• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Series title: The children's...
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 The magic oak tree
 Prince Filderkin
 Advertising
 Back Matter
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: Children's library
Title: The magic oak tree
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00082628/00001
 Material Information
Title: The magic oak tree and, Prince Filderkin
Series Title: Children's library
Alternate Title: Prince Filderkin
Physical Description: vi, 173, 7, 1 p., 4 leaves of plates : ill. ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Brabourne, Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen, 1829-1893
Unwin, T. Fisher ( Thomas Fisher ), 1848-1935 ( Publisher )
Publisher: T. Fisher Unwin
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1894
 Subjects
Subject: Magic -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Witches -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fairies -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1894   ( lcsh )
Fantasy literature -- 1894   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1894   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1894
Genre: Children's stories
Fantasy literature   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by the late Lord Brabourne.
General Note: Title page and series t.p. printed in red and black.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Funding: Children's library (T. Fisher Unwin)
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00082628
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002222525
notis - ALG2770
oclc - 222013808

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
    Half Title
        Half Title
    Series title: The children's library
        Page i
    Frontispiece
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
    List of Illustrations
        Page vi
    The magic oak tree
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Wicked venomista
            Page 1
            Page 2
            Page 3
            Page 4
            Page 5
            Page 5
            Page 6
        Hurly-hurly
            Page 7
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
        The hedgehog
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
            Page 23
        A bargain
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 30a
            Page 31
            Page 32
        Adventures by the way
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
        Temptation
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
        The witch's downfall
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
            Page 56a
            Page 57
            Page 58
        Children again
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
            Page 66
            Page 67
            Page 68
    Prince Filderkin
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Concerning a hump
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
            Page 79
            Page 80
        Feeble John
            Page 81
            Page 82
            Page 83
            Page 84
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
        Some adventures
            Page 96
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
            Page 101
            Page 102
            Page 103
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
        Further adventures
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 111
            Page 112
            Page 113
            Page 114
            Page 115
            Page 116
            Page 117
            Page 118
            Page 119
            Page 120
            Page 121
            Page 122
            Page 123
            Page 124
            Page 125
            Page 126
            Page 127
            Page 128
        The palace of the mountebanks
            Page 129
            Page 130
            Page 131
            Page 132
            Page 133
            Page 134
            Page 135
            Page 136
            Page 137
            Page 138
            Page 139
            Page 140
            Page 141
            Page 142
        The curse - and the way out
            Page 143
            Page 144
            Page 145
            Page 146
            Page 147
            Page 148
            Page 149
            Page 150
            Page 151
            Page 152
            Page 153
            Page 154
            Page 155
            Page 156
            Page 157
            Page 158
        Humpless
            Page 159
            Page 160
            Page 161
            Page 162
            Page 163
            Page 164
            Page 165
            Page 166
            Page 167
            Page 168
            Page 169
            Page 170
            Page 171
            Page 172
            Page 173
            Page 174
    Advertising
        Advertising 1
        Advertising 2
        Advertising 3
        Advertising 4
        Advertising 5
        Advertising 6
        Advertising 7
        Advertising 8
    Back Matter
        Back Matter
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text











































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s LIBRARY











THE MAGIC OAK TREE
AND

PRINCE FILDERKIN









THE CHILDREN'S LIBRARY


A CHINA CUP, AND OTHER STORIES.
THE BROWN OWL.
STORIES FROM FAIRYLAND.
TALES FROM THE MABINOGION.
THE STORY OF A PUPPET.
THE LITTLE PRINCESS.
IRISH FAIRY TALES.
AN ENCHANTED GARDEN.
LA BELLE NIVERNAISE.
THE FEATHER.
FINN AND HIS COMPANIONS.
NUTCRACKER AND MOUSE-KING.
ONCE UPON A TIME.
THE PENTAMBRONE.
FINNISH LEGENDS.
THE POPE'S MULE.
THE LITTLE GLASS MAN.
ROBINSON CRUSOE.
THE MAGIC OAK TREE AND PRINCE
FILDERKIN.

(Others in the Press.)

















































"THERE STOOD UPON A PROJECTING ROCK THE FIGURE
OF A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE LADY." [See p. 47.







THE MAGIC OAK TREE

AND

PRINCE FILDERKIN


BY THE LATE
LORD BRABOURNE
[E. H. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN]








LONDON
T. FISHER UNWIN
1894























CONTENTS


THE MAGIC OAK TREE


CHAP.
* I. WICKED VENOMISTA

2. HURLY-BURLY .

3. THE HEDGEHOG

4. A BARGAIN .

5. ADVENTURES BY THE WAY

6. TEMPTATION .

7. THE WITCH'S DOWNFALL

8. CHILDREN AGAIN .


PAGE
S I

7
15

24

33
40

52

59


PRINCE FILDERKIN


I. CONCERNING A HUMP

2. FEEBLE JOHN .


71
8I







vi CONTENTS
CHAP. PAGE
3. SOME ADVENTURES 96
4. FURTHER ADVENTURES 109
5,. THE PALACE OF THE MOUNTEBANKS 129
6. THE CURSE-AND THE WAY OUT 143
7. HUMPLESS 159






LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

i. There stood upon a projecting rock the figure
of a beautiful little lady' Frontispiece
2. A number of little brown frogs, hopping about
and croaking' Facing page 4
3. A little man about three feet high, with bright
red hair and only one eye' Facing page 30
4. She was in a perfect puddle, and had not a
dry thread upon her' Facing fage 56


















THE MAGIC OAK TREE


















CHAPTER I

WICKED VENOMISTA

HERE was once a very large oak
tree in the middle of a great
forest. Its trunk measured many
hundred feet round, its roots ran
out in every direction for a great distance, and
its branches gave wider shade than those
of any other tree in the forest. But although
this tree was so large and beautiful, it was
an object of awe instead of delight to all the
dwellers in that part of the world. You
will not be surprised at this when I tell you
the reason. A spiteful old fairy had made
the tree her home and had lived there for
many years. Some fairies, as everybody
knows, are kind and good, and always
B






THE MAGIC OAK TREE


ready to do a friendly action towards those
mortals who come in their way. But this
particular fairy was unhappily of a very differ-
ent character. Her name was Venomista,
and her chief pleasure was to do all the
harm she could to every living creature
except three, which were her special
favourites. These three, a bat, a weasel, and
an adder, lived with her in the tree, and woe
to any mortal who approached it when they
were at home. The bat flew into his face
and flipped at his eyes with its quickly
flapping wings, the weasel bit his heels, and
the adder stung him, and as these three
things generally happened at the same
moment, the traveller had a bad time of it.
Travellers, however, were scarce in those
parts, and the old fairy would never have
found enough mischief to do if she had
stayed at home in her oak. She was there-
fore accustomed to rove abroad a great deal,
and her favourite occupation and amusement
was to look out for children wherever she
could, and when she found any, she almost
always changed the poor little things into
brown frogs, and went away roaring with
delight at the thoughts of the misery of the






WICKED VENOHMISTA 3

parents. If I knew the history of all the
people who had suffered this injury at the
hands of the cruel Venomista, I daresay
that I could fill a book with the tales of their
misfortunes ; but, as it is, I can only tell of
one particular family, though that may give
a general idea of what others must have
suffered. It happened upon one occasion,
that the old fairy had gone out rather
farther than usual, and was quite upon the
outskirts of the forest, when she met the
seventeen children of the King and Queen
of that country walking with their nurse.
The first thing that she did was to make
such a terrible face at the poor children that
they all turned round and ran to their nurse
as fast as they could run. Now the nurse
was a very respectable middle-aged woman,
perfectly devoted to the children, and one
who would have done anything in the world
to keep them from harm. So as soon as
she saw the seventeen little ones running to
her for safety, she threw up her arms and
cried out as loud as she could : Come, my
darlings come my ducklings nobody shall
hurt ye while nursey is here !'
The good woman said these words with







4 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
the best possible intentions, and, no doubt,
if she had herself been either a fairy or a
witch, she would have made a good fight
over the matter before any mischief should
touch her nurslings. But, alas she was
neither the one nor the other, and the words
were not out of her mouth, nor had the
children reached her, when the harsh voice
of the wicked old fairy fell upon their ears.
And this was what she said :

Stop, stop ducklings, stop !
Ye no more shall run, but hop.
Hop and skip in marshy bog,
Each a pretty little frog.
You are all (no matter how)
Venomista's playthings now I
Stop, stop, ducklings, stop I
Learn to croak and learn to hop !'

As the fairy pronounced these words
with the grin of a demon on her face, she
stretched out her long, lean hand towards
the children, in which hand was held a thin
twisted stick, with which she pointed at them ;
and immediately every child stopped short,
and stood still in the place where it was
standing when the dreadful words fell upon
its ear. This, however, was not all. As
























.. .N r. *\'/'











"A NUMBER OF LITTLE BROWN FROGS, HOPPING ABOUT AND CROAKING."







