quite inclined to jump
I wish you would wake Cowslip," he said; it seems such a pity
to waste the day, and after she has eaten this nice bread and milk
she will be so strong that she won't feel the least inclined to fall
No, no, I won't wake her," replied Mrs. Steadfast. "She will
soon wake of her own accord, and that will be best. Now go into my
garden and look at the flowers, but remember you are not even to
pick a single leaf."
"Of course not," replied Clover with a proud look.
He stepped out into the porch as he spoke, and then began to
wander up and down, stooping over the flowers and smelling them.
"He is a fine lad," muttered Mrs. Steadfast, as she watched him.
" I hope he will persevere. Other lads, as beautiful as he, have come
to this house, and I have sent them on their way with good cheer, and
with all the words of encouragement I could think of. I often
wonder, often, often, if they have reached the country beyond the
Mountains. The sad part of my life is this, that I never know
whether the children who come to this cottage have got to the end
of the journey in safety or not. Some day I suppose I shall learn
the truth, for I love all the children who come to me here."
She turned as she spoke to bend over Cowslip. Cowslip had a
pretty pale face. She was a very slight child, and looked as if even
a breath of rough wind might blow her away.
"But these are the sort who often come off best in the end,"
murmured Mrs. Steadfast. The King makes the way light to such
as these. I know I am fulfilling the wishes of the King when I
let this dear little one have her sleep out."
-- t.i : '" .
.. .... :-s _' 2 '. --, '"
Y. : ~,PRw; 5l~~;
CROSS CORNERS-THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTI.
SS she said this Cowslip stirred in her
S -'i sleep, and a few moments afterwards
Opened her blue eyes.
You are rested, are you not? "
said Mrs. Steadfast in her firm but
Yes, I feel ever so much better,"
replied Cowslip cheerfully. Where
.- '- am I though ? I don't seem quite to
Then she looked round the pretty little sea-
I 'lil.:.- room, and memory came back to her.
i i' Now I know all about it," she said, jump-
1 in- t.' I.-, leeet as she spoke.
Clover and I are on our way to the Blue Moun-
tains. We have begun our journey, and you are taking care of us.
You look very kind; I should like to stay with you in this little
cottage, and to sleep in this sweet little room for several days."
"You must not do that," said Mrs. Steadfast. The King of the
country to which you are going~does not like children to linger on the
road. Here is a little verse," she continued, which the King likes
all children who are coming on this journey to say over to themselves.
"I must not linger on the road,
For I have far to go,
And I should like to reach the goal,
Before the sun gets low."
THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTi.L 19
Here Mrs. Steadfast paused.
"The end of this verse particularly pleases the King," she said.
Then she continued softly-
I may not stay,
But will you not, oh, will you not come too ?
My home is very beautiful,
And there is room for you."
I don't quite understand the last part," said Cowslip. Am I
to ask other children to join me ? "
All true children of the King try to get others to join them,"
said ._M r Steadfast. Now, I must not preach any more. Jump up
and eat your bread and milk. I want you and your brother to go on
as far as you can to-day."
So Cowslip ate the wonderful bread and milk, and felt as Clover
had done before her : every scrap of fatigue left her.
She now longed to resume her journey, and after bidding kind
Mrs. Steadfast good-bye, the two children started down the narrow
path which led direct from the cottage in the direction where the
Mountains were showing through a soft blue mist.
They walked on for some little time. The sun was partly hidden
by clouds, so the heat was not so great as they had feared.
Now and then they spoke of Primrose and Buttercup, and
wondered if they had yet started and what time they would reach
Mrs. Steadfast's cottage; but as the moments passed on, a certain satis-
faction, which they could scarcely account for, took possession of
their little hearts. They were not fearful about the brother and
sister who were left behind, for something seemed to tell them that
the King would take care of them, and that they would in the end
reach the Blue Mountains in safety.
At last, some time about noon, they came to a part of the road
where two paths met.
This must be the Cross Corners," exclaimed Cowslip. Now, I
do wonder which is the way to the M1\ountains. Both these roads
seem to lead there, don't they? "
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNT, .i.'-.
Yes," said Clover. As far as we can see, both paths seem to
wind in and out in the direction of the mountains, but I am pretty
sure that this is the one we ought to walk on, Cowslip."
Why ? That does look a stupid road," exclaimed Cowslip.
But if you will look again," continued her brother, "you will
see that it is straight and slightly uphill, and the other road goes
But it runs close to that lovely little house," said Cowslip. I
am quite certain that is the right way-and oh," she exclaimed,
suddenly clapping her hands, do you see that little girl standing in
the doorway ?-that little girl all in blue, with sprigs of forget-me-not
round her neck. She is beckoning us, she is pointing to the road
which leads to her cottage, and beckoning to us to come to her."
We had better look in our map," said Clover, "and see if there
is any road marked on it the least like that flowery, twisting path
which leads to that pretty house."
"No, no," said Cowslip. I am certain that is the right path.
Don't wait to look at the map, please, dear Clover. It is so rude not
to answer that dear little girl. I for one am going to speak to her
at any rate."
As Cowslip spoke she ran down the flowery path, and Clover felt
obliged to follow her.
The little girl was certainly very pretty. She wore a pale blue
frock, which almost exactly matched in colour the forget-me-nots round
her head and neck. Her hair was of the palest gold and hung far
below her waist. Her eyes were of the same forget-me-not blue as
her frock, her lips were like rosebuds, and when she smiled her little
teeth showed like white pearls.
She came out immediately to welcome the children.
"I am so glad to see you," she exclaimed. Not one single
traveller has passed this house this morning. I had breakfast ready
and no one came to eat it. Now I have dinner ready. Would you
like to guess what I have got for dinner ? "
"Very much," said Cowslip.
But I don't think we are on the right path," said Clover. We
THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTH.
ought not to waste time talking to you, for we are going to the King's
country, and the King does not wish us to loiter. If this were one of
the King's Inns, where travellers may rest, it would be a different
"But it is one of the inns," said the little girl, raising her eyes in
astonishment. What do you mean ? You are directly on the road.
Have you not a chart or a map with you ? "
Well, show it to me, and I will point out this very house marked
upon it in pale blue ink. Now, then, look for yourself."
Clover opened his map; the little girl came close up to him, and
pointed to a little star of forget-me-not blue on the map.
This star certainly pointed to a house which in all particulars
resembled the one at the door of which the children were standing.
Well, it is all right then," said Clover. He sighed, however, and
did not seem quite satisfied. Cowslip, on the other hand, was
We are quite hungry for our dinner," she said. I do hope you
have got something nice for us. Do you live here all alone ? "
No, I live with my father. He is a market gardener; he will be
home presently. He brought me these flowers this morning; are they
not pretty ? He will be home to his dinner by-and-by. When he
comes home he is going to bring me wreaths of lily of the valley. I
shall throw away the forget-me-nots then, and put on the lilies of the
valley. To-night he will bring me sweet peas to wear. Is he not
good to me? Is it not pretty to be dressed up in flowers like
this ? "
"But what do you do with all the flowers when they are
withered?" asked Cowslip. "I cannot bear to throw away half-
"But you would if you were a market gardener's daughter,"
retorted the little girl. Flowers would be so plentiful with you that
you would think nothing at all about them. Now do come in and see
what I have got for your dinner."
The two children followed the little girl into the interior of the
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
house. They went into a little parlour which was prettily furnished,
and on the centre table of which a meal was already prepared. It
consisted of dishes of fruit of every kind and description. There
were great piles of fresh strawberries, and dishes full of large raspberries,
other dishes contained gooseberries, peaches, pears, apples, and grapes.
All the fruits, whether in season or out, seemed to be represented on
the little table.
Now Clover and Cowslip, like all children of their age, delighted in
fruit. They were both of them also a little hot and thirsty.
They sat down immediately in front of the table, and when the
girl who called herself Bluebell asked them to eat, Cowslip immediately
held out her hand for a large peach, and Clover helped himself to a
bunch of grapes.
"What a wonderful market gardener your father must be,"
exclaimed Cowslip, as she took a deep bite out of the juicy,
delicious peach; "he seems to grow all the fruits at the same time:
We have fruit in our garden at home, but we do not have straw-
berries and peaches on the table together."
My father never pays any attention to the seasons," replied the
little girl. He says that if fruit would only become accustomed to
getting ripe altogether, it would be far more profitable. Besides, it is
never cold or frosty in our garden, and it is quite easy to get all the
fruits to ripen at once."
"How far is your garden from here ? asked Cowslip.
About half a mile away."
Bluebell looked very earnestly at Cowslip as she spoke.
Perhaps," she said, in a slightly hesitating tone, perhaps my
father would let me take you to see our garden."
Oh, no, Cowslip, there is no time for that," said Clover, shaking
his head, and speaking in a very decided manner. His dark eyes
glowed with annoyance as he spoke.
Bluebell looked at him, and dropped her pretty lids.
It must be as you wish, of course," she said. "My father would
not think of taking anyone to see his wonderful garden who did not
wish it more than anything else. I don't know that he would take
THE MAI KET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTH.
your sister; I only say that if he would it would be a great, great
pity for her to lose the chance of seeing so wonderful and so uncommon
a garden as ours."
"And I should like to see it extremely," said Cowslip.
Clover came up to her, and put his arm round her neck. You
know," he said, in a low voice, that we are coming very, very soon
to see a much more wonderful garden than the one which Bluebell
speaks about. Don't let's loiter on the way, Cowslip."
I must not linger on the road,
For I have far to go,"
said Cowslip suddenly. She remembered Mrs. Steadfast's little verse,
and the colour rushed into her cheeks.
"I have had enough fruit," she said; thank you very much, little
girl. I must go now."
That is right," said Clover.
The two children walked as far as the door of the cottage, when
Bluebell ran after them.
"I am sorry you are going away," she said; "I am sorry you
won't stay to see my father. You have not offered to pay me for
the nice fruit I have given you."
"Oh, I am so sorry," said Clover, turning, his face flushing as
he spoke. "I never thought about paying you. How very wrong
"And I don't want money payment," said Bluebell, tears coming
into her eyes; but I should like you both to kiss me before you
go, and here is a basket of strawberries for you, Cowslip, and a basket
of peaches and apples for you, Clover."
"Thank you, thank you," said both the children.
They each stooped down, and kissed pretty little Bluebell on her
forehead. Then they hastily left the cottage, carrying each their
basket of fruit.
When they had gone up the path, and were once more standing at
Cross Corners, undecided which road to take, they looked back, and
saw Bluebell standing in the doorway watching them.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
With one hand she shaded her eyes from the beams of the sun,
the other she waved to the children.
What a dear little girl," said Cowslip, with a sigh. What is
the matter with you, Clover? How cross you look."
"I cannot account for my feeling," said Clover. "I think we
did wrong to go into that cottage. I am persuaded that trouble will
come of it."
"But how can trouble come of it, dear Clover ? The cottage was
marked in pale blue ink on the map."
"Yes, but the marks made by the King himself were in red. Why
should this cottage be marked in pale blue ? There, there, my mind
misgives me, Cowslip; but there is nothing for us now but to make
up for lost time, and go on as fast as we can. I wonder which of
these roads we had better take ? "
"Oh, that one, of course," said Cowslip; "there cannot be the
smallest doubt about that. It is the road that most people walk
on, for it is wide and smooth and nicely kept, and part of it runs
through that lovely green meadow, with trees at one side, and flowers
growing on the banks. I can see the colour of the flowers even from
here, and there's a little stream, too. Perhaps we shall see trout in
it. Oh, Clover, there cannot be the least doubt which is the right
path to take."
I am not so sure of that," said Clover. "I have always heard
that the path to the Mountains is steep and narrow. Just hold my
basket of fruit for a moment, Cowslip, while I look in the map
I think that map is no end ofa trouble," said Cowslip; "who can
possibly compare these two roads ? Of course, if that lovely smooth
one led away from the Mountains, I would not have a word to say;
but it goes to them just as directly as the steep path."
"Yes, but the steep path is undoubtedly shorter," said Clover.
"Ah, I see I am right. Here it is marked quite distinctly on the map.
Come along, Cowslip darling. We must avoid that pleasant path by
the green meadow. We must go up the hill."
I hate going up a hill," said Cowslip.
THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTH.
As a rule she was a most gentle child, easily led, but for some
reason she looked cross and discontented now.
You must carry your own basket, Clover," she said. I never
felt anything so heavy. Oh, how tired I am, and how the sun does
beat on my head! I don't think I ever felt so tired before in the
whole course of my life."
It is very odd," said Clover, but I, too, feel fearfully tired. It
must be that fruit. We did wrong to eat it."
I feel quite sick," said Cowslip; "but it could not possibly be
the fruit. I never did taste such delicious fruit in all my life. I
know what makes me feel bad, it is the steep hill, and the hot rays of
the sun. Ah, here is a place with a tiny bit of shade. Let's sit
down, Clover-do let's sit down, and eat a little more of our ripe
"Well, I should not object to another bite," said Clover. Those
peaches were delicious, but somehow I felt thirsty the moment I had
As soon as ever Cowslip sat down in a shady seat by the roadside
she fell fast asleep.
Clover put his arm round her, and she rested her head on his
shoulder. He could not help looking down at her anxiously as he did
so. Cowslip had never been a strong child, and now she looked so
frail, and there were such black lines under her eyes, and her sweet
little mouth drooped in such a tired way, that Clover wondered much
if she would be strong enough to go the whole length of the
While the child slept, the basket of strawberries and the basket of
peaches and apples lay on the ground by Clover's side. After a time
he felt sleepy himself. There was no one in sight. As far as his eye
could travel he could only see a dusty, narrow, thorny path leading all
the way up, up-not up a steep hill, but still upwards. It is not
pleasant, although it may be very good for us, to keep walking uphill
all day, and Clover could not help feeling tired and wishing that the
road to the Blue Mountains had really been down the broader way,
where the beautiful green meadows were.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
As these thoughts passed through his mind, he closed his tired
eyes, and also went into the land of dreams.
It was quite dark when the children awoke, and at first they
had some difficulty in remembering where they were.
Cowslip was the first to do so, and now she said, with a bitter cry,
" Oh, Clover, we have overslept ourselves, and the whole day is gone,
and we are nowhere near the Blue Mountains."
Clover had to rub his own tired eyes before he could quite take in
Never mind, Cowslip," said Clover then, we shall have heaps
of time, for the King never told us that we must reach the Blue
Mountains by to-night."
But we cannot stay out in this dangerous, lonely place in the
dark," said Cowslip. I am always terrified in the dark. What shall
we do, Clover ? Oh, dear Clover, do let us go back to the Market
Gardener's cottage. Do let's beg of Bluebell to give us a bed each
for the night."
"No," said Clover, in a proud sort of way. "I will go forward
as much as you like, but back, never. That would be cowardly,
Cowslip. Come, give me your hand and let us start forward."
But it is pitch dark," said the little girl, and I don't see a
single step of the way. I am awfully frightened. If you won't go
back to Bluebell's cottage, we had better stay where we are for the
"No, we must not; there is a heavy dew falling. If you put
your hand on the grass now you will find it quite wet, and, besides,
there may be snakes and other dangerous creatures all round us. No,
we must not stay here."
At the word snakes poor Cowslip sprang to her feet in terror.
The next moment she tottered back again, faint and crying.
"I am so tired and so thirsty," she said.
Let us walk on a little," said Clover. I have got the map in
my pocket, and we are quite sure to meet with an inn before long.
