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THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET
The Imp and the indolent youth.- -. 8z.
And other Fairy Tales
Frances 1. Low ,
"Queen Victoria's Dolls," etc.
LONDON: JARROLD & SONS, Io & ii, WARWICK LANE, E.C.
-All rights reserved]
THE 'SNUG CORNER' SERIES.
Crown 8vo, Art Linen, 3/6 each.
OUR LITTLE SUNBEAMS: STORIES FOR THE LITTLE ONES.
By ALICE F. JACKSON, Author of "Fairy Tales and True,"
"The Doll's Dressmaker," &c. Illustrated by K. M. SKEAPING.
THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET, AND OTHER FAIR
TALES. By FRANCES H. Low, Author of "Queen Victoria's
Dolls," &c. Illustrated by J. J. GUTHRIE.
THE HOLIDAY PRIZE: A MODERN FAIRY TALE. By
ELLINOR DAVENPORT ADAMS, Author of "Comrades True,"
"Colonel Russell's Baby," "Robin's Ride," &c. Illustrated by
K. M. SKEAPING.
London: JARROLD & SONS, xo and !i, Warwick Lane, E.C.
And of all Booksellers.
TRAMP! TRAMP -
THE AIR CHILD -
DUST-HEAP STORIES -
I. THE BROKEN FAN STORY
II. THE GOLD STUD'S STORY -
III. THE SLATE PENCIL'S STORY
IV. THE RAG DOLL'S STORY -
V. THE SEA SHELL'S STORY
THE WIZARD'S MAGIC BELL -
THE LITTLE LAME DAISY
THE IMP -
THE KING AND THE COUNTRY BUMPKIN
HOW THE DEMONS WERE CONQUERED-
THE LUCKY PEDLAR
THE MALICIOUS ELVES- 128
HOW WEE-WEE RESCUED THE PRINCESS ALANTHA 131
A VISIT FROM THE DREAM FAIRY 141
THE FLYING CAT- 147
TODDLEKINS' ADVENTURES IN SMOKELAND 159
WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL NEVER DIES 186
RUPERT'S NURSERY CIRCUS 196
LITTLE EYEBRIGHT 207
KING HAPPY-GO-LUCKY'S CROWN 218
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The Imp and the indolent .youth
Archie pokes the fire -
Town mouse-and country mouse
Used to look up at the mountains
Pointed to a white tower
Pete frees the blackbird-
Pete tries to grasp her, but she eludes him
The dying wizard and his sons
They go off merrily in the moonlight
The King out riding -
The cobbler's wife is astonished to see a silvery lig
child's head -
Gottfried plays the magic organ
The King listens -
A little wood wizard dressed in green and scarlet -
The King and Princess May on the verandah -
The wood wizards and elves have a party -
They both fell into the water
The Princess is seized by King Juba's knight -
it round the
Io LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Wee-Wee drives the big bee away 35
Wee-Wee receives advice from a great green toad 136
Were soon whirling away 139
Four little pussies having milk out of wooden bowls 144
The merchant consults the witch 149
A hideous black dwarf brought food 53
The cat transformed into a handsome youth,.richly clad 157
Toddlekins floated upwards upon two feathers 165
Toddlekins walked along by the side of Bo-Peep 169
Toddlekins got on to the fairy's wings and flew away 184
Made many deep, respectful bows 204
Overcome at last 209
"What do you want, girl?" 211
Eyebright and the fat boy 213
A little black terrier 214
He would twist them into sugar-loaf caps 219
The magician brings out a splendid robe 225
The King goes to a secluded part of the garden 233.
THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
ARCHIE lay before the fire with a cross look
on his face and a story-book on his knee,
that he was not reading, and considered
himself a most ill-used person. "How tiresome
grown-up people are?" he said to himself crossly.
"I wonder what they were ever made for! They're
no use except for birthdays and Christmas puddings.
Always saying, 'You musn't do that' and 'You
must do this.' There's mamma wouldn't let me
go to school this morning because she said it
was too wet. Too wet! as if me or Bob minds
the rain. That's only for girls, who have sashes
and bows to spoil. And Bob likes the rain. He
trots ever so fast when the rain comes splashing
on his nose. Poor old Bob! and they wouldn't let
me come round and see you in the stables, because I
might get my feet wet. Of course, that's ju -he fun,
going into all the pools in the stable-yard. And then
stupid Nurse wants to know why I don't play games
12 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
with Lily and baby. It's no good playing any proper
games with them. When I point my gun at Lily, if
we're pretending soldiers, she screams, and they all come
and blame me; and baby, in the middle of drilling
her, when I give the word of command, puts down
her gun and says, 'Now I play wiv' Dolly.' Then,
when I order her to be shot for disobeying the
Archie pokes the fire.--j. x3.
captain, Nurse says, 'Master Archie, don't tease dear
little baby.' Oh, dear, I wonder if it's stopped raining
now; but I suppose they'll soon make me go to bed,
as it's half-past seven. Well, anyway, I'll poke the
fire whilst Nurse is out of the way."
As Archie was strictly forbidden ever to touch the
poker, he, of course, seized every opportunity of doing
so; and, leaning over the high guard, he managed to
grasp hold of the poker and give the red coals one or
two knocks. He was just about to look round in the
expectation of hearing his nurse's angry voice, when,
to his surprise, a little scarlet man jumped into the
midst of the red-hot coals, and said,
"Come along, Archie; come and have some fun.
Leave all these tyrants, who are so fond of saying
'you must' and 'you mustn't,' alone."
"But," said Archie doubtfully, "it's just pouring
Never mind that," said the little man, who was a
fire-troll, "that won't hurt a hero like you. Besides,
we'll go for a trip in my new patent umbrella boat.
Jump on. Here, you must ride on the top of the sail
to keep the balance all right."
"Oh, no," said Archie, in a frightened tone; "I
wouldn't like to get up there, I should fall off. Please
let me sit in the bottom with you."
Ho, ho !" said the little man, grinning; I thought
you were so very brave, and it was only girls and
babies that ever got frightened. But look here, you'll
be all right. There's a fat round knob on the top of
the sail, and you can sit comfortably on that."
Before Archie could answer, the troll had hoisted
him on the top, and away they merrily sailed over
pools and streams and lakelets, in the wonderful
"Oh, this is jolly fun!" exclaimed Archie, looking
with great interest at the little troll. He was only a
few inches high, and had a fat round body covered by
14 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
a scarlet jersey, very long thin legs, little wooden
boots that turned up at the toes, and a high-peaked
scarlet cap with a white feather stuck in the side.
Thought you'd like it," answered the troll. "Know
where we're going to ?"
"No," said Archie; is it somewhere nice ?"
"That depends," returned the troll, looking very
wise. "Some like it and some don't. Well, any way,
we're off to the Land of Topsy-Turvy,
"Where little birds talk, and little pigs fly,
And strange things happen and no one knows why;
And mischievous children play the whole day,
And wise old owls are made to obey."
"I suppose," said Archie, "the wise old owls are
the grown-up people? Well, I shall like Topsy-
Turvy Land. But I say, it ain't true, is it, that the
"'Isn't it," answered the troll. "But here we are:
-Well, ta-ta, Master Archie: when you're ready to
leave the island of Topsy-Turvy, you must try and
see the little men in scarlet."
"What an odd little chap !" said Archie aloud.
Well, not odder than you, little monster," squeaked
a grunting voice; and looking round, Archie found
himself in a field with the queerest little animals
running around. They walked about on their hind
legs like human beings, and wore neat little frilled
coats and round hats; and their faces puzzled Archie,
for they certainly resembled the pigs in Farmer
Guffin's styes. Yet how could they be pigs, when at
the back of their coats were nice little wings, exactly
TRAMP! TRAMP !
like those worn by the Fairy Gossamer in last year's
pantomime at Drury Lane.
The pigs made a circle round Archie and stared at
him with all their might.
"Well, when you've done," said Archie, getting
very red, and wishing they wouldn't come quite so
"Ha! ha !" laughed the winged pigs. I suppose
although a cat may look at a king, an aerial pig
mayn't look at a monster."
"What's aerial?" asked Archie, whose bump of
curiosity was almost as big as his head itself.
"Why, this;" and, to Archie's terror and disgust,
a jocular-looking old grunter caught hold of him by
the hair, flew into the air, and whirled round and
round till Archie thought he would die of giddiness.
Goodness, how thankful he was when the pig, quite
exhausted and breathless, dropped him on the ground,
"I caught a fat little boy by the hair,
I sailed with him very high up in the air,
I dare say he'd give me a whack if he dare."
"I should think so," said Archie ruefully, I only
wish I had a thick stick. It's quite absurd. and not
at all proper for a pig to have wings. Horrid things,
you ought to be in your pig-styes." But off flew the
winged pigs; and smoothing down his ruffled hair,
Archie moved quickly away from the spot, where he
had had such a disagreeable experience. Presently
he came. to a fence, and stood stock-still, very much
surprised at the sight that met his eyes. A lot of
16 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
very old and very wise-looking cockalorums, in
spectacles and coal-scuttle bonnets, sat in a row on
the fence, with slates tied round their throats. A
very young and very pert little sparrow-lady, dressed
in the very height of fashion, hopped about, and
occasionally gave one of the wise old cockalorums a
smart tap on her beaky nose, with a little switch she
carried in her beak.
When the impudent little sparrow caught sight of
Archie, her little black eyes sparkled mischievously;
and she flew round, perched herself upon his shoulder,
and gave him a smart tap on his nose with her little
switch, singing meanwhile maliciously,
"There are horrid little boys,
As every schoolchild knows,
Who stone the little sparrows."
"Well," said Archie, as soon as he had-recovered_
from the blow, "Farmer Guffin says that the sparrows
da lot of mischief."
Pshaw," interrupted the sparrow, who was of the
feminine sex, and never could listen properly to
arguments that she didn't like. "You should hear
what the farmers say about you detestable boys.
But I shan't waste any more time on you. So
There was a diabolical look in her bright little eye
that Archie didn't much like, so he made haste to
comply with the lady's order.
"That's what Nurse would call spiteful," said
Archie aloud; and so intent was he on the strange
land to which he had come, that he forgot to look
TRAMP! TRAMP! 17
where he was going, and stumbled over what seemed
to him a huge tree that had fallen, down. But, much
to his terror, a gigantic creature bounded uparid said
in a voice of thunder,
"Is it you again, you impudent little Jack ? After
sparing your life and allowing you to brag about your
deeds,' till I am heartily tired of the affair, have, you
dared to come and annoy me again? "
Now that he had reached to his full height, he 'was s
a very terrifying-looking being, more especially as he
began to play about with his enormous iron club, as
if it had been a threepenny whistle.
"Please, sir," said Archie, very frightened, "it isn't
Jack, and I'm only a boy."
"Boy, indeed!" thundered out the giant, looking
very fierce, "as if I haven't gnashed my teeth at hear-
ing you boys say, 'Bravo, brave little Jack; go it,
kill that rascal of a giant!' Perhaps you imagine,
boy, that that absurd imp Jack really did kill me ? "
"I should think so," said Archie quite indignantly;
"do you mean to say that you are still living ?"
"Well, it looks like it," and he bounded on to the
head of Archie, balanced himself there by one leg,
and roared with laughter. Then he shouted, "I say,
Mother Hubbard, Little Bo-peep, Jack and the Bean-
stalk, and all ye ogres and fairies and monsters that
ever lived in fairy-tales, come out of your hiding-
places and caves and dells and see the fun."
Out they rushed-Mother Hubbard with a very fat
dog; little Jack Horner, who had grown so thin, that
Archie hardly recognized him; Blue Beard, nicely
shaved for the occasion, with all his wives, who held
18 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
on to his long hair; and hundreds of talking animals,
odd-shaped monsters, and sweet-faced fairies and
bob-o-links standing on their -heads. They crowded
round Archie, who found, to his astonishment, that
having the giant on his head, didn't inconvenience
him in the least.
"Why, you are quite light," he exclaimed.
"Of course," roared the giant, "ain't I made of
india-rubber ?" and with that, he began to bound up
and down in the air just like an india-rubber ball.
Well," said Archie, no wonder Jack managed to
kill him; why I believe he'd burst if I stuck a pin in
him. What fun! Oh, I say, there's Mother Hub-
bard. Please, ma'am, how is it your dog has grown
"Humph!" returned the dame, "he always was.
