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AUTI4T OF THE LITTLE FLOWER-SEEKERS," ELDERGOWAN," ETC.
WITH X IiLUSTRATIONS, IN GOLD .AND COLORS
"* j. '
MARCUS WARD,& CO., 67 & 68, CHANDOS STREET, STRAND
AND ROYAL ULSTER WORKS, BELFAST
e abi ater
CYRIL AND SWEETO
PUCK AND BLOSSOM INVITE THE FAIRIES (Chromograph), Frontispiece.
QUEER LITTLE NEIGHBOURS, 9
THE STRANGE WHITE BIRD, .. 21
THE WHITE DOVE FLIES AWAY WITH THE CHILDREN, AND THE FAIRIES
GO TO SUPPER (Chromograph),. 31
THE OLD WOMAN WHO KEPT THE VILLAGE IN HOT WATER, 35
THE CITY OF THE DISCONTENTED CHILDREN,. 46
THE LITTLE SPINSTER'S STORY, 57
DREADFUL DANGERS AMONG THE WASPS AND GOBLINS (Chromograph), 61
THE BOY WHO LIVED UP ON THE DOM, .. 78
PUCK AND BLOSSOM IN THE RAIN, AND THE FAIRIES' BALL (Chromograph), 79
PUCK'S POLITENESS, AND THE FAIRIES' GAME OF FOOTBALL (Chronmograph), 107
THE ROSE IS FOUND AND PLANTED,. 109
PUCK WAKENING BLOSSOM-THE ROSE FOUND AT LAST (Chromograph), 117
PUCK AND BLOSSOM.
QUEER LITTLE NEIGHBOURS.
NE summer day, Puck and Blossom, two little
children who lived near one another in the fields
> .' of a beautiful valley, were busy building a tiny
hut, and amused themselves by pretending they
were going to live in it; though they knew
well enough that their own little hands could
Never make a house big enough to cover their
little heads. Still, for mere sport, they went on
c C:.ryling sticks and pebbles and bits of moss and
t raw, and building them together as well as they
"," could. The sun was shining and the birds were
singing; the sky was blue, and the fields were full
of flowers. The children laughed and clapped their hands as
the walls rose, tottered, and fell down again, and had to be built
up all anew.
"I am afraid we shall never be able to get into it," said
Puck. "It will be just like the house of cards we made last
10 Queer Little Neighbours.
night. If even only you crept into it, Blossom, you would lift it
all up on your back. And you are such a mite "
"It's a pity something couldn't get the good of it," said
Blossom, "after all our work. Perhaps the fairies would come
and live in it. They might like it for a change, you know."
"So they might, indeed I" said Puck.
"And the birds," said Blossom, and the bees, and the lady-
birds, and all the little live things that are smaller than we."
"Let us finish it nicely," said Puck.
And then we'll invite them," said Blossom. And so, as soon
as the last straw was placed on the make-believe roof, the children
sat down on a stile close by to rest, and amused themselves singing
an invitation to the fairies (see Frontispiece)-
Oh, come, pretty fairies,
And live in our house;
Come bird and come bee,
And come little field-mouse:
Come blue dragon-fly,
And come butterfly bright;
And bring all the friends
You would care to invite !"
"Hush! I do think they are coming," said Blossom. "I
heard little feet pattering."
"Let us try again," said Puck.
"There are pantries and dairies
Convenient for fairies-
A ball-room to dance in,
A court-yard to prance in -
"But those are fibs !" interrupted Blossom.
Fairies and Goblins. 11
"Oh, it's all fun, you know," said Puck; "but they are not
coming, so we may as well go and play at something else."
And away they ran, and forgot all about the matter.
Now the beautiful spot where the children lived was just on
the very verge of fairyland. A gay little river danced down the
valley, and waving corn-fields, clustering fruit-trees, brilliant
gardens, and white-gabled farm-houses shone in the sun on one
side of the water, while on the other lay a lovely wilderness of
flowers, shaded by great wide-spreading trees. Farther back
behind the flowery banks, the trees grew low and thick, and it
was rather fearful to look deep down through their gloom, into
the distance. Sometimes, when the moon got sunk among these
distant trees, her face became quite large and red with fright;
and if any one had then peered very intently into the thickets,
he might have seen strange little dark figures dancing and
gambolling and playing the wildest pranks upon the dimly-
lighted sward. These were the mischievous goblins, who lived
at the back part of this fairyland; the good fairies having luckily
got possession of the flowery banks which were next to the
human beings' side of the river.
You may be sure the fairies, good and bad, did not always
keep their own side of the water, but crossed it very often to
give help, or do mischief, or merely to amuse themselves. Some-
times they made a bridge of a tall reed, or the long narrow leaf
of a sagon; and sometimes they snapped the head off a water-
lily, which they called unmooring a boat, and sailed across in the
snowy cup to the opposite bank. It happened that at the very
moment when Puck and Blossom were singing their little chant,
perched on the stile, some of their queer little neighbours were
12 Queer Little Neighbours.
within hearing of all they said. Puff and Whisk, two very lively
lads of the good-natured tribe, had just met little Trip as she
arrived across the stream in her lily boat, and lifting her, boat
and all, ashore, were setting out to give her a ride through the
meadows. Chirp, another harmless chap, was blowing a bugle
not far away; while his particular friend, Grin, who had just
been dancing a hornpipe, lay resting on the grass by his side.
An exceedingly knowing fellow, called Hop, was balancing
himself airily on the edge of a red-tipped daisy which
grew very high; and he it was who first pricked up his ears,
and called the attention of the rest to what the children were
"Did you ever hear the like of that?" cried Hop, hopping
down on the grass as soon as Puck and Blossom had run
away, and speaking so excitedly that he wakened his wife
Skip, who had been asleep under the shelter of a large cowslip
"Such kind little human children I" cried Puff, drawing a
"We never were so well treated by mortals before," said
Whisk, whisking round three times with excitement.
"How nice to have a country house on this side of the
water!" said Trip, clapping her tiny hands, and tripping up and
down with glee.
"And of course we dared not have settled ourselves here
without an invitation from human beings," said Skip, who had
skipped over the grass and joined the rest.
"I will go and spread the news !" cried a Lady-bird who had
been listening; and she set off running towards the river.
What shall we do ? 13
"How well that the goblins did not hear the invitation!"
said Grin, grinning with all his might.
"Or they would certainly have tried to take it to themselves,"
said Chirp ; "but we have got the start of them," and he chirped
forth a few triumphant notes from his bugle.
The sound had hardly died away when these merry fairies
heard a wicked little laugh, just like an echo, and, looking up,
they saw Sly, one of the most mischievous of the goblin tribe,
sitting perched on a mushroom, with his long ears standing
up very straight, and a dreadfully sly look on his ugly little face.
He was quite different in appearance from the good fairies, .and
was all dressed in black snail-skin from top to toe.
"How clever we are!" sneered Sly. "Pray, who told you
that the goblins did not hear the invitation first ?"
"We know it I we know it!" cried our seven good little
fairies, flying up to the mushroom in a row and shaking their
little fists at Sly; "and what is more, we can prove it. Hop
was sitting up on the daisy yonder and heard the very first
words 'of the song. He kicked out his toes to make us listen,
and we all listened and accepted the invitation at once; while
you only arrived after everything was settled."
"That is all a mistake," said Sly, and he pointed up at the
daisy above their heads. "Everybody does not keep always
dangling on the very edge of dangerous precipices like Master
Hop, but my friend Pinch was quite as near all the time to
those little human fools as he was. Come out, Pinch, and show
And, sure enough, a little wicked face was popped up above
the head of one of the daisy-blossoms, and Pinch scowled down
14 Queer Little Neighbours.
on the astonished fairies. Pinch was one of a set of particularly
evil-minded goblins, who long ago had turned quite green with
envy, while their eyes were always red with anger.
"-Oh, what shall we do? what shall we do?" cried Trip,
wringing her hands; if the goblins get possession of our country
house, there is no end to the mischief they will do to human
beings, especially to these dear little mortals who have been so
good to us."
It will all depend on who takes possession first with all the
fairy furniture and upholstery," said Whisk, solemnly.
"I have despatched my messenger," said Sly, folding his
arms with the most insolent air. "One of our trusty snails
departed with the news before the words were well out of the
"But our Lady-bird went immediately I" cried Chirp.
Sly frowned at this; he had not observed the departure of
the Lady-bird, and did not like to hear of it, as her movements
were so much quicker than those of the snail. He jumped down
from the mushroom, and, joined by Pinch, set off running
frantically towards the river, which the two goblins crossed at
one spring, holding on by the end of a willow-rod. The seven
good fairies fled after them to the edge of the water, but prudently
stopped there, to assist in helping ashore the baggage which they
hoped soon to see getting towed across the stream.
They were wise in this, for no sooner had Pinch and Sly
disappeared among the wild brackens under the trees, than a long
cavalcade of good fairies appeared coming down the bank-men
fairies carrying beds of thistle-down on their shoulders, and
women-fairies armed with saucepans and kettles made of acorn-
The Fairies Triumrh. 15
cups and nut-shells, followed by black beetles and humble bees
bending under luggage of every description. They were soon
safely launched on broad lily and docken leaves, and were drawn
ashore by the friends who were waiting for them.
Soon all was bustle within and without the little mud-house
that the children had built. Fairies walked about clapping and
patting the walls and roof, and making them stand firm and
straight. Moss carpets were laid down and cobweb draperies
hung up, and the good fairies were just sitting down comfortably
to dinner when a great troop of goblins rushed up to the spot,
quite out of breath and fierce with disappointment.
"You may go home again," said Hop, and learn a lesson
not to come where you are not wanted. The children said as
plain as could be, 'fairies,' and not 'goblins;' well for them they
did, for if you had got in here you know in your hearts you
would never have had done playing ugly pranks on them."
"And we will play uglier ones now, I can tell you," cried Sly,
grinding his teeth, while all the goblins stamped their feet with
rage. "Let them take care of themselves, for we will do them
all the mischief in our power."
And then the goblins all turned and rushed back to their
gloomy country behind the thick wild trees; and the good fairies
gave a ball that night with glow-worm lamps hung up all through
their new mansion, and Chirp blowing his bugle most exquisitely
while the dancing went on. There was a most delicious supper
of wild honey and dew, with a fine bilberry at the head of the
table; and Whisk made a speech in which he urged the fairies to
do something to delight the little children who had been so good
16 Queer Little Neighbours.
"For many centuries," said Whisk, "we have been kept
sternly in our place on the other side of the river. Men have, in
their blundering way, confounded us with the goblins and
distrusted us painfully; yet how many good turns might we not
have done them in their houses and farm-yards, their fields and
meadows, had we only been on the spot ?"
"Yes, yes!" said Grin, "for mischief is generally stirring at
night, when we were obliged to be at home out of the way.
"When Farmer Barleycorn's hayrick was burned, how easily we
might have spied the enemy coming, and dropped into the
simple man's ear while he slept, or pulled his goodwife's nose I
Yet all we could do was to watch the bonfire from the opposite
"And now we may perch on his chimneys in the moonlight
when we like," cried Trip, watch the wind playing pranks with
the smoke, count the eggs in the swallows' nests, pluck the great
cock's long tail on the roost and set him clucking, sit between
the big cow's horns and give her pleasant dreams to make the
milk sweet, blow on the violets that grow by the threshold to
give them a more delicate fragrance; there is no end to the
delightful tricks we can play round about the farm-houses when
the folks are all asleep."
"And more than that," said Skip; "we can drop down the
chimneys, or take a fly through the key-hole, just to put our
hand over the dough that it may be light, to peep into the churn
and see that the butter has a mind to come quickly, to frighten
the maggots out of the bacon-flitches, and see to the thrift of the
household in a hundred other ways."
"And if the human people waken and hear any of our little
The Children's House. 17
noises, they will only think that the mice have come out to nibble
at the cheese," said Chirp.
"You had better not bring your bugle, then," said Grin, or
' they will think the cocks are crowing, and be getting up, poor
good souls, in the middle of the night."
"In the meantime," said Puff, "the question is, what are we
to do for the children ? My notion is that we should build them
a house in our prettiest style, and large enough for them both to
walk about in. It would be a pleasant surprise for them when
they come out to-morrow morning to their play."
"Capital!" cried all the fairies; and then they went to bed
and had three winks of sleep, which is all that fairies require in
the course of twenty-four hours; and long before dawn they were
busily at work.
Never was seen such a pretty rustic house as the fairies built
for Puck and Blossom. It was made of young trees, interlaced
with willow-wands, and the walls were lined with rich soft moss,
and decorated with fir cones, bunches of scarlet ash-berries, and
bouquets of flowers. It was thatched with moss, and wild
cowslips and anemones were growing out of the roof. A hand-
some block of oak was placed for a step to the threshold, and the
doorway was a perfect bower of ivy, fern-wreaths, and honey-
suckle. Another block of oak stood for a table inside, and two
soft cushions of moss were placed, one at each side of it, on the
"I daresay they will want to have a fire," said Trip;
"mortals are so chilly and so fond of burning sticks and stones.
"We must not forget anything to make them comfortable." So
Puff and Whisk carried a fine large slaty stone and laid it flat
18 Queer Little Neighbours.
on the floor, just under a little hole in the roof which was meant
for a chimney.
"And now I think we can do no more for them at present,'
said the fairies; and they washed their hands in the dew, and
went home to breakfast in their own new habitation.
During the whole night more and more fairies had been
arriving from the other side of the river, with their children and
baggage, and had been busy establishing themselves in homes of
their own, under shelter of the new fairy settlement. You are
not to suppose that a regular house is a necessary of life with
these little creatures, who make their dwellings chiefly in bowery
places, among bushes where the leaves grow thick, in hollow
hedges and trees, and in primrosy and violety places beneath
underwood. A broad leaf screens them from the sun, and a
little drapery of moss protects them from the wind. Still, they
like to have a more important dwelling in the centre of their
village, and this was exactly what Puck and Blossom had built
for them. The new castle was to be common property among
them all, and each family was to have its own little nest outside
in addition. This was a very pleasant arrangement, and thousands
of little fairies of the honest tribe came across the stream that
night, eager for change of air, and full of glee at the thought of
the intercourse they were now permitted to hold with human
I must tell you that good fairies have a great liking for
us mortals, in a pitying kind of way. They think us very badly
provided with wits in proportion to the size of our great bodies.