The King has placed the inns so nicely along the road, that people are
never very long without finding one. You see, Cowslip, we are on the
THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTI.
right road, so we must find one of the King's Inns before we get a
great deal further. The cottage where the Market Gardener's little
girl lived was not one of the King's Inns. But now if we walk on
very quickly we must find one. Then we shall be quite safe, and you
shall go to bed and have a long sleep."
For a moment Cowslip was comforted by Clover's brave words, but
then she burst out crying again.
"I cannot walk a step until I have had something to quench my
thirst," she said. Then she suddenly gave a cry of delight. Oh,
Clover," she exclaimed, "what a silly girl I was to forget the straw-
berries and the peaches. Why, of course, that delicious fruit will
quench our thirst splendidly."
"Somehow," said Clover, I don't want to eat it. I know it looks
very nice, and I know it smells very good, but I suspect anything that
comes out of the Market Gardener's cottage."
"Then I think you are very unkind," said Cowslip. That was
a dear little girl; what possible harm did she do us ? I for one am
determined to eat one of her delicious peaches."
As Cowslip spoke she put down her hand and took one of the
peaches and began to eat it.
How delicious was the juicy fruit to her parched lips; how thank-
fully she devoured the peach, and then put down her hand to take
another. She ate three or four peaches before her thirst was at all better.
In the meantime Clover, who was also very thirsty and hungry,
helped himself to two or three strawberries.
He had not eaten nearly as much fruit as Cowslip, and was in
consequence not so much affected by it, for scarcely had the little
girl eaten the last of the peaches before, with a bitter cry, she fell on
the ground, clasping her hands to her head, and moaning as if in
Oh, what is the matter, Cowslip ? said poor Clover, in a voice
"I don't know," sobbed the child. I only know that I ache
from head to foot, that I am more thirsty than ever, and that I cannot
possibly walk a single step."
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Clover bent over his little sister and made every effort to raise
her from the ground.
Where is the pain? he asked of her.
"In my head," she answered. "I am so giddy that I cannot
possibly stand. Oh, what shall I do; what shall I do ? "
Clover's head also ached, but slightly.
"I am sure it is that dreadful fruit," he said. "I am certain
there must have been poison in it. I will not eat another morsel."
Oh, but I long for more," sobbed poor Cowslip, as she rolled
about on the ground and moaned in pain.
"You shall not taste another morsel of that fruit," said Clover.
With these words he took up the basket which contained the
peaches and apples-it was heavy as lead-with a great effort he
hurled it and its contents over the hedge. The basket with the
strawberries immediately followed them. When Clover had done this,
it seemed to him that the air felt lighter; he was not so terribly
thirsty and sleepy, and his head was less giddy.
Poor little Cowslip, however, was in a very bad way, and her
groans went right through Clover's kind and brave heart.
"What shall I do ? he muttered, under his breath. If that fruit
was really poisoned, sweet little Cowslip may die. Oh, how mad I
was to allow her to go into that cottage Oh, what a wicked, wicked
girl Bluebell is! What shall I do? What ought a boy like me to
do in such a case as this? I cannot leave little Cowslip alone, and
yet if I do not do something for her, she may be dead before the
These thoughts had scarcely passed through the little fellow's mind
before he saw coming up the path to meet him a tall, slender figure.
He could not tell in the twilight whether the person, who walked
swiftly, and seemed to keep just the very centre of the path, was a
man or a woman. He was so glad, however, to know that anyone
was near, that he called out at once in a voice full of confidence,
" Who are you ? "
Who are you? was the instant reply.
The voice which came back to Clover was sweet, and belonged, he
THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTH. 29
knew at once, to a woman. Clover felt instantly that this woman
was going to be kind to Cowslip and himself.
Who speaks ? said the voice again; who are you who sit by
the wayside? What do you want? "
My name is Clover," replied the boy, "and I am on my way to
the Blue Mountains. I have a little sister here, called Cowslip ; she
is very ill. Will no one help her ? "
"I will," said the lady. "My name is Charity, and I often come
out at night and walk along this road, for the purpose of helping
those people, whether they are children, men, or women, who are going
to the country beyond the Blue Mountains."
Oh, how glad I am said poor Clover. As he said these words
the lady came up to him, and he saw that she carried in her hand
a little lantern. She opened the door of the lantern now, and let the
full light fall on Cowslip's face.
Ah," she said, the child is poisoned. Did you both stop at the
Market Gardener's cottage ?"
"Yes," said Clover.
"Have not you got a map of the road? "
Yes," said Clover.
The Market Gardener's cottage was not put into the map."
Clover felt himself turning crimson.
"I know now that it was not," he said, "but the little girl who
wore forget-me-nots, and who called herself Bluebell, pointed it out
to me. It was marked very faintly with a blue cross."
Yes, yes-I know her tricks. She made that cross appear. If
you look in your map now, you will not see any cross near the Market
Gardener's cottage. But even though the girl did make a cross appear,
that ought not to have deceived you; for you know that the King's
Inns are always marked with red. She would have loved to make
a red cross appear, but that was beyond her power."
"I am very sorry; I know I have behaved very badly," said
"We will talk about that presently," said Charity. Now, the
thing is to get this child up to the palace, where I and my sisters live,
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
as soon as possible. She has eaten some of the poisoned fruit. I
know the wiles of that wicked little girl. It was a great mercy that
I came out to-night to see if there were any travellers in danger.
Do you know what would have happened to you two if I had not
come ? "
No," said Clover. His voice trembled as he spoke.
"When your sister got a little worse, the Market Gardener and
that dreadful child called Bluebell, who looks so fair and speaks so
sweetly, would have come out to find you. They would have brought
you home; they would have put out your eyes, Clover, and made you
their slave for ever. And if Cowslip were dead, as most likely she
would have been by the time they found her, they would have taken
off her pretty clothes, and buried her here by the wayside. You see,
therefore, my boy, what a grave danger you ran when you went into
that wicked house. But now we must not lose a minute in doing
something to help dear little Cowslip."
As the lady spoke she went down on her knees, and desiring
Clover to kneel also by her side, and to hold the lantern so that she
could see Cowslip's face, she pushed back the hair from off her brow,
and taking a tiny flask out of her pocket, opened it and put a few
drops to the child's nose; then mixing some of the contents with a
little water, she forced some of the mixture down-her throat.
The moment the child tasted the medicine which Charity gave her,
she opened her eyes wide, sighed heavily, and tried to get up.
No, lie still," said Charity. Now, Clover," she continued, I
think your sister will soon be better; but we must get her home, for
she has eaten a great deal of the fruit, and in consequence is very
much poisoned. Still she will not die, my boy, for I have an antidote
to the poison at the palace, and I shall give her that as soon as ever
we get home. Set the lantern on the ground, Clover, and then help
me to lift your sister up."
Clover did as he was bid, and the next moment Cowslip lay in
Charity's strong arms.
"But you cannot possibly carry her alone," said the boy; "let
me help you."
TIE MAdIKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTH. 31
"No, you shall take the lantern, and go on in front. I will
follow with Cowslip. We have not very far to go; the palace is only
just round the next corner. Now, don't talk any more, Clover; do
exactly as I tell you."
Clover walked on, just as he was bid. Charity directed him to
hold the lantern in such a way that she saw each step of the road.
Cowslip lay like a dead child in her arms, and she was extremely
anxious to get her to the palace as soon as possible.
Presently they came to iron gates. The moment the light of the
lantern fell across the gates, they opened wide of their own accord,
and Charity desired Clover to walk up the broad steep path which was
cut in the solid rock. At the top of the path were several high steps,
and standing on the top of the steps, each of them holding a lantern,
and with smiles of welcome on their faces, stood two other sisters, who
were dressed in white from their necks to their ankles.
"Welcome, Charity," they exclaimed. Then seeing that she
carried a child in her arms, they both ran down to meet her, and helped
her to bring Cowslip into the palace.
Poor Clover never could forget the joy and delight which came
over him when he saw the three sisters bending over his little sister,
and giving her the healing medicine. After some patience they suc-
ceeded in getting the child into a sound and healthy sleep. When
she really slept, she was carried into a sweet little room, in which
was a white bed, a deep, comfortable arm-chair covered all over with
white, white walls, a white marble floor, and white furniture. There
was not a scrap of colour in the peaceful, pretty, soothing room-all
was whiteness, all was peace.
Cowslip was laid upon the bed, and Charity with the utmost
care took off her travel-stained clothes, and put a little white frilled
night-dress on her.
Now she will do," she said; in the morning she will feel weak,
but will be quite herself again."
And you are sure she is out of danger ? asked Clover.
"Yes, my boy, the antidote has saved her. But you dori't look
well yourself-is anything the matter? "
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
I ate four or five of the strawberries, and I am in very great
pain," he replied. He leant up against the wall as he spoke. He
had thought nothing of his own discomfort, as long as his sister
was in danger, but now the effects of the poisoned fruit made him sick
There is another white bedroom waiting for you," said Charity.
"You are a very brave boy to have thought nothing of yourself while your
sister was ill. Now I shall ask my sister Faith to sit by Cowslip
while I attend to you. It is well you ate no more of the fruit, for I
know from old experience that that wicked little Bluebell put even
more poison into the strawberries than she did into the peaches. Still,
you ate so very few, that you will soon be well again."
So Charity gave some of the antidote to Clover also, and after
giving him a refreshing warm bath, popped him into a snug white
bed, in the room which exactly faced the one in which Cowslip slept.
The tired boy had scarcely laid his head on the pillow before he fell
All night long the children slept, and the next morning Clover
and Cowslip remembered very little of the effects of the night
Clover felt perfectly well again, but Cowslip was so weak that
Charity and her sisters would not allow her to move from the palace
The little girl spent most of her time in bed, sleeping off the
effects of all the poison she had taken, but Clover wandered about the
palace, and saw the room where the armour was kept, and the room
where all the fairies of the glen used to assemble for their monthly
balls. He went into the museum too, where all kinds of curious things
were, and finally he went out on the battlements of the palace, and
taking a telescope in his hand tried hard to see the brightness which
came from the country beyond the Blue Mountains.
Look as he would, however, he could not discover it.
Never mind," said Faith, looking at the boy with her deep and
wonderful eyes, you have not gone far enough on your journey yet,
but you will see the brightness by-and-by."
THE MARKET GARDENER AND THE PALACE OF TRUTH. 33
How soon are we likely to reach the country?" asked Clover,
looking hard at this lovely lady as he spoke.
"That altogether depends on yourself," she answered. "You
must walk straight on, you must have no fear, you must keep up a
brave heart, and you must keep your garments clean and without
That is so difficult," he said.
"It was difficult," she said, "to keep the clothes which you wore
when you started from home at all nice or fresh, but when you and
Cowslip leave here to-morrow, my sisters and I are going to give you a
white dress each. We give these dresses to all children who come to
stay with us at this palace. They are not made of any stuff you have
ever seen before. They are very strong, and yet they look very light
and pretty. They are both cool for the heat of summer and warm
for the cold of winter. One thing about them is, that you can always
take them off and wash them in any water you may happen to come to,
and they will become clean. When you get these dresses on there will
be no excuse for you to have any stains, and everyone will know that
you have been to the Palace of Truth, and that you are travellers on
the road to the Blue Mountains. Some people will laugh at you
when they see these clothes, but everyone will respect you, just
because they cannot help themselves; because it is the will of the
King that travellers to his country should be held in high esteem.
Now, my boy, come down and sleep-have a good night-for my
sisters and I mean to send you away at an early hour in the morning."
MRS. MODESTY AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
T HEN the children were leaving the palace
the next morning, the three sisters came out
,( ]. to see them on their way. The sisters wore
.- white dresses, something like those which
they now held in their hands to put on the
children. The dresses were long, and plain,
-, and were girdled round the waist with a narrow silver
band. Each sister also wore a silver star, fastened in
front of her shining hair.
There was something very beautiful about these
Three. Their faces seemed to shine with goodness,
\ their smiles were both bright and brave; whenever
they spoke, good words, which strengthened those
who listened to them, dropped from their lips. Each sister wore a
different expression, however. Charity had the sort of look about her
face which seemed to say, just as plainly as if she spoke the words,
" I love everybody-the tired people, the sad people, the glad people,
and the bad people. They are all alike to me-I want to help them."
Faith had a different expression about her face. She had a dreamy
look, and a sort of far-away gaze in her eyes, as though she were
looking at a very beautiful sight, which those who were with her could
not see. This look became strongest and most intense at the times
when other people were sad and inclined to think the whole world
Faith was less loved than Charity, but she was a very noble
woman, and had a very noble face.
MRS. 1j!.i. i AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
Hope, unlike the other two sisters, had a face which could only
be spoken of as bright like the rising sun. A wonderful light seemed
to dance in her blue eyes. It was impossible to make her feel really
sad about anything. When people told her very sorrowful tales, she
only said, Never mind ; matters will soon be better. Cheer up, do
cheer up Clouds never last long. The world is a very good place,
and travellers to the country beyond the Mountains have a very good
time here, and a splendid time awaiting them there."
So these three sisters, with the story of each written on their
faces, came out now to speed the children on their way.
Charity and Hope came forward, and slipped the long, pretty,
white dresses on each of the little travellers.
You won't be so tired when you wear these," they said; and
those who see you will know you for what you are."
What are we ? asked Cowslip, raising her dear little face, and
looking full into Charity's eyes.
Children of the King," she said, stooping down and kissing the
little girl. Don't forget that, or your pretty white dresses will get
grey and ugly. Keep that in mind, and they will shine and be bright
and fair and white. And now go, my children, go, for we three sisters
want you to be a long way on your journey before night."
But we must give the children their gifts first," said Hope, her
eyes dancing as she spoke. "Here, my darlings, here is a bunch of
flowers from me. Take it and do not lose it. These are very choice
flowers, for they do not need to be kept in water, and they do not
wither. They have a beautiful smell, too; and if you feel faint and
very hot, as soon as ever you smell these flowers you will get cool and
refreshed. If you feel very sleepy and overdone, smell the flowers and
you will become wide awake and quite refreshed, as though you had
just had a long sleep. This bunch of flowers is my gift to you
And this is mine," said Faith, coming up to Clover and looking
him full in the face. Here is a little glass," she said. See, it is
preserved carefully in this red case. Slip it into your pocket. This
glass has the power of magnifying things, and when you want to know
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
whether it is the right road for you to take, use the magnifying glass
to look at the King's map with. Use the glass, too, when people
speak to you whose faces you are not quite sure about. If they are
really good people, the glass will make them look still more beautiful,
but if they are ugly and bad people, with just a covering of pretended
goodness put over them, then you will be able to see through them
with this wonderful glass. In short, I could not make you a more
valuable present. Be sure you don't lose it, Clover."
Clover thanked Faith very much, and put the little case into his
You could not possibly have given me anything I should like
better," he said; I am very much obliged to you."
And this is my present to you both," said Charity. Perhaps
you won't think much of it, and you will wonder what possible good
it is going to do you when you go forward on your journey. Never-
theless it is a valuable present, and when the King sees you in the
country beyond the Mountains, he will know by the look on both
your foreheads that I have given it to you." With these words she
stooped down and kissed each child.
