Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 In Titania's bower
 Dandelion farm
 The Countess's evening party
 A curious supper
 The enchanted river
 The picnic
 To the palace of the seasons
 Max and Molly go to court
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Title: To tell the King the sky is falling
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00085047/00001
 Material Information
Title: To tell the King the sky is falling
Physical Description: 171, 1 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Braine, Sheila
Woodward, Alice B ( Illustrator )
Blackie & Son ( Publisher )
Charles Scribner's Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: Blackie & Son
Charles Scribner's Sons
Place of Publication: London
New York
Manufacturer: Printed by Blackie and Son
Publication Date: [1896?]
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fairyland (Imaginary place) -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fairies -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Countesses -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Twins -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers and sisters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Orphans -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Obedience -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fantasy literature -- 1896   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre: Fantasy literature   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
Scotland -- Glasgow
Statement of Responsibility: by Sheila E. Braine ; illustrated by Alice B. Woodward.
General Note: Date of publication from inscription.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00085047
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002222587
notis - ALG2833
oclc - 233698025

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Front Matter
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
    Title Page
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
    List of Illustrations
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
    In Titania's bower
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Dandelion farm
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    The Countess's evening party
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
    A curious supper
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    The enchanted river
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
    The picnic
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
    To the palace of the seasons
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
    Max and Molly go to court
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
    Back Matter
        Page 172
        Page 173
    Back Cover
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
Full Text




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Pip and Heartsease, i
The Twins discover Fairyland, iv
Mrs. Henny-penny is startled, v
The Twins say "Good-morning ", vii
The Key to Fairyland, vii
Four Friends from Toyland, ix
Even Dolly loves it, xiii
Two Garden Fairies, 15
"Let us take Fairyland to them," 19
Heartsease and Pip find the Twins asleep, 21
Heartsease and Pip speed back to Fairyland, 23
Mrs. Henny-penny and Family, 24
"Have we the Tower of Babel again, for example 26
"Two orphaned babies were screaming lustily," 27
Molly gets a Mince-pie on the sly, 29
73 (287) B

List of Illustrations.

Max and Molly rush after Mrs. Henny-penny, 32
Molly giggles at the Major's threat, 34
The Major gives his arm to Mrs. Henny-penny, 35
Madam Ducky-daddies delights her Audience, 37
The Stick that everybody hated, 41
"Faster, faster!" screamed Mrs. Henny-penny, 43
"They crept into the passage after the hen," 44
The Hall-porter makes the Party welcome, 45
"Master's not at home, so you can't come in," 47
"A stately turkey, in a velvet coat, headed the procession," 49
"Alice sat down on the Dormouse," 52
The Countess receives the Party with a smile, 53
Madam Ducky-daddies makes her wonderful Dip, 56
The Countess leads the way to Supper, 58
"I trust you have brought a country appetite," 59
"Strawberries and cream, almond rock, and a Bath bun," 62
"A wedding-cake and some fizzy lemonade," 63
"There appeared six comic little figures," 66
Slyboots stands up to tell a Story, 69
The Gorilla who lost his Top-hat, 71
"Chastisement begins at Home," 72
"The Twins climbed up into Max's chair," 75

List of Illustrations.

Gone off to the Land of Nod, 77
Down the Enchanted River, 78
"A handsome gondolier," .. 79
"Listen and you will understand the Birds and Flowers," 83
The Kingfisher hurries Home for Breakfast, 85
"He was gazing thoughtfully at the water," 86
The Professor tales the first class in Riverology, 87
"With his boots in the water," 90
"Bo-peep looked across the meadow," 91
"Dilly, dilly, dilly!" 93
The Swan-maiden at her Task, .. 97
Still on the Enchanted River,. 98
"The Boat shot alongside the Bank," 99
"There was old King Cole," 100
The Knave of Hearts delights in Tarts, 102
Peter Piper consults his Pocket-book, 105
Little Jack Horner sings in his Corner, 107
The Dwellers in the Water-lilies, 109
"Tea and Shrimps Sixpence a head," 112
"The Twins gaze wonderingly at the Palace," 115
The Home of Primavera, 117
The youngest of the Four Sisters, 119

xii List of Illustrations.

"Estate sat embroidering a wonderful piece of stuff," .123
"How do you do that beautiful work 126
"More astonished than anybody 127
The Professor acts as Guide, 128
They found Autunna sleeping, 131
"Prepare to shiver," said the Professor, 132
The Mistress of this chilly Realm, 133
Father Christmas and his Sack, 135
"Met a crocodile in a narrow lane," 137
The Gnomes bring the Gondola to Toyland, 141
A hearty Welcome from Belinda, 143
The Pleasures of Paradise Row, 145
The Soldiers of Toyland, 146
A Rush to see the Soldiers, 148
The Baroness Goosey-poosey goes to Court, .. 150
Ready to meet the King and Queen, 151
Mrs. Henny-penny puts her head out of the window, 153
The rescue of the noble tin officer, 155
"Welcome, welcome Max and Molly!" 156
"The Royal ushers whispered and beckoned,". 158
"Light as a butterfly Heartsease floated down," 159
"Welcome to Fairyland, said the Queen," 161

List of Illustrations. xiii

Titania hung a Chain round each little Throat, 164
Back at Dandelion Farm! 166
"The Children had found a new Friend," 168
"The sweetest thing was, that Somebody wanted them," 171


Is it really as bad as that?" said Queen Titania,
shaking her dainty head disapprovingly; "poor,
pretty little ill-used dears, we must certainly do
something for them! My lords and ladies, I crave
your counsel in this matter. Pipistrello, it is well;
you may retire."
Pipistrello, or, as he was generally called, Pip,
having told his tale, backed out with two airy skips
from the royal presence. Titania, who had chosen a
buttercup for her throne, began to swing thought-
fully backwards and forwards, and as the court
hastened to follow her example, it looked as if all
the flowers in the dell were seized with a passion for
bending and nodding. Chancellor Perriwiggin held

To tell the King

his chin consideringly, the Minister of War glared
at a small spider that was racing over his boot,
Counsellor Fandango rubbed his ear with an air of
profound wisdom, while all the maids of honour tried
to look as much like the Queen as possible. Not
that they quite succeeded, because there never could
be such a perfectly charming creature as Titania;
and just now she was looking especially sweet and
lovely, for she was thinking of Pip's tale of two
little children, whom nobody seemed to want.
Now there are, as perhaps you know, different
sorts of fairies. Some attend to the flowers, wash
their faces every morning with fresh dew, comb
their tendrils, brush their leaves nicely, and make
them tidy for the day. Others have charge of the
baby-plants, wake them when it is time to rise,
tuck them up at night, and teach them all sorts of
things good and useful for a young plint to know.
A third set attend to the trees, and weave mantles
of green moss for them; and besides these there are
the beetle fairies, the spider fairies, the mushroom
fairies, and a host of others.

The Sky is Falling.