I suppose, now, you believe that ridiculous story
about 'the poor dog having none?' Of course the
cupboard was empty, as the dog had just gone there
and eaten a nice piece of steak, which I had meant for
"Oh," said Archie, "that's just what our naughty
Roy did." And he was beginning to tell the story,
when suddenly there was a little patter, as of men
marching, and with a cry, "The Little Men in
Scarlet!" the india-rubber giant, and the whole merry
Archie looked round, but he couldn't see any little
men in scarlet; and he wondered who they were, and
where they had gone to, for he had certainly heard
the tramp, tramp."
This is certainly," he said to himself, the funniest
place that I ever was in. Everything is upside down.
Fancy all these little bob-o-links standing on their
heads I wonder they don't get dreadful giddy. I
wish I could see those little chaps in scarlet. Why,
whatever's this ?"
There was a sound as if all the cats in Christendom
were hissing and squealing and purring; and the
next moment there scampered across the field hun-
dreds of black cats, white cats, tom-cats, tabbies, and
kittens, each of whom had a string tied on to its tail,
to which was attached the cat's meat-man and his
"Such fun!" squealed the pussies, as they passed
Archie. "Only happens once in a thousand years.
Mouse pies, cats'-meat patties, and all sorts of
goodies. Why don't you come, too ?"
But Archie, although he was very fond of his own
Tabitha, to whom he was pretty kind as a rule, didn't
half like the look of some of these fierce spitting tom-
cats, with their yellow eyes and bristling whiskers.
His fat legs began to tremble in their shoes, for he
saw one great black Persian looking at him, as if she
would like to make him forthwith into a meat-pie or
patty; so he hurried past the army of cats as quick
as ever he could, and -never stopped to take breath,
until he got to the top of a hill, when he mustered up
enough courage to look back.
He gave a sigh of relief. There was not a sign .of
a cat to be seen, but instead, hundreds of little mice,
which played and romped about, singing, "When the
cat's away the mice will play."
"But aren't you afraid," said Archie to one dear
20 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
little white mouse with bright pink eyes, "that the
cats might come back and eat you all up ?"
"Oh, no," said the little mouse, pirouetting about
on her tail; "they don't really eat us, and when they
do it's only their fun. We're really the best of friends.
Ta-ta; am running up to town to see my fashionable
cousins, so must be
off. So dull in the
country for a charm-
ing young thing like
"Vain thing !"
Archie heard an
elderly grey female
mouse mutter; "and
so giddy; it'll serve
her right if she gets
caught in a man-
trap. Well, thank
there's no snare of
this sort for me-a
plain, sober country
Town mouse and country mouse.--f. 20. O ff she went
Archie, seeing that there was another very high hill a
little way off, thought he might as well explore it. What
was his surprise to find a neat little house on the top,
out of which walked Noah and all his family, wooden
dollies, tin soldiers, humming tops, kites, bats, and a
variety of other objects, some of them so odd-looking,
that Archie hardly recognized them. That funny
little object was certainly Punch; there was his body,
and who could mistake his nose ? But instead of his
cap he wore a head-dress, that Archie supposed must
be his wife Judy's best bonnet. What were the little
tin soldiers carrying ? Not swords or guns, but little
saucepans filled with something that smelt very
"Are you making toffee ?" asked Archie, going up
"Toffee!" said the soldier, contemptuously.
"That's just like a boy, always thinking of some-
thing to eat. But, as if I am going to tell you! It's
a secret; and why don't you go and play with the
other children ?"
"Other children," repeated Archie eagerly, for he
was beginning to long for some boy and girl com-
panions. Where are they ? "
'( Oh, all over the place," said the soldier carelessly,
"too many of 'em. No good, I say, having children
at all. Always in the way, always breaking and
But Archie didn't wait to hear the end of this
lecture, and hurried round to the back of the house,
where he found more toys and lots of boys and girls.
The children didn't seem particularly happy, and
even those who were playing games with the marbles,
and bats and balls, looked as if they would rather be
doing something else. A nice little rosy-cheeked boy
with a discontented face, said "Halloo!" when he
saw Archie; and as he seemed disposed to be
friendly, Archie said-
22 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
"You must have great fun here. May you ride
the rocking-horse all day?"
"Oh, yes," said the boy wearily; "but it's nothing
but play, play, play all day, and I am tired of it And
then, you know, sometimes, when the toys take a fit
of mischief into their heads, they do behave so badly.
Look at the way they're treating that fellow."
Archie looked and felt very indignant indeed. In
the midst of a whole group of toys, there was a mis-
chievous boy, and all sorts of indignities were being
practised upon him. The lady dolls pulled his hair,
the tin soldiers shot peas at him, the performing
monkey opened his mouth wide to see what was
inside it; and the hoops had placed themselves round
him, so that he couldn't get free.
"What a shame," cried out Archie so loudly, that
all the teasing toys heard, and they immediately
transferred their attentions to poor Archie.
"Oh dear!" cried Archie to the rosy-cheeked boy,
who looked on with sad sympathy, how am I to get
away from these torments? If only my papa were
"Whist! whist!" There was a flutter of dolls'
skirts, a rattling of wooden and tin legs, a tramp
of soldiers' feet, and Archie caught sight for one
second of the little men in scarlet. He was about
to rush up to them when he heard a well-known
Come along to bed, Master Archie. Why, you've
been sound asleep; but poor baby was so troubled
with her teeth, dear lamb, that I couldn't leave
TRAMP! TRAMP! 23
"Been asleep!" exclaimed Archie, rubbing his
eyes. I have been in the Land of Topsy-Turvy."
But Nurse said she thought it must have been the
"Land of Nod," which is often, as many children
know, a very pleasant place to visit.
THE AIR CHILD.
L ITTLE PETE lived down in the valley with
his father, at the foot of the White Moun-
tains, which, even in warm weather, were
always clothed with snow. Often, when his father
was away in the big market town selling his little
carved figures and crosses, Pete would feel very
lonely, and long to be a man, when he intended to
climb the mountain, although his father had told
him that it was a foolhardy feat, for many perished,
and few ever safely returned from the ascent.
Pete was never tired of gazing up at the moun-
tains, and especially loved the highest of them all,
which was called the Air Mountain. In the sunlight
its white peak shone like bright gold, and it seemed
to the little lad as if it quite touched the blue sky
above, where the old peasants told him his pretty
young mother lived with the angels. He loved the
mountains better than anything else in the world,
and when the boys teased him, which was pretty
often, because they said he was ugly, and had a
dark skin and woolly hair like a nigger, he would
THE AIR CHILD. 25
rush home to his father's little cottage, and sit with
his hands on his elbows, trying to see the Air
Child, and in a little time he would forget all about
It was old Jan who had told him about the Air
Child. Jan was a sailor, who had sailed all round
the world many times, and had shaken hands with
polar bears, and been for many months on a ship
wedged in between two great icebergs. He had
fought too, and lost a leg for his country ; and he could
tell splendid stories of savages and pirates, to which the
Used to look up at the mountains.--. 24s
boys listened with breathless attention, whenever Jan
was in an especially good humour, and deigned to
tell some of his tales. But, as a general rule, Jan
was not fond of boys, and he was oftener to be found
swearing at them for their mischievous tricks, and
shaking his crutch at them, than sitting down to
story-telling. There was, however, one boy to whom
he never spoke roughly, and whom he would invite
into his little hut, which was full of strange relics
from the sea; and, with its hammock and sea-chest,
looked just like a sailor's cabin. This boy was Pete,
26 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
who would sit beside old Jan for hours, whilst he
smoked his pipe or plaited rushes into baskets, by
means of which he earned a livelihood.
One day Pete had come to him with tears in his
eyes, saying, "Oh, Jan, if I could only go to sea.
My father says I am the stupidest lad in the village,
because I cannot carve the little dove on the church,
though I tried so hard; and Elsie will not kiss me,
because she says I am the ugliest little nigger she
ever saw." It was then that old Jan had told him
the story of the Air Child, who had floated down
from the skies, the peasants said, and hung over the
Air Mountain, wrapped in a fleecy white cloud, through
which her delicate little pink limbs shone like satin.
No mortal had ever caught a glimpse of her face
except the little mountain folk, who declared that the
Air Child was an icicle in the form of an open sun-
flower. The story ran, that only he who ascended to
the topmost peak of the Air Mountain should ever
see the Air Child's face; and that he could only
see it by pressing a kiss upon the icicle with pure
lips. Deep down in his heart, Pete made a resolution
that he would never rest until his father had given
him permission to try and look upon the Air Child's
face; but his father was a stern, sad man, who wished
the boy to become a wood-carver like himself, and
who was vexed that he should have such a stupid,'
Little Elsie was the only daughter of the richest
farmer in the village, and she had the sweetest face
in the world. Her eyes were as blue as forget-me-
nots, and with her soft yellow curls, and tiny pink
THE AIR CHILD.
mouth, she looked like a lovely little princess. Not
only her father, but all the villagers spoilt her, and
she was such a coquette, that she caused endless
fights between the boys, who all wished to get her
kisses and favours. Big Hans was certainly her
favourite, for he put her on his shoulder and made
a splendid prancing horse; but she liked Wil, and
also Pete, though she did sometimes say, when she
was cross, that he was the ugliest little nigger she
ever saw. But when she saw tears in Pete's dark
eyes, her own blue ones would grow soft, and she
"I don't think you so very ugly, Pete, and I like
you better than Bib."
Bib was a cruel bully, and certainly Pete was glad
that she preferred him; but he wished that she would
like him as well as big Hans, who was such a strong,
handsome fellow, and already had his own boat on
the lake, and helped his mothers and sisters by his
"I shall certainly marry Elsie," said Hans con-
ceitedly one day. I shall leave this place and go
to Fordje and set up a boat-building concern.
You'll see, you fellows, I'll be a rich man whilst you
are carving away at your poor little figures, and
Elsie shall look like a queen in her 'silk dress and
"Elsie your wife; never!" shouted Wil angrily;
"you wait until you see me playing my flute before
kings, and getting as much gold as I can hold in my
two hands. Isn't it better to be a great musician's
wife than a boat-builder's ?
28 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
There was so much contempt in Wil's voice, that
big Hans could bear it no longer, and a dreadful
battle followed, in which both boys got many wounds.
Later on Pete got his father's consent to become a
guide. It was clear that he would never become a
good carver, and, as he had no talent for boat-build-
ing, and could not make sweet sounds come from the
flute like Wil, there was nothing else for him to do.
As time went on Elsie grew into a lovely maiden, and
she had such a sweet and tender expression in her
blue eyes, that no one ever looked at her without
loving her. Her father was a proud man, who des-
tined her for the bride of a rich farmer; but Elsie
held back, saying she was not sure of her own mind.
At last her father grew quite cross, and, when both
Hans and Wil asked her in marriage, he declared she
must make up her mind quickly. But Elsie said,
I want some proof of their love for me-they must
do something difficult and perilous to make me feel
certain they really love me. Father, I will marry the
man, who shows the greatest courage and patience,
provided he has a good and kind heart."
So it was agreed that he who wanted to win Elsie
-and what youth did not desire the beautiful maiden
for his wife ?-must prove his love within the year, on
the last day of which all the rivals were to return to
the village, and show what they had done.
Pete was now a strong lad of eighteen, with a dark
face, which, if not as handsome as Hans', or as deli-
cately beautiful as Wil's, was full of honesty and
goodness. He had long loved Elsie very dearly, but
he had always been too humble to think that the
THE AIR CHILD.
dainty maiden would look with favour upon his suit,
and no one imagined that he intended to try his luck
with the rest. One night he told his father that he
should be away for some weeks, probably, and begged
him, in case any ill befell him, to give a sealed packet
to Elsie at the end of the year. Then, with a knap-
sack across his back, and his faithful St. Bernard,
Bolo, he began the ascent of the Air Mountain.
It was bitterly cold, but the moon shone brightly,
and Pete was too excited to feel the keen blast of the
night air, or to remember the dangerous journey on
which he was bound.
In one hand he held the little lantern which was
always carried by the guides, and in the other a good
stout stick, which he found very useful in crossing the
paths, which were as slippery and smooth as glass.
