AI Jairu gale for a Lanbi3aba
*. ,, .'T "
NEW Yon : 16 EAST 14TII STREET
THOM[AS Y. CROWELL & COMPANY
BOSTON: 100 PUCIIHASE STREET
COpY .I(; Ir,n 18 )5,
By THOMAS Y. CIROWELL & COMPANY.
TYIou APIiY B;Y C. J. PETERS & SON,
MY YOUNGEST SON
TO ALL OTHER GOOD LITTLE BOYS
COME READ MAE MY IIDIDLE, IACH I GOOD LITTLE MAN;
IF YOU CANNOT READ IT, NO GRUWN-UP FOLK CAN.
I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
SWhat man has made of man.
*NCE upon a time there was a
':' little chimney-sweep, and his
name was Tom. That is a
~- short name, and you have heard
it before, so you will not have
!._'hli trouble in remembering it. He
.e in a great town in the North
'. country where there were plenty
i f" chimneys to sweep, and plenty
.' t ,money for Tom to earn and his
i- i' m;alt. r to spend. He could not read
nor write, and did not care to do either; and he
never washed himself, for there was no water up the
court where he lived. He had never been taught
to say his prayers. He never had heard of God,
or of Christ, except in words which you never have
heard, and which it would have been well if he had
never heard. He cried half his time, and laughed
the other half. He cried when he had to climb the
dark flues, rubbing his poor knees and elbows raw;
and when the soot got into his eyes, which it did
every day in the week; and when his master beat
him, which he did every day in the week; and when
he had not enough to eat, which happened every day
in the week likewise. And he laughed the other half
of the day, when he was tossing halfpennies with the
other boys, or playing leap-frog over the posts, or
bowling stones at the horses' legs as they trotted by,
which last was excellent fun when there was a wall
at hand behind which to hide. As for chimney-
sweeping, and being hungry, and being beaten, he
took all that for the way of the world, like the rain
and snow and thunder, and stood manfully with his
back to it till it was over, as his old donkey did to
a hail-storm, and then shook his ears and was as
jolly as ever; and thought of the fine times coming,
when he would be a man, and a master sweep, and sit
in the public-house with a quart of beer and a long
pipe, and play cards for silver money, and wear velvet-
eens and ankle-jacks, and keep a white bull-dog with
one gray ear, and carry her puppies in his pocket,
just like a man. And he would have apprentices,
one, two, three, if he could. How he would bully
them, and knock them about, just as his master did
to him; and make them carry home the soot-sacks,
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
while he rode before them on his donkey, with a pipe
in his mouth and a flower in his buttonhole, like a
king at the head of his army. Yes, there were good
times coming; and when his master let him have a
pull at the leavings of his beer, Tom was the jolliest
boy in the whole town.
One day a smart little groom rode into the court
where Tom lived. Tom was just hiding behind a
wall to heave half a brick at his horse's legs, as is
the custom of that country when they welcome
strangers; but the groom saw him, and halloed to
him to know where Mr. Grimes, the chimney-sweep,
lived. Now, MAr. Grimes was Tom's own master; and
Tom was a good man of business, and always civil to
customers, so he put the half-brick down quietly be-
hind the wall, and proceeded to take orders.
Mr. Grimes was to come up next morning to Sir
John Harthover's, at the Place, for his old chimney-
sweep was gone to prison, and the chimneys wanted
sweeping. And so he rode away, not giving Tom
time to ask what the sweep had gone to prison for,
which was a matter of interest to Tom, as he had
been in prison once or twice himself. Moreover, the
groom looked so very neat and clean, with his drab
gaiters, drab breeches, drab jacket, snow-white tie
with a smart pin in it, and clean, round, ruddy face,
that Tom was offended and disgusted at his appear-
ance, and considered him a stuck-up fellow, who gave
himself airs because he wore smart clothes and other
people paid for them, and went behind the wall to
fetch the half-brick after all; but did not, remember-
ing that he had come in the way of business, and was,
as it were, under a flag of truce.
His master was so delighted at his new customer
that he knocked Tom down out of hand, and drank
more beer that night than he usually did in two, in
order to be sure of getting up in time next morning;
for the more a man's head aches when he wakes, the
more glad he is to turn out, and have a breath of fresh
air. And, when he did get up at four the next morn-
ing, he knocked Tom down again, in order to teach
him (as young gentlemen used to be taught at public
schools) that he must be an extra good boy that day,
as they were going to a very great house, and might
make a very good thing of it, if they could but give
And Tom thought so likewise, and, indeed, would
have done and behaved his best, even without being
knocked down. For of all places upon earth, Harth-
over Place (which he had never seen) was the most
wonderful; and of all men on earth, Sir John (whom
he had seen, having been sent to jail by him twice)
was the most awful.
Harthover Place was really a grand place, even for
the rich North country; with a house so large that
in the frame-breaking riots, which Tom could just
remember, the Duke of Wellington, and ten thousand
soldiers to match, were easily housed therein, at
least, so Tom believed; with a park full of deer,
which Tom believed to be monsters who were in the
habit of eating children; with miles of game-pre-
serves, in which Mr. Grimes and the collier lads
A FAIRY TALE FOP A LAND-BABY.
poached at times, on which occasions Tom saw pheas-
ants, and wondered what they tasted like; with a
noble salmon river, in which Mr. Grimes and his
friends would have liked to poach; but then they
must have got into cold water, and that they did not
like at all. In short, Harthover was a grand place,
and Sir John a grand old man, whom even Mr.
Grimes respected; for not only could he send Mr.
Grimes to prison when he deserved it, as he did once
or twice a week; not only did he own all the land
about for miles; not only was he a jolly, honest,
sensible squire as ever kept a pack of hounds, who
would do what he thought right by his neighbors, as
well as get what he thought right for himself but,
what was more, he weighed full fifteen stone, was
nobody knew how many inches round the chest, and
could have thrashed Mr. Grimes himself in fair fight,
which very few folk round there could do, and which,
my dear little boy, would not have been right for him
to do, as a great many things are not which one both
can do, and would like very much to do. So Mr.
Grimes touched his hat to him when lie rode through
the town, and called him a buirdlyy awd chap," and
his young ladies "gradely lasses," which are two high
compliments in the North country, and thought that
made up for his poaching Sir John's pheasants;
whereby you may perceive that Mr. Grimes had not
been to a properly inspected Government National
Now, I dare say, you never got up at three o'clock
on a midsummer morning. Some people get up then
because they want to catch salmon, and some because
they want to climb Alps, and a great many more
because they must, like Tom. But, I assure you, that
three o'clock on a midsummer morning is the pleas-
antest time of all the twenty-four hours and all the
three hundred and sixty-five days; and why every
one does not get up then, I never could tell, save that
they are all determined to spoil their nerves and their
complexions by doing all night what they might just
as well do all day. But Tom, instead of going out to
dinner at half-past eight at night, and to a ball at
ten, and finishing off somewhere between twelve and
four, went to bed at seven, when his master went to
the public-house, and slept like a dead pig; for which
reason he was as pert as a game-cock (who always
gets up early to wake the maids), and just ready to
get up when the fine gentlemen and ladies were just
ready to go to bed.
So he and his master set out. Grimes rode the
donkey in front, and Tom and the brushes walked
behind out of the court, and up the street, past the
closed window-shutters, and the winking weary police-
men, and the roofs all shining gray in the gray dawn.
They passed through the pitmen's village, all shut
up and silent now, and through the turnpike; and
then they were out in the real country, and plodding
along the black dusty road, between black slag walls,
with no sound but the groaning and thumping of the
pit-engine in the next field. But soon the road grew
white, and the walls likewise; and at the wall's foot
grew long grass and gay flowers, all drenched with
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
dew; and instead of the groaning of the pit-engine,
they heard the skylark saying his matins high up in
the air, and the pit-bird warbling in the sedges, as he
had warbled all night long.
All else was silent. For old Mrs. Earth was still
fast asleep; and, like many pretty people, she looked
still prettier asleep than awake. The great elm-trees
in the gold-green meadows were fast asleep above,
and the cows fast asleep beneath them; nay, the few
clouds which were about were fast asleep likewise,
and so tired that they had lain down on the earth to
rest, in long white flakes and bars, among the stems
of the elm-trees, and along the tops of the alders by
the stream, waiting for the sun to bid them rise and
go about their day's business in the clear blue over-
On they went; and Tom looked and looked, for
he never had been so far into the country before, and
longed to get over a gate and pick buttercups, and look
for birds' nests in the hedge; but Mr. Grimes was a
man of business, and would not have heard of that.
Soon they came up with a poor Irishwoman, trudg-
ing along with a bundle at her back. She had a gray
shawl over her head, and a crimson madder petticoat;
so you may be sure she came from Galway. She had
neither shoes nor stockings, and limped along as if
she were tired and footsore; but she was a very tall,
handsome woman, with bright gray eyes, and heavy
black hair hanging about her cheeks. And she took
Mr. Grimes's fancy so much, that when he came
alongside he called out to her, -
This is a hard road for a gradely foot like that.
Will ye up, lass, and ride behind me ?"
But perhaps she did not admire Mr. Grimes's look
and voice, for she answered quietly,-
No, thank you; I'd sooner walk with your little
"You may please yourself," growled Grimes, and
went on smoking.
So she walked beside Tom, and talked to him, and
asked him where he lived, and what he knew, and all
about himself, till Tom thought he had never met
such a pleasant-spoken woman. And she asked him,
at last, whether he said his prayers, and seemed sad
when he told her that he knew no prayers to say.
Then he asked her where she lived, and she said
far away by the sea. And Tom asked her about the
sea; and she told him how it rolled and roared over
the rocks in winter nights, and lay still in the bright
summer days for the children to bathe and play in it;
and many a story more, till Tom longed to go and see
the sea, and bathe in it likewise.
At last, at the bottom of a hill, they came to a
spring; not such a spring as you see here, which soaks
up out of a white gravel in the bog, among red fly-
catchers, and pink bottle-heath, and sweet white
orchis; nor such a one as you may see, too, here,
which bubbles up under the warm sandbank in the
hollow lane, by the great tuft of lady ferns, and makes
the sand dance reels at the bottom, day and night, all
the year round; not such a spring as either of those -
but a real North country limestone fountain, like one
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
of those in Sicily or Greece, where the old heathen
fancied the nymphs sat cooling themselves the hot
summer's day, while the shepherds peeped at them
from behind the bushes. Out of a low cave of rock
at the foot of a limestone crag, the great fountain
rose, quelling and bubbling and gurgling, so clear that
you could not tell where the water ended and the air
began, and ran away under the road, a stream large
enough to turn a mill, among blue geranium, and
golden globe-flower, and wild raspberry, and the bird-
cherry with its tassels of snow.
And there Grimes stopped and looked; and Tom
looked too. Tom was wondering whether anything
lived in that dark cave, and came out at night to fly
in the meadows. But Grimes was not wondering at
all. Without a word he got off his donkey, and
clambered over the low road wall, and knelt down,
and began dipping his ugly head into the spring -
and very dirty he made it.
Tom was picking the flowers as fast as he could.
The Irishwoman helped him, and showed him how to
tie them up; and a very pretty nosegay they had
made between them. But when he saw Grimes
actually wash, he stopped, quite astonished; and
when Grimes had finished, and began shaking his
ears to dry them, he said, -
Why, master, I never saw you do that before."
"Nor will again, most likely. 'T wasn't for clean-
liness I did it, but for coolness. I'd be ashamed to
want washing every week or so, like any smutty
"I wish I might go and dip my head in," said poor
little Tom. It must be as good as putting it under
the town pump; and there is no beadle here to drive
a chap away."
"Thou come along," said Grimes; what dost want
with washing thyself ? Thou did not drink half a
gallon of beer last night, like me."
I don't care for you," said naughty Tom, and ran
down to the stream and began washing his face.
Grimes was very sulky because the woman pre-
ferred Tom's company to his; so he dashed at him
with horrid words, and tore him up from his knees,
and began beating him. But Tom was accustomed to
that, and got his head safe between Mr. Grimes's legs
and kicked his shins with all his might.
Are you not ashamed of yourself, Thomas
Grimes ? cried the Irishwoman over the wall.
Grimes looked up, startled at her knowing his
name ; but all he answered was, "No, nor never was
yet; and went on beating Tom.
"True for you. If you had been ashamed of your-
self, you would have gone over into Vendale long ago."
"What do you know about Vendale ?" shouted
Grimes; but he left off beating Tom.
"I know about Vendale, and about you too. I
know, for instance, what happened in Aldermire
Copse, by night, two years ago come Martinmas."
"You do ? shouted Grimes; and leaving Tom,
he climbed up over the wall and faced the woman.
Tom thought he was going to strike her; but she
looked him too fall and fierce in the face for that.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
"Yes; I was there," said the Irishwoman quietly.
"You are no Irishwoman, by your speech," said
Grimes, after many bad words.
"Never mind who I am. I saw what I saw; and
if you strike that boy again, I can tell what I
Grimes seemed quite cowed, and got on his donkey
without another word.
"Stop !" said the Irishwoman. I have one more
word for you both; for you will both see me again
before all is over. Those that wish to be clean, clean
they will be; and those that wish to be foul, foul they
will be. Remember "
And she turned away, and through a gate into the
meadow. Grimes stood still a moment, like a man
who had been stunned. Then he rushed after her,
shouting, You come back." But when he got into
the meadow, the woman was not there.
Had she hidden away ? There was no place to
hide in. But Grimes looked about, and Tom also,
for he was as puzzled as Grimes himself at her disap-
pearing so suddenly; but look where they would, she
was not there.
