The Baldwin Library
THE CATSKILL FAIRIES.
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BY VIRGINIA W. JOHNSON,
"JOSEPH THE JEW," "A SACK OF GOLD," "THE CALDERWOOD SECRET," "KETTLE
CLUB SERIES," &c., &c.
ILLUSTRATED BY ALFRED FREDERICKS.
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by
IIARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
ALL ABOUT JOB .. . .. ,. ,.,. .... II
THE OLD CLOCK TELLS A STORY . . . . .. . 22
ADVENTURES OF A SEA-SHELL . ... . .. . . .. 26
How BORN DISCOVERED AMERICA.. . . .. . 30
ONE OF A CAT'S LIVES. ... . . ... . 35
THE OAK-TREE SPRITE .. ... . 42
RAPP, THE GNOME KING . . ... . . 57
NIP'S STORY . . .. . . . 80
THE GREEN BELT . . . . . . . . 90
THE HOUSE THAT JACQUES BUILT .... . .. . III
THE FAIRY REGATTA .... . .. . .. . 114
THE DOVE MAIDEN . .. .. .. . . .. 121
THE FIRST COCOA-NUT ,..., . . 153
\ ^ --
*t" Ss^ ^ i- ^
THE CATSKILL FAIRIES.
k.- d a (- rl f.* it III,- r, d ra^ 1 < ir the
Fbi, H l.i-rib- *' --r li- 1. .f.-, and
S1;-',, "t' K aci id' " iJob,
Sturcli tli all i a .. '- .i igna-
tion at the charge of cowardice.
t ', t. '
12 The Catskill Fairies.
"You are twelve years old, and almost a man! Well-take
care of the cow, and don't forget the fowls. I shall be back by
Then the old wagon creaked away down the hill, moving as
if it had rheumatism in all its joints, the white horses jogged off
soberly, the rim of Grandfather's hat disappeared, and Job was
The boy was half afraid all the same. There was not a living
soul left on the mountain besides Job, after Grandfather had
gone. When one is only twelve years old, and is left in this
way, one must feel rather queer at first-at least Job did, and
that is all we can know about it. He stood in the road until
the last sound of the wagon had died away in silence, and at
that moment a little shiver of loneliness crept down his back,
and he did not know whether to laugh or cry. Something
white and soft brushed against him; it was the Angora cat.
You must not suppose that she was an every-day sort of tabby,
such as is found in all farm-houses: she was very different from
common animals, as we shall presently see. At that moment
the cow lowed in her shed, in a friendly way. Job laughed in-
stead of crying.
He's gone," said the lad aloud. "Now, Kitty, let us have
He decided to prepare the evening meal just because he did
not know what else to do. The cat was placed in a chair,
while he spread the board; and as her table manners were very
elegant, she merely sat there winking sleepily instead of trying
to dab her paws into the dishes.
This is better than living in the woods-isn't it, puss," said
Skutting-up for the Night. 13
Job, pouring some milk in a saucer. How cold you looked
that September morning, after the frost, when I found you on
the edge of the ravine."
Miouw!" replied the Angora cat.
Yes, indeed," continued Job, as he cut a slice of bread for
himself. If you had not come to me, Tom Smithers would
have caught you, and carried you down the mountain to all his
brothers and sisters-and a nice life they would have led you.
The baby would have pulled off your tail the first thing, and
how would you have looked without your tail? There! eat
It really seemed as if the Angora understood every word
that Job said, for she gave a little leap in the air, purred vio-
lently, and proceeded to eat daintily. After that the cow was
made comfortable for the night, the hen-house barred securely,
so that no stray fox might steal in, and fresh wood brought
from the wood-pile for the fire. There was nothing more to
be done before going to bed, and Grandfather as well as Job
was usually asleep as soon as the chickens-but then the earli-
est cock that crowed did not catch them napping in the morn-
ing. Before closing the house door, he paused one moment to
look at the sky, which was flooded with gold from the setting
sun. Job was a very ignorant child, but he knew that far
away down the path of shining Hudson River was a great city
and the sea. This city he had never seen, which was not very
strange, since a great many grown people living back among
those Catskill Mountains were equally unlearned. It was the
last of December; summer had faded, but the autumn had been
long and mild. The mountains towered up blue and grand
14 The Catskill Fairies.
against the heavens, and it seemed as if the snow would never
come from the bleak North this year. Here and there the hills
had a white line on their slopes, as if they had trimmed their
robes with ermine, yet the peaks were still uncovered.
.. rL .
Far down in the shadowy hollow was the spot where Rip
Van Winkle had slept for twenty years, according to the le-
gend. All through the leafy Junes, the glowing Octobers, when
the woods burned in scarlet and crimson, and the cold, silent
winter, Rip must have slumbered. No wonder he was stiff
when he awoke at last. Job had been to the very spot, and
tried to feel sleepy also. Grandfather said the story was all
nonsense, yet somehow Job believed it. Yes, and far away,
over on the brink of a distant precipice, was the hotel, now de-
serted and gloomy, whe e gay people flocked in the warm
weather. Job would hide behind the bushes, like a shy, wild
o0b's Portrail. 15
animal, and watch these strangers, wondering much that they
cared to gather the wild flowers and mosses which he never
noticed. What fun it would be if a bear should come up the
path, only all the bears were gone. There was not even a
rabbit to be seen. If a pedler should pass, Job would invite
him to stay and rest. A pedler's pack was to Job what a
dry-goods store is to a city boy.
He went into the house, bolted the door, and crept into bed,
where he soon fell fast asleep, with the Angora cat curled up
comfortably beside him.
Now we must paint our hero's portrait, because we can feel
but little interest in the hero, if, in these days of photography,
we do not know exactly how he looked. Job was a strong,
active boy, and his face was as brown, his cheeks as red, as the
sun and the.wind could make them. He wore a battered hat,
when he remembered to put it on, and a jacket made of Grand-
father's old plum-colored coat, with the tails cut off: Grand-
father being a tailor after his own fashion. When spring came
he tossed his heavy shoes into a cupboard, and ran about bare-
footed, until the frost compelled him to seek them once more.
He had been sent to the little red school-house three miles
away, where he learned to read and write. Nobody knows
what strange fancies came into his head about the clouds and
the moon, living up there alone with Grandfather. This may
seem rather a sad, dreary life to the little men who were born
in merry, crowded nurseries, yet it is astonishing how much
Job found to amuse him. Indeed, he seldom played with other
children, and did not miss them.
There was the early breakfast to get, and the dishes to clear
16 The Catskill Fairies.
away afterwards; then the cow must be driven to the pasture,
where the mountain grass made her yield such sweet milk.
After that Job could run wild among the rocks all the
morning, setting snares for birds, searching for hidden nests,
and fishing for trout in the clear brooks, which leaped from
stone to stone with gleeful music. Nor did his resources fail
him in winter, when the wild storms kept him in-doors. Then
he listened to Grandfather's stories about Indians and rattle-
snakes, or read the few tattered volumes their library boasted.
Better still was it to retreat to the store-room, where their pro-
visions were kept as carefully as if they were in a besieged
city, and draw figures on the door with a bit of charcoal for a
pencil. These crooked, wavy lines meant to the young artist
the horses and people of the city.
Grandfather was a bent, wrinkled old man, who smoked a
pipe, and grumbled-but he was kind for all that. Job did not
take scoldings to heart, for he knew very well that Grand-
father was fond of him as the only relative left him in the
world. When one lives in a small house alone on a mountain,
one has to learn to do everything: Grandfather sewed, r: ade
famous bread, and churned the butter. If Job had been used
to any other housewife, he must have found it very funny to
see Grandfather sweep the rag-carpet with his spectacles on;
but to the boy this was the most natural thing in the world.
The mildness of December had tempted Grandfather to
make one more visit to the village, for when the storms came
they were cut off completely from all intercourse with the val-
leys by the deep snow-drifts. He went to buy some food, and
to cross the river to Germantown, where a farmer owed him a
The Snow-Storm. 17
little money. These dollars must be got, and hidden away in
an old pocket-book for the time when Job would be a man.
If Job had gone as well, who would have taken care of the
cow and the fowls ?
Next morning Job was awakened by the Angora cat. Pussy
had jumped on his breast, and was licking his cheek with a lit-
tle red tongue. The fact of the matter was, she had been up
a long while, and was becoming very much bored, as well as
hungry. Job sprang out of bed, and ran into the kitchen.
Something strange had happened! The old clock ticked
solemnly in the corner, pointing a hand, as if in reproof, at
the hour of ten. Yes, it was ten o'clock, and Job had never
slept so late before. The kitchen looked just the same. There
was the little table by the window, where Grandfather's large
Bible lay, and the shelf above, with the conch-shell on it. The
fire was out, and it was dreadfully cold. Job pulled aside the
curtain, and peeped out. All the world had grown white. It
was snowing. While he slept the storm had come, filling the
ravines, covering the low shrubbery, and crowning the mount-
ains with fleecy masses. Job was not afraid of the snow; he
was used to it. He kindled a fire, and both he and the cat
warmed themselves. Next he tried to open the house door,
and found it already banked up by a drift. Job's face grew
very long. How should he reach the cow? There was food
and wood enough in the house to keep him alive, but the cow
must not starve. The cottage was small and poor, consisting
of two rooms, and an attic above. Job ran up-stairs, and looked
out of the attic window. He there saw a gray sky, the air
misty with falling flakes, and the wide sheet of snow below.
18 The Catskill Fairies.
At the back of the house the snow was not equally deep, the
building being an obstacle to the growing mass. What do
you suppose he did ? He went down-stairs again, put on his
boots, wrapped his neck in a woollen comforter, took the shovel,
and jumped out of the window to make a path to the cow-shed.
The poor cow, supposing that she was never to have her
breakfast, mooed dismally. Job worked with all his might.
but she took very good care not to wet her dainty paws by
skipping out-of-doors. At last the path was finished, and Job
fed the hungry animal. As he did so he heard the flapping
of wings, and the cocks crowed dolefully in the dark hen-
house, where they supposed it was still night. He had forgot-
ten them until that moment. Dear me! what was to be done ?
ten hemuntl tat omet. earme ,'-t wa t b dne
The Old Clock Bewitched. 19
Job could not leave the poor biddies to die, when he had seen
every one of them come from the egg-wee bundles of down.
The hen -house was more difficult to reach than the cow's
residence. Job's arms ached, and his feet were cold, yet he
took up the shovel valiantly, and began to dig again. What
with running to and fro, back to the house to thaw numb
fingers at the fire, getting meals, and continuing to make paths,
it was late in the afternoon before Job had finished his labors.
He was able to throw corn to the chickens only by climbing
on a snow-mound, and scattering it through the small window
of the hen-house. The fowls did not know what to make of
it; they cocked their heads sideways to catch a glimpse of day-
light. While at work Job had been quite happy; when it
was over he began to feel frightened. The storm was in-
creasing, the wind commenced to moan. Grandfather could
not force his way back up the mountain while it lasted, and
that Job very well knew. The boy sat down in Grandfather's
chair, and burst into tears.
You are too old to cry," said a grave voice.
Job dried his eyes on his sleeve, and looked up.
Who are you ?" he asked, curiosity conquering fear.
I am the clock. You should know me by this time."
There it stood in the corner, with a brass ship above the
dial that rocked when the pendulum swung.
I didn't suppose you could talk," laughed Job.
I usually make enough noise, and I am always on the
minute, I hope. I don't mind telling you what you will find
out sooner or later-to-night I am bewitched," said the clock,
in a rattling way.
20 The Catskill Fairies.
The Angora cat yawned, curled her whiskers in a military
fashion with both her fore-paws, and added, Yes, we are be-
What has bewitched you, I should like to know ?" said Job,
now quite at his ease, and wishing to understand matters
The sea-shell," replied the clock.
Job turned to look at the shell as it lay on the shelf; it
glistened in the dim room like a beautiful pearl. "We are to
talk this evening," murmured the shell. After all, a little boy
might spend a more lonely night than here with a clock, a cat,
and a shell."
All great travellers," said the clock, proudly.
And foreigners by birth," said the cat, whisking her tail.
" Besides, I have invited company, and you are to have a pres-
ent before you go to bed."
Oh, what is it ?" cried Job, with sparkling eyes. How can
company get here in all the storm when Grandfather can't
We shall see," returned Puss, walking to the window, and
listening with her ear to the crack.
