The Other Side Of The Sun
by Evelyn Sharp - Fairy Stories
The Weird Witch of the Willow-Herb lived in a pink cottage on the top of
a hill. She was merry and beautiful and wise and kind; and she was all
dressed in pink and green, and she had great eyes that were sometimes
filled with laughter and sometimes filled with tears, and her round soft
mouth looked as though it had done nothing but smile for hundreds and
hundreds of years. Her pink cottage was the most charming place in the
world to live in; the walls were made of the flower of the willow-herb,
and the roof was made of the green leaves, and the floors were made of
the white down; and all the little lattice windows were cobwebs, spun by
the spiders who live in Fairyland and make the windows for the Fairy
Queen's own palace. And no one but a wymp or a fairy could have said how
long the Weird Witch of the Willow-Herb had been living in her cottage
on the top of the hill.
Now, any one might think that this wonderful Witch was so sweet and so
wise that all sorts of people would be coming, all day long, to ask her
to help them; for, of course, that is what a witch is for. But this
particular Witch, who lived in her pink cottage on the top of the hill,
had not been living there all that time for nothing.
"If I did not keep a few spells lying about at the bottom of the hill, I
should never have a moment's peace," chuckled the Witch of the
Willow-Herb. And that is why most of the people who came to ask her for
spells never got so far as the pink cottage at all, for they found what
they wanted at the bottom of the hill; and no doubt that saved everybody
a great deal of trouble.
"Poor people!" said the Weird Witch, with her voice full of kindness;
"why should I make them climb up all this way, just to see me?"
Sometimes, however, it did happen that somebody got to the top of the
hill; or else it is clear that this story would never have been written.
For, one day, as the Witch sat on the doorstep of her pink cottage,
looking out over the world with her great eyes that saw everything, the
little Princess Winsome came running up the white path that twisted
round and round and up and up until it reached the cottage at the top;
and she did not stop running until she stood in front of the Weird Witch
herself. She looked as though she must have come along in a great hurry,
for she had lost one of her shoes on the way and there was quite an
important scratch on her dimpled chin; but, of course, it is difficult
to walk sedately when one is going to call on a witch.
"I am Princess Winsome," she announced, as soon as she had breath enough
"To be sure you are," smiled the Weird Witch, who knew that before; "and
you have run away from home because--"
"Because I want to find the bravest boy in the world," interrupted the
Princess, who never liked to let anybody else do the talking.
"Are they all cowards in your country, then?" asked the Witch.
"Oh no," answered Princess Winsome; "the boys in my country are so brave
that it is no fun playing with them. They stop all the games by fighting
about nothing at all; and it's dreadfully dull when you're a girl, isn't
"Perhaps it is," smiled the Witch. "Then why are you looking for the
bravest boy of all?"
"Ah," said the little Princess, wisely, "the bravest boy of all would
never fight unless there was a reason, you see; and so we should have
lots of time to play. But how am I to find him?"
"The only way to find him is to let him find you," said the Weird Witch;
"and the best thing I can do for you is to shut you up in the middle of
an enchanted forest, where no one but the bravest boy in the world would
ever come to find any one. Now, make haste, or you won't get there in
And the Princess with the scratch on her chin must certainly have made
haste, for she had quite disappeared by the time the Witch's next
visitor came up the winding white path; and that happened the very next
minute. This time it was a boy who came along,--a tall, strong,
jolly-looking boy, with his hands in his pockets and his cap at the back
of his head, whistling a strange wild tune that was made up of all the
songs of all the birds in the air, so that, as he whistled it, every
bird for miles round stopped to listen.
"I am Kit the Coward," he said, pulling off his cap to the Witch.
"To be sure you are," smiled the Weird Witch, who knew that too; "and
you have run away from home because the other boys called you a coward,
and you want to show them that you are as brave as they are, only you
won't fight without a reason. Isn't that it?"
"Of course it is," answered Kit, who liked to have _his_ talking done
for him; "but how shall I find something worth fighting about?"
"That is not difficult," said the Weird Witch. "All you have to do is to
go to the court of King Hurlyburly, and ask him to give you something
brave to do. The King is always going to war about something, so you
will soon have as much fighting as you want. Now, be off with you, or
else someone will get there before you!"
"All right," said Kit. "Which is the way?"
"Any way you like," laughed the Weird Witch.
"But in what direction?" asked Kit.
"It doesn't matter," laughed the Weird Witch.
So Kit made her another bow and marched away again down the hill-side,
whistling the same tune as before; and all the birds of the air came
flying along when they heard it, and they flew in front of him to show
him the way, and he followed them over meadows and streams and orchards
and cornfields, until they brought him to the walls of King Hurlyburly's
city. And they would not have left him then, if he had not pointed out
to them, most politely, that although it was very obliging of them to
have come so far with him, he would find it a little inconvenient to
travel any further with so many companions. So they flew away again; and
Kit marched into the city and up to the gates of the King's palace.
"I have come to fight for the King," said Kit, when the guards came out
and asked him what he wanted. And he looked such a fine strong fellow,
that they took him at once to the King.
"You have come in the very nick of time," said King Hurlyburly, "for the
Commander-in-Chief of the royal forces has overslept himself so often
that I had him beheaded this morning before he was awake. The army is in
consequence without a head as well as the Commander-in-Chief; so if you
will become their General and invade the country of my neighbour King
Topsyturvy, I shall be much obliged to you."