He had to use the utmost caution, for every now and
then great masses of snow would come rolling down
the mountain, and he had to fly out of the way
for his life. Presently his hands grew numb, and his
feet became like blocks of ice, and he felt a strong
temptation to sink down upon the ground, but he
resisted bravely, and tried to invigorate his chilled
blood by a few drops of brandy from his flask. He
was thankful when the first signs of dawn began
to appear, and he was able to throw off the feeling of
sleepiness that seized him during the hours of dark-
ness. A little wooden seat stood in front of him, and
upon this Pete sat down, and taking a large piece of
black bread from his knapsack, broke it into two pieces,
one of which he gave to Bolo, keeping the other for
himself. Just at this moment he saw, to his surprise,
30 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET
that a beautiful maiden, whose robe looked as if it were
made of snow, stood before him. The violet of her
eyes, the gold of her hair, and the scarlet of her lips
almost blinded Pete by their radiance, and he hardly
knew how to answer when she said to him, pointing
to a white tower which rose upon the mountain
laolted to a white tower.--. 30.
Come, fair youth, and stay with me in my crystal
tower. You shall not want for anything so long as
you are with me, and all day long I will keep you
warm by putting my soft white arms round you,
and I will give you rich food and sweet wines, and
THE AIR CHILD.
tend you as if you were a prince, for I am the Crystal
But as she tried to press a kiss on his cheeks, Pete
hung back, and kept her at arm's length, for he
remembered Elsie, and wished no other maiden to
take her rightful place in his affections. When she
saw this the violet eyes of the Crystal Queen became
as hard as steel, and the scarlet lips grew white as she
"Because you have scorned my love, may you fall
into the hands of the mountain-troll, and perish
But Pete had hurried on, being afraid to stay any
longer in the neighbourhood of the Crystal Queen, so
he did not hear her curse. Soon his feet grew so
numb that he could no longer walk, so he sat himself
down, and, pulling off his fur boots, began to rub his
feet with snow. Whilst he was doing this, there came
up to him an old man, looking like Father Christmas,
with a very benevolent face, and a long white beard.
Poor young man," he said, looking down at Pete,
"you will certainly perish with cold. Allow me to
conduct you to my little hut, where you will find
a blazing fire and some hot coffee."
Pete felt strongly tempted to accept the old man's
offer, for of course he did not know that no mortal
ever came alive out of the mountain-troll's hut, but
then he remembered that if he went and lay before
the warmth of the fire, he would feel more disinclined
than ever to proceed on his cold journey; so he
thanked the old man, and said he preferred braving
the cold, rather than that there should be any delay.
32 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
At this the mountain-troll grew furiously angry,
and blew a horn which hung at his side, when
immediately crowds of little mountain-trolls covered
the mountain like a black cloud, and commenced
snow-balling Pete. Many of the snowballs hit him
on the shoulders and legs, and, being very hard,
caused him to bleed in several places; but he hurried
on, feeling glad that he had not yielded to his first
impulse to stay and accept the old troll's hospitality.
He had now got a considerable way up the moun-
tain, but it seemed to Pete as if the Air Child were
as far off as ever, and his heart began to sink within
him; for his provisions were beginning to run short,
and his tired and bleeding feet would no longer carry
him swiftly, so that he feared he would perish of cold
and hunger midway.
One day, as he was toiling upward, slowly and
painfully, he heard a cry as if some animal were in
distress. He looked about, but could discover noth-
ing, when all of a sudden, he saw something fluttering
in the distance. Pete went towards it, and saw it was
a great blackbird, the like of which he had never seen
before, one of whose wings had by some means got
under a great block of ice, from which the poor crea-
ture was in vain trying to free itself. By exerting all
his strength, which was very great, Pete managed to
push away the great block of ice, much to the relief
of the blackbird, which flapped its wings joyfully,
and flying round, and round, whispered in his ear,
"You are good, and kind, and courageous, and I
will help you, and show you the short path, which no
man has ever yet discovered. Follow me."
THE AIR CHILD.
Then the bird flew across the snow, and Pete, follow-
ing as quickly as possible, saw, to his surprise, a tiny
little path which ran straight up the mountain, and
which was less steep and snow-covered than any of
the others. To get along now was much easier, and
he felt his spirits rise as he saw the peak getting
Pete frees the blackbird.-- 32.
nearer and nearer ; but his troubles were not yet
at an end, for one day, when he was feeling so
desperately tired that he almost longed for death, he
saw before him a pretty little mountain pony, with
slender limbs and a long waving black tail, which ran
up to him and said,
34 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
Jump on my back, brave youth, and I'll soon have
you on the summit of the mountain."
Pete did not know that, if he once mounted the
black pony, he would be carried to the home of the
wicked mountain fays; but he remembered, that if he
would win Elsie, it must be entirely by his own
exertions; so he only patted the pony's glossy neck,
and said, no thanks, he would go upon his own feet.
Upon this the pony careered round about him
violently, and tried to kick him, but he soon left off
and cantered away when Bolo rushed at him, and bit
him severely in the legs. When Pete arrived within
a few paces of the summit, he was so weak and
exhausted, that he was obliged to crawl on his hands
and feet, he could not stand upright; but he took out
his last remaining drop of brandy, and, feeling a little
revived, looked up, wondering if it were a dream,
or whether he were really at the top of the mountain.
A wonderful sight met his eyes. There, indeed, was
the Air Child, of whom he had so long thought, only
far more beautiful than he had ever imagined possible,
although there was nothing of her face to be seen.
But her limbs shone like pale, rose-coloured satin, and
her hair looked like the finest silver thread. Then he
struggled to his feet, and, putting his hand lightly on
the icicle which was in the place of her face, he bent
down and kissed it gently. Immediately a wonderful
thing took place; the icicle sunflower melted away,
and instead there appeared for a few moments a tiny
human face, like that of a lovely child.
As Pete gazed in wonderment, the little pink lips
parted, and a soft, sweet voice, sounding like a light
breeze, said to him,
Pete tries to grasp her, but she eludes him.-,-. 36.
S lllihl ,'"
36 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
"You have given me the life which I have waited
for all these years. It can only last for a brief space,
and then I shall live again for ever in the skies from
whence I came. But you, brave Pete, shall have your
reward. Give this flower to sweet Elsie at the end of
the year, and look up in the' air at the moment of
giving it; you shall catch sight of me again then.
Farewell, good, kind youth, success shall be with
Pete was still staring, unable to speak; but when
he saw the Air Child was floating away upon a cloud,
he sprang forward and tried to catch hold of her.
But she eluded his grasp, and in his hand Pete found
he was holding a splendid white and scarlet flower,
which opened and spread out like a large fan.
Then he hurried down the mountain, and arrived
just at the last day of the year, when all Elsie's lovers,
with rich presents in their hands, were hurrying off to
her father's house. When the people saw his haggard,
white face, and caught sight of the wonderful white
and scarlet flower, they cried out and tried to stop
him. But he heeded them not, and was obliged to
go ragged and unkempt, for there was no time to go
home first. In the yard of the farmer's house, there
was an immense crowd of people, many of them
mounted on splendid horses, and clad in the richest
armour; and they were indeed a fine sight as they
stepped forward, one after another, and mounted the
platform, upon which sat the fat farmer and the blue-
eyed Elsie. Then they recounted their adventures,
and one after another laid his gift at Elsie's feet.
It was true that they had brought back wonderful
THE AIR CHILD.
singing birds, and rich stuffs, and costly jewels, and
had journeyed far and wide in search of them, but
Elsie could not discover that any one had shown very
wonderful courage or devotion. However, she knew
she would have to make up her mind, and she had
half determined to have Wil, who was less insolent
and conceited than Hans, when suddenly there was a
shout of derision from the people, and Elsie saw that
the last suitor for her hand was stepping up the plat-
form. Then Pete, looking very pale and brave, told
his story, and though he spoke modestly of his
achievements, the people knew he had done the
greatest feat that had ever been known in their village.
All round there were envious, spiteful looks from his
rivals, but these turned to amazement and pleasure,
when, just as Pete tendered the scarlet and white
flower to Elsie on bended knee, there was a noise as
of thunder in the air, and the people saw above their
heads, for the first and last time, the Air Child, who
was floating on a fleecy white cloud. As they gazed,
the Air Child gradually disappeared, and instead was
to be seen a pure white dove, which alighted for a
second on Pete's black head, and then lightly touched
Elsie's fair cheek, after which it circled round higher
and higher, till it was lost for ever in the blue sky.
So of course Pete married Elsie, and they were the
happiest couple in the world, for Elsie made a good
housewife, and Pete was the best husband that woman
REALLY, it would hardly have been expected
that the broken fan should have given herself
such airs, when one remembers that her present
position was the dust-heap. But so it was; she had
been thrown there by the rag-and-bone merchant
that morning, and she was making herself excessively
disagreeable to all her neighbours.
The gold stud, who was in very good form,
except for his little round head, which was, alas!
missing, had made several attempts to draw her
into conversation, remarking jocularly "that things
might be worse," which was certainly cheerful
philosophy on the part of the headless stud. But
the fan simply stared at him, and then drew the
little remaining bit of swansdown more closely to her,
while she remarked to a piece of gold tinsel, which
had once adorned a dancer's shoes, that she had
never been used to such common society.
This remark was very much resented by the gold
stud, who said indignantly to his neighbour, the
"Impertinent, trumpery thing; why, she," and he
DUST-HEAP STORIES. 39
pointed to a little pink sea-shell that lay near them,
"is a thousand times prettier and nicer."
The pocket-knife, who presented a very dilapidated
appearance, cordially agreed, and added,
I say, old fellow, let's try and shut up those proud
things. I bet we're as good as they are, aren't we,
little Miss Sea-Shell ? "
The little sea-shell flushed, and before she could
answer, a flower-pot said,
"I'm with you in that; we are as good as she any
Then they were silent, for the fan was saying in a
loud tone, which was intended for all the company to
" CAN tell you that I have seen high life, and played
a most important part in it. For you must know
that my mistress was a great singer, and every
night I accompanied her on the stage, and shared in
her triumphs. Oh, you can have no notion of what it
was like," and she glanced round contemptuously.
"After the opera was over, kings, and princes, and
great statesmen, and soldiers with stars on their
breasts, would crowd round us, and give us jewels and
flowers, and pay her such flattering compliments that
she would whisper to me,' Dear fan, what could I do
without you?' And she would hide her lovely face
behind my laces and swansdown. Oh, what a splen-
did life it was, and to think," moaned the fan, that I
should ever come down to this. Was it not a mag-
nificent life ? she asked, turning to the gold tinsel,
and secretly pleased to find that everybody had been
listening to her.
"Splendid," sighed the gold tinsel, who was a silly
little thing. "I, too, have seen better days, but
nothing like yours. My mistress was only a poor
dancing girl, but she danced very sweetly, and had
the tiniest little feet in the world, and when the
people saw us twinkling in and out-I went on the
bronze shoes-they would laugh and clap their hands,
and throw coppers. But she married a railway guard,
who said she should never dance any more, so she
gave me away to one of her friends, who trod heavily
and clumsily, and she soon wore out the pretty little
bronze shoes. And that is the cause of my present
condition," said the gold tinsel dolefully.
Why, this is quite jolly and sociable," said the
pocket-knife, who had learned slang from his school-
boy masters. "I vote, if anyone has got a tale,
he or she tells it; that is, if the ladies don't
No one thought of asking the sea-shell, and as the
fan and the tinsel condescended to nod their approval,
the proposal was carried, as the gold stud said, nem.
con.; and the pocket-knife was called upon for his
story. But he excused himself, saying it was not
fitting that the more or less unwashed, stuffing tribe,
named boys, should be brought into the presence of
elegant and refined ladies. This sounded very polite,
and as the pocket-knife was only occasionally sar-
castic, everybody accepted this excuse in good faith.
42 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
Then he called upon the gold stud to relate his
experiences, which he accordingly did, although he
declared his life had not been particularly interesting,
and that his story was a very sad one.