We have no legs to carry us about like the cat," sighed the
clock, half enviously. Every one in his place, though."
The wind brings a message to say that they will be here
in an hour," said the cat, returning to the fire. "We must
try to amuse ourselves until they come."
Who are they ?" asked Job.
We shall see," said Puss again. One can live anywhere,
I suppose." This she uttered in a dignified way, as if she were
A Cal of Experience. 21
used to much better things, and indeed that was what she de-
sired every one to think. The Esquimaux dwell in the snow
and ice-even their houses are built of snow; thousands of
people crowd together in damp cellars of great cities; and
away off in hot countries the natives would not leave their
sandy deserts for any thing. I must be contented here."
How did you come to know so much ?" inquired the old
clock, very impertinently.
"I am a cat of experience," said the Angora in a genteel
Then the clock knew that it had done something amiss, and
clattered away, sounding the hour to cover up the blunder; only
it grew embarrassed, and struck full fifteen times, like the silly
old clock it was.
I am sorry to make so much noise, but when I am ready I
cannot help it. My little hammer rises up, you know, and
will fall again." Having finished this duty, the time-piece was
prepared to be more agreeable, and immediately proceeded to
tell the following story.
22 The Catskill Fairies.
THE OLD CLOCK TELLS A STORY
THE first sound you ever heard, Job, was the
-__", ti-kin:'g f ml. pendulum, and the very first ob-
(" i'I t :. I.ir :y eyes noticed was my brass ship
,. ,.king., a i.;l. : ,.s! rocking, as it did years before you
lr: li' d, aind Ia.- done ever since. Babies are some-
: times I:ibn out: on the ocean and in strange places,
I'i, j :,iit I thirik that the top of a mountain is a droll
place for a cradle. I will tell you
"all about it. I am really very an-
cient-quite a grandfather clock,
as you may see from my wooden
"..'' case. I was sent over from Lon-
._- don in my youth, and once I was
mended here in America by the
grandson of the clock-maker who made me. He knew me
directly, and said, Here is my grandfather's work.' At first I
lived in New York, where I was for sale in a shop, until I was
bought by a man who had me placed on a sloop to be taken
up the Hudson River. It was a long voyage in those days,
I promise you, and we were one week on board of the sloop
before we reached our destination. Now the great steamboats
make the same journey in a few hours. I could tell you the
exact time if I were placed on the Daniel Drew' in running
Unexpected Visitors. 23
order, and not laid on my back with my pendulum tied. How-
ever, I have no reason to complain. I was purchased by your
grandfather, Job, to place in the new house where he would
bring his bride.
Dear, dear! It seems only yesterday when the newly mar-
ried couple stepped across the threshold hand in hand. Their
hair was golden, their cheeks like ripe apples, and outside the
door the damask roses bloomed in the sunshine. So long, long
ago, little Job-as you may tell by my worm-eaten case and
I remember very well that we had unexpected visitors up
here the day before you were born. There had been no living
soul here for years besides the old man : his wife was dead, and
his only daughter gone away. Well, the door stood open, and
I saw a wagon drive up with two women in it. The younger
one rose, and stretched out her hands to Grandfather, who
stood shading his eyes, and looking at her.
"'Father!' she said, and began to cry.
"'She would come up the mountain to-day,' said the elder
The last speaker was Grandfather's sister, and the younger
one was your mother, Master Job.
The visitors were made comfortable. The girl promised to
be good, and return to the farm with her aunt next day, after
she had seen her father once more. She had been wilful, and
married a handsome sailor against her parent's wishes. Now
the sailor was wrecked, and she had come all this weary way
across the seas to beg forgiveness.
The wind blew fresh about the lonely house. I struck
24 The Catskill Fairies.
twelve, and before I had ceased the angels had brought you
here to live. What do you think of that ?"
It is very funny," said Job. He had never thought of be-
ing much smaller than he was then.
Yes," said the clock. But when the angels brought you
they carried away your mother. You never saw her after-
wards. You were a sturdy little fellow, and the aunt did
everything for you. She had a goat brought up here, for you
to drink the rich milk. The goat behaved very well, although
it did not like the quarters much. When the aunt wished to
take you away home, Grandfather shook his head. If he was a
clumsy nurse, you thrived. Bless you! babies thrive anywhere;-
and if you don't expect them to live, they are sure to do so.
You had a wee face-I don't suppose your face will ever
be as large as mine -and bright eyes, and you used to sit
on the floor with your thumb in your mouth staring at my
ship. You never cried much, and soon learned to trot around,
climbing as nimbly as a squirrel. So you see the good God
sent you as a gift to Grandfather, who lived all alone, and he
has toiled for you day and night. I have watched him many
a time sitting up long after you were sound asleep to sew your
coat or carve a toy. The very least you can do, in return, is
to be a good boy, for he is growing old."
Job had never given the matter a moment's reflection. He
could not decide whether he had been a good boy or not.
Now the old clock's words made a deep impression on his
mind, and he formed a resolution.
"He shall never saw all the wood again!" he exclaimed.
" Sometimes I forget, you know."
The Sea-Shell Speaks. 25
That is right," said the clock, heartily.
You will always be glad if you are thoughtful of others,"
said the sea-shell.
Grandfather is a good man; he gives me tender morsels,"
said the Angora cat gratefully.
The old clock had finished its story, and for a few minutes
nothing was heard in the room but the slow, steady ticking of
the long pendulum as it swung back and forth, and the quiet
purring of the Angora cat. Job was thinking of what the
clock had told him, when the silence was again broken by the
26 The Catskill Fairies.
ADVENTURES OF A SEA-SHELL.
"EACH one may tell what he
knows," said the sea-shell, in a
S soft, liquid voice.
S:. "Where did you come from?
SI mean, where did you grow?"
"4 asked Job, eagerly.
A sweet little laugh came
gurgling from the depths of the
shell as water bubbles out of a
clear spring hidden among the moss of the woods.
"Where did I grow? You speak as if I was plucked from
the branch of a tree like fruit. Do you not know that a little,
soft, defenceless animal-a mollusk-built me for a strong
castle to protect it from foes ? Then, being something of an
artist in its own tiny fashion, the mollusk painted and decorated
its house, lining it with pearl, as you see, and adding turrets to
the roof. Yes, and the very best of it was that it had only to
close the door firmly, and no enemy could come in; even the
rough waves might toss the house about with no harm to the
Where did you live ?" persisted Job.
I was only the strong castle remember. The mollusk lived
away off in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. Above
The Islands of Spice-Trees. 27
the sea bloomed the rich islands where the spice-trees grow,
and cruel pirates lurked along the shore to attack foreign ves-
sels. The pirates, in their swift boats, were like the small
sword fish that dart forth to attack the whale, wounding the
huge creature on all sides.
Chinese junks came there, too, in search of the swallow
nests, built in the rock caverns which they sold in their markets
for the famous bird-nest soup. Down at the bottom of the
ocean crawled the sea-cucumber, a slow creature, with a trans-
parent body, and pretty, feathery tentacles, like plumes, waving
about the mouth, to draw in food. Even the cucumber was
not safe from the sharp Chinese eyes. Whirr! a prong was
hurled through the water, striking the poor thing with unerr-
ing aim, and up came the cucumber to the surface, to be
28 The Catskill Fairies.
packed as the 'trepang' of commerce. If we hide in the
deepest waters, we do not escape; nothing is safe from man.
I left my home one day, with a sudden jerk, just as the tre-
pang did. The mollusk soon died, out of the sea, even as you
would die if your head was held under water. I was left, be-
ing only a shell, and since then I have been a great traveller.
Your mother brought me here in a box. First I was carried
off by a sailor as a gift for his sweetheart at home; yet I never
saw the -sweetheart, for the cabin-boy stole me long before we
reached port. The cabin-boy treated me very ill: he traded
me for a gay neck-tie, when I would have really brought him
money if sold for a cabinet. Silly fellow! Then we sailed up
north; I could tell you all about the cold countries."
It is cold enough here," yawned the Angora cat.
I changed owners half-a-dozen times among sailors. We
were in the Baltic Sea, and I had been left on deck careless-
ly, when a gull came swooping down on me, made bold by
"' You are as tough as a Tartar,' said the gull, pecking at
me to judge if I was good to eat.
"' What is a Tartar?' I inquired.
"' Don't be tiresome,' said the gull, pettishly. My grand-
father knows everything: ask him.' Then it flew away. I
was glad to have the ship lurch just then, and roll me against
the bulwark out of sight. Presently the gull returned, hopping
along cautiously in the hope of stealing a morsel.
"' Where is your grandfather ?' I asked.
"'Holloa! Are you still there, Mr. Shell?' cried the gull,
cocking its head over its shoulder.
Grandfather Gull. 29
"' I will make a bargain with you,' I said. If you carry me
to your grandfather, I can tell you where to find food.'
"' But you are so heavy,' he objected.
S"' But you are so hungry,' I said, quietly.
"' I know it,' groaned the gull. I will try to find the old
Then it flew away again, returning with the grandfather gull,
and I kept my word by showing the birds where they could
obtain food near the cook's galley. The old gull said he did
not know what the young one meant about Tartars, but he
would tell me a story, if I would excuse his standing on one
leg while speaking, for he had the gout badly in his right
claw. He told me the following tale.
30 The Catskill Fairies.
HOW BORN DISCOVERED AMfERICA.
"'THE Northern nations were a roving people long before
their existence was known in Southern Europe. The Goths
crossed the Baltic Sea in three ships, to grow into a mighty
race capable of subduing Rome; the Swedes were rulers on
the ocean, strong in arms and numbers; the Danes boldly
attacked the English coast, and, after being held in check by
Alfred the Great, established four Danish princes on the
throne. A Scandinavian king ruled in Dublin; early con-
quests were made of the Shetland Isles and the Hebrides;
Scotland was visited by them, when Duncan defeated the in-
vaders, the Scots being commanded by Macbeth and Banquo.
"' The country was too small for all the families to be fed and
lodged, so it was agreed that a certain number of children to
each household should go abroad in search of a living. There
were too many birds in the home nest. The father drove out
his sons when they grew to manhood-except the eldest son,
who was heir to the estate. The sea-kings, or vikings, spread
their sails to discover new lands. Naddod, a Norwegian pirate,
saw one day a dreary looking country, which he named Snow-
land; then Gardar Svarfarson, a Swede, found that it was an
island, and called it Iceland instead, because of its forbidding
aspect. His companions liked the island, and a Norwegian
Jarl took refuge there, founding a colony.
Biorn's Stormy Voyage. 3
"' Then the sea-kings sailed on, and other shores were found
in the Western Atlantic. In the year 982 a Jarl of Norway
went to Iceland, with his son Eric the Red, and Eric left Ice-
land to roam still farther to the south-west, where he espied a
country which he named Greenland, and made his home at
Eric's Fiord. Heriolf, one of these early colonists, was a trader,
sailing from place to place in partnership with his son Biorn.
"' Now we shall hear! Biorn, who was a sort of salt-water
pedler, had agreed to meet his father at a certain spot, but
missed him on the open ocean. Lo! a terrible gale arose,
driving Biorn's vessel like a feather before the wind. The
little craft bounded lightly over the heaving billows, through
sleet and foam-sent far away from the shelter of Greenland,
until the sailors expected that her prow would touch the end
of the world. At last they saw land, a wide region, thick-
-d. It Li a ori irn cape
-f th- Gulf St. L i e:n s ..-
.. hat do you suppose this stupid
32 The Catskill Fairies.
Biorn did? He just drifted around the promontory, looked
at it, and, without setting foot on the shore, spread his sails
before a fresh west wind, the storm having abated, and re-
turned to Greenland, where he found his father Heriolf safely
"'That is the way Biorn discovered America, quite ignorant
that he was the first European to touch the strand of a won-
derful New World. This happened long before Christopher
Columbus saw the tropical palm-trees and crystal waters of
the West Indies. Biorn went back, and told the story at least.
Eief, a son of Eric the Red, set sail with thirty-five men, reach-
ed the American coast, and steered along it until he found an
inviting anchorage. The region was delightful: fruits and
berries were ripe, and there was salmon in the river. The
Northmen landed, built huts, and called the spot Vinland,
because of the quantities of grapes they found. Lief spent
a winter in Vinland, then sold his vessel to his brother Thor-
wald in the spring, who stayed another year, exploring the
land. The natives came in canoes to oppose him, and Thor-
wald was killed. The other Northmen remained a third win-
ter. The natives were like the Esquimaux, already' known in
"'In 100oo7 a rich Greenlander, Thorfin, emigrated to Vinland
with sixty followers and his wife Gudrida. The ships carried
all kinds of animals and food. Gudrida was the first Euro-
pean woman to see the New World, and her son Snorro, born
at Vinland, was the first child of foreign parents in America.