But loveliest of all are the children's fairies; they
stand in the first rank, and Titania always chooses
them herself. Some say, too, that the Queen loves
them more than any of her other subjects.
Pipistrello was only a garden elf, but he was a
smart, active fellow, and he had come flying back
to the fairy dell with a tale that he hoped would
win promotion for him.
Her Majesty at length clapped her hands.
Come, noble lords and fair ladies, what do you
Heartsease, the prettiest of the maids of honour,
who had been watching her mistress eagerly, leaned
forward and said in a pleading tone:
Let me go and fetch the children here, gracious
Queen; where could they be so happy as in Fairy-
Titania shook her head; observing which, the
Chancellor hastened to shake his, and the rest of the
courtiers to shake theirs.
"It may not be," said the Queen, half sadly.
"Mortals they are, and such they must remain;
(M 2S7) C

To tell the King

they are not things of air and light and fire as we
are, my Heartsease."
"Then let us take Fairyland to them," cried
Heartsease boldly; and Titania, after looking at
her inquiringly for a moment, smiled.
Good, good! A game of play for the fairy-folk,
with two little human creatures for audience; a
'Midsummer Night's Dream', to be managed by
ourselves! My lords and ladies, we approve,
and that right merrily. Heartsease is appointed
Mistress of the .Revels, with Pipistrello to help
"Ugh! Private theatricals and the like tom-
foolery!" growled the Lord Treasurer in his beard;
but nobody paid any attention to him.
At a signal from the Queen, the whole joyous
court descended from their swaying seats; the
royal band, composed of grasshoppers and crickets,
struck up a lively tune, and soon the fairies were
tripping it gaily upon the green sward. The pret-
tiest maid of honour, however, was not among


The Sky is Falling.

Far away from the enchanted
dell, Heartsease and Pip were
gazing at two children asleep
in two little beds in a large dull
room, with never a picture to
brighten it. They were boy
and girl, and both had the
same wealth of tumbled yellow
curls, the same soft flushed
cheeks and dimpled chins.
How very pretty they are!" murmured Hearts-

To tell the King

ease tenderly. She stooped and kissed the little
girl, who smiled in her sleep as at some pleasant
"And so they are orphans and nobody wants
them, poor little souls! What are their names,
"Their names," replied Pip, complacently-for
were not the children his discovery?-" are Max
and Molly. They are just as old as each other;
if you call one, both come; they are as sweet as
honeysuckle, and deserve to be as happy as
They are going to be happy," said the Maid
of Honour, with decision; "you and I will see to
that, Pip. Good-night, little dears! good-night,
Max and Molly!"
Pip, in sign of adieu, waved the long peacock's
feather that he was carrying. He had just, and
only just managed to keep from tickling the chil-
dren's faces with it; they looked so temptingly soft.
"Good-night!" he whispered, and shook out his
gauzy wings.

The Sky is Falling. 23

An old professor who liked to stroll about his
garden in the twilight, thought he saw two fireflies
darting past. But he was mistaken, although he
was an exceedingly clever old gentleman; for it
was Heartsease and Pip flying back to Fairyland.


Max and Molly were in the rickyard. As a
matter of fact they spent most of their waking time
in the rickyard, although they paid occasional visits
to the cowshed, the pigsties, and the backgarden
where the fruit grew,-all places of great interest.
Max and Molly found the farm-where they had
been sent to stay for an indefinite period-a much
more delightful place than their own grand home.
There was no rickyard at Warvyle Chase, no cow-
shed, and not even a pigsty. Fruit had to be
eaten off plates, and they were expected to behave
properly all day long.
Now, of course, all good children desire to behave
properly; but it is hard upon them if they may
never rumple their hair, roll on the grass, shout at

The Sky is Falling.

the top of their voices, or just once in a while get
themselves and their clothes in a dreadful mess "
by making mud pies. Max and Molly were never
allowed to indulge in these delights. Their nurse
was a grim-looking person, whose ideas were very
much like those of the lady who said to her little
daughter, "My dear, just go and see what baby
is doing, and tell him not to do it". Nurse was
continually telling Max and Molly "not to do
it"; and really there were so few things the poor
children might do that were agreeable, that they
were hardly worth mentioning.
Then there was Fraulein, the German governess,
who wore blue spectacles, and was as dry and dusty
as the great books she studied. Fraulein was no
better than Nurse, for if the children made the
least bit of noise she cried, "Ach, Himmel! have
we the tower of Babel again, for example?" and
told them to be quiet. The twins had never
known either their father or their mother, who
had died within a few weeks of each other. The
Owner of the stately house in which they lived
(M287) D

To tell the King

was their grown-up step-brother, Sir Gilbert War-
vyle, of whom both Max and Molly stood in con-
siderable awe. He
was not, indeed, an
aagreeable man, al-
though he had his
good points, and as
a matter of fact he
did not want the
children 'there at
all. His father, Sir
Philip Warvyle,
had married for the
Second time, and
Gilbert, the heir,
S.did not at all ap-
prove of the new
~2iln! pPave 6 lor Lady Warvyle.
S3a ,j mplShe was beautiful,
and sweet, and winning, but she possessed neither
rank nor money, and Gilbert the haughty would
have nothing to say to her. He left the Chase,

The Sky is Falling.

vowing never to enter it again until he should do
so as its master.
Two years later he came back as Sir Gilbert
Warvyle, and up in the
nursery two orphaned
yellow-haired babies were
Screaming lustily. Sir
Gilbert was sorry
that they were
there. He had
disliked the chil-
dren's mother so
; much she had
I driven him out
of his home, he
Said, that he
took it into his head to dislike her babies too.
He did what he considered his duty by them,
however; that is to say, he had nurses for them,
who understood that they were to keep the yellow-
haired toddlers out of his way. But he gave them
no love at all, and Max and Molly grew up with

To tell the King

only each other to cling to; as lonely a little pair
as could be found anywhere. They were to be
pitied, in spite of fine clothes and a grand house
to live in, a house where there were so many
servants, that it took quite half of them to wait
upon the other half.
But I must tell you how it was that the twins
came to be in such an unlikely place as the rickyard
of Dandelion Farm. Sir Gilbert was going to be
married, and the old house which had sheltered
many generations of Warvyles was to be put in
order froni attic to cellar. This was a good excuse
to get rid of the children, at any rate until after the
wedding. So Sir Gilbert sent them to lodge at one
of the farms that belonged to his estate.
When Max and Molly heard what was in store
for them, they were not wildly excited about it.
Fraulein, they supposed, would go too; and they
would still have to talk German, walk along sedate-
ly, and keep their hands in a painful state of clean-
ness. But when they discovered that Fraulein was
returning to her native land, that Nurse wished to

The Sky is Falling.

take a holiday, and that Penelope, the housekeeper's
daughter, was to accom-
pany them, then their joy
was great, if subdued.
Plump Penelope had al-
ways smiled at them, and
had even given Molly. a
mince-pie when Fraulein
was not looking. The
twins felt convinced, al-
though they kept it to
themselves, that with Pen-
elope a variety of things
would be possible. Molly
indulged in dreams of nurs-
ing downy little ducks and
feeding chickens; while
Max hoped that, for once
in his life, he would be in
a position to eat more fruit
than was good for him, and
climb trees without being ignominiously pulled

To tell the King

down by the ankles. In the whole of their lives
the children had never been away from home.
They had had no playmates except each other;
and although a venturesome kitten had once found
its way into the nursery, Nurse very quickly drove
it away with an angrily-waved duster. How Molly
sobbed at the sight of that dear black kitty's dis-
appearing tail!
Max and Molly arrived in course of time at
Dandelion Farm, under the charge of Penelope the
Plump, who, being own cousin" to Mrs. Wither-
spoon the farmer's wife, had so much to say to her,
that she naturally could not be running after the
two children from morning till night.
And thus there began for Max and Molly the most
wonderful and delightful time; the amusing part
being, that neither Penelope, nor Mrs. Witherspoon,
nor any one else had the faintest glimmering of an
idea of what was happening. This was because
fairies were concerned in the matter; for when you
have to deal with fairies, the very strangest things
may take place under your guardian's nose, and

The Sky is Falling.

she know no more about them than a garden
Max and Molly, to go back to the beginning of
the chapter, were amusing themselves in the rick-
yard. All at once the little girl's attention was
attracted by a small dark object, which came tumb-
ling down, as it seemed, from the clouds, and struck
a respectable old hen on the nose. Molly would
not have thought much of this, had not the hen
fallen into a state of extreme agitation over it.
She clucked and set up her feathers; she shut one
eye and gazed up into the clouds with the other;
she ran to and fro, and finally cried in an excited
tone to no one in particular:
My dears, it is certainly my duty to go at once
and tell the King the sky's falling!"
"Max!" said Molly in an awestruck whisper;
and as he looked round the hen remarked again:
"The sky has begun to tumble about my ears,
and the King ought to be told of it!"
Max's eyes grew as round as marbles: "It's a
talking hen!" said he, aghast.