"Why have I got to invade the country of King Topsyturvy?" demanded Kit.
The King pushed his crown on one side, which he always did when he felt
puzzled. "Now you come to mention it," he said, "I believe there _was_ a
reason, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. However,
the reason is of no importance--"
"Oh yes, it is," interrupted Kit. "I can't possibly fight without a
reason, you know."
"That's awkward," said King Hurlyburly. "Perhaps the army will know."
And he sent a message round to the barracks to ask the soldiers why they
were going to war. But although the soldiers were all ready to begin
fighting, they had not the least idea what the war was about. So the
King's crown became more crooked than before.
"Won't it do if you invent a reason?" he asked Kit, for he could not
help thinking how nice it would be to stay at home while his soldiers
were being led to war by someone else. "You may marry the Princess
Winsome if you come back victorious," he added as an afterthought.
But Kit only shook his head. He had never heard of the Princess Winsome,
and he was not going to fight anybody without a very good reason for
Then King Hurlyburly had a brilliant idea. "Go and declare war on the
enemy, to begin with," he said; "and perhaps _they_ will remember the
There was certainly no harm in declaring war; so Kit rode off at once on
one of the King's fastest horses, and arrived the next morning at the
court of King Topsyturvy, just as his Majesty was sitting down to
"I have come from King Hurlyburly to declare war," said Kit, who always
went straight to the point.
"What for?" asked King Topsyturvy.
"I don't know," said Kit. "That's what I want you to tell me."
The King ate two eggs before he replied.
"Well," he said presently, "I believe I said Hurlyburly was a shocking
old muddler. I suppose that's it. All right! When do you want to begin?"
"I don't want to begin at all," answered Kit. "Why did you say he was a
"Oh, just to make conversation," said King Topsyturvy, helping himself
"Then you don't really think he is an old muddler?" asked Kit.
"Dear me, no," said King Topsyturvy. "I never think."
"Then write that down on a piece of paper, and there needn't be a war at
all!" cried Kit.
The King stroked his beard. "Perhaps there needn't," he agreed. "But I
"I do, though," said Kit, who had learned to write while all the other
boys were making catapults; "you've only got to sign your name here."
King Topsyturvy stopped eating his breakfast, just long enough to sign
the beautiful apology Kit had written on a sheet of note-paper; and then
Kit jumped on his horse again and rode back to the palace of King
"Well," said his Majesty, "did you discover the reason?"
"There wasn't a reason, and there isn't going to be a war," answered
Kit; and he held out the beautifully written apology from King
"What!" cried his Majesty, in alarm. "Do you mean to say you've stopped
"Of course I have," said Kit. "And I have come back victorious, as you
see. Didn't you say something about a Princess?"
"But," stammered the King, "how am I to appease the army? The army has
set its heart on a war."
"So had I," answered Kit, sadly; "but I never can find anything worth
fighting about. Meanwhile, where is the Princess?"
"You have not won the Princess," said King Hurlyburly, who was now
thoroughly cross. "I believe you are a miserable coward!"
"That is what the other boys say," answered Kit, smiling. "It is not my
fault that there is nothing to fight about. Will you please send for the
"The Princess has run away from home, so I can't send for her," said the
King, irritably. "She is shut up in an enchanted forest, and surrounded
with wild beasts and magic spells and giants. It is not at all a nice
place for a Princess to be in, but how am I to get her away?"
"Why," exclaimed Kit, laughing, "here is something for your army to do.
Let it go and rescue the Princess."
"Nothing would induce the army to go near the place," explained the
King, sorrowfully; "the army is too much afraid of being bewitched."
"Hurrah!" shouted Kit, laughing more than ever. "At last I have found
something brave to do! _I_ will go and rescue the Princess."
So Kit the Coward started out on his travels once more; and no sooner
did he get outside the city gates than he began to whistle his wonderful
tune, and down swept all the birds of the air in hundreds, and they flew
in front of him as before and led him to the very edge of the enchanted
forest. There they left him, for no one can help anybody to go through
an enchanted forest, and Kit knew fast enough that he must find the
Princess by himself. He was not a bit afraid, though, and he plunged
straight into the wood without looking back.
He had not taken two steps before he had completely lost himself. The
trees were so thick overhead that not a streak of sunshine was able to
get through, and the forest was so full of wild beasts that it was
impossible to walk five yards without tumbling over a lion or a bear.
But this did not frighten Kit at all, for he had learned to talk the
language of the woods all the time that the other boys were knocking one
another on the head; and so he soon made friends with every animal in
the forest, and they told him the best places to find apples and nuts
and blackberries, and the bees brought him the very best honey they
could make, and he grew so happy and so contented that he quite forgot
he was enchanted and could not escape if he wanted to.