We cannot hear the grass growing, nor see the wind; nor, except
by special privilege, understand the chatter of the river, nor the
The Fairy Flitting. 19
conversation of the trees, flowers, birds, bees, and hundreds of
other live creatures that enjoy the light of the sun along with us.
They believe us to possess many good qualities, however, and to
be, on the whole, well deserving of being looked after and taken
care of a little by those who are wiser and more clever than
ourselves. The goblins, on the contrary, despise us, and are
never so well content as when tormenting us; while the birds,
insects, and animals are divided into two parties, one being
friendly with the fairies, the other with the goblins. All the
singing birds, butterflies, lady-birds, fire-flies, grasshoppers, field-
mice, ants, bees, and many others, belong to our little friends;
while the birds of prey, rats, weasels, snails, wasps, gnats, spiders,
and all other mischievous creatures that bite and sting, are
always willing to help their foes. All the first-mentioned little
creatures were wide awake and in a state of excitement on
this wonderful night of the fairies flitting, some carrying luggage,
some chattering and giving advice, the fire-flies showing light,
and the bees laying up honey in the pantries. The mother fairies
could not get the children to go to bed, for one was riding
between a butterfly's wings and another was astride the back of a
field-mouse. By-the-bye, I must tell you that the fairy fathers
and mothers are called by names like Tick and Tack, and Pick
and Peck; and when you wish to speak to them you do not say,
'My dear Mr. and Mrs. Tack or Peck,' but you say, 'My dear
Tick-Tack,' or, 'My good Pick-Peck.' The children are called
the little Tick-Tacks or Pick-Pecks, until they are fully grown
up to the height of a mushroom; then they have a right to take
names of their own.
"My dear Hop-Skip," said Whisk to his friends, "you may
20 Queer Little Neighbours.
as well leave off scolding the little ones. They are past their
sleep with excitement, and the sun is about to rise. They can
take six winks to-morrow night instead of three, and that will
make it all right. Our little human friends, Puck and Blossom,
will be coming out to play very soon, and it would be a pity for
your little ones to miss seeing their surprise when they discover
the new house we have made them."
"You spoil the children, Uncle Whisk," said Skip; but the
little Hop-Skips were allowed to stay up.
THE STRANGE WHITE BIRD.
HE sun rose on the beautiful valley, the birds sang out, the
flowers opened their eyes, the farm-yards wakened up with
a great crowing and lowing, and clucking and quacking, as if all
the cows and poultry remembered something they had forgotten
to say the night before, and began to make a noise in the world
together. Farmer Barleycorn's great cock was just telling a
wonderful dream he had had to all the hens assembled round him,
when the farm-house door opened, and little Blossom came out in
her clean pink frock, with her rosy cheeks, as fresh as a red and
white daisy. At the garden gate she found Puck, who was
waiting for her, and the two set out for their morning ramble
through the meadows.
Before very long they arrived at the spot where the beautiful
new house stood waiting for them.
"Look here, Blossom I" cried Puck. "Where did this house
made of flowers come from ? Isn't it strange ? Is it really there?
Rub your eyes and try again."
"It wasn't there last night," said Blossom; "but if it isn't
there now, how can we both see it ?"
Rub your eyes," repeated Puck; and they both rubbed their
eyes very hard and looked again. The house was certainly there.
22 The Strange White Bird
" Hurrah!" cried Puck, with a wild shout of delight, and sprang
into it. "Our little mud hut has grown up in the night! "
"Perhaps the fairies did it," said Blossom, stepping on her
tip-toes and speaking very low.
Oh, you silly! cried Puck; "there are no fairies here."
A little laugh of the most exquisite glee rang out from among
the honeysuckle leaves.
"What is that ?" said Blossom.
"I don't know," said Puck, looking rather startled.
Another tiny shriek of fun was heard, a little rustling of the
leaves, and then Hop and Whisk sprang out of the honeysuckle,
and stood bowing and capering before the children on the slab of
their own oak table.
"Here we are! How do you do ? No fairies I Ha, ha, ha,
ha, ha!" and the two tiny fellows held their sides and shook
We beg your pardon," said Blossom; we never saw you
before; we didn't know "
"Of course we didn't," said Puck; "but if you little chaps
are as good-natured as you look, we are very glad to make your
"Thank you," said Hop.
"How do you like your house ?" said Whisk.
"Beautiful! cried Puck and Blossom. "And was it you
who made it for us ?"
"We only returned your civility," said Hop. To tell you
the truth, I did not think you would have been able to see us or
hear us. This interview is quite a surprise."
"We were both born on Sunday," said Blossom, and. I often
The House-warming. 23
heard my godmother saying that Sunday children can see the
"True, true; I had quite forgotten that," said Whisk.
"Wonders will never cease, they say. Even for us, who can hear
the grass growing, see through a stone wall, and receive telegrams
by the wind about what is going on in every corner of creation
-even to us Nature is full of mysteries. There is no way of
accounting for it, but sometimes we do get a surprise."
"I hope you do not object to knowing us," said Blossom.
"Not at all," said Hop; "we have taken a great interest in
you, both for your own sakes and the sake of the species to which
you belong. We have always held that man at his best is a
respectable being. For my own part, I would back a man to do
well anything which his limited powers enable him to attempt."
"Come," said Whisk, "no more lectures. You know you
love these human children, and so do we all, and that is the
whole of it. Our brothers and sisters are waiting to come in.
Enter, fairies! Trip, Trot, Fly, Skip, Whirl 1"
And immediately the little bower was swarming with tiny
people, who leaped over the table and seats, dropped from the
ceiling, hung on to the walls, turned somersaults in the air, rode
about on bees and butterflies, and sang and chirped and laughed
and chattered, till the sunbeams seemed to be suddenly all alive
with little brilliant fantastic figures and a happy, delightful
murmur of sound. All the fairies in their turn petted and
sported with the human children, twined themselves in their
curly hair, tickled their cheeks, nestled in their necks, and played
hide-and-seek in and out of their ears; and at last, when they
had satisfied themselves by welcoming the young mortals in this
24 The Strange White Bird.
lively manner, they suddenly departed and left them to them-
"We have given you a house-warming," said Hop, kissing
his hand to them airily from the leaf of a scarlet passion-flower;
and then he also vanished in the blue air, having his business to
look after as well as the rest; for fairies have a great deal to
attend to,'I can tell you. It is they who paint the birds' eggs
with such pretty spots, save the lives of poor half-dead flies by
picking them out of the spider's net, guard lovely rosebuds from
the deadly attacks of the snails, and count the falling stars, so as
to know what becomes of them. They know how many of these
stars change into diamonds as they fall and go to form those
treasures in the earth of which the fairies are guardians. They
also know how many of them become fire-flies, and all the secrets
that these living stars have brought down with them from the
skies, understanding well how to make use of the wonderful light
which the fire-flies can throw upon most things.
No sooner had Puck and Blossom recovered a little from their
surprise than they began to make themselves delightfully happy
in their fairy house. The first thing they did was to light a fire
on the hearthstone, just as the fairies had foreseen that they
would want to do; and then they carried cakes and milk and had
their breakfast, sitting on the seats of moss at the table of oak.
It was all enchanting; the sun shone through the little open
windows and on the flowery walls, and made spots of gold on the
milk in the children's cups. After breakfast, they became
very busy arranging the place according to their taste, hanging
up their toys and playthings, and making believe delightfully
that they had got no other home than this to live in. Never
The Wicked Wasp. 25
were there two happier little children than Puck and Blossom in
the fairies' house.
In the meantime, though the children and the good fairies
were not thinking of the goblins, yet the goblins had not given
up thinking of them. While Puck and Blossom were busy at
their play, they heard a great buzzing, and a large insect whizzed
in upon a sunbeam and hovered about the children's heads.
"It is a wasp !" cried Blossom, shrinking; and Puck took off
his cap and tried to beat it away, but they heard it still buzzing
up in the roof with an angry noise.
They went on with their play, but somehow after that every-
thing went wrong. The fire went out, and Blossom let fall some
toys, and Puck got cross and shouted at her, and then they
sulked at each other in different corners. When they began to
talk again, it was to grumble at the fairies and to find fault with
"It won't last any time," said Puck; "the rain will come
through and wet it, and we shall be all in a mess."
"There are only two windows," pouted Blossom, "and we
ought to have three."
"You silly little thing !" said Puck; "there are not three of
us to look out of three windows. There are plenty of faults to
be found without that."
I have as much right to find fault as you," returned Blossom.
You cross little thing I" growled Puck.
"You unkind, naughty, wicked boy I" sobbed Blossom.
And so they went on scolding and fighting, and all the time
the wasp was buzzing away fiercely in the roof, having been sent
there by the goblins to put evil thoughts in the children's
26 The Strange White Bird.
heads. Pinch and Sly, with two of their companions, Stamp and
Flame, were at this very moment hiding among the leaves outside
the fairy house, and were laughing and rolling about with delight
at hearing Puck and Blossom behaving so badly and making each
other so dreadfully unhappy. Presently another wasp, with a
quantity of foolish wishes and discontented thoughts tucked
under his wings, whizzed into the house, and buzzed beside the
other one; and then the scene between the children became
shocking. At last they both rushed out of the house to get away
from each other.
They wandered about separately for a little while, and then
met again in the sunshine; stared, smiled, wondered what they
had been quarrelling about, kissed and made friends, and sat down
together on the stile to talk about everything that had happened.
"While sitting so, they heard a soft cooing sound above their heads,
and, looking up, saw a beautiful white dove nestling in the
branches of a tree above their heads.
"Poor little things !" said the Dove. So you have quarrelled
already with your pretty house."
The children hung their heads.
"We don't know how it happened," they said. "We were
so delighted with it at first, and then suddenly everything went
"I saw it all," said the Dove; "the goblins have been playing
you a trick. They sent bad wishes into the house to make you
miserable. The wasps brought them to you."
"Yes, indeed," cried Blossom; "there was a frightful wasp
buzzing in the roof."
"And there will be more of them," said the Dove. "The
Bowers and Palaces. 27
goblins intend to torment you; and because your friends-the
fairies, birds, and many others-protect you so well, they do not
know how to hurt you except by putting discontent into your
"Yes," said Puck, "we were certainly quite happy till we
got discontented with the house."
"And we thought it beautiful," said Blossom, "until the
wasps came buzzing about us. Then I wanted three windows,
and Puck wished for a different kind of roof."
"And very soon you would have been longing for your
bower to turn into a palace."
What is a palace ?" asked Blossom.
"A palace, a palace!" said the Dove. "Dear me I how
shall I describe it to you ? Why, it is a very large, grand house,
where people often sit and fret because they have got nothing
to trouble them. No nice thatch for little singing-birds to build
in there, I can tell you. I myself am the only bird who ever
dared to make her nest in the roof of a palace; and so by means
of a little innocent eaves-dropping, which I really could not help,
I know more about the inside of its stately walls than most people."
I'd rather have our little bower," said Blossom.
"Take care of the wasps, then," said the Dove. "Many a
person has said, 'I would rather have my little bower;' and very
soon afterwards has been wishing it to change into a palace.
Sometimes it will and sometimes it won't; and either way, the
wishers are likely to be punished."
"But how could it change ?" said Puck; houses don't grow
of themselves without something helping them."
They change in different ways," said the Dove; "but how-
28 The Strange White Bird.
ever it is done, it is always a fearfully dangerous operation.
Sometimes the people change with it into dreadful giants, some-
thing frightful; and sometimes they can't change at all, and that
is as bad, when the roof grows up and up, and the walls spread
out, and the poor little people are left like mites in the great
space, and are as cold and lonely as if they were out on a bare
"Shocking!" said Puck. "The next time the wasps come
near us I will get a great branch and kill them."
"But they fly away," said Blossom.
"They had better," said Puck.
"And then they come buzzing back when you are not
watching," said Blossom.
Something whizzed in the air, and Puck set his teeth and
swung a great branch round his head; but there was nothing
near him, only a beautiful blue dragon-fly, which perched on his
shoulder and laughed at him.
"Don't hurt me," said the Dragon-fly; "I am one of your
friends, and I bring you a good thought from the fairies. Ask
the Dove if she does not know of something which will protect
your house from the wasps. She has a very simple appearance,
but she has lived a good deal in very solemn places, church
steeples and temples, and in other lofty situations, and has stored
up a great deal of wisdom. Her knowledge is quite of a different
description from that of the fairies, and a little of everything will
be good for you."
An amber Butterfly perched upon Blossom's cheek at this
moment, and shook its gossamer wings delicately, and cried
"Bravo !" to the Dragon-fly's very long speech.
The HapAy Rose. 29
The white Dove laughed with her soft "Cool cool" and
I was just going to tell, without being asked, of something I
know which will protect people from the goblins' wasps with
their evil wishes. That was why I came and sat here above the
children's heads, and not merely to preach a sermon about bowers
and palaces. There is a certain rose, of a rich red colour and with
a delicious fragrance; and when it is planted at any doorway,
neither discontent nor quarrelling can come over the threshold.
The breath of its perfume makes evil wasps fall dead; while
everything that is good feels stronger and happier for tasting
the scent. When planted securely, it goes on flourishing and
strengthening and spreading every day, till at last it covers the
dwelling all over with bloom, and makes it lovely and delicious
as a Paradise. It has no thorns- "
"Oh, do tell us where to get it !" cried Blossom, eagerly.
"Ah! that is the question," said the Dove. Very few possess
it, and it is not easily found. Many a rose is planted and grows
gaily round the doorway of cottage and castle, but the thorns are
thick under the leaves, and sighs and sharp words are beyond
"But some people have it 1" said Blossom.
