The Baldwin Lbrary
fI mB `nf
WHISPERS from FAIRYLAND
LONDON : PRINTED I;Y
SIOTLTIWOODE AND CO., NE\W-STRI'ET SQUANR
AND PARLIAMENT STREET
'r -,' '-"-------,---
.I -,-I. -- -
TiL LOST PRINCE
BY THEl RT. HON.
E. H. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN, M.P.
AUTHOR OF 'STORIES FOR MY CHILDREN' 'MOONSHINE' QUEER I')I,' ETC
THE LOST PRINCE
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
All rights s
MOTHERS OF ENGLAND.
So many of you have spoken kind words to me of
my books for children, that I venture to dedicate to you that
which I have just finished.
It is difficult to please all readers. The child just
out of the nursery, the young lady 'in the schoolroom,' the
school-boy, and the 'grown-up children' who do me the honour
to read my books, cannot all be exactly suited in every story.
Sometimes I am too 'old,' sometimes too 'young' for my readers.
But to your kindly judgment I readily and humbly submit my
present volume. I hope and believe "that, whatever may be its
defects, there is nothing in it which can do harm or teach evil
lessons to the child-world, which I love so well. Were it other-
wise, I should not be bold enough to dedicate it to that body
of English women whom, above all others, I respect and admire;
because it is to them and to their guidance of the home-life of
their children that England has owed her greatness in time past
and will continue to owe the same in that future for and in
which those children have to work.
I am yours most respectfully,
E. H. KNATCHBULL-IIUGESSEN.
I HOPE no one will blame me for the title which
I have ventured to choose for my new book of
Fairy Tales. There is no particular reason why
such tales should not be spoken out in a loud voice,
but there is something more mysterious and Fairy-
like in a 'whisper,' and therefore I have chosen the
word. There would be something inappropriate in
'Bawls from Fairy-land,' 'Shrieks' or 'Yells' would
be wholly out of the question, there is a sulky
sound about 'Mutterings,' and Howls' would be
extremely objectionable. So, upon the whole, I
prefer 'Whispers ;' and, indeed, the title is all the
more appropriate, because it is in this tone of voice
that the little elves generally impart information to
those whom they honour with their confidence.
viii PREFA CE.
Through the rustling leaves in the soft summer
evenings; in the hay-fields after the hay-makers
have gone home, and the old white owl flits slowly
along in her search after the field mice, who are
no longer shielded from her sight by the long grass;
early in the mornings before the world of man is
astir, and whilst the world of nature is still quiet
and fresh-at such times the Fairy-whispers come
to me ever and again; gentle, pleasant whispers
they are, and they tell such strange things, that I
cannot keep them to myself. So I cast them forth
for my child-friends to read and interpret for them-
selves, and if they cannot understand them all,
only let them tell me so, and I will ask for a full
explanation the very next time I go to Fairyland.
I. THE LOST PRINCE. I
II. THE HISTORY OF A ROOK 74
III. THE SILVER FAIRIES . 103
IV. THE WITCHES' ISLAND . 173
V. HARRY'S DREAM 236
VI. THE RED BARON 280
VII. THE TWO ETONIANS 331
TIHE LOST PRINCE . to face I
THE GIANT PATTLE-PERRY 41
THE SILVER FAIRIES. ., 122
MOLLY AND THE DEVIL-FISH ., 173
THE WITCHES' ISLAND ,, 221
HARRY'S DREAM ,, 274
THE RED BARON 287
THE TWO ETONIANS 330
Wkisp5ers from Fairyland.
THE LOST PRINCE.
THERE was once a King who ruled over a people
faithful to his dynasty, and contented with his govern-
ment. His country was prosperous, his arms success-
ful, his power great, and the splendour of his court
unrivalled. Nor was this all; his Queen was a lady
of surpassing beauty and amiable disposition; his
domestic happiness was complete, and he was blessed
with a son and two daughters, who were all that their
parents could desire. Fortune seemed to have smiled
upon that happy family, and nothing was wanting to
render their existence one of unalloyed bliss. At the
birth of each child good fairies had attended with
presents and good wishes, and everything promised a
long and joyful career to the children of those royal
It was not until the youthful Prince had attained
the age of ten years that the shadow of misfor-
tune first fell upon the King's house, and dark-
ened an existence which had hitherto been one of
unmitigated joy and tranquillity. The little Prince
2 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [i.
had been christened Mirabel, but from his lively and
cheerful disposition had been usually called by the
short and tender designation of Prince Merry. He
had dark hair and grey eyes, his form was graceful
and agile, his limbs well shaped, and his features de-
According to the custom of that country, his dress
was richly ornamented with diamonds and precious
stones, and he wore a girdle which was thickly set
with jewels. One of these having become detached
the boy, somehow or other, contrived one day'to inflict
a severe scratch upon his thigh, and although the
wound speedily healed, the scar remained, and caused
a certain disfigurement which his mother and nurses
greatly regretted. One of the toes of his left foot
moreover, was somewhat curiously shaped, for all the
world as if it had been cut in half, or rather as if a
piece had been cut out of the middle, for it was a
perfect toe, only very much shorter than the ordinary
run of toes; and besides this, he had upon one of his
arms a strange blue mark not commonly observable
upon a child's limb. All these, however, were but
trifling defects, and in no way interfered with the
young Prince's comfort.
He was about ten, as I have already remarked,
when something more serious befell him than a mere
personal blemish. Having been sent out one fine
summer's afternoon with his favourite nursery-maid,
the latter took him for a ramble in the large forest
which joined up to the palace gardens. Somehow or
other one of the soldiers of the King's guard happened
to be off duty, and walking in the same direction.
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 3
As this soldier chanced, by the merest accident, to be
a particular friend of the nursery-maid, nothing was
more natural than that they should stop and converse
together. In fact, they sat down upon a bench under
one of the big forest trees, and chatted away so much
to their mutual satisfaction that the moments slipped
by without either of them taking any account of time.
Suddenly, however, the loud sound of the palace dress-
ing bell fell upon their ears, and they became aware
of the fact that they had greatly outstayed the limit
of time allowed for the young Prince's walk. Up they
started in some consternation, which was enormously
increased when they found that Prince Merry was no
longer with them. The nursery-maid called him in
vain, then the soldier raised his louder voice, but with
a similar result, and they both commenced a hurried
and eager search in every direction. But their search
was fruitless. The young Prince had disappeared.
In vain they made the forest re-echo with his
name; there was no answer, and a silence reigned
around which struck deep terror into their trembling
hearts. They stayed as long as they dared, and at
last returned to the palace in a dreadful state of alarm.
The nursery-maid rushed frantically to the nurse, told
her tale with incoherent vehemence, and went into a
violent fit of hysterics, from which she was only re-
covered by a liberal application of cold water.
It was some time before anyone dared to inform
the King of the loss of the son to whom he was
so devotedly attached. His Majesty was playing
billiards with the Lord Chamberlain, and as the latter
took very good care to be beaten, was in high good
4 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
humour, and quite prepared to forgive the Queen,
who had gone out driving, for being, as she certainly
would be, late for dinner.
But those who knew the monarch's fondness for
his child, trembled with apprehension at the thought
of breaking to him the melancholy news. It could
not, however, be long concealed, and the disappear-
ance of the young Prince was announced by the Here-
ditary Grand Pig-feeder, a nobleman of high descent,
whose especial duty about the court was to super-
intend the supply of hams, bacon, and pickled pork,
of which large quantities were daily consumed in the
royal household. Entering the billiard room, he ap-
proached his sovereign with lowly obeisance, and
kneeling upon one knee, presented to him a silver
trough in which was deposited a note signed by three
of the ministers, narrating the circumstance of the
nursery-maid's arrival, and report of the catas-
Scarcely had the King read the missive through
when his countenance turned deadly white, and then
immediately flushed red with rage, as he flung his cue
at the Lord Chamberlain, and the silver trough at the
head of the Hereditary Grand Pig-feeder; then he
used violent words (which I shall not repeat, in case
any Kings should read this story, and be scandal-
ised at hearing what strong language some of their
royal race occasionally use, when their temper gets
the better of them) and bounced about the room
and the palace like a madman. Presently he gave
orders that the nursery-maid should be sent to
him, and after hearing all that she had to say, de-
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 5
dared that she should be instantly condemned to be
eaten alive by white mice, and the soldier put into a
bag full of hedgehogs and rolled down the side of
the steepest precipice in that part of the world.
The unhappy maid wept bitterly and implored
mercy in piteous terms ; but it is doubtful whether she
would have obtained it, had not the King's favourite
jester (who generally turned out to be the wisest
man at court) reminded the angry monarch that the
nature of white mice was not such as to render it
probable that they would do their part in carrying out
the sentence, and that hedgehogs being exceedingly
rare in that country, there would most likely be a great
and undesirable delay in the execution of the soldier.
After a little while, the King seemed to become
somewhat appeased, and turned his attention to the
consideration of the best means of recovering his
lost child. He ordered the forest to be thoroughly
well searched, and sent servants and messengers far
and wide along every road and pathway in the vicinity
of the palace. While he was engaged in giving these
commands, the Queen came in from her drive, and on
being informed of the misfortune which had befallen
her, gave vent to several shrill screams, and then
fainted away. Some time was occupied in bringing
Her Majesty back to consciousness, and when this
had been effected, her state was truly pitiable to
behold. She wept bitterly, let down her back hair,
tore her best pocket-handkerchief, trampled her new
bonnet underfoot, and scratched the faces of her
Mistress of the Robes and the three principal Ladies
in Waiting, to their great and visible consternation.
6 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
In short, she behaved in every respect as if she had
been a mad woman, and upon the King's attempting
to pacify her, she so far forgot her wifely duties as to
box his royal ears, and with another wild shout of
'My child, my child!' relapsed into her fainting fit;
from which the King thought it was by no means
desirable that she should speedily revive, if the same
scenes were to be re-enacted on her recovery. So
they carried the poor Queen up to her bed-room, and
left her quiet there until she came to once more, and
appeared somewhat less agitated. Then the King
paid her a visit, and, the first frenzy of grief being
over, the royal pair wept in each other's arms over the
disaster which they both had to endure.
The servants, messengers, and soldiers who had
been sent to scour the country all returned without
any tidings of the missing Prince. The wells were all
examined, the ponds all emptied, the rivers dragged,
but nothing could be found nor any trace of Prince
Merry discovered by the searchers. For three days
and three nights the search was continued in every
direction, and at the end of that time the King and
Queen no longer ventured to hope that their beloved
son would be restored to them.
But what, in the name of all that was mysterious,
could possibly have become of him ? The wild beasts
in that country were few and far between, and if any
savage animal had seized the boy, his cries would
surely have attracted the attention of the maid and
soldier, and even if this had not been the case, some
marks of his seizure, such as blood, torn raiment, and
signs of struggling would surely have been left behind.
I.1 THE LOST PRINCE. 7
Robbers were almost unknown in the kingdom, which
possessed an organised police, with staffs, helmets and
all complete, and was consequently very little troubled
with marauders of any description. It was very
unlikely that the Prince had run away of his own
accord: such an idea was at once negatived by the
consideration of his tender age, his lively and affection-
ate disposition, and the entire want of probable motive
on his part for any such a proceeding.
All, therefore, was enveloped in mystery, and the
more his parents thought over the affair the more
completely puzzled did they become. The soldier
and the nursery-maid were closely cross-questioned
as to the affair, and both persistently adhered to
the same story. The Prince, they said, had been
playing about near them when they first sat down,
and had never asked them to walk on, or expressed
the slightest annoyance at their remaining where they
were. They owned, with sincere penitence, that they
had been grossly careless in not keeping watch over
the precious child, and the soldier readily admitted that
he had no business to have been in the forest at all. But
they both vowed and declared that they would have
given their lives for Prince Merry, and were utterly and
completely surprised and horrified at his disappear-
ance, of which they could give no account whatever.
The King, when he thought quietly and soberly
over such matters, was not inclined to be severe upon
offenders generally, and retracted the sentence which,
in the first moments of his wrath, he had passed upon
these two individuals. As, however, it was impossible
to overlook the matter altogether, he directed that a
8 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [i.
large and strong cage should be made, of sufficient size
to contain them both, and inthishe ordered the unhappy
pair to be confined, telling them that, as they were so
fond of each other's society, they should enjoy it at
all events for some time to come, and should be kept
in their cage until Prince Merry should be found
again. After this, the King summoned his ministers,
and took counsel with them as to the best course to
be adopted in order to discover, if possible, what had
become of the heir to the throne. Many different
opinions were given, some of which had the appear-
ance of wisdom about them, whilst others were absurd
and beneath contempt. All, however, were agreed
that advertisements should be inserted in all the
newspapers of that and the adjoining kingdoms, and
large rewards offered for the restoration of the lost
The task of drawing up the advertisement fell to
the Newsmonger General, a high officer of state whose
duty it was to watch over all the publications of the
day, and exercise a general supervision over the news-
paper press, which was never allowed to write nonsense
or to say anything abusive about anybody. This
great functionary found no difficulty in drawing up
an advertisement to the following effect:
Lost, stolen, or strayed,
As in Forest he played,
Prince Mirabel, often called Merry.'
He was perfectly made,
His parents obeyed,
And was gentle and tractable, very
A lively lad, too,
On his arm a mark blue,
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 9
And a diamond-set girdle around him,
Gold pieces not few
Shall be given to you
Who bring the Prince here, when you've found him !
This advertisement was forthwith inserted in all
the newspapers, and every means was taken to give
publicity to the astounding circumstances of the
case. Not content with the newspapers, huge adver-
tisements were stuck up at all the principal railway
stations, on the sides of all blank walls (especially
those upon which 'Stick no bills' had been prominently
affixed by the owners) and in every situation where
people were accustomed to congregate. All this,
however, produced not the slightest effect. No tidings
whatever were heard of the young Prince, and no
answers were given to the advertisements, except such
as turned out on enquiry to have been sent by rogues
and swindlers who wanted to make a good thing of
it, and were in several instances detected and hung
for their pains.
The worst of it was, in the opinion of the Royal
family, that in spite of the misfortune which had be-
fallen their illustrious house,everything went on just the
same in the rest of the kingdom. No general blight fell
upon everybody and everything, but the people per-
severed in prospering most provokingly, the harvests
were just as good, trade and commerce flourished
equally well, men bought and sold, married and
reared families, and in every respect conducted their
business and passed their lives just as comfortably as
if the young Prince had never been lost at all. That
common people should be happy when Royalty
10 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [r.
suffered was something totally opposed to those first
principles which taught the monarchs and great
people of those days that upon them and their hap-
piness the whole world hinged and depended, and
there might well have been Kings who would have
resented such an unnatural condition of things, and
have turned their wrath upon those who dared thus to
thrive during their sorrow. But, being a philosopher,
this worthy Prince only saw in the circumstances of
his country another proof of the heartlessness and infe-
riority of the common herd, who had not indeed the
graceto suffer with their ruler, but were on that account
rather to be pitied and despised than punished.