But it is impossible to be happy for long when one is bewitched; and,
one day, Kit found himself in a part of the forest that was more
horrible and more frightening than any dark passage that was ever
invented on the way to any nursery. It was not only dark, but it was
strangely silent as well; and a curious feeling of gloom and unhappiness
suddenly crept over Kit. If it had been a nice sort of silence, the sort
we find when we get away from the other boys and girls into a place
where it is quiet enough to hear the real sounds of the air, Kit would
still have been quite happy; but here there was nothing to be heard at
all, not even the brushing of the leaves, nor the blooming of the
flowers, nor the growing of the grass. But the most frightening thing of
all was when he clapped his hands together and stamped as hard as he
could on the ground, for not a sound did he make; and when he tried to
speak, he found he could only whisper; and when he burst out laughing,
he made no more noise than if he had been smiling. Still, he kept his
wits about him, for, of course, there was the Princess to be rescued,
and at last he thought of trying to whistle. At first he could not make
a note sound in the stillness, but he went on trying until the wonderful
tune he had learned long ago from the birds themselves began to echo
once more through the silent forest.
He did not get an answer at once, for really nice birds cannot be
expected to go out of their way to a place where there is no sunshine
and the flowers cannot enter into conversation with them; but after a
while a very fat blackbird, who certainly had impudence enough for
anything, came hopping along from branch to branch until he landed on
Kit's shoulder, and with him came sunshine and sound and merriment into
the very heart of the melancholy forest, for none of these things are
ever far off when a blackbird is near. Kit gave a shout of joy and
hastened after the blackbird, who was hopping along the ground in front
of him; and the next minute he found himself standing in a blaze of
sunlight in front of a high stone wall. Beyond the wall he could see the
tall towers of a great castle; but he did not trouble himself much about
the other side of the wall, for on the top of it, with the sunshine
pouring all over her, sat the most charming little girl he had ever
She had lost one of her shoes, and there was the faintest sign of a
scratch on her round, dimpled chin, and her long black hair flowed round
her shoulders in a way that some people might have called untidy; but
Kit was sure, directly he saw her, that she had come straight out of
Fairyland, and he was too amazed even to make her a bow.
"Dear me! What are you doing here?" asked the girl, in a tone of great
Kit took a step nearer the wall, and pulled off his cap. Her voice
reminded him that, although she belonged to Fairyland, she was still a
little girl and would expect him to remember his manners. "I have come
to rescue the Princess," he said. "Can you tell me where she is?"
"She lives in the castle over there," answered the girl. "What are you
going to do when you have rescued her?"
"Well, I suppose I shall ask her to marry me," said Kit. "Do you think
"Ah," she replied gravely, "that depends on whether you have _my_
permission. Tell me who you are, to begin with."
"I am Kit the Coward," he said simply; and he stared when she broke into
the merriest peal of laughter imaginable.
"What nonsense!" she cried. "If you were a coward, you would never have
got here at all."
"Is that true?" asked Kit eagerly. "Then do you think the Princess
_will_ marry me?"
The girl looked down at him for a moment, with her untidy little head on
one side. Then she bent and held out her two hands to him. "I think,
perhaps, the Princess will," she said softly. "If you will help me down
from this enormous high wall, we will go and ask her."
So Kit lifted her down from the wall, which was quite an easy matter,
for it was in reality no higher than he was and the little girl was
certainly the lightest weight he had ever held in his arms. "What are
you looking for?" he asked, when he had set her on the ground, for she
was kneeling down and turning over the dry leaves in a most distressed
"I am looking for my crown, of course," she said with a pout; "it
tumbled off my head just before you came, and I was too frightened to
jump all that long way to find it."
"Here it is," said Kit; and he picked up the little glittering crown and
set it gently on the top of her beautiful, rumpled hair. Then he started
back in surprise. "You are the Princess!" he shouted.
"Of course I am," laughed Princess Winsome, putting her hand in his;
"_I_ knew that, all the time! Shall we go home now?"
Kit did not reply immediately, for no one can do two things at once, and
it took him quite a long time to kiss the small soft hand that lay in
his own big one. And as for going home, when they did start they did not
get very far; for it must not be forgotten that they were still in an
enchanted forest, and it is easier to get into an enchanted forest than
to get out of it again. However, as they had everything in the world to
talk about, they would probably have been most annoyed if they had found
their way instead of losing it; so they just went on losing it as
happily as possible, until they could not walk another step because an
immense giant was occupying the whole of the roadway. There he sat,
smoking a great pipe that looked like a chimney-pot that wanted
sweeping; and when the Princess saw him, she was so frightened that she
hid herself behind Kit and peeped under his arm to see what was going to
"Hullo!" said the giant, in a huge voice that made the grass stand on
end with fright, just as it does after a hoar-frost; "what's this?
You're running away with the Princess!"
"To be sure I am," said Kit; "and if you don't let me pass, I shall have
to kill you."
"Oh, dear," sighed the giant, raising a wind that made the trees shiver
for miles round. "They all say that, and there's no peace for a poor
giant now-a-days. When I was a boy, the Prince was always put under a
spell as well as the Princess. However, I suppose I must make an end of
you, if you are determined to fight."
And he laid down his pipe and rose most unwillingly to his feet.
Kit laughed out loud with gladness, for at last he had found a good
reason for a fight, and no one would be able to call him a coward any
more. But before there was time to strike a single blow, the giant gave
a loud howl of alarm, took to his heels, and in another moment was
completely out of sight. Kit turned in amazement to his little Princess;
and then he saw what had frightened the giant, for all the animals of
the forest, all the lions and the tigers and the bears and the wolves,
stood there in rows, waiting to help him. So there is no doubt that that
giant would have been killed by somebody if he had not run away.
"Isn't it wonderful?" said the little Princess, in a whisper.