Oh yes, some people have; and when others pass groaning
by, they wonder at the happy faces in the house; but they would
only laugh scornfully if told that that sweet red rose-tree had
anything to do with the difference between themselves and those
they envy so much."
What a pity 1" said Puck; "and I daresay the happy people
would give them a slip or a root if they liked to have it."
30 The Strange White Bird.
"Those who have the real rose are always glad to do so,"
said the Dove; but often, even when unhappy people know what
it is, they are too proud to ask for it; or if they ask and get it,
they afterwards let it die of neglect."
"I would not be too proud to ask," said Blossom.
And I would not let it die," said Puck.
Oh, dear Dove I tell us where to look for it," said Blossom.
Well, if you really are in earnest," said the Dove.
"We are! we are I" cried the children.
Then just slip a thread round my neck and I will fly you a
piece of the way," said the Dove. "You will make many mistakes
and have many adventures before you come back, but all- will be
good for you, and your friends will certainly not let any great
danger befal you before your return."
"I will go and tell the fairies I" cried the Dragon-fly; "I
don't half like this wandering freak."
The Dove knows better than we do," said the Butterfly; but
they flew off together to tell the fairies, while Puck and Blossom
set out on their journey in an opposite direction. They had
bridled the Dove with a red silk thread; and finding themselves
swept through the air with all the speed of the white bird's
wings, they laughed with glee, singing-
Away we go,
Over the world
Good-bye, dear friends;
Good-bye, sweet fays-
We're off to travel
For two or three days." /
The Fairy Postman. 33
When the butterfly and dragon-fly found Hop, he was sitting
on the edge of a blackbird's nest gossiping with the mother bird
and painting her pretty new eggs, of which she was very proud.
He bade her good morning in a great hurry as soon as he heard
the news about the children, dropped down on the grass, and
plucking some wild rose leaves, set to work to write letters on
them with a thorn. These were circular letters to different
families of fairies in different quarters of the globe, and ran
"My dear Flip-Flap (or Hob-Nob, or Tow-Row),-Two
little human children, friends of mine, have just set out on a
very dangerous adventure. If they happen to come in your way,
take care that no trouble befals them, for I am sorry to say the
goblins have an eye on them.-Yours, HOP."
He gave these letters to the wind, who, of course you know,
is the fairy postman, and who chanced to come by at the
moment; and then he hastened to consult with his friends, whom
he found assembling to dinner in a shady grassy place.
Don't be uneasy," said Whisk; believe me, the Dove knows
what she is about."
"I'm not so sure of that," said Hop; she is a sleepy, easy-
going kind of body, and may get the children into trouble."
"Wait till you see," said Whisk. "She is quiet and soft-
spoken, but she broods over something that we know nothing
about. I have watched her by the hour on a sunny day when I
felt lazy, and I have a shrewd guess that there is a secret of
wisdom in that little head of hers which you and I have not
reached to yet."
"I'm glad to hear it," said Hop. "I hope it is true. Every
34 The Strange White Bird.
creature has his own peculiar gifts certainly, and I am willing to
believe just now that the dove is the wisest of us all. However,
let us be merry, and drink the health of Puck and Blossom in
dew; and as Chirp is busy giving the birds their music-lesson,
perhaps Scrape will be kind enough to tune up his viol."
The music began, and Hop recovered his good spirits.
"At all events," he said, "I have provided against accidents.
Every fairy in the universe knows at this moment of the children's
"So does every goblin," said a spiteful little voice close by;
and there was Flame, one of the naughtiest of the green goblins,
leading a cruel spider by a thread, and looking quite ready to do
mischief to anything he might come across.
THE OLD WOMAN WHO KEPT THE VILLAGE IN
P UCK and Blossom found it very delightful to be skimming
along over the world in the blue air. They went three
times round the earth, just for the sake of the exercise, before
they stopped anywhere; and then at last the dove flew gently
down with them through the sunbeams, and landed them safely
on a mossy bank in a pretty green country, where rivers were
flowing and flowers blooming. They ran about with glee, ex-
ploring the place; but presently looking round to see what had
become of the dove, they found that she had vanished.
She said she would only lead us a piece of the way," said
Puck. "Now we must go and shift for ourselves;" and they
clasped hands and set off walking towards a village which they
saw in the distance. They arrived there about sunset, and found
it a pretty place, but rather in confusion, and the people had a
look as if they were bothered about something. On a hill above
the village stood a beautiful cottage covered with flowers, and
surrounded by trees and farmyards and meadows. A great
deal of smoke was coming out of the chimneys.
Who lives up there ?" asked Puck, pointing to the place.
Ugh 1" said a man, shrugging his shoulders, that is where
the old lady lives who keeps the village in hot water."
36 The Village in Hot Water.
That is very kind of her," said Blossom. You must have
no trouble at all about making your tea and giving baths to your
children. She must be a very good old lady."
Ugh 1" said the man again, she takes a great deal of trouble
with us anyway."
I'm afraid these are very ungrateful people," said Blossom to
Puck, as they trotted on again. I feel rather afraid of them.
Let us go straight to the old lady and ask if she has got the rose
in her garden."
I hope she will offer us some supper the first thing," said
Puck, "for I am terribly hungry."
They went and stood at the pretty green gate and looked in.
There was such a charming place, with blooming walls and gardens,
a door twined with ivy, and roses all over the front of the house.
"I am sure the rose must be here 1" said Puck. "That
must be it at the window."
It ought to be just at the door," said Blossom.
Oh I that does not matter," said Puck.
An old woman opened the door of the house, and came down
the garden path to the gate. She was a very queer-looking old
lady, and the children were rather startled when they saw her.
She had "nut-cracker" features, and a very high cap trimmed with
handsome lace and ribbon, and a velvet shawl, and high-heeled
shoes, and walked very briskly, though she leaned on a tortoise-
shell stick. The children did not quite like her looks; but Puck
had often been told by his father not to judge by appearances, and
Blossom had heard her mother declare that "handsome is that
handsome does." So they did not run away, only stared very
hard through the bars of the gate.
Visitors always welcome. 37
What do you want ?" asked the old woman.
We are very tired and hungry," said Blossom. Will you
let us in ?"
"Visitors are always welcome here," said the old woman,
"provided they make themselves useful;" and she opened the
gate and brought them in, and took them through many rooms
of her beautiful house, which was furnished in the handsomest
manner. The children wanted to look at all the pretty things,
but she hurried them along, and seemed remarkably restless, and
ran away and left them very often, and came back again, looking
very hot and flurried. At last she invited them to sit down with
her at a well-spread table, and Puck and Blossom were thankful
for their supper. But the old lady could not keep still for more
than two or three minutes together. She was always jumping
up and running away, and coming back again, looking hotter
and more worried than ever.
This is a very pleasant house," remarked Puck, when she
had seated herself for the fourth time, with a great sigh, and
began to eat a morsel. "I am sure you must be very happy
living here, madam."
The old lady groaned. Oh, it would all be very well," she
said, "if I could get peace to enjoy it; but it is such a dreadful
trouble to me having to keep that village in hot water."
Why do you do it, then ?" asked Puck.
"Why do I do it ?" exclaimed the old woman, angrily.
"For the good of the people, of course !"
It must be very troublesome," said Puck.
It's perfect slavery," said the old woman. "What with carry-
ing water, lighting fires, and chopping wood, never to speak of
38 The Village in Hot Water.
the price of coals, it's enough to break down any but the most
It is very good of you, I am sure," said Puck, remembering
in a great puzzle the thankless remarks of the man in the
"I should think so," said the old woman, though I get little
gratitude for it; and yet I do it all of my own good will, and
have done so for years. I began by carrying little jugfuls and
then pailfuls to the people's doors; but all was not enough for
my generosity, so I have lately enlarged my boilers, and had
pipes connected with them laid on to every cottage in the village.
But here there was a sound heard of hissing steam, and the
old lady jumped up with a shriek, and hobbled out of the room.
How do you like her ?" asked Puck of Blossom, when she
I am not quite sure," said Blossom, timidly. I am afraid
of her forehead. There seems to be a strange knot under the skin
above her brows, and it is always tying itself up and untying
That is only what is called 'expression' in people's faces,"
said Puck. I have heard father talking about it."
It looks as if one of the goblins had got inside her head, and
was pulling a string," said Blossom.
"Oh, you silly I" said Puck; "they couldn't get in; and
besides, there are no strings to pull."
"How do you know what is inside ?" said Blossom; "you
never were there. And the goblins could get in by her ears, they
are so large and wide open."
The Old Woman's Boilers. 39
"To tell you the truth," said Puck, "the only thing I am
afraid of about her is, that when she snaps her mouth that way
her chin will kick her nose."
The children laughed so heartily at this idea, that they
were scarcely able to stop when the old lady came back and went
on with her supper.
After supper she took them down a steep staircase that led
under ground to her kitchen, which was a great dark room, with
boilers round the walls, besides open fires in all directions, where
little kettles and saucepans were hissing and steaming with great
fury. Here she gave the children each a poker, and bade them
stir up the fires, while she herself ran about doing the same, till
the whole place was glowing like a furnace. The children began
to feel extremely hot and uncomfortable, and to think longingly of
the fresh fields outside, and the garden where the flowers were
tasting the dew. At last, after two or three hours' terrible work,
Blossom's little hands were getting quite scorched, and, half-
crying, she went up to the old woman, pulled the corner of her
shawl, and asked faintly if she might go out to see whether there
were any roses in the garden.
Of course there are roses in the garden," snapped the old
woman; "but we have no time to think of them here, I can tell
you. You must go on poking the fire till it is time to go to
bed, and then I will set you your tasks for the morning."
Her chin kicked her nose as she spoke, and the knot in her
forehead tied itself up as if it could never be unpicked again;
and Blossom shrank away without a word, and went on with her
work. It was quite late when the old woman allowed her little
servants to go to bed, and then she laid a little hatchet by each
40 The Village in Hot Water.
of their heads, and told them they were to be up the first thing
in the morning, and busy chopping wood in the thicket.
I don't believe that the Dove's rose is growing here at all,"
said Blossom next morning as they went out to their work; and
she cast longing looks towards the garden as she spoke, but dared
not go near it lest the old lady should be looking from the
windows. "It was only to be found with good and happy
people; and good and happy people are always kind, and have
pleasant-looking faces. This old woman is both cruel and ugly,
I am sure."
She makes us very miserable, certainly," said Puck, "and
she suffers a great deal herself; but then she says it is all for the
good of people."
So she does," said Blossom; and the children felt very per-
plexed in their minds.
They were very industrious, and chopped a great heap of
wood before breakfast; and as they stopped to take breath, they
noticed that two weasels were sitting watching them with the
most earnest attention. When they took the wood in their arms
to carry it to the house, the weasels followed them with chips in
their mouths; and at the kitchen door a rat came out to meet the
weasels, and had a long conversation with them on the threshold.
The children did not notice this much the first time, but when
they found it happened every morning they thought it a little
remarkable. All that day they were kept poking the fires as
before, while the old woman rushed about, moaning and groan-
ing, and feeding the fires and filling the boilers, and seeing that
water went steaming hot down the pipes to the village. Every
day it was the same; the children were nearly scorched to death,
Girls are so goosey. 41
and the only happy time they had was when they were chopping
the wood, with the weasels sitting watching them. Blossom
wanted to run away, without waiting to know anything more
about the rose; but Puck said, "Girls are so goosey, always
wanting to settle things in a hurry. Let us wait and see how it
will end. Perhaps we shall get the rose for our wages."
That very day the old woman remarked at dinner that, as
they had worked so well, they might take a walk down through
the village just to see with their own eyes all the good she was
doing. The children set off in great delight, and the weasels
walked behind them every step of the way. The water had just
been turned on in the pipes before they left the old woman's
house, and as Puck and Blossom stopped before the first cottage
in the village they saw a great cloud of steam coming out of the
door. As the wind puffed it away a little they were able to see
into the place: a stream of hot water was pouring down through
the roof, and a woman was on her knees trying to mop it up as
it fell, and sweep it out of the place. The woman's clothes were
all wet, and her face blistered with the steam; three little
children, with heads and feet tied up, were perched on a table out
of the way in a corner crying over their burns; the baby in the
cradle had got its hands scalded, and was screaming; the fire
was out, and the half-cooked dinner floating about in the flood
upon the floor. Puck and Blossom went from door to door, and
in every house the same scene was going on.
"What has done this ?" cried Puck, in astonishment, coming
back to the first cottage.
"Oh, don't speak to me 1" said the woman, wringing her
hands. "Don't you see what it is ?"
42 The Village in Hot Water.
The father of the family was leaning against the wall outside
the house, looking very miserable.
Can you tell me, sir," said Puck, politely touching his arm
to rouse him, "what has caused all this dreadful flooding in
your house ?"
The man stared. "Where do you come from," he asked,
"that you do not know the curse of this place ? The old woman
who lives up yonder is scalding us out of the world."
"But she surely does not know what she is doing I" said
Blossom. "We will run off immediately and tell her."
The poor man smiled grimly and buried his face in his hands
again; and the children arrived breathlessly in the old lady's
"Oh, madam! cried they, "the water is pouring in through
all the roofs in the village and scalding the people!"
"Just like them!" snapped the old lady; "I told them long
ago that they should have tubs and cisterns ready to catch it
when it falls. But it is just like their want of thrift. To think
of the water going to waste after all my trouble and expense!"
Puck and Blossom stared and felt bewildered, and were silent
a long time, trying to make up their minds as to which was in
the wrong, the toiling old lady or the suffering villagers.
"Puck," whispered Blossom at last, "what would be the
good of their having cisterns, for the water would be quite cold
before the people could use it ? They might as well carry it up
from the river as they want it."
"Hush said Puck. We had better get out of the place
as fast as we can."