It was wonderful what a delightful and curious thrill went through
them after Charity had kissed them. A warm glow seemed to rush
through both their little hearts. Clover looked at Cowslip as if he had
never really known what love for his little sister meant before. He
felt that he would die rather than let the smallest bit of harm come to
her. And Cowslip, as she looked up at her big brave brother, thought
Surely there never was such a noble fellow as dear Clover. What a
lucky girl I am to have him with me," she thought. "As we are
travelling together to the country beyond the Mountains I need not
possibly fear danger."
Thenthe children left the palace, and started forwardon theirjourney.
It was a beautiful morning, and the dew lay over everything.
They had been so refreshed by their pleasant stay with the three
sisters, that Cowslip felt inclined to run and skip. She could not walk
quietly and soberly. She was in the highest spirits-laughing and
MRS. MODESTY AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
The day was not quite so hot as yesterday, and the children made
up their minds that they would walk a long way, and try to get as
close as possible to the Mountains by night.
But one queer thing about these wonderful Mountains is that,
as you come near them, they seem to go a little bit away from
The children had very few adventures that day. They came to an
inn about noon, and Clover, looking at it with his little magnifying
glass, saw that it bore a red cross just over the door. He looked in
his map too, and saw the same red cross. He was quite sure, there-
fore, that this was really one of the King's Inns. The children went
into the house, some dinner was given them, and they went on their
way again feeling quite happy.
Cowslip got into such good spirits that she thought all the
troubles and dangers of the journey must be over. She talked a
great deal to Clover about the delightful moment when they should
see their father and mother, and wondered much if Primrose and
Buttercup had yet started on their journey.
There is no chance now of their overtaking us," she said, unless
indeed they did so during the day we spent at the palace."
"I don't think that is likely," said Clover, "for Charity told me
that they always kept a man on the towers to watch for each child as
they passed, and if they look tired, or the least bit as if they wanted
a good meal, Charity runs out herself and brings them in. As that is
the case, and as I am quite sure that nothing would make Buttercup
take a long walk without looking very, very tired, they cannot have
passed us on the journey."
Oh," said Cowslip, "I do hope they did not go near that awful
little girl with the blue forget-me-nots."
She looked very sad and anxious as she spoke, and Clover seeing
that she turned quite pale, made her smell the wonderful bunch of
flowers. It had an immediate effect upon her. She forgot to be
anxious, and her eyes grew full of hope.
After all," she said, with a smile and a tear, the King will take
care of them, and Charity told me that they were quite certain to get
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
safe to him in the end, although she was very sorry when I told her
that they would not come with us."
What did she say ? asked Clover.
She said they would have a much harder time in coming to the
Blue Mountains, and would have much greater dangers to meet. Oh,
Clover, I am so sorry that we did not insist on their coming with us
when we started on our journey."
Don't be unhappy about that," said Clover, "for we could not
have done it. I asked Faith, and she said, 'You must not worry about
that, for no one can start on this journey without wishing to go him-
self. If your brother and sister wished to sleep, you could not possibly
by any words you said have made them go with you,' she said, 'for
everyone must go on that journey of his own free will.' "
As the children talked, they saw in front of them a funny little
cottage, which looked so brown, so plain, and so tiny, that at first they
thought it quite impossible for anyone to live there.
That cannot be one of the King's Inns," said Cowslip. But,
oh, do look at that funny little woman standing by the door."
She was a tiny woman, and she was dressed from head to foot
all in brown just like her cottage. She was standing in the porch,
and by her side was a small dog, while a cat sat comfortably on her
When the dog saw the children he looked round at his mistress
as if he were winking at her, and then without barking came up to
them W. ,-]-ii his tail.
What a dear pretty little dog," said Cowslip; how Buttercup
would admire him."
See," said Clover, "the old woman is beckoning to us."
He ran forward as he spoke, but Cowslip stayed behind to pet the
dog, who began to lick her hand.
I know who you are, my dear," said the little woman-" you are
travellers to the King's country beyond the Mountains. I am glad
you have come, for you both look tired, and my cottage is very tiny.
I can never put up more than two at a time, so you and your
sister had better order beds at once."
M1RS. MODESTY AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
But is this one of the King's Inns ? asked Clover.
"Look for yourself, my dear," replied the little woman. "Use
your magnifying glass."
Clover took the glass out of his pocket, and raising his eyes, saw
the red cross quite plainly over the tiny porch.
You see I am right," said the woman. My name is Mrs.
Modesty. This dog's name is Trusty. This cat's name is Watch,
and the cottage is called the Beehive. Yes, it is very small, and I
am very plain in my ways, but I can give you each a clean bed, a
bowl of bread and milk, and a hearty welcome."
While the old lady was speaking Cowslip came up accompanied by
Trusty. The dog was still wagging his tail and seemed highly pleased
with the two children.
Clover turned round and told his sister what Mrs. Modesty
"I never, never saw such a funny little cottage," said Cowslip with
a laugh. Do you think we shall be able to breathe there ? "
"Come in and try," said Mrs. Modesty. You must bend your
heads as you enter the door, but that will be good for you. It is
wonderful what a nice place the Beehive is when one is comfortably
settled in it, although every single person who comes up to this
door says at first that the house must be too small for them to live in.
Now, my dear children, come in quickly, for the night comes on so
suddenly in these parts that you would not be able to see one yard
before you in another half hour. It is, 'first come, first served,'
in the Beehive, I can tell you; so if any other travellers come along
the road before you are safe in your beds, I may have to attend to
While the old lady was speaking Cowslip went up to the door
and peeped in. Mrs. Modesty came round to her back and gave her
a little shove.
That shove sent her almost head-foremost into the tiny cottage. The
little girl burst out laughing, and then standing up, found that the old
woman's words were quite true. She was perfectly comfortable and
could breathe quite easily.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Clover, who had to be pushed into the cottage even more violently
than his sister, stood by her side the next moment, and they spent a
very happy half hour exploring all the curious things in the tiny
cottage. They found that Mrs. Modesty lived in the greatest comfort
although in such a small way.
A little fire in her grate made the place warm without being too
hot. She had cups and saucers, plates and dishes, basins, chairs,
tables-all the furniture of a neat little house, but on the smallest
possible scale. She was a very small woman herself, but the cat
and dog, while they remained outside, were the ordinary size of those
animals. When they got into the cottage, however, they seemed to
shrink until they quite fitted all the other small things belonging to
Trusty immediately took up his position at one side of the fire.
His eyes shone like coals in his little head. They seemed to dance
in every direction all at once-nothing escaped him. Watch, on
the other hand, sat on the very centre of the hearth-rug. He curled
his big tail like a feather round his legs, and blinked hard at the
Cowslip was so much interested in these two animals, that she
seated herself between them on the hearth, stretching out one hand
to pet Trusty, and the other to strokethe cat on his soft head.
Clover, however, was greatly interested in examining a beautifully
modelled ship, and trying to find out for himself what all the different
ropes and the different sails meant.
While the children were thus amusing themselves, Mrs. Modesty
boiled some milk over the little fire, put two wee basins, which were
certainly not larger than teacups, on the table, broke some bread
into them, and then pouring the hot milk over the bread, bade the
children come and eat their suppers.
They had not eaten anything for many hours, and when they saw
the two tiny basins, Clover could not help laughing to himself.
Poor Mrs. Modesty, she little, little knows what a big boy I am,
and what a lot I can stow away. She would not give me such a tiny
supper as that if she knew anything about boys' appetites."
~~~~... ....... .. !.
Of i .- .
:_ ,,'/ ;,/.,,r
:..auP~r~ls~~ti~B"~~ .. ._:_-.~ ~Y~~~& IF d,. ,
:i,,~ ..: .. ..... ... -.
AT THE- TOP OF THE CASTLE (p. 103.)
MRS. MODESTY AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
"Come and eat your good suppers, each of you," said Mrs.
Modesty, looking at Clover as if she could read his thoughts.
The children drew their small chairs to the table, and sat down.
The moment they did so Trusty came and sat between them, his
tail going very hard, his eyes moist with expectation, and his tongue
watering. Watch ceased to blink at the fire, and, springing on the
table sat and looked at the nice bread and milk.
Really," said Cowslip to herself, fond as I am of animals, I
cannot spare any of this little supper. I am frightfully hungry now,
and I wonder how such a small meal is to keep me going until the
morning. Mrs. Modesty must feed her own animals."
While she was saying these thoughts to herself she heard a laugh,
and looking up, saw that Mrs. Modesty was standing watching the
two children, and the two animals.
My dears," she said, "you may be surprised at the behaviour of
Trusty and Watch, but it is a time-honoured custom in this house that
travellers always share their meals with my two friends, as I call this
very faithful dog and this nice pleasant-mannered cat. You will have
the goodness, my dears, to leave a little of the milk in each of your
saucers for Watch, and to give Trusty every second mouthful of the
But how hungry we shall be ourselves !" said Cowslip.
I don't think so, my dear. Eat up your suppers, share your good
things with others, and you will find that you have had abundance."
The children immediately began to eat, and Clover, following Mrs.
Modesty's advice, gave every second mouthful of his bread and milk
to Trusty. He quickly found that the old lady's words were true.
Their little cups of bread and milk seemed to hold a great deal more
than anyone would imagine; and although Cowslip was not at all
willing at first to share her tiny meal with the animals, she ended by
copying her brother, and finally laughed heartily when Watch tapped
her severely on the arm to remind her that she had eaten enough, and
that the rest of the milk belonged by right to him.
After supper the children went to bed, and slept soundly until
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Their little beds were hard and very plain, but they had neither of
them any dreams that night, and awoke strong, refreshed, and full of
happiness, when the sun shone into the room the next day.
Mrs. Modesty gave them each another thimbleful of bread
and milk for breakfast, and they started forward on their journey in
As they were leaving the house Cowslip stooped down, threw her
arms round Trusty, and kissed him several times.
How I do wish I could take you with me !"
Every child who comes to my cottage makes that remark," said
Mrs. Modesty. But now go on your way, my little darlings. Did
not I tell you that the Beehive was large enough for us all, and
that you would be very happy when once you entered my tiny house ? "
"Happy ?" said Clover; it is the queerest thing, but I never
felt so contented in all my life before. Thank you for making us so
happy, dear Mrs. Modesty. Good-bye, good-bye "
As they walked down the road, with the morning sun shining full
on their faces, Cowslip could not help saying to Clover, "I don't know
what the country will be like when we get there, I don't know what
the King will be like ; but I do know that the journey is very pleasant,
and that except for that one horrible adventure with Bluebell, I have
seldom had a better time than since I started as a traveller to the
We are not there yet," said Clover, but I agree with you,
Cowslip, that we are having a splendid time. I feel so strong, too,
since dear Charity gave me this beautiful white dress ; and there is no
longer any reason for us to be afraid, for we have only to use the
magnifying glass to tell us exactly what is the right thing to do."
The children walked on for some time, and about noon, being very
tired, they sat down by the roadside to have a rest.
I should like greatly to go to sleep for an hour," said Cowslip.
Well, do, darling," said her brother; "you can lean your head
on my shoulder, and I will take care of you."
"But won't you sleep, too, Clover ? You look quite tired; why
may not we both sleep ? No danger can possibly come to us."
MRS. MODESTY AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
"No, no," said Clover; "I have always promised myself that I
will watch over you while you sleep, for it is impossible to tell what
dangers may happen[to us."
Well, then, I will sleep for just half an hour, and then you will
sleep for half an hour," said Cowslip. She settled herself comfort-
ably as she spoke, laid her head on Clover's shoulder, and was soon in
the land of dreams.
Clover thought, as lie held his sister's head against his breast,
that nothing could possibly induce him even to feel sleepy, but he had
very little idea of the soothing influence of the soft summer air, and
the effect of the cool shade after the rays of the hot sun. Before he
knew anything about it, his own heavy eyes had closed and he was
fast asleep, dreaming that he had already reached the Blue Mountains
and was holding his father's hand and looking into his mother's
He was awakened by a cry from Cowslip, and starting to his feet,
rubbing his eyes as he did so, he saw that his sister was sitting up
looking very white and shaken.
Oh, have I been asleep ? exclaimed the boy. How very, very
sorry I am. What is the matter, Cowslip ?-you look as if somebody
had done something to terrify you."
"It must have been a dream I had," said Cowslip. "I thought
something very terrible had come to me while I was asleep. I felt a
hot breath on my cheeks, and, although my eyes were tight closed, I
seemed to see some very terrible eyes looking right down into my heart.
Oh, I felt so frightened. I am quite sure some wicked creature came
and looked at me, but when I woke up I could not see anybody.
You had a nightmare," said Clover, in a tender voice. People
imagine all kinds of things when they have one of those bad dreams.
Of course no one could have been here, for there is no one in sight."
And you were watching me all the time, were you not ? said
Clover felt the colour coming into his cheeks.
"I am ashamed of myself," he said, but the fact is I fell asleep
too. I did not mean to, of course. Nothing was further from my
BiEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
thoughts than to go to sleep even for a moment, and how I happened to
do so is more than I can understand. Well, we had better come on
now, Cowslip. I see by the position of the sun that it is rapidly going
towards the west. We have both been to sleep much longer than we
had any idea of."
The children both got up, and Cowslip shook out her white dress.
It was stained and green at the back where she had been lying. She
looked at it with great distress.
Do come on," exclaimed Clover. Never mind the dress now.
We will wash it at the next stream we come to. Do, do come on, how
you linger. What are you looking at ? "
There !" said Cowslip, pointing with terror there, can't you
I don't see anything," said Clover, in quite a cross voice.
Now; oh, Clover, it moves, it is about to spring."
Clover looked very earnestly in the direction where Cowslip
pointed, and then to his horror he did see a small snake, with a
well-forked head, gazing at them with two glittering eyes.
There it is," said Cowslip, almost on the very spot where I was
lying. Oh, what an escape we have had "
Yes, that we have," said Clover, That accounts for your bad
dream, Cowslip. I did not know that the road to the King's
country was so full of dangers, but now come on, darling."
The brother and sister walked on together for a couple of miles.
There was a great dreariness about the road here, it was shut in by
high rocks, and was in itself very hot and ugly. It was rough with
large stones, and as it sloped very slightly uphill, even the best walker
could not help being tired, as with the sun basking full in his face
he pursued his way.
Suddenly the high rocks opened out, and the children saw a beautiful
green meadow going in the same direction as the road on which
they found it so difficult to walk. The grass in this meadow was
very fresh, and there was a path right through it, by the side of
which grew beautiful flowers. The meadow came straight up to the
road on which the children were walking, but between it and the
MRS. MODESTY AND THE MAGNIFYING GLASS.
King's highway was a turnstile, on one of the posts of which was
A sort cut to the Blue lu ountainbs."
When Cowslip saw this lovely tempting meadow, and the stile
with the words written on it, she could not help laughing for joy.
"How glad I am," she said, looking at her brother; "I never
knew until my eyes rested on this lovely path how steep and un-
pleasant the road was on which we are now walking. Come along,
Clover; come through the stile, and let us walk down that path with
all the sweet flowers."
I feel afraid of it somehow," said Clover. For all we can tell
it may not be the right road. I will take out my magnifying glass
and have a good look at it; then if I see the red cross on this stile,
and if I see the stile marked on the King's chart, I shall be very
glad, too, to walk in this road."
Well, be quick," said Cowslip. I am almost sorry, Clover, that
Faith gave you that magnifying glass, for it is such a worry never
to be able to do a pleasant thing without your using it as a sort
I must," said Clover. You know, Cowslip, the object of this
journey is not pleasure; it is to get home-to our beautiful home
beyond the Blue Mountains."