Grimes came back again as silent as a post, for he
was a little frightened; and getting on his donkey,
flled a fresh pipe, and smoked away, leaving Tom in
And now they had gone three miles and more, and
came to Sir John's lodge gates.
Very grand lodges they were, with very grand iron
gates and stone gate-posts, and on the top of each a
most dreadful bogy, all teeth, horns, and tail, which
was the crest which Sir John's ancestors wore in the
Wars of the Roses; and very prudent men they were
to wear it, for all their enemies must have run for
their lives at the very first sight of them.
Grimes rang at the gate, and out came a keeper
on the spot, and opened.
"I was told to expect thee," he said. "Now
thou'lt be so good as to keep to the main avenue,
and not let me find a hare or a rabbit on thee when
thou comest back. I shall look sharp for one, I
Not if it's in the bottom of the soot-bag," quoth
Grimes, and at that he laughed; and the keeper
laughed and said, -
"If that's thy sort, I may as well walk up with
thee to the hall."
"I think thou best had. It's thy business to see
after thy game, man, and not mine."
So the keeper went with them; and to Tom's sur-
prise, he and Grimes chatted together all the way
quite pleasantly. He did not know that a keeper is
only a poacher turned outside in, and a poacher a
keeper turned inside out.
They walked up a great lime avenue a full mile
long, and between their stems Tom peeped trembling
at the horns of the sleeping deer which stood up
among the ferns. Tom had never seen such enormous
trees, and as he looked up he fancied that the blue
sky rested on their heads. But he was puzzled very
much by a strange murmuring noise which followed
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
them all the way. So much puzzled, that at last he
took courage to ask the keeper what it was.
He spoke very i. ;11,, and called him Sir, for he
was horribly afraid of him, which pleased the keeper,
and he told him that they were the bees about the
"What are bees ? ". asked Tom.
What make honey."
What is honey ?" asked Tom.
"Thou hold thy noise," said Grimes.
"Let the boy be," said the keeper. He's a civil
young chap now, and that's more than he'll be long
if he bides with thee."
Grimes laughed, for he took that for a com-
"I wish I were a keeper," said Tom, "to live in
such a beautiful place, and wear green velveteens,
and have a real dog-whistle at my button, like
The keeper laughed; he was a kind-hearted fellow
Let well alone, lad, and ill too at times. Thy
life's safer than mine at all events, eh, Mr. Grimes ? "
And Grimes laughed again, and then the two men
began talking quite low. Tom could hear, though,
that it was about some poaching fight; and at last
Grimes said surlily, Hast thou anything against
me ? "
Then don't ask me any questions till thou hast,
for I am a man of honor."
And at that they both laughed again, and thought
it a very good joke.
And by this time they were come up to the great
iron gates in front of the house; and Tom stared
through them at the rhododendrons and azaleas,
which were all in flower; and then at the house
itself, and wondered how many chimneys there were
in it, and how long ago it was built, and what was
the man's name that built it, and whether he got
much money for his job ?
These last were very I !. Ii questions to answer.
For Harthover had been built at ninety different
times, and in nineteen different styles, and looked as
if somebody had built a whole street of houses of
every imaginable shape, and then stirred them to-
gether with a spoon.
For the attics were Anglo Saxon.
The third floor Nornman.
The second Cinque-cento.
The first floor EJ.lizabethan.
lTe rilht wing pure D)oric.
Thle centre IiEarly ILnylish, 'wiIJ a hulge jportico copied
from the .Parth.enon.
The left wi.nI pure JBaotian, which the country folk
admired most of all, because it was just like the new
barracks in the town, only three times as big.
The grand staircase was copied from the Catacombs
The bark staircase from the Tajmah~at at Agra.
flhis ws lb lilt 6Y Sir Joh/in's ireitt-ji'ail-ri'eat-unclle,
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
who won, in Lord Clive's Indian Wars, plenty of money,
plenty of wounds, and no more taste than his betters.
The cellars were copied from the caves of Elephanta.
The offices from the pavilion at Brighton.
And the rest from nothing in heaven, or earth, or
under the earth.
So that Harthover House was a great puzzle to
antiquarians, and a thorough Naboth's vineyard to
critics and architects, and all persons who like med-
dling with other men's business, and spending other
men's money. So they were all setting upon poor
Sir John, year after year, and trying to talk him into
spending a hundred thousand pounds or so in build-
ing to please them and not himself. But he always
put them off, like a canny North countryman as he
was. One wanted him to build a Gothic house, but
he said he was no Goth; and another to build an
Elizabethan, but he said he lived under good Queen
Victoria, and not good Queen Bess ; and another was
bold enough to tell him that his house was ugly, but
le said he lived inside it, and not outside; and an-
other, that there was no unity in it, but he said that
that was just why he liked the old place. For lie
liked to see how each Sir John and Sir Hugh and
Sir Ralph and Sir Randal had left his mark upon
the place, each after his own taste; and he had no
more notion of disturbing his ancestors' work than
of disturbing their graves. For now the house looked
like a real live house, that had a history, and had
grown and grown as the world grew; and that it was
only an upstart fellow who did not know who his own
grandfather was, who would change it for some spick
and span new Gothic or Elizabethan thing, which
looked as if it had been all spawned in a night, as
mushrooms are. From which you may collect (if you
have wit enough) that Sir John was a very sound-
headed, sound-hearted squire, and just the man to
keep the country side in order, and show good sport
with his hounds.
But Tom and his master did not go in through the
great iron gates, as if they had been dukes or bishops,
but round the back way, and a very long way round
it was; and into a little back door, where the ash-boy
let them in, yawning horribly; and then in a passage
the housekeeper met them, in such a flowered chintz
dressing-gown, that Tom mistook her for my lady
herself; and she gave Grimes solemn orders about
"You will take care of this, and take care of that,"
as if he was going up the chimneys, and not Tom.
And Grimes listened, and said every now and then,
under his voice, "You'll mind that, you little beg-
gar ? and Tom did mind, all at least that he could.
And then the housekeeper turned them into a grand
room, all covered up in sheets of brown paper, and
bade them begin, in a lofty and tremendous voice;
and so, after a whimper or two and a kick from his
master, into the grate Tom went and up the chimney,
while a housemaid stayed in the room to watch the
furniture, to whom Mr. Grimes paid many playful
and chivalrous compliments, but met with very slight
encouragemnent in return.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
How many chimneys Tom swept I cannot say; but
he swept so many that he got quite tired, and puzzled
too, for they were not like the town flues to which he
was accustomed, but such as you would find if you
would only get up them and look, which perhaps you
would not like to do-in old country houses, large
and crooked chimneys, which had been altered again
and again, till they ran into one another, anastomos-
ing (as Professor Owen would say) considerably. So
Tom fairly lost his way in them; not that he cared
much for that, though he was in pitchy darkness, for
he was as much at home in a chimney as a mole is
underground; but at last, coming down as he thought
the right chimney, he came down the wrong one, and
found himself standing on the hearthrug in a room
the like of which he had never seen before.
Tom had never seen the like. He had never been
in gentlefolks' rooms but when the carpets were all
up, and the curtains down, and the furniture huddled
together under a cloth, and the pictures covered with
aprons and dusters; and he had often enough won-
dered what the rooms were like when they were all
ready for the quality to sit in. And now he saw, and
he thought the sight very pretty.
The room was all dressed in white, white window-
curtains, white bed-curtains, white furniture, and white
walls, with just a few lines of pink here and there.
The carpet was all over gay little flowers, and the
walls were hung with pictures in gilt frames, which
amused Tom very much. There were pictures of
ladies and gentlemen, and pictures of horses and
22 THE WATER-BABIES.
dogs. The horses he liked; but the dogs he did not
care for much, for there were no bull-dogs among
them, not even a terrier. But the two pictures which
took his fancy most were, one a man in long gar-
ments, with little children and their mothers round
him, who was laying his hand upon the children's
heads. That was a very pretty picture, Tom thought,
to hang in a lady's room. For he could see that it
was a lady's room by the dresses which lay about.
The other picture was that of a man nailed to a
cross, which surprised Tom much. He fancied that
he had seen something like it in a shop-window. But
why was it there ? Poor man," thought Tom, and
he looks so kind and quiet. But why should the lady
have such a sad picture as that in her room ? Perhaps
it was some kinsman of hers, who had been murdered
by the savages in foreign parts, and she kept it there
for a remembrance." And Tom felt sad and awed,
and turned to look at something else.
The next thing he saw, and that, too, puzzled him,
was a washing-stand, with ewers and basins, and soap
and brushes and towels, and a large bath full of clean
water what a heap of things all for washing! She
must be a very dirty lady," thought Tom, "by my
master's rule, to want as much scrubbing as all that.
But she must be very cunning to put the dirt out of
the way so well afterwards, for I don't see a speck
about the room, not even on the very towels."
And then, looking toward the bed, he saw that dirty
lady, and held his breath with astonishment.
Under the snow-white coverlet, upon the snow-whit;
1 t -
" The most beautiful little girl that Tom had ever seen."
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
pillow, lay the most beautiful little girl that Tomn had
ever seen. Her cheeks were almost as white as the
pillow, and her hair was like threads of gold spread
all about over the bed. She might have been as old
as Tom, or maybe a year or two older; but Tom did
not think of that. He thought only of her delicate
skin and golden hair, and wondered whether she was
a real live person, or one of the wax dolls he had seen
in the shops. But when he saw her breathe, he made
up his mind that she was alive, and stood staring at
her, as if she had been an angel out of heaven.
No. She cannot be dirty. She never could have
been dirty, thought Tom to himself. And then he
thought, "And are all people like that when they are
washed ? And he looked at his own wrist, and tried
to rub the soot off, and wondered whether it ever
would come off. Certainly I should look much
prettier then, if I grew at all like her."
And looking round, he suddenly saw, standing close
to him, a little ugly, black, i .1 figure, with bleared
eyes and grinning white teeth. He turned on it an-
grily. What did such a little black ape want in that
sweet young lady's room ? And behold, it was him-
self, reflected in a great mirror the like of which Tom
had never seen before.
And Tom, for the first time in his life, found out
that he was dirty; and burst into tears with shame
and anger; and turned to sneak up the chimney again
and hide; and upset the fender and threw the fire-
irons down, with a noise as of ten thousand tin kettles
tied to ten thousand mad dogs' tails.
Up jumped the little white lady in her bed, and,
seeing Tom, screamed as shrill as any peacock. In
rushed a stout old nurse from the next room, and see-
ing Tom likewise, made up her mind that he had come
to rob, plunder, destroy, and burn; and dashed at him,
as he lay over the fender, so fast that she caught him
by the jacket.
But she did not hold him. Tom had been in a
policeman's hands many a time, and out of them too,
what is more; and he would have been ashamed to
face his friends forever if he had been stupid enough
to be caught by an old woman; so he doubled under
the good lady's arm, across the room, and out of the
window in a moment.
He did not need to drop out, though he would have
done so bravely enough. Nor even to let himself
down a spout, which would have been an old game to
him; for once he got up by a spout to the church
roof, he said to take jackdaws' eggs, but the police-
man said to steal lead; and, when he was seen on
high, sat there till the sun got too hot, and came
down by another spout, leaving the policemen to go
back to the station-house and eat their dinners.
But all under the window spread a tree, with great
leaves and sweet white flowers, almost as big as his
head. It was magnolia, I suppose; but Tom knew
nothing about that, and cared less ; for down the tree
he went like a cat, and across the garden lawn, and
over the iron railings, and up the park towards the
wood, leaving the old nurse to scream murder and
fire at the window.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
The under gardener, mowing, saw Tom, and threw
down his scythe, caught his leg in it, and cut his shin
open, whereby he kept his bed for a week; but in
his hurry he never knew it, and gave chase to poor
Tom. The dairymaid heard the noise, got the churn
between her knees and tumbled over it, spilling all
the cream; and yet she jumped up, and gave chase
to Tom. A groom cleaning Sir John's hack at the
stables let him go loose, whereby he kicked himself
lame in five minutes; but he ran out, and gave chase
to Tom. Grimes upset the soot-sack in the new-
gravelled yard and spoilt it all utterly; but he ran
out, and gave chase to Tom. The old steward opened
the park gate in such a hurry that he hung up his
pony's chin upon the spikes, and, for aught I know,
it hangs there still; but he jumped off, and gave
chase to Tom. The ploughman left his horses at the
headland, and one jumped over the fence, and pulled
the other into the ditch, plough and all; but he ran
on, and gave chase to Tom. The keeper, who was
taking a stoat out of a trap, let the stoat go, and
caught his own finger; but he jumped up, and ran
after Tom; and considering what he said, and how he
looked, I should have been sorry for Tom if he had
caught him. Sir John looked out of his study win-
dow (for he was an early old gentleman), and up at
the nurse, and a marten dropped mud in his eye, so
that he had at last to send for the doctor; and yet
he ran out, and gave chase to Tom. The Irish-
womah, too, was walking up to the house to beg, -
she must have got round by some by-way; but she
threw away her bundle, and gave chase to Tom like-
wise. Only my lady did not give chase; for when
she had put her head out of the window, her night-
wig fell into the garden, and she had to ring up her
lady's-maid, and send her down for it privately, which
quite put her out of the running, so that she came in
nowhere, and is consequently not placed.
In a word, never was there heard at Hall Place -
not even when the fox was killed in the conservatory,
among acres of broken glass and tons of smashed
flower-pots -such a noise, row, hubbub, babel, shindy,
hullabaloo, stramash, charivari, and total contempt of
dignity, repose, and order, as that day, when Grimes,
the gardener, the groom, the dairymaid, Sir John, the
steward, the ploughman, the keeper, and the Irish-
woman, all ran up the park, shouting Stop thief,"
in the belief that Tom had at least a thousand pounds'
worth of jewels in his empty pockets; and the very
magpies and jays followed Tom up, screaking and
screaming, as if he were a hunted fox beginning to
droop his brush.