This was more easily said than done, however. The weasels
The Goblins' Doing / 43
had not been set to watch them for nothing, and the children
soon found that the old lady was determined to keep them
prisoners in the place. They were not allowed out to chop wood
any more, but were always in the kitchen working with the
fires, till they felt as miserable as the poor people who were
getting scalded in the village.
One day when Blossom was filling one of the boilers with
water, crying all the time to think of the trouble she was
helping to bring on the poor people outside, whom should she see
but Pinch, the wicked goblin, sitting outside upon the tap. He
vanished as soon as she saw him, but after that the children
guessed very well that it was the goblins who had got them into
this trouble, and the very next day they saw Stamp and Flame
and several others taking the chips from the weasels' mouths and
feeding the fires with them.
Oh, Puck !" sobbed Blossom, "do you think the Dove has
forgotten us ?"
"Really, I don't know," said Puck; "it looks very like it."
The old woman was getting wilder and fiercer every day,
and making her fires more enormous, and talking of putting up
still larger boilers, and all the time bemoaning herself about the
labour she had to endure for the sake of her fellow-creatures.
"I am afraid we shall be boiled to death," said Blossom; for
the old woman had got heaps of wood cut and stored that she
might not have to send the children out of the kitchen.
That night, however, when Blossom wakened in the moon-
light, there she saw three good little fairies sitting smiling on her
breast. "Poor little girl!" they said, nodding at her kindly;
"you have had a very hard time of it, and it is time all this
44 The Village in Hot Wlater.
trouble should be put an end to. Some time ago we had a
letter from our friend Hop about you, but the wise white Dove
told us afterwards that we were not to interfere in too great a
hurry, as you had come out for a little experience of the world."
We came to travel in search of the beautiful rose that grows
at happy people's doorsteps," said Blossom.
Well, I suppose you do not think to find it here," said the
fairies, "so you must get on a little further through the world."
We can't get on," said Blossom.
"To-morrow morning," said the fairies, you will be sent to
chop wood. We have carried away all the stored wood out of
the kitchen, and the old woman will be obliged to let you go.
When you get to the thicket, you will see something strange that
is going to happen."
"What can be going to happen ?" asked Blossom.
"Wait till you see," said the fairies.
When the children went down in the morning, they found the
old woman in a terrible state because she could not find any
wood to add to her fires, which had been blazing all night; and
very unwillingly she sent Puck and Blossom into the thicket to
cut some. As soon as they had arrived there, the fairies hopped
down out of the branches of the trees and joined them, and when
the weasels saw the fairies they squeaked wildly and scampered
away to tell the goblins."
"Just get in behind the thick trunk of this tree," said the
fairies; and no sooner had the children obeyed, than a frightful
crack was heard, as if the earth had split open; the roof of the
old woman's cottage flew up in the air, the chimneys danced
away on their own account, the glass shot out of the windows in
Only a few Scalds. 45
a thousand spikes, and a terrible roaring sound filled the air like
a tempest. The old lady's boilers had burst, and had blown her
house to pieces.
"That is very satisfactory," said the fairies. "Now the poor
people will be tormented no longer. You had better hurry off,
children; there is nothing more to be gained by staying here."
"Oh she will be drowned-she will be drowned!" cried
Blossom, as they saw the old woman floating about and struggling
wildly in the hot water which had flowed up to her broken
Not she 1" said the fairies; "she will be safe enough, and
may get off with a few scalds, which will let her understand what
she made the poor villagers suffer. The next time she wants to
insist on doing good to her fellow-creatures she will try it some-
Her boilers are all broken, at all events," said Puck; and
taking Blossom by the hand, he set off to follow the fairies
through the thicket and across the fields and far out into the
world. They came to a narrow river, and the fairies said, Now
we can go with you no further;" and the children passed across
a little wooden bridge, kissing hands back to the fairies, who had
frolicked up into the trees again, and were dangling from the
boughs in the sunshine.
THE CITY OF THE DISCONTENTED CHILDREN.
DrUCK and Blossom travelled on till it was quite evening, and
J they saw suddenly before them a great calm sea, with the
sun just slipping into it out of a bed of crimson clouds. They
played some time upon the smooth strand, and watched the snow-
white sea-birds riding in on the reddened waves; and then they
strayed into a cave which ran under some rocks, and wandered
on a long, long way, till the place became quite dark and they
could not find the path back again.
"Oh, Puck I I am dreadfully frightened!" cried Blossom.
You needn't," said Puck, for we shall be sure to find some
other way out."
He was a little frightened though himself, for he could not
see where he was putting his feet; however, he would not have
let Blossom know that for the world. By-and-by the children
felt that they were descending steps which seemed, leading them
into the sea, and, stepping very carefully, they went down and
down in the dark till their little legs were tired. Presently a
bright light began to shine up from below, and they could see each
other now quite plainly; and could also perceive that the steps
which they had trodden so fearfully were made of smooth green
jasper, encrusted with pearls.
Under the Sea 47
"How beautiful I" said Puck. "Where can the light be
coming from ? "
"Perhaps it is the sun," said Blossom. "You know he
went down into the sea just as we were playing on the sand. He
had time to be here before us."
"Nonsense said Puck; "the sun doesn't really go into
the water. I heard something about that, but I forget. At all
events, this is not a bit like the sunlight."
No, indeed," said Blossom; what in the world can it be?
"Let us go down further and find out," said Puck.
They went down till they came to the bottom of the steps,
and there they saw a queer-looking old man sitting looking up
at them with a curious grin on his wrinkled countenance. He
was dressed in a shaggy coat of sea-weed, and held a large three-
pronged fork in his hand. The children stopped short and felt
rather afraid of him, not feeling at all sure that he looked like a
"Hallo, little folks he cried. "Come along. Walk in
here; this is the place for you !"
"Please, sir, who are you ?" said Puck; "and what sort of
place are you inviting us to ?"
I am the Old Man of the Sea," replied the stranger. "I
have another name which is better known to the world, but it
would smell to you of the schoolroom."
And where are you going to send us ?" asked Blossom.
To the City of the Discontented Children," said the Old Man
of the Sea. That is the place you are seeking for, I take it."
We are looking for the happy rose," said Blossom. Does
it grow down here ?"
48 The City of the Discontented Children.
I never heard of it," said the Old Man; but you can search
for yourselves. This is the only place in the world where
children can do exactly what they please."
"Delightful I" cried Puck.
"But what do the grown people say ?" asked Blossom.
"There are no grown people," said the Old Man. "This is a
city inhabited by children who were determined to have their
own will, and made themselves intolerable in their homes. They
have been carried down here by some friends of mine, in order
that they may enjoy themselves to the top of their bent. They
will all be delighted to see you, I am sure."
He signed to them to proceed, and Puck and Blossom hopped
down from the last step, and passed on into a wonderful street,
which was all paved with pearls as large as pebbles, and where
the houses were made of jasper and agate and crystal and coral.
The sea hung overhead like a deep green sky, and it flowed all
around the streets, but did not pour over the pavements nor drip
into the houses. The little strangers stood on the pearl pavement
and stared about, and soon a whole flock of children gathered round
them. They were odd-looking children, dressed in the fashion
of grown people, but in garments of the strangest materials.
They introduced themselves at once. There were Madame
Disobedience, Lady Domineer, Madame Fury, and Madame Fibs;
and there were my Lord Overbearing, Mr. Cross-Patch, and the
Honourable Sneak. Lady Domineer and Lord Overbearing were
at the head of affairs in the place. There was going to be a
grand ball in the evening at the house of Madame Disobedience,
and Madame Fury invited Puck and Blossom to come home and
dine with her, promising to take them afterwards to the enter-
The Goblins again 49
tainment. They went with her willingly, being very hungry, and
also very tired with answering all the questions which had been
put to them by the Discontented Children. They followed their
hostess into one of the beautiful crystal houses, which was
exquisitely furnished and appointed, and sat down with her at a
table which was spread as if for an alderman's feast.
Mr. Cross-Patch took Blossom down to dinner as if she had
been a grown-up lady, and Puck was obliged to give his arm to
the lady of the house. Madame Fury was dressed in a flame-
coloured satin petticoat, with a train of glittering fish-skin, and
tortoise-shell shoes. She had a necklace of coral hanging down
to her knees, and plumes of white sea-weed standing aloft upon
her head. As they sat down to dinner, Blossom noticed that
goblins attended table. They flew about so quickly that she
could not see their faces, and so was not sure whether they
were any of her old acquaintances or some others whom she had
never seen before, but she was too hungry to think much about
it at the moment.
"What names would you like to be called by here ?" asked
Madame Fury of her guests.
"My name is Blossom Barleycorn," said Blossom.
"And mine is Puck Meadowsweet," said Puck.
"Oh, of course those were your names at home," said Madame
Fury, "but here we are all named after our accomplishments.
"What was it that made you wish to come here ? Could you not
get leave to beat your nurse or eat up all the sweet things, or
did your brothers and sisters object to have their faces pinched
and scratched a hundred times a-day ? Madame Greedy and Mr.
Sulks would be nice names for you, I think."
50 The City of the Discontented Children.
"I shouldn't like them at all," said Blossom.
"Nor I," said Puck.
"Well, well; you must not be too particular, as nearly all
the names are taken up, and it is hard to find new ones. We
had a Madame Greedy here, but she killed herself eating dainties
yesterday; and if you don't have the name at once, somebody else
will arrive and snatch it up from you. Think over all the things
that your mother used to punish you for-killing flies, beating
the baby, stamping and roaring, stealing the jam and sugar,
tearing up your school-books, pulling out your sisters' and
brothers' hair, telling falsehoods, or cutting up the table-cloths
with a pair of scissors."
"We never did any of those things cried Puck and
"Then what in the world did you do, and what brought you
here ?" screamed Madame Fury, springing up, overturning the
table, and stamping her foot.
"We came to look for the happy rose," said Blossom,
"Can't you let them alone! said Cross-Patch. I suppose
the happy rose is something they were forbidden to have."
"If that is the case it is a different matter," said Madame
"We weren't forbidden," said Puck.
Hold your tongue and come to the ball !" shouted Madame
Fury. I shall ask Lady Domineer what is to be done with you."
That instant a beautiful little coral chariot appeared at the
door drawn by twelve lobsters, and the four children got into it
and were driven to the ball. The goblins acted as coachman and
A Fighting Party. 51
postillion, and this time Blossom felt almost sure that these two
were Pinch and Sly, though they purposely kept their faces
turned away from her. At the house of Madame Disobedience
half the children of the city were assembled, and the crowd was
not at all well behaved, for the guests poked with their elbows
and boxed each other's ears on the slightest provocation. If one
lady trod by accident on another lady's train, she was pretty
sure to get a slap on the face; or if a gentleman pinched another
gentleman's toes, he had his nose pulled on the instant. There
were so many howls of pain and scolding voices that the music
could scarcely be heard, and the dancing was a perfect scene of
confusion. Lady Domineer was seated on a throne at one end of
the room, dressed like a grand lady of fashion, and fanning
herself with an air of importance. She was a very haughty-
looking little girl, and had a loud bold voice, and Puck and
Blossom did not like her a bit better than Madame Fury. My
Lord Overbearing leaned on the back of her chair with his toes
pointed and an eye-glass in his eye. He was a boy with a very
bullying face, and he scowled at Puck and Blossom as they were
led up before him.
"Perhaps you will be able to do something with these
troublesome things," panted Madame Fury. "They have treated
me with the greatest disrespect They have had the impertinence
to declare that they have always been good children."
"We did not say that," said Puck; "we said we had not
done those wicked things you accused us of."
"We don't like to be called naughty names," said Blossom.
"It is no matter what they did in particular," said Lady
Domineer, frowning at Madame Fury; "it is enough that they
52 The City of the Discontented Children.
quarrelled with their parents and ran away from home, in order
to enjoy their own wills and live like grown people without
waiting to get big."
"But we did not," sobbed Blossom. "We love our fathers
and mothers, and we hate this naughty place I"
However, nobody heard her; the rest were so busy listening
to Lady Domineer, who was deciding what was to be done with
"We will call them Madame Obstinate and Mr. Dreadfully
Disagreeable," said she, "and to-morrow I shall see about a
house for them to live in. Now it is getting near supper-time,
and if we do not go down quickly, all the best things will be
eaten up from us."
Immediately after this. there was a great rush to the doors,
and a loud sound of fighting and crying on the staircase.
"Oh, Puck I Puck !" whispered Blossom, do let us get away
from these horrible children I"
"As soon as they are all asleep we will go," said Puck.
"Father often said that if children had everything they wished
for and all their own way they would be neither happy nor nice.
Now I can see that he was right."
We should have been like this if the wasps had got into our
ears," said Blossom; "and the goblins would have brought us
here, and we should have liked it."
I suppose so," said Puck; but now we don't like it, and the
rose is not here, and we are only losing our time every moment
we stay in the place. We may as well have a little supper,
though, before we start."
They went down to the supper-room, but found it in such a
The Dishes Broken. 53
wild state of confusion that they were glad to get behind the
door instead of attempting to look for seats or to ask for some-
thing to eat. The table had certainly been spread with all that
was nice and dainty, but the dishes had been so dragged about
and the cloth so pulled away that everything looked messy and
uncomfortable. Every guest stretched over the table and helped
himself to whatever he fancied; and when two happened to desire
the same at one moment, they fought for the delicacy till the
stronger carried it away. Sometimes the dish was broken and
the contents splashed in angry faces; and sometimes a boxing
match followed, and eyes were scratched and hair pulled out in
handfuls. The goblins who had prepared the feast lurked in the
corners and held their sides with laughing.
"We shall have nothing to eat, I see," said Puck, "and we
may as well slip out and get back to the green jasper stairs;" and
he took Blossom by the hand and led her out of the house. In
this curious city there was neither day nor night, though the
children talked about evening and morning as they had been
accustomed to do in the world above. The place was kept
lighted with large lumps of phosphorus, which hung like lamps
through the streets; and so Puck and Blossom were able to find
their way easily to the green jasper staircase, where the Old Man
"Hallo, youngsters I" cried the Old Man of the Sea. Where
are you off to now?"
