The Baldwin Library
A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
The Quecci J'orlds ll
A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS
BEING AN ACCOUNT
OF THREE NAUGHTY GIRLS, AND THEIR
ADVENTURES IN FAIRYLAND.
(Author of The Story of 7ohn Trevennick', etc.)
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & Co.
MY DEAR ESMEE,
You have not forgotten the winter evenings
when, perched on my knee, you listened, with a pro-
foundly critical air, to this fairy story, long before it
became a book.
Because you shewed a flattering interest in every
chapter, laughed in the right places, and found no fault
.with it whatever (Oh! Charming critic ), and also
because I have the privilege of being your father, it is
to you I venture to dedicate "A Houseful of Rebels."
In doing so, however, I ask you to recall the time
when this tale was acted as a play. Do you remember
the rehearsals? How you were wont to lie on the
hearthrug and follow each scene, sometimes pealing
with merriment, sometimes with solemn face, but always
with the closest attention? You remember also the per-
formances which to you, at least, were sources of un-
bounded delight? But of course you do; and as each
of us, in different ways, gained so much pleasure from
the play, I would ask you, not I am sure in vain, to
join with me in thanking all those connected with its
production, who placed at my disposal so much time
and patience and talent, and who opened to you the
portals of Fairyland.
When we meet Titania and her fairy people (who
exist somewhere, but seem so difficult to find) we
will beg that all our good wishes to these friends shall
come true, so that our debt of gratitude may be paid
in better coin than words.
Believe me, my dear Esme6, to remain,
Your most obedient father,
I. A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. .. I
II. THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS-AND WHAT
CAME OF IT . ..... 33
III. A REALLY SURPRISING TRANSFORMATION. 59
IV. THE THREE MORTALS WITNESS A FAIRY REVEL. 8I
V. THE RESCUE OF PUCK. . .. III
VI. PUCK TAKES THE MORTALS ON A FAIRY
VOYAGE. . 130
VII. A SCAMPER AMONG THE TREE TOPS .148
VIII. A FAIRY PRISON. . ... 168
IX. THE TRIAL. THE COMING OF PUCK. 1S6
X. THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE. .. 208
XI. HOME ... . . . 220
A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
"IT'S no use. We are locked in."
The speaker still wrestling with the door-
handle, was a girl in her thirteenth year,
tall and slight for her age, with dark eyes
that gleamed with mingled anger and
"Anyhow, I don't care. It's fun," she
continued, laughing recklessly.
"I don't care either," said her sister
Lucy, a young lady of eleven, who was
sitting on the table, beating a wild tattoo
with her heels against its leg.
"And more do I."
This ungrammatical observation came from
the youngest sister, Kitty, a merry child of
nine, who, seated on the floor with her
knees up to her chin, nodded like a china
2 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
But you are quite sure the door is
locked, Mary?" she asked.
"Quite," and Mary rattled the handle
again to remove all doubts.
"As usual, Miss Harbutt has got the
best of it. But never mind. We have been
naughty this afternoon and we are not being
punished for nothing. There is some com-
fort in that."
In making this statement, Mary spoke
the truth, although there was no reason why
she should have confined herself to naming
any particular day.
For some time past the two elder girls
had been sore trials to their governess,
Miss Harbutt, and Kitty had faithfully follow-
ed their example.
They had been wilful, lazy and inclined
to be disobedient, while Miss Harbutt
appeared a little wanting in sympathy, so
that perversity on the one side and a too
strict system on the other had finally led
to the three culprits being locked in the
nursery until further notice. The first signs
of revolt had shewn themselves at lessons
in the morning, but the rebellious outbreak
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
occurred later in the day. Mary had been
very careless indeed, and inclined to be
rude, Lucy, in her demure way, became
exasperatingly dense, while Kitty, as Miss
Harbutt had herself complained, did nothing
but fidget and giggle.
Several sharp reprimands from the gover-
ness failed to improve matters; so that after
the mid-day meal, the three girls had gather-
ed in the nursery, smarting under their
wrongs and ripe for mischief.
They were discussing plans which seemed
very like treason against constituted author-
ity, when a shrill voice floated up to them
from the landing below.
"Mary! Kitty! Lucy! where are you girls
Mary went to the door and shouted back
"Here we are, Freddy. In the nursery."
This was quickly followed by a small
knickerbockered boy, twin-brother to Lucy,
who bounced into the room without ceremony.
"I say, you girls, Miss Harbutt has gone
out for the afternoon," he commenced.
"Well, we know that," said Mary shortly.
4 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"And mother won't be home until after
bed-time," he continued.
"We know that too."
"And Cook has gone to the Crystal
Palace, or somewhere, and there is only
Jane at home."
"Well, what of it?" asked Kitty, with a
shade of expectation in her voice.
I've got an idea. Let us have a bachelor's
"Oh yes! Let's! cried the two youngest,
not quite understanding what Freddy meant,
but readily falling in with any suggestion
which their brother chose to make.
"But that's stupid," broke in Mary.
"Bachelors are boys and grown-up men.
You can't have a party all to yourself,
"You can be boys too-just this once,"
suggested her brother.
"I wish we could. It is much jollier than
being girls," sighed Lucy.
Then look here. You'll find a lot of my
clothes and things somewhere about. Some
of 'em hanging up in the cupboard on the
first landing and some of 'em are in the
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
drawers in my bedroom. Go and put 'em
on. It will be awful fun."
For a moment the girls stood looking at
each other and their brother, too overcome
with the daring nature of the proposal to speak.
"But-but suppose we are caught?"
gasped Lucy, with an effort.
"Who is to catch you?"
"Oh! bother Jane. She is too grumpy
and busy to take much notice of you.
She'll think it's some fellows I've brought
home from school. Besides, even if she does
find out, we can easily persuade her not to
split on us. That will be all right," he added
"Suppose the things don't fit us?" que-
ried Mary, with feminine instinct.
"They'll be dreadfully large for me,"
chimed in Kitty plaintively.
"Oh! It's just like girls," cried Freddy,
stamping, "to try and upset everything.
Of course they'll fit somehow. There are
lots of suits which I've grown out of. Besides,
it doesn't matter if they don't. You're not
going to church in 'em."
6 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"Only if Miss Harbutt should find out?"
observed Lucy, suffering, not as much from
qualms of conscience, as from the fear of
punishment which would certainly follow
such a discovery.
"You're frightened. That's what it is,"
said Freddy scornfully. "You would like to,
but you haven't the pluck."
"Yes, we have," snapped Mary, eagerly
defending the courage of her sex. It isn't
that at all."
"Yes, it is. You're frightened of Miss
Harbutt. Fancy being afraid of her. I'm
glad I'm not a girl."
The boy's contemptuous tones quickly
removed all further scruples. .
It had always seemed to the girls thit
the freedom from restraint, the delightful
liberty granted to boys was something to
To roam about at one's own sweet will,
unhampered by the presence of a gover-
ness; to play cricket and football, to spin
tops and fly kites; to wear garments that
did not cling round the legs; to, be noisy
without hindrance: in fact to do everything
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
forbidden to girls, appeared so perfect an
existence, that even an hour of "make
believe" was an experience to be seized
upon at all costs.
"I'll do it, Freddy," exclaimed Mary sud-
denly. "I'll do it in spite of Miss Harbutt."
"And so will I!" said Lucy more
And so will I," chirped Kitty, who follow-
ed the lead of her elder sisters as a matter
All right. Make haste, and we'll have a
jolly time of it. You go and get into my
things and I'll think of what we can do,"
cried Freddy, once more amiable.
A little fearful of venturing upon so ex-
citing an enterprise, but filled with the
spirit of mischief, the "girls ran down stairs,
leaving the boy to make a more sober de-
It was a fine afternoon in May. A recent
rain had left the grass damp, while the
sun had not quite drawn up the rain drops
which still glistened on the plants in the
trim flower-beds and on the laurel hedge
at the end of the lawn. Freddy strolled
8 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
up and down, now and again glancing im-
patiently up at the windows. The sight
of a few snails and over-confident slugs
had given him an idea which he was anxious
to carry out without delay, so that every
minute of inaction seemed an hour.
At last the French window leading into
the drawing-room was cautiously opened,
and three figures arrayed in jackets and
knickerbockers, with caps upon their heads,
came timidly into the garden. The boy
walked round his sisters, who stood half
ashamed and half defiant, and then went
into fits of laughter.
"I don't see anything to laugh at," cried
Mary indignantly. "Everything is on the
right way, isn't it?"
"Ah! yes. You've put 'em on all right;
but you do look so comic, I can't help
laughing," and once more Freddy became
convulsed in merriment. "I believe even
Miss Harbutt would grin if she saw you."
"That shews you don't know anything
about her," observed Lucy severely. "She
would have a fit on the spot. But if your
idea of a bachelor's party is to stand and
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
giggle all the afternoon. I don't see that
there is much fun in it."
"I won't do it any more," gurgled Freddy,
doing his best to suppress his mirth. "I
daresay I shall get used to it soon; but
tuck your hair under your caps, then you
won't look such molly-coddles."
The girls hastened to do his bidding,
and then eagerly requested to be told his
plans for their amusement.
"I tell you what we'll do first. We'll
turn the chickens into the garden. There
are an awful lot of snails and slugs about,
and its L larks' to see them gobble
But they will scratch holes in the mould,"
observed Mary doubtfully. "Father has a
lot of seeds and plants just coming up."
"Not if we keep driving them along.
That is what Dad tells Joskins to do some-
times; so he'll like it."