WICKED VENOMISTA 5

the old fairy waved her stick slowly to and
fro, the form of each child began gradually
to change, its clothes disappeared, its limbs
shrivelled up, its head sank in between its
shoulders; its voice altered, and in less time
than I am writing these lines, instead of the
group of merry, laughing children who had
been playing about in front of their nurse a
few short minutes before, all you could see
was a number of little brown frogs, hopping
about and croaking in plaintive tones as
they did so. The poor nurse was quite
beside herself with anger, terror and surprise.
She first of all screamed loudly, which is a
well-known remedy in all such distressing
cases, but which, in the present instance,
had not the slightest effect, save to increase
the delight with which Venomista looked
upon her work. Then she burst into a
passionate fit of tears, which did no more
good than the screams. Then she began to
implore the fairy to have mercy, and restore
the poor children to their former shape.
When, however, the wicked creature only
winked knowingly at this appeal, and made
an ugly face at her, which was enough to
have frightened her into a fit if she had not







6 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
been in such a state of excitement, she
began bitterly to complain, and to upbraid
the fairy for her cruelty.
What harm had these innocent creatures
done you, madam?' she said. 'How can
you be so cruel as to have visited them with
such a terrible punishment ? It is wicked,
it is shameful- '
Stop, my friend,' interrupted the other,
with a bitter sneer. I do not often con-
descend to trouble myself with servants, but
if you go on at this rate, take care lest I
change you into a snake, so that you may
have' the satisfaction of eating your late
nurslings, and so settling the matter in a
comfortable way.'
The poor nurse was so horror-stricken at
the suggestion thus made, that she did not
venture to say another word; and the old
fairy, seeing that there was no more fun to
be got out of the unlucky children, gave
another fearful grin towards them and then
went off in search of more mischief to do.



















CHAPTER II

HURLY-BURLY

HE nurse stood still until this
terrible enemywas gone, and said
not another word until she was
quite out of sight. There was a
reason for this, and also for her not having
replied to the fairy's last words. This
reason must now be disclosed. When the
children had all set off running to their
nurse, upon the first look of the old fairy,
there was one little fellow who had been
close to the nurse all the time, and had
therefore no distance to run. He was one
of the youngest of the boys, and, as he was
always the foremost in any mischief that
was going on in the family, and was famous






8 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

for making a noise, they called him little
Hurly-Burly, and by this name he was
generally known. Now little Hurly-Burly,
as soon as he saw his brothers and sisters
turn round and run, whipped himself as
quick as thought under the nurse's apron,
and there remained completely hidden from
sight. Whether it was that he had not
seen the fairy's look, or whether it was for
some other reason, I cannot tell; but it is
certain that the spell had no effect upon him,
and whilst all the other children became
frogs, this little fellow remained a boy the
same as ever.
It was most fortunate for him that the
fairy had not taken the trouble to count the
children before she began to practise her art
upon them, and also that she did not happen
to see this small boy; but so it was, and he
had the good sense to keep perfectly quiet
until she had quite disappeared. Then he
ventured to peep out, and saw before his
eyes the sixteen little brown frogs who had
so lately been his own brothers and sisters,
of form and features like his own. It was a
curious sight indeed, and sad as well as
curious, to hear the dismal croaks which







HURLY-BURLY 9

were uttered by the poor little creatures.
They hopped to and fro round the nurse,
and seemed to be striving to speak in their
own natural voices, but were unable to do so.
The good nurse wept bitterly as she looked
upon them, and thought of the misery which
awaited the King and Queen, when they
should hear of the terrible misfortune which
had befallen their children. She reflected,
however, that crying and sobbing would do
no good, and began to cast about in her
mind what would be the best thing to do
under the melancholy circumstances of the
case. It was some way off to the palace,
for she had been persuaded by the children
to take a somewhat longer walk than usual,
in consequence of the day being so remark-
ably fine; and although the little boys and
girls had come to the forest easily enough,
it was a very different matter for sixteen
little frogs to travel the same distance.
Therefore, after thinking over the matter for
a little while, she came to the conclusion
that there was nothing for it but to carry
them in her apron, and accordingly she sat
down, and invited the little creatures to hop
into her lap. This they presently did, and,







io THE MAGIC OAK TREE

laden with this precious burden, and with
little Hurly-Burly walking quietly by her side,
the nurse began to move slowly forward in
the direction of the palace. She had not gone
very far, however, before she heard a sound
which attracted her attention, and looking up,
she beheld a black crow sitting on the branch
of a tree, and looking at her as if he wished
to be noticed. The good woman looked up
at the bird, and as soon as she did so he
gave a loud caw, and then, to her great
surprise, addressed her in the following
manner:

Good woman, I fear you've been shedding a tear,
-(And tears in this world must be shed)-
But remember, kind nurse, that it might have been
worse,
Had your nurslings been wounded or dead.
Safe, healthy, and sound, see they hop on the
ground,
A step which a frogling befits;
'Twere worse, I assert, were they crippled and hurt,
Or cruelly broken to bits.
All else may be reft, but if life be still left,
Misfortune may well be endured.
So duty don't shirk-your wits set to work,
And perchance the dear chicks may be cured !'

The worthy nurse listened to this speech







HURLY-BURLY 1I

with the greatest astonishment, partly because
she had never before heard a crow speak as
if he was a human being, and partly because
she was quite unaccustomed to hear people
talk in rhyme, whether they were crows or
any other creatures. In fact, she was so
surprised that she could not find words to
express her feelings, and having dropped all
the little frogs on the ground in her surprise,
stood still, staring like a stuck pig, as the
saying is, although as I never saw a stuck
pig stare, I do not exactly know how the
animalperforms this feat. Little Hurly-Burly,
however, who was a very intelligent child,
not only both heard and understood what
the crow said, but felt something within him
which impelled him to reply, and knowing
that everybody likes to be answered when
they have spoken to somebody else with
kind intentions, he plucked up courage and
spoke at once to the crow, trying his hand
at rhyme for the first time. He looked up
at the bird and spoke thus :

Thank you kindly, Mr. Crow,
You're a friendly bird, I know;
Since your words are doubtless true,
Please to tell us what to do.'







12 THE MAGIC OAK TREE


As soon as the little boy had said these
words, the crow flapped his wings three
times, and cawed with delight, after which
he composed himself again and thus con-
tinued :
The oak is a fair and a comely tree,
But the bat is a loathsome bird,
And never a note of melody
From his voiceless mouth is heard.
The oak is a fair and a comely tree,
But the weasel's a noxious beast,
The like of the wretch you can scarcely see
In the North, South, West or East.
The oak is a fair and a comely tree,
But the adder's a creeping brute,
And ne'er with the forest it well can be
While the wretch lies coiled by the root.
But blessing shall fall on that man or boy
Who shall adder and weasel and bat destroy !'

As the crow spoke, the thought crossed
little Hurly-Burly's mind that it would be
capital fun to kill a weasel and an adder,
to say nothing of a bat, about which he did
not care so much ; the other two creatures
seemed to be the natural enemies of a boy,
and he felt that he should have no objection
to throwing the bat in, if he was to get a
blessing for doing so. All this, however,







HURLY-BURLY 13

appeared to have nothing to do with the sad
state of his brothers and sisters, and he was,
therefore, upon the point of asking how his
destruction of the three creatures alluded to
would help him to alter that state, when the
crow cleared his throat and went on again,
and these were the words he cawed out as
clearly as possible:
Cunning the rabbit and crafty the fox,
Craftier still is the hedgehog old ;
His is the tongue which the secret unlocks-
Pay him with milk, for he won't take gold.'
The boy listened with much attention to
these words, but, after all, they did not seem
to bring him much nearer to the cure of his
brothers and sisters. He saw no hedgehog,
and had no milk to give, if there had been
half a dozen of these animals close at hand.
So he kept his eyes fixed upon the crow,
expecting to hear something more, and was
very much vexed as well as surprised when
the bird, after one more caw, flapped his
wings three times and then flew slowly away,
without uttering another word. Little Hurly-
Burly looked to his nurse, but she only shook
her head and told him she did not know what
to do any more than he did. His poor little






14 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
brothers and sisters could not give him any
advice, or, if they could, he could not under-
stand it, for all they could do was to hop
and croak around him in a manner which
showed him how disturbed and unhappy
they were, but gave him no sort of idea
what he was to do to help them in their
distress. Under these circumstances, the
boy thought that the best thing he could do
would be to walk straight on and wait to see
if anything would turn up. Here, however,
a difficulty presented itself, for when the
nurse tried to catch the frogs in order to put
them once more into her apron, they showed
a strange dislike to being caught. Instead
of coming up and hopping into her lap as
they had done before, the little creatures all
began to hop away from her as fast as they
could. The nurse thought that they must
have been shaken and jumbled together in
an uncomfortable way when she had at first
taken them up, and the thought crossed little
Hurly-Burly's mind that perhaps they had
been getting more and more like real frogs
ever since they had been changed into that
shape, and that they were gradually forget-
ting all about their former state and life.



