And all the while poor Tom paddled up the park
with his little bare feet, like a small black gorilla
fleeing to the forest. Alas for him! there was no big
father gorilla therein to take his part to scratch out
the gardener's inside with one paw, toss the dairy-
maid into a tree with another, and wrench off Sir
John's head with a third, while he cracked the
keeper's skull with his teeth as easily as if it had
been a cocoa-nut or a paving-stone.
However, Tom did not remember ever having had a
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
father, so he did not look for one, and expected to
have to take care of himself; while as for running, he
could keep up for a couple of miles with any stage-
coach, if there was the chance of a copper or a cigar-
end, and turn coach-wheels on his hands and feet ten
times following, which is more than you can do.
Wherefore his pursuers found it very difficult to
catch him; and we will hope that they did not catch
him at all.
Tom, of course, made for the woods. He had never
been in a wood in his life; but he was sharp enough
to know that he might hide in a bush, or swarm up
a tree, and, altogether, had more chance there than in
the open. If he had not known that, he would have
been foolisher than a mouse or a minnow.
But when he got into the wood, he found it a very
different sort of place from what he had fancied. He
pushed into a thick cover of rhododendrons, and found
himself at once caught in a trap. The boughs laid
hold of his legs and arms, poked him in his face and
his stomach, made him shut his eyes tight (though
that was no great loss, for he could not see at best a
yard before his nose); and when he got through the
rhododendrons, the hassock-grass and sedges tumbled
him over, and cut his poor little fingers afterwards
most spitefully; the birches birched him as soundly
as if he had been a nobleman at Eton, and over the
face too (which is not fair swishing, as all brave boys
Swill agree); and the lawyers tripped him up, and tore
his shins as if they had sharks' teeth which lawyers
are likely enough to have.
"I must get out of this," thought Tom, "or I shall
stay here till somebody comes to help me which is
just what I don't want."
But how to get out was the difficult matte;. And
indeed I don't think he would ever have got out at
all, but have stayed there till the cock-robins covered
him with leaves, if he had not suddenly run his head
against a wall.
Now, running your head against a wall is not
pleasant, especially if it is a loose wall, with the
stones all set on edge, and a sharp-cornered one hits
you between the eyes, and makes you see all manner
of beautiful stars. The stars are very beautiful cer-
tainly; but unfortunately they go in the twenty-
thousandth part of a split second, and the pain which
comes after them does not. And so Tom hurt his
head; but he was a brave boy, and did not mind that
a penny. He guessed that over the wall the cover
would end; and up it he went, and over like a
And there he was, out on the great grouse-moors,
which the country folk called Harthover Fell -
heather and bog and rock, stretching away and up,
up to the very sky.
Now, Tom was a cunning little fellow as cunning
as an old Exmoor stag. Why not? Though he was
but ten years old, he had lived longer than most stags,
and had more wits to start with into the bargain.
He knew as well as a stag that if he backed he
might throw the hounds out. So the first thing he
did when he was over the wall was to make the neat-
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
est double sharp to his right, and run along under the
wall for nearly half a mile.
Whereby Sir John, and the keeper, and the stew-
ard, and the gardener, and the ploughman, and the
dairymaid, and all the hue-and-cry together, went on
ahead half a mile in the very opposite direction, and
inside the wall, leaving him a mile off on the outside;
while Tom heard their shouts die away in the woods,
and chuckled to himself merrily.
At last he came to a dip in the land, and went to
the bottom of it, and then he turned bravely away
from the wall and up the moor; for he knew that he
had put a hill between him and his enemies, and could
go on without their seeing him.
But the Irishwoman alone, of them all, had seen
which way Tom went. She had kept ahead of every
one the whole time; and yet she neither walked nor
ran. She went along quite smoothly and gracefully,
while her feet twinkled past each other so fast that
you could not see which was foremost; till every one
asked the other who the strange woman was, and all
agreed, for want of anything better to say, that she
must be in league with Tom.
But when she came to the plantation, they lost
sight of her; and they could do no less. For she
went quietly over the wall after Tom, and followed
him wherever he went. Sir John and the rest saw
no more of her, and out of sight was out of mind.
And now Tom was right away into the heather,
over just such a moor as those in which you have been
bred, except that there were rocks and stones lying
about everywhere, and that, instead of the moor
growing flat as he went upwards, it grew more and
more broken and hilly; but not so rough but that little
Tom could jog along well enough, and find time, too,
to stare about at the strange place, which was like a
new world to him.
He saw great spiders there, with crowns and crosses
marked on their backs, who sat in the middle of their
webs, and when they saw Tom coming, shook them
so fast that they became invisible. Then he saw
lizards, brown and gray and green, and thought they
were snakes, and would sting him; but they were
as much frightened as he, and shot away into the
heath. And then, under a rock, he saw a pretty sight,
-a great brown, sharp-nosed creature, with a white
tag to her brush, and round her four or five smutty
little cubs, the funniest fellows Tom ever saw. She
lay on her back, rolling about, and stretching out her
legs and head and tail in the bright sunshine; and
the cubs jumped over her, and ran round her, and
nibbled her paws, and lugged her about by the tail;
and she seemed to enjoy it mightily. But one selfish
little fellow stole away from the rest to a dead crow
close by, and dragged it off to hide it, though it was
nearly as big as he was. Whereat all his little
brothers set off after him in full cry, and saw Tom;
and then all ran back, and up jumped Mrs. Vixen,
and caught one up in her mouth, and the rest toddled
after her, and into a dark crack in the rocks; and
there was an end of the show.
And next he had a fright; for, as he scrambled
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
up a sandy brow- whirr-poof-poof-cock-cock-kick -
something went off in his face, with a most horrid
noise. He thought the ground had blown up, and
the end of the world come.
And when he opened his eyes (for he shut them
very tight) it was only an old cock-grouse, who had
been washing himself in sand, like an Arab, for want
of water; and who, when Tom had all but trodden
on him, jumped up with a noise like the express train,
leaving his wife and children to shift for themselves,
like an old coward, and went off, screaming Cur-ru-
u-uck, cur-ru-u-uck murder, thieves, fire cur-u-
uck-cock-kick the end of the world is come kick-
kick-cock-kick." He was always fancying that the
end of the world was come when anything happened
which was farther off than the end of his own nose.
But the end of the world was not come, any more
than the twelfth of August was, though the old
grouse-cock was quite certain of it.
So the old grouse came back to his wife and family
an hour ifl..i. 1, i.-, and said solemnly, Cock-cock-
hick, my dears, the end of the world is not quite
come; but I assure you it is coming the day after
to-morrow -cock." But his wife had heard that so
often that she knew all about it, and a little more.
And, besides, she was the mother of a family, and
had seven little poults to wash and feed every day;
and that made her very practical, and a little sharp-
tempered; so all she answered was, Kick-kick-kick
- go and catch spiders, go and catch spiders -
So Tom went on and on, he hardly knew why; but
he liked the great, wide, strange place, and the cool,
fresh, bracing air. But he went more and more slowly
as he got higher up the hill; for now the ground
grew very bad indeed. Instead of soft turf and
springy heather, he met great patches of flat lime-
stone rock, just like ill-made pavements, with deep
cracks -between the stones and ledges, filled with
ferns; so he had to hop from stone to stone, and now
and then he slipped in between and hurt his little
bare toes, though they were tolerably tough ones; but
still he would go on and up, he could not tell why.
What would Tom have said if he had seen, walking
over the moor behind him, the very same Irishwoman
who had taken his part upon the road? But
whether it was that he looked too little behind him,
or whether it was that she kept out of sight behind
the rocks and knolls, he never saw her, though she
And now he began to get a little hungry, and very
thirsty; for he had run a long way, and the sun had
risen high in heaven, and the rock was as hot as an
oven, and the air danced reels over it, as it does over
a limekiln, till everything round seemed quivering
and melting in the glare.
But he could see nothing to eat anywhere, and still
less to drink.
The heath was full of bilberries and whimberries;
but they were only in flower yet, for it was June.
And as for water, who can find that on the top of a
limestone rock ? Now and then he passed by a deep
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
dark swallow-hole, going down into the earth as if
it was the chimney of some -I .i! house under-
ground; and more than once, as he passed, he could
hear water falling, trickling, tinkling, many, many
feet below. How he longed to get down to it, and
cool his poor baked lips But, brave little chimney-
sweep as he was, he dared not climb down such
chimneys as those.
So he went on and on, till his head spun round
with the heat, and he thought he heard church-bells
ringing a long way off.
"Ah! he thought, where there is a church there
will be houses and people; and perhaps some one
will give me a bit and a sup." So he set off again
to look for the church; for he was sure that he
heard the bells quite plain.
And in a minute more, when lie looked round, he
stopped again, and said, "Why, what a big place the
world is "
And so it was; for from the top of the mountain
he could see what could he not see ?
Behind him, far below, was Harthover, and the
dark woods, and the shining salmon river ; and on his
left, far below, was the town, and the smoking chim-
neys of the collieries; and far, far away, the river
widened to the shining sea, and little white specks,
which were ships, lay on its bosom. Before him lay,
spread out like a map, great plains and farms and
villages, amid dark knots of trees. They all seemed
at his very feet; but he had sense to see that they
were long miles away.
And to his right rose moor after moor, hill after
hill, till they faded away, blue into blue sky. But
between him and those moors, and really at his very
feet, lay something, to which, as soon as Tom saw
it, he determined to go, for that was the place for
A deep, deep green and rocky valley, very narrow,
and filled with wood; but through the wood, hun-
dreds of feet below him, he could see a clear stream
glance. Oh, if he could but get down to that stream !
Then, by the stream, he saw the roof of a little cot-
tage, and a little garden set out in squares and beds.
And there was a tiny little red thing moving in the
garden, no bigger than a fly. As Tom looked down,
he saw that it was a woman in a red petticoat. Ah !
perhaps she would give him something to eat. And
there were the church-bells ringing again. Surely
there must be a village down there. Well, nobody
would know him, or what had happened at the Place.
The news could not have got there yet, even if
Sir John had set all the policemen in the county
after him; and lie could get down there in five
Tom was quite right about the hue-and-cry not
having got thither; for he had come without know-
ing it the best part of ten miles from Harthover;
but he was wrong about getting down in five minutes,
for the cottage was more than a mile off, and a good
thousand feet below.
However, down he went, like a brave little man
as lie was, though lie was very footsore and tired,
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
and hungry and thirsty; while the church-bells
rang so loud, he began to think that they must be
inside his own head, and the river chimed and
tinkled far below; and this was the song which
it sang :-
Clear and cool, clear and cool,
By shallow and dreaming pool;
Cool and clear, cool and clear,
Byi shining shingle and foaming wear;
Under the crag where the ousel sings,
And the ivied wall where the church-bell rings,
Un1, diid, for the
Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.
Dank and foul, dank and foul,
By the smoky town in its murky cowl;
Foul and dank, foul and dank,
By wharf and sewer and slimy bank ;
Darker and darker the farther I go,
Baser and baser the richer Igrow ;
Who dare sport with the '-r' ., ?
from me, turn from me, mother and chcl-
s c' and free, strong and free,
The ~ ..,. -, : are open, away to the sea.
Free and strong, free and strong,
Cleansing my streams as I hurry along.
To the golden sands, and the leaping bar,
And the taintless tide that awaits me afar.
36 THE WATER-BABIES.
As I lose m n.~'f in the ." .'. main,
Like a soul that has sinned and is pardoned again.
U .' for the ii',df7l ,1 ;
Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.
So Tom went down, and all the while he never saw
the Irishwoman going down behind him.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
And is there care in heaven ? and is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is: else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts: but oh the exededing grace
Of highest God that loves his creatures so,
And all his works with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed angels he sends to and fro,
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe !
MILE off, and a thousand feet
So Tom found it, though it
a--,"'iif^,.---seemed as if he could have
chucked a pebble on to the
-- ---i1.: :.E the woman in the red petti-
:. -.lt, who was weeding in the gar-
.. ~ n'- or even across the dale to
t .- rocks beyond. For the bot-
.. ; t ~.. of the valley was just one
-'- ... ti,1 broad, and on the other side
-7, '-o : the stream; and above it, gray
ij 4 -- .:- '.', gray down, gray stair, gray
/- r A....., walled up to heaven.
Sq1uiet, silent, rich, happy place,
a narrow crack cut deep into the
earth; so deep and so out of the way that the bad
bogies can hardly find it out. The name of the place
is Vendale; and if you want to see it for yourself,
you must go up into the High Craven, and search
from Bolland Forest north by Ingleborough to the
Nine Standards and Cross Fell; and if you have not
found it, you must turn south and search the Lake
Mountains, down to Scaw Fell and the sea; and then,
if you have not found it, you must go northward
again by merry Carlisle, and search the Cheviots all
across, from Annan Water to Berwick Law; and
then, whether you have found Vendale or not, you
will have found such a country and such a people
as ought to make you proud of being a British boy.
So Tom went to go down; and first he went down
three hundred feet of steep heather, mixed up with
loose brown gritstone, as rough as a file, which was
not pleasant to his poor little heels as he came bump,
stump, jump, down the steep. And still he thought
he could throw a stone into the garden.
Then he went down three hundred feet of lime-
stone terraces, one below the other, as straight as if
a carpenter had ruled them with his ruler, and then
cut them out with his chisel. There was no heath
there, but -
First, a little grass slope, covered with the prettiest
flowers, rockrose and saxifrage and thyme and basil,
and all sorts of sweet herbs.
