Citation
A houseful of rebels

Material Information

Title:
A houseful of rebels being an account of three naughty girls and their adventures in Fairyland
Creator:
Rhoades, Walter C
Wilson, Patten ( Illustrator )
Archibald Constable & Co ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
Westminster [London Eng.]
Publisher:
Archibald Constable & Co.
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vi, 231, 16 p., [10] leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 20 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Sisters -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Obedience -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Fairyland (Imaginary place) -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Dolls -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Puck (Legendary character) -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Queens -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Fantasy literature -- 1897 ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1897 ( rbgenr )
Novels -- England -- 19th century ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1897
Genre:
Fantasy literature ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues ( rbgenr )
novel ( aat )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Illustrations printed in brown.
General Note:
Publisher's advertisements: p. [1-16] at end.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Walter Rhoades ; illustrated by Patten Wilson.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
002236554 ( ALEPH )
ALH7030 ( NOTIS )
63957994 ( OCLC )

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Full Text




The Baldwin Library







gd ee cs Eat Br aR ahr, Ba ge et eNO >



AO OUSEE UE OF ebb aS:



Ss

f ay!
Vesa ide eel ‘
UEP Aspacone Ses : i
> OD F

(i S



The Queen Forbids i?



A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS

BEING AN ACCOUNT
or Turee NAUGHTY GIRLS, AND THEIR

ADVENTURES IN FAIRYLAND.

BY

WALTER RHOADES

(Author of ‘The Story of Fohn Trevennick’, etc.)

ILLUSTRATED BY

PATTEN WILSON.

WESTMINSTER
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & Co.
1897



PeReE EA Cek.

My pDEAR ESMEER,

You have not forgotten the winter evenings
when, perched on my knee, you listened, with a pro-
foundly critical air, to this fairy story, long before it
became a book.

Because you shewed a flattering interest in every
chapter, laughed in the right places, and found no fault
with it whatever (Oh! Charming critic!), and also
because I have the privilege of being your father, it is
to you I venture to dedicate “A Houseful of Rebels.”

In doing so, however, I ask you to recall the time
when this tale was acted as a play. Do you remember
the rehearsals? How you were wont to lie on the
hearthrug and follow each scene, sometimes pealing
with merriment, sometimes with solemn face, but always
with the closest attention? You remember also the per-
formances which to you, at least, were sources of un-
bounded delight? But of course you do, and as each
of us, in different ways, gained so much pleasure from



VI PREFACE.

the play, I would ask you, not I am sure in vain, to
join with me in thanking all those connected with its
production, who placed at my disposal so much time
and patience and talent, and who opened to you the
portals of Fairyland.

When we meet Titania and her fairy people (who
exist somewhere, but seem so difficult to find) we
will beg that all our good wishes to these friends shall
come true, so that our debt of gratitude may be paid
in better coin than words.

Believe me, my dear Esmeé, to remain,
Your most obedient father,

THE AUTHOR.
XMAS, 1897.



CON ae i NaS:

Chapter

I
aT

ITI.
Iv.

VIL

VIL
VIII.
IX.
. THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE.
XI.

A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.

THe ToRTURE OF THE DOLLS—AND WHAT
CAME OF IT.

A REALLY SURPRISING TRANSFORMATION .

THE THREE MORTALS WITNESS A Farry REVEL.

THe RescuE or Puck.

Puck TAKES THE MorrTats oN a Fairy
VOYAGE .

A SCAMPER AMONG THE TREE Tops

A Farry PRISON. . . -

THe TRIAL. THE CoMING oF Puck.

Home .

Page

I



A HOUSEFEL OF REBELS.

Cle ek

A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.

“Ir’s no use. We are locked in.”

The speaker still wrestling with the door-
handle, was a girl in her thirteenth year,
tall and slight for her age, with dark eyes
that gleamed with mingled anger and
amusement.

“Anyhow, I don’t care. It’s fun,” she
continued, laughing recklessly.

“JT don’t care either,’ said her sister
Lucy, a young lady of eleven, who was
sitting on the table, beating a wild tattoo
with her heels against its leg.

“And more do I.”

This ungrammatical observation came from
the youngest sister, Kitty, a merry child of
nine, who, seated on the floor with her
knees up to her chin, nodded like a china
Mandarin.



2 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“But you are quite sure the door is
locked, Mary?” she asked.

“Quite,” and Mary rattled the handle
again to remove all doubts.

“As usual, Miss Harbutt has got the
best of it. But never mind. We ave been
naughty this afternoon and we are not being
punished for nothing. There is some com-
fort in that.”

In making this statement, Mary spoke
the truth, although there was no reason why
she should have confined herself to naming
any particular day.

For some time past the two elder girls
had been sore trials to their governess,
Miss Harbutt, and Kitty had faithfully follow-
ed their example.

They had been wilful, lazy and inclined
to be disobedient, while Miss Harbutt
appeared a little wanting in sympathy, so
that perversity on the one side and a too
strict system on the other had finally led
to the three culprits being locked in the
nursery until further notice. The first. signs
of revolt had shewn themselves at lessons
in the morning, but the rebellious outbreak



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 3

occurred later in the day. Mary had been
very careless indeed, and inclined to be
rude, Lucy, in her demure way, became
exasperatingly dense, while Kitty, as Miss
Harbutt had herself complained, did nothing
but fidget and giggle.

Several sharp reprimands from the gover-
ness failed to improve matters; so that after
the mid-day meal, the three girls had gather-
ed in the nursery, smarting under their
wrongs and ripe for mischief.

They were discussing plans which seemed
very like treason against constituted author-
ity, when a shrill voice floated up to them
from the landing below.

“Mary! Kitty! Lucy! where are you girls
hiding?”

Mary went to the door and shouted back
an answer :

‘Here we are, Freddy. In the nursery.”

This was quickly followed by a small
knickerbockered boy, twin-brother to Lucy,
who bounced into the room without ceremony.

“T say, you girls, Miss Harbutt has gone
out for the afternoon,’ he commenced.

‘Well, we know that,” said Mary shortly.



4 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘And mother won’t be home until after
bed-time,” he continued.

“We know that too.”

“And Cook has gone to the Crystal
Palace, or somewhere, and there is only
Jane at home.”

‘Well, what of it?” asked Kitty, with a
shade of expectation in her voice.

“Tve got an idea. Let us have a bachelor’s
party.”

“Oh yes! Let’s!” cried the two youngest,
not quite understanding what Freddy meant,
but readily falling in with any suggestion
which their brother chose to make.

“But that’s stupid,’ broke in Mary.
“Bachelors are boys and grown-up men.
You can’t have a party all to yourself,
Freddy.”

“You can be boys too—just this once,”
suggested her brother.

“T wish we could. It is much jollier than
being girls,” sighed Lucy.

‘“Then look here. You'll find a lot of my
clothes and things somewhere about. Some
of ’em hanging up in the cupboard on the
first landing and some of ‘em are in the



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 5

drawers in my bedroom. Go and put ’em
on. It will be awful fun.”

For a moment the girls stood looking at
each other and their brother, too overcome
with the daring nature of the proposal tospeak.

‘“But—but suppose we are caught?”
gasped Lucy, with an effort.

52:2:

“Who is to catch yout
“Jane!”

“Oh! bother Jane. She is too grumpy
and busy to take much notice of you.
She'll think it’s some fellows I’ve brought
home from school. Besides, even if she does
find out, we can easily persuade her not to
split on us. That will be all right,” he added
impatiently.

“Suppose the things don’t fit us?” que-
ried Mary, with feminine instinct.

“They'll be dreadfully large for me,”
chimed in Kitty plaintively.

“Oh! It’s just like girls,’ cried Freddy,
stamping, “to try and upset everything.
Of course they'll fit somehow. ‘There are
lots of suits which I’ve grown out of. Besides,
it doesn’t matter if they don’t. You’re not
going to church in ’em.”



6 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Only if Miss Harbutt show/d find out?”
observed Lucy, suffering, not as much from
qualms of conscience, as from the fear of
punishment which would certainly follow
such a discovery.

“You're frightened. That’s what it is,”
said Freddy scornfully. ‘You would like to,
_but you haven’t the pluck.”

‘Yes, we have,” snapped Mary, eagerly
defending the courage of her sex. “ It isn’t
that at all.”

“Yes, it is. You're frightened of Miss
Harbutt. Fancy being afraid of her. I’m
glad I’m not a girl.”

The boy’s contemptuous tones quicely
removed all further scruples. ,

It had always seemed to the girls that
the freedom from restraint, the delightful
liberty granted to boys was something to
be envied.

To roam about at one’s own sweet will,
unhampered by the presence of a gover-
ness; to play cricket and football, to spin
tops and fly kites; to wear garments that
did not cling round the legs; to: be noisy
without hindrance: in fact to do everything



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON, 7

forbidden to girls, appeared so perfect an
existence, that even an hour of ‘‘make
believe” was an experience to be seized
upon at all costs.

“Tl do it, Freddy,” exclaimed Mary sud-
denly. “T'll do it in spite of Miss Harbutt.”

“And so will I!” said Lucy more
demurely.

“And so will I,” chirped Kitty, who follow-
ed the lead of her elder sisters as a matter
of course.

“ All right. Make haste, and we'll have a
jolly time of it. You go and get into my
things and I'll think of what we can do,”
cried Freddy, once more amiable.

A little fearful of venturing upon so ex-
citing an enterprise, but filled with the
spirit of mischief, the*girls ran down stairs,
leaving the boy to make a more sober de-
scent.

It was a fine afternoon in May. A recent
rain had left the grass damp, while the
sun had not quite drawn up the rain drops
which still glistened on the plants in the
trim flower-beds and on the laurel hedge
at the end of the lawn. Freddy strolled



8 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

up and down, now and again glancing im-
patiently up at the windows. The sight
of a few snails and over-confident slugs
had given him an idea which he was anxious
to carry out without delay, so that every
minute of inaction seemed an hour.

At last the French window leading into
the drawing-room was cautiously opened,
and three figures arrayed in jackets and
knickerbockers, with caps upon their heads,
came timidly into the garden. The boy
walked round his sisters, who stood half
ashamed and half defiant, and then went
into fits of laughter.

“IT don’t see anything to laugh at,” cried
Mary indignantly. ‘Everything is on the
right way, isn’t it?”

“Ah! yes. You’ve put ‘em on all right;
but you do look so comic, I can’t help
laughing,’ and once more Freddy became
convulsed in merriment. ‘I believe even
Miss Harbutt would grin if she saw you.”

“That shews you don’t know anything
about her,” observed Lucy severely. ‘She
would have a fit on the spot. But if your
idea of a bachelor’s party is to stand and



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 9

giggle all the afternoon. I don’t see that
there is much fun in it.”

‘“T won't do it any more,” gurgled Freddy,
doing his best to suppress his mirth. “I
daresay I shall get used to it soon; but
tuck your hair under your caps, then you
won't look such molly-coddles.”

The girls hastened to do his bidding,
and then eagerly requested to be told his
plans for their amusement.

“JT tell you what we'll do first. We'll
turn the chickens into the garden. There
are an awful lot of snails and slugs about,
and its ‘larks’ to see them gobble
them up.”

‘But they will scratch holes in the mould,”
observed Mary doubtfully. ‘Father has a
lot of seeds and plants just coming up.”

“Not if we keep driving them along.
That is what Dad tells Joskins to do some-
times; so he'll like it.”

The chicken-run was in a paddock attached
to some outbuildings at the side of the
house, to which spot the party ran off in
noisy haste. The girls, still unpleasantly
conscious of their unusual dress, kept look-



10 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

ing round anxiously, although there was no
one within sight.

“You are sure, Freddy, that we do look
like boys?” asked Mary, eager to be re-
assured on that point.

“Well, you do ata distance. But there’s
something about you that’s girlyfied.”

“Perhaps it’s our hair,” suggested Lucy.

“’Um—yes. But there’s something else,”
meditated her brother. “ You walk as if you
had petticoats on. Step out more, and stick
your hands in your pockets.”

In a moment the three girls were stalk-
ing along, doing their best to imitate Fred-
dy’s somewhat ungraceful ‘slouch’; while
their Mentor watched these endeavours,
with contemptuous amusement.

‘That's something like it,” he said, after
they had marched round the paddock.
But you'll have to practise. Girls can’t
become boys all at once. And now for
the chickens.”

There was a good deal of “clucking”
and fuss among the fowls when the four
children invaded their domain, and it was
not without some difficulty that they were



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. II

persuaded to leave the run. Indeed two
hens who were each hatching a sitting of
eggs, were very obstinate indeed, and it
was not until Freddy had assaulted them
with a switch, that they unwillingly con-
sented to desert their nests.

The business, however, was at last
accomplished, and some dozen fowls were
paraded round the garden, and allowed to
swallow the slimy pests which played such
havoc with the tender shoots.

It was not very exciting work, and the
children’s attention sometimes wandered
from the chickens to other objects.

“T wonder,” said Kitty, who had paused
to watch a bee who, half buried in a
flower, was busy with its work—‘I wonder
if the bees take all the honey they find,
back to the hive? I shouldn’t. It szzs# taste
good, fresh out of the flower. I should eat
some on the spot.”

“TI expect bees do that too,” chimed in
Lucy. ‘They wouldn’t be so silly as to
save it all up for human people. I suppose
we only have their leavings.”

“How jolly a bee must be,” remarked



12 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Mary, glancing at the insect, as he slowly
withdrew from the bloom. ‘When he is
hungry, he justs pops into the nearest flower
and there is dinner all ready; and here,”
she added, pointing to a leaf with curled
edges, which held tiny drops of water gleam-
ing like crystals—here is something for
him to drink. He isn’t worried to behave
properly at table, or put into pinafores;
and it must be nice to eat out of flowers
and drink from leaves,” a remark to which
the others readily gave their assent.

The pleasure of watching bees and butter-
flies, however, and keeping the chickens
moving, soon palled. It struck the girls
that it was not necessary to disguise them-
selves in Freddy’s clothing for such a mild
form of amusement as this, since it could
have been enjoyed quite as well in petti-
coats. Kitty was the first to revolt.

‘I'm tired of watching these greedy things.
Itisn’ta game at all. Letus play at something.”

‘But you can’t play at anything; that’s
the worst of it,’ said her brother.

“Yes, we can, if you'll shew us how,”

said Mary.



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 13

‘But you never could,” remarked Freddy
discontentedly.

“That was because our frocks got in the
way.”

“Very well then. What can we do?”

‘“Let’s—let’s play at leapfrog,’ gasped
Lucy; “I have always wanted to play that.”

“Leapfrog! why you couldn’t ‘ fly a back’
if you tried for a month,” exclaimed Freddy.

“Oh! couldn't I? Just stoop down and
let me try.”

“And get kicked on the head. Not if I
know it.”

“You are frightened. If I were a boy, I
shouldn’t be afraid of that. Besides, I won’t
kick you hard.”

With some misgivings Freddy bent his
back, while Lucy attempted to surmount
the obstacle in a true boyish fashion. The
result of her endeavour was to send both
her brother and herself rolling on the grass
amid great laughter from the two onlookers.

“Tt doesn’t hurt, Mary. You try. We shall
soon do it properly.”

It was not without demur that the boy
consented to be practised upon; but after



14 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

several mishaps, his sisters managed to ‘fly’
over him, quite easily; even Kitty, not to
be outdone by her bigger sisters, taking a
share in the sport.

“There! That’s enough at present,” said
Freddy, tired of so one-sided a game, since
none of the girls would become the ‘post’.
‘Tt isn’t bad for girls.”

In the excitement of the game, the chic-
kens, now running riot in the garden at their
own sweet will, were forgotten; while the
discussion which followed, gave them further
opportunity for improving the appearance
of the flower-beds. .

‘What can we do now?” exclaimed Lucy.

“J don’t care,” cried Mary, who had
assumed Freddy’s independent walk and
loud tones, with a fair amount of success.
‘“T don’t care as long as it is a kind of game
girls ought not to play at. Let us think of
something awful, something that would make
Miss Harbutt’s hair stand on end.”

At that moment Lucy’s favourite kitten,
a beautiful tabby, with pointed ears and
the ‘butterfly’ mark between the shoulders,
raced over the lawn, and in spite of a call



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 15

from his mistress, scrambled up the fence
and sprang into one of the lower branches
of a plane tree which overhung a corner
of the garden. For a few seconds he stood
looking down on the group of children who
were watching his movements, and then he
leapt from bough to bough and raced along
the branches with such quickness that they
held their breath with astonishment.

“Oh! if we could only do that,” cried
Mary enviously. “If we were only cats in-
stead of girls. It must be jolly to be able
to climb trees like that. Why, it is almost
as good as flying.”

“But we are not cats,” sighed Lucy.
‘And we can’t play a game like that. Even
boys wouldn’t be able to do it. Now, Freddy,
do try and invent something really ‘mis-
behaving’; something very naughty indeed.”

It was no easy matter to think out such
an amusement on the spur of the moment,
but after rubbing his head vigorously, Freddy
hit upon a fresh distraction.

“I don’t know what it would do to Miss
Harbutt’s hair, but suppose we dig a pond
and put the gold-fish in it?”



16 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘“T don’t think there’s anything very wick-
ed in doing that,” observed Kitty in a tone
of disappointment.

‘Not for boys to do it, but it is for girls.
You'll make yourselves in such a mess,”
said Freddy consolingly. ‘‘ Besides, Joskins
will get in a frightful rage about it.”

This, of course, added considerably to its
attractions; and Mary quickly asked where
and how such a work was to be accomplished.

“There’s a lovely place just this side
of those rows of peas. Joskins has put in a
lot of spinach seeds, I think; but they
haven't come up yet, so it doesn’t matter.
We can get the spades and things, and dig
a hole and then fill it with water.”

‘But where shall we get the water from?”’
asked Kitty.

“From the scullery of course; bring it
in pails.”

“Yes. If Jane doesn’t stop us,’ said
Mary, who knew that the housemaid was
never in an obliging mood when her fellow-
servant was holiday-making. ‘She is sure
to make a fuss about it.”

“Oh! we'll manage it somehow,’

?

cried



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 17

Freddy hopefully. “And now come and
help. We'll dig a regular pit.”

By this time the fowls had dined hand-
somely. All the snails and slugs had fled
or been gobbled up, and their enemies had
commenced scratching holes in eager search
for the succulent worms beneath the surface.

Quite oblivious of the havoc which was
being wrought in the flower garden, the
three girls and their brother, having found
sundry garden implements, had commenced
their task.

The mere fact that several rows of seeds
had been carefully sown on the precise
spot of their excavation troubled them not
at all, and with fork and spade and trowel,
they quickly heaped up the earth, working
with such desperate energy that before
long hillocks of mould surrounded a hole
of large dimensions. Freddy, who was
naturally the leader of the party, mainly
employed himself in directing the operations.
He stood in the centre of the rapidly deepen-
ing pond and urged the girls to greater
exertions, although occasionally he would
throw up a spadeful of earth, much of which

2



18 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

found a resting-place on his sisters’ borrow-
ed suits.

“Here!” he exclaimed at last, with an
air of triumph; “I think that’s big enough
for anything. We've dug it out in no
time.”

“We!” replied Mary, in an irritating
tone. “I don’t think you have done much,
except throw the dirt down our necks,”
and she wriggled her shoulders with dis-
comfort as she spoke.

“Ah, but I told you how to,” explained
the boy, with a superior air. “I am the
captain and you are the common soldiers.”

“We are not common at all,” protested
Lucy. “Even Miss Harbutt never says
that of us.”

‘‘ Are but I mean private soldiers. Captains
don’t carry guns; but they wave their swords
and tell the company where to shoot. You're
my company, and I told you where to
shovel.”

“Thank you so much,” said Mary, with
a suspicion of sarcasm. “And now that
we have dug the pond, perhaps the captain
will tell the private soldiers how to carry



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 19

the water; and how Jane is to be persuaded
into letting us have it?”

“Pll try at any rate,” said Freddy, dubi-
ously. ‘But she is in an awful temper.
You girls will back me up, won’t you?”

Having obtained their promise to support
him, Freddy marched off kitchenwards
followed by his sisters.

Jane had just finished ‘cleaning up’. The
scullery floor was as white and spotless as
scrubbing and hearthstone could make it,
while every plate and dish was wiped and
put away in the rack. Since the house-
maid had not only her own duties to per-
form, but also those of the cook, she was
a little behindhand with her work, and
consequently her temper was not to be
relied upon.

“T say, Jane,” observed the boy carelessly,
“where are all the pails?”

“Pails! Master Freddy; what do you
want with pails?” asked the girl suspi-
ciously.

“We just want to water the garden—
that’s all.”

“Why, it hasn’t long left off raining.



20 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Besides, I won’t have you running in and
out the clean scullery with your dirty boots,
slopping the water all over the place.”

“Oh! we shan’t make a mess. Where
are they?” persisted Freddy.

“JT tell you that you can’t have them,
Master Freddy,” said Jane crossly.

“T shall have them if I choose,”’ was the
lofty reply.

“We'll see about that. The Mistress said
you were not to come in the kitchen at
all, or the scullery either. Those are my
orders and I'll abide by them.”

“But we will be careful, really. Do let
us have them,” Mary broke in persuasively.

“Tll do nothing—” At that moment the
housemaid glanced up and stood rigid with
astonishment.

“Good gracious! Miss Mary. What Lave
you got on?” she gasped at last, when
her surprise permitted her to speak.

In the excitement of pond-making the
children had quite forgotten their remark-
able costumes, and it was with a little cry
of dismay that they noticed Jane’s shocked
looks.



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 21

“Tt is—it— Oh! we are playing at being
boys, Jane: that’s all,’ explained Mary
quickly. “So we all put on Freddy’s
clothes.”

“Well, that’s a nice game to play at,
I'm sure, Miss Mary,” the housemaid ob-
served with dignity. ‘And what your
Mamma, or what Miss Harbutt, would say
if they saw you, goodness alone knows.”

‘But they won’t see us, so it doesn’t
matter,’ remarked Lucy cheerfully. “ And
as soon as we have finished making the
pond, we are going to put on our own
dresses again; so do let us have the pails,
Jane. We really will be careful.”

‘No, I will not. There’s your answer; and
Vil trouble you to go out of my kitchen
and leave me to do my work;” and the
ruffled Jane brushed past the group and
retired into the cellar to refill a coal scuttle,

Now the housemaid’s refusal to allow
the use of the scullery tap and the pails,
meant that their labours of the last half
hour would be thrown away. This was plain
even to Freddy’s intellect, and it was also
evident that Jane was not ina yielding



22 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

mood. While the boy stood at a loss what
to do, a desperate expedient flashed across
Mary’s mind.

The thought no sooner came to her than
it was acted upon. She made a sudden dash
at the door at the top of the cellar stairs,
closed it, and turned the key in the lock,
thus making the servant a prisoner.

A shout of laughter from Freddy reward-
ed the feat, while Kitty and Lucy looked
on wonderingly.

“That’s splendid!” cried the boy. ‘lt
will teach her a lesson. We'll keep her
down there all the afternoon. But shan’t
we come in for it afterwards,” he added
soberly.

“T don’t care,’ answered Mary, who by
this time had grown quite reckless of conse-
quences. ‘‘ We don’t often have the chance
of an afternoon’s fun, and Jane shan’t stop
us if I can help it.”

The housemaid having accomplished her
errand, mounted the stairs slowly, while the
four children waited in the passage, silent
but expectant.

The girl turned the handle, at first quietly



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 23

and then with increasing vigour, but it was
not until she had wrestled with the lock and
heard Freddy’s chuckle of satisfaction, that
it dawned upon her she was the victim of a
conspiracy.

“Master Freddy! Master Freddy! Let
me out directly.”

There was no answer, andafter a moment’s
pause she again protested.

‘Master Freddy, you naughty boy! un-
lock the door.”

Except for a noise which was a little like
laughter choked back by handkerchiefs,
her demand passed unheeded.

“Unless you open the door directly I
shall tell the Mistress the very moment she
comes home,” cried Jane, her temper rising
at the irritating, if smothered, merriment.
“J won’t have you play your tricks on me,
Besides, there’s a lot to be done yet,” and
she shook the door violently as if to em-
phasise her threat.

Still there came no reply, unless the
gurgling sounds from behind the handker-
chiefs could be regarded as such.

‘Miss Mary, are you there? I believe



24 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

you are, although you won’t answer. Turn
the key, if you please.’ The severe and
lofty tone in which the request was made
moved Mary to open mirth.

“But I have, Jane,” she said at last.

“You have? But the door won’t open,”
said the girl, after another earnest endeav-
our to escape.

‘No. I turned the key the other way,”
was the grave reply.

“You're a very wicked child. Let me out
this moment,” exclaimed the victim more
than ever enraged at being not only a
prisoner, but a laughing-stock.

‘No, I don’t think we will yet. It’s nice
and cool down there and the gas is alight,
and I’m sure you would like a rest after
working so hard,” remarked the eldest
sister soothingly. “It won't take very long
to get the water we want, and then we
will let you out. Come along, you three, or
Miss Harbutt will be back to interfere.”

Heedless of the shower of blows which
fell upon the cellar door, and Jane’s piteous
appeal for liberty, the rebels ferreted out
several pails and began their task.



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 25

There was no occasion for the prisoner
to witness the terrible work which followed.
The sound of the water splashing on the
scullery floor as the rebels tilted the full
pails; the tramp of four pairs of boots thickly
plastered, as she guessed, with garden mould,
worked upon the feelings of the hapless
housemaid, until she scarcely knew how to
restrain herself from bursting open the door.
Previous experiences had taught her what
to expect. Everything in the scullery which
had been carefully scrubbed and tidied, was
probably turned upside down. Pools of water
mixing with the mud were making her after-
noon labour worse than useless, while the
newly whitened steps outside had, by this
time, become a fearful sight to an orderly
domestic.

But the heartless children paid no atten-
tion to her shrill appeals for liberty, or the
succession of peremptory ‘bangs’ upon the
door. They ran in and out, knocking
the pails against each other when empty,
and staggering under their weight when
full, amid shouts of laughter, just as if
no such person as Jane existed. Her cup



26 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

of misery filled much more quickly than
the pond. Although Freddy and his sisters
tore to and fro with remarkable energy,
emptying bucket after bucket of water into
the hole, it disappeared through the earth
as soon as it was poured in, and the hope
of seeing a miniature lake with gold-fish
swimming gracefully from side to side, began
to dwindle rapidly away. The climax was
brought about by Kitty. She was standing
on the brink of this very irritating pond
which refused to behave as one, when the
earth slipped from beneath her feet, and,
with a cry of fear she slid quietly on her
back into the centre of the liquid mud.
When she scrambled on to dry land, Fred-
dy’s flannel suit, in which she was arrayed,
presented so grotesque an appearance that
the onlookers burst into peals of laughter,
and it was not until the corners of the
child’s mouth began to droop ominously
that Mary went to her rescue.

“Never mind, Kitty, you’re not hurt; but
oh! my dear! what a state you are in.
We shall have to scrape you.”

“Tt is all that stupid Freddy,” complained



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 27

Kitty, with a catch in her voice. “ Digging
a silly pond that won't hold water. And
I am so wet and messy. Oh! it is nasty!
Boys always play horrid games like this.”

“That’s right. Pitch into me,” cried
Freddy, hurt by this ungrateful remark.
“Tve been finding fun for you all the after-
noon, and this is what I get for it.”

“But you might have guessed that the
water wouldn’t stay where we put it,”
chimed in Mary, who was busily engaged
in wiping some of the mud from her sister,
with a pocket-handkerchief; ‘only you
haven’t any sense.”

‘“Oh! Look here. If it comes to that,
you're older than I am, Mary, so you
haven’t any sense either,” growled the boy.

“Yes. It’s as much your fault as his,
Mary,” said Lucy crossly, who was not
going to see her twin-brother falsely accused.
‘You're the eldest. It is downright mean
to say that.”

Since the mischief was done, quarrelling
was quite useless, so that Mary wisely held
her tongue, and, assisted by Lucy, continued
to smear the dirt more evenly over Kitty’s



28 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

costume. The three were so occupied in
this performance that they failed to notice
Freddy peer through the laurel hedge,
and then quietly steal away from the scene
of this latest exploit; neither did they hear
light footsteps coming steadily from the
direction of the side gate. They looked
up quickly enough, however, when they
heard the well-known voice of Miss Harbutt
in accents of the greatest astonishment.

‘“Tt—it—it— Good gracious!”

Now Miss Harbutt, in spite of the slight-
ing remarks of Mary and her sisters had been
pleased to make upon her, was a pleasant-
faced lady of forty, agreeable enough, if
‘somewhat cold, when the girls were well-
behaved and obedient, which sometimes
happened; but stern and resolute during
their frequent spells of naughtiness. At
present, she looked very grave and sur-
prised, while the dreadful silence that fol-
lowed her first remark made the culprits
not a little uncomfortable.

“What docs this mean?”

There was no answer.

“Mary, will you kindly explain?”



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 29

“Well, you see, Miss Harbutt, we—we—
thought we should like to make a pond,
so we dug a hole and poured water into
it, and it wouldn’t stop, so Kitty fell in
and—and—we’re wiping the mud off, and
th—th—that’s all,” said Mary, all in one
breath.

“Indeed. But how is it that you are in
these extraordinary costumes? I can’t under-
stand it,’ continued the governess more
severely. ‘‘I feel quite ashamed to look at you.”

‘We put them on—for fun,” came the
answer.

“For fun! A very pleasant, ladylike idea
of amusement to be sure.”

“There is no harm in it. Boys’ clothes
are very comfortable. We should always
like to wear them,” cried Mary recklessly.

“T am very surprised and grieved to hear
you say so. Go to your room and change
directly. 1 am extremely angry with you.”

There was no gainsaying a request so
sharply given, and the three culprits, with
mutinous faces, walked with much dignity
into the house, Miss Harbutt bringing up
the rear.



30 ABHOUSHEWIE OF RE BEES:

No sooner were they indoors than a
mysterious series of thumps from the region
of the kitchen, brought the governess to
a sudden standstill.

‘‘ What is that noise?” she asked abruptly.

‘“T expect it’s Jane doing something,”
explained Mary eagerly. “Shall I go and
see?”

“Thank you. I will go myself,” and
while the girls slowly ascended the stair-
case, Miss Harbutt proceeded to investigate.

No sooner had the lady reached the
cellar door than the reason of Jane's vigor-
ous onslaught became manifest, and with-
out delay the unfortunate prisoner was
released. The girl emerged quite scarlet
with anger and exertion, and in answer to
Miss Harbutt’s astonished gaze poured forth
her wrongs.

“Those children locked me in, Miss. I
don’t know which, but it’s one of ’em.
They wanted to slop the water all over
the scullery and I wouldn’t let ’em; so this
is the way they served me. I’ve been there
for hours, Miss,—all among the coals and
spiders and beetles. Oh! it’s shameful!



A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 31

And just look here, Miss. There’s a nice
state for a scullery to be in—just after I’ve
cleared up,” she continued, glaring round
her domain. ‘Look at it. What isn’t water
is mud. Would any girl put up with it?
I'll give notice—that’s what I'll do. It’s
enough to drive anyone out of their wits
to live with such naughty children. I left
it as clean as a new pin, and now it’s—
it's—road scrapings and burst pipes.”

In truth the scene was enough to strike
terror into the heart of the bravest housemaid.
Boots caked with mud had left their marks
in every direction. Pail after pail had spilt
part of its contents on the hearth-stoned
floor, so that earth and water had spread
in dark muddy streams over its once white
surface. ‘Oh! it’s too bad—too bad!”
and after another glance at the havoc wrought
by the late occupiers, Jane burst into tears.

“They shall be well punished; you may
be sure of that.” Miss Harbutt spoke as
though she meant it.

“Punished! I’m sure I hope so. But that
won't help to clean my scullery, Miss,”
sobbed the girl. ‘Ive tried and tried to



32 A HOUSERUIE OF REBELS:

keep things tidy and nice; but it’s no good,
Pll go at the end of my month as sure as
my name is Jane. Those children are more
than any girl can stand.” With which threat
the girl retired to nurse her grief in the
kitchen, while Miss Harbutt followed the
small sinners upstairs, intent upon meting
out a richly deserved punishment.



CL ASr Ae Reon

THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS—-AND WHAT
CAME OF IT.

Ir having been made plain why Mary
rattled in vain at the door-handle, and
why Miss Harbutt turned the key from the
other side, the further exploits of these
model young ladies will be related in the
order in which they occurred.

The eldest girl retired from the door and
sat herself, with a shrug of the shoulders,
on the table by Lucy’s side.

“After all,’ she said, having further con-
templated the extent of their wickedness,
“T don’t see that we've been very naughty.
Not nearly so naughty as we could have
been if we had tried harder. If boys wear
knickerbockers and things, why shouldn't
girls? I’m sure there are heaps of ladies
on bicycles who do. I wonder if they get
locked in the nursery when they go home?”

“T daresay they would—if Miss Harbutt

3



34 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

had anything to do with it,” snapped Lucy.
‘She would say, ‘Oh, how unladylike! You
must be severely punished. I shall tell your
Mamma.’” And the child’s imitation of
Miss Harbutt’s manner was close enough
to send the other two into fits of laughter.
“And even if we did let the chickens
out, the poor things enjoyed it. Besides,
they scratched up all the slugs and snails—
at least I suppose they did,’ Mary observed.
“J daresay. Anyhow they scratched up
everything else,” cried Lucy. ‘So I expect
Joskins won’t be very grateful after all.”
“No. That is just it,’ observed Kitty
woefully. ‘Whenever we try to do any-
thing useful, it always turns out wrong some-
how. I don’t see the use of trying to be
good. You get just as much punished for
it as if you were naughty. Do you recollect
filling father’s ink-stands one day?”
‘“When we upset the ink on some books?”
cried the eldest girl, with a flash of recol-
lection.
“Ves. Well, we didn’t mean to. But if
we had done it on purpose, we couldn’t
have been worse treated.”



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 35

“Tt is always the way,” sighed Lucy.

“Tf we were only boys, it would be all
right,” explained Mary indignantly. “Boys
don’t get punished. They get all the fun,
and girls get all the plain teas and shuttings
up. It’s a great shame!”

At that moment there was the rattle of
tea-cups outside the door, followed by the
turning of the key. The children looked
round and saw Jane of the angry counten-
ance enter the room, carrying a tray, which
she ‘“‘plumped”’ down upon the table, with
quite unnecessary violence. Then, without
a word, she retired, banging the door and
turning the key behind her.

‘“Bad-tempered thing,” sniffed Lucy. “ Just
because we locked her in the cellar and made
the scullery a little dirty.”

“Some people get out of temper for no-
thing at all. But never mind. Let us have
tea, or whatever it is.’ And Mary threw
herself into a chair at the table, an example
followed by the rest.

‘I suppose it is a very plain tea,” sighed
Lucy.

“I should think it was;” and Mary criti-



36 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

cally examined the substantial slices of bread
which Jane had provided. “ Can anybody see
the butter?”

“Pm not sure;’ and Kitty turned her
slice over contemptuously.

“T think my piece is a little greasy in
the middle.”
~ “And I wonder what Jane calls this?”
added Mary in great scorn. ‘Milk and
water?”

Lucy tasted it, and made a wry face be-
fore replying:

“Doesn’t something dreadful happen to
people who mix water with milk? Aren't
they put in prison?”

“Are they?” chimed in Kitty. “ Then the
next time we’re out with Jane, let us give
her in charge of a policeman.”

‘“Whenever she is out, she generally is
in charge of a policeman, and so it won't
make much difference,” explained Mary, who
had not gone through life with her eyes shut.

At this moment they were startled by a
sudden cry from Lucy, who had sprung
from her chair and was eagerly fumbling
in her pocket.



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 37

“Qh for goodness! I have forgotten
something. You know when Miss Harbutt
went into the kitchen?”

The other girls nodded.

“Well, I guessed we should be locked
in with a plain tea, and so I rushed to the
store cupboard and stole something.”

“What?” cried Mary and Kitty simulta-
neously.

jam

“Jam! Where is it?”

“In my pocket, wrapped up in paper. I
hope it hasn’t come through. No—not much.
There it is,’ and the girl placed a sodden,
unappetising newspaper parcel on the table,
with an air of triumph.

“You're a very good child indeed,” said
Mary, hugging her with a burst of enthu-
siasm.

“But it looks rather messy, doesn’t it?”
enquired Kitty, who had been gazing doubt-
fully upon the unwholesome package in
which print and jam struggled for the
‘mastery.

“There is gratitude
rejoinder. ‘‘ Anyhow it’s better than nothing.

!”’ was Lucy’s indignant

”



38 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“So it is—ever so much,” said her con-
science-stricken sister. ‘But how are we
going to spread it? We haven’t any knives,
or spoons either.”

For a moment or two the trio remained
non-plussed, until a happy idea occurred to
Mary.

“JT know. Pencils will do. We are not
wearing our company manners.”

Slate pencils were poor substitutes for
knives or spoons; but the girls persevered
bravely, and before long each slice of bread
was bountifully smeared with jam.

‘“T wish it didn’t taste so ‘slaty,’’’ com-
plained Kitty.

“Oh! you are too particular,” snapped
Lucy, who, having provided the luxury,
regarded such an observation as base in-
gratitude. ‘“You needn’t eat any, you know,
if you would rather not.”

‘No. There is plenty of bread,’’ added
Mary severely. “Perhaps you would prefer
that.”