With great magnanimity, therefore, he endured the
prosperity of his people, and visited upon them the
callous indifference to his sorrow which they showed
in this practical manner, in no other way than by the
imposition of a few more taxes, in order to defray the
expenses consequent upon the continued inquiries
after the lost Prince.
Things went on in this manner for some time;
year after year slipped away, no more children were
born to the Royal couple, and it seemed as if the
kingdom would pass, after their decease, into the pos-
session of their two daughters, of whom it is now high
time to make mention.
Malvina and Pettina were two beautiful Princesses,
though their style was somewhat different. Malvina
was a queenly creature; tall, but not too tall, with
raven hair, finely-cut features, and dark eyes that
flashed brightly as lightning on a summer's eve. Her
temper was perhaps just a little imperious, but then
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. II
she seemed born to command, and there was no
reason to doubt the goodness of her heart. Her
younger sister, however, was entirely different. She
was one of those creatures whom you could not better
describe than as a little fairy. Somewhat below the
average height of women, her figure was the most
graceful you can imagine, her limbs exquisitely
moulded, her light tresses had a special beauty of
their own, and if her features were not regularly
handsome, there was an expression of happiness and
heart-cheerfulness in them which made her face lovely
to look upon, and her whole being seemed to sparkle
like the morning light of a summer day. Pettina was
as much loved as Malvina was admired; and the King
and Queen might well be, as indeed they were, proud
of their charming daughters, though even in the
pleasure thus afforded them they could never forget
the lost hope of their ancient house.
At the time of which I write the two Princesses
had reached the respective ages of eighteen and
seventeen, and were daily growing more beautiful and
accomplished. As may well be believed, no pains
had been spared upon their education. They played
excellently well upon several musical instruments,
their singing was something quite out of the common
way, they spoke modern languages with a facility and
fluency which was really wonderful, and in their
knowledge of history, geography, and other branches
of education their proficiency was far above the
It is not surprising that under these circumstances
the suitors for the hands of the two Princesses should
12 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
have been neither few nor far between. Perhaps the
number may have been increased by the knowledge
of the great probability that the whole kingdom would
eventually come to one or both of the sisters, but, be
this as it may, there was certainly no lack of eligible
persons who desired to form a matrimonial alliance
with one or other of the pair.
The powerful King of the Islands, where was the
finest and most numerous breed of white horses ever
known, had long regarded Malvina with loving eyes;
the Prince of the River Country, whose immense in-
come was entirely derived from the swans which he
preserved by thousands, had cast tender looks upon
Pettina; whilst the mighty Giant Pattle-perry, who
lived in the Coal Country, had been heard to declare
that either of the damsels was more precious than
coal, which was saying a great deal and plainly
showed his appreciation of their worth. The King
and Queen, however, had no desire to part with their
children, and no wish for any marriage save one of
affection. The girls themselves were very happy at
home, and for some time all the rumours of offers to
be made by the various potentates I have mentioned
never came to anything more than vague reports.
Nine years had elapsed since the disappearance of
Prince Merry, and his parents had at last abandoned
all hopes of his recovery, and bowed in sorrowful sub-
mission to the terrible affliction which had befallen
them. Whilst the King devoted himself with in-
creased energy to public affairs, and gave all his spare
moments to literature ; the Queen, finding her house-
hold occupations insufficient for her amusement,
1.] THE LOST PRINCE. 13
betook herself to the healthy and pleasant pursuit of
gardening. As it might well be in the case of a
palace belonging to so great a monarch, the gardens
attached to the royal residence were very spacious,
and no expense was spared to bring them to the
greatest perfection. Numerous gardeners were em-
ployed, some whose special duty it was to look after
the acres of glass under which the choicest fruit was
reared for the royal table, others who devoted their
attention exclusively to flowers, a third body to whom
vegetables were the sole care, and a staff of labourers.
whose whole occupation consisted in keeping the lawns
well mown and smooth, in sweeping dead leaves from
the paths, and in raking and keeping in proper order
the miles of gravel walks for which the royal gardens
were so famous.
In these gardens and the adjoining shrubberies
the Queen passed a great part of her time, sometimes
alone, and not unfrequently accompanied by one or
other of her daughters. One very lovely evening Her
Majesty had strolled to the further extremity of the
garden, and taken her seat upon a rustic bench which
she had long ago caused to be placed under an ancient
oak close to the forest. She was quite alone; and as she
sat listening to the many soothing sounds which filled
the air, her melancholy became quite irrepressible,
and the tears ran fast down her cheeks as she thought
of her past happiness and present sorrow. The voice
of Nature seemed to speak of peace and joy and love.
The tender woodpigeon gently coo'd her'good-night'
to her faithful mate, the clear and melodious note of
the nightingale fell with pleasant cadence upon the
14 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
listener's ears, the bees were humming their drowsy
farewell to the sun, the robin chanted his evening hymn,
the timid bats had begun to flutter out to meet the ap-
proaching twilight, and the busy life of day was just
giving place to the quiet sleep of night. Touched to the
heart by the influence of the hour, the Royal lady
continued to weep softly for some moments, and then,
clasping her hands together with fervour, she exclaimed
'Everything seems happy and peaceful-I alone
am wretched-I alone have no joy in life, for the love
of my heart was for my boy, and he has been taken
from me. Oh! will he never, never, come back?
Shall I never see him again ?'
As she spoke, the Queen threw a supplicating
glance heavenwards, and would probably have con-
tinued to say more in the same strain, had not her
last question been suddenly answered in a most
Why not?' exclaimed a voice in a short, sharp
tone, which of itself, coming from an invisible speaker,
would have been startling enough, but, considering the
particular time and place at which it was heard, was
alarming in a remarkable degree.
The Queen started violently, and looked right,
left, and behind the tree, without seeing anything at
all. Then it struck her to look straight in front of
her by way of a change, and immediately that she did
so she perceived the person from whom the voice had
proceeded. It was a man so small that you might
fairly have called him a dwarf without being accused
of misrepresentation. He could not have been four
. ) THE LOST PRINCE. 15
feet high, or anything near it, and although he held
himself as upright as possible, nobody could have
complimented him upon his height, except those who,
for reasons of their own, prefer short men to tall.
Upon his head he had a small close-fitting velvet cap,
his coat was of a bright green with enormous brown
buttons, upon which were carved the figures of various
woodland animals; similar buttons also adorned his
buff waistcoat, whilst his lower members were incased
in thick cord breeches, with leather gaiters overtopping
highly polished boots. In his hand he held a spud
nearly as tall as himself, and this he swung to and fro
as he sat upon the large root of a tree in the midst of
some ornamental rockwork exactly opposite the bench
upon which Her Majesty was sitting.
As soon as this strange individual perceived that
the Queen had seen him and fixed her eyes upon him
with great surprise, he calmly nodded at her, and
again repeated the words, 'Why not ?' after which
he apparently waited for an answer to his question.
This, however, it was scarcely possible for the
Queen to give: the only reason why' she feared she
would never see her son again was that he was most
likely dead or carried to some remote region of
the earth, or else he would surely have been heard of
before nine years had expired since his first dis-
appearance. But to the good mother's heart hope
was immediately conveyed by the words of the little
man, and not only could she give no reason why she
should not see her son again, but the probability of
her doing so instantly suggested itself to her mind,
and a thrill of joy darted at once to her very soul.
16 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [i.
She sprang from her seat hastily, and throwing
herself upon her knees in front of the little gentleman,
clasped her hands again, and exclaimed in a tone of
Oh sir, can you tell me anything of my lost
one-yours are the first words of comfort I have
heard for many a long day : give me, oh give me my
boy, and I will bless you for ever !'
'Do you like your turkeys roast or boiled?'
calmly enquired the individual thus addressed, which
question appeared so ill-timed and extraordinary to the
Queen that she was utterly confused for the moment.
'Because,' continued the speaker, 'there are two
opinions upon that point, as upon everything else.
Roast turkey is excellent when hot, but the bird is so
much better cold when it has been boiled, that I can
never quite agree with those who say that "a turkey
boiled is a turkey spoiled."'
By this time the Queen had somewhat recovered
her equanimity, and again earnestly accosted the
dwarf, for so indeed he might be called.
Sir, sir,' she cried, I beseech you trifle not with
a mother's feelings. If you know anything of my lost
darling, tell me; by all you hold dear, I adjure you to
tell me at once.'
There are three things,' gravely replied the little
man,' which through life, you will do well to avoid.
Never fly into a passion-never sit long with wet
feet, and do not takea hedgehog in your hands without
At this disrespectful and trying reply to her
entreaty, the Queen began to wax wroth, and rising
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 17
hastily to her feet, she exclaimed in an indignant
tone, Sir, I know not who or what you are, but no
one with the feelings of a gentleman would treat a
lady thus, and no one who was worthy of the name of
man would thus deal with an unhappy mother,' and
so saying, she burst into tears again.
Suet pudding,' calmly observed the Dwarf, 'is
improved by treacle; game should always be dressed
with its own gravy; and you will do well to have the
chill taken off your claret before drinking it.'
The Queen now became more angry than ever.
'What do you mean ?' she cried in louder tones.
'What right have you to come and talk nonsense here
in such a heartless manner ? What is your name, and
wherefore do you come without leave or licence into
these gardens ?'
As Her Majesty spoke, she took a step forward
towards the rockwork, as if determined to bring the
intruder to account forthwith. But the Dwarf now
rose from his seat, and bowed to the Royal lady with
the utmost gravity. 'Madam,' he said, in a voice
which was quite deferential in its tone, I am really
grieved to have been the cause of so much excite-
ment; I might almost say irritation, in your Majesty.
My name is Rindelgrover; my abode is in the forest;
my profession that of a dwarf and philosopher; and
my intentions are of the very best description.'
'But, sir,' rejoined the Queen, scarcely mollified
by the statement to which she had just listened, 'if
this be so, why pretend to have news of my beloved
son, and then answer my earnest inquiries with irre-
levant and impertinent remarks ?'
18 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
The little man shrugged his shoulders. 'Boys
will be boys,' said he, 'and dwarfs will be dwarfs, to
the end of their days, and it is not of the slightest
use to expect them to be anything else. It is not our
habit to answer questions directly they are asked, if we
do so at all. A few wise sayings or remarks, thrown in
in an interjaculatory manner, tend to compose the
mind and clear the way for a better reply than one
might give upon the spur of the moment. Since,
however, you object to my method of proceeding, I
will annoy you no more. In fact, all I came here to
say was that I wish to be your friend. The charms
of your two daughters have quite vanquished me.
Pettina is a duck and Malvina is a darling. To
restore to them a brother and to you a son seems to
me to be something which would entitle me to the
gratitude of you all. Now am I talking nonsense?'
'Oh, sir!' tearfully exclaimed the Queen: 'If
you are not deceiving me with false hopes, you will
indeed prove yourself to be my best of friends. But
say, oh say, what I am to do to get back my lost
Bread-and-butter with fresh water-cresses makes
a wholesome and delicious meal,' replied the Dwarf,
and then with a violent effort breaking himself off from
his accustomed mode of answering questions, thus
continued: 'I beg your pardon, madam, for this short
digression; I will endeavour to help you by every
means in my power, and if I don't succeed in doing
so, call me Macklethorpe, instead of Rindelgrover.'
I have no intention of calling you anything so
ridiculous,' returned the Queen; 'nor indeed do I wish
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 19
to call you anything at all, if you will only cause the
realisation of the hopes to which you have given birth.'
I see,' replied the little man, that I must explain
myself. Macklethorpe is the Dwarf of the Meadows
-a poor, dandelion-crowned fool, with whom I am
not on terms, for reasons which I need not now ex-
plain. I am the Dwarf of the Forest, and a vastly
superior being, as you may suppose from what you
see. I would tell you all I know about your son
with pleasure, if I were not bound by an oath of
fearful import not to do so. But if you want to
know, and to recover your lost boy, there is only one
thing to be done. Let your two daughters eat an
acorn apiece from off the tree under which you have
been sitting for three nights, just before they let down
their back hair on going to bed. On the next morn-
ing they will understand the language of the forest
creatures. Then let them walk boldly into the forest
without any attendants, and you will see what you
With these words the Dwarf made another low
bow to the Queen, and then walking up to the gate
which opened into the forest, passed through it, and
disappeared in the most natural manner possible.
The Queen remained plunged in deep thought.
What did it all mean? Could she trust to this
little gentleman, who called himself' Rindelgrover'?
Would it be safe for her daughters to go alone into the
forest ? She pondered over the matter for some little
time in great doubt as to what it would be best to do;
and at last resolved that she would go and consult
the King, for in those days wives were not above
"20 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
consulting their husbands, and husbands their wives,
even upon matters of the greatest importance.
She found His Majesty in the library, where he
was deeply engaged in writing an essay upon
' Poverty, its causes and remedies,' which he was quite
justified in doing, as he probably knew less upon the
subject than any other man in his kingdom, which,
as lookers-on see the best of the game, was perhaps
the best qualification for giving an opinion upon it.
The King readily left his employment when in-
formed of the Queen's errand, and only regretted
that he had not been with her during the interesting
interview which had just taken place. He was not
long in deciding that his daughters had far better do
as the Dwarf had directed. He could not believe, he
said, that so great a misfortune would be permitted
to fall upon a crowned head as that he should lose
all his children, and he felt the greatest hope that
some good might be in store for their house from the
visit of the Dwarf.
The Queen entirely agreed in this view of the
case; and upon the matter being stated to the persons
principally concerned, the two Princesses vied with
each other in the readiness with which they declared
that they would run far greater risks than those
entailed by a walk in the forest if they could only
be the means of recovering their dear brother, and
restoring peace and happiness to their beloved parents.
The King, however, being an eminently just man, and
unwilling to take advantage of the first ebullition of
sisterly affection, desired the young ladies to go to
bed and think over the matter before finally deciding,
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 21
since it must be of their own free will that they
encountered the dangers which might possibly be
before them. Like dutiful children they quickly
obeyed, especially as it was getting very late, and was
already beyond their usual bed-time.