" T ELL, we need not go back to the beginning
V of things, and I may as well commence my
story at the period when I looked extremely
handsome, lying on soft wool in a neat little white
box, with two of my brothers, who exactly resembled
me in good looks. We had good times together, I
can tell you, till one day, peeping out of our box,
which had no lid on, and which lay on the counter,
we saw a neatly-dressed old lady come into the shop,
and directly her eyes fell on me, she declared to
my master that was exactly what she wanted for her
son. At first my master declared that he could not,
separate the family, or, as he called it, the set; but
at last, to my inconsolable grief, he gave way, and
44 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
I was carried away by the neat old lady in a piece
of tissue paper. Her home was as neat as herself;
but 1 could see she was in very humble circum-
stances, for she had no servant, and directly she
had taken off her things, she set about cooking some
bacon and eggs. Then I noticed that she laid cups
and saucers and plates for two people, and I was
just wondering who her visitor would be, when the
door opened, and in came a young man, scarcely more
than a youth, who embraced his mother very affec-
tionately. I have never, before or since, seen anyone
so handsome as this young man, whose name was
Reuben. His skin was as fair and satiny as a child's;
his hair, of which there was only a small quantity
about his mouth, was of a golden brown; and he had
blue eyes, as soft and sweet as those of a lovely
"I was rather struck by the appearance of his
clothes, which were of a fine quality, and looked
almost out of place beside his mother's cheap black
gown. It was evident to me, by her loving glances
and the way in which she attended to his slightest
wishes, that the old lady adored her son; and I was
pleased to see that the young man showed her a great
deal of affection. Presently she took me from the
mantelpiece, and handed me to her son, saying,
Reuben, dear, I bought this for you to-day, as I
knew you had broken yours, and I thought you
would like a gold one."
"I may as well tell you, as I have no false shame,
that I was not real gold, but no one could have told.
the difference. I looked so bright and sparkling,
that it was no wonder that young Reuben was
delighted with me. He immediately took me into his
own little bedroom, and there, before the looking-
glass, he tried the effect of his new gold stud in a
spotless white collar. I soon found out that my
master was a great dandy, and tremendously proud of
his handsome appearance, and that he spent all his
money on his clothes. As he was only a poor clerk,
this did not amount to much, certainly; but still it
would have been better to buy fewer ties, and give
more money to his mother, who, I learnt afterwards,
had only a very small pension of her own. I often
thought how lonely the poor old soul must feel, for
often, Reuben did not come home till nearly midnight,
and it used to go to my heart to see how tired and
sad his mother looked when we came in. She had
always some hot supper ready for him, and though
she never reproached him, I think he sometimes felt
rather guilty, for he used to kiss her more affec--
tionately than usual, and say that he did not mean to
go out again the next week. But it was always the
same, and I can tell you, whilst the old lady was
sitting at home getting thinner and paler, my master
and I had fine times. Sometimes we went to the
play, sometimes to an evening party, when all the
young ladies would want to dance with my young
master; and sometimes we went to a club, where there
were a number of wild young men like Reuben, and
they would make very merry indeed.
One day it chanced that I was left at home with
the old lady. I was not sorry for this, as of late I
had not been feeling at all comfortable about my
4a THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET
young master, who, I felt sure, had got into some
scrape, as he and his friends called it; and I felt sorry
for this, not only because of the grief it would cause
his mother, but also because I had really become
attached to Reuben, although I could not help
wishing that he were less vain and thoughtless.
Presently there was a little knock at the outer door,
and the old lady went to it, and I could hear a man's
voice, but I could not distinguish what .was said.
The old lady did not come back into the sitting-room
for a long time, and then I was shocked at her
appearance. Her face was white and drawn, and her
eyes were quite swollen with crying. Instead of
bustling about, sweeping and dusting, she sat down,
and, clasping her hands, moaned out in heartrending
"'Oh, Reuben, my son, to have been dishonest!
Oh, that he had never been born !'
I felt dreadfully concerned, and I guessed that my
young master must have got into some trouble about
money. He and his companions lost a great deal of
money at cards and betting, and I had long feared
that something of the kind would happen.
Reuben never came home that night, but one of his
friends brought a few lines in pencil to his mother,
which, I read, as it lay on the mantelpiece. My
young master did not know that his mother knew the
whole dreadful truth, so he only said she was not to
fret, but that he was obliged to keep out of sight, as
he owed some money; but that it would be all right,
as one of his friends owed him the exact amount.
I could see next morning that the poor mother had
passed a sleepless night, and she ate no breakfast,
only murmuring from time to time, with a wild, fixed
look in her eyes, 'Fifty pounds, fifty pounds.'
"I could not understand what she meant by con-
tinually repeating this, and I was still more puzzled
as to why she began packing into a box a lot of little
ornaments about the room, which I knew she set
great store by. Then I saw her put into the box a
lot of her own little things-old-fashioned brooches, a
silk dress, and one or two shawls which her husband,
who had been a sea-captain, had brought from abroad.
Presently the carrier went off with the box, and the
old lady herself went out, and did not return till mid-
night. She looked so white and weary, that I
thought she would have died on the threshold; but
she made herself a cup of tea, and then, to my sur-
prise, instead of going to bed, she took out of her bag
a lot of white calico, and for four days and nights she
never stopped working. But she got her work done,
and the next night sent a very thick letter, which was
addressed to her son Reuben. I do not know what
she said, but I saw she put in many bank-notes. Oh,
that poor mother-face, how sorrowful, and suffering,
and piteous it looked !
"The following day she remained in bed, and I was
getting very anxious about her, when I heard a
neighbour at the door, who lifted the latch and
walked in, after the old lady had called out in a very,
very, weak voice. After this the doctor came, and, as
he went out with a grave face, I heard him say to
the neighbour, 'She has had some shock; it is sad
that her son was not with her.' And then I knew
that the poor mother was dead.
48 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
"Reuben came home that evening. He was very
pale, but he did not know, until he was met by the
neighbour, what had happened, and I shall never
forget his look of anguish, as he threw himself on the
floor, crying,' If I could only have seen her !'
It was very terrible to witness, but good comes out
of the deepest grief, and Reuben never forgot his
mother's devotion and love. Her death made another
man of him, and he grew sober, and steady, and
scrupulously honest. I was often pained to see his
sad, young face, but I feel sure that time will bring a
brighter future for Reuben. Last week I fell out of
his collar, and here you see I am to-day." The gold
stud's voice had grown very soft, and there were tears
in the little sea-shell's eyes, who said gently,
"Poor mother! Poor Reuben !" and, as they were
all rather saddened, pocket-knife suggested some one
should tell something lively. Accordingly, the slate-
pencil volunteered to tell his story.
" OLLOWING the example of my friend, gold-
stud, I shall not tell you anything about my
infancy, because slate-pencil babies are all
very much alike, and equally uninteresting to every
one but their mothers. I will start from the day
that I found myself in Jack Wide-Awake's pocket,
and accompanied him to the New School, otherwise
called the Nonsense School. It was such a jolly
school, and quite different from the dull and prim
ones to which I had been hitherto, and where I
got positively sick of French verbs and Latin
exercises, and the multiplication table, and stupid
boys and dull masters. The schoolmaster's name
was Mr. Buffoon, and in appearance he very much
resembled a clown, whom I had once seen in a
50 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
Drury Lane pantomime. He was a very good-
tempered gentleman, very fond of making jokes,
which the glass marble and I agreed were a great
deal more laughable than many that appear in papers,
which the gentlemen who write for them call comic.
He never used a birch rod, and once, when a dread-
fully sour-looking parent asked him how he could
expect any sort of discipline without the rod, he said
-and we observed that he winked at some of the
boys-' Sir, I use the satire rod; it stings well when
handled judiciously, and curls round the tender parts
very neatly.' I don't think the vinegar gentleman
understood this clever reply, he hadn't the wit."
[The slate-pencil rather hurried over this part, for
he was very much afraid that he might be asked to
explain where the cleverness came in; and, as he
didn't in the least know himself, it would have been
rather awkward. However, all his listeners looked as
if they quite understood the brilliancy of the remark,
so the slate-pencil went on.]
"At this school, instead of sitting on forms, which is
a very dull and commonplace proceeding, all the boys
stood on their heads, and whenever they answered a
question rightly, they were allowed to turn a somer-
sault and pull the next boy's hair-if they could reach
it-which, under the circumstances, was somewhat
difficult. The stupid boys were in a class by them-
selves, and, instead of standing upon their heads, they
had to sit in little baby-chairs, across which were rods
to prevent them tumbling out; they also wore neat
little white bibs, and nightcaps on their heads.
The punishments at this school were certainly very
queer. The best of all, in my opinion, was that given
to a boy named Greedy. He was immensely fat, never
left off feeding except when he was asleep, and was
known, even in his sleep, to walk to a jam pot and
bury his nose in it, so strong was the force of habit.
This was his punishment:-Except for two hours,
when he was run up and down the playground at a
tremendous speed by two big boys, he had to sit in a
chair all day long, surrounded by the most appetising
victuals, such as plum-pudding, fried sausages, meat
pies, jam tarts, roast pork and apple sauce, oranges,
hot plum-duff, and treacle bolly, all of which were sus-
pended from the ceiling, and which he was only allowed
to smell; whilst his meals consisted of bread and water
for breakfast, boiled mutton and rice pudding, for
dinner, and gruel for supper.
I was glad to see that the cruel boy, who tortured
animals and bullied everything weaker than himself,
had a very unpleasant time of it at this school. He
had to sit all day long in a chair specially constructed
for him, out of which he could not move, and all over
his body he felt prickings as if a thousand tiny pins
were being stuck into him. The schoolmaster said,
this was the only way to treat a person who never had
any conscience pricks. But I mustn't stay any longer
over this, or I shan't have time to tell you about the
I can tell you we all did enjoy them ; and the boys
were so bright and wide-awake, that it was a pleasure
to hear them, more especially when one had been
accustomed to-' a table,' 0 table,'' to a table,' 'by a
table,' till one felt inclined to hurl a table at those
52 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
wretched boys' heads. But they were very queer
lessons. My Jack Wide-Awake's favourite one was
' Nonsense Essay Writing,' at which he was very good
indeed; in fact, Mr. Buffoon always said he would
take to journalism later on, like a duck to the water.
I remember one of his essays, and, as I think it
extremely good, and shows a great grasp of facts and
knowledge for a boy of his age, I will repeat it if you
Go ahead," said the penholder; but he muttered to
himself, Tiresome old bore." However, the slate-
pencil did not hear, so it did not matter, and he
"It was spelt in the new way, and I remember it by
heart, as my little master wrote it out three times.
'The ellyfant is a very domestikkated beest. The
reezon that he isn't made a pet of is that he's rather
large, and has some orkward habits. He dose not lay
eggs or milk like henz do, but the Indian people use
hiz flesh for food, and it is sed he cutz up into joossy
stakes, not wooden ones. It is sed that the Sooloos,
a warlike tribe in the Rocky mowntenz, use hiz trunk
for beeting their Skworz with, but Mr. Park Mungo
sez this isn't true, they are very genturl to their wivz,
of which they have meni hundreds, and do not chastize
them orfener than an English gentulman wood. I will
not say more of the Sooloos, as I will rite of them in
my next essay. (N.B.-I have a Sooloo hat.) Revur-
nong a nose elyfants (this is a French proverb). The
elyfant is a jolly strong beest. Why, he kan balunz a
man of wor on his trunk as eezly as if it was a marbul
He is one of the most useful beests in the world, for
he carriz every one who goze to the Zoo for a ride;
you can have penny ridz and sixpenny ones. I had
a penny one, as I wanted sum bunz for the poler
bearz and meeself. Many anykdotz are told of the
elyfants, but I do not remember them just now. To
end up, we shood orlwiz be kind to animal, az we
never know if they are vishus or not, and it is wisest
to be on the safe side.'"
"That boy'll be an opportunist," murmured the
penholder; but no one heard him, and the slate-pencil
went on, pleased to find a smile on every face.
But if little Jack Wide-Awake was good at essays,
it was little Tommy Sharp-as-a-Needle who could
remember poetry best. He could repeat it by the
yard, and I was very pleased with some of his poems,
which I have never had the good fortune to meet in
print, and which, perhaps, you may not have heard
"' I remember, I remember
The little sweet-stuff shop,
Where I've heard the good dame often murmur,
"Oh, please, sir, please, sir, stop;
For of lollipops you've had enough,
And of tarts you've had your fill,
And of toffee drops and candy stuff,
You've eaten enough to make you ill.'"
