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AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
THE CHILDREN'S LIBRARY.
THE BROWN OWL.
A CHINA CUP, AND OTHER STORIES.
STORIES FROM FAIRYLAND.
TALES FROM THE MABINOGIOIF.
THE STORY OF A PUPPET.
THE LITTLE PRINCESS.
IRISH FAIRY TALES.
AN ENCHANTED GARDEN.
(Others in the Press.)
AUTHOR OF 'CARROTS,' 'THE CUCKOO CLOCK,
'THE PALACE IN THE GARDEN,' FIVE
MINUTES STORIES,' ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY W. J. HENNESSY
T. FISHER UNWIN
HENRY & DOROTHY WALTHALL
19 SUMNER PLACE, S.W.,
gth March 1892.
I. MADAM WREN I
II. TAPPING 16
III. THE CARETAKER 30
IV. THE STORY OF THE THREE
V. THE STORY OF THE THREE
WISHES (continued) 63
VI. THE STORY OF THE THREE
WISHES (concluded) .78
VII. THE SUMMER PRINCESS 95
VIII. THE SUMMER PRINCESS (continued) 112
IX. THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE. 144
X. THE MAGIC ROSE 178
XI. THE MAGIC ROSE (continued) 201
0,' said Alix, 'that's not a
good plan at all. It's per-
fectly stupid. If you've
no better ideas than that,
Rafe, we needn't talk about it any
Rafe looked and felt very snubbed
He was ten, she was nine. But she
generally took the lead; not always, as
I daresay you will see when you hear
more about them, but generally. They
were a nice little pair, and they were
constantly together, at lessons, at play,
2 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
at everything. This was a convenient
arrangement, for they were a good deal
younger than the other brothers and
sisters of the family, and what Rafe
would have been without Alix, or Alix
without Rafe, it would be difficult
to imagine. But there is not much
use in thinking over about might-have-
beens, or would-have-beens, unless to
make us more thankful for what is.
So it is enough to say that as things
really were, they were very happy
Still they had their troubles, and it
was one of these they were discussing
this lovely spring morning, when they
were sitting under their favourite tree
-a magnificent ilex in the garden, at
one corner of the great lawn which
was one of the beauties of their home.
It was a lovely day, clear and bright
and joyous, full of its own delights, and
yet almost fuller of the summer ones
to come! This is, I suppose, the real
secret of the charm of spring-time-
the promise and hope it tells of. Every-
thing seemed bursting with good news,
the birds most of all perhaps, though
the smiling faces of the early flowers,
and the tender whispers of the gentle
wind through the branches, were not
behindhand. But the children's faces
This was their trouble. They could
not get any one to tell them any more
stories They had read all their books
through, over and over again, and be-
sides, books aren't quite as nice as
'told' stories. At least not when they
have to be shared by two. Rafe and
Alix had tried several plans-reading
aloud did not answer very well, and
looking over the pages was worse.
They never managed to keep quite
together, and then the one who got
down to the last line first was sure to
fidget or to try in some way to hurry
up the other, which was apt to lead to
unpleasant results. And besides this,
at present there was no question of
4 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
story-books, for, as I said, the children
had read all they possessed really too
Hitherto perhaps they had been a
little spoilt about having stories told
to them. Papa, who was an old soldier,
had a good many tales of adventure;
mamma had some lovely ones about
'when she was a little girl.' And the
big brothers and sisters were very kind
too, especially if Rafe or Alix, or both,
as sometimes was the case, happened
to be ill. But their stories were mostly
out of books; now and then indeed
they would unluckily turn out to be
already known to the children, and
though they did not altogether object
to them on this account-I have noticed
that children rather enjoy a book story
retold by voice-it was not always so
pleasant for Ena or Jean, or Eric when
he was at home from college. For Rafe
and Alix were so exceedingly particular.
'No,' one of them would say, just
when Eric had got to the most thrilling
part of a robber story, 'the entrance
to the inner cave was at the left side
of the big one;' or if Jean was de-
scribing her heroine's dress, 'It wasn't
green-I'm sure it was blue-blue
with tiny rosebuds on,' so that some-
times Jean would reply, 'Really, chil-
dren, if you interrupt so I can't go on,'
or Eric would go off with a grunt and
tell them to provide stories for them-
This had happened the evening be-
fore, and this it was which put the idea
into Rafe's mind which Alix snubbed so.
'Suppose,' he said, 'that we make
stories for each other-you for me,
Alix, and I for you ? '
It sounded rather nice, but it did
not find favour in her eyes at all.
'I know exactly what they'd be,' she
said; 'just mixings up of all our other
ones. It might do to amuse stranger
children with, perhaps-but not for us
ourselves. I know all that's in your
head, and you know what's in mine, far
6 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
too well. So it would be perfectly
And Rafe had no more to say.
It was Easter holidays-Easter was
as late as it could be that year-and
the weather was so beautiful that it
really felt like summer. You would
think the children should have been
content; but they weren't. They had
no lessons at all to do, and a whole
fortnight of nothing you really must do
is, in my opinion, a mistake. During
the long summer holidays Miss Brander,
their governess, always left them some-
thing to do, just enough to give a nice
fresh taste to the holidaying the rest of
their time, and to prevent their feeling
the reins quite loose on their necks like
runaway ponies. And even without
this, in the summer it was different,
for they generally went to the seaside
or to some hilly place for a month or so,
to have a change of air, and away from
home in a new place time seldom hangs
much on children's hands.
MADAM WREN 7
This Easter it was certainly doing
so a good deal. There were other
reasons too why the little couple felt
rather at a loose end, rather tired of
themselves. The big people were all
unusually busy, for Ena was going to
be married in June; and she and their
mother or she and Jean were always
going somewhere or other to order
things, or to give their opinion about
the doing up of the pretty old house, ten
miles or so away, which was to be her
new home. And though Ena was very
kind when she had time, and the new
brother-to-be held out grand promises
of the visits they were to pay to their
sister, and the fun they should have,
still, all that seemed a good way off,
and in the meantime Rafe and Alix
felt rather out of it all. I am not sure
but that they were just a little jealous
of the new brother. 'It's only a pre-
tence sort of brother,' said Alix one day
when her feelings had been ruffled. I
am afraid they felt as if he had some-
8 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
how put both their small noses out of
So now you understand why Rafe
and Alix were sitting rather disconso-
lately under the ilex, though the sun was
shining brightly enough to melt away
all clouds and mists inside as well as
outside, any one would have thought.
In spite of Alix's snub, Rafe looked
up again in a minute or two.
'Why don't you think of a better
plan, then, if you don't like mine ?' he
said. 'It's always easy to say things
won't do' (which is exceedingly true !),
'but why don't you find something
that will do ?'
Alix turned round. She was sitting
on the end of the rustic bench, swing-
ing her legs, which was not difficult,
as they scarcely reached the ground,
and staring up at the thickly-growing
branches overhead. But now she
looked at Rafe-he felt a little nervous;
was she going to take offence at his
No-she had heard what he said,
but she was not vexed.
'I know what I wish we could find,'
she said. Do you remember, Rafe,
the story of a white lady, up, up in a
room at the very top of a castle some-
where, who was always spinning stories?
They came out of the hum of her
spinning wheel somehow, and the
children could hear them when they
sat down on the floor beside her. Oh,
if we could find somebody like that !'
'It was fairies,' said Rafe doubt-
fully. 'At least the white lady was a
fairy, and there aren't any really, I
'Everybody says so,' Alix replied
doubtfully, but I don't quite see why
there mightn't be. If there have never
been any, what began all the fairy
stories? And I know one thing-
papa said so himself one day when
he was telling some--what's the
word?-it means a sort of a fairy
story that's been told over and over
io AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
since ever, ever so long ago, ledge-
what is it ?'
'Legends, you mean,' said her
brother. 'Yes, I remember papa
telling us some very queer ones he
had heard in India.'
'And he said there were fairy stories
in every country,' Alix went on. 'So
what I say is there must have been
something to make them begin !'
This sounded very convincing to
Rafe-Alix certainly had clever ways
of putting things.
'Oh!' he said, with a deep sigh.
'If we could but find some one old
enough to remember the beginnings of
them-something like the white lady,
Both children sat silent for a moment
or two, their eyes gazing before them.