Crushed by these severe remarks, Kitty
munched away in silence, while Mary looked
round with a discontented air.



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 39

“There is something wrong about us,”
she said after a pause.

“Wrong! What sort of wrong? Do you
mean naughty?” asked Lucy.

‘No. Not naughty. We are too proper.
We sit just as Miss Harbutt tells us to sit.
Let us put our elbows on the table. She
says it is very rude. So we'll do it.”

This admirable suggestion was carried
out promptly, and three pairs of elbows
sprawled over the table.

“And then,” continued Mary with a
wicked gleam in her eye, ‘Miss Harbutt
says that to speak when our mouths are
full is shocking.”

‘Oh! So shocking!” observed Lucy, again
mimicking that good lady. “Then we will
chatter like anything.” And amid uproarious
merriment their tongues wagged vigorously,
for all the world as though a dozen farm-
yard fowls had been let loose in the nursery.

At last, however, the jam disposed of,
they all jumped up from the table, and
with great noise and clatter heaped the cups
and saucers on the tray, which was finally
deposited in a remote corner of the room.



40 PenHOUSE HU Olek EBS:

‘“What shall we do now?” asked Kitty,
who had been making vain attempts to
slide on the carpet. “Is there anything to
read?”

“Only a book of Fairy Stories,” replied
Lucy. “And I don’t care for fairy stories.
Nobody believes there are such things as
fairies.

“Of course not. Besides, we know the
tales by heart,” yawned Mary. ‘“ What else
is there. Any skipping ropes?”

“They are down stairs.”

‘Any tops?”

‘“No. Besides, you can’t spin tops.”

‘Indeed I can,” observed Mary indignant-
ly. “Freddy taught me. But as usual Miss
Harbutt said it was ‘so unladylike’ and
took mine away. When I grow up,” she
added with great emphasis, “if there is one
thing I shall try zo¢ to be, it is a lady.”

‘“So shall I,” cried Kitty with much sym-
pathy. “Why, ladies mustn’t even whistle.
Let us try whistling. P’r’aps Miss Harbutt
will hear us,” she added vindictively.

“Oh yes! Let’s. And— Oh for goodness!

I’ve forgotten something,” and Lucy, who





They were borne away . : : wpwards
and ouwards,



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 41

had just pursed up her lips, once more
dived her hand into her pocket.

“Jam?” exclaimed Mary.

“Or sweets?” cried Kitty, with glowing
eyes.

“No, greedy things,” replied Lucy re-
provingly. “Better than that—a book. I
found it under Freddy’s pillow this morning.
It is one of those with a picture in the
front. He calls it a ‘penny horrible’. Oh!
it’s so exciting!” and flourishing the book
in the air, the girl sat on the table, while the
other two took up a position each side of her.

‘What is the name of it?” asked Kitty,
with a wondering look at the highly colour-
ed picture with ornamented the cover.

“< Daring Dick ’—‘ Daring Dick.’ Isn’t that
beautiful? ‘Daring Dick, or the Scorpion of
the Sierras.’”’

“But what is it all about?” queried the
elder girl.

“Indians! Red Indians! Fightings! Tor-
turings ! Shootings! Oh! It’s lovely!” cried
_ Lucy, with enthusiasm.

‘And do they really kill one another?”
whispered the awe-struck Kitty.

’



42 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘Oh yes! By dozens. And when they are
tortured first, it’s better than anything. It’s
so creepy.”

“T suppose that picture is where the
torture is going on?” observed the elder girl.

“Yes. You see this is how it all was,”
commenced Lucy. “ Daring Dick was chums
—Freddy says ‘chums’—with one tribe.
And when he was away killing lions or
elephants or some other American wild
beast,” she explained with a fine disregard
for accuracy, ‘another tribe came along
in the dark and killed a lot of his tribe
and took the others into custody—”’

‘““You mean captivity,” corrected Mary.

“Don’t interrupt. It’s the same thing.
Well, when he came back,” she continued,
gasping, “and found what they had done,
he was quite annoyed about it, and ‘vowed
vengeance.’ They’re always ‘vowing ven-
geance’ in this book. So he got some other
white people and red people together and
‘followed the trail ’—they are always ‘ follow-
ing the trail’ in this book—and caught the
other tribe just as they were beginning to
torture the prisoners.”



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 43

“Oh! How did they torture them?”
begged Kitty “Please tell us.”

“Yes, do,’ echoed Mary. ‘“ That is the
part I like.”

“They throw tomahawks at them and
shoot bows and arrows into their arms
and legs, and when they get tired of that,
they—they—burn them,” explained Lucy,
dropping her voice to an awed whisper.

‘‘ And—and what then?” said Kitty eagerly.

‘“‘T suppose that is all. I don’t see what
else they can do.”

There was a moment’s pause after this
gruesome recital, and then Mary sprang
down from the table, bursting with a great
idea.

‘“Wouldn’t it make a lovely game?”

“Oh! Splendid! Let us play it.” And the
younger girls bounced about the room eager
to commence.

“Very well,” continued Mary. “Ill belong
to the torturing tribe.”

“And so will I,” cried Lucy.

“And so will I,” echoed Kitty.

“But look here,’ observed the eldest
girl, with a puzzled expression. “If we all



44. A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

belong to the torturers, there is nobody
left to torture.”

“ Ah, dear! I never thought of that,” and
Kitty paused in the midst of a wild war-
dance.

“If we could only capture Miss Harbutt,”
said Lucy viciously. ‘Shouldn’t I like to
dance round and throw things at her.”

“Tt would be nice. But it can’t be done.
I wonder if Freddy would be a captive?”
was Mary’s next suggestion.

“Tam sure he wouldn’t. Boys are dread-
ful cowards,” at once answered Lucy.

“Then you be one, Lucy dear,” said
Mary coaxingly. ‘I’m sure you would
enjoy it.”

“Please, Lucy,” chimed in Kitty. ““We
wouldn’t burn you, anyhow.”

“No. It hurts frightfully. Besides, when
you are tortured, you have to keep quiet,
to shew you don’t mind it; but I’m sure
I should shriek. You try, Mary; you are
the eldest.”

Each in turn, with the most sisterly hugs
and endearments, attempted to secure a
victim; but without avail.



rd
Bal oA



She went sosring up high above the heads
of her sisters,



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 45

They were just giving up the idea in
despair, when a happy thought occurred
to Lucy.

“Oh for goodness! I’ve thought of
something. Why not torture the dolls?”

Here was the very thing; and a sudden
rush was made for the large play-box,
which stood in a corner by the fireplace,
to find the unhappy captives of the attack-
ing party. In a few moments the floor was
strewn with toys, some broken, others
almost new, and it was not until the box
was nearly empty that Mary found the
objects of their search.

‘“Here’s Juliana! Catch, Lucy.” And a doll
flew up to the ceiling, and then fell head
first on the carpet. The same fate over-
took Ophelia, who was Kitty’s property,
and when Mary sprang up holding a third
doll, known as Belinda, by the leg, and
swung her round violently, the number of
victims was complete.

At one time, these three playthings were
- the most treasured belongings of the sisters.
But their beautiful wax faces by constant
kissing, lost the pink and white bloom of



46 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

health, and became a bilious yellow from
too many caresses. The constant dressing
and undressing to which they were subjected
wore out their clothes; so that their waning
charms, and the increasing age of their
small mistresses, who professed to be too
old for dolls, found them ragged and dirty
and battered; creatures not of worship but
of contempt.

‘You haven't grown any prettier, Belinda,”
cried Mary, after a critical examination. “I
haven't seen you for a year, and you are
uglier than ever.”

“And so is Ophelia,” said Lucy.

“ And so is Juliana,” added Kitty. ‘‘ They
deserve to be tortured for being hideous.
Now let us begin. You know all about it,
Lucy.

“ Well,” explained Lucy, with some deliber-
ation. “They ought to be tied to stakes,
with bundles of wood all round them—to
set fire to, you know. But we haven't any
stakes or anything. Besides, we should
burn the house down.”

“That is a nuisance. Never mind. We'll
leave the burning out,’ suggested Mary,



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 47

“and only do the tomahawking part of it.
What are tomahawks, Lucy?”

“Sort of knives, I think. And there are
no knives up here.”

“Or bows and arrows either,’ chimed
in Kitty ruefully,

“Tt is stupid. We have nothing to torture
them with.”

But Lucy’s quick wit once more came to
the rescue.

“T know! I’ve thought of something,” she
cried, clapping her hands. ‘Don’t you re-
collect Freddy making some darts out of
father’s penholders—and father being so
angry about it.”

“Oh yes!” exclaimed Mary eagerly. ‘‘ Be-
cause they were his best nibs, and Freddy
stuck them all over the drawingroom ceiling.”

“Well, I believe some of them are up
here somewhere. We will search.”

With this new-born hope to cheer them,
the girls commenced an eager hunt for the
weapons. At last a cry of triumph from
Kitty proclaimed that her quest was success-
ful, and with a flourish, she produced three
darts from a drawer in the table.



48 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Here they are. Splendid! the very
things!” she cried.

“Oh! won’t they stick in beautifully?
They are heaps better than tomahawks.
Now where shall we put the prisoners?”

“Sit them on the mantelpiece,” suggested
Lucy.

The girls were just going to adopt this
method when Mary stopped them.

“Wait a minute. Oughtn’t they to be
black?”

‘Not black—red. I suppose Red Indians
are red; aren't they?” observed Kitty
doubtfully.

‘Anyhow, they shouldn’t be white. Let
us paint them. There is a paint-box at the
bottom of the play-box. I saw it.”

This idea seemed too good to be wasted,
and so the play-box was once more rum-
maged, and a box of paints produced,
containing everything necessary for the
occasion.

Lucy having discovered some liquid in
the bottom of a cup, poured it into the
saucer, scornfully remarking that “the milk
wouldn’t make any difference,’ and then



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 49

the trio sat at the table, each with her doll
in her lap, and prepared to ornament the
battered lineaments of her once cherished
favourite.

“They ought not to be all one colour,”
remarked Lucy, dabbing her brush in the
milk and water, and then rubbing it on a
square of vermilion paint. ‘ You see when
Red Indians fight, they put their war paint
on all stripy, you know, to make them-
selves ugly.”

“Poor Belinda is ugly enough already,”
laughed Mary.

“And Ophelia’s nose is smashed flat,”
said Kitty, with a giggle.

“And Juliana has lost one eye and a bit
of an arm,” cried Lucy. ‘“ We'll suppose
that they have been tortured before.”

‘Not much supposing, if they could really
feel,” observed Mary, working busily, with
her head on one side. “I jumped on Belinda
once.”

“Oh! I never did that to Ophelia,”
remarked Kitty, a trifle shocked. ‘But I
used to bend her legs the wrong way to
make her sit up properly.”



50 ASHOUSEFUL OF REBEES:

“And once I left Juliana inside the fender,
and her face all melted. She looked so
funny afterwards,’ and Lucy shook with
merriment at the recollection.

“There, isn’t that beautiful?” said Mary,
holding up Belinda with an air of pride.

“Rather smudgy. But somehow the paint
won't stop where you put it,” replied Kitty,
gazing ruefully at the blurred line of red
and black on Ophelia’s face.

‘Never mind. They ought to be hideous,”
exclaimed Lucy, springing from her chair.
“Oh! I should like to paint Miss Harbutt.
How funny she would look with dabs all
over her. Now put the others up here,”
she continued, placing Juliana on the mantel-
piece with her back to the wall, “and we'll
commence the torture.”

‘We must stand here,’ commanded Mary,
taking three long strides to a dark stain
on the carpet, caused by the fall of an ink-
pot—“ and fancy they are all Miss Harbutts ;
we shall throw all the straighter. Lucy,
you have first ‘shy’—as Freddy calls
it,’ she added, seeing the shocked looks
of her sisters. “And Kitty and I will



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 51

beat the tom-toms, or whatever they are
called.”

“But what are tom-toms?” asked Kitty.

“T don’t know. Drums, I think. Bang the
cups and saucers together, that will do.
And dance about and ‘stomp,’ to make
Miss Harbutt think we are enjoying our-
selves,” she added, her eyes twinkling with
mischief.

Then commenced a perfect storm of noise.
Each girl, in a great state of excitement,
took her place on the ink-stain and aimed
the darts, with more or less precision, at
the unfortunate dolls who sat limp and woe-
begone on the mantelpiece. The other pair
employed their time in uttering shrill cries,
dancing round the table, and banging the
tea-things together, only stopping to applaud
wildly when one or the other of the dolls
received a dart full on her waxen face or
saw-dust body.

At last, exhausted by their exertions, they
all paused in their sport and examined the
victims to findwhat damage had been inflicted.

“We haven’t quite killed them; have
we?” laughed Kitty.



52 PD HOUSERUE- Ob REBEES:

‘No. But they look very uncomfortable,”
said Mary. ‘And they would look more
uncomfortable if they could feel. What
did you say happens to the prisoners when
the torturing part is over?”

“Well, they’re supposed to be tied to
posts, with faggots round them, and they’re
burnt,” remarked Lucy.

‘“Oh! How horrid!” ejaculated Mary, with
a little shudder.

‘But of course we can’t do that; because
there is no wood, or matches either.”

“What a pity Freddy isn’t here,’ con-
tinued Mary regretfully. ‘His pockets are
always full of matches.”

‘‘Matches, why?” said the innocent Kitty.

‘‘ Because—’”’ observed Lucy mysteriously,
“Only don’t tell anyone—because he
smokes!”

‘““No!” ejaculated the others.

‘He does, though. And gets dreadfully
illattercit.”

‘“Then why does he do it?” said Mary
puzzled.

‘‘Because he ought not to. Boys are very
like girls in some things,’ answered the







Leaving the Girls to their Novel Repast.



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 53

observant Lucy. ‘“ Anyhow, we can’t burn
the dolls, and so there is an end of this
game.”

By way of answer, Mary seized Belinda
roughly by the leg and swung her round
vigorously.

“There, Belinda, I don’t want you any
longer. You were not very beautiful, white ;
but now you are a perfect fright and I can’t
bear you.” So saying, she hurled the doll
to the ceiling, and it fell with a dull thud
behind a screen which stood in the corner
of the room.

“Ophelia—you blackamoor! go after
Belinda,” cried Kitty, following her elder
sister’s example.

“And as for you, Juliana! I would
rather nurse Miss Harbutt,” and Lucy flung
the doll after its misused companions.
‘““And now what shall we do?” continued
the child, with a yawn, throwing herself into
a chair. “I am sleepy somehow. But it isn’t
bedtime yet.”

‘Not for hours,” replied Mary. “ Torturing
people is very hard work—isn’t it? I don’t
know what we can do with ourselves. Some-



64 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

body says that there is always evil work
for idle hands to do. But I can’t find any.
Wish I could. I am sleepy. Read some
of that Indian story, Lucy, to keep me
awake.”

“T am much too tired. Besides, there are
so many long words in it that I can’t pro-
nounce. It’s a very funny thing; but I never
felt so sleepy before in all my life;” and
she stretched herself wearily, and then let
her head drop on her arms, which rested
upon the table.

“So am I,” mumbled Kitty, who had
curled herself up on the floor and was
leaning against Mary’s knee. ‘I can scarcely
keep my eyes open. I thought people with
guilty consciences never went to sleep?”

‘‘T suppose our consciences have got used
to being guilty,” replied Mary, between two
yawns. ‘‘ Anyhow, I shall never keep awake.”

“JT can’t either,” sighed Lucy.

‘Nor I,” murmured Kitty.

And in a few moments the trio seemed
sleeping soundly. How long they remained
unconscious, they had no means of know-
ing; but Mary awoke suddenly, with an



THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 55

uneasy feeling that something was about
to happen.

The room was almost dark, and the girl
could only faintly perceive Lucy’s figure
outlined against the wall behind her. Kitty
was stirring uneasily, and moaning a little
as though in a troubled dream.

Then came absolute silence, broken at
last by faint sounds of music; music so
strange and sweet and sad that Mary had
never before heard anything like it. The
strains brought a lump to her throat.

It was certainly no one playing on the
piano in the drawing-room, while it still
less resembled the music of a German
band. She sat quite motionless, drinking
in the unearthly melody, until a soft glow
stole into the room, and melted the pre-
vailing darkness. The girl looked round
to see whence came the light, but with-
out success; and while lost in wonderment,
a slight rustling behind the screen made
her rivet her gaze in this direction. Then
a most wonderful thing happened.

From behind the folds there appeared
three figures cloaked from head to foot



56 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

in some filmy, gauze-like material. They
advanced to the centre of the room, slowly
waving silver wands which shimmered as
they moved. Then the long veils fell away
from the strange visitors, and to Mary’s
horror, she recognized the three dolls, now
grown to the same size as the girls them-
‘selves.

As though with one accord, the girls
sprang to their feet, too horror-stricken, at
first, to utter a word.

‘““Who are you? Oh! Please, who are
you?” said Mary, at length, in a frightened
whisper.

“T am Belinda,’ came back the answer
in a very low reproachful voice.

‘“Then—then—you are Ophelia!” panted
Kitty, clutching Mary’s arm in abject terror.
‘‘And—and you are alive!”

“Ophelia! Alive!” said the doll, turning
her poor battered, painted face to the child,
who cowered down appalled at the sight.

“Tt’s—it’s Juliana! Oh for goodness!”
wailed Lucy, rushing across the floor and
clinging to Mary.

“fam Juliana,” echoed the third figure.



THE LORTURE OF THE DOLLS: 57

The girls shrank away as the dolls
advanced towards . them, until, having
made vain attempts to get through the
walls behind them, they were brought
to bay.

‘What do you want? We—we—haven’t
done anything.” Mary cried in gasps.

«“Come!-Come!” came the: reply,_in the
same low sad tone.

“But we—we don’t want to. We are
a—a—afraid!”’

“Follow! follow! I bid you follow,” said
the reproachful voice.

“'W—w—where will you take us to?”

‘Where cruel acts shall meet with their
reward. Follow! Follow!”

As the doll spoke, she and her com-
panions came quite close, so that each dent
on their faces, each mark that ill-usage and
neglect had caused, could be plainly seen,
through the dirty, soiled dresses, which
somehow had become transparent.

Ther the wands circled once more and
fell lightly on the shoulders of the children.

In a moment, the walls and room dis-
appeared. There came a sweep of keen



58 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

air which left them breathless; and they
were borne away by some resistless power,
upwards and onwards, until there came a
whirl and tumult in their brains, a rush
and roar of sound, and then they knew
no more.



CHV Pant Ret tte

A REALLY SURPRISING TRANSFORMATION.

WHEN the girls regained their senses it
was broad daylight, and they were lying
beneath the shade of a very large bracken
at the base of an enormous oak tree.

Mary was the first one to awake. She
sat up, rubbed her eyes and looked round
bewildered, trying to piece together her
thoughts. It seemed only a few minutes
before that they were all in the schoolroom,
playing at Indians; but now they were in
a forest.

Was she dreaming? She shut her eyes
tight and pinched herself, expecting to re-
open them upon familiar surroundings. But
no. Pinching had no effect. There were the
fronds of wild fern curling gracefully over
her head, and there was the mighty tree-
trunk, which seemed hundreds and hundreds
feet in height, reaching nearly to the sky.

Then she noticed that her sleeping sisters



60 A. HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

were attired in dresses quite different to
anything she had ever before seen. These
fell in soft and clinging folds, leaving both
necks and arms bare; while the material of
which they were made looked finer than
the finest silk and lighter than the most
delicate lace. Never in her life had she seen
anything so beautiful, and she sat up lost
in admiration.

At last both her companions stirred,
opened their eyes, and seemed quite as
astonished as Mary.

“What has happened?” cried Lucy.

“Where are we?” said Kitty.

“T don’t know. Perhaps we are asleep.
Would one of you mind pinching me to
make sure?”

Lucy proceeded to obey her request with
such good will that Mary cried out with
the pain.

“We can’t be asleep—can we?”’ she said,
with a puzzled air. ‘Indeed I never felt
wider awake. But what does it all mean?
How did you two get those beautiful
dresses?”

“And how did you get yours?” cried



A TRANSFORMATION. 61

Lucy. “Why, it’s prettier than the prettiest
party dress I ever saw.”

“T don’t know. We had better think hard
about it. It’s too mysterious for anything.”

Each girl sat with elbows on knees, clutch-
ing her head tightly, a position considered
to be the most suitable for cogitation, until
Lucy uttered a little scream, and sat bolt
upright.

“Oh for goodness! I know. We are in
Fairyland!”

“Tn Fairyland
‘What rubbish!”

‘Tt isn’t rubbish at all. Don’t you remem-
ber what happened in the schoolroom? How
Belinda and Juliana and Ophelia grew big
and spoke,” she continued in a very cautious
whisper.

“Of course. How silly of us!’ answered
Mary, glancing round fearfully. ‘But they
couldn’t be Fairies.”

“Well, they weren’t real dolls anyhow,
for they walked and talked.”

‘They did, didn’t they?” exclaimed Kitty.
“And weren’t we in a ‘wiggle,’ when they
came from behind the screen and carried

(i233

exclaimed the others.

Ne?



62 A HOUSEFPUL OF REBELS.

us off,” she added, the memory of the strange
journey coming back to her. ‘Only I don’t
know much about it after we started, be-
cause something kept whirling round in my
head like a mad watch.”

“So it did in mine,’ remarked Mary.

“And in mine too,” echoed Lucy. “ And
that is all I recollect.”

There was another pause, and the three
looked at each other doubtfully.

“And what is going to happen now?”
said the youngest girl.

“T don’t know and I don’t care,” cried
Mary, with a light laugh, jumping to her
feet. “I’m going to—”

The girl’s observation was cut short by
a most surprising circumstance. She had
shaken out her skirts and leapt over a
trailing branch of wild rose which lay almost
on the ground, when she went soaring up
high above the heads of her sisters, and
came down as lightly as a butterfly.

“Oh for goodness!” cried Lucy.

“Oh! O-oh!” ejaculated Kitty, almost
breathless.

“Tf that isn’t the most wonderful— Try if



A TRANSFORMATION. 63

you two can do it?” said Mary, when her
astonishment would let her speak.

The two younger girls hastened to try their
jumping powers, and found that they also were
able to perform the same astounding feat.

“JT don’t believe that anybody in this
world can jump half as high as we can.
As for Freddy, why, we could beat him
anyhow,” added Mary triumphantly.

“In this world.’ What world?” asked
Lucy. “It seems to me that everything
is different somehow. It is all ten times as
large. I don’t understand it at all.”

Indeed, when they looked round, the truth
of Lucy’s observation was apparent. Not
only were trees and bracken gigantic, but
the grasses, although of the same kind
they were familiar with, grew taller than
themselves; while the blue-bells and bachelor-
buttons and wild roses which met them
on every side, were too large to carry,
even had they possessed the strength to
snap the stems.

‘Perhaps we are on the Equator,” sug-
gested Lucy, who had a dim idea that all
vegetation was immense in the tropics.



64 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘But roses and blue-bells and things don’t
grow there,” said Mary, speaking from a
larger wisdom. “It’s just like the woods
near home, under a magnifying glass. Why
not explore? We might find somebody to
ask all about it.”

Urged on by the prospect of discovering
further wonders, the three adventurers
started forth on their travels. Although the
long grass waving over their heads gave
them little chance of seeing far ahead, they
had no difficulty in progressing, since paths
were clearly marked as though others had
often trodden the way which lay before
them. Now and again a broken twig or
a chasm in the dry earth barred their pro-
gress, but these obstacles were easily sur-
mounted, and they rushed forward rapidly.

Before long the children emerged from
the grass forest and came to a level stretch
of sward, almost as smooth and close as the
lawn at home, except that each blade of
grass was absurdly thick and coarse. Thanks,
however, to their strange lightness the
children passed over it gaily enough, and
descended a hill, thinking to find some in-



A TRANSFORMATION. 65

habitants of this strange world in the valley
below.

As they ran down the slope they noticed
a low murmur which grew louder and louder
every minute, until, as they approached a
line of the very largest rushes they had
ever seen, it became a roar of sound.

“JT wonder what it is?” observed Kitty,
trying to peer through the mass of leaves
which waved and rustled in the breeze.
‘Sounds like a river or waterfall, or some-
thing.”

“ P’r’aps it’s Niagara. It makes noise enough
anyhow,” shouted Lucy through the din.

“We'll soon find out,’ answered Mary
at the top of her voice. “I’ve seen pictures
of Niagara, and the panorama as well.
I’m sure to know it again.”

Although the ground had become very
soft and marshy, the girls tripped along
without sinking in; and, picking their way
through the great clumps of yellow and
blue flags which shot forth their heads of
gorgeous flower, and between bulrushes
with stems like masts, they came to the
edge of a most turbulent river.



66 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

It was as clear as crystal, and strewn
with huge rocks shaped like stones, around
which the water boiled and foamed, making
countless eddies in which leaves of remark-
able dimensions and logs of wood were
whirling round in a most bewildering fashion.

As they stood looking down on the resist-
less flood, there came a tremendous splash
which made them all jump. Close at hand was
a monstrous brown animal swimming across
to the other side.

“Jt zs the Equator!” cried Kitty trium-
phantly. “There goes a hippopotamus.”

“Tt isn’t a hippopotamus at all,” protested
Mary. ‘Whoever saw hippopotamuses
with whiskers and noses and long tails like
that= Wteis-acrat..

“A rat!” exclaimed Lucy. ‘ There never
was a rat that size.”

“Tf you multiply an ordinary rat by a
hundred, you'll get the answer,” said Mary.
“Pinch me again, Lucy, to make sure ’m
awake.”

Lucy pinched so hard and Mary yelled
so lustily that there seemed no doubt on
this point.



A TRANSFORMATION. 67

“Look out!” cried Kitty in terror, just
as Mary had finished rubbing her arm.
“Here comes an eagle.”

As she spoke, there swept over the water,
with the quickness of light, a glorious
creature with a long tapering body, and
splendid wings, many coloured, flashing in
the sunbeams.

To and fro he sped, now darting up the
river, now poised almost motionless, with
his four gauzy wings spread and his grace-
ful body quivering, close to the surface of
the water.

“Tt isn’t an eagle at all. It’s a dragon-
fly,” cried Lucy, after a careful examination.

“But it’s as big as an—’”

“Of course it is,’ interrupted her elder
sister. ‘Everything is big. It’s the most
confusing place I was ever in. I don’t
understand it at all.”

There was every excuse for Mary’s puz-
zled brain. Each object they saw was familiar
and yet astonishingly large. The fish in
the water, which, at first, they regarded as
salmon, proved, after all, to be sticklebacks
or minnows. The river was merely a brook; |



68 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

while the rocks around which the quickly
flowing stream foamed and bubbled, were
only stones.

Nothing was its proper size; not even
the butterflies which fluttered overhead like
beautiful painted kites, blue or creamy white,

or rich purple and red.

“J don’t believe that anything is really
bigger,” observed Mary at last, after a few
minutes deep thought. “The truth is that
we are just tiny mites ourselves. Little
bits of things not a quarter our usual size.”

“But how did we get so small?” asked
Lucy, puzzled.

“JT don’t know, unless the dolls did it.
It’s no good guessing though,” she added
laughing. “We have grown the wrong
way.”

‘But I don’t feel any different,” remarked
Kitty. “And you two look just the same.”

“Of course we do; that doesn’t prove
anything. I’m not going to worry about it
Here we are some size or another; and I
mean to get across to the other side,” Mary
went on, eager to make further exploration.
“We can step over on the stones.”



A TRANSFORMATION. 69

‘« Suppose we slip,” said the more cautious
Lucy. ““We shall be drowned.”

“Oh! Nonsense! We shall float if we do
fall in, because we are so light. Come
along. I'll go first to shew you how easy
1taSs

The girl’s confident air quickly reassured
the others, and the three pushed their way
through the rushes until they came to a
spot where the crossing looked quite safe
and easy.

Mary was just stepping. on to the first
stone when she was stopped in a most
remarkable manner.

From behind a tuft of reeds a grasshopper
suddenly appeared, and with a jump came
directly in front of her. He stood on his
long hind-legs and made a very low bow.

In all their lives the girls had never seen
so large or so polite a grasshopper, and as
it seemed only proper to encourage good
manners among insects, they curtsied in
return.

The greeting over, Mary waited for him
to hop out of the way, but he maintained
his ground.



70 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“T beg your pardon. But would you mind
standing on one side,” she said jokingly,
never dreaming that he would understand
her speech. But to her great astonishment
he replied at once:

‘No further. The Queen forbids it.”

The three girls stood staring at him,
-quite speechless. They had seen working
ants, and heard talking parrots, but that a
grasshopper could express himself in quite
correct English was an overpowering dis-
covery.

‘“But—but we want to go over to the
other side,” she explained when surprise
permitted her to speak again.

“No further. The Queen forbids it,” he
said with another bow.

“The Queen? I don’t understand. Are
you a policeman?” she asked, vaguely
aware that constables regulated traffic. ‘ Be-
cause I don’t suppose the Queen would
mind us walking about over there—unless
it’s trespassing.”

‘No further. The Queen forbids it.”

Now although the grasshopper was very
much higher than any they had previously



A TRANSFORMATION. 71

been acquainted with, Mary could easily
have pushed him out of the way. His
determined demeanour, however, and digni-
fied aspect made this quite out of the ques-
tion, so after several appeals, which only
elicited the same reply, the girls gave it
up in despair and left the obstinate insect
master of the situation.

For some hours they wandered about,
apparently free to roam where they pleased.
But at certain points other grasshoppers,
equally polite, but quite as unyielding, barred
their progress, and it gradually dawned
upon them that they were prisoners, al-
though their prison was in the open air
and amid the most delightful scenery.

This circumstance naturally damped their
spirits. Besides this, their wanderings had
made them tired and hungry, and _ since
there seemed no prospect of finding beds
and supper, they began to feel very miser-
able and homesick.

“If we could only find the place where
we started from,” sighed Kitty, “it would
be all right. Anyhow, it was nice and
comfortable.”



72 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“But you can’t be nice and comfortable
when you are hungry,” grumbled Lucy.
‘“And what should we find to eat when we
got there?”’

‘““What can we eat anywhere?” Mary
remarked, after thinking deeply. “Fancy
eating meat!’ And all three shuddered at
the word. ‘Why, a chop is nearly as big
as we are; and a joint—Gracious !—a joint
would be as big as a house now. Besides,
the thought of meat makes me feel ill.”

“And a slice of bread and butter,” cried
Lucy, “why, we could dance on it.” And
they all laughed at the mere idea.

“At any rate we are dreadfully hungry,
so we must eat something,” Kitty sighed
wearily. ‘We'll ask the next grasshopper
we meet, what we can have for supper,
perhaps he’ll know.”

‘Grasshoppers are such stupid things.
They can only bow and say ‘No further!
The Queen forbidsit.’ That doesn’t do your
appetite any good—does it?”

‘Not a bit. But—look here—I believe
this is the very spot where we woke up,”
cried Lucy. That is the tree. There are



A TRANSFORMATION. 73

the dead leaves we were lying on, among
the wild fern.”

There was no doubt they had stumbled
upon the very place whence they com-
menced their travels; and thankful for
small mercies, they sank down wearily.

“TI hope we shan’t die of starvation like
the Babes in the Wood,” said Kitty after
a while. “I’m getting hungrier and hun-
Siete

“I hope not too,” said Mary a little
anxiously. “If we were our right size, we
might find something eatable; but now we
are such tiny things, I can’t tell what is
good for us and what isn’t. If the fairies
have made us little and brought us here,
the least they might do is to feed us. It’s
only fair—isn’t it?”

Lucy was about to express her opinion
upon the mean conduct of the inhabitants
of Fairyland, when there suddenly arose a
great humming sound, which approached
nearer and nearer, and before they could
guess the cause, several bees came sailing
along and dropped to the ground almost
at tneir feet.



74, A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Kitty shrank close to Mary, evidently
scared at the imposing size of the visitors,
and the thought of their disagreeable habit
of stinging little girls who interfered with
them. She had once been stung, and the
pain was bad enough then; but now that
she was so ridiculously small, a similar fate

‘would mean something very terrible indeed.

The other two were nervous also; but
managed to put a bold face on the situation,
so that when the bees stood up and bowed,
looking rather absurd when balancing their
big round bodies on their very thin hind-
legs, the girls curtsied quite gracefully, the
result of so much practice with the grass-
hoppers.

After these salutations, the new comers
plucked three leaves from a tiny plant
which grew close at hand, and placed upon
each a share of honey. This done they
stood up and bowed once more, then flying
off, were quickly lost to view.

The girls had not yet recovered from
their surprise, when, with a loud chirping,
a little band of grasshoppers came leaping
through the tall grass. These also, after



A TRANSFORMATION. 75

making their customary reverence, snapped
off three leaves, and heaped upon each a
number of yellow round things that looked
not unlike French rolls, but which, of course,
were a hundred times smaller, and made
quite a pyramid of them upon the green
plates.

Then they disappeared, returning after
a while with three bright blue flowers, which
they carried carefully, since each was filled
with a crystal fluid, and placed beside the
honey and ‘French rolls.’

Their task completed, the one who had
directed the operations advanced towards
the girls and waved his fore-leg towards
the viands.

“Supper is served! The Queen doth bid
you eat,” he said gravely.

‘Then please tell the Queen, we are very
much obliged to her,” said Mary sedately ;
then, with a dim idea that this was a some-
what curt message to send to a royal
personage, she added, rather lamely, “And
tell her Majesty that we hope she is well
and—and jolly.”

Without further speech, the grasshoppers



76 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

bent their heads respectfully, and pranced
off, leaving the girls to their novel repast.

“All this bowing and scraping has made
me hungrier than ever,” observed Lucy,
inspecting the supper more closely.

‘Tl wonder what sort of food it is. That’s
honey—or golden syrup—honey, I suppose,
‘ because the bees brought it; but I can’t
think what those yellow things are. It isn’t
bread. I don’t believe grasshoppers are
bakers as well as dancing-masters.”

“They look more like seeds,” replied
Mary, taking one up and examining it
doubtfully. “I wonder if they are good
to eat?”

Salinys cred. Witty,

“Ves, do,” said Lucy.

“You taste it first,’ suggested Mary.

Neither, however, seemed anxious to ven-
ture, until Lucy hit upon an idea.

“We'll all take a bite at once. That is
the fairest way.”

To this the others consented, and Mary
having counted “One, two, three!” they
all shut their eyes and took a mouthful.

No sooner had they done so than the



A TRANSFORMATION. 77

scared expression on their faces changed
into one of great content.

‘It’s perfectly delicious!” exclaimed Mary
in ecstasy.

‘Isn't it. Better than anything I ever
tasted,” cried Lucy, taking a second bite.

“Tt makes tarts and jellies seem quite
nasty. I could keep on all day,” and Kitty
sat down and munched as though she fully
intended to prove her assertion.

“I wonder,” said Mary, after they had
consumed several seeds each, ‘whether
honey would make them still nicer? I’m
going to try. Fairies don’t seem to use
spoons, so we must dip them in.”

This she proceeded to do; an example
quickly followed by her sisters. They came
to the conclusion that honey was the only
thing required to make the meal the nicest
one they ever consumed, so they continued
eating until their appetites were quite satisfied.

“And now,” said Lucy, “we'll try the
drink part of it; and if it isn’t any better
than the milk and water Jane gave us, I
shall be disappointed.”

They reached out their hands to the



78 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

flowers, which in shape somewhat resembled
crinkly afternoon tea-cups, and took deep
draughts of the crystal fluid. It was the
most delightful beverage they had ever
tasted. Gingerbeer or lemonade was not to
be compared to it. The liquid was perfectly
clear, having a slight rosy tint, while the
flavour was impossible to describe. It was
as though the scent of flowers had melted
into the coldest and purest water.

They sipped and sipped until not a drop
remained, and then they lay back in perfect
content and talked over the day’s doings.

“Well, if this zs Fairyland,’ remarked
Lucy, ‘“‘it isn’t at all a bad place to live
in. We never had such lovely dresses at
home, did we?”

‘“Or such beautiful suppers,” chimed in
Kitty.

“And what I like is being so light. Why,
we can jump feet and feet,” cried Mary.
““Couldn’t we race Freddy now. That’s an-
other good thing in being Fairies.”

“Oh! It’s all very well. But are we Fairies?
and where are the others?” asked her sister.

“JT don’t know; but they must be about



A TRANSFORMATION. 79

somewhere. Didn’t the Queen send us eat-
ables and drinkables.”

“Besides, how could grasshoppers and
bees talk and make funny little bows, if
the Fairies hadn’t taught them? They
don’t do that near us,” said Kitty.

‘Ah! perhaps it is because we are too big
to hear and see them properly,’ Mary
observed, ‘‘when we are our usual size.”

The girls discussed the matter so earn-
estly that evening had fallen and the stars
were twinkling before they had finished.
Then the moon began to peep over a bank
of trees, and rising slowly, shed her beams
abroad until every blade of grass seemed
dipped in silver. Soon all creatures of the
night came forth. Fire-flies darted hither
and thither, like shooting stars; while glow-
worms, some motionless, some slowly crawl-
ing through the grass, hung out their
lanterns and threw a tender radiance where
the moonlight could not penetrate. Far down
by the stream they could hear the croak
of frogs, and overhead the rustling wings
and mournful hoot of the owl, which gave
Kitty no little alarm; while now and again,



80 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

rushing through the bracken, came a belated
rabbit of gigantic size.

