The Baldwin Library I
A MODERN PUCK
NEW 5/- BOOKS.
Under the White Ensign: or, For Queen and Empire.
By A. LEE KNIGHT, Author of A Mid of the Naval
Brigade," "Ronald Hallifax," "The Adventures of a Gun-
Room Monkey," etc. With 25 Illustrations by J. B. GREI E.
The Voyage of the "Avenger": or, In the Days of
Dashing Drake. By IHENRY ST. JOHN, Author of A Middy
of Nelson's Day," etc. With 25 Illustrations by PAUL
A Modern Puck. A New Fairy Story. By AGNEs GIBERNE,
Author of Sun, Moon, and Stars," etc. With 50 Illustrations
by Miss F. M. COO'ER.,,
The Every Day Book of Natural History. By J.
CUNDALL and En\iARD SrTE. With 64 Illustrations by
ALFRED PARSONS, C. WHYMPER, and others.
The Blues and the Brigands. A Story of the French
Revolution. By MX. M. BLAKE, Author of "The Siege of
Norwich Castle," etc. Illustrated by R. THACKERAY
By the North Sea: or, The Protector's Grand-daughter. By
MRS. EMMA MARSHALL, Author of "In the East Country."
Illustrated by W. MILLER-SMITH. Fifth Thousand.
The Two Altheas. By EDITH E. HORSMAN, Author of
"SEVERN-SIDE," etc. Illustrated by G. DEMAIN HAMMOND.
NEW 6/- BOOKS.
Forbidden by Law. A Story of Smuggling Days. By
MAJOR ARIHUR GRIFFITHS, Author of "The History of
Millbank Prison," "Secrets of the Prison House," etc.
The Captive of Pekin. A Realistic Chinese Story. By
CHARLES HANNAN, Author of "Chin-Chin-Wa." With 25
graphic Illustrations by A. J. B. SALMON. Third Edition.
London : Jarrold and Sons, Io and II, YWarwick Lane, E.C.
~'I; C i
A MODERN PUCK
A Fairy Story for Children
AUTHOR OF 'SUN, MOON, AND STARS," ETC.
WITH FIFTY ILLUSTRATIONS
BY FLORENCE M. COOPER
JARROLD AND SONS
WARWICK LANE, E.C.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
THIS little book, offered now to the public, claims to be
no more than a mixture of sense and nonsense, of fun
and fancy and fact. I have not the least doubt that
all my friends, especially the young ones, will easily separate
the sense from the nonsense, and will, without difficulty,
gather that which is real from that which is fanciful. For I
can honestly plead that many particulars therein are quite
true, and that dogs and cats, ants, bees, and spiders, do
behave just exactly so. Whether they also think and talk
exactly so is a question which I leave my readers to decide.
As for Puck and his friends,-if none of us have seen a
Fairy, who shall venture to declare that fairies can by no
possibility exist? Many things exist in the Universe, which
we have never yet come across. Let us at least allow little
Puck the benefit of the doubt.
I. A FAIRY CONSULTATION ...
II. A WONDERFUL VEIL
III. CHRYSSIE'S NEW FRIEND ...
IV. SEEING AND IIHEARING .
V. MRS. SPIDER ...
VI. SOMETHING TO DO ...
VII. TREAT NUMBER ONE ...
VIII. TREAT NUMBER TWO ...
IX. WORKER NUMBER 500
X. IN THE MOONLIGHT ...
XI. TREAT NUMBER THREE ...
XII. WITH UNCLE BERRIE
XIII. CATLAND AND DOGLAND ..
XIV. UNDER AN OLD OLD TREE ...
XV. ANOTIIER NEW ACQUAINTANCE.
XVI. A MASSACRE
.. ... II
... ... 9
S. ... 107
... ... 34
XVII. AN OVERTURNED) BOAT ...
XVIII. A FAIRY IN KNICKERBOCKERS
XIX. THE FAREWELL BANQUET ...
XX. PUCK'S RETURN TO FAIRYLAND
... ... ... 216
.. ... 231
.. ... 244
.. ... 265
SList of Illustrations.
Puck is banished from Fairyland ... ... Frontisplece
The Fairies joined hands, and danced gaily round Puck ... 19
Puck found himself the possessor of a marvellous veil ... ... 23
There are Good Fairies and Bad Fairies ... ... ... 25
Puck wakes to find himself among Mortals ... ... ... 29
lie peeped into many a flower ... ... ... ... 31
lHe walked in the rear of many a big blundering beetle ... ... 32
One little girl occupied a low wicker-chair ... ... ... 35
Puck shows himself to Chryssie ... ... .. ... 42
Lady Simpkinson had placed herself beyond reach of Chryssie's
arms ... .. ... ... ... ... 63
Chryssie sat on the hearth-rug and sighed ... ... ... 75
Chryssie, by the magic veil, hears Lady Simpkinson and Pattypans
discussing their grievances ... ... ... ... 91
Chryssie causes the ants' earthquake ... ... .. ... 12
Puck declined to explain ... ... ... ... ... 20
What an enormous creature !" she whispered ... ... 128
Come along. We'll have a row on the river ... ... 146
S Mind, I've never done anything harder than this ... ... 155
Each morning Lady Simpkinson would seize little Missie in her
mouth, and would run upstairs ... ... .. 163
io List of Illustrations.
She did her utmost to comfort him ... ... ... ... 167
Pattypans is jealous ... ... ... ... ... 169
" Dear old tree, tell me a story of when you were young," pleaded
Chryssie ... .. ... ... ... .. 179
" I do declare I'm just like a bee," thought Chryssie ... ... 190
" Take care !" a warning voice said ... ... ... .. 192
Chryssie wakes up under a leaf ... ... ... ... 218
Chryssie stood still and stared ... .. ... ... 226
She dropped a little curtsey ... ... ... ... 242
"What a round moon it is this evening !" thought Chryssie, as she
lay in her little bed ... ... ... ... ... 245
A fine wasp, in black and gold, who sat rather apart ... ... 247
It was a time of scarcity ... ... ... ... ... 259
The old white-bearded general, candle in hand, looked round the
room ... ... .. .. ... ... 261
A letter from Fairyland to Chryssie ... ... .. ... 263
IIe was now able to convince them all that Puck had not gained the
hundredth part of an inch in stature ... ... ... 269
"You dear dear child," he said ... ... ... ... 273
Till death us do part ... ... ... ... 277
A MODERN PUCK.
A Fairy Consultation.
^ CHAPTER I.
SE will have to go.
giant! There is
no help for it,"
sighed the queen.
"Melancholy, but un-
avoidable. One of our
race to be of such a
herculean size! The
thing is monstrous!
He must certainly go."
She was seated in the centre of a wide lawn, upon
a dainty cushion of moss. High in the sky shone the
full moon, and silvery rays lighted up with pure sheen
the gossamer robes of her tiny majesty-robes spun
12 A Modern Puck.
by cunning fairy fingers out of the finest spider-threads.
In her royal hand she held a minute fan, made of
green and violet scales from a butterfly's wing; and
the crown on her head was of golden scales which
once had graced a beetle's armour. Around were
gathered many attendant fairies, some standing, some
sitting, according to whether they held in Fairyland
positions of high or low degree. They wore, for the
most part, looks of pity and of curiosity, as they awaited
the royal decision.
"Monstrous!" repeated the queen. "One of our
race! The thing is preposterous Not to be endured!
Imagine, if others caught the infection !"
This particular community of fairies had always been
noted for the extremely small size of its members;
and they had, one and all, from earliest historical times,
prided themselves upon their smallness. It was with
them a token of Race. Puck, the hapless youth-
speaking of age as fairies speak of age-who stood in
the middle of the fairy-ring, had long been a perplexity
and an eyesore to his companions. Without rhyme
or reason he had taken to growing, after a perfectly
unheard-of fashion, and he was now at the very least
a full half-inch taller than any fairy present. Who
could venture to say how much more he might
He really did look rather gigantic among the delicate
little figures clustered around; as much too big as a
man seven or eight feet high seems beside ordinary
A Fairy Consultation.
people. Not that he was clumsily made, as men count
clumsiness. His waist was wasp-like in slimness, and
his tiny hand would have appeared ethereal to the
smallest human being that has ever existed. But
since his waist was about twice as thick, his hand
about twice as large, as those of other fairies, he
naturally was reckoned by his friends to be huge
and awkward, compared with themselves.
If only by any manner of means he could have
stopped growing! But that was just what he had no
power to do; and it was of no use whatever to slouch
and stoop. He never managed to make himself look
shorter. Besides, the little fairies all held themselves
very upright, as a matter of duty; and they objected
to stooping, as a sign of weakness of will.
They had assembled by moonlight, on the lawn, for
discussion of the difficulty, summoned thither by the
queen's chief advisers. First, they had to decide why
and wherefore Puck had grown so tall; secondly, they
had to consider whether by any means his growth could
be checked; thirdly, they had to settle what should be
done with him, in case it could not be stopped.
He must have eaten something unwholesome," one
of the fairies declared.
The queen took up this notion, being rather glad of
any notion which she might take up, and she questioned
Puck severely as to his late diet. But Puck, with trouble
in his purple-blue eyes, assured the conclave that he had
ventured on nothing more substantial than honey-dew
14 A Modern Puck.
to eat and water-dew to drink, with a taste of golden
pollen by way of flavouring.
Pollen? From which blossom?" demanded the
Puck stated that it was a yellow flower; it grew in
the garden, not in the meadow or the wood; and it
showed its beauty in the evening, not in the glare of
"A most sensible blossom," remarked the queen, for
fairies much prefer night to day. "And how many
posts were inside the flower, pray?" By "posts" the
queen meant stamens. Many a stamen would be a
" post in height compared with her little self.
Puck, though in the main an observant fairy, had not
thought of counting the posts. He could and did tell
her that the tiny balls or specks of pollen were tied
together by delicate strings ; but this was not what the
queen wished to know, and she became rather irate.
What did Puck suppose the posts to be there for at all,
if not for the guidance of fairies ? Flowers were made,
as everybody ought to know, for the use and conveni-
ence of fairies, and for nothing else. The queen
intimated as much for Puck's benefit; and then she
wound up with a general exhortation for the benefit of
the whole assemblage. Fairies should always use
their eyes," she said. "And always count the posts in
He has been too often playing football with dried
peas," suggested another fairy.
A Fairy Consultation. s1
But this accusation fell to the ground. Puck had
mislaid his precious peas, and football had been impos-
sible. Besides, if he had played, so had others; and for
the matter of that, if he had tasted yellow pollen out of
a yellow flower, others had done the same. Why should
he alone grow tall in consequence ? The peas, however,
brought something else to the mind of the queen; for
this had been one of the little modes in which Puck had
liked to imitate human beings, leading other fairies in
that perilous path.
"Then," she said, and her voice grew solemn-" then
matters are worse than I have feared. He has been
discontented with his fairy estate. He has cherished
wishes to be like the Unfortunate Mortals. If so-and
if the wish has begun to take effect-there is no cure.
Absolutely none! He must grow, and grow, and grow,
until-in fact, until he stops."
This impotent ending roused no smile in the fairy
circle. The fairies were all far too loyal to laugh at
anything said by their queen. Puck hung his head,
having no defence to offer. He could not deny that
he had often wished to know more about those huge
mysterious beings who sometimes loomed upon his
gaze; nay, that he had even wanted in some respects to
be like them. The said beings were indeed commonly
known in fairy speech as "The Unfortunate Mortals,"
because, as it was said, they seemed to be always crying,
or quarrelling, or struggling after things which they
could not get, or getting what they wanted only to find
16 A Modern Puck.
it worthless. Yet, in spite of all this, there was about
them a certain something which made Puck feel not
quite satisfied with his own condition. In the large
house close by, that very house on the back lawn of
which the present moonlight meeting was held, several
small half-grown Unfortunate Mortals lived; and Puck
had many a time watched them and their doings with
puzzled eyes, longing to understand why they acted as
No mortals now were at hand ; but even if they had
been it would have made no difference to the fairy
gathering. Unless under exceptional circumstances,
the fairies could be neither seen nor heard by man.
They lived in another plane of existence, outside the
range of a man's seeing and hearing powers.