The chicken-run was in a paddock attached
to some outbuildings at the side of the
house, to which spot the party ran off in
noisy haste. The girls, still unpleasantly
conscious of their unusual dress, kept look-
io A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
ing round anxiously, although there was no
one within sight.
"You are sure, Freddy, that we do look
like boys?" asked Mary, eager to be re-
assured on that point.
"Well, you do at a distance. But there's
something about you that's girlyfied."
"Perhaps it's our hair," suggested Lucy.
"'Um-yes. But there's something else,"
meditated her brother. "You walk as if you
had petticoats on. Step out more, and stick
your hands in your pockets."
In a moment the three girls were stalk-
ing along, doing their best to imitate Fred-
dy's somewhat ungraceful 'slouch'; while
their Mentor watched these endeavours,
with contemptuous amusement.
"That's something like it," he said, after
they had marched round the paddock.
But you'll have to practise. Girls can't
become boys all at once. And now for
There was a good deal of "clucking"
and fuss among the fowls when the four
children invaded their domain, and it was
not without some difficulty that they were
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
persuaded to leave the run. Indeed two
hens who were each hatching a sitting of
eggs, were very obstinate indeed, and it
was not until Freddy had assaulted them
with a switch, that they unwillingly con-
sented to desert their nests.
The business, however, was at last
accomplished, and some dozen fowls were
paraded round the garden, and allowed to
swallow the slimy pests which played such
havoc with the tender shoots.
It was not very exciting work, and the
children's attention sometimes wandered
from the chickens to other objects.
"I wonder," said Kitty, who had paused
to watch a bee who, half buried in a
flower, was busy with its work-" I wonder
if the bees take all the honey they find,
back to the hive? I shouldn't. It must taste
good, fresh out of the flower. I should eat
some on the spot."
"I expect bees do that too," chimed in
Lucy. "They wouldn't be so silly as to
save it all up for human people. I suppose
we only have their leavings."
"How jolly a bee must be," remarked
12 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
Mary, glancing at the insect, as he slowly
withdrew from the bloom. "When he is
hungry, he justs pops into the nearest flower
and there is dinner all ready; and here,"
she added, pointing to a leaf with curled
edges, which held tiny drops of water gleam-
ing like crystals-" here is something for
him to drink. He isn't worried to behave
properly at table, or put into pinafores;
and it must be nice to eat out of flowers
and drink from leaves," a remark to which
the others readily gave their assent.
The pleasure of watching bees and butter-
flies, however, and keeping the chickens
moving, soon palled. It struck the girls
that it was not necessary to disguise them-
selves in Freddy's clothing for such a mild
form of amusement as this, since it could
have been enjoyed quite as well in petti-
coats. Kitty was the first to revolt.
"I'm tired of watching these greedy things.
It isn't a game at all. Let us play at something."
"But you can't play at anything; that's
the worst of it," said her brother.
"Yes, we can, if you'll shew us how,"
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
"But you never could," remarked Freddy
"That was because our frocks got in the
"Very well then. What can we do?"
"Let's-let's play at leapfrog," gasped
Lucy; "I have always wanted to play that."
Leapfrog why you couldn't fly a back'
if you tried for a month," exclaimed Freddy.
"Oh! couldn't I? Just stoop down and
let me try."
"And get kicked on the head. Not if I
"You are frightened. If I were a boy, I
shouldn't be afraid of that. Besides, I won't
kick you hard."
With some misgivings Freddy bent his
back, while Lucy attempted to surmount
the obstacle in a true boyish fashion. The
result of her endeavour was to send both
her brother and herself rolling on the grass
amid great laughter from the two onlookers.
"It doesn't hurt, Mary. You try. We shall
soon do it properly."
It was not without demur that the boy
consented to be practised upon; but after
14 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
several mishaps, his sisters managed to 'fly'
over him, quite easily; even Kitty, not to
be outdone by her bigger sisters, taking a
share in the sport.
"There! That's enough at present," said
Freddy, tired of so one-sided a game, since
none of the girls would become the 'post'.
"It isn't bad for girls."
In the excitement of the game, the chic-
kens, now running riot in the garden at their
own sweet will, were forgotten; while the
discussion which followed, gave them further
opportunity for improving the appearance
of the flower-beds.
"What can we do now ?" exclaimed Lucy.
"I don't care," cried Mary, who had
assumed Freddy's independent walk and
loud tones, with a fair amount of success.
"I don't care as long as it is a kind of game
girls ought not to play at. Let us think of
something awful, something that would make
Miss Harbutt's hair stand on end."
At that moment Lucy's favourite kitten,
a beautiful tabby, with pointed ears and
the 'butterfly' mark between the shoulders,
raced over the lawn, and in spite of a call
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
from his mistress, scrambled up the fence
and sprang into one of the lower branches
of a plane tree which overhung a corner
of the garden. For a few seconds he stood
looking down on the group of children who
were watching his movements, and then he
leapt from bough to bough and raced along
the branches with such quickness that they
held their breath with astonishment.
"Oh! if we could only do that," cried
Mary enviously. "If we were only cats in-
stead of girls. It must be jolly to be able
to climb trees like that. Why, it is almost
as good as flying."
"But we are not cats," sighed Lucy.
"And we can't play a game like that. Even
boys wouldn't be able to do it. Now, Freddy,
do try and invent something really 'mis-
behaving'; something very naughty indeed."
It was no easy matter to think out such
an amusement on the spur of the moment,
but after rubbing his head vigorously, Freddy
hit upon a fresh distraction.
"I don't know what it would do to Miss
Harbutt's hair, but suppose we dig a pond
and put the gold-fish in it?"
16 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"I don't think there's anything very wick-
ed in doing that," observed Kitty in a tone
"Not for boys to do it, but it is for girls.
You'll make yourselves in such a mess,"
said Freddy consolingly. "Besides, Joskins
will get in a frightful rage about it."
This, of course, added considerably to its
attractions; and Mary quickly asked where
and how such a work was to be accomplished.
"There's a lovely place just this side
of those rows of peas. Joskins has put in a
lot of spinach seeds, I think; but they
haven't come up yet, so it doesn't matter.
We can get the spades and things, and dig
a hole and then fill it with water."
But where shall we get the water from?"
"From the scullery of course; bring it
"Yes. If Jane doesn't stop us," said
Mary, who knew that the housemaid was
never in an obliging mood when her fellow-
servant was holiday-making. "She is sure
to make a fuss about it."
"Oh! we'll manage it somehow," cried
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
Freddy hopefully. "And now come and
help. We'll dig a regular pit."
By this time the fowls had dined hand-
somely. All the snails and slugs had fled
or been gobbled up, and their enemies had
commenced scratching holes in eager search
for the succulent worms beneath the surface.
Quite oblivious of the havoc which was
being wrought in the flower garden, the
three girls and their brother, having found
sundry garden implements, had commenced
The mere fact that several rows of seeds
had been carefully sown on the precise
spot of their excavation troubled them not
at all, and with fork and spade and trowel,
they quickly heaped up the earth, working
with such desperate energy that before
long hillocks of mould surrounded a hole
of large dimensions. Freddy, who was
naturally the leader of the party, mainly
employed himself in directing the operations.
He stood in the centre of the rapidly deepen-
ing pond and urged the girls to greater
exertions, although occasionally he would
throw up a spadeful of earth, much of which
18 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
found a resting-place on his sisters' borrow-
"Here!" he exclaimed at last, with an
air of triumph; "I think that's big enough
for anything. We've dug it out in no
"We!" replied Mary, in an irritating
tone. "I don't think you have done much,
except throw the dirt down our necks,"
and she wriggled her shoulders with dis-
comfort as she spoke.
"Ah, but I told you how to," explained
the boy, with a superior air. "I am the
captain and you are the common soldiers."
"We are not common at all," protested
Lucy. "Even Miss Harbutt never says
that of us."
Are but I mean private soldiers. Captains
don't carry guns; but they wave their swords
and tell the company where to shoot. You're
my company, and I told you where to
"Thank you so much," said Mary, with
a suspicion of sarcasm. "And now that
we have dug the pond, perhaps the captain
will tell the private soldiers how to carry
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
the water; and how Jane is to be persuaded
into letting us have it?"
"I'll try at any rate," said Freddy, dubi-
ously. "But she is in an awful temper.
You girls will back me up, won't you. "
Having obtained their promise to support
him, Freddy marched off kitchenwards
followed by his sisters.
Jane had just finished 'cleaning up'. The
scullery floor was as white and spotless as
scrubbing and hearthstone could make it,
while every plate and dish was wiped and
put away in the rack. Since the house-
maid had not only her own duties to per-
form, but also those of the cook, she was
a little behindhand with her work, and
consequently her temper was not to be
I say, Jane," observed the boy carelessly,
"where are all the pails?"
"Pails! Master Freddy; what do you
want with pails?" asked the girl suspi-
"We just want to water the garden-
"Why, it hasn't long left off raining.
20 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
Besides, I won't have you running in and
out the clean scullery with your dirty boots,
slopping the water all over the place."
"Oh! we shan't make a mess. Where
are they?" persisted Freddy.
"I tell you that you can't have them,
Master Freddy," said Jane crossly.
"I shall have them if I choose," was the
"We'll see about that. The Mistress said
you were not to come in the kitchen at
all, or the scullery either. Those are my
orders and I'll abide by them."
"But we will be careful, really. Do let
us have them," Mary broke in persuasively.