Then bump down a two-foot step of limestone.
Then another bit of grass and I....
Then bump down a one-foot step.
Then another bit of grass and flowers for fifty
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
yards, as steep as the house-roof, where he had to
slide down on his dear little tail.
Then another step of stone, ten feet high; and
there he had to stop himself, and crawl along the
edge to find a crack; for if he had rolled over, he
would have rolled right into the old woman's garden,
and frightened her out of her wits.
Then, when he had found a dark narrow crack,
full of green-stalked fern, such as hangs in the bas-
ket in the drawing-room, and had crawled down
through it, with knees and elbows, as he would down
a chimney, there was another grass slope, and an-
other grass slope, and another step, and so on, till
oh, dear me! I wish it was all over; and so did he.
And yet he thought he could throw a stone into the
old woman's garden.
At last he came to a bank of beautiful shrubs--
white-beam with its great silver-backed leaves, and
mountain-ash, and oak; and below them cliff and
crag, cliff and crag, with great beds of eown-ferns
and wood-sedge; while through the shrubs he could
see the stream sparkling, and hear it murmur on the
white pebbles. He did not know that it was three
hundred feet below.
You would have been giddy, perhaps, at looking
down, but Tom was not. He was a brave little
chimney-sweep ; and when he found himself on the
top of a high cliff, instead of sitting down and crying
for his baba (though he never had had any baba to
cry for), he said, Ah, this will just suit me!"
though he was very tired; and down he went, by
stock and stone, sedge and ledge, bush and rush, as
if he had been born a jolly little black ape, with four
hands instead of two.
And all the while he never saw the Irishwoman
coming down behind him.
But he was getting terribly tired now. The burn-
ing sun on the fells had sucked him up, but the
damp heat of the woody crag sucked him up still
more; and the perspiration ran out of the ends of his
fingers and toes, and washed him cleaner than he had
been for a whole year. But, of course, he dirtied
everything terribly as he went. There has been a
great black smudge all down the crag ever since.
And there have been more black beetles in Vendale
since than ever were known before; all, of course,
owing to Tom's having blacked the original papa of
them all, just as he was setting off to be married,
with a sky-blue coat and scarlet leggings, as smart as
a gardener's dog with a polyanthus in his mouth.
At last he got to the bottom. But, behold, it was
not the bottom as people usually find when they
are coming down a mountain. For at the foot of the
crag were heaps and heaps of fallen limestone of
every size, from that of your head to that of a stage-
wagon, with holes between them full of sweet heath-
fern; and before Tom got through them he was out
in the bright sunshine again, and then he felt, once
for all and suddenly, as people generally do, that he
was b-e-a-t, beat.
You must expect to be beat a few times in your
life, little man, if you live such a life as a man ought
A FArIY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY. 41
to live, let you be as strong and healthy as you may;
and when you are, you will find it a very ugly feel-
ing. I hope that that day you may have a stout,
stanch friend by you who is not beat; for, if you
have not, you had best lie where you are, and wait
for better times, as poor Tom did.
He could not get on. The sun was burning, and
yet he felt chill all over. He was quite empty, and
yet he felt quite sick. There were but two hundred
yards of smooth pasture between him and the cottage,
and yet he could not walk down it. He could hear
the stream murmuring only one field beyond it, and
yet it seemed to him as if it was a hundred miles off.
He lay down on the grass till the beetles ran over
him, and the flies settled on his nose. I don't know
when he would have got up again, if the gnats and
the midges had not taken compassion on him. But
the gnats blew their trumpets so loud in his ear, and
the midges nibbled so at his hands and face where-
ever they could find a place free from soot, that at
last he woke up, and stumbled away, down over a
low wall and into a narrow road, and up to the cot-
And a neat, pretty cottage it was, with clipped yew
hedges all round the garden, and yews inside too, cut
into peacocks and trumpets and teapots and all kinds
of queer shapes. And out of the open door came a
noise like that of the frogs on the Great-A, when
they know that it is going to be scorching hot to-
morrow- and how they know that I don't know, and
you don't know, and nobody knows.
He came slowly up to the open door, which was
all hung round with clematis and roses, and then
peeped in, half afraid.
And there sat by the .i| .lv fireplace, which was
filled with a pot of sweet herbs, the nicest old woman
that ever was seen, in her red petticoat, and short
dimity bedgown, and clean white cap, with a black
silk handkerchief over it, tied under her chin. At
her feet sat the grandfather of all the cats; and
opposite her sat, on two benches, twelve or four-
teen neat, rosy, chubby little children, learning their
Christ-cross-row ; and gabble enough they made
Such a pleasant cottage it was, with a shiny, clean,
stone floor, and curious old prints on the walls, and
an old black oak sideboard full of bright pewter and
brass dishes, and a cuckoo clock in the corner, which
began shouting as soon as Tom appeared ; not that it
was frightened at Tom, but that it was just eleven
All the children started at Tom's dirty, black
figure-the girls began to cry, and the boys began
to laugh, and all pointed at him rudely enough; but
Tom was too tired to care for that.
What art thou, and what dost want ?" cried the
old dame. A chimney-sweep! Away with thee!
I'll have no sweeps here."
"Water," said poor little Tom, quite faint.
Water? There's plenty i' the beck," she said
"But I can't get there; I'm most clemmed with
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
hunger and drought." And Tom sank down upon
the doorstep and laid his head against the post.
And the old dame looked at him through her
spectacles one minute, and two, and three; and then
she said, "He's sick; and a bairn's a bairn, sweep or
"Water," said Tom.
"God forgive me !" and she put by her spectacles,
and rose and came to Tom. "Water's bad for thee;
I'll give thee milk." And she toddled off into the
next room, and brought a cup of milk and a bit of
Tom drank the milk off at one draught, and then
looked up revived.
"Where didst come from? said the dame.
Over Fell, there," said Tom, and pointed up into
"Over Harthover, and down Lewthwaite Crag?
Art sure thou art not lying ?"
"Why should I ?" said Tom, and leaned his head
against the post.
"And how got ye up there ? "
"I came over from the Place;" and Tom was so
tired and desperate he had no heart or time to think
of a story, so he told all the truth in a few words.
"Bless thy little heart! And thou hast not been
stealing, then ?"
Bless thy little heart! and I'll warrant not.
Why, God's guided the bairn, because he was inno-
cent! Away from the Place, and over Harthover
Fell, and down Lewthwaite Crag! Who ever heard
the like, if God hadn't led him ? Why dost not eat
thy bread ?"
"It's good enough, for I made it myself."
"I can't," said Tom, and he laid his head on his
knees, and then asked,-
"Is it Sunday ? "
"No, then; why should it be ?"
"Because I hear the church-bells ringing so."
"Bless thy pretty heart The bairn's sick. Come
wi' me, and I'll hap thee up somewhere. If thou
wert a bit cleaner I'd put thee in my own bed, for
the Lord's sake. But come along here."
But when Tom tried to get up, he was so tired and
giddy that she had to help him and lead him.
She put him in an outhouse upon soft sweet hay
and an old rug, and bade him sleep off his walk, and
she would come to him when school was over, in an
And so she went in again, expecting Tom to fall
fast asleep at once.
But Tom did not fall asleep.
Instead of it, he turned and tossed and kicked
about in the strangest way, and felt so hot all over
that he longed to get into the river and cool himself;
and then he fell half asleep, and dreamt that he
heard the little white lady crying to him, Oh, you're
so dirty; go and be washed; and then that he heard
the Irishwoman saying, Those that wish to be clean,
clean they will be." And then he heard the church-
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
bells ring so loud, close to him too, that he was sure
it must be Sunday, in spite of what the old dame had
said; and he would go to church, and see what a
church was like inside, for he had never been in one,
poor little fellow, in all his life. But the people
would never let him come in, all over soot and dirt
like that. He must go to the river and wash first.
And he said out loud, again and again, though being
half asleep he did not know it, "I must be clean, I
must be clean."
And all of a sudden he found himself, not in the
outhouse on the hay, but in the middle of a meadow,
over the road, with the stream just before him, say-
ing continually, I must be clean, I must be clean."
He had got there on his own legs, between sleep and
awake, as children will often get out of bed and go
about the room, when they are not quite well. But
he was not a bit surprised, and went on to the bank
of the brook and lay down on the grass, and looked
into the clear, clear limestone water, with every peb-
ble at the bottom bright and clean, while the little
silver trout dashed about in fright at the sight of his
black face; and he dipped his hand in and found it so
cool, cool, cool; and he said, "I will be a fish; I will
swim in the water; I must be clean; I must be clean."
So he pulled off all his clothes in such haste that
he tore some of them, which was easy enough with
such ragged old things. And he put his poor hot,
sore feet into the water, and then his legs; and the
farther he went in, the more the church-bells rang in
Ah," said Tom, I must be quick and wash my-
self; the bells are ringing quite loud now; and they
will stop soon, and then the door will be shut, and I
shall never be able to get in at all."
Tom was mistaken; for in England the church
doors are left open all service time, for everybody
who likes to come in, Churchman or Dissenter; ay,
even if he were a Turk or a heathen; and if any
man dared to turn him out, as long as he behaved
quietly, the good old English law would punish that
man as he deserved, for ordering any peaceable per-
son out of God's house, which belongs to all alike.
But Tom did not know that, any more than he knew
a great deal more which people ought to know.
And all the while he never saw the Irishwoman,
not behind him this time, but before.
For just before he came to the river-side, she had
stepped down into the cool, clear water; and her shawl
and her petticoat floated off her, and the green water-
weeds floated round her sides, and the white water-
lilies floated round her head, and the fairies of the
stream came up from the bottom and bore her away
and down upon their arms; for she was the Queen of
them all, and perhaps of more besides.
Where have you been ? they asked her.
"I have been smoothing sick folks' pillows, and
whispering sweet dreams into their ears; opening
cottage casements to let out the stifling air; coaxing
little children away from gutters and foul pools where
fever breeds; turning women from the gin-shop door,
and staying men's hands as they were going to strike
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
their wives; doing all I can to help those who will
not help themselves--and little enough that is, and
weary work for me. But I have brought you a new
little brother, and watched him safe all the way
Then all the fairies laughed for joy at the thought
that they had a little brother coming.
But mind, maidens, he must not see you, or know
that you are here. He is but a savage now, and like
the beasts which perish; and from the beasts which
perish he must learn. So you must not play with
him, or speak to him, or let him see you; but only
keep him from being harmed."
Then the fairies were sad because they could not
play with their new brother, but they always did
what they were told.
And their Queen floated away down the river ; and
whither she went, thither she came. But all this
Tom, of course, never saw or heard; and perhaps if
he had it would have made little difference in the
story; for he was so hot and thirsty, and longed so
to be clean for once, that he tumbled himself as quick
as he could into the clear cool stream.
And he had not been in it two minutes before
he fell fast asleep, into the quietest, sunniest, cosiest
sleep that ever he had in his life; and he dreamt
about the green meadows by which he had walked
that morning, and the tall elm-trees, and the sleeping
cows ; and after that he dreamt of nothing at all.
The reason of his falling into such a delightful
sleep is very simple; and yet hardly any one has
found it out. It was merely that the fairies took
Some people think that there are no fairies.
Cousin Cramchild tells little folks so in his Conversa-
tions. Well, perhaps there are none-in Boston,
U.S., where he was raised. There are only a clumsy
lot of spirits there, who can't make people hear with-
out thumping on the table; but they get their living
thereby, and I suppose that is all they want. And
Aunt Agitate, in her Arguments on political economy,
says there are none. Well, perhaps there are none
-in her political economy. But it is a wide world,
my little man, and thank Heaven for it, for else,
between crinolines and theories, some of us would
get squashed, and plenty of room in it for fairies,
without people seeing them; unless, of course, they
look in the right place. The most wonderful and the
strongest things in the world, you know, are just the
things which no one can see. There is life in you;
and it is the life in you which makes you grow and
move and think and yet you can't see it. And
there is steam in a steam-engine; and that is what
makes it move and yet you can't see it; and so
there may be fairies in the world, and they may be
just what makes the world go round to the old tune
C'est I'amour, I'amour, I'amour
Qui fait la monde a lte ronde ; "
and yet no one may be able to see them except those
whose hearts are going round to that same tune. At
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
all events, we will make believe that there are fairies
in the world. It will not be the last time by many a
one that we shall have to make believe. And yet,
after all, there is no need for that. There must be
fairies, for this is a fairy tale; and how can one have
a fairy tale if there are no fairies ?
You don't see the logic of that ? Perhaps not.
Then please not to see the logic of a great many
arguments exactly like it, which you will hear before
your beard is gray.
The kind old dame came back at twelve, when
school was over, to look at Tom; but there was no
Tom there. She looked about for his footprints ; but
the ground was so hard that there was no slot, as
they say in dear old North Devon. And if you grow
up to be a brave, healthy man, you may know some
day what no slot means, and know too, I hope, what
a slot does mean-a broad slot, with blunt claws,
which makes a man put out his cigar, and set his
teeth, and tighten his girths, when he sees it; and
what his rights mean, if lie has them, brow, bay,
tray, and points; and see something worth seeing
between IIaddon Wood and Countisbury Cliff, with
good Mr. Palk Collyns to show you the way, and
mend your bones as fast as you smash them. Only
when that jolly day comes, please don't break your
neck; stogged in a mire you never will be, I trust,
for you are a heath-cropper bred and born.
So the old dame went in again quite sulky, think-
ing that little Tom had tricked her with a false story,
and shammed ill, and then ran away again.
But she altered her mind the next day. For
when Sir John and the rest of them had run them-
selves out of breath, and lost Tom, they went back
again, looking very foolish.