CHAPTER III

THE HEDGEHOG

ERHAPS there was something
in this idea, and it became
strengthened in the boy's mind
when he perceived that the frogs
all hopped in one direction, as if they quite
well knew where they wished to go. There-
fore, with a wisdom beyond his years, the
boy begged the nurse not to try and catch
his brothers and sisters any more, but to
follow them at a slow pace, and see where
they went, and what they did. The good
woman agreed to this proposal, and the
frogs hopped on as fast as they could until
they came to a bank, which they mounted
one after the other; and when they came to







16 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

the top, Hurly-Burly and the nurse saw at
the same moment that the bank sloped
down on the other side, and that immediately
beyond it was a pond and a quantity of
marshy ground around it, which was just tle
sort of place for an honest frog to delight
in. As soon as they saw it, the little frogs,
whose instinct had clearly told them where
this place was, all gave a croak of pleasure,
and hopped merrily down the bank towards
the water, whilst little Hurly-Burly and the
nurse stood upon the top of the bank watch-
ing their proceedings. With a hop, jump,
and splash each frog leaped into the water
and all began to croak with delight as if
they had been used to it all their lives, and
desired nothing better than their present
condition. There were plenty more frogs
there, so exactly like the new-comers, that
it was impossible to tell the difference, and
both Hurly-Burly and his nurse soon left off
trying to do so ;. they stood still for some
time, gazing on the water before them, until
the nurse, feeling rather tired after her long
walk, thought it would be a pleasant thing
to sit down, and observing a heap of dry
leaves near some rushes which grew on the







THE HEDGEHOG 17
banks of the pond, naturally thought that
they would form a more comfortable seat
than the bare ground. Accordingly, with-
out more to-do she plumped herself down
upon the leaves, but had hardly done so
when she sprang up again with a shriek
which rang through the air with a shrill echo
which caused all the frogs to duck their
heads under water in a moment, and startled
little Hurly-Burly out of his senses. The
cause of the good woman's alarm, however,
was soon made clear. She had been so
unlucky as to sit down upon a hedgehog,
which is a thing I should never advise any-
body to do if another seat should be at
hand. The hedgehog had been comfortably
curled up in the dry leaves, and it is a mercy
that he was not smashed by the weight of
the nurse's body. But he was a very large
hedgehog, and probably a very tough one
also; and his bristles were so long and so
sharp, that the first touch of these had been
enough to warn the good woman before she
had settled herself down, in which case the
consequences might have been more serious.
Fortunately for all parties, neither she nor
the hedgehog was much hurt, but the latter







18 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

was thoroughly awakened from his afternoon
nap, and not at all pleased by this unexpected
disturbance of his rest. What blundering
old porpoise is this ?' he exclaimed in a
voice hoarse from emotion. Cannot you
keep clear of other people, old numskull ?'
and he growled fearfully. Now, the nurse,
never having heard a hedgehog speak or
growl, was much frightened, and puzzled
what to do.
Fortunately, however, little Hurly-Burly
had been born on Easter Sunday, and there-
fore could see and hear more than people
who had entered the world on any other
day. So he was not the least surprised and
alarmed, and, moreover, understood perfectly
well what the animal said. He remembered,
too, the words of the crow which had
directed him as to the source from which he
was to expect help in the task of restoring
his brothers and sisters to their former
shape. So the first thought that came into
his head was that there could be no doubt
of this being the hedgehog whose assistance
he was to seek. It was therefore somewhat
unfortunate that their acquaintance should
have begun by the circumstance of the








THE HEDGEHOG 19

excellent nurse sitting down upon him, since
this was not a proceeding which was likely
to make either a hedgehog or anybody else
feel very well disposed towards the person
who acted in such an unpleasant manner.
It was, however, absolutely necessary to
make friends with the important creature,
and the boy lost no time in attempting to
do so. He took off his cap with a very low
bow, and standing immediately opposite the
hedgehog, who was still shaking himself
and looking very uncomfortable, he thus
addressed him. Noble sir, pray do not be
offended at the unfortunate accident which
has just occurred. I can assure you that it
was by no means the wish of my nurse to
insult or annoy you in any way.'
The hedgehog, not being averse from
flattery, was much pleased at being addressed
as Noble sir,' which had never happened
before, and also at the politeness of Hurly-
Burly in taking off his cap when he spoke
to him. So he left off growling and shaking
himself, and at once made answer to the
boy.
Well,' he said, I daresay the old
lumberer didn't mean it, and, for the matter







20 THE MAGIC OAK TREE


of that, perhaps she got the worst of it after
all, for I was at the bristle-sharpener's only
two days ago, and my quills are like needles,
I expect. However, if she didn't mean
mischief, there's no more to be said.'
Thank you, noble sir,' rejoined the boy.
'I can assure you that such is the fact.
Poor woman, she is hardly in her right
mind just now from grief, so for that cause
also I hope you will kindly forgive her.'
Upon my word,' replied the hedgehog,
'you are a very prettily-spoken young
gentleman, and, since the woman belongs to
you, I will forgive her, and think no more
about it. But what is this grief of which
you speak ?'
'Ah, sir,' said Hurly-Burly, with a deep
sigh, it is something very sad indeed. My
sixteen brothers and sisters have all been
changed into frogs, and are now in the
pond before us.'
Say you so ?' remarked the hedgehog,
who had uncurled himself whilst the boy
was speaking, and displayed his head and
sharp black eyes, which had previously
been hidden from view. Say you so ?
I'll be bound this is more of the work of that







THE HEDGEHOG 21

wicked old Venomista. Tell me all about
it from beginning to end.'
Then the boy told the hedgehog the
whole of that day's adventures, whilst the
nurse, who had listened to the conversation
which I have related with great astonish-
ment, kept curtseying all the time, and
saying 'Yes,' That's right,' 'Just so, sir,'
all the time, until he had finished the story.
Then she clasped her hands together and
exclaimed, Oh, deary me, Mr. Hedgepig,
if so be as you can help us, pray do, for
whatever shall I do if I have to go back to
their Royal Majesties without my precious
little lambkins ? '
It is one of the well-known peculiarities
of the hedgehog tribe to dislike immensely
being called hedgepigs,' a hog being, in
their estimation, the more noble title; the
animal therefore tossed his snout in the air
on being thus addressed, and turning away
from the nurse with contempt, spoke again
to the boy.
It is not easy,' he said, to conquer these
magic people, unless you know something
about magic yourself, which in your case is
not very likely. Luckily for you, however,







22 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

a good deal of my time has been passed in
studying the Black Art, and I can help
those to whom I wish to be friendly in
more ways than one. You must know that
this bad old fairy has reigned so long in the
forest where she dwells that she has really
forgotten that she is by no means the
most powerful person in the neighbourhood.
There are fairies of a higher class who are
well able to crush and destroy her if they
can only be got to interfere, and it is only
because they despise her so much that they
have let her alone so long. One of the best
and kindest of these is the Fairy of the Falls,
so called because she usually lives among
the rocks on one side of the forest where
there is a beautiful waterfall. If you could
persuade her to help you, all would be well.'
'But,' asked the boy when the hedgehog
paused in his speech, how am I to find
this good fairy, and how can I persuade her
to help me if I do find her ?'
'That is what I am going to tell you,'
replied the hedgehog. You have only got
to walk from this spot in a straight line to
the forest, which you can see quite plainly
from where you stand. Take out your







THE HEDGEHOG 23

pocket-handkerchief, hold it in your left
hand, and if anybody speaks to or interrupts
you before you reach the forest, shake it in
front of you and repeat the simple word
" Gambleogomeril," and you will be allowed
to pass. At the entrance of the forest, stop
and say the same word three times and then
use your own wits.'




















CHAPTER IV

A BARGAIN

T came into little Hurly-Burly's
head that he would not be able
to use anybody else's wits, and
therefore that this advice was
hardly necessary, but he did not tell the
hedgehog what he thought, but merely asked
him to say the simple word he had told him
over again, so that he might be quite sure
that he had got it right. When this had
been done, he thanked the hedgehog very
much, and asked whether there was anything
else which he ought to know before enter-
ing the forest. At this question the animal
looked him straight in the face for a full
minute before he answered, and then he








A BARGAIN 25

grunted out in a rather rough voice : I've
told as much as I ever tell for nothing.
Who is going to pay me if I tell more ?'
The nurse, who had been listening with
great attention to the conversation between
the boy and the hedgehog, and felt rather
slighted because it was to little Hurly-Burly
instead of to her that the animal spoke, now
broke in hastily, as if determined not to be
left out of the business altogether. Never
you fear, Mr. Hedgepig,' she cried-' never
you fear but what -you'll get paid right
enough for anything you do for the young
Prince. 'Twas milk the old crow said you
liked, and there's a matter of twenty cows
or more up at the Palace, and their Majesties
will be ready enough to drown you in milk,
if you wish it, if you only get back the
blessed children as they was before that
wretched old creature meddled with them.'
At these words the eyes of the hedgehog
glistened with pleasure, but, nevertheless,
he turned up his snout in contempt and
disgust at the woman's interference and at
her again calling him by the name he dis-
liked. He gave a low grunt as he turned
again to the boy and said : Milk is what I







26 THE MAGIC OAK TREE


like best. Promise me that, and I will do
what I can for you, and trust to your honour
for my payment.'
Hurly-Burly hastened to assure his new
friend that he should certainly be liberally
rewarded in the way of milk for his services,
and again asked him whether he had any
more instructions to give as to his behaviour
when in the forest. The hedgehog looked
at the boy very gravely for a full minute
before he made any answer, and at length
he spoke, very slowly and earnestly : Under
the third lump of rushes from the spot on
which you now stand,' he said, you will
find a toad sitting upon a bed of moss.
Take him boldly in your hand. He is
long past spitting, which is the only danger
to be feared from these animals. Moreover,
he is not an ordinary toad, as you will soon
find out. Wrap him up carefully in moss,
and carry him in the pocket of your jacket
until you reach the forest. Then, if you
should be in any difficulty, gently squeeze
him, take him in your right hand, and he
will answer any questions you may wish to
ask him. This is all I have to tell you,
excepting that you must on no account turn