"I'll do nothing-" At that moment the
housemaid glanced up and stood rigid with
Good gracious! Miss Mary. What have
you got on?" she gasped at last, when
her surprise permitted her to speak.
In the excitement of pond-making the
children had quite forgotten their remark-
able costumes, and it was with a little cry
of dismay that they noticed Jane's shocked
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
It is-it- Oh we are playing at being
boys, Jane: that's all," explained Mary
quickly. "So we all put on Freddy's
"Well, that's a nice game to play at,
I'm sure, Miss Mary," the housemaid ob-
served with dignity. "And what your
Mamma, or what Miss Harbutt, would say
if they saw you, goodness alone knows."
"But they won't see us, so it doesn't
matter," remarked Lucy cheerfully. "And
as soon as we have finished making the
pond, we are going to put on our own
dresses again; so do let us have the pails,
Jane. We really will be careful."
"No, I will not. There's your answer; and
I'll trouble you to go out of my kitchen
and leave me to do my work;" and the
ruffled Jane brushed past the group and
retired into the cellar to refill a coal scuttle,
Now the housemaid's refusal to allow
the use of the scullery tap and the pails,
meant that their labours of the last half-
hour would be thrown away. This was plain
even to Freddy's intellect, and it was also
evident that Jane was not in a yielding
22 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
mood. While the boy stood at a loss what
to do, a desperate expedient flashed across
The thought no sooner came to her than
it was acted upon. She made a sudden dash
at the door at the top of the cellar stairs,
closed it, and turned the key in the lock,
thus making the servant a prisoner.
A shout of laughter from Freddy reward-
ed the feat, while Kitty and Lucy looked
"That's splendid!" cried the boy. "It
will teach her a lesson. We'll keep her
down there all the afternoon. But shan't
we come in for it afterwards," he added
"I don't care," answered Mary, who by
this time had grown quite reckless of conse-
quences. We don't often have the chance
of an afternoon's fun, and Jane shan't stop
us if I can help it."
The housemaid having accomplished her
errand, mounted the stairs slowly, while the
four children waited in the passage, silent
The girl turned the handle, at first quietly
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
and then with increasing vigour, but it was
not until she had wrestled with the lock and
heard Freddy's chuckle of satisfaction, that
it dawned upon her she was the victim of a
Master Freddy! Master Freddy! Let
me out directly."
There was no answer, and after a moment's
pause she again protested.
"Master Freddy, you naughty boy! un-
lock the door."
Except for a noise which was a little like
laughter choked back by handkerchiefs,
her demand passed unheeded.
"Unless you open the door directly I
shall tell the Mistress the very moment she
comes home," cried Jane, her temper rising
at the irritating, if smothered, merriment.
"I won't have you play your tricks on me.
Besides, there's a lot to be done yet," and
she shook the door violently as if to em-
phasise her threat.
Still there came no reply, unless the
gurgling sounds from behind the handker-
chiefs could be regarded as such.
"Miss Mary, are yon there ? I believe
24 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
you are, although you won't answer. Turn
the key, if you please." The severe and
lofty tone in which the request was made
moved Mary to open mirth.
"But I have, Jane," she said at last.
"You have? But the door won't open,"
said the girl, after another earnest endeav-
our to escape.
"No. I turned the key the other way,"
was the grave reply.
"You're a very wicked child. Let me out
this moment," exclaimed the victim more
than ever enraged at being not only a
prisoner, but a laughing-stock.
"No, I don't think we will yet. It's nice
and cool down there and the gas is alight,
and I'm sure you would like a rest after
working so hard," remarked the eldest
sister soothingly. "It won't take very long
to get the water we want, and then we
will let you out. Come along, you three, or
Miss Harbutt will be back to interfere."
Heedless of the shower of blows which
fell upon the cellar door, and Jane's piteous
appeal for liberty, the rebels ferreted out
several pails and began their task.
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
There was no occasion for the prisoner
to witness the terrible work which followed.
The sound of the water splashing on the
scullery floor as the rebels tilted the full
pails; the tramp of four pairs of boots thickly
plastered, as she guessed, with garden mould,
worked upon the feelings of the hapless
housemaid, until she scarcely knew how to
restrain herself from bursting open the door.
Previous experiences had taught her what
to expect. Everything in the scullery which
had been carefully scrubbed and tidied, was
probably turned upside down. Pools of water
mixing with the mud were making her after-
noon labour worse than useless, while the
newly whitened steps outside had, by this
time, become a fearful sight to an orderly
But the heartless children paid no atten-
tion to her shrill appeals for liberty, or the
succession of peremptory bangs' upon the
door. They ran in and out, knocking
the pails against each other when empty,
and staggering under their weight when
full, amid shouts of laughter, just as if
no such person as Jane existed. Her cup
26 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
of misery filled much more quickly than
the pond. Although Freddy and his sisters
tore to and fro with remarkable energy,
emptying bucket after bucket of water into
the hole, it disappeared through the earth
as soon as it was poured in, and the hope
of seeing a miniature lake with gold-fish
swimming gracefully from side to side, began
to dwindle rapidly away. The climax was
brought about by Kitty. She was standing
on the brink of this very irritating pond
which refused to behave as one, when the
earth slipped from beneath her feet, and,
with a cry of fear she slid quietly on her
back into the centre of the liquid mud.
When she scrambled on to dry land, Fred-
dy's flannel suit, in which she was arrayed,
presented so grotesque an appearance that
the onlookers burst into peals of laughter,
and it was not until the corners of the
child's mouth began to droop ominously
that Mary went to her rescue.
"Never mind, Kitty, you're not hurt; but
oh! my dear! what a state you are in.
We shall have to scrape you."
"It is all that stupid Freddy," complained
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
Kitty, with a catch in her voice. "Digging
a silly pond that won't hold water. And
I am so wet and messy. Oh! it is nasty!
Boys always play horrid games like this."
"That's right. Pitch into me," cried
Freddy, hurt by this ungrateful remark.
"I've been finding fun for you all the after-
noon, and this is what I get for it."
"But you might have guessed that the
water wouldn't stay where we put it,"
chimed in Mary, who was busily engaged
in wiping some of the mud from her sister,
with a pocket-handkerchief; "only you
haven't any sense."
"'Oh! Look here. If it comes to that,
you're older than I am, Mary, so you
haven't any sense either," growled the boy.
"Yes. It's as much your fault as his,
Mary," said Lucy crossly, who was not
going to see her twin-brother falsely accused.
"You're the eldest. It is downright mean
to say that."
Since the mischief was done, quarrelling
was quite useless, so that Mary wisely held
her tongue, and, assisted by Lucy, continued
to smear the dirt more evenly over Kitty's
28 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
costume. The three were so occupied in
this performance that they failed to notice
Freddy peer through the laurel hedge,
and then quietly steal away from the scene
of this latest exploit; neither did they hear
light footsteps coming steadily from the
direction of the side gate. They looked
up quickly enough, however, when they
heard the well-known voice of Miss Harbutt
in accents of the greatest astonishment.
It-it-it- Good gracious!"
Now Miss Harbutt, in spite of the slight-
ing remarks of Mary and her sisters had been
pleased to make upon her, was a pleasant-
faced lady of forty, agreeable enough, if
somewhat cold, when the girls were well-
behaved and obedient, which sometimes
happened; but stern and resolute during
their frequent spells of naughtiness. At
present, she looked very grave and sur-
prised, while the dreadful silence that fol-
lowed her first remark made the culprits
not a little uncomfortable.
"What does this mean?"
There was no answer.
"Mary, will you kindly explain?"
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
"Well, you see, Miss Harbutt, we--we-
thought we should like to make a pond,
so we dug a hole and poured water into
it, and it wouldn't stop, so Kitty fell in
and-and-we're wiping the mud off, and
th-th-that's all," said Mary, all in one
"Indeed. But how is it that you are in
these extraordinary costumes? I can't under-
stand it," continued the governess more
severely. "I feel quite ashamed to look atyou."
"We put them on-for fun," came the
"For fun! A very pleasant, ladylike idea
of amusement to be sure."
"There is no harm in it. Boys' clothes
are very comfortable. We should always
like to wear them," cried Mary recklessly.
"I am very surprised and grieved to hear
you say so. Go to your room and change
directly. I am extremely angry with you."
There was no gainsaying a request so
sharply given, and the three culprits, with
mutinous faces, walked with much dignity
into the house, Miss Harbutt bringing up
30 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
No sooner were they indoors than a
mysterious series of thumps from the region
of the kitchen, brought the governess to
a sudden standstill.
"What is that noise ?" she asked abruptly.
"I expect it's Jane doing something,"
explained Mary eagerly. Shall I go and
"Thank you. I will go myself," and
while the girls slowly ascended the stair-
case, Miss Harbutt proceeded to investigate.
No sooner had the lady reached the
cellar door than the reason of Jane's vigor-
ous onslaught became manifest, and with-
out delay the unfortunate prisoner was
released. The girl emerged quite scarlet
with anger and exertion, and in answer to
Miss Harbutt's astonished gaze poured forth
"Those children locked me in, Miss. I
don't know which, but it's one of 'em.
They wanted to slop the water all over
the scullery and I wouldn't let 'em; so this
is the way they served me. I've been there
for hours, Miss,-all among the coals and
spiders and beetles. Oh! it's shameful!
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.
And just look here, Miss. There's a nice
state for a scullery to be in-just after I've
cleared up," she continued, glaring round
her domain. Look at it. What isn't water
is mud. Would any girl put up with it?