And they looked more foolish still when Sir John
heard more of the story from the nurse; and more
foolish still, again, when they heard the whole story
from Miss Ellie, the little lady in white. All she
had seen was a poor little black chimney-sweep, cry-
ing and sobbing, and going to get up the chimney
again. Of course she was very much frightened;
and no wonder. But that was all. The boy had
taken nothing in the room; by the mark of his little
sooty feet, they could see that he had never been off
the hearthrug till the nurse caught hold of him. It
was all a mistake.
So Sir John told Grimes to go home, and promised
him five shillings if he would bring the boy quietly
up to him, without beating him, that he might be sure
of the truth. For he took for granted, and Grimes
too, that Tom had made his way home.
But no Tom came back to Mr. Grimes that even-
ing, and he went to the police-office to tell them to
look out for the boy. But no Tom was heard of.
As for his having gone over those great fells to
Vendale, they no more dreamed of that than of his
having gone to the moon.
So Mr. Grimes came up to Iarthover next day
with a very sour face ; but when he got there, Sir
John was over the hills and far away; and Mr.
Grimes had to sit in the outer servants' hall all day,
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
and drink strong ale to wash away his sorrows; and
they were washed away long before Sir John came
For good Sir John had slept very badly that night;
and he said to his lady, My dear, the boy must have
got over into the grouse-moors and lost himself ; and
he lies very heavily on my conscience, poor little lad.
But I know what I will do."
So at five the next morning up he got, and into
his bath, and into his shooting-jacket and gaiters, and
into the stableyard, like a fine old English gentleman,
with a face as red as a rose, and a hand as hard as a
table, and a back as broad as a bullock's; and bade
them bring his shooting pony, and the keeper to
come on his pony, and the huntsman, and the first
whip, and the second' whip, and the underkeeper
with the bloodhound in a leash--a great dog as
tall as a calf, of the color of a gravel-walk, with
mahogany ears and nose, and a throat like a church-
bell. They took him up to the place where Tom
had gone into the wood; and there the hound
lifted up his mighty voice and told them all he
Then he took them to the place where Tom had
climbed the wall, and they shoved it down and all
And then the wise dog took them over the moor,
and over the fells, step by step, very slowly, for the
scent was a day old, you know, and very light from
the heat and drought. But that was why cunning old
Sir John started at five in the morning.
And at last he came to the top of Lewthwaite
Crag, and there he bayed, and looked up in their
faces, as much as to say, "I tell you he is gone down
They could hardly believe that Tom would have
gone so far; and when they looked at that awful
cliff, they could never believe that he would have
dared to face it. But if the dog said so, it must be
Heaven forgive us!" said Sir John If we
find him at all, we shall find him lying at the bot-
tom." And he slapped his great hand upon his great
thigh, and said, -
"Who will go down over Lewthwaite Crag, and
see if that boy is alive ? Oh, that I were twenty
years younger, and I would go down myself !" And
so he would have done, as well as any sweep in the
county. Then he said,-
Twenty pounds to the man who brings me that
boy alive!" and as was his way, what he said he
Now, among the lot was a little groom-boy, a very
little groom indeed; and he was the same who had
ridden up the court and told Tom to come to the
Hall; and he said, -
"Twenty pounds or none, I will go down over
Lewthwaite Crag, if it's only for the poor boy's sake;
for he was as civil a spoken little chap as ever
climbed a flue."
So down over Lewthwaite Crag he went: a very
smart groom he was at the top, and a very shabby
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
one at the bottom; for he tore his gaiters, and he
tore his breeches, and he tore his jacket, and he burst
his braces, and he burst his boots, and he lost his
hat, and, what was worst of all, he lost his shirt-pin,
which he prized very much, for it was gold, and he
had won it in a raffle at Malton, and there was a
figure at the top of it of t'ould mare, noble old Bees-
wing herself, as natural as life; so it was a really
severe loss but he never saw anything of Tom.
And all the while Sir John and the rest were
riding round, full three miles to the right, and back
again, to get into Vendale, and to the foot of the crag.
When they came to the old dame's school, all the
children came out to see. And the old dame came
out too; and when she saw Sir John she courtesied
very low, for she was a tenant of his.
"Well, dame, and how are you ? said Sir John.
"Blessings on you as broad as your back, Harth-
over," says she, she didn't call him Sir John, but
only Harthover, for that is the fashion in the North
country, --"and welcome into Vendale; but you're no
hunting the fox this time of the year ? "
I am hunting, and strange game too," said he.
Blessings on your heart, and what makes you
look so sad the morn ?"
I'm looking for a lost child, a chimney-sweep,
that is run away."
0 Harthover, Harthover," says she, ye were
always a just man and a merciful; and ye'll no harm
the poor little lad if I give you tidings of him ? "
"Not I, not I, dame. I'm afraid we hunted him
out of the house all on a miserable mistake, and the
hound has brought him to the top of Lewthwaite
Crag, and -
Whereat the old dame broke out crying, without
letting him finish his story, -
So he told me the truth after all, poor little dear!
Ah, first thoughts are best, and a body's heart'll
guide them right, if they will but hearken to it."
And then she told Sir John all.
"Bring the dog here, and lay him on," said Sir
John without another word, and he set his teeth
And the dog opened at once; and went away at
the back of the cottage, over the road, and over the
meadow, and through a bit of alder copse; and there,
upon an alder stump, they saw Tom's clothes lying.
And then they knew as much about it all as there
was any need to know.
And Tom ?
Ah, now comes the most wonderful part of this
wonderful story. Tom, when he woke, for of course
he woke, children always wake after they have
slept exactly as long as is good for them, found
himself swimming about in the stream, being about
four inches, or that I may be accurate 3.87902
inches long, and having round the parotid region of
his fauces a set of external gills (I hope you under-
stand all the big words), just like those of a sucking
eft, which he mistook for a lace frill, till he pulled at
them, found he hurt himself, and made up his mind
that they were part of himself, and best left alone.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
In fact, the fairies had turned him into a water-
A water-baby ? You never heard of a water-baby.
Perhaps not. That is the very reason why this story
was written. There are a great many things in the
world which you never heard of; and a great many
more which nobody ever heard of ; and a great many
things, too, which nobody will ever hear of, at least
until the coming of the Cocqcigrues, when man shall
be the measure of all things.
But there are no such things as water-babies."
How do you know that ? Have you been there to
see? And if you had been there to see, and had
seen none, that would not prove that there were
none. If Mr. Garth does not find a fox in Eversley
Wood as folks sometimes fear he never will -
that does not prove that there are no such things as
foxes. And as is Eversley Wood to all the woods in
England, so are the waters we know to all the waters
in the world. And no one has a right to say that no
water-babies exist, till they have seen no water-
babies existing, which is quite a different thing,
mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing
which nobody ever did, or perhaps ever will do.
But surely if there were water-babies, somebody
would have caught one at least ? "
Well. How do you know that somebody has
But they would have put it into spirits, or into the
Illustrated News, or perhaps cut it into two halves,
poor dear little thing, and sent one to Professor
Owen, and one to Professor Huxley, to see what they
would each say about it."
Ah, my dear little man! that does not follow at
all, as you will see before the end of the story.
11 But a water-baby is contrary to nature."
Well, but, my dear little man, you must learn to
talk about such things, when you grow older, in a
very different way from that. You must not talk
about ain't" and can't" when you speak of this
great wonderful world round you, of which the wisest
man knows only the very smallest corner, and is, as
the great Sir Isaac Newton said, only a child picking
up pebbles on the shore of a boundless ocean.
You must not say that this cannot be, or that that
is contrary to nature. You do not know what Nature
is, or what she can do ; and nobody knows ; not even
Sir Roderick Murchison, or Professor Owen, or Pro-
fessor Sedgwick, or Professor Huxley, or Mr. Darwin,
or Professor Faraday, or Mr. Grove, or any other of the
great men whom good boys are taught to respect. They
are very wise men; and you must listen respectfully
to all they say; but even if they should say, which I
am sure they never would, That cannot exist. That
is contrary to nature," you must wait a little, and
see; for perhaps even they may be wrong. It is
only children who read Aunt Agitate's Arguments,
or Cousin Cramehild's Conversations; or lads who go
to popular lectures, and see a man pointing at a few
big ugly pictures on the wall, or making nasty smells
with bottles and squirts, for an hour or two, and
calling that anatomy or chemistry-who talk about
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
" cannot exist," and contrary to nature." Wise men
are afraid to say that there is anything contrary
to nature, except what is contrary to mathematical
truth; for two and two cannot make five, and two
straight lines cannot join twice, and a part cannot be
as great as the whole, and so on (at least, so it seems
at present); but the wiser men are, the less they talk
about cannot." That is a very rash, dangerous
word, that cannot "; and if people use it too often,
the Queen of all the Fairies, who makes the clouds
thunder and the fleas bite, and takes just as much
trouble about one as about the other, is apt to aston-
ish them suddenly by showing them, that though
they say she cannot, yet she can, and what is more,
will, whether they approve or not.
And therefore it is that there are dozens and
hundreds of things in the world which we should
certainly have said were contrary to nature, if we did
not see them going on under our eyes all day long.
If people had never seen little seeds grow into great
plants and trees, of quite different shape from them-
selves, and these trees again produce fresh seeds, to
grow into fresh trees, they would have said, "The
thing cannot be ; it is contrary to nature." And they
would have been quite as right in saying so, as in
saying that most other things cannot be.
Or suppose again, that you had come, like M. Du
Chaillu, a traveller from unknown parts, and that no
human being had ever seen or heard of an elephant.
And suppose that you described him to people, and
said, "This is the shape and plan and anatomy of
the beast, and of his feet, and of his trunk, and of
his grinders, and of his tusks, though they are not
tusks at all, but two fore teeth run mad; and this is
the section of his skull, more like a mushroom than a
reasonable skull of a reasonable or unreasonable beast;
and so forth, and so forth; and though the beast
(which I assure you I have seen and shot) is first
cousin to the little hairy coney of Scripture, second
cousin to a pig, and (I suspect) thirteenth or fourteenth
cousin to a rabbit, yet he is the wisest of all beasts,
and can do everything save read, write, and cast
accounts." People would surely have said, "Non-
sense, your elephant is contrary to nature ;" and have
thought you were telling stories -as the French
thought of Le Vaillant when he came back to Paris
and said that he had shot a giraffe; and as the King
of the Cannibal Islands thought of the English sailor,
when he said that in his country water turned to
marble, and rain fell as feathers. They would tell
you, the more they knew of science, Your elephant
is an impossible monster, contrary to the laws of com-
parative anatomy, as far as yet known." To which
you would answer the less, the more you thought.
Did not learned men, too, hold, till within the last
twenty-five years, that a flying dragon was an im-
possible monster ? And do we not now know that
there are hundreds of them found fossil up and down
the world ? People call them Pterodactyles; but
that is only because they are ashamed to call them
flying dragons, after denying so long that flying
dragons could exist.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
The truth is, that folks' fancy that such and such
things cannot be, simply because they have not seen
them, is worth no more than a savage's fancy that
there cannot be such a thing as a locomotive because
he never saw one running wild in the forest. Wise
men know that their business is to examine what is,
and not to settle what is not. They know that there
are elephants; they know that there have been fly-
ing dragons; and the wiser they are, the less inclined
they will be to say positively that there are no water-
No water-babies, indeed ? Why, wise men of old
said that everything on earth had its double in the
water ; and you may see that that is, if not quite true,
still quite as true as most other theories which you
are likely to hear for many a day. There are land-
babies-then, why not water-babies ? Are there not
water-rats, water-flies, water-crickets, water-crabs, water-
tortoises, water-scorpions, water-tigers, and water-hogs,
water-cats and water-dogs, sea-lions and sea-bears, sea-
horses and sea-elephants, sea-mice, and sea-urchins, sea-
razors and sea-pens, sea-combs and sea-fans ; and of
plants, are there not water-grass, and water- ... J./ p-,
water-milfoil, and so on, without end ?
"But all these things are only nicknames; the
water things are not really akin to the land things."
That's not always true. They are, in millions of
cases,.not only of the same family, but actually the
same individual creatures. Do not even you know
that a green drake, and an alder-fly, and a dragon-fly,
live under water till they change their skins, just as
Tom changed his ? And if a water-animal can con-
tinually change into a land-animal, why should not a
land-animal sometimes change into a water-animal ?
Don't be put down by any of Cousin Cramchild's
arguments, but stand up to him like a man, and an-
swer him (quite respectfully of course) thus : -
If Cousin Cramchild says, that if there are water-
babies, they must grow into water-men, ask him how
he knows that they do not ? and then, how he knows
that they must, any more than the Proteus of the
Adelsberg caverns grows into a perfect newt.
If he says that it is too strange a transformation
for a land-baby to turn into a water-baby, ask him
if he ever heard of the transformation of Syllis, or
the Distomas, or the common jelly-fish, of which M.
Quatrefages says excellently well: "Who would not
exclaim that a miracle had come to pass, if he saw a
reptile come out of the egg dropped by the hen in
his poultry-yard, and the reptile give birth at once to
an indefinite number of fishes and birds ? Yet the
history of the jelly-fish is quite as wonderful as that
would be." Ask him if he knows about all this ; and
if he does not, tell him to go and look for himself;
and advise him (very respectfully, of course) to settle
no more what strange things cannot happen, till he
has seen what strange things do happen every day.
If he says that things cannot degrade, that is,
change downwards into lower forms, ask him, who
told him that water-babies were lower than land-
babies ? But even if they were, does he know about
the strange degradation of the common goose-bar-
A FAIIY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
nacles which one finds sticking on ships' bottoms, or
the still stranger degradation of some cousins of
theirs, of which one hardly likes to talk, so shocking
and ugly it is ?