But Kit covered his face with his hands. "It is no use," he said in a
disappointed tone; "the other boys will never believe that I am not a
Princess Winsome came and pulled his hands away and laughed softly. "_I_
think you are the bravest boy in the world," she said.
"Of course he is!" chuckled a voice somewhere near. "How stupid some
people are, to be sure!" And there sat the Weird Witch under a tree, all
in her pink and green gown, with her great eyes brimful of fun and
nonsense. And as the boy and girl stood hand in hand before her and
caught the glance of her beautiful witch's eyes, all sorts of muddles
fell out of their heads, and they began to understand everything that
had been puzzling them for years and years and years. That only shows
what a witch can do when she is the right sort of witch!
"Dear little Princess," cried Kit, "it doesn't matter whether the other
boys believe me or not, so long as _you_ know I am not a coward."
"Besides," added Princess Winsome, "we are not going to try to make
anybody believe anything. I think we'll stay here, instead, for ever and
ever and always."
"A very good idea," smiled the Weird Witch of the Willow-Herb, as she
nodded at them both. "Always remain enchanted if you can."
So they had the nicest and the funniest wedding possible, on the spot;
and there was no time wasted in sending out invitations, for all the
guests were already waiting there in rows--with the exception of the
singing-birds; and Kit very soon summoned them by whistling a few notes
of his wonderful tune. The Princess laid her own wedding-breakfast under
the trees, and the wedding-guests helped her by bringing her everything
that was nice to eat in the forest, such as roasted chestnuts and
preserved fruits and truffles and barley-sugar-cane, and lots of
dewdrops and honey-drops and pear-drops; and the Weird Witch completed
the feast by turning a piece of rock that nobody wanted into a
wedding-cake, and every one will agree that it is better for a rock to
turn into a wedding-cake than for a wedding-cake to turn into a rock.
And all the flowers came of their own accord and arranged themselves on
the table, which they certainly did much more prettily than anybody else
could have done it for them; and when the wedding was over they just
walked away again instead of stopping until they were dead, which of
course is what they would have done at any other wedding. And although
the bride had lost her other shoe by the time she was ready to be
married, and although her beautiful hair was more untidy than ever and
her crown had tumbled off again and had to be brought to her by an
obliging lion, Kit never noticed any of these things and only felt quite
certain that he was marrying somebody who had come right out of
Fairyland and was not an ordinary Princess at all. No doubt, it was
because he was in an enchanted forest that he made such a mistake; and
no doubt, it is because he has never been disenchanted since that he is
making the same mistake to this day.
As for the Weird Witch of the Willow-Herb, she went back to her pink
cottage on the top of the hill, so as to be ready to make the next
person happy who came up the white winding path. But before she went,
she took care that all the singing-birds should fly back to Kit's home
and tell the other boys how brave he had been, which they did with the
greatest pleasure imaginable. It is said that the story became slightly
exaggerated; but when we know how much one little bird can tell, it is
not difficult to imagine the kind of story that could be told by
hundreds and hundreds of little birds.
The Magician's Tea-Party
Little King Wistful slipped through the palace gates and went out into
his kingdom to look for something new. He was only eight years old, so
he was not a very big King; but he had been King as long as he could
remember, and he had been looking for something new the whole time. Now,
his kingdom was entirely made of islands, and in the days when the old
King and Queen were alive these islands were known as the Cheerful
Isles. But King Wistful changed their name soon after he came to the
throne, and insisted on their being called the Monotonous Isles. For,
strange as it may sound, this little King of eight years old thought his
kingdom was the dullest and the ugliest and the most wearisome place in
the world, and nothing that his nurses or his councillors could do ever
succeeded in making him laugh and play like other little boys.
"Only look at the stupid things!" muttered his Majesty impatiently, as
he stood and surveyed his kingdom from the top of a small, grassy
hillock. "Five round islands in a row; always five round islands in a
row! If only some of them were square, it would be something!"
At the bottom of the hill was a wood, one of those pale-green baby
woods, where the trees are young and slender and nothing grows very
plentifully except the bracken and the heather. And as the King stood
and felt sorry for himself at the top of the hill, out from the wood at
the bottom of the hill came the sound of a little girl's voice, singing
a quaint little song. And this was the song:--
"Sing-song! Don't be long!
Wistful, Wistful, come and play!
Sing-song! It's very wrong
To stay and stay and stay away!
The world is much too nice a place
To make you pull so long a face;
It's full of people being kind,
And full of flowers for you to find;
There's heaps of folks for you to tease
And all the naughtiness you please;
To sulk is surely waste of time
When all those trees are yours to climb!
Ting-a-ring! Make haste, King!
I've something really nice to say;
Ting-a-ring! A _proper_ King
Would not make me sing all day!"
King Wistful thrilled all over with excitement. Was something really
going to happen at last? He had hardly time to think, however, before
the little singer came out of the wood into the open. She wore a clean
white pinafore, and on her head was a large white sunbonnet, and under
the sunbonnet were two of the brightest brown eyes the King had ever
seen. He stepped down the hill towards her, wondering how anything so
pretty and so merry could have come into his kingdom; and at the same
instant the little girl saw the King and came running up the hill
towards him, so it was not long before they stood together, hand in
hand, half-way down the hillside.
"Where did you come from and who are you and how long have you been
here?" asked the King, breathlessly.
"I am Eyebright, of course," answered the little girl, smiling; "and
I've been here always."