At first these unaccustomed sights and
sounds kept the girls awake, but at last,
one by one, they closed their eyes, and
fell asleep on their leafy couch; the rustl-
ing grasses which say always ‘Ssh! Ssh:
Ssh!’ soothing them to slumber.



@iek Pane REV:

THE THREE MORTALS WITNESS A FAIRY REVEL.

Tue girls had lain asleep until the moon
was almost overhead. They slept so soundly
that the noises of the night had failed to
rouse them; indeed to speak the truth, two
of them were snoring in so unfairylike a
manner, that several field-mice had come
out to find the cause of all the hubbub.
Presently the little animals sat up and
turned their sharp eyes towards the silver-
tipped grass-forest, and, after a brief hesi-
tation, scuttled away as fast as their legs
could carry them.

The reason of their flight soon became
apparent. One by one there stole into the
clear space where the girls were sleeping,
a number of little figures hardly as tall as
the children. They wore tightly fitting
tunics, some of scarlet, some of green, some
of a rich yellow, while their heads were
covered with caps fitting closely to their

6



82 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

ears, and tapering to points which hung
down their backs.

In the centre of the band was a little
fellow whose tunic shone like silver, and
who seemed to direct the movements of
the rest.

“Come, you laggards!” he said softly,
looking back over his shoulders. ‘Here’s
sport for you. There are the mortals fast
asleep, snoring enough to shake the earth.
They shall ride a nightmare ere the day
doth break.”

‘“‘Did not the Queen say none shall molest
them?” said another sprite to him in the
silver white tunic.

“We'll not molest them,” he cried, “ but
give them much to think about. They are
our sport for all the Queen may say. Come,
all of you. To work, and wake them gently.”

In a few moments the bracken and tall
grass which waved over the sleepers, were
peopled with sprites, who, under their leader’s
direction, plucked long strips from the leaves,
and dangled them until they passed lightly
to and fro over the girls’ faces.

Kitty was the first to stir. She brushed

a2.



A FAIRY REVEL. 83

the grass away with her hand, without
opening her eyes; but as it always returned,
she murmured, still half asleep, ‘ You're
over my side, Lucy. Your hair is tickling
my nose.”

By this time both the others were stirring
uneasily, having been roused in the same
way; and Lucy replied sleepily, “I’m not;
yours is tickling mine.”

‘And mine too,” grumbled Mary.

At that instant, there came a series of
chuckles.

“Don’t laugh, you two,” she added fret-
fully. ‘‘Why don’t you go to sleep?”

“T wasn’t laughing,” protested Lucy.

“And I wasn’t either,” echoed Kitty.
“Tt was you, Mary.”

“I beg your pardon. There! who was
that?” she inquired, as the subdued merri-
ment broke out again. “Somebody is. ”

By this time all three were thoroughly
awake. They sat up and looked about them ;
but although the mocking laughter rang out
louder and louder, they could see nothing.

Then, from some hidden spot, a clear
shrill treble broke into song, while at certain



84 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

intervals, a chorus of voices took up the
refrain.

The whole effect was so uncanny that
the listeners crept closer together, frighten-
ed, not only by the weirdness of the chant,
but also by the fact that it referred to them-
selves in a most unpleasant and threatening
manner.

The high treble voice commenced thus—

“What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.

Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.”

Then the chorus broke the momentary
silence—

“They shall be left on a desert plain,
Ho! ho!
Where clouds ne’er gather—where falls no rain,
Ho! ho!
To thirst for water and thirst in vain,
Ho! ho! Ha! ha! Ho! ho!”

A mad burst of laughter followed, but
stopped instantly as the first voice again
rang out:



A FAIRY REVEL. 85

“What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.

Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.”

For the second time the chorus of unseen
beings chanted back the answer:

They shall be bound to the giant oak,
Ho! ho!
Where night hawks gather and ravens croak,
Ho! ho!
Where stun will blister and storm will soak,
Ho! ho! Ha! ha! Hol ho!

For the third time, above the din of
elfish laughter, the single voice made its
appeal—

“What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.

Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.”

And once more, with dreadful distinctness,
the girls heard the reply—

“They shall be thrust in the Ant Queen’s cell,
Ho! ho!
Hidden from woodland, field or fell,
Ho! ho!
In the dark, cold earth for ever dwell,
Hol! ho! Ha! ha! Ho! ho!”



86 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

The chorus finished with screams of wild
merriment, which grew fainter and fainter
as the elves dashed off through the under-
growth. When the last echo had died away,
the girls looked at each other with white,
scared faces.

“IT suppose we are the three mortals?”
observed Mary gravely.

“I suppose so,” sighed Lucy. ‘ And who
were they?”

“Fairies—at least I think so. I couldn’t
see them—could you?”

“No. But I heard them and that was
quite enough.”

“J should think it was!” cried Kitty, with
a little shiver. “Do you—do you really
think all these horrid things are going to
happen?”

This was a question which neither Mary
nor Lucy quite knew how to answer.

“T don’t know why it should happen.
What have we done?” was Lucy’s plaintive
question. ‘Of course, we're not very good
girls; but even Miss Harbutt wouldn’t punish
us like that.”

‘““We—we haven't seen anything of our



A FAIRY REVEL. 87

dolls since we came here, have we?” remark-
ed Mary, apparently changing the subject.
“They must be somewhere about.”

“But you don’t want to see them—do
you?” asked Kitty.

‘““N—no. Only I can’t help thinking that
our dolls must be Fairies in disguise.”

“Well, and—suppose they are?” cried
Lucy. ‘‘ W—w—what are you thinking about,
Mary?” she asked tremblingly, seeing a
very serious look on her sister’s face.

“Tm thinking how badly we treated them.”

‘“Do—do Fairies feel the same as we
do?” asked Lucy again.

‘“T suppose so.”

‘“When they are dolls?”

“J suppose so.”

“Do you think they felt all the darts
and all the thumps, Mary?” wailed Kitty.

‘“T suppose so. And—and I was fond of
Belinda,” cried the elder girl, with a burst.
“Tf I had only known, I wouldn’t have hurt
her for anything.”
“And I was fond of Juliana, too. Poor
thing!’ added Lucy, with a little sob.

‘““And I cut off Ophelia’s leg. Oh! I was



88 Pe OUS HU vOrenED res:

a brute,” whispered Kitty. “We ought to
apologise, you know. That’s the least we
can do.”

“Tm afraid it’s too late now,” said Mary,
shaking her head. “ You see our dolls were
Fairies—at least 'm afraid so—and we ill-
used them. So now it’s their turn to ill-use
us: That is natural, isn’t it?”

“But you don’t think they'll throw darts
at us or—or burn us—do you?” And Lucy
cowered down beside her sister as though
for protection.

‘“T shouldn’t think so. Fairies aren’t Red
Indians.”

‘“C—c—couldn’t we go home, Mary?”
wailed Kitty, around whom her sister had
thrown a protecting arm. “ Fairyland is such
a ‘creepy’ place; I don’t like it a bit.”

‘“You see home is a long way from here,
and we don’t know the way. But we needn't
be afraid,” she added, trying to seem more
hopeful than she really was. “After all
we're only girls, and Fairies are supposed
to be good people.”

“I know they are; but if it turns out

that story books are all wrong, and they’re



Full Text



The Baldwin Library




gd ee cs Eat Br aR ahr, Ba ge et eNO >
AO OUSEE UE OF ebb aS:
Ss

f ay!
Vesa ide eel ‘
UEP Aspacone Ses : i
> OD F

(i S



The Queen Forbids i?
A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS

BEING AN ACCOUNT
or Turee NAUGHTY GIRLS, AND THEIR

ADVENTURES IN FAIRYLAND.

BY

WALTER RHOADES

(Author of ‘The Story of Fohn Trevennick’, etc.)

ILLUSTRATED BY

PATTEN WILSON.

WESTMINSTER
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & Co.
1897
PeReE EA Cek.

My pDEAR ESMEER,

You have not forgotten the winter evenings
when, perched on my knee, you listened, with a pro-
foundly critical air, to this fairy story, long before it
became a book.

Because you shewed a flattering interest in every
chapter, laughed in the right places, and found no fault
with it whatever (Oh! Charming critic!), and also
because I have the privilege of being your father, it is
to you I venture to dedicate “A Houseful of Rebels.”

In doing so, however, I ask you to recall the time
when this tale was acted as a play. Do you remember
the rehearsals? How you were wont to lie on the
hearthrug and follow each scene, sometimes pealing
with merriment, sometimes with solemn face, but always
with the closest attention? You remember also the per-
formances which to you, at least, were sources of un-
bounded delight? But of course you do, and as each
of us, in different ways, gained so much pleasure from
VI PREFACE.

the play, I would ask you, not I am sure in vain, to
join with me in thanking all those connected with its
production, who placed at my disposal so much time
and patience and talent, and who opened to you the
portals of Fairyland.

When we meet Titania and her fairy people (who
exist somewhere, but seem so difficult to find) we
will beg that all our good wishes to these friends shall
come true, so that our debt of gratitude may be paid
in better coin than words.

Believe me, my dear Esmeé, to remain,
Your most obedient father,

THE AUTHOR.
XMAS, 1897.
CON ae i NaS:

Chapter

I
aT

ITI.
Iv.

VIL

VIL
VIII.
IX.
. THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE.
XI.

A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.

THe ToRTURE OF THE DOLLS—AND WHAT
CAME OF IT.

A REALLY SURPRISING TRANSFORMATION .

THE THREE MORTALS WITNESS A Farry REVEL.

THe RescuE or Puck.

Puck TAKES THE MorrTats oN a Fairy
VOYAGE .

A SCAMPER AMONG THE TREE Tops

A Farry PRISON. . . -

THe TRIAL. THE CoMING oF Puck.

Home .

Page

I
A HOUSEFEL OF REBELS.

Cle ek

A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON.

“Ir’s no use. We are locked in.”

The speaker still wrestling with the door-
handle, was a girl in her thirteenth year,
tall and slight for her age, with dark eyes
that gleamed with mingled anger and
amusement.

“Anyhow, I don’t care. It’s fun,” she
continued, laughing recklessly.

“JT don’t care either,’ said her sister
Lucy, a young lady of eleven, who was
sitting on the table, beating a wild tattoo
with her heels against its leg.

“And more do I.”

This ungrammatical observation came from
the youngest sister, Kitty, a merry child of
nine, who, seated on the floor with her
knees up to her chin, nodded like a china
Mandarin.
2 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“But you are quite sure the door is
locked, Mary?” she asked.

“Quite,” and Mary rattled the handle
again to remove all doubts.

“As usual, Miss Harbutt has got the
best of it. But never mind. We ave been
naughty this afternoon and we are not being
punished for nothing. There is some com-
fort in that.”

In making this statement, Mary spoke
the truth, although there was no reason why
she should have confined herself to naming
any particular day.

For some time past the two elder girls
had been sore trials to their governess,
Miss Harbutt, and Kitty had faithfully follow-
ed their example.

They had been wilful, lazy and inclined
to be disobedient, while Miss Harbutt
appeared a little wanting in sympathy, so
that perversity on the one side and a too
strict system on the other had finally led
to the three culprits being locked in the
nursery until further notice. The first. signs
of revolt had shewn themselves at lessons
in the morning, but the rebellious outbreak
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 3

occurred later in the day. Mary had been
very careless indeed, and inclined to be
rude, Lucy, in her demure way, became
exasperatingly dense, while Kitty, as Miss
Harbutt had herself complained, did nothing
but fidget and giggle.

Several sharp reprimands from the gover-
ness failed to improve matters; so that after
the mid-day meal, the three girls had gather-
ed in the nursery, smarting under their
wrongs and ripe for mischief.

They were discussing plans which seemed
very like treason against constituted author-
ity, when a shrill voice floated up to them
from the landing below.

“Mary! Kitty! Lucy! where are you girls
hiding?”

Mary went to the door and shouted back
an answer :

‘Here we are, Freddy. In the nursery.”

This was quickly followed by a small
knickerbockered boy, twin-brother to Lucy,
who bounced into the room without ceremony.

“T say, you girls, Miss Harbutt has gone
out for the afternoon,’ he commenced.

‘Well, we know that,” said Mary shortly.
4 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘And mother won’t be home until after
bed-time,” he continued.

“We know that too.”

“And Cook has gone to the Crystal
Palace, or somewhere, and there is only
Jane at home.”

‘Well, what of it?” asked Kitty, with a
shade of expectation in her voice.

“Tve got an idea. Let us have a bachelor’s
party.”

“Oh yes! Let’s!” cried the two youngest,
not quite understanding what Freddy meant,
but readily falling in with any suggestion
which their brother chose to make.

“But that’s stupid,’ broke in Mary.
“Bachelors are boys and grown-up men.
You can’t have a party all to yourself,
Freddy.”

“You can be boys too—just this once,”
suggested her brother.

“T wish we could. It is much jollier than
being girls,” sighed Lucy.

‘“Then look here. You'll find a lot of my
clothes and things somewhere about. Some
of ’em hanging up in the cupboard on the
first landing and some of ‘em are in the
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 5

drawers in my bedroom. Go and put ’em
on. It will be awful fun.”

For a moment the girls stood looking at
each other and their brother, too overcome
with the daring nature of the proposal tospeak.

‘“But—but suppose we are caught?”
gasped Lucy, with an effort.

52:2:

“Who is to catch yout
“Jane!”

“Oh! bother Jane. She is too grumpy
and busy to take much notice of you.
She'll think it’s some fellows I’ve brought
home from school. Besides, even if she does
find out, we can easily persuade her not to
split on us. That will be all right,” he added
impatiently.

“Suppose the things don’t fit us?” que-
ried Mary, with feminine instinct.

“They'll be dreadfully large for me,”
chimed in Kitty plaintively.

“Oh! It’s just like girls,’ cried Freddy,
stamping, “to try and upset everything.
Of course they'll fit somehow. ‘There are
lots of suits which I’ve grown out of. Besides,
it doesn’t matter if they don’t. You’re not
going to church in ’em.”
6 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Only if Miss Harbutt show/d find out?”
observed Lucy, suffering, not as much from
qualms of conscience, as from the fear of
punishment which would certainly follow
such a discovery.

“You're frightened. That’s what it is,”
said Freddy scornfully. ‘You would like to,
_but you haven’t the pluck.”

‘Yes, we have,” snapped Mary, eagerly
defending the courage of her sex. “ It isn’t
that at all.”

“Yes, it is. You're frightened of Miss
Harbutt. Fancy being afraid of her. I’m
glad I’m not a girl.”

The boy’s contemptuous tones quicely
removed all further scruples. ,

It had always seemed to the girls that
the freedom from restraint, the delightful
liberty granted to boys was something to
be envied.

To roam about at one’s own sweet will,
unhampered by the presence of a gover-
ness; to play cricket and football, to spin
tops and fly kites; to wear garments that
did not cling round the legs; to: be noisy
without hindrance: in fact to do everything
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON, 7

forbidden to girls, appeared so perfect an
existence, that even an hour of ‘‘make
believe” was an experience to be seized
upon at all costs.

“Tl do it, Freddy,” exclaimed Mary sud-
denly. “T'll do it in spite of Miss Harbutt.”

“And so will I!” said Lucy more
demurely.

“And so will I,” chirped Kitty, who follow-
ed the lead of her elder sisters as a matter
of course.

“ All right. Make haste, and we'll have a
jolly time of it. You go and get into my
things and I'll think of what we can do,”
cried Freddy, once more amiable.

A little fearful of venturing upon so ex-
citing an enterprise, but filled with the
spirit of mischief, the*girls ran down stairs,
leaving the boy to make a more sober de-
scent.

It was a fine afternoon in May. A recent
rain had left the grass damp, while the
sun had not quite drawn up the rain drops
which still glistened on the plants in the
trim flower-beds and on the laurel hedge
at the end of the lawn. Freddy strolled
8 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

up and down, now and again glancing im-
patiently up at the windows. The sight
of a few snails and over-confident slugs
had given him an idea which he was anxious
to carry out without delay, so that every
minute of inaction seemed an hour.

At last the French window leading into
the drawing-room was cautiously opened,
and three figures arrayed in jackets and
knickerbockers, with caps upon their heads,
came timidly into the garden. The boy
walked round his sisters, who stood half
ashamed and half defiant, and then went
into fits of laughter.

“IT don’t see anything to laugh at,” cried
Mary indignantly. ‘Everything is on the
right way, isn’t it?”

“Ah! yes. You’ve put ‘em on all right;
but you do look so comic, I can’t help
laughing,’ and once more Freddy became
convulsed in merriment. ‘I believe even
Miss Harbutt would grin if she saw you.”

“That shews you don’t know anything
about her,” observed Lucy severely. ‘She
would have a fit on the spot. But if your
idea of a bachelor’s party is to stand and
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 9

giggle all the afternoon. I don’t see that
there is much fun in it.”

‘“T won't do it any more,” gurgled Freddy,
doing his best to suppress his mirth. “I
daresay I shall get used to it soon; but
tuck your hair under your caps, then you
won't look such molly-coddles.”

The girls hastened to do his bidding,
and then eagerly requested to be told his
plans for their amusement.

“JT tell you what we'll do first. We'll
turn the chickens into the garden. There
are an awful lot of snails and slugs about,
and its ‘larks’ to see them gobble
them up.”

‘But they will scratch holes in the mould,”
observed Mary doubtfully. ‘Father has a
lot of seeds and plants just coming up.”

“Not if we keep driving them along.
That is what Dad tells Joskins to do some-
times; so he'll like it.”

The chicken-run was in a paddock attached
to some outbuildings at the side of the
house, to which spot the party ran off in
noisy haste. The girls, still unpleasantly
conscious of their unusual dress, kept look-
10 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

ing round anxiously, although there was no
one within sight.

“You are sure, Freddy, that we do look
like boys?” asked Mary, eager to be re-
assured on that point.

“Well, you do ata distance. But there’s
something about you that’s girlyfied.”

“Perhaps it’s our hair,” suggested Lucy.

“’Um—yes. But there’s something else,”
meditated her brother. “ You walk as if you
had petticoats on. Step out more, and stick
your hands in your pockets.”

In a moment the three girls were stalk-
ing along, doing their best to imitate Fred-
dy’s somewhat ungraceful ‘slouch’; while
their Mentor watched these endeavours,
with contemptuous amusement.

‘That's something like it,” he said, after
they had marched round the paddock.
But you'll have to practise. Girls can’t
become boys all at once. And now for
the chickens.”

There was a good deal of “clucking”
and fuss among the fowls when the four
children invaded their domain, and it was
not without some difficulty that they were
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. II

persuaded to leave the run. Indeed two
hens who were each hatching a sitting of
eggs, were very obstinate indeed, and it
was not until Freddy had assaulted them
with a switch, that they unwillingly con-
sented to desert their nests.

The business, however, was at last
accomplished, and some dozen fowls were
paraded round the garden, and allowed to
swallow the slimy pests which played such
havoc with the tender shoots.

It was not very exciting work, and the
children’s attention sometimes wandered
from the chickens to other objects.

“T wonder,” said Kitty, who had paused
to watch a bee who, half buried in a
flower, was busy with its work—‘I wonder
if the bees take all the honey they find,
back to the hive? I shouldn’t. It szzs# taste
good, fresh out of the flower. I should eat
some on the spot.”

“TI expect bees do that too,” chimed in
Lucy. ‘They wouldn’t be so silly as to
save it all up for human people. I suppose
we only have their leavings.”

“How jolly a bee must be,” remarked
12 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Mary, glancing at the insect, as he slowly
withdrew from the bloom. ‘When he is
hungry, he justs pops into the nearest flower
and there is dinner all ready; and here,”
she added, pointing to a leaf with curled
edges, which held tiny drops of water gleam-
ing like crystals—here is something for
him to drink. He isn’t worried to behave
properly at table, or put into pinafores;
and it must be nice to eat out of flowers
and drink from leaves,” a remark to which
the others readily gave their assent.

The pleasure of watching bees and butter-
flies, however, and keeping the chickens
moving, soon palled. It struck the girls
that it was not necessary to disguise them-
selves in Freddy’s clothing for such a mild
form of amusement as this, since it could
have been enjoyed quite as well in petti-
coats. Kitty was the first to revolt.

‘I'm tired of watching these greedy things.
Itisn’ta game at all. Letus play at something.”

‘But you can’t play at anything; that’s
the worst of it,’ said her brother.

“Yes, we can, if you'll shew us how,”

said Mary.
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 13

‘But you never could,” remarked Freddy
discontentedly.

“That was because our frocks got in the
way.”

“Very well then. What can we do?”

‘“Let’s—let’s play at leapfrog,’ gasped
Lucy; “I have always wanted to play that.”

“Leapfrog! why you couldn’t ‘ fly a back’
if you tried for a month,” exclaimed Freddy.

“Oh! couldn't I? Just stoop down and
let me try.”

“And get kicked on the head. Not if I
know it.”

“You are frightened. If I were a boy, I
shouldn’t be afraid of that. Besides, I won’t
kick you hard.”

With some misgivings Freddy bent his
back, while Lucy attempted to surmount
the obstacle in a true boyish fashion. The
result of her endeavour was to send both
her brother and herself rolling on the grass
amid great laughter from the two onlookers.

“Tt doesn’t hurt, Mary. You try. We shall
soon do it properly.”

It was not without demur that the boy
consented to be practised upon; but after
14 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

several mishaps, his sisters managed to ‘fly’
over him, quite easily; even Kitty, not to
be outdone by her bigger sisters, taking a
share in the sport.

“There! That’s enough at present,” said
Freddy, tired of so one-sided a game, since
none of the girls would become the ‘post’.
‘Tt isn’t bad for girls.”

In the excitement of the game, the chic-
kens, now running riot in the garden at their
own sweet will, were forgotten; while the
discussion which followed, gave them further
opportunity for improving the appearance
of the flower-beds. .

‘What can we do now?” exclaimed Lucy.

“J don’t care,” cried Mary, who had
assumed Freddy’s independent walk and
loud tones, with a fair amount of success.
‘“T don’t care as long as it is a kind of game
girls ought not to play at. Let us think of
something awful, something that would make
Miss Harbutt’s hair stand on end.”

At that moment Lucy’s favourite kitten,
a beautiful tabby, with pointed ears and
the ‘butterfly’ mark between the shoulders,
raced over the lawn, and in spite of a call
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 15

from his mistress, scrambled up the fence
and sprang into one of the lower branches
of a plane tree which overhung a corner
of the garden. For a few seconds he stood
looking down on the group of children who
were watching his movements, and then he
leapt from bough to bough and raced along
the branches with such quickness that they
held their breath with astonishment.

“Oh! if we could only do that,” cried
Mary enviously. “If we were only cats in-
stead of girls. It must be jolly to be able
to climb trees like that. Why, it is almost
as good as flying.”

“But we are not cats,” sighed Lucy.
‘And we can’t play a game like that. Even
boys wouldn’t be able to do it. Now, Freddy,
do try and invent something really ‘mis-
behaving’; something very naughty indeed.”

It was no easy matter to think out such
an amusement on the spur of the moment,
but after rubbing his head vigorously, Freddy
hit upon a fresh distraction.

“I don’t know what it would do to Miss
Harbutt’s hair, but suppose we dig a pond
and put the gold-fish in it?”
16 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘“T don’t think there’s anything very wick-
ed in doing that,” observed Kitty in a tone
of disappointment.

‘Not for boys to do it, but it is for girls.
You'll make yourselves in such a mess,”
said Freddy consolingly. ‘‘ Besides, Joskins
will get in a frightful rage about it.”

This, of course, added considerably to its
attractions; and Mary quickly asked where
and how such a work was to be accomplished.

“There’s a lovely place just this side
of those rows of peas. Joskins has put in a
lot of spinach seeds, I think; but they
haven't come up yet, so it doesn’t matter.
We can get the spades and things, and dig
a hole and then fill it with water.”

‘But where shall we get the water from?”’
asked Kitty.

“From the scullery of course; bring it
in pails.”

“Yes. If Jane doesn’t stop us,’ said
Mary, who knew that the housemaid was
never in an obliging mood when her fellow-
servant was holiday-making. ‘She is sure
to make a fuss about it.”

“Oh! we'll manage it somehow,’

?

cried
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 17

Freddy hopefully. “And now come and
help. We'll dig a regular pit.”

By this time the fowls had dined hand-
somely. All the snails and slugs had fled
or been gobbled up, and their enemies had
commenced scratching holes in eager search
for the succulent worms beneath the surface.

Quite oblivious of the havoc which was
being wrought in the flower garden, the
three girls and their brother, having found
sundry garden implements, had commenced
their task.

The mere fact that several rows of seeds
had been carefully sown on the precise
spot of their excavation troubled them not
at all, and with fork and spade and trowel,
they quickly heaped up the earth, working
with such desperate energy that before
long hillocks of mould surrounded a hole
of large dimensions. Freddy, who was
naturally the leader of the party, mainly
employed himself in directing the operations.
He stood in the centre of the rapidly deepen-
ing pond and urged the girls to greater
exertions, although occasionally he would
throw up a spadeful of earth, much of which

2
18 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

found a resting-place on his sisters’ borrow-
ed suits.

“Here!” he exclaimed at last, with an
air of triumph; “I think that’s big enough
for anything. We've dug it out in no
time.”

“We!” replied Mary, in an irritating
tone. “I don’t think you have done much,
except throw the dirt down our necks,”
and she wriggled her shoulders with dis-
comfort as she spoke.

“Ah, but I told you how to,” explained
the boy, with a superior air. “I am the
captain and you are the common soldiers.”

“We are not common at all,” protested
Lucy. “Even Miss Harbutt never says
that of us.”

‘‘ Are but I mean private soldiers. Captains
don’t carry guns; but they wave their swords
and tell the company where to shoot. You're
my company, and I told you where to
shovel.”

“Thank you so much,” said Mary, with
a suspicion of sarcasm. “And now that
we have dug the pond, perhaps the captain
will tell the private soldiers how to carry
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 19

the water; and how Jane is to be persuaded
into letting us have it?”

“Pll try at any rate,” said Freddy, dubi-
ously. ‘But she is in an awful temper.
You girls will back me up, won’t you?”

Having obtained their promise to support
him, Freddy marched off kitchenwards
followed by his sisters.

Jane had just finished ‘cleaning up’. The
scullery floor was as white and spotless as
scrubbing and hearthstone could make it,
while every plate and dish was wiped and
put away in the rack. Since the house-
maid had not only her own duties to per-
form, but also those of the cook, she was
a little behindhand with her work, and
consequently her temper was not to be
relied upon.

“T say, Jane,” observed the boy carelessly,
“where are all the pails?”

“Pails! Master Freddy; what do you
want with pails?” asked the girl suspi-
ciously.

“We just want to water the garden—
that’s all.”

“Why, it hasn’t long left off raining.
20 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Besides, I won’t have you running in and
out the clean scullery with your dirty boots,
slopping the water all over the place.”

“Oh! we shan’t make a mess. Where
are they?” persisted Freddy.

“JT tell you that you can’t have them,
Master Freddy,” said Jane crossly.

“T shall have them if I choose,”’ was the
lofty reply.

“We'll see about that. The Mistress said
you were not to come in the kitchen at
all, or the scullery either. Those are my
orders and I'll abide by them.”

“But we will be careful, really. Do let
us have them,” Mary broke in persuasively.

“Tll do nothing—” At that moment the
housemaid glanced up and stood rigid with
astonishment.

“Good gracious! Miss Mary. What Lave
you got on?” she gasped at last, when
her surprise permitted her to speak.

In the excitement of pond-making the
children had quite forgotten their remark-
able costumes, and it was with a little cry
of dismay that they noticed Jane’s shocked
looks.
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 21

“Tt is—it— Oh! we are playing at being
boys, Jane: that’s all,’ explained Mary
quickly. “So we all put on Freddy’s
clothes.”

“Well, that’s a nice game to play at,
I'm sure, Miss Mary,” the housemaid ob-
served with dignity. ‘And what your
Mamma, or what Miss Harbutt, would say
if they saw you, goodness alone knows.”

‘But they won’t see us, so it doesn’t
matter,’ remarked Lucy cheerfully. “ And
as soon as we have finished making the
pond, we are going to put on our own
dresses again; so do let us have the pails,
Jane. We really will be careful.”

‘No, I will not. There’s your answer; and
Vil trouble you to go out of my kitchen
and leave me to do my work;” and the
ruffled Jane brushed past the group and
retired into the cellar to refill a coal scuttle,

Now the housemaid’s refusal to allow
the use of the scullery tap and the pails,
meant that their labours of the last half
hour would be thrown away. This was plain
even to Freddy’s intellect, and it was also
evident that Jane was not ina yielding
22 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

mood. While the boy stood at a loss what
to do, a desperate expedient flashed across
Mary’s mind.

The thought no sooner came to her than
it was acted upon. She made a sudden dash
at the door at the top of the cellar stairs,
closed it, and turned the key in the lock,
thus making the servant a prisoner.

A shout of laughter from Freddy reward-
ed the feat, while Kitty and Lucy looked
on wonderingly.

“That’s splendid!” cried the boy. ‘lt
will teach her a lesson. We'll keep her
down there all the afternoon. But shan’t
we come in for it afterwards,” he added
soberly.

“T don’t care,’ answered Mary, who by
this time had grown quite reckless of conse-
quences. ‘‘ We don’t often have the chance
of an afternoon’s fun, and Jane shan’t stop
us if I can help it.”

The housemaid having accomplished her
errand, mounted the stairs slowly, while the
four children waited in the passage, silent
but expectant.

The girl turned the handle, at first quietly
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 23

and then with increasing vigour, but it was
not until she had wrestled with the lock and
heard Freddy’s chuckle of satisfaction, that
it dawned upon her she was the victim of a
conspiracy.

“Master Freddy! Master Freddy! Let
me out directly.”

There was no answer, andafter a moment’s
pause she again protested.

‘Master Freddy, you naughty boy! un-
lock the door.”

Except for a noise which was a little like
laughter choked back by handkerchiefs,
her demand passed unheeded.

“Unless you open the door directly I
shall tell the Mistress the very moment she
comes home,” cried Jane, her temper rising
at the irritating, if smothered, merriment.
“J won’t have you play your tricks on me,
Besides, there’s a lot to be done yet,” and
she shook the door violently as if to em-
phasise her threat.

Still there came no reply, unless the
gurgling sounds from behind the handker-
chiefs could be regarded as such.

‘Miss Mary, are you there? I believe
24 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

you are, although you won’t answer. Turn
the key, if you please.’ The severe and
lofty tone in which the request was made
moved Mary to open mirth.

“But I have, Jane,” she said at last.

“You have? But the door won’t open,”
said the girl, after another earnest endeav-
our to escape.

‘No. I turned the key the other way,”
was the grave reply.

“You're a very wicked child. Let me out
this moment,” exclaimed the victim more
than ever enraged at being not only a
prisoner, but a laughing-stock.

‘No, I don’t think we will yet. It’s nice
and cool down there and the gas is alight,
and I’m sure you would like a rest after
working so hard,” remarked the eldest
sister soothingly. “It won't take very long
to get the water we want, and then we
will let you out. Come along, you three, or
Miss Harbutt will be back to interfere.”

Heedless of the shower of blows which
fell upon the cellar door, and Jane’s piteous
appeal for liberty, the rebels ferreted out
several pails and began their task.
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 25

There was no occasion for the prisoner
to witness the terrible work which followed.
The sound of the water splashing on the
scullery floor as the rebels tilted the full
pails; the tramp of four pairs of boots thickly
plastered, as she guessed, with garden mould,
worked upon the feelings of the hapless
housemaid, until she scarcely knew how to
restrain herself from bursting open the door.
Previous experiences had taught her what
to expect. Everything in the scullery which
had been carefully scrubbed and tidied, was
probably turned upside down. Pools of water
mixing with the mud were making her after-
noon labour worse than useless, while the
newly whitened steps outside had, by this
time, become a fearful sight to an orderly
domestic.

But the heartless children paid no atten-
tion to her shrill appeals for liberty, or the
succession of peremptory ‘bangs’ upon the
door. They ran in and out, knocking
the pails against each other when empty,
and staggering under their weight when
full, amid shouts of laughter, just as if
no such person as Jane existed. Her cup
26 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

of misery filled much more quickly than
the pond. Although Freddy and his sisters
tore to and fro with remarkable energy,
emptying bucket after bucket of water into
the hole, it disappeared through the earth
as soon as it was poured in, and the hope
of seeing a miniature lake with gold-fish
swimming gracefully from side to side, began
to dwindle rapidly away. The climax was
brought about by Kitty. She was standing
on the brink of this very irritating pond
which refused to behave as one, when the
earth slipped from beneath her feet, and,
with a cry of fear she slid quietly on her
back into the centre of the liquid mud.
When she scrambled on to dry land, Fred-
dy’s flannel suit, in which she was arrayed,
presented so grotesque an appearance that
the onlookers burst into peals of laughter,
and it was not until the corners of the
child’s mouth began to droop ominously
that Mary went to her rescue.

“Never mind, Kitty, you’re not hurt; but
oh! my dear! what a state you are in.
We shall have to scrape you.”

“Tt is all that stupid Freddy,” complained
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 27

Kitty, with a catch in her voice. “ Digging
a silly pond that won't hold water. And
I am so wet and messy. Oh! it is nasty!
Boys always play horrid games like this.”

“That’s right. Pitch into me,” cried
Freddy, hurt by this ungrateful remark.
“Tve been finding fun for you all the after-
noon, and this is what I get for it.”

“But you might have guessed that the
water wouldn’t stay where we put it,”
chimed in Mary, who was busily engaged
in wiping some of the mud from her sister,
with a pocket-handkerchief; ‘only you
haven’t any sense.”

‘“Oh! Look here. If it comes to that,
you're older than I am, Mary, so you
haven’t any sense either,” growled the boy.

“Yes. It’s as much your fault as his,
Mary,” said Lucy crossly, who was not
going to see her twin-brother falsely accused.
‘You're the eldest. It is downright mean
to say that.”

Since the mischief was done, quarrelling
was quite useless, so that Mary wisely held
her tongue, and, assisted by Lucy, continued
to smear the dirt more evenly over Kitty’s
28 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

costume. The three were so occupied in
this performance that they failed to notice
Freddy peer through the laurel hedge,
and then quietly steal away from the scene
of this latest exploit; neither did they hear
light footsteps coming steadily from the
direction of the side gate. They looked
up quickly enough, however, when they
heard the well-known voice of Miss Harbutt
in accents of the greatest astonishment.

‘“Tt—it—it— Good gracious!”

Now Miss Harbutt, in spite of the slight-
ing remarks of Mary and her sisters had been
pleased to make upon her, was a pleasant-
faced lady of forty, agreeable enough, if
‘somewhat cold, when the girls were well-
behaved and obedient, which sometimes
happened; but stern and resolute during
their frequent spells of naughtiness. At
present, she looked very grave and sur-
prised, while the dreadful silence that fol-
lowed her first remark made the culprits
not a little uncomfortable.

“What docs this mean?”

There was no answer.

“Mary, will you kindly explain?”
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 29

“Well, you see, Miss Harbutt, we—we—
thought we should like to make a pond,
so we dug a hole and poured water into
it, and it wouldn’t stop, so Kitty fell in
and—and—we’re wiping the mud off, and
th—th—that’s all,” said Mary, all in one
breath.

“Indeed. But how is it that you are in
these extraordinary costumes? I can’t under-
stand it,’ continued the governess more
severely. ‘‘I feel quite ashamed to look at you.”

‘We put them on—for fun,” came the
answer.

“For fun! A very pleasant, ladylike idea
of amusement to be sure.”

“There is no harm in it. Boys’ clothes
are very comfortable. We should always
like to wear them,” cried Mary recklessly.

“T am very surprised and grieved to hear
you say so. Go to your room and change
directly. 1 am extremely angry with you.”

There was no gainsaying a request so
sharply given, and the three culprits, with
mutinous faces, walked with much dignity
into the house, Miss Harbutt bringing up
the rear.
30 ABHOUSHEWIE OF RE BEES:

No sooner were they indoors than a
mysterious series of thumps from the region
of the kitchen, brought the governess to
a sudden standstill.

‘‘ What is that noise?” she asked abruptly.

‘“T expect it’s Jane doing something,”
explained Mary eagerly. “Shall I go and
see?”

“Thank you. I will go myself,” and
while the girls slowly ascended the stair-
case, Miss Harbutt proceeded to investigate.

No sooner had the lady reached the
cellar door than the reason of Jane's vigor-
ous onslaught became manifest, and with-
out delay the unfortunate prisoner was
released. The girl emerged quite scarlet
with anger and exertion, and in answer to
Miss Harbutt’s astonished gaze poured forth
her wrongs.

“Those children locked me in, Miss. I
don’t know which, but it’s one of ’em.
They wanted to slop the water all over
the scullery and I wouldn’t let ’em; so this
is the way they served me. I’ve been there
for hours, Miss,—all among the coals and
spiders and beetles. Oh! it’s shameful!
A DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON. 31

And just look here, Miss. There’s a nice
state for a scullery to be in—just after I’ve
cleared up,” she continued, glaring round
her domain. ‘Look at it. What isn’t water
is mud. Would any girl put up with it?
I'll give notice—that’s what I'll do. It’s
enough to drive anyone out of their wits
to live with such naughty children. I left
it as clean as a new pin, and now it’s—
it's—road scrapings and burst pipes.”