I'll give notice-that's what I'll do. It's
enough to drive anyone out of their wits
to live with such naughty children. I left
it as clean as a new pin, and now it's-
it's-road scrapings and burst pipes."
In truth the scene was enough to strike
terror into the heart of the bravest housemaid.
Boots caked with mud had left their marks
in every direction. Pail after pail had spilt
part of its contents on the hearth-stoned
floor, so that earth and water had spread
in dark muddy streams over its once white
surface. "Oh! it's too bad-too bad!"
and after another glance at the havoc wrought
by the late occupiers, Jane burst into tears.
"They shall be well punished; you may
be sure of that." Miss Harbutt spoke as
though she meant it.
"Punished! I'm sure I hope so. But that
won't help to clean my scullery, Miss,"
sobbed the girl. "I've tried and tried to
32 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
keep things tidy and nice; but it's no good,
I'll go at the end of my month as sure as
my name is Jane. Those children are more
than any girl can stand." With which threat
the girl retired to nurse her grief in the
kitchen, while Miss Harbutt followed the
small sinners upstairs, intent upon meting
out a richly deserved punishment.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS-AND WHAT
CAME OF IT.
IT having been made plain why Mary
rattled in vain at the door-handle, and
why Miss Harbutt turned the key from the
other side, the further exploits of these
model young ladies will be related in the
order in which they occurred.
The eldest girl retired from the door and
sat herself, with a shrug of the shoulders,
on the table by Lucy's side.
"After all," she said, having further con-
templated the extent of their wickedness,
"I don't see that we've been very naughty.
Not nearly so naughty as we could have
been if we had tried harder. If boys wear
knickerbockers and things, why shouldn't
girls? I'm sure there are heaps of ladies
on bicycles who do. I wonder if they get
locked in the nursery when they go home ?"
"I daresay they would-if Miss Harbutt
34 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
had anything to do with it," snapped Lucy.
"She vould say, Oh, how unladylike You
must be severely punished. I shall tell your
Mamma.'" And the child's imitation of
Miss Harbutt's manner was close enough
to send the other two into fits of laughter.
"And even if we did let the chickens
out, the poor things enjoyed it. Besides,
they scratched up all the slugs and snails-
at least I suppose they did," Mary observed.
"I daresay. Anyhow they scratched up
everything else," cried Lucy. "So I expect
Joskins won't be very grateful after all."
"No. That is just it," observed Kitty
woefully. "Whenever we try to do any-
thing useful, it always turns out wrong some-
how. I don't see the use of trying to be
good. You get just as much punished for
it as if you were naughty. Do you recollect
filling father's ink-stands one day?"
"When we upset the ink on some books ?"
cried the eldest girl, with a flash of recol-
"Yes. Well, we didn't mean to. But if
we had done it on purpose, we couldn't
have been worse treated."
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 35
"It is always the way," sighed Lucy.
"If we were only boys, it would be all
right," explained Mary indignantly. "Boys
don't get punished. They get all the fun,
and girls get all the plain teas and shutting
up. It's a great shame!"
At that moment there was the rattle of
tea-cups outside the door, followed by the
turning of the key. The children looked
round and saw Jane of the angry counten-
ance enter the room, carrying a tray, which
she "plumped" down upon the table, with
quite unnecessary violence. Then, without
a word, she retired, banging the door and
turning the key behind her.
"Bad-tempered thing," sniffed Lucy. "Just
because we locked her in the cellar and made
the scullery a little dirty."
"Some people get out of temper for no-
thing at all. But never mind. Let us have
tea, or whatever it is." And Mary threw
herself into a chair at the table, an example
followed by the rest.
"I suppose it is a very plain tea," sighed
"I should think it was;" and Mary criti-
36 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
cally examined the substantial slices of bread
which Jane had provided. Can anybody see
"I'm not sure;" and Kitty turned her
slice over contemptuously.
"I think my piece is a little greasy in
"And I wonder what Jane calls this?"
added Mary in great scorn. "Milk and
Lucy tasted it, and made a wry face be-
"Doesn't something dreadful happen to
people who mix water with milk? Aren't
they put in prison? "
"Are they?" chimed in Kitty. "Then the
next time we're out with Jane, let us give
her in charge of a policeman."
"Whenever she is out, she generally is
in charge of a policeman, and so it won't
make much difference," explained Mary, who
had not gone through life with her eyes shut.
At this moment they were startled by a
sudden cry from Lucy, who had sprung
from her chair and was eagerly fumbling
in her pocket.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 37
"Oh for goodness! I have forgotten
something. You know when Miss Harbutt
went into the kitchen?"
The other girls nodded.
"Well, I guessed we should be locked
in with a plain tea, and so I rushed to the
store cupboard and stole something."
"What?" cried Mary and Kitty simulta-
"Jam! Where is it?"
"In my pocket, wrapped up in paper. I
hope it hasn't come through. No-not much.
There it is," and the girl placed a sodden,
unappetising newspaper parcel on the table,
with an air of triumph.
You're a very good child indeed," said
Mary, hugging her with a burst of enthu-
"But it looks rather messy, doesn't it?"
enquired Kitty, who had been gazing doubt-
fully upon the unwholesome package in
which print and jam struggled for the
"There is gratitude! was Lucy's indignant
rejoinder. "Anyhow it's better than nothing."
38 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"So it is-ever so much," said her con-
science-stricken sister. "But how are we
going to spread it? We haven't any knives,
or spoons either."
For a moment or two the trio remained
non-plussed, until a happy idea occurred to
"I know. Pencils will do. We are not
wearing our company manners."
Slate pencils were poor substitutes for
knives or spoons; but the girls persevered
bravely, and before long each slice of bread
was bountifully smeared with jam.
"I wish it didn't taste so slatyy,'" com-
"Oh! you are too particular," snapped
Lucy, who, having provided the luxury,
regarded such an observation as base in-
gratitude. "You needn't eat any, you know,
if you would rather not."
"No. There is plenty of bread," added
Mary severely. "Perhaps you would prefer
Crushed by these severe remarks, Kitty
munched away in silence, while Mary looked
round with a discontented air.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 39
"There is something wrong about us,"
she said after a pause.
"Wrong! What sort of wrong? Do you
mean naughty?" asked Lucy.
"No. Not naughty. We are too proper.
We sit just as Miss Harbutt tells us to sit.
Let us put our elbows on the table. She
says it is very rude. So we'll do it."
This admirable suggestion was carried
out promptly, and three pairs of elbows
sprawled over the table.
"And then," continued Mary with a
wicked gleam in her eye, "Miss Harbutt
says that to speak when our mouths are
full is shocking."
"Oh! So shocking! observed Lucy, again
mimicking that good lady. "Then we will
chatter like anything." And amid uproarious
merriment their tongues wagged vigorously,
for all the world as though a dozen farm-
yard fowls had been let loose in the nursery.
At last, however, the jam disposed of,
they all jumped up from the table, and
with great noise and clatter heaped the cups
and saucers on the tray, which was finally
deposited in a remote corner of the room.
40 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"What shall we do now?" asked Kitty,
who had been making vain attempts to
slide on the carpet. "Is there anything to
"Only a book of Fairy Stories," replied
Lucy. "And I don't care for fairy stories.
Nobody believes there are such things as
"Of course not. Besides, we know the
tales by heart," yawned Mary. "What else
is there. Any skipping ropes?"
"They are down stairs."
"No. Besides, you can't spin tops."
"Indeed I can," observed Mary indignant-
ly. "Freddy taught me. But as usual Miss
Harbutt said it was 'so unladylike' and
took mine away. When I grow up," she
added with great emphasis, if there is one
thing I shall try not to be, it is a lady."
So shall I," cried Kitty with much sym-
pathy. "Why, ladies mustn't even whistle.
Let us try whistling. P'r'aps Miss Harbutt
will hear us," she added vindictively.
"Oh yes Let's. And- Oh for goodness !
I've forgotten something," and Lucy, who
They were borne away upwar
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 41
had just pursed up her lips, once more
dived her hand into her pocket.
"Jam?" exclaimed Mary.
"Or sweets? cried Kitty, with glowing
"No, greedy things," replied Lucy re-
provingly. "Better than that-a book. I
found it under Freddy's pillow this morning.
It is one of those with a picture in the
front. He calls it a 'penny horrible'. Oh!
it's so exciting!" and flourishing the book
in the air, the girl sat on the table, while the
other two took up a position each side of her.
"What is the name of it?" asked Kitty,
with a wondering look at the highly colour-
ed picture with ornamented the cover.
"' Daring Dick'-' Daring Dick.' Isn't that
beautiful? 'Daring Dick, or the Scorpion of
"But what is it all about?" queried the
"Indians! Red Indians! Fighting! Tor-
turings! Shootings! Oh! It's lovely!" cried
Lucy, with enthusiasm.
"And do they really kill one another?"
whispered the awe-struck Kitty.
42 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"Oh yes! By dozens. And when they are
tortured first, it's better than anything. It's
"I suppose that picture is where the
torture is going on?" observed the elder girl.
"Yes. You see this is how it all was,"
commenced Lucy. Daring Dick was chums
-Freddy says 'chums'-with one tribe.
And when he was away killing lions or
elephants or some other American wild
beast," she explained with a fine disregard
for accuracy, "another tribe came along
in the dark and killed a lot of his tribe
and took the others into custody-"
"You mean captivity," corrected Mary.
"Don't interrupt. It's the same thing.