Suddenly on the short green turf ap-
peared a tiny figure, a wren, so tame
that she hopped fearlessly to within a
very short distance of the little brother
and sister, and then, standing still,
MADAM WREN II
seemed to look up at them with her
bright eyes, her small head cocked
knowingly on one side.
'Rafe,' exclaimed Alix eagerly,
though in a low voice.
'Alix,' said Rafe in his turn.
Then they looked at each other,
thinking the same thoughts.
'Rafe,' whispered Alix, while the
wren still stood there looking at them,
'just look at her; she's not a bird, she's
a fairy-or at least if she's not a fairy
she's got some message for us from
The wren hopped on a few steps, still
looking back at them. The children
slipped off the seat and moved softly
after herwithout speaking. On she went,
hopping, then fluttering just a little way
above the ground, then hopping again,
till in this way she had led them right
across the wide stretch of lawn to some
shrubberies at the far side. Here a
small footpath, scarcely visible till you
were close to it, led through the bushes
12 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
to a strip of half-wild garden ground,
used as a sort of nursery for young
trees, which skirted a lane known by
the name of the 'Ladywood Path.'
And indeed it was little more than a
path nowadays, for few passed that way,
though the story went that in the old
days it had been a good road leading to
a house that was no longer in existence.
Over the low wall clambered the
children, to find to their delight that
the wren was in the lane before them,
just a little way ahead. But now she
took to flying higher and faster than
she had yet done; to keep up with her
at all they had to run, and even with
this they sometimes lost sight of her
altogether for a minute or two. But
they kept up bravely-they were too
eager and excited to waste breath by
speaking. The race lasted for some
minutes, till at last, just as Alix was
about to give in, Rafe suddenly twitched
'Stop, Alix,' he panted-truth to
"TIEY BO'TH STOOD STILL AND LOOKED."
I r ~6~~4~:
tell, the running was harder on him
than on his sister, for Rafe was of an
easy-going disposition, and not given
to violent exercise-' stop, Alix, she's
lighted on the old gateway.'
They both stood still and looked.
Yes, there was Madam Wren on the
topmost bar of a dilapidated, wooden
gate, standing between two solid posts
at what had once been the entrance
to the beautiful garden of an ancient
How beautiful neither the children
nor any one now living knew, for even
the very oldest inhabitants of that part
of the country could only dimly re-
member having been told by their
grandparents, or great grandparents
perhaps, how once upon a time Lady-
wood Hall had been the pride of the
The wren flapped her wings, then
rose upwards and flew off. This time,
somehow, the children felt that it was
no use trying to follow her.
14 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
'She's gone for good,' said Rafe
dolefully; but Alix's eyes sparkled.
'You are stupid,' she said. 'Don't
you see what she's told us. We're to
look for-for something, or some one,
I don't'quite know what, in the Lady's
garden.' For so somehow the grounds
of the vanished house had come to be
spoken of. 'I think it was very dull of
us not to have thought of it for ourselves,
for it is a very fairy sort of place.'
'If it is that way,' said Rafe, 'they
must have heard us talking, and sent
the wren to tell us.'
'Of course,' said Alix, 'that's just
what I mean. Perhaps the wren is
'Shall we go on now?' said Rafe.
'No'--for just at that moment the
clear sound of a bell ringing reached
them from the direction of their own
home-'for there's our dinner.' And
dinner was an important event in
Rafe's eyes, even when rivalled by a
MADAM WREN 15
How provoking,' said Alix. IHow
quickly the morning has gone. We
must go in now or they will come
hunting us up and find out all about
it; and you know, Rafe, if it has any-
thing to do with fairies we must keep
it a secret.'
Rafe nodded his head sagely.
'Of course,' he replied. 'When do
you think we had best come? This
afternoon we are going a walk with
nurse, and she'd never let us off.'
'No,' said Alix, with a sigh, for a
walk with nurse was not a very interest-
ing affair. 'But I'll tell you what,
Rafe; if I can get hold of mamma to-
night, just even for a minute, I'll ask
her if we mayn't take something for
dinner out with us to-morrow, and not
come in till tea-time-the way we
sometimes did last summer; for just
now it's really as fine and warm as if
it was June. I think she'll let us.'
'I do hope she will,' said the boy.
HE children were not very
fortunate in their nurse.
Perhaps this helped to
make them feel lonely and
dull sometimes, when there scarcely
seemed real reason for their being so.
She was a good woman, and meant to
be kind, and their mother trusted her
completely. But she was getting old,
and was rather tired of children. She
had had such a lot to bring up-the
four big brothers and sisters of Rafe
and Alix, and before them a large
family of their cousins. And I don't
think she was really very fond of
children, though she was devoted to
tiny babies. She didn't in the least
understand children's fancifulnesses or
many of their little ways, and was far too
fond of saying, 'Stuff and nonsense,
Master Rafe,' or 'Miss Alix,' as the
case might be.
The walk this afternoon would not
have been any livelier than usual, so
far as nurse was concerned, but the
children were so brimful of their new
ideas that they felt quite bright and
happy, and after a while even nurse was
won over to enter into their talk, or
at least to answer their questions pretty
For though of course they had not
the least idea of telling her their secret,
it was too much on their minds for them
not to chatter round about it, so to say.
'Have you ever seen a fairy, nurse ?'
said Alix; and, rather to her surprise,
nurse answered quite seriously:
'No, my dear. Time was, I suppose,
18 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
as such things were to be seen, but
that's past and gone. People have to
work too hard nowadays to give any
thought to fairies or fairyland.'
But on the whole this reply was
'You must have heard of fairies,
though,' said Rafe. 'Can't you re-
member any stories about them ?'
Nurse had never been great at
'Oh dear no, Master Rafe,' she
replied; I never knew any except the
regular old ones, that you've got far
prettier in your books than I could
tell them. Sayings I may have heard,
just country-side talk, when I was a
child. My old granny, who lived and
died in the village here, would have
it that, for those that cared to look
for them, there were odd sights and
sounds in the grounds of the old house
down the lane. Beautiful singing her
mother had heard there when she was
a girl; and once when a cow strayed
in there for a night, they said when
she came out again she was twice the
cow she had been before, and that
no milk was ever as good as hers.'
The children looked at each other.
I wonder they didn't turn all the
cows in there,' said Rafe practically.
'Why didn't they, nurse ?'
'Oh dear me, Master Rafe, that's
more than I can tell. It was but
an old tale. You can't expect much
sense in such.'
'Whom did the old house belong
to ? Who lived there ?' said Alix.
'Nobody knows,' said nurse. 'It's
too long ago to say. But there's
always been good luck about the place,
that's certain. You've seen the flowers
there in the summer time. Some of
them look as beautiful as if they were
in a proper garden; and it's certain
sure there's no wood near here like it
for the nightingales.'
This was very satisfactory so far as
it went, but nurse would say no more,
20 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
doubtless because she had nothing
more to say.
I do believe, Rafe,' said Alix, when
they were sitting together after tea,
'that the old garden is a sort of en-
trance to fairyland, and that it's been
waiting for us to find it out.'
Her eyes were shining with eager-
ness, and Rafe, too, felt very excited.
'I do hope mamma will let us have
all to-morrow to ourselves,' he said.
'You see, one has to be very careful
with fairies, Alix-all the stories agree
about that. We must go to work very
cautiously, so as not to offend them in
'You're always cautious,' said Alix,
with a little contempt; 'rather too
cautious for me. Of course we shall
be very polite, and take care not to
spoil any of the plants, but we'll have
to be a little venturesome too. And,'
she went on, 'you may count that
they've invited us. The wren brought
a regular message. I only hope they're
not offended with us for not going to-
If they're good kind of fairies,' said
Rafe sagely-'and I think they're sure
to be-theywouldn't have liked us to be
disobedient; and you know mamma's
awfully particular about our coming in
the moment we hear the bell ring.'
'Yes,' said Alix; 'that's true.'
Mamma's heart was extra soft
that evening, I think. She had seen
so little of the children lately that she
was feeling rather sorry for them, and
all the more ready to agree to any
wish of theirs. So they had no diffi-
culty in getting her consent to their
picnic plan for to-morrow. And the
weather was wonderfully settled, as it
sometimes is even in England, though
early in the year.