Next morning, however, found them exactly in
the same frame of mind, determined to face anything
for the sake of the object in view. Accordingly, in
the course of the day, six acorns were carefully
gathered from the old oak, and the sisters, not
without sundry wry faces, each ate one before going
to bed. This process they repeated upon the second
and third days, and the following morning prepared
to fulfil their appointed task.
As no particular time had been fixed by the
worthy Rindelgrover for their excursion, the Queen
kept her daughters with her until after luncheon, when,
having been duly fortified by cutlets, sweetbreads, and
light claret, the Princesses sallied forth, walked down
the garden, one on each side of their mother, and
having reached the great oak under which the latter
had been sitting upon the occasion of the eventful
visit of the Dwarf, bade the Queen a tender farewell,
and boldly entered the forest.
The afternoon was warm, but the luxuriant
foliage of the large trees kept off the sun, and
rendered the walk rather pleasant than otherwise to
the Princesses. They walked for some distance
without any adventure whatever. All was silent;
the birds seemed disinclined to sing-the animals
were doubtless couching in the fern and shady places
-there was scarcely a breath of air stirring, and
22 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
everything was as quiet as can be imagined. After
a time, the two sisters began to get tired of walking
on, constantly expecting something to happen which
never did happen, and thought that, under the cir-
cumstances, they might as well sit down.
A little stream ran through the forest, and upon
its banks they were standing when they came to this
determination. It was a very little stream, such as
one could jump across without much difficulty; but
its clear waters gurgled on, for all it was so little,
with a cheerful sound, now and then quite shallow, as
they passed over some bed of sand or gravel which
rose near to the surface of the stream, and anon quite
respectably deep, giving room for trout to lurk in
deep holes under the banks and for shoals of smaller
fish to dart about and disport themselves in the water.
Here the Princesses took their seats upon the bank,
and began to watch the stream and listen to its
They had not sat there long before a kingfisher
came darting by them like a flash of lightning, and
uttered a short sharp cry as for one instant he dis-
played his gaudy colours before their eyes, and then
sped away with a swiftness which it defied their gaze
to follow. The two sisters looked at each other with
surprise, for, by the miraculous power which they had
derived from their acorns, they heard with perfect
distinctness, and understood into the bargain, the
observation which the bird had made as he flew past
them. To ordinary mortals it would have seemed
but an unmeaning sound, but to them it was far
otherwise, and they knew that the kingfisher had said,
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 23
'Hurrah! now there's a chance for the poor Prince!
Well done, Rindelgrover!'
The Princesses looked at each other, as I have
said, with surprise not unmixed with awe; and these
feelings were rather increased than diminished, when
almost immediately afterwards they heard two wood-
pigeons cooing to each other in conjugal and agreeable
manner, and comprehended with perfect ease the sum
and substance of their conversation.
'These are good girls!' said the one. 'Well done,
'That they are indeed,' returned the other bird.
'Loving sisters and dutiful daughters. They are sure
to succeed, and what is more, they will thoroughly
deserve to do so. Well done, Rindelgrover!'
At these words hope at once filled the hearts of
the Princesses; but they had not time to exchange
ideas upon the subject before a robin struck up his
song in a neighboring bush, and spoke to the follow-
'How long has been the time since the poor little
Prince has been kept from his home and all who love
him Not quite so, however, for we birds and wood-
land animals have ever loved him, and would have
set him free long ago if we could have done so. But
the power was not ours, and we could only wait and
hope. Still, now these two charming Princesses have
come, doubtless all will soon be well, and the Prince
will be restored to his own again. Well done, Rindel-
'Well!' cried Malvina, now fairly astonished and
puzzled at what she had just heard, 'of all the strange
24 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
things that ever have happened certainly this is the
strangest. The birds all seem to say the same thing,
but yet none of them seem to think it necessary to
tell us what to do in order to obtain the success which
they foretell for us.'
Suppose we ask one of them ?' suggested Pettina,
who was not without natural acuteness, and being
young and innocent, had an idea that the best way to
obtain information was to ask questions of those who
Malvina raised no objection to this view of the
case, and accordingly they both looked round, and
presently perceived a woodpecker crawling quietly up
a tree and preparing himself for a little tapping
'Mr. Woodpecker,' said Malvina in a courteous and
reassuring tone,-' Mr. Woodpecker, could you, would
you tell us how we ought to proceed so that we may
get back our lost brother ?'
'I don't know everything,' sharply returned the
bird thus addressed. I know something about it,
but not enough : ask the squirrels? It's a good job
you have come, though. Well done, Rindelgrover!'
and so. saying, he resumed his tapping with much
At this moment Pettina observed a hare sitting
on the opposite bank of the stream, nibbling the
young grass and enjoying itself after the innocent
fashion of such animals. 'Puss,' cried the Princess
immediately, 'please tell us how we can find our
brother, and what we ought to do next?'
The hare started at the voice, as if she had not
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 25
previously observed the speaker. 'Guns and dogs!'
she cried, 'how you did startle me! I would willingly
tell you all I know, for you look so kind that I am
quite grieved that you should be in sorrow. But you
must know that I really can say no more about it, for
in this forest we leave all such matters entirely to the
squirrels. You had better ask them, I should think.
Well done, Rindelgrover!' and having thus spoken,
the hare quietly returned to her occupation of grass-
nibbling, and took no further notice of the Princesses.
The latter now began to think that the squirrels
were evidently the people to be sought, and they
therefore determined to wander along the banks of
the stream in hopes of encountering some of these
little animals. Nor had they far to go before their
object was accomplished. Not many yards from the
spot where they had been seated, they perceived two
squirrels chasing each other round and round a tree,
climbing over its branches, jumping from place to
place, and having a regular good game of hunt-the-
squirrel, or hide and seek, or by whatever name the
squirrels call it when they are at home. The Princesses
approached as near as they thought they might ven-
ture to do without giving offence to the graceful little
animals, and then Malvina addressed them in the
'Kind squirrels, would you be so very good as to
inform us where our dear brother, Prince Merry, is;
and what we are to do in order to get him back
As she spoke, the squirrels approached near to
each other, and sat sedately, about a foot apart, on a
26 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
tolerably low branch of a mighty oak which stood
near. When Malvina had ceased speaking, they looked
at her, then at Pettina, and then at each other, and
then began to sing the following extraordinary
Two sisters went walking out into the wood;
Out into the wood when the sun was high.
Their brother they wanted to find if they could,
And their mother stayed back with a tear in her eye !
For girls must seek when their brothers are lost,
And the longer time passes, the greater the cost,
And the furnace fires are roaring !
The Prince he was playing all under the trees,
All under the trees with his nice new ball,
He wandered away till at last by degrees
No more could he hear his poor nurse's call.
So girls must seek when their brothers are lost,
And the longer time passes the greater the cost,
And the furnace fires are roaring !
The Giant has seized the young Prince in his arms,
His struggles and cries they are all in vain,
In the Country of Coal there are wiles and charms,
And ne'er may Prince Merry come home again !
Yet if girls do seek when their brothers are lost,
Dear to the Giant his prize may cost,
And the furnace fires stop roaring !
Having concluded their song, the squirrels imme-
diately exclaimed as if with one voice, 'Well done,
Rindelgrover!' and began their game again as un-
concernedly as if nothing had happened out of the
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 27
The sisters were full of wonder at the words of
the song which they had just heard. Their thoughts
were of course directly pointed to the Giant Pattle-
perry, who, as has been already mentioned, had ex-
pressed himself in terms which had led them to
believe that he might appear at Court as a suitor for
the hand of one or other of them. Was he, then, the
captor of their dear brother, and the cause of all the
sorrow which had so long overshadowed their family ?
Then the thought passed quickly through their brains
that their invitation to walk in the forest might be a
trick of this very Giant, who, according to the squirrels,
had there entrapped their brother. Still, if this were
the case, what had the Dwarf to do with it, and why
should all the animals conclude their observations
with a panegyric upon that small individual ? The
whole affair was quite incomprehensible to the two
sisters; and they both felt that it would never do to
leave the squirrels without further information upon a
subject so important to themselves and their family.
Therefore, without further delay they proceeded to
make another appeal to the little animals, who by
this time were merrily pursuing one another round
and round their favourite tree, at a considerable height
from the ground.
Dear little squirrels !' cried Malvina. 'You dar-
ling little pets!' exclaimed Pettina, and having thus
attracted the attention of the small creatures, who
were probably unused to such endearing epithets, both
the young ladies continued, in one and -the same
'Do tell us what we ought to do If you would
28 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [i.
but tell us We quite trust you, but we really don't
know what to do next.'
With these words they gazed upwards with such
a beseeching air that mortal squirrel could hardly have
resisted them. The squirrels, being but mortal, were
quite unable to do so; and both ran down the tree
again without a moment's hesitation, and seating
themselves upon the same branch from which they
had previously addressed the sisters, began to sing as
Follow the stream till you come to a mound
Where pigs and wild strawberries greatly abound :
'Tis there you will find your best friend in the wood,
Who hates what is evil and follows the good.
Call him once ; call him twice ; by the name you have heard,
And add to that name just one magical word:
Ri-too-ri-lal-lural'-remember it well !
For Dwarfs-aye, and Giants, must bow to the spell.
Now, plague us no more with your ifs' and your buts,'
For squirrels hate trouble as much as bad nuts,
The one hurts the teeth, and the other the heart,
So list to our counsel, and haste to depart !
'Well done, Rindelgrover!'- and with these words
the squirrels jumped up again, and recommended their
gambols as if nobody was there and no business but
their own had to be thought of.
The sisters eagerly listened to every word which
had fallen from the little animals; and having now
received clear and definite instructions, resolved to
follow them without delay. Rising from their seats
upon the bank, they followed the course of the little
stream, earnestly looking out for the place which the
squirrels had indicated to them as the abode of their
1.] THE LOST PRINCE. 29
' best friend in the wood,' whom they naturally sup-
posed to be the Dwarf who had invited them thither.
For some time they saw nothing at all like the
place which had been described to them: the stream
wound its way through the forest like a sensible stream
would naturally do, running along through the prettiest
places, never going up hill, and winding to and fro as
if it was in no hurry to get out of the wood, but
wished to see as much of it as it could before it came
out again into the hot sun and open country. At
last, when they were nearly tired of walking along by
its side, listening to the casual remarks of various
birds and beasts, which all ended in the same lauda-
tory observation upon the mighty Rindelgrover, a
sudden turn of the stream brought before them a new
and unusual scene.
The ground sloped upward upon one side of the
rivulet, forming that which might fairly be called a
mound, which was perfectly covered with a bed of
wild strawberries. There was no mistake about it,
for the fruit was there in profusion, and so tempting
did it look that the sisters, being somewhat thirsty
after their walk, would have been inclined to make
closer acquaintance with the red berries at once, had
not there been other things to observe at the same
time. A number of pigs were feeding all round the
mound, grubbing away here and there, but none of
them venturing to touch the strawberries. They were
pigs of various sorts and sizes, dark and light, big and
little, but all seemed to be as happy and contented as
if hams, bacon, pickled pork, and pigs' feet and ears
had never been thought of by hungry mortals. Still,
30 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
as nothing was to be seen but pigs and strawberries,
the Princesses felt that they must take action accord-
ing to the advice of the squirrels, if they wished to
see that best of friends who was said to have his abode
in the place before them. Accordingly, they ap-
proached the mound and stood upon the edge of the
strawberry bed, the pigs taking no notice whatever of
them, and not appearing in the slightest degree dis-
turbed by their presence. Then Malvina raised her
voice and pronounced in a clear, firm tone the word
' Rindelgrover!' Pettina followed her sister's -ex-
ample; and the words were scarcely out of their
mouths before a chorus of grunts arose around them,
every pig in the place loudly exclaiming in his native
tongue, 'Well done, Rindelgrover!' Once more the
sisters spoke aloud the name of him whom they had
been taught to consider their best friend in the wood,
and then both speaking at once, and not without some
little difficulty, they pronounced the magic word of
The effect was instantaneous. From a thicket at
no great distance a pig of larger than ordinary size
suddenly made his appearance. Not, however, a
common pig undistinguishable from the rest of the
herd, but a pig adorned with saddle and bridle and
all the trappings of a horse. He held his head
proudly and bore himself like a pig of importance as
he cantered downwards to the stream; and so indeed
he well might do, for he bore a rider whom, from the
description given by their mother, the Princesses
instantly recognized as the Dwarf Rindelgrover.
Upright he sat upon his porcine steed, with the
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 31
golden tassel of his velvet cap streaming in the air as
he rode down towards the astonished sisters, before
whom he reined in his pig, and stood at a short
distance, bowing gracefully to his visitors. A general
grunt of Well done, Rindelgrover !' burst from the
surrounding swine upon the appearance of this
evidently powerful individual, but he appeared to
object to any such demonstration. Rising in his
stirrups, he waved his hand in a careless manner as
if to forbid further observations of a similar character,
and then bowed again to the Princesses, apparently
awaiting their pleasure.
'Oh, sir!' exclaimed Malvina, 'can you-will
you-help us to get back our brother?'
Devonshire cream is an excellent thing for break-
fast, especially with strawberries,' replied the Dwarf,
with a smile.
Pettina, who was as clever as beautiful, at once
remembered her mother's account of the behaviour of
Rindelgrover upon their first meeting, and the ob-
jection which he had to questions. She therefore
took her part in the conversation in the following
manner. Smiling back pleasantly upon the little
gentleman, she said in her sweetest tone:
How nice it is to have friends in the forest to
help one when one wants anything! How happy we
should be if we knew all about our brother's disap-
pearance and what to do in order to get him back
again!' and here, nudging her sister, who readily
understood her meaning, they both exclaimed at one
and the same moment: Ri-too-ri-lal-lural!'
The Dwarf's face lighted up with unmistakable
32 WHISPERS FROMl FAIRYLAND. [I.
joy: 'Well done, young lady,' he cried; 'you have
spoken just as you ought to have spoken, and al-
though your dear sister fell into the error of asking a
question, instead of calmly stating her wishes, the
fault is one of a trifling nature, and shall at once be
overlooked. You have now only to listen to me,
which I beg you to do with great attention. The
Giant Pattle-perry is the sole cause of all the misery
which you and your parents have endured for the
last nine years. This fellow is one of the worst giants
the world ever saw, which is saying a great deal, for
those overgrown rascals are a bad lot altogether.