"Absolutely no cure whatever," repeated the queen,
looking round upon her subjects. Unless indeed he
should stop wishing. And if he wishes, he does wish.
There is nothing for it! He must be put away.
Certainly he must be put away."
A pause followed, and Puck was very uneasy. He
had known fairies "put away" before, for crimes or
misdemeanours condemned by fairy-law, and he had
never seen them come back again. The general belief
was that they had been, for their naughtiness, turned
into spiders and black beetles, to act as weavers and
scavengers to the better behaved of the community. If
this were only a popular delusion in Fairyland, nobody
who knew the true state of the case took the trouble to
A Fairy Consultation. 17
undeceive the rest. In Fairyland it was as a matter of
S course taken for granted that the whole world, not
to say the whole Universe, had been made purely
and simply for the use of fairies. Other beings, such
as beetles, spiders, ants, cats, cows, and Unfortunate
Mortals, were no doubt allowed to share the universe
with fairies; but they were secondary in importance.
The world and the universe were not made for them.
Sometimes the more thoughtful among Puck's friends
would wonder what could be the particular object of the
existence of those huge cumbrous Unfortunate Mortals;
but they felt sure that somehow and in some way the
presence of the Unfortunates was for the benefit of
fairies, though it might be hard to guess how. It was
very much more easy to fathom the uses of a spider or
a beetle than the uses of a man. That man could be of
any use, quite apart from fairies, never so much as
entered a fairy's little head.
Up rose Wiseacre, the Sage of the fairy community;
one of the tallest and oldest and stateliest among them.
He was barely hal'-an-inch shorter than Puck; he
carried a staff made of the dried pistil of a very large
poppy blossom; and wonderful fine spirals, drawn from
the texture of living leaves, hung loosely about him, like
Hear me, my queen, and take counsel," quoth the
fairy sage. "Let Puck make trial of human life. The
glamour of a thing often fades on a closer acquaintance.
It may be that this will cure him of his wishings, and
18 A Modern Puck.
that ceasing to wish he may cease to grow. Banish him
to a nursery of the giant brood for the space of full two
months, reckoned by the movements of yonder bright
moon. When for the second time the moon shall be,
as she is now, at her full, then once more let Puck be
the centre of our circle; and then will your majesty
dispose of him finally as your majesty's wisdom shall
The queen was charmed, and Puck vainly entreated
to be spared so long a banishment. He was given no
choice. The very next day he should go; and for two
whole months his face might never once be seen in
Fairyland, under pain of being expelled from its limits
for ever. Since he had imprudently wished to be like
the Unfortunate Mortals, he should make full trial of life
among the mortals. If two months failed to cure him
of his aspirations-not that the queen used that word,
because she counted the mortals very far inferior to
fairies-her majesty intimated that in such a case there
would be no difficulty in disposing of him. The idea
was so excellent that she speedily began to think of it
as her own. Puck might even during his absence take
to growing shorter instead of longer. Who could tell ?
Things come about in Fairyland so differently from the
ways in which they come about elsewhere, that nothing
in those regions can be a matter for very great surprise.
But, please, your majesty," protested Puck.
The queen was amazed that Puck, the condemned,
should venture to make any further protest.
8604 The Fairies joined hands, and danced gaily round Puck.--. 2o.
20 A Modern Puck.
The matter is settled," she said, and she waved airily
one tiny hand.
"I shall be all alone," murmured Puck. "I shall
have no one to speak with. The mortals cannot see me.
If I talk they will not hear me."
The queen had not thought of this, and she looked
doubtfully at Wiseacre. A mode did exist, by means
of which communication could be held with the Unfor-
tunate Mortals, but it was known only to a select few
among the fairies. Puck had never yet been admitted
into the secret. He might watch the mortals to any
extent, and might listen to all that they said; but he
had no power to make them see or hear himself.
Can Puck be trusted ?" asked the queen.
Your majesty, Puck has never been known to say
an untrue word," promptly declared the sage.
"Then he shall be trusted," replied the queen, to
Puck's great delight.
Among his wishings had always been a desire to
know this secret.
Wiseacre was then deputed to act as Puck's instructor
in the matter, and Puck was solemnly enjoined on no
account to be seen or heard by any of the full-grown
Unfortunates. He might converse if he would with the
half-grown specimens. If he broke through this rule,
he would be apt to get into difficulties ; he might even
be forbidden by the queen to make any further use of
the mode of communication. Puck earnestly promised
obedience. After which the fairies joined hands, and
A Fairy Consultation. 21
danced gaily round Puck, singing one of the favourite
songs of Fairyland; and Puck stood in the midst, by
no means so happy as those who were bidding him a
You need not suppose that, if you had been there on
the moon-lit lawn, close to the whirling fairies, you would
have heard the song. It was far too minute and shrill
to be detected by your ears. Puck was the one of all
the company who had the deepest and gruffest voice;
and even Puck's voice was shriller and smaller in tone
than the very squeakiest note ever played on a violin,
or the very treblest whirr ever heard from the vibration
of an insect's wing.
A Wonderful Veil.
T HE busy whirl went on for hours, until the moon
was set; and then the fairy-ring broke up, and
the gay little folks dispersed, most of them retir-
ing to the wood hard by, in which they made their home.
But they left on the grass a faintly-traced circle, where
their light footprints had been pressed.
Wiseacre spent the remaining hours till dawn, in pre-
paring Puck for the new life before him. Wiseacre had
always had a liking for Puck, and he was also interested
in the new experiment about to be tried. This sending
of Puck among the mortals was his own' idea, and he
was curious to see how it would work. By way of
preparation he had to disclose the particular secret,
through the knowledge of which intercourse might
be held with mortals; and he had in addition to
give a good deal of advice. Like people of a larger
growth, Wiseacre enjoyed bestowing advice upon willing
The particular secret came first, and it consisted in a
A Wonderful Veil.
gift. Puck found himself the possessor of a marvellous
veil, softer and thinner and finer than any veil that ever
was made by man. It would go into no space at all,
so to speak-into Puck's little waistband or infinitesimal
\ ~ -
Puck found himself the possessor of a marvellous veil.--p. 23.
pocket-yet, when opened out it would cover him from
head. to foot, clinging to his frame and following his
movements, so as to be no impediment; itself so trans-
parent as to be invisible, while it made its wearer not
24 A Modern Puck.
only visible to human eyes, but hearable-if that word
may be used-by human ears. Although so delicate in
make, it was as strong as if woven of the toughest fibre,
and Puck soon found that to tear it would be far beyond
"Put this on, and you are seen and heard by the
Unfortunates. Take it off, and you are neither seen nor
heard," explained Wiseacre, when enlarging on the
merits of the veil. "In one instant you can become
visible; in one instant you can disappear. Keep the
veil always under your own control, and in your own
possession. Let nothing ever induce you to part with
it. Above all, never give it over into the keeping of one
of the mortals. It has powers for them too; but be
cautious how you use those powers, or you may rue your
own imprudence. In fact "-and Wiseacre now launched
into more general advice-" in fact, I should recommend
you to study carefully the ways of the mortals, before
giving your confidence to any among them. They are
truly a strange and fickle race. With a fairy you at
least know what you are about. There are good fairies
and there are bad fairies. The good behave well; the
bad behave ill. What can be more sensible? But with
the Unfortunate Mortals you never know what to expect.
The best have some bad points; the worst have some
good points. Few of them are constant; few of them
are truthful; few of them are contented. A most per-
plexing community. Spiders and bees, ants and beetles,
cats and dogs, are marvellous creatures, but they are
A Wonderful Veil.
comprehensible. The Unfortunate Mortals are not.
One never gets to the bottom of them."
How am I to know the good from the bad?" asked
26 A Modern Puck.
"You must try to find out. Be cautious, as I have
warned you. Do not make up your mind in a hurry.
Beauty with the mortals does not always mean good-
ness; nor, strange to say, does ugliness always mean
badness. Neither has cleverness much to do with the
matter. One rule only I can give you, as the result of
long study, and that is, Keep clear of the Grumblers.
They may perhaps be sometimes good, after a fashion,
but they are always disagreeable."
"And am I to live among the giant brood in yonder
house, who do nothing but quarrel and cry ? "
Puck put this question somewhat dismally, for fairies
do not indulge in either occupation. Why should they?
By no means. Their example would be hurtful to
any well-bred fairy. Besides, for the next few weeks
you must be farther off."
"And if I do not know the road to Fairyland ?"
"It is not needful that you should know the road.
When the two months are ended, you will certainly hear
from us. But meantime remember all that I have said
to you. Remember to be cautious, not hasty; and
above all, on no account get into communication with
the full-grown mortals. If you do, they will strap you
down upon a table, and try to cut you into pieces, to
see what you are made of. Then they will give you a
very long name, and will pin your body in a glass case.
That is the present mode among mortals. Many an
unhappy spider and miserable beetle have they treated
A W wonderful Veil. 27
Cruel!" shuddered Puck.
"So you and I would think. Yet, odd as it seems,
some of the gentlest and kindest of the Unfortunates will
do this sort of thing without hesitation."
"But could they-with one of us ?"
"I am not able to say. For the next two months
you will be in Manland, more or less subject to those
laws which the mortals themselves have to obey. How
far they might, under such circumstances, be able to do
to you what they could do to one of themselves, is a
question which I cannot answer. I would advise you
not to put the matter to the test of experiment The
mortals are wonderfully fond of experiments. Nothing
would delight them more than to have a fairy 'to
operate upon,' as they call it. Their powers in many
respects are extraordinary; while their ignorance and
stupidity are often more extraordinary still. Yet I con-
fess, there is about them a mysterious-a curious-a
peculiar-really I do not know what to call it-a some-
thing which, if one did not know it to be impossible,
I could almost look upon as a sign that they are
superior to ourselves."
"That is just what I feel," murmured Puck.
"But what that something is, no fairy has ever
yet discovered. To imagine the Unfortunates to be
Superior to ourselves is of course quite out of the
Question ; yet, if I am not mistaken, it is a quality which
* we do not ourselves possess. The mortals are a mass of
contradictions. They quarrel when they are together;
28 A Modern Puck.
they weep when they have to separate. They are
dissatisfied with what they have; and when they lose a
thing they would give the whole world to get it again.
Why should they quarrel ? Why should they weep?
Why should they want what they cannot have ? We
fairies are infinitely more reasonable. And yet-"
"And yet-" echoed Puck drowsily. He did not
know that he was being purposely talked to sleep by
Puck felt exceedingly queer.
Wiseacre had disappeared, and he was in a strange
place by himself, a place that he had never seen before.
He supposed that he must have dropped asleep under
the exordium of the Sage, and must have been brought
here in an unconscious state. Fairies of course do
not need to sleep at regular intervals, like mortals; but
there is no reason why they should not sleep some-
times, when need arises or when the fancy takes them.
It was now broad daylight, the sun being high in the
heavens; and Puck was in the very middle of a
luxuriant rose-bed, surrounded by crimson and white
and pink and creamy blossoms, drooping to the earth
with their own weight, and sending whiffs of delicate
perfume on all sides. A large garden-spider, hand-
somely speckled, crept under a leaf which touched
Puck's shoulder, and a white butterfly passed with zig-
zag flutterings close over his head. Along the path,
some few yards distant, paced an elderly gentleman, tall
30 A Modern Puck.
and solemn, with bent head, and silvery beard, and
hands clasped behind his back. In his rear walked a
melancholy Skye-terrier; and on the topmost twig of a
birch-tree just beyond, a thrush was pouring forth his
whole heart in song.
Puck had seen mortals and their belongings many a
time before, had watched them with interest, had listened
to them with wonderment. But it had always been as a
fairy from the level of Fairyland, looking upon creatures
in another level of existence. Now he was a fairy out
of Fairyland, and on the same level as the Unfortunate
The difference between the two conditions is not quite
easy to explain. It may perhaps be dimly likened to
the difference between a man in the Brighton aquarium,
who surveys fishes and eels and cray-fish from outside
the enclosing panes of glass, and the same man making
an actual plunge into the water, and diving down among
the animals themselves. Only, of course, the said man
could not possibly stay there for more than a very few
minutes, while Puck had to remain for two months in
his present position.