So the next morning saw them set
off, carrying a little basket of provisions
and a large parasol, full of eagerness
and excitement as to what might be
22 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
They did not cross the lawn as they
had done the day before, for they
had a sort of feeling that they did not
wish any one to see them start, or to
know exactly which way they went. It
added to the pleasant mystery of the
expedition. So they went straight out
by the front gates, and after following
the high road for a quarter of a mile
or so, entered a little wood which
skirted the grass-grown lane along one
side, and from which they made their
way out with some scrambling and
clambering at only a few yards' dis-
tance from the entrance to the deserted
garden where they had last seen the
The sight of the gate-posts reminded
Alix of the bird, and she stopped short
with some misgiving.
'Rafe,' she said, 'do you think per-
haps we should have waited for her at
the ilex tree? I never thought of it
'Oh no,' said Rafe; 'I'm sure it's
all right. We've come to the place
she led us to. She didn't need to
show us the way twice Fairies don't
like stupid people.'
'You seem to know a great lot
about fairies,' said Alix, who had no
idea of being snubbed herself, though
she was fond of snubbing other people;
'so I think you'd better settle what
we're to do.'
I expect we'll find the wren inside
the gate,' said Rafe; and they made
their way on in silence.
There was no difficulty in getting
into the grounds, for though the gate
on its rusty hinges would have been
far too heavy for the children to move,
there was a space between it and the
posts where the wood had rotted away,
through which it was easy for them
to creep. First came Rafe, then the
basket, next Alix, and finally the big
It was a good while since they had
been in the Ladywood garden, and
24 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
when they had got on to their feet
again, they stood still for a minute or
two looking round them. It was a
curious looking place certainly; the
very beauty of it had something strange
and dream-like about it.
Here and there the old paths were
clearly to be traced. The main ap-
proach, or drive, as we should now
call it, leading to where the house had
been, was still quite distinct, though
the house itself was entirely gone-not
even any remains of ruins were to be
seen, for all the stone and wood of
which it had been built had long
since been carted away to be used
But the children knew where the
old hall had actually stood-a large,
square, level plateau, bordered on three
sides by a broad terrace, all grass-
grown, showing in two or three places
where stone steps had once led down
to the lower grounds, told its own tale.
Along the front of this plateau, sup-
porting it, as it were, there was still a
very strongly-built stone wall banked
up into the soil. The children walked
on slowly till they were near the foot
of this wall, and then stood still again.
It was about five feet high; they
seemed attracted to it, they scarcely
knew why-perhaps because it was
the only remaining thing actually to
show that here had been once a home
where people had lived.
'I daresay,' said Alix, looking up,
'that the children used to run along
the terrace at the top of that wall, and
their mammas and nurses would call
after them to take care they didn't fall
over. Doesn't it seem funny, Rafe, to
think there have always been children
in the world ? '
'I daresay the boys jumped down
sometimes,' said Rafe. 'I'd like to
try, but I won't to-day, for I promised
mamma to take care of you, and if I
sprained my ankle it would be rather
26 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
They had forgotten their little quarrel,
and for the moment they had forgotten
about the wren.
She was nowhere to be seen.
What was to be done ?
'If we were only looking for a
nice place for our picnic,' said Rafe,
'nothing could be better than the
shelter of this wall. With it on one
side, and the parasol tilted up on
the other, it would be as good as a
'But we're not only looking for a
picnic place,' said Alix impatiently.
'The only thing to do is to poke
about till we find something, for I'm
perfectly certain the wren didn't bring
us here for nothing; and then, you
know, there's even what nurse told us
about this garden.'
Alix's words roused Rafe's energy
again; for he was a trifle lazy, and
wouldn't have been altogether dis-
inclined to sit down comfortably and
think about dinner. But once he got
a thing in his head, he was not without
'Let's follow right along the wall,'
he said, 'and examine it closely.'
'I don't know what you expect to
find,' said Alix. It's just a wall, as
straight and plain as can be.'
And so indeed it seemed from
where they stood.
'll look all along the ground, in
case there might be a ring fixed in a
stone somewhere, like in the Arabian
Nights. That's a regular fairy sort of
plan,' said Alix.
'Very well,' agreed Rafe; 'you
can do that, and I'll keep tapping
the wall to see if it sounds hollow
And so they proceeded, Alix carry-
ing the basket now, and Rafe the
parasol, as it came in handy for his
For some moments neither of them
spoke. Alix's eyes were fixed on the
ground. Once or twice, where it looked
28 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
rough and uneven, she stooped to
examine it more closely, but nothing
came of it, except a little grumbling
from Rafe at her stopping the way.
To avoid this she ran on a few paces
in front of him, so that when, within
a few yards of the end of the wall,
her brother suddenly stopped short,
she wasn't aware that he had done
so till she heard him calling her in a
low but eager voice.
What is it?' she said breathlessly,
hurrying back again.
'Alix,' he said, 'there's some one
tapping back at us from the other side.
'A woodpecker,' said Alix hastily;
'or the echo of your tappings.'
She was in such a hurry that she
didn't stop to reflect what silly things
she was saying. To tell the truth, she
didn't quite like the idea of Rafe
having the honour and glory of the
discovery, if such it was.
'A woodpecker,' repeated Rafe.
'What nonsense Do woodpeckers
tap inside a wall? And an echo
wouldn't wait till I had finished tap-
ping to begin. It's just like answering
me. Listen again.'
He tapped three times, slowly and
distinctly, then stopped. Yes, sure
enough there came what seemed in-
deed like an answer. Three clear,
sharp little raps-clearer and sharper,
indeed, than those he made with the
parasol handle. Alix was now quite
'It sounds like a little silver ham-
mer,' she said. 'Oh, Rafe, suppose
we've really found something magic !'
and her bright eyes danced with
Rafe did not reply. He seemed
intent on listening.
Alix,' he said, 'the tapping is going
on-a little farther off now, and then
it comes back again, as if it was to lead
us on. It must be on purpose.'
\r, o ^ :, -- -:.;,^ :- '.- I
'ET'S follow it along,' said
Alix, after another moment
or two's hesitation.
They were standing, as
I said, not many yards from the end
of the wall, and thither the sound
seemed to lead them. When they got
quite to the corner the tapping had
stopped. But the children were not
'That's what fairies do,' said Alix,
as if all her life she had lived on inti-
mate terms with the beings she spoke
of. 'They show you a bit, and then
THE CARETAKER 31
they leave you to find out a bit for
yourself. We must poke about now
and see what we can find.'
Rafe had already set to work in this
way: he was feeling and prodding the
big, solid-looking stones which finished
off the corner.
'Alix,' he exclaimed, 'one of these
stones shakes a little; let's push at it
Yes, there was no doubt that it
yielded a little, especially at one side.
The children pushed with all their
might and main, but for some time an
uncertain sort of wobbling was the only
result. Rafe stood back a little to
recover his breath, and to look at the
stone more critically.
'There may be some sort of spring
or hinge about it,' he said at last.
'Give me the parasol again, Alix.'
He then pressed the point of it
firmly along the side of the stone,
down the seam of mortar which ap-
peared to join it to its neighbour in
32 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
the wall. He need not have pressed
so hard, for when he got to the middle
of the line the stone suddenly yielded,
turning inwards so quickly and sharply
that Rafe almost fell forward on the
parasol, and a square dark hole was
open before them.
Alix darted forward and peeped in.
'Rafe,' she cried, 'there's a sort of
handle inside; shall I try to turn it?'
She did so without waiting for his
answer. It moved quite easily, and
then they found that the two or three
stones completing the row to the
ground, below the one that had already
opened, were really only thin slabs
joined together, and forming a little
door. It was like the doors you some-
times see in a library, which on the
outside have the appearance of a row
The opening was now clear before
them, and they did not hesitate to pass
through. They had to stoop a little,
but once within, it was easy to stand
THE CARETAKER 33
upright, and even side by side. Alix
caught hold of Rafe's hand.
'Let's keep fast hold of each other,'
For a few steps they advanced in
almost total darkness, for the door
behind them had noiselessly closed.