In truth the scene was enough to strike
terror into the heart of the bravest housemaid.
Boots caked with mud had left their marks
in every direction. Pail after pail had spilt
part of its contents on the hearth-stoned
floor, so that earth and water had spread
in dark muddy streams over its once white
surface. ‘Oh! it’s too bad—too bad!”
and after another glance at the havoc wrought
by the late occupiers, Jane burst into tears.

“They shall be well punished; you may
be sure of that.” Miss Harbutt spoke as
though she meant it.

“Punished! I’m sure I hope so. But that
won't help to clean my scullery, Miss,”
sobbed the girl. ‘Ive tried and tried to
32 A HOUSERUIE OF REBELS:

keep things tidy and nice; but it’s no good,
Pll go at the end of my month as sure as
my name is Jane. Those children are more
than any girl can stand.” With which threat
the girl retired to nurse her grief in the
kitchen, while Miss Harbutt followed the
small sinners upstairs, intent upon meting
out a richly deserved punishment.
CL ASr Ae Reon

THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS—-AND WHAT
CAME OF IT.

Ir having been made plain why Mary
rattled in vain at the door-handle, and
why Miss Harbutt turned the key from the
other side, the further exploits of these
model young ladies will be related in the
order in which they occurred.

The eldest girl retired from the door and
sat herself, with a shrug of the shoulders,
on the table by Lucy’s side.

“After all,’ she said, having further con-
templated the extent of their wickedness,
“T don’t see that we've been very naughty.
Not nearly so naughty as we could have
been if we had tried harder. If boys wear
knickerbockers and things, why shouldn't
girls? I’m sure there are heaps of ladies
on bicycles who do. I wonder if they get
locked in the nursery when they go home?”

“T daresay they would—if Miss Harbutt

3
34 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

had anything to do with it,” snapped Lucy.
‘She would say, ‘Oh, how unladylike! You
must be severely punished. I shall tell your
Mamma.’” And the child’s imitation of
Miss Harbutt’s manner was close enough
to send the other two into fits of laughter.
“And even if we did let the chickens
out, the poor things enjoyed it. Besides,
they scratched up all the slugs and snails—
at least I suppose they did,’ Mary observed.
“J daresay. Anyhow they scratched up
everything else,” cried Lucy. ‘So I expect
Joskins won’t be very grateful after all.”
“No. That is just it,’ observed Kitty
woefully. ‘Whenever we try to do any-
thing useful, it always turns out wrong some-
how. I don’t see the use of trying to be
good. You get just as much punished for
it as if you were naughty. Do you recollect
filling father’s ink-stands one day?”
‘“When we upset the ink on some books?”
cried the eldest girl, with a flash of recol-
lection.
“Ves. Well, we didn’t mean to. But if
we had done it on purpose, we couldn’t
have been worse treated.”
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 35

“Tt is always the way,” sighed Lucy.

“Tf we were only boys, it would be all
right,” explained Mary indignantly. “Boys
don’t get punished. They get all the fun,
and girls get all the plain teas and shuttings
up. It’s a great shame!”

At that moment there was the rattle of
tea-cups outside the door, followed by the
turning of the key. The children looked
round and saw Jane of the angry counten-
ance enter the room, carrying a tray, which
she ‘“‘plumped”’ down upon the table, with
quite unnecessary violence. Then, without
a word, she retired, banging the door and
turning the key behind her.

‘“Bad-tempered thing,” sniffed Lucy. “ Just
because we locked her in the cellar and made
the scullery a little dirty.”

“Some people get out of temper for no-
thing at all. But never mind. Let us have
tea, or whatever it is.’ And Mary threw
herself into a chair at the table, an example
followed by the rest.

‘I suppose it is a very plain tea,” sighed
Lucy.

“I should think it was;” and Mary criti-
36 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

cally examined the substantial slices of bread
which Jane had provided. “ Can anybody see
the butter?”

“Pm not sure;’ and Kitty turned her
slice over contemptuously.

“T think my piece is a little greasy in
the middle.”
~ “And I wonder what Jane calls this?”
added Mary in great scorn. ‘Milk and
water?”

Lucy tasted it, and made a wry face be-
fore replying:

“Doesn’t something dreadful happen to
people who mix water with milk? Aren't
they put in prison?”

“Are they?” chimed in Kitty. “ Then the
next time we’re out with Jane, let us give
her in charge of a policeman.”

‘“Whenever she is out, she generally is
in charge of a policeman, and so it won't
make much difference,” explained Mary, who
had not gone through life with her eyes shut.

At this moment they were startled by a
sudden cry from Lucy, who had sprung
from her chair and was eagerly fumbling
in her pocket.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 37

“Qh for goodness! I have forgotten
something. You know when Miss Harbutt
went into the kitchen?”

The other girls nodded.

“Well, I guessed we should be locked
in with a plain tea, and so I rushed to the
store cupboard and stole something.”

“What?” cried Mary and Kitty simulta-
neously.

jam

“Jam! Where is it?”

“In my pocket, wrapped up in paper. I
hope it hasn’t come through. No—not much.
There it is,’ and the girl placed a sodden,
unappetising newspaper parcel on the table,
with an air of triumph.

“You're a very good child indeed,” said
Mary, hugging her with a burst of enthu-
siasm.

“But it looks rather messy, doesn’t it?”
enquired Kitty, who had been gazing doubt-
fully upon the unwholesome package in
which print and jam struggled for the
‘mastery.

“There is gratitude
rejoinder. ‘‘ Anyhow it’s better than nothing.

!”’ was Lucy’s indignant

”
38 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“So it is—ever so much,” said her con-
science-stricken sister. ‘But how are we
going to spread it? We haven’t any knives,
or spoons either.”

For a moment or two the trio remained
non-plussed, until a happy idea occurred to
Mary.

“JT know. Pencils will do. We are not
wearing our company manners.”

Slate pencils were poor substitutes for
knives or spoons; but the girls persevered
bravely, and before long each slice of bread
was bountifully smeared with jam.

‘“T wish it didn’t taste so ‘slaty,’’’ com-
plained Kitty.

“Oh! you are too particular,” snapped
Lucy, who, having provided the luxury,
regarded such an observation as base in-
gratitude. ‘“You needn’t eat any, you know,
if you would rather not.”

‘No. There is plenty of bread,’’ added
Mary severely. “Perhaps you would prefer
that.”

Crushed by these severe remarks, Kitty
munched away in silence, while Mary looked
round with a discontented air.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 39

“There is something wrong about us,”
she said after a pause.

“Wrong! What sort of wrong? Do you
mean naughty?” asked Lucy.

‘No. Not naughty. We are too proper.
We sit just as Miss Harbutt tells us to sit.
Let us put our elbows on the table. She
says it is very rude. So we'll do it.”

This admirable suggestion was carried
out promptly, and three pairs of elbows
sprawled over the table.

“And then,” continued Mary with a
wicked gleam in her eye, ‘Miss Harbutt
says that to speak when our mouths are
full is shocking.”

‘Oh! So shocking!” observed Lucy, again
mimicking that good lady. “Then we will
chatter like anything.” And amid uproarious
merriment their tongues wagged vigorously,
for all the world as though a dozen farm-
yard fowls had been let loose in the nursery.

At last, however, the jam disposed of,
they all jumped up from the table, and
with great noise and clatter heaped the cups
and saucers on the tray, which was finally
deposited in a remote corner of the room.
40 PenHOUSE HU Olek EBS:

‘“What shall we do now?” asked Kitty,
who had been making vain attempts to
slide on the carpet. “Is there anything to
read?”

“Only a book of Fairy Stories,” replied
Lucy. “And I don’t care for fairy stories.
Nobody believes there are such things as
fairies.

“Of course not. Besides, we know the
tales by heart,” yawned Mary. ‘“ What else
is there. Any skipping ropes?”

“They are down stairs.”

‘Any tops?”

‘“No. Besides, you can’t spin tops.”

‘Indeed I can,” observed Mary indignant-
ly. “Freddy taught me. But as usual Miss
Harbutt said it was ‘so unladylike’ and
took mine away. When I grow up,” she
added with great emphasis, “if there is one
thing I shall try zo¢ to be, it is a lady.”

‘“So shall I,” cried Kitty with much sym-
pathy. “Why, ladies mustn’t even whistle.
Let us try whistling. P’r’aps Miss Harbutt
will hear us,” she added vindictively.

“Oh yes! Let’s. And— Oh for goodness!

I’ve forgotten something,” and Lucy, who


They were borne away . : : wpwards
and ouwards,
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 41

had just pursed up her lips, once more
dived her hand into her pocket.

“Jam?” exclaimed Mary.

“Or sweets?” cried Kitty, with glowing
eyes.

“No, greedy things,” replied Lucy re-
provingly. “Better than that—a book. I
found it under Freddy’s pillow this morning.
It is one of those with a picture in the
front. He calls it a ‘penny horrible’. Oh!
it’s so exciting!” and flourishing the book
in the air, the girl sat on the table, while the
other two took up a position each side of her.

‘What is the name of it?” asked Kitty,
with a wondering look at the highly colour-
ed picture with ornamented the cover.

“< Daring Dick ’—‘ Daring Dick.’ Isn’t that
beautiful? ‘Daring Dick, or the Scorpion of
the Sierras.’”’

“But what is it all about?” queried the
elder girl.

“Indians! Red Indians! Fightings! Tor-
turings ! Shootings! Oh! It’s lovely!” cried
_ Lucy, with enthusiasm.

‘And do they really kill one another?”
whispered the awe-struck Kitty.

’
42 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘Oh yes! By dozens. And when they are
tortured first, it’s better than anything. It’s
so creepy.”

“T suppose that picture is where the
torture is going on?” observed the elder girl.

“Yes. You see this is how it all was,”
commenced Lucy. “ Daring Dick was chums
—Freddy says ‘chums’—with one tribe.
And when he was away killing lions or
elephants or some other American wild
beast,” she explained with a fine disregard
for accuracy, ‘another tribe came along
in the dark and killed a lot of his tribe
and took the others into custody—”’

‘““You mean captivity,” corrected Mary.

“Don’t interrupt. It’s the same thing.
Well, when he came back,” she continued,
gasping, “and found what they had done,
he was quite annoyed about it, and ‘vowed
vengeance.’ They’re always ‘vowing ven-
geance’ in this book. So he got some other
white people and red people together and
‘followed the trail ’—they are always ‘ follow-
ing the trail’ in this book—and caught the
other tribe just as they were beginning to
torture the prisoners.”
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 43

“Oh! How did they torture them?”
begged Kitty “Please tell us.”

“Yes, do,’ echoed Mary. ‘“ That is the
part I like.”

“They throw tomahawks at them and
shoot bows and arrows into their arms
and legs, and when they get tired of that,
they—they—burn them,” explained Lucy,
dropping her voice to an awed whisper.

‘‘ And—and what then?” said Kitty eagerly.

‘“‘T suppose that is all. I don’t see what
else they can do.”

There was a moment’s pause after this
gruesome recital, and then Mary sprang
down from the table, bursting with a great
idea.

‘“Wouldn’t it make a lovely game?”

“Oh! Splendid! Let us play it.” And the
younger girls bounced about the room eager
to commence.

“Very well,” continued Mary. “Ill belong
to the torturing tribe.”

“And so will I,” cried Lucy.

“And so will I,” echoed Kitty.

“But look here,’ observed the eldest
girl, with a puzzled expression. “If we all
44. A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

belong to the torturers, there is nobody
left to torture.”

“ Ah, dear! I never thought of that,” and
Kitty paused in the midst of a wild war-
dance.

“If we could only capture Miss Harbutt,”
said Lucy viciously. ‘Shouldn’t I like to
dance round and throw things at her.”

“Tt would be nice. But it can’t be done.
I wonder if Freddy would be a captive?”
was Mary’s next suggestion.

“Tam sure he wouldn’t. Boys are dread-
ful cowards,” at once answered Lucy.

“Then you be one, Lucy dear,” said
Mary coaxingly. ‘I’m sure you would
enjoy it.”

“Please, Lucy,” chimed in Kitty. ““We
wouldn’t burn you, anyhow.”

“No. It hurts frightfully. Besides, when
you are tortured, you have to keep quiet,
to shew you don’t mind it; but I’m sure
I should shriek. You try, Mary; you are
the eldest.”

Each in turn, with the most sisterly hugs
and endearments, attempted to secure a
victim; but without avail.
rd
Bal oA



She went sosring up high above the heads
of her sisters,
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 45

They were just giving up the idea in
despair, when a happy thought occurred
to Lucy.

“Oh for goodness! I’ve thought of
something. Why not torture the dolls?”

Here was the very thing; and a sudden
rush was made for the large play-box,
which stood in a corner by the fireplace,
to find the unhappy captives of the attack-
ing party. In a few moments the floor was
strewn with toys, some broken, others
almost new, and it was not until the box
was nearly empty that Mary found the
objects of their search.

‘“Here’s Juliana! Catch, Lucy.” And a doll
flew up to the ceiling, and then fell head
first on the carpet. The same fate over-
took Ophelia, who was Kitty’s property,
and when Mary sprang up holding a third
doll, known as Belinda, by the leg, and
swung her round violently, the number of
victims was complete.

At one time, these three playthings were
- the most treasured belongings of the sisters.
But their beautiful wax faces by constant
kissing, lost the pink and white bloom of
46 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

health, and became a bilious yellow from
too many caresses. The constant dressing
and undressing to which they were subjected
wore out their clothes; so that their waning
charms, and the increasing age of their
small mistresses, who professed to be too
old for dolls, found them ragged and dirty
and battered; creatures not of worship but
of contempt.

‘You haven't grown any prettier, Belinda,”
cried Mary, after a critical examination. “I
haven't seen you for a year, and you are
uglier than ever.”

“And so is Ophelia,” said Lucy.

“ And so is Juliana,” added Kitty. ‘‘ They
deserve to be tortured for being hideous.
Now let us begin. You know all about it,
Lucy.

“ Well,” explained Lucy, with some deliber-
ation. “They ought to be tied to stakes,
with bundles of wood all round them—to
set fire to, you know. But we haven't any
stakes or anything. Besides, we should
burn the house down.”

“That is a nuisance. Never mind. We'll
leave the burning out,’ suggested Mary,
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 47

“and only do the tomahawking part of it.
What are tomahawks, Lucy?”

“Sort of knives, I think. And there are
no knives up here.”

“Or bows and arrows either,’ chimed
in Kitty ruefully,

“Tt is stupid. We have nothing to torture
them with.”

But Lucy’s quick wit once more came to
the rescue.

“T know! I’ve thought of something,” she
cried, clapping her hands. ‘Don’t you re-
collect Freddy making some darts out of
father’s penholders—and father being so
angry about it.”

“Oh yes!” exclaimed Mary eagerly. ‘‘ Be-
cause they were his best nibs, and Freddy
stuck them all over the drawingroom ceiling.”

“Well, I believe some of them are up
here somewhere. We will search.”

With this new-born hope to cheer them,
the girls commenced an eager hunt for the
weapons. At last a cry of triumph from
Kitty proclaimed that her quest was success-
ful, and with a flourish, she produced three
darts from a drawer in the table.
48 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Here they are. Splendid! the very
things!” she cried.

“Oh! won’t they stick in beautifully?
They are heaps better than tomahawks.
Now where shall we put the prisoners?”

“Sit them on the mantelpiece,” suggested
Lucy.

The girls were just going to adopt this
method when Mary stopped them.

“Wait a minute. Oughtn’t they to be
black?”

‘Not black—red. I suppose Red Indians
are red; aren't they?” observed Kitty
doubtfully.

‘Anyhow, they shouldn’t be white. Let
us paint them. There is a paint-box at the
bottom of the play-box. I saw it.”

This idea seemed too good to be wasted,
and so the play-box was once more rum-
maged, and a box of paints produced,
containing everything necessary for the
occasion.

Lucy having discovered some liquid in
the bottom of a cup, poured it into the
saucer, scornfully remarking that “the milk
wouldn’t make any difference,’ and then
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 49

the trio sat at the table, each with her doll
in her lap, and prepared to ornament the
battered lineaments of her once cherished
favourite.

“They ought not to be all one colour,”
remarked Lucy, dabbing her brush in the
milk and water, and then rubbing it on a
square of vermilion paint. ‘ You see when
Red Indians fight, they put their war paint
on all stripy, you know, to make them-
selves ugly.”

“Poor Belinda is ugly enough already,”
laughed Mary.

“And Ophelia’s nose is smashed flat,”
said Kitty, with a giggle.

“And Juliana has lost one eye and a bit
of an arm,” cried Lucy. ‘“ We'll suppose
that they have been tortured before.”

‘Not much supposing, if they could really
feel,” observed Mary, working busily, with
her head on one side. “I jumped on Belinda
once.”

“Oh! I never did that to Ophelia,”
remarked Kitty, a trifle shocked. ‘But I
used to bend her legs the wrong way to
make her sit up properly.”
50 ASHOUSEFUL OF REBEES:

“And once I left Juliana inside the fender,
and her face all melted. She looked so
funny afterwards,’ and Lucy shook with
merriment at the recollection.

“There, isn’t that beautiful?” said Mary,
holding up Belinda with an air of pride.

“Rather smudgy. But somehow the paint
won't stop where you put it,” replied Kitty,
gazing ruefully at the blurred line of red
and black on Ophelia’s face.

‘Never mind. They ought to be hideous,”
exclaimed Lucy, springing from her chair.
“Oh! I should like to paint Miss Harbutt.
How funny she would look with dabs all
over her. Now put the others up here,”
she continued, placing Juliana on the mantel-
piece with her back to the wall, “and we'll
commence the torture.”

‘We must stand here,’ commanded Mary,
taking three long strides to a dark stain
on the carpet, caused by the fall of an ink-
pot—“ and fancy they are all Miss Harbutts ;
we shall throw all the straighter. Lucy,
you have first ‘shy’—as Freddy calls
it,’ she added, seeing the shocked looks
of her sisters. “And Kitty and I will
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 51

beat the tom-toms, or whatever they are
called.”

“But what are tom-toms?” asked Kitty.

“T don’t know. Drums, I think. Bang the
cups and saucers together, that will do.
And dance about and ‘stomp,’ to make
Miss Harbutt think we are enjoying our-
selves,” she added, her eyes twinkling with
mischief.

Then commenced a perfect storm of noise.
Each girl, in a great state of excitement,
took her place on the ink-stain and aimed
the darts, with more or less precision, at
the unfortunate dolls who sat limp and woe-
begone on the mantelpiece. The other pair
employed their time in uttering shrill cries,
dancing round the table, and banging the
tea-things together, only stopping to applaud
wildly when one or the other of the dolls
received a dart full on her waxen face or
saw-dust body.

At last, exhausted by their exertions, they
all paused in their sport and examined the
victims to findwhat damage had been inflicted.

“We haven’t quite killed them; have
we?” laughed Kitty.
52 PD HOUSERUE- Ob REBEES:

‘No. But they look very uncomfortable,”
said Mary. ‘And they would look more
uncomfortable if they could feel. What
did you say happens to the prisoners when
the torturing part is over?”

“Well, they’re supposed to be tied to
posts, with faggots round them, and they’re
burnt,” remarked Lucy.

‘“Oh! How horrid!” ejaculated Mary, with
a little shudder.

‘But of course we can’t do that; because
there is no wood, or matches either.”

“What a pity Freddy isn’t here,’ con-
tinued Mary regretfully. ‘His pockets are
always full of matches.”

‘‘Matches, why?” said the innocent Kitty.

‘‘ Because—’”’ observed Lucy mysteriously,
“Only don’t tell anyone—because he
smokes!”

‘““No!” ejaculated the others.

‘He does, though. And gets dreadfully
illattercit.”

‘“Then why does he do it?” said Mary
puzzled.

‘‘Because he ought not to. Boys are very
like girls in some things,’ answered the




Leaving the Girls to their Novel Repast.
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 53

observant Lucy. ‘“ Anyhow, we can’t burn
the dolls, and so there is an end of this
game.”

By way of answer, Mary seized Belinda
roughly by the leg and swung her round
vigorously.

“There, Belinda, I don’t want you any
longer. You were not very beautiful, white ;
but now you are a perfect fright and I can’t
bear you.” So saying, she hurled the doll
to the ceiling, and it fell with a dull thud
behind a screen which stood in the corner
of the room.

“Ophelia—you blackamoor! go after
Belinda,” cried Kitty, following her elder
sister’s example.

“And as for you, Juliana! I would
rather nurse Miss Harbutt,” and Lucy flung
the doll after its misused companions.
‘““And now what shall we do?” continued
the child, with a yawn, throwing herself into
a chair. “I am sleepy somehow. But it isn’t
bedtime yet.”

‘Not for hours,” replied Mary. “ Torturing
people is very hard work—isn’t it? I don’t
know what we can do with ourselves. Some-
64 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

body says that there is always evil work
for idle hands to do. But I can’t find any.
Wish I could. I am sleepy. Read some
of that Indian story, Lucy, to keep me
awake.”

“T am much too tired. Besides, there are
so many long words in it that I can’t pro-
nounce. It’s a very funny thing; but I never
felt so sleepy before in all my life;” and
she stretched herself wearily, and then let
her head drop on her arms, which rested
upon the table.

“So am I,” mumbled Kitty, who had
curled herself up on the floor and was
leaning against Mary’s knee. ‘I can scarcely
keep my eyes open. I thought people with
guilty consciences never went to sleep?”

‘‘T suppose our consciences have got used
to being guilty,” replied Mary, between two
yawns. ‘‘ Anyhow, I shall never keep awake.”

“JT can’t either,” sighed Lucy.

‘Nor I,” murmured Kitty.

And in a few moments the trio seemed
sleeping soundly. How long they remained
unconscious, they had no means of know-
ing; but Mary awoke suddenly, with an
THE TORTURE OF THE DOLLS. 55

uneasy feeling that something was about
to happen.

The room was almost dark, and the girl
could only faintly perceive Lucy’s figure
outlined against the wall behind her. Kitty
was stirring uneasily, and moaning a little
as though in a troubled dream.

Then came absolute silence, broken at
last by faint sounds of music; music so
strange and sweet and sad that Mary had
never before heard anything like it. The
strains brought a lump to her throat.

It was certainly no one playing on the
piano in the drawing-room, while it still
less resembled the music of a German
band. She sat quite motionless, drinking
in the unearthly melody, until a soft glow
stole into the room, and melted the pre-
vailing darkness. The girl looked round
to see whence came the light, but with-
out success; and while lost in wonderment,
a slight rustling behind the screen made
her rivet her gaze in this direction. Then
a most wonderful thing happened.

From behind the folds there appeared
three figures cloaked from head to foot
56 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

in some filmy, gauze-like material. They
advanced to the centre of the room, slowly
waving silver wands which shimmered as
they moved. Then the long veils fell away
from the strange visitors, and to Mary’s
horror, she recognized the three dolls, now
grown to the same size as the girls them-
‘selves.

As though with one accord, the girls
sprang to their feet, too horror-stricken, at
first, to utter a word.

‘““Who are you? Oh! Please, who are
you?” said Mary, at length, in a frightened
whisper.

“T am Belinda,’ came back the answer
in a very low reproachful voice.

‘“Then—then—you are Ophelia!” panted
Kitty, clutching Mary’s arm in abject terror.
‘‘And—and you are alive!”

“Ophelia! Alive!” said the doll, turning
her poor battered, painted face to the child,
who cowered down appalled at the sight.

“Tt’s—it’s Juliana! Oh for goodness!”
wailed Lucy, rushing across the floor and
clinging to Mary.

“fam Juliana,” echoed the third figure.
THE LORTURE OF THE DOLLS: 57

The girls shrank away as the dolls
advanced towards . them, until, having
made vain attempts to get through the
walls behind them, they were brought
to bay.

‘What do you want? We—we—haven’t
done anything.” Mary cried in gasps.

«“Come!-Come!” came the: reply,_in the
same low sad tone.

“But we—we don’t want to. We are
a—a—afraid!”’

“Follow! follow! I bid you follow,” said
the reproachful voice.

“'W—w—where will you take us to?”

‘Where cruel acts shall meet with their
reward. Follow! Follow!”

As the doll spoke, she and her com-
panions came quite close, so that each dent
on their faces, each mark that ill-usage and
neglect had caused, could be plainly seen,
through the dirty, soiled dresses, which
somehow had become transparent.

Ther the wands circled once more and
fell lightly on the shoulders of the children.

In a moment, the walls and room dis-
appeared. There came a sweep of keen
58 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

air which left them breathless; and they
were borne away by some resistless power,
upwards and onwards, until there came a
whirl and tumult in their brains, a rush
and roar of sound, and then they knew
no more.
CHV Pant Ret tte

A REALLY SURPRISING TRANSFORMATION.

WHEN the girls regained their senses it
was broad daylight, and they were lying
beneath the shade of a very large bracken
at the base of an enormous oak tree.

Mary was the first one to awake. She
sat up, rubbed her eyes and looked round
bewildered, trying to piece together her
thoughts. It seemed only a few minutes
before that they were all in the schoolroom,
playing at Indians; but now they were in
a forest.

Was she dreaming? She shut her eyes
tight and pinched herself, expecting to re-
open them upon familiar surroundings. But
no. Pinching had no effect. There were the
fronds of wild fern curling gracefully over
her head, and there was the mighty tree-
trunk, which seemed hundreds and hundreds
feet in height, reaching nearly to the sky.

Then she noticed that her sleeping sisters
60 A. HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

were attired in dresses quite different to
anything she had ever before seen. These
fell in soft and clinging folds, leaving both
necks and arms bare; while the material of
which they were made looked finer than
the finest silk and lighter than the most
delicate lace. Never in her life had she seen
anything so beautiful, and she sat up lost
in admiration.

At last both her companions stirred,
opened their eyes, and seemed quite as
astonished as Mary.

“What has happened?” cried Lucy.

“Where are we?” said Kitty.

“T don’t know. Perhaps we are asleep.
Would one of you mind pinching me to
make sure?”

Lucy proceeded to obey her request with
such good will that Mary cried out with
the pain.

“We can’t be asleep—can we?”’ she said,
with a puzzled air. ‘Indeed I never felt
wider awake. But what does it all mean?
How did you two get those beautiful
dresses?”

“And how did you get yours?” cried
A TRANSFORMATION. 61

Lucy. “Why, it’s prettier than the prettiest
party dress I ever saw.”

“T don’t know. We had better think hard
about it. It’s too mysterious for anything.”

Each girl sat with elbows on knees, clutch-
ing her head tightly, a position considered
to be the most suitable for cogitation, until
Lucy uttered a little scream, and sat bolt
upright.

“Oh for goodness! I know. We are in
Fairyland!”

“Tn Fairyland
‘What rubbish!”

‘Tt isn’t rubbish at all. Don’t you remem-
ber what happened in the schoolroom? How
Belinda and Juliana and Ophelia grew big
and spoke,” she continued in a very cautious
whisper.

“Of course. How silly of us!’ answered
Mary, glancing round fearfully. ‘But they
couldn’t be Fairies.”

“Well, they weren’t real dolls anyhow,
for they walked and talked.”

‘They did, didn’t they?” exclaimed Kitty.
“And weren’t we in a ‘wiggle,’ when they
came from behind the screen and carried

(i233

exclaimed the others.

Ne?
62 A HOUSEFPUL OF REBELS.

us off,” she added, the memory of the strange
journey coming back to her. ‘Only I don’t
know much about it after we started, be-
cause something kept whirling round in my
head like a mad watch.”

“So it did in mine,’ remarked Mary.

“And in mine too,” echoed Lucy. “ And
that is all I recollect.”

There was another pause, and the three
looked at each other doubtfully.

“And what is going to happen now?”
said the youngest girl.

“T don’t know and I don’t care,” cried
Mary, with a light laugh, jumping to her
feet. “I’m going to—”

The girl’s observation was cut short by
a most surprising circumstance. She had
shaken out her skirts and leapt over a
trailing branch of wild rose which lay almost
on the ground, when she went soaring up
high above the heads of her sisters, and
came down as lightly as a butterfly.

“Oh for goodness!” cried Lucy.

“Oh! O-oh!” ejaculated Kitty, almost
breathless.

“Tf that isn’t the most wonderful— Try if
A TRANSFORMATION. 63

you two can do it?” said Mary, when her
astonishment would let her speak.

The two younger girls hastened to try their
jumping powers, and found that they also were
able to perform the same astounding feat.

“JT don’t believe that anybody in this
world can jump half as high as we can.
As for Freddy, why, we could beat him
anyhow,” added Mary triumphantly.

“In this world.’ What world?” asked
Lucy. “It seems to me that everything
is different somehow. It is all ten times as
large. I don’t understand it at all.”

Indeed, when they looked round, the truth
of Lucy’s observation was apparent. Not
only were trees and bracken gigantic, but
the grasses, although of the same kind
they were familiar with, grew taller than
themselves; while the blue-bells and bachelor-
buttons and wild roses which met them
on every side, were too large to carry,
even had they possessed the strength to
snap the stems.

‘Perhaps we are on the Equator,” sug-
gested Lucy, who had a dim idea that all
vegetation was immense in the tropics.
64 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

‘But roses and blue-bells and things don’t
grow there,” said Mary, speaking from a
larger wisdom. “It’s just like the woods
near home, under a magnifying glass. Why
not explore? We might find somebody to
ask all about it.”

Urged on by the prospect of discovering
further wonders, the three adventurers
started forth on their travels. Although the
long grass waving over their heads gave
them little chance of seeing far ahead, they
had no difficulty in progressing, since paths
were clearly marked as though others had
often trodden the way which lay before
them. Now and again a broken twig or
a chasm in the dry earth barred their pro-
gress, but these obstacles were easily sur-
mounted, and they rushed forward rapidly.

Before long the children emerged from
the grass forest and came to a level stretch
of sward, almost as smooth and close as the
lawn at home, except that each blade of
grass was absurdly thick and coarse. Thanks,
however, to their strange lightness the
children passed over it gaily enough, and
descended a hill, thinking to find some in-
A TRANSFORMATION. 65

habitants of this strange world in the valley
below.

As they ran down the slope they noticed
a low murmur which grew louder and louder
every minute, until, as they approached a
line of the very largest rushes they had
ever seen, it became a roar of sound.

“JT wonder what it is?” observed Kitty,
trying to peer through the mass of leaves
which waved and rustled in the breeze.
‘Sounds like a river or waterfall, or some-
thing.”

“ P’r’aps it’s Niagara. It makes noise enough
anyhow,” shouted Lucy through the din.

“We'll soon find out,’ answered Mary
at the top of her voice. “I’ve seen pictures
of Niagara, and the panorama as well.
I’m sure to know it again.”

Although the ground had become very
soft and marshy, the girls tripped along
without sinking in; and, picking their way
through the great clumps of yellow and
blue flags which shot forth their heads of
gorgeous flower, and between bulrushes
with stems like masts, they came to the
edge of a most turbulent river.
66 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

It was as clear as crystal, and strewn
with huge rocks shaped like stones, around
which the water boiled and foamed, making
countless eddies in which leaves of remark-
able dimensions and logs of wood were
whirling round in a most bewildering fashion.

As they stood looking down on the resist-
less flood, there came a tremendous splash
which made them all jump. Close at hand was
a monstrous brown animal swimming across
to the other side.

“Jt zs the Equator!” cried Kitty trium-
phantly. “There goes a hippopotamus.”

“Tt isn’t a hippopotamus at all,” protested
Mary. ‘Whoever saw hippopotamuses
with whiskers and noses and long tails like
that= Wteis-acrat..

“A rat!” exclaimed Lucy. ‘ There never
was a rat that size.”

“Tf you multiply an ordinary rat by a
hundred, you'll get the answer,” said Mary.
“Pinch me again, Lucy, to make sure ’m
awake.”

Lucy pinched so hard and Mary yelled
so lustily that there seemed no doubt on
this point.
A TRANSFORMATION. 67

“Look out!” cried Kitty in terror, just
as Mary had finished rubbing her arm.
“Here comes an eagle.”

As she spoke, there swept over the water,
with the quickness of light, a glorious
creature with a long tapering body, and
splendid wings, many coloured, flashing in
the sunbeams.

To and fro he sped, now darting up the
river, now poised almost motionless, with
his four gauzy wings spread and his grace-
ful body quivering, close to the surface of
the water.

“Tt isn’t an eagle at all. It’s a dragon-
fly,” cried Lucy, after a careful examination.

“But it’s as big as an—’”

“Of course it is,’ interrupted her elder
sister. ‘Everything is big. It’s the most
confusing place I was ever in. I don’t
understand it at all.”

There was every excuse for Mary’s puz-
zled brain. Each object they saw was familiar
and yet astonishingly large. The fish in
the water, which, at first, they regarded as
salmon, proved, after all, to be sticklebacks
or minnows. The river was merely a brook; |
68 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

while the rocks around which the quickly
flowing stream foamed and bubbled, were
only stones.

Nothing was its proper size; not even
the butterflies which fluttered overhead like
beautiful painted kites, blue or creamy white,

or rich purple and red.

“J don’t believe that anything is really
bigger,” observed Mary at last, after a few
minutes deep thought. “The truth is that
we are just tiny mites ourselves. Little
bits of things not a quarter our usual size.”

“But how did we get so small?” asked
Lucy, puzzled.

“JT don’t know, unless the dolls did it.
It’s no good guessing though,” she added
laughing. “We have grown the wrong
way.”

‘But I don’t feel any different,” remarked
Kitty. “And you two look just the same.”

“Of course we do; that doesn’t prove
anything. I’m not going to worry about it
Here we are some size or another; and I
mean to get across to the other side,” Mary
went on, eager to make further exploration.
“We can step over on the stones.”
A TRANSFORMATION. 69

‘« Suppose we slip,” said the more cautious
Lucy. ““We shall be drowned.”

“Oh! Nonsense! We shall float if we do
fall in, because we are so light. Come
along. I'll go first to shew you how easy
1taSs

The girl’s confident air quickly reassured
the others, and the three pushed their way
through the rushes until they came to a
spot where the crossing looked quite safe
and easy.

Mary was just stepping. on to the first
stone when she was stopped in a most
remarkable manner.

From behind a tuft of reeds a grasshopper
suddenly appeared, and with a jump came
directly in front of her. He stood on his
long hind-legs and made a very low bow.

In all their lives the girls had never seen
so large or so polite a grasshopper, and as
it seemed only proper to encourage good
manners among insects, they curtsied in
return.

The greeting over, Mary waited for him
to hop out of the way, but he maintained
his ground.
70 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“T beg your pardon. But would you mind
standing on one side,” she said jokingly,
never dreaming that he would understand
her speech. But to her great astonishment
he replied at once:

‘No further. The Queen forbids it.”

The three girls stood staring at him,
-quite speechless. They had seen working
ants, and heard talking parrots, but that a
grasshopper could express himself in quite
correct English was an overpowering dis-
covery.

‘“But—but we want to go over to the
other side,” she explained when surprise
permitted her to speak again.

“No further. The Queen forbids it,” he
said with another bow.

“The Queen? I don’t understand. Are
you a policeman?” she asked, vaguely
aware that constables regulated traffic. ‘ Be-
cause I don’t suppose the Queen would
mind us walking about over there—unless
it’s trespassing.”

‘No further. The Queen forbids it.”

Now although the grasshopper was very
much higher than any they had previously
A TRANSFORMATION. 71

been acquainted with, Mary could easily
have pushed him out of the way. His
determined demeanour, however, and digni-
fied aspect made this quite out of the ques-
tion, so after several appeals, which only
elicited the same reply, the girls gave it
up in despair and left the obstinate insect
master of the situation.

For some hours they wandered about,
apparently free to roam where they pleased.
But at certain points other grasshoppers,
equally polite, but quite as unyielding, barred
their progress, and it gradually dawned
upon them that they were prisoners, al-
though their prison was in the open air
and amid the most delightful scenery.

This circumstance naturally damped their
spirits. Besides this, their wanderings had
made them tired and hungry, and _ since
there seemed no prospect of finding beds
and supper, they began to feel very miser-
able and homesick.

“If we could only find the place where
we started from,” sighed Kitty, “it would
be all right. Anyhow, it was nice and
comfortable.”
72 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“But you can’t be nice and comfortable
when you are hungry,” grumbled Lucy.
‘“And what should we find to eat when we
got there?”’

‘““What can we eat anywhere?” Mary
remarked, after thinking deeply. “Fancy
eating meat!’ And all three shuddered at
the word. ‘Why, a chop is nearly as big
as we are; and a joint—Gracious !—a joint
would be as big as a house now. Besides,
the thought of meat makes me feel ill.”

“And a slice of bread and butter,” cried
Lucy, “why, we could dance on it.” And
they all laughed at the mere idea.

“At any rate we are dreadfully hungry,
so we must eat something,” Kitty sighed
wearily. ‘We'll ask the next grasshopper
we meet, what we can have for supper,
perhaps he’ll know.”

‘Grasshoppers are such stupid things.
They can only bow and say ‘No further!
The Queen forbidsit.’ That doesn’t do your
appetite any good—does it?”

‘Not a bit. But—look here—I believe
this is the very spot where we woke up,”
cried Lucy. That is the tree. There are
A TRANSFORMATION. 73

the dead leaves we were lying on, among
the wild fern.”

There was no doubt they had stumbled
upon the very place whence they com-
menced their travels; and thankful for
small mercies, they sank down wearily.