To tell the King

The hen seemed now to have made up her mind
what to do, for she was walking in a very deliberate
way towards the gate.
"Let's run after her," cried
Molly, catching hold of her
brother's hand-oh, such
a grubby little hand!
-" we never saw
a king, Max, a
except in picture,

and she's go-
ing to tell him
the sky's falling. I
don't understand, 'cause
it was only a bean that fell
on her nose;" and Molly looked
They ran after the hen, who was now through
the gate and marching steadily across a field; it
was astonishing how fast she walked, the twins were
out of breath when they caught her up.
Please," gasped Max, "may Molly and me go

The Sky is Falling.

with you to see the King? We never saw one 'cept
in a book, and he had a crown on, and Penelope
said she didn't believe he wore it when he went to
bed." -
The hen turned a benevolent eye upon the
"My chick-a-biddies," she replied, "it is a long
way and a queer way, but you may come with me
if you like. I shall be happy to take you under
my wing as far as it will go; you see, you are
rather large for chickens."
But we are not chickens at all," began Molly,
when she was interrupted by a shrill voice, which
"Why, Mrs. Henny-penny, Max and Molly,
wherever are you all going to?"
The hen gave a little jump of surprise, and the
children turning round, saw a fine handsome cock,
dressed in a tight military coat with shining buttons,
a little round scarlet cap stuck jauntily on one side
of his head, and red spurs on his heels.
"Oh, my dear Major Cocky-locky, you are the
(M 2S7) E

To tell the King

very person I waswanting to see!" cried the hen.
" I am just off on most important business-to tell
the King the sky is falling."
In that case a military escort is absolutely
n necessary,
said the Maj or,
"Mrs. Henny-
Spenny, Max
and Molly, I
will go with
'.. you to tell the
King the sky's
falling, and if
I any wicked
person attacks
Sus, I promise
you that I will cut off his comb." At which awful
threat Molly giggled.
"We shall be delighted to accept your polite
offer," rejoined Mrs. Henny-penny with a curtsy.
" And now, do not let us allow the grass to grow

The Sky is Falling.

under our feet, or the sky will have fallen before
the King can send carpenters to prop it up."
"You have so much common sense!" said the
Major, and he offered one arm to Mrs. Henny-penny

and the other to Molly. Max took hold of Molly's
disengaged hand, and the party set out at a rapid
They had traversed three or four fields in this
manner, when a peculiar grating noise struck their
ears, upon which the hen, stopping, and pointing
to a pond surrounded by trees, observed in a tone

To tell the King

of disgust: "There! She is singing again down
among those frogs. A more obstinate creature
never waddled upon webbed feet!"
"Who is it?" asked Max, with great curiosity,
and just at that moment there was a dreadful
shriek from the pond.
Isn't it enough to make your feathers stand on
end?" cried Mrs. Henny-penny. "You have heard
of Madam Ducky-daddies, the famous opera-singer,
haven't you? Well, she ruined her voice drinking
buckets of cold water, and between the acts she used
to go and sit in a tub, that is, if there were no pond
handy. I told her no voice would stand tricks like
those, but she went on all the same, and now she
is as hoarse as a door-scraper. She comes out here
sometimes and gives a concert in aid of the 'Frogs'
Provident Society'-they are always hoarse them-
selves, so of course they rather admire her style."
Max and Molly crept down quietly and peeped
through the trees, and there they saw a very funny
Along the edge of the pond were placed pebbles,

The Sky is Falling.

three deep, and upon each pebble sat a frog, his
hands clasped in front of him, and his goggle eyes
fixed in admiration upon the singer.

Madam Ducky-daddies, like many celebrated
singers, was very stout. It was evident that she liked
gay colours, for she wore an orange velvet dress,
turkey-red shoes, and a bright green bow in her
hair. Altogether she was an exceedingly odd-look-

To tell the King

ing lady, while the extent to which she opened her
mouth was really alarming.
The song she was delighting her audience with
came to an end. Then there was a storm of ap-
plause, in the midst of which Madam Ducky-daddies,
without the slightest regard for her orange velvet
gown, stepped calmly off the stone that served for
a platform, into the water. This was more than
good Mrs. Henny-penny could bear.
"Ducky-daddles!" she screamed, rushing down
the bank and upsetting half a row of frogs. Come
out of that horrid wet water this minute; you'll
catch your death of cold, and spoil your clothes too!"
"Now don't be fussy, my good Jemima" ("My
name isn't Jemima," interposed the hen, indig-
nantly), croaked the singer with a twinkle in her
eye. She clambered up the bank again, adding:
"I was just about to take a quiet paddle, but I
would much rather go with you and the Colonel,
and George and Amanda, to tell the King the
sky's falling. Indeed, I put on my best clothes
on purpose."

The Sky is Falling.

"You haven't any of the names right," said
Mrs. Henny-penny, desperately; "but come, by all
The more the merrier!" put in the Major, with
a military salute.
Max and Molly began to think that never in all
their lives had they been in such extraordinary
company. But it never entered their heads to turn
back. Oh dear, no! Besides, they had by this time
no idea in which direction the farmhouse lay.
"Come along, Tom and Margaret; you had
better not dawdle, my dears," called Madam Ducky-
daddies, as she waddled off on the arm of the
gallant Major.
"If you could manage to remember that their
names are Max and Molly, I daresay the children
would answer to them better," observed Mrs.
IIenny-penny in a resigned tone. To which her
friend replied comfortably:
"My dear Caroline, you know perfectly well
that I have no head for names; I say the first one
that occurs to me, and a deal of trouble it saves.

To tell the King

After all, what's in a name? It is only a peg to
hang a string of words on; and if a person doesn't
know you're speaking to him, just give him a
poke with your umbrella, and he'll guess it fast
enough. Don't you agree with me, General Huffy-
The twins burst out laughing at this, but their
military escort drew himself up and looked offended.
"Major Cocky-locky, madam, at your service.
I do not call it a difficult name to remember.
Major, two syllables; Cocky-locky with a hyphen,
four syllables."
"You need not get into a temper over it, Major
Cocky-locky-with-a-hyphen; because our good
Elizabeth here" ("My name is not Elizabeth," ex-
claimed Mrs. Henny-penny) "will tell you that
never in my life did I recollect a person's name.
It is a family failing; my poor dear papa was
afflicted in a similar manner. But he managed
very well;- he used to carry a long stick with a
claw at the end, and if folks did not attend
when he said 'Quack!' he poked them with it.

The Sky is Falling.