He inhabits the Coal Country which lies beyond this
forest, and is a terrible tyrant to his unfortunate
people, whom he compels to work in his coal-pits,
which of course bring him in a large revenue. As
the inhabitants of his country are insufficient to
supply him with all the workmen he requires, he has
long been in the habit of kidnapping anybody and
everybody he could, and being well versed in the
arts of magic, has frequently resorted to the most
unfair measures in order to carry out his ends. He
has, properly speaking, no power in this forest, except
that, being bigger than I am, I cannot drive him out
of it if he chooses to walk in it. This he does not
often do, though oftener than I could wish, and many
a roast leg of pork has graced his table which ought
now to be a living limb of one of my faithful pigs.
The Giant knows, however, that two can play at
magic as well as one, and has not lately troubled me.
But nine years ago he was here, and approached
nearer to your father's palace than he had ever done
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 33
before. He saw your brother playing, and whether
from any old grudge against your family, or from a
naturally evil disposition, determined to kidnap him,
and did so accordingly, disguising himself as a puppy
until he had drawn the child some distance in pursuit
of him, and then suddenly resuming his own form,
and carrying off the astonished little fellow under his
arm. It was all the worse of him, because the poor
young Prince was too small to be of any use to him
in his coal-pits. Nor, indeed, am I certain that he
has ever been employed there. All I do know is
that, like many others, he is a captive in the Giant's
kingdom, which can be entered with comparative
ease, but to leave which requires much care and some
little magical knowledge on the part of those who
wish to do so. You, my dear young ladies, will have
to seek your brother in that kingdom.'
The Princesses gave a start and a shudder at
these words, but the Dwarf continued with a smile:
'There is no need to be afraid. You have power-
ful friends, and will, with proper attention to the
directions given you, overcome all the difficulties
before you. The King of the Islands and the Prince
of the River Country are my friends, and will, I know,
aid us, if necessary, with their full power. But, in the
first instance at least, cunning is more requisite than
strength. Pattle-perry himself is no match for many
others in magic. There is, however, a person called
Macklethorpe whom we have to fear more than the
Giant, whom he advises and aids. This fellow is,
like myself, of a respectable size, and not an over-
grown bulk of flesh like Pattle-perry, but this makes
34 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
him all the more dangerous. Remember, however,
the mystic word of power, which, pronounced by
mortal mouth under certain conditions, cannot be
resisted by Dwarf or Giant.'
And what are the conditions ?' hastily asked both
the sisters in one breath.
'It is most desirable to have a parasol if you go
out in the sun upon a hot day,' rejoined the Dwarf.
' What! both of you asking questions again? Pray
get out of this bad habit at once, or we shall never
get on together. I was about to say that this word
has only its full magic power when pronounced by
persons of innocent hearts, who have not reached the
age of twenty, who never use bad language, speak ill
of their neighbours behind their backs, or eat fish
with their knives. As you two young ladies combine
all that is necessary for the effective pronunciation of the
word, it will have great power in the mouth of either
of you, and as I am about to devote myself to your ser-
vice, you will perhaps be good enough to recollect that
if I should get into any trouble with other persons who
may employ magic arts as well as I do, you may be
of the greatest service to me as well as to yourselves
by the judicious use of the word in question.'
Rindelgrover now came to a conclusion, and the
sisters burned with curiosity to know several things
more, which, however, they dared not ask, after his
repeated statement of his objection to questions. That
which puzzled them most was why, since the worthy
Dwarf seemed to have known the circumstances attend-
ing the abduction of their brother for so long, he had
waited for nine years before speaking, when he might
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 35
at once have somewhat relieved the anxiety of their
parents. Then, why should he now interfere at all,
and run the risk of bringing Pattle-perry's vengeance
upon his own devoted head ? They pondered deeply
upon these things, but deemed it best to remain silent
under the circumstances. And indeed I think they
were right, for it is impossible for us mortals to know
the ways of dwarfs, giants, and fairies, or to attempt
to fathom the motives by which such creatures are
actuated. So the sisters asked nothing more and
waited patiently until their little friend spoke again,
which he presently did.
Now,' said he, young ladies, we have a journey
to go and had better start at once. First, however,
let me recommend you to eat some of these straw-
berries, which you will find singularly refreshing.'
Nothing loth, the sisters consented to this propo-
sal, and found themselves immensely strengthened by
the fruit, which had not only a delicious taste but all
the qualities and virtues of a tonic without any of its
Now then,' rejoined Rindelgrover, 'we must be
off, and as the distance is long, I hope you will consent
The girls looked round, and perceived to their
surprise two pigs standing near, with side-saddles on,
all ready for their reception. They looked at each
other half doubtfully, and greatly inclined to laugh,
but wisely remembering how serious was the business
in which they were engaged, they preserved their
gravity, mounted their respective pigs, and prepared
to follow their leader. The pigs were of good size,
36 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
and although their trot was rather rough, the
Princesses found their canter quite tolerable, and in
any case, as they had come some distance, this kind
of conveyance was just then far more agreeable than
walking. The Dwarf rode between them for some
way, discoursing in an ordinary manner about things
and people, and making himself as agreeable as he
could to his companions.
Presently the forest got thicker and they had to ride
in single file, and then again the trees became fewer
in number, the bushes and underwood less thick, and it
was evident that they were approaching the outskirts
of the forest. Their way now lay up rising ground,
or in fact the side of a mountain, upon which the trees
became still fewer, and masses of rock lay around
the travellers, gradually taking the place of the
vegetation they were leaving behind them. The
journey was no longer so pleasant, but as it was late
in the afternoon and the sun had lost its power, the
sisters continued to travel without inconvenience.
Suddenly the Dwarf stopped.
Now,' said he,' my dear young ladies, we are very
near the boundary which divides us from the Giant's
kingdom, which you will presently see. Before entering
it, however, it is desirable to let the sun set, which he
will very shortly do. You must not be surprised or
alarmed at any change which you may see take place
in my personal appearance. I shall have to disguise
myself, probably in more than one shape, as to appear
in my natural form would be fatal both to your success
and to my own existence. As, however, it is most
desirable that you should both keep those shapes
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 37
which you must allow me to call charming, I
would strongly caution you as to your behaviour.
Keep the great magic word for use in case of diffi-
culty. Meanwhile, above all things look anybody
to whom you speak straight in the face. Nothing
disconcerts a knave more than a pair of honest
eyes looking into his. Don't look behind you or down
upon the ground. Eat and drink what is offered
to you, but always remember to say the word to
yourselves before you do so. Nothing can hurt
you then. We must abandon our steeds here: in fact
no pig would be safe for a moment in the Giant's
country, and their presence would betray us at once.
You had better walk straight forward into the country
-in fact I will lead the way-and when accosted,
say you are come on a visit to Pattle-perry, and
demand to be led to his palace. When there, boldly
tell him that you have come in search of your
brother, lost some nine years ago, and whom you
have reason to believe is in his kingdom, and
when the matter has been thus fairly started, I can
only leave you to the instincts of your own common
sense, guided by the advice and instructions which I
have had the honour and pleasure of giving you.'
With these words, the worthy Rindelgrover jumped
lightly from his steed, and having politely assisted the
Princesses to dismount also, turned the three pigs' heads
in a homeward direction, and waved his hand towards
the forest. The sensible animals needed no further
orders, but set off at best speed down the hill with
deep grunts of satisfaction. Then the Dwarf pointed
out the ledge of a rock upon which the sisters might
38 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
sit down, and taking his own seat near them, waited
until the sun should have hid his head before the
approaching shades of evening.
In a few minutes this was the case, and at the
direction of the Dwarf, the three travellers all rose up
and ascended the hill once more. They had not far
to go, for at the distance of a few yards they were on
the top of the ridge of hill, and suddenly came upon
the view of the country beyond. The girls started
back with astonishment. Their own country was full
of meads and dales, woods and streams, plants and
flowers, the glorious vegetation of a fertile land.
Before their eyes was. a country entirely different.
Bare and bleak and barren it looked, the trees stunted
and rugged, the green fields few and far between.
But, ever and anon, bright fires flashing up over the
surface of the country showed its character at once to
those who knew what they betokened. The wealth of
that land was below and not above the surface. It was
the country of coal and iron, and the furnace fires
spoken of in the squirrels' song were roaring in every
direction. Strange and weird and wild it looked to the
sisters as they gazed upon it that night, and much
they marvelled at the contrast between this country
and that which they had left behind.
Glancing round at their companion to make some
observation upon the view before them, to their utter
astonishment they perceived that he had disappeared.
In his place, however, was a black and tan terrier, who
ran sniffing about from rock to rock and presently ran
up and fawned upon them in the most affectionate
manner. They could scarcely believe that this ani-
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 39
mal was none other than their diminutive friend, but a
few words from him at once showed them that this
was the fact, and they became more than ever con-
vinced of his power to help them in the matter which
they had so much at heart. So they patted the little
fellow with much kindness, called him 'Pincher,'
according to his expressed desire, and forthwith
entered the Giant's country with this faithful coun-
sellor at their heels.
They had not proceeded far down the side of the
hill which they now had to descend, before they per-
ceived several persons standing and sitting about upon
the rocks some little way in front of them, apparently
awaiting their coming. A whine from Pincher warned
them to be on their guard, and they accordingly ad-
vanced quietly along the track into which they had
come, and which led them directly towards the spot
upon which these individuals had placed themselves.
As the Princesses drew near, the persons in question
all stood in the roadway, and an ill-looking set of
fellows they were. Begrimed with coal-dust, un-
shaven, most of them in their shirt-sleeves, they were
not exactly the description of persons whom delicately
nurtured princesses would have desired to encounter.
Still the sisters resolutely proceeded down the road,
and such was the dignity of their appearance and
manner, that the men instinctively recoiled before
them. However, one of the party, who wore a red
sash round his waist and appeared to be in a position
of authority, stepped forward in front of the rest and
accosted the travellers.
'Hallo! my wenches!' he cried, 'Who be ye
40 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
that would enter the territory of the great and
glorious Pattle-perry ? Show us your passports !'
The sisters were sadly confused in this address, for
neither Rindelgrover nor anyone else had hinted at
passports being necessary in order to enter the country
of the Giant, and they certainly had nothing of the
kind about them. The ready wit of Pettina, how-
ever, came to their aid, and she said, whilst both she
and her sister looked the speaker straight in the
'What nonsense you are talking! no passports
are necessary when we are going to visit our uncle
Pattle-perry. Leave the road free, or you shall be
reported without fail.'
At these words the man turned as pale as the black
dust on his face would permit, and drew back re-
spectfully without another word, as did his companions
also. The two Princesses walked calmly through
them, followed closely by Pincher, and descended the
rest of the hill without interruption. They observed,
however, that two of the men followed them at a
distance, which caused Malvina some alarm.
My dear sister,' she remarked, 'you have doubt-
less done cleverly in getting us over that difficulty,
but I greatly fear what the result may be. Those
who follow us will doubtless report your words at
court, and if the Giant hears that we have claimed him
as our uncle, he may take advantage of the pretended
relationship to detain us in his kingdom for a longer
time than we wish to stay.'
'Never mind, my darling sister,' replied Pettina,
'I was obliged to say what came uppermost at the
f. i~~ Lip
THE GANT ATTLEPERR
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 41
moment, but I feel sure that we shall get out of the
difficulty if it arises. Let us go boldly on, and hope for
the best; see how Pincher is showing his teeth in a
pleasant manner, and wagging his tail at the same
time. I know he approves-don't you, Pincher ?'
A low whine from the little animal was perfectly
understood by the sisters to signify 'Yes-but be
cautious,' and they were about to continue their
conversation, when it was prevented by another inci-
dent. The roll of a drum was heard not far in front;
then the shrill blast of a trumpet, and the heavy tread
of men marching, betokened the approach of some
military body. The sisters paused, in doubt as to what
they had better do, and in another moment a cloud
of dust showed that the force, whatever it might be,
was close at hand. Round the corner of the road
there presently turned the drummers, vigorously drum-
ming away as they came on, and then followed a band
of mixed instruments, making clamour enough to make
the two ladies stop their ears and wish themselves a
thousand miles off, inasmuch as the noise was not
relieved by tune or harmony. Then, marching four
abreast, came a body of men all above the usual
height, dressed in white tunics, bare from the knee
to the feet, which were shod with thick sandals, and
carrying in their hands axes which rested upon their
brawny shoulders. They were a rough-looking set of
soldiers, but not so rough as the person who followed.
In an open car, larger than any car that ever was
made before or since, and drawn by eight immense
black horses, sat the Giant Pattle-perry: he was at
least ten feet high; his head was in proportion as
42 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
enormous as his body, which, though stupendous in
size, was not unwieldy, and betokened the possession
of vast strength. In truth, his arms, which were bare,
showed one mass of muscle, and his legs were equally
powerful. His black hair clustered in curls over his
head, on which he wore a small white wide-awake,'
which gave him rather a ridiculous appearance; his
forehead was low and receding, his eyes large and
staring, his nose came forth like a small hill out of his
face, and when he smiled, his large mouth disclosed a
set of teeth which might well have frightened any-
body who did not know that since the days of steam,
railways, and vote by ballot, giants have given up
being cannibals, and only eat beef, mutton, pork, and
such like things, after the fashion of ordinary mortals.
Around the car of the Giant ran a number of young
men on either side, lightly clad and armed with short
spears, whilst behind there followed a motley crowd of
horse and foot, among whom dirt and coal-dust were
the distinguishing characteristics.
The two Princesses, when they saw this procession
advancing towards them, turned aside out of the road
and sat down upon a rock at a short distance off; but
as soon as the Giant's car came opposite to them, he
shouted out in a mighty voice the order to halt.
What ho !' cried he, when this had been done,
'What ho! whom have we here! damsels wandering
alone through our country, and damsels, if we may
judge by their appearance, of no mean birth. Draw
near, my children, draw near, and tell us whence ye
come, and what ye seek in our kingdom ?'
As he spoke, the Giant cast a look upon the
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 43
sisters which he possibly intended to convey a friendly
feeling in the form of a pleasant smile, but which to
their eyes presented the appearance of such a frightful
grimace that they felt more than half inclined to run
away there and then. Knowing, however, that this
would be worse than useless, they very wisely re-
strained their inclination, and, rising from the rock on
which they had been seated, approached the Giant in
a timid but respectful manner.
Who are ye, maidens ?' asked Pattle-perry with
another awful leer which he meant for a reassuring
We are the daughters of the King of the Flowery
Vale,' answered Malvina, looking him straight in the
Fool and dolt and idiot that I was,' immediately
cried the Giant, slapping his thigh violently, whilst his
face lighted up with a sudden and indescribable joy;
'aye, and ass and pig, and wooden-headed ape into
the bargain, not to have known at the first glance
that it was the daughters of my good neighbour upon
whom I was gazing. No other ladies are so lovely,
and none others would I welcome so readily to my
country. And what seek ye, fair damsels, that ye
have wandered so far from home ?'