He was keenly aware of this, and he felt not a little
dismal, separated from his own tribe, and knowing
nobody in this new world of mortals. If fairies were
given to crying, some minute drops would surely have
oozed from Puck's purple-blue eyes. But fairies' tears
seldom if ever get beyond the vaporous stage; and
though he felt dull, he was a plucky little fellow, and he
A W wonderful Veil. 31
soon pulled himself together, remembering that even
two months would not last for ever, and that he had
better make the most of his opportunities.
"At all events, I shall soon be cured of wanting to be
like the Unfortunates," he thought, and it was a cheering
The first thing that had to be done was to take a
general survey of his new home. He wandered through
He peeped into many a flower.--/. 31.
a wild and lovely garden ; none the less lovely in Puck's
eyes because of its wildness, since many parts reminded
him of the wood where he had always lived. He
strolled round about a stagnant and muddy pond, where
slimy weeds grew and water-spiders frisked; and he
peeped into many a flower, white or pink or blue or
yellow, counting the delicate posts in each, but never
tasting the pollen, lest it might have had anything to do
A Modern Puck.
with his marvellous height. He watched the spiders
spinning their webs, or keeping in the corner of one
completed, on the look out for a passing fly. He walked
in the rear of many a big blundering beetle, wondering
whether perchance it might be a banished and trans-
formed fairy. But even the beetles and spiders seemed
He walked in the rear of many a big blundering beetle.--. 32.
unlike themselves; for he was seeing them now from the
plane of Manland, instead of from the plane of Fairy-
land. He found that neither spiders nor beetles nor
butterflies were aware of his presence, unless he put on
his veil, which was another proof of his changed position.
A W wonderful Veil. 33
Within the garden stood a large house; clearly a
house not haunted by any big brood of quarrelling and
noisy half-grown unfortunates, such as those in the other
house near Puck's own home. This house looked very
quiet indeed; and the only voices to be heard in it
came from kitchen regions. Puck thought he would
explore its inside presently. For a time he had enough
to do outside.
Rambling through the garden, he came upon blue
water in one and another direction; and soon he found
that it lay all around; for the house and its grounds
stood upon an island in a river, just where that river
widened into a shallow lake, the waters of which flowed
by slowly on their way to the sea. No other houses
were on the island, except a gardener's cottage, and also
a small lodge close to the bridge which joined the island
to the mainland. On the mainland at some little
distance might be seen the chimneys of another large
house amid trees.
When evening drew near Puck made his way indoors.
He felt rather down-hearted, for by-and-by the fairies
would assemble for their moonlight dance, and Puck
would be far away out of it all. He began to wish for
some kind of companionship, better than that of spiders
and beetles. So he went through a gloomy hall, where
stags' heads were affixed to the walls; he peeped into
an empty drawing-room and an equally empty dining-
room; he glanced into the library, where the silver-
haired old gentleman sat alone, with his melancholy
34 A Modern Puck.
Skye-terrier at his feet; and then Puck made his way
down a long passage, guided by the sound of a voice,
and entered another room.
Evidently a schoolroom, this; for it was primly
furnished, with school-globes, and big maps, and instruc-
tive pictures; and many torn and dingy books were
scattered about. One little girl occupied a low wicker-
chair, dressed in brown holland, and resting a gentle
face on two small hands, while curly brown hair fell
down her back below the waist. She had put herself
into an attitude quite as dejected as that of the Skye-
terrier. Upon a chair, exactly in front of her, sat a fine
half-Persian cat, reddish-black in colour, whisking a
fringed tail to and fro in offended jerks. The child's
soft brown eyes were fixed wistfully upon the cat's
frowning eyes of clear yellow, which at this moment
wore an expression anything but soft.
The room faced east, so it was not a very cheerful
room, late in the afternoon of a dull day, even though
the month was June, and twilight had not begun to
think of coming upon the island.
"You see, dear Lady Simpkinson, it isn't as if you
could talk to me, is it?" the child was saying aloud,
in a plaintive voice. "I love you very much indeed,
almost as much as I love dear sweet old Pattypans.
Only he can't talk either; and it gets just a little dull
having nobody to play with who can say a word. Of
course you say lots of words in your own language, if
only I could understand it. If only you could speak
A W wonderful Veil. 35
my language, what games we would have together,
wouldn't we ? And then perhaps you wouldn't get into
quite such tempers."
The child laid a caressing hand on Lady Simpkinson's
back, and Lady Simpkinson gave vent to a growl.
"Don't be cross, please don't ; because I'm all alone,
andt I'\%e n, one except
y.:,u t,:, talk %%ith, deat (
darling Lady Simpkinson.
And you're only put out, you know, because I took you
up, when you wanted to be on the ground, and then
I wouldn't let you go the very instant you wanted it.
It isn't right to give way to such tempers, is it,
darling? You kissed me in bed this morning, when
I was quite happy: and now I'm all alone, and I've
36 A Modern Puck.
nothing to do with myself, and everybody is busy. I
didn't feel dull this morning, but I do now, and you
won't be kind."
The child put her face down, close to the reddish fur,
and Lady Simpkinson leaped away with a fine free
bound, seating herself on the floor with her back to her
little mistress, while her tail continued to whisk smartly
to and fro in a succession of indignant lashes.
I wish Pattypans would come, or somebody. I wish
nurse hadn't made me come in so early. It isn't damp
outside, I'm quite sure. I wish I had somebody to talk
Puck made his way to a side-table, and sat upon a
substantial inkstand, much interested. But for Wise-
acre's warnings, which were still fresh in his mind,
he would have felt disposed to offer himself at once
as a companion to this lonely child. He determined,
however, to wait.
How lovely it would be to have a little girl to play
with again !" sighed the child. A little girl like
Pussie. Pussie never comes now. I do wonder why.
And I wonder why I mustn't ask the reason. Nurse
says it's a quarrel; but I know she must be wrong,
because Pussie and I never quarrelled, and of course
grown-up people don't quarrel, and there's nobody else
to do it. I've nobody like Pussie. It's nice to play
with Tommy sometimes; but he is such a baby, and he
never understands things. And Pattypans is getting
too old for proper games, and Lady Simpkinson does
have such tempers."
A W wonderful Veil. 37
The door was pushed slowly open, and a small fat
boy entered, blandly smiling, and shuffling one foot
after the other.
Muvver said Miss Chwyssie was here, and I was to
ask if Miss Chwyssie wanted me to pway wiv her."
O Tommy, that's nice. I didn't know what to do.
Nurse says it's too damp for me to be out, and it's so
stupid in here. What shall we play at? "
Tommy had expended all his ideas in one speech
He blinked and was mute.
Let's pretend something nice and new. I do get so
tired of all the old games."
"How very odd," thought Puck. We never get
tired of doing the old things in Fairyland. If a thing is
nice, it must be always nice. Why should the mortals
want anything new?" But of course the children did
not hear Puck's thoughts.
Let's try to make up a new game," repeated Chryssie.
"O Tommy, think of something."
Not a bit of it. Tommy stared blandly with his
round pale-blue eyes, and waited. All fresh ideas had
to come from Chryssie herself. She racked her brains
for some seconds, and then cried,-
"I know now. O such fun! I've got quite a new
game, Tommy, and it'll be delicious."
Tommy said "Yes," with solemn assent.
We'll play at being fairies."
Puck nearly fell off the inkstand with surprise. The
idea came as a positive shock, and then he began to
38 A Modern Puck.
laugh. Those big clumsy creatures to call themselves
"fairies." The thought was too absurd. Puck's little
sides shook with merriment.
We'll 'tend we're fairies," echoed Tommy.
"Fairies can fly, so I s'pose they've got wings, and we
haven't got any wings. But let's pretend we have got
wings, and let's pretend we can fly, Tommy."
Let's 'tend we can fly," echoed obedient Tommy.
Puck watched in silent bewilderment, as the two
children pranced about the room, Chryssie jumping
on and off chairs, and dragging the ponderous Tommy
with her as she went. Then she seized Tommy's two
hands, and made him whirl round and round-lightly
enough, so far as she herself was concerned; but when
Puck recalled the real thing, the grace and delicacy of
the tiny creatures spinning on the turf by moonlight, as
he had seen them, his sides shook anew.
In the midst of the children's whirl, the door opened
again, and a stern voice said, "What is all this noise
The two big fairies instantly stopped short, Tommy
staring in alarm at the face of the white-bearded old
gentleman, while Chryssie flushed up with a. delicate
It's only me, grandfather."
You ought to know better, Chryssie. Making such
an uproar, when your grandmother is ill! I am quite
ashamed of you. Tommy has no business here. Go
home directly, Tommy. And mind that you both keep
A W wonderful Veil. 39
The tall gentleman disappeared, and Tommy promptly
vanished likewise, his feet pattering down the long
passage. Chryssie had no spirit to go after him. She
stood still, gazing at the solemn Skye-terrier, who had
stayed behind when his master went away. He was
very fond of Chryssie, and he had a sense that the little
girl was in trouble. So his hazel eyes looked question-
ingly at her brown ones, from beneath a shaggy pent-
house of iron-grey hair. He was a very fine Skye, with
short legs and fringed feet, and a solid substantial head,
so large in comparison with the body that he seemed to
consist chiefly of brains.
"Pattypans, I didn't mean to be naughty," Chryssie
said, bending over him. "I didn't, really. I shouldn't
have thought that grannie could hear us in her room, all
40 A Modern Puck.
this long way off. Should you? 0 Pattypans dear,
I'm so dull, and I've got nobody to play with. Kiss me,
Pattypans was not afflicted with an uncertain temper,
like Lady Simpkinson, and he at once lifted a black nose
to Chryssie's face, inflicting a wet dab upon the soft
cheek. Chryssie went down upon her knees, and hugged
Pattypans vehemently. She was comforted, feeling sure
that he knew all about the matter; and so perhaps he
did, being a wise and intellectual dog. But a whistle
sounded, and Pattypans bounded away. He could not
help it, for he had been trained from puppyhood always
to fly at the sound of that whistle, and he was far too
well-bred ever to hesitate a moment in the carrying out
of his duty.
"Everybody goes murmured Chryssie.
Chryssie's New Friend.
T might have been a closer following out of Wise-
acre's advice, if Puck had waited longer before
showing himself to Chryssie; but really he could,
not resolve to do so. He was a kind little fairy, and
Chryssie's loneliness appealed to him the more, because
he was himself feeling lonely, separated from his own
community. Why should he not try to make this little
unfortunate being somewhat happier? It is quite a part
of the code of good manners in Fairyland to make other
creatures happy, though perhaps not at the cost of much
inconvenience. And this gentle child would not wish
to cut him in pieces by way of experiment.
Chryssie sat upon the window-seat, looking out for-
lornly upon wet grass and damp leaves, and wondering
how soon her tea would be brought in. It was past the
usual time, but everybody seemed to be too busy to
attend to her. The young governess, who was her
usual companion, and of whom Chryssie was very fond,
had gone away for a long holiday among her own
42 A Modern Puck.
friends in Ireland, having never quitted Chryssie for
more than two years previously; and the old nurse who
would in a general way have taken her place with
Chryssie was now very busy, nursing the old lady.
Other servants were apt to put off doing what they did
not count to be exactly a part of their regular work.
So Chryssie had to sit alone, hungry and forlorn, and
with nothing to amuse her.
Puck shows nunselC to Chryssie.- 41.
What could that be ? Somebody speaking A very
thin minute voice, close to her ear, was saying-
"Don't be frightened."
I'm not frightened, of course. Why should I be ?
I don't mind being by myself," Chryssie replied, taking
the utterance quite naturally. And then she wondered
Chryssie's New Friend. 43
what it meant, and felt a degree startled. "Who are
you? Who is speaking?"
"You must not say a word to anybody. It is a
secret, you know. Between you and me."
"But I don't know. Who are you ?" asked Chryssie
Look round," said the tiny voice.
Chryssie looked in good earnest. Her eyes fell upon
a small and dainty figure, within a foot of her own
Why-who are you?" gasped Chryssie once more.
"Only Puck. My name is Puck. I have come here
from Fairyland for a time. And you must not tell
"Why not ? Are you a fairy ? I have always wanted
so very very much to see a fairy. O mayn't I call
nurse or somebody? Do please let me."