I know that," said Cowslip, but I cannot help being tired of
this ugly road. Oh, dear Clover, what is the matter? How very
pale you look."
Clover's face had indeed turned ghastly pale. Beads of perspira-
tion stood on his forehead, and he put up one hand to wipe them
"I cannot find it," he exclaimed, searching in all his pockets
frantically as he spoke.
Cannot find what? asked his sister.
The glass-the magnifying glass that Faith gave me, and the
map that the King sent. Oh, Cowslip, Cowslip, what shall I do ?
-both the glass and the map are gone. They must have been stolen
from me while I slept."
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Then I did hear something," exclaimed Cowslip. But what
a pity that we both slept. Oh, dear, dear Clover, don't look like that.
You see, although you have lost the map and that tiresome glass of
Faith's, here are directions on this stile: 'Short cut to the Blue
Mountains.' Read the words for yourself, Clover."
Yes," said Clover, I do read them, but I mistrust them. I am
quite sure that pleasant meadow will lead us far away from the
"But not when the words are: 'A short cut to the Mountains,' "
said Cowslip, her voice sounding very cross and tired.
"Yes, I am certain we must not go that way," said Clover. "I
did very, very wrong to sleep, and I am punished now, as I have not
got my glass, but don't let us do any more wrong things, Cowslip.
Don't let us go down that path."
Down ? said Cowslip, but it looks perfectly flat."
"It is at first," answered her brother, "but see where it winds
all along that valley. We must remember, Cowslip darling, that the
way to the King's country is all uphill. There is no use whatever
in our going downhill."
Cowslip began to cry, but Clover, whose heart was very sad at
the loss of his glass and his map, was firm, and nothing she could
say would persuade him to take the short cut.
"No," he said, no; I did wrong already, but I don't intend to
go on doing wrong. I will not cross that stile, Cowslip. Now,
darling, 'take my hand. This rough road is at any rate in the right
direction, and, perhaps, when we get to one of the inns we may meet
someone who will give me another glass and another map. Come on
quickly now or the night will overtake us."
So the children passed by the stile. As they did so they heard
some mocking laughter, which sounded as if it came from other
children's voices. When Cowslip heard this she gave Clover her hand
and began to walk up the steep path very fast.
THE CAVE AND THE BLACK DOOR.
T is tiring to walk for many hours under the
rays of a hot sun, and the children were much
\ -. pleased when at last it went down in the
f /' west, and the air grew cooler, and even a little
breeze sprang up to fan their hot cheeks.
They were now really on high ground, and
there was a feeling about the air which re-
--- freshed them and took away their fatigue.
Cowslip, too, looking back at her dirty white
S dress, perceived that the stains had altogether
"And I never washed it," she said. "How
did they go ? Oh, how glad I am. I cannot bear to feel that I have
on a dirty dress. Clover, too, you don't seem at all sad at the loss of
your glass and map."
I do feel sad, though," replied Clover. I know I did wrong, or
I should never have lost them. But I am quite certain that the King
is not angry with me now, and perhaps he will be kind enough to let
me have another glass and map by-and-by."
"I am beginning to be very tired and hungry, though," said
Cowslip. I wonder when we shall come to another inn."
The path upon which the children were walking was quite straight,
going almost like an arrow in front of them, until now it suddenly
took an abrupt turn. The two children stood still and uttered an
astonished exclamation. Right in front of them was a steep and high
mountain, up which the path led.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Poor little Cowslip burst into tears at the sight. "What
am I to do? she exclaimed. "I am a great deal too tired to go up
that hill. I never felt so tired in all my life."
What is this cave ? exclaimed Clover. See, it is just here close
to us. It seems to have furniture in it. How very funny Perhaps
it is one of the King's Inns."
"I am sure it is not," said Cowslip. The King would not
use a common cave for an inn."
"But I have noticed," replied Clover, that the King does not
care a hit about grand houses for his inns. Do you remember
Mrs. Modesty's little cottage ? In fact, the only big place we were in
was the lovely palace where the three sisters lived. Oh, and look,
Cowslip, even though I have not my magnifying glass, I can see the
red cross just over the entrance to the cave. That makes it right. It
is one of the King's Inns. Let us go in and rest ourselves. We
shall be quite safe here. Come quickly, Cowslip darling, for the sky
has got so dark that I am sure rain and storm are close at hand."
Cowslip hesitated for a moment, but as Clover marched boldly into
the cave, she was obliged to follow him.
It was very dark outside now, and still darker inside the cave.
There was not a soul inside, and the children both trembled for a few
moments as they sat all alone in this strange place.
"I wish we had a light," exclaimed Cowslip, with a sob in
She had scarcely said the words, before in a distant part of the
cave both children observed something which resembled a glow-worm.
It shone very faintly at first, but as they looked at it, it seemed to grow
brighter and clearer, and Clover, taking hold of his sister's hand,
walked boldly across the cave towards it. Looking hard at the queer
little light, he saw that it was not a glow-worm, but the reflection from
a small lantern which stood on the floor of the cave. He picked it up,
and feeling about, came to a little handle, which he turned. Suddenly
the light sprang up very bright and clear, and the children could see
round them. The first thing they saw was that they were all alone
in the cave, which was in reality furnished like a rough sort of bed-
THE CAVE AND THE BLACK DOOR.
room and sitting-room combined. There was a table with four round
logs for legs, and on this table stood half a loaf of dry-looking bread
and a pitcher of water, and on the floor in one corner were a pile of
sheepskins, which were evidently meant to do duty as beds.
Never mind," said Clover; it is a rough place, but it belongs
to the King, for none of his enemies dare to put a red cross over their
doors. It is true that Bluebell used a cross of blue to coax us into
her house, but none of the King's enemies dare to use a red cross.
We are quite safe here, Cowslip, and what a good thing, for don't
you hear that thunder ? There is evidently going to be a dreadful
The storm came nearer and nearer, and the children, as they sat
on the floor of the cave with the lantern placed on the rough table,
could not help quaking with terror. In all her life Cowslip had never
heard such crashing peals of thunder, and soon the poor little lantern's
light was scarcely needed, so incessantly did the lightning flash.
The thunder and lightning were followed by torrents of rain, which
seemed to come out of the heavens almost like a sea of water.
The terrible storm lasted for quite two hours, and all this time
Clover held Cowslip's hand.
Not a drop of water came into this queer little Inn of the King's,
and several times, when he could hear his own voice, Clover whispered
to his sister what a very good thing it was that they were safe in
At last the thunder grew less frequent and less loud, the lightning
only flashed at intervals, and the rain ceased.
Clover then went to the entrance of the cave and looked out. The
stars were shining overhead, and a nightingale began to sing very
sweetly in a tree near by. Presently he was answered by another, and
in the distance a cuckoo made his home-like call.
Clover returned to the cave.
The storm is quite over; the air is lovely, so fresh and balmy.
Now, Cowslip, let us have some supper, and then we will go to sleep.
As we are going off to sleep we can listen to the song of the
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Oh, I cannot eat that horrid bread," exclaimed Cowslip. See
how dry it is. It must be very stale and very old."
I, for one, am hungry," said Clover, and dry as the bread looks
I mean to eat a little."
He broke off a piece as he spoke and ate it.
"Why, Cowslip," he exclaimed, "this bread is delicious. I don't
know what it tastes like-something like honey and fresh flowers and
fruit all mixed up together. It satisfies me; it makes me feel so
strong and well. Here, let me put a morsel into your mouth,
As Clover spoke he held the piece of bread to his sister's lips.
She opened her mouth to receive it unwillingly, but the moment she
had tasted it her dislike vanished. She agreed with Clover that it
was delicious, and the two children made a hearty meal.
They drank some of the cold water out of the pitcher, which
refreshed them as no milk had ever done, and then they lay down on
the sheepskins and fell fast asleep.
In this rough cave the two children had golden dreams. They
dreamt of the time when the troublesome journey would be over, and they
would have entered the land of rest and of peace--they dreamt of meeting
their father and mother again, and they even dreamt, although that
part of the dream was a little indistinct, of seeing the King himself.
They both awoke with smiles on their lips, and with a feeling
which they could not explain, that their journey would be over soon.
Cowslip had not a discontented word this morning.
The sunlight was now pouring into the cave, and the little
lantern only glowed once again very faintly. Clover took it back into
its distant corner and then returned to Cowslip.
There is a well of water here," he said; let us wash in it, and
let us dip our white dresses in, so that they may be quite clean
Cowslip also washed her long fair hair in the pleasant cold water.
They then ate some more of the bread and took a long draught each of
the cold water, and refreshed as they had never been before in their
lives, started uphill on their journey.
THE CAVrE AND THE BLACK DOOR.
Oh, Clover, look," suddenly exclaimed Cowslip. They had been
going up the hill some little distance, and Cowslip as she spoke
pulled her brother's arm with great eagerness and pointed downwards.
The meadow through which the little girl had so longed to walk
the previous evening was now turned into a lake of water, so violent
had been the storm of wind and rain.
"We should have been drowned if we had taken that short
cut," said Cowslip. Dear Clover, how wise you are-how much,
much wiser than I am "
"Let us be thankful," said Clover, but when you speak of my
wisdom, Cowslip, you quite forget that I lost the precious little glass
and the map. Still, there is not the least doubt that this road does
lead to the Mountains, and that, by-and-by, if we do not turn to
the right hand or the left, we shall reach that lovely land. Now
let us walk steadily on. I for one don't find this hill very steep-
do you, Cowslip ? "
"No, for the water in the cave has refreshed me so much, and my
dress, now that I have washed it, feels so light, and clean, and cool.
Oh, Clover, I never spent such a night in the whole course of my life
as I did in the cave."
"And I had never such a delicious meal," said Clover. "It is
very odd; who would have thought that that ugly cave would contain
such food ? "
Which looked so bad," interrupted Cowslip.
And which was the most delicious we ever ate," said her brother.
And such beds-no down was ever nicer than those sheepskins.
Oh, Clover, I did have such happy dreams."
"And I too," replied Clover. "They strengthened me, they made
me feel as if I would go through anything to get to my father and
And to the King himself," said Cowslip in a low voice. Yes,
I do not feel at all frightened now."
Scarcely had she uttered the words, however, before she turned
very pale. Alas for poor little Cowslip, there was to be a test put to
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Lying right across the road, curled up in the sun, was a huge
snake. It stretched so completely from one side of the path to the
other that the children could not possibly pass it on either side.
They must either leave the path or step over the snake's body.
Cowslip clutched hold of her brother's arm in terror, and even
Clover himself, brave boy as he was, shrank back from the danger
which lay so directly across their path.
"It is a cobra," he exclaimed. I know it by its shape. It is a
most dangerous snake. Cowslip, what are we to do ? "
We must turn back," exclaimed Cowslip. Those steep cliffs on
either side of the path cannot be possibly climbed by either of us,
and if we go close to the snake we meet certain death. I thought
myself brave a minute ago, but now-- Clover, what are you going
to do ? "
"I am going on," said Clover.
"You will be killed. Oh, Clover! "
The little girl burst into sudden floods of tears.
I don't think we shall either of us be killed; I don't think some-
how that the danger is quite so great as we fear. I intend to go
on, for the simple reason that there is nothing whatever else to do.
This is the only road to the Blue Mountains, and as the King has
sent for us to come to him, I don't suppose he will allow the
snake to harm us."
"I aren't chance it," exclaimed Cowslip. "I am far too
She sat down by the side of the road as she spoke, and burst
into sudden and bitter weeping.
Clover knelt by her side, and for a long time used every means in
his power to comfort her without producing the least effect.
The little girl was trembling from head to foot, and could not for
a long time even listen to what Clover was saying. Although he spoke
very brave words, he was, it is true, very much frightened himself.
But at last, raising his head, he looked long and steadily at the horrid
black object curled up right across the path.
"The snake lies very still," he said to himself; "it must be
THE CAVE AND THE BLACK DOOR.
sound, very sound asleep. I have read in some of the books at home
that snakes, after a good meal, often sleep for hours and hours. I
should not be a bit surprised if we could jump over its body without
Cowslip," he said aloud to his sister, that snake has not moved
since we came in sight. It has probably just eaten something, and is
quite satisfied. Will you sit there just where you are and wait for
me ? I am going up close to the snake. When I get to a little distance
I mean to have a short run, and then to leap over his back."
"You will be killed exclaimed Cowslip. "Oh, don't, don't
leave me "
"Listen," said Clover. "We always knew that we should
have to meet danger on our road to the Blue Mountains. You
remember the book father used to read out of at home, about a
pilgrim who took this journey and all the dangers he met; but how
in the end he conquered and reached the happy land. Father used
to tell us that no one-no one ever went from our country to the
lovely country beyond the Blue Mountains without having to meet
all sorts of things, which frightened them and took their courage
away; but he said if they went straight up to the dangers,
they never turned out to be half as bad as they looked, and
in the end all those who persevered got to the country safely.
Cowslip," continued her brother, looking full at her with his dark
eyes, and tossing back his mass of curly hair as he spoke, "I for one
am not going to turn back. Stay there, Cowslip; I will go up close
to the snake. If he is sound asleep I will vault over him, just to show
you how it can be done."
"And what am I to do? "
You are to stay there, just by the side of this high cliff, until I
come back to you."
Suppose the snake awakens and bites you, and tries to wrap
himself round you!"
I don't think he will; but even if he does, I shall have died on
the King's Highway, and obeying him."
But what shall I do, Clover? "
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
If such a dreadful thing should happen, which I don't believe
or expect for a single moment, you inust stand in this little hollow
part of the cliff until the snake passes by. He won't see you,
and when he has passed you can walk on. Now, don't think of
dreadful things, Cowslip, but just watch me."
Without waiting for any reply from his poor little sister, Clover ran
up the road, and then lightly and skilfully leaped over the snake's body.
It did not stir or take the faintest notice of him.
Clover vaulted back again and came to Cowslip.
Good," he said, in a joyous voice ; I never saw anything sleep
so soundly before. Just take my hand, and let us go close to it. You
know you can vault quite well, Cowslip."
But not so far nor so well as you."
On this occasion you will be able to do so. Now, come on."
Clover looked so full of courage that Cowslip could not but trust
herself to him.
So they went up to the snake and lightly vaulted over it.
The dreadful creature was certainly sound asleep, for it did not
notice the children, and no more moved than if it were really carved
They walked on very fast, however, when they got to its other
side, as Cowslip feared it might awaken any moment, and follow them.
They continued their journey for two or three miles, the path getting
narrower and steeper each moment; but still, wonderful to relate, the
freshness of the early morning seemed to linger in the air, and they
were not nearly so tired as they had been yesterday.
Suddenly, however, an unexpected stop seemed to be put to
Right across the path, shutting them away from all that lay
beyond, was a very large and very black door-it filled the entire path.
There were heavy rocks on each side of it, and above it the mountain
towered, steep and dreadful.
We have indeed come to the end now," said Cowslip. After
all we were on the wrong path. Oh, Clover, what a pity you lost the
map and your dear little glass "
THE CAVE AND THE BLACK DOOR.
Yes, it was certainly a pity," said Clover.
Then he looked steadily up at the door, and suddenly uttered a
There is nothing for us but to go back," said Cowslip. Oh, to
think that we must pass that dreadful snake again. He will be quite
certain to have awakened now. I never felt so frightened and miserable
in all my life before."
Courage, courage," said Clover. You won't let me speak. I
have discovered something."