“TI hope we shan’t die of starvation like
the Babes in the Wood,” said Kitty after
a while. “I’m getting hungrier and hun-
Siete

“I hope not too,” said Mary a little
anxiously. “If we were our right size, we
might find something eatable; but now we
are such tiny things, I can’t tell what is
good for us and what isn’t. If the fairies
have made us little and brought us here,
the least they might do is to feed us. It’s
only fair—isn’t it?”

Lucy was about to express her opinion
upon the mean conduct of the inhabitants
of Fairyland, when there suddenly arose a
great humming sound, which approached
nearer and nearer, and before they could
guess the cause, several bees came sailing
along and dropped to the ground almost
at tneir feet.
74, A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Kitty shrank close to Mary, evidently
scared at the imposing size of the visitors,
and the thought of their disagreeable habit
of stinging little girls who interfered with
them. She had once been stung, and the
pain was bad enough then; but now that
she was so ridiculously small, a similar fate

‘would mean something very terrible indeed.

The other two were nervous also; but
managed to put a bold face on the situation,
so that when the bees stood up and bowed,
looking rather absurd when balancing their
big round bodies on their very thin hind-
legs, the girls curtsied quite gracefully, the
result of so much practice with the grass-
hoppers.

After these salutations, the new comers
plucked three leaves from a tiny plant
which grew close at hand, and placed upon
each a share of honey. This done they
stood up and bowed once more, then flying
off, were quickly lost to view.

The girls had not yet recovered from
their surprise, when, with a loud chirping,
a little band of grasshoppers came leaping
through the tall grass. These also, after
A TRANSFORMATION. 75

making their customary reverence, snapped
off three leaves, and heaped upon each a
number of yellow round things that looked
not unlike French rolls, but which, of course,
were a hundred times smaller, and made
quite a pyramid of them upon the green
plates.

Then they disappeared, returning after
a while with three bright blue flowers, which
they carried carefully, since each was filled
with a crystal fluid, and placed beside the
honey and ‘French rolls.’

Their task completed, the one who had
directed the operations advanced towards
the girls and waved his fore-leg towards
the viands.

“Supper is served! The Queen doth bid
you eat,” he said gravely.

‘Then please tell the Queen, we are very
much obliged to her,” said Mary sedately ;
then, with a dim idea that this was a some-
what curt message to send to a royal
personage, she added, rather lamely, “And
tell her Majesty that we hope she is well
and—and jolly.”

Without further speech, the grasshoppers
76 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

bent their heads respectfully, and pranced
off, leaving the girls to their novel repast.

“All this bowing and scraping has made
me hungrier than ever,” observed Lucy,
inspecting the supper more closely.

‘Tl wonder what sort of food it is. That’s
honey—or golden syrup—honey, I suppose,
‘ because the bees brought it; but I can’t
think what those yellow things are. It isn’t
bread. I don’t believe grasshoppers are
bakers as well as dancing-masters.”

“They look more like seeds,” replied
Mary, taking one up and examining it
doubtfully. “I wonder if they are good
to eat?”

Salinys cred. Witty,

“Ves, do,” said Lucy.

“You taste it first,’ suggested Mary.

Neither, however, seemed anxious to ven-
ture, until Lucy hit upon an idea.

“We'll all take a bite at once. That is
the fairest way.”

To this the others consented, and Mary
having counted “One, two, three!” they
all shut their eyes and took a mouthful.

No sooner had they done so than the
A TRANSFORMATION. 77

scared expression on their faces changed
into one of great content.

‘It’s perfectly delicious!” exclaimed Mary
in ecstasy.

‘Isn't it. Better than anything I ever
tasted,” cried Lucy, taking a second bite.

“Tt makes tarts and jellies seem quite
nasty. I could keep on all day,” and Kitty
sat down and munched as though she fully
intended to prove her assertion.

“I wonder,” said Mary, after they had
consumed several seeds each, ‘whether
honey would make them still nicer? I’m
going to try. Fairies don’t seem to use
spoons, so we must dip them in.”

This she proceeded to do; an example
quickly followed by her sisters. They came
to the conclusion that honey was the only
thing required to make the meal the nicest
one they ever consumed, so they continued
eating until their appetites were quite satisfied.

“And now,” said Lucy, “we'll try the
drink part of it; and if it isn’t any better
than the milk and water Jane gave us, I
shall be disappointed.”

They reached out their hands to the
78 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

flowers, which in shape somewhat resembled
crinkly afternoon tea-cups, and took deep
draughts of the crystal fluid. It was the
most delightful beverage they had ever
tasted. Gingerbeer or lemonade was not to
be compared to it. The liquid was perfectly
clear, having a slight rosy tint, while the
flavour was impossible to describe. It was
as though the scent of flowers had melted
into the coldest and purest water.

They sipped and sipped until not a drop
remained, and then they lay back in perfect
content and talked over the day’s doings.

“Well, if this zs Fairyland,’ remarked
Lucy, ‘“‘it isn’t at all a bad place to live
in. We never had such lovely dresses at
home, did we?”

‘“Or such beautiful suppers,” chimed in
Kitty.

“And what I like is being so light. Why,
we can jump feet and feet,” cried Mary.
““Couldn’t we race Freddy now. That’s an-
other good thing in being Fairies.”

“Oh! It’s all very well. But are we Fairies?
and where are the others?” asked her sister.

“JT don’t know; but they must be about
A TRANSFORMATION. 79

somewhere. Didn’t the Queen send us eat-
ables and drinkables.”

“Besides, how could grasshoppers and
bees talk and make funny little bows, if
the Fairies hadn’t taught them? They
don’t do that near us,” said Kitty.

‘Ah! perhaps it is because we are too big
to hear and see them properly,’ Mary
observed, ‘‘when we are our usual size.”

The girls discussed the matter so earn-
estly that evening had fallen and the stars
were twinkling before they had finished.
Then the moon began to peep over a bank
of trees, and rising slowly, shed her beams
abroad until every blade of grass seemed
dipped in silver. Soon all creatures of the
night came forth. Fire-flies darted hither
and thither, like shooting stars; while glow-
worms, some motionless, some slowly crawl-
ing through the grass, hung out their
lanterns and threw a tender radiance where
the moonlight could not penetrate. Far down
by the stream they could hear the croak
of frogs, and overhead the rustling wings
and mournful hoot of the owl, which gave
Kitty no little alarm; while now and again,
80 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

rushing through the bracken, came a belated
rabbit of gigantic size.

At first these unaccustomed sights and
sounds kept the girls awake, but at last,
one by one, they closed their eyes, and
fell asleep on their leafy couch; the rustl-
ing grasses which say always ‘Ssh! Ssh:
Ssh!’ soothing them to slumber.
@iek Pane REV:

THE THREE MORTALS WITNESS A FAIRY REVEL.

Tue girls had lain asleep until the moon
was almost overhead. They slept so soundly
that the noises of the night had failed to
rouse them; indeed to speak the truth, two
of them were snoring in so unfairylike a
manner, that several field-mice had come
out to find the cause of all the hubbub.
Presently the little animals sat up and
turned their sharp eyes towards the silver-
tipped grass-forest, and, after a brief hesi-
tation, scuttled away as fast as their legs
could carry them.

The reason of their flight soon became
apparent. One by one there stole into the
clear space where the girls were sleeping,
a number of little figures hardly as tall as
the children. They wore tightly fitting
tunics, some of scarlet, some of green, some
of a rich yellow, while their heads were
covered with caps fitting closely to their

6
82 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

ears, and tapering to points which hung
down their backs.

In the centre of the band was a little
fellow whose tunic shone like silver, and
who seemed to direct the movements of
the rest.

“Come, you laggards!” he said softly,
looking back over his shoulders. ‘Here’s
sport for you. There are the mortals fast
asleep, snoring enough to shake the earth.
They shall ride a nightmare ere the day
doth break.”

‘“‘Did not the Queen say none shall molest
them?” said another sprite to him in the
silver white tunic.

“We'll not molest them,” he cried, “ but
give them much to think about. They are
our sport for all the Queen may say. Come,
all of you. To work, and wake them gently.”

In a few moments the bracken and tall
grass which waved over the sleepers, were
peopled with sprites, who, under their leader’s
direction, plucked long strips from the leaves,
and dangled them until they passed lightly
to and fro over the girls’ faces.

Kitty was the first to stir. She brushed

a2.
A FAIRY REVEL. 83

the grass away with her hand, without
opening her eyes; but as it always returned,
she murmured, still half asleep, ‘ You're
over my side, Lucy. Your hair is tickling
my nose.”

By this time both the others were stirring
uneasily, having been roused in the same
way; and Lucy replied sleepily, “I’m not;
yours is tickling mine.”

‘And mine too,” grumbled Mary.

At that instant, there came a series of
chuckles.

“Don’t laugh, you two,” she added fret-
fully. ‘‘Why don’t you go to sleep?”

“T wasn’t laughing,” protested Lucy.

“And I wasn’t either,” echoed Kitty.
“Tt was you, Mary.”

“I beg your pardon. There! who was
that?” she inquired, as the subdued merri-
ment broke out again. “Somebody is. ”

By this time all three were thoroughly
awake. They sat up and looked about them ;
but although the mocking laughter rang out
louder and louder, they could see nothing.

Then, from some hidden spot, a clear
shrill treble broke into song, while at certain
84 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

intervals, a chorus of voices took up the
refrain.

The whole effect was so uncanny that
the listeners crept closer together, frighten-
ed, not only by the weirdness of the chant,
but also by the fact that it referred to them-
selves in a most unpleasant and threatening
manner.

The high treble voice commenced thus—

“What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.

Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.”

Then the chorus broke the momentary
silence—

“They shall be left on a desert plain,
Ho! ho!
Where clouds ne’er gather—where falls no rain,
Ho! ho!
To thirst for water and thirst in vain,
Ho! ho! Ha! ha! Ho! ho!”

A mad burst of laughter followed, but
stopped instantly as the first voice again
rang out:
A FAIRY REVEL. 85

“What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.

Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.”

For the second time the chorus of unseen
beings chanted back the answer:

They shall be bound to the giant oak,
Ho! ho!
Where night hawks gather and ravens croak,
Ho! ho!
Where stun will blister and storm will soak,
Ho! ho! Ha! ha! Hol ho!

For the third time, above the din of
elfish laughter, the single voice made its
appeal—

“What is the fate of these mortals three?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.

Will the Queen punish or set them free?
Sing, my brothers, all—sing.”

And once more, with dreadful distinctness,
the girls heard the reply—

“They shall be thrust in the Ant Queen’s cell,
Ho! ho!
Hidden from woodland, field or fell,
Ho! ho!
In the dark, cold earth for ever dwell,
Hol! ho! Ha! ha! Ho! ho!”
86 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

The chorus finished with screams of wild
merriment, which grew fainter and fainter
as the elves dashed off through the under-
growth. When the last echo had died away,
the girls looked at each other with white,
scared faces.

“IT suppose we are the three mortals?”
observed Mary gravely.

“I suppose so,” sighed Lucy. ‘ And who
were they?”

“Fairies—at least I think so. I couldn’t
see them—could you?”

“No. But I heard them and that was
quite enough.”

“J should think it was!” cried Kitty, with
a little shiver. “Do you—do you really
think all these horrid things are going to
happen?”

This was a question which neither Mary
nor Lucy quite knew how to answer.

“T don’t know why it should happen.
What have we done?” was Lucy’s plaintive
question. ‘Of course, we're not very good
girls; but even Miss Harbutt wouldn’t punish
us like that.”

‘““We—we haven't seen anything of our
A FAIRY REVEL. 87

dolls since we came here, have we?” remark-
ed Mary, apparently changing the subject.
“They must be somewhere about.”

“But you don’t want to see them—do
you?” asked Kitty.

‘““N—no. Only I can’t help thinking that
our dolls must be Fairies in disguise.”

“Well, and—suppose they are?” cried
Lucy. ‘‘ W—w—what are you thinking about,
Mary?” she asked tremblingly, seeing a
very serious look on her sister’s face.

“Tm thinking how badly we treated them.”

‘“Do—do Fairies feel the same as we
do?” asked Lucy again.

‘“T suppose so.”

‘“When they are dolls?”

“J suppose so.”

“Do you think they felt all the darts
and all the thumps, Mary?” wailed Kitty.

‘“T suppose so. And—and I was fond of
Belinda,” cried the elder girl, with a burst.
“Tf I had only known, I wouldn’t have hurt
her for anything.”
“And I was fond of Juliana, too. Poor
thing!’ added Lucy, with a little sob.

‘““And I cut off Ophelia’s leg. Oh! I was
88 Pe OUS HU vOrenED res:

a brute,” whispered Kitty. “We ought to
apologise, you know. That’s the least we
can do.”

“Tm afraid it’s too late now,” said Mary,
shaking her head. “ You see our dolls were
Fairies—at least 'm afraid so—and we ill-
used them. So now it’s their turn to ill-use
us: That is natural, isn’t it?”

“But you don’t think they'll throw darts
at us or—or burn us—do you?” And Lucy
cowered down beside her sister as though
for protection.

‘“T shouldn’t think so. Fairies aren’t Red
Indians.”

‘“C—c—couldn’t we go home, Mary?”
wailed Kitty, around whom her sister had
thrown a protecting arm. “ Fairyland is such
a ‘creepy’ place; I don’t like it a bit.”

‘“You see home is a long way from here,
and we don’t know the way. But we needn't
be afraid,” she added, trying to seem more
hopeful than she really was. “After all
we're only girls, and Fairies are supposed
to be good people.”

“I know they are; but if it turns out

that story books are all wrong, and they’re
A FAIRY REVEL. 89

?

spiteful things—what shall we do?” cried
Lucy, rising to her feet, with a shudder.
“T can't go to sleep any more, so let’s try
if we can’t get away. P’r’aps all the grass-
hoppers are asleep and won't notice us.”

This suggestion having met with every-
body’s approval, was promptly acted upon,
and the three girls set out, hoping to effect
their escape.

Instead of descending towards the stream,
they kept on the higher ground and made
for a wood which stood out dark and for-
bidding against the starry sky. Although
their hearts fluttered a good deal at the
prospect of plunging into its shadowy
depths, it offered at least a more secure
hiding-place than the open country; and
might possibly bring them to a less dan-
gerous spot.

They advanced with much caution, Mary
leading, and had reached the first line of
trees which towered above them like
ghostly giants, without any molestation.
Hitherto they had followed a plainly marked
track, but as they went deeper into the
forest, a glimmer of light in front made
90 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

them leave it hastily, and proceed with
stealthy steps through the longer grass. As
the girls advanced, they found that the light
they had seen was only one of many, which
spread out at regular distances like a line
of sentinels. They crept closer, and found that
each lamp was a glow-worm, beside whom
was a grasshopper, standing motionless and
watchful.

It was plainly useless to try to pass the
guards without being challenged, and so the
girls crawled along out of sight, expecting
before long to reach the end of them. They
had not gone far before they noticed that
there was a space of considerable distance
separating two of the lights. This was a
chance for which they had been looking,
and Mary having enjoined the strictest
silence, in a whisper, slowly crept closer to
the unguarded place.

The girls had almost passed inside the
lines when their leader paused suddenly
and held up a warning hand. Peering through
the darkness, they could just see the reason
for this gap in the illumination. The glow-
worm had hidden its lamp, by curling up
A FAIRY REVEL. gl

and going to sleep, while the sentinel grass-
hopper was making a pillow of its companion
and breathing heavily.

“They are fast asleep, both of them,”
muttered Mary. ‘We can get through here.
For goodness’ sake don’t make a noise, or
we shall wake them up.”

The girls flitted by like shadows, never
speaking until they were sure the sentries
were out of earshot.

‘“We were lucky,” cried Lucy at last. “I
hope that glow-worm will have nice dreams,
and the grasshopper too. I’m sure they
deserve it.”

‘‘And I suppose we are out of the Fairy
Country now?” said Kitty, a little doubt-
fully; ‘or they wouldn’t put sentries there.”

“We'll hope so,’ answered Mary.
‘Although I— Look there! We are right
in the middle of them.”

To the deep disappointment of the wan-
derers, they found, on mounting higher
ground, that the guards were placed in a
complete circle, through which they had
broken, so that, so far as escape was concern-
ed, they were as badly off as ever.
g2 A OHOUSPEHUL OF REBELS:

“Tt was your fault, Mary,” said Kitty
resentfully ; “you brought us here. We had
better have stayed where we were, ever so
much.”

‘No, we hadn’t,” observed Lucy sharply.
‘“ Anything is better then sitting still doing
nothing. Besides, I believe something is going
on in that hollow down there. P’r’aps it’s a
Fairy party,” she added. “Fancy seeing a
Fairy party! Why, it’s worth going thousands
of miles! Come along. Let us get closer.”

Kitty’s complaints were instantly hushed ;
and for a few moments they stood listening
and staring with all their eyes. Although
the undergrowth somewhat spoilt the view,
they could see on the smooth turf below
them, a number of figures about their own
size. Some were lying down, others, with
entwining arms, were strolling about in twos
and threes, while many more were running
swiftly from place to place, pursued or
pursuing, as though engaged in some pas-
time.

‘“Tt's more like a Sunday-school treat,’
whispered Mary as they descended; “only
I can’t see any tea or buns.”
A FAIRY REVEL. 93

‘And Sunday-school treats always happen
on wet days, not on fine nights,” replied
Lucy, who had suffered more than one sad
experience. “You ask Aunt Fanny if I'm
not right.”

Kitty was about to add her share to the
argument, when she was pulled down be-
hind a tuft of grass quite suddenly, only
just in time to escape the eyes of four or
five Fairies, who passed lightly along quite
close tothem. After this fright, they approach-
ed the open glade in silence, and with the
utmost caution, and before long found an
admirable hiding-place, whence they could
obtain a splendid view of the Fairy camp.

Everyone, or nearly everyone, seemed to
be in the highest spirits, and peals of silvery
laughter rang out from all sides.

Most of the Fairies were dressed in the
same sort of gauzy, silken robes which
clothed the girls, although not one seemed
quite the same colour. They all looked very
beautiful in the soft light, with their loose
flowing hair, a delicate flush on their faces,
and a happy light in their eyes. It seemed
ridiculous to suppose these amiable little
94 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

people would behave as cruelly as the un-
known voices foretold, so that the girls took
heart of grace and eagerly watched the
novel scene.

Although most of the revellers appeared
to be girls, there were a sprinkling of
little fellows in tight tunics, who were always
with the noisier groups, rushing hither and
thither, with shrill cries and boisterous
merriment. Foremost among these, was a
sprite whose dress appeared richer than
the rest, and who seemed to be the leader
of the games.

He ran from one place to another with
incredible swiftness, and wherever he went
there followed bursts of laughter or playful
cries of reproof.

For some time he kept away from the
spot where the girls were concealed, but
suddenly, as though seeing a fresh field for
his pranks, he raced across the sward, only
stopping at the foot of their sheltering tree.

“Why are you three so sad?”

The question was put so suddenly that,
for a moment, the girls thought this sprite
had discovered them. By craning their
A FAIRY REVEL. 98

necks, however, they found he was address-
ing three fairies who were reclining close
at hand, and whose silence had kept them
unnoticed.

“We're sad, Sir Puck, because sad deeds
will soon be done,” came the reply in a
voice that the girls seemed to remember.

‘““Sad deeds—what deeds?”

‘We fear the Queen will punish the three
mortals more than they deserve.”

sNMore = Why, that-can tbe. cried: the
sprite contemptuously. ‘“ They’re monsters,
worse than ordinary mortals. Think how
you suffered when you went to earth and
took the form of dolls.” Here the girls
started violently. ‘The names that you
were called— Ophelia’, that’s not bad;
but ‘Juliana’—there’s a name; and then
‘Belin—da’.” Here the boy shuddered.
‘““« Be—lin—da’. It twists my tongue to
speak it.”

By this time the listeners, who were cer-
tainly not likely to hear any good of them-
selves, had clutched each other tightly and
were listening intently to every word.

“The names are harmless. You cannot
96 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

blame them for the names,” urged one of
the three fairies.

“Should not I. Though Wildrose, Prim-
rose and Mossrose have not so barbarous
a sound,” said the sprite, with a mocking
bow. “But since you went to earth for
their good pleasure, these children should,
in very gratitude, have shewn you every
kindness and much tenderness.”

“And so they did sometimes,” said the
one who answered to the name of Wild-
rose.

“Sometimes!” cried the sprite scornfully.
“Was it kind to leave you in a box to
lie for years; to paint your faces, pierce
you with darts, and hurl you from them
as I throw pebbles in the stream?”’

Here Mary’s arm was clutched both by
Lucy and Kitty, who had become very
restless and eager to defend themselves.

“But how should they know better?”
pleaded the fairy doll. “They loved us
just as mothers do, at first, and only lost
their love when our poor limbs grew loose,
our hair fell off, and our sweet pink complex-
ions faded.”

yo?
A FAIRY REVEL. 97

‘Besides,’ chimed in Mossrose, who was
once Ophelia. ‘To them we were but wax
and wood and sawdust. Things without sense
or feeling. Had they known, they would
have been more kind. I’m sure of it.”

“And so am I,” said Primrose, the third
fairy, earnestly.

‘And so am I,” cried Wildrose.

‘Ah! you always were too tender-hearted,”
said Puck, with an impatient stamp. “ Meet
good with good, say I, and ill with ill.
Oh! I hate cruelty.”

“And yet you would be cruel to these
mortals,” said Wildrose reproachfully.

“Yes, because of all the wrongs they
worked on you,” he cried passionately.
“Tt should go hard with them, were I their
judge. Their evil deeds should turn and
sting them, like a swarm of wasps.” A
remark that made three pairs of eyes glare
at him defiantly.

“Puck! Puck! your words are harder
than your thoughts,” said Wildrose in gentle
reproof, rising and flinging her arms round
the sprite. “Tell me,” she added coaxingly:
“What says the Queen about the matter?”

7
98 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

But Puck drew himself up with a funny
little air of dignity, and refused to answer.

“ State secrets. So I must hold my tongue,”
he said pompously.

“ At least you'll promise this: that you will
plead to her on their behalf? She listens more
to you than to anyone,” begged Wildrose, in
such a pretty imploring tone that it seemed
irresistible.

“Plead for them—I?” cried the boy in
amazement.

“For our sakes, Puck. Do! please do!”
cried the three fairies. ‘‘ Promise! Promise!”

“Tl promise—nothing,” he replied, his
eyes twinkling wickedly. “I do not, think
I'll budge so much on their behalf,” and
he held up his finger to shew how small
was the help he would give.

“But listen!” he exclaimed, standing mo-
tionless for a few moments. “The Queen
is coming. Away to give her greeting!”

Puck hastened off, glad enough to escape
from the pleading of the three fairy dolls,
who slowly wended their way towards a
part of the dell which the girls had not
before noticed.
A FAIRY REVEL. 99

Here stood a canopy, made of some
semi-transparent, silken drapery of so ten-
der and changeful a hue that it might have
been dyed in liquid opal. It was stretched
across the lowest boughs of a sapling oak,
and hung down in graceful folds, which were
looped back to the right and left of a
raised seat covered with the same material.

Both sides of the canopy were studded
with fire-flies, so that the throne, although
shaded from the moon, was bathed in the
radiance which scintillated from these count-
less lights.

The fairies had gathered in groups, await-
ing the appearance of their Queen, leaving
the girls to talk in whispers without fear
of being overheard.

“Did you listen to what they were talking
about—those three dears!” said Lucy.

‘Of course I did. And did you hear who
they were?” came from Mary in a low tone.

“They were our dolls. And to think
how we treated them,” sighed Kitty. ‘“‘ There
aren’t three wickeder girls in the whole
world,” she added, with a catch in her
breath.
100 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

t?

“Oh! If we could only have known
groaned Mary. “And to think that after
all they are taking our part. I could hug
Belin— I beg her pardon—Wildrose.”

“And so could I,” echoed Kitty.

“And, oh for goodness! I could hug
them all! cried Lucy, with a burst of enthusi-
asm. “All except Puck. A spiteful little
thing. Did you recognize his voice?”

“T believe I have heard it before,” said
Mary thoughtfully.

“And so have I. He was the one that
sang that horrid song about what was going
to happen to us.”

“So it was!” exclaimed Kitty. “ But who
were the rest who joined in the chorus?”

“Those sprites, or elves, or whatever
they are,’ said Mary. ‘I don’t believe
any of the girl fairies would do anything
like that; they look too nice.”

A stir among the crowd at the foot of
the throne arrested their attention, and the
faint sounds of music somewhere in the
forest held them silent. It was so beauti-
fully soft and sweet that the girls listened
spellbound. There seemed many instruments,
A FAIRY REVEL. IOI

although not in the least like any of the
kind they had ever heard; while, strangely
enough, the melody they were playing, struck
them as familiar.

It came closer and closer, the joyous
strains swelling as the unseen musicians
advanced, until the girls were speechless
with delight and wonder.

At last they saw Puck dart through the
leafy screen, and the fairies, with one accord,
drop on to one knee. Then, suddenly, the
players came into sight, walking two and
two. Some held small harps with strings
stolen from the webs of spiders; others
carried reed instruments made from the
hollow stems of grasses; while a few shook
strings of golden bells which rang out in
varying notes from treble to mellow tenor.
The performers ceased playing and ranged
themselves on either side of the throne,
and were followed by important-looking
persons with long white wands. These
having also taken their places beside the
Queen’s dais, there came a sudden burst of
music, and the Queen herself passed into
the fairy circle.
102 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

She was leaning on Puck’s shoulder, but
paused to bow in answer to the kneeling
fisures; motioning them to rise. Then with
her white robes shimmering in the soft
light, she passed beneath the canopy and
sank back upon her throne.

So sweet and gracious an appearance
did the fairy ruler present that the girls
fell in love with her at once.

If the fairies were beautiful, their Queen
was infinitely more so. Every movement
was perfectly graceful; while her delicate
oval face shaded by masses of fair hair,
and her soft, deep, tender eyes so sad and
wistful, made her a magnet to their gaze.

“Isn’t she sweet!” whispered Mary, with
great fervour. ‘I'd like to kiss her.”

“So would I!” echoed Lucy. ‘She is
too nice for anything.”

At that moment they saw Wildrose advance
to the steps of the throne and throw out
her hands imploringly towards the Queen.

“What would you, sister?” asked her
Majesty, speaking quietly, but in tones as
clear as a bell.

“Grant me a favour, Queen. I crave
A FAIRY REVEL. 103

to speak of those earth children, prisoners
eres

‘“T beg you cease. I can do nothing yet,”
came the reply. “There are the laws, and
by those laws they must be judged. But
rest assured that mercy shall stand side by
side with justice. Your heart fears for them,
and mine is heavy too. Come, sisters,’ she
added, waving her hand, “help me to forget
the cares of state. Laugh! Sing! Dance!
I’m heavy with forebodings. Let gay music
bring me better cheer.”

At a sign from the Queen the musicians
began to play once more.

It was a dance measure so gay and trip-
ping that the girls’ feet began to move un-
consciously, and it was only by an effort
that they abstained from leaving their shelter,
and joining the band of Fairies who had
formed into line before the throne.

The dance which they now witnessed was
so dainty, so rich in graceful circlings and
wonderful steps, that the mortals were
perfectly astonished. The performers scarcely
seemed to touch the ground, so lightly and
easily did they move. Their waving arms
104 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

seemed like wings upon which they floated;
and as they swept here and there, some-
times in one long line, sometimes weaving
mazy figures, now quickly and gaily, and
now with greater stateliness, Mary and her
sisters thought they had never seen any-
thing half as beautiful.

“Well,” said the eldest girl, with a sigh
of content when the dance had finished, ‘I
will never go to another pantomime as long
as I live; I wouldn't enjoy it a bit after
seeing this.”

“Ah! These are real Fairies, and
that makes all the difference,’ observed
Lucy.

“TI wonder if they would teach us some
of the steps?” pondered Kitty. “Shouldn't
we astonish them when we got home.”

At that moment the Queen, who was
smiling for the first time, beckoned Puck
to approach.

“What think you of the dance, my pretty
Puck?” she asked.

“Oh! ’tis well enough,” said the pert boy,
shrugging his shoulders; “but I’ve seen
better.”
A FAIRY REVEL. 105

’

‘Better! Nothing so full of grace, I vow,’
cried the Queen surprised.

“Oh yes! The swallow’s flight; the
flash of dragon-fly across a pool; the
trembling lark just as he drops to nest.
There’s grace indeed, to which this dance
is but the gambol of some mortal clowns,”
he added mischievously.

“Qh fie! rude boy. There’s malice on your
tongue,” said her Majesty in gentle reproof.

‘Not malice, Queen; unless the truth be
such.”’

‘“Nay; your malice hides the truth. Come
make your peace, and give your sisters
their just due.”

Bounding to his feet, the sprite advanced
to the dancers, who had heard his speech,
and bowed low.

“Sisters” he said, “you dance as light
as any thistledown. You tread on air. Your
grace is grace indeed.”

“You think so, Puck?” cried several,
gathering round him.

“T speak as I am told to speak, but
think—” and he glanced wickedly at the
expectant faces.
106 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“ Well—well—”

“Just the reverse of what I say.”

On the instant a dozen Fairies held him
in their grasp; but, with a shrill laugh,
he broke away, darting off towards the
undergrowth, while the rest followed in
pursuit.

But this by no means brought the revels
to an end.

Before long another band of Fairies de-
lighted the girls with their entrancing move-
ments. When these had finished, some
score of the others took their places, and
sang a glee in their silvery voices, the
words and music of which startled the girls
as being somehow familiar, although it
sounded infinitely more melodious.

“Tt’s a very funny thing,” whispered Mary,
when the last notes had died away. ‘“ But
I’ve heard that before.”

“Don’t you remember it? ‘Ye spotted
snakes with double tougue. Ye—spotted—’
Where have I heard it?”

“Tve heard it too—and read it,” mused
Lucy.

‘““And [ve heard the music they played
A FAIRY REVEL. 107

when the Queen came in,” exclaimed Kitty,
in a most excited state, “but I can’t think
when it was,’ and she clutched her head
to assist her memory.

“T know!” cried Mary triumphantly. “It
was on the organ, when Uncle Bob was
married. It’s the ‘Wedding March’.”

“Oh for goodness! So it is,” said Lucy.
“And that chorus—why, they sing it at the
Choral Society.”

“Then I wonder where Fairies heard it?”
said Mary, with a puzzled air. ‘Please pinch
me again. I’m so mixed up with things.”

“T suppose the Fairies must have been
to one of the concerts,” suggested Kitty,
“and that is where they learned it.”

“Well, I hope they enjoyed themselves;
I didn’t,” remarked Lucy decidedly, ‘“be-
cause the choir were always out of tune.
They should hear the Fairies sing it, and
then they would never try again,” a criti-
cism not entirely undeserved.

Just then Puck again appeared, sidling
to the Queen’s side with so demure and
innocent an air that the girls could scarcely
refrain from laughing. But he was promptly
108 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

accused and found guilty of unmannerly
behaviour, and amid peals of merriment
was sentenced to dance as a punishment.
The fairies gathered in a circle, while the
sprite called all his companions to his aid.
Then at a sign from the Queen, the musi-
cians began a wild, strange melody, that
tripped and paused, now rushing along in a
torrent of sound, now lingering on long
drawn notes; at times full of mystery, anon
rippling with gaiety and lightsomeness.
To this curious accompaniment Puck and
his companion elves danced as though pos-
sessed. Their restless feet were never still
for a moment, moving so fast that the eye
could scarcely follow them. They sprang in
the air, darted hither and thither, swayed
and wheeled with linked arms, performing
all kinds of fantastic tricks, although every
movement was in harmony with the music.
So inspiriting was the sight that the
mortals felt their blood dancing in their
veins, and they were filled with longings
to join in the mad revel.
Even the Queen seemed to feel the influ-
ence of the scene, and a soft flush of
A FAIRY REVEL. 109

pleasure dyed her cheeks, as she watched
the whirling sprites in their wild dance; and
when it was over and Puck had thrown him-
self breathless at her feet, she smilingly
stooped and kissed him on both cheeks.

“Indeed, we must punish you again,” she
said. ‘The penalty gives pleasure to us all.
I love to watch you in these saucy pranks.”

“Tis nothing to what we could do, and
we would,” answered the Fairy boy, with
a pretty air of conceit. ‘This is the overture
before the play begins.”

“ Then we will have the play anon. Mean-
while rest a little.”

So the summer night passed away, to the
entire satisfaction of the girls. Dance follow-
ed dance, each one better than the last;
the melodies from the Fairy musicians stole
through the wood, shaming the very birds
with tunefulness ; and when the choir poured
forth their songs, it was as though they
heard the beating heart of music itself.

Indeed, so quickly passed the time, that
it was with a pang of regret the girls saw
the chill light of morning, paling the soft
radiance of the glow-worms and their allies,
110 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

and heard a blast from the fairy trumpeter
to herald the day.

“The dawn has come. Now openeth each flower.
The sun is nigh. Haste to our Fairy bower.”

So sang the whole concourse; and then
suddenly the Queen and her subjects, Puck
and his sprites, vanished, and the girls found
themselves alone, with only the fairy ring
to remind them of the wondrous revels.
Gliese rik \-
THE RESCUE OF PUCK.

Since the guards who, on the previous
night, had kept watch and ward, were now
dispersed, the girls had no difficulty in
returning to their resting-place. Their long
vigil in the hollow tree and their double
journey had made them hungry and tired,
so it was with great relief that they found
a further supply of honey and seed and
dew had been left during their absence.

“Whatever the Fairies are going to do
to us,” cried Mary, ‘they certainly don’t
mean us to starve.”

“That's a comfort, anyhow,” observed
Lucy, helping herself. “Starving must be a
horrid way of punishing people.”

‘“T wonder,” cried Kitty, “what w2//happen
to us? Do you think it will be anything
very nasty?” she added, with a shade of
fear in her voice.

“T don’t suppose so. At least, nothing very
112 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

dreadful,” answered Mary stoutly. ‘“ Fairies
seem to be such jolly little people. If only
they would be nice and friendly and let us
join in the dances and things, I should like
to stop here for ever. As for the Queen,
she’s an angel! I should never get tired
of looking at her.”

“And don’t they all speak funnily,”
remarked Lucy, helping herself liberally to
honey. ‘It’s as though they were trying
to talk some sort of poetry—you know;
poetry that doesn’t rhyme.”

“I don’t suppose they can help it,” said
Kitty. ‘It’s the way they have been brought
up. We should do it too, if we had been
taught. Wouldn’t it astonish Freddy to hear
us say, ‘Freddy, I beg you pass the salt’;
or instead of saying, ‘It’s time to get up,’
tell him, ‘The dawn has come, I pray you,
brother, rise’,” and then all laughed heartily
at the thought of Freddy’s face on hearing
so remarkable a method of talking.

“But it really is the strangest thing to
find our dolls were fairies,’ broke in Lucy,
gravely. ‘If we had only known.”

‘But how could we know?” said Kitty
THE RESCUE OF PUCK. 113

helplessly. “ They weren’t a bit like Fairies,
were they? Somebody ought to have told us.”

‘Considering what we did to them, they
are the most forgiving darlings that ever
lived,” cried Mary. “To think that they
should take our part after all. I’m sure
if they had treated us as we treated them,
we should just love to be spiteful and nasty.”

“['m afraid we should,” said Lucy; “ but
that’s because we are only naughty girls
and not Fairies.”

‘But Puck is a Fairy, and he is as bad
as we are,” sighed Kitty. ‘He is simply
horrid !”’

“Ah! but he’s a boy Fairy. I suppose
that accounts for it,” observed Mary. ‘It’s
his nature to be disagreeable.”

“Do you think he means everything he
Says, or is it only teasing?” asked Kitty
anxiously.

“Qh! I daresay he’s only trying to be
funny, and to make other people miserable
—that’s a boy’s way. I don’t believe he really
wants all those horrible things to happen
to us,” replied Mary, who felt it her duty,
as an elder sister, to look on the bright side

8
114 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

of things. ‘Besides it is no use worrying.
I’m not. going to believe that Fairies are
any worse than Miss Harbutt—or half as
bad. They don’t even shut us up or give
us plain teas.” A reflection which was cor-
dially echoed by Lucy and Kitty.

After a hearty meal, the girls curled them-
selves up under the shady leaves of the
bracken, and quickly fell asleep.

When they awoke, the sun was already
sinking behind the tree beneath which they
lay, and its shadows stretched across the
open glade to the wood where they witness-
ed the Fairy revels on the previous evening.

“Tt’s a very funny thing,” said Mary when
they were all once more wide awake, “but
everything is topsy-turvy. We are always
dreadfully sleepy about this time at home,
but here we’re just getting up.”

“P'r’aps it’s Australia,” suggested Kitty ;
“things are all upside down there.”

“No, it isn’t,’ replied Lucy decidedly,
‘because we haven’t seen a gum tree or a
kangaroo.”

‘Anyhow I can’t sleep any more,” cried
Mary, jumping up gaily. “So let us go back
DHE ORESCUR OR PUGK. 115

to the wood. I daresay the Queen will give
another party to-night, and I wouldn’t miss
it for anything.”

The chance of once more becoming spec-
tators at so delightful a function was not to
be lost, and the trio hastened off to seek
their old hiding-place.

Although they advanced with much cau-
tion, no opposition was met with. The sentries
possibly were not on duty until darkness
had closed in, or perhaps after all the wood
was inside the bounds beyond which they
were not allowed to wander. In any case
they dived in between the trees without a
single polite grasshopper appearing to turn
them back.