Thorfin's expedition prospered. The native tribes came in
great numbers to trade in furs, yet Thorfin went home again.
Puss and the Mouse. 33
"'At the mouth of the St. Lawrence traces of these early
settlers have been found. The savages there were different
in aspect, and they knew the cross when the Jesuit mis-
sionaries showed it to them.'
I have told you the truth, whatever else you may hear to-
night," concluded the shell.
"So did I tell the truth," said the clock. I don't know
what the cat may do."
Speak for yourself, then," said Puss, quite in a huff. I
have had no chance to tell my story yet, if you please; and it
seems to me that both of you are fond of hearing yourselves
A little mouse had crept out of its hole; the cat pounced on
it like a flash.
"I can't imagine why you like those mice," said the clock.
" It makes me tremble in all my wood-work only to see one,
they have such frightfully sharp teeth, and gnaw such dreadful
The Angora cat was terribly excited; her eyes were large,
her whiskers bristled, and she held the poor little mouse be-
tween her paws. One could see how much she was like those
great relations of hers, the tiger and lion, when they gloat over
What have you got to say for yourself," growled Kitty.
Mercy!" squeaked the little mouse, rolling its eyes towards
Let Mousey go. You have had your supper," said Job.
Ask me nicely, mouse, and perhaps I will," said the wicked
cat, enjoying the fright of her captive.
34 The Catskill Fairies.
So the little mouse sat on its hind-legs, and crossed its fore-
I am very young to die. I ran away from the nest behind
the beam of the cellar just to see life. Oh! please don't look
at me like that!" it said faintly.
I will not eat you if you tell a story," said Puss.
Oh, dear!" piped the little mouse. How can I tell a
story? I have no ideas, and I have never been even to a
mouse school yet. I am really a baby. To be sure, we have
gnawed a great many books and papers; still we do not read
the print-we only make nests."
Do you stay in the corner of the hearth and think of a
story," said the cat. If you try to run away I will eat you
in one mouthful. There! I don't mind your being a baby
mouse at all; your bones will be all the more tender on that
So the little mouse had to sit in the corner, and make the
best of it. When the cat looked at it, the mouse closed its
eyes, pretending to nap, for it wished to appear very much at
ease, but it trembled in every limb for dread of those terrible
jaws and gleaming eyes.
It was now the cat's turn to tell a story.
Puss begins a Story. 35
ONE OF A CAT'S LIVES.
I KNOW very well that I was born in a palace-that is, a
palace in comparison with this cottage," said the Angora cat,
stretching herself comfortably on the warm hearthstone.
What was it like ?" asked Job, glancing around the kitchen.
"Well, it must have been a palace, because there was a
lawn and a park, with winding avenues and flowers. Then
the house was beautiful, large, and spacious, with soft carpets
and velvet cushions. The old lady who lived there owned
twenty cats, and people said she was crazy on the subject of
pets. The cats had an easy life. Each morning a servant
bathed the Angora family, combed our fur, and tied a fresh
ribbon about our necks. How much we were caressed! One
day I was taken to the drawing-room for some visitors to ad-
mire my flossy coat, when I saw an ugly face peering in at
the window, and I hid beneath the dress of my mistress. The
butler told the beggar to go away. I'm hungry,' said the
man. Now I had never been hungry in my life. After the
visitors left I curled myself up for a nap on the best em-
broidered cushion. Two dirty hands seized me, the ugly face
peered in the window again, and I was hurried away, hidden
from sight beneath the beggar's ragged coat. In vain I
struggled; he held me firmly until we had crossed the road
behind a hedge, and he took me out to shake me angrily.
36 The Catskill Fairies.
"' You are always fed, if the children do starve,' he muttered,
He did not kill me, though I was half dead with fright by
the time he reached the miserable hovel where he lived. The
children were hungry, but I was made to rob them of their
scanty portion of milk, because I was to be taken to town and
sold for my beauty.
Fortunately some dear, kind ladies bought me, paying the
man a good price, and I hope that he took the money to the
Wherever the ladies went on their travels, I was carried in
a basket, and people were warned not to hurt Kitty. At this
strangers smiled, but they were all good to me. We crossed
the ocean in a large steamship, and in the summer we came
up to these mountains. When parties rambled in the woods
I was allowed to go, for there were too many children in the
hotel for my comfort. They play strange pranks with the
most superior cats. When the ladies had a picnic I was at-
tracted by a bird that hopped near in search of crumbs. I
gave chase, the bird flew away, and when the people called
me I hid behind a rock. I was tired of being petted, so I de-
cided to become a hunter, searching for my own food in the
woods. This served very well until the frost came. Then you
found me, Job. I made a great many acquaintances in the
woods during my rambles, as you will presently see."
Crickets and grasshoppers ?" said Job.
No such thing," replied the Angora cat. Here they are!"
Job could scarcely believe that he was still in his senses,
for in a moment the place was full of Fairies. The wee
The Fairies Arrive. 37
people came through the keyhole, down the chimney, and
forth from the blazing logs of the fire, with a soft rustle of
wings and a murmur of tiny voices that sounded like the pat-
ter of rain-drops among forest leaves. The boy winked sev-
eral times to make sure he was awake.
At first these visitors looked all alike : their pinions were
spangled like those of a butterfly, and their little forms twin-
kled and hovered about in restless motion; but by degrees they
settled down like fallen blossoms, some on the hearth, others
on the chimney-piece, and two perched on the sea-shell. The
little mouse moved an inch to run; Puss clapped a paw on it.
Then the Fairies formed a ring around the animal by joining
hands, and danced to their own music. The mouse shivered
with terror; but by degrees it grew brighter, and began to
dance also, hopping on one hind-leg, and nodding its head in
time to the song. That was a droll sight!
Job now saw that the Fairies on the hearth were very plump
and pretty. They wore little petticoats of red rose-leaves, while
their caps and aprons were made from the white rose's petals.
I am Queen Puff, and we come from the Lowlands," said
one, nodding to Job. You must excuse us if we keep on
with our work while we pay our visit, because we are busy
housewives. Besides, this is Christmas-eve."
With that two of her maidens brought her spinning-wheel
to Queen Puff, and then all her court took their knitting.
Such a spinning-wheel as that was! The frame was a rose-
thorn, the wheel made of horse-hair, and the distaff wrapped
in a tangle of cobweb, which the Queen spun off in fine silk
38 The Catskill Fairies.
What is it for ?" asked Job.
These threads make children's dreams," replied Puff. Of
course there must be a great supply of dream-thread on Christ-
mas-eve for the children of America alone."
Another group was clustered on the handle of the tongs.
These were clad in pale satin.
We are the Fairies of the Mountain Laurel," they said.
" You will find us in June on the overhanging banks, where
the ferns and mosses drape the rocks, and the rivulets flow
down hill. Then we live in our lovely pink houses; but when
our flowers fade we hide beneath the leaves."
I know you right well, and how glad I am to see you in
the spring," said Job.
On the window-sill, where Jack Frost had made the panes
like ground glass, a number of delicate forms rested, their robes
of snow-flakes, and their helmets of gleaming ice.
We are the Winter Fairies, and dare not approach the fire,"
they murmured. We live in marble palaces made by our
king, and there are no jewels so splendid as the icicles with
which we hang our halls."
We are the Summer Fairies," said a race that had sprung
from the burning log. They were so radiant that one could
not look at them long; they changed in hue from emerald
green to red and purple, and the flame shone through them.
The Summer Fairies were as unlike Queen Puff's court as
possible, for their faces were brown, their hair dark like the
Where is the Fairy of the Waterfall ?" inquired the cat.
" She was to bring Job's gift."
The Fairy Pedler. 39
Winter has made her a prisoner; but she will beg leave to
come, if the king is in a good-humor. Sometimes he melts."
These are friends I made in the woods last summer," said
the Angora, proudly.
Just then a queer little form dashed down the chimney, up-
set Queen Puff's spinning-wheel, and flew into the cat's face as
a beetle blunders into the candle-flame.
Gracious! I hope that I'm not late," said the new-comer.
Where are your manners ?" cried Queen Puff, putting her
Beg your pardon, ma'am. I was in a hurry to see Job."
40 The Catskill Fairies.
Then he winked at our hero, and began to laugh. This was
Fairy Nip from the Berkshire Hills across the river, and his
garments were made entirely of pumpkin-blossom cloth. He
carried on his back a pack-for he was a fairy pedler-which
he unstrapped and opened.
Perhaps I may have something to please you, ladies. Here
is the latest thing in jackets-fly-wings trimmed with dandelion
down; the effect is quite as good as real lace. My jewelry is
cheap; this set of spider's eggs, necklace, bracelet, and ear-
drops, I will sell for a mere song. Want any patent medi-
cines? Try the Mountain-dew Tonic to make lazy people
work, or the Strawberry-seed Cordial for the appetite. As
to cosmetics, I can make the plainest fairy beautiful in five
seconds by using this Bee Powder."
The Fairies were very much excited; they crowded around'
the tiny pedler, who sold his wares like wildfire. Queen Puff
left her spinning-wheel, and the Winter Fairies ran great risk*
of melting because they must peep at the pretty things. The
Summer Fairies showed the greatest fondness for finery, as
they were Indians. They bought mantles of scarlet poppy,
and strutted about to be admired; while of the spider-egg
chains they could not get enough.
When Nip had emptied his pack, he cut a caper, winked
again at Job, and climbed on the mouse's back, which was
a soft, velvet couch. The mouse looked like an elephant to
The Sprite of the Mountain Laurel began to speak:
There are fairies in the New World just as much as in
the Old, and it is time we should be known. Surely nature
The New World Fairy Homes. 41
has given us quite as beautiful homes as those of our sisters
across the seas; we can hold revels in the heart of forests
where man seldom comes; we may wrap ourselves in the
rainbow mist of the waterfall; and if we wish to live in water
mansions, there are plenty of majestic rivers. What sprite
could desire a more beautiful home than our dear Hudson
yonder ? People are stupid, and will not see us."
They are too busy, I guess," said Nip. Many a time a
farmer has all but crushed me beneath his foot in my beauti-
ful yellow coat, or I have peeped out of a flower-cup under the
very nose of a man who was too busy thinking about money-
making to see either the flower or Nip. These are the sort
of people who tell the world that there are no fairies."
The Laurel Queen said she had a story to tell.
42 The Catskill Fairies.
THE OAK- TREE SPRITE.
"AT the foot of these mountains an oak-tree once waved
its long branches, and towered above the grass bank which
sloped away to the brink of a little brook. The brook sang
sweet songs to itself all day long, as it rippled about large
rocks, then flowed smoothly among rushes and marsh flowers.
The birds trilled delicious music overhead; but the oak-tree
had no ear for music, although it had lived beside the brook
for years, and might certainly have learned something from
association by this time.
"' The summer breeze rustles among my leaves, and the
winter storms clash my branches together,' said the tree. 'Is
not that enough noise ?'
"' That amounts to just nothing at all,' replied the brook,
the sunshine dimpling its surface with golden sparkles as it
hurried on to swell the broad Hudson, and roll still further
onward to the sea.
At last something happened. A lamp burned all night in
the poor cottage; the Doctor came with his medicine-box, and
the parents hovered anxiously about the cradle. When morn-
ing dawned the house had grown still, for in the early hours;
before the sun brought returning warmth and brightness to
the glad earth, a little soul had risen on snowy wings to the
gates of heaven-the child was dead.
The Fairy Carpet-Bag. 43
Then the father made a tiny grave beneath the oak-tree's
shade, and flowers soon bloomed, tended by loving, careful
One morning a tall poppy shot up, the
petals unfolded, and from this little red -
house out stepped a sprite dressed in the
oak-tree's livery of green. You might t l -"r
easily have mistaken him for a grasshop-
per or a locust at a short distance. In
his hand he carried a carpet-bag, stitched "
together neatly out of bits of oak-leaf, and -
on his head he wore the small end of an
acorn, fashioned into a cap. Altogether I/.'
the sprite had a very brisk manner, and '
as he came out of the poppy mansion he
gave it a kick, very ungratefully.