Cowslip raised her tear-dimmed eyes, and looked full at her
What is it ? she asked.
Look for yourself," exclaimed the boy. See what is written in
letters of gold on the door."
Cowslip wiped her eyes and looked up.
Right across the whole breadth of the door, the children now
read the following words:-
"A'W EN YOU COME TO THE GREAT BLACK DOOR WITH NO SIDES,
COME IN AND FEAR NOTHING.
Nothing will induce me to go in," said Cowslip. Besides, how
can we? I don't see any key."
Yes, we can," said Clover. "Come, Cowslip, if you are too
frightened to go on alone, take my hand, put your arms round my
neck, and I will carry you."
Oh, no, no, I will stay outside."
Darling, do you think I could go in and leave you alone? No,
let us go through the door together. I am sure the moment we touch
it, that it will yield. Put courage into your heart. Those words
put a lot of courage into mine, I know. Look here, Cowslip, our
father used to tell us that if we spoke to the King as we were taking
our journey, he would hear us. I mean to say something to him now."
Then Clover raised his head, looked up at the sky, which. was
shining down on them both, blue and serene, and said aloud,
with great feeling and passion, Oh, King of the beautiful country,
we are both very frightened-give us courage to go on."
BEYOND TlHE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Clover had scarcely said these words before the two children heard
most distinctly a voice in the air, saying gently, Come on and fear
These words had a strange effect upon them both; as to Clover,
such a rush of courage filled his heart that he would have gone
through many doors as black as this one; and Cowslip too raised
her pale face, put her little weak hand into her brother's, and said
bravely, "I won't fear anything, only let us do it at once before our
The children then went up to the door, which to their amazement
opened of its own accord to receive them, and the next instant they
were at the other side, quite shut away from the steep path, the
high cliffs, the sunshine, and the fresh mountain air. They were
quite in the dark, and they felt for a moment as if they could not
Then a very strange thing happened: they both felt themselves
taken up in very strong arms hands, strong and tender, clasped
them, and they were carried swiftly through the air, until all of
a sudden they were once more in light and sunshine, and were
standing on. the ground in the most lovely land they had ever seen.
There were quantities of flowers of every description at their feet, and
above them, a little way off, were mountains blue and soft, with a
wonderful radiance about them.
A man with a kind, grave face was standing near the children.
"Welcome," he said. "You have both passed through the black
door, and your worst dangers are over. These mountains that you see
quite close to you are the Blue Mountains, up which you have to go
to reach the happy land beyond; but first of all I must take you to
my castle and ask my daughter to be kind to you, and to refresh. you
before you start on your journey."
"I never saw such a lovely country as this," said Clover.
"It is a beautiful country," said the man. But it is nothing to
the country you will reach to-morrow. Now, come with me. Do
you see that white marble castle standing at the edge of that cliff ?
That is my home, and my business is to welcome all the children
THE CAVE AND THE BLACK DOOR.
who come through that black door, and to rest them and to refresh
them before I take them up to the gates of the King's country."
"Are you going to take us?" said Cowslip. "You look very
strong; need we come alone no longer ? Will you take us ? "
Yes, I am called the Children's Guide, and I will take you the
rest of your journey to-morrow. You will have some dangers and
some difficulties, but you need not fear, for no two people in all the
world are in reality safer than you are now."
Then lifting Cowslip to sit on his shoulder, and giving his hand
to Clover, the Guide walked up a very steep piece of rock until he
reached his own white castle.
When he came to the door, a girl, looking very little older than
Cowslip, came up to meet them. She was in white-a wonderful
kind of transparent white, through which gleams of gold and rose
colour used to flash whenever she moved. She had long golden hair
which flowed far below her waist, and a bright star shone in the
middle of her forehead.
My name is Pearl," she said. I belong to the early morning,
and I am very glad to welcome you both."
Then she kissed Cowslip on her forehead, and Clover also on his,
and giving a hand to each of the children, she took them through
several marble halls until they came to a bath-room.
"Now wash and refresh yourselves," she said. Then I will give
you something to eat and will show you over the palace."
Pearl went away as she spoke, and the children immediately bathed
themselves in the fresh water which was provided for them.
They were hungry after their bath, and thoroughly enjoyed the
meal which Pearl provided for them.
The Children's Guide was not present.
Where is your father ? asked Cowslip.
He has gone to lie down," replied Pearl. He wants to take you
on your journey to-morrow morning before the sun gets hot, and he
is resting now."
Does he always take the children up the Blue Mountains ? "
BEYOND TIE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
Yes, always. Did he not tell you his name is the Children's
Guide ? Is not his a happy life ? You don't know how he enjoys it.
He goes up to the gates of the country with all the children who
come through the black door. Sometimes he stays long enough at the
gates to see a child kiss its father and mother."
But does he never come in ? asked Clover.
Not yet," replied Pearl, in a wonderfully grave kind of voice.
"He has his work to do here. He won't go in until his work
And you always live in this castle ? said Cowslip. Don't you
ever get tired of it? "
How can I? What life can be more beautiful? Of course some
day I and my father too will go inside the gates, but not until our
work is done. Sometimes, as a great treat, I can look through a
big glass, which we have at the top of the house, and see right inside
the gates into the country. I cannot always see, but I can some-
What do you see? asked Cowslip.
Pearl looked at her out of her deep eyes. I must not tell you,"
she said. And then she added with a little sigh, "And why should
I tell you what you will soon know all about ? By this time to-morrow
you will know a great deal more about the beautiful country than any
words of mine can tell you."
Pearl was a little girl not much older than Cowslip. She had a
wonderful strengthening way about her, and a look which seemed
"I have done with sorrow-I never fret, I am never discontented.
No storms can visit me. I am very happy, and I wait contented here
in the white palace, until my work and my father's is done."
But gentle as Pearl's face was, with its expression of perfect peace,
it had not the look of strength which made the Children's Guide
quite the most wonderful person that Clover and Cowslip had ever
Tell us one thing, Pearl," said Clover, as they parted for the
night: "when we got inside the black gates we were lifted in
THE CAVE AND THE BLACK DOOR.
someone's arms, and carried through the air, which seemed to suffocate
us, until we got out into this lovely land. Was it your father who
carried us across ? "
"No," said Pearl, in a whisper; "it is the Prince himself who
There was a tone about her voice which prevented the children
asking any more questions.
Soon afterwards she took them to two little rooms, where she said
they might go to sleep until the dawn.
At the very early dawn my father will wake you," said Pearl.
"And now good-night and farewell. I shall not see you again."
She kissed both of them as she spoke, and then seemed to float
rather than to walk away.
1S -,.- -.
THE CHILDREN S GUIDE AND THE NARROW BRIDGE.
i : HE children were so tired that they fell
t aasleep the very moment Pearl left them.
Never before in the course of their lives
: had they enjoyed such sleep. It was abso-
S lutely dreamless. It wrapped them round,
taking all fatigue away, and filled them
%.V0 it wonderful strength and a wonderful courage.
It I sted in reality for many hours, but it only
-I ..-I... a*,d to the children like a moment or so of
..'T 'hey were awakened at the first dawn of day
,~I I. -, light and rather sharp tap on each of their
shoulders. They looked up startled for an in-
stant. The Children's Guide was standing in the room. He was
dressed in a suit of chain armour, which fitted close to his body.
His face and head, however, were uncovered. In his hand he carried
Come," he said to them both. He did not say another word,
but turned and walked downstairs.
The children did not take an instant in following him. He
entered a little parlour on the ground floor of the castle, and pointed
to two bowls of bread and milk.
"Eat your breakfast as quickly as you can," lie said. We
have far to go, and the road is very steep. Eat your breakfast; you
will require all the strengthening food you can get."
The Guide did not eat anything himself.
THE CHILDREN'S GUIDE AND THE NARROW BRIDGE.
He stood upright near the window. There was not only a look of
strength about him, but also a look of sternness which caused little
Cowslip to regard him with a certain awe, and which gave her a sense
Clover, on the contrary, felt his whole heart going out to the
Guide. He looked at him with reverence, and felt that in the
Guide's company no possible danger could terrify him.
The children ate their breakfast as quickly as they could, and then
they went out with the Guide.
"Come this way," he said. He led them, not by the path by
which they had come to the castle, but across a drawbridge which
seemed to be hung almost in the air, and which led direct to a certain
part of the mountains which towered up almost straight before them.
The moment they crossed this bridge a strange thing happened.
The air was sunshine and summer at the other side of the narrow
drawbridge ; but when they crossed it, it became sharp and deadly
Cowslip shivered in her thin white dress, and Clover felt his teeth
You will have both to work hard," said the Guide, so you will
not long feel cold. Do you see that narrow path ? "
"Where ? asked Cowslip.
Do you see it, Clover? asked the Guide.
"No," replied the boy. "I only see a dreadful black mountain,
which seems as if it would fall on our heads. I see no path. I cannot
imagine where we are to go. The drawbridge leads to the foot of this
dreadful hill. I cannot imagine where we are to put our feet."
Oh, and what frightful noise is that? asked Cowslip. "It is
louder and more terrible than any thunder I have ever heard. What
is it ?-what has happened ? "
I will tell you, my children," said the Guide. You are now on
the last, the very last, bit of your journey to the Blue Mountains.
Children come in many ways, and by many paths, to the wonderful
gates. The children who come through the black door have always
to come up this steep mountain. I told you yesterday that your worst
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
trials were over. I said this because the last bit of the way will not
be trodden by you alone. The King kindly allows me to help the
children up this terrible mountain. You can therefore rest assured
that you are not in any danger, although the steepness of the way
will make your hearts beat as if they were going to burst, your heads
may turn giddy, and you may often feel inclined not to go on. Still
I can faithfully promise you that if you will put your feet one step
after the other on this narrow path, no danger can happen."
The Guide had to stop speaking here, for the air was completely
filled with the awful thunder, which seemed to be echoed back from
one mountain to another.
What is it ?-what can be the matter ? exclaimed poor Cowslip.
"The noise that frightens you so much," said the Guide, "is
caused by the falling of great avalanches. That sound is very terri-
fying to children, and you will have to hear it all the way as you go
up this steep mountain. But you need not be frightened, for if you
keep on that silver shining path the avalanches will not touch you,
although some of them may come so close that you could touch them
if you put out your hand. Now, come on, my children, come on."
"But I don't see the path," said Cowslip.
I do," said Clover. There it is, a line of silver-very narrow,
and, oh, how steep It seems as if we had to go up the straight walls
of a house."
Look again, Clover," said the Guide.
Oh," exclaimed the boy, "how wonderful There are little steps
all the way up the silver path."
"Good boy," said the Guide. Walk on just in front of us,
Clover. I will take Cowslip's hand. Now, my children, forward,
forward-there is much to be done if you would reach the gates
Was there ever such a path? Each step was taken with toil.
Over and over again poor Clover felt that his heart would stop,
so loudly did it beat. Perspiration stood out on his forehead. He
clenched his teeth. He struggled with all his might and main
to go on.
THE CHILDREN'S GUIDE AND THE NARROW BRIDGE.
As to little Cowslip, her task was not nearly so hard, for the
Guide, who was always specially kind to weakness, held her
firmly with his strong hand, and at a specially steep bit he actually
lifted her up, although he never quite carried her.
The avalanches kept on tumbling past the children, and once or
twice they heard mocking laughter, and Cowslip felt sure she saw
some wicked faces peeping at them. Whenever this happened, how-
ever, the Guide unsheathed his sword and just let it flash in the
sunshine. The moment he did this the laughter ceased, and the
children were able to breathe freely.
At last, after what seemed like hours and hours of the greatest toil
they had ever taken, they reached the summit of this terrible mountain.
And now our dangers and our trials must be over," thought poor
Clover, as he threw himself full length on the grass at the top, gasping
for breath, and so tired that he could not speak a single word.
Cowslip lay down by her brother, and placed her soft cheek against
his. She was not nearly so tired as he was, for the Guide had helped
her so wonderfully up the terrible mountain.
While the children were resting the Guide sat down near them,
and taking a letter out of his pocket he read it slowly and carefully to
himself. Once or twice he gave a compassionate look at the tired
children, and once oi twice he opened his lips as if he would speak
He uttered no words, however, but an expression of great gentle-
ness and tenderness passed over his strong face.
The way is rough," he murmured under his breath. No child
could go up this terrible hill unaided. And yet, what courage that
boy showed How splendidly he worked and grappled with the
More than an hour passed away. Clover breathed quite comfort-
ably once again, and Cowslip sat up and looked round her.
Strange to say, on the top of this mountain the air was not nearly
so cold as it had been at the foot. The sun was shining brightly in
the clear blue sky, and a breeze soft as a zephyr was fanning the
children's hot cheeks.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAIINS.
When they sat up the Guide spoke to them at once.
Here is a piece of bread for you both," he said. Eat it quickly,
for the day is passing and we must go on."
Have we much farther to go ? asked Clover.
Only one step further, my boy," replied the Guide. "Your toils
are now completely over, but there is one last test of your courage to
be gone through. You think that you are at the top of the Blue
Mountains. Do you see that peak up there ? "
That one," said Clover-" that one quite high in the clouds ? "
Yes," said the Guide, it is at the other side of that peak that
the gates are which lead into the country where the King lives, and
where your father and mother wait for you."
But how are we ever to get to that peak ? said Clover. Are
we to go down this mountain, and then up that mountain? "
"It cannot be done," said poor Cowslip. It will kill me; I
cannot do it."
"You cannot do it, truly," replied the Guide, putting his arm
round her. "You are a weak little girl, and the King does not expect
you to do impossibilities. Now, my children, see, a wonderful thing is
going to happen."
As he spoke the Guide turned his head slightly aside and blew
a shrill piercing whistle.
The moment he did so there came a noise in the air-a noise
of feet hurrying, and people running, and of chains being moved.
Then the children heard the clattering of horses' hoofs, but all the
time they saw nothing.
Now look again," said the Guide.
They did look, and Clover uttered an astonished exclamation.
From the peak of the Blue Mountains, where they stopped, to that
higher peak, which was almost lost in the clouds, was now thrown a
slender and very narrow bridge, and standing by the side of the bridge
were two cream-coloured ponies, with saddles and bridles on.
Come," said the Guide. All is ready. This is our way."
He walked up to the ponies and desired Clover to mount one.
': He will carry you across the bridge," he said. And Cowslip,"
THE CHILDREN'S GUIDE AND THE NARROW BRIDGE.
said the Guide, "you must mount this little pony. You will be
perfectly safe, for all you have to do is to look up all the way. You
must both keep your eyes fixed on the distant peak, and then you
will not turn giddy, nor fall into the great abyss beneath. Keep
looking up all the way."
But what will become of you ? asked Clover.
My horse is here too. Do you not see him? Here he is, strong
and powerful, and jet black. Now, Cowslip, mount on your pretty
pony. His name is Trust.' I can assure you that you can trust
him absolutely, for he will not slip, though the bridge is so narrow,
and though the danger appears so great. Clover, your pony's name is
'Courage.' When you get on his back the courage which already
fills your heart will become greater than ever. I can only say that
both these ponies deserve their names. I cannot tell you how many
children they have taken safely across this dangerous bridge, to the
highest peak of all. Once there, the last danger is past."
While the Guide was speaking, Clover went up to the pony called
Courage, looked into his eyes, kissed him lightly on the forehead,
and sprang on his back. When he did so, the little creature began to
paw the ground and to struggle to get forward.