But this was in the nature of things,
and quite according to Alix's pro-
'I only hope,' she went on, 'that we
haven't somehow or other got inside
the cave where the pied piper took the
children. It might have an opening
into England somehow, even though
I think Hamelin was in Germany;
but, of course, there's nothing to be
frightened at, is there, Rafe?' though
her own heart was beating fast.
Rafe's only answer was a sort of
grunt, which expressed doubt, though
we will not say fear. Perhaps it was
the safest answer he could make under
the very peculiar circumstances. But
no doubt it was a great relief to both
34 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
when, before they had time really to
ask themselves whether they were
frightened or not, a faint light showed
itself in front of them, growing stronger
and brighter as they stepped on, till at
last they could clearly make out in
what sort of a place they were.
It was a short, fairly wide passage,
seemingly hollowed out of the ground,
and built up in the same way as the
wall outside into the soil-in fact it
was like a small tunnel. The light
was of a reddish hue, and soon they
saw the reason of this. It came from
an inner room, the door of which was
half open, where a fire was brightly
burning, and by the hearth sat a small
The children looked at each other,
then they bent forward to see more.
Noiseless though they were, the little
person seemed to know they were
coming. She lifted her head, and
though her face was partly hidden by
the hood of the scarlet cloak which
covered her almost entirely, they
saw that it was that of a very old
'Welcome, my dears,' she said at
once. 'I have been looking for you
this long time.'
Her voice, though strange-in what
way it was strange the children could
not have told, for it seemed to come
from far away, and yet it seemed to
them that they had often heard it
before-encouraged them to step for-
'Good morning,' Alix began, but
then she hesitated. Was it morning,
or evening, or night, or what ? It was
difficult to believe that only a few
minutes ago they had been standing
outside in the warm sunshine, with the
soft spring breeze wafting among the
fresh green leaves, and the birds singing
overhead. That all seemed a dream.
'I beg your pardon,' the little girl
began again; 'I don't quite know
what I should say, but thank you for
36 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
speaking so kindly. How did you
know we were coming?'
'I heard you,' replied the old woman.
'I heard your little footsteps up to the
gateway yesterday, and I knew you'd
come again to-day.'
By this time Rafe had found his
'Did you send the wren ?' he said.
'Never mind about that just now,'
she answered. I've many a messenger;
and what's better still, I've quick eyes,
and even quicker ears, for all that I'm
so very old. I know what you want of
me, and if you're good children you
shall not be disappointed. I've been
getting ready for you in more ways
'Do you mean you've got stories
to tell us?' exclaimed the children
Of course,' she replied, with a smile.
' I wouldn't be much good if I hadn't
stories for you.'
All this time, I must tell you, the
THE CARETAKER 37
old woman had been busily knitting.
Her needles made a little silvery click,
but there was nothing fidgeting about
this sound; now and then her words
seemed to go in a sort of time with it.
What she was knitting they could not
Alix gave a deep sigh of satisfaction.
'How beautiful!' she said; 'and
may we come every day, and may we
stay as long as we like, and will you
sometimes invite us to tea, perhaps?
'Alix!' said Rafe, in a tone of re-
'Nay, nay,' said their hostess. Let
her chatter. All in good time, my love,'
she added to Alix, and the click of the
needles seemed to repeat the words,
'All in good time,' like a little song.
Rafe's eyes, which were sometimes
more observant than Alix's, as his
tongue did not use up so much of his
attention as hers, had meanwhile been
wandering round the room. It can, I
38 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
think, be best described as a very cosy
kitchen, but, unlike many kitchens, it
was fresh and not the least too hot.
There was a strange, pleasant fragrance
in the air that made one think of pine
woods. Afterwards the children found
out that this came from the fire, for it
was entirely of fir-cones, of which a
large heap stood neatly stacked in one
Along chain hung down the chimney,
with a hook at the end, to which a
bright red copper pan was fastened;
a little kettle of the same metal stood
on the hearthstone, which was snowy
white. The walls of the room were of
rough stone, redder in colour than the
wall outside, or else the firelight made
them seem so. Behind where the old
woman sat hung a grass-green curtain,
closely drawn; there was no lamp or
candle, but the firelight was quite
enough. A wooden dresser ran along
one side, and on its shelves were ar-
ranged cups and plates and jugs of the
THE CARETAKER 39
queerest shapes and colours you could
imagine. I must tell you more about
these later on. There was a settle
with a very curious patchwork cushion,
but besides this and the rocking-chair
on which sat the old woman-I forgot
to say that she was sitting on a rocking-
chair-the only seats were two little
three-legged stools. The middle of
the floor was covered by matting of a
kind the children had never seen; it
was shaded brown, and made you think
of a path strewn over with fallen leaves
The old woman's kindly tone en-
couraged Rafe to speak in his turn.
'May I ask you one or two things,'
he said, before you begin telling us
the stories ? '
'As many as you like, my boy,' she
replied cheerfully. 'I don't say I'll
answer them all-that's rather a differ-
ent matter-but you can ask all the
It's so puzzling,' said Rafe, hesitat-
40 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
ing a little. I don't think it puzzles
Alix so much as me; she knows more
about fairy things, I think. I do so
want to know if you've lived here a
very long time. Have you always
lived here-even when the old house
was standing and there were people
'Never mind about- always,' replied
the old woman. 'A very, very long
time? Yes, longer than you could
understand, even if I explained it!
Long before the old house was pulled
down? Yes, indeed, long before the
old house was ever thought of! I'm
the caretaker here nowadays, you
The caretaker!' Rafe repeated; 'but
there's no house to take care of.'
There's a great deal to take care of
nevertheless,' she replied. 'Think of
all the creatures up in the garden, the
birds and the butterflies, not to speak
of the flowers and the blossom. Ah,
yes! we caretakers have a busy time
THE CARETAKER 41
of it, I can tell you, little as you might
think it. And the stories-why, if I
had nothing else to do, the looking
after them would keep me busy. They
take a deal of tidying. You'd scarcely
believe the state they come home in
sometimes when they've been out for
a ramble-all torn and jagged and
draggle-tailed, or else, what's worse,
dressed up in such vulgar new clothes
that their own mother, and I'm as good
as their mother, would scarcely know
them again. No, no,' and she shook
her head, 'I've no patience with such
Alix looked delighted. She quite
understood the old woman.
'How nicely you say it,' she ex-
claimed. 'It's like something papa
told us the other day about legends;
don't you remember, Rafe ?'
Rafe's slower wits were still rather per-
plexed, but he took things comfortably.
Somehow he no longer remembered any
more questions to ask. The oldwoman's
42 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
bright eyes as she looked at him gave
him a pleasant, contented feeling.
'Have you got a story quite ready
for us?' asked Alix.
'One, two, three, four,' said the old
woman, counting her stitches. 'I'm
setting it on, my dear; it'll be ready
directly. But what have you got in
your basket? It's your dinner, isn't
it ? You must be getting hungry.
Wouldn't you like to eat something
while the story's getting ready?'
'Are you going to knit the story ?'
said Alix, looking very surprised.
'Oh dear no !' said the old woman,
smiling. It's only a way I have. The
knitting keeps it straight, otherwise it
might fly off once I've let it out. Now
open your basket and let's see what
you've got for your dinner. There, set
it on the table, and you may reach down
plates and jugs for yourselves.'
'It's nothing much,' said Alix, 'just
some sandwiches and two hard-boiled
eggs and some slices of cake.'
Very good things in their way,' said
the old woman, as Alix unpacked the
little parcels and laid them on the
plates which Rafe handed her from
the dresser. 'And if you look into
my larder you'll find some fruit, maybe,
which won't go badly for dessert. What
should you say to strawberries and
She nodded towards one corner of
the kitchen where there was a little
door which the children had not before
noticed, so very neatly was it fitted
into the wall.
The opening of it was another sur-
prise; the 'larder' was quite different
from the room inside. It was a little
arbour, so covered over with greenery
that you could not see through the
leaves to the outside, though the sun-
shine managed to creep in here and
there, and the twittering of the birds
was clearly heard.
On a stone slab stood a curiously-
shaped basket filled with-oh! such
44 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
lovely strawberries! and beside it a
bowl of tempting yellow cream; these
were the only eatables to be seen in
'Strawberries !' exclaimed Rafe;
'just fancy, Alix, and it's only
'But we're in Fairyland, you stupid
boy,' said Alix; or at least somewhere
very near it.'