"' I am just born, and I belong to you,' .
he said, making a low bow to the oak-tree.
"The tree was delighted with the little
"' Shelter yourself in my trunk from the cold, and dance
among my leaves,' it said, cordially.
"' What am I to do for you in return ?' asked the sprite.
"' You will be my voice,' replied the tree. 'The birds shall
teach you to sing.'
"'Capital!' laughed the sprite. I will hang up my carpet-
bag in a safe corner; I must take good care of that, whatever
"'Why?' inquired the oak-tree, much interested.
44 The Catskill Fairies.
"' Because it is a fairy gift.'
"' A fairy carpet-bag-eh ?' and the tree chuckled.
The sprite was charmed with the fresh, beautiful world into
which he had been born. He roamed all over the great oak-
tree, which was a long distance for him to travel, and he was
never lonely, as he found no end of delightful society. There
were the ants and spiders to chat with about their own affairs,
and the stupid caterpillars to poke, for the sprite loved his
pranks as well as older children.
"The oak-tree had very sensible ideas about education;
the sprite must not play all the while.
Soon the news spread that the oak-tree wished to have its
sprite instructed, and all the creatures came flocking to dis-
cuss the matter, as the tree was a general favorite.
"' I can teach the sprite to growl,' said the black bear.
"' Thanks !' said the tree. He is such a tiny fellow it does
not seem necessary that he should do anything besides laugh.'
"' I can teach him to burrow in the ground, or to steal
chickens,' said a little fox.
"' I can teach him to swim,' croaked a frog.
"'And I to dive below the surface,' added a water-rat.
Now came the beautiful birds, fluttering in a bright cloud
to perch on the branches, ruffling their soft feathers, cocking
their pretty heads about as they hopped jauntily from twig to
twig. The sprite stroked the birds with his little hands, and
they chirped gayly.
"' The oak-tree has sheltered us so often that we will gladly
render a service,' said a swallow.
"' Dear little birds! teach me to sing,' begged the sprite.
The Birds give a Music-Lesson. 45
"' Yes, certainly,' replied a robin. We must begin at once,
and give you some notes to practice while we are off hunting
our breakfast. Listen to me -tra-la-la !'
The other birds set up a clamor before the sprite could re-
peat the notes which had swelled pure and sweet from the
robin's tiny throat.
"'The robin is no singer,' piped a saucy wren.
"' I will show you the way to use your chest notes,' said the
"' Bob-o-link bob-o-link !'
"' Peet-tweet !'
"' Chip, chip, chee !'
"' The loudest voice is the best,' screamed a handsome crow.
The oak-tree plainly saw that the sprite would be unable
to make anything out of all this noise, so it shook its trunk so
violently that the birds had to take wing, or tumble to the
"' One at a time, if you please,' said the tree, politely. The
sprite is so young that he is easily confused.'
Then each bird hopped out and sang a song.
"'All the songs are so sweet that I like one as well as the
other,' said the wise and prudent sprite.
"The birds were offended-each wished to have its song
preferred to that of the rest; so they all flew away as sud-
denly as they came, leaving the sprite to repeat, Caw, caw,
peet-tweet, bob-o-link,' quite out of tune, because his head was
giddy after the lesson.
One day the sprite noticed a different music. There had
46 The Catskill Fairies.
been a storm, and the brook, swollen by mountain torrents,
rushed along noisily, instead of rippling calmly, and the break
of the waters seemed to the sprite the finest melody he had
ever heard. Day by day he listened as the flood gradually
subsided, and quietly sang to himself as the brook sang.
This delighted the oak-tree beyond measure.
"' Now we have music in ourselves,' said the tree, joyously.
' We shall always be happy.'
The tree spoke too soon. Ever since its roots had struck
into the soil it had stood there on the bank, and it naturally
supposed that matters would never be changed.
Dull blows were heard, and many stately trees toppled over
to the ground.
"' What is it?' said the sprite, pausing in his play.
"'The wood-cutters,' said the oak-tree, trembling with fear.
' You will have no home, little sprite, if they fell me.'
"The sprite ran quickly, and hung his magic carpet -bag
around his neck. Soon a party of wood-cutters approached,
with their sharp axes over their shoulders, and they paused
before our oak-tree because it was the finest they had seen.
They girdled the brave trunk, and then began their work,
each stroke of the cruel steel cutting deeper into the heart
of the wood, as well as the heart of the sprite, who wept as he
clung to the branch from which he must soon be torn. A
shudder of all the leaves, a slow rocking from side to side, and
the oak sank down upon the green bank never to rise again.
The sprite, with his bag about his neck, which made him
invisible, sorrowfully watched the men at their labor, while they
stripped the boughs, and cut the trunk into logs, so that there
7The Sprite Clings to the Oak. 47
was nothing left but a pile of wood. When they moved these
logs, the sprite took his carpet-bag in his hand and trudged
after. He decided never to leave his dear tree while a stick of
it remained. One of the wood-cutters saw the little man, who
was visible when he took his bag in his hand like a traveller.
"'Halloo! is that a grasshopper?' cried the man.
"Instantly the sprite jumped into the grass, and hung the
bag around his neck again. From the lumber-yard to the
mill, where sharp saws smoothed and polished the logs, did
the sprite follow the tree, and at last they reached the shore,
where the firm, stout oak was to build a ship. The sprite saw
a great deal of the world in those busy places, and learned
more than the brook or the birds could ever have taught
48 The Catskill Fairies.
"' I was only a baby then,' he thought. Now I must be
He roamed everywhere while the ship was building, with
the magic bag to protect him. He crept into the old fruit-
vender's pocket and spilled her snuff; he peeped into the tin
pails which the children brought for their fathers at noon; and
he clambered about the workmen whose hammers kept time
on the ship's sides-rat-a-tat-tat.
At last the vessel was finished, and the people gathered to
see her launched. The sprite was on board before any one
else, however, and perched on the bow when the ship slid
gracefully down into the water. There was nothing for the
sprite but to become a sailor, now that the dear oak-tree was
prepared to follow the sea. He enjoyed himself beyond meas-
ure, and he was soon at home in every nook except the medi-
cine-chest. Down in the hold he met the rats, and they were
sharp fellows enough.
"' Ha, ha!' laughed the rats. 'We like new ships, too, so
we just skipped on board when all was ready.'
Life on board Ship. 49
"Some of the rats had already made voyages, and these
called themselves 'Jolly Tars,' and other funny names. They
told the sprite what to do in case of shipwreck; nor did their
good services end in mere empty advice, for they brought him
any dainty in the ship's stores which their sharp noses could
be poked into, and thus he fared very well.
"When tired of the rat company he went to the captain's
cabin, where a lamp swung all night, and the table had its legs
chained to the floor, to keep it from running away in rough
weather. Here he found a respectable old cat, that told him
there were no rats on board, as it was a new ship, therefore
she need do nothing but doze on a rug all day. The sprite
laughed in his sleeve, for the cat was so old that her whiskers
were gray, and she disliked springing about after the nimble rats.
"The captain was a kind-hearted man, and never inflicted
suffering on his crew. The mate was harsh and stern, using
the rope's-end or his heavy boot, whenever the captain was
out of sight, to vent his ill-humor. The sprite tormented the
wicked mate, and the rats helped him. The sprite stuck pins
into him, pulled his hair, tweaked his nose, tripped him up on
the deck, and tied him in the chair with fine threads, until the
mate feared that he was bewitched.
The little cabin-boy was homesick. He had run away,
without the consent of his parents, because he fancied that he
should like the sea. Now he discovered how sadly mistaken
he had been. He must work hard and receive many blows
from the surly mate.
Our sprite pitied the cabin-boy, and when he slept at night
in the close forecastle, the elf took off the top of the little lad's
50 The Catskill Fairies.
head, as you would raise the lid of a tea-pot, and wove dream-
pictures in the sleeper's brain. Then the sprite, after stocking
thought with bright-colored ideas enough to last through the
next day, just closed the lid of the boy's head, and marched
off about other business. By this means the cabin-boy grew
happy, and whistled as he worked.
The ship sailed on, miles and miles, into warm latitudes,
where the soft breeze grew fragrant with the breath of flowers,
and the sea gleamed rosy and green at night like sparkling
showers of diamonds. Land could be seen in the distance,
looming like a faint cloud on the horizon.
"'What a beautiful world!' said the sprite, climbing the
rigging to admire the clear sky and tranquil water. That
is the shore over yonder, and soon we shall see strange roofs
and towers, the narrow streets built to shade the people from
a hot sun. The rats told me, and they know.'
The sprite was not as near the curious towns as he thought,
for soon he noticed a cloud rising rapidly, and spreading dark
masses over the whole heavens. The sprite scampered down
from the rigging as the tempest came rushing along, heaping
up the waves into mountains, and washing over the deck. The
surly mate was hurled from the bulwark far out into the heav-
ing waters, and no one heard his death-cry, while the ship
plunged and swayed helplessly from side to side.
The sprite was terrified; he cowered down in the hold,
and the rats nestled close to him, for they had lost their fine
spirits, too. Suddenly a grinding crash announced that the
vessel had struck on a reef, and was at the mercy of the
Tossed up by the Sea. 51
"' Every one for himself,' cried the sprite, catching a splinter
of wood for a float, and throwing himself overboard. This
was what the rats advised in case of wreck, but not one of
them succeeded in reaching shore. The waves bore our hero
along safely-he was as light as a feather on his oak float;
and finally he was tossed up on the shore more dead than
alive, as a shipwrecked mariner always is, whether sprite or
When the sun rose next morning the brave ship was gone,
and all the crew had perished. A little sprite and a bit of
wood alone remained.
"' Ah, if we were only rooted in our home beside the brook,'
sighed the bit of wood.
"' Are you my tree ?' cried the sprite.
"' Yes; I have brought you to land, and now you must give
me a decent burial on this foreign shore,' said the last splinter
of the once grand tree.
So the sprite found a spot high above the waves, and com-
menced to dig a grave with his tiny hands; but he got along
"' I have no patience with such clumsiness !' said a Mother
Carey's chicken that happened to be strolling past. Then the
bird would have helped to make the grave by scraping the
sand with its claws.
"'No, no!' cried the sprite. I must bury my own tree
"The bit of wood was dragged to the hole, and a pebble
placed as a head-stone to mark the spot.
"'The oak-tree is dead,' sobbed the sprite over the grave.
52 The Catskill Fairies.
"' That can't be helped,' said Mother Carey's chicken, peck-
ing at the carpet-bag, which the sprite had laid out to dry.
The sprite put it around his neck, and disappeared before the
bird's round eyes; then appeared again, laughing; until Mother
Carey's chicken did not know what to make of it all. They
got along well together, however, as the sprite had a cosy way
which won friends.
"' What part of the world is this ?' he inquired.
"'World ? If you ask such hard questions I must take you
to the mussels. They know all sorts of things, which are
brought them by the tide. I have no time for such nonsense,
as I have my living to get.'
They went to the mussels on a steep cliff jutting out into
the sea, where the waves were running so high that when the
mussels opened their mouths to answer the sprite they only
seemed to gurgle instead of speak.
"' What do they say?' asked the sprite.
"'They say that you are a great way from your home,' re-
plied the bird, as he could understand the mussel language
much better than the sprite could.
Mischievous Nzi. 53
The friendly chicken brought the sprite all sorts of things
to eat, such as made his own supper, but the delicate stranger
could not touch the food.
"' I will call on you in the morning again.' With that the
bird flew away.
The last prank the sprite ever played was to try on the
magic carpet-bag before the amazed Petrel. When the bird
returned at sunrise, an oak-leaf lay on the grave of the tree,
and the sprite had faded from life."
When the Laurel Queen ceased speaking, some of her fairy
audience clapped their hands politely.
Poor little sprite," said Job.
"I knew the oak-tree well," said a Winter Fairy. How
many times we hung its branches with icicles. It was years
ago, to be sure-but fairies never grow old; the children who
believe in us become men and women, and forget us. We are
always the same."
Will somebody please make Nip behave ?" asked the clock,
in an injured tone. I know that he is trying to make mis-
chief with my works by the way he spies through the keyhole
of my case. If he pokes me I shall run down, or come to a
dead-lock in my machinery, and that has never yet happened
Nip, who had been capering around the kitchen while the
Laurel Queen told her story, now assumed the most innocent
Dear me, how touchy you are, Clock! I was only trying
to see how you were made. Perhaps I shall invent a time-
54 The Catskill Fairies.
piece myself one of these fine days. It's not uncommon where
I come from," he said.