How they did jump sometimes!" and the good
lady went off into a fit of laughter at the remem-
I was only a chicken at the time, but I recollect


what an old nuisance he was," whispered Mrs.
Henny-penny to Molly; "and how everybody
hated that stick with the claw at the end of it.
The whole farmyard was glad when he gave his
last quack.-But what can be the matter with the
Major and Ducky-daddles?"
"Do they want to run away and leave us?" asked
(M 287) F

To tell the King

Max; and certainly it looked like it, for the two
were scuttling across the meadow in fine style.
The great singer had picked up her velvet skirt
with one hand, and her turkey-red shoes were
getting over the ground at a surprising rate, quite
as fast as the Major's neat spurred boots. She
looked back, however, to shriek in hoarse tones:
"My dear Arabella, why don't you bring Dick
and Lucy along? There's going to be such a
thunderstorm in about two minutes, and the
Colonel is afraid of spoiling his best uniform."
"Come, children," cried Mrs. Henny-penny, be-
ginning to run; if Ducky-daddies says it will rain,
you may be very sure that you '11 want an umbrella
shortly. She is as good as a weather-glass."
The sky grew darker and darker. Max and
Molly ran as they had never run before, and still
the hen cried, "Faster, faster!" It was a most
exciting scamper. In front of them was a wood,
and they saw the Major's red-coat and his com-
panion's orange skirt disappear into it. Then
came a clap of thunder, followed by a second and

The Sky i8 FoaUing.

louder one; large drops of rain fell thick and fast;
it was evident that a heavy storm was at hand.
"Faster, faster!" screamed Mrs. Henny-penny.


F.Ls1ir i

"Twice to the right, once to the -left, round the
oak-tree, and here we are!"
Max was in front, and he was just in time to see
the tail of the orange skirt whisk into a large hole
at the foot of the oak-tree.
"It's all right," gasped Mrs. Henny-penny,
encouragingly; "the passages are a trifle dark,
but you will like it when you get there. Count

44 To tell the King.

and Countess Foxy-woxy are the most delightful
people in the world, though they live in rather a
retired situation."
"Max," whispered Molly, as they crept into the
passage after the hen, "what would Penelope say
if she knew we were going down a fox-hole?"
"She'd say it was all rubbish," answered Max,

It seemed to the children that the Count and
his wife must live somewhere near the centre of
the earth, for the underground passage appeared
to have no ending. However, the hen advanced
with composure and confidence, and they could
also hear the voices of the couple in front. For-
tunately torches were fixed to the wall at intervals,
and these threw a flickering light upon a path
which wound round and round and up and down
in a most peculiar fashion.
It must be the Countess's 'evening'," observed
the hen in a tone of satisfaction. She is very
fond of society, and receives every fortnight. Now,
my dears, you will see something of high life down

To tell the King

below; you don't happen to have a brush and comb
with you, do you?"
Molly explained that they never carried such
articles about with them; upon which the hen
remarked pensively:
Such yellow, yellow mops! Times are so bad,
it seems almost a pity that so much golden money
should be put into hair!"
Max and Molly had never thought of their curls
in this light before, and hardly knew what to an-
swer. Fortunately, however, they reached the end
of the passage at this moment, and found the Major
and his companion standing before a large door,
with a heavy knocker in the shape of a horse-shoe.
"We've knocked and we've rung, and we've
knocked again and rung again, and he's shouted
and I've shouted," said Madam Ducky-daddies,
"but they are making so much noise inside that
they can't hear us. The hall porter ought to be
reported, all the same. What's the use of a porter
who doesn't ouvrez la porte? Brigadier, oblige
me by giving the kniocker another thump."

The Sky is Falling.

Major Cocky-locky was spared this trouble, how-
ever,'for a little trap-door flew open and a raven in
yellow-and-black livery popped out his head.
"Master's not at home," said he, "my lady's
S' i visiting the Duchess of
N -T Nozoo, and the children
OMlEC have got the German
0 measles. So you can't
come in!"
This speech gabbled
off at full speed, the
raven winked his wicked eye
o and prepared to close the trap-
Sdoor. But catching sight of
S Max and Molly, he paused with
[ I open beak.
"Bless my buttons," he muttered, "these must
be the two I was particularly told to look out for!
To think I was going to slam the door in their
very faces!"
Here the great door swung back, and the party
passed in, the porter bowing to the ground.

To tell the King

"Now, my dears, hold up your heads, turn out
your toes, and try to look as if you were Somebody,"
whispered the hen; while Madam Ducky-daddies
shook out her dress, and arranged the bow in her
The noise was terrific. There were sounds as of
shuffling and stamping of heavy feet; of musical
instruments all playing different tunes. The Coun-
tess was evidently holding a very lively reception,
and the twins were just wild with curiosity to
know the meaning of the hubbub. Suddenly the
music, if it could be called such, stopped; then
there was a tremendous scuffle, with much shouting
and laughter. After a little the music began again,
and with it the stamping.
The folding doors flew open, and Max and Molly
saw an amusing spectacle.
Down the whole length of a very large room
seats were arranged for "musical chairs", and the
Countess's guests were gaily trotting round and
round, led by a stately turkey in a velvet coat,
powdered wig, and buckled shoes, and followed by

(31 287)

The Sky is Falling.

a procession of the oddest and most ill-assorted
For there was Whittington's cat and Puss-in-
boots, Mother Hubbard's dog, and the three bears
who lived in the wood, the famous cow that
jumped over the moon, Red Riding-hood's wolf,.
and Mary's lamb. There, also, was the Cheshire
cat and the white rabbit, the pig that wouldn't get
over the stile, the rat that ate the malt, and the
blackbird that snapped off the maid's nose in the
Besides these well-known personages, there were
foxes in scarlet hunting-coats, and geese in white
brocade; peacocks with jewelled trains which got
dreadfully in the way, and owls in judges' wigs.
There were frolicsome kittens and long-legged
puppies, a dormouse and a lizard, a kangaroo and
half a dozen monkeys; all keeping one eye upon
the chairs, and the other upon the person imme-
diately in front.
The music suddenly stopped, and the general.
scramble began. The turkey skipped into a seat;

To tell the King

so did all the monkeys, who were nimble by nature.
The Cheshire cat, with a broad grin, slid into a chair
under Jumbo's very trunk, while Alice sat down on

the dormouse and nearly squashed him to death.
The bears found seats at once, but Mary's lamb
went about bleating pitifully; a puppy and a
peacock rushed for a vacant chair on the farther
side, but the kangaroo took a flying leap, and
was there first.

The Sky is Fclling.

"The Countess!" whispered Mrs. Henny-penny;
and Max ducked his head, while Molly made her
best curtsy.

The Countess was very handsome; she had bright
eyes, and such gleaming teeth that they almost
made you feel uncomfortable. You could not help

To tell the King

wondering, if the Countess gave a snap, where your
head would be! She was richly dressed in brown
satin trimmed with fur, and she wore a necklace of
diamonds, which, however, were not so bright as
her eyes.
"Why, Henny- penny, Cocky- locky, Ducky-
daddles, Max and Molly, here you are at last!
We had almost given you up; I am delighted to
welcome you."
Your ladyship is most kind," said Major Cocky-
locky; "we are on our way to inform the King
that the sky may be expected to fall any minute."
When it does, we shall be able to catch larks,"
answered the Countess with a brilliant smile. "Well,
little one, what do you want?" This was to the
dormouse, who had pattered up, and was staring at
"It's a real little girl with real hair," said the
dormouse in a surprised tone, touching her dress
with a tiny paw. Then he whispered mysteriously
to her: "I say, which do you like best, nuts or

The Sky is Falling.