Chryssie rubbed her eyes and looked again. The
dainty small figure was no longer to be seen. She felt
carefully over the table, but in vain. Had it all been a
fancy of her own ?
come back, do come back, you dear sweet little
Puck," she begged. Puck-Puck!"
Puck stood close to her hand. "Now you see!" he
said. "If you call anybody, I shall go. That moment
I shall go. And if you do it without my leave, I shall
never come back to you. You must promise not to
tell, or else I shall not have anything more to do with
44 A Modern Puck.
"I shouldn't think it could be wrong," murmured
"Wrong!" ejaculated Puck.
I'm not allowed to make friends, you know, without
nurse or Miss Puckle knowing."
"Well, you have your choice. I'm forbidden by my
people to be seen by any full-grown Unfortunate. That
settles the matter for me, don't you understand ? Fairies
must obey orders, as well as mortals. See here, I'll tell
you what!-if I ever try to make you do any one single
thing that your grown-up Unfortunates wouldn't like,
then you're free to go off and tell them straight away.
Will that do ?"
"Yes, I should think it would." Chryssie began to
laugh. "Why do you call them 'Grown-up Unfortu-
That is our name for them in Fairyland. We talk of
you as the Unfortunate Mortals-always in some sort of
trouble, you know. Always complaining, and wanting
"I didn't know we were," said Chryssie, deeply
"Why, something or other is wrong with you now."
"Oh, but that is only that grannie is ill, and Miss
Puckle is away, and uncle Berrie almost never comes
home now, and aunt Julia is gone to India, and there's
nobody left to do things. It isn't anybody's fault, I
In walked a maid bearing a tea-tray, and Puck
Chryssie's New Friend. 45
Whatever are you staring at, Miss Chryssie ?" asked
the girl. "You ain't gone and made ink-spots on that
there table-cloth, I hope;" and she peered closely herself,
"It's rather inky," said Chryssie. "It always has
"Well, I've brought you your tea, because nurse
couldn't get away from the old lady, and so you can't
have it in the nursery to-day. Nurse thought you'd
like to pour it out for yourself for once, like a grown-up
person. That's grand, ain't it? And you don't feel
lonesome-like in here ? "
I did rather. I don't now."
Not now you've got your tea. It was getting a bit
late, wasn't it ?-but I didn't know you wasn't with
nurse. Somebody'd ought to have seen to it somehow
or other. You are a good child, and that's a fact."
Clara spread a cloth at one end of the table, placed
the tray thereon, and departed, while Lady Simpkinson,
good-tempered once more, came gliding in, to jump
upon Chryssie's chair, and rub herself against the little
girl's arm. For once, however, Chryssie was too much
preoccupied to bestow much attention upon her lady-
ship. Lady Simpkinson, being of the thin-skinned
type of female, always ready to take offence where no
offence was meant, felt deeply hurt at the small neglect,
and went off in a state of dudgeon, to sulk under the
kitchen-garden wall, leaving Chryssie free to watch for
Puck's re-appearance. Wa- he still present, or had he
46 A Modern Puck.
gone quite away? Chryssie drank her weak tea, and
ate her egg and bread-and-butter, hardly knowing that
she did so.
Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Puck softly, when she had
"O Puck, you dear little mite, what a pet you are!"
Chryssie gazed admiringly at him. And how sweetly
you are dressed Puck, are you really a fairy?"
Puck was surprised at the question. He had never
heard any doubt expressed upon the matter before.
"And will you always be here? Will you come and
talk to me whenever I am alone ? "
"That depends on how you treat me. You seem
rather a nice sort of child."
"And you seem-oh, such a nice fairy! "
"They don't like me much in Fairyland."
Don't they ? Why not? "
"I'm too tall. I have grown too much. Nobody
knows the reason, so I have been sent here to try if it
will stop me from growing any more."
"But you are so very very wee! Why should you
want to stop? Isn't it better to be rather big? Why
shouldn't you keep on growing? If you went on long
enough, you might perhaps become a man in time,"
An Unfortunate Mortal No, thanks !"
Wouldn't you like to be a man ? "
Always unhappy; always grumbling; always quarrel-
ling; always wanting something I couldn't get! No,
Chryssie's New Friend. 47
indeed !" Puck was already losing sight of his former
aspirations. Nothing now looked so delightful as to be
a fairy in Fairyland.
People do grumble sometimes, of course," the little
girl remarked sedately. "And I suppose they quarrel
too. But not nice people, Puck. And I shouldn't think
grown-up people quarrelled, should you? I used to
have a darling little friend, and she was called 'Pussie.'
That wasn't her real name, only everybody called her
so. 'Pattypans' isn't Pattypans' real name either,
because he is properly 'Patrick;' but everybody calls
him 'Pattypans' except grandfather; and Pattypans
likes it best himself. But Pussie never comes to see
"Then you and she have quarrelled."
no, we haven't. Pussie and I never quarrelled.
She would come directly this minute if she might, only
I suppose they won't let her. It isn't her fault, I know,
and it isn't Violet's fault. Violet is Pussie's sister-
quite grown up, and ever so much older than Pussie-
and she is so sweet. And Pussie has a papa, and he
used to come in here to talk to grandfather, and he was
cross one day to Lady Simpkinson, and she scratched
him. And he never comes now. Nurse says it's a
quarrel, but I don't see how it can be, because they're
all grown up, except Pussie and me. And nurse says
it is best to ask no questions, because what hasn't been
said doesn't ever need to be unsaid. They used to
live in that big house over there, but they went away
48 A Modern Puck.
for a great while, and I don't quite know if they are
back yet. It's such an enormous time since I saw dear
little Pussie; more than two years! And now I only
have Tommy to play with. And I have Pattypans and
Lady Simpkinson ; but they can't talk, you know."
"You mean to say that you cannot hear them talk."
Chryssie considered the question deeply.
"No, I don't think it is quite exactly that-if you
don't mind me contradicting you, Puck," she said with
extreme politeness. "They do talk ever so much, but
it isn't English. Not French, but something of that
sort, I suppose. When Lady Simpkinson wants any-
thing, she can always make me understand, but it isn't
exactly talking. It's more like a dumb person making
signs. When she wants a door opened, she sits and
points her nose at the handle, till somebody comes ; or
else she shakes her head, and stands up on her hind
legs to paw the handle. When she is very happy she
wags the tip of her tail, and when she isn't quite pleased
she whisks half of it, and when she is angry she dashes
the whole of it about. And when she has kittens she
talks to them in all sorts of voices; and sometimes she
whispers. But she can't say words, like you and me.
I suppose you learnt to talk English in Fairyland. Does
everyone speak it there? "
Puck in his turn had to consider.
Really I do not know," he said. I never thought
about the matter before. We all understand one another
there, of course."
Chryssie's New Friend. 49
Chryssie sank into profound thought, and Puck,
watching her, said-" Now you are in trouble again."
"I think I am," murmured the little girl. "Puck,
I'm afraid you won't like it, but I do think I ought just
to tell nurse that you have been to see me. She might
say I had made acquaintances without leave, you know,
just as she did one day about Clara. Clara is nurse's
niece, and nurse is so particular. She says you can
always tell what anybody is by a person's friends. I
wonder if you can tell what a fairy is by a fairy's friends.
Clara was talking to somebody out in a lane, you know;
and nurse said it wasn't respectable to go and make
acquaintances, without knowing anything about them.
She might think it wasn't respectable of me to know
you, perhaps. Would you mind, Puck, very much
indeed, if I were just to say to nurse that you had been
here, and to tell her how very very nice and respectable
you are? "
Very unnecessary, I should think," Puck said with
some tartness. He had never been tart in Fairyland,
but something in the atmosphere of Manland was
already affecting him. Then he relented. "After all,
it does not matter. The old woman cannot get hold of
me. If it will make you happier-you poor Unfortunates
are so easily made miserable !-yes, you may say what
And presently nurse came in.
Well, Miss Chryssie, and how are you getting on ?
You've had a dull time I'm afraid, but it couldn't be
helped. Your poor grandma's very bad still."
50 A Modern Puck.
"0 I haven't been dull at all," Chryssie answered,
her face pink with excitement. She forgot the earlier
part of her solitude. Not one scrap dull, nursie. It
has been such fun."
"Well, I never!" uttered nurse, somewhat scanda-
I've been talking to a dear sweet little fairy; the
prettiest darlingest fairy you ever heard of."
Dear me, now; that's what you've been fancying,
have you ?"
Nurse had expected proper enquiries as to the old
lady's condition, and a proper amount of anxiety shown,
and she was not quite pleased at this unlooked-for
"The sweetest little fairy," pursued Chryssie. He
sat on the table and talked to me. And he said I
might tell you, if I liked. And he is very very respect-
able, nursie-much nicer than that person in the lane
was. He had on the loveliest clothes you ever saw-all
sorts of shining colours, like a rainbow. And he said
he was too tall; but I didn't think him tall. Are fairies
always tiny? "
"Shouldn't wonder," nurse replied, with a yawn.
"Dear me, I am sleepy, and no mistake. You'd better
go to bed now, Miss Chryssie, and then you can dream
as much as you like about your fairies."
"But it wasn't a dream. It was a real live fairy,
"You like to pretend things, don't you ?" said nurse
Chryssie's New Friend. 51
"Yes, only this wasn't pretence. He is a real little
fairy, and his name is Puck.'"
Nurse felt Chryssie's hands. "You don't seem
feverish," she said; "but I shouldn't wonder if you
weren't quite in right order. I'll give you a little dose
of magnesia to-night, just to make sure."
"0 please don't-dear nurse, I'm quite well. I
don't want any horrid doses."
Well, we'll see. You needn't talk any more non-
sense, anyway. You just go to bed and to sleep.
There's no such things as fairies, you know quite well.
Of course there ain't."
Chryssie gave up her attempt in despair.
Seeing and Hearing.
REAKFAST was over, and
nurse had gone off again
to attend to the old lady.
Chryssie once more was alone
in the schoolroom. It pro-
mised to be a finer day than
the day before, but nurse pro-
nounced the grass to be still
damp, and desired the little
girl to keep indoors until half-
S Chryssie, however, did not
~ feel half so dull as the evening
before. For one thing, it was
now broad daylight, and the
sun x as beginning to shine
cheerily. For another thing,
Lady Simpkinson was in a
charming mood, rubbing her soft fur against the little girl's
Seeing and Hearing.
legs, arching her back, and gazing with tender yellow eyes,
which had not the faintest soupcon of ill-temper in their
clear depths. Nobody could be more winning than
Lady Simpkinson in a serene mood; and Chryssie now
might hug and kiss her as much as she liked, with no
fear of growls and lashing tail. Lady Simpkinson did
nothing but purr and stretch her claws; only, being a
very high-bred cat, with a large allowance of Persian
blood within her veins, she purred in a soft low dinner-
party kind of voice, which was quite inaudible. Chryssie
could only feel with her hands the delicate vibration
which told of Lady Simpkinson's perfect satisfaction.
And, in addition to sunshine, in addition to agreeable
feline moods, there .was the possibility of Puck's paying
another little visit.
Would he come again, or would he not? Had
Chryssie been dreaming the evening before ?
Here all at once he was He had been by her for
some little time, but Chryssie had not known it, till he
opened out and flung over himself the wonderful gauzy
veil. Then she saw his dainty figure, and heard his
small silvery laughter.
O Puck dear, I'm so glad. Now I shall not be dull
any more. I was so afraid you wouldn't come. How
nice of you to be here so early."
Puck did not say How do you do ?" that not being
a Fairyland custom, but he seemed pleased with his
"Come out into the garden," he said. "Everything
is going on there."
54 A Modern Puck.
"What sort of things ?"
"All sorts. Everything. The sun is shining, and the
birds are singing, and the flowers are growing. You
are too fond of sitting inside these big boxes."
Chryssie began to chuckle. Do you call a house a
box, Puck? That's so funny of you. But I mustn't go
out just yet. Not till half-past ten. Nurse says it is
"And if it is-what then?" Puck thought of the
frequent fairy-dance upon the dew-soaked lawn, and was
Why, I might catch cold."
So you told her about me," remarked Puck, giving
up the dew question as hopeless.
yes, I did. And she says it is all nonsense.