Well, when he came back," she continued,
gasping, "and found what they had done,
he was quite annoyed about it, and 'vowed
vengeance.' They're always 'vowing ven-
geance' in this book. So he got some other
white people and red people together and
' followed the trail'-they are always follow-
ing the trail' in this book-and caught the
other tribe just as they were beginning to
torture the prisoners."
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 43
"Oh! How did they torture them?"
begged Kitty "Please tell us."
"Yes, do," echoed Mary. "That is the
part I like."
"They throw tomahawks at them and
shoot bows and arrows into their arms
and legs, and when they get tired ofthat,
they-they-burn them," explained Lucy,
dropping her voice to an awed whisper.
"And-and what then?" said Kitty eagerly.
"I suppose that is all. I don't see what
else they can do."
There was a moment's pause after this
gruesome recital, and then Mary sprang
down from the table, bursting with a great
"Wouldn't it make a lovely game?"
"Oh! Splendid! Let us play it." And the
younger girls bounced about the room eager
"Very well," continued Mary. "I'll belong
to the torturing tribe."
"And so will I," cried Lucy.
"And so will I," echoed Kitty.
"But look here," observed the eldest
girl, with a puzzled expression. "If we all
44 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
belong to the torturers, there is nobody
left to torture."
"Ah, dear! I never thought of that," and
Kitty paused in the midst of a wild war-
"If we could only capture Miss Harbutt,"
said Lucy viciously. "Shouldn't I like to
dance round and throw things at her."
"It would be nice. But it can't be done.
I wonder if Freddy would be a captive?"
was Mary's next suggestion.
"I am sure he wouldn't. Boys are dread-
ful cowards," at once answered Lucy.
"Then you be one, Lucy dear," said
Mary coaxingly. "I'm sure you would
"Please, Lucy," chimed in Kitty. "We
wouldn't burn you, anyhow."
"No. It hurts frightfully. Besides, when
you are tortured, you have to keep quiet,
to shew you don't mind it; but I'm sure
I should shriek. You try, Mary; you are
Each in turn, with the most sisterly hugs
and endearments, attempted to secure a
victim; but without avail.
She went soaring up high above the heads
of her sisters.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 45
They were just giving up the idea in
despair, when a happy thought occurred
"Oh for goodness! I've thought of
something. Why not torture the dolls?"
Here was the very thing; and a sudden
rush was made for the large play-box,
which stood in a corner by the fireplace,
to find the unhappy captives of the attack-
ing party. In a few moments the floor was
strewn with toys, some broken, others
almost new, and it was not until the box
was nearly empty that Mary found the
objects of their search.
"Here's Juliana! Catch, Lucy." And a doll
flew up to the ceiling, and then fell head
first on the carpet. The same fate over-
took Ophelia, who was Kitty's property,
and when Mary sprang up holding a third
doll, known as Belinda, by the leg, and
swung her round violently, the number of
victims was complete.
At one time, these three playthings were
the most treasured belongings of the sisters.
But their beautiful wax faces by constant
kissing, lost the pink and white bloom of
A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
health, and became a bilious yellow from
too many caresses. The constant dressing
and undressing to which they were subjected
wore out their clothes; so that their waning
charms, and the increasing age of their
small mistresses, who professed to be too
old for dolls, found them ragged and dirty
and battered; creatures not of worship but
"You haven't grown any prettier, Belinda,"
cried Mary, after a critical examination. "I
haven't seen you for a year, and you are
uglier than ever."
"And so is Ophelia," said Lucy.
"And so is Juliana," added Kitty. "They
deserve to be tortured for being hideous.
Now let us begin. You know all about it,
Well," explained Lucy, with some deliber-
ation. "They ought to be tied to stakes,
with bundles of wood all round them-to
set fire to, you know. But we haven't any
stakes or anything. Besides, we should
burn the house down."
"That is a nuisance. Never mind. We'll
leave the burning out," suggested Mary,
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 47
" and only do the tomahawking part of it.
What are tomahawks, Lucy?"
"Sort of knives, I think. And there are
no knives up here."
"Or bows and arrows either," chimed
in Kitty ruefully,
"It is stupid. We have nothing to torture
But Lucy's quick wit once more came to
"I know! I've thought of something," she
cried, clapping her hands. "Don't you re-
collect Freddy making some darts out of
father's penholders-and father being so
angry about it."
"Oh yes! exclaimed Mary eagerly. "Be-
cause they were his best nibs, and Freddy
stuck them all over the drawingroom ceiling."
"Well, I believe some of them are up
here somewhere. We will search."
With this new-born hope to cheer them,
the girls commenced an eager hunt for the
weapons. At last a cry of triumph from
Kitty proclaimed that her quest was success-
ful, and with a flourish, she produced three
darts from a drawer in the table.
48 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"Here they are. Splendid! the very
things! she cried.
"Oh! won't they stick in beautifully?
They are heaps better than tomahawks.
Now where shall we put the prisoners?"
Sit them on the mantelpiece," suggested
The girls were just going to adopt this
method when Mary stopped them.
"Wait a minute. Oughtn't they to be
"Not black-red. I suppose Red Indians
are red; aren't they?" observed Kitty
"Anyhow, they shouldn't be white. Let
us paint them. There is a paint-box at the
bottom of the play-box. I saw it."
This idea seemed too good to be wasted,
and so the play-box was once more rum-
maged, and a box of paints produced,
containing everything necessary for the
Lucy having discovered some liquid in
the bottom of a cup, poured it into the
saucer, scornfully remarking that "the milk
wouldn't make any difference," and then
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 49
the trio sat at the table, each with her doll
in her lap, and prepared to ornament the
battered lineaments of her once cherished
"They ought not to be all one colour,"
remarked Lucy, dabbing her brush in the
milk and water, and then rubbing it on a
square of vermilion paint. "You see when
Red Indians fight, they put their war paint
on all stripy, you know, to make them-
"Poor Belinda is ugly enough already,"
"And Ophelia's nose is smashed flat,"
said Kitty, with a giggle.
"And Juliana has lost one eye and a bit
of an arm," cried Lucy. "We'll suppose
that they have been tortured before."
Not much supposing, if they could really
feel," observed Mary, working busily, with
her head on one side. I jumped on Belinda
"Oh! I never did that to Ophelia,"
remarked Kitty, a trifle shocked. "But I
used to bend her legs the wrong way to
make her sit up properly."
50 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
And once I left Juliana inside the fender,
and her face all melted. She looked so
funny afterwards," and Lucy shook with
merriment at the recollection.
"There, isn't that beautiful?" said Mary,
holding up Belinda with an air of pride.
"Rather smudgy. But somehow the paint
won't stop where you put it," replied Kitty,
gazing ruefully at the blurred line of red
and black on Ophelia's face.
"Never mind. They ought to be hideous,"
exclaimed Lucy, springing from her chair.
"Oh! I should like to paint Miss Harbutt.
How funny she would look with dabs all
over her. Now put the others up here,"
she continued, placing Juliana on the mantel-
piece with her back to the wall, and we'll
commence the torture."
We must stand here," commanded Mary,
taking three long strides to a dark stain
on the carpet, caused by the fall of an ink-
pot-" and fancy they are all Miss Harbutts;
we shall throw all the straighter. Lucy,
you have first 'shy'-as Freddy calls
it," she added, seeing the shocked looks
of her sisters. "And Kitty and I will
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 51
beat the tom-toms, or whatever they are
"But what are tom-toms?" asked Kitty.
"I don't know. Drums, I think. Bang the
cups and saucers together, that will do.
And dance about and 'stomp,' to make
Miss Harbutt think we are enjoying our-
selves," she added, her eyes twinkling with
Then commenced a perfect storm of noise.
Each girl, in a great state of excitement,
took her place on the ink-stain and aimed
the darts, with more or less precision, at
the unfortunate dolls who sat limp and woe-
begone on the mantelpiece. The other pair
employed their time in uttering shrill cries,
dancing round the table, and banging the
tea-things together, only stopping to applaud
wildly when one or the other of the dolls
received a dart full on her waxen face or
At last, exhausted by their exertions, they
all paused in their sport and examined the
victims to find what damage had been inflicted.
"We haven't quite killed them; have
we?" laughed Kitty.
52 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"No. But they look very uncomfortable,"
said Mary. "And they would look more
uncomfortable if they could feel. What
did you say happens to the prisoners when
the torturing part is over?"
"Well, they're supposed to be tied to
posts, with faggots round them, and they're
burnt," remarked Lucy.
"Oh! How horrid! ejaculated Mary, with
a little shudder.
"But of course we can't do that; because
there is no wood, or matches either."
"What a pity Freddy isn't here," con-
tinued Mary regretfully. His pockets are
always full of matches."
"Matches, why?" said the innocent Kitty.
"Because-" observed Lucy mysteriously,
"Only don't tell anyone-because he
"No!" ejaculated the others.
"He does, though. And gets dreadfully
ill after it."
"Then why does he do it?" said Mary
"Because he ought not to. Boys are very
like girls in some things," answered the
Leaving the aOrls to their Novel Repast.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 53
observant Lucy. "Anyhow, we can't burn
the dolls, and so there is an end of this
By way of answer, Mary seized Belinda
roughly by the leg and swung her round
"There, Belinda, I don't want you any
longer. You were not very beautiful, white;
but now you are a perfect fright and I can't
bear you." So saying, she hurled the doll
to the ceiling, and it fell with a dull thud
behind a screen which stood in the corner
of the room.