The open glade where the festivities
had been held, was found without difficulty ;
but not a sign of Queen or Court was there.
It was silent and deserted, save for the
sleepy notes of a few birds nesting over-
head, and the faint hum of insects.

“It’s no good stopping here if there is
nothing to see,’ remarked Kitty, a little
fretfully.

“Oh! But there will be presently,” re-
116 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

plied Mary; ‘it’s too early yet. I expect
tthe Fairies are all in bed. They only get
up with the moon, I suppose.”

“Then we had better go for a walk,”
suggested Lucy. “We haven’t seen much
of the wood, and we can come back when
it’s dark.” ;

As waiting promised to be weary work,
the three girls wandered off deeper into
the wood.

The first feeling of wonder at finding
everything so much larger than they were
accustomed to, had not yet worn off, and
at every turn there came an exclamation
from one or the other, as each discovered
some familiar object magnified to a sur-
prising size. It was a most astonishing ex-
perience to pass through grass breast high,
which only a day or two before they would
have trampled under foot. They found too,
new and wonderful kinds of flowers, which
in their ordinary state had escaped their
notice. The common grasses they knew,
waved boldly in the faint breeze, rustling
and shaking their clustering seed pods, like
enormous ears of corn; while beneath these
ca me

ba ree
ora

NP
= Sane



Some familiar object magnified to a
surprisiag alae
THE RESCUE OF PUCK. 117

giants grew tiny flowers, exquisite in their
varied shapes and colours, flourishing here
amid strange plants with foliage of bronze
or deep red or emerald green.

Hiding beneath these unknown growths
were insects, the like of which the girls
had never seen. Some were beautiful in
form and colour, others grotesque or ugly;
but all, apparently, harmless, and quite in-
different to the trespassers on their domain.

The three wandered on delighted and
interested in this new world they had dis-
covered, plucking handfuls of unknown
flowers and grasses, or stopping to watch
some strange creature as it flew or hopped
or crawled across their path.

The sun had set, and the warm light
was fading from the sky betore the girls
thought of returning.

“We had better go back now,” said
Mary at last, ‘“‘or it will be too dark for
us to find our way.”

“Oh! there is plenty of time yet,”
grumbled Lucy, who was enjoying herself
immensely. “It’s so jolly here, and it won't
be dark for ever so long.”
118 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Yes, it will,” persisted Mary. ‘“ Besides
we can dawdle going back.”

They turned round, and leisurely retraced
their steps, finding something queer or new
in every yard they traversed, although they
had not found any trace of the Fairies.

“T wonder where they do hide in the
day-time?” asked Kitty. “They must be
somewhere. Do you think they have houses
or anything?”

“Tfouses!’’—and Lucy sniffed contemp-
tuously. “ Who ever heard of Fairy houses?
Fancy Fairies living in desirable residences,”
she added, quoting from the advertisements
in the daily paper, “with all the modern
improvements. Five minutes’ walk from a
railway station. What rubbish!”

‘But they can’t be always out of doors.
Suppose it rains,” persisted Kitty, who was
rather worrying at times; “they would
catch cold and things like that.”

“Oh, they crawl into flowers, or under
leaves, 1 suppose,” replied Lucy impatiently.

“But there aren’t any flowers in the
winter—at least not many.”

“Well, then they—they go to sleep with
THE RESCUE OF PUCK. 119g

the bees—Don’t bother,” snapped her sister
who hated to be asked questions she was
unable to answer.

Kitty was about to continue ‘bothering’,
when a piercing cry, rang out suddenly,
coming from a spot to the right of
them.

They stopped and looked at each other
with frightened faces. Again the cry rang
out piteously. It was a boy’s voice, full of
pain and terror.

“Help! Oh! help!”

“Who is it?” gasped Kitty, clinging to
Mary’s arm.

‘“Tt’s somebody being hurt,’ was the
breathless reply.

‘Help! help!”’—and now the cry was a
little fainter.

“Tt’s dreadful,” cried Kitty. ‘Let us go
and see what the matter is.”

There was a moment’s hesitation; but as
the pitiful wail broke the silence once more,
Mary’s feelings were too much for her and
she dashed off in the direction of the sound,
followed closely by her sisters.

In spite of the tangled undergrowth which
120 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS:

impeded their progress they soon came
quite near to the place whence the
sounds proceeded; and, having emerged
from behind a tree they came upon a sight
which made them turn cold with terror.

Stretched across some bracken was a
huge spider’s web, and close by was the
owner, a great, brown, hairy monster look-
ing, to them, as big, as a dog. He was
making a strange, horrible sound, not un-
like the fierce undertone of an angry cat,
before it springs, and in the clutch of his
long skinny arms an Elf was struggling
helplessly. The girls recognised him in a
moment.

It was Puck.

They hung back, rooted to the ground with
fear, watching the unequal struggle, not dar-
ing to shew themselves. Inch by inch, the
cruel brute dragged his prey towards the web,
while the Elf, mad with terror and spent
for breath, cried in weak accents for aid.

“We can’t stand still and do nothing,”
cried Mary at last. ‘‘We must beat him
with sticks or something. I don’t care if
he does hurt us.”








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THE RESCUE OF PUCK. 121

“Oh! yes! yes!” said Lucy. “ And we'll
shout. That might frighten him.”

“But—but oh! I’m so afraid of spiders,”
wailed Kitty, putting her hands over her
eyes to shut out the dreadful sight.

“Don’t be a baby! He isn’t nearly as
big as we are,” said Mary, resolutely pluck-
ing a stem of grass in frantic haste. ‘“ While
we wait, Puck is being killed. Don’t let
us be cowards.”

However fearful Kitty and Lucy might
feel at attacking so horrible an enemy,
Mary’s boldness reassured them, and arming
themselves in like manner to their sister,
they awaited her lead.

Puck was growing weaker and weaker,
his cries being now scarcely audible, and
the sight of the pretty boy at the mercy
of this terrible creature gave them the bold-
ness of desperation.

At a given signal the three girls dashed
out from behind the tree, waving the long
flexible stalks, which were likely to be
formidable weapons from a spider’s point of
view, and shouting in shrill tones.

Hearing the noise, Puck’s captor ceased
122 ASHOUSERUL-OF REBEIES:

his efforts, and faced the girls, snarling
ominously. Nothing daunted, however, Mary
flourished aloft her stalk and brought it
down heavily on the spider’s arm, while
Lucy vigorously banged him about his re-
pulsive head.

“Leave go, you ugly thing! Leave go!”
shouted Mary.

“Let him alone, you horrid wretch,”
cried Lucy. “Beat him, Kitty! Beat him!”

‘“T am beating him. Take that—and that—
and that,” and the child brandishing her
weapon, brought it down again and again
on the spider’s plump, hairy body.

This vigorous and sustained onslaught,
made him loose his hold of Puck, who
sank exhausted to the ground. But with
a hoarse growl of rage he dashed at Kitty
and nipped her by the leg. At this, how-
ever, Mary and Lucy beat him so hard and
shouted so loudly, almost drowning Kitty’s
shrill cries, that fear got the better of his
rage, and he turned tail, ran nimbly up the
threads of his web and took refuge under
a leaf high above their reach.

“You cruel thing!” said Lucy, shaking
THE RESCUE OF PUCK. 123

her stalk at him as he peered from behind
his shelter, rolling his horrid protruding
eyes, which glared with baffled spite. “If
you touch Puck again, we will beat you
black and blue, and break your web for you.
So don’t you dare to come near us again.”

The only answer was a growl of defiance,
and the girl turned to her sisters, who were
bending over the prostrate elf.

“Ts he hurt much?” asked Lucy anxiously.

“I don’t think so. But dreadfully fright-
ened,” answered Mary.

“We'll carry him away out of sight of
the spider. He will soon be better then.”

It was not a difficult task to lift the boy
and take him away from the scene of his
misfortune; and this done, Puck opened his
eyes and looked round wildly.

“You're not hurt—are you?” said Mary
soothingly. “Don’t tremble so. You're safe
with us.”

“The spider ran away. He won’t hurt
you now,” added Lucy.

‘“Has—he—really gone?” asked the EIf,
glancing round fearfully.

“Indeed he has, and glad to get away.
124 ASHOUSERUL- OF REBBES:

We gave him sah a beating. Why should
he hurt you, Puck?” asked the eldest girl.

‘Because a pretty moth, a friend of mine,
was in his web; and so I snapped some
threads and set her free.”

“T suppose that made him angry?” said
Lucy.

“T should think it did. He vowed he’d
kill me if I came his way. And thus to-
night he took me unawares, and had you
not been there—Why!—why, you're the
mortals!” and the boy, with a cry of fear,
sprang to his feet and edged away from
them.

‘Well, if we are?” queried Mary, puzzled
at the Elf's sudden change of manner.

‘Why did you come to help me?” he
asked, still drawing away from her.

‘Why? Because you were being hurt.”

“ But then I thought you loved all kinds
of cruelty—that you were spiders on two
legs.”

“Excuse me, but we are nothing of the
kind,” exclaimed Lucy indignantly. ‘‘ We’re
only ordinary girls who don’t like cruelty
at all. Spiders, indeed!” and she tossed her
A EUS, IS SCUIS, Ole IOS 125

head in protest at such an unjust charge.

“And don’t like giving pain?” he asked,
still unconvinced.

“You are very rude. Of course we don’t,”
cried Kitty angrily.

“And I must say you don’t look like
spiders,’ remarked the Elf, coming closer
and peering into their faces. “You have
kind eyes—indeed, you’re rather pretty,”
he added with an air of condescension.

“It’s very good of you to say so, I’m
sure,’ observed Mary, mollifed by his
flattery.

‘“ Besides, you must be kind, or why should
you have rescued me?” Puck went on. “I’m
very grateful to you all. I—I do believe
I’ve wronged you in my thoughts. So there’s
a kiss of peace—and there—and there,” and
as he spoke he stood on tiptoe and gravely
kissed each child on the cheek. ‘ Now may
you say that Puck’s your friend, and soon,
alas! you may have need of him. Why, even
now I break the Queen’s commands in speak-
ing to you,” he continued gravely.

‘But why ? what have we done?” begged
Mary.
126 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

There was a slight pause, and then the
Elf asked mysteriously,

“Is it true that you are very naughty
girls?”

“Oh yes! that’s true enough,” laughed
Mary.

“And that you were cruel to your fairy
dolls?”

‘Well, I’m afraid we were,” replied Mary
more soberly. ‘“ But then we didn’t know
they were Fairies, or we wouldn't have hurt
them for anything.”

‘“ Of course, we wouldn't,” interrupted Lucy.
“Tt was all a mistake.”

“Then this mistake is like to cost you
dear,” said Puck sadly. ‘For soon you will
be tried by Fairy Law.”

‘But what have we done? Why should
we be tried?” asked Kitty.

‘“T must not speak of it,” replied the Elf.
“But later, when the trial is at hand, I'll
tell you all and aid you, if I can. Mean-
while don’t mope or fume, or let black
care hold sway. Keep lightsome hearts.
Bid trouble stand aside.”

“Oh! It’s all very well. First of all you
THE RESCUE OF PUCK. 127

tell us of the trial, and then you tell us to
forget it,” said Mary reproachfully. “Be-
sides, there is that horrid chorus you sang
the other night, after waking us up.”

‘‘Ah! think no more of it,” laughed Puck.
“The spirit of mischief was abroad and
swept us in his train.”

“Then—then you are quite sure nothing
like that will happen to us?” asked Kitty
nervously. ‘‘ We shan't be starved or roasted
or frozen, shall we?”

“It was an idle song to scare you out
of sleep, and nothing more,’ he answer-
ed. ‘Now listen. Henceforth I’m your
friend, so every Elf is also on your side.
- The three Roses, for all your base neglect,
do love you still and long to tell you so.
To-night the Queen holds Court, so must
we all appear; but when to-morrow comes,
Pll meet you here, at setting sun.”

“Will you really?” asked Mary delighted.

“And bring the Fairies who were once
your dolls. Then will we wander forth and
see such sights as mortals never saw. Deep
in the Earth we'll go, or high in air, or in
the water. We'll have such sport that you
128 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

shall think of nothing else, and have no
fear of any future woes. What say you?”

“Oh! It would be jolly,” cried Kitty,
clapping her hands excitedly. “I'd like it
tremendously.

‘Of course we'll come. It’s just the very
thing we’ve longed for,” said Mary. ‘Oh!
you are a nice boy.”

“And now I go. The Queen awaits me,”
said Puck. ‘She cannot bear to find me
absent from her side. Besides, I’ve promised
her to dance You never saw me dance?”
he asked, with an important air.

“Indeed we did—last night,” replied
Mary. “It’s the most wonderful dancing I
ever saw.”

“Oh, that was nothing,” he said, with
a careless gesture. “You shall come to-
night—I'll find a_ hiding-place—and then
you'll say ‘tis wonderful indeed. Come,
Til lead you there.” Without awaiting a
reply, the Elf turned and sped through the
forest at breakneck speed, followed by the
breathless girls. In a few moments he stopped
and held up his hand for silence, and then
pointed to a clump of broad-leaved plants
THE RESCUE OF PUCK. 129

which grew on the outskirts of the Fairy
ring.

“Lie there,’ he whispered, “and keep
strict silence, so none will guess your pre-
sence. Good night! Remember—to-morrow,
at the setting of the sun. I will not fail you.”

“Oh, we shall be there, Puck. Good-
night. And we are so much obliged to
you,” said Mary in a low tone.

“T should think we were. Good-night,
Puck,” echoed the others. The Elf’s reply
was a quaint bow, and in a moment he
had vanished, leaving the girls to hug
themselves with the thought that they had
turned a most potent enemy into a fast
friend.
CPAP ak Va:
PUCK TAKES THE MORTALS ON A FAIRY VOYAGE.

Tue Fairy revels, which the three mortals
were privileged to witness, were even more
strange and beautiful than on the previous
night. The music seemed sweeter, and the
dancing still more delightful, while Puck,
surpassed himself in the wonderful light-
ness and grace of his movements.

At the first streak of dawn, the girls
wended their way back to their haunt on
the fringe of the wood, and found their
usual feast awaiting them, to which had
been added several unknown delicacies, no
doubt supplied by their new friend Puck.

They were too tired to talk much, and hav-
ing satisfied their appetites, fell off to sleep.

The evening glow had mellowed the
landscape before either awoke, but then,
after a hurried ‘‘ breakfast supper”, as Mary
called it, they hastened off to meet the Elf
and his companions.
A FAIRY VOYAGE. 131

So anxious were they to be in time, that
the dying beams of the sun still gilded
the foliage long after the meeting-place
was reached. They sat down therefore
and discussed their prospects, with light
hearts, to while away the minutes until
their Fairy guide could present him-
self.

Night had fallen, and the girls had become
a little anxious as to whether the Elf would
keep his word, when there was a rustle
among the grass, and Puck sprang into
the open space before them, cap in hand.

‘Greeting, and a merry night to you all,”
he said, bowing.

“How do you do,” replied the girls,
rising to their feet. ‘““We thought you had
forgotten us.”

“Puck never forgets his friends—or
enemies,” said the boy gravely.

“Not only I, but others, come to wel-
come you. Wait.” With that he put his
hands to his mouth, uttering a soft musical
cry. They listened a moment, then it was
answered from a little distance. Again he
made the signal, and again the reply
132 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

floated back; and while still wondering who
the new-comers might be, the girls saw
three Fairies break cover and come to-
wards them:

With a cry of surprise they recognised
them as Wildrose, Primrose and Mossrose.

Their first sensation was one of utter
shame. The memory of their cruelty towards
these gentle beings was so vivid that they
stood with downcast eyes, unable to speak.

“Have you no greeting for me, Mary?”
and Wildrose stole up to the shamefaced
girl and threw her arms round her neck.

“JT don’t know what to say, I just hate
myself,” answered Mary in a low voice. “I
behaved so badly to you.”

“JT have forgotten that—and so must you.
I only think of those bright days when
you so loved me. When I was kissed and
fondled—sung to sleep with lullabies. Do
you remember?”

“Yes, of course. But it’s the other part
I remember too,” said the conscience-stricken
child. ‘Oh! I am so-sorry—you can’t think.
If I had only known,” and her eyes filled
with tears.
A FAIRY VOYAGE. 133

‘““There—there, I understand,” said the
Fairy, kissing her. “Don’t cry. There is
no need. We came to-night to bid you
keep good cheer. See, here is Puck,
impatient with delay. Eager to shew you
all the wonders of our Fairyland. Trouble
comes quick enough. Don’t meet it on
the way.”

Mary glanced round and saw that Lucy
and Kitty were smiling through their tears
and, although still conscious of their mis-
deeds, were quickly becoming more at home
with the Fairy dolls.

“When you have done with all this
kissing and embracing,” cried Puck, stamp-
ing his foot, “we'll get to work. You
mortals have ill-used my sisters—that’s true
enough, but they forgive you, and so
there’s an end, Come! The moon is rising
from her cloudy bed. The hour is here.
Where shall we go, Wildrose?”

“Upon the lake below,’ cried the
Fairy.

“Or up into the topmost boughs, and
swing as they go swaying in the breeze?”
suggested Primrose.
134 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Or seek for larks’ nests, or wake the
squirrel—he’ll give us sport enough,” ex-
claimed Mossrose.

“We'll do all this before the break of day.
But first the lake,” replied Puck; and with-
out more ado they scampered off, Puck
leading the way.

The path led deeper into the wood than
the girls had ever been before; and soon
they saw a glimmer of silver through the
branches. Mary was about to ask Wild-
rose what caused it when a large expanse
of water, now no longer hidden by the
trees, came into view. The moon had
touched it with her radiance, and countless
ripples twinkled on its surface.

“There is the lake!” exclaimed Puck.
‘Can you not see its smiles of welcome and
its beckonings?”

“It looks very pretty,” replied the prosaic
Kitty, who was nearest him. “It’s like
silver paper that toffee is wrapped in—
all crinkly, you know.”’

This remark was very properly received
in cold silence, which remained unbroken
until they had reached the edge of the lake
A FAIRY VOYAGE. 135

where the tiny wavelets rippled invitingly
to their feet.

Once there, the Elf knelt down, his face
almost touching the water, and uttered a
strange, shrill cry which travelled across
the lake and broke upon the opposite bank.

For a few moments nothing happened;
but then there was a splash and commotion
in the midst of some plants of water-lilies,
a leaf of which, after having been shaken
violently, floated towards them.

With great surprise, the girls watched
its approach, and their astonishment became
greater when the heads of several gold-
fish came bobbing up expectantly.

‘Now for the journey!” exclaimed Puck,
jumping lightly on the broad leaf. “The
steeds are eager, and we'll skim the water
like the wind.”

After a brief hesitation, the girls followed
the Fairies on to this curious boat, while
Puck stooped over the edge with three
broad bands of silk in his hands, which the
girls had noticed fastened by threads to
the leaf. He slipped one of these over the
head of each of the three gold-fish, as they
136 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

came, obedient to his call, and then gather-
ing up the still finer threads which were
also attached to the collars, he waved his
wand of grass as a signal that all was ready.

As though eager to obey him, the scaly
steeds sprang forward, and the girls found
themselves being carried along at what
seemed a breathless speed.

When they had become a little accustomed
to this marvellous method of travelling,
Mary turned to Wildrose, who had placed
a protecting arm around her, and began to
ask questions.

“What jolly sort of fish! Who taught
them to behave like horses?” she asked.

“They are the subjects of the Queen,”
replied the Fairy, “and do her bidding.”

“Then I suppose they know Puck?” said
the puzzled girl.

“Know him! Every living thing in all
this land knows Puck, and loves him too.”

“Except spiders,” observed Mary slyly.

“Spiders, adders, all malignant creatures
are things apart,” explained Wildrose sadly.
“They are our foes, and love evil for evil’s
sake.”
A FAIRY VOYAGE. 137

“But will fishes and birds and things like
that, do what you ask them?’ went on
Mary eagerly. “And do they understand
what you say to them?”

“ Aye, and speak as well.”

“So they do!” exclaimed Mary. “Why,
the grasshoppers told us to go back, I re-
member. But they don’t talk in England.”

“Oh yes, they do; but you are deaf to
what they say,” said Wildrose, a little sadly.
‘Birds, flowers, insects, everything in nature
has a tongue, but only Fairies hear and
understand.”

“Jt must be nice to know so much,”
observed Mary a little curiously, “and to
have so many servants ready to do what
you ask them.”

“Tt is free service, rendered for love’s
sake,” cried the Fairy warmly. “ We help
the helpless, shield the weakly, aid all in
suffering and pain; and so they pay us
back whene’er they can.”

Mary was about to ask further questions
when a dull roar of water made her glance
anxiously ahead.

They were travelling straight towards an
138 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

outlet from the lake, where a thin line of
foam proved plainly enough that the journey,
if continued in that direction, would be far
from smooth.

“Look where we are going, Wildrose.
There is a waterfall or something there,
and we shall be falling over it in a minute.
Please tell Puck to stop,” said Mary in a
great state of alarm.

“’Tis not so fearful as you think,” laugh-
ed the Fairy. “’Tis only for the sport of
whirling down the falls that we are here.”

“To float upon the lake is nought,” cried
Primrose. ‘Wait and you shall see how
glorious it is to shoot the rapids; to feel
the waters boil and toss beneath you, and
see the rocks flash by as you go slipping
down.”

‘‘But—but suppose we get upset,” cried
Kitty, very scared at the prospect, ‘we
shall all be drowned.”

‘“Nay, trust to Puck. He knows the stream
by heart. There is no fear of that,” said
Mossrose, clasping Kitty tightly. “‘ We'll see
that no harm comes to you.”

The other fairies having also grasped
A FAIRY VOYAGE. 139

their charges tightly, the feeling of dread
which first seized them, gave place to a
most delightful sense of expectancy, while
the speed with which they were travelling,
added to their excitement.

The broken water was very near now,
and the tumult was so loud that they could
scarcely hear their own voices. Each one
held her breath as they dashed towards the
brink. They heard Puck crying, ‘‘ Bind each
to each. Hold fast! nor loose your hold,”
and then the leaf dipped, and rushed upon
its dangerous descent.

Breathless with suspense and filled with a
fearful joy, the girls clung to their fairy
protectors. The leaf swinging round in the
current, was apparently helpless in the rush
of waters, and yet some guiding hand helped
the frail craft to escape a thousand dangers.
Now a great stone would loom before them, |
threatening destruction; sometimes a sharp
ledge of rock, over which the stream poured,
would seem waiting to rend the leafasunder,
while again they would sweep through a
narrow gorge, down which the stream rushed
with terrifying swiftness to plunge madly
140 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

into the spume and spray and whirling eddies
below. But from each ordeal Puck emerged
triumphantly. He stood, his feet planted
firmly, his little figure upright as a dart,
the picture of resolute confidence. His long
locks streamed behind him, from the rush
of air, while his sparkling eyes and flushed
face made him the prettiest, boldest chari-
oteer that ever guided fish.

It seemed hours before the last green-
slimed boulder was left behind and they
once more moved evenly in the quickly
flowing stream, although the time was but
a few seconds.

With a look of exultation Puck turned
laughingly to his convoy.

‘Well, children, did any mortal ever
steer a boat like that, or bring you safely
down a cataract?”

‘Never in all our lives,” cried Mary, wild
with excitement. ‘It was just splendid!”

‘““And did you have no fear?”

‘“ No. Well—perhaps—only a little at first.
It was so funny. I felt frightened and
liked it.”

‘It was heaps better than a switchback












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A FAIRY VOYAGE. I4I

railway,’ cried Lucy, “ or toboganning,
either.”

“Are there any more of them, Puck?”
asked Kitty, still trembling a little. “I wasn’t
a bit afraid after Primrose caught hold
of me.”

‘“‘ There is another, where the water breaks,”
said the Elf, pointing ahead with his dis-
engaged hand. ‘“’Tis steeper and more
rapid than the first.”

A chorus of “ Oh’s ” followed this remark,
while Puck turned round and took a tighter
grip of the silken reins.

Once more the pace of their strange craft
increased, drawn along by the gathering
strength of the current, and again they
plunged into the tumult and rush of the
swift waters.

The peril seemed greater than before;
the frowning rocks looked more jagged and
the stream narrower and more turbulent.
But again Puck steered his downward way
unerringly, and they emerged breathless into
the calmer waters beneath.

“There. Now we'll rest awhile,” said the
Elf as he guided his team towards the
142 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

right bank of the stream. “The fish are
tired and the night grows old. We'll to the
shore and seek fresh pleasures there.”

As he spoke the leaf touched land, and
having unharnessed the golden steeds, he
called to the others to thank them.

The fish raised their heads eagerly as
the Fairies called to them, and seemed to
find great pleasure at the caresses they
received. The girls too patted their cold,
scaly backs, without the fish shewing any
signs of fear, and it was not until Puck
gave the word that they swam gaily away,
leaving the leaf to follow at its leisure.

The three Fairies with Mary and Lucy
threw themselves upon the ground, while
the ever-restless Puck, followed by Kitty,
began climbing the reeds that grew close
by the bed of the stream.

“And what think you, sisters, of our
Fairyland?” asked Wildrose, smiling.

“Oh! it’s beautiful!” cried Mary, sighing
in ecstasy. ‘And to think, a few days ago
we didn’t believe in Fairies or Fairyland,
either. Everybody seems so happy here,”
she added with a half sigh.
A FAIRY VOYAGE. 143

“No lessons—no French verbs or Miss
Harbutts,’ chimed in Lucy. “And you can
do as you please and go where you like.”

“And it’s so lively,’ Mary again struck
in. “Think of having dances and concerts
—such dances and such concerts—nearly
every evening. Why, it’s splendid! Where
did you all learn to dance so beautifully?”
she asked.

“How can we help but dance. Glad
hearts make tripping feet. Joy treads the
lightest measure,’ was the smiling reply.

“But are Fairies always happy? Don’t
they ever have any trouble at all?” persisted
Mary.

‘‘ Sometimes the shadows fall, and sorrow
steals the brightness from our lives,” an-
swered Wildrose, a shade of melancholy
crossing her face.

“But what sort of sorrow? You all seem
so good and fond of each other.”

‘“P’r’aps it’s spiders and things?” suggest-
ed Lucy.

“Yes, sometimes that. It may be troubles
that we have ourselves, and often troubles
that befall our friends,’ added the Fairy,
144 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

gazing wistfully at the girls. ‘But come,
we'll not speak of it. To-night we take
our pleasure. Away with dismal thoughts!
Look you at Puck and Kitty, their hearts
are feather-light. See how they feel the
glories of the night.”

In truth the shrieks of delight that came
from those two, proved that they, at least,
were free from care. Puck had climbed
up a long stem of grass, and having
taken a firm hold of its seed-tuft, threw
all his weight upon the end, and so bent
it to the earth. Then, from a sudden push
with his feet on the ground, the stem flew
back to an upright position, bearing the
Elf with it. This sport seemed so enticing
that Kitty was following his lead, and the
pair were swaying side by side, the child
making frantic endeavours to bend her stem
to the earth, while Puck was laughing at
her efforts.

“Everything is so funny here,” said Mary,
at last resuming the conversation. “And
there are such lots of things we can’t
understand, so we want you to tell us all
about everything.”
A FAIRY VOYAGE, 145

“And tell you now—at once?” said Wild-
rose, laughing at her eagerness.

“Oh! no. But everything we ask you.
You told us about the dancing; but now
we want to hear about the music. Do
you know, Belin—I beg your pardon, Wild-
rose,’ here she blushed a little, ‘that we
have heard nearly all your music before,
not that it ever sounded so beautiful—but
we have heard it, haven’t we, Lucy?”

“Oh yes. I suppose Ophel—How stupid |—
Primrose, that someone comes from Fairy-
land to Earth and brings back all the
prettiest tunes.”

“Nay, it is not so,” explained Primrose,
after she and Wildrose had exchanged
smiling glances. ‘The music comes from
us to you—not from you to us.”

‘But how’s that?” asked Mary, bewildered.
“J thought we were the first people who
ever got into Fairyland.”

“Not so. Besides we Fairies visit Earth,
and leave our melodies behind us.”

‘How do you do that? You don’t write
the tunes down, do you?” asked Lucy,
anxious to quite understand.

to
146 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Not in the way you mean,” said Wild-
rose.” We visit those with Music in their
hearts—those who love her well; and when
they sleep, we come and sing the sweetest
melodies into their ears; so when they
wake, they write them down and give them
to the world.”

“Then that is where all the tunes come
from!” cried Lucy. ‘“ But where do Fairies
find them?” she persisted.

‘“ Everywhere!” exclaimed Primrose. ‘‘ The
bubbling of the brook, the hum of wings,
the rustling leaves, the whispering grasses,
each and all give out most perfect music.”

“ But we have all that at home,” said Mary.
“Why can’t we hear them make music too.”

“JT cannot tell. Perhaps you are too big; -
perhaps you cannot listen as we do; per-
haps these things sing only in our Fairyland.”

“Oh! how nice it would be if we could
learn to hear,” said Mary wistfully. “Don’t
you think we should if we stopped here
long enough.”

“It might be so—if you stayed in your
present shapes,’ answered Wildrose, with
a little sigh.
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A FAIRY VOYAGE. 147

“And why not? Will the Queen send us
home? What is going to happen to us?”
cried Mary, roused to fear by something
in the Fairy’s tone.

‘“T do not know.”

“But you know something. You can
guess. I’m sure you can,” and Mary clasped
her arm almost roughly.

“Even Fairies cannot say what will be,”
replied Wildrose. “Why, you simple one,
you're meeting trouble, though I warned
you not,” arid she sprang to her feet as
though anxious to escape from further ques-
tions. ‘‘ Here’s Puck all ready for a journey.
Quick or he’ll vanish.”

Almost as she spoke, the Elf, tired of
swinging on the pliant stem, had beckoned
to Kitty, and the two were stealing away
through the grass, with the intention of
hiding from the rest.

Wildrose, however, followed quickly, and
Puck and Kitty, after a desperate attempt
to escape, were overtaken by the others.

The whole party then continued their
journey in quest of new adventures.
GEAR AER Voie
A SCAMPER AMONG THE TREE TOPS.

Berore long the travellers left the wood
and came to the foot of a hill. It was
covered with smooth short turf, while at
the summit grew a tree, with its boughs
growing upward and close to the trunk.
It was very tall, tapering almost to a point,
and the wind was bending its slender head,
and shaking its branches until they seemed
struggling. in its embrace.

“A glorious ride we'll have,” shouted
Puck, pointing upward to the swaying crest.
‘““See how the breeze is frolicking up there.
We'll mount at once.”

“Oh for goodness!” cried Lucy, “you
don’t mean to say that you are going to
climb up that tree?”

“Climb to the topmost twig,” laughed
the Elf, ‘and you shall lead the way.”

“Pll do nothing of the kind,’ observed
the girl in a most decided tone. “In the
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 149

first place I couldn’t. And if I could, I
wouldn’t.”

“Of course not. Why, we shall fall down
and break all our bones,” said Mary indig-
nantly.

‘“T should be frightened to death,” wailed
Kitty. “Please don’t make me go.”

“Nay, there is no cause for fear. Why
you could spring from any dizzy height and
fall as light as leaves,” explained Wildrose.
‘You will not be afraid if once you start.”

‘“But—but we can’t climb,’ explained
Mary, still hanging back.

“Oh! yes. Remember you're not mortals
now.”

“Except that you’re in mortal fear of
falling down,” cried Puck wrathfully. “I~
have no patience with such cowardice.”

“We're not cowards!” exclaimed Lucy ;
‘but of course we’re not used to it.”

“Well, used or not, you'll go or stay
alone, just as it please you. I’m for the tree,
and follow all who dare.”

With this the Elf dashed to the trunk,
and mounting with incredible swiftness, was
soon lost to view among the lower branches.
150 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Since the Fairies had promised to save
them from mishaps and Puck had called
them cowards, the girls felt that they could
scarcely refuse to make the attempt, and
so, with a good deal of trepidation, they
ran to the foot of the tree.

Had they been of ordinary human size
and weight, the mere idea of getting, even
to the nearest bough, would have neen
ridiculous, but now they found the ascent
quite easy.

Each little roughness in the bark aftorded
a firm hold for hands and feet; while en-
couraged by their Fairy guides they found
themselves rising higher and higher with
not much labour or difficulty.

Far away above them they could hear
Puck singing lustily, his voice mingling with
the whistle of the wind as it swept through
the leaves. The girls’ spirits rose as the
sense of security grew stronger, and they
became eager to reach the top. It seemed
a very little while before the last projecting
limb had been left below, and they forced
their way through the close-growing twigs,
to the very pinnacle, where each branch
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 151

had become so thin that they could clasp
their arms round it with ease. The little
party clung to the slim, yielding stem, like
a cluster of butterflies, and gazed over the
landscape.

For a time the breeze had dropped, so
that, with the tree motionless, they could
let their eyes wander over the wood to the
stream stealing round it like a silver neck-
lace, and to the level country beyond, which
stretched away to the mysterious hills, loom-
ing shadowy in the distance.

“Isn't it lovely up here?” murmured Kitty.
“And how bright the moon is. It’s almost
like daylight—I wonder,” she added, a little
wistfully, ‘“where home is? Do you know,
Mossrose?”’ and she turned to her guardian
Fairy. “You ought to, because you have
been there.”

‘Tis far away—beyond the hills,” answer-
ed the Fairy.

“As far as that!” cried Lucy who had
overheard the remark. ‘And how ever shall
we get back?”

‘““As you came here, so shall you return,”
answered Primrose.
152 A -HOUSERUL OF -REBEIES:

“But we don’t even know how that was,”
replied Mary.

“You came as feathers on the wind; as
sea-wrack washed up by the waves; as
summer clouds,” laughed Puck mockingly.
“Ask nothing. You three mortals seek to
know too much. Listen! Here comes the
breeze! Cling fast, or else you fall.”

As he spoke, they could hear far off a
faint moaning, and see the trees beneath
them move uneasily. Then, with a sudden
rush, the wind swept down upon them,
bending the slender tree-top like a whip,
and tearing savagely at every twig and
leaf. Again there was a brief lull when the
stem flew back upright, only to be held
again in the grip of the wind, and tossed
and shaken this way and that until the
girls shrieked in mingled terror and delight,
and Puck yelled defiance at the blustering
elements.

“Oh! Oh—h—h!” cried Kitty, clutching
the stem in desperation, half laughing and
half crying. ‘You're sure it won't break,
Puck. Oh! Oh—h—h! wouldn’t Freddy be
frightened if he were up here.”
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 183

“But he wouldn’t have been up here.
No one could have made him come,” gasp-
eds Lucy.

“Isn’t—it—lo—o—ove—ly!” came from
Mary, as a sudden gust made the branches
toss impatiently. ‘It’s better than any
swing I ever knew.”

But as the wind increased and the boughs
swayed and shivered before its rude assault,
Fairies and mortals alike had enough to
do to keep their footing without wasting
their breath in conversation.

They clung on therefore, the breeze
streaming their hair and reddening their
cheeks; the wild excitement of so strange
an adventure driving away all sense of fear.

Now, as the stem bent under the blast,
they could look down, finding nothing but
their frail hold to save them from falling
into space. Then the wind would come in
short puffs, and shake the branch angrily,
as though trying to hurl them fathoms be-
low; while sometimes, in kinder mood, it
would sway them to and fro, soothingly
humming a lullaby among the branches.

How long they remained at this dizzy
154 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

height, caressed and buffeted in turns, they
could not tell; but it was with no great
joy that they heard Puck saying it was
time to descend.

cc@Oh!~ not -yet, Puck,» protested Mary.
“Tt’s so jolly up here. Let us all stop till
morning.”

But the Elf would have none of it, and
so the party descended the tree, scrambling
from branch to branch with astonishing ease
and certainty.

They had reached the lowest bough,
which was some twenty feet from the ground,
but which looked very much more to the
tiny mortals, when Puck paused.

“Which of you dare to leap from here?”
he asked, looking round and laughing.

Nobody replied; the girls being aghast at
such a suggestion.

“Come, Pll lead the way. Surely, Kitty,
you are not afraid?”

“Yes, I am,’ was the prompt answer.
“JT wouldn’t do it for anything,’ and the
child caught her breath as she peered down.

“Tt is like jumping from a church steeple,”

added Lucy.
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 155

“You do not fall, you float,” cried the
boy impatiently. ‘“Now, are you with me?”
and he came close to Kitty as though to
persuade her further. The child, however,
drew back frightened; but with a sudden
dash he caught her in his arms and, amid
shrill cries of dismay from the girls, sprang
into air. .

“They will be killed!” shrieked Mary,
clutching Wildrose, and hiding her face.

“Nay. They are safe enough. See.”

Plucking up courage, the girl leant over,
and saw the pair descend steadily, and
drop quite lightly on the turf beneath.

“Oh! It’s just splendid!” Kitty shouted
up at them. “Exactly like floating. Do
come! You won’t hurt yourselves a bit. It
is the best game I ever played.”

Some urging from the Fairies, however,
was required before the other girls pre-
pared to make the desperate leap. But
since Kitty had done so, they could scarcely
refuse, and so with great misgivings they
shut their eyes, held their breath and drop-
ped from the branch.

They expected a sudden rush through
156 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

the air and a dreadful bump when they
reached the ground; but in this they were
mistaken, since the motion was gradual,
and extremely pleasant. So light was their
descent, that they scarcely knew when their
feet touched the ground.