A BARGAIN 27
your back upon any enemy you may meet
until you have finished the business which
takes you to Venomista's oak. When this
is done, and you have succeeded, as I hope
you will, remember that I shall expect my
milk.'
With these words, the hedgehog turned
round, and began to roll himself up as
comfortably as if nothing had happened.
The nurse, however, who by no means liked
being left out of the business, as seemed to
be the intention of the speaker, thought it
high time to put in a word on her own
account.
And what am I to take and to do, Mr.
Hedgepig ?' she exclaimed, in rather an
indignant tone.
Go home and milk the cows,' replied the
animal with a snarl, and rolled himself up
tighter than ever.
Hoity-toity !' cried the good woman in
great wrath. 'A pretty pass things are
come to, surely, when children are told to
do this, and that, and the other, and nurses
not to have a word in the matter I never
saw such goings on in all my born days !
Here, Princey, dear, come away home with








28 THE MAGIC OAK TREE


nursey, and don't let us have any more
fooling about with hedgepigs and such like !
I do declare I must take you safe back to
my poor King and Queen, come what will!'
Little Hurly-Burly heard this speech with
some dismay, for, of course, if he had to go
home with his nurse it would be impossible
for him to search in the forest for the means
of restoring his brothers and sisters to their
natural shape. As I have already hinted,
however, the little fellow was something of
a pickle, and was not famous for doing as
he was told at once. On this occasion,
indeed, he had a better reason than usual
for disobeying his nurse, and had, therefore,
not the slightest intention of obeying her.
He was wise enough to know, however, that
it would not do to say so at once, or to run
away, which had been his first thought, so
he put on his gravest face, and said : Don't
you want to get brothers and sisters back,
nurse ?'
In course I do, Princey,' she replied.
'But it ain't the way to do it-not letting
you go and be lost, too.'
But,' said the boy, I -do not think I
shall be lost if I do as I have just been told ;







A BARGAIN 29

and, besides, if we both go home there will
be no chance of getting the others back.
I'll tell you what, nurse You go home
and have some milk brought down here in
a can, and, if you like, you can bring some
people to help, and then if I am not back,
they can catch all the frogs in the pond and
take them to the Palace, so that the doctors
can find out which are my brothers and
sisters, and how they can be cured. If I do
come back we can pay the hedgehog, and all
will be right.'
The nurse shook her head as she answered:
I don't think nothing of folks as trusts the
children instead of the nurses. No good
never came of such things---
But even as she spoke, she looked down
on the pond and saw the little frogs bobbing
up and down, and heard them croaking, and
thought how that she knew her little nurs-
lings were there, and that if Hurly-Burly
could not get them back by the hedgehog's
help, they would very likely have to stay
there for ever. There, too, lay the hedge-
hog right before her. He was a living
reality, at all events, and might be able to
help. She had never heard an animal of







30 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
this kind talk as he had done-there might
be something in it after all. Besides this,
she remembered that if little Hurly-Burly
did not want to go home with her, it would
be very difficult to make him, and that, if he
ran away, she would not easily be able to
catch him. So she made up her mind that
she had better yield and let him go, .and
after taking a few moments to consider, she
said: 'Well, Prince Hurly-Burly, if so it
must be, I can say no more. But pray
take care of your precious self, my child.
Don't go and get your feet wet, or if you
should do so, mind you don't go and sit
down with wet feet-there's nothing so sure
to give you cold.'
Hurly-Burly was so glad to find that his
nurse no longer objected to his proposed
journey to the forest, that he readily pro-
mised all she asked, and, as soon as this
point was settled, proceeded to look for the
toad in the place which the hedgehog had
pointed out. He found him immediately,
and, taking him carefully up in a covering
of moss, put him into his jacket pocket as
he had been told; then, wishing the hedge-
hog and the nurse good-bye,' set out at



















































"A LITTLE MAN ABOUT THREE FEET HIGH, WITH BRIGHT RED HAIR
AND ONLY ONE EYE."







A BARGAIN 31
once on his way to the forest. The nurse
only stayed long enough to tell the hedge-
hog that although he had not learned the
way to speak to a lady, and she was not in
the habit of milking the cows, she would
take care that, if things went well with the
young Princes and Princesses, he should
have the milk which he desired. Then she
set off home, and left the animal in peace.
Hurly-Burly walked forward at his best
pace, and before long saw the forest very
near him. Between him and it there was
a kind of common, on which grew a great
many patches of gorse, and here and there
rose a stunted thorn tree. The ground
was hard and dry, and there seemed little
risk of the boy getting his feet wet, as the
nurse had feared. But the common was
larger than it appeared at first, or else some
magic power kept the traveller back, for he
did not seem to get any nearer. He had
taken his handkerchief in his right hand, as
the hedgehog had told him to do, and walked
steadily on for. some way until all of a sudden
a little man about three feet high, with bright
red hair and only one eye, jumped from be-
hind a gorse-bush, and stood right in front







32 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
of him with his arms akimbo. Halloa,
young 'un,' he cried, in a deep voice, where
are you going to ?'
Hurly-Burly had taken a step backward
at the unexpected sight of this figure, but he
recovered himself immediately, shook his
handkerchief boldly before him, and at the
same time uttered the magic word, 'Gambleo-
gomeril !' in a voice as clear and firm as. he
could command.
Without a moment's delay the little man
turned round and ran away into the gorse,
like a rabbit with a dog at his heels.



















CHAPTER V

ADVENTURES BY THE WAY

OR an instant the boy stood still
in amazement, but this little
adventure filled him with con-
fidence in the hedgehog and his
advice, so he pushed boldly on with his
handkerchief still in his hand. He found
now that he was certainly getting near the
forest, which only seemed about a hundred
yards off, when, brushing aside a thin bush
of gorse which was growing over the path
which he was following, he found himself on
the very edge of a huge pit, which seemed to
be full of water, and was much too wide to
jump. He looked to the right and left, but
the pit seemed to reach quite across the
D








34 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
common, and, save at the spot on which he
stood, the gorse grew so thick that he could
hardly have forced his way through it. He
paused a few seconds and doubted whether
he had not better go to the right or left and
try to find the end of the pit ; then he
thought that, first of all, he had better try
the same means which had just before
proved so successful. So he boldly shook
his handkerchief again, and repeated the
word given him by the hedgehog. Great,
indeed, was his surprise at the effect produced.
A strong wooden bridge with a good stout
hand-rail appeared directly before him, and
he walked across it without the slightest
difficulty, and proceeded safely on his
journey. Close at hand now were the
large trees of the forest, casting their
shadows over the edge of the common, and
seeming to invite animals of all sorts to
come in under the shelter of their pleasant
shade. On stepped the boy without fear or
doubt, and he was not ten yards from the
forest, when, without any warning whatever,
a line of fire, some three yards wide, rose up
between him and the forest, so close to him
that he jumped back a full yard and a half







ADVENTURES BY THE WAY 35

in a moment. So bright and so hot was
the fire, that it seemed impossible for the
boy to pass it, and so it certainly would
have been if he had not had the weapon by
which the obstacle could be removed. He
shook his handkerchief before him, once
more uttered the word, and had the satis-
faction of seeing the fire vanish as suddenly
as it appeared; then little Hurly-Burly
breathed freely again, and stepped boldly
into the forest; not forgetting, however, to
pause for a moment before he did so, and
pronounce three times the word which had
already served him so well. He had no
idea which way to go, but having been told
by the hedgehog to use his wits, looked
carefully around him to see whether there
was anything which might direct him. He
did not expect, of course, to see a finger-
post by the wayside, on which would be
written 'To the Falls' or 'To Venomista's
Oak,' but he fancied that there might be
something to guide him one way or the
other. He might hear the noise of falling
water, or see the tracks of many animals,
who would be likely to go to the spot where
water was to be found, or he might meet








36 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
with some sign of the wicked fairy's power,
or glean news of her from some strange
creature or in some wonderful manner. So
he plodded steadily on for some little way,
until all of a sudden he heard a voice
calling out his name-' Hurly-Burly !'
He stopped at once, and looked to the
right hand, from which the sound seemed to
come.
Holloa !' he said.
There was no answer, but presently the
voice again cried, Hurly-Burly '
It was a shrill tone, and this time the
sound seemed to come from the left hand,
which rather puzzled the boy. He had not
much time, however, to be puzzled, for
another voice came from behind, and then
from right before him, and then several
voices began calling out Hurly-Burly !' one
after the other, until the little fellow was so
puzzled that he did not know which way to
look. That which made it all the more
extraordinary was that he saw no one
near him, and he did not see how voices
could be heard without there being some-
body there with a throat through which they
came. But no one appeared, and the voices








ADVENTURES BY THE WAY 37

still sounded in different tones, but all calling
out the same word, Hurly-Burly,' till the
boy began to be almost frightened. Then
he bethought him all at once of his toad,
which might as well be of use to him now
as at any other time. So, without more ado,
he took out the creature, moss and all, gently
squeezed it as he had been told, and, holding
it in his right hand, said to it in a friendly
voice, Please, Toad, tell me what this
means and what I ought to do?' To his
great surprise, no sooner had he asked the
question than there came from the toad
a sound exactly like that which proceeds
from a musical box. The squeeze seemed to
have had .the same effect as the winding
up of the key of such an instrument, and
the only difference was that the toad's notes
seemed to shape themselves into words, so
that the boy could perfectly well under-
stand what was said; and this was what he
heard :

' The voices are meant to deceive and delude,
They come from bad creatures, the children of
night,
Don't listen or stop, but with courage endued
Press manfully forward, and Keep to the Right-!'