We have come,' answered Malvina, still keeping
her eyes fast fixed upon the Giant's face-though it
was by no means a pleasant object for a girl to gaze
upon, especially as he seldom washed and had cer-
tainly not shaved that morning-' we have come to
seek our brother, who was lost some nine years ago,
44 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
and whom we have reason to believe is somewhere or
other in your kingdom.'
The Giant's face crimsoned-then turned pale-
and then crimsoned again at these words.
'By the memory of my great ancestor Grind-
bones !' exclaimed he (referring to a fearful giant of
olden time, whose name is well known to all those
lovers of Fairy-tales who have read the marvellous
adventures of Joe Brown and Puss-Cat-Mew*), 'what
wonderful tale is this ye bring! How can I tell where
everybody's brother may be who happens to get lost?
However, come with me, my chickens, come with me,
and we will see all about it. Lucky it is that I made
my progress through the land in this direction to-day,
else had I missed ye. Come, jump up on to my car!'
As he spoke, the young men on the side of the car
nearest the Princesses made way for them to approach.
The sisters trembled and hesitated, but it was very
plain to them that neither trembling nor hesitation
would avail in the slightest degree, and that there was
nothing for it but to obey the Giant's orders. As he
was alone in his car, there was plenty of room for both
the girls by his side, especially as the vehicle was con-
structed to carry two (supposing they could be found)
of the same size as himself. With some little difficulty
therefore, and much greater dislike to it, they clam-
bered up into the car, or open chariot, as it might
more properly be called, when, at that moment, the
eye of the Giant lighted upon the dog Pincher, who
was following closely at their heels.
'Ha !' said he sharply and suddenly, 'what dog
See Stories for my Children, by the same Author.
.] THE LOST PRINCE. 45
is that ? I like not his looks-run me that cur through
with a spear, men !'
In another moment his order would have been
obeyed, had not Pettina remembered on the instant
how much might depend upon Pincher's safety, and
how ungrateful it would be, if she did not, without the
delay of a second, interpose to save him.
'Ri-too-ri-lal-lural!' she hastily called out, looking
at the Giant as she did so; 'that is my favourite dog,
sir, and I must beg of you not to have him hurt!'
Several men had already lifted their spears to
strike, when the younger Princess uttered the magic
word. On the instant every spear was stayed, whilst
the Giant put his hand to his forehead as if confused
by something, and muttered moodily to himself as he
gave the orders to march. Poor Pincher, meanwhile,
took the opportunity of following the Princesses into
the carriage and jumping into Pettina's lap, where he
nestled down and made himself comfortable, though
she felt him tremble and his heart beat violently as
she patted him. When they had gone a few paces
further, they met the two men who had followed the
Princesses down the mountain, and the Giant, recog-
nising them as some of his border police, stopped to
ask for their report, which they accordingly gave.
Pattle-perry grinned from ear to ear when he heard
that the Princesses had claimed him for their uncle.
'My charming nieces!' he cried, 'though I knew
it not before, I am delighted to own such relations-
you shall stay a long time with your old uncle, my
pets, that you shall!' and he laughed and chuckled
loudly to himself as he drove on.
46 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
Presently the road turned to the right, and
gradually bore round towards a huge mass of buildings
which the sisters perceived in the distance, and which
the Giant informed them with a gracious air was the
castle which he used as a palace, and in which he
would take care that they were provided with apart-
ments suitable to their rank. Not deeming that
moment a fitting opportunity for entering further
upon the business which had brought them there, the
sisters merely bowed their thanks for the proffered
hospitality which they would have given their ears to
have declined if possible.
The procession advanced nearer and nearer to
the palace, and at length reached it. The carriage
drove into an enormous court-yard, paved with
iron, over which it rumbled up to a vast gate which
was thrown open as one of the attendants touched
a huge bell which sent forth a deafening peal. The
Giant now descended, and assisted the trembling
Princesses to do the same, which they accordingly did,
Pettina keeping Pincher safe under her arm. Inside
the gate was a smaller yard, which the Giant crossed,
and opened a door on the further side, opposite which
was a flight of handsome stone steps leading into a
spacious corridor. From the latter folding doors
opened into a magnificent drawing-room, into which the
Giant conducted his guests, and prayed them to make
themselves at home, whilst he went to give orders for
the preparation of the apartments which they would
occupy. Just before he left the room, however, he
turned to Pettina, and observed somewhat moodily,
'I don't allow dogs in my drawing-room.'
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 47
'Oh, sir!' replied she,' I am sure you will not object
to my little pet; I assure you he will hurt no one.'
But I do object,' retorted the Giant with an angry
look; I object very much, and I do not see why I am
to have what I don't like in my own palace.'
As he spoke, he turned back and took a step to-
wards the Princess, as if he were half inclined to take
the animal from her. Ri-too-ri-lal-lural' gently
hummed the maiden as he approached. He stopped
'Well,' said he, 'I suppose you must have your
own way,' and abruptly left the room.
As soon as ever he was gone, Pincher struggled to
be set free, and in a low and whining voice told the
sisters that it was evident the Giant knew or suspected
that there was something wrong about him.
Still,' said he, as long as he is alone, I fear not,
but should others more powerful than he come to visit
him whilst we are here, I shall have to "look out for
squalls," and you must be prepared to see me assume
different shapes, and must take care to help me as I
have directed you. Meanwhile, do not lose any time in
pressing him upon the matter which you have in hand,
otherwise he will continually put you off with excuses,
and you may find greater difficulties than ought to be
the case.' Having said these words, the little fellow
ran under a sofa and hid ; shortly after which the Giant
re-entered the room.
'Princesses,' he said, 'your apartments are prepared
for you; and as you have brought no maid with you,
my worthy housekeeper, Dame Skrinklegriggs, will be
happy to attend upon you.'
48 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
'Sir,' responded Malvina, with a queenly air, 'pray
do not disturb your excellent domestic on our account
-for excellent I do not doubt she is, albeit her name
chance to be none of the most euphonious. We
can wait upon each other, and have long been ac-
customed to dispense with maids, who constantly pull
one's hair, talk when they are not wanted to do so, and
not unfrequently smell disagreeably of beer. We will
beg, therefore, to dispense with your housekeeper's
assistance. And before we proceed to the rooms
which you have been good enough to provide for us,
we would fain enquire of you as to the brother of whom
we are in search. What steps do you propose to take
in order to make that search effectual ?'
The Giant's brow darkened as Malvina spoke these
words. 'Quench my philanthropy !' cried he-using
an oath now almost out of date, but once greatly in
vogue among giants and ogres, and bearing at that time
a fearful import,-' you speak like a queen, young lady,
and seem to intend to have it all your own way. Scorn
the attentions of my housekeeper and require me to
proceed to business before dinner! May I never
touch pickled pork again-let alone cabbage-if I do
any such thing. Let us eat and drink, and talk of
business to-morrow morning. Surely that will be time
Sir,' replied the elder Princess in the same calm,
cold tone, 'we would not be discourteous, neither
do we desire to trouble you unnecessarily. Neverthe-
less, we may not be backward in urging the matter
about which we have come hither, neither can we pay
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 49
you a long visit, considering that our parents are
left sorrowing at home.'
'Not pay me a long visit!' shouted the Giant.
'As sure as my name's Pattle-perry you will find
there are two words to that bargain. It is easier to
get into the's kingdom than to get out of it, my
dears! Besides,' he added with a grin, 'when nieces
come to see their uncle, and openly acknowledge him
as such, neither law nor magic can prevent his keep-
ing them until all parties are agreed that the visit
should come to an end. So don't think to leave me
just yet, my pretty pets!'
The sisters changed colour at these words. They
felt it was but too probable that their public recogni-
tion of the Giant as their uncle (to which title he had
no more claim than the Man in the Moon) might have
put them in some measure in his power, and they
trembled at the thought. However, it was evidently
desirable to put the best face on the matter, and so
Pettina, taking up the conversation, said :
Sir, we have no desire save to do what our duty
compels us; and since you say it will be inconvenient
for you to discuss this question to-night, be so good as
to fix an hour as early as may be to-morrow morning
when we may have it thoroughly sifted. And as to
scorning the attentions of your housekeeper, such a
thought never for a moment entered our heads. We
only wished to avoid giving the old lady unnecessary
trouble, and we shall still prefer to do our own hair
and dress ourselves. But if the housekeeper chooses
to bring us our warm water, put our things straight,
50 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
and see us safe to bed, I am sure that neither my
sister nor I will have the slightest objection.'
Somewhat mollified by this speech, the Giant said
he would tell Dame Skrinklegriggs, and muttered
something about 'seeing after the other business to-
morrow morning,' with which the sisters were obliged
to be contented. They declined dinner, however, on
the score of being greatly fatigued after their long
journey, and having had some tea in their own rooms,
went early to bed.
The night was passed scarcely as quietly as they
might have wished, inasmuch as the household of a
giant is generally one of riot and revelry. Being, how-
ever, nearly worn out with the day's exertions, the
sisters slept soundly, and were obliged to be roused
by Dame Skrinklegriggs, a withered, blear-eyed, old
crone nearly as ill-favoured as the giant himself, who
accomplished her purpose by untucking the clothes at
the foot of Malvina's bed, and pinching her great toe
violently, that being among giants the approved mode
of waking the heavy sleeper. The faithful Pincher
passed the night under the sofa in the drawing-room,
and, having taken care to avoid the Giant's eye, joined
the Princesses as they descended the grand staircase,
and once more entered the drawing-room, whence they
were ushered by obsequious lacqueys into the dining-
room in which the giant usually breakfasted. He was
already there, and roared out his welcome as soon as
the sisters made their appearance.
'Now, my little ducklings,' he said, 'come and
breakfast with your old uncle Pattle-perry. You must
:get used to our ways at once, for now I've got ye I shall
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 51
keep ye,' and he laughed and grinned more hideously
'Sir,' observed Malvina sternly, 'neither my sister
nor I are disposed for joking at present.'
Do you call it joking indeed ?' rejoined the Giant.
'Were the King your father here, he would tell you that
it is no joke to be once within the walls of the Castle
of Pattle-perry. But more of this anon : fall to and
eat, my lambkins !'
Not so, sir,' exclaimed Pettina, now stepping to
the front. 'You deferred until this morning the busi-
ness upon which we have come to your kingdom,
and we must now press upon you that immediate
search be made for our brother.'
Hoity, toity! pig's fry and potatoes 'laughed the
Giant at these words. 'Must you rule everybody,
little lassie? Suppose I will have nothing to say to
your request ? What then, eh?'
Pettina regarded him with a steady gaze: Ri-too-
ri-' she began.
Hold !' cried the Giant : 'Don't sing at breakfast
time! But what the dickens should I know of your
'Sir,' exclaimed Malvina hastily, 'we know that
you carried him away nine years ago and we want
'No !' roared the Giant. 'Who told you that ?
Bumble-bees and blackberries Somebody has been
telling tales out of school! But suppose somebody
has told a cram-a buster-a story-a regular down-
right fib? Am I a likely fellow to trouble myself to
52 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
carry off a boy? Don't you go and believe every-
thing you hear, my pretty little poppets !'
Then sir,' promptly replied Pettina, if you had
nothing to do with carrying him off, you cannot object
to enquiry being made for him.'
'Not a bit of it!' cried the Giant. 'Only let us
have a bit of an agreement. If I find your brother for
you, one of you will have to marry me, and stay and
live here always !'
At this remark the sisters felt a thrill of horror
run through them, but, thinking it best to dissemble,
Malvina, as soon as she could find voice to speak,
answered the Giant in these words :
We cannot think of marriage, sir, until our
brother is found and restored to his disconsolate pa-
rents: then, indeed, gratitude to the restorer will
incline us most kindly towards him, whoever he may
Well said, young lady,' cried the Giant at this
speech. But now, pray tell me, how shall you dis-
cover your brother if you see him after so long an
absence? He must be mightily changed since you
last saw him.'
Thus interrogated, the Princesses looked at each
other with some doubt and distress, for this was a
difficulty which had never hitherto struck them. No-
thing daunted, however, the clever and thoughtful
Pettina presently pulled out from her pocket a copy of
the original advertisement, published, as has been
already mentioned, upon the loss of Prince Mirabel,
and this she handed to the Giant, who attentively re-
garded it, although as, like most other giants, he was
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 53
unable to read, he derived but little information from
the document. However, the thought crossed his
mind that if any fair description of the boy were
given in this paper, he might easily palm off upon the
girls one of his people, and thus obtain from their
gratitude the promise of marriage which he saw would
be otherwise difficult, especially as Pettina, at least,
appeared to have a certain knowledge of magic, and
it was her he rather preferred of the two. So, under
pretence of making some enquiries he left the room,
and submitted the advertisement to his housekeeper,
who read and explained it to him.
'Well,' said he, on hearing what were its contents,
'I don't see why we shouldn't try it on. Let me see.
It will be easy to produce a diamond-set girdle, for ten
to one the Princesses won't recollect the right one ;
then, on his arm a mark blue." I wish it were black
and blue," for most of the servants in the palace could
show marks answering to that description. Search
and look, Dame Skrinklegriggs, and send up some
one soon with whom I may satisfy these girls.'
When the old housekeeper had promised to do her
best, the Giant returned to the Princesses, and told
them that he had good hope of being able to produce
their brother, for that he had just heard that there
was a youth attached to his household who had
wandered there, no one knew whence, about the time
of the loss, and who certainly had on a girdle of the
description mentioned, and a mark upon his arm of a
decidedly bluish tinge. This speedy compliance with
their. wishes surprised and pleased the sisters, but
Pincher took an opportunity of winking his eye when
54 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
the Giant was not looking, as if to caution them
against being deceived. No long time elapsed before
a knock at the door was heard, and a young man was
ushered into their presence. He was tall and well-
built, and generally of good appearance, although the
Princesses could recognize no resemblance to their
brother's features. Then the Giant commanded him
to bare his arm, which he did, having previously, how-
ever, endeavoured to embrace his supposed sisters,
which they declined to allow, and having given a
short statement of having been lost in the forest, and
having strayed into the coal country, upon which they
did not care to question him until the mark had first
been seen. Accordingly, he bared his right arm and
displayed an undoubted blue mark which would
have corresponded with the advertisement perfectly
This, then, must be your lost brother!' cried the
'Alas, sir!' answered Malvina, the only drawback
we at present perceive was, that the blue mark upon
our brother was upon the left and not the right arm;
so that this cannot be he.'