If you don't go away I shall strike, and that will put me
out of order. Be off with you!" said the clock.
Come here, Nip," coaxed Job, holding out his hand. So
Nip flew up and sat in the palm of Job's hand, crossing his
legs like a Turk. If Job closed his fingers gently over the
saucy elf, he seemed to hold a velvet insect.
The little mouse still crouched in the corner, not daring
to say its body was its own while the Angora cat's eye was
fixed on it.
It is my turn to tell a story," said one of the Summer
Fairies, walking up and down the hearth, wrapped in the red
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"i t ... i .. I ;' ,
'' tei .. ...,
The Elfin Banquet.' 57
RAPP, THE GNOME KING.
MANY years ago, before the white race came to live on the
banks of our Hudson, a certain Elf King decided to give a tea-
party on one of these very mountains, and to invite a great
prince. He chose a peak over yonder. Do you see the high
hill on the right now covered with snow ? Well, there the Elf
gave his banquet.
Now the guest was no less a person than Rapp, King of
the Gnomes; and if you never heard of him before, it is quite
time he was made known to you. In the first place, he was a
dwarf, with green eyes, a red nose, yellow hair of spun gold,
and a face of copper. His kingdom was in the depths of the
earth; sometimes he lived in the Rocky Mountains, and again
in the Andes. He did not mind stepping from one continent
to the other in the least. The volcanic fires such as burst
forth from the summits of Vesuvius and Etna were fed by his
subjects, and his domain extended over the rocks which are
richly veined with gold and silver.
When Rapp felt ill-humored he liked to bury himself in
some remote cavern, and the earth then rumbled with his
anger; but he also enjoyed appearing in the upper world oc-
casionally, to see what every one was about. He graciously
accepted the Elf's invitation to tea. The clever Elf people had
been very busy with the mountain-peak to make it elegant for
58 The Catskill Fairies.
that day. They smoothed the rough, sharply pointed rocks
into slender pillars draped in vines; a fountain gushed in spark-
ling jets of spray, and a carpet of velvet moss sloped from the
brink of the fountain, fit for the dainty feet about to trip over
it. A grotto of pure crystal reflected the light in a thousand
glittering pendants, so that it resembled transparent ice. In
this grotto was spread a feast of delicious fruits-golden or-
anges, ruddy apples and pears in silver vases, crimson peach-
es, and pyramids of amber honey.
"' I hope everything is in order,' said the Elf King. He was
very small, but he wore a red smoking-cap on his head, and
slippers on his feet, crochetted by the Queen out of milkweed
flax. He wished to appear at his ease before the great Rapp,
yet he was terribly flustered for fear of a blunder being made
in the entertainment. The Queen was pretty and delicate; her
apron had for pockets two wings of the lady-bug.
"' Let us dance,' cried the young elves.
"' Not yet,' piped the King. Rapp will be here very soon,
and you must be ready to make your best bow or courtesy.'
The little Elf ladies spread their gauzy skirts, and bowed
low as Rapp and his Gnomes appeared. Rapp, being in a very
good-humor, winked at them, and one cannot expect more no-
tice than that from a prince.
It was droll to see the Elf King and Queen seated opposite
to him at table, he was so much larger than they were. The
Elf waiters were obliged to climb silk ladders, which they did
as nimbly as spiders.
Rapp was full of his jokes; he told stories at which the
merry elves laughed, like the tinkle of bells, and then he rolled
In the Charmed Circle. 59
a peach across the board, which knocked the Elf King off his
"A child's voice was heard to join in the mirth this oc-
casioned. Yes, it was a human voice, just beyond the bushes.
The elves looked at each other in dismay; Rapp became ter-
ribly enraged: his copper face glowed with wrath, his gold
hair bristled on end like gilded spikes, and his green eyes
"' What mortal is here ?' he cried.
Then a little girl crept out of the ferns, and stood trem-
bling before him. She had entered a charmed circle without
knowing it, and had since watched the elves. She was not
like the little girls one sees here now. Her skin was bronze
in color, her hair hung down her back straight and black, her
feet were shod in moccasins. You only find children like her
in the far West-she was an Indian.
"'Why do you disturb our feast, child of man?' asked
Rapp, very fiercely. I have only to strike the earth, and my
servants will carry you away to my palace underground for a
The child began to cry at this threat, and the elves caught
her tears to sprinkle them over the Gnome King's hands, and
thus try to soften his heart, which was in reality made of iron.
"' This is my kingdom,' said the Elf King, with dignity.
'You are my guest, King Rapp. The little girl shall not be
Tell us your story,' said the Queen, kindly.
A story! a story!' cried the elves, clustering about the
stranger, while Rapp leaned back in his seat, and shut one eye.
60 The Catskill Fairies.
Then the Indian girl told them all about her life. She
lived with her tribe down in the valley. Her father had been
killed in the chase, and her mother also was dead, so she stayed
in the wigwam with her grandmother on the edge of the wood.
The chief did not like the hunter's children; he took away the
boys to train them for warriors, and he frowned at the girl, so
that the old grandmother hid her when the chief stalked past,
his feathers and war-paint giving him a savage appearance.
Perhaps he did not like the children because their father had
been called Big Chief. The old grandmother gathered herbs
and simples; she was called to the sick as often as the medi-
The brothers rode off to earn their first scalp, as they
could not be considered heroes until they had killed an enemy;
and one day the girl sat weaving her mat in the door of the
wigwam, for the Indian women are very industrious. The old
grandmother came quickly.
"' Run to the forest,' she whispered. The chief is in a
bad humor, and, now your brothers are gone, he sends for
The girl was in a great fright, the chief was so cruel, and
she ran to the forest without once glancing back. Soon she
was lost in the cool, green twilight made by the lofty trees;
here and there the sunshine shot golden arrows down on her
path, revealing mossy nooks where she discovered berries, ripe
and dewy, among tangled vines. The flutter of a bird rising
from its nest or the crackling of a branch made her heart
jump, so much did she dread seeing one of her own people.
If one had met her he must carry her back to the chief, or
The Magic Pool. 61
1, 2, ,,,
perhaps suffer death himself. She climbed the mountain to
get farther away, her only thought being flight. At last she
reached a pool of clear water, high on the mountain-side, where
his highness Rapp was taking tea, and she stooped to bathe
her face. No sooner had the crystal drops sprinkled her fore-
head than she sank down on a bed of grass fast asleep. Then
the ferns spread their delicate sprays over her, and screened
her from sight. She never knew how long her nap might have
been had not Rapp's gruff voice aroused her to peep through
the foliage at the tea-party in the grotto.
The little people were interested in the girl's misfortunes.
Rapp pretended not to notice., ca ies, but he really
meant to assist her.
"hiGo down to my win ter alacen' he said to a favorite
been had not Rapp's gruff voice aroused her to peep through
the foliage at the tea-party in the grotto.
The little people were interested in the girl's misfortunes.
Rapp pretended not to notice, and caught flies, but he really
meant to assist her.
Go down to my winter palace,' he said to a favorite
62 The Catskill Fairies.
Gnome servant, 'and in my dressing room you will find a
winged jacket. Bring it to me.'
The Gnome servant bowed low, and dived into the earth
as a bather dips in the ocean wave. Presently he returned
with the winged jacket, which the girl put on.
"' Now listen to me,' said King Rapp. 'You can fly like a
bird in that jacket. If you wish to come into my presence at
any time, you have only to clap the wings thrice, like Chanti-
cleer before crowing, and you will be met by a Gnome, who
will conduct you to my kingdom. You must go to my cham-
ber, and knock on the steel shield at the head of my bed.
Wherever I may be I will answer the summons.'
The Indian girl thanked the terrible Rapp, and dried her
tears. Then the tiny Elf Queen gave her her apron, which
grew larger and seemed made of the finest silk.
"' Whatever article you desire can be had, if you wish with
your hand in your pocket,' she said.
Now the Elf King did not choose to be considered behind
the others in kindness, so he took off his slippers, and placed
them on the child's feet, which they fitted perfectly.
"'The Queen can make me another pair,' he said, capering
about barefooted. You can run miles in those shoes without
feeling weary, and the best of it is that they will carry you
over the water dryshod.'
The Indian bid them all farewell, and stepped outside the
enchanted circle. Instantly the grotto, the murmuring fount-
ain, the flower-carpet vanished.
The sun had set, and dark shadows spread along the forest
paths as the girl hastened home. She would creep into the
A Strange Apparition. 63
grandmother's wigwam in the darkness, and tell her of the
fairy gifts she had received. The cruel chief need not be
feared when she was the owner of a winged jacket and the elf
slippers. If the grandmother thought best, she would go away in
the morning, and find another tribe that would treat her kindly.
When she reached the valley where the Indian settlement
was situated it was already night, and so dark that she could
not find her wigwam, while she feared to arouse the sleeping
natives. Down on the river-bank she saw little lights, bright
stars that twinkled, some moving on the water, and others re-
maining still on the land. This sight puzzled her, and she
dreaded to approach near enough to learn what they actually
were. While she was wondering, a great boat passed down
the river, sparkling all over with colored flame which did not
burn, and it panted as it moved like some monster breathing
64 The Catskill Fairies.
heavily. It was as large as one hundred canoes put together.
The girl held her head in both hands, and crouched down on
More wonderful still! On the other side of the river an-
other terrible creature moved quickly along, with a grinding,
jarring sound. This one was like a serpent, with links to its
body, and it glided over a shining track. The water-demon
only puffed as it moved, this other one uttered a shriek that
startled all the echoes. The Indian girl hid her face on the
bank. She had seen a steamboat and a train of cars.
"These strange sights decided her not to go beyond the
edge of the woods until daylight. So she wished for a tent
in which to pass the night by putting her hand into the apron
pocket. A tent immediately sprang up in the ravine, and
when she had entered it she began to feel hungry.
"' I should like a pot of hominy.'
"Lo! a caldron stood before her smoking with the most
delicious hominy, and tasting as if the grandmother had just
taken it from the camp fire. Then she lay down on the
ground and slept soundly, until the first beams of the rising
sun awakened her.
The village people were much surprised to see an Indian
girl approach, wearing a curious jacket with little wings on the
shoulders, and glittering slippers on her feet. She was equally
astonished by their white faces and houses. Where was the
lodge of the cruel chief? Where were the patches of maize
tended by the women? Where was the grandmother?
"' Have my people gone away ? Who has conquered them ?'
But the villagers did not know what she said, and the rude
The Toad Family. 65
boys formed a ring around her, shouting, 'You are a witch-
child! Let's catch her.'
"She sprang high in the air with one bound, spread her
wings, and flew away before their eyes.
"The people were greatly excited; they ran about gazing
up at the little bird-like form in the sky much as we now
look at a balloon; then they ran to the ravine where the beau-
tiful white tent still stood. While they observed it the tent
"' She is an Indian witch,' cried the boys.
"' It is all Rapp and his Gnomes," said an old woman.
The boys flung burning brands on the spot where the tent
had stood, and the witch-child watched the flames kindle as she
hovered far above. There was nothing to be done further with
the old home; she must search for her own people, and follow
them wherever they had gone. She swept along through the
air with a delightfully easy motion, and did not mind traversing
miles any more than steps on the ground.
"At a great distance from these mountains a toad family
lived at the root of an elm-tree. They were yellow and brown
and ugly, but according to their own ideas the young lady-
toads were quite beautiful. They came forth in the evening
to take the air.
"' Bless my spectacles!' cried the toad mother. Here is a
witch-child in a winged jacket. Be very pleasant in your man-
ners, children. We shall see if my Lord Rapp is always to
have his own way!'
Then she hopped to the stranger's feet, she having alighted
for the night, and said blandly:
66 The Catskill Fairies.
You must be very tired, my dear. Have you come far?'
"' Yes. Can you tell me where to find my people ?'
"' The snail may know. Stay with us to night and rest.
We are only toads, but we have a guest-chamber.'
The toad family were so kind that the Indian told
them her story; she so much desired to find her own tribe
The toads blinked and nodded their heads. The toad
mother, after going to the snail which lay in the path, and
tapping on its closed door, presently returned.
"' The snail is a hermit; it does not go out into society, but
likes to stay shut up in its own house. However, it will ask
the night moths, and tell you in the morning. Now go to bed,
darling,' she said.