38 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
Though Hurly-Burly was somewhat startled
at hearing such sounds come from a toad, he
was very much pleased to find that the hedge-
hog had not failed him, and that he had
some guide as to the course he should
pursue. So he warmly thanked the toad,
put him carefully back in his jacket pocket,
and marched boldly on, bearing to the right
as he had been directed. Presently the
voices around him ceased, as if their owners
had discovered that they had not served the
purpose for which they had been employed.
So the little fellow kept on for some little
way further, until he came to a place where
the right side of the path was thick with
brambles and the ground very rough, whilst
on the left a bank of soft turf sloped away
in a gradual descent, and upon the bank
grew a quantity of wild strawberries which
seemed to invite the traveller to come and
pick them. Hurly-Burly stopped for one
moment to look at this pleasant sight, and
the moment he did so there stepped out of
the wood the figure of a little girl about his
own age, and stood upon the bank just upon
his left hand, only three or four yards off.
She was a very pretty little girl, with fresh







ADVENTURES BY THE WAY 39

colour in her cheeks and a smile upon her
face, and a straw hat upon her head with
yellow ribbons, which gave it a gay appear-
ance, and altogether she looked very nice.
In her hand she carried a small basket, and
a little switch in the other, which she
stretched out towards Hurly-Burly, and said,
in a friendly voice, Little boy, come and
help me to gather wild strawberries; they
are so good And there are such a lot of
them here Come on !'



















CHAPTER VI

TEMPTATION

HE strawberries did look very
good and very tempting, and it
crossed Hurly-Burly's mind that
after his long walk they would
be very refreshing. It is true he had been
told by the toad to keep to the right, and
the strawberries grew on the left, but it was
a very little way on the left after all.
Besides, he need only walk a few yards and
then sit down, and when he was tired of
gathering and eating, he could easily come
back and go on to the right. It seemed
such a little bit out of his way that it really
could not signify much, and he had always
been told to be civil to people. Here was







TEMPTATION 41
a nice little girl asking him to help her, and
surely it would not be civil to refuse to do
so. So little Hurly-Burly stood still and
hesitated. We should never hesitate between
right and wrong, and we may be very sure
that, although it often seems much the most
easy and most pleasant to do wrong, yet this
is sure to bring us into difficulties and
sorrows which are neither the one nor the
other. Whilst he was looking, first at the
little girl and next. at the strawberries, I am
afraid that the boy forgot all about his poor
little brothers and sisters, the nurse, the
hedgehog, and the object of his visit to the
forest. He hesitated, as I have said, for a
moment, and then swung round on his left
heel, and was just going to step on to the
bank where the strawberries grew, when
somehow or other he noticed a curious, wild
look in the little girl's eyes which struck him
as being so uncommon that he stopped short
before he had set his right foot down. He
could never tell exactly what it was, but it
was not common or natural, and it instantly
flashed across his mind that he ought to be
careful what he was about.
Come on, dear little boy,' said the strange







42 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
little girl, in most insinuating tones; the
strawberries are quite ripe, and so good.
We shall soon fill my basket, and then you
can go on if you like ; do come.'
Even as she spoke, Hurly-Burly, remem-
bering his toad, drew him out of his jacket
pocket, took him in his right hand, and with
the usual gentle squeeze, asked in a some-
what hesitating tone-
May I go and gather strawberries ?'
Without a moment's delay came the
musical answer, sweet and clear as before-
With the girl thou must not go;
'Tis a witch-thy deadly foe.
At her quickly throw thy cap,
And thy hands together clap.'
On hearing these words the boy proceeded
at once to follow the directions which they
gave him. He first replaced the toad in his
jacket pocket, and then, taking off his cap,
he threw it straight at the little girl, and
clapped his hands together directly after-
wards. You might well have supposed that
any young lady would be somewhat offended
at such an action, which, to say the least of
it, had a rude appearance such as might
cause her to change countenance and turn







TEMPTA TION


away in anger. But you never would have
supposed that such a change, not only of
countenance but of figure, would have come
over any one as that which Hurly-Burly now
witnessed. The youthful appearance of the
being before him passed away in the twink-
ling of an eye, her cheeks fell in, her nose
stood out like a beak, her chin lengthened,
wrinkles came out upon her face which
made her look aged at once, her straw hat
turned into a hideous cap, and she stood
before the astonished eyes of the boy, an
old woman, and a very ugly old woman too.
She did not give him much time for amuse-
ment, for at the same moment her switch
became a broomstick, on which she at once
got astride, her basket, changed into a grey
cat, sprang upon her shoulder, and off she
went, half-flying and half-scuffling along, as
fast as she could, only turning round to shake
her fist wildly at her intended victim, and
uttering a sound something between a laugh
and a yell, which was one of the most dis-
agreeable which he had ever heard. You
may well believe that this adventure both
alarmed little Hurly-Burly, and filled him
with determination to be in future more







44 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
cautious in listening to the words or invita-
tion of any stranger. He felt, indeed, that
had it not been for his toad he should have
fallen into great misfortune, and possibly had
, to share the unhappy fate of his brothers and
sisters. It was plain enough that the task
before him was not to be performed without
some trouble, and that the utmost caution
would be necessary. The boy trembled as
he thought of the narrow escape which he
had just had, and had half a mind to turn
back, only that he felt that this would be a
cowardly thing to do, and, moreover, that he
certainly had friends as well as enemies in
the forest. So he stepped boldly forward
beneath the shadows of the great trees, and
had proceeded some hundred yards on his
way, when he suddenly perceived a wounded
hare on his right hand, evidently trying to
make her escape from him. He was just
about to rush after her, when he bethought
himself of giving a gentle squeeze to his
toad, and almost before he did so, and with-
out the toad having uttered a single word,
the pretended hare changed into a hideous
black cat and rushed away at the top of her
speed. Somehow or other, this sight had a







TEMPTA TION 45
great effect upon little Hurly-Burly, and made
him doubly careful on his journey. Almost
immediately after he had seen the hare, he
heard the noise as of falling water, and at
once the thought came into his mind that he
might be approaching the house of the Fairy
of the Falls, of whom the hedgehog had
spoken. So he pressed boldly on, and
presently perceived that he was coming to
an open glade in the forest, from which the
trees fell back on either side, and huge
boulders of rock lay embedded in the green
grass which grew all over the glade. These
rocks were numerous, and were piled one
upon the other, just as if some giants had
had the fancy to build up rockwork, and had
done it after the careless fashion of giants,
casting the great masses of rock down, here
and there, just as they came to hand, and
so creating a kind of rocky hill on a natural
slope of ground. Over the top of this hill,
which was of considerable height, the boy
saw a great volume of water bursting down
with mighty force, dashing itself upon the
lower rocks, hurling its foam in all directions,
and then forcing its way through the green
grass into a narrow, rapid channel, down







46 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
which it flowed into the forest beyond. Little
Hurly-Burly saw all this as he approached
the open glade, but when he was scarcely
ten yards from it a new object presented
itself to his eyes. A man of some three feet
high stood at the edge of the forest, well
within the trees, and shook his fist at the
boy, as if he meant to rush upon him the
next moment. The man was stripped to his
hips, and the upper part of his body was
painted a bright red, and his eyes glared at
the boy as if he would like to have eaten
him then and there. Hurly-Burly had no
difficulty in perceiving that this was no friend
who stood before him, and at the first ap-
pearance of such a creature he was inclined
to turn round and approach the glade from
a different point. But in good time he re-
membered that he had been told not to turn
his back upon an enemy, and accordingly he
faced the little man, pulled out his toad, and
had the satisfaction of seeing that it had the
usual effect. The enemy disappeared as if
the earth had swallowed him up, and the
next moment the boy was standing upon
the green grass of the glade, and drawing
near to the waterfall which I have already







TEMPTATION" 47

described. As he did so, what was his
surprise to see that at one particular place,
about half-way up the rocks down which the
water fell, there stood upon a projecting rock
the figure of a beautiful little lady. She was
so bright and lovely that the water which
fell over and around her seemed to catch
something of her brightness, and to shine as
if in the light of the noonday summer sun.
She was dressed entirely in white, but the
white was like silver, and you can hardly
imagine how beautiful she appeared. As
soon as little Hurly-Burly saw her he felt
sure that he was in the presence of a friend,
and that he had no need either to squeeze
his toad or say his magic word. He was
about to address the lady at once, when she
waved her hand, in which was a little branch
of the mountain ash, and began to speak in
a low but clear voice, every tone of which
rang through the boy's ears like the sound
of a silvery bell, and these were the words
which fell from her gracious lips :
' Young Prince, I welcome thee to this fair glade,
The fairest ever seen in wood or plain;
Yet if thou doubtest or dost feel afraid,
There still is time to turn thy steps again.'








48 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

The lady stopped when she had spoken
thus, and little Hurly-Burly saw that she
seemed to expect an answer; so he said:

Kind lady, if it's all the same to you,
I'll not go back. Pray tell me what to do !'