'Quick, children,' came the old
woman's voice from the kitchen. 'You
bring the strawberries, Alix, and Rafe
the cream. There'll be no time for
stories if you dawdle '
This made them hurry back, and
soon they were seated at the table,
with all the nice things neatly before
them. They were not greedy children
fortunately, for, as everybody knows,
fairy-folk hold few things in greater
horror than greediness; and they were
orderly children too. They packed up
their basket neatly again when they
had finished, and Alix asked if they
THE CARETAKER 45
should wash up the plates that had
been lent to them, which seemed
to please their old friend, for she
smiled as she replied that it wasn't
My china is of a different kind from
any you've ever seen,' she said. Whif,
plates,' she added; and then, to the
children's amusement, there was a
slight rattle, and all the crockery was
up in its place again, shining as clean
and bright as before it had been
There was now no doubt at all that
they were really in Fairyland.
THE STORY OF THE THREE WISHES
ND now for a story,' said
Alix joyfully. 'May we
sit close beside you, Mrs.
-oh dear! Mayn't we
call you something?'
'Anything you like,' replied the old
'I know,' cried Alix; 'Mrs. Care-
taker-will that do? It's rather a
nice name when you come to think
'Yes,' agreed their old friend; 'and
it should be everybody's name, more
or less, if everybody did their duty.
THE THREE WISHES
There's no one without something to
take care of.'
'No,' said Rafe thoughtfully; 'I
'Draw the two little stools close
beside me-one at the right, one at
the left; and if you like, you may lean
your heads on my knee, you'll hear
none the worse.'
Oh, that's beautiful,' said Alix; 'it's
like the children and the white lady.
Do you know about the white lady?'
she went on, starting up suddenly.
Mrs. Caretaker nodded.
'Oh yes,' she said; 'she's a relation
of mine. But we mustn't chatter any
more if you're to have a story.'
And the children sat quite silent.
Click, click, went the knitting-
THE STORY OF THE THREE WISHES
That was the name of the first of
Mrs. Caretaker's stories.
48 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
Once upon a time there lived two
sisters in a cottage on the edge of a
forest. It was rather a lonely place
in some ways, though there was an old
town not more than a mile off, where
there were plenty of friendly people.
But it was lonely in this way, that but
seldom any of the townsfolk passed
near the cottage, or cared to come to
see the sisters, even though they were
good and pretty girls, much esteemed
by all who knew them.
For the forest had a bad name.
Nobody seemed to know exactly why,
or what the bad name meant, but
there it was. Even in the bright
long summer days the children of the
town would walk twice as far on the
other side to gather posies of the
pretty wood-flowers in a little copse,
not to be compared with the forest for
beauty, rather than venture within its
shade. And the young men and
maidens of a summer evening, though
occasionally they might come to its
THE THREE WISHES 49
outskirts in their strolls, were never
tempted to do more than stand for a
moment or two glancing along its leafy
glades. Only the sisters, Arminel and
Chloe, had sometimes entered the
forest, though but for a little way, and
not without some fear and trembling.
But they had no misgiving as to
living in its near neighbourhood. Cus-
tom does a great deal, and here in
the cottage by the forest-side they had
spent all their lives. And the grand-
mother, who had taken care of them
since they had been left orphans in
their babyhood, told them there was
no need for fear so long as they loved
each other and did their duty. All
the same, she never denied that the
great forest was an uncanny place.
This was the story of it, so far as
any one knew. Long, long ago, when
many things in the world were different
from what they are now, a race of
giants, powerful and strong, were the
owners of the forest, and so long as
50 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
they were just and kindly to their
weaker neighbours, all went well. But
after a while they grew proud and
tyrannical, and did some very cruel
things. Then their power was taken
from them, and they became, as a
punishment, as weak and puny as they
had been the opposite. Now and
then, so it was said about the country-
side, one or two of them had been
seen, miserable-looking little dwarfs.
And the seeing of them was the great
thing to be dreaded, for it was supposed
to be a certain sign of bad luck.
But the grandmother had heard
more than this, though where, or when,
or how, she could not remember. The
spell over the forest dwarfs was not to
be for ever; something some day was to
break it, though what she did not know.
'And who can tell,' she would say
now and then, 'how better things may
come about for the poor creatures ?
There's maybe a reason for your being
here, children. Keep love and pity in
THE THREE WISHES 5g
your hearts, and never let any fear
prevent you doing a kind action if it
comes in your way.'
But till now, though they had gone
on living in the old cottage since their
grandmother's death in the same way,
never forgetting what she had said,
Arminel and Chloe had never caught
sight of their strange neighbours. True,
once or twice they had seen a small
figure scuttering away when they had
ventured rather farther than usual along
the forest paths, but then it might have
been only some wild wood creature, of
whom, no doubt, there were many who
had their dwellings in the lonely gloom.
Sometimes a strange curiosity really to
see one of the dwarfs for themselves
would come over them; they often
talked about it in the long winter
evenings when they had nothing to
But it was only to each other that
they talked in this way. To their
friends in the town, for they had friends
52 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
there whom they saw once a week on
the market-day, they never chattered
about the forest or the dwarfs; and
when they were asked why they went
on living in this strange and lonely
place, they smiled and said it was their
home, and they were happier there than
And so they were. They were very
busy to begin with, for their butter and
eggs and poultry were more prized than
any to be had far or near. Arminel
was the dairy-woman, and Chloe the
hen-wife, and at the end of each week
they would count up their earnings,
eager to see which had made the more
by their labours. Fortunately for their
happy feelings to each other, up till
now their gains had been pretty nearly
equal, for there is no saying where
jealousy will not creep in, even between
the dearest of friends.
But quite lately, for the first time,
things had not been going so well. It
was late in the autumn, and there had
THE THREE WISHES 53
been unusually heavy rains, and when
they ceased the winter seemed to begin
all at once, and before its time, and the
animals suffered for it. The cow's milk
fell off before Arminel had looked for
its doing so, and some great plans
which she had been making for the
future seemed likely to be disappointed.
She had hoped to save enough through
the winter to buy another cow in the
spring, so that with the two she would
have had a supply of butter for her
customers in the town all the year
round. And Chloe's hens were not
doing well either. One or two of them
had even died, and she couldn't get her
autumn chickens to fatten. Worst of
all, the eggs grew fewer day by day.
These misfortunes distressed the
sisters very much. Sadder still, they
grew irritable and short-tempered, each
reproaching the other, and making out
that she herself had managed better.
It is all your want of foresight,' said
Arminel to Chloe one market-day when
54 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
the egg-basket looked but poorly filled.
'Everybody knows that hens stop
laying with the first cold. You should
have potted some eggs a few weeks ago
when they were so plentiful.'
My customers don't care for potted
eggs,' said Chloe. 'Till now I have
always had a pretty fair supply of fresh
ones, except for a week or two about
Christmas time. How should I have
known that this year would be different
from other years? If you are so
wonderfully wise, why did you not
bring Strawberry indoors a month
sooner than usual? It is evident that
she has caught cold. You need not
sneer at my eggs when you count your
pats of butter. Why, there are not above
half what you had two months ago.'
'When you manage your own affairs
properly, you may find fault with mine,'
said Arminel snappishly.
And they felt so unamiable towards
each other that all the way to market
and back they walked on separate
THE THREE WISHES 55
sides of the road without speaking a
Such a state of things had never been
It was late when they got home that
afternoon, and being a dull and cloudy
day it was almost dark. The poor
girls felt tired and unhappy, for each
was sad with the double sadness of
having to bear her troubles alone.
And besides this, there is nothing more
tiring than ill-temper.
Arminel sat down weariedly on a
chair. The fire was out; the cottage
felt very chilly; the one little candle
which Chloe had lighted gave but a
feeble ray. Arminel sighed deeply.
Chloe, whose heart was very soft, felt
sorry for her, and setting down her
basket began to see to the fire.
'Leave it alone,' said her sister.
'We may as well go to bed without any
supper. I'm too tired to eat; and it's
just as well to get accustomed to scanty
fare. It is what is before us, I suppose.'