We are going further on our journey," said Puck, "for we
do not like this place at all. Will you let us pass, please ?"
"Not I, indeed," said the Old Man, fixing his three-pronged
fork for a bar across the opening. "Children who come down
54 The City of the Discontented Children.
here are not allowed up again in a hurry. Trot back with you,
and make yourselves comfortable."
The children begged and prayed and struggled, but it was all
of no use. Up again into the happy sunshine they were not to be
allowed to go. They turned away sorrowfully, and wandered
idly through the pearl-paved streets.
I am afraid the Dove has forgotten us really this time," said
Oh, wait a bit," said Puck. Besides, you know, we really
have not seen the half of the place."
So they spent a great many hours walking about the city
and saw a variety of curious things, all of which made them
glad that they were not wild wicked children who hated to obey
their fathers and mothers, and had run away from their homes in
order to live like grown people without waiting to grow big. The
most important building in the city was a very large hospital,
and the door was standing open and the children went into it.
The goblins were running about quite boldly here, and it was
quite plain that the place belonged to them. Stamp and Flame
were busy at the fire preparing the most horrible drugs for the
patients; and Pinch and Sly, on seeing Puck and Blossom enter,
came capering up to them in triumph, making hideous faces and
introducing their companions.
"My friend Grunt! My friend Squeal I My friends Howl,
Thump, Nag, and Hiss I They are anxious to make your acquain-
tance, and will attend to you particularly when you are laid up
in our beds."
"Thank you," said Puck, we don't intend to trouble you,"
and he felt inclined to run away; but thinking that this would
A Dreadful Place. 55
be cowardly, he held Blossom very tightly by the hand and
marched boldly forward to visit the patients.
Certainly this hospital was a doleful place. Puck and
Blossom found, on entering the first room, that it was occupied by
the children who had been fighting so shockingly over the supper-
table a few hours before, and who had made themselves so sick
with an over-dose of dainties that the goblins had carried them
off to this place in the most wretched condition. They cried and
complained in the dreariest manner, and called on the goblins to
tell them how soon they should be well and able to enjoy another
feast. The goblins only made faces at them, however, and
poured nasty messes down their throats; upon which the screams
that arose were so terrible that Puck and Blossom were glad to
escape into the next ward, where lay the unhappy little prisoners
who had made themselves sick so often that they now could not
get well nor run about any more. These were a great deal more
patient and quiet than the others, and lay staring at the ceiling
with the most hopeless look in their faces. Puck and Blossom
went from one to another asking them about their pains and
trying to comfort them.
Oh I" said the sick children, why have you come down to
this dreadful place ? Why did any of us come instead of living
happily in obedience to our fathers and mothers ? Now we must
lie here all our lives and stare at the ceiling. If we were at
home we should not mind so much being sick, but here we have
no one to love us or speak to us."
"Cheer up said Puck and Blossom, "for we have
got some good friends who are fairies, and we believe they
will be coming to look for us. If they do, we will speak to
56 The City of the Discontented Children.
them about you, and I daresay they will take you home to your
The poor children dried their eyes at this and were very
much comforted, and Puck and Blossom left the hospital and
went again into the streets. They had scarcely gone a few steps
"when they heard a curious croaking at their feet, and, looking
down, saw a frog hopping after them and gazing up anxiously in
"I have come from your friends," said the Frog, as soon as
the children had stopped and stooped down to hear what he was
saying. You must each catch fast hold of one of my legs, and
I will bring you up through the ocean in a moment. You had
better hurry, for if the Old Man of the Sea should catch sight of
me, he would think little of sticking his three-pronged fork into
The children did as they were told, and the frog made one
great leap upwards, and lit the next moment on a rock high and
dry above the beautiful azure surface of the sea. There was the
yellow strand and the green country beyond it, and the sun was
shining and the birds were singing, just as if there were no such
things as goblins and naughty children in the world, no pearl-
paved city, and no cruel Old Man of the Sea.
'.L' .- ' '. =? '".- "; '' -' " r " ".' -." "n" .''" ''
THE LITTLE SPINSTER'S STORY.
fF course the children found their clothes rather wet after
being dragged up through the sea; but just as they were
wondering how they could dry them, a little troop of fairy
friends appeared scampering over the sands and clambering up
the rocks with pretty new garments in their hands. In a few
more moments Puck and Blossom found themselves dry and
comfortable, and clad in dainty dress which they had never seen
before. They thanked the frog and the fairies with all their
hearts, and begged that they would think of some means of
helping the poor sick children who were so sorry for being
naughty, and of getting them up out of the hospital of the City
under the Sea.
The fairies shook their heads.
"Why did they wish to go there ?" they said.
But the poor little things are so sorry," said Blossom; and
they are dreadfully sick, and there is nobody to mind them!"
"Well, we will see about it," said the fairies. "We will
send circular letters round on the wind this very moment to tell
all the fairies in the world, and to consult them on the matter.
If anything can be done we will do it; but you see down there
we-should be fighting the goblins in their own country, and that
58 The Little Spinster's Story.
is very different from fighting with them on the open face of the
earth. The sun and moon are both our friends, and when we
get out of the reach of their light we lose half of our power.
When we heard about you from our friend Hop, we were very
much afraid that we should never get you up out of the goblins'
clutches, and only for the frog -"
Oh, couldn't he go down again for the rest ?" cried Blossom,
clasping her hands.
He couldn't carry a hundred children as easily as two," said
the fairies; and if he took them by degrees, don't you think
the goblins would see what he was at, and put an end to him ?"
Oh dear!" cried Blossom.
However," said the fairies, "don't you go fret about it, and
if any scheme can be contrived we will certainly do our best to
carry it out.' In the meantime you had better get on with your
travels now, and we will go and write our letters for the post."
And off they ran, whirling and tumbling across the strand
and into the nearest wood, where they plucked the wild rose-
leaves and sent them flying along the wind; while Puck and
Blossom set out once more to look for further adventures, the
frog hopping with them for company a good part of the way.
They came to a piece of marshy ground, and then the Frog said
he had some visits to pay to his cousins, bade good-speed to the
children, and hopped, into the wet rushes.
After travelling some way, Puck and Blossom came to a
beautiful green hill, which they climbed gaily and began to
descend on the other side. Away in the valley beneath they saw
white cottages and farm-houses and gardens, and they hastened
their steps, hoping that somebody down there would be kind
The W ash 59
enough to offer them some bread and milk. However, in spite
of hunger, Blossom wandered about a little, picking primroses,
while Puck marched on before, stopping now and again, and
calling her to come on.
Suddenly Puck heard a shrill cry, and the little girl flew up
to him and caught him by the arm.
"Oh, Puck! the wasp, the wasp I It was buzzing right at
"Nonsense I" said Puck; I don't believe-oh! there! stop!
whish swish I Keep off, I tell you, you wicked thing!" and
Puck beat the air above his head with his arms as a great flaming
wasp came fizzing through the air towards him and dashed
straight at his ears.
"Oh, Puck! there is a green goblin riding on him," said
Blossom. "Oh, Puck I don't let him come near us or we shall
certainly begin to fight, and we are so far away from home, and
have no one to love us but each other I" and the little girl crept
close up beside him.
"Let us get down to the hawthorn trees yonder, and I will
pluck a branch and beat them away with it if they follow us,"
They hurried to the trees and broke a branch, and, armed
with this, Puck looked carefully round about him. What was
his dismay to see that they had got down to the very edge of a
lonely plain of the goblins' country, where they could clearly
espy in the light of the sinking sun a whole troop of red, blue,
and green goblins-some dancing in a ring on the grass, some
flying about in the air like ugly birds, others wrestling and
fighting, others leaping over the fairy-stools that stood in a row
60 The Little Sfinster's Story.
on the plain; and all, as they danced, leaped, and sported, kept
singing wildly the following little song, which made Puck and
Blossom feel very uncomfortable-.
Ring a ding, ding,
Caper and fling;
The wasp has got mischief
Under his wing!
Dance, merry goblins-
Leap in the sun!
The children are caught,
And will show us some fun-
Fighting and scratching,
As others have done!"
Two of these wicked little singers came frisking up to Puck
and Blossom, and began at once to torment them-one grinning
down out of a branch above their heads, and another making
faces at their feet. At the very same moment, the "buzz, buzz"
of the wasp was heard again, and he came rushing down out of
the trees upon them with his mischievous rider !
Now indeed the children were in desperate danger. Blossom
trembled so that her primroses nearly all fell out of her pinafore.
Puck put his arm round her and shouldered his branch of haw-
thorn, and tried to feel extremely brave; but I don't know what
might not have happened them if a dear little good fairy had
not suddenly appeared, perched up very high on a tall lily of the
valley, signing to her friends all over the country to come to the
children's assistance. At the same moment their good friend the
frog arrived with another kind little fairy on his back, and in a
few more seconds a whole crowd of the fairies surrounded Puck
l 3n d -,
"" per rd H1-
Lhe 3 vaE BE r 11 hci
L der h?, M r"
A rI,-ie 1-, --, h ,:1 L I, -
TheI -,, re ,-, ,-_ u.,i
L I Fw 1 rhi 3 1FI
A r d .I .h .., r
/ ... 4..* .
The Old Beggar. 63
and Blossom, conducted them safely out of the goblins' country,
and led them back to the pleasant hill-side, with the pretty white
village at its foot.
After this they ran on merrily towards the cottages, and the
first person they met on the road was a man bringing corn to the
mill in two bags on an ass's back.
"Please, sir," said Puck, can you tell us if there is any kind
person in this village who would give us some supper and a
night's lodging ?"
"That there is!" said the man. "Just you go straight to
the Little Spinster's;" and on he trudged.
The children went a little bit further on their way, and over-
took a woman driving home a flock of geese.
"What sort of person is the Little Spinster?" asked Puck,
remembering the Hot Waterworks with some uneasiness.
"As good as gold," said the woman, and ran after her geese.
The next person the children met with was an aged and
crippled beggar, who was eating his supper under shelter of a
Can you tell us whereabouts the Little Spinster lives ?" asked
Puck, after begging pardon for interrupting the old man at his
Over yonder, in the cottage with the prettiest garden in the
village," said the old man. "I ought to know, for I have just
come straight from the spot with my supper in my hands."
"Does she give suppers to everybody?" asked Blossom,
feeling rather afraid that, if this were the case, the Little Spinster
might, after all, have some unpleasant relationship to the
benefactress of the other village.
64 The Little Sfinster's Story.
"No," said the beggar, she is not rich enough for that. She
spins to get her bread; but whatever she has to spare is shared
with those that need it."
"Do you love her ?" asked Blossom, still uncertain.
"Everybody loves her."
"Come along, Blossom!" said Puck "it must be all right if
everybody loves her."
In a few minutes more they were standing right in front of a
tiny cottage, on which the setting sun was shining, making the
white walls glow and the windows flash. A young girl was
sitting spinning in the doorway, with soft gold hair and a happy
blooming face. She looked as fresh and trim as a periwinkle in
her blue print dress and crisp white kerchief, and she wore in her
bosom a magnificent rose. It was large and crimson and velvety-
leaved; and as the Little Spinster moved her neat-shod foot, and
swayed her pretty figure about at her work, the most fragrant
and delicious perfume exhaled itself out of this wonderful flower
and was scattered on the' air.
The children stood still and sniffed up the perfume, and the
virtue of it went into their veins and made them almost quite
rested without either food or repose.
"Oh, please, Little Spinster !" cried Blossom, "will you tell
us where you got that lovely rose ?"
That I will, if you like," said the Little Spinster. I have
had to travel a long way and suffer a good deal for it, and it
would take me some time to tell you all my adventures while in
search of it. Very few people have patience to hear the story
out, though everybody enjoys the beauty of the flower."
"We love a story," said Blossom. "Don't we, Puck?"
A Nice Sujp er. 65
"Of course we do," said Puck; "but you know we are dread-
"You shan't hear a word till you have had your supper,"
said the Little Spinster; "so come in here and promise to spend
the night with me." And she set aside her spinning-wheel, and
stretching out her pretty plump arms and slim hands, half-lifted
the tired children over her doorstep and into her house. Then
they saw what a sweet little twinkling cosy chamber was within
-the floor yellow-sanded, the window white-curtained, the grate
and sills full of flowers, rows of bright tins and coppers, and
two gaily-painted mugs upon the wall. Puck glanced about
cautiously to make sure there were no boilers lurking anywhere,
and then was very glad to sit down beside Blossom, and take his
supper from the Little Spinster. She brought the painted mugs
from the wall, filled them with milk, and placed a pile of toasted
wheat-cakes between the children, where they sat on two little
stools at her feet, while she went on with her spinning.
"Oh, dear Little Spinster, do tell us the story now!" cried
Puck and Blossom, when their supper was finished, and they sat
resting in the crimson sunlight, looking through the flowers and
trees in the garden at the people passing up and down in the
"Certainly," said the Little Spinster, and began her story.
You must know," she said, smiling, "that before I went
out on my travels I was a very wild, idle girl. I could not bear
to spin or to mend my clothes or to be useful to anybody. I
hated to live in a little humble house, and even when I was out
playing in the pleasant fields, or rambling with the other village
girls in the woods, I was restless and discontented, and was always
66 The Little Spinster's Story.
wishing I had been born a queen, or a king's daughter, or that I
could at least wear handsome clothes like a lady and drive about
in a carriage. I used to lie on the grass or swing from a tree
whispering to myself, 'I want to be happy-to be happy I
want to be the happiest person on earth.' I asked a great many
people if they could tell me how to be happy, but they shook
their heads, or laughed and said, 'I think you ought to be con-
tented as you are.' But I knew I was not contented, and the
more I wished to be happy the more unhappy I grew. At last
I ran away from my home to seek my fortune.