"See how eager he is to land you in safety," said the Guide. He
is kept by the King himself, in his own stables, and the employment
he likes best in the world is to carry children over the bridge."
"May I go on ? asked Clover, his eyes sparkling, and his cheeks
glowing with happiness and courage.
Yes," said the Guide.
The next moment poor little Cowslip could not help uttering
a scream, for she saw Clover on his pony treading the bridge, which
looked little wider than a rope. She shut her eyes and turned
Don't look," said the Guide. "Get on your pony. When you
are seated on the back of Trust you will feel better."
He helped her to mount as he spoke, and the little girl certainly
did feel less afraid when she found herself on the pretty pony's back.
But you will promise to stay close to me ? she said to the Guide.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
"I will, my little girl," he replied. "I will be close to you all
the time, but the bridge is so narrow that we cannot possibly go side
by side, and it will be better for you to go on in front, and let me
No, no, let me follow you," gasped poor Cowslip. I shall feel
much less frightened if I see you just in front of me."
Very well, I will do so if you wish it," answered the Guide.
He flung himself on his splendid black horse as he spoke, and the
next moment had begun to cross the bridge, looking back over his
shoulder to encourage Cowslip as he did so.
Notwithstanding all her efforts to the contrary, the poor little girl
could not help shuddering as she felt Trust place first one foot and
then the other on the slender bridge.
At last she found there was nothing whatever to do but to shut
her eyes. She knew that if by any chance she glanced down even
once, she would become so giddy that she would fall off the pony's
back and be lost for ever.
But even with her eyes shut, her terrors were so great that she
could scarcely keep from screaming aloud.
Open your eyes, Cowslip," said the Guide. Open your eyes
and look up. You won't be frightened then."
But I am afraid," she gasped.
Trust, trust, and look up," said the Guide again.
With a great effort Cowslip did open her eyes, and looking up
saw something which filled her with such wonder and courage that
her head ceased to feel giddy and her limbs ceased to tremble.
In the air above, looking down at her from the edges of the clouds,
looking down at her from the peaks of the mountains, were thousands
and thousands, and many, many thousands of happy, lovely children's
faces-they smiled to her-they beckoned to her-their soft
laughter reached her.
Oh, how wonderful! gasped the little girl.
All those children have already crossed the bridge," said the
Guide. "Keep looking at them, Cowslip, and your fears will pass
away. See, we are half across now."
THE CIHILDRENE'S GUIDE AND THE NARROW BRIDGE.
But in the centre of the bridge the swaying motion was felt more
strongly than ever, and though Cowslip did look up, she had to hold
her pony's mane to keep herself from falling off.
At this moment, however, and just as she felt that she could not
possibly hold on to Trust's back another instant, a wonderful thing
Two of the children, with faces even more beautiful than the
others, suddenly flew through the air, and coming close to Cowslip
put their arms round her, and supported her so wonderfully that she
scarcely now sat at all on Trust's back, but leant with all her weight
against the angel children who were helping her over the bridge. And
so in safety she reached the other side. Clover was already there
Cowslip sank on the grass, and for a moment lay with closed eyes,
too tired and too happy to speak or move.
When she opened her eyes in five minutes' time, the children had
all disappeared. She found herself lying on the ground in the midst
of a very beautiful garden. Flowers were to be seen everywhere.
There was the tender shade of tall trees over her head, and the
singing of birds filled the air.
Cowslip, still feeling weak and giddy, -ti,1.- -1: to her feet. The
Children's Guide was standing close to her.
The gates are there," he said, pointing up a narrow path. "Just
where the brightness is, there stand the gates. You have only to
walk up to them, and they will open to you of their own accord,
and you will go in and find yourself in the King's country. Now,
farewell, my children."
"Oh, won't you come with us? asked Cowslip, tears springing
to her eyes. You have been so good, I cannot bear to part from
"No," he replied, "I cannot come with you. I must go back
immediately to the white palace at the other side of the black doors,
for there may be children already waiting for me to help them up
the mountain and across the bridge. My work for you is over.
BEYOND THE BLUE MIOUNTAINA'S.
May I kiss you before you go ? asked Cowslip.
Yes," he answered.
He stooped down and kissed the little girl on her cheek.
Shall I never see you again? she asked.
Some time," he replied, some time in the distant ages, perhaps
-who can tell?-when all the children have crossed the bridge and
climbed the mountain; but I cannot tell you when that will be, little
girl. You will not miss me, for a heart quite full up to the brim with
happiness does not need anything more. Farewell. Farewell, Clover.
The King has put into your heart a great courage, my boy, and I
have no doubt he will have special work for you to do for him in his
The next moment the Guide had gone.
Neither of the children saw him go. He seemed to vanish from
before their eyes like a puff of smoke. They turned and looked at one
another. Then hand in hand they went up to the gates.
Those gates have often been spoken of as golden, and with the sun
shining full on them they seemed to dazzle the children's happy eyes.
As they approached them they heard music inside, and very sweet
laughter, and joyous footsteps; and faces that they seemed to know
looked out at them, and hands that they seemed to remember began
to beckon to them.
And then the gates opened wide, and they went in, and the gates
_,: ., -: .... ..... --. -- _-
'" ,," -- "- ',, ,, _..,- : -
;7 ? c,, .-;..... ^~^ ^l!^ ^~. .......
-I ..- .
,'-.' ,_., .o ._ : :, ., ... .., ..:
-[ i .. '- -
A NEW WAY TO THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
MUST now tell the story of the two
S. -children who were left behind. After
SCowslip left her, Primrose turned on
her other side and went off into a deep
i and very heavy sleep. Buttercup also,
S"." on his little hard bed, slumbered with-
l out dreaming. It was getting on for
.; twelve o'clock when Primrose opened
S her heavy eyes.
/ She looked around her with a start,
wondered why the sun was streaming
into the room, and making it so hot, called Cowslip's name, and
of course received no answer.
Then she slowly got out of bed and looked around her. It
did not take her long to remember what had really happened. This
was the day on which the children were to start on their journey
to the Blue Mountains. Primrose remembered hazily how Cowslip
had come to her hours and hours before, and had said something
about starting without her. Oh, how terrible- if this had really
Primrose ran with her little bare feet into the other room, where
Buttercup was still sound asleep.
"Wake up, Bee, d.rl i.," she said-for this was her pet name
for her little brother-" wake up, wake up i I am awfully afraid that
Clover and Cowslip have gone to the Mountains without us."
Buttercup rubbed his sleepy eyes and sat up in bed.
BEYOND THE LE LU MIOUNTAIS.
"I know they have," he said calmly. Clover came to me
this morning, and tried to make me get up to go with him and
Cowslip. I wasn't going to be so foolish, I can tell you. Why,
what's the matter, Primrose? You look as if you were going to cry."
I feel like crying," said Primrose; I feel very, very unhappy;
I don't know what dreadful thing may happen- to us now, for, of
course, we shall not only have to start on our journey alone, but
we shall have to go without the letter which the King sent, giving
us directions. Oh, Buttercup, no wonder I am frightened! How
naughty we both were to stay in bed this morning! "
Not a bit of it," said Buttercup. The King wouldn't be
kind if he punished us for a little trifle of that sort. Stop
crying, Rose, dear, and let us get something to eat. We can
start on our journey after we have had breakfast, and I am sure we
shall soon catch up the others. As to having any bother about
finding the Blue Mountains-how can we possibly go wrong when
they are staring us full in the face all the time ? We shall soon
catch Clover and Cowslip up, Rose, for I know, if you don't, what
a lazy little thing Cowslip can be. She's sure to be fast asleep now
under the shade of some big tree. You get breakfast ready, Rose, and
let us be off."
Primrose allowed herself to be slightly comforted by Buttercup's
words. He was a good deal younger than she, but like many
obstinate though silly people, his little remarks sometimes impressed
those who listened to him as much as if they were words of wisdom.
He had a way of never being put out or frightened, and this fact
comforted poor nervous Primrose not a little.
She went out of the room, therefore, and set the kettle on to
boil. As she did so she looked at the eight-day clock which ticked so
solemnly in one corner of the old-fashioned kitchen, and a profound
sigh escaped her lips. The clock pointed to twelve. It was already
noon, therefore, and the beautiful fresh morning was over.
Primrose laid the table for breakfast. Then she went into her
bedroom, and, opening a wardrobe, took out a neat little brown
frock which her mother had made for her before she went away.
A NEW WVAY TO THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
She put the brown frock on, and tied a brown straw hat over her
flowing goldy-brown hair. The hat, too, had been trimmed by her
mother. It was a sober, Quaker sort of little hat, but Primrose's
extremely pretty face looked charming under it. She loved this
hat and this brown frock better than all the rest of her clothes,
for they had been the very last work finished for her by her mother
before she left the cottage.
Oh, my darling, darling mother! said the little girl, clasping
her hands; "how glad I shall be when I see you again. Oh, I
hope the King of the country beyond the Mountains won't be very
angry with me for not beginning my journey early this morning."
Then Primrose returned to the kitchen, where Buttercup was
already eating hunks of thick bread and butter covered with honey.
He wore a little sailor suit, and Primrose, going to his room, brought
out a large sailor hat with a band of blue ribbon round it, to put on
Why am I to wear that thing ? he said; "it is much too
large; I'd rather have my cap."
No, Bee," said Primrose, the hat is better than the cap, for
mother trimmed it for you. She trimmed this hat for me and
this hat for you just before the King sent for her, and I think it will
be much better for us to wear these things that seem to be so full
Buttercup, too, had been extremely fond of his mother, and
when Primrose spoke to him about the hat she had trimmed, he
made no further objection to wearing it.
"Let us be quick fnow," said Primrose. The day is already
half over. Don't delay too long over your breakfast, Bee."
Well, I suppose I may finish my breakfast," said Buttercup.
" This honey is quite delicious. I am awfully fond of honey; I'd
better eat as much of it as I can, as there's no saying when we'll get
another meal. Would it not be well for us to take a picnic basket
with us, Rose ?"
No," replied Primrose; "for in the letter which Clover received
from the King, he said there were plenty of inns on the road, and
BEYOND THE BLUE M1OUX lA-[lTINS.
that we should reach the first in time for breakfast. Of course,
you and I can't do that now, but I daresay we shall get some
This thought comforted Buttercup a good deal.
I am very glad indeed of that," he said. "I don't know
what kind of girl you are, Rose, but I never can do without my
meals. Whatever happens, I must have plenty to eat."
Well, let's start off now," said Primrose. Do look at the
clock, Bee-it is getting dreadfully late. Come, let us go at once."
Buttercup rose rather unwillingly from the breakfast table,
shook the crumbs off his neat sailor suit, and placed the broad
straw hat on his little curly head.
Then he slipped his hand into Primrose's, and the two children
Primrose felt almost cheerful at last.
Let us walk fast, Bee," she said. You must be right, too,
about the road, for there are the Mountains exactly in front of us.
What a dark blue they look now. They are not so pretty as they
are in the morning and evening-there are no beautiful lights
shining through the mist which always covers them, and I can
scarcely see the snow-peaks. I hope there is not going to be a
Not a bit of it," said Buttercup. The Mountains always
look like that in the middle of the day. Oh, please, Rose, I really
can't walk so quickly."
"I don't think we ought to be going down hill," said Prim-
rose. "I remember quite well that one of the directions in Clover's
letter said, You will be going up a very gentle and easy incline
from the very first.' Oh, Buttercup, what shall we do if we are
taking the wrong way?"
How can we be taking the wrong way? There are the
Mountains. What we want is to get to them, and I expect there
are quite a dozen roads leading to them. Do you see that stile at
the other side of that pretty path ? I am sure there was some-
thing about a stile in Clover's letter. Let us make for it."
A NEW WAY TO THE BLUE M1OUNLTAINIS.
"But it is down hill," said Primrose. "I don't think there
was anything about the stile in the letter Clover received."
I see someone standing there," said Buttercup. "A lady-
oh, how pretty she looks! Let us run to her and ask her the
way to the Blue Mountains."
Primrose cheered up when she saw the pretty lady standing
by the stile. She took hold of Buttercup's little hand and ran
down the beautiful flowering path which led to the rustic turn-
stile by which the lady stood.
She certainly was remarkably pretty. She was dressed in a
kind of pale violet flowing robe-a wreath of wild clematis was
twined round her head, and her long, soft, fair hair hung down
nearly to her waist.
And do I see two little pilgrims? she said, stretching out
a hand to each of the children, and looking at them with her
bright wonderful eyes. "Welcome, my darlings, welcome! "
Oh, please, pretty lady," began Primrose-then she stopped
and looked in a distressed way at her brother. "I am quite
certain we are going wrong, Bee," she said.
"Nonsense!" said Buttercup, giving his little person a shake.
"I didn't think you'd be such a silly girl, Rose. I am not afraid.
Please, kind lady," he added, looking up with his dear little
confident face into that of the beautiful violet lady-" please can
you tell us the right way to get to the Blue Mountains?"
It depends on how you want to go," replied the lady gently.
"Do you wish to go the easy way or the difficult way?"
Why, the easy, of' course," replied Bee, without a moment's
"Well, this is the easy way. Do you see those Rose MIoun-
tains over there? They are very lovely, are they not?"
Oh, yes oh, yes said Primrose, her eyes brightening.
"Do you know, pretty lady, that I never noticed them before."
They don't look far off, either," continued the lady, fixing
her gaze full on the child.
No, they seem quite near."
BEYOND TIHE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
"Well, through the Rose Mountains which you see just across
that little valley, there is a straight even road, perfectly level,
which leads directly to the Blue Mountains. It is much the
best way to go. Much, much the shortest way."
Thank you," said Buttercup. I am very glad indeed we
You needn't thank me, my dear little boy. I stand at this
stile for an hour or two every day to show little pilgrims like
yourself a new way to the Blue Mountains. It is a very, very
pretty, delightful way, and I am so glad that I am in time to
prevent your going that horrid up-hill path, which some children
are silly enough to take."
"But my brother and sister went to the Blue Mountains this
morning, and I am quite sure they went up-hill," said Primrose.
Well, dear," replied the lady, in a gentle tone, I can only
say that I am sorry for them. They will arrive, of course, but
they will take a much longer time on the road. If you go to
the Blue Mountains by way of the Rose Mountains, you will
reach the Golden Country at the other side of the Mountains
long before your brother and sister. Here, go right through this
path. You will soon find an inn where you can rest."
PETER PIPKINS AND FUNGUS THE FERRYMAN.
AM so glad we didn't go with the others,"
said Buttercup, as the two children walked
briskly along. Oh, what a silly pair we'd
have been if we had got up at sunrise this
morning and begun to walk up those tire-
some steep hills. Now you see, Rose, who
was right ? I always knew that I was the
wise one. It is much, much wiser to take
things quietly. I always do-I never excite myself."
It certainly is much nicer to walk down hill," said Rose,
"and that pretty violet lady must know the right way. But
what puzzles me is this: when we lived so close to the Rose
Mountains all our lives, why did we never notice them before?"
"Because we were silly, I suppose," said Buttercup, in the
unconcerned sort of fashion in which he avoided any subject
which puzzled him. The Rose Mountains are very pretty, are
they not, Primrose-much prettier than the Blue?"
They are lovely, certainly," replied Primrose; and they looked
so at this moment.
A golden mist was all over them, and many shifting rainbow
sort of colours came and went along their summits, until it seemed
to the little girl's excited fancy that she saw fairy people looking
at her and beckoning to her from the tops of the mountains.