As soon as the boy had said these words,
the little lady smiled sweetly upon him, and
then spoke again, as follows :

' If you wish to succeed in your enterprise bold,
Attend to my words, and do just as you're told.
Turn sharp to your left, and you'll presently see
A wide-spreading oak-a magnificent tree.
Approach it, and when you're within a short span,
Shout High diddle diddle as loud as you can.
Turn head over heels when you've uttered this cry,
And follow it quickly with Never say die "
Whatever may happen when this has been said,
Be brave, and immediately stand on your head.
Then say, in clear voice, I'm the Child of the
Falls, .
And whoever would hurt me must look out for
squalls !' '

As soon as she had said these words, the
little lady waved her hand, and immediately
the spray of the falling water seemed to
increase and thicken, so that the boy could
no longer see her. He had heard quite







TEMPTATION


enough, however, to direct him on his way,
and, being a sensible boy, did not stop to
ask any further questions, but proceeded at
once to do as he had been told. It was im-
possible to doubt that it was the Fairy of
the Falls who had spoken to him. Her
advice was probably good, and her power
was certainly great, and, what was even
more important still, he had no other course
before him than to obey, for he was evi-
dently surrounded by enemies, into whose
clutches he would fall unless aided by some
superior power. These thoughts passed
through little Hurly-Burly's head, as he
turned on his heel and walked off to the left
among the trees of the forest. He had not
gone above a couple of hundred yards before
he saw directly before him a splendid oak
tree, of such gigantic size and beauty that
he could not for a moment doubt that it was
the tree of which the Fairy of the Falls had
spoken. There was no other tree like it,
and the boy stood still for one moment to
admire before he approached it. Nothing
about it betokened anything evil or danger-
ous, and accordingly he stepped on and had
come within a dozen yards of the tree when








50o THE MAGIC OAK TREE
suddenly an enormous cobweb spread itself
before him, and quite prevented him from
going any nearer. It was not a common
cobweb, of course, such as spiders amuse
themselves by making, but it was to all ap-
pearances woven of very, very thin network
of iron threads, or threads as strong as iron,
and which mortal hand could never break.
As soon as Hurly-Burly saw this, and even
before it had spread itself out between him
and the tree, he knew that it was the work
of an enemy, and that the time had come for
him to use the words and the means en-
joined upon him by the fairy. So, without
an instant's hesitation, he shouted out at the
very top of his voice, High diddle diddle !'
and immediately afterwards tumbled head
over heels, bursting, as he did so, through
the magic network as if it had been a real
cobweb, and rising on the other side with just
enough breath to utter the words, Never
say die!' As soon as he had done so, a
low, plaintive wail rose from the tree, and
from the other side of it there hobbled round
into sight an old, old woman, dressed in a
modest grey cloak, and leaning on a crutch.
She was a sort of person whose appearance







TEMPTATION 51

in any place where old women are usually
seen would not have struck any one as being
very remarkable, and under ordinary circum-
stances she might have been taken for a
respectable old lady out for a stroll. But,
in the first place, the circumstances were
anything but ordinary ; and, in the second
place, this old woman had companions such
as no respectable person would be likely to
have with her. A weasel crept softly on one
side of her; on the other glided an evil-
looking adder, and a bat fluttered round her
head as she came round the tree in front
of little Hurly-Burly. Moreover, her eyes
glittered with no kindly light, and though
her first words were not fierce or bitter, there
was a scowl upon her face as she spoke,
which betokened the existence of war and
hatred in her aged breast.




















CHAPTER VII

THE WITCH'S DOWNFALL

' HAT want you here, young sir ?'
she croaked out, as she stood
opposite the boy. Why do
you come tumbling and turning
under my tree like a mountebank ? I am a
peaceful person and love to be left in quiet.
What would you with me ?'
This address was so civil and so very
unlike what he had expected that the boy
almost forgot himself so far as to answer it
in the same tone, for he had always been
taught to give a polite and civil reply to any
one who accosted him. Fortunately, how-
ever, he remembered in good time that the
fairy had given him clear directions what to







THE WITCH'S DOWNFALL 53

do, and that if he was to talk and parley
with this or any other old woman, she would
certainly have not forgotten to say so. He
made, therefore, no other reply than to
stand upon his head without the smallest
delay, and whilst in that position shouted
out in a clear voice : I'm the Child of the
Falls, and whoever would hurt me must
"look out for squalls "'
Scarcely were the words out of his mouth
when a loud and discordant yell broke from
the old woman, who, drawing a broomstick
from beneath her grey cloak, shook it
violently at the boy, whilst her face became
distorted and inflamed with fury. At the
same time the bat uttered a shrill cry, the
adder reared himself up and hissed savagely,
whilst the weasel made one of the most
awful faces which Hurly-Burly had ever
seen, and showed his teeth in a ghastly and'
unpleasant manner. The boy, having re-
ceived no further directions from the fairy,
stood perfectly still, or as nearly still as a
person can do who is standing on his head,
whilst his enemy continued to shake her broom-
stick at him, and pour out a torrent of abuse
against him for daring to approach her oak.







54 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
'You tatterdemalion she shouted, you
tearing, treacherous, tantalising, tempestuous
tatterdemalion How dare you come here
with your turnabout tomboy tricks I'll
teach you how to come creeping on here
with your crestfallen, crumbling counte-
nance You are not going to have the
tumbling all to yourself Cambia Cambia!'
As she spoke, to Hurly-Burly's infinite
astonishment the old woman proceeded in
the most deliberate manner to turn head
over heels just as he had himself done, and
then stand on her head in the same way,
glaring frightfully at him as she did so. To
add to his astonishment, the bat, the adder,
and the weasel immediately followed the
example of their mistress, and all three stood
on their respective heads as if it was the
most natural thing in the world. This,
however, was probably not a convenient or
comfortable position, for the old woman
shortly changed it; and, having been
brought by her tumble within some three
yards of the boy, she squatted down on the
ground directly opposite to him, fixed her
eyes intently upon his, and began to sing in
a slow tone words of a fearful import :-







THE WITCH'S DOWNFALL 55

Creejee-Weegee-Oakum veen
Bis Perambulatoreen
Dogum Catum Monkeymoo
Angi--

But she got no further, or else this story
would probably never have been written, for
if she had finished the word which I have
begun to write, there can be little doubt that
Hurly-Burly would have been in her power,
and would most likely have been changed
into some animal or other, and would have
been the slave of the wicked old fairy for
ever after. But she never did finish that
word, and for a very good reason. Just as
she had got the first two syllables out of her
mouth, dash, splash, smash, crash came a
whole wave of water right into her face and
knocked her backwards as if she had been
shot. At the same moment little Hurly-
Burly felt himself obliged to leave off stand-
ing on his head, which he was very glad to
do; and as he stood in the usual position
upon his feet he saw, standing only a few
yards from him, the very same little lady
who had given him such useful instructions
in the glade.
As she stood, she waved her hand twice







56 THE MAGIC OAK TREE
towards the old woman, and each time she
did so a fresh wave of water, coming from
some invisible place, dashed in again, and
so drenched the person against whom it was
directed, that when she presently sat up
again she was in a perfect puddle, and had
not a dry thread about her. This, as you
may well imagine, did not improve either
her appearance or temper. She scowled
fiercely upon the new-comer, and as soon as
she could empty her mouth of the water
which had filled it, began to sputter and
splutter in a great rage.
'What do you mean by this ?' she cried.
Isn't it enough for you to have plenty of
your nasty water at home, that you come
and drench other people with the stuff, and
make everybody uncomfortable ? Get along
with you, do; and don't come messing about
under my oak I'
At these remarks the little lady merely
smiled, but as her eyes fell upon the boy
before her, and the adder, the weasel,
and the bat, who were all looking at him
with no friendly glances, her countenance
assumed a sterner expression, and, holding
her right arm over her head, she was just
























































SHE WAS IN A PERFECT PUDDLE, AND HAl) NOT A DRY THREAD
UPON HER."








THE WITCH'S DOWNFALL 57

about to speak, when the other hastily
interrupted:
Now, none of your rhymes and nonsense
here, I do hope. Let a poor person alone
for once, now, do! This is my oak, and
has been for years. I'm a prosy old lady, I
own, so don't go and throw your verses at
my head-now, don't!'
The Fairy of the Falls (for such she
evidently was) did not take the slightest
notice of this appeal, but calmly proceeded
to address her enemy in the following words :

In the midst of this wood,
We have all understood,
Bad fairies must sometimes reside;
Whilst quiet they live,
Their life we forgive,
And allow them unharm'd to abide.
But we, the good Fays,
Detest the bad ways
And airs which they sometimes assume,
And the children of men,
If they persecute, then,
They'll find that they tempt their'own doom.
Beneath this old oak
We've heard your foul croak,
And borne with you many a year,
But your treatment of folk
Now passes a joke,








58 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

And no longer your home must be here.
I truly assert
More children you've hurt
Than any six witches about,
And the time has now come
When from house and from home
A righteous decree kicks you out !'

Whilst the Fairy of the Falls was speak-
ing these words, the evil old Venomista sat
muttering to herself, and wringing her hands
as if in great trouble, and at this point she
could bear it no longer, but broke in with
the following interruption :

' For centuries past in this oak I have dwelt,
And am fond of the forest and it ;
The law's on my side-there's no cause for to tell't-
I've never had notice to quit !'

As she spoke she folded her arms in a
defiant manner, and looked at her enemy
with a fierce and angry glance. But the
Fairy of the Falls only smiled, and then
went on-

' Poor wretch! dost dare dispute my pow'r and right,
Thee and thy wickedness to drive from sight ?
Stand on thy feet I and let no sound be heard
Whilst straightway I pronounce the magic word !'



















CHAPTER VIII

CHILDREN AGAIN

O sooner had she thus spoken,
than Venomista's face became
deadly white, and she visibly
shook all over.
Oh, no-no-no,' she cried, in a voice
of abject terror. Not that-not that-
anything but that. I was only joking, I
didn't mean it. I won't do it again. Of
course I know you have the power if you
please, only-only-only-I don't like to
leave the oak! Won't you let me off just
this once ?'
Then the Fairy of the Falls smiled coldly
as she replied :
If even I could wish to let thee stay,
Frog-children with sad croaking bar the way.