"I'm sorry I can only recollect one verse, but this will
give you an idea. But it was Bobby Rhymester who
used to carry off all the prizes for Original Nonsense
Verses, and, although I am not much of a reciter,
perhaps you would like to hear those that I can
54 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
"' There was once at a certain Beast Institushon,
A Socialist boshalist Revolution,
For the animals said they couldn't see why
They shouldn't all live in luxury.
And the cow he said, I am sick or green stuff,
Which is food that is only fit for a muff,
Whereas there be bloated aristocrats
Who dine every day off fricasseed cats;"
And he boo-ed, and moo-ed, and moo-ed, and pooh-ed,
Whilst the inferior cud he woo-ed and chew-ed.
And the pig he said, he did, he did,
Such a delicate, elegant quadruped
As myself, it's a perfect disgrace to nourish
On cabbagy, babbagy, bubbling-squeak rubbish;
It's turtle soup and champagne wine
Should be given a snouty, pouty swine."
'And the dog, instead of saying his grace,
When he saw his meal made a horrid grimace,
And wished his bones in a very warm place
And along with them the human race;
And he wickedly swore, in canine bow-wow,
That he would, he would, he would kow-tow.
"'And the frog he did croak, and poke, and choke,
And declare he would join the rebellious folk;
For," says he, I'm as good as the rest I am,
And I want to be fed on pickles and jam,
And a roaketty-poketty, hop, hop, hop,
And a floppetty, poppetty, flop, flop, flop.'"
"I am sorry I can't remember any more, because I
know at the end verse the moral comes in, and I
recollect Mr. Buffoon said it was a very useful one in
these days of sociable aristocracy. I fancy that was
the expression he used."
"Oh, don't apologise for forgetting the moral," said
the penholder; we have too many morals nowadays.
My master attributes the decay of wit to this cause;
but fire away. Nonsense School isn't bad."
"I don't know," said the slate-pencil thoughtfully,
"that I have anything more to add. I am sorry I
have forgotten all the 'Cross questions and crooked
answers,' but I. remember one or two of Freddy
Bright's proverbs, though possibly you have heard
them, as I believe they are in print, such as :
i. 'A bun in the hand is worth two at the baker's.'
2. When a boy goes to school his troubles begin.'
"3. 'A greedy boy knoweth no joy.'
"I think now," said the slate-pencil, I have con-
tributed my share to the evening's entertainment, and
I hope I have not bored you too much," and he looked
round with the secret consciousness that he had been
We are much obliged to you," said the gold stud,
and all the 'others said it was very good fun. Then
the gold stud said, Will any member of the fair sex
oblige us with a reminiscence ?" And, thus challenged,
a legless, noseless rag doll signified her willingness to
do her best.
I HAVE nothing," began the rag doll modestly,
"interesting or remarkable to tell you, for I
have never had a real adventure in my life,
which is indeed only proper, as adventures are more
suitable to gentlemen than to us; but I once had a
rather curious experience, which is worth telling to
while away a few hours.
It would not become me to enlarge upon the
personal beauty that I formerly possessed. I need
only say that I held the most prominent place in
Messrs. Toy-Shop's window, and also," and here the
noseless rag doll darted a look of triumph at the
haughty fan, "that I was the cause of no less than
twenty duels between the gentlemen, who also stood
in the window, and who formed a bodyguard of
honour around me. They belonged to all the pro-
fessions--nilitary, naval, theatrical, policemen -"
"I beg pardon," interrupted the slate-pencil, who
liked to show off his superior education, "but is it
quite correct to call a policeman a professional man ?"
The fan tittered rudely, and the rag doll coloured
and looked vexed; but the penholder, who had be-
longed to a witty gentleman, came to the rescue, and
said he objected to be educated and amused at the
same time. At present they were being entertained ;
but those who chose to be instructed could attend the
lecture of his friend, the learned slate-pencil, a little
later on. At this there was some applause from a
lively marble and an india-rubber ball with a hole in
it, and Miss Rag Doll resumed her story.
"Well, I lived in constant terror that the sailor
would slay the soldier, who, I admit, was rather a
favourite of mine, being a comely young man, with
very distinguished manners, when one day a grand
carriage stopped at our door, out of which stepped
two ladies very elegantly dressed.
It is one of the drawbacks of a rag doll's life that
her construction does not permit of her turning her
head, so I had to depend on the nodding Chinaman,
also one of my admirers, for a description of the
ladies' movements. However, in a very short time I
had no need to depend upon any one else's report, for
I myself was brought into the shop and deposited
upon the counter, along with several of my sisters.
The elder of the two ladies took me up with her soft,
silk-clad fingers, and said to her sister,
"' Look, Ella, isn't this exactly the thing for May ?
58 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
She can't very well pull this to pieces, and for a rag
doll she really isn't bad.'
"Her sister agreed, and the end of it was I was
purchased and deposited by a very magnificent foot-
man in the carriage beside the ladies.
"My new home was a very fine one, and I had a
nice soft silk cradle to lie in at nights; and if it had
not been for my little mistress, whose name, as you
know, was May, I might have been very happy, and
become quite reconciled to leaving all my old friends.
But my little mistress was the most disagreeable
specimen of humanity it has ever been my lot to
"Although she was only four years old, she was a
perfect tyrant, and her father, and mother, and grand-
mother were absolute slaves to her whims and caprices.
You would hardly believe, on looking at this pretty
child, with her big blue eyes and long yellow curls,
that she was such a hateful little mortal; but so it
was. She was the only child of very wealthy parents,
who had lost all their other children, and who guarded
her as the apple of their eye. For the first few days
she was pleased with me, and treated me fairly well,
though I was astonished and horrified at her exhibi-
tions of passion. She would punch and kick her
unfortunate nurse on the slightest provocation, and
one night this amiable little being actually threw a
tea-cup at the housemaid. You will wonder what her
parents were about to let her grow up like this; but
they were foolish people, and were very much in terror
that she should die like her brothers and sisters. Cer-
tainly they were laying up a great store of unhappi-
ness, both for themselves and the child, who, in spite
of having every wish gratified, was constantly in
passions and tears. She was just like a monkey for
destructiveness, and if it had been possible to break
me to pieces, you may be quite sure I should not be
here to tell the tale. However, I must admit she
certainly had a slight affection for me, and treated me
less badly than her baby doll, or the elegant doll from
Paris which her uncle brought her.
One day great preparations in the shape of sorting
clothes and packing boxes went on, and a little later
I learnt we were to go to Scotland the next day.
Before the departure there was some unpleasantness.
May wanted to take all her toys, and could only be
pacified by her papa promising to buy her a new doll's
house when they reached Scotland. I was delighted
at the prospect of seeing a real Scotch moor covered
with pink and purple heather, and, as May was in a
very good temper, for a wonder, there seemed every
possibility of a pleasant time. But, alas for our hopes !
No sooner had we got into the train, and were fairly
off, than May persisted, in spite of her parents' remon-
strances, in putting her head a long way out of the
window. I was clasped not too firmly in her arms,
and was not a little uncomfortable when she held
me dangling out of the window. Presently, however,
we came to some tunnels, and May's father insisted on
my little mistress putting her head inside the carriage.
She flew into one of her usual passions, and the next
thing that I was conscious of, was finding myself in a
dark place on the lines, over which the train had
just rushed. Even now I cannot think of that horrible
60 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
time without shuddering, for the next moment another
express train dashed past, and I thought every instant
I should be cut to pieces. Fortunately the train passed
on, leaving me quite unhurt, for I was not on the lines
at all, but in a sort of hollow between them, and the
wheels of the train never touched me at all. I lay
there all night, feeling dreadfully frightened and cold,
and nearly deafened by the thundering of the trains
as they rushed past, and the fearful shrieking of the
whistles, which I can hear to this day, although it is
so long ago. All night there were strange green and
crimson lights flashing along the lines, so that I could
not sleep a wink, and was very thankful, as you may
imagine, when the dreadful dark night came to an
end, and morning dawned, with more noise and
whistling than ever. Presently a rough working-man
came along with a little hammer, with which he con-
tinually tapped the lines, and I can tell you he did
stare when he caught sight of me. After he had said,
'Very rum,' which seems to me a rather vulgar expres-
sion, he called to another man who was much more
respectably dressed, and said,
"'Here, matey, you're a married man, so this is
more in your line; it'll do for the kids.'
"He had by this time taken me up, and held me
very awkwardly indeed by my legs. I should think
he could never have held a baby in his life. The
other man, whom, I afterwards discovered, was a guard,
laughed and said,
"'Yes, the little 'uns would like it,' and he placed
me in his bag.
I am afraid you must be finding this very dull,"
said the rag doll, looking round with a deprecating
expression, "so I'll end up.
I lived very happily indeed in a tiny cottage with
the guard's two little girls, who were charming little
maids, and very different to Miss May. They were
not much older, but so useful, and it was a delight-
ful sight to see them bed-making, and dusting, and
sweeping with their small clever fingers. In the
evenings they would help their father in the little
patch of garden, and you never saw such a bright
little place, full of sweet-smelling pinks and cloves,
and 'old man,' and all sorts of old-fashioned plants
that the guard's wife brought from her old home in
the country; and on Sundays they were so happy,
for the guard was at home all day, and after dinner
he would stroll out into the country with the little
girls on each side of him, looking so clean and fresh
in their pink cotton frocks and little white sun-
"I stayed with them till they were quite big; and if
it had not been for their baby brother, who threw me
into the dust-hole one day, I should be with them
still. And I have often thought that these little girls,
whose principal toy was a damaged rag doll-for I
had injured myself in my fall-were much happier
than many richer children, whose lives are spoilt by
Very nicely told," said the gold stud patronizingly,
whilst the fan congratulated herself on never having
had such vulgar common experiences, and all the rest
felt their lives were immeasurably superior. Only the
little sea-shell threw the doll a sweet smile, and she
62 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
looked so exceedingly pretty, that the slate-pencil
and the gold stud and the penholder immediately
fell in love with her, much to the annoyance of the
fan and the tinsel, who wondered what they could
see in such a plain, insignificant little thing. How-
ever, the gentlemen longed to hear her speak, so they
crowded round her, and besought her to tell her
THE pretty little sea-shell flushed quite rosy-red
when they all pressed her to tell her story.
She did not very much want to; but she
did not like to be discourteous, and she thought it
looked silly and affected to make a fuss, when they
asked her so kindly. So she began in a very sweet,
low voice, which sounded exactly like tiny waves of
the sea on a very calm, sunshiny day.
"I lived very happily amongst my brothers and
sisters on the golden sands, where we played hide-and-
seek with one another, and were often caught by the
sea, and carried a long way out. Once I was thrown
upon a sea-weed bed, and I remember I shed many
tears, thinking I should never see my playmates
again, but a kind lobster, noticing my distress, carried
64 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
me home on his back, and you may be sure I was
very grateful to him. We all felt certain that there
was no more delightful life in the whole world than
ours. On summer mornings we bathed in the little
clear pools, and all day long we amused ourselves,
sometimes pelting one another with little sand-grains,
sometimes taking a sail on a shrimp's back, and
sometimes climbing the little rock-mountains, which
made their appearance at low tide. Oh, it was a very
joyous, sunshiny life; but I am afraid it was a very
"One day I felt myself grasped by something soft
and warm, and, looking up, I found I was in the small,
dirty hand of an exceedingly ragged little boy. I
noticed rather sleepily, for it was a hot morning, and
I had been having a gentle nap, that there were a
number of children racing about over the sand.
They were not the daintily-dressed children, with
brown faces and sturdy legs, in charge of their nurses,
which we were accustomed to see, but poorly-clad,
pale-faced children, with such dreadfully thin legs,
and big hungry eyes, that my heart ached for them.