"Nuts," replied Molly promptly, at which the
dormouse nodded approvingly.
"That's right,"'said he; "and what I always say
is, 'the harder the crack, the sweeter the kernel'."
"Why are you not playing, lazy mite?" asked
the Countess, pinching his ear.
They do sit upon me so," said Dor, plaintively.
"They seem to think I ought to have been a
"That is because you are so soft and fat," said
the Countess. But run along, child, for we are just
going in to supper, and here comes the Count to
escort Molly. Mind and not go to sleep as you did
last time with your head on the cake."
I truly couldn't help it, ma'am," sighed the dor-
"If you promise faithfully to keep your eyes
open all supper-time," said the Countess, "you
may sit on the other side of Molly."
Which is the other side, please?" asked Dor,
anxiously; but the Countess laughed and told him
to run away.

* To tell the King

Count Foxy-woxy was very much like his wife
in appearance, and his teeth looked even whiter and
stronger than hers. His manners, too, were very
distinguished, and it was quite an education in

polite deportment to see the way in which he saluted
Mrs. Henny-penny and Madam Ducky-daddies. If
anything could have been finer, it was the way in
which the great opera-singer slid backwards, and
went down in such a wonderful dip that it looked
as if she would never get up again. But she did,
much to the relief of her friends; and called the

The Sky is Falling.

Count by five wrong names in less than two
Supper! supper! supper!"
This magic word rang through the room with
great and sudden effect. "Musical chairs" ceased
at once, and every single guest made for the door
like a lamplighter. Even the dormouse, who had
already fallen asleep in the fender, jumped up, and
scampered after the rest; while the Major and his
two lady friends laid aside their dignity, and ran
as fast as the others. The Count with Molly on
his arm, and the Countess and Max, were the
only people who walked into the supper-room.
"Yes, it's a queer world, isn't it?" observed the
Countess, with the suspicion of a twinkle in her
bright eyes.
Max nodded.
"Molly says she thinks it gets queererer every
day," he replied, "and so do I. But we like it,
oh, so very much! Nothing queer ever happened
at home, not till we came to Dandelion Farm, and
then the sky began to fall. At least that was what
(M 287) H

To tell the King.

the hen said, but Molly told me it was a bean; but
we didn't care which, because we only wanted to
see the King. Have you ever seen the King,
"Lots of times, and the Queen too," answered
the Countess, smiling.
Oh, what are they like?" cried Max eagerly.
Ah! you must wait and see," said the Countess,


Here was the supper-room, but where was the
supper? Max and Molly felt quite a shock, for
upon the long tables there was not a single thing
to be seen. Not a loaf of bread or a jug of water,
not even a plate or a knife and fork; on the whole
expanse of white table-cloth there was not enough
to satisfy a hungry sparrow. Yet the guests seated
themselves with cheerful alacrity, and seemed in
fact in such a mighty hurry to get settled, that any-
body might have thought a magnificent banquet
was in front of them. But there was nothing,
absolutely nothing; the tables seemed to yawn for
very emptiness. Not only that, no appetizing
odours perfumed the air, and not a single waiter
was to be seen!

1W 1111111111101111 -"""~111111

To tell the King

But in spite of it all the company beamed; and
a smile of such supreme content illumined the
chubby face of the Pig that wouldn't get over-
the-stile, that his little eyes were almost lost in
his fat cheeks.
Well," thought Molly, "this is the very funniest
party I ever heard of. Fancy inviting people to
supper and giving them nothing to eat when they
I trust," said the Count, hospitably, that you
have brought a country appetite with you, Lady
"Yes, thank you," answered Molly in a very
small voice; she did not think that it was much use
having any appetite at all, considering that there
was nothing on the table to eat.
She gazed across at Max sitting next their hostess,
and she could see that he too was puzzled, not to
say disappointed; being a boy, he naturally felt the
loss of his supper more than Molly.
"Don't be alarmed," said Count Foxy-woxy,
smiling as if he quite understood their thoughts.

The Skly is Falling.

" Our parties are rather different to yours, but I
fancy you will like them all the same. Now we
will begin."
Upon this he rose, and amid profound silence,
made a remarkable statement which sounded like

"Zgrfflltysrvpllgrnkoa! Xtsszzzynrdhhtlecr!

He sat down again, and everybody cheered. The
effect of this speech was simply marvellous. In-
stantly the tables were covered with all sorts of
good things, which appeared-well, it was perfectly
impossible to say from where, but there they were.l
Each guest seemed to have his own private and
particular set of dishes; and Molly perceived that
her darling Max had suddenly become possessed of
a large plate of strawberries and cream, a square
slab of almond rock, and a fat Bath-bun. She
caught his eye, and he nodded blissfully to her,
with his mouth full.
Why do you not order your supper, my dear?"

To tell the King

said the Count kindly; "here, the rule is to wish
for what you like best. It saves an immense amount
of trouble, and if people are not pleased with their
supper, they have only themselves to blame."

This was certainly a new and delightful idea.
I think," said Molly timidly, "that I should
like a wedding cake and some fizzy lemonade."
Hey presto! In the fourth part of a second there
stood in front of her a huge wedding-cake, covered

The Sky is Falling.

with beautiful ornaments; and more than that,
there was actually a slice cut, and a pearl-handled
knife sticking in it. Also there was a tumbler of
lemonade, which foamed and fizzed as if it would

never leave off and allow itself to be drunk. A
very pretty painted plate had also made its appear-
ance, and Molly felt that her wish-supper was
everything she could desire.
"Are you all right now?" inquired the Count.

To tell the King

He himself had a couple of plump pheasants with
bread-sauce, and was picking the bones with his
gleaming teeth.
"Oh, it's lovely!" replied Molly, with a sigh of
the most perfect satisfaction; "the cake is so
plummy, and the lemonade so fizzy. But please,
sir, couldn't I give everybody a piece of my
cake? I don't want to be greedy; besides, I don't
suppose anyone ever ate a whole wedding-cake by
"I did once, when I was a young man, and
foolish," said Dor's soft voice; "you see, it was
the barn owl's eldest daughter's wedding, and
they forgot the pie--and the jackdaw had the
rheumatism, and was afraid to sit on the grass; so
while they were all gone to Dumbledom Fair, I ate
up the cake. I thought the rain might spoil it."
"I am afraid I don't quite understand," said
Molly politely. What was in the pie that they
"Either tigers or titmice! I recollect it began
with a T," said the dormouse dreamily. "Any-

The Sky is Falling.

how, the old grandmother fell down the well less
than a fortnight afterwards, which makes it sad,
doesn't it?"
"Very," responded Molly gravely, while Dor
went on eagerly:
Not that that is one of my saddest stories; by
no means. I could tell you a tale for eighteen
pence that would make you cry for three weeks."
Oh, go back to Wonderland, Dor!" said the
Count laughing; while Molly remarked as she helped
herself to another slice of cake: "I don't want to
cry at all, thank you; I only brought one pocket-
handkerchief away with me, and that is a very
tiny one, with 'M' marked in the corner. I don't
expect Max has one at all. Boys don't care much
for handkerchiefs; they like to carry snail-shells
and bits of gum and string in their pockets."
"What a lot of trouble you are taking, dear
child, with that cake!" said the Count. "You
have forgotten that here everything is done by
"So I have," cried Molly, much relieved, for
(M 287) 1

To tell the King

she was getting very hot in trying
" I'll wish about it." She shut her




to cut it up.