The toad guest-chamber was cool and pleasant, for it was
the grass around the tree. They took off the visitor's slippers
and apron for her, and tried to coax her out of her jacket as
well, but this the witch-child kept on her back. She was no
sooner asleep than the toad mother waddled out to whisper to
the little garden-snake:
"' Run to Mulkgraub as fast as you can, and tell him to
meet me at the toadstool turnpike to-morrow.'
"' I never run-I glide,' said the snake.
"' Fiddle-de-dee, and don't be silly. Hurry !' said the toad.
When the witch-child awoke her lovely slippers and apron
were gone, and the toads had also vanished.
Searching everywhere she came to the marsh.
"' What is the matter ?' croaked a frog, dressed in green.
"' The toads have stolen my magic shoes,' she replied.
A very J/ia,.' Trick. 67
"' That is like a toad. You would not catch a frog at such
mean tricks. Besides, Mulkgraub pays them.'
"' Who is Mulkgraub ?' inquired the Indian.
"' An enemy of King Rapp,' said the frog.
"' Where can I find my people ?' said the child.
"' Ask the eagle, if you are not afraid,' returned the frog.
"' An Indian is never afraid of bird or beast; it's only those
pale faces that change everything,' she said, proudly.
Then she sought the eagle.
"' Go toward the setting sun-always westward,' said the
eagle. 'Mind that Mulkgraub does not catch you.'
"' Where does he live ?' inquired our witch-child.
"' He lives in the water, and he cannot go very far on land.
He loves to pour floods over the earth and into Rapp's mines.
They are enemies, because Rapp can quench Mulkgraub with
fire, so that he becomes a vapor-steam.'
The witch-child thanked the great eagle and flew on.
In the meanwhile the ugly old toad mother met Mulk-
graub at the toadstool turnpike, and gave him the slippers
One would not have believed him so wicked, for he was
fair and handsome, with a crown of rushes on his head, and
drops of water flowed from his mantle.
"' Perhaps I may drown out Rapp yet, if the rain only helps
me,' he said, and swallowed the slippers and apron as if they
had been pills.
He promised to give a wedding outfit to the toad daughter
that married first, and the mother hopped home well satisfied,
like the mean old toad she was.
68 The Catskill Fairies.
The second evening the witch-child found a beautiful lady
sitting on the border of a lake. She was robed in leaves, and
her long hair was also green; but she was altogether lovely,
even if her look was sad. She seemed very glad to see the
witch-child, and made her sit down beside her, while she held
"' I am chained beneath the waters, and can only rise to the
surface of the lake,' she said. I lived on the mainland very
happily until MIulkgraub carried me off in a great storm.'
"' Let me see your home,' urged the witch-child, curiously.
Mulkgraub might come and find you,' hesitated the lady.
I am not afraid while I wear my jacket.'
"'Then you must be prepared to live in the water, or the
"first breath you draw will strangle you.' So saying the lady
The Island Lady's Prison. 69
drew from her girdle a golden clam-shell closed in the form of
a bottle, which contained a perfumed liquid. With this she
bathed her companion's face, and they dived together into the
lake, where the Indian found that she could breathe as easily
as in upper air.
Nothing could exceed the beauty of the prison where the
lady lived; certainly Mulkgraub had given her a handsome resi-
dence, if he was harsh in other respects. It was a large glass
box, with a bell-shaped roof; a broad hall extended from one
entrance to the other, but there was not a dark corner in the
place where one could hide from the King's searching eye.
"' He is coming,' cried the lady, hiding the witch-child in the
folds of her robe. Then, as Mulkgraub entered one door, she
darted out of the other, and rising to the lake surface as far
as her chain would allow, placed the Indian on shore safely.
Once out of harm's way the witch-child began to think of re-
leasing the lady from prison. She must ask King Rapp about
the matter. Accordingly she clapped her wings thrice, and a
Gnome stood at her elbow.
"' Is King Rapp well ?' she asked, politely.
"'Of course,' said the Gnome, gruffly. He is made of
Then he stamped on the ground, and away they went down
dark passages, through caves, past silent pools where the sun
never shone-down, down, until it seemed as if they must
come out the other side of the world. Here she peeped into
vast treasure-houses of rich ore; there she paused before walls
of mineral salt; and finally they reached the Gnome palace,
where the atmosphere was hot enough to bake one.
70 The Catskill Fairies.
"A spacious garden surrounded the palace, with winding
paths, arbors, and fountains, and gorgeous birds flitted from
tree to tree. All was fresh and sparkling, but even the trees
and the fruit on the branches were carved from metals or
jewels. The walls of the palace were jasper and malachite,
while the floors were solid gold, polished like glass.
On they went, through the gates and into the palace, com-
ing to the Gnome King's chamber, which had a ceiling of dia-
mond stars, and a bed of silver, fringed and embroidered with
pearls. At the head of the bed hung the large shield, and the
witch-child tapped on it. Rapp appeared immediately, his eyes
greener, his carbuncle nose redder, and his face more like a
burnished copper kettle than ever.
"' I want to help the lady chained in the lake.'
"' She is an island,' said Rapp. When the lake overflowed
it made her an island by separation from the mainland.'
"' Mulkgraub is very wicked to keep her a prisoner against
her will,' said the witch-child. Please assist me to set her
free from his bondage.'
"' As to that, we are sworn enemies; my weapon is volcanic
fire, and his floods of water. Mulkgraub would make you a
slave, if he could, because I helped you; still, you must remem-
ber that he does a great deal of good in the world, as well as
"' What good can he do ?' inquired the witch-child.
"' He works hard for man, carrying vessels, pushing rafts,
and turning mill-wheels. If it were not for my precious metals,
he would be of more service than I am. As for this lady isl-
and, we must see.'
s"., "~ w2 .;L *,,. '%L
- / ,----T
; -,.,. .,
I. -,:. -.., ._ -
,,,~~.~ .,;, :,. I
'~E ., ,:"'-. I .. ,-
The Magic Herb. 73
"Rapp stroked his beard in profound reflection a moment,
then struck the steel shield seven times. A peal of thunder
seemed to roll over the palace, and a Giant appeared, whose ar-
mor resembled dragon scales, with a helmet of brass on his head.
"' I obey your call, King Rapp,' he said, in a deep voice.
"' What can restore the island lady to her home?' asked
If she can pour some magic drops into his evening cup
of coffee that will make Mulkgraub sleep, I will bring my
brother, Fire, to dry the water between her and the mainland,
her former home,' said the Giant.
"' How can the drink be obtained ?' demanded Rapp.
"' Send a Gnome to the meadow beyond the brook for the
herb which has a scarlet flower and blue leaves. Put this into
a bottle, which the witch-child will give the prisoner. When
Mulkgraub sleeps, the Indian must spring twice over the top of
the pine-tree, calling Fire, softly. I will answer.' With this
advice the Giant thundered away again.
Rapp sent for the herb with a scarlet flower and blue
leaves, the liquid was distilled into a bottle, and the witch-
child once more stood on the ground in the daylight. There
was the sad island lady dragging her chain, and wishing her-
self home on the mainland. She was given the bottle, and
quickly told what to do when Mulkgraub came to her glass
box for his evening coffee.
The witch-child hid on the shore, and watched for the sig-
nal which was to assure her that Mulkgraub slept. At last the
lady rose to the surface and waved her hand. Up sprang the
witch-child over the top of the pine-tree, touching the ground
74 The Catskill Fairies.
on the other side, and rebounding again like an India- rubber
ball. Fire! fire!' she called very softly, under her breath.
Lo! the earth opened and two giant heads emerged; but if
Wind, already seen by the girl, was terrible, Fire was more
so, for a ruddy glow came from his body, and the grass with-
ered before him. The Giant stood on the bank, and hurled a
burning torch into the lake, between the shore and the place
where the island was chained, and the torch devoured the
water, which rose in a cloud of steam, so that the lady stepped
dry-shod back to the mainland.
Then there was great rejoicing over her return among the
rocks and trees, and the witch-child received much praise for
"' There is a storm coming,' shouted Wind. I go to share
the sport-uprooting trees and whisking off steeples and chim-
"'As for me, work is never done in the earth,' said Fire.
"Mulkgraub awoke after the mischief was accomplished;
the glass box exploded like a soap bubble.
This is your turn, Rapp,' he said. 'Wait until the spring
freshets help me to repay you !'
Always seeking her tribe and never finding them, the witch-
child flew on toward the West. Far below she saw lakes, riv-
ers, and cities ; then the wide expanse of prairie became visible,
like a sea of waving grain.
"'This must be the end of the earth,' she thought, and
It was evening, and the little prairie dogs were sitting on
top of their mounds to see what was going on, for they were
Always Weslward. 75
very curious. When the Indian girl paused to observe them,
they gave a shrill bark, and dived out of sight in their burrows.
"' Can you tell me where to find my people ?'
At that all the prairie dogs put out their little noses, and
"' The red man has gone beyond; you will find him farther
'Always farther on,' sighed the Indian, wearily.
"'Perhaps you will tell me something I should very much
like to know,' said the prairie dog, again perching on his
mound. If you made a burrow for yourself and family, would
you enjoy having a white owl and a rattlesnake come to live
with you whether invited or not ?'
"' I should not,' replied the witch-child.
"' Look here, then,' and the prairie dog showed her the hole
in the ground where it dwelt, and where the owl and the snake
would lodge too.
"' There is room for us all,' said the owl, in a comfortable
way, as if the prairie dog's words did not hurt much.
The witch-child walked forward. The sky seemed to meet
the horizon in a flat line before her; shadows rippled over the
ripening acres of corn. She very well knew that her race
never planted these fields; a patch to last one summer satisfied
them, and the next year they might select another spot to till.
Not a human being was visible; all the scene was very calm
At length she reached a stream bordered with cottonwood-
trees, and paused to drink. Hither filed a herd of buffalo to
slake their thirst.
76 The Catskill Fairies.
We know your people well,' they said. They hunt and
slay us in great numbers. We may be quietly browsing with-
out thought of danger, when the Indians rush down on us like
the wind, and hurl arrows at us before we know well what we
"' Where shall I find them ?' the girl asked, eagerly.
"' Farther to the west.'
"The buffaloes thrust their muzzles in the cooling waters,
and the witch-child also held her brown hands in the stream.
Mulkgraub, I begin to love you,' she whispered. Here
you are no longer terrible and mischievous, but give life and
refreshment to all creatures.' Then she saw Mulkgraub's fair
face laughing up at her from the clear depths, and the next
moment her Elf slippers were tossed on the bank. These she
put on and ran so swiftly that she seemed a sunbeam chased
along the grass by the god of day.
"An emigrant train passed, the white wagons loaded with
household furniture; the mothers and infants riding while the
fathers and sons walked before, on the watch for enemies. The
route was long and full of danger.
The witch child presently heard cries of distress, and
mounted on her wings to see what had happened. The
emigrants had paused to search for one of their number, a
The Little Papoose. 77
boy who had strayed away. Nothing can be more terrible
than to be lost in such a place. If savages find the wanderer,
it may be to scalp him or make him a prisoner; hunger and
death come sooner than the savages.
As soon as she discovered what was the matter, the witch-
child flew back, and saw the boy trying to find the path. He
felt a hand placed on his shoulder which guided him in the
right direction, until he could again behold the white wagons
of the emigrants.
Once more mounting into the sky, the witch-child came to
a region of furze, sage, and wormwood, with lofty peaks be-
yond. She noticed a smoke as of many fires, and her heart
bounded with the hope that she had found her tribe at last.
Here were lodges and tents, dried venison, and a few horses
near; but the fires came from smouldering ruins of an en-
campment. There had been a battle between warring tribes,
and the place surprised. The witch-child approached sadly,
and what do you suppose she found? A little papoose lying
in a folded blanket unharmed. She took it up to kiss, and
the baby crowed and smiled. What was she to do with it?
Carrying it on her back, Indian fashion, she climbed the first
slopes of the Rocky Mountains, one of King Rapp's homes.
It was well that she had recovered her Elf slippers, the
baby was so heavy she could not fly. Those were happy days!
She fed the little thing with berries, and sang it to sleep, de-
lighted with the pretty brown face and bright eyes.