"Ophelia-you blackamoor! go after
Belinda," cried Kitty, following her elder
"And as for you, Juliana! I would
rather nurse Miss Harbutt," and Lucy flung
the doll after its misused companions.
"And now what shall we do?" continued
the child, with a yawn, throwing herself into
a chair. "I am sleepy somehow. But it isn't
Not for hours," replied Mary. Torturing
people is very hard work-isn't it? I don't
know what we can do with ourselves. Some-
54 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
body says that there is always evil work
for idle hands to do. But I can't find any.
Wish I could. I am sleepy. Read some
of that Indian story, Lucy, to keep me
"I am much too tired. Besides, there are
so many long words in it that I can't pro-
nounce. It's a very funny thing; but I never
felt so sleepy before in all my life;" and
she stretched herself wearily, and then let
her head drop on her arms, which rested
upon the table.
"So am I," mumbled Kitty, who had
curled herself up on the floor and was
leaning against Mary's knee. "I can scarcely
keep my eyes open. I thought people with
guilty consciences never went to sleep?"
"I suppose our consciences have got used
to being guilty," replied Mary, between two
yawns. Anyhow, I shall never keep awake."
"I can't either," sighed Lucy.
"Nor I," murmured Kitty.
And in a few moments the trio seemed
sleeping soundly. How long they remained
unconscious, they had no means of know-
ing; but Mary awoke suddenly, with an
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 55
uneasy feeling that something was about
The room was almost dark, and the girl
could only faintly perceive Lucy's figure
outlined against the wall behind her. Kitty
was stirring uneasily, and moaning a little
as though in a troubled dream.
Then came absolute silence, broken at
last by faint sounds of music; music so
strange and sweet and sad that Mary had
never before heard anything like it. The
strains brought a lump to her throat.
It was certainly no one playing on the
piano in the drawing-room, while it still
less resembled the music of a German
band. She sat quite motionless, drinking
in the unearthly melody, until a soft glow
stole into the room, and melted the pre-
vailing darkness. The girl looked round
to see whence came the light, but with-
out success; and while lost in wonderment,
a slight rustling behind the screen made
her rivet her gaze in this direction. Then
a most wonderful thing happened.
From behind the folds there appeared
three figures cloaked from head to foot
56 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
in some filmy, gauze-like material. They
advanced to the centre of the room, slowly
waving silver wands which shimmered as
they moved. Then the long veils fell away
from the strange visitors, and to Mary's
horror, she recognized the three dolls, now
grown to the same size as the girls them-
As though with one accord, the girls
sprang to their feet, too horror-stricken, at
first, to utter a word.
"Who are you? Oh! Please, who are
you?" said Mary, at length, in a frightened
"I am Belinda," came back the answer
in a very low reproachful voice.
"Then-then-you are Ophelia! panted
Kitty, clutching Mary's arm in abject terror
"And-and you are alive!"
"Ophelia! Alive!" said the doll, turning
her poor battered, painted face to the child,
who cowered down appalled at the sight.
"It's-it's Juliana! Oh for goodness!"
wailed Lucy, rushing across the floor and
clinging to Mary.
"I am Juliana," echoed the third figure.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 57
The girls shrank away as the dolls
advanced towards them, until, having
made vain attempts to get through the
walls behind them, they were brought
"What do you want? We-we-haven't
done anything." Mary cried in gasps.
"Come! Come!" came the reply, in the
same low sad tone.
"But we-we don't want to. We are
Follow! follow! I bid you follow," said
the reproachful voice.
"W-w-where will you take us to?"
"Where cruel acts shall meet with their
reward. Follow! Follow!"
As the doll spoke, she and her com-
panions came quite close, so that each dent
on their faces, each mark that ill-usage and
neglect had caused, could be plainly seen,
through the dirty, soiled dresses, which
somehow had become transparent.
Then the wands circled once more and
fell lightly on the shoulders of the children.
In a moment, the walls and room dis-
appeared. There came a sweep of keen
58 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
air which left them breathless; and they
were borne away by some resistless power,
upwards and onwards, until there came a
whirl and tumult in their brains, a rush
and roar of sound, and then they knew
A REALLY SURPRISING TRANSFORMATION.
WHEN the girls regained their senses it
was broad daylight, and they were lying
beneath the shade of a very large bracken
at the base of an enormous oak tree.
Mary was the first one to awake. She
sat up, rubbed her eyes and looked round
bewildered, trying to piece together her
thoughts. It seemed only a few minutes
before that they were all in the schoolroom,
playing at Indians; but now they were in
Was she dreaming? She shut her eyes
tight and pinched herself, expecting to re-
open them upon familiar surroundings. But
no. Pinching had no effect. There were the
fronds of wild fern curling gracefully over
her head, and there was the mighty tree-
trunk, which seemed hundreds and hundreds
feet in height, reaching nearly to the sky.
Then she noticed that her sleeping sisters
6o A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
were attired in dresses quite different to
anything she had ever before seen. These
fell in soft and clinging folds, leaving both
necks and arms bare; while the material of
which they were made looked finer than
the finest silk and lighter than the most
delicate lace. Never in her life had she seen
anything so beautiful, and she sat up lost
At last both her companions stirred,
opened their eyes, and seemed quite as
astonished as Mary.
"What has happened?" cried Lucy.
"Where are we?" said Kitty.
"I don't know. Perhaps we are asleep.
Would one of you mind pinching me to
Lucy proceeded to obey her request with
such good will that Mary cried out with
"We can't be asleep-can we?" she said,
with a puzzled air. "Indeed I never felt
wider awake. But what does it all mean?
How did you two get those beautiful
"And how did you get yours ?" cried
Lucy. Why, it's prettier than the prettiest
party dress I ever saw."
"I don't know. We had better think hard
about it. It's too mysterious for anything."
Each girl sat with elbows on knees, clutch-
ing her head tightly, a position considered
to be the most suitable for cogitation, until
Lucy uttered a little scream, and sat bolt
"Oh for goodness! I know. We are in
"In Fairyland!" exclaimed the others.
"It isn't rubbish at all. Don't you remem-
ber what happened in the schoolroom? How
Belinda and Juliana and Ophelia grew big
and spoke," she continued in a very cautious
"Of course. How silly of us! answered
Mary, glancing round fearfully. "But they
couldn't be Fairies."
"Well, they weren't real dolls anyhow,
for they walked and talked."
"They did, didn't they? exclaimed Kitty.
"And weren't we in a 'i:-:"l,' when they
came from behind the screen and carried
62 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
us off," she added, the memory of the strange
journey coming back to her. "Only I don't
know much about it after we started, be-
cause something kept whirling round in my
head like a mad watch."
"So it did in mine," remarked Mary.
And in mine too," echoed Lucy. "And
that is all I recollect."
There was another pause, and the three
looked at each other doubtfully.
"And what is going to happen now?"
said the youngest girl.
"I don't know and I don't care," cried
Mary, with a light laugh, jumping to her
feet. "I'm going to-"
The girl's observation was cut short by
a most surprising circumstance. She had
shaken out her skirts and leapt over a
trailing branch of wild rose which lay almost
on the ground, when she went soaring up
high above the heads of her sisters, and
came down as lightly as a butterfly.
"Oh for goodness !" cried Lucy.
"Oh! O-oh!" ejaculated Kitty, almost
If that isn't the most wonderful- Try if
you two can do it?" said Mary, when her
astonishment would let her speak.
The two younger girls hastened to try their
jumping powers, and found that they also were
able to perform the same astounding feat.
"I don't believe that anybody in this
world can jump half as high as we can.
As for Freddy, why, we could beat him
anyhow," added Mary triumphantly.
"'In this world.' What world?" asked
Lucy. "It seems to me that everything
is different somehow. It is all ten times as
large. I don't understand it at all."
Indeed, when they looked round, the truth
of Lucy's observation was apparent. Not
only were trees and bracken gigantic, but
the grasses, although of the same kind
they were familiar with, grew taller than
themselves; while the blue-bells and bachelor-
buttons and wild roses which met them
on every side, were too large to carry,
even had they possessed the strength to
snap the stems.
"Perhaps we are on the Equator," sug-
gested Lucy, who had a dim idea that all
vegetation was immense in the tropics.
64 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
But roses and blue-bells and things don't
grow there," said Mary, speaking from a
larger wisdom. "It's just like the woods
near home, under a magnifying glass. Why
not explore? We might find somebody to
ask all about it."
Urged on by the prospect of discovering
further wonders, the three adventurers
started forth on their travels. Although the
long grass waving over their heads gave
them little chance of seeing far ahead, they
had no difficulty in progressing, since paths
were clearly marked as though others had
often trodden the way which lay before
them. Now and again a broken twig or
a chasm in the dry earth barred their pro-
gress, but these obstacles were easily sur-
mounted, and they rushed forward rapidly.
Before long the children emerged from
the grass forest and came to a level stretch
of sward, almost as smooth and close as the
lawn at home, except that each blade of
grass was absurdly thick and coarse. Thanks,
however, to their strange lightness the
children passed over it gaily enough, and
descended a hill, thinking to find some in-
habitants of this strange world in the valley
As they ran down the slope they noticed
a low murmur which grew louder and louder
every minute, until, as they approached a
line of the very largest rushes they had
ever seen, it became a roar of sound.
"I wonder what it is?" observed Kitty,
trying to peer through the mass of leaves
which waved and rustled in the breeze.
"Sounds like a river or waterfall, or some-
P'r'aps it's Niagara. It makes noise enough
anyhow," shouted Lucy through the din.