,yes tightly. When she opened
hem again the great cake lay
piled up in neat slices, and
VNolly slipped down and corn-
nenced to hand it round.
3ut first she gave a piece
o the Dormouse, and as
ie had gone to sleep with

aut-shells, she put '
ton his nose,
leaving it
^ r- ^ there. Molly
had just then
/ finished the
Sound of the tables,
When the door opened,
and there appeared six comic
little figures. One after the
other they came trotting in,

The Sky is Falling.

clad in six little night-shirts and six little frilled
night-caps, and at the sight of them the Countess
gave a scream.
"Oh, you naughty, naughty children!" she cried,
"what do you mean by getting out of your beds at
this time of night? Go back at once! Don't you
see that your father and I have company!"
"Muv-ver!" cried all the little foxes together,
and very penitently, though they were looking
out of the corners of their bright eyes at the good
things. "Dearest Muv-ver, we love 'oo so!" and
they all hung about her, and the tiniest one
climbed into her lap.
The Countess could not help laughing.
"This is cupboard-love," she said; "you know
you smelt the supper, you young rogues. What
shall we do to them, Max?"
"Oh, please let them stay!" said Max earnestly,
while the little foxes put their paws together in the
drollest manner.
"Very well, just for a quarter of an hour, because
Max and Molly are here."

To tell the King

In an instant six high chairs appeared, and the
little creatures clambered up into them with glee-
ful faces. Molly was curious to see what they
would order for supper, and this is what it was.
The eldest had a large pot of apricot jam; the
second, a plate of hot buttered toast; the third,
a dish of baked potatoes; the fourth, a box of
chocolate creams; the fifth, an immense mince-pie;
and the youngest fox of all, a plum-pudding nearly
as big as himself. And they munched, and they
scrunched, and showed their white teeth; and al-
though their mother shook her head at them, it
was evident she was proud of her fine young family.
"Come, Slyboots," called the Count from the
farther end of the table; "you must do something
for your supper, my man. Haven't you a story to
tell us?"
Slyboots was the young gentleman wrestling with'
the plum-pudding. When his father spoke, his
little eyes glistened and he put down his spoon.
Yes, Daddy," said he, I knows a lovely story.
Shall I tell it?"

The S3ky is Falling.

Certainly, my son, and speak out so that Molly
can hear."

Slyboots got up in his chair, and stood there
solemnly, in his little white night-shirt.
"Once upon a time," said he in a shrill voice,
"there wos a lot of little fairies. And they wos

To tell the King

naughty little fairies, every one of 'em. And the
king wanted to kill 'em,'cause they wos so naughty.
So he locked 'em up in a barn where wos very
many mouses; and the people put pillows on the
top of the little fairies, and sat down on 'em.
"So all the little fairies wos squashed to death.
That's all!"
The story-teller sat down again with an air of
calm satisfaction, and stuffed an enormous piece
of pudding into his mouth to make up for lost
The company, who had listened with deep atten-
tion, looked rather surprised that the story had
come to an end so quickly, and the Count said to
"Thrilling, eh?"
It was very nice," replied Molly, "but a little
short, wasn't it?"
"Oh, if you've a fancy for short stories," observed
the Dormouse, "I could tell you one for sixpence
that came to an end the moment it began. It is
about a gorilla who lost his top-hat on a market

The Sky is Falling.

day, and it's the shortest story in the world. If
you would like me to relate it-"
"Now, Dor, be quiet," interrupted Lord Chief

Justice Turkey-lurkey, who was sitting on the other
side of him; you know you always go to sleep in
the middle of your tales, and forget the point.
Which makes it tiresome, Lady Molly," he added
with a bow.
I should think so," replied Molly, returning the
bow; sleepy people are sometimes stupid."

To tell the King

"Is that what you used to write in your copy-
book?" asked the Dormouse; "we generally had
'Chastisement begins
at home'. Welearned
the piano, too; but I
never got beyond the
rheumatic scale."
"The rheumatic
scale!" repeated Mol-
ly wonderingly.
"Bless the child,
he means the chro-
matic scale!" laughed
Madam Ducky-dad-
dles. "I ought to
Know what that is
if anyone does, for
I've run up and down
it as often as you
have your staircase
at home. But singing isn't what it used to be
when I was a girl."

The Sky is Falling.

Mrs. Henny-penny was so afraid that her dear
friend would offer to oblige the company with a
song, or that some misguided person might invite
her to do so, that she tried to change the conversa-
tion by asking the Count why he did not make a
The latter rose at once.
"Everybody finished?" he inquired, fixing a re-
proachful eye upon the pig, who was still gobbling,
and who hastened to loll back in his chair with a
fine air of unconcern. 'The Count waved his hands;
the remnants of the feast disappeared, but each
guest found in front of him a glass full of sparkling
yellow wine.
"Ladies and gentlemen," cried the Count, rapping
the table, "I rise on this auspicious occasion to
propose the health of our distinguished visitors,
Max and Molly, who, as you know, are on their
way to tell the King that the sky is falling.
('Hear! hear!'from Jumbo.) With the names of
Max and Molly, I should like to couple those of
their amiable and distinguished attendants, Mrs.
(M 287) K

To tell the King

Henny-penny, Madam Ducky-daddies, and Major
Cocky-locky. (Cheers.) It has been a great
pleasure to the Countess and myself to welcome
this noble party under our humble roof. I see
that some of you are yawning ('Nothing of the
kind', cried the Dormouse), so I will detain you
no longer. Let us drink the health, therefore, of
our young guests, Max and Molly, and their charm-
ing companions."
The guests rose from their seats and shouted
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" and clinked their glasses,
and thumped each other on the back, and altogether
were most merry and jovial. Mrs. Henny-penny
began to make vigorous signs to Max, and Molly,
noticing these, ran round the table, and put her soft
little arm round his neck.
"We ought to return thanks, Max," she whis-
pered; "I know that's what people do in stories,
when they have their health drunk."
We must stand up on a chair, then," answered
Max, or they won't know what we're going to

The SkXy is Falling.

The twins climbed up into Max's chair, and stood
there with their arms round each other's necks, and
their bright curls
mingling. Mrs.
Henny -penny
was so affected '\
at the sight, that
she was obliged Wa
to wipe away a \
tear; while Ma-
dam Ducky-
daddles called
for order in a
voice that could
almost have been
heard across the
German Ocean.
Then Max and
Molly, as soon
as there was
silence, said, as if they had been one person:
Ladies and gentlemen, we're very much obliged,

To tell the King

and very glad indeed we came. A fox-hole is a
lovely place to live in, and we should like to come
another time if we are invited."
At this point, not having any more to say, they
very wisely got down; upon which there was loud
cheering, and Lord Chief Justice Turkey-lurkey
came up, and insisted upon shaking hands with
"You are a born orator, sir," said he, "you know
when to leave off, and I shall make a point of going
with your party to tell the King the sky is falling."
"But the children must go to bed this minute,"
cried the Countess, leaning across to catch Sly-
boots, who was dropping off to sleep.
Max and Molly began, most unaccountably, to
nod themselves. They saw a stout nurse in a white
cap and apron appear at the door, and bear off the
six little foxes, who trudged out rubbing their eyes
with their paws. Molly made a gallant effort to
keep awake, and stared hard at the Dormouse, who
was sleeping placidly. She saw Max's yellow head
give a sudden dip and settle itself comfortably on

The Sky is Falling. 77

the Countess's shoulder, while her ladyship's bright
eyes looked tenderly down at him.
Molly tried once more:
"Max, Max," she cried, "wake up! We ought
to go home; Penelope will be wondering, won-der
Molly did not finish her sentence; she too had
fallen fast asleep.