At this the Giant flew into a passion, which, how-
ever, he had the discretion to vent upon the young
man, whom he denounced as an impostor, and vowed
he should be torn in pieces by wild dogs forthwith.
The Princesses, however, begged that he might be
pardoned, since no one really suffered from his fault,
and this they did the more earnestly as they were
now well convinced that the Giant had himself con-
cocted the fraud. They then asked him again to be
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 55
so good as to direct further enquiries to be made; to
which he somewhat reluctantly consented, being im-
pelled thereto by the conduct of Pettina, who kept
her eye upon him, and hummed the magic word in a
low tone whenever she saw him inclined to adopt his
natural tone and quit the politeness which he had
assumed for the occasion.
At last he promised that all the younger members
of his household should be paraded before luncheon,
and that the youths from the colliery should pass
before the Princesses in the afternoon. This was
accordingly done, but without any satisfactory result.
Several people showed blue marks on their arms;
and such was the desire which each of them had
to be proclaimed a Prince, and the brother of two
such lovely ladies, that they all declared they had
strayed into that country nine years ago with a
diamond-set girdle around them. But the sisters
were not to be taken in: they knew of more than the
advertisement, and either the unusual toe or the
scratch on the thigh, proved fatal to all the claims
which were advanced. At last the two Princesses
became quite tired of the amusement, and plainly
told the Giant that they believed he knew all about
their brother, and was only trifling with them. The
wily Pattle-perry assured them that they were mis-
taken, and was about to make some further excuses,
when he suddenly exclaimed:
'Ah here comes a friend who will help us all out
of our difficulties.'
Looking round, the young ladies perceived a very
small gig with a very small man in it, driving along
at a great pace, and rapidly approaching them. At
56 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
the sight of this man Pincher trembled violently, and
crouched behind the sisters. The new comer was
clad in a bottle-green coat with brass buttons, white
waistcoat and kerseymere trowsers, and he wore upon
his head a glazed sailor's hat, gaily ornamented with
buttercups, daisies, and dandelions stuck all around it.
How are you, Macklethorpe ?' shouted the Giant
in a loud voice, as the little man drove up.
'So-so, thank you, Royal Pattle-perry,' replied
the other. 'But I have come to tell you to be on
your guard. That nasty little Rindelgrover is out on
mischief somewhere. I know it from a pig which I
met and killed as I was driving on the edge of the
forest, and who confessed it in the hopes of my spar-
ing his life, which I didn't, knowing your fondness for
pork, and wishing to make you a present. The little
scamp is, I have good reason to believe, within your
kingdom at this moment--perhaps within your
very presence. To prevent mischief, therefore, I have
brought my magic onion, with which, when one
touches one's:eyes one can penetrate every disguise,
however cleverly assumed; so in a moment or two
we shall know whether I have been rightly in-
So saying, the wily Dwarf put his hand into his
trowsers' pocket, pulled out an onion, and gently
touched his eyes with it; then he looked right and
left, and presently his eyes fell upon the two Prin-
Daisies and dandelions !' he cried, 'why here are
the two daughters of the King of the Flowery Meads !
who'd have thought of seeing them here of all people!'
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 57
Out laughed the Giant as he heard this observa-
'Sweet girls!' he said. 'Know you not, Mackle-
thorpe, that these maidens claim me as their Uncle
Pattle-perry ? they have come to look for their brother
forsooth-ha ha !'
At these words, and at the manner of the speaker,
Pettina grew very angry, and stepping quickly forward
was about to address to the Giant some remark by
which he would not have been flattered. Unfortu-
nately, the suddenness of her movement left Pincher
for a moment unconcealed, and the eyes of the Dwarf
Macklethorpe fell directly upon him. With a shrill
yell, which so startled the girl that she quite forgot what
she was about to say, the Dwarf screamed out fran-
That's he that's he I see him I see him The
little beast has taken the shape of a dog! Kill him!
And now ensued a most extraordinary scene.
Macklethorpe placed one of his hands on the small
of his back, the other on his forehead, and uttered a
strange sound, immediately after which he became a
large bull-terrier of twice the size and weight of his
adversary, and rushed furiously at him. But Rindel-
grover was equal to the occasion; curving his tail
over his back, lifting his paw on to his nose, and
giving vent in his turn to a wondrous noise, he in-
stantly became a tremendously powerful mastiff, from
whom the bull-terrier had only just time to escape.
In another instant, however, he reappeared in the
form of a tiger, with whom the mastiff would have
58 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [.
had but little chance had he not, with equal celerity,
converted himself into a lion, and stood boldly in
front of his enemy, roaring horribly. Macklethorpe,
not to be outdone, immediately changed into a rhin-
oceros, and secure in his impenetrable hide, savagely
ran at the lion, who as quickly became a pigeon, and
darted off at best speed. Within a second a large
hawk followed the poor bird, which would certainly
have been in great danger had not Pettina at this
eventful moment recovered her presence of mind and
her voice together, and loudly shouted,' Macklethorpe!
hawk! Ri-too-ri-lal-lural!' The effect was instan-
taneous. The pigeon flew off unharmed, whilst the
hawk, suddenly stopping in its flight, wheeled round,
alighted on the ground, and speedily resumed its
proper shape, disclosing a countenance full of baffled
spite and rage, as the owner stood before the young
'O-o-o-o-o-h!' he bellowed out as soon as he
could find breath to do so. You are friends with that
little wood-beast, are you ? You've learned how to
help your friends, have you ? That's it, is it? But
you haven't learned everything yet, I can tell you!
You called me by my name when you used that word
of power just now. When you do that you can't use
that word to me any more for a month, my vixen; so
now you shall find out what it is to have made an
enemy of me. You little puny, skinny, scullery-maid
of a girl-how dare you ?'
So saying, the infuriated Dwarf stepped up to the
poor Pettina, who had unwittingly fallen into so
serious an error, and seemed much inclined to inflict
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 59
upon her personal chastisement then and there. But
Malvina stood forward with her queenly air and
waved the little man backwards.
'How dare you use such words to a lady?' said
she. Remember that I have not called you by your
name, and I will not have harm done to my sister.'
At this the Dwarf recoiled for a moment, but
having recovered himself, he accosted the Giant in
'Great and Royal Pattle-perry, you have seen
how these two she-foxes have deceived you. By so
doing they have certainly given you every right to
consider them as your slaves, and as such I certainly
advise you to treat them. They may talk big and
think great things of themselves if they please, but
so long as you do not lay violent hands on them, they
will find their magic word of little value against my
magic arts. I would confine them in separate
dungeons and keep them there until they make
humble submission to you and consent to do what-
ever you require of them.'
The poor sisters were so oppressed by the de-
parture of their friend, and so overwhelmed by the
words of the Dwarf, who appeared to know so much,
that they knew not what to do, and when the Giant,
evidently enraged at the deception practised upon
him by Rindelgrover, gave the orders suggested by
the Dwarf, they suffered themselves to be led away
without a murmur or remonstrance. It was not,
however, to a dungeon they were taken, but to two
small rooms in a high tower, in one of the wings of
the Giant's palace. This was called the 'turret
60 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
tower,' and was ascended by a spiral staircase. The
Princesses were conducted up to a considerable height
from the ground, until they came to a landing from
which doors opened right and left into two rooms,
one of which was appropriated to each of them. This
was the first real trouble they had had to endure, and
it was rendered worse by the fact of their being
separated for the first time in their lives. They wept
bitterly, and would have felt inclined to give way to
despair, if it had not been that their pride of birth
and the old courage of their race alike forbade them
to do so.
So having cried as much as they thought neces-
sary, they each began to look about them, and then
discovered that not only was there only one wall
between their two rooms, but that, although this was
of a thick and substantial character, grates had been
let in at one or two places, for the purpose of ventila-
tion, through which they could without difficulty
converse from time to time. As this tower faced the
mountain-side down which the Princesses had de-
scended into the Giant's country, the intelligent reader
will at once remark that the side windows of the
rooms in which the sisters were confined naturally
afforded a view right and left. It so happened that
Malvina had the right hand, Pettina the left hand
view, and each described to the other that which she saw.
'Pettina, my darling!' said her elder sister, 'I
can see miles and miles away; the tower is so high
that I almost lose my eyesight in the distance-it
But what do you see ?' asked the other.
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 61
'Why, far, far away I see the waters of the blue
sea. The country from hence is rough and rugged
for some way, but beyond it I see green fields and
trees far off, and the sea still farther off; and I see
islands dotted about in the expanse of blue ocean.
One, two, three-several of them-they must be very,
very far off.'
'And I,' said Pettina in her turn,' I also see a
long way. First comes the country such as you
describe it, rough and rugged and barren, and then I
see a large tract of beautiful meadows and corn-lands,
and a beautiful large river winding its way through
what is evidently a fertile country; but it seems a
long way off!' and Pettina sighed as she spoke.
At that moment they heard a voice on the stair-
case, and in another moment Malvina's room was
entered by no less a personage than Dame Skrinkle-
'Well, my fine Miss,' she began at once, setting
her arms akimbo. 'So you've been trying to humbug
the master, have you, you brother-hunting jackanapes?
I'll warrant me you'll be cured of your tantrums be-
fore we've done with you Here's your supper, my
young hussy; bread and water-and that's all the
victuals you are likely to get for some time to come,
I can tell you!'
So saying, the old woman put down a jug of water
and a loaf of stale bread upon the table, and as
Malvina vouchsafed her no answer, went away to the
next room muttering to herself. She entered Pettina's
room, and accosted her in much the same manner,
assuring her that she would never leave that tower,
62. WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [i.
unless the Giant was fool enough to marry her, in
which case she would most likely soon follow the fate
of the seventeen wives whom he had already wedded
and sent off into the coal-pits as soon as he got tired
of them. As Pettina thought this was very likely an
invention of the old woman's, she took no notice of
it, and, finding she was not likely to get much out of
either of her prisoners, the housekeeper shortly after-
wards took her departure. The night passed wearily
for the two Princesses. Sleep was absent from their
pillows, and to the recollection of their lost brother
was added their own misfortune, involving a captivity
which appeared, for all they could tell, likely to be
They were early astir upon the following day, and
wished each other 'good morning' through the grating.
It was a lovely morning : the sun was shining brightly
in at their windows, and everything looked beautiful
in his glowing light. As soon as the sisters had
dressed, and eaten the frugal breakfast of bread and
water which had been left them over-night by the
crabbed old housekeeper, each repaired to her window
in order to gaze upon the view therefrom, which ap-
peared likely to be the principal amusement by which
their captivity would be lightened. At the same
instant each gave vent to an exclamation of surprise.
'Pettina! Pettina!' cried Malvina; 'I see an
army of white horses, miles away still, but evidently
coming in this direction. Can it be that they are
coming to help us poor girls?'
'Oh, Malvina!' cried her sister; 'what do you
think I see? Thousands upon thousands of swans!
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 63
the air is positively dark with them, although they
are as yet at some distance What can it mean?'
Whilst they were still giving vent to such excla-
mations as these, suddenly a bird flew up against
Pettina's window and pecked loudly for admittance.
The Princess immediately threw open the window
and in flew the bird. It was a pigeon, and had
scarcely alighted in the room when it made sundry
contortions, and directly afterwards assumed the form
of the Dwarf Rindelgrover.
'Dear Princess!' he exclaimed as soon as he was
sufficiently recovered to speak. 'All will go well
with you and your sister. Be not afraid. The King
of the Islands is coming at the head of his army on
white horses, and the River King is half way here
with his swans, against which it is well known no
magic power can ever prevail. I have hurried here
as fast as possible in order to relieve your anxiety,
and must now go and tell your lovely sister the good
You need not do that,' said a voice through the
grating, which they recognized at once to be that of
Malvina. I could not help hearing what you said,
and am overjbyed to hear that succour is near at
Scarcely had she spoken, before a loud noise of
voices was heard upon the stairs, and in a few mo-
ments messengers from the Giant appeared, who had
been ordered to conduct the Princesses to the draw-
ing-room without an instant's delay. Before they
left their rooms, however, the good Rindelgrover had
just time to change himself into a bluebottle fly, and
64 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [i.
buzzing round the heads of the two sisters as they
descended the stairs, he told them that if the magic
word was at all weakened in its force as regarded
Macklethorpe, by what had passed, the word 'Fol-de-
rol-liddle,' repeated after it, would be quite too much
for him. Thus cautioned and advised, the Princesses
entered the drawing-room, where they found the Giant
pacing up and down in great agitation and excite-
ment, whilst Macklethorpe was sitting cross-legged on
the hearth-rug. As soon as ever he saw them, the
owner of the palace began to speak.
What does this mean ?' he said. 'I received you
kindly; I denied you no request; yet you have intro-
duced an enemy into my kingdom, and I am now in-
formed that an army is advancing against my people
from two separate quarters. Queer kind of nieces
are ye, I think !'
'Sir,' returned Malvina in a grave tone, 'we have
done you no wrong, neither do we desire that any
evil should befall you: only give us our brother and
let us go, and we will do our best to prevent mis-
'Harrico your brother, and you too!' cried the
Giant in a rage. 'I'll see about both of you presently.
Meantime I shall leave you in friend Macklethorpe's
charge, for I must go and drive off those friends of
yours, whom I hear of as coming to invade my
country. When I return I shall probably marry one
of you girls myself, and give the other to Mackle-
thorpe; so now you know what to expect;' and with
these words he left the room in a passion.
Macklethorpe now rose from the hearth-rug, and
,] THE LOST PRINCE. 65
approached Pettina, under whose sleeve the Blue-
bottle fly had carefully hidden himself.
Now, my vixen,' he said, you are under my care
for the day, so you had better behave yourself. When
the Giant has slain and captured your friends, you
will see what fools you and your sister have been to
come on this wild-goose chase after your brother.'
'Wild-goose chase, indeed!' retorted Pettina; 'you
had better take care you don't have to deal with
swans instead of geese.'
As she spoke she glanced at the windows, and
saw the swan army rapidly approaching the castle,
while the shouts upon the other side told that the
army of white horsemen were already engaged with
the Giant's people. Irritated by her words, the Dwarf
approached close to her and raised his hand as if to
bestow upon her the undignified rebuke of a slap on
the cheek. The indignant Princess stepped hastily
backwards, exclaiming as she did so-' Ri-too-ri-lal-
'That cock won't fight, my pert miss,' cried the
Dwarf; and advancing a step nearer, actually aimed a
blow at her fair cheek with his wicked hand.
'Fol-de-rol-liddle!' cried the girl in an alarmed
tone as he did so.