She says there are no such things as fairies."
"I know!" nodded Puck. "The mortals are always
and for ever talking like that. I've heard them, hundreds
of times. It's their way. We fairies have a good laugh
at them sometimes; they are so positive and certain,
you know, when they don't and can't know anything at
all about the matter. No such thing in existence-if
they can't see it. No such thing possible-if they
can't hear it. O dear no, they won't believe this,
and they don't choose to believe that-if they can't
touch and measure and feel it. And the absurdity
of it all is that there are no end of things everywhere,
that they can't see or hear or feel or get hold of. They
haven't a notion how blind and deaf and dull they are,
Seeing and Hearing.
But I'm not blind, Puck!"
"Yes, you are. As blind as anything. You don't
see half-no, nor a quarter, nor a hundredth, nor a
thousandth-of what is just close under your eyes, and
all about you. And you don't hear, and you can't feel-
more than just a very little. Blind! I should think
"Tell me what you can see that I can't see. Do tell
me," begged Chryssie.
Puck laughed gaily. He had gone to his favourite
seat on the big inkstand, and he gazed at his own
small feet where they rested on the surface of the
"What does this seem like to you ?" and he pointed
down where he was looking.
"That table? Why, it is made of wood. And it is
brown-a sort of brown, at least-and hard, and flat, and
smooth, quite smooth. Isn't that all ?"
"That all! Smooth you call it? It's all lumps and
excrescences. Just feel here. But of course you can't.
Your great huge clumsy hands have no sense of feel in
them, compared with mine! So coarse !" Puck had not
the least intention of being rude, or the least wish to give
offence; he was only speaking blunt truth from his own
point of view. Chryssie's little hand was small and
fragile, compared with the hands of bigger human
beings; but as compared with Puck's-when he held
up his dainty digits, Chryssie could not but see her own
to be gigantic beside them. "No wonder you can't
feel," Puck said pityingly.
56 A Modern Puck.
Can't feel what ? "
The roughnesses on your 'smooth' piece of wood.
It's all over lumps and clumps and holes. You don't
see the holes, of course. You've no eyes worth mention-
ing. I suppose the whole table is perfectly solid-to
you. To me it is just honeycombed with holes; round
holes and long holes, all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Dear me, what a thing it is to be only an Unfortunate
Mortal! Not able to see, and not able to feel, and
afraid of dew You poor creature. Well, but now-
what can you see in the air around you? That's plain
enough anyway-even if you are half-blind. Here-
there-all sides-floating about."
Chryssie stared hard, in vain.
"Floating lumps everywhere. Can't you see even
The sun which had passed behind a small cloud came
out, and a bright ray streamed into the room. Puck
pointed to it.
There Now you can see, surely."
"You don't mean only the little wee specks of dust!
Miss Puckle calls them motes."
"'Little wee specks indeed! That which was a
speck to Chryssie might well be a lump to Puck.
"Look here"-and he seemed to catch something in
his fingers-" here is a bit of coal, come up out of the
cellar. And here is a scrap of hair-white, so it may
be your grandfather's. And here is a bit of silver,
rubbed off somebody's brooch or spoon. And here is
Seeing and Hearing.
a piece of india-rubber. And here is a shaving of wood.
And here is a little end of worsted."
I wish I could see as you do," murmured Chryssie.
"You can't of course. You haven't the eyes. But if
I were you," remarked Puck, beginning to know the
charm of giving advice-" if I were you, I wouldn't fall
into the folly which so many of your people do fall into.
I wouldn't let myself say that a thing isn't true or can't
be, only just because I didn't happen to be able to see
or hear or feel it. There are whole worlds beyond what
you can see and hear and feel-worlds round about and
near at hand, as well as far away."
I won't, Puck. I promise you I won't. I'll always
say I don't know."
Here's something else. Look at this fly walking
over the table. I dare say you don't hear its foot-
Why, Puck-nobody never hears a fly walking. It
goes so very very softly."
I hear it. And so can some of your Unfortunates
too; only not with their own ears alone. They have
managed to make a clever little trap to help them to
hear better. Wiseacre told me about that. Once upon
a time, I suppose, the Unfortunates would have declared
in their positive sort of way that a fly made no noise at
all in walking-only because they couldn't hear the
noise, you know. They have learnt better now; but
they somehow don't seem to get much wisdom out of
their past mistakes. They will keep on saying still, in
58 A Modern Puck.
the old stupid blundering way, that this thing and
that thing can't possibly be, because they don't see it
or hear it, or because they can't fancy how it can be
You seem to know a great deal about us," Chryssie
"I wasn't considered to know much in Fairyland;
but compared with what you Unfortunates know-well,
perhaps it is a good deal," Puck answered, rather
flattered. "We fairies are fond of studying the Un-
fortunate Mortals. Your ways are so comically unlike
ours. It's a never-ending puzzle. I hope to find out a
great deal more while I am in your land."
"And how long have you been watching us ? Would
it be rude of me to ask you how old you are?"
"I haven't the smallest idea how old I am. Why
should it be rude?"
"Nurse always says nobody ought ever to ask how
old anybody is, because it is bad manners. Don't you
really know your age ? "
"They call me one of the younger fairies; but age in
Fairyland doesn't mean what it does here. In fact, I do
not know precisely what it does mean. It seems to me
that I have always been there. I cannot recall the time
when I was not a fairy in Fairyland."
"Why, of course"-and Chryssie tried hard not to
laugh-" you wouldn't be able to remember that, would
you, Puck ? Nobody does. I don't remember the time
before I was a little girl; but I know exactly how old
I am. And you seem, oh, ever so much older."
Seeing and Hearing. 59
'That isn't saying much. You Unfortunates are such
creatures of a day. The time I have been in Fairyland
is altogether different. We do not reckon time or age
there as you do here. It is never long and it is never
short. Everything is always the same, and yet every-
thing is always new and delightful. It's a marvel to me
now that I ever could have wished to be more like the
Then you did wish for things you hadn't got! Even
though you are a fairy, Puck."
I suppose so. But it is unusual. It must have been
-out of order." Puck hesitated for words.
"And have you ever talked before with any little
"I have never been able. It is a gift allowed to
very few fairies." Then, drawn on by Chryssie's eager
questions, Puck told her about his new possession, the
O mayn't I see it ?" cried Chryssie.
"You see it! Why, it is all over me now. If it were
not, you wouldn't hear or see me. You can't see things
that are a great deal thicker and plainer than my veil.
But I'll tell you what," Puck went on, touched by her
look of disappointment-" I'll let you have a look at
the world through it. I don't know whether you will
see anything more than usual, but Wiseacre certainly
said that it had powers for the Unfortunates. We will
Who is Wiseacre?"
60 A Modern Puck.
"One of us. Very good and very wise. He knows
all sorts of things. Now I'm going to throw the veil
over your eyes and ears, so that you will see and hear
through it. How you Unfortunates do fidget! Keep
Puck perched himself lightly on the little girl's
shoulder, and threw the delicate elastic veil over her
head, reserving a corner of it for himself, that he might
still be able to exchange ideas with her. He was much
interested in the experiment. One gasp came from
Chryssie, and then she stood motionless, her eyes wide
open and shining.
Puck, it is wonderful," she said in a soft grave
voice. I can see-I don't know what I can't see.
Everything is changed. It is like looking through a
great large microscope-only ever so much more than
that. And I can hear too-all sorts of sounds. Hush!
can you hear them ? And I can see the big loose lumps
floating about everywhere, just as you said. And live
animals too. Ugh I don't like them so much. Can
they hurt me? Those two enormous horrid creatures-
what are they ?-with such big wings, all the colours of
the rainbow! Not flies really! I never saw such flies
before in all my life. And what a noise they make in
walking! I hope they won't come any nearer to me,
because if they do I must run away. And I don't want
to run away. I should like to look all day long.
There's another fly, I suppose-oh-h-h what a monster.
Is that a great-grandfather blue-bottle? And what a
Seeing and Hearing. 61
bustle he makes with his wings! It's a very noisy sort
of world, Puck, I think. O I do like this."
But Puck whisked the veil away, and took himself off,
in a hurry. He did not quite know how far he might
safely go, and Wiseacre's warnings recurred to his mind.
He resolved to wait a few hours before taking any
further steps, and Chryssie saw no more of him that
day. She grew quite melancholy, wondering whether
she had said or done anything to vex her new friend.
LADY SIMPKINSON was in the sweetest of
moods next morning. She found her way into
Chryssie's bedroom early, when nurse came with
hot water. Nurse was called off; and Chryssie lay
waiting, while Lady Simpkinson performed a graceful
treadmill action on the bed, and lovingly nibbled at
Chryssie's fingers, and even crept up to the pillow to
imprint one little gentle lick, by way of a kiss, on the
tip of Chryssie's nose. This bespoke Lady Simpkinson
to be in her very best and happiest state of mind; a
state which meant that Chryssie could do no wrong.
She might stroke Lady Simpkinson's hair the wrong
way, might hold her in a tight clasp, might hug ancf kiss
her vehemently, and Lady Simpkinson only purred the
louder-if such a word as loud could be used for her
refined and delicate utterances.
If only you were always like this, darling Lady
Simpkinson Chryssie said.
But after breakfast Lady Simpkinson's mood had
changed, and she appeared to be suffering from a fit of
severe depression, which could only be solaced by sitting
on the garden-wall, and trying to catch birds. Chryssie
objected to this little sport, and she did her best to win
Lady Simpkinson away. The attenrpt was a failure.
Lady Simpkinson had placed herself beyond reach of Chryssie's arms.--. 63.
Lady Simpkinson had placed herself beyond reach of
Chryssie's arms, and to Chryssie's arguments she turned
a deaf ear. Chryssie had at length to wander off alone,
wondering what had become of Puck, and how soon she
A Modern Puck.
would see him again. And as she wondered-there he
He had seated himself on the hedge of the kitchen-
garden, and close below him was a magnificent spider's
web, large and round, with straight spokes going out-
ward, and fine spirals going round and round, the latter
dotted with tiny sticky spots, and the whole kept in
position by one strong line depending on a bough
above. In a corner of the web sat a gre4t spider,
hunched up and watchful. No passing fly had as yet
damaged the beautiful completeness of the web.
"Here's a piece of work worth your looking at,"
Good morning Chryssie said politely.
Puck glanced up with a puzzled air. Oh-good
morning One forgets those odd little customs."
Don't you ever say 'good morning' in Fairyland ? "
"Why, no. We don't have mornings exactly in that
sense. It is not a question of going to bed and getting
up, you see."
How tired you must be !"
"I assure you, we don't know the feeling. Now, I
wonder how much you can see of this good creature's
work. This Mrs. Spider-you call everybody Mrs.,' I
believe ? "
Except when we call them Mr.'"
Ah, just so. Now tell me what you see."
I can see the web-and the sticky drops-and the
Mrs. Spider. 65
That isn't very much. What sort of silk ropes does
she use in her web-making ? "
Do you call spider's web 'silk ropes ?'"
"Of course the web is made of ropes; pretty strong
ones too. I'm going to give you another look now
through my veil. Pattypans says that you are to be
"Can you really talk with Pattypans?" asked
"Well, yes, I can now-with the veil. Just as I can
talk to you with the veil. Not without it. There's a
sort of Intermedial Dialect, common to animals and
fairies and Unfortunates,-but only to the very few of
you who know it. I'm afraid you could not learn that."
Chryssie privately wondered how much of all this to
believe. She stood still, hardly daring to breathe, lest
she should be accused of fidgeting, while Puck made his
way to her shoulder; he was so rapid in his movements
that she never could be sure whether he walked or
sprang or flew. Then, as before, he flung the veil over
her head, and a low-breathed "Oh !" of delight broke
Now look at the ropes," Puck's little voice said close
to her ear. "See, they are made of a lot of separate
lines all joined together. Hundreds of separate lines to
one rope. Mrs. Spider isn't spinning just now, or you
would see all the tiny fine cords of silk running out of
her body and joining into one rope. That makes the
whole so strong. It wouldn't be half so strong if it were
made of one single silk thread." E
66 A Modern Puck.
"Does all the silk come out of Mrs. Spider's own
body ? "
"To be sure. Didn't you know even that ? There's
a sort of manufactory of silk inside her. It's a sticky
liquid at first, but as soon as it gets into the air it grows
hard and firm, and then it will stand a good pull."