60 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

'' Revenge they croak from tiny throats,
Nor can I hear unmov'd their plaintive notes.
Rise, Venomista, rise I before me stand
And firmly grasp thy crutch within thine hand.'

With a moan of anguish the wicked fairy
arose, being evidently unable to resist the
power of the other, who thus- continued in a
calm tone of voice-

Strike for in vain my will thou wouldst defy-
Bat, weasel, adder, all by thee must die I'

As soon as she heard this dread sentence,
which would for ever deprive her of her
three companions in evil, the wretched
Venomista set up a dismal cry of woe, which
was at once re-echoed by the creatures who
had just heard their well-deserved doom
pronounced. But the Fairy of the Falls
took no further notice of this than to knit
her brows and look sternly at Venomista,
whilst once more she uttered the fatal word,
' Strike !' The wicked old fairy would fain
have resisted if she could, but knowing that
any attempt of the kind would not only be
useless, but might bring upon her a still
worse punishment, she heaved one more
sigh, and then struck a wild blow at the bat,








CHILDREN AGAIN


who, with one shrill sound, something be-
tween a scream and a groan, fell to the earth
and perished then and there; then, as if
enraged beyond all control, the evil creature
uttered another sigh of rage, and struck the
weasel a blow which broke his back, and
ended him at once. She raised her crutch
a third time, and was about to strike the
adder, when that reptile, who saw no reason
for the wrath with which his mistress was
apparently turning upon her old and tried
servants, darted forward and bit her sharply
in the knee. With a cry of fury, Venomista,
who was now really angry with the creature,
struck him fiercely to the ground, and set
her foot upon his head in a manner which
effectually prevented his ever biting anybody
else. No sooner, however, had she done
so, than she set up a cry of agony. She
had quite forgotten that, although she had
been safe from the poisonous fangs of the
adder as long as she ruled under the oak,
yet by the laws of magic she was no longer
protected as soon as she was in the presence
of a fairy of superior power to her own.
Moreover, the adder was one of a particularly
venomous sort, and the moment his fangs







62 THE MAGIC OAK TREE


struck her knee the old woman knew that
her last hour was come. Therefore it was
that she gave vent to a bitter cry, and sank
down upon the earth in pain which it was
sad to see. She still glared furiously at the
boy, while she writhed upon the ground, but
the Fairy of the Falls bade him not to fear,
since the wicked old creature would soon be
beyond doing harm to him or any one else.
She told him, however, that he had better
now get away out of the forest as soon as
he could, and directed him what to do next
in order to save his little brothers and sisters
from the fate to which Venomista had con-
demned them. Her directions were to some
extent similar to those which he had already
received, and I need not tell you the rhymes
in which the fairy conveyed them to the
boy. He was to turn head over heels again
at the edge of the forest and walk straight
forward. That was all she told him, and
as it was not very hard to do, he thanked
her kindly and set off at once. You will no
doubt wish to know what was the end of
Venomista, but I never heard any more of
her, and therefore I suppose that if fairies
ever do die, she did so from the bite of her







CHILDREN AGAIN 63

own adder, from which we may all learn
the simple and useful lesson that those who
make pets of such creatures must expect to
be bitten. Some people will tell you that
this only means that if we nourish and
cherish evil thoughts and wicked feelings
within our hearts we shall be sure to suffer
from them some day or other; but, anyhow,
I made up my mind as soon as I heard this
story, never to have an adder for a pet, and
I have never altered my views on the
subject.
Little Hurly-Burly cared very little what
became of the wicked fairy, for all he wanted
was to get back his little brothers and
sisters, and he was rather surprised that he
had only been ordered to go up to the oak
tree, and had then been sent straight back
again out of the forest. I suppose, how-
ever, that it was necessary that the power
of old Venomista should be destroyed, and
that as soon as that had been done every-
thing else could be managed outside the
forest. However this may be, it is certain
that everything happened just as I have told
you, and that the boy came out of the forest
with a light heart, feeling sure that all would







64 THE MAGIC OAK TREE

now go right, and that no more mischief
could befall him. The way seemed shorter
than it had been when he was journeying
towards the forest, and in much less time
than it had taken him to get there he found
himself on the other side of the common,
and rapidly drawing near to the pond in
which he had last seen his frog relations.
He was still some way from it, however,
when he remembered that he had not once
thought of the toad during the strange
events through which, he had just passed,
and it now occurred to him that the toad
might have felt very uncomfortable during
the time that he was standing on his head.
This was a painful reflection for Hurly-
Burly, because the toad had been very kind
to him, and he naturally did not wish to
seem ungrateful.
He therefore put his hand in his pocket
with the intention of squeezing the toad,
that he might apologise for his conduct.
You may imagine his disappointment
when he found that his pocket was empty !
He looked up and down, but he could not
see the toad. However, in looking up, he
saw the figure of a crow upon the branch of







CHILDREN AGAIN 65

a neighboring tree, and, by the keen
glance of its eye, he felt sure that it was
the same friendly bird who told the nurse
to seek the advice of the hedgehog.
The crow recognized him almost at the
same time, and, after cawing a greeting,
addressed him in the following manner:

Do not pine for the toad, he has made his abode
In the shade of the old oak tree.
When you stood on your head, he fell down on the
bed
Of green moss where he fain would be.
Set your footsteps beyond to the edge of the pond,
And cry out to hillside and lea-
"The enchantress is killed, with courage be thrilled;
0 break from her spells, and be free 1"'

Hurly-Burly felt that the swing and ring
of these lines promised a good result; and,
after thanking the crow, he walked boldly
forward to the pond.
His step became more rapid as he heard
his sixteen frog relatives croaking in the
sedges.
You will not have to croak long,' thought
Hurly-Burly; and, stepping down to the
brink of the water, he sang out across the
pond, in a voice that crossed the meadows







66 THE MAGIC OAK TREE


and echoed from the hillside, the words that
the crow had taught him:

' The enchantress is killed ; with courage be thrilled ;
0 break from her spells, and be free !'

The effect was immediate. Hardly had
the sound of the word 'free' died away,
when the frogs ceased from croaking, and
the sixteen brown and wrinkled little
creatures began to grow bigger, and change
their shape and colour.
You may imagine how joyful was Hurly-
Burly when his brothers and sisters at last
appeared before him just as they were before
the wicked fairy had enchanted them.
The children were still kissing one
another when a gruff voice said, And now,
I suppose, I may have my milk,' and Hurly-
Burly saw that the hedgehog was speaking.
So you shall, noble sir,' he cried; and,
at that moment, the nurse was seen trudging
along with a big can in her hand, which
was full of milk.
Here. you are, Mr. Hedge-Pig,' she said,
and immediately set the can before him.
It was lucky that she did this before seeing
the children, or she would certainly have







CHILDREN AGAIN 67

dropped it, and the hedgehog would have
been very angry. As it was, she recognized
them the moment after, and could hardly
contain herself for joy, though who could
have contained her, if not herself, I am un-
able to determine.
Only three more facts remain to be told
in this story. First, that the hedgehog was
so pleased with the milk that he forgot to
be angry with the nurse for calling him
' Mr. Hedge-Pig.' Secondly, that one or
other of the children whom he had befriended
never forgot to supply him with as much
milk as he could drink as long as he lived;
and thirdly, that the toad lived for many
years a quiet and happy life under the oak
tree.




















PRINCE FILDERKIN


















CHAPTER I

CONCERNING A HUMP

HERE once lived a King and a
Queen who had an only son
upon whom they doated. As
fathers and mothers are very
much in the habit of being fond of their
children, and more especially so of a child
who has no brother or sister upon whom a
share of the parental love can be bestowed,
it is very probable that this particular royal
pair would have doated upon this son, even
if he had been blind, deaf, dumb and an
idiot to boot.
But Prince Filderkin (for such was his
name) was none of these things. He had
two eyes and ears, which saw and heard as







72 PRINCE FILDERKIN
well as the ears and eyes of any other child
in the King's country, he had a tongue
which he could use as well as other people,
and he was a very intelligent child, able to
learn quickly and to remember what he
learned. More than this, he was so fortunate
as to enjoy remarkably good health; he had
the measles very well, made nothing of an
attack of scarlatina which once frightened
his parents terribly, and ate an almost un-
limited quantity of cakes, jam, and toffy,
without ever being one bit the worse for it.
But, unhappily, with all these advantages,
there was one defect which was the cause of
deep grief to the Prince, and even more so
to his father, mother, and relations. He
had been born with a hump between his
shoulders, which increased with his growth,
and entirely marred that personal appear-
ance which would otherwise have been con-
spicuous for its beauty. Of course there
were courtiers and flatterers who made light
of this deformity, calling it a trifling blemish,
and one which was of no real importance.
There were some, indeed, of the more servile
kind, who went so far as to declare that, in
their opinion, it was no blemish at all, but a







CONCERNING A HUAIP 73

positive ornament, if you only regarded it
from a proper point of view. A certain
number of persons belonging to this class
carried matters still further, and introduced
the fashion of wearing false or artificial
humps, in order to resemble the Prince and
to prove the sincerity of the opinion which
they professed.
But neither the Prince nor his royal
parents were deceived by this for a moment.
They knew well enough that a hump was a
hump, all the world over, and that no reason-
able person would ever wear one if nature
had kindly allowed him to be born with-
out it.
So the courtiers took nothing by their
foolish action ; the fashion of wearing false
humps did not last beyond one season, and
everybody knew that the royal family felt
the state of the Prince as a real misfortune.
Doctors had been consulted ever since the
boy's birth, but they had done him no good,
and as each fresh doctor generally contra-
dicted somewhat flatly what the last one had
said, and still had no better success in the
new prescriptions which he gave, the King
grew in course of time very angry, and