56 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
'You need not be quite so down-
hearted,' said Chloe, persevering in her
efforts. 'Things may mend again. I
sold my eggs for more than ever before.
It seems that everybody's hens are
doing badly. I'll have the fire burning
in a minute, and some nice hot coffee
ready, and then you'll feel better.'
But Arminel was not to be so easily
'If you've done well with your eggs
it's more than I did with my butter,'
she said. 'Dame Margery, the house-
keeper from the castle, says she'll take
no more from me if I can't promise as
much as last year. She doesn't like to
go changing about for her butter, she
says; and mine was enough for the
'I'm sure you've enough for two
ladies still,' said Chloe.
Yes; bat if I-don't keep a little for
my other customers, they won't come
back to me when I have plenty again,'
answered her sister, who seemed deter-
THE THREE WISHES
mined to look on the black side of
Then, unluckily, in spite of Chloe's
care, the cold and the damp of the
chimney made the fire smoke; great
clouds puffed out, almost filling the
I wish you had let me go to bed,'
said Arminel hastily; and Chloe's
patience being exhausted, she retorted
by calling her sister unkind and un-
The smoke was very disagreeable,
no doubt. Arminel opened the window
wide to let it clear off. The wind was
blowing from the forest which lay on
this side of the house. All looked
dark and gloomy, and Arminel gave a
little shiver as she glanced out. Sud-
denly she started.
'Chloe,' she said, 'did you hear
that ? '
'What?' said Chloe.
'A cry-yes, there it is again, as if
some one was in great trouble.'
58 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
Chloe heard it too, but she was
feeling rather sulky and contradictory.
'It's nothing,' she said. 'Only a
hare or some wild creature; they often
scream,' and she turned back to the
table where she was preparing coffee.
But though the room was now pretty
clear of smoke and the fire was behav-
ing better, Arminel did not close the
window. She still stood by it listen-
ing. And again there came the strange
shrill yet feeble cry, telling unmistak-
ably of anguish, or whether of beast or
man no one could have told. And
this time Chloe stood still with the
kettle in her hand, more startled than
she had been before.
'Sister,' said Arminel decidedly,
'that is not the squeal of a hare; it is
something worse. Perhaps some child
from the town may have strayed into
the forest and got benighted. It is
possible at least. And the forest is not
like other places. Who knows what
might happen to one astray there ?'
THE THREE WISHES 59
'What could we do in such a case?'
said Chloe. We're not all-powerful.'
She spoke more out of a little re-
maining temper than from cowardice
or indifference, for like her sister she
was both brave and kind.
'Remember what our grandmother
said,' said Arminel, and she repeated
the grandmother's words: '"Neverhang
back from doing a kind action; no
harm can come to you while you love
each other and do your duty." I am
going alone to the forest if you will
not come,' she went on, and she turned
towards the door as she spoke.
'Of course I will come with you,'
said Chloe, reaching down her mantle
and hood which she had hung up on
a nail. 'Close the window, Arminel,'
she said. I'll leave the coffee on the
hob. The fire is burning nicely now,
and we shall find it bright and warm
when we come back.'
As they stepped outside, closing the
door behind them, the cry broke out
60 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
again. Tired though they were with
their long day at market, the sisters
set off running. Two or three fields
lay between them and the edge of the
wood, and part of the way the ground
was very rough, but they were nimble
and sure-footed. And ever as they ran
came the cries, feebler yet more dis-
tinct, and before long they could dis-
tinguish the words, 'Help comrades,
'It is not a hare, you see,' said
'No, indeed,' answered Chloe, and
both felt a thrill of fear, though they
only ran the faster.
The cries, though now they grew
rarer, becoming indeed mingled with
groans, still served to guide them.
Soon they were in the midst of the
trees, making their way more by a
sort of instinct, for it was almost dark.
Suddenly a ray of moonlight glimmered
through the firs, and a few paces in
front of them they saw lying on the
THE THREE WISHES
ground a small dark object writhing
Just here the trees were not so
thick. It was like a little clearing.
The girls stepped onwards cautiously,
catching hold of each other.
'It is--'whispered Arminel-' Oh,
Chloe, it is one of the dwarfs.'
'Courage,'murmured Chloe in return,
though her own heart was beating very
fast. 'He seems in no state to hurt
us now, if only it be not a trick.'
The groans had ceased, and when
they got close to the strange figure
on the ground it seemed quite motion-
less. The moonlight had grown stronger.
They stooped down and examined the
dwarf. His eyes were closed; his
face was wrinkled and brown; he was
brown all over. He wore a furry coat,
much the same colour as his own skin.
Arminel lifted one of his queer claw-
like hands; it fell down again by his side.
'I believe he is dead,' she said.
'I didn't know the dwarfs ever could
62 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
die. What shall we do, Chloe? We
cannot leave him here, in case he
should be still living.'
'We must carry him home, I'm
afraid,' said Chloe. 'Yes, I'm afraid
we must, for see, Arminel, he's open-
ing his eyes,' as two bright black beads
suddenly glanced up at them.
'Nimbo, Hugo,' said a weak, hoarse
little voice. 'Are you there? No,'
and the dwarf opened his eyes more
widely, and tried to sit up. 'No,' he
went on, 'it is not my comrades!
Who are you?' and he shuddered as if
THE STORY OF THE THREE WISHES
T was indeed a turning of the
tables for a dwarf to be afraid
of them. It gave the sisters
courage to speak to him.
'We heard your cries,' said Arminel.
'Ever so far off in our cottage across
the fields we heard them. What is the
matter? Have you hurt yourself?'
The little man groaned.
'I have had a fall,' he said, 'from
a branch of the tree under which I
am lying. I climbed up to shake
down some large fir-cones, and lost my
64 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
footing. I have hurt myself sadly. I
feel bruised all over. How I shall
ever get back to my comrades I do
not know,' and again he groaned.
He was not a very courageous dwarf
evidently; perhaps the courage of the
race had been lost with its stature!
But the sisters felt very sorry for him.
'Have you broken any bones, do you
think?' said Chloe,who was very practical.
The dwarf turned and twisted him-
self about with many sighs and moans.
'No,' said he, I think I am only
bruised and terribly cold. I have been
lying here so long, so long. I cannot
go home; they are miles away in the
centre of the forest.'
Arminel and Chloe considered. They
did not much like the idea of the un-
canny creature spending a night under
their roof, even though they no longer
feared that he was playing them any
trick. If the mere sight of a dwarf
brought ill-luck, what might not they
expect from the visit of one of the
THE THREE WISHES 65
spell-bound race? But their grand-
mother's words returned to their mind.
'You must come home with us,' they
said, speaking together. 'We can at
least give you shelter and warmth, and
a night's rest may do you much good.'
There is the salve for bruises which
granny taught us to make,' added Chloe.
'We have some of it by us, I know.'
The dwarf gave a sigh of relief.
'Maidens,' he said, 'you shall never
have cause to regret your kindness. I
know your cottage. We have often
watched you when you little knew it.
I think I could make shift to walk
there if you will each give me an arm.'
They got him to his feet with some
difficulty. He was so small, hardly
reaching up to their elbows, that it
ended in their almost carrying him
between them. And they seemed to
get home much more quickly than
they had come, even though they
walked slowly. The dwarf knew every
step of the way, and his queer bead-
66 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
like eyes pierced through the dark-
ness as if it had been noonday.
A little to the right,' he would say,
or, 'a few paces to the left, the ground
And almost before they knew where
they were they found themselves before
their own door. The wind had gone
down, all was peaceful and still, and
inside the kitchen was a picture of
comfort, the fire burning red and
'Ah,' said the little man, when they
had settled him on a stool in front of
the hearth, 'this is good!' and he
stretched out his small brown hands
to the ruddy glow. It is long since
I have seen such a fire, and very long
since I have been in a room like this.'
But then he grew quite silent, and
the sisters did not like to ask him
what he meant.
Chloe busied herself with the coffee
which boiled up in no time; and in
the larder, to her surprise, when she
THE THREE WISHES 67
went in to fetch a loaf of bread in-
tended for the sisters' supper, she
found a pat of butter and a jug of
cream which she had not known were
there. She was very pleased, for both
she and Arminel had hospitable hearts,
and she would have been sorry to have
had nothing for their guest but dry
bread and skim-milk coffee.