"Not much of a pull Why, I could snap the thread
in a moment."
You I should think so; with your great coarse
hands And you wouldn't mind doing it either, would
you? Never caring a rap for all the trouble she has
taken, poor thing. Nearly an hour of hard work to get
it done, before she can even think of breakfast."
"I won't do it, Puck. But has she made the web just
She makes a fresh web pretty nearly every morning.
How do you suppose she contrives to have all those
sticky drops ?"
"O I know that. Nurse told me. She makes the
web first, and then she walks round and round, and
leaves the drops behind her as she goes."
Nurse never saw her do so, I'm pretty sure ;" and
Puck's sides shook with amusement. "You Unfortunates
don't even use your eyes for the few things you can see.
It is most extraordinary No, she doesn't do anything
of that sort. If she did she wouldn't get her web made
in less than an hour, I can tell you."
Then how does she manage?"
She uses two sorts of rope. The straight lines going
out from the middle have no stickiness. But the other
line, which winds round and round, she covers over as it
comes out of her body with a sticky sort of stuff-not
the same as the silk of the rope, for it doesn't dry and
lose its stickiness in the air."
But the stickiness is all in drops. It doesn't cover
the whole rope, like what you say," objected Chryssie.
It does just at first, like a sort of thin sticky tube all
round and over the silk rope. And then it breaks up of
itself into drops; big drops and little drops. You can
beautifully! There's a big drop and a little
drop, and a big drop and a little drop, by turns. But
why does it break up ? "
It's a way things have."
Chryssie privately thought that, after all, even Puck's
knowledge had limits; but she was a polite little girl,
and she would not hint that his explanation was hardly
satisfactory. So it took her by surprise, when he went
on, exactly as if he had heard what she was thinking:
"No, that does not quite explain. The fact is, I'm
afraid the explanation is rather beyond you. Little
Unfortunates are hardly up to understanding everything,
you know. But it's just this-if you want to be
I do, please."
"You needn't interrupt me, all the same. The fact is,
you see, when the sticky tube is made, all round and
over the silk rope, that tube isn't exactly of the same
68 A Modern Puck.
thickness and strength all through. Some parts are
weaker, and some parts are stronger. And so the pull
is greater in one part than in another. And so it
happens that the sticky tube breaks here and there, and
the broken parts gather into drops. I've not told you
nearly all about it, but that is about as much as you are
able to take in, being only a little Unfortunate. Don't
you think so ? "
Chryssie did not answer the question. She peered
closer to the web, and murmured softly, as if speaking
to the spider,
Fancy doing all that in one hour Such a beauti-
fully straight web, and such a lot of ropes i How very
hard you must have worked "
"Dear me," Puck said to himself in amazement;
"that's a discovery worth publishing in Fairyland. I
shouldn't have thought that the veil would have let her
into the intermedial dialect too. I really shouldn't.
It will be almost worth a discussion at the next moon-
light dance." Then Puck listened with both his ears.
"What else would you have me do?" asked Mrs.
Chryssie showed no surprise. When she had the veil
on, all sorts of unnatural things seemed quite natural,
and she was prepared for any novelties.
It must be a very troublesome piece of work."
Everything worth doing at all means trouble. No
well-bred spider minds trouble. We leave that sort of
thing to inferior mortals."
Mrs. Spider. 69
"But a new web almost every morning! Don't you
get very tired of doing the same things over and over
and over again ? "
"Why should I, pray ?"
"I don't know. I do," said Chryssie, rather ashamed
of her own confession. "I get-oh, so tired of French
verbs. And I do wish very often that I needn't have
my hair brushed for a whole week."
"I have not the least idea what kind of cleaning is
meant by 'French verbs.' But as for brushing one's
hairs-I'm always at it. How could one keep respec-
table without ? Think of the sticky nature of my silk !
There's nothing for it but perpetual combing."
But you haven't any brush or comb." Chryssie very
nearly added, "Or any hair!" only, just in time, she
caught sight of the spider's hairy legs, and did not show
"No comb! I have teeth," was the astonished answer.
But I always have to brush my teeth."
"If your teeth had proper work to do, they would
need no brushing. How do you suppose people
managed before tooth-brushes were invented ? And you
actually want to leave your hairs uncombed What a
deplorably untidy animal you must be "
OI don't think I am, really. I only want-just now
and then-to have things different."
"She's only a poor Unfortunate," observed Puck.
"That's the fashion with the giant brood. Always
wishing to have things different."
70 A Modern Puck.
And do you really brush your hair with your teeth ?
How funny !"
Not funny at all, but perfectly correct." Mrs. Spider's
tone showed a little offence. If you like to pay me a
visit some day, when I have had my breakfast, I'll show
you how to do it. You might like to follow my
example. It's an exquisite mode of making oneself
clean. I could show you also what to do with loose
odds and ends of silk. They should be always rolled
neatly up, very small indeed, and thrown away. That is
our mode. So different to the ways of some creatures,
who leave everything lying about just where it happens
This was very cutting, and Chryssie felt it so.
"But I really am trying to be more tidy," she said
meekly. I wonder how you can know so much about
us Do you often come indoors ?"
I have a cousin who does. Her name is Mrs. House-
Spider, and mine is Mrs. Garden-Spider. She is not so
handsome as I am, and her webs are inferior; but then
poor thing, she has no chance. A dreadful animal lives
there, she tells me, who goes by the name of Rannaran,
whose one and only business in life is the destruction of
spiders' webs. Happily that awful creature does not
prowl through garden as well as house."
0 but-" and Chryssie paused. The name
sounded suspiciously like that of a rosy little housemaid
lately imported. Chryssie wondered if it would be
polite to hint that the housemaid was only doing her
Mrs. Spider. 71
duty. Why doesn't your cousin live in the garden and
make webs there?"
I really am not able to inform you. She seems to
prefer a roof over her head."
Chryssie did not pursue what she felt to be a ticklish
subject. I should like to see you make a whole web
straight off, some day," she observed.
Nothing easier. You only have to get up in time.
About as soon as the sun gets up, or perhaps a little
I'm afraid nurse mightn't like that. It would be so
very very early. People don't get up quite at that time,
"You are talking of your own kind of animal, no
doubt," and Mrs. Garden-Spider's tone was supercilious.
That may be of very little consequence for beings so
huge and useless. For us it is a different matter. If we
spiders failed to do our duty in life, the world would be
at a standtill."
A little mistake, of course," murmured Puck indul-
gently. Folks are so oddly apt to over-estimate their
own importance in the Universe. Now, we fairies, know-
ing that it was made for us, and that other beings are
merely meant for our convenience or pleasure, can
better understand the worth of a spider's web. Not that
such webs are to be undervalued. Our Queen is always
robed in spider-silk."
But you don't really think, Puck, do you, that fairies
are more important in the world than people ?" enquired
72 A Modern Puck.
Chryssie, with a puzzled face. "I thought the world
was made for us. Everybody says so."
"A very odd delusion," Puck answered, with a
superior smile. If you had once been to Fairyland, you
would not think anything so droll."
Perhaps he preferred not to argue the question, for
just as Chryssie was about to speak again to Mrs.
Garden-Spider, the veil was once more lightly whisked
Something to Do.
T" J ,Fo I wish you could talk
Sto me. I do wish you
could. I know you
think a lot, because I can see that you
do. You are always thinking of some-
thing or other; but you can't put your
thinks into words, can you, darling? If
only you could, it would be such fun.
I should ask you what you thought about
little girls and lessons, and I should tell
you what I thought about doggies and pussies. But
it's no good now, because it's all on one side, you know.
I can tell you what I think, but you can't tell me
what you think; and that is so stupid. And it rains,
Pattypans, and everything looks dismal, and Puck won't
come to me, and it's most dreadfully dull."
Chryssie sat on the hearth-rug and sighed. The old
74 A Modern Puck.
gentleman, her grandfather, was gone away for two
nights, leaving Pattypans behind, and so Pattypans
was free to spend all his time with Chryssie. If only
it had been fine, they might have enjoyed a lovely
romp in the garden together. There could be no romp-
ing indoors, for fear of disturbing the old lady. who was
That the old gentleman should leave his little island-
home for even a whole day was a most rare event, and
that he should do so for two whole nights was quite
unheard of. Chryssie could not remember his ever
doing so before. She felt sure that he was gone on
some tremendously weighty business, because he had
said as much before starting,-or if he had not exactly
said it, he had seemed to mean it,-but she had not the
dimmest notion what that business might be. Making
a speech in Parliament, perhaps ; or going to a barber
to have his hair cut; or seeing a doctor to ask about
grannie; or buying a new summer waistcoat for him-
self; or looking at stuffed birds in a museum. Any
of these might be possible; and all of them looked in
her eyes about equally important.
"Alh, Miss Chryssie, if only you knowed Clara said
mysteriously, when she found Chryssie at the first-floor
side passage window, watching the old gentleman being
driven in the dog-cart across the bridge, under pelting
rain, with mackintosh and umbrella in full use. "If
only you knowed! And won't you be a happy little
girl when he comes back ? Won't you, just!"
Something to Do. 7"5
This was expressive, but rather mysterious.
"Why should I be a happy little girl?" asked
Chryssie. "I suppose I'm happy now. Must I be
I should just think you would, Miss Chryssie Just!
If only you knowed "
Clara intimated that she was not at liberty to
explain further. The silver-haired old gentleman,
-something, oh, ever so nice.
: ,. ...., --- -
Ctir) -le sat on the hearth-rug and sighed.I,. 73.
whose name was, by-the-by, General Grand, wouldn't
like her to tell. But Clara knew that Chryssie was
going to be happy--very and most particularly happy.
Something was goin to come back with the General,
--somethingy, oh, ever so nice.
I suppose you mean sweets and lollypops," Chryssie
answered, with infinite disdain.
76 A Modern Puck.
However, Chryssie was an honourable little girl, and
since she was not meant to know more she would not
ask further. She did not feel particularly happy now.
Grannie was still very ill, and nurse was entirely taken
up with her, and it rained and blew persistently, and
Chryssie could not get out, and she had nothing what-
ever to do. Moreover, it was three whole days since
last she had set eyes on Puck, and Chryssie was inclined
to wonder if ever he would come again. When she had
not seen him for a few hours, she always began to feel
as if his appearances had been only a dream, and to
marvel whether he were a real little fairy, after all, and
not a mere fancy of her own.
One comfort she had, and that was in the presence
of Pattypans. No fear this morning of the imperative
whistle from the study calling him away from her side.
But despite his companionship, and despite the promised
mysterious joy of by-and-by, Chryssie felt flat, and
didn't know what to do with herself. So she sat upon
the rug, and talked to Pattypans; and Pattypans looked
deeply sympathizing, and answered each separate remark
with a glisten of his hazel eyes and a wag of his fringed
"Yes, I know you mean, oh, all sorts of things, you
sweet old Pattypans, and you would say them if you
could. But you can't! At least, I can't hear you say
them. Puck says I mustn't say you don't talk; I must
only say that I can't hear you talk. But anyhow, I
can't make out anything that you say. If only you
Something to Do.
spoke in French, that wouldn't matter, because I could
learn French. I'm learning it now, and I can say some
things quite nicely. I can say, 'Donnez-moi du pain
beurre, s'il vous plait.' But I can't say that in doggie
language. And you haven't any grammar, have you ?
If you had, I know what sort of verb you would learn
first of all. It would be, 'I chase cats, thou chasest
cats, he chases cats, we chase cats, you chase cats, they
chase cats.' Only, you don't ever chase Lady Simpkin-
son or her kittens, do you, dear? You are much too
good for that. If you had a grammar I'd learn it,
Pattypans, because I love you so."
Pattypans wagged his tail and smiled-as dogs do
smile. He did his best to show how pleased he was
with all that his little mistress said.
Lady Simpkinson herself happened to be absent just
then; not a matter for regret, since Lady Simpkinson
was of a jealous nature, and she did not like to see
Pattypans too much petted by Chryssie. But Lady
Simpkinson's four-months-old daughter, Missie, was
present, and Missie was a most good-natured kitten.