*HEN Max awoke the following day,
he sat up and looked about him
with bewildered eyes. Next he
rubbed them to make sure that he was not dream-
ing; and leaned over to touch Molly, who was still
asleep, her rosy face resting upon one dimpled hand.
It was certainly Molly; therefore it could not be a
dream, however much it might seem like one. But
no wonder Max stared about him in surprise, for he
and Molly were lying upon a pile of cushions, in a
gondola, and gliding down a beautiful river. Great
queenly water-lilies with golden hearts rested upon
its shining surface; along the banks grew stately
trees, and strange, lovely plants, which seemed to
bend down to whisper secrets to the stream.
Max turned his head; seated in the boat was
a very wonderful-looking lady, such a one as he

The Sky is Falling.

had certainly never in his life seen before. She
was as fair and grace-
ful as one of the lilies l,
themselves, and her
large, clear eyes were
like pools of deep water
when the sun shines
upon them. A golden
fillet confined her long
dark hair, and her dress
was a shimmering robe
of the palest green, fas-
tened by a girdle, which
was nothing but golden
pansies linked together.
Behind this beautiful
lady was a handsome
youth, clad in a white
tunic and crimson sash.
He was standing upright,
and wielded a single oar
after the fashion of the Venetian gondoliers. His

To tell the King

bright eyes met Max's bewildered ones, and he
nodded to him with a roguish smile, continuing
to ply his oar dexterously.
A sense of peacefulness and confidence stole into
the little fellow's heart; for the longer Max gazed
at the strange, beautiful maiden, the more did the
feeling grow upon him, that, in some mysterious
fashion he had seen and known her before.
"Please, who are you?" he ventured to ask at
length; and the stranger, who was looking dreamily
at the river, turned with a radiant smile.
"My name is Heartsease, little Max, and it is
Pip who is rowing us. You don't know us so well
as we know you, but we shall soon be good friends,
I am sure. You are wondering where we are now.
Well, this is the enchanted river that flows through
But how did we get here, and where are the
others?" inquired Max, in a puzzled tone.
Heartsease smiled.
"How did you get here? Why, Pip carried
you both, to be sure, while you were asleep; he

The Sky is Falling.

is wonderfully strong for his size, is Pip. As for
the others, they are gone by the Underground Way,
and we shall meet them all presently. You are
not afraid to trust yourself with me, are you?"
Before Max could answer, Molly opened her blue
eyes, and began to stir. He expected that she
would be as surprised as he had been at the change
in their surroundings, but he was mistaken. Molly
showed neither surprise nor fear. The instant she
caught sight of Heartsease, she stretched out her
arms with a little cry of delight; the fairy picked
her up as if she were a bit of thistle-down, and soon
Molly's golden head was nestling against the shim-
mering green robe.
"You little dear!" murmured Heartsease, kiss-
ing the yellow curls; "are you happy, my precious
"Yes, I'm very, very, very happy!" purred Molly,
and then Max came and nestled down on the other
side, and the fairy put her arm round him; thus
they floated down the river. Heartsease passed her
right hand over each curly head.
(M 287) L

To tell the King

Now," said she, you will be able to see things
that you could not see before, because you had not
the proper kind of eyes. And you will find that
you can hear better too. Listen, my darlings, and
you will understand what the birds and the flowers
and the rushes are saying to each other."
Instantly Max and Molly felt as if they had
become possessed of two more senses; for now it
seemed to them that they could look right into the
deep heart of the river, and could hear the song
that it was singing as it flowed on to join the sea.
They knew, too, what the birds chattered to each
other,. and the leaves twittered to the rushes, and
the rushes sang in undertones to the forget-me-nots,
and the forget-me-nots whispered to the dragon-
flies. Molly's eyes grew radiant, and Max slipped
down to the bottom of the boat and leaned over
the side.
A kingfisher darted past like a spark of flame,
and they heard him say in uneasy tones:
"I'm late for breakfast, I'm late for breakfast!
and what my wife will say I don't know, for she

I -


The Sky is Falling.

insists that stewed grubs lose their flavour if kept
waiting. But the sparrow tells such amusing tales,
I always forget to remember to look at my watch.
Dear, dear, what will my wife say?"

He was out of sight in another moment, and
Molly laughed as she looked up at Heartsease.
"What,will his wife say to him, do you think?"
she asked curiously.
"Nothing at all at present," replied the fairy
smiling; "for she has eaten the stewed grubs her-
self as a lesson to him, locked up the house, and
gone out for the day with the reed-warbler. Mr.
Kingfisher will have to catch his own breakfast
to-day; and it serves him right, for he is the
greatest gossip on the river."
The boat presently swept past the kingfisher,

To tell the King

sitting in a dejected attitude on the branch of a
tree. He was gazing thoughtfully at the water,
and the children heard him say in deliberate tones:
"When Maria comes back, I
S / shall take her quietly but firmly
.. by the wing, and I shall say to
her, Now, Maria, look here-"
The rest of the sentence was
unfortunately lost, because the
gondola shot round a bend of
the river. The next moment
/ ax and Molly were both
Deeply interested in a number
of young water-beetles, who
were attending school upon a
huge lily leaf. A learned looking
Professor Beetle, in horn spec-
tacles, flourished a willow twig
in his hand, and seemed to be keeping his pupils in
good order. At the same time Molly noticed that
now and then the last row slipped into the water,
when they thought the master did not see them.

The Sky is Falling.

First class in riverology!" bawled the Professor,
whereupon six beetles came to the front, looking
rather alarmed, especially the fifth, because he
had not even glanced at his lesson. As luck

would have it, the Professor pounced upon him
the first.
"What do you chiefly find at the bottom of a
river?" asked the Professor gruffly.
The unhappy beetle lost his head.
"Mud-larks," he muttered, eyeing the willow
rod fearfully.
"What did you say, sir?" thundered the Pro-
fessor, advancing towards him.

To tell the King

"I meant sand-turtles!" cried the beetle desper-
ately. In his alarm he stepped too near the edge
of the leaf, and fell into the water on his back.
Being a water-beetle this was rather a refreshment
to him than otherwise; but Max, forgetting this,
immediately bent over, picked him up, and placed
him upon another leaf farther off. The Professor
looked up in astonishment, but nodded gaily when
he caught sight of Heartsease.
"Ah, ha, there you are!" he cried, taking off his
spectacles and waving them; "we fancied you
would have been along here yesterday. And how
are you getting on, my dear?"
This was to Molly, who replied politely:
"Very nicely, thank you, sir; and would you
mind letting the school have a half-holiday to-
"Is it your birthday?" inquired the Professor
eagerly. "Because if it is, I have a sort of a kind
of an idea that I know of a present."
"Oh, no, it isn't our birthday!" Molly hastened
to assure him; you know Max and I have a birth-

The Sky is Falling.

day between us, half each, because we're the same
"Well, perhaps it's a good thing," returned the
Professor, in a relieved tone, "as, upon second
thoughts, I don't think I do know of a present.
As for a half-holiday--"
He looked round, but his pupils had taken ad-
vantage of his back being turned to dive into the
river. All that could be seen of them was the tips
of their shining noses.
"Get along all the lot of you!" cried the
Professor in affable tones; "you are to have
a half-holiday because it isn't Max and Molly's
"That is rather an odd reason, isn't it?" said
Heartsease smiling; but then the Professor is not
an ordinary person."
"I should rather say not!" remarked the old
gentleman, winking at Pip in anything but a
scholastic manner. "Well, don't let me detain
you if you are in a hurry; we may meet at the
palace. Good-bye!"
( 287) M

To tell the King

Pip plied his oar, the boat went on, and- when
the children got a last glimpse of the Professor,
he was sitting on the extreme edge of the lily leaf
with his boots
in the water.
"Who is
that over

I DeTMOB was nodding

And don't you know her too?" asked Heartsease.
"It's little Bo-peep."
"Oh! is that little Bo-peep?" cried Molly, beam-
ing. Look, Max, she has the sweetest little
crook. Please, I do so want to ask her whether
she has found her sheep!"