'Arminel,' she said, as she came
back into the kitchen, 'you had for-
gotten this cream and butter, fortu-
nately so, for now we can give our
friend a nice supper.'
Arminel looked quite astonished.
I took all the butter there was with
me to market this morning, and I
never keep cream except for our Sun-
But there was another surprise in
Arminel in her turn went into the
'Chloe!' she called out, see what
you have forgotten. Eggs!' and she
68 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
held up three large, beautiful brown
'I don't know where they have
come from,' said Chloe. I'm certain
they were not there when I packed
my basket. Besides, none of my hens
lay eggs of that colour.'
Never mind,' said the dwarf; here
they are, and that is enough. We
shall now have an omelette for supper.
An omelette and hot coffee That is a
supper for a king.'
He seemed to be getting quite
bright and cheerful, and complained
no more of his bruises as he sat there
basking in the pleasant warmth of the
fire. Supper was soon ready, and the
three spent a pleasant evening; the
little man asking the sisters many
questions about their life and occupa-
tions. They told him all about
their present troubles, and he told
them to keep up heart, and never
forget their good grandmother's
THE THREE WISHES 69
'Did you know our grandmother?'
they asked in surprise.
'I have heard of her,' was all he
said; and though they were curious
to know more, they did not venture
to question him further.
After supper they made up a bed
for him on the kitchen settle, where
he said he was sure he would sleep
'And now farewell,' he added 'I
shall be off in the morning before you
are stirring. Your kindness has so
refreshed me that I feel sure I shall
be able to make my way home without
He gave a little sigh as he spoke.
'I would fain do what I can in
return for your goodness,' he contin-
ued. Some things are still in my
power. I can give you three wishes
which, under certain conditions, will
The sisters' eyes sparkled with de-
70 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
Oh, thank you a thousand times,'
they said. 'Pray tell us what we
must do, and we will follow your
Three wishes between you are all
I can give,' he replied. One each,
and the fulfilment of these depends
upon the third, to which a secret is
attached, and this secret you must dis-
cover for yourselves. The key of it
is, I trust, in your own hearts.'
'We will do our best to find it,'
said Arminel. If it has to do with
our love for each other you may trust
us. Chloe and I never quarrel.'
But suddenly, as she said this, the
remembrance of that day struck her,
and she grew red, feeling the dwarf's
eyes fixed upon her.
'At least,' she added hurriedly, 'I
should say we seldom quarrel, though
I'm afraid our anxieties lately have not
sweetened our tempers.'
'Beware, then, for the future,' said the
dwarf. All will depend on yourselves.'
THE THREE WISHES 71
The sisters went to bed full of
eagerness and hopefulness, longing for
the next day to come that they might
decide how to use their strange friend's
'I shall not be able to sleep,' said
Arminel; 'my head is so full of the
'And so is mine,' said her sister.
'You shall have the first, Arminel, and
I the second. The third will be the
one to ponder over.'
I shall have no difficulty in de-
ciding,' said Arminel. 'And you,
Chloe, being the younger, must, of
course, be guided partly by my
'I don't see that at all,' said Chloe.
'The dwarf said nothing about elder
or younger, and--.'
At this moment a loud snore from
the kitchen reminded them that their
guest was still there.
'Dear, dear,' said Chloe. 'What
would he think if he heard us begin-
72 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
ning to quarrel already? We must
But Arminel was not so ready to
give in, and there is no saying what
might not have befallen, had it not
happened that the moment her head
touched the pillow she fell fast asleep.
And Chloe quickly followed her ex-
They awoke later than usual the
next morning, feeling quite rested and
'I never slept so soundly in my life,'
said Arminel. I suppose it was with
being so tired.'
'I don't know,' said Chloe. 'I
have an idea that our friend had
something to do with our falling asleep
so quickly to prevent us quarrelling.
Now, Arminel, whatever we do, let us
remember his warning.'
Of course, I don't want to quarrel,'
her sister replied. 'We didn't need
the dwarf to come here to tell us to be
good friends. But, after all, his promise
THE THREE WISHES 73
of fulfilling our wishes may be nonsense.
I long to test it. I wonder if he is still
there, by the bye.'
No, he was gone; the little bed they
had made up for him on the settle, of
some extra blankets and pillows, was
neatly folded away. The fire was
already lighted and burning brightly,
the kettle singing on the hearth-the
room showed signs of having been
carefully swept and dusted, and the
window was slightly open to admit a
breath of the fresh morning air.
Good little dwarf!' exclaimed Armi-
nel. 'I wish he would pay us a visit
often if he helps us so nicely with our
They sat down to breakfast in the
best of spirits; and when the meal was
over, and they went out, they found
that the dwarf's good offices had not
been confined to the house. The
cow was carefully foddered, and looking
most prosperous and comfortable-the
poultry had been seen to, the hen-
74 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
house cleaned out, and already, early
as it was, several lovely cream white
eggs had been laid in the nests.
All this was very encouraging.
'There can be no sort of doubt,'
said Chloe, 'that our friend, dwarf
though he be, has a kind heart and
magic power. I feel certain his promises
are to be relied upon. But remember,
Arminel, the first two wishes will be no
good unless we agree about the third.
What shall we do ?'
I propose,' said Arminel, who had
plenty of good sense, that we go about
our work as usual till this evening.
Then each of us will have had time to
decide as to her own wish, and each of
us can propose something for the third.
As to the third, we can then consult
To this Chloe agreed.
They spoke little to each other
during the day, but when the light
began to fail their work was over.
They sat down together by the fire.
THE THREE WISHES 75
'Now for a good talk,' said Chloe.
'We have the whole evening before
'Five minutes would be enough for
me,' said Arminel. I've got my wish
cut and dry. I have been longing to
tell you all day, but I thought it best
to keep to our determination of this
'How strange !' said Chloe. 'I am
just in the same condition. I decided
upon my wish almost immediately.
Tell me what yours is, and I will tell
'My wish,' said Arminel, 'is to have
a cow. A dun-coloured cow I think
I should prefer-I can picture her so
sweet and pretty-who would give
milk all the year round without ever
'Excellent,' cried Chloe; my wish
goes well with yours. For what I
want is a dozen hens who would each
lay an egg every morning in the year
without fail. I should thus have as
76 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
many fresh eggs as I could possibly
want, and enough to spare for setting
whenever I liked. Some of my present
hens are very good mothers, and would
hatch them beautifully.'
'I think your wish a very good one,'
said Arminel. 'But now as to the
fulfilment. We have now expressed
our wishes distinctly, but there is no
use as yet in going to look for the new
cow in the shed or hens in the hen-
house, seeing that there remains, alas !
the third one! What can it be?'
'Could it be for a hen-house?' said
Chloe; 'my poor hens are not very
well off in their present one, and
it is right to make one's animals com-
fortable; so this would be a kind-
Not more than to wish for a warm
shed for my cows,' said Arminel.
'Cows require much more care than
hens. I daresay that is what we are
meant to wish for.'
I am certain it is not,' said Chloe.
THE THREE WISHES 77
'At least, if you wish for a cow-shed, I
wish for a hen-house.'
'That, of course, is nonsense,' said
Arminel. I feel sure the dwarf meant
we were to agree in what we wished
for. And if you were amiable and
unselfish you would join with me,
I might say precisely the same
thing to you,' said Chloe coldly.
And though they went on talking
till bed-time they came to no con-
clusion. Indeed, I fear a good many
sharp and unkind words passed between
them, and they went to bed without
saying good-night to each other. So
far it did not seem as if the dwarf's gift
was to bring them happiness.
THE STORY OF THE THREE WISHES
HEN they woke in the morn-
ing they were in a calmer
state of mind, and began
to see how foolish they
'Chloe,' said Arminel, as they sat
at breakfast, 'we were very nearly
quarrelling last night; and if we quarrel
we shall certainly never find out the
secret of the third wish; and all our
hopes will be at an end. Now, let us
think over quietly what the third wish
is likely to be. Let me see-what
were the dwarf's exact words ? '
THE THREE WISHES
'He said we must seek for it in our
own hearts,' replied Chloe. 'That
means, of course, that it must be
'Perhaps he meant that it must be
something to do us both good,' said
Arminel. 'What is there we are
equally in want of? Oh! I know;
suppose we wish for a good stack of
fuel for the winter. That would cer-
tainly benefit us both."