"We'll soon find out," answered Mary
at the top of her voice. "I've seen pictures
of Niagara, and the panorama as well.
I'm sure to know it again."
Although the ground had become very
soft and marshy, the girls tripped along
without sinking in; and, picking their way
through the great clumps of yellow and
blue flags which shot forth their heads of
gorgeous flower, and between bulrushes
with stems like masts, they came to the
edge of a most turbulent river.
66 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
It was as clear as crystal, and strewn
with huge rocks shaped like stones, around
which the water boiled and foamed, making
countless eddies in which leaves of remark-
able dimensions and logs of wood were
whirling round in a most bewildering fashion.
As they stood looking down on the resist-
less flood, there came a tremendous splash
which made them all jump. Close at hand was
a monstrous brown animal swimming across
to the other side.
"It is the Equator!" cried Kitty trium-
phantly. "There goes a hippopotamus."
"It isn't a hippopotamus at all," protested
Mary. Whoever saw hippopotamuses
with whiskers and noses and long tails like
that? It is a rat."
"A rat! exclaimed Lucy. "There never
was a rat that size."
"If you multiply an ordinary rat by a
hundred, you'll get the answer," said Mary.
"Pinch me again, Lucy, to make sure I'm
Lucy pinched so hard and Mary yelled
so lustily that there seemed no doubt on
"Look out!" cried Kitty in terror, just
as Mary had finished rubbing her arm.
"Here comes an eagle."
As she spoke, there swept over the water,
with the quickness of light, a glorious
creature with a long tapering body, and
splendid wings, many coloured, flashing in
To and fro he sped, now darting up the
river, now poised almost motionless, with
his four gauzy wings spread and his grace-
ful body quivering, close to the surface of
"It isn't an eagle at all. It's a dragon-
fly," cried Lucy, after a careful examination.
"But it's as big as an-"
"Of course it is," interrupted her elder
sister. "Everything is big. It's the most
confusing place I was ever in. I don't
understand it at all."
There was every excuse for Mary's puz-
zled brain. Each object they saw was familiar
and yet astonishingly large. The fish in
the water, which, at first, they regarded as
salmon, proved, after all, to be sticklebacks
or minnows. The river was merely a brook;
68 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
while the rocks around which the quickly
flowing stream foamed and bubbled, were
Nothing was its proper size; not even
the butterflies which fluttered overhead like
beautiful painted kites, blue or creamy white,
or rich purple and red.
"I don't believe that anything is really
bigger," observed Mary at last, after a few
minutes deep thought. "The truth is that
we are just tiny mites ourselves. Little
bits of things not a quarter our usual size."
"But how did we get so small?" asked
"I don't know, unless the dolls did it.
It's no good guessing though," she added
laughing. "We have grown the wrong
"But I don't feel any different," remarked
Kitty. "And you two look just the same."
"Of course we do; that doesn't prove
anything. I'm not going to worry about it
Here we are some size or another; and I
mean to get across to the other side," Mary
went on, eager to make further exploration.
"We can step over on the stones."
Suppose we slip," said the more cautious
Lucy. "We shall be drowned."
Oh! Nonsense We shall float if we do
fall in, because we are so light. Come
along. I'll go first to shew you how easy
The girl's confident air quickly reassured
the others, and the three pushed their way
through the rushes until they came to a
spot where the crossing looked quite safe
Mary was just stepping. on to the first
stone when she was stopped in a most
From behind a tuft of reeds a grasshopper
suddenly appeared, and with a jump came
directly in front of her. He stood on his
long hind-legs and made a very low bow.
In all their lives the girls had never seen
so large or so polite a grasshopper, and as
it seemed only proper to encourage good
manners among insects, they curtsied in
The greeting over, Mary waited for him
to hop out of the way, but he maintained
70 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"I beg your pardon. But would you mind
standing on one side," she said jokingly,
never dreaming that he would understand
her speech. But to her great astonishment
he replied at once:
"No further. The Queen forbids it."
The three girls stood staring at him,
quite speechless. They had seen working
ants, and heard talking parrots, but that a
grasshopper could express himself in quite
correct English was an overpowering dis-
"But-but we want to go over to the
other side," she explained when surprise
permitted her to speak again.
"No further. The Queen forbids it," he
said with another bow.
"The Queen? I don't understand. Are
you a policeman?" she asked, vaguely
aware that constables regulated traffic. "Be-
cause I don't suppose the Queen would
mind us walking about over there-unless
No further. The Queen forbids it."
Now although the grasshopper was very
much higher than any they had previously
been acquainted with, Mary could easily
have pushed him out of the way. His
determined demeanour, however, and digni-
fied aspect made this quite out of the ques-
tion, so after several appeals, which only
elicited the same reply, the girls gave it
up in despair and left the obstinate insect
master of the situation.
For some hours they wandered about,
apparently free to roam where they pleased.
But at certain points other grasshoppers,
equally polite, but quite as unyielding, barred
their progress, and it gradually dawned
upon them that they were prisoners, al-
though their prison was in the open air
and amid the most delightful scenery.
This circumstance naturally damped their
spirits. Besides this, their wanderings had
made them tired and hungry, and since
there seemed no prospect of finding beds
and supper, they began to feel very miser-
able and homesick.
"If we could only find the place where
we started from," sighed Kitty, "it would
be all right. Anyhow, it was nice and
72 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
"But you can't be nice and comfortable
when you are hungry," grumbled Lucy.
"And what should we find to eat when we
"What can we eat anywhere?" Mary
remarked, after thinking deeply. "Fancy
eating meat!" And all three shuddered at
the word. "Why, a chop is nearly as big
as we are; and a joint-Gracious!-a joint
would be as big as a house now. Besides,
the thought of meat makes me feel ill."
"And a slice of bread and butter," cried
Lucy, "why, we could dance on it." And
they all laughed at the mere idea.
"At any rate we are dreadfully hungry,
so we must eat something," Kitty sighed
wearily. "We'll ask the next grasshopper
we meet, what we can have for supper,
perhaps he'll know."
"Grasshoppers are such stupid things.
They can only bow and say 'No further!
The Queen forbids it.' That doesn't do your
appetite any good-does it?"
"Not a bit. But-look here-I believe
this is the very spot where we woke up,"
cried Lucy. That is the tree. There are
the dead leaves we were lying on, among
the wild fern."
There was no doubt they had stumbled
upon the very place whence they com-
menced their travels; and thankful for
small mercies, they sank down wearily.
"I hope we shan't die of starvation like
the Babes in the Wood," said Kitty after
a while. "I'm getting hungrier and hun-
"I hope not too," said Mary a little
anxiously. "If we were our right size, we
might find something eatable; but now we
are such tiny things, I can't tell what is
good for us and what isn't. If the fairies
have made us little and brought us here,
the least they might do is to feed us. It's
only fair-isn't it?"
Lucy was about to express her opinion
upon the mean conduct of the inhabitants
of Fairyland, when there suddenly arose a
great humming sound, which approached
nearer and nearer, and before they could
guess the cause, several bees came sailing
along and dropped to the ground almost
at tneir feet.
74 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
Kitty shrank close to Mary, evidently
scared at the imposing size of the visitors,
and the thought of their disagreeable habit
of stinging little girls who interfered with
them. She had once been stung, and the
pain was bad enough then; but now that
she was so ridiculously small, a similar fate
would mean something very terrible indeed.
The other two were nervous also; but
managed to put a bold face on the situation,
so that when the bees stood up and bowed,
looking rather absurd when balancing their
big round bodies on their very thin hind-
legs, the girls curtsied quite gracefully, the
result of so much practice with the grass-
After these salutations, the new comers
plucked three leaves from a tiny plant
which grew close at hand, and placed upon
each a share of honey. This done they
stood up and bowed once more, then flying
off, were quickly lost to view.
The girls had not yet recovered from
their surprise, when, with a loud chirping,
a little band of grasshoppers came leaping
through the tall grass. These also, after
making their customary reverence, snapped
off three leaves, and heaped upon each a
number of yellow round things that looked
not unlike French rolls, but which, of course,
were a hundred times smaller, and made
quite a pyramid of them upon the green
Then they disappeared, returning after
a while with three bright blue flowers, which
they carried carefully, since each was filled
with a crystal fluid, and placed beside the
honey and French rolls.'
Their task completed, the one who had
directed the operations advanced towards
the girls and waved his fore-leg towards
"Supper is served! The Queen doth bid
you eat," he said gravely.
Then please tell the Queen, we are very
much obliged to her," said Mary sedately;
then, with a dim idea that this was a some-
what curt message to send to a royal
personage, she added, rather lamely, "And
tell her Majesty that we hope she is well
Without further speech, the grasshoppers
76 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
bent their heads respectfully, and pranced
off, leaving the girls to their novel repast.
All this bowing and scraping has made
me hungrier than ever," observed Lucy,
inspecting the supper more closely.
"I wonder what sort of food it is. That's
honey-or golden syrup-honey, I suppose,
because the bees brought it; but I can't
think what those yellow things are. It isn't
bread. I don't believe grasshoppers are
bakers as well as dancing-masters."
"They look more like seeds," replied
Mary, taking one up and examining it
doubtfully. "I wonder if they are good
"Try," cried Kitty.
"Yes, do," said Lucy.
"You taste it first," suggested Mary.
Neither, however, seemed anxious to ven-
ture, until Lucy hit upon an idea.
"We'll all take a bite at once. That is
the fairest way."
To this the others consented, and Mary
having counted "One, two, three!" they
all shut their eyes and took a mouthful.