The lad who held me, and who was, perhaps, ten or
eleven years old, though he had such a wizened face
that he might have been sixty, was the raggedest little
object I have ever seen. But he did not seem to
mind about this in the very least, and, as he looked at
me, a great smile of delight came into his face, and he
cried,' That's for Polly. 'Tain't a common shell, but
a real fine stunner.' I soon discovered, from the
children's conversation, that this was a school-treat
come down from London for the day, and I was full
of horror and grief at the thought of the fate in store
for me. Indeed, it was a fearful change; away from
the blue sky, and the fresh sea air, and the white
wavelets, and all my dear little fish and shell com-
panions, into a bare, ill-smelling garret in smoky
London, where the air and sky seemed as if they
wanted a good dip into the blue sea, to make them
clean and wholesome. I am ashamed now to think
of the way I hated Jim (that was the boy's name) for
bringing me to London, and of the many discon-
tented, wicked tears I shed on the way up, making
Jim's pocket quite wet. Far rather would I have
been drowned in the sea, I said to myself, not remem-
bering that there were other things in a sea-shell's
life than just pleasing one's self.
"However, it was not very long before I got into a
better frame of mind, for Jim rushed home-oh, such a
miserable little dark garret, with a broken bed in it,
and a chair, and a cupboard for furniture-and, pulling
me out of his pocket, cried out to someone that lay
on the bed,
"' Polly, girl, I have brought you such a beautiful
shell-a real fellow -picked him off the sands-such
"Then Polly raised herself in bed, and I saw she
was a little girl, perhaps a year or two older than Jim,
with a sweet, white, wan face, andt the largest and
saddest brown eyes I ever saw. She was a cripple,
and could only walk with the greatest pain and diffi-
culty, and these two poor little orphans lived entirely
on Jim's earnings as a newspaper-boy. It was touch-
A ing to see how good Jim was to her; how, on bad
66 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
days, when he could not sell out his newspapers, he
would go without food all day, so as to bring home
the proper number of pennies to Polly, and how, if
ever he made an extra copper, he would buy a cake
or some fruit for the poor little sister. And how can
I tell you of this sweet, patient child, who lay hour
after hour in that close, bad-smelling, dark, garret,
with no toys, no books, and hardly able to turn her
head except with pain. But she, too, had her joys,
and I am thankful and happy to think that, from the
very first day that she clasped me in her thin little
hand, I was one of her chief pleasures; so that even a
sea-shell has its uses in contributing to the happiness
of others. She would play all sorts of games with
me; but her favourite of all was to put me into a
soap-dish of water, and pretend she was at the sea.
"'Look, Jim,' she would say, her pale face beaming
with delight, 'look at the waves and the little sea-
shell tossed about!'
"And how she made Jim laugh one day when she
dressed me up in a pocket-handkerchief, and pretended
I was a long-clothes baby. Sweet little suffering
soul, she is amongst the angels now; and surely there
is not one white brow more deserving of the golden
crown, than Jim's little sister. I was her only toy,
and she was never tired of putting me against her
ear and saying, 'Jimmy, can't you hear the waves
rushing?' and then she would look lovingly at me
and say,' Oh, you dear little, pink, smooth baby, your
mother is a-fond of you,' and she would kiss and
fondle me as affectionately as if I were really her own
child. But one day a very sad thing happened. She
was getting thinner and paler than ever, and the
parish doctor said she must have. fresh air; so Jim
opened the window, as it was a nice spring day, and
pushed the bed close up to it, so that, what fresh, air
there was, should reach her poor lungs. She was
looking up to the sky with her wistful brown eyes,
when she accidentally dropped me out of her weak
little hands, and I fell a long way down on to a great
dust-heap in the yard, on which everybody threw
their rubbish. I was dreadfully grieved, as I knew
the poor little one would miss me, and I felt sure I
should never be discovered, as, the same evening, a
man threw on the top of me three great bucketsful of
rubbish. There was just a tiny hole left through
which I could see, and later, the same evening, I saw
Jim searching about for me on his hands and feet. I
tried to call out, but he could not hear, and I cried to
see the poor little fellow raking about amongst the
rubbish till it was quite dark, with such a sad look on
his face. But Polly had not long to fret for me, for a
few days afterwards they buried her amongst the pale
snowdrops, like herself, in their white sweetness and
The little sea-shell's voice had sunk to a whisper,
and, when she finished, the gold stud said,
"To have been loved like that and to have given
happiness is surely the best of all."
THE WIZARD'S MAGIC BELL.
(By permission of Messrs. Cassell and Comftany.)
ONE day, in an Eastern city, a wizard lay dying,
so he called to his, bedside his three sons,
Hugo, Roderick, and Karl, and said to them,
"My dear boys, I shall soon have to leave you, and
I feel very anxious about your lives, more especially
about you, Hugo and Roderick." Then, addressing
Hugo, the eldest, he went on: "Beware, above all, of
your selfishness and avariciousness. And you, Roder-
ick, think less of your strength-it is not the sword
alone that conquers. And you, my sweet Karl, be
not always timid and shrinking back. You can now
each make choice of one of my possessions. You,
Hugo, as the eldest, must choose first."
"There is only one thing, father, I long for more
than anything else, and that is thy gold; pray give
it me all, and make not the condition, that I must
share it with my brothers."
The wizard looked sadly at his eldest born; but
there was no longer time for words.
As for me," cried Roderick, I am glad my brother
has so chosen. I do not want any gold. What I want
THE WIZARD'S MAGIC BELL.
is thy sword, set in jewels; with this I shall be more
powerful than my brother, for he can only buy men-
I can slay them."
"And what wilt thou have, Karl ?"
"I do not know," answered the boy, wistfully.
"Could not I have some of Hugo's gold?" and then,
The dying wizard and his sons.-f. 69.
as he caught sight of his father's pale, sad face, he
said, with a burst of tears, Oh, I want only some-
thing that will remind me of thee."
The wizard took the boy's hands, and said,
"I leave thee my bell. Stronger than the sword,
70 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
and more powerful than riches, shalt thou find my gift
of the bell."
It was a very tiny brass bell, small enough to go
into Karl's pocket; and he vowed to himself, that he
would keep it there in memory of his father, although,
much as he pondered, he could not make out how it
would be of any use to him.
Soon after his brothers departed, the one to spend
his money on feasting and pleasure, and the other to
foreign countries where he could use his marvellous
But Karl, as he had been left neither money nor a
sword, was forced to look about for some work; and,
by good fortune, he was taken into the employ of a
kind-hearted baron as page-boy. One day the lad,
hot and breathless after a long gallop, whilst follow-
ing his master on horseback, heard some exquisite
strains of music quite close to him. He stopped
short, believing it must be some rare bird. But
nothing could be seen. He listened again-it was
coming from his own pocket; it was coming from
the bell, which only gave forth these lovely sounds
when it was heated. Karl listened in rapture, and,
the faster he rode, the more rich and varied was the
music; but as he grew cooler, the sounds began to
die away, and by the time he reached the baron, they
, Soon after this Karl received a visit from his elder
brother, who was about to start off for foreign lands
and join his brother Roderick. He offered to take
Karl with him; so he and Hugo set out forthwith,
and were well received by Roderick, who, by the aid
THE WIZARD'S MAGIC BELL.
of his marvellous sword, was now a great soldier.
The three brothers then started on a tour, and Karl
could not help being amused at Hugo's arrogant
pride in his gold, and Roderick's in his strength.
One day they came to a town, from which the
inhabitants were fleeing with affrighted faces. On
demanding the cause, they were told that a terrible
rebellion had taken place amongst the wildest and
most turbulent of the people; and that, at that very
moment, a great mob was surrounding the king's
palace, and threatening to burn him and his beautiful
daughter to death. They implored the brothers to
turn back, saying the mob would massacre strangers
at once, but Hugo said grandly,
"I'll throw my gold amongst them; that'll soon
stop them," whilst Roderick said stoutly,
"I'll end the matter by ending them with my
Hugo mounted on to a wall, and began throwing
his gold with both hands. The people were so sur-
prised that for a moment they stood quite still ; and
then a worse thing happened, for men and women
were trampling upon each other in their greediness to
get all the gold for themselves. At last the mob got
so wild with excitement, that they rushed upon Hugo
where he stood, and began to tear the gold from his
hands. It was at that moment, that Roderick, with
his marvellous sword, flew to the rescue; but although
it did wonders, and Hugo was freed, the surging
crowd of wild animals was too much for Roderick,
single-handed, and, alas! he had to flee for his life.
At that terrible instant, something happened so
72 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
strange, so rare, that even the furious fierce men
stopped and wiped their heated faces and listened.
How could they continue in their angry passions,
whilst the sweetest and most divine music they had
ever conceived, was ringing through the air, bringing
love and peace along with it? No one spoke;
women, whose faces had been hard and cruel a little
while back, now wept as they listened to the won-
drous music; whilst men hung their heads, and won-
dered that they were allowed to hear the divine tones,
so sweet, so strong, so gentle.
Night came on, and the three brothers slept at the
village inn, the two elder being somewhat humbled at
the failure of the weapons they had thought invin-
cible; and, as they did not know anything of Karl's
magic bell, great was their amazement when, the next
morning, a messenger arrived from the king's palace,
saying that Karl's presence was required immediately.
When the three brothers reached the palace, they
found the king surrounded by an immense crowd of
eager courtiers and citizens.
As Karl entered-his face very hot and flushed,
and feeling very shy-a little wise old man from the
village stepped forward, and taking Karl's hand,
declared he had stood near him during the riot of the
night before, and was positive the music came from
Then Karl, who was blushing a good deal,
modestly told the king and people, who were listening
in breathless silence, how he had received the won-
derful bell (which he took out of his pocket and
handed to the king's chamberlain) from his father
who was a wizard.
THE WIZARD'S MAGIC BELL. 73
When he had finished, the people crowded round
him, and besought him to stay always, and brighten
their lives by his sweet music.
And when Karl looked on their faces, and thought
how, by his precious bell, he could bring peace and
joy and happiness into their lives, he at last under-
stood his father's words, that there was something
stronger than force, and more powerful than gold.
THE LITTLE LAME DAISY.
THE buttercups gave a grand party, to which
all the field flowers were invited, and, of
course, the daisies went, looking very sweet
and pretty in their red, pink, and white frocks. But
there was one poor little daisy who had to stay at
home, for, somehow or other, her stalk had got broken,
and her little pale face drooped almost to the ground.
Indeed, she looked so fragile, that it seemed as if every
breath of wind would carry her off. Poor little lonely
daisy. She did hope that one of her sisters would
offer to stay at home and talk to her; but perhaps it
was too much to expect anyone to give up the party
for her sake. So she watched them as they went off,
chatting very merrily, and with their heads very high
in the air, as they thought how charmingly pretty they
looked in their ball dresses of pure white and green, or
pale pink and crimson, with girdles of green. The little
daisy felt very sad and humble as they scampered
away, for she knew she should never again trip
merrily over the grass in the moonlight, like the
others. But as night came on she fell asleep, and did
not wake till the morning, when she found all the
THE LITTLE LAME .DAISY.
daisies round her talking about the last night's ball.
Some of them tossed their little heads quite proudly,
as they recounted their triumphs, and how very much
they had been admired. At this very moment a
troop of rough boys and girls came along, and tore
up, by the roots, the smiling little daisies, which, a
second later, they threw on the ground and trampled
upon, as they hurried off to chase a butterfly.
They go off merrily in the moonlight.-. 74.
But one chubby baby boy had picked the little
lame daisy, and, as it was the first flower he had ever
gathered for himself, he hugged it close to him with
his tiny, fat hands. He thought it such a pretty toy,
76 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
and ran quickly home with it to his mother, saying,
" Me found this pretty 'itty 'sing."
"And his mother, who was a kind, gentle-hearted
woman, put the little daisy into a broken cup full of
water, where it lived for three or four days very
THERE was once an Imp who was in the habit
of making himself such a nuisance in the
domestic circle, that one day his relations
could stand it no longer, and, taking him to the
front door, they said,
"Kindly travel in foreign lands, and the longer
you travel, and the more distant the country, the
better we shall like it. Perhaps you might try the
Polar regions; they are a good long way off, and it
is said there are many bears and wolves there, who
seem to have excellent appetites."
The Imp had no objection, for, as he was always
getting into hot water at home, he thought the Polar
climes might be a refreshing change, so he set out
merrily, taking with him a blanket, a pot of the best
pomatum, and a clean linen collar, all of which he
packed into a little knapsack, and slung across his
shoulder. How to get to the Polar regions he knew
not, but he said, remembering the geography he had
learnt in his youth,
Since the wise men have declared the world's
round, all I've got to do to get to the North Pole
78 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
is to keep on going round and round, and ronnd and
round, and in less than six months I shall certainly
Giddy," said a sharp dry voice, and the Imp saw
in front of him a Practical Man, who was clad in
a very unusual fashion. He wore a mustard-coloured
suit of clothes, full of bulging pockets, out of which
protruded machines, coffee-pots, folding-tables, hat-
racks, and other useful articles.