The effect was magical-the blow fell short, but the
hand of the little man dropped lightly upon her arm,
and in so doing shook the bluebottle fly out upon the
floor. Hardly had he touched it when he assumed
his proper shape once again. Macklethorpe started
back at the sight; magical power was suspended for
the moment before the force of natural instincts, and
66 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [r.
with a mutual yell of fury the two Dwarfs rushed
savagely upon each other, striking right and left in
ungovernable rage. The sisters, with clasped hands,
stood watching the combat, almost insensible to the
loud cries of battle which were all the time filling the air
outside the castle. Both the little men fought des-
perately. Macklethorpe scratched, bit, and kicked
with an almost supernatural energy; whilst Rindel-
grover, hopping about with marvellous agility, planted
some terrible blows upon the face of his enraged ad-
versary. The sisters would willingly have said the
magic words, had they not feared what the effect
might be upon their friend so long as he had not the
worst of the combat. At last, however, he had de-
cidedly the best of it, for a well-aimed blow taking
effect upon the nose of Macklethorpe, stretched him
upon the floor. Rindelgrover, without an instant's
delay, leaped upon him with a cry of triumph, when
at that very instant the doors of the drawing-room
were thrown violently open, and new characters ap-
peared upon the scene. Foremost among these were
two men of royal appearance, armed to the teeth, and
evidently just emerged from the fray. They led
between them, conquered and bound, none other than
the Giant Pattle-perry himself. It needed no wizard
to inform the sisters who were the victors who thus
appeared. The noble King of the Islands was on
one side, the young and handsome River King on
the other. With joyful and triumphant looks they
led their captive to the feet of the two Princesses, to
whom they made a lowly obeisance.
'Royal ladies !' said the King of the Islands, who,
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 67
being the eldest, was, according to the fashion of
those barbarous times, entitled to speak first: 'we
bring you your vanquished enemy, and place his life
at your disposal.'
Both sisters clasped their hands in speechless
gratitude, and then, when they found their voices,
both exclaimed at once, Oh, noble Kings can you
make him restore our brother?'
'Dear ladies,' said the River King, 'that is
already done. Come forth, Prince Merry.'
Scarcely had he uttered the words, when a young
and singularly handsome youth came forward, in whom
the sisters both instinctively recognized their long-lost
brother, and immediately rushed to embrace him,
for which he appeared to be perfectly prepared.
'Oh! where have you been all these long years ?'
they exclaimed both together, and fell to hugging
and kissing him again, before they could possibly re-
ceive an answer.
'Let me explain to you what we have discovered,'
rejoined the King of the Islands, 'and all the more
so because it may incline your tender hearts to show
some mercy to your unfortunate captive. It is true
that the Giant did what Rindelgrover has already told
you. He enticed the boy away from his nurse, prin-
cipally, I believe, for the sake of his diamond-set
girdle, and carried him off to his own country. How-
ever, when there, he conceived so great an affection for
the young Prince that he determined to adopt him as
his heir. Accordingly, he had him educated by the
best tutors he could procure, and has invariably
treated him with the greatest kindness, excepting
68 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
always that his utmost endeavours have been em-
ployed to make the boy forget his family and his
native country. No wonder, then, that he attempted
to deceive you in every possible way, and to palm off
impostors upon you as your brother. He has failed,
however, and, moreover, the young Prince has by no
means forgotten his old home and relations. Here
he is safe and sound, and you will have the satisfac-
tion of restoring him to his and your anxious parents.
Now, what shall be done with the Robber-giant who
has caused all these troubles? We have taken him
entirely by surprise. The oppressed people of his
country received us gladly; we have completely routed
and dispersed his army, most of whom have either
been ridden down by my white horsemen, or have
had their left eyes pecked out by the swan warriors
of my royal brother. In fact, the Giant is at your
mercy, and you have only to say the word and his
head shall be struck off immediately.'
'Oh no!' cried both the sisters simultaneously;
and then Malvina continued: 'We should be sorry
indeed to return evil for evil, especially as the Giant
has done us no harm in reality, and the joy of re-
covering our dear brother has effaced from our minds
the trouble we have endured. Let him live, provided
that he will take an oath never to interfere with our
father's kingdom again or to carry off straggling
children, be they princes or peasants.'
At these words the Giant's face, which had hither-
to been mightily downcast, lighted up with a sudden
'Lovely and merciful ladies!' he exclaimed, in a
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 69
deep but trembling voice, 'I will swear by the Great
Giant Oath-by all that giants hold sacred, by any-
thing else you please-to be your faithful vassal and
slave to the end of my days, if you will but spare my
life. Your brother is safe and sound, and had I not
loved him as my own son, and intended to make him
my heir, he might have gone home long ago. Say,
Prince, do I not speak the truth ?'
It is quite true,' said Prince Merry, in a voice of
singular sweetness, 'that I have no recollection of
anything but kindness since I have been here, although
now that memory has been awakened and I recognize
my beloved sisters, I feel a sense of the cruel wrong
which has been done me in depriving me for so long
a time of their sweet society. But I give my voice
for mercy, and hope that we may henceforth all be
friends. Meanwhile, what are the little men doing?'
At these words everybody looked round at the
two Dwarfs, who had been forgotten during the above
conversation. Rindelgrover was still standing upon
his prostrate enemy, and giving from time to time a
triumphant stamp upon him which must have been
the reverse of agreeable. As soon as attention was
called to them, Macklethorpe, with a deep groan,
besought the Princesses to call off his adversary, and
they accordingly begged their little friend to spare his
fallen foe. Thus requested, the worthy Rindelgrover
desisted from his amusement, and the crestfallen Mac-
klethorpe arose, bruised and vanquished, and with the
breath nearly stamped out of his body. The Wood
Dwarf was at first inclined to claim him for a slave
as the reward for all he had done, but on its being put
70 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
to him forcibly by Pettina that he would in the long
run gain more by generosity, and that a slave who
detested him would be less useful than a friend
bound to him by ties of gratitude, he was gradually
brought round to that view of the case, and agreed
that his enemy should be spared and liberated, on
condition of owning himself inferior to his conqueror,
and binding himself never more to destroy the pigs
of the latter.
The rest of the story will not take long to tell.
The victorious army having feasted royally at the
Giant's expense, prepared shortly afterwards for their
departure. Old Dame Skrinklegriggs, however, first
appeared upon the scene. Dreadfully afraid that her
impertinent language to the two Princesses would be
remembered against her, she endeavoured to atone for
it by the most abject servility and fawning adulation.
Throwing herself at the feet of the sisters, she ex-
'Oh, Royal Ladies-more lovely than ladies ever
were before, and more charming than any that shall
ever come after you. Beautiful creatures, have mercy
on an old servant who has only erred from zeal for
her old master! Let me kiss your feet and be your
slave for ever, and bear no malice against so humble
a being as I am.'
At these words the sisters smiled.
'Be under no apprehension, old woman,' said Mal-
vina. We scarce remember your words, and have no
thought of injuring you. Still, we would advise you
and all others who hear us to remember that civility
I.] THE LOST PRINCE. 71
costs nothing, and is far more becoming than harsh
and rude language.'
With these words she dismissed the old house-
keeper, who was overjoyed at having escaped so easily.
Then the whole party proceeded to leave the palace
on their way back to the old home of Prince Merry,
taking with them the Giant, to present as a prisoner
to the injured King and Queen, though they had no
doubt that these would ratify the sentence already
pronounced by their daughters.
It would be hopeless for me to attempt to describe
the entry into the Kingdom of the Flowery Meads, or
the meeting between the parents and their long-lost
son. Universal joy spread all over the kingdom, a
general holiday took place, and nobody did any work
for a month, which greatly interrupted the trade of
the country and so damaged its revenue that there
had to be new taxes the year after in order to make
up the deficiency. However, nobody cared for that
or for anything else, now that the Prince was back
again. The nursery-maid and soldier were not for-
gotten in the general happiness, but were set free
from their cage and told that they might now be
married as soon as they liked. But somehow or other,
nine years of each other's company had so altered
their views of matrimony as between themselves, that
they respectfully declined the offered boon, and pre-
ferred to take a separate course in their future lives.
There was marrying, however, at the Court, and that
before long. The King of the Islands proclaimed his
continued devotion to Malvina; the River King was
no less attached to Pettina, and the Princesses, swayed
72 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
by emotions of mingled love and gratitude, consented
to share the fortunes of their royal suitors. Accord-
ingly, the weddings were celebrated upon the grandest
scale which you can imagine. The Giant Pattle-perry
was present, having received his pardon from the
King and Queen, and solemnly vowed himself the
vassal of the Kingdom of the Flowery Meads for ever
and a day.
You may well believe that Rindelgrover was not
absent from the ceremony, nor indeed from the ban-
quet afterwards. Upon that occasion many interesting
speeches were delivered, and more ale and wine con-
sumed than had ever been the case before in that
country. Everybody enjoyed themselves thoroughly,
and everything passed off remarkably well. Of course
Prince Merry was the hero of the evening. His
health was drunk with 'nine times nine and one cheer
more,' and in return he made a speech which delighted
everybody, though, for the matter of that, as every-
body was determined beforehand to be delighted, it
did not much signify what he said.,
It is needless to relate anything further of the
history of these good people. The King and Queen
passed the remainder of their days in great and un-
interrupted happiness. The worthy Rindelgrover was
always a welcome guest at Court, and much amused
the royal family by his eccentric observations and
curious ways. Sometimes Prince Merry wandered
with him in the forest, over the animals of which he
held such authority. At the particular request of the
Prince he was induced to allow them to abandon the
somewhat monotonous chorus of 'Well done, Rindel-
1. THE LOST PRINCE. 73
grover!' which he had imposed upon them as an ac-
knowledgment of his sovereignty, and after a while
he was persuaded to prefer a pony to a pig when in
want of equestrian exercise. Otherwise he remained
the same to the day of his death, if that day ever
arrived. Of that I have no certain information. I can
only tell you the legends of dwarfs and giants which
the Fairies tell me from time to time, and they gener-
ally like to leave off with the good people in the
story alive and happy. So let it be, then, with our
present tale. I have no reason to doubt that Prince
Merry, his sisters and their husbands, are at this
moment living, well and prosperous, nor have I any
reason to suppose the contrary of the conquered
Giant, or any other of the personages of whom I have
spoken. Let us suppose them so, at all events, and
having consoled ourselves with this supposition, bring
to a conclusion the wonderful history of Prince Merry
and his charming sisters.
74 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [II.
THE HISTORY OF A ROOK.
OF late years it has been the fashion for animals of
various sorts and sizes to relate their history for the
benefit of a curious world. I feel that I need no ex-
cuse for following an example which has been set by
many whose species entitles them to no more con-
sideration than my own, and who have possibly seen
less of stirring adventure than it has been my fate to
witness. And although I am only a bird, I do not
see, for my own part, why birds have not as good a
right as anybody else to come before the reading
public. A horse is frequently termed a noble animal.
A dog is thought to have special claims upon the
sympathy of men; and both dogs and horses have
frequently thought it right and becoming to appear
in print. Nevertheless, I feel entitled to observe that
birds of my race are, in one respect at least, superior
to both dogs and horses. These are, after all, the
obedient slaves of man. Trained to obey his will,
taught from earliest youth to acknowledge his superi-
ority, they pass their existence for the most part in
willing thraldom, ignorant of those free aspirations
and that untrammelled liberty of which I and my
feathered comrades can truly boast. Not that this is
II.] THE HISTORY OF A ROOK. 75
equally applicable to all birds. The parrot, ignomi-
niously seated upon his perch, looks to man for his
daily pittance of food, screeches out that which they
suppose to be his gratitude in inharmonious accents,
and seeks no higher aim than occasionally to imitate
the tones and words of his enslavers. The starling,
the magpie, and other kindred birds, from time to time
own the dominion of man. The unhappy thrush too
often languishes in his wicker cage, suspended before
the cottage door of his unfeeling master; and even
the crafty jackdaw frequently becomes the pet and
plaything of the human race. But who ever heard of
a tame rook ? My noble race loves, indeed, to domicile
itself near the haunts of men; but this is rather with
the object of proving to our young, by the force of
daily contrast, our innate and immense superiority
over the unfeathered bipeds who walk the earth from
which they cannot rise, and pass a wingless life in a
conceited belief in their own greatness. Often and
often have I seen them walking near, though not as a
rule beneath, my native rookery, and wondered to
myself how such tame crawling creatures could have
the arrogance to deem themselves 'the lords of that
creation which contains so many nobler races. But
as my intention to-day is not to point a moral, but to
relate a history, I will proceed at once to the per-
formance of my task.
I am a rook of old family. All rooks are rooks of
old family. Unlike human beings, who depend upon
the preservation of written records, without which they
are not supposed among their fellows to have esta-
blished a claim to good family and high descent, we
76 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [n.
rooks, acting upon the glorious principle of universal
equality, recognize in our community the undoubted fact
thatwe all descend from common ancestors who existed
in remote antiquity, and we require no written proof to
establish the fact that we are all illustrious, and all of
high descent. I could tell you where I was born, aye,
to the very tree and to the very nest. I could de-
scribe the place which had the honour of witnessing my
birth. But I forbear. There may be those yet alive
to whom a minute description of the locality might be
painful, and no right-minded rook ever willingly gives
pain to anyone.
Yet as I recall the old familiar scene, I feel a
strange longing to make others acquainted with the
spot which I still love so dearly. How well do I re-
member the place The group of waving elms in which
our nests were built, standing as theydid at the extreme
end of a wood which joined close up to a farm-yard,
had the double advantage of proximity to rich corn-
fields on one side of the aforesaid wood, and pleasant
meadows, well stocked with friendly sheep, on the other.
There was the pond too, at the end of the farmyard
nearest the rookery, whereon sundry ducks quacked
a homely accompaniment to our domestic cawing, and
frantic hens cackled in agony over the supposed
danger of the little ducklings whom they had unwit-
tingly hatched. The orchard hard by, with its apple and
cherry trees laden with luxuriant fruit ; the large wal-
nut tree famous for its size and quantity of nuts, which
stood opposite the stable; the high old-fashioned
hedges which enclosed the meadows; the winding paths
cut through the home wood, and the trim old-fashioned
It.] THE HISTORY OF A ROOK. 77
garden, with its high brick wall. around it;-all these
things come back to my memory, and seem to flit
before my aged eyes as I muse over the early and
happy days of my youth. But stay: I have said
enough of a place which you, dear reader, cannot
identify, and to think of which, now that I am so far
from it, makes my beak feel dry and my eyes watery.