"I wandered on a long way, till I came to a place where
there were two paths: one led on over the flowery country, and
the other led down a slope into the heart of the earth. 'I am
tired of fields and flowers,' I said, so I chose the underground
road, and went on for a long time with my hands stretched
out before me, for I could see nothing. At last I beheld a red
glow shining out of the darkness, and thought it was a fire; but
as I came nearer and nearer to it, darts of light shot forth from it
and dazzled my eyes; and yet I found that it was not fire, for
though quite close to it, I felt no heat. I knelt down and thrust
my hands into the blaze; and what do you think there was upon
the ground but a heap of jewels!
I laughed and cried with delight, for I had noticed that in
the fairy tales the heroines always received jewels when they
were about to be very happy. I picked out the diamonds and
set them in a row all round, where they shone so brightly that I
had light to see the rest. I filled my apron with pearls, rubies,
emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds, besides a great many more
kinds of wonderful gems, and then I ran forward on my journey.
I must be a Princess. 67
After travelling a day and a night in the darkness, and feeling
very frightened and lonely, I began to perceive a faint ray of
light in the distance, and by-and-by I saw that I was coming to
the end of this dismal tunnel, and was approaching the entrance
of a magnificent city. Its white marble domes and pillars
glittered against a golden sky, and wide purple plains lay all
around it. I hurried into its streets, which were brilliant with
the most wonderful shops, filled with all the luxuries and
splendours of the world; and here I offered some of my jewels
in exchange for the costliest robes that were to be had. Others
of the precious stones were made into ornaments, which I wore on
my neck, my arms, my waist, and my ankles. When fully
dressed out in my new apparel I was a very gorgeous person, and
people who saw me believed I must be a Princess. I am sure I
looked like a person who had everything she could possibly want,
for the people came offering presents to me-one bringing me a
horse, another an embroidered saddle, another a goblet of wine,
another a basket of flowers. I rode through the city in great
pride, and people looked out of the windows to see me going
past, one calling to another to come out and get a glimpse of the
beautiful Princess who had arrived from a distant country to visit
the King. 'This way! this way 1' cried the crowd, and led my
horse into the street where stood the palace; and when the King
heard the news that a strange Princess had come to visit him, he
opened the palace gate and came out to meet me. He assisted
me to alight from my horse, four pages carried in the two large
bags of my jewels which were slung across my saddle, and I was
presented to the full court, all the great ladies and gentlemen
bowing down before me. I soon heard it said that I had travelled
68 The Little Spinster's Story.
night and day from the country beyond the world among the
beautiful red clouds where the sun sets, and that the King's
counsellors who had gone away a year ago to seek a wife for
their liege had sent me to him as their choice, with two sacks of
magnificent jewels for my dowry.
"'But why was she allowed to come alone?' asked some
"'That is part of the etiquette in those distant countries,'
was the answer. 'It would have been quite a common-place
affair if she had been escorted by anybody.'
"So I was conducted to the grandest apartments in the
palace, and found myself surrounded by all kinds of beautiful
and luxurious things. My wardrobes were filled with every
variety of splendid apparel. I had a golden bath filled with
scented water, and seven charming young ladies were appointed
to wait on me. It would take quite too long to tell you of half
the wonderful things I possessed; it quite turned my head to
look at them. I said to myself, 'Surely I am really and truly
going to be happy; the greatest people in the world are bowing
down before me; I have all magnificence at my command; I am
engaged to be married to a king!' and for many days and nights
I lived in a whirl of the most extraordinary pleasure and excite-
ment. I sat on a golden throne, and people held up the train of
I danced and sang and feasted till I was tired. That was
the worst of it. I certainly did get tired, and the gorgeous robes
that were heaped on me felt exceedingly heavy. The King was
very kind and polite to me; but he had not much life in him;
and I often thought that it was the weight of his golden crown
Envied and Miserable. 69
that kept his brains so quiet. '1 could not help remembering
how much pleasanter and livelier were the poor merry lads who
used to shake the nut-trees for me in our village woods. When
the novelty of the grandeur wore off, I found that my throne
of gold was very hard and stiff; that whenever I moved quickly
I tripped over my trailing robes; that I could not turn to right
or left without a hundred people going with me step for step, and
a thousand staring after me; and that, worst of all, I was envied
on every side by unkind hearts that thought ill of me, and unkind
lips that whispered it about. In the midst of my glory I began
to feel a little burning pain like the sting of a wasp in my heart,'
and after a time it would not let me sleep at night, and it took
the smile off my face in the day-time. At last my whole heart
got sore, and every day it became worse. I said to myself,
' This is not the way to be happy, I see. I had a great deal
better time of it running wild about the fields and swinging in
the trees;' and after brooding over this idea for a time, I became
quite sick with misery, and looked upon the gorgeous palace of
the King as a dreary prison in which I was going to be immured
all my life. And in the meantime, the most wonderful prepara-
tions were going forward all through the city for the marriage
of the King with the beautiful Princess who had come out of the
One beautiful moonlight night I got up out of my soft bed
and looked around me. My seven lovely waiting-women lay
sound asleep on their couches in my ante-chamber, and seven
slaves were also sleeping heavily in the room beyond that. I
opened my casement softly, and looked out on the enchanting
gardens of the palace, where the moonlight lay in floods upon
70 The Little Spinster's Story.
the flowers and the marble fountains, and up to the dark blue
heavens, which were all alive with thousands of eager flashing stars.
I looked about to see if I could find any plain clothes in which
I might dress myself, for I knew well that I could not hope to
escape in the apparel of a princess; and all I could lay my hands
upon was a suit of livery belonging to one of my slaves. I put
this on, and creeping down the palace staircase, got out of a window,
and fled through the gardens and through the silent streets, and
away many miles from the city.
"Oh, how glad I was to find myself free once more! How
sweet the breeze tasted, how lovely was the moonlight, how
splendidly the stars blazed in the blue air above me I Before
daybreak I climbed a high hill and crossed a broad river in a
little boat which I found on the shore, and at daylight I was
wandering about the streets of another strange town, wondering
what I could do to earn my breakfast. I went into the neigh-
bouring fields and gathered some herbs, and began to sell them
about at the doors, but had hardly gained enough to buy some
bread, when I was rudely seized by the shoulder and driven into
prison as a runaway slave. I was locked into a small dark cell
all alone, where I lay on my face on the floor, sobbing and
sighing to myself, for there was nobody else to hear me.
"I lay there for days and nights, and ate some rice and
water which was pushed in to me through a hole, and I thought
I should die of loneliness and misery. Suddenly the idea came
into my mind that I had heard some one say they had found a
great happiness and luxury in being miserable. 'Perhaps,' I
thought, 'I have hit it at last, and that this is really the only
way to be happy;' and so I called up all the dismal thoughts I
No Hatfier / 71
could imagine, and tore my hair, and beat my breast, and wept,
and put my mouth to the earthen floor; but, after all, I found that
I did not get any happier for all these troublesome exertions. I
despaired at last of finding happiness in this kind of thing, and
sat up in my cell, and straightened my locks, and wiped my face
dry of tears, and put my dress in order, and considered what I
could do to escape from this place. While I was turning these
things over in my mind, the people came to bring me before the
magistrate and have me sentenced to be punished as a runaway
slave. I was just going to try and say a word for myself, when
a Merchant stepped out of the crowd and claimed me as his
slave, saying he would give a hundred gold pieces to the city in
order to have my punishment remitted. The affair was arranged,
and the Merchant led me away by the hand.
"' But I am not your slave,' I said; 'I am a free girl who
ran away from her home in search of happiness.'
"'No matter,' he said, 'you are to be my daughter now. I
have a great deal of wealth and no children, so you must come
home and keep house for me, and you shall have everything you
I travelled home with the Merchant to another strange city,
and I said to myself, 'Now, I daresay I have certainly found it
at last;' and I felt very glad indeed when I was made comfortably
at home in a large handsome house, which,, though not so
splendid as the palace, was still exceedingly grand and luxurious
to a simple village girl like me. I had books to read, and.pretty
clothes to wear, and a maid to wait on me; and a few visitors
came to see me, and talked about the weather. The Merchant
sat at table with me, and I sometimes drove out in a carriage
72 The Little Spinsters Story.
with him, when he always questioned me as to whether I had
obeyed his commands, which were that I was not to talk to
either servants or strangers, never to walk out alone, nor yet to
allow my maid to walk nearer to me than at the distance of a
yard. I did not know how to play the piano which was in my
drawing-room, nor to work with the beautiful silks and wools
which were provided for me. I could have darned stockings or
knitted them, and I could have spun wool or flax; but these were
vulgar accomplishments, which I was not permitted to mention.
At last, one day, when very tired of doing nothing, I began to
make up my mind sorrowfully that I was not even as happy now
as I had been at home in the village, when some rude music fell
on my ear, and I rushed out to the balcony and looked into the
street. There was a company of travelling gipsies, and they
looked so gay and wild and merry that they made me feel as if
I must have known them long ago in my own country. I quite
forgot my master's orders, and called down out of the balcony
to know if these lively gipsies had been lately in my native
village. But, oh dear! the Merchant happened to pass by just
as I spoke, and he immediately walked angrily into the house
and turned me out of 'doors.
"So again I was a wanderer. This time I turned my steps
away from the high road and got into the fields, and towards sunset
that evening I arrived at a small farm-house, where I stood at the
threshold and declared that I was both tired and hungry. The
farmer and his wife invited me in, and told me they were in want
of a herd for their sheep. I said I should be glad of the situation,
and they gave me a straw bed in a loft to sleep on, and some
porridge for my supper. At cock-crow I was out with the
A Little Shepherdess. 73
sheep, and all that day I roamed from hill to hill and from field
to field with a little crook in my hand, trying to keep the flock
together and to make myself content. I sat on a mossy bank,
and the sun was shining and the little lambs frisking about, and
I thought to myself that this was what is called 'pastoral life,'
which some people have thought so delightful. I remembered a
coloured print of a smiling shepherdess sitting under a green tree
with her lambs around her, and I was greatly amused for a while
imagining I was that shepherdess and quite a picture of content.
Very soon, however, the wind began to blow and the snow to
fall, and I had to follow my stray sheep through brambles and
furze, and the rocks cut holes in my shoes, and the thorns made
rents in my clothes. My bones ached with cold and fatigue, and
yet I had to stay out all day and half the night lest anything
should happen my sheep. I soon perceived that happiness was
as far away as ever; and one day I was walking slowly across a
green hill, musing on the failure of all my attempts at being
happy, and telling myself that the reason was that I had always
been obliged to do the will of other people, and had never had
perfect liberty for my own.
"No sooner had I made up my mind to this, than I noticed
that a young lamb had separated itself from the rest of the flock
and was walking sedately right before me, and was turning round
every now and again to look in my face. I followed the little thing
to see what it could want with me, and it led me over hedges and
S ditches, and through fields and across rocks, till, after we had
gone a long, long way over the country, we suddenly came to a
beautiful mossy sloping ground, where stood a noble-looking
house built of blocks of crystal, and over the door I read my own
74 The Little Spinster's Story.
name printed in letters of gold. After staring at this in amaze-
ment, I turned to look for the lamb, but it had vanished.
I at once went into the house, which was filled with every-
thing that a human being could desire. Servants were there to
wait upon me, and I found that I had only to wish for a thing
in order to have it immediately done. A great many people
came to visit me, and I invited those who pleased me to stay in
my house. I gave balls and parties in sumptuous style,
and I wished for the most extraordinary amusements, which
were immediately provided for me and my guests. Every day I
thought of something new, and wished for it and had it; and yet
I got tired of every new thing far more quickly than I had used
to tire of the old. I was even able to change the size and style
of my house at will; and I did change it to every imaginable
shape-from a palace, a castle, a mansion, down to a cottage. I
had new furniture and new friends every day, and there was
still something about each fresh novelty that displeased me.
Trying to remedy the matter, I kept on changing, changing, till
the changes came so rapidly that my life was one scene of
bewildering confusion; one state of things not having time to
vanish before another came into sight, so that I had nothing but
heads and tails and odds and ends of things and people. I had
no friends, no dignity, no hope, no peace; I hardly knew where
I was or what I was doing; and at last, in sheer rage of despair,
I exclaimed, 'I wish the earth would swallow up the house
and all it contains I' This was no sooner said than done. In a
moment I was standing on the bare hill-side, and not the vestige
of a house to be seen. So once more I was adrift and alone
in the world. I sat down and cried bitterly at this last great
Framed in Roses. 75
failure. I had possessed perfect liberty; I had enjoyed full
control of my own affairs; and never had I been so unhappy in
my life. 'I see,' I said, 'that there is no such thing as happiness
in the world;' and as the wind began to blow, I hastened from
this lonely spot, and travelled a long way before nightfall into an
entirely new country. All the day I had never seen a dwelling
nor tasted food, and when I stopped at last before the gate of a
humble cottage, I fell on the ground and became insensible from
hunger and fatigue.
"When I recovered from my swoon, I found myself lying
in a plain little clean bed in the corner of a tiny room, which
was lit by one small window, all framed round with glowing
ruby roses. The little chamber was white as snow and
full of sunlight, and close beside my bed sat a dear old.
woman with a white cap and apron, and a half-open book
and a pair of spectacles in her lap. She had the sweetest,
kindest face in the world, and she was gazing at me as my
mother might have gazed at me out of heaven. As soon as
I was able to get up she brought me into the cottage kitchen,
where an old man, her husband, was training the crimson roses
to grow round the open door; for the beautiful roses climbed all
over the house-front and back, and roof and chimneys. This
good old pair made me heartily welcome to their home, and I
stayed with them for several weeks, till I got quite strong and well
"I could not tell why, but from the moment I opened my
eyes in this cottage I was as happy as any mortal could bear to
be. I felt no care, no trouble, no fear, no discontent; I thought
the old man and woman delightful, the food they gave me
76 The Little Spinster's Story.
delicious, their cottage beautiful, the tasks I did for them easy
and interesting. The plain calico gown which the old woman
gave me instead of my dusty finery appeared to me the daintiest
dress I had ever worn, and I sang and laughed and enjoyed the
good of my life from dawn in the morning till bed-time at night.