One night she reached a house, a lonely ranch of the bor-
der settler. You would have mistaken her for a thief to see
her steal past the watch-dog into the chamber where the chil-
78 The Catskill Fairies.
dren slept. Beside these white children she laid the Indian
baby, the last of its tribe, and went away as noiselessly as she
Fortunately this was a good home for her charge. Next
day as she rested at noon, the loud report of a rifle startled
her, and a wounded mountain-goat came tumbling down into
the valley. She took to her wings in fright; but as she darted
up into the air, the sportsman aimed at her, supposing she was
some strange specimen of bird. Bang! went the weapon, and
she fell. The sportsman hastened to the spot, but found noth-
What do you think became of the witch-child ? I believe
that King Rapp opened the earth as she sank down, and that
she lives with him in the Rocky Mountains to this day."
The Summer Fairy glowed and faded in the radiance of the
The witch-child was the last Indian seen in these hills,"
rustled the other Summer Fairies. We must always remain
as the summer of the year, ranking first in the season, even as
the red man came first among human beings here."
Mousey, I think it is your turn to speak," said the Angora
cat, wickedly, and stretched out a paw to the captive.
The little mouse hopped in fear as it answered:
It is such a strain on my mind to try to think of a story
that I shall have a nervous headache for the rest of my life."
"Tut! tut! Remember how sharp my teeth are, and how
very unpleasant it is to have one's head nipped off," said the
This made the mouse desperate; never before had it been
Nip Intercedes for Mousey. 79
required to do anything but nibble cheese and bacon rind, and
now the cruel cat would force it to tell a tale, or be eaten alive.
Nip had sat quietly in Job's hand while the Summer Fairy
was talking, and pretended to doze, with his little head sway-
ing on one side, like a flower-bell. Now he skipped down,
and clasped his arms around the mouse's neck, whispering in
Give the mouse time to think," said Nip.
I give time," interposed the clock, striking violently.
The clock liked none of the company to use the word time
besides itself, as it was old and cranky in its ways.
What change will half an hour make in the mouse's wits ?"
growled the cat, and she must have been feeling hungry.
As for Job, he was so much amused by his companions
that he could do nothing but look and listen.
I will tell a story myself, if Queen Puff will stop spinning,
so that I may hear myself speak," said Nip.
So The Catskill Fairies.
ABOUT the good year 1620 the West Wind stood on her
cloud throne, her fair brow wreathed with ivy tendrils, her clear
gaze brilliant with untold promises, her stately form erect and
instinct with a splendid vitality. She was gazing out over the
The waves dashed in clouds of spray against granite head-
lands, and a dark line of forest extended inland as far as eye
could see, unbroken by town or any trace of human life. What
was the West Wind looking at? A tiny vessel tossed like a
cockle-shell on the billows, and steering timidly across the wide
waste of waters. This was the cradle of the queerest baby
Of course, the West Wind knew all about it-this found-
ling was to be cast on her care and protection. He had no
space to grow in the crowded nursery where he was born on
the opposite shore of the ocean. The baby's godfather was a
great king, but he said, Let him go, for he is not like the
other children, and will make trouble when he is a big boy.'
"Do you remember the story about the large, ugly duck-
ling among the little ducks and geese of the barnyard that
would one day become the beautiful swan ? Have you ever
heard, Job, that the cuckoo's egg, if allowed to remain in the
nest of the hedge-sparrow, crowds out the other nestlings ?"
The Wonderful Baby. 81
Yes, I know that," said Job. Grandfather says"-
"Never mind what Grandfather says," interrupted saucy
Nip, reclining on his velvet couch-the mouse's back. I only
intended to make a comparison between the large duckling
and the cuckoo and my hero. Well, the king godfather was
quite right, for this baby was destined to become a giant, and
would have pushed the other children about had it remained
at home in the nursery.
Nearer and nearer came the cradle-vessel while the beauti-
ful West Wind watched. Now there was peril of wreck on
the sharp rocks of that stern coast, but the West Wind cast
a silk cable and drew it safely to shore. The landing was not
too gentle: the infant was drenched in spray, and, emerging
gasping from the cold bath, felt a new life tingle in every vein.
That was the West Wind's baptism of her charge. Next she
smiled and showed him the gifts stored in her mantle, which
were to be earned, not given away. A shower of spring blos-
soms fell softly on the scented air, like a mist of pink snow;
then he saw sheaves of golden grain, then a cluster of purple
grapes, with crimson autumn leaves. The infant wanderer,
treading for the first time with tender baby feet the soil
of a rugged coast, and extending feeble little hands towards
these treasures, realized, vaguely the greatness of his own
How the baby throve, to be sure! The cold winds swept
in from the Atlantic, freezing the spray into icicles to festoon
the granite cliffs; Winter seemed to frown on the stranger, yet
Greatest danger of all! Stealthy forms hovered in the dim,
82 The Catskill Fairies.
_,*'* ^ .r: f .- _, ,,
shadowy forest, and glared with looks of hatred at him. Their
faces were dusky in hue-not at all like the baby's fair race-
and they wore gay feathers nodding above their long, black
hair, while their step was as light and swift as that of the shy
wild animals they pursued in the chase. Yes, and these dark
people were not content with frightening the baby by scowling
at him; they gave shrill whoops and cries, and, twanging their
bows, shot arrows at him which pricked smartly. The West
Wind had a cure for these wounds, the balm of courage and
"I am speaking about the Indians. Perhaps the Summer
I am speaking about the Indians. Perhaps the Summer
Who was the Baby? 83
Fairies may not like it, but I must tell my story, and they
certainly received the baby very rudely."
How did the baby treat them ?" cried the Summer Fairies.
We will ask Job's opinion. What if some men came up
the mountain and took your house, saying, We want to live
here; you can go away.' What would you do ?"
I would fight 'em," said Job, promptly.
That is just what the Indians did," said the Fairies.
But who was this baby ?" asked Job.
Don't be in such a hurry. The world was not made in
a minute," rejoined Nip. In spite of the Indian enemies,
the cold and storms, this sturdy chap flourished, for he was
made of the best flesh and blood. The forest cleared a
spot here and there, yielding to the strokes of his axe,
where the spring blossoms began to bloom on the fruit-
trees and shower the grass below instead of remaining hid-
den in the folds of the West Wind's mantle, and planted
grain to ripen under the summer sun for the harvest. The
strangest part of it was that the baby was never idle, and his
play was always work, building houses out of bits of wood,
and making bridges and roads.
"' Let those play who come after me,' he said, cheerfully.
So the forests thinned, the dark enemies retreated as the
bright daylight followed the path he made, chasing away the
gloom of solitude.
Forward he marched, always following the West Wind, who
beckoned him on to fresh exertions, and growing from infancy
to childhood as he went on.
"' Now we will have a city, I guess,' planned the baby. He
84 The Catskill Fairies.
began to guess in his very babyhood, and well he might, with
a whole new continent before him-all guess-work.
The West Wind nodded approval, and he built a crooked
little town, with narrow, winding streets. How the baby archi-
tect enjoyed making the buildings climb steep hills, and then
spared fine trees to shade wide avenues, bordered with green
turf in the heart of all the crowded town. We must have a
bit of country here.' So the city was laid out, and the West
Wind beckoned him on to build towns and villages, but he
cherished his first city with a pride that he never felt in any
other, and trotted back, every now and then, to beautify and
improve it, which he has continued to do until the present day.
The baby grew strong and large-one could see that he would
be a towering giant by and by-and his work only grew with
him. As he strode on he left Industry spinning many-colored
threads in his wake, hammering at forge and anvil, turning
great wheels to stir the tranquil rivers, and before him the
forests thinned, admitting the sunshine, and the dark enemies
melted away, like night shadows, at his approach.
"No obstacle could daunt or discourage him; the rough
path often wounded his feet, his limbs grew very weary, yet
where the West Wind led he followed. When he came to
broad streams he spanned them with bridges; he linked miles
of space together with an iron band of railway, and then he
looped magnetic wires over hill and valley along which thrilled
messages as rapidly as the lightning flashes.
"'Progress !' whistled the locomotive to the earth, and all
Industry's wheels turned quicker at the sound; but the locomo-
tive could not overtake the West Wind or her charge.
Nip Plays a Cunning Trick. 85
Forward! ever forward! The giant youth saw lakes, and
launched boats on the clear waters, and then he came to the
Forward! ever forward The Wind daughter led the way
in her chariot of sunset clouds, so that he might hew a path
through the wilderness, and earn the treasures she would scat-
ter broadcast. Through deserts of wormwood, beyond crags
and cliffs mantled in snow, the giant fought his resolute
way, sowing seeds of future growth, finding precious metals,
until he reached the shores of another ocean and the Golden
In the full radiance of the present, behold him He is a
giant, but he is not at all handsome; his features are sharp; he
cares nothing about his dress, or the color of his necktie. He
talks through his nose, besides. What name did the West
Wind give him? Not a pretty one, but suited to him-
You are a Yankee, yourself," said Queen Puff, starting her
"I am proud of being one. You are a Dutchman," said
Queen Puff laughed at being called a Dutchman.
It is true, and I came from Holland in a tile," she con-
I am tired. Take me to ride around the room, Mousey,"
I don't know about that," said the cat, suspiciously.
Only a little ride," urged Nip, looking very roguish all the
86 The Catskill Fairies.
while. If you Fairies will make a ring, we can perform circus
tricks, mouse and I, equal to those of the Hippodrome."
The others were quite ready for the sport, and soon there
was a fairy ring formed on the floor, with Job and the old
clock to look down on it. Nip was to have his own way in
everything; they must leave an avenue for the mouse to gal-
lop into the circle in style. I am clown, ring master, and
rider, all in one. I should like somebody to hold bits of news-
paper for hoops for me to jump through, and I will borrow
a poppy cloak to leap over. Do I need spurs to make you
No, no," hastily squeaked the mouse.
It did Job good to see Nip perform. The mouse went
around the circle, with the Fairy dancing on his back, now
popping through the paper hoops, now springing over the
cloak. At last they paused to rest.
Let us breathe awhile, and I will show you a trick worth
seeing," said Nip.
Oh, what is it, Nip ? Tell us-do," cried the Fairies.
Nip stood up on the mouse's back once more, and started
around the circle, faster and faster, until with one bound they
darted out of the ring, and the mouse was safe in its hole be-
fore the Angora cat could wink.
What do you think of that? I told you it was the best
trick of all. Oh, you needn't make big eyes at me, Madam
Cat, and curl your whiskers, I am not afraid of you, and the
dear little mouse is safe," said Nip.
If the mouse will join us again, I will promise not to eat
it," purred the cat, mildly.
'~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~~- ,,-,-,r..-7Z.. i'4" '.,., .
,, ,' '1
,.. . .- I,,' "- -
c. .r .. '' Il i, .,.
I 1" r ...--" ,
r '44, "b
.: ,:.,~t ., ,! I -
M' Q j-
., ., .? .. @ ,.:,.'..' "4 ._ ,,!','
"Iha ,. ,-,.,, , .. -
'e .. ; :1 ., ,,,
The Winter Fairies. 89
Thank you, I will just watch what happens from my hole,"
replied the mouse, gayly, poking out its head.
If it is our turn to speak, we will begin," said the Winter
Fairies from their perch on the window-sill.
"Yes, do tell me something," said Job, who wished to learn
all that the Fairies could impart. Only I should like to know
when my present is to be given."
Patience," advised the Angora cat.
Then the first Winter Fairy, leaning against the frosted pane,
90 The Catskill Fairies.
THE GREEN BELT.
FAR away in the backwoods, where the lumber comes from,
a poor widow once lived, with her seven sons, the eldest being
eighteen, and the youngest, Peter, a lad of ten years. Peter
was born with a caul drawn over his head, like a funny little
cap, and the old women said he must meet with great good-
fortune in life on this account.
The father was a hunter, who trapped the beavers and
otters, but he had been killed by a fall down a precipice.
The winter was very severe, and daily the snow-drifts were
piled higher and higher, hedging in the poor cottage from the
nearest neighbor, who lived two miles distant.
"One night when a violent hailstorm was dashing torrents of
icy musketry upon the roof and against the windows, the fami-
ly gathered around the fire-there would always be fuel with
the forest so near at hand.
'It is a great deal to be warm, children,' said the mother,
spreading her fingers to enjoy the blaze. I must tell you
plainly that the meal-chest is nearly empty, and there is but
one sack of potatoes left.'
The children pulled on very long faces; they began to feel
pinched under their jackets with hunger. Just then a distinct
tap, tap, was heard on the door.