She had black hair, not long but glossy, and a gentle
little sentimental face. Missie, though not so hand-
some as Lady Simpkinson, was in some respects a
finer character. Dogs and cats are just as unlike one
to another as men and women and children are; no two
cats and no two dogs being ever exactly alike. Missie
had not the least objection to seeing old Pattypans
kissed and fussed over, so long as she might have a small
78 A Modern Puck.
share of attention; while Lady Simpkinson would have
growled and walked away with a stately air of disgust.
"I wish you could talk too, Missie. It would be so
nice. Not that you could tell me such a lot of things
as Pattypans could, because you have only been four
months in the world, and Pattypans has been eight
years. That makes a lot of difference."
Missie purred loudly. It was all she could do. She
had not inherited her mother's refined dinner-party
voice, but her more vigorous tones had the advantage
of being always easily heard.
"O dear me, it's very dull to-day. I don't like the
rain, and the house feels so empty with grandfather
away. Why doesn't Tommy come and see me, I
wonder? And what does keep Puck away?
"Pattypans, I'll tell you a little wee secret. I'm
dreadfully afraid Puck is tired of me; and that is why
I feel so dull. I love dear sweet little Puck, and he
hasn't been near me for three whole days, and perhaps
he never never will come again. And I do wish he
wouldn't go away. I do wish nobody would ever go
away. I wish aunt Julia was back-and uncle Berrie-
and Miss Puckle. And I do so want to see dear darling
little Pussie again, and Violet. I love Violet and Pussie
so very very much. I don't know which I love the
Two big tears actually rolled down Chryssie's cheeks,
and Pattypans, in great distress, jumped up to lick them
away, whimpering out his sympathy.
Something to Do. 79
"Who is Violet ?" asked a small voice by her side.
Chryssie's tears were gone in a moment, and she sat
up, full of smiles. I'm so glad. O Puck, I'm so
glad. I've been so dull, and I didn't know what to do
"Why should you do anything with yourself?"
Why, Puck, I couldn't just sit and do nothing."
On the whole that might be more sensible than to
sit and cry about nothing. But it's the way of you
poor Unfortunates. If you can do a thing you don't
want to do it, and if you can't do a thing you're all
agog to do it. We fairies are so different, so much
Chryssie was rather at a loss how to defend herself.
"What were you saying about Violet? Who is
"I only wanted dreadfully to see her again. She
is Pussie's sister, ever so much older than Pussie.
And she is such a dear. I never saw anybody like
Why don't you see her now?"
"Why, Puck, I told you. Nurse says it's a quarrel.
I don't know who has quarrelled. It wasn't Pussie and
"Tell me all about it," suggested Puck.
"But I don't think there's anything to tell. I didn't
see anybody quarrel. Pussie and I were always seeing
one another. And I used to go to their house, and
80 A Modern Puck.
Violet used to take me in her arms and hug me, and
I felt-oh, so happy. Nobody hugs me now like that.
And uncle Berrie was at home. His real name is
Bernard, but I always call him uncle Berrie. I do love
uncle Berrie ; he's so big, and strong, and nice, and funny.
And we were in the woods ever so long, he and Violet,
and Pussie, and Pattypans and I. We had our lunch,
and we did laugh so. And Violet had a white frock,
and such a pretty pretty colour in her cheeks. Pussie
and I played with Pattypans, and uncle Berrie and
Violet seemed as happy as happy could be. I thought
it was such a lovely day. And when we got home,
uncle Berrie said something to grannie, in a sort of
whisper, and grannie kissed him, and I heard her say,
'She's a diamond, my dear!' Don't you think she
must have meant Violet? Uncle Berrie always seemed
to like Violet such lots. And then in the evening
Violet's papa came. I don't like him so very
very much, because he gets cross about things. I've
seen him make Violet cry, he was so cross sometimes.
And I think he must have been cross that evening-like
Lady Simpkinson when she gets into her tempers. He
was all red and growly, and his voice was so loud, I
could hear it right away here in the schoolroom. And
Lady Simpkinson went up to him, and Pattypans too,
and he kicked Pattypans and slapped Lady Simpkinson.
Pattypans ran away under the sofa, and Lady Simpkin-
son growled back and scratched his hand. I wonder if
I was very naughty, Puck, not to be sorry. I did truly
Something to Do.
think he a wee little bit deserved it, you know, for
S kicking dear sweet old Pattypans, because Pattypans is
always so gentle. And then he and grandfather had a
tremendous long talk in the study, and their voices went
on and on, growl, growl, growl, oh, for such a time. And
then Violet's papa went away, looking just as scarlet as
a turkey-cock, and grandfather followed him out to the
front door, and was so dreadfully polite, it quite fright-
ened me. He's always most awfully polite when he
is very very angry, you know. And next day uncle
Berrie wasn't a scrap like himself, but he did look so
pale and melancholy, and grannie cried, and grandfather
hardly spoke at all. And then uncle Berrie went away,
and he has hardly ever been home since then, except
just for one night; and nurse told me that Violet and
Pussie were going right off to another country with
their papa, and they would be gone for an immense
time, and I mustn't expect ever to see them again,
because there had been a quarrel, and grandfather was
angry. And I asked if Pussie's papa was angry too,
and she said yes,, and it was all his doing, and I
mustn't ask any more questions, because nobody could
help it, and what couldn't be cured had to be endured.
I didn't know what it was all about, and I did feel so
unhappy. And I had one little wee note from Violet,
and she said Pussie sent me her love, and they would
never never forget me, though she mustn't write again.
And I've never seen them since. I know they weren't
at home for a long while, but somehow I do think
82 A Modern Puck.
they must have come back now; at least, one day I
thought I saw Pussie a good way off in a lane, only
nurse wouldn't let me say so. She turned off down
another road, and she won't ever go near their house,
and she says we've just got to do as we are bid. But I
do want to know if they are there."
"You'll find out some day," remarked Puck, and he
determined in his little mind to take a private peep
himself, and to see what might be seen. Come, you
haven't asked what I have been doing lately."
Chryssie's face was blight in a moment.
"I didn't know if I might; but I do want to know.
Please tell me, Puck. Have you been on the island all
"Well, no. I went off to one of those queer places,
where a lot of Unfortunates live all together, packed as
tight as they can pack, in hundreds upon hundreds of
boxes. Very much like an ant-hill, you know. It's the
oddest thing in the Universe, how they crowd them-
selves together. As if there wasn't any room for them
anywhere else! When one thinks of the size of the
fields and the woods and earth altogether! Most
Do you mean a town ?"
"That's what you call it, I suppose. Rows and rows
of boxes, with square holes in the sides. And I give
you my word for it, some of those poor Unfortunates
never go outside those boxes, morning, noon, or night.
And all the time there are the birds singing, and the
Something to Do. 83
grass is growing, and the blue sky is overhead, and not
a glimpse of it all do they ever get. It's a perfect
marvel. I don't know anything in the worldto equal
it for queerness, except an Ant-hill."
"And have you been three days in the town?"
enquired Chryssie, less amazed than Puck expected.
"Dear me, no, I had enough of it in one day. I've
been very busy since, writing down my impressions.
In fact, I've been making poetry."
"O Puck, have you? Do let me hear it. Do show
me your poetry, dear little Puck. I should like that! "
and Chryssie danced with delight.
"You mustn't be surprised if it isn't too flattering to
your kind. We fairies are not accustomed to such ways."
"No, I don't mind. I don't like everybody, you
know," added Chryssie, as a great concession to fairy
Puck slowly produced a minute square of the finest
foreign letter-paper, about as big as the end of Chryssie's
little finger. He held it up, and Chryssie could just
detect some faint lines zigzagging across it ; but to make
out a single word was beyond her power.
I almost think I shall want a microscope, it's written
so beautifully tiny," she said with great politeness,
having regard to the feelings of an amateur author.
"Or perhaps you would read the poetry to me, Puck.
That would be nice."
"You must listen attentively, then. I've only man-
aged a few lines, but,"-and Puck put on a modest
84 A Modern Puck.
little air,-" I'm inclined to think they are good of
their kind. They are meant to be sung at our next
moonlight dance, after I get back to Fairyland."
Do you always sing poetry, then ? "
We sing, of course, and everything is poetry in
Fairyland." Then Puck started off in a small high
SThe stately strut of a dignified man
Is a thing that a fairy can't copy,-who can ?
The wonderful last new fashion in dress
Is a sight too awful by far to express;
The scream of an underground whistle in air
Is enough to stiffen each practical hair;
The sight of an Englishman over his sirloin
Is enough to make a rhinoceros purloin;
But that of a German over his salad
Is food for a much more serious ballad;
And that of a Frenchman over his soup
Might tempt an eyrie-eagle to swoop;
While that of a- "
Puck made a long pause.
O please go on."
How can I go on? No more is written."
But why did you stop just there ? "
Because I had nothing more to say. There was
more to be said, of course, only I couldn't get hold
of it. I sat for six hours by the water side over there,
waiting for the rest. And there wasn't any rest. Now
you may criticise. That is the way, I believe, with
Something to Do. 85
you Unfortunates. If one of you writes some beautiful
poetry, all his friends try to pull it to pieces for him.
As if you weren't unfortunate enough without that, poor
things! But you may pull my poetry to pieces. I give
you free leave."
"I am sure it is very nice indeed," Chryssie said
judicially. Only, don't you think, Puck, that perhaps
you meant particular, and not practical? I had to
learn something out of my Shakespeare extracts about
somebody's 'particular hair.' "
"Certainly I didn't. That would make the line too
long. It wouldn't matter in Fairyland, but it would
And I don't quite know what 'purloin' means."
Purloin-steal. You needn't ask me what he stole,
for I don't know. There wasn't any other word to
rhyme with sirloin, so I had no choice," Puck said
It did not seem to Chryssie that criticisms were of
much use, Puck being so very sure of his own ground;
but she ventured on another.
I don't exactly see, Puck, why an eagle should go at
a Frenchman over his soup. Wouldn't an eagle like
meat better than soup? "
Not a doubt of it, if he could get the meat. But he
mightn't be able," said Puck.
Treat Number One.
THEN came a pause.
"On the whole, I don't think you appreciate
0 but I do, I'm sure I do," exclaimed Chryssie,
who hadn't the least idea what appreciate meant. I
think it is quite beautifully wonderful, and I'm sure I
couldn't write anything half so clever."
Most likely not! You are only a poor little Unfor-
tunate, you see. I am rather inclined to think that
I have a gift for poetry-making. There's only one
difficulty in my mind," and Puck became pro-
foundly thoughtful. I'm just a little afraid-whether
Yes, Puck. Please go on."
"Of course we don't make poetry in Fairyland. Not
commonly, I mean. There's no need, because every-
thing is poetry already there. If a new song is ever
wanted for the moonlight dance, that is ordered by the
Queen, and there is no difficulty about having it done.
Treat Number One. 87
But we in Fairyland do not always call out for new
things. We like the old best. To be perpetually
making fresh poetry is quite a Manland occupation.
And the question is, if I take to copying the Unfortu-
nates, will it make me grow more ?"
Puck grew mournful over this idea. His very gar-
ments dropped limply over and around his tiny frame.
Would it matter much if you did, Puck dear? "
Certainly it would matter, extremely. I have come
here to be cured of my enormous height." Chryssie
bit her lips, and tried hard not to smile. "And just
imagine-if I were to grow one-tenth of an inch taller
for every line of poetry-why, I should very soon be a
complete giant. And then I should be put away from
Fairyland for ever, and most likely I should be turned
into a beetle or a spider."
Not a beetle, Puck! Don't be turned into a beetle,
because beetles are such horrid things, and you might
get squashed by somebody. A spider isn't nearly so
bad, not if it's a nice pretty speckly one out in the
garden, like that Mrs. Spider that I saw the other
"I assure you beetles are most important animals,
quite as useful as spiders, and a great deal more useful
than you Unfortunates," declared Puck. "They make
away with everything objectionable, and the world
couldn't get on without them. But I don't really think
that I have grown any taller since I came here. Some-
how, I feel smaller instead of larger, at least when I am
88 A Modern Puck.
with you. Now I have something else to say. You
are all alone for three days-"
"Two days, not three, Puck. And the.e is nurse."