The children walked on for a couple of hours. Then they
came to a small rustic cottage, at the door of which a very small
and wrinkled old man was standing. He had a long white beard,
BEYOND THE BLUE dlMOUNTA INS.
and keen, deep-set black eyes, and a nose which was very much
hooked, and long silvery hair which flowed back from his high
forehead. There was something peculiar about him, but he did
not look unpleasant; and his voice was wonderfully sweet and
Welcome, my dear children," he said in a cordial and affectionate
manner. I have been standing here waiting for you for some time.
How late you are in coming!- the dinner is getting quite cold."
"The dinner," said Buttercup, running forward eagerly. What
a kind, kind man you are Have you really got dinner for us ? We
are so hungry "
"Of course I have got dinner for you, my little loves. You
are some of the children who are going to the Rose Mountains, are
you not? "
Yes," said Primrose, but how could you tell ? "
Oh, I have a way of knowing things," said the old man, winking
one of his black eyes with great solemnity. But come in, come in
at once, or the dinner will be cold. There are four children already
waiting for their dinner in my parlour. They are as hungry as I am,
but we none of us could begin to eat until you came."
The old man then held out a hand to Primrose and another to
Buttercup, and led them through the rustic porch of his house into a
pleasant, low, cool parlour, where four children about their own ages
were seated round a table.
The table had a white cloth on it, and was spread with several
small tempting-looking dishes. These dishes contained honey and
cakes, some rather foreign-looking fruits, and some puddings of various
sorts. Buttercup was very glad to perceive that there was no meat
nor anything solid on the board. He always liked the pudding and
fruit and cake much better than any other part of his dinner, and was
relieved to think that he might satisfy his appetite with these dainties
Primrose, however, who was very fond of Buttercup, and knew that
he could at times eat more cake than was good for him, looked with
some dissatisfaction at the table.
.PETER PIPKINS AND FUNGUS THE FERRYMIAM.
"We ought to have milk and bread, and something solid of that
sort," she said, "instead of all these messes."
Messes," said the old man, darting a quick fiery glance at her.
" Do you call these delicious puddings and cakes messes ? You don't
deserve to have any."
He spoke so fiercely and his face changed so completely while he
was speaking that poor Primrose felt alarmed, and wished that she
had not said anything.
I know the food is very nice," she murmured; and she slipped
into a chair by Buttercup's side.
Of course, it is quite delicious said Buttercup.
His tone of intense approval pleased the old man; he smiled at
him, and telling the children to fall to and help themselves to any-
thing they fancied, sat down at one end of the long table, and drawing
a covered basin towards himself, took the lid off it and began to drink
up the soup which it contained.
That soup smelt delicious, and Primrose could not help looking at
it longingly, but the old man did not offer it to any of the children,
who had to content themselves with the cakes, and fruit, and dainty
little puddings which were scattered about the table.
"Are you going to the Rose Mountains? asked one of the
strange children of Primrose.
I am really going to the Blue Mountains," said Primrose,
"Oh, it's all the same," interrupted the child-" so are we going
to the Blue Mountains, but we don't talk of them much, because the
Rose Mountains are muoh, much prettier-don't you think so ? "
Before Primrose could reply she was attracted by a sudden noise
at her other side. She turned her head and saw that Buttercup had
fallen fast asleep with a piece of pink cake sticking out of his
She felt wonderfully sleepy herself, and looking down the table,
saw that two of the strange boys were also nodding their heads,
and that the little girl who sat near them was yawning.
"You are all tired," said the old man, who was just lifting the
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
basin of soup to his lips to drain off the last drop of its contents.
"There are some sofas in the other roon ; you can go and lie down."
It was still broad daylight, for the time was the middle of
summer, but the children were glad to avail themselves of this offer,
and drag their weary limbs into the inner room of the little cottage.
But Primrose had almost to carry Buttercup-he was so very sound
The sofas were broad and soft, and the moment the children laid
their tired heads on them they went off into dreamless slumber.
They all awoke about the same time, to discover that daylight had
faded, and that'night had come on. The old man with the white
beard and the hooked nose was standing in the middle of the room,
nodding and laughing.
"Ha! ha!" he said, "you have had a lovely sleep, haven't
Oh, yes," said Primrose, with a tremendous yawn, but we are
very tired still-at least, I am. Oh, how dark it looks outside she
added, glancing towards the window; I think, perhaps, as it's so
late, we might as well spend the night here, if-if you don't mind, old
"My name is Peter Pipkins, and it offends me very much when
people speak of me by any name but my right one. It shows a great
want of respect."
Well, Peter Pipkins, may we stay here, in your comfortable
house, for the night? asked Buttercup, raising his flushed face from
the pillow, and looking at Peter Pipkins with his sleepy eyes.
No," said Peter, I could not permit such a thing for a moment.
Supper is waiting on the table for some other children, and I cannot
possibly have any of you lingering about the place. I have done
with you; I have given you a good meal, and a good sleep, and you
must go now."
But please," said Primrose, in a frightened voice, where are we
to spend the night? The King of the country beyond the Blue
Mountains told my brother in a letter that there would be inns on the
road-which is the next inn ? "
TRYING ON THE WREATHS (p. 127).
PETER PIPKINS AND FUNGUS THE FEIRRYYAN.
"The next inn," said the old man, with a queer wicked sort of
gleam in his black eyes, is called Castle Dangerous; it is a remark-
ably nice sort of place, and if you walk fast you'll all get there long
before morning. You have only to follow the winding path which
leads from my door, and it will lead you straight there. Now off, all
of you: off out of my sight at once! "
The children tumbled to their feet, shook out their dresses, pushed
back their tossed hair, and walked all of them in a sad little group to
the door of the cottage.
You must each of you pay me before you go," said Peter. You
don't suppose that I give you all that good food and comfortable sleep
"But we have no money," said Primrose-" at least, Buttercup
and I haven't got any money."
Well, well, I won't be hard on you-all I ask is a kiss apiece.
I am fond of kissing pretty children, and you are all very taking
Buttercup thought it kind of Peter Pipkins only to want a kiss.
He ran up to him and raised his chubby lips to the old man's withered
face without an instant's hesitation. The four strange children
did the same, but Primrose managed to push past one of the other
little girls, and to get out into the cool night air without having
Good-bye, all of you! he shouted; and the children ran down
the path, singing-
We are off to the Mountains Blue,
Let us laugh as we go and be glad !
We will travel the whole night through,
And never be weary or sad.
Oh, joy for that Land of Delight !
Let us hasten our steps to be there,
Good-bye to all sorrow and night
When we rest in its radiance fair.'
The children felt quite happy while they sang.
The night had certainly come, but the moon was shining brilliantly.
BEYOND THE .ILUE] MOUNTAINS.
It was at this moment that Primrose noticed a change in Buttercup's
face. It looked as if it were shrunken; she also observed that the
four other children were slightly-very slightly-altered in appear-
ance; they looked old for their small size, and the expression on each
face seemed to bear a faint-very faint-resemblance to Peter
SI am glad I did not kiss that old man," she said to Butter-
"You were very silly not to," replied Buttercup. "I feel much
nicer since I kissed him. I had a horrid pain in my heart when I
woke after that sleep. You'll not believe me, Rose, but I felt sorry
that I had not gone with Clover and Cowslip this morning; but after
I kissed Peter the pain went away-I am not a bit, not a morsel,
Well, we must walk to Castle Dangerous as fast as we can," said
Primrose. "I do hope the night air won't give you cold, Butter-
cup." She took his hand as she spoke, and walked on a little before
the other children.
After going very quickly for the best part of a mile the children
came to a stile marked Beware of M/e Dangerous Land." The letters
were written in white on a black ground, and shone out clear and
distinct in the moonlight.
Oh," said Primrose, we mustn't go over that stile. See what
the sign-post says, 'Beware of the Dangerous Land.'"
"Nonsense," said Buttercup. Those words must be written by
some silly person, for the land at the other side of the stile is exactly
like this, only prettier; we can see it quite plainly, and it is ever so
sweet and pretty."
"Just a green meadow, and a pretty little path running through
it," said one of the children; what can there be to fear ? "
"I am not afraid," said another child; I'll risk it."
And where are we to go if we don't cross the stile? asked the
tallest of the four strange children.
Primrose looked round her in fright and bewilderment.
I ?wis/ we had gone with Cowslip and Clover," she said. That
PETER PIPKINS AND .'FUNGUS THE FERRYIMAN.
sign-post makes me dreadfully afraid. Oh, see!" she exclaimed, in
sudden delight, there is another tiny path to the right of the stile-
it goes quite away from it in the opposite direction, and it is very steep
and up-hill. There is a sign-post here, too, but I can scarcely read
the writing. Oh, yes, I can now. See, see, we must go this way !
See, children, all of you, what is written on this sign-post, Break-
heart Iill-a Road lo the Blue /[ ..' "
The children laughed when Primrose read the words on the other
Catch us going up Break-heart Hill! they exclaimed ; "we
know better i Come, Buttercup, if that is your name, let us cross the
stile, and go into the Dangerous Land. There are lights at the other
side of the valley. Those must be the lights of Castle Dangerous,
where we are all to sleep. Come, Buttercup, don't mind that silly
sister of yours."
Buttercup was very easily persuaded; he gave his hand to one of
the strange children, and they all ran merrily together into the
Dangerous Land, leaving Primrose standing alone at the other side of
"I can't leave dear little Buttercup," she exclaimed. "I know I
am doing wrong-I am quite sure we are all doing wrong-but I can't
possibly leave Buttercup."
She too crossed the stile, and walked down the path which led
across the meadow through the Dangerous Land.
It was remarkably pleasant to walk in that meadow-the air which
blew on the children's faces was warm and balmy. The moon seemed
to shine brighter than' at the other side of the stile, and even in its
shifting and uncertain light the children could see that the path down
which they walked was bordered with many gay and exquisite
The night was very silent at the other side of the stile, but at this
side it seemed to be all awake. Bees hummed, crickets chirped-there
were thousands of noises, some pretty, some the reverse. It is true
that Buttercup and the four strange children thought all the sounds
sweet and attractive, but Primrose fancied now and then that she
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
heard some low mocking laughter, which might come from the lips of
those naughty people who are always trying to lead children astray.
As they walked, the lights which shone out of every window of
Castle Dangerous grew brighter and brighter.
The meadow dipped down into a lovely valley, and the Castle
stood on a high rock hanging over this valley on the farther side. It
was turreted all over, and even in the moonlight looked grey and
hoary with age.
It took the children a great deal longer than they had any idea of
to cross the valley, and they were all dreadfully tired and could scarcely
keep their eyes open when at last they reached a deep narrow stream
which ran between them and the Castle.
This stream ran right across the valley, and though the children
looked to their right and to their left, they could not perceive any
bridge by which they might cross it.
Oh dear, dear!" exclaimed Primrose, what are we to do
"It is growing very dark, too," said one of the strange
This was true, for the moon had not only set, but thick clouds
had come up and were covering the sky. It also wanted quite
an hour to the dawn.
What are we to do?" said the children in a breath. We
are so tired, so dreadfully tired."
I think I'll lie down just here in the grass, and go to sleep,"
But he had scarcely spoken before something glided past just
over his feet. It was a snake.
The children saw it and started back with exclamations of
Now what's the matter? What ails you all?" called a
It was a very welcome sound, and they all rushed forward to
see who had spoken.
A little man was sitting in a boat in the very middle of the
I' ETER PIPKINS AND F"UXGUS TIlE; FERIRYJIAN.
stream. It was a very small boat, and the man who sat in it
was extremely tiny. He had a humped back, and long black hair,
and fierce eyes, and a white face. But it was too dark for the
children to see how ugly he was, and they were delighted to hear
I'm Fungus the ferryman," he called to them. Do you
want me to ferry you across to Castle Dangerous ?"
Oh yes! oh yes!" they all exclaimed-" oh, please be quick;
we are so tired and sleepy."
And so am I," growled the little man. "I have been wait-
ing here for you in the middle of this nasty stream the whole of
the night. I am very angry with you very angry indeed."
Please forgive us, ferryman," said Buttercup. We did not
know you were waiting, or we'd have run all the way."
Children always are thoughtless," said the ferryman, but he
did not speak quite so crossly, and rowed his boat carefully to
the edge of the stream.
You must get in with great care," he said to the children.
" Only one of you at a time, please. And when you are in the
boat you must neither move nor speak, for the boat is so small
and the water so rough that the slightest thing will upset it. I
think it right to tell you that this water belongs to certain little
men who have a spite against children, and that no child ever yet
fell into this stream who was not drowned."
This news was terrible to the poor little travellers, and Prim-
rose felt inclined, even at the last moment, to pull Buttercup back
by force, and not allow him to enter the charmed boat; but the
little fellow did not seem to have a particle of fear. He ran down
the narrow path and was the very first to get in.
There was nothing, therefore, for Primrose to do but to
When the six children were in the boat it sank so low in the
water that it was almost on a level with the angry rushing stream,
but the ferryman assured the children that if they remained motion-
less there was not the least fear.
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
He then began carefully to use his two oars and so to pilot
them across the stream.
You are good children," he said, and I have not the least
doubt that if you sit motionless, and don't even wink your eyes, I
shall be able to land you safely at the other side. The people to
whom this water belongs won't have any power over you if you
sit quite still, and don't even wink while you are in the boat."
As the ferryman spoke he fixed his black eyes in turn on each
of the children. When he did this they each felt a queer kind of
thrilling sensation passing through them, from their heads down to
their feet. Even Primrose experienced this queer thrill. It had
a strange effect on her as well as the others. It instantly took
all fear away, and filled each little heart with a queer unaccount-
At last the boat grated on the pebbly shore at the other side
of the narrow stream.
The ferryman instantly jumped out, and giving one of his
fingers to each child, helped them all to alight on the narrow
shelf of beach.
Welcome to the threshold of Castle Dangerous. Oh, what a
happy time you'll have! Welcome, welcome, welcome !" said
As he spoke, he looked up at the Castle, which was on such
a high and steep rock that it seemed almost to hang over the
How are we ever to get up there ? asked Primrose. That
rock is as steep as the wall of a house, and I'm sure I for one
can't climb it."
Nor I," said Buttercup-" and I am so tired, too. Oh, I'd
give anything to go to bed. I don't think it is worth while
going to the Blue Mountains when it gives one so much
Don't say that, Buttercup," said Primrose. Think of father
and mother waiting to welcome us. There is no trouble too great
to take that will bring us back to them."
PETER PIPKINS AND FUNGUS THE FERRYMAN.
Come, come," said the ferryman. It is very natural for
little people to like to sleep, and this little man shall soon have a
bath and a snug bed, and a nice breakfast. Now you must all
come up to the Castle as fast as possible. It is quite easy if you
go the right way. Each child must catch hold of one or two of
the hairs of my beard, and I'll pull you up without difficulty."
"But- began Primrose, opening her eyes very wide.
No buts, my pretty little miss; trust me, and you'll soon
see that I am right. Here, grip hold of this long black hair.
Fear nothing; you'll soon be at the top."
As Fungus spoke he put a long hair from his flowing beard
into the hand of each child.
The moment the children's fingers touched these hairs they
seemed to change into small steel chains or cables.
Take a hard grip," said the ferryman, and now follow me."
He walked on in front as he spoke, and the children clinging
to the hairs of his beard, found that they could easily mount the
steep rock which led to the Castle.