I thought it was the sight of the perfect happiness of the kind
old man and woman that made me so glad, for they were always
sunny and cheerful, never spoke a cross word, never wished for
anything they had not got, but were always merry and kind
with each other, and full of thoughtfulness and tenderness for
every one else, from me down to the lambs and the blackbirds
and the kids.
"At last one day the old woman said to me, 'Now, my dear,
you cannot stay here any longer. We have all our own parts to
play in life, and yours lies in your own home which you so
foolishly deserted. You must return to it, bringing with you a
root of the crimson rose that is growing round this door, which
root you shall plant at your own threshold, where it will spring
up in time and cover your dwelling with bloom.'
"'Ah!' I said, 'I have often noticed that its exquisite perfume
seemed to keep us all in good spirits. Has it really got any-
thing to do with your happiness ?'
"'Take it and try it,' she said; 'but have a care that you do
not let it die of neglect. So long as it thrives it will protect you
from many troubles.'
"I embraced her sorrowfully and went away, expecting to he
as miserable as ever as soon as I saw her no more. She led me
to the foot of a steep green hill, and said, 'Cross yonder brow,
and you will soon be at home;' and then she placed the
Quite Contented. 77
rose in my bosom and said good-bye. I went on my way weep-
ing, but soon I felt the tears drying on my face and the sunshine
getting into my heart. The birds' song came sweetly across my
thoughts, and a blissful feeling of contentment seemed settling on
my soul. To my great surprise I arrived at my home in about
an hour, and in the dusk of the evening, before I slept, I planted
my rose at the threshold of the door. In the morning I got up
early, and set to work to brighten up my little house, which had
fallen into a sad state of neglect during my absence. All day I
laboured at it, and before night it was shining and pleasant as
you now see it. I then brought out my spinning-wheel, and
rubbed the dust off it and polished it up nicely, and the next day
I was hard at work spinning some flax that had lain by for long
enough. My old neighbours came in to look at me, and one
said to another, 'Can this busy little spinster be the wild idle
girl who ran away ?' They found my little house a pleasant
place to enter because of the perfume which came from my rose,
and so they came very often, bringing me plenty of work to do,
and also plenty of kind words and praise. I was very glad of
this, of course; though I always remember how foolish and wicked
I was before, and this keeps me humble. I am now as happy as
the day is long, and find many opportunities of being useful to
my fellow-creatures. Everybody loves me, and I love everybody;
and it is all because of the little rose-tree that grows at my
THEBOY WHO LIVED UP ON THE DOM.
"jH, thank you, dear Little Spinster cried Blossom, clasping
L her hands with delight. "What a strange time you have
had of it, and how happy you are to have found the rose I"
"That must be the very rose that the Dove brought us out
to look for 1" said Puck; and then he told the whole history of
their adventures to the Little Spinster.
"I wish I could give you a root of mine," said the Little
Spinster, "but I am afraid it will not bear to be meddled with
yet. The old woman charged me not to break it till it had been
planted a year; and it is only nine months to-day since I put
it in the ground."
"Well, never mind," said Puck. "Of course you must not
spoil your tree; that would do you harm, and do us no good.
We are very glad anyway to have met with somebody at last
who has really go ,L rose. We were almost beginning to
think that the D, c had been making fun of us."
"You must stay here with me till you are quite rested," said
the Little Spinster, "and then I hope you will have good luck
when you set out on your journey again. If you do not succeed
in finding a full grown rose-tree before long, you can return this
way, and when the year is out I shall have a slip for you."
... -. n
T. ">': I ', I'
"H a e ,- .. \ e-r *-,i rt iI
,I h T El, blue
F- F, air Lui. and t I :... i
-I h. 1 o, be r, ,,r ,
:k ? C ,.- -- ., +, ,
+ c l-l
_,_.,+-. ;,+ . ,.: .
A Fairy Ball. 81
The next morning the children started once more upon their
travels, and before they had gone very far the rain came on
heavily, and Blossom was frightened. Fortunately the Little
Spinster had for fear of accidents lent them an umbrella, and
Puck now held it over Blossom; and though he could sometimes
be a little rough while things were going pleasantly, still, now
when she was in trouble, he was exceedingly kind to her. She
was too much distressed to thank him for this at the time, but it
all sank into her heart, out of which it would surely come up again
the next time Puck himself should get the worst of things.
After some time the sun shone out again, and the children
arrived at the entrance to a beautiful wood, where the loveliest
flowers were growing wild under the trees, while the birds
carolled above them in the most enchanting manner. Then they
heard little fairy voices singing-
Fly and skip,
Dance and trip,
Good fairies all
The rain is over,
The sky is blue,
Sing, merry blackbird,
Sing, wild cuckoo,
For Puck and Blossom
Have come to our ball !"
And at the same moment they saw hundreds of good fairies
dropping out of the lily-bells, popping up from behind the prim-
rose leaves, and all pairing off to dance in twos and twos, in
and out of the trees and flowers. There was a fairy ball going
on, and Puck and Blossom, finding themselves welcomed so
82 The Boy who Lived up on the Dom.
warmly, sat down to watch the proceedings. Presently a
number of the fairies gathered round them and began to talk.
"To tell you the truth," said a little fellow who called
himself Frisk, "we gave this ball expressly in honour of you.
Our friends telegraphed to us that you were coming this way,
and charged us to meet you and give you a piece of good news.
You will be glad to hear that all the children who were sorry in
the hospital of the City under the Sea, have been rescued from
the goblins, and are now safe at home with their fathers and
"Oh, I am so glad," cried Blossom.
How did your friends manage it'?" asked Puck.
"I cannot exactly tell you," said Frisk, "but I know the
lobsters had a claw in it. As well as I can understand the
matter, a large army of lobsters attacked the goblins, and I
think each lobster held a goblin fast in his clutches while the
frog carried the children, two and two, away with him up
through the sea."
"And are the naughty children there still ?" asked Blossom.
Of course they are," said Frisk.
"But some day they will get sorry too," said Blossom, "and
then there will be nobody to help them."
"We can't be expected to provide for that," said Frisk.
"Ah, do ask the frog to go down under the sea every now
and again, and see if there are any more children getting sorry!"
"Well, for your sake I will," said Frisk, though they really
don't deserve it. I am sure the frog will do all he can, for he is
a most obliging fellow."
Flying Across the Sea. 83
"I used to be rather afraid of frogs," said Blossom, "but I
shall always like them after this."
Have you any more news for us ?" asked Puck.
"No," said the fairies, "you had better get on your way; "
and the children did so, and were soon out in the open country
They had not gone very far before the Dove appeared, flying
after them, and perched upon Blossom's shoulder. The children
were delighted to see her, and immediately began to tell her
"Oh, I know all about it," she said; I have had my eye on
you. I am very well pleased with you so far, but I intend that
"you shall see a little more of the world. Just put the thread
round my neck again, and I will fly you another piece of the
Puck and Blossom did what they were told, and found
themselves floating in the air once more, through the sunshine,
and far above the earth. Soon they could perceive a great
world of blue water spread beneath them, and knew they were
crossing the ocean. They sped along high above lonely islands,
and over the masts of ships, and at last they saw a sunny shore,
and towns and villages; and on, on they flew ttill further after
that, till they came to a city, and paused, hanging suspended
above it, looking down into its streets, which, to the children's
eyes, were very quaint and strange-looking. There were grand,
black, gigantic gates of stone to the city, and the houses were
peaked up in front in the .oddest manner. In some places
pictures were painted over the outsides of the houses; and
there were a great many churches, the sweet chimes from which
84 The Boy who Lived up on the Dom.
seemed ringing perpetually, for their echoes never ceased floating
about in the blue upper air. The people down in the streets looked
quite small, and they clustered about like little ants in the
market-place, where the patron saint of the town stood on the
pinnacle of the fountain, and smiled down on the sparkling
water that flowed into the basin. The Dove carried the children
slowly over this city, so that they could observe it all at their
leisure; and then, pausing over the greatest church, began to
descend rapidly towards it. The points of the mighty towers
seemed to rise through the air to meet them; all the roofs and
pinnacles became large and distinct; and a vast,mountain of
exquisitely-hewn stone and marble seemed to heave up and
expand, and blotted out everything else from the vision.
At last the Dove perched upon one of the stone galleries that
ran round the outside of the cathedral, very high up, near the
towers, and here she allowed the children to alight on their feet.
"Now," she said, "I have some relations to visit in this
neighbourhood, and in the meantime you can walk about where
you fancy, and make all the discoveries you can."
And away she flew round the corner of one of the towers.
Puck and Blossom looked about them in great amaze-
ment. Far away beneath them lay the sparkling city in the
sunshine, its streets lying like threads of white and scarlet and
gold, all tangled about the base of the great cathedral.
High up above them soared the beautiful and majestic towers,
with their delicate tracery cut crisp against the blue heaven,
and soft violet-grey shadows dropping from their hooded
windows and loop-holes. The gallery on which the children
stood was guarded by a balustrade of the most wonderful
Strange Stone Creatures/ 85
carving, and a brood of dear little peeping, chirping birds
popped their head out of a nest, which had been built in a hollow
ornament within reach of Blossom's hand. All round about
them stood white marble figures of saints and angels, most
beautiful to look upon, with their peaceful faces and folded
hands; while down, a little below, could be seen curious spouts
running from roof to roof, and all along the galleries, on which
sat dreadful animals, hideous demons, and monsters, half bird
and half man.
Having admired and wondered at these things fully, the
children began to move on, stepping cautiously along the gallery
on tip-toes, feeling half afraid that their noise might disturb the
repose of the beautiful stone saints, or that the monsters below
on the spouts might hear their steps and spring up and glare at
them. Neither of these things happened, however, and by-and-
by the children lost their fear and ran on, turning one corner
after another, and seeing every minute some new combination of
exquisite lines in the grouping of roofs and spires, pinnacles and
windows, while they became accustomed to the multitude of
strange figures that everywhere met their eyes-of people, angels,
birds, beasts, and demons. At last they came to a little narrow
door in the wall, stepped inside, and seeing a flight of winding
stone steps going upwards, they of course began to mount them
in haste. Round and round went the steps, and round and
round went the four little legs: the children felt as if they were
running along the edge of a spinning teetotum, grew dizzy,
sat down, and then went on again, till at last, when they
were beginning to feel rather uneasy as to where all this would
end, and to fear that their feet could carry them no further,
86 The Boy who Lived up on the Dom.
another little narrow door suddenly appeared in the wall, and
they stepped out upon another gallery, just the same as the one
they had left below. Everything on this gallery was like the
other; Puck and Blossom ran along it as fast as they could,
turning all the corners and looking eagerly for new sights; and,
feeling rather disappointed at finding no novelty, they came in
the end to another little door in the wall, popped into it, and
began ascending as before.
Oh, Puck 1" said Blossom, sitting down to rest her weary
little legs, what a long way up we are going I Perhaps we are
getting to heaven."
"Nonsense !" said Puck. "Don't you remember when we
were up in the air that the highest towers looked quite low
down under us, and even then we weren't a bit nearer to heaven."
Blossom sighed. I'm afraid it's a long way to heaven then,
Puck," she said.
"Oh, come along !" said Puck; and began climbing again
sturdily, singing, Such a getting up stairs," to make Blossom
laugh; and on they went till they came out on a third gallery,
which they travelled all round like the rest. There was a third
little door, and a third long, dizzy, winding flight of stairs, and
a fourth gallery; and the children found themselves fearfully high
up indeed, so high that they could hardly bear to look out over
the edge of the carved balustrade. And then, after passing
round many corners as before, Puck and Blossom beheld a sight
which filled them with astonishment.
A sudden turn brought them in full view of a cottage and
a pretty garden, which lay basking in the sunshine before them
as placidly as if they were down in their proper place among
On Tot of the Dom. 8
the meadows, instead of being perched up here in this unnatural
manner between earth and sky. The children rubbed their eyes
and stared very hard, but house and garden were there, without
any mistake about the matter.
The cottage stood in a corner of the large flat roof of a part
of the great building, with its back against the base of one of
the towers, and a high balustrade ran round the roof, which
was planted all over with beds of the most beautiful flowers..
The children advanced cautiously to the place where the gallery
opened on the roof, and, afraid to go any further, gazed intently
at a figure that was down on its knees working among the flowers.
This person got up and straightened himself, and catching
sight of the two little foreign figures, came forward to look at
them, as if wondering what they could be. Then the children saw
a delicate-looking lad of about sixteen or seventeen years of
age, with slender wasted limbs, and a hump on his back. He
had a very sweet and beautiful face, with a kind of bright peace
shining all over it.
Come along, little ones 1" he cried, pleasantly; where in the
world have you dropped from?" He said this first in a language
they did not understand, but seeing their confusion, he repeated
it, so that they knew what he said.
"The Dove dropped us," said Puck.
The boy looked puzzled.
"She brought us across the ocean to see the world," said
"All right," said the boy. "I don't quite understand, but
you are welcome all the same. Should you like to walk round
and see my flowers ?"
88 The Boy who Lived up on the Dom.
He took them each by a hand and walked them round the
garden. All kinds of lovely flowers were growing in the beds
which almost covered the roof, and even from the hollows
of the carved balustrade hung exquisite creepers of the most
"You see the sun gets at them so well that it is nearly like
a hot-house," said the boy. "That is why everything flowers so
beautifully. And here is my parroquet, as gay as any of them,"
he added, as a bird with the most gorgeous plumage flew across
the garden and perched on his finger. Then the boy took them
into the cottage, which contained three tiny chambers, and was
as neat as a new pin; and there they saw the windows full of
singing-birds, and a little fire blazing, and an old woman sitting
knitting, with her spectacles on her nose, and some books and
pictures beside her. She was glad to see the children, and gave
them something to eat; and then the boy took them out again to
the garden, and showed them all the views of the city so far
This is a very strange part of the world," said Puck. We
never heard before of cottages and gardens being planted up on
the roofs of big houses."