"You needn't interrupt me. The old woman is
always with the old lady, I believe. So practically you
are alone, and for three days exactly. The old gentle-
man went away in the early morning, and he will not
get back till late at night. That makes two nights and
So it does ; but I didn't know he meant to stay till
late at night."
"And I did know. That makes all the difference.
Now, to come to the point. I have three treats for you,
while you are left alone. One for to-day, one for to-
morrow, one for the day after."
"Have you really, Puck? How kind of you! I do
"You may love these, or you may not. I can provide
the treats, but I can't provide the enjoyment. This is
what they are to be. Listen !-
"Treat No. I: To overhear Pattypans and Lady
Simpkinson discussing their grievances;
"Treat No. 2: To pay a visit to an Ants' Nest, and
to make acquaintance with Worker No. 500;
"Treat No 3 : To go and see m-m-m-s-s-s-"
Puck's voice had grown smaller and smaller, shriller
and shriller, till at length it became so extremely minute
that Chryssie was unable to make out any words. There
was only a tiny murmur, which died away into an
Treat Number One. 89
If you wouldn't mind, Puck dear-I mean, if you
could just manage to speak in a wee little bit bigger
voice, and not so very very thin and squeaky, I might
be able to hear what you say," she suggested.
Puck showed signs of being rather hurt. "When it
is well known that I have the deepest bass voice in all
Fairyland !" he said reproachfully. "Even Wiseacre's
bass is nothing to mine."
It does sound a little squeakier than our voices do,
somehow," Chryssie said sweetly. But I really tried
hard to hear, and if you don't mind saying that part
over again-the Thirdly, you know-I'll listen as hard
as ever I can."
If your ears are not made to hear reasonable sounds,
it is no manner of use your trying. Only give you an
ear-ache for nothing. So you wish for the treats ?"
very much. They sounded delicious, as much
as I could understand what they meant, Puck. Only,
I don't truly think Pattypans and Lady Simpkinson
have any grievances."
Wait and hear," Puck said, with a touch of grimness.
And I didn't quite know what 'No. 5oo' could be."
Of course you didn't. That will come later. One
thing at a time, and that done well, is a rule, I believe,
that the Unfortunates have borrowed from Fairyland.
Only you never act by it. Three things at a time, and
those done ill, is what you prefer."
But I'm not doing three things now."
Certainly you are. You are listening to me, and you
go A Modern Puck.
are twiddling your fingers, and you are wondering what
Pattypans and Lady Simpkinson can have to complain
of. That is why you listen so badly."
I won't again, Puck. I'll try always to do only just
one thing at a time. And will the Grievances come
Why, yes. As the discussion is at this moment
taking place, there is no object in delay. It might
come to an end."
Chryssie looked with puzzled eyes toward the hearth-
rug. Lady Simpkinson had glided into the room a few
minutes earlier, and she now stood in a graceful attitude,
with head erect and tail lowered, the latter switching
gently to and fro ; while Pattypans sat opposite in an
alert position, his hazel eyes gazing from under their
shaggy penthouse of hair straight at Lady Simpkinson.
Missie was coiled up on a stool, not a yard distant, her
mild little face wearing its most sentimental expression.
But they are not talking," said Chryssie.
By way of answer Puck threw his veil over Chryssie's
head, and in a moment everything was transformed.
"If I were you," Puck's little voice said close to
her ear, I would listen, not talk. That is to say, if it
is ever possible for a young Unfortunate to hold her
Chryssie smiled and said nothing. She was becoming
aware of voices in the room.
".--as if I were a mere nobody!" said Lady
Treat Number One.
Simpkinson, in deeply-injured accents. "I never was
so insulted in my life. He absolutely threw a stone
at me. At me! "
It must have been most trying," assented Pattypans,
with something of a twinkle in the corner of his eye,
even while he tried to look sym-
pathizing. You say you met him o '
in the road."
Chryssie, by the magic veil, hears Lady Simpkinson and Pattypans discussing their
"Where he had no business to be. And that pre-
posterous beast of his close to his heels. You are well
enough for a dog; perhaps as well-behaved as any
animal can be that isn't a cat. But what that enormous
.-//~=''~:,----~'~ _I- $yp~t
92 A Modern Puck.
creature can ever have been made for passes my under-
standing." Lady Simpkinson jerked her tail. "That
animal is a mistake altogether, and his master is
"As to the master I agree with you. He insulted my
master once," said Pattypans.
"Well, he has insulted me now. Such creatures
should not be allowed to exist in Catland."
"You call this Catland ?"
To be sure. What else ?"
I-rather imagined that we were in Dogland."
Not at all. Where I am it is Catland, of course.
Other people are allowed to exist there too, but really
there ought to be some limits. I object to the return of
that man and his great brute. Wihy should they come
back? When my kittens go away, they do not return.
Why should this red-faced man return? I do not
dislike the young people of that house, for they are
well-behaved, and they never stroke my hairs the wrong
way. But the man is a blunder. He ought to have
been disposed of long ago."
I believe you scratched him once."
"I did, and I would do it again with the greatest
pleasure. I am not so poor-spirited as you," added
Lady Simpkinson. When he gave you a kick-the
wretch-all you were capable of was to run under the
sofa. Why did you not bite him?"
"It was awfully hard to keep from doing so. But
my duty to my master," murmured Pattypans. To
Treat Number One.
have bitten one of his guests! the thing would be
I am not quite so squeamish, happily for me. My
duty to myself comes first. If that red-faced individual
appears again within the walls of this house, I shall
certainly take the first opportunity to give him a
He will not come. There has been a-something
of a difficulty. Things have not gone straight, I fear.
It is a great trouble to my master. He would have
liked the arrangement proposed, and my mistress was
delighted; but there were difficulties in the way."
Puck, they must mean Pussie's and Violet's papa,"
whispered Chryssie, with shining eyes. He has got
such a great scarlet face, you know."
At all events, nothing would ever induce you to use
your claws upon our beloved master," Pattypans said
Well, no, I should say not. I am quite devoted to
him," said Lady Simpkinson, carelessly sharpening her
claws upon the rug. Unless of course he were unjust
to me. I have seen him unjust to you."
Pattypans looked sad, and observed, He did not
"As for myself-I do not blame him in a general way,
though I have much to bear, a great deal to bear," said
Lady Simpkinson, with an elegant droop of her fringed
tail. Why am I allowed to bring up my sweet little
94 A Modern Puck.
kittens, to become passionately fond of them, and then
to have them torn ruthlessly away, and sent nobody
knows where? Is a cat supposed to have no feelings ? "
"I fancied I had heard it whispered that you were
not-perhaps-quite so fond of your kittens as some
mothers," Pattypans ventured to hint.
Quite a mistake. People are really so very slow to
understand. I am not fond of nursery cares. Is it
likely, with a cat of my tastes? But when against my
will I am positively forced to act nursemaid to the little
things, and when I have grown really devoted to them,
why should they be snatched from my side ?"
"Probably there is some good reason. The house
might get a little too full of cats."
Impossible! That is out of the question. If you
had said too full of human beings, there I might agree
with you. But too full of cats! Why, the more the
merrier! Think what exquisite concerts we could hold.
Instead of which I have again and again to go through
the desolation of being left kittenless, for no earthly
reason. My sensations during the next twenty-four
hours are simply not to be described."
And after the twenty-four hours ?"
"Then of course-but it is the cruelty of which I
complain. The utter unreasoning cruelty."
Missie stepped gingerly off her stool and drew
nearer to Lady Simpkinson, putting one little black
foot slowly before the other, and gazing with wistful
pathos. Lady Simpkinson's brows drew into a frown
Treat Number One.
over her yellow eyes. Missie came closer, and a growl
could be heard. Then Lady Simpkinson lifted one
furry paw, and gave Missie a smart slap in the face; and
Missie retreated, with a blank grieved expression, as of
one who had received a dash of cold water.
"What was that for?" asked Pattypans.
"Missie has grown to the troublesome age. I have
nothing more to do with her;" and Lady Simpkinson
lashed her tail.
"But I don't want to hear all that. I know exactly
how Lady Simpkinson behaves to her kittens," whis-
pered Chryssie. "I want to hear if she knows more
about Violet and Pussie."
Speak, if you will. I was sure you couldn't hold
your tongue long," said Puck.
Chryssie hesitated, but the temptation was strong; and,
knowing the very fragile texture of Lady Simpkinson's
temper, she used the mildest tones at her command.
"Was that red-faced gentleman, with the big dog,
dear little Pussie's papa, dear Lady Simpkinson?"
"Who's talking now? demanded Lady Simpkinson.
"It's me. I've got on Puck's veil, you know. And I
want so much to know about Pussie. Couldn't you tell
"Would you ever have thought it, now?" asked
Lady Simpkinson, addressing herself to Pattypans. I
Pattypans looked fondly at the little girl with his
soft wise eyes.
96 A Modern Puck.
I really shouldn't," repeated Lady Simpkinson. In
the whole of my long life "-she was exactly three years
old-" I never saw anything like it. No, never!"
But is there any harm in my asking? It's so lovely
to be able to talk to you, darling Lady Simpkinson."
"Of course there is harm. I object to anything
unusual. And this is unusual certainly," said Lady
Simpkinson. "As for talking to me, you always can
talk, and you always do talk." Lady Simpkinson again
turned appealingly to Pattypans. "Would you believe
it?" she said. '"That child is never happy unless her
tongue is on the wag. In fact, it always is on the wag.
From morning till night. There's no rest for anybody,
unless she is asleep."
Chryssie was rather hurt.
I wouldn't speak like that of you," she said sorrow-
fully. I thought you loved me, Lady Simpkinson."
"Of course I do," Lady Simpkinson answered, opening
and shutting her eyes with a languid air. Then she
rubbed her nose against Chryssie's leg affectionately.
" But it is really so very ill-bred to be for ever talking.
Words should always be the last resource. Always!
An aristocratic cat never gives voice, so long as silent
signs will serve her purpose."
"Only, you are talking now, aren't you, darling?"
Chryssie ventured to say.
Lady Simpkinson seemed very much astonished, not
to say ruffled. "You don't call this talking, I hope," she
said, with emphasis. "It is the intermedial dialect,-
Treat Number One.
quite a different matter. We are exchanging thoughts,
not merely chattering."
It seems as if I could hear you speaking," murmured
"Quite a mistake. You fancy that you hear, because my
thoughts touch your mind. That is all. Don't you see?"
Chryssie did not see at all. It sounded to her like
utter nonsense, but she would not say so. For one
thing, it might not be polite; for another thing, Lady
Simpkinson might be offended. Moreover, Chryssie
was beginning to grasp the fact that she could not
understand everything in the Universe.
Then, suddenly, the veil was gone.
"I think that is about enough of Treat No I," said
"0 but I wanted to ask lots of questions. Mayn't
I go on a little longer?"
"Just as well not. You might end in a quarrel. You
Unfortunates are so frightfully sensitive, and it is so
difficult for one of you to understand anybody who
lives on a different level from yourselves. We will pay
a visit to the Ants' Nest to-morrow, and your feelings
will not be so much engaged there. I'm afraid this treat
has hardly been a success. It is not easy to provide
amusement for an Unfortunate. So very little makes
I'm not miserable," Chryssie said, laughing, and yet
there were tears in her eyes. She had been just a little
disappointed in her dear Lady Simpkinson.
Treat Number Two.
"A RE you ready?" asked Puck.
The rain of the day before had passed off, and
the garden glowed in sunshine. Each blade of grass
sparkled, each blossom gaily smiled. The birds were
singing their loudest, and the very trees seemed to
rustle their leaves with delight. Chryssie too was in
high spirits. She wanted desperately to know what
might be meant by the mysterious "No. 500oo," and
still more by the altogether inaudible "Thirdly ;" but
for that of course she had to wait till the morrow. For
to-day, No. 500 would be enough.
Moreover, she had to wait Puck's time, and Puck took
his own time, not choosing to appear until after early
dinner. By which lengthened delay Chryssie was
strung up to a state of suspense which bordered on the
I'm quite perfectly ready," she exclaimed, when
at last Puck dawned upon her vision, clad in a new suit
of sylvan green. He seemed to have an unlimited