And, lastly, if he says (as he most certainly will)
that these transformations only take place in the lower
animals, and not in the higher, say that that seems to
little boys, and to some grown people, a very strange
fancy. For if the changes of the lower animals are
so wonderful, and so difficult to discover, why should
not there be changes in the higher animals far more
wonderful, and far more difficult to discover ? And
may not man, the crown and flower of all things,
undergo some change as much more wonderful than
all the rest, as the Great Exhibition is more wonderful
than a rabbit-burrow ? Let him answer that. And
if he says (as he will) that not having seen such a
change in his experience, he is not bound to believe it,
ask him respectfully where his microscope has been ?
Does not each of us in coming into this world go
through a transformation just as wonderful as that
of a sea-egg or a butterfly ? and do not reason and
analogy, as well as Scripture, tell us that that trans-
formation is not the last ? and that, though what we
shall be, we know not, yet we are here but as the
crawling caterpillar, and shall be hereafter as the
perfect fly. The old Greeks, heathens as they were,
saw as much as that two thousand years ago; and
I care very little for Cousin Cramchild, if he sees
even less than they. And so forth, and so forth, till
he is quite cross. And then tell him that if there
are no water-babies, at least there ought to be; and
that, at least, he cannot answer.
And meanwhile, my cear little man, till you know
a great deal more about nature than Professor Owen
and Professor Huxley put together,- don't tell me
about what cannot be, or fancy that anything is too
wonderful to be true. "We are fearfully and won-
derfully made," said old David; and so we are; and
so is everything around us, down to the very deal
table. Yes; much more fearfully and wonderfully
made already is the table, as it stands now, nothing
but a piece of dead deal wood, than if, as foxes say,
and geese believe, spirits could make it dance, or talk
to you by rapping on it.
Am I in earnest ? Oh, dear no! Don't you know
that this is a fairy tale, and all fun and pretence;
and that you are not to believe one word of it, even
if it is true ?
But at all events,' so it happened to Tom. And
therefore the keeper, and the groom, and Sir John
made a great mistake, and were very unhappy (Sir
John at least) without any reason, when they found
a black thing in the water, and said it was Tom's
body, and that he had been drowned. They were
utterly mistaken. Tom was quite alive, and cleaner
and merrier than he ever had been. The fairies had
washed him, you see, in the swift river, so thoroughly,
that not only his dirt, but his whole husk and shell
had been washed quite off him; and the pretty lit-
tle real Tom was washed out of the inside of it, and
swam away, as a caddis does when its case of stone
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
and silk is bored through, and away it goes on its
back, paddling to the shore, there to split its skin, and
fly away as a caperer, on four fawn-colored wings,
with long legs and horns. They are foolish fellows,
the caperers, and fly into the candle at night if you
leave the door open. We will hope Tom will be
wiser, now he has got safe out of his sooty old shell.
But good Sir John did not understand all this, not
being a fellow of the Linnean Society; and he took
it into his head that Tom was drowned. When they
looked into the empty pockets of his shell, and found
no jewels there, nor money, nothing but three mar-
bles, and a brass button with a string to it,-then Sir
John did something as like crying as ever he did
in his life, and blamed himself more bitterly than
he need have done. So he cried, and the groom-boy
cried, and the huntsman cried, and the dame cried,
and the little girl cried, and the dairymaid cried, and
the old nurse cried (for it was somewhat her fault),
and my lady cried, for though people have wigs, that
is no reason why they should not have hearts; but
the keeper did not cry, though he had been so good-
natured to Tom the morning before; for he was so
dried up with running after poachers, that you could
no more get tears out of him than milk out of
leather; and Grimes did not cry, for Sir John gave
him ten pounds, and he drank it' all in a week. Sir
John sent far and wide to find Tom's father and
mother; but he might have looked till Doomsday for
them, for one was dead, and the other was in Botany
Bay. And the little girl would not play with her
dolls for a whole week, and never forgot poor little
Tom. And soon my lady put a pretty little tomb-
stone over Tom's shell in the little churchyard in
Vendale, where the old dalesmen all sleep side by
side between the limestone crags. And the dame
decked it with garlands every Sunday, till she grew
so old that she could not stir abroad ; then the little
children decked it for her. And always she sang an
old, old song, as she sat spinning what she called her
wedding-dress. The children could not understand
it, but they liked it none the less for that; for it was
very sweet, and very sad; and that was enough for
them. And these are the words of it:-
I F all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen ;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away ;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.
When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown ;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run doOwn;
Creep honme, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among :
God you find one face there,
You loved vhden all was young.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY. 65
Those are the words; but they are only the body
of it: the soul of the song was the dear old woman's
sweet face and sweet voice, and the sweet old air to
which she sang; and that, alas one cannot put on
paper. And at last she grew so stiff and lame, that
the angels were forced to carry her; and they helped
her on with her wedding-dress, and carried her up
over Harthover Fells, and a long way beyond that
too; and there was a new schoolmistress in Vendale,
and we will hope that she was not certificated.
And all the while Tom was swimming about in the
river, with a pretty little lace collar of gills about his
neck, as lively as a grig, and as clean as a fresh-run
Now, if you don't like my story, then go to the
schoolroom and learn your multiplication-table, and
see if you like that better. Some people, no doubt,
would do so. So much the better for us, if not for
them. It takes all sorts, they say, to make a world.
He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small:
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
I OM was now quite amphibi-
Su--s. You do not know what that
n eans ? You had better, then,
I- sk the nearest government pupil-
i-':- teacher, who may possibly answer
S.ou smartly enough, thus :--
Amphibious. Adjective, de-
i ed from two Greek words, amcphi,
S' sh, and bios, a beast. An animal
:ilpposed by our ignorant ancestors
S --t ... be compounded of a fish and a
beast; which, therefore, like the hippopotamus, can't
live on the land, and dies in the water."
However that may be, Tom was amphibious; and,
what is better still, he was clean. For the first time
in his life, he felt how comfortable it was to have
nothing on him but himself. But he only enjoyed
it: he did not know it, or think about it; just as you
enjoy life and health, and yet never think about
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
being alive and healthy; and may it be long before
you have to think about it !
He did not remember having ever been dirty. In-
deed, he did not remember any of his old troubles,
- being tired, or hungry, or beaten, or sent up dark
chimneys. Since that sweet sleep, he had forgotten
all about his master, and Harthover Place, and the
little white girl, and, in a word, all that had happened
to him when he lived before; and what was best of
all, he had forgotten all the bad words which he had
learned from Grimes, and the rude boys with whom
he used to play.
That is not strange: for you know, when you came
into this world, and became a land-baby, you remem-
bered nothing. So why should he, when he became
a water-baby ?
Then have you lived before ?
My dear child, who can tell ? One can only tell
that by remembering something which happened
where we lived before; and as we remember nothing,
we know nothing about it; and no book, and no man,
can ever tell us certainly.
There was a wise man once, a very wise man, and
a very good man, vwho wrote a poem about the feel-
ings which some children have about having lived
before; and this is what he said:
Our birth is but a slee2 and a. forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hat1h had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh fromlt / '.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory, do we come
From God, who is our home."
There, you can know no more than that. But if I
was you, I would believe that. For then the great
fairy Science, who is likely to be queen of all the
fairies for many a year to come, can only do you good,
and never do you harm; and instead of fancying,
with some people, that your body makes your soul, as
if a steam-engine could make its own coke; or, with
some people, that your soul has nothing to do with
your body, but is only stuck into it like a pin into a
pincushion, to fall out with the first shake -you
will believe the one true,
doctrine of this wonderful fairy tale ; which is, that
your soul makes your body, just as a snail makes his
shell. For the rest, it is enough for us to be sure
that whether or not we lived before, we shall live
again ; though not, I hope, as poor little heathen
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
Tom did. For he went downward into the water;
but we, I hope, shall go upward to a very different
But Tom was very happy in the water. He had
been sadly overworked in the land-world; and so
now, to make up for that, he had nothing but holi-
days in the water-world for a long, long time to
come. He had nothing to do now but enjoy himself,
and look at all the pretty things which are to be
seen in the cool, clear water-world, where the sun is
never too hot, and the frost is never too cold.
And what did he live on ? Water-cresses, per-
haps; or perhaps water-gruel and water-milk; too
many land-babies do so likewise. But we do not
know what one-tenth of the water-things eat, so we
are not answerable for the water-babies.
Sometimes lie went along the smooth gravel water-
ways, looking at the crickets which ran in and out
among the stones, as rabbits do on land; or he
climbed over the ledges of rock, and saw the sand-
pipes hanging in thousands, with every one of them
a pretty little head and legs peeping out; or he went
into a still corner, and watched the caddises eating
dead sticks as greedily as you would eat plum-pud-
ding, and building their houses with silk and glue.
Very fanciful ladies they were : none of them would
keep to the same materials for a day. One would
begin with some pebbles, then she would stick on a
piece of green wood, then she found a shell, and
stuck it on too, and the poor shell was alive, and did
not like at all being taken to build houses with; but
the caddis did not let him have any voice in the mat-
ter, being rude and selfish, as vain people are apt to
be ; then she stuck on a piece of rotten wood, then a
very smart pink stone, and so on, till she was patched
all over like an Irishman's coat. Then she found a
long straw, five times as long as herself, and said,
"Hurrah my sister has a tail, and I'll have one
too;" and she stuck it on her back, and marched
about with it quite proud, though it was very incon-
venient indeed. And, at that, tails became all the
fashion among the caddis-baits in that pool, as they
were at the end of the Long Pond last May, and they
all toddled about with long straws sticking out be-
hind, getting between each other's legs, and tum-
bling over each other, and looking so ridiculous that
Tom laughed at them till he cried, as we did. But
they were quite right, you know; for people must
always follow the fashion, even if it be spoon-
Then sometimes he came to a deep still reach,
and there he saw the water-forests. They would
have looked to you only little weeds; but Tom, you
must remember, was so little that everything looked
a hundred times as big to him as it does to you; just
as things do to a minnow, who sees and catches the
little water-creatures which you can only see in a
And in the water-forest he saw the water-monkeys
and water-squirrels (they had all six legs, though;
everything almost has six legs in the water, except
efts and water-babies), and nimbly enough they ran
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
among the branches. There were water-flowers there
too, in thousands, and Tom tried to pick them; but
as soon as he touched them, they drew themselves in
and turned into knots of jelly; and then Tom saw
that they were all alive bells and -stars and
wheels and flowers, of all beautiful shapes and
colors; and all alive and busy, just as Tom was.
So now he found that there was a great deal more
in the world than he had fancied at first sight.
There was one wonderful little fellow, too, who
peeped out of the top of a house built of round bricks.
He had two big wheels, and one little one, all over
teeth, spinning round and round like the wheels in
a threshing-machine; and Tom stood and stared at
him to see what he was going to make with his
machinery. And what do you think he was doing ?
Brick-making. With his two big wheels he swept
together all the mud which floated in the water ; all
that was nice in it he put into his stomach and ate,
and all the mud he put into the little wheel on his
breast, which really was a round hole set with teeth;
and there he spun it into a neat, hard, round brick;
and then he took it and stuck it on the top of his
house-wall, and set to work to make another. Now
was not he a clever little fellow ?
Tom thought so; but when he wanted to talk to
him the brick-maker was much too busy and proud of
his work to take notice of him.
Now, you must know that all the things under the
water talk; only not such a language as ours, but
such as horses and dogs and cows and birds talk to
each other; and Tom soon learned to understand them
and talk to them; so that he might have had very
pleasant company if he had only been a good boy.
But I am sorry to say, he was too like some other
little boys, very fond of hunting and tormenting
creatures for mere sport. Some people say that boys
cannot help it; that it is nature, and only a proof that
we are all originally descended from beasts of prey.
But whether it is nature or not, little boys can help
it, and must help it. For if they have naughty, low,
mischievous tricks in their nature, as monkeys have,
that is no reason why they should give way to those
tricks like monkeys, who know no better. And there-
fore they must not torment dumb creatures; for if
they do, a certain old lady who is coming will surely
give them exactly what they deserve.
But Tom did not know that; and lie pecked and
howked the poor water-things about sadly, till they
were all afraid of him, and got out of his way, or
crept into their shells, so he had no one to speak to
or play with.
The water-fairies, of course, were very sorry to see
him so unhappy, and longed to take him, and tell him
how -I-.l', he was, and teach him to be good, and
to play and romp with him too; but they had been
forbidden to do that. Tom had to learn his lesson
for himself by sound and sharp experience, as many
another foolish person has to do, though there may be
many a kind heart yearning over them all the while,
and longing to teach them what they can only teach
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
At last one day he found a caddis, and wanted it
to peep out of its house; but its house-door was shut.
Hie had never seen a caddis with a house-door before,
so what must he do, the meddlesome little fellow, but
pull it open, to see what the poor lady was doing
inside. What a shame How should you like to
have any one breaking your bedroom-door in to see
how you looked when you were in bed? So Tom
broke to pieces the door, which was the prettiest little
grating of silk, stuck all over with shining bits of
crystal; and when he looked in, the caddis poked out
her head, and it had turned into just the shape of a
bird's. But when Tom spoke to her she could not
answer, for her mouth and face were tight tied up in
a new nightcap of neat pink skin. However, if she
didn't answer, all the other caddises did ; for they
held up their hands and shrieked like the cats in
Struwelpeter : Oh, you nasty, horrid boy; there you
are at it again And she had just laid herself up for
a f. ''s sleep, and then she would have come out
with such ... : '-.' wings, and flown about, and laid
such lots of eggs ; and now you have broken her door,
and she can't mend it because her mouth is tied up for
a fortnight, and she will die. Who sent you here to
worry us out of our lives?"