The Sky is Falling.

"Not yet," called out Bo-peep, without the least
concern; but, you
know, if I only leave
them alone, they'll be
sure to come home.
What is the use of
troubling oneself?"
"Yes,-but-" began
Max doubtfully, "sup-
posing they came home si
somebody cut off 0 D
Bo-peep looked across
the meadow, and gave n
a piercing shriek.
"Oh, the naughty ,
creatures! they've left CO 0
their tails behind them,
their beautiful, long,
woolly tails. Whatever shall I do?"
I was afraid it would be like that," said Max

To tell the King

thoughtfully, while Molly looked grave. But
Heartease pointed out to them a fat old lady on
the opposite bank.
"See, there is Mrs. Bond," said the fairy; "she
has a visitor to dinner, and the ducks won't come
off the pond to be killed. Isn't it fun?"
Poor Mrs. Bond; it did not seem fun to her, for
she kept running round and round the pond,
flourishing an immense carving-knife. Her face
was like a peony, and she was plaintively calling:
"Dilly, dilly, dilly! Did anyone ever see such
obstinate ducks! Come, dilly, dilly, dilly, I only
want to kill you, my dears; and, sure it ought
to be a pleasure to you, to be stuffed and served
up with green peas. Dilly, dilly, dilly; come, you
aggravating young things!"
The ducks bobbed up and down in the middle of
the pond, and laughed in the old dame's face. She
could not get at them there, and they knew it.
"You must content yourself with the stuffing, old
lady," shouted a pert young drake; "for we don't
mean to have our heads cut off with that Indian

The Sky is Falling. 93

sword of yours. No,
thank you, ma'am,
not to-day!" snapped up
and he a fly in the most pro-
voking manner. In doing so,
however, he went rather too
near the bank, and Mrs. Bond, who,
although short and stout, was an
/ 7 active old body, made a rush,
Sand had him by
the neck, before

you could say
Jack Robinson!
Max and Molly
were greatly aston-
ished at this, while
the prisoner uttered
a dismal Quawk!"

To tell the King

Mrs. Bond was preparing to waddle off to her
farmhouse, the carving-knife in one hand, the
struggling bird in the other, when she perceived
the gondola.
Good-morning, my dears!" she called out cheer-
fully; "did you see me catch him? There was
nimbleness for you, if you like; and he's nice and
plump, and only wants the stuffing. Dilly, dilly,
dilly, come and be killed, my beauty!"
Qua-w-k!" said the drake feebly, for all the
conceit was taken out of him.
Won't you let him go just this once?" pleaded
Molly; "I'm sure he won't be rude again."
"No, my dear, I can answer for that; especially
when he has been roasted gently for an hour and
a half. It is astonishing what a difference roasting
makes in a bird's character; he is quite another
creature after it; so tender and sociable that it is
really a pleasure to sit down to table with him."
Mrs. Bond laughed, and patted the drake on the
back. with the blade of the knife, which made him

The Sky is Falling.

"Oh, please let him go!" said tender-hearted
Molly, looking ready to cry. I know he's dread-
fully sorry, and I can't bear to have him killed and
Mrs. Bond and Heartsease exchanged smiles.
"What, let him go, and have all my trouble
over again?" cried Mrs. Bond; "well, to please
you, child, I suppose I must, but it's a pity, for
he's just ready for killing."
"I don't think he feels quite ready himself,"
observed Max, as the bird,' with a jubilant
"Quack, quack", dashed back to the pond, and
rejoined his companions.
To the surprise of the children, Mrs. Bond im-
mediately trotted after him, and began to cry
"Dilly, dilly, dilly", again. But the boat passed
on, and all they could do was to hope that the
ducks would not be so foolish as to get caught.
For some time they were silent, nestling against
Heartsease, and gazing with happy, wondering eyes
at the many curious things to be seen on the En-
chanted River. The gentle "squish" of the water

To tell the King

as the gondola shot through it was so soothing that
the fairy bent down to see whether her charges had
not fallen asleep. But both pairs of blue eyes
smiled back at hers with childlike love and confi-
Pip was crooning a queer little song to himself
as he rowed, but he paused an instant to point with
his oar to a slender, golden-haired maiden sitting
under a tree, so busily stitching that she did not
even raise her eyes to look at the boat. By her
side was a great heap of nettles, and the odd-looking
garment she was making, seemed far too rough and
coarse for such delicate fingers.
"What is she doing?" asked Max in a whisper.
She is making shirts of stinging-nettles for her
eleven brothers, who have been changed into swans
by their cruel stepmother. When the last shirt is
finished, the spell will be broken, and her brothers
will turn into young men again. But all the time
she is working, she must not speak a single word,
or even smile."
But see how she has hurt her fingers with the

The iSky is Fallicng.

nettles," cried Molly, distressed; doesn't she mind?"
"No, she doesn't mind, because she loves her
brothers so dearly," answered Heartsease; "do you
understand that, little Molly?"

"If Max were a swan, I would make him a shirt,"
said Molly practically, and the fairy smiled, and
kissed the golden head leaning against her knee.
The swan-maiden, with her sweet, serious face,
quickly faded out of sight; the gondola swept on,
and its occupants were greeted by sounds of merri-
ment that seemed to proceed from a sheltered nook
(M 287) N

98 To tell the King.

on the left bank. A picnic was evidently going
forward, and the company were thoroughly enjoying
themselves, judging from the noise they made.
The moment they caught sight of Pip's face, they
all began beckoning to him to row to the bank.
"We will stop here for a few minutes," said

IP gave a couple of vigorous
strokes, and the boat shot along-
side the bank. Max and Molly
looked with bewilderment at the
laughing faces and peculiar dresses
of the merry-makers; and truly, it
was such a mix-medley of a party, that it might well
have astonished older people.
For there was Cinderella and her Prince, and Red
Riding-hood, and Jack Horner, who had brought a
banjo, and was making a dreadful tum-tum-tuming
with it; and there was Mary-quite-contrary, dang-
ling her little red shoes in the water, and spoiling
the leather, like the naughty little puss she was.

To tell the King

The Sleeping Beauty, now wide awake, had of course
her Prince in attendance; and a handsome fellow he
was, only dark, while Cinderella's was fair. There
was Old King
Cole, drinking
of a decanter,
4al and with his
crown all on one
t ll side; while Jack
had a red rose
gaily stuck be-
hind one ear,
and Jill wore a
brand-new scar-
let bodice,
Peter Piper
wrangled fiercely with Simple Simon over the
lobster salad, while the Knave of Hearts crammed
tarts into his mouth whenever he thought no one
was looking.
They all left off their several occupations to greet

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