74 PRINCE FILDERKIN
declared that they were all a set of humbugs
together.
It so happened that the medical men in that
country were divided into two great classes :
one, which ordered hot remedies for every-
body, whilst the other would only use cold
applications. The hot-water system was the
old-established one of that kingdom, and
consequently the doctors who were of that
school held their heads very high, accused
the cold-water people of introducing new
principles in a manner which was not regular,
and refused to meet them in consultation or
to have anything to do with any case in
which they had advised. Some little good
arose from the fact of one of these quarrels
taking place with regard to Prince Filderkin,
for when the King heard of it, he sent for the
two chief hot-water doctors, told them that
their profession was one of the noblest in the
world, its object being to lessen the pain and
relieve the sufferings of their fellow-creatures,
and that they disgraced it by refusing to take
counsel with others of the same profession
and who had the same objects, merely
because they held different theories as to the
manner in which these objects could best be








CONCERNING A HUMP 75

obtained. Thereupon he banished those two
hot-water men to a country in which every-
body always had good health, which was of
course a very severe punishment to medical
men, and caused the other doctors of the
same school to be wiser and more humane
for the future.
All this, however, did not remove either the
Prince's hump or the sorrow which it caused
to his parents. He made rapid advance in
learning of every description, but the accom-
plishments of his mind only caused a more
painful contrast with the deformity of his
body, and really seemed almost to add to
the misery of the situation.
So matters went on until the Prince had
nearly attained his eighteenth year, at which
period, according to the custom of that
country, the King and Queen would naturally
have chosen some Princess to whom their
darling child should be betrothed. But how
could a hump-backed boy hope to attract any
lady of ordinary beauty and attractions ?
True, the King was a great and powerful
monarch, but on that account the matter was
only the more difficult, because he felt it
necessary that the bride of his son and heir







76 PRINCE FILDERKIN
should be the daughter of one in the same
position, and this was precisely the sort o0
Princess who, having a wide choice among
Princes, would be unlikely to look with favour
upon one who was not perfect in form and
shape. Still it was most desirable that a
bride should be chosen, for the kingdom was
hereditary, and if the Prince did not marry
and have a son to succeed him, it would
either go to a distant relative whom the King
particularly disliked, or else there would be a
quarrel over the crown, which would be very
hurtful for the country. The King and Queen
therefore held many consultations upon the *
important subject, but, somehow or other,
the more they talked it over, the less could
they make up their minds what was the best
course to pursue.
While things were in this state of un-
certainty, it happened that upon one fine
morning, when the people of the town in
which the royal palace was situated, awoke
and went about their usual business, they
found the whole place covered with placards
which announced that a grand caravan of
animals had arrived and that everybody was
strongly advised to go and see it. This was







CONCERNING A HUMP 77

not a very unusual thing, and therefore
nobody was astonished at seeing the an-
nouncement, although the younger part of the
population were surprised and delighted with
the size and magnificence of the bills which
were posted on all the walls of the town.
These bills bore upon them the pictures of
certain wonderful animals which dwelt in the
caravan, and which would be displayed at
the show which was to take place that even-
ing. There were so many of these animals
that people suspected (as indeed turned out
to be the case) that there must be more than
could be contained in one caravan, and they
were therefore not surprised when a number
of large vehicles of this description wheeled,
during the morning, into the large open
square, and took up their position. Upon
the sides of these vehicles there were also
pictures of lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes,
and a number of other creatures of which the
greater part of the people had never heard.
But above and beyond the pictures of
these animals, there was an announcement
that the celebrated magician, Feeble John,
was about to honour the town with a visit,
and that anybody who had anything the







78 PRINCE FILDERICIN
matter with him, in body or mind, had
better be sure and come to Feeble John if
he wished to be cured. It struck people
that the magician had a curious name, but
the wiser ones said that he was doubtless
called Feeble because he was so strong,
as things very often went by contraries when
you had to deal with magicians. So the
caravans rolled in, and the day passed on,
and the evening approached on which the
show was to take place.
But before the evening arrived, some-
thing had happened at the palace which
deserves to be mentioned. The Prince had
expressed to his parents his wish to see the
wild beast show. The King and the Queen
entertained serious doubts as to whether this
could be allowed, and had consulted the
Lord High Treasurer, the Most Noble the
Marquis of Gumbleguzzard, upon the subject.
That great man and enlightened Minister
had advised that such a thing had-never been
heard of, and therefore could not be per-
mitted, and the countenance of the young
Prince became overcast with sorrow when
this opinion had been given. He bethought
himself, however, of asking that the views







CONCERNING A HUMP 79

of two other high officials should also be
ascertained, and this was accordingly done.
In that court the keeper of the King's flannel-
waistcoats had always occupied a prominent
position, and to him, together with the chief
cleaner of the royal shoes, the question was
referred. To the inexpressible joy of the
young Prince, these two Ministers declared
that they saw no harm in his visiting the
show, and it was therefore decided that he
should do so.
He dressed himself in a coat, waistcoat,
and trousers, which were all garments not
unfrequently worn by the young men of that
age and country, and sallied forth with only
two attendants, who accompanied him when
he entered the first caravan belonging to the
show. The Prince visited all the caravans in
turn, and expressed much curiosity and
pleasure at the sight of the various animals
which were displayed to his admiring gaze.
But when he had arrived at the last caravan
he was more than ever desirous to see what
it contained, for this was the abode of the
magician. His attendants endeavoured to
dissuade him from entering, telling him that
although it was all very well to go and see







80 PRINCE FILDERKIN

the wild beasts, a magician was an altogether
different kind of animal, and one which
it was on all accounts better to leave alone.
But as they could give no better reason for
this opinion than one which was evidently
founded on fear, and as fear was a thing
with which Prince Filderkin was unac-
quainted, their arguments had very little
effect upon him, and as the general permis-
sion to visit the show must of course be held
to include the caravan in which the magician
resided, he determined not to leave it un-
visited.



















CHAPTER II

FEEBLE JOHN

E accordingly stepped up to the
door of the caravan and knocked
three times, which was the cus-
tom in that country whenever
any one went to visit a person of rank or im-
portance, and the Prince therefore deemed
it well to follow the rule upon the present
occasion. A low voice bade him enter-a
voice so low that it sounded almost like a
whisper, but a whisper so close in his ear
that Prince Filderkin started back for an
instant when he heard it, but quickly recover-
ing himself, entered the caravan. The sight
that met his eyes was in no respect wonder-
ful. The inside of the caravan was rather
G








82 PRINCE FILDERKIN


dark, as places are apt to be when they are
only lighted by somewhat small windows,
and especially when, as in the present case,
the latter are shaded by curtains drawn across
them. But although the light was dim, it
was sufficient to let the Prince see that there
was nothing very remarkable in the furniture
or other contents of the room, though the
place certainly looked as if it and everything
in it would be much the better for a thorough
cleaning out, as there was a look of musty
antiquity about it, which was accompanied by
a faint, sickly odour which did not favourably
impress a stranger.
The visitor, however, noted no trifles of
this sort, for his whole mind was bent upon
his coming interview with the magician, and
his eyes eagerly roved round the room
until they lighted upon the object of their
search. Feeble John was seated upon a low
stool in one corner of the room. His dress
was somewhat remarkable, for he was
wrapped in a large, loose robe, the colour
of which was bright sky-blue with large
stripes of black, orange, and crimson.
Upon his head was a close-fitting black
skull-cap, from underneath which some long







FEEBLE JOHN 83

straggling grey locks appeared, and a beard
of the same colour descended downwards
from his chin as beards usually do, tapering
into a point, and adding greatly to his
venerable appearance. His eyes were ap-
parently dim with age, though an occasional
flash darted from them which betokened a
powerful brain, and his .nose, situated in the
middle of his face, below but exactly between
his eyes, stood out boldly, and showed no
signs of age. His mouth, at the moment of
the Prince's entrance, was hard to see,
because he was leaning his head upon his
hand in such a manner as partially to
conceal it, but I have no reason to suppose
that it was unlike the mouth of other men,
although his whole appearance, and especially
his curious dress, would have shown any-
body at once that he was no ordinary man,
even if they had seen him in the street, or
in a common house, instead of in the dark
corner of a caravan.
Having entered, as I have said, quite
alone, the Prince had a mind to pass for
a private person, and accordingly, taking off
his hat, advanced towards the magician's
corner, and, standing at a respectful dis-







84 PRINCE FILDERKIN
tance, waited until he should be addressed.
As, however, the wise man took no more
notice of him than if he had not been there,
he presently drew a step nearer, and, speak-
ing in a humble tone of voice, as that of one
who addressed a superior, he said:
Pray, sir, can you show me anything
wonderful? I am a poor lad who knows
but little of the strange ways of the world,
and would fain increase my knowledge.'
To the utter surprise of the speaker,
Feeble John made an instant reply, though
in a voice evidently tremulous with old
age:
Prince Filderkin, child of royal parents,
don't try to humbug me, for you can't do it I'
At this unexpected speech, it may well
be believed that the young Prince fell into
great confusion, for he did not understand
how the magician could so easily have
found him out, his hump not being an easy
thing to see when he was facing the person
whom he addressed, and that, moreover, in
a darkened room.
It is true,' he presently rejoined, 'that I
am Prince Filderkin, but still a poor lad!
Who indeed could be poorer, with such an




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