"I suppose," said the Imp, staring hard out of his
little black beady eyes, "that you're a travelling
pedlar, and carry your pack about with you for
convenience' sake ?"
"Not a bit of it," returned the Practical Man
briskly; "quite my own idea to carry everything that
a civilized man can want about with him. For
instance, suppose you want your hair cut and sham-
pooed, you can have it done in a twinkling," and he
whipped a machine out of one of his many pockets,
and began cutting the Imp's short black hair by
machinery; but, as he was not a very expert hair-
dresser, something in the machinery went wrong, and
not only was the unfortunate Imp's hair entangled in
the wheels, but the little scissors went up and down,
darting into his scalp.
O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o !" shrieked the Imp, dancing about
in agony, and trying tt&ear off the machine, which
presently gave a loud whirr, and broke into pieces,
much to his relief and delight He rubbed his
damaged head with a rueful expression, and said to
the Practical Man,
"Thanks, I don't care for any more of that sort
of hair-dressing. I think I prefer the ordinary barber,
he isn't quite so energetic; but what have you got
there?" and he looked inquisitively at a curious-
looking, object, which somehow seemed familiar,
though, as it was all doubled up, he could hardly see
The Practical Man began undoing it slowly, and in
a second the Imp exclaimed,
"Why, I declare, it's a Punch and Judy show."
"Exactly," said the Practical Man deliberately;
"one must provide for everything in this world of
chance and change. Suppose I found myself alone
on a desert island, why, here I am, well provided with
"But," said the Imp, who had been looking very
thoughtful, you would have to be your own Punch
and Judy man, so how could you look on and be
Punch and Judy at the same time? "
The Practical Man had a way of shelving awkward
questions which he didn't know how to answer, so he
took no notice, and began to exhibit his fire-escape,
his kitchen range, and ambulance waggon, and many
other of the apparatus that were stowed away some-
where about him.
I think he's crazy," said the Imp to himself, and
he asked the Practical Man impudently, whether he
happened to have a few lunatic asylums about him ?
But the Practical Man looked so fierce, that the
Imp darted off, with vague ideas of gunpowder plots
and dynamite explosions, which he had read of in
history and in the newspapers. He felt sure he must
be walking in the right direction to get to the North
80 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
Pole, for it was growing chillier every minute, and,
gladly remembering about his blanket, he wrapped it
right over him, showing a few tufts of black hair,
which had stuck straight out from his head ever since
the operations of the Practical Man. With his black
beady eyes, he looked a very appalling Imp indeed,
and might well have been mistaken for a wild Red
Indian. Soon he came to a wood, and, hearing
sounds of weeping, hurried along, when he presently
came face to face with an "Affected Young Lady."
At the sight of the little blanketed fellow, she set up a
wild hullaballoo of terror, screaming out with all her
might, Monster, go away, go away; I shall simply
die of fright; I shall never, never, never recover this
dreadful shock to my nerves."
Monster, indeed said the Imp indignantly, whilst
he gracefully disrobed himself of his blanket.
" Kindly be a little more accurate, and I'm not going
to eat you. But what's the matter with you; why
these tears ? "
"Oh, pray don't ask," said the affected young lady,
"it's quite too dreadful; I shall never get out of this
horrible wood, and I shall never see my dear, dear
parents again,--oh, oh !"
Dear, dear," said the Imp sympathetically, "this
is very sad, madam," and he bowed his absurd. little
figure to the ground; "perhaps I can be of some
service to you, if so, speak, and you are heartily
"Well," said the affected young lady, condescend-
ing to dry her eyes, "it's like this: it's quite impos-
sible for me to get out of the wood, because at the
end of it there's a stile; but, of course, if some
one would be kind enough to cut down the stile,"
and she looked meltingly at the Imp.
"But why in the name of pigs and pattypans
shouldn't .you jump over it?" asked the Imp with
astonishment. The affected young lady shuddered
as she cried out,
"Jump over it! a young lady of my sensibilities?
Why, sir, I should never recover from it; think how
"Well, let's come and have a look at it," said the
Imp. So along they went together; and, as soon as
they reached the stile, which was really quite a low
one, this naughty, audacious Imp seized the airy, fairy,
lackadaisical, affected young lady in his arms, and
deposited her on the other side of the stile. After
one shriek of "Oh, you ungentlemanly monster," the
affected young lady languidly closed her eyes, and
went off in a dead faint. But the Imp thought she
would probably recover just as well without him, so
he pursued his Polar journey. He was beginning to
feel quite hungry, and wish that he had brought some
sandwiches with him, when he saw before him, in
a meadow, a young man lying on the ground. Going
close up to him, the Imp saw with surprise that a
number of birds had built their nests in the Indolent
Youth's hair, and were flying about as if they were
quite at home.
"Do you like birds building their nests in your
hair ?" asked the Imp.
The indolent youth stared, and said languidly,
"Too much trouble to talk."
82 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
"Why don't you get up, you great, lazy fellow ?'
asked the Imp, feeling quite annoyed at the sight of a
robust young man in this condition.
Too much trouble," returned the youth; "every-
thing's too much trouble, breathing a frightful bore,"
and the indolent youth, who was the fattest and
limpest youth imaginable, gave a sad sigh.
The Imp was too disgusted, to say anything. He
gave him a vicious kick, and went on; and before
long he stopped short before a soft, little, round, fluffy
ball of flesh, which looked like a baby of a few
months old, but which wore spectacles, and held in
its tiny fingers a pencil and slate, over which it was
knitting its tiny brows.
"Whatever are you ?" asked the Imp.
The baby looked up with a reproving frown, and
said, 'in a matter-of-fact way,
"I'm an advanced female baby, and please don't
disturb me. I'm engaged on higher mathematics, and
haven't any time to waste. I'm in for my tripos
next week," and she wetted her little pink finger and
began to rub out her sums.
"Well," said the Imp, addressing a wise old gentle-
man who happened to be standing near, I never
imagined till I set out on this journey, that there were
so many crazy people in the world."
"Only their little way, sir, only their little way.
We've all got our little peculiarities. Now, I daresay
the ones you've got are so delightful and pleasant to
your family, that they wept bucketsful of tears when
you left home."
The Imp thought of some of his disagreeable
tricks, and blushed; and, to divert the conversation
"Can you tell me, sir, whether the North Pole is an
agreeable place of residence for a single man? "
The wise old man thoughtfully stroked his beard,
"Well, there's plenty of variety; there are bears to
eat you, and wolves to eat you, or if you like better to
be frozen, there is plenty of opportunity; or for per-
sons of small appetites it isn't altogether bad. On
the whole, I think it preferable to read about it in the
story books; but there's no accounting for taste."
"Ah," said the Imp, "I think I'll go on reading
about the North Pole," and, saying good-bye to the
wise old man, he hurried homeward. Arrived there,
he made himself much more agreeable; and on win-
ter evenings he would tell his friends wonderful
stories of the whales he had killed; and of the great
floating icebergs which had wedged in his ship; and
of the many adventures, in which he had always
played the part of the gallant hero, that befell him on
his trip to the North Pole.
THE KING AND THE COUNTRY
THERE was once a king who lived in a most
magnificent crystal palace, and dined every
day off gold and silver dishes; and yet he was
more miserable than the poorest of his subjects. For
this king, whose name was Ormuz, was dreadfully tired
of life. He had long ago exhausted every pleasure, and
it was impossible, no matter how hard his courtiers
tried, to find a new one that would please him. So he
offered a splendid reward to any one, who should invent
some new amusement which would make him laugh.
All sorts of things were tried; the court jester came
and made some of his best jokes, and, mounting
upon a donkey's back, capered about with all his
bells jingling; but the king turned wearily away. He
had heard very much the same sort of jests for many
years, and they no longer delighted him. And then
twenty beautiful Eastern maidens came and danced
before his majesty, clad in transparent white gauze
and silver; but the king had seen their graceful
.movements over and over again, and he felt no
particular interest in the dances, which had been
THE KING AND COUNTRY BUMPKIN. 85
familiar to him since his boyhood. And then one of
the courtiers suggested the play, and another a hunt,
and another a sea voyage; but the king had visited
all the theatres that had ever been built, so he did
not care about this suggestion, and he said he was
too old and fat to enjoy hunting; and, as for another
sea voyage, well, he had already made a score or so,
and been twice round the
world, so it was improb-
able that anything new
should present itself.
The courtiers gave up
the matter in despair,
and the king's face
grew longer than ever,
as he never laughed;
and his temper became
so cross-grained, that
the court gentlemen
avoided him as much as
One day, as they were
racking their brains to
think of something to
make the king laugh, The King out riding.-,-. 85.
whilst returning home
from a ride, they saw a country bumpkin sitting on
a stile, with a crowd of rosy-cheeked boys and girls
round him, who were laughing very merrily. The
king dismounted, and immediately a saucy little
urchin, not knowing his position, rushed up to him,
and, thrusting something into his face, said, "That's
86 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
just like you." The king looked down and saw a
turnip, which had been shaped by the country
bumpkin, into a man's face; and it was so comical,
and the children's mirth was so catching, that the
king laughed loudly and merrily; and he declared
he would himself make turnips into men's faces. And
the country bumpkin was so delighted to have made
the king laugh, that he threw his cap into the air and
cried Hurrah !"
HOW THE DEMONS WERE
ONCE upon a time, long, long ago, when the
race of fairies and goblins was not quite
extinct, a king, who ruled over a wealthy
kingdom, was made exceedingly happy by the news
brought to him by his grand chamberlain, who,
with many flourishes of his three-cornered, gold-
braided hat, informed him that a little son was born
to his majesty that day. Five minutes later all the
church bells were set pealing in honour of the little
prince's birth; and, as the king gave orders that wine
and fruit should be served out to every man, woman,
and child within fifty miles of the palace gates, there
was much merriment and rejoicing that night. It is
true that there was a good deal of grumbling amongst
the people who were, say, three hundred miles off, for
why, they asked, should they be punished, simply
because they didn't happen to live within fifty miles of
the king's palace; but, in the general rejoicing at court,
their codiplaint was unheeded, and, indeed, it was a
little unreasonable to expect that even a king could
feast every soul in his vast dominion.
88 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
Now, about the same time that the little Prince
opened his eyes on his mother's beautiful white and
gold chamber, another little baby was born into the
world. His home was many miles distant from the
palace; indeed, it was at the uttermost end of the king's
great kingdom, and there were no bells rung to cele-
brate this little one's birth. Only sad and anxious
faces were round him; for not only was the child
unwelcome, as it meant another little mouth to feed-
and already, alas in the shoemaker's home there were
too many little unfed mouths and aching stomachs-
but also the kind, patient mother, the shoemaker's
wife, lay sick unto death. And as the week wore on
she became worse, and one sorrowful night she lay
dying. The poor woman was dreadfully distressed at
the thought of her little baby alone in the world
without its mother. What would become of the
" Kindlein ? she asked herself, using the loved name
that her own mother had used, when she was a little
girl in Germany. The tears ran down her pale face
as she pressed the little one closer to her. True, her
husband, the shoemaker, had been very kind to her
lately, since she had been ill; but she could not forget
the many times, when, sad and angry at not getting
work, he would go to the inn over the way, and then
would follow bad times for wife and boys. The poor
mother sighed deeply, and, glancing at the sleeping
child, she noticed, to her great astonishment, a pale,
silvery light over the little downy head. At the same
moment a gentle voice said in her ear,
"Do not be unhappy about the little one, dear
mother. I will befriend him, and I will straightway
THE DEMONS CONQUERED.
give him two gifts; their names are Sympathy and
Imagination, so that he will never be quite unhappy."