‘Well, that is funny,’ remarked Lucy.
‘How was it we didn’t come down thump?”

“It’s because we are a kind of Fairies,”
said Mary promptly.

“The next time we climb a tree,” chimed
in Kitty, “I shall jump off from the top.
I should like to be falling all day long.”

‘“All night long you mean,” corrected Lucy.

“Well, it’s the same thing. Where are
we going to now?” she asked Puck, as
they hastened down the hill in the direction
of the wood.

“Tm going to rouse the lazy squirrels
from their beds,” he answered.

“Why? What are they going to do?”

“You shall learn ere long. Haste! haste!
or morn will come and end our frolic.”

In spite of their water trip, their long
walk and the climbing of the tree, the girls
shewed no signs of fatigue, so that they
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 157

followed Puck gaily enough, chattering all
the while to the Fairies who kept ever by
their side.

Before long they had once more entered
the gloomy portals of the wood, and skirt-
ing the undergrowth, the Elf trod a little
used path which ended at the foot of an
old oak tree, its bark grey with age. Great
branches spread out on each side, throw-
ing forth masses of foliage, through which
the pale stars faintly twinkled.

“Another climb!” said Kitty gleefully.
“Are we going to the top again?”

“Nay. Not so high as that,” and Puck
sprang to the trunk and mounted to the
lower boughs. Now this time the mortals
caused no delay, so that everyone was
quickly among the branches in close attend-
ance upon the leader.

Some half way up Puck paused before
a great knot in the trunk, and putting his
head through a hole which pierced its centre,
uttered the cry with which he had previously
called the fish.

They waited silently; but since no an-
swer came, the cry was repeated.
158 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

This time it met with success, since a
sleepy voice from the hollow of the tree
replied, ‘Who calls?”

“Tis I—Puck, you lazy ones. Come
forth, I’ve need of you.” After a brief pause,
a reddish brown head peeped out, and a
pair of bright eyes gazed round at the group.

“What would you at this hour? ’Tis early
yet. You woke me from my dreams. |
saw a pile of nuts as tall as yonder hill,
and they were mine—all mine—a winter's
store.”

“’Tis time you woke from such a greedy
dream,” laughed the Elf. ‘Where are your
brothers? Still asleep, I vow. Quick! call
them. There is a journey you must go
before the day.”

Grunting his discontent, the squirrel dis-
appeared, but in a few moments again
emerged from his hiding-place, in company
with three others, all yawning, and heavy
with sleep. They soon, however, threw off
their drowsiness, and curling their bushy tails
over their backs in jaunty fashion, awaited
Puck’s demands.

The girls were becoming used to seeing
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 159

everything of gigantic dimensions, so that
they were not surprised to find that squirrels
were the size of horses.

The discovery, however, that they were to
be used for riding purposes, was not only
new, but somewhat startling, so they did not
fallin with Puck’s suggestion with much ardour.

“But we don’t know how to ride,”
observed Mary. ‘We never rode any-
thing but donkeys on the sands—and then
we fell off,” she added plaintively.

“And squirrels are such wriggly, jumpy
things,” said Lucy. ‘I’m sure we couldn't
stop on their backs.”

“With you three mortals it is always
No! no! no!” exclaimed Puck in great
anger. “You would not climb. Oh! no.
And now you fear to mount a squirrel’s
back. I have no patience with such fears.”

“Nay, ’tis only natural; they are but
children yet,” urged Wildrose. ‘Each fresh
adventure is so strange to them. Come,
Mary, you shall sit with me. Indeed there
is no danger.”

The other Fairies spoke in similar fashion,
so that, their fright being somewhat allayed,
160 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

the girls scrambled on to the backs of these
Pmrcable steeds.

Puck had mounted the first squirrel, who
was to lead the way; next came Wildrose
and Mary, nestled down in the soft coat of
the animal, then Mossrose and Lucy, while
Kitty and Primrose brought up the rear
of the cavalcade.

Before starting, both Fairies and mortals
took a grip of the long fur, and put their
backs firmly against the tail which curled
along the squirrel’ s back; then, having an-
swered ‘Yes,’ to Puck’s enquiry as to
whether they were ready, the Elf gave his
steed the word to start.

As the animals began to move along the
branch in quick bounds and leaps, a chorus
of shrieks arose from the children. The
bumping they had experienced on the backs
of donkeys was smoothness itself to the
terrible jerks and thumps that fell to their
share on so exciting a journey.

“ Ple—le—le—ase—let me—g—get oh!
oh! off,’ begged Mary, the words coming
in pleces, as it were. ‘I can—ca—can’t—
hold— on much—long—lo—longer.”
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 161

Similar wails of anguish came from the
other girls, although Kitty, in spite of the
extreme discomfort, was laughing loudly.

“D—d—don’t laugh, Kitty,” cried Lucy
angrily. ‘“It’s—it’s s—so sil—ly. I'm sure—
there’s no—no—thing—to laugh—at. Oh!
If—they’d—on—ly sto—o—p.”

Having once started, however, the squir-
rels plainly had no intention of pausing,
even for a moment—at least, so long, Puck
led the way on the foremost one. The
Fairies who seemed perfectly at ease, en-
couraged their charges to bear their woes
with fortitude, assuring them that before
long they would become used to the pecu-
liar motion and enjoy themselves mightily.

“T’m sure—I—sha’n’t,” gasped Mary. “I
never—did like being—jogged about, and
I nev—er shall.”

Again, however, the Fairies’ words proved
true. The children were so light that they
very quickly found themselves able to rise
or fall asthe occasion served, and that only
a slight movement was necessary if made
at the right time.

Now that Mary did not find it imperative

Ir
162 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

to shut her eyes, hold on with all her might
and complain loudly, she began to look about
and take some interest in the chase. It
certainly did appear to be a very dangerous
kind of game, and enough to make anybody
quake; but for all that it was very thrilling.

Puck was urging his squirrel to its top-
most speed, now standing upright on its
back, holding on by the tail, and sometimes
lying down, his head level with his steed’s
ears, to avoid some overhanging twig.

The leader’s agility was wonderful, al-
though not more so than that of his compan-
ions. They bounded along without a moment’s
pause; now scampering along a branch, which
bent and cracked beneath their weight, until
they reached its extremity, then leaping to
another, quite heedless of the dreadful space
between.

The girls found themselves in all sorts of
positions. The Elf, out of pure mischief,
travelled in most zig-zag fashion. At times
the squirrels would climb a tree trunk, so
that the riders were upright; then they would
scramble down, placing everyone’s heels a

good deal higher than their heads. This
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 163

done, they would drop from branch to branch,
amid shrill cries from the breathless mortals,
or jump from right to left or left to right
so suddenly that it was as much as the
travellers could do to keep their hold. But
as the wild ride progressed, the children
entered more and more into the spirit of
it. They even found themselves urging on
their steeds to fresh endeavours. It was
glorious to rush through the air at such
breakneck speed, bounding along from tree
to tree, springing hither and thither in mad
haste, and they thrilled delightfully at the
thought that a slip or a breaking bough
would hurl them to the ground which seemed
so far beneath them.

Indeed the jump from tree to tree was
by far the best of the fun, and although
they held their breaths as their active steeds
gathered themselves together and leapt into
space, it was always followed by a cry of
ecstasy when they were safely across to the
opposite branch.

It seemed as though they had raced all
round the wood before Puck called a halt,
at which signal the panting squirrels sat up
164 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

and wiped their heated brows with their
paws.

“’Twas a brave ride and a speedy one,”
said the Elf, swinging his leg over the
squirrel’s back and dismounting. ‘ You let
no moss grow, while you dallied.”

“We did our best, Puck,” observed the
leader modestly. “ No squirrel can do more.”

‘“Nay. Few can do as much,” said Wild-
rose approvingly. “We all do thank you
very heartily.”

“TJ am sure I do,” broke in Kitty. “ You
are like donkeys, only ever so much better.”

At this remark the squirrels bridled up,
and one, in a sarcastic tone, remarked that
he was very delighted to hear it.

“She doesn’t mean anything rude,” ex-
plained Mary. ‘But donkeys are the only
things she ever rode on before to-night.
I think it was more like flying than riding.
Why, you might have had wings by the
way we went.”

This flattery brought a more amiable
look on the faces of the squirrels, and
they bowed graciously.

“And now as your reward,” said Puck.
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 165

“Tl tell a secret. I know a store of nuts,
well ripened, hard and dry.”

‘Where! where!” cried all the squirrels,
pricking up their ears eagerly.

‘‘Meet me here at sundown to-morrow,
and I will guide you to the spot, I promise.”

‘““We thank you, my lord Puck,” said the
leader. ‘‘We will attend, fear not.”

“T have no doubt of that. And so good-
night,” replied the Elf laughing.

“Good-night to you, and good-night
Fairies ll,” with which salutation, the
squirrels scampered off to finish their inter-
rupted sleep, while Puck and his compan-
ions dropped lightly to the ground.

‘Tis growing light. Dawn treads upon
night’s heels,” he said, looking towards the
east, where a faint glow trembled above
the hills, “and so our frolic ends. How
did you like the sport?” he asked, turn-
ing to Kitty, to whom he had taken a great
liking. “Is it as pleasant as the revels on
that dull earth of yours?”

“Oh! It’s a thousand times better,” cried
the child, clapping her hands. “If all the
good times I ever had at home were to
166 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

happen in one day, they wouldn't be half
as jolly as this has been.”

_ “Oh! we have enjoyed ourselves,” broke
in Mary. ‘I don’t think, if I live to be a
hundred, I shall ever forget it.”

‘And the things we have done!” exclaim-
ed Lucy. ‘“Sha’n’t we have heaps to tell
them when we get home—only I’m afraid
they won’t believe us,’ she added sadly.

“Fancy telling Freddy we had been for
a ride on a water-lily leaf, with gold-fish
to pull us along,” said Mary, ‘‘why, he
would say we had made it all up.”

“And swung on the top of a high tree,
and raced all round a wood on a squir-
rel’s back.” :

“<« Fibs!’ that is what he would say,” be-
wailed Kitty. “That is the worst of it.”

“Never mind. We know we’ve done it,
and that’s the great thing,’ said Mary
cheerfully. ‘And it zs good of you, Puck,
to give us such a splendid time,” she went
on, turning to the Elf. “And you too,
Wildrose. You are a dear, that’s what you
are,’ and she hugged the Fairy to shew
her gratitude.
AMONG THE TREE TOPS. 167

Kitty was in so excited a state, that she
embraced everybody, Puck included, while
Lucy was content to express her thanks
in a less demonstrative fashion.

“The day is breaking, so good morr ow
to you all,” said Puck. “And rest assured,
if *tis within my power, we'll have more
merry nights together.”

“And we shall see you soon,” said
Wildrose, “if we can steal away. ’Tis
true we break the Queen’s commands in
doing so, but that’s a risk we run for love
of you. Good-bye—and pleasant dreams,
and sweet awakening.”

The girls were so reluctant to part with
their friends, even for the briefest time,
that they clung to them, begging that they
would come again the next night, and it
was not until the Fairies had faithfully
promised to try their utmost, that they
were released. At last they vanished among
the undergrowth, while the girls wended
their way towards the tree under which
they hoped to find the accustomed meal.
CE APE R vere
A FAIRY PRISON.

Tue wonderful adventures through which
they had passed, made the three mortals
mightily hungry, and it was with great
satisfaction that they found, on arriving at
their journey’s end, a plentiful supply of
seed and honey, and other dainties.

After a hearty meal, sleep began to weigh
down their eyelids, and, too tired to talk
over the exciting incidents of the moonlight
frolic, they sank back and quickly lost
themselves in slumber.

All through the hours of daylight they
slept undisturbed, and it was long after the
sun had set that Mary awoke and looked
about her.

‘Wake up, you two lazy things,” she
said, shaking her sisters to arouse them.
“Tt is quite dark. Perhaps the Fairies
and Puck are waiting for us in the wood.
We shall be late.”
A FAIRY PRISON. 169

The other girls sprang up hastily, and
having bathed their hands and faces in a
pool of dew which sparkled temptingly on
the broad face of a dock leaf, they started
out in the direction of the Fairy Ring, in
the hope of meeting their companions of
the previous night.

They were in the highest spirits, as the
sense of strangeness and impending danger
which had oppressed them when first they
arrived in Fairyland, had quite disappeared.

Since Puck and the “three Roses’, as
they called them, were their friends, it was
hardly likely that any of the other denizens
in this delightful world would harm them.
Already they had forgotten the few words
let fall by Puck and the Queen and the
Fairy dolls on their first meeting with the
Fairies. And even had they remembered,
their belief in Puck’s influence among
his fellows, would have prevented any fear
of serious punishment. If those who had
suffered at their hands, had forgiven them,
the Queen would surely pardon them too;
so that without any misgiving they boldly
entered the wood.
170 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

The mortals had hardly passed the
outlying trees, when suddenly they were
surrounded by hundreds of grasshoppers,
who sprang, apparently, from behind every
leaf, each one carrying a lance of grass.

The girls started back more surprised
than alarmed, and then Mary, with great
civility, asked permission to pass. She had
scarcely spoken before the ranks of guards
opened, and a Fairy, one they had never
before seen, stood before them-

He was a very dignified person indeed,
with a severe cast of countenance. His
costume was a scarlet robe, which fell from
throat to heel, and he wore a curiously-shap-
ed close-fitting cap of the same colour. In
one hand he carried a white wand, while
in the other was a scroll.

He stood for a moment, his stern glance
travelling from one to the other of the
girls, and then, slowly unfolded the written
document, and spoke.

“Stand in the Queen’s name. Listen.”
Here he paused again, and read the
scroll.

“Whereas the three mortals known as
A FAIRY PRISON. 171

Mary, Lucy and Kitty are charged with
grave misdemeanours against the Queen’s
lieges, and with other crimes, they are
herewith summoned to appear before the
Court of Her Majesty at moonrise to-
morrow eve.”

“If you please,” said Kitty, “what are
‘misdemeanours’ and what is the meaning
of ‘lieges’?”

“J have read her Majesty’s commands,”
the Fairy went on, evidently regarding
Kitty’s question as an impertinence. “ And
in her name I do arrest you. Guards,
convey the prisoners to the spot whereof
I told you, and see they do not stir thence.
Away!”

The important Fairy disappeared, as
mysteriously as he had come, while obedient
-to his wishes, the grasshoppers formed up
on all sides of the girls, who once more
started, under a strong escort, towards the
centre of the wood.

This change in their prospects was so
sudden that for some minutes the girls
quite failed to realise their position. It
was not long, however, before the fact
172 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

that they were prisoners, dawned upon
them in all its unpleasantness. The strong
force of grasshoppers hemming them in,
was in itself proof enough, while the sharp
cry of “Silence”, which rang out when-
ever either of them attempted to find out
whither they were being conducted, placed
the matter beyond doubt.

Of this they were perfectly sure, that
Puck knew nothing of the misfortune which
had befallen them, and that when he did
hear of it, no effort would be spared to set
them at liberty. As the procession passed
through the wood, therefore, the girls kept
peering this way and that, hoping to catch
a glimpse of their powerful friend; but in
this they were disappointed, since the party
halted at the foot of a dead oak, without
having encountered either the Elf or the
three Roses.

There was a small hole in the tree, ex-
tending a little above their heads, and wide
enough for all three to walk in abreast. A
curtain hung before it, heavier in texture
and more sombre in hue than that which
had draped the Queen’s throne. This
A FAIRY PRISON. 173

was drawn aside by several of the guard,
who bade them enter.

Once inside they looked about them, and
found the interior of the trunk hidden by
more curtains, which were stretched above
them, forming a roof. In spite of the hangings
the chamber struck damp and chilly, while
the few fire-flies which clung motionless to
the draped ceiling but feebly dispelled the
gloom of the prison-house.

In one corner was a heap of dead leaves,
evidently placed there as a resting-place
for any unfortunate inmates, and upon these
the girls threw themselves, wearily.

For some time they kept silence. Kitty
nestled up closely to Mary as though for
protection, while the elder girl put her arms
round her, kissing her now and again, hoping
to charm away her tears.

“What is going to happen?” whispered
Lucy at last, breaking the silence.

“Oh! I don’t suppose it will be anything
very bad,’ answered Mary, making an
attempt at cheerfulness.

“But suppose it is bad?” whimpered the
youngest sister. ‘Suppose that song the
174 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Elves sang the other night comes true?
Suppose they leave us on a desert or—or
tie us to a tree, or—or—put us under the
ground in an ant’s nest? Oh! Mary, you
won't let them do it—will you—will you?”
and she clung shudderingly to her sister,
quite overcome with the bare idea.

“Of course I won't,” said Mary stoutly.
“It was only Puck teasing us. Besides, I’m
sure the Queen wouldn’t punish us like that.
She looks much too kind.”

‘But I don’t suppose they have taken us
prisoners just for the fun of the thing,”
remarked Lucy. “That wretched Fairy who
read out all those long words, didn’t seem
to see any joke in it.”

“Well, perhaps it isn’t quite a joke?”
observed Mary. “I daresay we shall be
brought up before the Queen; but when
Puck and the Roses take our part she will
just say we have been very naughty girls
and that we are not to do itagain. That’s
alee

“But if it isn’t all?’? sobbed Kitty, who
was now thoroughly frightened. ‘“ Suppose
the Queen says we are guilty, and must be
A FAIRY PRISON. 178

punished? How do the Fairies punish
people?”

“Oh! well, anyhow, it won’t be much.
The Queen isn’t disagreeable like Miss Har-
butt,” reasoned the eldest girl, determined
not to look on the black side of things.
“It is no good worrying. Let us talk about
last night, and not think about anything else.”

If Mary had been quite alone, she would
have sat there and cried her eyes out; but
as the eldest girl, it was so plainly her
duty to cheer her sisters that, bravely stifl-
ing her feelings, she began to chatter about
their moonlight revels with so cheerful an air
that the other two almost forgot their
present plight.

They had just entered upon an excited
argument as to which particular squirrel
could run the fastest, when they were inter-
rupted by a great commotion outside the tree.

The grasshopper Guards were expostulat-
ing in loud voices and attempting to stop
someone passing through their ranks. It
was nevertheless plain that they were not
succeeding, since the cries came nearer and
and nearer. At last the girls recognised a
176 A. HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

voice above the din. It was Puck coming
_to them.

‘How dare you—insects!” he cried in
scornful tones. “ You will not let me pass?
Me! Puck! Out of my path this instant.”

“We have our orders, that none shall
enter,” answered the leader of the grass-
hoppers.

“ Orders—from whom?”

“From the most learned Councillor Un-
bending.”

‘From Councillor Unbending!” was the
contemptuous reply. “And do you think
that I obey his learnedship? Do you
think that he dare say, ‘Puck shall do
this or that. Puck shall go here or there’;
or, if he did, that I'd submit to his presump-
tion?”

‘“He represents the law,” the grasshopper
ventured to observe.

“And I the Queen; so stand aside, or
you shall answer to her for this insult.”

In another moment the curtain at the
entrance was flung aside and Puck, flushed
and wrathful, entered. Close behind him
came a second Fairy, clothed in similar
A FAIRY PRISON. 177

fashion to the one who arrested the girls,
except that both robe and cap were pure
white, while his expression was so kind and
full of sympathy that the children felt drawn
towards him at once.

“Didst ever hear the like?” cried the
Elf, turning sharply upon his companion.
“IT may not pass because your learned
brother wills it so. I answer to the Queen
for all my acts; but to none other. His
insolence is past bearing.”

‘““No doubt the Guard mistook his mean-
ing,” said the other soothingly. “He meant
that none should come save those with
business here.”

“It may be so, Councillor, but he shall
hear of it before ‘tis done with. And now,
you mortals,’ he went on, crossing to the
girls, who had been listening to every word
with great interest—“I hastened hither the
instant news of your misfortune reached
me. You did not doubt that I should come?” _

“Oh no, Puck. We were perfectly sure
you would,” replied Mary.

“That’s well. And here, with me, is Coun-
cillor Merciful, who'll plead your cause before

T2
178 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

the Queen. His tongue is silver and his
heart is gold. Search Fairyland and yet
you would not find so rare an advocate.”

“We are very much obliged to both of
you,” was Mary’s humble rejoinder.

“Of course you know the charges to be
brought against you?” said the Councillor,
speaking for the first time, in a voice like
music.

“I suppose it’s—it’s about our dolls and
throwing darts at them, and all that,” re-
sponded Lucy dolefully.

“Yes. That and more. Each one is”
tried for all her evil works.”

“All!” gasped Kitty.

Sees

“Oh for goodness! what a lot of evi-
dence there will be,’ and Lucy groaned as
her misdeeds crowded thick and fast upon
her memory.

“So must you tell me all the good you've
done. Then good and ill are balanced side
by side and due punishment awarded.”

“But who decides the punishment?”
asked Mary anxiously.

“The Queen! whose anger is most high
A FAIRY PRISON. 179

against you,” broke in Puck. “She loves
her Roses—once your dolls, you know—
almost as well as she loves me,” and he drew
himself up with a grand air of importance.

“Now tell me all the good you ever did,”
said Councillor Merciful softly. ‘‘Each little
act of kindness; every helpful deed, or
gentle word. Tell me, and the Queen
shall hear of it.”

The three girls looked at each other
helplessly, but did not answer.

“Come! Come!” exclaimed Puck im-
patiently. ‘There is no time to lose.”

“Can either of you recollect that we ever
did anything good?” said Mary at last, in
‘a hopeless tone.

“Well,” answered Kitty, rubbing her nose
with her forefinger, a habit of hers when-
-ever she thought very hard— ‘sometimes
we weren’t so bad as at other times. But
I suppose that doesn’t count?”

‘But surely, in all your lives, some little
good you’ve done?” cried Puck amazed.

“Oh yes! Lots and heaps,” said Mary
eagerly. “ But—but we have forgotten what
it was.”
180 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Councillor and Elf exchanged blank looks,
‘and for a time seemed quite at a loss what
to suggest. At last, however, a happy idea
occurred to the EIf.

“T have it, Councillor. This night Pll go
to Earth, and bring back tidings of what
these children did.”

“To Earth! Oh! Puck, take us with you,”
begged Kitty, clutching him by the arm
imploringly.

“Oh do!”

“Qh! please do, and we will love you
ever so much,” and the three gathered
round, clamouring to bear him company.

“Nay, nay! I can’t do that,” he exclaimed.
“But soon, perhaps, the Queen will let you
go. Meanwhile keep courage in your hearts.
I will be back before the trial is done, and
it is strange indeed if such a mission brings
us no. success. Be brave and cheerful.
Remember, I am your friend.”

Even if the visit had no other result,
it helped to raise the children’s spirits.
One staunch friend is sometimes more
than a match for a hundred enemies;
while since the Councillor spoke most
A FAIRY PRISON. 181

hopefully of their prospects before he
departed, and promised to do his utmost
to influence the Queen in their favour,
they became more resigned to their prison
quarters.

But even yet the sum of their visitors was
not complete.

An hour or so before daylight a sound
like a sigh floated down from the curtained
roof. The girls listened.

‘Mary! Mary!” came in a whisper.

‘Who is there?’ whispered back the girl.

“Tt is 1—Wildrose. Are you three alone?”

‘Yes, we are. Come down, there’s a dear.”

The awning was gently drawn aside, and
the three Roses sprang down and stood
beside the children, who flung themselves
into the arms of the Fairies, sobbing and
‘crying, piteously. It was quite impossible
for them to explain how it was that they
broke down so suddenly, and Mary felt
called upon to apologise.

‘‘!—]—can’t—help it, Wildrose. We are
so—mis—erable—you can’t think. We are
great babies—all of us, but we have—tried
not to be—haven’t we?”
182 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Ye—ye—yes, we have,” sobbed the
other two.

“Nay! Cry and cry again. For when the
heart is full, it sometimes sheds its sorrow
with its tears,” murmured Wildrose, draw-
ing the girl’s head down on her shoulder,
and stroking her hair tenderly. “ Cry on, Mary,
‘tis better that you should.”

And so circled by protecting arms, the
girls had a good, comfortable cry and felt
very much better when they had quite
finished.

“And now,” said Wildrose, seating her-
self beside Mary on the heap of leaves,
‘tell me. Have you yet seen Puck?”

The girls quickly told her all that had
happened, and the Fairy nodded her head
approvingly.

‘Tis well he’s gone. He learnt the news
before it spread abroad. I did not know the
Queen would act so soon.”

“Then you knew that we should be put
in prison, all the time?” said Mary.

‘“Oh! yes, ’twas known to all.”

“And yet you never told us anything
about it?” Mary went on reproachfully.
A FAIRY PRISON. 183

“Why should I do so?” argued the Fairy.
“Tt was your fate.”

‘But couldn’t you have helped us to
escape?”

“We have no power in this. The Queen
alone can send you back to earth. And
so we tried to make you happy while we
could. If we had told you of this trial,
‘twould have been cruel and not kind,
serving no purpose but to make you sad.”

“Yes, of course. I’m stupid to blame
you, Wildrose. And you are just darlings
to come and cheer us up; and so are Puck
and Councillor Merciful too. We don’t
deserve it.”

“ Andifanything happens—anything dread-
ful I mean,” broke in Lucy, “we shall never
forget how good you have all been to us.”

‘‘Not as long as I live,” added Kitty with
great emphasis.

“Puck says the Queen is dreadfully angry
with us; but do you think she will punish
us very much?” asked Mary anxiously.

‘I cannot think so, when she learns the
truth,” answered Wildrose. “She'll relent, if
Puck brings back good tidings.”
184 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“But I don’t see how he can,” sighed
Lucy, shaking her head dolefully. “I’m
afraid we were fearfully bad girls—all of us.”

“You see,” Mary chimed in, ‘we wanted
to be boys, and never tried to be young
ladies. And then we hated lessons, simply
hated them, and we didn’t like Miss Harbutt
one bit. And if she or mother told us to do
anything, we wouldn’t; but if they told us
not to do anything, we went and did it at
once. Didn’t we?”

“We did,” was the doleful response from
her sisters.

“So you see, when the Queen hears all
that, it will only make it worse.”

“And yet perhaps, some tender, kindly
act will prove your hearts are really good
—as we are sure they are—and so out-
weigh the rest,” said the Fairy cheerfully.
“Of this you may be sure, that our sweet
Queen will never punish when she can
forgive. And so keep hope beside you;
know too that staunch friends are close at
hand to help you in your need.”

“Yes, we know that, and so we don’t
feel so very miserable after all. But you
A FAIRY PRISON. 185

are not going?” she added hastily as the
Fairies rose to their feet.

“Go, we must.”

“Oh! please don’t. As long as you’re
here, we don’t feel a bit afraid,’ pleaded
the girl.

“Nay. We run great risk in coming;
yet greater still in staying. We part but
for a little while,’ she continued, gently
removing the clinging hands that tried to
keep her. “So farewell. Be brave and
hopetul.

Even as she spoke, Wildrose kissed the
child two or three times, and then the
Fairies sprang lightly upwards and dis-
appeared in the same fashion as they had
come, leaving the girls to their own anxious
thoughts.
GFE eal eae
THE TRIAL. THE COMING OF PUCK.

Ir will hardly be supposed that the pri-
soners passed the rest of the night in much
comfort, or that dawn, when it came at last,
found them ready for sleep.

Nothing occurred to break the monot-
ony, except the sudden entrance of several
grasshoppers who placed food and drink
before them, and departed as silently as
they had come.

All through the day they sat thinking,
thinking, thinking, of what would happen
to them. Sometimes they talked of it,
whispering to each other, but generally they
were too dispirited and anxious to speak
at all.

Kitty slept fitfully, dozing off, then waking
up in a fright, to cry quietly, with her face
buried in Mary’s lap. Lucy nodded at
times; while she also, frequently dissolved
into tears. But Mary could not sleep at all.
THE COMING OF PUCK. 187

She did her best to comfort her sisters,
and to speak hopefully and bravely, but for
the most part she sat with dry, wide-open
eyes staring into the gloom, and thinking
of many things.

It was all very kind of Puck and the
three Roses to speak only of the bright
side of things, and she was grateful. But
if they were hiding the worst, and if, in
spite of their efforts, the Queen decided to
punish them, what then?

Since they had been in Fairyland Mary
had scarcely thought of home. Now, how-
ever, she became dreadfully homesick. If
only mother had been there! How she
would have been hugged and kissed and
cried over, and called the best and dearest
‘“mammy” in all the world.

Even Miss Harbutt’s presence would be
more than welcome. In spite of her stern-
ness the child was certain she would not
allow anybody to punish them, not even
the Queen. She fancied (and a wan little
smile flitted across her face as the thought
came to her) how astonished the Court
would be if the governess, in her natural
188 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

size, were to stalk up to the Queen’s throne,
- upsetting all the grasshoppers, with a sweep
of her indignant skirts, and claim her charges.
She could almost hear her say in her most
severe tones, ‘‘ These children, your Majesty,
are my pupils. If there is any punishment
to administer, I am quite capable of doing
that myself,” and walking back to Earth
with them tucked away under her arm.

Even the angry tones of Jane, or Freddy’s
boisterous greeting would be far sweeter
just now than all the Fairy music, and she
strained her ears, half hoping that some
such familiar sound would break this dread-
ful silence.

She listened in vain. The faint hum from
the outside world floated in through the
hangings, and the chirruping of the grass-
hoppers as they talked among themselves,
were the only sounds that greeted her. So
she sat hour after hour, sometimes kissing
Kitty’s wet cheeks and trying to make
light of their misfortune, sometimes squeez-
ing Lucy round the neck in sisterly sym-
pathy, while her spirits sank lower and
lower,as the dreary day dragged slowly along.
THE COMING OF PUCK. 189

A ray of light had found its way in
through an opening in the curtains. At
first it seemed like a gleam of hope; but
as it crawled gradually upwards, growing
red as the sun dropped into its bed behind
the hills, it seemed rather an omen of evil.
Then it disappeared as though warning
them that daylight was fading and the hour
of trial was at hand.

The air grew chilly and the three children
were glad to nestle down close to each
other for warmth. Although their sad thoughts
had driven away their appetites, it was
somewhat ofa relief when a few of the guard
again entered and gave them another meal.
By the time they had finished it, the hang-
ings at the entrance of their prison were
drawn aside, and the captain of the troop,
a ferocious-looking grasshopper, with legs
even longer than the rest, stood before the
children.

“The Queen and Court await your pre-
sence. Follow!”

With a shiver of fright Kitty clung to
her eldest sister, and Lucy shewed signs
of bursting into tears; but Mary nerved
190 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

herself to face their accusers, and holding
-her sisters’ hands, passed out of the prison.

A hundred or more grasshoppers formed
round them instantly, and at the word of
command they started off through the wood,
in the direction of the twinkling lights,
which shone through the trees, quickly con-
ducting their prisoners into the centre of
the open glade, immediately opposite the
throne of the Fairy Queen.

The latter was in deep conversation with
the two Councillors, so that the girls had
a little time to look around them.

The night was cloudy and moonless, but
the fire-flles and glow-worms lit up every
detail of the scene.

Hundreds and hundreds of Fairies formed
a deep ring, the front ranks lying, while
those behind stood up.

On the two previous occasions when the
girls had visited the spot, there had been
music and dancing and laughter, while
groups of bright-robed people had been
wandering hither and thither, or flitting,
like gaily-coloured moths, among the trees.

But now each subject of the Queen was
THE COMING OF PUCK. 1QI

motionless, talking only in whispers, and
looking at the prisoners—sometimes with
sympathy and sometimes with reproach.
All mirth and gaiety had taken wings, and
a great sadness, a hushed dread seemed
to have fallen upon the expectant multi-
tude.

The girls easily discovered the three
Roses, who had drawn as close to them as
the guards would allow, and were smiling
encouragement, although their eyes were
full of tears. Puck, however, was not
present, although some dozen or more
elves, clad in scarlet tunics, were grouped
round the foot of the throne.

In a few moments the two pleaders left
the Queen’s side; Councillor Unbending
taking up a position about midway between
the prisoners and their judge, while Coun-
cillor Merciful joined the children, and told
them that the trial was about to begin.

A remarkably tall Fairy cried, ‘‘ Silence
in Court! Silence!’ in a very loud voice,
although as nobody was making the slight-
est noise, this remark struck Mary as
quite uncalled for; and then the Queen
192 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

turned to Councillor Unbending, and spoke
_in her silvery voice.

‘For what purpose have we met?”

The Councillor slowly unfolded a scroll,
and then, in a pompous tone, replied to
the question.

“May it please your Majesty to try
three mortals known as Mary, Lucy and
Kitty, for grave misdemeanours against your
Majesty’s lieges, and for other crimes?”

“I beg you read the charges against
these prisoners.”

“The charges, your Majesty, are too
numerous to set forth here in detail. Briefly,
they are as follow. Wilful and persistent
disobedience to parents and guardians;
laziness and ingratitude; and lastly, acts
of gross cruelty to Wildrose, Primrose and
Mossrose, known on Earth as Belinda,
Juliana and Ophelia.”

‘Prisoners,’ cried the Queen, turning
towards the children, “you have heard
these dire offences with which our brother,
in set terms, has charged you. What is your
plea, ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not guilty’?”

After a moment’s consultation with the
THE COMING OF PUCK. 193

Councillor, Mary stepped forward impul-
sively.

“If you please, your Majesty, we plead
‘Guilty’; but—but we didn’t mean it.”

“Doth such a plea hold good?” asked
the Queen of Councillor Unbending.

“Not so, your Majesty. ’Tis neither this
nor that.”

‘Uhenelet the trial proceed.”

‘Tis plain that since these mortals have
confessed their guilt,’ the prosecuting
counsel continued, looking very important,
and fierce, ‘‘we need no witnesses to prove
the blackness of their crimes. They’re girls,
your Majesty, with every wish fulfilled; the
fondest parents children ever had; a gover-
ness who loves them dearly—’’

“She doesn’t,’ interrupted Mary hotly.
“She doesn’t love us a bit. She hates us.”

“Her love was there for all their wicked-
ness,” the Councillor continued in cold, even
tones. ‘Toys, dolls, fine dresses—all were
theirs. A spacious house—indeed all things
desired by Earth-folk came to them. Yet
were they steadfast in evil, shunning good.
I dare them to deny it,” and here the

I3
194 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

speaker pointed a threatening hand at the
prisoners.

“Oh! of course we do. We weren’t as bad
as that,” cried Mary defiantly.

“Vet will I prove them worse! They
took great pleasure in ill deeds; heedless
that each wrong done did cost their mother
many bitter tears—”

“But we didn’t know we ever made her
cry,’ broke in Mary again, regarding this
accusation as most unfair. ‘We wouldn't
make mother miserable for anything. Would
we?’ and she turned to her sisters for support.

“Of course we wouldn't,” said the other
two, with sobs of indignation.

“They might have known it,” the Coun-
cillor continued, in sterner tones—‘had
they thought of any save themselves. But
worse remains behind. ’Tis known how
Wildrose and her sisters went, as dolls, to
bring new happiness into these children’s
lives. Now—mark their welcome.” Here
the speaker paused and fixed his eyes upon
the girls, who at the first mention of Wild-
rose, bent their heads in shame. ‘At first
‘twas well; but soon neglect crept in, and
THE COMING OF PUCK. 195

then came cruelty. Helpless and maimed
the dolls were flung aside, uncared for and
forgotten, a prey to moth and mouse; and
when remembered, our sweet sisters had
to bear fresh tortures. I beg your Majesty
to listen well.” And his voice grew shrill
with anger. “These mortals set them up
as targets, pierced them with darts, flung
them to earth in brutal glee and would
have burnt them had the means been there.
Now where is their denial to these deeds?”
and again with outstretched hand and
gleaming eyes he turned to the girls, who
dared not meet the accusing faces around
them.

“Tt isn’t fair to say that. Because we didn’t
know they could feel,” said Mary at last, in
a trembling voice, when the groan of horror
from the spectators had died away.

‘“A useless plea,” was the contemptuous
response. “I pray your Majesty to bear in
mind that they have pleaded guilty to these
most barbarous acts, so do I leave them in
your hands. But this I must say: Mercy
would be ill-placed. Let stern justice fall,
and every Earth child know our Fairy laws
196 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

do hunt down cruelty with swift punishment.
I beg you give these monsters their deserts,
and so warn others from their evil ways.”

This speech was followed by a murmur
of approval.

The fame of the three misused Fairies
was spread throughout Fairyland. Their
gentleness, their sweetness and their beauty
had won all hearts, so that their sufferings
at the hands of the prisoners aroused
great indignation. Councillor Merciful was
quick to notice the mood of the assembled
throng, and looked round anxiously for some
signs of Puck, who was the only hope on
which the children could rely.

It was quite impossible to deny the facts,
and unless there was some further evidence
to shew the girls had moods of kindness as
wellas cruelty, the worst was likely to happen.

The three Roses also knew the impor-
tance of Puck’s help, and were glancing this
way and that, whispering together, greatly
disturbed by his continued absence.

The hum of voices ceased at the cry of
“Silence in Court” from the Usher, and
again the Queen spoke.
THE COMING OF PUCK. 197

“Councillor Merciful, what evidence have
you in favour of the prisoners?”

“T call on Wildrose,”’ fe answered con-
fidently, looking towards the Fairy, who step.
ped forward and knelt before the throne.