"Who taught you to sing that song about me?" demanded the King.
"The magician," answered Eyebright; "and he told me to sing it every day
until you came. But you _have_ been a long time coming!"
"I'm very sorry," replied his Majesty, apologetically; "you see, the
magician did not tell me to come. In fact, I don't even know who the
"Are you not the King, then?" asked Eyebright, opening her great brown
eyes as wide as they would go.
The little King felt it was hardly necessary to answer this; but he set
his heels together and took off his crown and made her the best bow he
had learned at his dancing-class, just to show beyond any doubt that he
was the King. Eyebright still looked a little doubtful.
"Then how is it that you do not know the magician?" she asked him. "What
is the use of being King, if you do not know everybody who lives in your
"It isn't any use; I never said I wanted to be King, did I?" said his
Majesty, a little crossly. It was not pleasant to find that somebody
else, and only a little girl in a sunbonnet, knew more about his kingdom
than he did.
"What a very funny boy you are!" remarked Eyebright, without noticing
his crossness. "I always thought it must be so splendid to be a King,
and to have a banquet whenever you like, and never to go out without a
procession, and to wear a crown instead of a sunbonnet, and--"
"That's all you know about it," interrupted the King, somewhat
impolitely. "There aren't any banquets; and when there are, you only
have stupid things with long names to eat, and you never know whether to
eat them with a fork or a spoon, and it's always wrong whichever you do.
And if you ask for jumbles or chocolate creams or plum-cake, you're told
you mustn't spoil your dinner. And all the procession you ever get is a
procession of nurses, who won't even let you step in a puddle if you
"Dear me," said Eyebright, "you're no better off than a little boy in an
The little King drew himself up on tiptoe with great dignity. "Some of
your remarks are most foolish," he said. "You forget that I have a
kingdom of my own as well as a nursery. To be sure," he added sadly, "it
is not much to boast of, for it is a very stupid kingdom, and nothing
nice ever happens in it."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Eyebright. "Your kingdom is the nicest
kingdom in the whole world!"
King Wistful had managed to keep his temper so far, but this was more
than he could bear. "Rubbish!" he cried, completely forgetting his royal
manners. "You come up the hill with me, and I'll show you what a stupid
kingdom it is."
So they raced up to the top of the hill and looked down at the five
round islands in a row. "There!" said King Wistful. "Did you ever see
anything so dull?"
The little girl shook her head. "I think it is all as pretty as it can
be," she said. "Look how the sun glints on the cornfields, and see the
great red and blue patches of flowers--"
"But they're always the same flowers," complained his Majesty, yawning.
"They're supposed to be the same flowers, but they never are," answered
Eyebright. "If you were to pick them--"
"Kings never pick flowers," he replied haughtily.
"Perhaps that is why you know so little about them," retorted Eyebright;
and his Majesty began to feel he was not getting the best of it.
"Anyhow," he continued hastily, "you must own that the sea never
"Oh!" said Eyebright; "that is because you have not learned the sea
properly. It has ever so many different faces, and ever so many
different voices, too."
The King turned and stared at her. "Are you a witch?" he asked
"No!" laughed Eyebright, merrily. "If I were, I would make you see
things right instead of wrong." Then she suddenly scampered down the
hill again. "Come along, _quick_!" she cried. "We'll go and ask the
magician to disenchant you."
King Wistful had to run his hardest to catch her, for the little girl in
the sunbonnet certainly knew how to put one foot in front of the other.
But then, a sunbonnet is not so apt to tumble off a person's head as a
crown, and that makes all the difference in a running race.
"Where does the magician live?" he panted, when he came up with her.
"In the middle island," she answered. "We'll find the boat and follow
the river down to the sea." She plunged into the wood as she spoke, and
threaded her way through the slender young trees, with his Majesty
close at her heels. Sometimes the bracken was as tall as she was, but
the boy behind could always see the sunbonnet bobbing up and down just
ahead of him, and he followed it until they came out at the other side
of the wood and found themselves on the banks of a charming little
river. A small round boat like a tub, lined with pink rose-leaves, was
waiting for them; and into this they both jumped.
"Oh, oh!" cried Eyebright, jumping up and down with delight. "The
fairies are out to-day! Look at them--the purple ones in the
loosestrife, and the pink and white ones in the comfrey, and--"
"You'll upset the boat if you don't sit still," interrupted the King,
who felt cross because he could not see the fairies. "Let me have the
oars and I'll take you down the stream."
"You need not do anything of the sort," said Eyebright; "for this is the
boat the magician gave me, and it always takes you wherever you want to
So they just sat in the sunshine and floated lazily along, and they
dabbled their hands in the water and made their sleeves as wet as they
pleased, and they caught at the branches above as they passed under
them, and they leaned over the side and stretched after everything that
grew out of reach; and, in short, if they had not been in a fairy boat,
it is very certain that they would have tumbled into the water several
times before they reached their journey's end. Presently, the river
widened out into the big calm sea; and after that, the boat quickened
its speed and took them across to the middle island in no time at all,
for the fairies know well enough that nobody wants to dawdle about in an
open sea, where there are no tadpoles to catch and no trees that sweep
their branches down to meet the water.