So Tom swam away. He was very much ashamed
of himself, and felt all the naughtier, as little boys
do when they have done wrong and won't say so.
Then he came to a pool full of little trout, and
began tormenting them, and trying to catch them;
but they slipped through his fingers, and jumped clean
out of water in their fright. But as Tom chased
them, he came close to great dark hover under an
alder root, and out floushed a huge old brown trout
ten times as big as he was, and ran right against
him, and knocked all the breath out of his body;
and I don't know which was the more frightened of
Then he went on sulky and lonely, as he deserved
to be; and under a bank he saw a very ugly dirty
creature sitting, about half as big as himself; which
had six legs, and a big stomach, and a most ridiculous
head with two great eyes, and a face just like a
"Oh," said Tom, "you are an ugly fellow, to be
sure and he began making faces at him, and put
his nose close to him, and halloed at him, like a very
When, hey, presto; all the thing's donkey-face
came off in a moment, and out popped a long arm
with a pair of pincers at the end of it, and caught
Tom by the nose. It did not hurt him much; but it
held him quite tight.
"Yah, ah Oh, let me go cried Tom.
Then let me go," said the creature. I want to
be quiet. I want to split."
Tom promised to let him alone, and he let go.
" Why do you want to split ? said Tom.
Because my brothers and sisters have all split,
and turned into beautiful creatures with wings ; and
I want to split too. Don't speak to me. I am sure
I shall split. I will split! "
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
Tom stood still and watched him. And he swelled
himself, and puffed, and stretched himself out stiff,
and at last crack, puff, bang- he opened all down
his back, and then up to the top of his head.
And out of his inside came the most slender,
elegant, soft creature, as soft and smooth as Tom;
but very pale and weak, like a little child who has
been ill a long time in a dark room. It moved its
legs very feebly, and looked about it half-ashamed,
like a girl when she goes for the first time into
a ballroom ; and then it began walking slowly up a
grass-stem to the top of the water.
Tom was so astonished that he never said a word;
but he stared with all his eyes. And he went up to
the top of the water too, and peeped out to see what
And as the creature sat in the warm bright sun, a
wonderful change came over it. It grew strong and
firm; the most lovely colors began to show on its
body, blue and yellow and black, spots and bars and
rings; out of its back rose four great wings of bright
brown gauze; and its eyes grew so large that they
filled all its head, and shone like ten thousand
"Oh, you beautiful creature!" said Tom; and he
put out his hand to catch it.
But the thing whirred up into the air, and hung
poised on its wings a moment, and then settled down
again by Tom quite fearless.
"No !" it said, "you cannot catch me. I am a
dragon-fly now, the king of all the flies ; and I shall
dance in the sunshine, and hawk over the river, and
catch gnats, and have a beautiful wife like myself.
I know what I shall do. Hurrah !" And he flew
away into the air and began catching gnats.
"Oh. come back, come back !" cried Tom, "you
beautiful creature. I have no one to play with, and
I am so lonely here. If you will but come back I
will never try to catch you."
"I don't care whether you do or not," said the
dragon-fly; "for you can't. But when I have had
my dinner, and looked a little about this pretty place,
I will come back and have a little chat about all I
have seen in my travels. Why, what a huge tree
this is and what huge leaves on it! "
It was only a big dock; but you know the dragon-
fly had never seen any but little water-trees, star-
wort and milfoil and water-crowfoot, and such like,-
so it did look very big to him. Besides, he was very
short-sighted, as all dragon-flies are, and never could
see a yard before his nose; any more than a great
many other folks, who are not half as handsome
The dragon-fly did come back, and chatted away
with Tom. He was a little conceited about his fine
colors and his large wings; but you know, he had
been a poor, dirty, ugly creature all his life before,
so there were great excuses for him. He was very
fond of talking about all the wonderful things he
saw in the trees and the meadows; and Tom liked to
listen to him, for he had forgotten all about them.
So in a little while they became great friends.
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
And I am very glad to say that Tom learned such
a lesson that day that he did not torment creatures
for a long time after. And then the caddises grew
quite tame, and used to tell him strange stories about
the way they built their houses, and changed their
skins, and turned at last into winged flies; till Tom
began to long to change his skin, and have wings like
them some day.
And the trout and he made it up (for trout very
soon forget if they have been frightened and hurt).
So Tom used to play with them at hare and hounds,
and great fun they had; and he used to try to leap
out of the water, head over heels, as they did before
a shower came on; but somehow he never could
manage it. He liked most, though, to see them ris-
ing at the flies, as they sailed round and round under
the shadow of the great oak, where the beetles fell
flop into the water, and the green caterpillars let
themselves down from the boughs by silk ropes for
no reason at all; and then changed their foolish
minds for no reason at all either, and hauled them-
selves up again into the tree, rolling up the rope in a
ball between their paw s; which is a very clever rope-
dancer's trick, and neither 3Blondin nor Leotard could
do it; but why they should take so much trouble
about it no one can tell; for they cannot get their
living, as Blondin and Leotard do, by trying to break
their necks on a string.
And very often Tom caught them just as they
touched the water ; and caught the alder-flies, and
the caperers, and the cock-tail duns and spinners,
yellow and brown and claret and gray, and gave
them to his friends the trout. Perhaps he was not
quite kind to the flies; but one must do a good turn
to one's friends when one can.
And at last he gave up catching even the flies;
for he made acquaintance with one by accident and
found him a very merry little fellow. And this was
the way it happened; and it is all quite true.
He was basking at the top of the water one hot
day in July, catching duns and feeding the trout,
when he saw a new sort, a dark gray little fellow with
a brown head. He was a very little fellow indeed;
but he made the most of himself, as people ought to
do. He cocked up his head, and he cocked up his
wings, and he cocked up his tail, and he cocked up
the two whisks at his tail-end, and, in short, he looked
the cockiest little man of all little men. And so he
proved to be ; for instead of getting away, he hopped
upon Tom's finger, and sat there as bold as nine
tailors; and he cried out in the tiniest, shrillest,
squeakiest little voice you ever heard, -
Much obliged to you, indeed; but I don't want
Want what ? said Tom, quite taken aback by
Your leg, which you are kind enough to hold out
for me to sit on. I must just go and see after my
wife for a few minutes. Dear me! what a trouble-
some business a family is (though the idle little
rogue did nothing at all, but left his poor wife to
lay all the eggs by herself). "When I come back I
Ti w -;. -3=~~
; ..I- mill."~
" Tom and the otter."
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
shall be glad of it, if you'll be so good as to keep it
sticking out just so; and off he flew.
Tom thought him a very cool sort of personage;
and still more so when, in five minutes, he came back
and said, "Ah, you were tired waiting ? Well, your
other leg will do as well."
And he popped himself down on Tom's knee, and
began chatting away in his squeaking voice,-
"So you live under the water ? It's a low place.
I lived there for some time, and was very shabby
and dirty. But I didn't choose that that should
last. So I turned respectable, and came up to the
top, and put on this gray suit. It's a very business-
like suit, you think, don't you ? "
"Very neat and quiet indeed," said Tom.
Yes, one must be quiet and neat and respectable,
and all that sort of thing for a little, when one be-
comes a family man. But I'm tired of it, that's the
truth. I've done quite enough business, I consider,
in the last week, to last me my life. So I shall put
on a ball-dress and go out and be a smart man, and
see the gay world and have a dance or two. Why
shouldn't one be jolly if one can ?"
"And what will become of your wife ? "
"Oh, she is a very plain, stupid creature, and
that's the truth and thinks about nothing but eggs.
If she chooses to come, why she may; and if not,
why I go without her and here I go."
And as he spoke, he turned quite pale, and then
"Why, you're ill!" said Tom. But he did not
"You're dead," said Tom, looking at him as he
stood on his knee as white as a ghost.
"No, I ain't! answered a little squeaking voice
over his head. "This is me up here in my ball-
dress; and that's my skin. Ha, ha! you could not
do such a trick as that "
And no more Tom could, nor Houdin, nor Robin,
nor Frikell, nor all the conjurers in the world. For
the little rogue had jumped clean out of his own
skin, and left it standing on Tom's knee, -eyes,
wings, legs, tail,- exactly as if it had been alive.
"Ha, ha!" he said, and he jerked and skipped
up and down, never stopping an instant, just as if
he had St. Vitus's dance. Ain't I a pretty fellow
now ? "
And so he was; for his body was white, and his
tail orange, and his eyes all the colors of a peacock's
tail. And what was the oddest of all, the whisks at
the end of his tail had grown five times as long as
they were before.
"Ah!" said he, "now I will see the gay world.
My living won't cost me much, for I have no mouth,
you see, and no inside; so I can never be hungry nor
have the stomach-ache either."
No more he had. He had grown as dry and hard
and empty as a quill, as such silly, shallow-hearted
fellows deserve to grow.
But, instead of being ashamed of his emptiness, he
was quite proud of it, as a good many fine gentlemen
are, and began flirting and flipping up and down,
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
My wife shall dance, and I shall sing,
So merrily pass the day;
For I hold it for quite the wisest thing,
To drive dull care away."
And he danced up and down for three days and
three nights, till he grew so tired that he tumbled
into the water and floated down. But what became
of him Tom never knew, and he himself never minded;
for Tom heard him singing to the last, as he floated
To drive dull care away-ayU-ay "
And if he did not care, why nobody else cared
But one day Tom had a new adventure. He was
sitting on a water-lily leaf, he and his friend the
dragon-fly, watching the gnats dance. The dragon-
fly had eaten as many as he wanted, and was sitting
quite still and sleepy, for it was very hot and bright.
The gnats (who did not care the least for their poor
brothers' death) danced a foot over his head quite
happily, and a large black fly settled within an inch
of his nose, and began washing his own face and
combing his hair with his paws; but the dragon-fly
never stirred, and kept on chatting to Tom about the
times when he lived under the water.
Suddenly Tom heard the strangest noise up the
stream; cooing and grunting and whining and
squeaking, as if you had put into a bag two stock-
doves, nine mice, three guinea-pigs, and a blind
puppy, and left them there to settle themselves and
He looked up the water; and there he saw a sight
as strange as the noise,--a great ball rolling over and
over down the stream, seeming one moment of soft
brown fur, and the next of shining glass ; and yet it
was not a ball; for sometimes it broke up and
streamed away in pieces, and then it joined again;
and all the while the noise came out of it louder and
Tom asked the dragon-fly what it could be; but of
course, with his short sight, he could not even see it,
though it was not ten yards away. So he took the
neatest little header into the water, and started off to
see for himself; and when he came near, the ball
turned out to be four or five beautiful creatures,
many times larger than Tom, who were swimming
about, and rolling and diving, and twisting and
wrestling, and cuddling and kissing, and biting and
scratching, in the most charming fashion that ever
was seen. And if you don't believe me, you may go
to the Zoological Gardens (for I am afraid that you
won't see it nearer, unless, perhaps, you get up at
five in the morning, and go cown to Cordery's Moor,
and watch by the great withy pollard which hangs
over the backwater, where the otters breed some-
times), and then say, if otters at play in the water
are not the merriest, lithest, gracefullest creatures
you ever saw.
But, when the biggest of them saw Tom, she
darted out from the rest, and cried in the water-
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
language sharply enough, Quick, children, here is
something to eat, indeed! and came at poor Tom,
showing such a wicked pair of eyes, and such a set of
sharp teeth in a grinning mouth, that Tom, who had
thought her very handsome, said to himself, Hand-
some is that handsome does, and slipped in between
the water-lily roots as fast as he could, and then
turned round and made faces at her.
Come out," said the wicked old otter, or it will
be worse for you."
But Tom looked at her from between two thick
roots, and shook them with all his might, making
horrible faces all the while, just as he used to grin
through the railings at the old women, when he lived
before. It was not quite well-bred, no doubt; but,
you know, Tom had not finished his education yet.
Come away, children," said the otter in disgust,
" it is not worth eating after all. It is only a nasty
eft, which nothing eats, not even those vulgar pike in
I am not an eft! said Tom; efts have'tails."
You are an eft," said the otter very positively;
"I see your two hands quite plain, and I know you
have a tail."
I tell you I have not," said Tom. Look here!"
and he turned his pretty little self quite round; and,
sure enough, he had no more tail than you.
The otter might have got out of it by saying that
Tom was a frog; but, like a great many other people,
when she had once said a thing, she stood to it, right
or wrong ; so she answered, -
"I say you are an eft, and therefore you are, and
not fit food for gentlefolk like me and my children.
You may stay there till the salmon eat you" (she
knew the salmon would not, but she wanted to
frighten poor Tom). "Ha, ha! they will eat you,
and we will eat them ;" and the otter laughed such a
wicked, cruel laugh, as you may hear them do some-
times; and the first time that you hear it you will
probably think it is bogies.
What are salmon ? asked Tom.
Fish, you eft, great fish, nice fish to eat. They
are the lords of the fish, and we are the lords of the
salmon; and she laughed again. "We hunt them
up and down the pools, and drive them up into a
corner, the silly things; they are so proud, and bully
the little trout and the minnows till they see us
coming, and then they are so meek all at once; and
we catch them, but we disdain to eat them all; we
just bite out their soft throats and suck their sweet
juice oh, so good" (and she licked her wicked
lips) and then throw them away, and go and
catch another. They are coming soon, children, com-
ing soon; I can smell the rain coming up off the sea,
and then hurrah for a fresh, and salmon, and plenty
of eating all day long."