There arose a murmur of surprise, when
one of the victims appeared as a witness
on behalf of the mortals. It died away,
however, and Wildrose began, with tears
in her voice,

“IT beg you let me speak for these un-
happy girls.”

‘Can you deny the acts set forth but now?”
cried Councillor Unbending in a loud tone.

“Alas! I cannot.”

“Then of what use to speak at all?”

“Nay, in all fairness listen to her words,”
replied the other pleader.

The Queen nodded, and Wildrose con-
tinued :

“They once were kind to us. Indeed I
think they loved us. Much care they gave
and much tenderness. I beg your Majesty
to let that plead for them.”

‘‘And when was all this love bestowed?”
asked the Councillor Unbending.
198 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“When first we came to them.”

“And when your pretty faces paled
with time, and when your clothes were
soiled and torn with wear, they cast you
off. Speak! was that so?”

Wildrose hung her head, unable to give
a denial.

“This, your Majesty, doth speak against,
not for, the prisoners. It was as though they
took a butterfly, and having brushed the bright
bloom from his velvet wings, they killed
him for his ugliness. Our sister's tender
heart doth blind her to the truth. I pray
you, brother, have you no better evidence
than this?” he asked scornfully.

“T call on Puck. He hatha weighty word
to speak.”

Everyone looked this way and that for
the Queen’s favourite.

“Puck! Puck!” cried the Usher, and the
word went echoing down the glades of the
forest, followed by silence.

Again the cry rang out, and a third time;
but only the far off hoot of the owl, as
though in mockery, answered.

“The call is loud enough and yet Puck


When first we came to them.
THE COMING OF PUCK. 199

comes not,” said Councillor Unbending, with
a grim smile. :

“He is away on business of importance;
but promised to return before the trial was
begun. I pray your Majesty to stay awhile.
He will be back before the night has passed,”
begged Councillor Merciful.

“ That cannot be,” replied the other pleader
quickly. “Your Majesty doth know full well,
it is against the law. He had due notice,
yet he is not here.”

“But is it not justice that we tarry? It
would be sad indeed if we should wrong
these mortals,” said the Queen appealingly.

“Yet still more wrong if we do break
the law. I do maintain the trial should
proceed,” was the stern reply.

Neither Queen nor Councillor could deny
that this statement, according to a Fairy
edict, was correct, so that, with a sigh, the
former yielded to the demand.

“Then must we keep within the law.
What other evidence have you in favour of
these mortals?”

“Alas! your Majesty—none,” was the
sad reply.
200 PSHOUSHEUL FOR RE BEES:

‘‘No witnesses to prove that they have
. done some good in their short lives?” she
pleaded.

“T would I had.”

“You know our laws. Good deeds are
weighed against those of evil, and, as the
scale falls on this or that side, so is the
punishment awarded. The weight of evil
here is very great, and if no kindly acts
can speak for them their fate is hard indeed.”

It was a dreadful blow to the girls to
find their champion Puck had deserted
them. Wildrose had done her best and
failed, and it was plain that the Queen,
although anxious to punish them as little
as possible, was also powerless.

Mary struggled hard to keep calm; but
Lucy was crying, while poor little Kitty
clung to her skirt and sobbed quite audibly.

Councillor Merciful, with a grave, sad
face, drew nearer to the throne, and again
pleaded their cause.

“All I can plead, your Majesty, is youth
and ignorance. They’re very young and
very thoughtless; but oftentimes a wilful
heart is softened more by forgiveness than
THE COMING OF PUCK. 201

by punishment; and we should pause lest
what we call justice is, in truth, revenge.
They're guilty, yes; but’ not so guilty as
my brother thinks, and I would beg your
Majesty to look on these unhappy mortals,
with some tenderness. They are so young,
so lonely and so helpless. I pray you do
not nip them with the frost of your dis-
pleasure, lest you may kill a gracious flower
in the bud. Mercy! your Majesty, I crave
for mercy !”

The sweet imploring tones of the speaker
and the sight of the three prisoners, now
overcome with grief, moved, not only the
Queen herself, but the assembled Fairies,
to a sense of compassion, while the free
forgiveness accorded them by their victims
also helped to turn the tide of feeling in
their favour.

“Both Councillors have spoken,” said the
Queen, with a little break in her voice.
“Hath any prisoner aught to say?”

“Yes, please, your Majesty,” cried Mary,
stepping forward, and raising her tear-
stained face—‘I’d like to say something.
First of all that horrid Fairy there, says
202 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

’

what isn’t true,” and she pointed to Coun-
cillor Unbending, who stood grim and
’ motionless.

“He makes us out awful creatures—worse
than boys; but—but we are not. We didn’t
know we made mother unhappy, or we
shouldn’t have been so naughty; because
we just worship mother. Don’t we?” and
she turned to her sisters.

“Yes, we do,’ they sobbed fervently.

“And how could we tell Miss Harbutt
cared for us? She never shewed it. Did she?”

“No, she didn’t,” echoed the others.

“And how could we tell our dolls were
Fairies. ’'m sure, if we’d known what darlings
they were, we wouldn’t have hurt them for
anything. They only seemed sawdust to us,
and people aren’t generally punished for
throwing sawdust about. So that if we’re
put in prison, it’s—it’s a great shame.”

Mary concluded with a burst of weeping,
which she suppressed with difficulty as the
Queen answered—

“The laws which you have broken do
provide the punishment; not I.”

“Then if that is so, your Majesty, I—I
THE COMING OF PUCK. 203

want to ask you a great favour,” Mary con-
tinued breathlessly. ‘Mother only has the
three of us and Freddy—but he’s a boy
and doesn’t count—so that if you keep us
all here it will just make her frightfully un-
happy, and I can’t bear to think of it. So
I want you to send Lucy and Kitty home
and let me be punished. You see I’m the
eldest, and whenever we got into scrapes
—‘scrapes’, your Majesty, is what Freddy
calls them,’ she added apologetically—* it
was generally my fault, and so if you will
only keep me it would be quite fair.”

This act of self-sacrifice on Mary’s part
was received by the assemblage with a
murmur of approbation, which became more
audible when Lucy sank to her knees beside
her sister and joined in the plea.

“Or if you won’t do that, your Majesty,”
she sobbed, “send Kitty back to mother.
She must have one of us. Besides, I’m quite
as bad as Mary, and Kitty isn’t.”

“Your speech is generous,” replied the
Queen, with great sadness. “And were it
in my power I would consent. And yet
it cannot be. The law must be obeyed.”
204 DeHOUSHEHULROF IRE BEES:

1»?

“Then it’s a horrid, wicked law!” Mary
cried, half mad with rage and fear, and
desperation. “You will punish mother,
who hasn’t done anything, ten times as
much as us.”

“Hush! hush!” said the Queen, with a
ring of authority in her voice. “ Your outcry
will not change the law. And now that
all is said,” she added, with great dignity,
“T cannot find these mortals aught but
guilty. They have confessed indeed, and
since the ill so far outweighs the good, I
can but pass the sentence which our laws
provide. I beg you, Councillor Unbending,
what saith the law?”

As the pleader slowly unfolded a scroll,
which, until this moment, had lain beside
him, a solemn hush fell upon the throng.

Afar off the wind moaned among the
trees, as though speaking the mournful news
of the children’s fate, while the owl still
uttered its mocking cry. But for this there
reigned an intense silence, unbroken until
the voice of Councillor Unbending rang out
harshly.

“The sentence, your Majesty, is very
THE COMING OF PUCK. 205

terrible; but not more so than the crimes
themselves. It runs as follows.” And very
slowly and with much solemnity he read
their fate:

“Never more their eyes shall rest,
On river bank, or mountain crest;
Never more, by sea or stream,
Watch the waters flash or gleam;
Nor mark the bee in sunny hours,
Pluck honey from the hearts of flowers
Nor the sweet moon lend kindly aid,
To pierce the gloom of forest glade.”

Here he turned to the prisoners, and with
his gleaming eyes fixed on their bowed
figures, he continued:

“But, for their crimes, our Fairy Queen
Shall change them into things unclean.
Adders or toads, or such that shun
The light of day, the warmth of sun;
That creep and crawl—with deadly sting
And hate for every living thing.
Unloved, uncared for and—alone,

Until their span of life be done.”

There was a cry of horror from the listen-
ers as he concluded. Mary threw herself at
the Queen’s feet, imploring mercy ; her pitiful
appeal being echoed by many of the Fairies.
206 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

“Tt is, in truth, a dreadful sentence,” ex-
claimed the judge, her eyes wet with tears,
while sobs almost choked her utterance.
‘Is there no loophole for escape?”

“None, your Majesty,” replied Councillor
Unbending, ‘“ without fresh evidence to make
their guilt less grievous.”

“Think! think! ye mortals,” pleaded the
Queen. ‘I’m very loath to punish you so
hardly. And if good deeds you've done,
however small, they still may help to mit-
igate the penalty.”

‘““We—we—can't,” wailed Mary. ‘We
are very bad girls and we can’t think of
anything.”

For a few moments all was still, except
for the sobs which rose pitifully on all sides.
The Queen looked round with wistful gaze,
as though seeking for means to succour the
wretched prisoners, and then, with an air
of great sadness, she rose, wand in hand.

‘“‘Now must I exercise the magic power,
whereby ill deeds are punished.” Here her
voice broke; but nerving herself to the task,

she continued, speaking each word with
difficulty.
THE COMING OF PUCK. 207

“This, Oh most unhappy mortals, is your
doom!

“Never more your eyes shall rest,
On river bank or mountain crest
Never more by sea or stream
Watch the waters flash and gleam
Nor mark the bee in...”

Before she could proceed further, a voice
from the outer fringe of the crowd, rang
out piercingly.

“Puck! Puck comes

“Silence! Silence in Court!” cried the
Usher in stentorian tones.

But heedless of the warning, all eyes
were turned towards the spot whence
the voice proceeded, while on all sides the
cry arose— Puck comes! Puck comes!”

With a new-born gleam of hope, the
girls sprang up, trembling, while Councillor
Merciful hastened to their side. The shouts
swelled and swelled; and then amid a roar
of welcome, they saw Puck push his way
through the throng, and fall exhausted and
breathless at the very steps of the throne.

1?
CEU WE Rex
THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE.

HEeEDLEss of court etiquette, many of the
Fairies ran to the side of the fallen EIf,
and raised him from the ground. For some
seconds he lay gasping and unable to speak;
but when breath returned he waved them
impatiently aside, and knelt before the
Queen, who had been watching him with
much solicitude.

“Am I too late? Oh! say I’m not too
late!” he cried beseechingly.

‘Nay, there is yet time, although you
tarried long upon your journey,” said the
Queen.

“Tarried! Indeed, your Majesty, you
wrong me,’ was Puck’s reproachful answer.
“Pve been to Earth and back, swift as a
flash of light, with neither rest nor pause;
and I have learned much news of these
three mortals.”

“JT pray good news?”
ie pieeemat nares ug fa TEE aa
WW

WY : ===


THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE. 209

As the Queen asked the question, every
one in the vast assemblage leaned forward
eagerly, greedy to hear every word which
should fall from the lips of the messenger.

‘We are deceived in them. Their hearts
are much more tender than we thought,
and here is evidence to vouch for it.”

The clear tones in which he spoke reached
all parts of the ring, and a glad cry arose,
which the Usher, very red and indignant,
vainly tried to hush.

Councillor Merciful advanced to the boy
and took from him a scroll, at the same
time embracing him heartily.

“’Tis well done, Puck. Now may we save
them yet,” he said, glancing eagerly at the
paper.

“And you yourself can speak on their
“behalf,” continued the Queen.

“That will I, and most gladly!” exclaimed
the Elf, who had now recovered both his
breath and his jauntiness of manner. ‘But
two days gone, a monstrous spider held me
in his claws, catching me unawares. It would
have gone hardly with me but that my
cries for help brought these three mortals

14
210 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

on the scene. With sticks and shouts they
then so valiantly assailed the villain, that
he fled howling with pain and terror. I do
protest so brave a deed hath saved my
life, so do I owe them more than I can pay.”

‘CTwas brave in truth!” exclaimed the
Queen, throwing grateful glances at the girls,
‘Speaking most loudly in their favour.”

‘And here, your Majesty, are many things
to speak for them,” broke in Councillor
Merciful, who by this time had perused the
scroll; ‘I pray your leave to here recite
them.”

The Queen bowed assent, and the pleader
continued,

“First it is here set forth that, spite their
faults, all people love them. This proves
some goodness dwells within their hearts.”

“That may be so. But is that goodness
shewn by deeds?”

“Tt is in truth. The eldest prisoner, Mary,
came one day upon a poor lame dog, who,
being chased by boys, sought dumbly her
protection. She took him in her arms, and
through a shower of stones, carried him
home and nursed him back to health.”
THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE. 211

“A very kindly act. You did this Mary?”
she asked, bending graciously towards the
girl.

“Oh! yes, your Majesty,” said Mary,
blushing a little. “It was poor old ‘ Cinders’.
We kept him, you know.”

“Why did you fail to speak of it?”

“I didn’t know it—it was anything partic-
ular,” stammered the girl. “ Anybody would
do a thing like that.”

‘Alas! I would it were so with you people
of the Earth,” answered the Queen, shaking
her head. “And now what next?” and she
turned again to the Councillor.

‘Lucy, the second sister,” he read, “once
found a woman and her babe, half starved
and clothed in rags. What little money she
possessed, she gave most readily, and wept
because it was so small a sum.”

‘““A very tender heart,” cried the Queen.
“Why did you do this, Lucy?”

“I almost forget now,” said the girl in
a low lone. ‘‘ But—but they looked so cold
and hungry, no one could have helped giving
them something.”

“If every mortal thought as you, your
212 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

World would be a happier place,” answered
the Queen sadly. “But what of Kitty?”

— «A year ago,” continued the Councillor,
“her brother lying ill, she spent long summer
hours beside his bed, soothing his pain and
weariness by reading tales aloud, so helping
him forget his sufferings.”

“It was most sisterly. Why did you thus
shun the sunshine and the flowers on his
behalf?” asked her judge kindly. Kitty
hardly knew how to answer, but after a
moment’s thought she said in a hesitating
manner :

“Well, you see, your Majesty, he is my
brother and I’m very fond of him, and I’m
certain he will do the same for me if
I am ever ill in bed instead of him.”

“JT trust be would,” replied the Queen,
although she seemed to regard such an
act on Freddy’s part as a little doubtful.

«What else is there to balance their mis-
deeds?” and she again turned to Councillor
Merciful.

“This is the record of their lives,” he
replied, holding up the scroll, “wherein I
find that good deeds spring up here and
THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE. 213

there like poppies in the corn. None can
deny that they are naughty girls,” and he
gravely shook his head—‘ungentle often,
but only cruel unconsciously.”

“Their cruelty is proved, so let the sen-
tence stand,” broke in Councillor Unbending,
his voice harsh and angry with disappoint-
ment.

“Ido protest against my learned brother’s
words. They savour much of malice and
of spite!” exclaimed the other pleader, just
anger shining in his eyes. “I pray your
Majesty to pause. If this dread penalty’s
enforced, the good in them is killed, but
not the ill; so we defeat our ends. I ask
for justice, nothing more; a lighter sentence
that shall cure, not kill, whereby these mor-
tals, when again on Earth, shall tell how
Fairy laws are merciful yet just.”

Great applause followed the Councillor’s
last appeal, while the moment the Queen
rose, it was plain that she, too, was dis-
inclined to heed the harsh demand of the
scarlet-robed_ pleader.

“Your words are good,” she began. “I
will be just, yet merciful. Listen, ye mortals.
214 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Because of your good acts, I'll not pronounce
the sentence lately read; but since your
faults cannot be overlooked, your punish-
ment is this.”

She paused a moment as if in thought,
and then spoke with grave deliberation,
“Until three moons have passed ye shall
remain with us, not in your present shape,
but changed to dolls, in form and face alike
to those three Fairies whom ye so ill used;
and, as they once were yours, so now shall
you be theirs.”

At this point a cry of assent arose from
all sides and every Fairy proclaimed the
justice of the sentence. ‘Come, Fairies, -
gather round and help to weave the magic
spell.”

Directly the Queen had spoken, Councillor
Unbending rolled up his scroll, and after
scowling at the prisoners, shouldered his
way through the excited crowd and dis-
appeared in to the gloom of the wood.

The three Roses, with tears of relief in
their eyes, rushed up to the girls and embrac-
ed them tenderly, begging them to fear
nothing.
THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE. 215

‘‘But I don’t quite understand,” said Mary,
still dazed by the sudden change in their
fortunes, and uncertain as to the extent of
punishment. “Shall we be exactly like you?”

“So said the Queen,” answered Wildrose.

“But what about my being withouta leg?”
gasped the child.

“And what will become of my arm?”
wailed Lucy.

‘“ And—and—will my face be all melted
flat?” sobbed Kitty.

“Nay, nay. You will be just as fresh and
beautiful as we were—at the first,” explained
Primrose. ‘“‘ And so indeed you shall remain.
We'll guard you with our lives.”

“You will—won’t you? Promise!” cried
Mary hugging them each in turn. “And
then I shan’t mind being a doll a bit.”

‘Neither shall I. Only I hope it doesn’t
hurt much to be turned into one,” asked
Kitty anxiously.

At this point, a warning cry from the
Usher of the Court made everyone fall
back from the side of the children, and
an escort of grasshoppers led them to the
steps of the throne.
216 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

The Queen rose from her seat and bade
them kneel before her. Then she beckoned
to the musicians, who had hitherto been
concealed from view, and they came for-
ward and ranged themselves on each side
of the dais.

Following them, came a company of
Elves, who placed before the girls a large,
cone-shaped object, bound in plaited grass.
They then formed themselves in a semi-circle ;
while a band of Fairies joined hands behind
them.

All this was done in perfect silence, and
the proceedings were so uncanny that the
children began to tremble a little with fright.

“Be brave! Fear nothing. We are with
you always,” came a whisper from behind
them, and glancing round they found the
three Roses standing serene and watchtul.
The sight of their friends, reassured them,
and they were able to await the ordeal
with greater calmness.

Directly Wildrose had spoken, a long
plaintive note broke the stillness, and as
though in answer, there commenced a melody,
very slow and very sad. At the same time
THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE. 217

the girls noticed a thin line of blue vapour
issue from the cone, which floated upward,
and then spread out in the shape of a fan.
Soon it formed a misty veil, behind which
the Queen and the Fairies, now slowly
waving their wands to the rhythm of the
music, looked afar off and shadowy.

When the curtain of vapour had fallen,
the Fairies began a chaunt, swaying their
bodies to and fro as they sang—

“Now the Magic spell we weave,
Mortals, learn our power;
See! our Queen her will doth breathe,
Mortals, learn our power.
Thus do we stamp out the seed
Of hate and cruelty and greed,
And punish every evil deed,
Mortals, learn our power.°

While this was being sung, the children
felt a most remarkable change coming over
them. They were getting smaller and their
hands and feet became quite limp and with-
out feeling.

Then the music swelled out louder. It
became less sad, and there seemed a note
of triumph in the voices, and of cheer and
218 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

comfort, so that the girls listened almost
with pleasure.

“Now doth work the Magic spell,
Mortals, learn our power.

Yet fear not, for all is well,
Mortals, learn our power.

Though to-night this spell we cast,
Soon the ordeal will be past.

Ye shall home return at last,
Mortals, learn our power.”

The chaunt seemed to die away gradu-
ally; the blue mist became darker and
darker until Queen and Fairies were lost
to view, and there was not a sound from
out the blackness which surrounded them.

Mary tried to rise; but every limb had
lost the power of movement. She could
think; but speech and hearing and touch
and sight were lost to her.

‘““Of course,” she thought to herself. “I’m
a doll now. A sawdust doll with a wax
face. No wonder I can’t get up, or see, or
anything like that. It’s very horrid, but
it won’t last very long, that is one comfort.
I wish I could see Lucy and Nitty, I expect
they look very funny, and I shall laugh at
THE QUEEN PASSES SENTENCE. 219

them. But of course I mustn’t, or the wax
will crack and I shall get ugly at once.”

Just as this crossed her mind, she felt a
pain in her leg. It wasn’t very bad, being
more like “pins and needles” than any-
thing else; but how it was that she could
feel anything at all, when she was only
sawdust, puzzled her dreadfully. It grew
worse and worse. She would have given
anything to have rubbed the place; but, of
course, that was out of the question. If
she could only cry out, Wildrose might
come to her assistance. But then she
remembered that dolls couldn’t cry out,
except the ones that said, in a very silly
way, ‘Pop—pa”, “Mom—ma”, when a
string was pulled, and the Fairy dolls had
not been made like that.

The pain grew so bad, however, that
she felt obliged to try, and to her great
astonishment, she said “Oh!” quite loudly.

And then her eyes opened—and she was
awake !
CHART ER xd:

HOME !

For a few moments Mary sat rigid with
astonishment.

The wood, the Fairies, the Elves, every-
thing had disappeared, and she was once
more sitting in the schoolroom at home.
She looked down at her skirt, and found
she was no longer clothed in beautiful gauzy
robes; but in her shabby and ink-stained
morning frock. It was, as she afterwards
regretfully observed, as though she were
Cinderella after the clock had struck.

The girl reached down to rub her leg,
and found it was the pressure of Kitty’s
head which was causing “ pins and needles.”

She waited, perfectly still, until her scat-
tered senses sorted themselves into some-
thing like order; and then, quite suddenly,
the delightful thought that, after all, none
of them had been turned into dolls, made
HOME. 221

her spring joyously from her seat, letting
her youngest sister roll flat on the floor.

“Kitty! Kitty!” she cried, shaking the
child who, in spite of this treatment, was
only now half awake. “Wake up! Wake
up! We are not dolls any longer.”

“IT hope it doesn’t hurt to be turned into
a doll,’ mumured Kitty drowsily. “Oh! I
hope it doesn’t.”

With a little laugh, Mary dashed at Lucy,
who was still fast asleep, her head on her
arms.

“Wakeup, Lucy!” she cried. “It’s all right.
We are home again with mother and Freddy
and everybody. Make haste!”

“Oh! O-o-o-h! Don’t make me a toad.
I should hate to be a toad!” wailed the
second girl, still slumbering uneasily.

“Nonsense! You are a girl again, back
in the nursery,” and Mary continued shaking
her until she sat bolt upright and looked
about, too surprised for words.

“So I am!” she said at last. ‘‘And so
are you and so is Kitty! We’re not dolls
or toads either. Well, this is wonderful!”

By this time Kitty had scrambled to her
222 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

feet, and was holding Mary by the arm as
though she had not yet quite realised where
they were. Indeed everything that had
lately happened was so real and vivid in
their minds that they scarcely knew what
to think; but stood looking at each other
with puzzled faces.

“Have you two—been—been—dream-
ing?” asked Mary after a pause.

The others nodded vigorously.

“ Anything about—Fairyland?”

“Everything about Fairyland,” said Lucy
in reply.

‘“Was the Queen of Fairyland in it, and
Puck and the three Roses?” she continued.
“Yes! Yes!” was the quick response.

“And were you—tried—for being naugh-
ty?”

“Yes, we were, and we were turned into
dolls,” said Lucy in a breathless whisper.

‘All limp and sawdusty,” added Kitty
to complete the picture.

“So was I, except having ‘pins and needles’
in one leg. It’s—it’s—all very remarkable,”
added Mary solemnly. “I suppose we
must have dreamt it?”
HOME. 223,

‘Of course. At least, I suppose so. But
isn’t it funny that we should have all dreamt
the same thing?” observed Lucy, her voice
trembling a little.

‘‘Perhaps we didn’t,” said Kitty. “Were
you in a beautiful wood, living on honey
and dew?”

“Yes. And I wore the prettiest dress,”
exclaimed Lucy.

“So did I,” cried Kitty.

“And so did I. Shouldn’t IJ like that frock
to go to parties in,” said Mary wistfully.

In this fashion each compared her adven-
tures with those of her sisters, and when
it became plain that each one’s dream was
the same in every particular, the trio gazed
at each other with the most bewildered
expression on their faces.

“Tt zs strange that we should have all
dreamt exactly alike,” observed Kitty in a
half whisper. ‘It seems almost—as if—
as if it somehow happened. Doesn’t it?”

“But it can’t have happened,” broke in
Lucy, with decision. ‘Why, it isn’t an hour
since we had tea.”

‘Lots of things can happen in an hour,”
224 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

said Mary, with an abstracted air. ‘I used
to believe that there were no such people
as Fairies,’ she went on inconsequently.

“Do you—do you believe in them now,
Mary?” asked Lucy in awestruck tones.

“JT don’t know what to think. It’s very
queer,” was the guarded reply.

Again they paused, meditating, and then
Lucy spoke, but scarcely above her breath.

‘Who knows but what there are Fairies,
and that they can punish us?”

“J wonder. You know we really are bad
girls,’ remarked Mary, with much gravity.
“And I daresay that Fairy spoke the truth
when he said that Miss Harbutt was fond
of us, and that we made mother cry.”

“Tt’s very likely, especially about mother
crying. She can’t bear to see us naughty,”
whispered Kitty, with a little sob.

“Well now, listen a moment,” interrupt-
ed Mary, speaking earnestly. “Of course I
am not going to say that we haven't
dreamt all this, because I don’t really be-
lieve there are such things as—”

She paused abruptly and listened, while
Kitty drew closer to her.
HOME. 225

“‘W—what’s that?”

‘“W-—what’s what?” cried Lucy nervously.

“J—J—thought I heard a funny noise.”

“Then don’t say what you were going
to say. P’r’aps it’s wicked,’ begged Kitty.

“Then I won't,” and Mary glanced round
nervously. “But I tell you this. I mean to
try and behave better.”

“So shall I,” said Lucy decidedly.

‘And so shall I,” echoed Kitty.

“After all,” continued the elder girl, ‘if
Miss Harbutt is strict, it’s because she has
to be. And it does seem a shame to make
mother unhappy. Let us give up talking like
Freddy, because we can’t be boys, however
much we try. And we'll be nicer at lessons,
won't we?”

This course of action appeared so desir-
able that the children agreed to it at once,
with a promptness which would have gladden-
ed Miss Harbutt’s heart had she been there
to hear it.

“You see,” Lucy explained, “this dream
might be a sort of warning. And—” here
she paused suddenly, and crossing on tiptoe
to Mary’s side, whispered—‘ Goodness!

T5
226 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

We've forgotten something,” and then threw
a glance in the direction of the screen.

‘“‘You—you mean—the dolls?” asked
Mary below her heath.

“Call them Fairies, or they won’t like it
perhaps,” murmured Kitty.

‘“J—]—-wonder if they’re still where we
put them?” She was going to say “threw
them,” but thought better of it. “Go and
look, Lucy.”

“T don’t like to. You go, Mary; you're
the biggest.”

After a slight hesitation Mary stole noise-
lessly to the screen and peeped cautiously
behind it. Then she turned and nodded her
head.

‘Just the same?” asked Lucy very quietly.

“Just the same.”

“Dress and everything?”

ON CS

“Do you think they'll mind if we—if we
touch them?” came from Kitty.

‘“T shouldn’t think so, if we do it gently,”
was Mary’s opinion.

‘We can’t leave them there—after all
this.”


HOME. 227

“We're too old for dolls,” observed Kitty
with some return of confidence, ‘but we'll
be like mothers to them, even if people do
laugh at us. If it hadn’t been for them we
might have been toads at this moment.
Bring them out, Mary.”

With the utmost care and gentleness,
Mary picked up the poor battered dolls one
by one, and handed them on to their
respective owners. But Belinda she gathered
closely to her and sat down, rocking the
tattered plaything to and fro.

“T shan’t call her Belinda any more—
but Wildrose, her proper name,” she said
softly.

“And I shall call mine Primrose. It’s
much prettier,” and Lucy kissed the cracked
waxen cheeks.

“And mine shall be Mossrose. So like
her, the darling—when her face is washed,”
added Kitty, looking lovingly upon the doll.

“They ought to have a bath to-night,”
continued Mary after a pause. “But they
must be too tired, so we'll just sing them
to sleep and put them in our own beds.
We'll never beat you again, you poor dears,”
228 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

she crooned. “But you shall have beautiful
dresses and nice cradles, and be taken out
for walks, and petted and spoiled all your
lives.”

And so the three girls sat, each rocking
her doll, and singing a lullaby very softly,
until the dusk deepened, and mysterious
shadows gathered in the corners of the room.

Then the key turned in the lock, and
Miss Harbutt, looming very tall and very
dignified, made her appearance.

Judging from her severe countenance, she
expected to find her charges quiet, perhaps,
but unsubdued; so that when Mary rose at
her entrance and turned towards her a
mild and penitent countenance, the good
lady was not a little surprised.

“Tf you please, Miss Harbutt, we're—all
—sorry,” she continued slowly, finding the
words rather hard to utter. “ We—we—”

‘‘Apologise,” chimed in Lucy.

“Yes, that’s it. We apologise, and we
oughtn’t to have been so naughty.”

The governess glanced keenly at each
girl, half suspecting that some fresh mis-
chief lurked behind this submissive demean-
HOME. 229

our. But the grave upturned faces drove
away her suspicions, and she stooped and
kissed each of them quite nicely.

‘““Then we won't say any more about it,”
she replied—‘“ neither to mother nor any
one else. And if only you would always
ask pardon so prettily,” she added, drawing
Mary to her, ‘no one could help forgiving
you at once.”

“We mean to, if we’re ever naughty
again,” replied Mary.

“But we never shall be naughty again,”
said Kitty, with decision.

“Tf we can help it,” added the conscien-
tious Lucy.

“You see, something very wonderful has
happened,” Mary went on mysteriously,
‘and we've found out lots of things that we
didn’t know before. So we’ve made up our
minds to try and be good girls. Haven't
we?”

The other two nodded a vigorous assent.

“You mustn’t ask anything about it yet.
But some day perhaps, we'll tell you what
that wonderful thing is.”

‘Won't you tell me now?” asked Miss
230 A HOUSEFUL OF REBELS.

Harbutt smiling; but Mary shook her head.

“You wouldn’t believe us— nobody would,”
she said. “But there is just this we dis-
covered. We always thought you didn’t
like us a bit; but one of the Fair—I mean
somebody said that you—you loved us. Do
your”

“Of course I do—simpleton. Everyone
loves you.”

“Then somebody was right after all. So
I want to ask”—and here the child looked
up appealingly—if we try to please you,
would you mind shewing that you liked us
a little more? It would be such a help to
us, you can’t think.”

In a moment Kitty was on Miss Harbutt’s
knee, and the other girls were drawn gently
to her side.

“You mustn’t think that because I have
to punish you and be severe that it is any
pleasure to me,” said the governess in a
strangely soft voice. ‘I love you all too
dearly for that. It is because I want you to
grow up good and kind and unselfish that
sometimes I seem harsh. Perhaps we haven’t
quite understood each other. You know now
HOME. 231

that I love you very much; but I too like
to be loved. Will you try, all of you?”

“We'll love you like anything if you'll
always talk to us like that,” answered Kitty,
giving her a timid hug.

“Are you sure?”

“ Positive.”

Half an hour later the three rebels were
lying fast asleep in their beds, each with
her doll, clad in a spotless white nightdress,
clasped tightly in her arms.

Miss Harbutt had undressed them and
tucked them in, and Kitty, half asleep, had
asked for another kiss.

‘You are nice now,” she murmured. “ Per-
haps, after all, you’re another Fairy in
disguise.”

FINIS.
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The Paston Letters,

1422-1509
EDITED By JAMES GAIRDNER

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These letters are the genuine correspondence
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Roses. As such, they are altogether unique in
character ; yet the language is not so antiquated
as to present any serious difficulty to the modern
reader. The topics of the letters relate partly to
the private affairs of the family, and partly to
the stirring events of the time: and the corre-
spondence includes State papers, love letters,
bailiffs accounts, sentimental poems, jocular
epistles, etc.

“This edition, which was first published some twenty
years ago, is the standard edition of these remarkable his-
torical documents, and contains upward of four hundred
letters in addition to those published by Frere in 1823. The
reprint is in three small and compact volumes, and should

be welcome to students of history as giving an important
work in a convenient form.”—Sco¢sman.

“Unquestionably the standard edition of these curious
literary relics of an age so long ago that the writers speak
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Lancaster as occurrences of the moment.”—Dazly News.

“One of the monuments of English historical scholarship
that needs no commendation.”—Manchester Guardian.

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II :
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EDITED BY AUGUSTINE BIRRELL.

With FRONTISPIECES BY ALEX ANSTED, A REPRODUCTION OF
Str JOSHUA REYNOLDS’ Portrait.

Stx Volumes. Foolscap 8vo. Cloth, paper label, or gilt extra, 2s. net per
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“Far and away the best Boswell, I “This undertaking of the publishers
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now on the market.”—Jdlustrated London Bookseller.

News. ‘* Read him at once if you have hitherto

«, . . We have good reason to be refrained from that exhilarating and most
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and attractive kind.” —Sfectator. him? —then read him again.” — The
““The volumes, which are light, and so Speaker.

well bound that they open easily any- “Constable’s edition will long remain

where, are exceedingly pleasant to handle the best both for the general reader and

and read,”—St, James's Budget. the scholar."—Review of Reviews.

Ln 48 Volumes

CONSTABLE’S REPRINT
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nel per Volume, or £6 the Set.

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convenient size of the volumes, and the “Very attractive reprints.” — Zhe

association of this edition with Sir Walter Speaker.
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original editions long and fully enjoyed “The set presents a magnificent ap-
with former generations of readers,”— The pearance on the bookshelf.”"—Black and
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The Nation’s Awakening

By SPENSER WILKINSON
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of the world. This idea he works out in a clever and vigorous fashion,”—
Glasgow Herald.

“ He elaborates his views in four ‘ books,’ dealing respectively with the aims
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the Government, and ‘ the idea of the nation,’ . . . he deprecates a policy
of isolation, and advocates a closer alliance with Germany.”—Scofsman.

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At all Booksellers and Bookstalts.

NEW AND CHEAPER EDITION,

REVISED AND BROUGHT UP TO DATE,

WITH A NEW CHAPTER ON THE LATE
WAR IN THE EAST.

Problems of the Far East

Japan—Corea—China

BY THE

Rt. Hon. GEORGE N. CURZON, M.P.

With numerous Illustrations and Maps. Extra Crown 8vo, 7s. 6d.



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‘“‘We dealt so fully with the other contents of Mr. Curzon’s volume at
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‘* All who have read the volume will admit that it is a valuable addition
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English Illustration. ‘The Sixties”: 1855-

70. By GLEESON WHITE. Price £2 25. net.

With Numerous Illustrations by Sir E. BURNE-JONES; FORD Mapox
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Ses This sumptuous volume, which Messrs. Constable have printed with their
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Certainly in the first instance the volume is a monument of painstaking research. 3
But a careful reading conveys the sense that the historians’ and critics’ parts belong not
tess to Mr. Gleeson White. The book, in short, must be in the hands of all who care for
English art. Even those to whom the names on its title-page are nothing :but names,
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**Mr, Gleeson White has written a work worthy of a foremost place among the
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The Household of the Lafayettes. By

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Songs for Little People. By Norman Gate.

Profusely Illustrated by HELEN STRATTON. Large Crown 8vo, 6s.
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The Selected Poems of GEORGE MEREDITH.

Crown 8vo. 6s.

New Poems. By Francis THompson. Fcap.

8vo. 6s. net.

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“Tt confers a literary distinction upon the 6oth year of the Victorian Era, and it gives
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“A true poet. . . . Atany rate here unquestionably is a new poet, a_wielder of
beautiful words, a lover of beautiful things.’—I. ZANGWILL, in the Cosmopolitan, Sept.,
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Pat least one book of poetry has been published this year that we can hand on con-
fidently to other generations. It is not incautious to prophesy that Mr, Francis Thomp-
son’s poems will last." —Sketch. ‘ reel

‘*Mr, Thompson’s is the essential poetry of essential Christianity.”—A cadenzy.

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5


CONSTABLE’S
Hand Atlas of India

A New Sertes of Sixty Maps and Plans
prepared from Ordnance and other Surveys
under the direction of
J. G. BARTHOLOMEW, F.R.G.S.,
F.R.S.E., &c.



Ln half morocco, or full bound cloth, gilt Zop, 14S.

This Atlas is the first publication of its kind, and for tour-
ists and travellers generally it will be found particularly useful.
There are Twenty-two Plans of the principal towns of our
Indian Empire, based on the most recent surveys, and offici-
ally revised to date in India.

The Topographical Section Maps are an accurate reduction
of the Survey of India, and contain all the places described
in Sir W. W. Hunter’s “ Gazetteer of India,” according to his
spelling.

The Military, Railway, Telegraph, and Mission Station
Maps are designed to meet the requirements of the Military
and Civil Service, also missionaries and business men who at
present have no means of obtaining the information they re-
quire in a handy form.

The index contains upwards of ten thousand names, and
will be found more complete than any yet attempted on a
similar scale. .

Further to increase the utility of the work as a reference
volume, an abstract of the 1891 Census has been added.

“It is tolerably safe to predict that no sensible traveller will go to India
in future without providing himself with ‘ Constable’s Hand Atlas of India.’
Nothing half so useful has been done for many years to help both the
traveller in India and the student at home. ‘Constable’s Hand Atlas’ is.
a pleasure to hold and to turn over.” —Atheneum.



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Butler & Tanner.) 16 ‘

ue