And such an awfully big house as this is too !" said Blossom.
" What is the name of it, kind Boy ?"
"This is the Dom," said the boy, smiling-" the greatest
church, the cathedral of the city."
"There are a great many walls, and roofs, and stone people,
and animals," said Blossom. Have you to go through them all,
and down all those stairs, when you want to get into the street ?"
I don't often go now," said the boy, sadly ; "I am not strong
The Great Bells. 89
enough; but I should like to show you how magnificent the
Dom is inside."
"Why did you come and build your house up here so
high ?" asked Puck.
"Ah said the boy, "if I tell you that, I must tell you my
Oh, do I oh, do I" cried the children. Indeed, we love a
story better than anything."
The boy sat down on a little garden chair among the
flowers, and drew the children close to his knees; while the
parroquet perched on a blooming cactus tree against the
balustrade behind, as if he too were anxious to hear the history
of his master's adventures. But he cocked his head knowingly
from side to side, and glanced at the children as if to say,
"However, I'm not like you, for I know them all already." The
chimes played suddenly down from the tower, and the children
laughed with delight; and then the great bell of the clock boomed
like a volley of cannon and shook the walls under their feet, and
the children started and trembled with awe.
"Ah, my bells I" said the boy, smiling up at the towers.
"Are they not splendid ? Have I not a right to be proud of
And the parroquet fluttered and cocked his head again, as if
to say, Yes, we have a right to be proud of our bells I"
Where are they ?" asked Puck, staring up with all his might.
"Do they live in the towers ?" asked Blossom.
Yes," said the boy, and I will take you up to see them, if
"Oh, do !" cried the children "but we want the story first."
90 The Boy who Lived up on the Dom.
"Well," said the boy, "you must know that I did not always
live up here out of the world. My mother belongs to the
country you come from, and that is the reason why I can speak
so that you understand me. If any of the people down in the
city were to speak to you, you should not be able to tell what
they were saying."
"Oh, dear 1" cried Blossom. "What should we have done
if the dove had dropped us in the street ?"
"But she didn't, you see !" said Puck.
"Go on, kind Boy t" said Blossom, eagerly.
"I had not always this hump on my poor back," continued
the boy. When I was twelve years old I was as strong and
lively a little lad as could be seen. It would not have given me
much trouble then to run up and down the stairs of the Dom,
long and steep as they are. My mother was a widow, and, as I
was her only child, she wanted to teach me a trade, and keep
me always beside her; but that was not what I fancied at all.
I loved my poor mother; but I had seen the sea, and I wanted
to be a sailor.
At last she consented to let me go, and I went sailing round
the world in a noble merchant vessel.. I learned to climb the
masts like a wild cat, and though I had sometimes a hard
enough time of it, I was as happy as a king. I was not afraid
of the storms, though more than once we were nearly wrecked;
I used to feel like the sea-bird that rides fearlessly on the edge of
the wave through the hurricane. Then, in the fine weather, what
glorious times we had, sailing through seas of burning light, with
all our canvas spread How delightful it was arriving into
strange ports, seeing the people come out to stare at us, and
Oh, Poor Boy! 91
marching gaily through their towns, enjoying all the novelties, and
buying curious things to bring home to our friends. We visited
countries where the birds flying about are like living jewels, so
brilliantly does their plumage flash in the sun; and the flowers
are more glorious than anything you can imagine; and we filled
our ship with a cargo of beautiful and delicious things-corals,
shells, oranges, cocoa-nuts, stuffed birds and animals, wonderful
skins, strange jellies and sweetmeats, and a hundred other curious
articles which it would take me too long to describe.
"We were coming home from that voyage. I had got a
curious shawl for mother, and some ivory, and. shells, and corals;
and I had my parroquet here, and some other strange things;
and I was brimming over with joy, and as frolicsome with fun as
a squirrel. I was proud of having made so long a voyage, and
was always thinking of how I should rush in to my mother with
my presents in my arms.
I don't know how it happened exactly, for I was so used to
climbing the masts, and sitting singing on the top of them, that
it gave me no more fear nor trouble than if I had been a bird with
a pair of wings, and could fly down through the air if my footing
failed me. I was singing and frolicking at the very top of the
mainmast, and somehow I slipped -"
Here the hump-backed boy paused, and drew his sleeve across
his eyes, and hid his face for a minute.
"You fell!" cried Puck.
Oh, poor Bcy I" cried Blossom.
"Yes, I fell," said the boy, raising his face, which had grown
quite pale-" I fell all the way from the top of the mainmast to
the deck and when they took me up my back was broken. I
92 The Boy who Lived uj on the Dom.
lay for many days in my hammock in great anguish and despair,
and at last we came into port, and instead of rushing out to my
mother with my arms full of gifts, I had to lie still till she came
to me and wept over me and brought me home.
Well, it was a different thing that coming home from what
I had expected, and the years that followed were full of pain and
misery and the most terrible hopelessness. No more sailing on
the blue smiling ocean, no more singing on the rigging of my
darling ship, no more visits to wonderful countries; nothing but
lying still, or sitting propped up in a chair, in a narrow room
where I could scarcely see a morsel of sky, and could never hope
to catch sight of a sail or a glimpse of the sea. I kept my face
turned to the wall and mourned in the most frantic manner over
my terrible calamity, quite forgetting in my selfishness to think
of my poor mother who nursed me tenderly and tried to soothe
At last, one day, I awakened up as if out of a horrible dream,
and noticed how my mother's face had grown worn and pinched,
and her hair quite white, all the time that she had been silently
bearing with my repinings and healing my pains; and I
suddenly knew and felt that her sufferings had been greater than
mine. Shame and remorse took possession of me, and from that
hour forth I strove to hush my complaints and to be resigned to
After a long, long time I was able to walk about, though
with great difficulty, for my legs were very weak, and this hump
had grown out of my back. All my poor mother's money was
spent in trying to get me cured, and she was glad to come up
here and live and take care of the bells. I was glad enough to
Holding out His Hands. 93
escape from the eyes of the world, for I was ashamed of
my deformity, and it made me bitter and angry to see the
straight and sturdy boys running fast down the streets as I had
used to do.
"So up we came, and for a long time I did nothing but sit
still here by the balustrade gazing down on the city, while
mother minded the bells, and sewed and knitted and kept the
house tidy. Sometimes I crept down into the church, though it
was such a long weary way, and wandered about alone there
when it was empty. The man who had lived here before had
made this garden, but it was all overgrown with weeds, and the
flowers were dead. Mother asked me often to mend it up a
little, just for amusement; but my heart was too bitter to allow
me to take an interest in anything. The only thing that gave
me any comfort was to sit still with my eyes half shut, so that I
could just see how high I was up in the blue air, and to imagine
I was in the rigging of my vessel. When the bells rang I fancied
they were the ship's bells, and so I beguiled away a little of my
time; but when recalled to reality, I was even more miserable
than before my dream began.
Well, one day I had been down roaming about the cathedral
alone, and staring at the pictures and the statues, and I had sat a
long time resting myself on a step of one of the altars over which
hangs a beautiful painting of Our Saviour, when He was a boy
of about my age. He has a very sweet and loving face, and He is
holding out His hands, and it made me cry to look at Him;
though I am afraid it was because He looked so straight, and
strong, and well, while I was so crooked and weakly. It was
quite late in the evening when I came back here to mother, and
94 The Boy who Lived up on the Dont.
I was very tired, and fell fast asleep as soon as I lay down in
Then I had such a wonderful dream. I thought the Boy-
Saviour in the picture was coming up the winding stairs of the
Dom, with His bare white feet and the halo round His head, and
that I saw Him walking round the ruined garden here in the
star-light, and gazing at the weedy beds and the withered
flowers. It was all so plain and real-like. I heard the chimes
play while He lingered, and the moon came out from behind one
of the towers, and flushed a soft yellow light over the beautiful
straight figure, the loving face, the tangled bushes, and the
marble saints and strange wild animals on the spouts. A
faint sound came up from the city below, and through the
stillness I heard my name whispered, and I had to go out and
follow the footsteps of the Boy-Saviour, and stand with him
where he lingered by the principal flower-bed in the middle of
the ruined garden.
"I saw that He had got a branch of something in His hand,
and as I watched Him, He stooped down and planted it in the
centre of the bed. Then He turned to me with His outstretched
hands, which I knew so well, and his loving face all bright in
the light of the moon, and He said, tenderly-
"'Grieve no longer. Cherish the roses and be happy.' And
He faded away, and I saw Him no more.
The next morning I awakened with a strange feeling of
comfort and happiness, and the first thing I did was to hurry
out to the garden, and look carefully into the centre bed to see
if there was anything growing there. After clearing away the
rubbish, I found, to my indescribable delight, a young green
Try to be Patient/ 95
shoot which had been pushing its way upwards through the
hardened soil; and when I saw that it was a rose-tree, my heart
beat so that I could scarcely breathe.
"'Surely,' I thought, God put that beautiful dream into
my mind; and whatever this plant may be, I will care for it.'
"After that day I grieved no more. I set to work.earnestly
to clear this place of its rubbish, and to put the beds in order;
and I planted new flowers and bushes, and sowed the seeds of
all these beautiful things which you see now flourishing around
us. I found myself grow strangely happy at my work; and
when I looked up from it, and saw the light that was shining on
my mother's face as she watched me, a still deeper feeling of
comfort stole into my heart. When I had finished my task, I
went down into the church and offered my thanksgiving to God.
The picture of the Boy-Saviour smiled on me more sweetly and
lovingly than ever, and I no longer envied Him for looking so
straight and strong. I remembered the heavy cross that once
bowed down His shoulders, and that His sufferings for me were
much greater than my own.
"'If He looks so loving and tender,' I thought, 'in this
picture, which is painted from the imagination of man, how
much more tender and loving must He be, where He sits
waiting in His kingdom for poor sufferers to come home to
"And I promised Him to try and be patient till it would
please Him to send for me. In Heaven I shall have no hump
upon my back, and my limbs will be straight and strong."
And shall you have a new back ?" asked Puck, anxiously.
This one will be straightened for me," said the boy.
96 The Boy who Lived up on the Dom.
"You won't need a new face," said Blossom, patting her
new friend's cheek tenderly with her tiny hand. The one you
have will do for Heaven very well, I think."
"Thank you, little comforter," said the Boy, smiling
brightly; "and now I shall take you up to see my bells."
"But I want to see the rose that was planted in the middle
of the garden," said Puck. "The dove brought us out to look
for the happy rose to plant at the door of our little house. I am
sure this must be it that you have got."
It is a happy rose to me, indeed," said the Boy; "but who
is your dove, and where is your little house ?"
Then Puck told his story as he had told it before to the Little
Spinster, and the Boy -looked very thoughtful as he listened
to it all.
I see," he said, that Heaven sent straight to my feet the
thing that many others have to search for with a great deal of
pain. I must be very thankful. Now, dear little friends, I
would gladly share my rose-tree with you, but I am afraid to
break it too soon. If it should wither and die, what would
become of me ?"
"We would not ask it for the world," said Puck. "The
Little Spinster could not give it to us because her root was
newly planted also. The person who gave it to her had had it
flowering for years all over her house. We must go further on
our travels till we meet with a person like that."
The One who gave it to me has the great root of all above
in his own garden," said the Boy, reverently; but I see now
with wonder and awe that He does not come down Himself to
all, to plant it in their earth with His own hand."
On. tke Battle-field. 97
"He loves people the most who suffer," said little Blossom.
"My mother told me that, and I remembered it far better than
After all this, the hump-backed Boy took them up to see
the bells, in a wild-looking loft in the roof of one of the towers;
to reach which they had to climb more winding stairs, which
were darker and steeper than those they had already ascended.
There hung the mighty bells, with gaping mouths and ponder-
ous tongues, silent and awful; and the children walked round
them on tip-toes, as if they had been living monsters who might
rise up and spring upon them.
"I hope they won't boom out while we are here," whispered
Blossom. I think the noise would crush us to death."
"You need not be afraid," said the Boy, laughing. "It
takes a great deal of trouble to make them speak, I can
What are they made of?" asked Puck.
They were once cannon," said the boy. They were taken
on the battle-field and melted into bells. No wonder they roar
"They must have killed people," said Blossom, shrinking
away from them. "I wonder God would allow such wicked
things in His church."
"Ah!" said the Boy, "God loves to bring wicked things
into His church, that He may make them good. These creatures
have given up killing, and now call people to prayer. Besides,
you know, the cannons were placed on the battle-field to defend
their country, and so it was noble of them to do their duty as
long as they could."
98 The Boy who Lived up on the Dorm.
"Of course it was," said Puck. It was glorious 1 I should
like to have been there I"
"People oughtn't to fight," persisted Blossom. The Dove
said so; and that was why the wasps made us so unhappy, and
we had to come all this way to look for the rose."
That was quite different," said Puck. Girls are always
cowards. But you needn't cry, Blossom, for I know you can't
help being a girl."
"She is right, I think," said the Boy, looking troubled.
"Fighting is wrong; and yet they say wars are necessary! I
can't clear it up ;-but oh, here is the parroquet come to look
for us 1" he cried, as the gay bird fluttered in through the
window, disturbing a whole flock of doves, which flew off with a
great whirring of wings in a long white trail across the sky.
And then the Boy took the children down to see the interior of
The children stood still with a shock, and held their breath,
as through a little door of the wall they suddenly found themselves
dropped from the last step of many flights on the pavement,
within the walls of the great cathedral. They strained their gaze
up to the mighty roof, and away through forests of pillars, down
lanes of coloured light, lined with deeply-glowing windows, till
the wandering jewels of sunshine became-dim and the pillars
ghostly, and the children's dazzled eyes lost them in the
mysterious gloom of the distance.
"What a great, great, beautiful house!" cried Blossom. "I
think God must have come down out of the skies Himself
to build it. Men would not be big enough to make this