No sooner had they done so than the
scared expression on their faces changed
into one of great content.
"It's perfectly delicious! exclaimed Mary
"Isn't it. Better than anything I ever
tasted," cried Lucy, taking a second bite.
"It makes tarts and jellies seem quite
nasty. I could keep on all day," and Kitty
sat down and munched as though she fully
intended to prove her assertion.
"I wonder," said Mary, after they had
consumed several seeds each, "whether
honey would make them still nicer? I'm
going to try. Fairies don't seem to use
spoons, so we must dip them in."
This she proceeded to do; an example
quickly followed by her sisters. They came
to the conclusion that honey was the only
thing required to make the meal the nicest
one they ever consumed, so they continued
eating until their appetites were quite satisfied.
"And now," said Lucy, "we'll try the
drink part of it; and if it isn't any better
than the milk and water Jane gave us, I
shall be disappointed."
They reached out their hands to the
78 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
flowers, which in shape somewhat resembled
crinkly afternoon tea-cups, and took deep
draughts of the crystal fluid. It was the
most delightful beverage they had ever
tasted. Gingerbeer or lemonade was not to
be compared to it. The liquid was perfectly
clear, having a slight rosy tint, while the
flavour was impossible to describe. It was
as though the scent of flowers had melted
into the coldest and purest water.
They sipped and sipped until not a drop
remained, and then they lay back in perfect
content and talked over the day's doings.
"Well, if this is Fairyland," remarked
Lucy, "it isn't at all a bad place to live
in. We never had such lovely dresses at
home, did we?"
Or such beautiful suppers," chimed in
And what I like is being so light. Why,
we can jump feet and feet," cried Mary.
"Couldn't we race Freddy now. That's an-
other good thing in being Fairies."
Oh! It's all very well. But are we Fairies?
and where are the others?" asked her sister.
"I don't know; but they must be about
somewhere. Didn't the Queen send us eat-
ables and drinkables."
"Besides, how could grasshoppers and
bees talk and make funny little bows, if
the Fairies hadn't taught them? They
don't do that near us," said Kitty.
Ah! perhaps it is because we are too big
to hear and see them properly," Mary
observed, "when we are our usual size."
The girls discussed the matter so earn-
estly that evening had fallen and the stars
were twinkling before they had finished.
Then the moon began to peep over a bank
of trees, and rising slowly, shed her beams
abroad until every blade of grass seemed
dipped in silver. Soon all creatures of the
night came forth. Fire-flies darted hither
and thither, like shooting stars; while glow-
worms, some motionless, some slowly crawl-
ing through the grass, hung out their
lanterns and threw a tender radiance where
the moonlight could not penetrate. Far down
by the stream they could hear the croak
of frogs, and overhead the rustling wings
and mournful hoot of the owl, which gave
Kitty no little alarm; while now and again,
80 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
rushing through the bracken, came a belated
rabbit of gigantic size.
At first these unaccustomed sights and
sounds kept the girls awake, but at last,
one by one, they closed their eyes, and
fell asleep on their leafy couch; the rustl-
ing grasses which say always 'Ssh! Ssh!
Ssh!' soothing them to slumber.
THE THREE MORTALS WITNESS A FAIRY REVEL.
THE girls had lain asleep until the moon
was almost overhead. They slept so soundly
that the noises of the night had failed to
rouse them; indeed to speak the truth, two
of them were snoring in so unfairylike a
manner, that several field-mice had come
out to find the cause of all the hubbub.
Presently the little animals sat up and
turned their sharp eyes towards the silver-
tipped grass-forest, and, after a brief hesi-
tation, scuttled away as fast as their legs
could carry them.
The reason of their flight soon became
apparent. One by one there stole into the
clear space where the girls were sleeping,
a number of little figures hardly as tall as
the children. They wore tightly fitting
tunics, some of scarlet, some of green, some
of a rich yellow, while their heads were
covered with caps fitting closely to their
82 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
ears, and tapering to points which hung
down their backs.
In the centre of the band was a little
fellow whose tunic shone like silver, and
who seemed to direct the movements of
"Come, you laggards!" he said softly,
looking back over his shoulders. "Here's
sport for you. There are the mortals fast
asleep, snoring enough to shake the earth.
They shall ride a nightmare ere the day
"Did not the Queen say none shall molest
them?" said another sprite to him in the
silver white tunic.
"We'll not molest them," he cried, "but
give them much to think about. They are
our sport for all the Queen may say. Come,
all of you. To work, and wake them gently."
In a few moments the bracken and tall
grass which waved over the sleepers, were
peopled with sprites, who, under their leader's
direction, plucked long strips from the leaves,
and dangled them until they passed lightly
to and fro over the girls' faces.
Kitty was the first to stir. She brushed
A FAIRY REVEL.
the grass away with her hand, without
opening her eyes; but as it always returned,
she murmured, still half asleep, "You're
over my side, Lucy. Your hair is tickling
By this time both the others were stirring
uneasily, having been roused in the same
way; and Lucy replied sleepily, "I'm not;
yours is tickling mine."
"And mine too," grumbled Mary.
At that instant, there came a series of
"Don't laugh, you two," she added fret-
fully. "Why don't you go to sleep?"
"I wasn't laughing," protested Lucy.
"And I wasn't either," echoed Kitty.
"It was you, Mary."
"I beg your pardon. There! who was
that?" she inquired, as the subdued merri-
ment broke out again. "Somebody is. "
By this time all three were thoroughly
awake. They sat up and looked about them;
but although the mocking laughter rang out
louder and louder, they could see nothing.
Then, from some hidden spot, a clear
shrill treble broke into song, while at certain
84 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
intervals, a chorus of voices took up the
The whole effect was so uncanny that
the listeners crept closer together, frighten-
ed, not only by the weirdness of the chant,
but also by the fact that it referred to them-
selves in a most unpleasant and threatening
The high treble voice commenced thus-
"What is the fate of these mortals three
Sing, my brothers, all-sing.
Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all-sing."
Then the chorus broke the momentary
"They shall be left on a desert plain,
Where clouds ne'er gather-where falls no rain,
To thirst for water and thirst in vain,
Ho! ho! Ha! ha! Ho! ho!"
A mad burst of laughter followed, but
stopped instantly as the first voice again
A FAIRY REVEL. 85
"What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all-sing.
Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all-sing."
For the second time the chorus of unseen
beings chanted back the answer:
They shall be bound to the giant oak,
Ho I ho!
Where night hawks gather and ravens croak,
Where sun will blister and storm will soak,
Ho! hol Ha! ha! Hol ho!
For the third time, above the din of
elfish laughter, the single voice made its
"What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all-sing.
Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all-sing."
And once more, with dreadful distinctness,
the girls heard the reply-
"They shall be thrust in the Ant Queen's cell,
Hidden from woodland, field or fell,
In the dark, cold earth for ever dwell,
Ho! ho! Ha! ha! Ho! ho!"
86 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
The chorus finished with screams of wild
merriment, which grew fainter and fainter
as the elves dashed off through the under-
growth. When the last echo had died away,
the girls looked at each other with white,
"I suppose we are the three mortals?"
observed Mary gravely.
"I suppose so," sighed Lucy. "And who
"Fairies-at least I think so. I couldn't
see them-could you?"
"No. But I heard them and that was
"I should think it was !" cried Kitty, with
a little shiver. "Do you-do you really
think all these horrid things are going to
This was a question which neither Mary
nor Lucy quite knew how to answer.
"I don't know why it should happen.
What have we done?" was Lucy's plaintive
question. Of course, we're not very good
girls; but even Miss Harbutt wouldn't punish
us like that."
"We-we haven't seen anything of our
A FAIRY REVEL.
dolls since we came here, have we ?" remark-
ed Mary, apparently changing the subject.
"They must be somewhere about."
But you don't want to see them-do
you?" asked Kitty.
"N-no. Only I can't help thinking that
our dolls must be Fairies in disguise."
"Well, and-suppose they are?" cried
Lucy. "W-w-what are you thinking about,
Mary?" she asked tremblingly, seeing a
very serious look on her sister's face.
I'm thinking how badly we treated them."
"Do-do Fairies feel the same as we
do?" asked Lucy again.
"I suppose so."
"When they are dolls?"
"I suppose so."
"Do you think they felt all the darts
and all the thumps, Mary?" wailed Kitty.
"I suppose so. And-and I was fond of
Belinda," cried the elder girl, with a burst.
"If I had only known, I wouldn't have hurt
her for anything."
"And I was fond of Juliana, too. Poor
thing!" added Lucy, with a little sob.
"And I cut off Ophelia's leg. Oh! I was
88 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.
a brute," whispered Kitty. "We ought to
apologise, you know. That's the least we
"I'm afraid it's too late now," said Mary,
shaking her head. "You see our dolls were
Fairies-at least I'm afraid so-and we ill-
used them. So now it's their turn to ill-use
us. That is natural, isn't it?"
"But you don't think they'll throw darts
at us or-or burn us-do you?" And Lucy
cowered down beside her sister as though
"I shouldn't think so. Fairies aren't Red
"C-c-couldn't we go home, Mary?"
wailed Kitty, around whom her sister had
thrown a protecting arm. Fairyland is such
a 'creepy' place; I don't like it a bit."
"You see home is a long way from here,
and we don't know the way. But we needn't
be afraid," she added, trying to seem more
hopeful than she really was. "After all
we're only girls, and Fairies are supposed
to be good people."
"I know they are; but if it turns out
that story books are all wrong, and they're