'It can do no harm to try,' said
Chloe; 'so I agree to the wish for a
stack of fuel.'
Arminel's eyes sparkled.
'I daresay we have guessed it,' she
exclaimed, jumping up. 'Come out
at once to see, Chloe.'
But, alas! the heap of brushwood
for their winter's firing, in the corner of
the yard, had grown no bigger than
the day before. No fresh sounds of
cheerful cackling reached them from
the hen-house; and Strawberry stood
alone in her stall.
80 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
The wishes were still unfulfilled.
The sisters returned to the house
'What can it be?' said Arminel;
and this time Chloe made a sugges-
'Supposing we wish that the copper
coins we have put aside for our Christ-
mas charities should be turned into
silver,' she said. 'That would be a
kind thought for the very poor folk we
try to help a little.'
'As you like,' said her sister; 'but
I doubt its being any use. We are
always told that charity which costs us
nothing is little worth.'
She was right. When they opened
the little box which held the coins she
spoke of, there they still were, copper
as before, so this time it was no use to
look outside for the new cow and hens.
And all through the day they went on
thinking first of one thing, then of
another, without any success, so that
by the evening their work had suffered
THE THREE WISHES 81
from their neglect, and they went tired
and dispirited to bed.
The next day they were obliged to
work doubly hard to make up, and
one or two new ideas occurred to them
which they put to the test, always, alas !
with the same result.
We are wasting our time and our
temper for no use,' said Arminel at last.
' I am afraid the truth is that the dwarf
was only playing us a mischievous trick.'
And even Chloe was forced to allow
that it seemed as if her sister was in
We will try to forget all about it,'
said Arminel. It must be indeed true
that having anything to do with the
dwarfs only brings bad luck.'
But though she spoke courageously,
Chloe was wakened in the night by
hearing her sister crying softly to her-
Poor dear Arminel,' thought Chloe,
though she took care to lie quite still as
if sleeping. 'I do feel for her. If I
82 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
had but my hens I could soon make
up to her for her disappointment.'
But of course as the dun cow did
not come, neither did the fairy hens,
and a time of really great anxiety
began for the sisters. Strawberry's milk
dwindled daily; so did the number of
eggs, till at last something very like real
poverty lay before them. They were
almost ashamed to go to market, so
little had they to offer to their cus-
tomers. Never had they been so un-
happy or distressed.
But out of trouble often comes good.
Their affection for each other grew
stronger, and all feelings of jealousy died
away as each felt more and more sorry
for her- sister.
If only we had never gone near the
wood,' said Arminel one evening when
things were looking very gloomy indeed,
'none of these worst troubles would
have come upon us, I feel sure. I begin
to believe everything that has been said
about those miserable dwarfs. It is
THE THREE WISHES 83
very good of you, dear Chloe, not to
blame me as the cause of all our mis-
fortunes, for it was I who heard the
cries in the wood and made you come
with me to see what was the matter.'
'How could I blame you?' said
Chloe. We did it together, and it
was what grandmother would have
wished. If we had not gone we should
always have reproached ourselves for
not doing a kind action, and even
as things are, even supposing we are
suffering from the dwarf's spitefulness,
it is better to suffer with a clear con-
science than to prosper with a bad
Her words comforted her sister a
little. They kissed each other affec-
tionately and went to bed, sad at heart
certainly, but not altogether despondent.
In the night Arminel awoke. There
was bright moonlight in the room, and
as she glanced at her sleeping sister,
she saw traces of tears on Chloe's pale
84 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
'My poor sister!' she said to her-
self. She has been crying, and would
not let me know it. I do not care for
myself, if only dear Chloe could have
her hens. I could bear the disap-
pointment about my cow. How I
wish it might be so.'
As the thought passed through her
mind, a sweet feeling of peace and
satisfaction stole over her. She closed
her eyes and almost immediately fell
asleep, and slept soundly.
Very soon after this in her turn
Chloe awoke. She, too, sat up and
looked at her sister. There was a
smile on Arminel's sleeping face which
touched Chloe almost more than the
traces of tears on her own had touched
Poor dear Arminel,' she thought.
'She is dreaming, perhaps, of her dun
cow. How little I should mind my
own disappointment if I could see her
happy. Oh! I do wish she could
have her cow !'
THE THREE WISHES
And having thought this, she, too,
as her sister had done, fell asleep with
a feeling of peace and hopefulness such
as she had not had for long.
The winter sun was already some
little way up on his journey when the
sisters awoke the next morning, for
they had slept much later than usual.
Arminel was the first to start up with
a feeling that something pleasant had
'Chloe !' she exclaimed. 'We have
overslept ourselves. And on such a
bright morning, too How can it
have happened ?'
Chloe opened her eyes and looked
about her with a smile.
'Yes, indeed,' she replied. 'One
could imagine it was summer time,
and I have had such a good night,
and such pleasant dreams.'
'So have I,' answered her sister.
'And I am so hungry!'
That was scarcely to be wondered
at, for they had gone almost supperless
86 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
to bed, and there was little if anything
in the larder for their breakfast.
'I am hungry too,' said Chloe.
'But I am afraid there isn't much
for our breakfast. However, I feel
in much better spirits, though I don't
Chloe was ready a little before her
sister, and hastened into the kitchen,
to light the fire and prepare such food
as there was. But just as Arminel
was turning to follow her, she was
startled by a cry from Chloe.
'Sister !' she called. 'Come quick !
See what I have found !'
She was in the larder, which served
them also as a dairy. Arminel hurried
in. There stood Chloe, her face rosy
with pleasure and surprise, a basket in
her hands full of beautiful large eggs
of the same rich browny colour as
those which had come so mysteriously
the evening of the dwarf's visit.
'After all,' said Chloe, I believe
the little man meant well by us. It
THE THREE WISHES
must be he who has sent these eggs.
Oh, Arminel! do let us try again
to discover the secret of the third
But Arminel didn't seem to hear
what her sister was saying. Her eyes
were fixed in amazement on the stone
slab behind where Chloe was standing.
There were two large bowls filled to
the brim with new milk; it was many
weeks since such a sight had been seen
in the cottage.
Chloe,' was all she could say as she
pointed it out to her sister.
Chloe did not speak; she darted
outside closely followed by Arminel.
The same idea had come to them both,
and they were not mistaken in it. There
in the cow-house, in the hitherto un-
used stall beside Strawberry's, stood the
dearest little cow you could picture to
yourself, dun-coloured, sleek, and silky,
as if indeed she had just come from
fairyland. She turned her large soft
brown eyes on Arminel as the happy
88 AN ENCHANTED GARDEN
girl ran up to her, and gave a low soft
'moo,' as if to say-' You're my dear
mistress. I know you will be kind to
me, and in return I promise you that
you shall find me the best of cows.'
But Arminel only waited to give her
one loving pat, and then hurried off to
the poultry yard.
There too a welcome sight awaited
them. Twelve beautiful white hens
were pecking about, and as Chloe drew
near them she was greeted with clucks
of welcome as the pretty creatures ran
'They know they belong to you,
Chloe, you see,' said Arminel. 'They
are asking for their breakfast! See,
what is that sack in the corner ? it looks
like corn for them.'
So it was, and in another moment
Chloe had thrown them out a good
handful, in which her old hens were
allowed to share. Poor things, they had
not had too much to eat just lately, and
evidently the new-comers were of most
THE THREE WISHES 89
amiable dispositions. All promised
peace and prosperity.
The sisters made their way back to
their little kitchen, but though they had
now eggs in plenty and new milk for
their coffee they felt too excited to
'How can it have come about?'
said Arminel. 'Chloe, have you
wished for anything without telling
'Have you?' said Chloe, in her
turn. One of us wishing alone would
not have been enough. All I know
is, that in the night I felt so sorry
for you that I said to myself if only
your wish could be fulfilled I would
give up my own.'
'How strange !' exclaimed Arminel;
'the very same thing happened to
me. I woke up and saw traces
of tears on your face, and the
thought went through me that if
your wish could come to pass, I
should be content.'