And the otter grew so proud that she turned head
over heels twice, and then stood upright half out
of the water, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
And where do they come from ? asked Tom,
who kept himself very close, for he was considerable
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
Out of the sea, eft, the great wide sea, where
they might stay and be safe if they liked. But out
of the sea the silly things come, into the great river
down below, and we come up to watch for them; and
when they go down again we go down and follow
them. And there we fish for the bass and the pol-
lock, and have jolly days along the shore, and toss
and roll in the breakers, and sleep snug in the warm
dry crags. Ah, that is a merry life too, children, if
it were not for those horrid men."
"What are men ? asked Tom ; but somehow he
seemed to know before he asked.
Two-legged things, eft; and, now I come to look
at you, they are actually something like you, if you
had not a tail" (she was determined that Tom should
have a tail), only a great deal bigger, worse luck
for us ; and they catch the fish with hooks and lines,
*which get into our feet sometimes, and set pots along
the rocks to catch lobsters. They speared my poor
dear husband as he went out to find something for
me to eat. I was laid up among the crags then, and
we were very low in the world, for the sea was so
rough that no fish would come in shore. But they
speared him, poor fellow, and I saw them carrying
him away upon a pole. Ah, he lost his life for your
sakes, my children, poor dear obedient creature that
And the otter grew so sentimental (for otters can
be very sentimental when they choose, like a good
many people who are both cruel and greedy, and no
good to anybody at all) that she sailed solemnly away
down the burn, and Tom saw her no more for that
time. And lucky it was for her that she did so; for
no sooner was she gone, than down the bank came
seven little rough terrier dogs, snuffing and yapping,
and grubbing and splashing, in full cry after the otter.
Tom hid among the water-lilies till they were gone;
for he could not guess that they were the water-fairies
come to help him.
But he could not help thinking of what the otter
had said about the great river and the broad sea.
And as he thought, he longed to go and see them.
He could not tell why; but the more he thought, the
more he grew discontented with the narrow little
stream in which he lived, and all his companions
there; and wanted to get out into the wide, wide
world, and enjoy all the wonderful sights of which he
was sure it was full.
And once he set off to go down the stream. But&
the stream was very low; and when he came to the
shallows he could not keep under water, for there
was no water left to keep under. So the sun burned
his back and made him sick; and he went back
again and lay quiet in the pool for a whole week
And then, on the evening of a very hot day, he
saw a sight.
He had been very stupid all day, and so had the
trout; for they would not move an inch to take a fly,
though there were thousands on the water, but lay
dozing at the bottom under the shade of the stones;
and Tom lay dozing too, and was glad to cuddle their
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
smooth, cool sides, for the water was quite warm and
But toward evening it grew suddenly dark, and
Tom looked up and saw a blanket of black clouds
lying right across the valley above his head, resting
on the crags right and left. He felt not quite
frightened, but very still; for everything was still,
There was not a whisper of wind nor a chirp of a
bird to be heard; and next a few great drops of rain
fell plop into the water, and one hit Tom on the nose,
and made him pop his head down quickly enough.
And then the thunder roared, and the lightning
flashed, and leaped across Vendale and back again,
from cloud to cloud, and cliff to cliff, till the very
rocks in the stream seemed to shake; and Tom looked
up at it through the water, and thought it the finest
thing he ever saw in his life.
But out of the water he dared not put his head;
for the rain came down by bucketfuls, and the hail
hammered like shot on the stream, and churned it
into foam; and soon the stream rose, and rushed
down, higher and higher, and fouler and fouler, full of
beetles, and sticks and straws, and worms and addle-
eggs, and wood-lice and leeches, and odds and ends,
and omnium-gatherums, and this, that, and the other,
enough to fill nine museums.
Tom could hardly stand against the stream, and
hid behind a rock. But the trout did not; for out
they rushed from among the stones, and began gob-
bling the beetles and leeches in the most greedy and
quarrelsome way, and swimming about with great
worms hanging out of their mouths, tugging and
kicking to get them away from each other.
And now, by the flashes of the lightning, Tom saw
a new sight, all the bottom of the stream alive with
great eels, turning and twisting along, all down-stream
and away. They had been hiding for weeks past in
the cracks of the rocks, and in burrows in the mud;
and Tom had hardly ever seen them, except now and
then at night; but now they were all out, and went
hurrying past him so fiercely and wildly that he was
quite frightened. And as they hurried past he could
hear them say to each other, We must run, we must
run. What a jolly thunderstorm! Down to the
sea, down to the sea "
And then the otter came by with all her brood,
twining and sweeping along as fast as the eels them-
selves; and she spied Tom as she came by, and
"Now is your time, eft, if you want to see the
world. Come along, children, never mind those
nasty eels; we shall breakfast on salmon to-morrow.
Down to the sea, down to the sea! "
Then came a flash brighter than all the rest, and
by the light of it in the thousandth part of a
second they were gone again but he had seen them,
he was certain of it three beautiful little white
girls, with their arms twined round each other's
necks, floating down the torrent as they sang, "Down
to the sea, down to the sea !"
"Oh, stay Wait for me cried Tom; but they
were gone; yet he could hear their voices clear and
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
sweet through the roar of thunder and water and
wind, singing as they died away, "Down to the sea !"
"Down to the sea?" said Tom; "everything is
going to the sea, and I will go too. Good-by, trout."
But the trout were so busy gobbling worms that they
never turned to answer him; so that Tom was spared
the pain of bidding them farewell.
And now, down the rushing stream, guided by the
bright flashes of the storm; past tall, birch-fringed
rocks, which shone out one moment as clear as day,
and the next were dark as night; past dark hovers
under swirling banks, from which great trout rushed
out on Tom, thinking him to be good to eat, and
turned back sulkily, for the fairies sent them home
again with a tremendous scolding, for daring to med-
dle with a water-baby; on through narrow strides
and roaring cataracts, where Tom was deafened and
blinded for a moment by the rushing waters; along
deep reaches, where the white water-lilies tossed and
flapped beneath the wind and hail; past sleeping
villages, under dark bridge-arches, and away and
away to the sea. And Tom could not stop, and did
not care to stop: he would see the great world below
and the salmon and the breakers and the wide, wide
And when the daylight came, Tom found himself
out in the salmon river.
And what sort of a river was it ? Was it like an
Irish stream winding through the brown bogs, where
the wild ducks squatter up from among the white
water-lilies, and the curlews flit to and fro, crying,
"Tullie-wheep, mind your sheep," and Dennis tells
you strange stories of the Peishtamore, the great
bogy-snake which lies in the black peat pools, among
the old pine-stems, and puts his head out at night to
snap at the cattle as they come down to drink ? But
you must not believe all that Dennis tells you, mind;
for if you ask him, -
Is there a salmon here, do you think, Dennis ? "
Is it salmon, thin, your honor manes ? Salmon ?
Cartloads it is of thim, thin, an' ridgmens, shouldther-
ing ache either out of water, av ye 'd but the luck to
Then you fish the pool all over, and never get a
"But there can't be a salmon here, Dennis! and
if you'll but think, if one had come up last tide, he 'd
be gone to the higher pools by now."
Shure, thin, and your honor 's the thrue fisher-
man, and understands it all like a book. Why, ye
spake as if ye 'd known the water a thousand years !
As I said, how could there be a fish here at all, just
now ? "
But you said just now they were shouldering
each other out of water."
And then Dennis will look up at you with his
handsome, sly, soft, sleepy, good-natured, untrustable,
Irish gray eye, and answer with the prettiest smile, -
Shure, and didn't I think your honor would like
a pleasant answer ? "
So you must not trust Dennis, because he is in
the habit of giving pleasant answers ; but, instead
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
of being angry with him, you must remember that he
is a poor Paddy, and knows no better; so you must
just burst out laughing; and then he will burst out
laughing too, and slave for you, and trot about after
you, and show you good sport if he can, for he is
an .!i. ...Ii.it. fellow, and as fond of sport as you
are, and if he can't, tell you fibs instead, a hundred
an hour; and wonder all the while why poor would
Ireland does not prosper like England and Scotland
and some other places, where folk have taken up a.
ridiculous fancy that honesty is the best policy.
Or was it like a Welsh salmon river, which is
remarkable ..h, ti- (at least, till this last year) for
containing no salmon, as they have been all poached
out by the enlightened peasantry, to prevent the Cy-
thrawl Sassenach (which means you, my little dear,
your kith and kin, and signifies much the same as
the Chinese Fan Qiei) from coming bothering in-
to Wales, with good tackle and ready money, and
civilization and common honesty, and other like
things of which the Cymry stand in no need whatso-
Or was it such a salmon stream as I trust you will
see among the Hampshire water-meadows before your
hairs are gray, under the wise new fishing-laws -
when Winchester apprentices shall covenant, as they
did three hundred years ago, not to be made to eat
salmon more than three days a week, and fresh-run
fish shall be as plentiful under Salisbury spire as they
are in Holly-hole at Christchurch; in the good time
coming, when folks shall see that of all Heaven's
gifts of food, the one to be protected most carefully
is that worthy gentleman salmon, who is generous
enough to go down to the sea weighing five ounces,
and to come back next year weighing five pounds,
without having cost the soil or the state one farthing ?
Or was it like a Scotch stream such as Arthur
Clough drew in his "Bothie ? -
Where over a ledge of granite
Into a granite bason the amber torrent descended ..
7..... -'Y there for the color derived from green rocks
Beautiful most of all, where beads of foam uprising
Mingle their clouds of white with the delicate hue of
the stillness ..
Cliff over cliff for its sides, with rowan and pendant
birch boughs." .
Ah, my little man, when you are a big man, and
fish such a stream as that, you will hardly care, I
think, whether she be roaring down in full spate, like
coffee covered with scald cream, while the fish are
swirling at your fly as an oar-blade swirls in a boat-
race, or flashing up the cataract like silver arrows,
out of the fiercest of the foam ; or whether the fall
be dwindled to a single thread, and the shingle below
be as white and dusty as a turnpike road, while the
salmon huddle together in one dark cloud in the clear
amber pool, sleeping away their time till the rain
creeps back again off the sea. You will not care
much, if you have eyes and brains; for you will lay
A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND-BABY.
down your rod contentedly, and drink in at your eyes
the beauty of that glorious place, and listen to the
water-ouzel piping on the stones, and watch the yel-
low roes come down to drink and look up at you with
their great, soft, trustful eyes, as much as to say,
"You could not have the heart to shoot at us."
And then, if you have sense, you will turn and talk
to the great giant of a gilly who lies basking on the
stone beside you. He will tell you no fibs, my little
man, for he is a Scotchman, and fears God, and not
the priest; and, as you talk with him, you will be
surprised more and more at his knowledge, his sense,
his humor, his courtesy; and you will find out-
unless you have found it out before -that a man
may learn from his Bible to be a more thorough gen-
tleman than if he had been brought up in all the
drawing-rooms in London.
No. It was none of these, the salmon stream at
Harthover. It was such a stream as you see in dear
old Bewick-Bewick, who was born and bred upon
them. A full hundred yards broad it was, sliding on
from broad pool to broad shallow, and broad shallow
to broad pdol, over great fields of shingle, under oak
and ash coverts, past low cliffs of sandstone, past
green meadows and fair parks, and a great house of
gray stone, and brown moors above, and here and
there against the sky the smoking chimney of a
colliery. You must look at Bewick to see just what
it was like, for he has drawn it a hundred times
with the care and the love of a true north country-
man ; and, even if you do not care about the salmon
river, you ought, like all good boys, to know your
At least, so old Sir John used to say, and very
sensibly he put it too, as he was wont to do : -
"If they want to describe a finished young gentle-
man in France, I hear, they say of him, 'II suit son
Rabelais.' But if I want to describe one in England,
I say, HIe knows his Be wick.' And I think that is
the higher compliment."
But Tom thought nothing about what the river
was like. All his fancy was to get down to the wide,
And after a while he came to a place where the
river spread out into broad, still, shallow reaches, so
wide that little Tom as lie put his head out of the
water could hardly see across.
And there he stopped. He got a little frightened.
"This must be the sea," he thought. "What a wide
place it is If I go on into it I shall surely lose my
way, or some strange thing will bite me. I will stop
here and look out for the otter, or the eels, or some
one to tell me where I shall go."
So lie went back a little way, and crept into a crack
of the rock, just where the river opened out into the
wide shallows, and watched for some one to tell him
his way; but the otter and the eels were gone on
miles and miles down the stream.
Ther e e waited, and slept too, for he was quite
tired with his night's journey; and when he woke,
the stream was clearing to a beautiful amber hue,
though it was still very high. And after a while he
A FAIRY TALE FORI A LAND-BABY.
saw a sight which made him jump up ; for he knew
in a moment it was one of the things which he had
come to look for.
Such a fish ten times as big as the biggest trout,
and a hundred times as big as Tom, sculling up the
stream past him, as easily as Tom had sculled
Such a fish! shining silver from head to tail, and
here and there a crimson dot; with a grand hooked
nose, and grand curling lip, and a grand bright eye,
looking round him as proudly as a king, and survey-
ing the water right and left as if all belonged to
him. Surely he must be the salmon, the king of all
Tom was so frightened that he longed to creep into
a hole; but he need not have been; for salmon are
all true gentlemen, and, like true gentlemen, they
look noble and proud enough, and yet, like true gen-
tlemen, they never harm or quarrel with any one, but
go about their own business, and leave rude fellows
The salmon looked at him full in the face, and
then went on without minding him, with a swish or
two of his tail which made the stream boil again.
And in a few minutes came another, and then four
or five, and so on; and all passed Tom, rushing and
plunging up the cataract with strong strokes of their
silver tails, now and then leaping clean out of water
and up over a rock, shining gloriously for a moment
in the bright sun; while Tom was so delighted that
he could have watched them all day long.