A Wonderful Gift. 91
"' Can any poor soul be out such a night?' exclaimed the
She unbarred the door, and a gust of hail rushed into the
room, but on the threshold stood a little old woman shivering
with cold. The widow led her to the fire, and at once began
to prepare some hot porridge.
In the meanwhile the children stared at the stranger with
eager curiosity. She wore a cloak made of squirrel fur, tied
about her throat by the fore-paws; her face was like a puck-
ered lemon, and her eyes two diamonds, so rapidly did they
flash and glitter about the place.
Peter advanced to her side fearlessly.
"' Your slippers are dry,' he said.
"' That is because my shoemaker fits me with pure ice, my
dear,' replied the old lady; then she patted him on the head.
' You are clever because you are a seventh child,' she added;
but Peter did not understand one word of such talk.
The good mother offered the stranger her own bed, the
best she had, and the old woman declared that her fur cloak
was a famous couch as she spread it down in one corner, and
soon the whole family were asleep. In the morning the old
lady had vanished away, and little Peter lay snugly wrapped
in the soft fur, with a green belt beside him. Of course, this
green belt must be a wonderful gift, and the old lady a fairy;
the family at once decided that to be a fact, yet the belt was
so dingy and faded as to seem useless and only fit to hang on
a peg behind the door, where it was speedily forgotten. The
fur cloak did not vanish away, as they feared it would, and it
was afterwards used by Peter for a bed.
92 The Catskill Fairies.
"The snow rose higher and higher, and the sun could not
warm the keen air. At last there were no more potatoes left
in the cottage, and the poor widow was forced to seek some
help from her neighbors, even if the way was blocked with
Night came on, and the mother did not return. She had
lost her way, and frozen to death in the bitter cold before she
reached the first house. The children watched and waited,
then went to bed supperless. It was very sad that the mother
must perish thus; but such things happen in the winter every
year, especially in the backwoods of which we write.
Next morning a pretty squirrel rapped on the window-pane
with one paw, and when the casement was open hopped into
the room quite tamely.
"' I believe that I will skin and eat you,' said the eldest
son, trying to catch the animal.
"' Not so fast,' chattered the squirrel, leaping nimbly up to a
high beam. I can do you more good alive I am thinking.
Why don't you go out into the world for yourselves?'
"' I will!' cried the eldest brother, and sprang through the
"A bridge of ice reached from the cottage quite to the heart
of the forest, and when he stepped on it he found it firm as
marble. He soon returned, carrying a beautiful little bird in
his hand, which he had found in the path. The bird had a
crest of scarlet feathers on its head, while the wings were vel-
"' If you make a nest for the bird, it will lay a pearl egg
every day,' said the squirrel.
The Silver Gridiron. 93
"' Let me see what I can do,' said the second boy, encour-
aged by his brother's success; so, crossing the ice-bridge, he
When he came back he carried a copper porridge -pot,
which was so brightly polished that it resembled gold. The
hungry children found a handful of meal, and made porridge
in the new vessel. When they poured out the porridge, the
pot was again full.
"' It will always be filled whenever emptied,' said the squir-
rel, also tasting the dish daintily.
"' Hurrah! We shall never be hungry after this,' said the
second son, hugging the pot in his arms.
Then the third son crossed the ice-bridge, and in less than
five minutes appeared with a silver gridiron.
"' Who would like a cake baked on my gridiron ?' he asked.
No sooner was one cake taken, crisp and brown, from the
fire than another lay in its place, and the gridiron did not cease
from cooking until the children were well filled. It must have
taken a great many cakes to make a boy say he had eaten
Then the fourth boy said, I will try my luck;' and crossed
the bridge as the others had done.
He found a tiny cask made of rough iron, but it was al-
ways filled with rare, sweet wine, and the supply could never fail.
The fifth son in his turn found nothing but a delicate white
cloth hanging upon a tree. He entered the cottage with a dole-
ful face and slow step. His portion was only a cloth, when his
brothers had found a bird that would lay pearl eggs, a porridge-
pot always full, a silver gridiron, and a cask of wine.
94 The Catskill Fairies.
'Spread the cloth on the table,' said the squirrel.
Fancy their astonishment when a grand feast appeared on
the magic cloth. Ducks and turkeys dressed with flowers, de-
licious confectionery in sparkling heaps, and tempting fruits.
The fifth boy's gift was not so poor a one after all.
Then the sixth son walked out, and directly before him lay
a beautiful gold trumpet. He blew a loud blast, and immedi-
ately all animals responded to the summons-bears, monkeys,
jaguars, moose, and deer, even wild cats.
"Eat us up, if you like, or do anything with us; we are
your slaves,' growled the animals together.
Yes, he had control over all beasts for any service he might
"'The little old woman must have been a fairy after all!'
shouted the brothers, beside themselves with delight.
"The pretty squirrel sitting up on the beam with its tail
curled over its back was the fairy all the while.
"'What am I to own?' asked Peter, in dismay.
The seventh son went out across the ice bridge and
The Green Bell. 95
searched every path, gazing eagerly up into the trees; but he
found just nothing at all. The brothers, in their own joy,
scarcely noticed poor Peter's disappointment.
"' I must seek my fortune out in the wide world,' said the
eldest, taking the scarlet bird in his hand; then with a careless
good-bye he was gone.
The others quickly followed, until Peter was left alone.
The little squirrel leaped down, and nestled close beside
the weeping child.
"'Dry your tears; you are the seventh child, and therefore
the most fortunate of all. Here is the caul with which you
were born, to hang about your neck, and that will bring good
luck. The green belt is your gift.'
The squirrel had the same clear diamond eyes that the
old woman possessed who visited their cottage on the stormy
Peter took the belt from the peg where it had hung, and,
behold it was bright in color, and bore these lines-
'You shall have power to change your shape,
To Lion, Tiger, Dog, or Ape;
To help the good, torment the bad,
To make some gay, and others sad.'
Peter danced for joy, and the squirrel skipped also on its
hind feet to keep him company.
"' Put the caul on your head, and you will see just what
your brothers are doing, wherever they go,' said the squirrel.
"Peter held the dried skin-cap over his head, and shut his
eyes. The first son travelled far, still holding the scarlet bird
96 The Catskill Fairies.
in his hand. He entered a city in the East, where there were
mosques with glittering domes, palaces, and bazaars. In the
harbor queerly shaped boats darted about, and the stately ships
had the flags of all nations floating from their masts.
The first son crossed the court of a magnificent building,
led by black slaves in gorgeous turbans and robes, and entered
a marble-paved hall adorned with pillars and sparkling fount-
ains, where a prince sat on his throne, and he bowed low be-
fore him. The prince admired the little scarlet bird, as a
prince has a right to admire a new toy, and he gave to the
owner ten chests of gold coins, a house to live in, and three
trained Arabian horses from the royal stables in exchange
My eldest brother will pass his days in idleness and ease,'
said Peter. He will doze on velvet cushions, be refreshed
with delicate perfumes, and smoke a pipe mounted with gems
and amber. His raiment will be the finest linen, the softest
satin and damask. He will forget entirely that he was ever a
poor boy living in the woods.'
"' So much for him. Now for the next one.' The squirrel
fairy was very polite in listening to the history, although it
knew already everything that would happen,. Peter must
learn to like his gift the best, and so he was to see his broth-
"The second son was walking along the road where the
hedges were in bloom and the fields ready for the harvest.
He was ruddy and strong-limbed, as well he might be, for the
porridge-pot never failed. At the farm-house door stood a
pretty maid, as the crimson sunset turned every object to
T/e Fairy Gifts. 97
red and gold. She was calling the harvest-laborers to their
supper by blowing through the horn; and the second son,
coming among the rest, loved her for her sweet smile and
light footstep as she waited on the table.
"' It will be love in a cottage,' said Peter. They need never
suffer from hunger while they keep the porridge-pot.'
"' Who comes next ?' inquired the squirrel.
The third and fourth brothers were together in the city of
Paris, one with his silver gridiron and the other with his table-
cloth, which was always covered with dainties. That was a
famous partnership! They had a cook-shop, called a cafi, with
tables and waiters. Even great noblemen came to taste of the
cakes baked on the gridiron; and where the nobility lead, com-
mon people must follow the fashion, like one sheep after an-
The fifth son, no less fortunate than his brothers, drew
sweet wine from the tiny cask, and built a warehouse in which
to store his barrels. The fame of his wine went everywhere,
the flavor was so delicate, because it was made from fairy
grapes, and no one could tell the vintage.
The sixth son went to the South American pampas, where
he gathered immense flocks, for all he had to do was to blow
through the trumpet, and cattle followed the sound.
"' I would not choose the place of any of them,' said Peter,
and the squirrel fairy was pleased with this decision. They
left the cottage to visit the Fairies, and in the depths of the
forest the snow had melted away like magic, as if for the tiny
people to hold their sports. The squirrel here became a fairy
lady no longer than one of Peter's fingers, and her companions,
98 The Catskill Fairies.
dressed in green, so that they resembled moving leaves, wel-
comed her back cordially.
"' I was the old woman and the squirrel too,' she laughed.
SI take those forms for travelling about.'
"' Your eyes are still diamond clear,' said Peter, and then
he thanked her for all the kindness she had shown to his
"' We trained the bird and made all the other gifts,' cried
the Fairies. Then we placed them in the path.'
Peter seated himself on the grass to watch the Fairies
dance; they spun around in giddy circles without losing their
\ 70 1 11^ ( 1 "'"1 .'
breath, until it made the boy's eyes ache to look at them. The
fairy music was wonderful, the wee musicians being ranged
,ntil it "a e t
around a toadstool upon which stood the leader, and they blew
through dandelion stems for instruments.
through dandelion stems for instruments.
The Household Sprite. 99
When they ceased dancing they all clustered about Peter,
and the squirrel fairy sat on his shoulder. One little sprite
had a tiny broom made of thistle, and a dust-brush under one
arm, with which she dusted and swept the flowers surrounding
the fairy circle, until not a speck of dust remained. This
sprite had a sharp nose and a prim little waist. One could
plainly see that she was set in her ways.
"' I am a household spirit, and my name is Pucker. I steal
through the keyhole of the silent houses at night, and if I find
the rooms untidy, I nip the housemaid in her sleep until she
is black and blue. I am very severe on housekeepers. If I
discover the dishes improperly washed, or egg-shells and bones
lying about in the humblest cottage, I tweak the good wife's
nose, and box her ears soundly. Every one can be clean, and
they must be happier for neat homes. I stand no nonsense'
-and the brisk little Pucker began to dust the flowers again
with renewed energy, until the roses and pinks blushed a
deeper red from sheer anger.
'Will you let our beautiful faces alone ?' they exclaimed.
"' My name is Gull,' said a merry, romping fairy, dancing on
a spider-web bridge. I love to play tricks better than to work.
I steal cream and sugar from the closet, and whisk away the
glass of water just as a body is about to drink-that is capi-
tal fun !'
"' I am Grim,' said a short, stout elf with a droll face. I
pull the master's beard, and throw him into ditches by the
roadside when he comes home from the public house at
night. He may lie there until morning, yet I give him no
rest; he is pricked with nettles, pounded with sharp stones,
Ioo The Catskill Fairies.
and his boots filled with cold water-that is the way to cure
Peter rose at last.
"'I could stay with you forever, dear Fairies, but I must start
on my travels.'
Leaving the forest, he saw three graceful horses in a mead-
ow, now prancing forward with manes and tails streaming on
the wind, now bounding high in the air to vault over the
"' I should like to be a horse,' thought Peter. Immediately
he began to prance too-his coat of the softest black color, his
limbs delicately rounded, and his hair like spun silk. A golden
bridle hung over his arched neck, and his hoofs were also shod
with shining gold. The young farmer who owned the meadow
saw the horse nibbling grass, and apparently as tame as a kit-
ten. Although so rich and owning already many steeds, he
was always envious of other people and their possessions.
"' Who has a horse so much more beautiful than any of
mine ?' he inquired, frowning angrily.
He advanced towards Peter, and, as no one seemed to claim
the animal, he determined to have it at all hazards. He just
touched the golden bridle, when Peter shook his head saucily,
and danced away. The farmer ran faster after the stranger
horse, bewitched by its beauty, and Peter played all kinds of
pranks. At last he stood still, and the farmer, overjoyed at
such unexpected docility, mounted, when away dashed Peter as
swift as an arrow shot from a bow, the rider clinging to his
back. Peter enjoyed the race; but when he reached the bank
of a river he determined to punish the envious farmer still fur-