They soon gained the entrance, which was all made of white
marble, and looked very lovely with the first rays of the morning
sun gilding it.
Four ladies came down to meet the children.
My name is Dragon-flower," said one of them; she was
dressed in many gay and rich colours and had long raven black
hair which flowed back over her shoulders-her eyes were bright,
her smile radiant. She bent over the tired children and kissed
"Dear little ones," she said, "let me introduce you to my
three sisters. This one in rose colour is called Poppy; this lovely
darling all in pure white is Silver-wings, and this sister in grey
with the dark eyes and the tender smile is known at Castle
Dangerous by the name of Moonlight. Here we all are, ready to
welcome you, and make you as happy as the day is long. Take
my hand, dear little Primrose-you see I know your name before-
hand-and follow me, all of you, to the room with the marble baths."
CASTLE DANGEROUS AND THE VANISHING STAIRS.
'--' '--- HE four lovely sisters seemed to float rather than to
.- Jd. f" f walk.
Silver-wings, whose white dress was more dazzling
S and beautiful than Dragon-flower's many-coloured
and Poppy's rose-tinted robe, looked earnestly fiom
one face to the other, as the children walked down-
stairs to the baths.
Moonlight ran on in front, and while Dragon-
flower was filling the baths, the children saw this
graver sister preparing delightful little beds in a
room just beyond. Brilliant sunshine and daylight
filled every other crevice of the Castle, but in this room it was still
night, and the children noticed with pleasure that Moonlight shook
up pillows and turned down sheets on pretty white beds in this dim
Poppy helped her as she did this.
Here are the baths," said Dragon-flower. You never bathed
in water like this before. See how it sparkles. It is warm and
comforting, and when you wash in it you will forget all your fatigue,
and come out quite fresh and very beautiful. Undress, undress all of
you, my dears, and get into your lovely baths. Come, Silver-wings,
why are you standing there doing nothing? Come and help me to
undress these dear children, and remove their ugly, torn and dirty
clothes. We will put some of our own clothes on them when they
come out of the baths."
CASTLE DANGEROUS AND Ti2E VANSISHING STAIRS.
When Dragon-flower spoke, Silver-wings glided slowly for-
ward, and, opening a large cupboard in the wall, brought out a pretty
gaily-coloured dress for each child. She laid the clothes down be-
side the marble baths, and helped Dragon-flower to undress the
"Now get in, my loves," said Dragon-flower; "the baths are quite
ready, and you do look very tired, all of you. Be sure you lie down
in the water, and cover your heads as well. You won't get thoroughly
rested unless you dip yourselves completely under the water."
Primrose was the last to step into her bath. She felt happy and
excited, but all the time, deep down in her heart, was a queer sensation
"Dip, dip said Dragon-flower ; dip your heads well under the
water all of you. That's right, my dear children, enjoy your soothing
baths ; I shall be back again presently."
She glided out of the room as she spoke. At the same moment
Primrose raised her eyes, and saw Silver-wings was looking at her
You need not dip your head under the water unless you like,"
whispered Silver-wings ; but don't tell anyone that I said so."
She ran away to the other side of the room as she spoke.
"There is some meaning in her words," thought Primrose to
herself. This bath is delicious-I never felt anything like it; but
I won't dip my head under the water-on that I am resolved."
Soon afterwards Dragon-flower returned. "Now, my children,"
she said, you may get out of your baths and put on these lovely
clothes. Come, Silver-wings, help the dear little ones to dress. They
must then have something to eat, and afterwards go and lie down in
that cool room which Poppy and Moonlight have prepared for
Buttercup was delighted with the lovely dress that Dragon-flower
put upon him. It had a great many brilliant colours, and Buttercup
loved gay colours. When he was dressed he rushed up to his sister
Primrose, and kissed her.
Do you know," he said, raising his pretty blooming little face to
BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
hers, that there is to be a great feast here to-night, and a lot of
children are coming, and we may play, and skip, and dance, and enjoy
ourselves? Oh, I never, never, in all my life, was so happy. I am
glad we have come to this lovely place."
But we can't stay here, Buttercup," said Primrose. It will be
very nice to have some breakfast, and perhaps some sleep, but then we
must start on our journey, for I do hope we shall reach the Rose
Mountains before to-night."
What do you mean ? said Buttercup, looking at her in a
puzzled way. "What Rose Mountains ? What journey? Aren't
we always going to stay here ? What do you mean, Primrose ? "
What do you mean ? said Primrose, looking at her little
brother in terror ; don't you know that we are going to the Blue
Mountains to join our father and mother, and Cowslip and
Clover; don't you know it, Buttercup-how can you possibly have
forgotten ? "
Just for an instant a queer puzzled look came over Buttercup's
face; then he shook his little head and laughed gaily.
You must be dreaming, Primrose," he said. "I don't remember
anything about a father and mother, or about Blue Mountains, or
about people called Clover and Cowslip. Oh, hurrah for the feast, the
feast, the feast! hurrah for the gay dance, and the jolly toys-
hurrah hurrah "
At this moment Dragon-flower entered the room, followed by two
or three prettily-dressed girls bearing trays which contained cups of
milk and little plates of strawberries.
You are to eat your strawberries, and drink your milk, and then
go to sleep for an hour," said Dragon-flower to each of the children.
"Why, what is the matter with you, my little girl?" she added,
coming up to Primrose, who, dressed in new and dazzling white clothes
up to her neck, had perched the old brown hat which her mother had
given her on her head.
Take off that ugly hat," said Dragon-flower. Here is a wreath
of lilies-it will suit you much better than that hideous hat."
But, please, I love my hat," said Primrose, putting up her hand
'.1 !I. E DANGEROUS AND THE VANISTHIXG STAIRS.
to hold it firmly on her head ; it was trimmed for me by mother, and
I would much rather wear it than the most lovely wreath of flowers
that was ever put together; and, please, Dragon-flower," said
Primrose in a gentle voice, your bath has made me feel so nice
and fresh, that I think I can be going on my journey almost imme-
diately. If I may drink some of that milk, and eat some of those
strawberries, I shall be quite fresh to start, and I am sure so will
What are you talking about ? asked Buttercup, dancing up to
his sister. I am not going on any journey-catch me, catch me !
Oh, hurrah for the feast, the feast, the feast! "
He rushed up to one of the little strange girls as he spoke, and
putting his arms round her, the two began to dance up and down
Dragon-flower darted a queer look out of her bright eyes at Silver-
wings, but Silver-wings was very busy at that moment emptying
the water out of one of the baths, and did not see the glance she
Primrose did, however, and her heart beat fast with a strange
"Now, do let me persuade you to put on this wreath, my darling,"
said Dragon-flower, turning again to the little girl. Why, what's
the matter ? I see tears in those sweet eyes."
"I am unhappy about Buttercup," said Primrose. He seems to
have forgotten everything. He says he does not want to go on any
journey, and when I speak of father and mother, he can't remember
them. What can be the matter ? "
Nothing, my love, nothing," said Dragon-flower. Your dear
little brother is tired and excited, that is all. You will start on your
journey, of course, when you are properly rested; but now eat your
fruit, drink up your milk, and take off that ugly hat ? "
No, please, I would rather wear it," said Primrose.
I assure you it is the hat that makes you unhappy."
Still, I would rather wear it-I would much rather be unhappy
and remember mother, than be happy and forget her."
BEYOND TH1E] BLUA' I[OUNUIAINS.
Dragon-flower smiled, and said what a loyal little girl Primrose
was; but her eyes had a hard and glassy look, and it seemed to
Primrose as if she could read through her, and as if she knew that
she was all hollow and not really good.
The poor little girl felt thoroughly frightened, and longed to find
a quiet moment to go up to Buttercup and induce him to leave Castle
Dangerous at once.
Buttercup, however, avoided her eyes. Now that he was dressed
in the gay and lovely clothes supplied to him by the sisters, he looked
a most beautiful child, and he got so much petting that his giddy
little head was completely turned.
Come, my children, now," said Silver-wings, come into this
lovely room that Moonlight has prepared and lie down and sleep.
These beds are covered with sheets made of the finest silk-the
counterpanes spread over them are rose-coloured; and we hope that
the dreams which will visit each of your little brains will be rose-
coloured too. Come, my children, come."
As Silver-wings spoke she went on in advance of the children and
began to sing:
"Sleep, my little ones, sleep !
Soft blows the wind from the west;
Far in the forest so deep
Turtle-doves coo in their nest.
Sleep, my little ones, sleep
Rest and be still, little feet,
Wearisome travels are o'er;
Here is a haven more sweet
Than ever you entered before.
Rest and be still, little feet
Lullaby, lullaby, all !
Rose-coloured visions of joy
Hover around when I call,
Come to each girl and each boy.
Lullaby, ,ii .1 ,-, all !"
CASTLE DANGEROUS AND THE VANISHT:NG STAIRS.
Her voice was most sweet, and when the words of the chorus came,
numbers of other equally sweet voices caught up the strain, and echoed
it all around.
The children placed their tired heads on the downy pillows pro-
vided for them, and Moonlight, who looked almost as shadowy as if
she were made of air, came up and laid the slender tips of her long
fingers on each pair of eyes.
After that the children slept soundly, laughing now and then in
their sleep because of their happy dreams.
Primrose too was yielding to the soothing delicious atmosphere of
this wonderful room, when a hand was laid on her shoulder; and
raising her head she encountered the deep yet sweet gaze of Silver-
"Don't tell anyone," said the sister, raising her fingers to her lips.
" I should be undone-undone for ever if it were known that I had
helped you. The only thing that I can do for you is to give you this
advice-Don't take off .. hat. No one can take it off, however hard
they try, but yourself. Whatever you do, keep it on your head ; and when
you come downstairs presently to feast with the other children, don't
eat anything that is put before you, except a slice of bread from a hard
dry loaf which will be in the middle of the table. That is all I can
say; farewell, sleep soundly. Nothing can really injure you if you do
what I say."
Silver-wings glided away, but her words had banished Primrose's
desire to sleep.
She lay very still on her little white bed, the rose-coloured
counterpane slightly pushed aside, her pale cheek resting against her
hand, her long hair falling over the pillows, and the brown hat still
partly covering her head.
The three other sisters, Moonlight, Poppy, and Dragon-flower,
floated in their usual graceful fashion into the room. They thought
that all the children were asleep, and began to talk to one another in
low tones, which even Primrose would not have heard had she not
been very anxious and over-excited.
"What a good thing the children came when they did," said
BEYOND THE BLUE IIMOUNTAINS.
Dragon-flower. What with these children and those who arrived
yesterday, we shall have a goodly party to take to the Dark Men
to-night. Oh, what a splendid thing for us that we have captured
them in time! "
But what about the child with the brown hat? said Poppy.
" She could not have dipped her head under the enchanted water, for
she remembers her mother."
Yes," said Dragon-flower, "she spoke in a very ridiculous way,
but we can easily come round her. I offered her a wreath of lilies
instead of that hideous hat, but she declined them. Her conduct
rather puzzled me. I wonder if anyone gave her a hint ? "
Who could ? said Moonlight; she did not see a soul to speak
to since she entered the Castle except our four selves, and we should
not be so foolish as to injure ourselves, for unless we can supply the
Dark Men with a certain number of children every week, one of us
has to go to them instead; is it likely, therefore, that we should do
ourselves harm ? "
No, no, of course not," said Dragon-flower. Only, I cannot
tell why, I am sometimes-somelime.s-not quite sure about Silver-
"You are too suspicious, my love," said Poppy. Silver-wings
is the most loyal of us all, and she has such an innocent, sad kind of
look, that the children cling more to her than to any of us; but now,
why should not we take that child's old brown hat off her head while
she sleeps ? "
"I doubt if that is possible," said Dragon-flower; "for there are
many limits to what we are able to do, and if one of these children sets
his or her will against us it is impossible to conquer it; but go and do
your best, Poppy."
Thus counselled, Poppy went over to the bed where poor little
Primrose lay with her eyes shut and her heart beating rapidly.
Poppy stretched out her hand and seized the brown hat.
She started back the next moment with a cry.
It burns-it hurts me she exclaimed. I dare not touch it
CASTLE DANGEUIOUS A ND 7TIfE I-AISHINIG STAIRS.
You are a coward, Poppy," said MNoonlight; "let me have a
But when iMoonlight laid her slender fingers on the hat it seemed
as if a cruel sword ran right up her arm, and stabbed a terrible thrust
into her heart itself. She turned white to the lips and moved two or
three paces away.
"I can do nothing," she exclaimed.
"I told you so," said Dragon-flower. I always knew there were
limits-tremendous limits-to what we could do. Let us go away
now. When the feast comes it will be easy to induce this little girl
to eat one of the crystal cakes, or to drink some of the ruby wine.
For each sup she drinks, and each bite that passes her lips, her power
to resist us will grow less and less, until at last she will give us the hat
of her own free will."
The sisters went away after this, and Primrose lay as still as she
could, trembling very much.
After a couple of hours Moonlight returned to the room, drew up
the blinds, and let in some brilliant sunshine. The moment she did
so each child rose like a bird from its nest, and looked round with
wondering, delighted eyes.
Primrose alone felt sad and tired, and sick with terror. She
determined, come what would, to go to Buttercup and make one last
appeal to him. Notwithstanding a very queer kind of glance which
Moonlight gave her, she ran up to him and put her arms round
"Buttercup," she said, I want you to go away with me now; you
are quite fresh, and not at all tired, aren't you? "
Yes, of course," said Buttercup, I never felt better in my life."
"Then do come, darling; do let us go away now. Let us go on
with our journey while the sun is high, and there is plenty of daylight;
do, darling Buttercup."
What, and lose the feast!" said Buttercup ; "besides, I don't
know what journey you mean, Primrose. I am going to stay here, for
I would not leave the feast for anything. How queer you look,
Primrose, in that old brown hat! "
BEYOND Ii'THE BLUE MOUNTAIN'S.
Don't you remember this hat ? asked Primrose, tears springing
to her eyes, "the hat that mother trimmed just before she went
"I don't remember anything about it," said Buttercup; "and
who was mother? Mother! I can't recall ever having had a
At these words poor little Primrose burst into a flood of bitter
Oh," she said, "you will break my heart, Buttercup Oh, I am
so frightened and so miserable! "
What is it, my love?" said Moonlight. Dry your tears, my
dear, there is nothing to be afraid of. Now we are all ready to go
downstairs to our feast, and I think we all look charming, and fit for
the splendid time which is before us. I have good news for you, my
children; there is to be a royal ball to-night held in the King's
palace, and I have been fortunate enough to secure an invitation for
each of you."
"Oh, hurrah hurrah shouted the children.
"There are no end of toys to be given away in the King's
palace," continued Moonlight, and no end of delicious fruit,
and cakes, and sweetmeats to be eaten; but now let us come
downstairs, for I know you must each and all of you be very
hungry. Primrose, my child, would you not like to leave that
ugly hat on your bed? You can fetch it again whenever you
"No, thank you," said Primrose; I would rather wear it,
Well, come then, let us all go downstairs."
Moonlight walked on in front and the children followed her.
The stairs were broad and winding, and made of white marble.
The children ran down them gaily, shouting and singing as they
went; but Primrose, whose heart felt like lead, followed the others
slowly. She was conscious as she did so of a very queer sensation : it
was this-as she set her foot on each of these firm-looking marble
stairs, it seemed to give way under her.