When the boat stopped, they found themselves on the edge of a shore
covered with sea-lilac and yellow poppies, and wonderful shells that
sang without being put to any one's ear; and just a little way along the
beach was the magician's cave. There was no doubt about its being the
right cave, for over the door of it was written in square acid tablets:
"This is the magician's cave." Besides, the whole cave was dug out of a
solid almond rock; and of course, any other person's cave would have
been made of plain rock without any almonds in it.
"Come along," said Eyebright; and the two children walked up the beach
and knocked at the magician's door and went in.
Some people might think that a cave on the sea-shore would be full of
draughts and jellyfish and wet shrimps; but this particular cave was
just like the nicest room that ever belonged to a castle-in-the-air. The
wonder of it was, that whoever went into it found the very things he had
never had and always wanted, and none of the things that he had always
had and never wanted. So Eyebright immediately found a beautiful
story-book, with a coloured picture on every page, and all the sad
stories squeezed between the happy stories, so that no one who read it
could ever cry for long at a time; while the King found the inside of a
clock waiting to be picked to pieces, and an open pocket-knife with a
bit of firewood lying handy, and a full-rigged schooner ready to be
sailed. And they both saw the dear old magician, sitting in his
arm-chair and smiling at them.
He was dressed in a long cloak, that always began by being a green cloak
but changed every other minute to a different colour, according to the
mood the magician was in; and as he was always in a nice mood, whether
it was a sad or a merry one, his cloak always managed to be a nice
colour. On his head was a high pointed hat, with crackers sticking out
of it and a pattern worked all over it in caramels and preserved
cherries; and he wore furry foxgloves on his hands to keep them warm,
because he was not so young as he used to be. He had been practising as
a magician for over a thousand years, but he did not look very old, for
all that; he was what might be called pleasantly old, for he had soft
white hair and a curly white beard and a pink complexion like a
school-boy's. That is how a magician grows old when he has always been a
Eyebright ran straight up to him and climbed on his knee and hugged him.
"I've brought the King to see you," she announced; "and we want you to
be a nice, kind, _lovely_ magician and help him to be disenchanted."
The magician stood up and shook hands with the King, just to make him
feel at home; and the boy did not feel shy another minute, and quite
forgot that he had never paid a visit before without a procession of
nurses to look after him.
"You are very good children to call on me at tea-time," said the
magician. "If there is one thing more than another that makes me feel
the ache in my bones, it is having tea by myself. Now, would you like to
have it on the floor, or shall I call up a table?"
The King, who had had his meals on a table all his life, voted for the
floor; but when Eyebright said it would be more fun to see what would
happen if they chose the table, he had to own that perhaps she was
right. What happened was very simple: the magician just stamped on the
floor, and a neat little table, covered with a nice white cloth, walked
in at the door like any person and took up its position in the middle of
"Well!" exclaimed Eyebright; "I never knew tables could walk, before!"
"What do you suppose they have four legs for?" asked the magician,
"My nursery table does not walk," observed the little King.
"Ah," said the magician, wisely, "some tables do not know how to put two
and two together. Now for some chairs!"
He stamped on the floor again, and two little arm-chairs bustled into
the room as fast as their fat little legs would carry them. "You must
excuse their being in such a hurry," said the magician; "they have been
playing at musical chairs all their lives, you see. Now, while you are
laying the table, I will boil the kettle. Crockery in the left-hand
cupboard, and eatables in the right-hand cupboard!"
So the magician set to work and lighted the fire with peppermint-sticks,
and the two children opened the doors of his wonderful cupboards. The
crockery in the left-hand cupboard was the right sort of crockery, for
none of it matched; so it did not take a minute to find a small pink cup
and a green saucer for Eyebright, and a big blue cup and a red saucer
for the magician, and a nice purple mug without any saucer at all for
King Wistful. As for the right-hand cupboard, the little King was
overjoyed when he found it stocked with jumbles and chocolate creams and
plum-cake. "I _am_ glad," he said with a sigh of relief, "that you don't
keep seed-cake in your cupboard. Seed-cake always reminds me of eleven
o'clock in the morning."
"Ah," said the magician, "the wymps saw to that, when they filled my
cupboard for me, centuries ago. There's never any bread-and-butter in
it, either--until you've had as much plum-cake as you can eat."
That was a delightful tea-party. The magician did not mind in the least
when they made polite remarks about the food and told him his jumbles
might have been kept a little longer with advantage, or that his
chocolate creams were not quite so soft as some they had known. But
they hastened to add that his tea was the nicest tea they had ever
tasted because it had only a grown-up amount of milk in it, so he would
have been rather a cross magician if he had minded. Nor did he raise any
objection when they walked about in the middle of tea and took a look at
the picture-book, or whittled away the piece of firewood, or danced
round the cave and shouted because everything was so nice. And after tea
there were all the magician's treasures to be turned out of odd nooks
and corners and left about on the floor, and all his new quill pens to
be tried, and his clean sheets of note-paper to be scribbled over. And
when they were tired of exploring the cave and had eaten as much
plum-cake as they wanted, the magician saw it was the right moment to
begin telling them really true stories; and as he was a magician, of
course his true stories were all fairy stories, which, as every one
knows, are the only true stories in the world worth believing. But even
the stories came to an end at last, and then both the children
remembered at once why they had come to see the magician.
"Well, what can I do for you?" he asked, before they had time to say
anything; for, truly, he would not have been a magician at all if he
had not known what they were thinking about. He smiled so encouragingly
that the little King answered him at once.