The mother did not quite understand these words,
and perhaps she would have preferred to hear that her
boy should be rich and clever; but no one ever knew,
for a second later she had sunk back on to her pillow
The cobbler's wife is astonished to see a silvery light round the child's
with a peaceful smile, and the shoemaker's wife was
The neighbours all agreed that little Gottfried, as
the child was called, could not possibly live, and it is
probable that their forebodings would have proved
correct, and that little Gottfried would soon have
90 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
followed his mother, had it not been for the bagman's
wife. She had just lost her own little girl, and she it
was who nursed, and fed, and petted, and loved him,
and as much as possible protected him from his
father's blows and cruelty. For, unfortunately, things
went from bad to worse with the shoemaker, who was
always complaining about bad times and the hard-
ships a cobbler had to undergo, but who never reflected
that the "bad times" were of his own making; for
who would come to a man who would promise faith-
fully to have the boots heeled by Saturday evening,
and, when Saturday came, would be found at the inn
over the way with some noisy companions, whilst the
unheeled boots would be standing on the little wooden
shelf, looking up reproachfully at the shoemaker's
leather apron, which hung half the day idly over the
bench ? Gottfried was happy enough-even though his
father occasionally threw a boot-too often unsoled-
at his head, and his great strong brothers, Peter, and
Fritz, and Karl, bullied and teased him, more especially
when they were hungry-so long as he could run into
the bagman's pretty little parlour and play with Pecker,
the sulky parrot. But a terrible day came when the
bagman and his wife packed up their property in a
neat little box, and went away to live elsewhere; for the
bagman was so ill, that the only chance of saving his
life was to take him to a warm seaside place for the
Gottfried was now ten years old, and quite old
enough, his father thought, to look out for himself.
His brothers had long ago left the shoemaker, after
many bitter words between them and their father, and
THE DEMONS CONQUERED.
it was now Gottfried's business to earn his own living
-so his father told him roughly. The lad went
slowly down the stairs, wondering with a heavy heart
what he should do.
He was a pale, delicate-looking boy with melan-
choly brown eyes, and such a sweet, gentle smile, that
few people spoke cruel or cross words to him. In
the little narrow dirty street where he had lived all
his life, he was very popular with the children and
grown-up people. The children loved him because
he invented beautiful stories, and never insisted on
having his own way; and the grown-up people agreed
that an obliging, well-mannered boy like Gottfried was
indeed a rarity in their part, where the other kind of
boys-the rough, rude, disobliging sort-were plentiful
Gottfried walked through the narrow street and
courts into fine wide streets, where people were shop-
ping, and carriages full of grand people, richly dressed,
were passing to and fro. He did not know what to
do. It was cold, he was hungry, and his father had
told him this was the last day he would give him
shelter and food. Now, Gottfried had a certain habit
-which the practical people think a very dreadful
one indeed-but which gave him a good deal of
delight, no matter how cold and hungry, he might be.
This habit-or, as the fairy would have called it, gift
-of imagining was very useful indeed sometimes, for,
just when he was going to burst int6 tears, he caught
sight of a very gaily-coloured picture of a boy about
his own age, who was just mounting a pony in front
of a fine castle. This was quite enough to divert
92 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
Master Gottfried, and for the next half-hour he was
marching along the pavement with his hands in his
ragged pockets, forgetting his hunger and cold, and
his unkind father, and only thinking of the fine things
that could be done in a castle with a garden full of
splendid roses, which grew again as fast they were
picked, and with stables full of cream-coloured ponies
for all the boys and girls who chose to ride them. He
was quite regardless of the fact, that people were con-
tinually calling him a nuisance as he walked straight
into them, and only awoke to the consciousness of
extreme cold, when a ragged boy about his own size,
with an excessively dirty face, and sharp, impudent
eyes, caught him a rap on the chest and exclaimed,
"Well, Tommy, thank your stars and this 'ere
gen'l'm "-patting himself-" that you aren't at this
Gottfried looked up with a smile, and recognized the
"Why, Dicky," he said, "wherever have you been
all this time? We thought you'd gone to sea."
Dicky winked. I am afraid he was rather a bad
boy; but he had his good points, and if he had any
love for anybody, it was for Gottfried, who had over
and over again done him service. The two boys
began talking, and presently Dicky remarked that he
was going to give up his crossing, as he had a sitty-
wation." He did not divulge the nature of this latter,
but went on to remark that he would sell both broom
and crossing "dirt cheap."
Here was a chance for Gottfried, if he only had the
money. But Dicky was not ungenerous, and he had
THE DEMONS CONQUERED.
a great respect for Gottfried's promise; so, after the
latter had agreed to pay weekly instalments, the
matter was settled, and Gottfried was the proud
possessor of a broom and a crossing.
I am sorry to say that, though Gottfried was a
much finer fellow than Dicky, he wasn't half such a
good sweeper-indeed, to tell the truth, he was a very
bad one indeed. When he ought to have been sweep-
ing away energetically, he was far too often thinking
of the flowers, and stars, and other beautiful things, of
which he knew nothing; and one day he actually
lost his broom. It came about in this way. It was
a cold, wet evening, when he suddenly heard his name
called out. Looking up, he beheld Dicky between
two policemen. Poor Dicky !-Gottfried had never
seen him with such a white, piteous face.
"Run," cried Dicky, "to father, and tell him to
come to the prison."
Off went Gottfried like a shot, forgetful of his
broom, and everything but Dicky's trouble. But,
when he came back, soaked through to the skin,
and found his broom gone, he wrung his hands in
despair, and, sitting down on a doorstep, wept as if
his heart would break. It was all owing to his own
carelessness, and now, whatever should he do with
only threepence, that he had taken that day. A
hand was laid on his thin coat sleeve, and a voice
near him said,
"Oh, do get up a little farther; I'm dead beat."
Gottfried forgot his own misery at the sight of a
poor old man, whose trembling legs seemed scarcely
able to bear him. He made room for him on the
doorstep, and said timidly,
94 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
"I'm afraid you're dreadfully wet."
"That's an original remark," returned the old man
crossly; "and is almost as stupid as the way you're
staring at me. Don't do it, boy."
Gottfried obediently turned his head away, but, in
spite of his rudeness, he could not help feeling great
compassion for the old man.
Presently Gottfried went off into a sleep, and awoke
with a start, for he thought it was a policeman clutch-
ing his arm. It was only the venerable stranger, who
was whispering into his ear, for, in truth, he was a
good fairy in disguise,
"Why not earn your living in green fields and
glades, and pluck flowers as you go along, and make
friends with the birds and the bees ?"
Gottfried rubbed his eyes, for he was not quite
awake. Whatever did the old man mean ? The fairy
saw his perplexity, and answered,
"You possess the gift of story-telling. Men and
children love to be amused. Wander forth boldly,
and earn your honest bread by enchanting them with
tales of wonderful men and things. Take, too, this
little lute, and play awhile when they are weary of
Gottfried rubbed his eyes again, and sat up. It
must have been a dream. The rain was coming down
as steadily as ever, but where was the old man ? And,
no, it wasn't a dream, because in place of the old man
a small instrument lay beside him, which Gottfried
immediately guessed to be a lute.
And so, from that day forth, Gottfried wandered
through the land, telling the country folk the stories
THE DEMONS CONQUERED.
which sprang from his head, and which were in
reality the fairy's gift, and for which he was amply
fed, and, had he liked, might have had gold pieces
given him. 'How the folks loved the tall, slim youth,
with his pale face and kind, serious eyes As for the
children, they would climb on his knee and back, and
clamour for one tale after another, till Gottfried grew
weary, and begged them to desist. In the winter
things were not quite so pleasant, for the people had a
hard struggle to feed themselves, and had no food or
money to spare for such a luxury as, story-telling.
But when they grew to learn that Gottfried would tell
his stories, even if there were no reward forthcoming,
they felt ashamed, and each child would break off a
piece of his portion of bread for the loved Gottfried.
Time went on, and, in the course of his journeys, he
learnt he was getting near the palace of the prince,
who, you remember, was born on the same day as
Gottfried himself, and who now ruled as king. Gott-
fried had heard with infinite distress that the young
king, who had only lately come to the throne, was
little loved by his people. Ever since his birth he had
been carefully shielded from anything unpleasant,
and had been steadily trained to do exactly what he
liked whenever he liked. It was, therefore, scarcely
surprising, that the young king was quite unaware,
that there existed in his kingdom many unfortunate
people who could not afford fires or warm clothing in
winter, nor bread and meat with which to feed them-
selves and their children. It is naturally much harder
for a rich man, who has never felt hunger or cold, to
be unselfish, than for a poor strolling youth like
96 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
Gottfried, who has lived all his life amidst suffering
and distress, and who would indeed be inhuman, if he
had not sympathy for the sufferers.
As Gottfried walked along the hard, frosty high-
road, not many miles from the king's capital, he fell to
pondering on an extraordinary tale he had often heard,
both from the country folk and the dwellers in the
town. Over and over again the quiet, gentle-hearted
boy had heard the same story.
Strong men could not get work, poor women wept
that their children could not have bread, and yet the
king would do nothing. He refused even to be told
of his people's need. And one and all would go on to
tell of a wonderful instrument in the king's courtyard,
which was neither an organ, nor an harmonium, nor
an harp, but a mixture of all three, but from which
no one had ever yet been able to produce a single note.
Thousands had tried to do it, because it was reported
that the wise woman who lived in the cave had herself
told the king-when he consulted her on the subject
-that, on the day the wonderful instrument yielded
music, both he and his subjects would be happier, but
this would never be until the demons were conquered.
And, in spite of the amusements into which the young
king plunged, there were many days and nights in
which he suffered much grief at the thought of his
subjects' hatred ; but, unfortunately, a sneer from one
of his favourites, would chase away his better feelings.
Gottfried walked along rather dejectedly, and said
"Whatever did the wise woman mean by me
THE DEMONS CONQUERED.
It must have been the wind which spoke softly, for
there was not a single object to be seen near.
"Why, the demons are in the people who gather
round to hear each person, who comes to try and get
some music out of that instrument. There are all
sorts of demons flying about Not long ago the
demon of Hate was very active on the occasion that
one of the governors tried to play; and then again,
that big demon called Jealousy was raging around
furiously, for a great soldier came to have a try, but
he wasn't successful, and so it goes on. Alas alas !"
The voice died away, and all was silent in the cold
night air, except for the occasional swaying of the
snow-laden boughs. Gottfried passed the night in a
barn, which lay deserted, except for a few lean robins
in the midst of a snowy field. Gottfried gladdened
the hearts of the robins by feeding them with a few
crumbs he had in his pocket, and the little birds went
off with grateful eyes, and perceptibly fatter.
The next day he resumed his journey, and fell in
with crowds of the poor peasant folk, who were going
to the king's palace to present a petition. As they
neared the capital, it was evident there was consider-
able excitement going on, and Gottfried, who was
leading little Lottie, the charcoal-burner's child,
stopped one in the crowd to ask him the reason.
The man, who happened to be the barber to the
king, and who was just going to shave his majesty,
"Why, there's a new competitor for the music
playing, and he's a giant and a king, and done no end
of valiant deeds, and is in part a magician, and there
98 THE LITTLE MEN IN SCARLET.
isn't a doubt he'll find the way. Our king will witness
his triumph himself at noon," and he hastened off.
At this piece of news the people forgot their
grievances for a time, and one and all agreed, that
they too would witness the wonderful sight.
So at noon crowds of people, some with sullen faces,
some cross, and few looking happy and contented,
were gathered round the barriers, from which a good
view could be obtained of the magic instrument. A
chair was placed in front, and near it sat the king on
his magnificent purple throne, with a weary, dissatisfied
expression on his fair young face, and his richly-
dressed courtiers around him. There was breathless
silence as the giant, clad in golden armour, walked up
to the box enclosing the instrument. He looked
complacently around, and felt confident of success;
but he did not know that there was one woman in the
crowd, who hated him with all her heart, for he had,
years before, cruelly wronged her.
He sat down and touched the strings, but there was
no sound. His face grew first pale and then red with
anger; and as the courtiers and then the crowd began
to titter, he flung himself off the chair, and disappeared
in a rage, not, however, before he had met the face of
the woman whom he had once loved.
There was again silence, broken by a child's cry of
"Gottfried !" One of the little peasant children had
caught sight of the youth's face, and immediately
dozens of children were crying out Gottfried !"
Gottfried never knew how it was, but an uncontroll-
able impulse urged him forward. Every eye was fixed
on his noble face, with its tender, wistful eyes. Not a