So I ruffle up my old feathers, give my tail a shake,
and taking in my claw the pen which my kind old
neighbour Owl has manufactured for me out of the
feather of a wood-pigeon's wing, set myself to tell you
that which I have to relate.
This beak, which many years have hardened, was
soft and tender when its first infant effort chipped the
egg which contained my puny form. I cannot actu-
ally remember the event, but from what I have seen
in after years, I imagine that I must have presented a
somewhat ridiculous appearance when I first emerged
from the maternal shell. My first distinct recollection
is of the ousting from the nest of two little crea-
tures, brothers and sisters I suppose, I know not which,
on whom my mother had unfortunately trodden, and
the sending after them of an egg at which we little
ones had stared for some hours as at an object of im-
mense interest, but which the wiser instincts of my
mother discovered to be rotten.
There were three of us left, and certainly we had
nothing to complain of in our treatment. Never had
young rooks a more devoted mother, or a father who
better understood the duty of bringing home slugs
and other tender edibles to his as yet helpless off-
78 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [In.
spring. Well nurtured and cared for, we grew daily in
size, and improved in health and vigour.
Our naked forms became gradually covered with
protecting feathers, although it was some time before
they acquired that black and glossy appearance which
is so highly valued among rooks who value their per-
sonal beauty. As days rolled on, although we grew
bigger, our nest unfortunately did not follow our
example, and consequently that which had at first
seemed to us, as indeed it was, a spacious and com-
modious abode, began to afford scant accommodation
for our developing frames. In short, we were more
crowded than was at all pleasant, and I do not know
how we should have managed, had not our maternal
parent one day suggested that there was an outside
as well as an inside to every nest, and that we must
not confine ourselves entirely to the latter. She con-
veyed her meaning in a somewhat forcible manner,
pushing us all three bodily over the side of the nest,
and bidding us take the fresh air as best we could.
Trembling with fright, we sat shivering on the
nearest branches, our little hearts penetrated with the
most profound grief at that which appeared to us the
cruel and unnatural conduct of the mother in whose
love we had hitherto so implicitly trusted. Ah we
did not know then, as I know well enough now, that
our parents are the best judges of what is good for us,
and that things which sometimes seem harsh and un-
just to us are really intended for our benefit, and are
in fact the very best things which could have hap-
pened to us. So indeed it was in this case. We
soon learned to balance ourselves on the branches
I.] THE HISTORY OF A ROOK. 79
without fear of falling, then we found that we could
easily hop from twig to twig, and meanwhile the 'ex-
posure to the open air gave new strength and hardi-
hood to our bodies. Then, joy of joys, we awoke to
the knowledge of the great fact that we had wings!
Never shall I forget the moment when this first
dawned upon my infant mind! It was again through
the agency of my mother, who, after I had sat for a
day or two as near as I could to the nest (to which.
we were still allowed to return at meal-times and for
the night), flew quietly up to me one morning and de-
liberately pushed me off my perch. With a croak of
horror, down I fell, expecting nothing less than in-
stant destruction. Great, however, was my surprise
and delight to find myself most agreeably undeceived.
Guided by some natural instinct, I spread out my
wings, and immediately found that I had not only
arrested my fall by so doing, but that I was able to
flutter away to another branch without the slightest
difficulty, and could sustain myself in the air as well
as another bird. My brother and sister, having been
similarly treated by our mother, and with the same
result, were equally pleased with the discovery of
their new powers, and we all three felt as proud as
Day by day we made trial of our new wings, and
very shortly found that we could fly from tree to tree
with tolerable ease, and that a little more practice
and some additional strength would soon enable us to
take a longer and more daring flight. We warmly
thanked our beloved mother for having taught us that
great lesson of self-reliance which is so necessary for
80 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [I.
a young rook or indeed for anybody else who hopes
to succeed in the world, and a new vista of joyous
and peaceful life seemed opening out before us. But
alas it was rudely interrupted. This world is full of
cares and woes, and I have observed that oftentimes
when our happiness is the greatest, our hearts the
lightest, and our prospects apparently the best, mis-
fortune falls upon us, as if to prove to us the vanity
and instability of earthly happiness. So it was with
regard to the happy family to which I then belonged.
On a beautiful morning in the month of May, I
was surprised by a sudden commotion in the rookery.
Respectable middle-aged rooks, ordinarily accustomed
to wing their steady flight from field to field, and some
of whom had been recently engaged in the domestic
occupation consequent upon the nesting season,
suddenly rose on all sides high into the air, and
uttering shrill cries of affright and dismay, wheeled in
eddying circles far above the trees which composed
our rookery. At first I thought that the world had
gone mad that May morning, or that my elders were
indulging in some wild and extraordinary pastime as
yet unknown to the juvenile members of the society.
But before long I became painfully aware that the
movement of our fathers and mothers was caused by
their knowledge of the proximity of awful danger to
their young. A loud stunning report deafened my
ears-a report which arose, as it seemed, from the
ground below the rookery, and was succeeded by a
redoubling of the cries of affright uttered by the parent
birds. Eagerly peering through the branches of the
tree in which I sat, I perceived three individuals
II.] THE HISTORY OF A ROOK. 8r
standing in the precincts of our sacred grove. One of
them carried in his hand a weapon which as I have since
discovered is familiarly known among men as a pea-
rifle. This person was evidently the chief of the
party, for one of the others carried his ammunition,
while the awful occupation of the third became only
too soon apparent. The gunner kept up a steady fire
against such of our youthful companions as exposed
their bodies to his aim, and when any ill-fated rook
dropped upon the ground, as, alas was but too fre-
quently the case, this third man hastened to gather
the bleeding body of the victim, and placed it beneath
a tree, where before long a goodly array of murdered
victims lay side by side. For the first few moments,
while this continuous firing was going on, I hardly
realized its meaning, or the perils of my own position.
But my brother, and sister, and myself were seated
upon a bough near the maternal nest, and afforded
but too obvious an object to the eager marksman.
Ere long I perceived him standing beneath our very
tree, with his deadly weapon pointing directly up-
wards. Even yet, we none of us realized the danger-
ous position in which we were placed; but in another
moment the awful sound rang in our ears, and we
heard the shrill whistle of a bullet passing close above
our heads. Being still, however, unacquainted with
the nature of firearms, we remained still and silent,
whilst the marksman hastily reloaded, and again level-
led his piece. This time the bullet struck the branch on
which we were seated, almost severing it in two, and
causing such a vibration as seriously disturbed us.
We all cawed lustily, and slightly shifted our posi-
82 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [n.
tion, though even now we remained fully exposed to
view; but at the third shot, the bullet passing beneath
me at a distance from my body, far too near to be
pleasant, penetrated my tail feathers, and went whist-
ling on in its upward journey. Being now thoroughly
alarmed, I awoke to the necessity of adopting some
measure to prevent greater damage to my sacred
person, and being (though I say it that shouldn't)
a rook of wariness beyond my years, I determined
forthwith to seek shelter in our friendly nest. With-
out more ado, therefore, I hopped lightly to my refuge,
and with a croak of satisfaction ensconced myself in
the same place whence I had first seen the light of
day from the inside of my parent egg.
0 why did not my dear relations share at once my
prudence and my safety! With a courage more resolute
than wise, they maintained their position, and the very
next bullet, striking my brother in the wing, wrung
from him a moan of agony, and prevented his following
my example. Horrified at the sound, I peered over
the nest to watch what would follow, and waited in
breathless expectation whilst the cruel enemy loaded
and fired again, and this time with but too true an
aim. The fatal bullet shot my brother full in the
breast, and passing through from breast to back, left
behind it only a lifeless carcase from which the bright
young life had passed away for ever. The body of
my innocent brother fell with a dull heavy thud upon
the ground beneath, and soon swelled the heap of
victims already collected by the attendant keeper.
My sister, now fully awakened to a sense of her
danger, hopped with trembling legs towards my place
"II.] THE HISTORY OF A ROOK. 83
of safety, uttering a faint caw of complaint and alarm.
But before she reached the nest, another bullet, speed-
ing on its deadly errand, struck the bough imme-
diately beneath her, lacerated her right foot, and gave
a shock to her nervous system from which she never
afterwards entirely recovered. Happily, however, she
succeeded in scrambling over the sticks and twigs of
which our home was composed, and nestled down by
my side in a state of alarm and agitation such as I
have seldom or ever witnessed in a female rook.
Fortunately for us, there were so many of our
species sitting out upon the different trees of the
rookery, that the sportsman (if such a term can be
rightly applied to a cruel rook-killing monster) found
plenty of amusement without troubling us again, and
we crouched down without further molestation during
the rest of his stay, though our blood ran cold, and
our hearts beat faster, at every sound of his horrible
gun. But as all things in this world come to an end,
so did this attack upon our peaceful homes, and our
enemies at length retired, laden with the carcasses of
our unhappy relatives. I could not imagine at that
time the purpose for which the remains of our friends
were thus carried off. But a singular conversation
which I shortly afterwards overheard disclosed to
me the horrid truth, whilst at the same time it
afforded a notable example of the cringing and
sycophantic nature of the human race.
Not many days after the occurrence which I have
just related, a number of fiends in the shape of men,
armed, not with pea-rifles, but with ordinary shot-
guns, appeared in our luckless rookery, and opened a
84 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [II.
cruel and destructive fire upon our unhappy race.
Alas for the ruin and devastation which they spread
around! In vain did youthful rooks send forth their
wailing caw for pity and succour. In vain did the
agitated and miserable parents wheel high above the
heads of the gunners with plaintive and indignant
cries, protesting against the unjustifiable slaughter of
their young. They spoke to hearts harder than stone,
and to beings inaccessible to the cries alike of suffering
innocence and parental affection. By tens, aye, by
twenties, the youth, the flower of rookdom fell around,
and sadly were our numbers thinned by the continued
onslaught of our merciless foes. Wise by experience,
my sister and I at the first sound of the gun sought
shelter in our nest, and remained there until the last
of our enemies had departed.
It was on the afternoon of that same day that I,
deafened with the cannonading which had been going
on around us, and with a heart full of misery at the
undeserved misfortune that had fallen upon our race,
flew out from the rookery, and perched myself in the
thickest part of a large chestnut tree which stood at a
short distance from my home. From this post of
observation I saw two men approach, and soon dis-
covered that their purpose was to collect the bodies
of the slain. One of these men, whom the other ad-
dressed as 'Jem,' evidently filled the honourable posi-
tion of a gamekeeper. He had a black velveteen
coat on, and a gun in his hand, which he deposited at
the foot of my tree while performing the melancholy
business on which he had come, and his evident as-
sumption of superiority over his companion, together
II.] THE HISTORY OF A ROOK. 85
with the deferential bearing of the latter, sufficiently
indicated his official position. It was while they were
resting from their labours beneath the tree in which I
was perched, that the following conversation ensued.
'A fine lot o' young rooks, Jem, surelie,' said the
They be, Bristow, that they be,' was the reply;
and presently, after a pause, 'They tell me, Bristow,
that there's many people as thinks a rook pie better
nor a pigeon pie. That can't be, but I don't know as
it's a thing to be despised, after all is said and done.'
Oh no,' replied the other, 'not noways to be de-
spised, but nothing like a pigeon pie, o' course. Oh
no, oh no.'
'And,' continued the keeper, 'I don't know but
what a rook pie, if the rooks is young, and the crust
made about right, very nigh comes up to a pigeon
pie after all.'
'Sure it does,' returned Bristow in meditative tone,
'not so good as a pigeon pie, but very nigh it if rightly
made, as you say.'
In another minute the keeper continued: 'And some
folks will tell you, and as far as my opinion goes they're
in the right of it, that just at this season, when the
rooks is young and tender, a rook pie is quite as good
as a pigeon pie, after all.'
'Very little difference,' replied Bristow at once, 'if
the birds is young and tender, rook pie or pigeon pie,
what's the difference ?'
'And for my part,' added the keeper, '. like a
rook pie better than what I do a pigeon pie, and that's
the truth of it.'
86 WHISPERS FROM FAIRYLAND. [11.
'Oh yes,' responded Bristow without a moment's
hesitation, better than any pigeon pie. Not a doubt
And so the conversation terminated. Though I
could not help being amused at the obsequious servility
of the cringing Bristow, this conversation explained
to me the cause of the murderous onslaught made
upon my hapless people, and revealed the fate which
was to befall their carcasses. Stripped of their black
and glossy feathers, they would doubtless be thrust
into a pie or pudding, to gratify the palates of their
greedy slaughterers, whom I devoutly hoped might
be choked in the operation of devouring them. This,
however, would after all be but a poor revenge for us
survivors, and would not bring our lost ones back to
life again. I could here indulge in many moral reflec-
tions upon the cruelty of man, and the sufferings of
rooks and other birds and animals which he chooses
to regard as his lawful prey. But I prefer, and perhaps
my readers may agree with me, to quit a theme
which, as far as I am concerned, is fraught with
melancholy recollections, and pass on to other remi-
niscences of my eventful life.
Perhaps some of my readers will be surprised to
hear me use the word 'eventful' in connection with
the life of a rook. We are, I believe, for the most
part, regarded as dull, commonplace birds, whose
chief avocation is to rear and feed our young, to eat
grubs and insects by way of food, and to promote
the domestic felicity of mankind by cawing in a
homely manner around their mansions. This, how-
ever, is a grand mistake, though only one of the many
I.] THE HISTORY OF A ROOK. 87
misapprehensions into which man is led by his selfish
and overbearing vanity. The real truth is that the
world was made for rooks, and not for man, and that
although the greater strength and destructive skill of
the latter give him at the present moment an advan-
tage over our noble race, those who believe in the
great and immutable principles of justice cannot but
rest assured that this advantage is but of a temporary
character, and that hereafter the rights of rookdom
will be triumphantly vindicated, and servile man shall
bow and cringe before his feathered superiors. Even
now, unwittingly and unwillingly, they minister to our
necessities. Why do they plough the ground with so
much care save to expose to our hungry beaks the
animal food in which we delight? Why do they plant
trees whose maturity will not be witnessed by their
own eyes, but by those of the generations to come?
Is it not that we rooks may have places in which to
build our nests in safety? And do they not, more-
over, show us constant marks of respect by planting
boys as guards of honour in their fields, who by shouts
of' away crow!' by discharges of antiquated firearms
incapable of injuring anything but the gunner himself,
and by fantastic displays of strangely attired figures
on sticks, serve to show how much our presence is
feared, if not appreciated, by the human race?
Thoughts upon all these subjects have frequently
occupied my mind, and although my race may be
depressed at present, in the dim vista of the future I
picture to myself a free, a great, and a glorious rook-
dom. But to my story.
After the breeding season had been finished, and