"It's like this," he began, "there's something wrong with the way I see
"Of course there is," said the magician: "the wymps threw dust in your
eyes when you were a baby; and you cannot expect to see things in the
same light as other people when the wymps have once thrown dust in your
"Why did they throw dust in my eyes?" asked little King Wistful.
"Usual reason," answered the magician, briefly. "They were not asked to
your christening, that's all. If people will persist in leaving the
wymps out when they give a party, they must take the consequences.
However, as you were not to blame in the matter, the wymps would be the
first to own that you ought not to be bewymped any longer. The best
thing you can do is to go up to Wympland yourself and ask them to take
away the spell."
The little King looked at Eyebright and hesitated. "It is a long way to
go all alone," he remarked; and Eyebright immediately stepped up to him
and took his hand.
"I'll come with you," she said; "I've always longed to go to the other
side of the sun. How are we to get there, magician?"
"Well," answered the magician, "the usual way is to climb up a sunbeam,
but that's not very quick and sunbeams are apt to be slippery in the dry
weather. Shall I send you up in a flash of lightning or on the spur of a
"Spur of a lark!" echoed the King. "You mean on the spur of a moment,
"Not a bit of it," answered the magician; "you'd never get up to
Wympland on the spur of anything but a lark, I can tell you! You have to
get up there very early in any case, if you want to be even with the
wymps; so the best way is to rise with the lark. However, as it is
getting rather late in the day for larks, I had better send you up in a
lightning flash. Will you manage it alone, or shall I send a conductor
"Would the conductor show us the way?" asked Eyebright.
"Dear me, no," said the magician. "Lightning conductors never show
anything but the stupidity of some people. Perhaps you'd better have the
lightning without a conductor; so stand on one side, while I pick you
out a nice quiet flash without any thunder hanging to it."
He took down a large sack, labelled _Storms_, from the shelf, untied the
top and plunged his head into it. Eyebright stole a little closer to the
King than before and hoped that nothing would go off with a bang.
"I say," said his Majesty, putting his arm round her, "it strikes me--"
"That is impossible," interrupted the magician in a stuffy voice from
the middle of the sack, "for I've got it in both hands, and it isn't
going to strike anybody so long as you treat it kindly. Now, off you go
in a flash!"
And off they did go in something, though they never knew what it was,
for they had no time to see anything before they found themselves
dropped with a thud on the other side of the sun. For a moment or two
they just lay where they had fallen without moving; then they sat up and
rubbed their eyes and looked round.
"Oh!" exclaimed Eyebright, clasping her hands tight; "I had no idea it
was like this."
Of course Eyebright knew no more about Wympland than she had learned in
her geography lessons, and we all know how little geography books ever
tell us about the really nice places in the world. So, although she
knew as well as any other little girl that Wympland has no physical
features and its inhabitants have no occupation, that its climate is
dull and foggy and its government is a sleeping monarchy, she was not in
the least prepared for what she did see.
"Well," said a voice somewhere near, "what do you think of it?"
Just in front of them a wymp was standing on his head, which is a wymp's
favourite way of resting his legs. He seemed to expect an answer, so the
King did his best to think of one that should be both polite and
truthful. As a matter of fact, he did not think much of Wympland at all.
"It--it is rather full of fog, isn't it?" he began, a little nervously.
The wymp looked distinctly hurt; but before he had time to get angry
Eyebright put things right in her quiet little way.
"I don't think it is yellow fog," she said; "it is more like dull
The wymp fairly wympled when he heard this.
"You've hit it!" he cried in a delighted tone; "that's what it is
really. It's the folks from the front of the sun who call it yellow fog;
they're blinded by their own sunshine, they are. This is the back of
the sun, you see, and the sunshine naturally loses a bit of its polish
by the time it has worked through."
"I think I like bright sunshine best," observed the King.
"That is absurd!" said the wymp. "Why, you can't look at it without
blinking, to begin with. In Wympland you get all the advantages of the
sun and none of the drawbacks,--no sunblinds or sunstrokes or sunspots!
You must be a stupid boy if you can't see that!"
"It is your fault, not mine," answered the King boldly; "you shouldn't
have thrown dust in my eyes if you wanted me to see Wympland in the
The wymp turned several somersaults to show his amazement at the King's
words, and finally stood thoughtfully on one leg.
"That's serious," he said. "We didn't know you'd ever come up here, or
we shouldn't have done it. However, it can't be helped now, so you'd
better go back again. It doesn't matter if you _do_ see things wrong--at
the front of the sun."
"But it does matter!" they both exclaimed; "and that's why we want you
to take away the spell, please."
The wymp stood on his head again and shook it from side to side, which
no one but a wymp could have done, considering the awkwardness of the
position. "There's only one thing to be done," he said at last. "You
must exchange eyes."
They stared at the wymp and then at each other. The little King began to
think busily, but Eyebright spoke without thinking at all.
"Very well," she said. "How is it to be done?"
"Quite easy," answered the wymp, cheerfully. "All you've got to do is to
wish with all your might to have the King's eyes instead of your own,
and there you are!"
At that moment the King finished his thinking. "Stop!" he shouted. "If I
take her eyes away, _she_ will always see things wrong!"
But the King had spoken too late. Eyebright had already wished with all
her might, and her eyes had turned as blue as deep water while his
Majesty's were round and large and brown.
"What fun!" she cried, laughing happily. "Isn't it a nice change to have
somebody else's eyes?"
The little King, however, was far too furious to listen to her.
"Stand up and let me knock you down!" he cried, shaking his fist at the
wymp. "Look what you have done. She will see things wrong to the end of
"Don't be a foolish little boy," said the wymp, calmly. "Take her home
and try to see things right yourself."
The King certainly did not take her home, nor himself either; but it is
the truth that they both found themselves, the very next minute,
standing on the top of the small green hillock and looking down at the
kingdom of the Monotonous Isles.
"Hurrah!" shouted King Wistful, waving his crown joyfully. "What a
beautiful kingdom I've got! Look how the sun glints on the cornfields,
and see the great red and blue patches of flowers! Don't you think it
_is_ a beautiful kingdom?" he added, turning to the little girl in the
Eyebright was distinctly puzzled. She _thought_ she only saw five round
islands in a row. But, of course, it was impossible that the King should
be mistaken. So she looked once more over the kingdom of the Monotonous
Isles and then back at the anxious face of the little King.
"Yes," she said softly, "it is, as you say, a beautiful kingdom." Then
she ran down the hill and disappeared among the slender trees of the
baby wood, and little King Wistful went home to bed.
There is a Queen now as well as a King of the Monotonous Isles. She has
black hair and blue eyes, and she wears a crown instead of a sunbonnet,
and she quite agrees with the King whenever he tells her how beautiful
their kingdom is. And if this should seem remarkable to some people, it
need only be remembered that the Queen sees everything with the King's
The Hundredth Princess
There was once a King who was so fond of hunting that all the rabbits in
his kingdom were born with their hearts in their mouths. The King would
have been extremely surprised to hear this, for, of course, he never
hunted anything so small as a rabbit; but rabbits are foolish enough for
anything, as all the world knows, and it is certain that the rabbits of
the King's forest would never have had a happy moment to this day, if
the Green Enchantress had not suddenly taken it into her head to try and
bewitch the King.
Now, the Green Enchantress was very beautiful indeed. She sat all day
long at the foot of an old lime-tree in the royal forest, and she was
dressed all in green, and she had small white hands and great black eyes
and quantities and quantities of dark red hair. Every animal in the
forest, from the largest wild boar down to the smallest baby-rabbit, was
a friend of hers; and it made her dreadfully unhappy when she saw them
being killed just to amuse the King. So it was no wonder that she made
up her mind, at last, to try and bewitch him; and the first time she
tried was on a fine summer evening, when the royal party was riding home
from the hunt.
It had been an exceedingly dull hunt that day, for the King had found
nothing whatever to kill, and this made him so exceedingly irritable
that his followers took care to keep a good way behind him as they rode
along. That was how it happened that the King was riding quite alone,
when a voice suddenly called out to him from the side of the road.
"Good-evening, King!" said the voice. "Have you had good sport to-day?"
The King pulled up his horse and looked round; and when he saw a
wonderful-looking girl all dressed in green, sitting at the foot of an
old lime-tree, he did not know quite what to say. He knew very little
about girls, for he had spent all his life in killing things, but he had
a sort of idea that the girl in green was not much like the princesses
who came to court.
"I have had no sport at all," he said at last. "All the animals were
"No doubt they were," said the Green Enchantress. "So would you be, if
people came hunting you with great horrid spears and things!"
She was really laughing at him, but the King had no idea of it. He only
looked at her more solemnly than before.
"What do you know about it?" he asked her.
"Perhaps I know more about this forest than you know about the whole of
your kingdom," answered the Green Enchantress; and this time she laughed
outright. But the King did not mind in the least.
"Perhaps you do," he said simply. "I never pretended to know much. I do
not even know why you are laughing. Will you tell me?"
"I am laughing because you know so little," she answered mysteriously,
"and because there is so much I could tell you if it pleased me."
"I have no doubt you could," replied the King. "Will it please you to
tell me now?"
"I don't feel inclined to tell you now," said the Green Enchantress.
"How strange!" exclaimed the King. "If I had anything to tell, I should
tell it at once; but then, I am not a girl. When will you tell me?"
"Next time you come," laughed the girl in green.
"Next time?" said the King. "Why should I come twice when once would
She did not trouble to answer that at all; and when the King looked
again at the old lime-tree, the girl in green had completely
"Is there a witch in the forest?" he asked, when his followers came
riding up to him.
"There is the Green Enchantress, your Majesty," answered the chief
huntsman. "I have never seen her, but they say she is the most beautiful
woman in the whole world."
"Indeed!" said the King, in surprise; and he went home and spent the
whole of the evening in trying to remember what the girl in green had
looked like. He had quite forgotten, however; so the very next morning
he stole out of the palace long before any one was awake, and walked as
fast as he could in the direction of the old lime-tree. The wild boars
and the other animals were most surprised to see him there so early in
the day, and they followed him in twos and threes to see what he was
going to do. As for the King, he strode on over the dewy grass and never
noticed them at all. And all the while the bracken on either side of
him was alive with trembling little rabbits, all squeaking to one
another, with their hearts in their mouths,--
"We shall certainly be killed if the King sees us!"
At last he came to the old lime-tree at the side of the road; and there
sat the wonderful girl all dressed in green, with her dark red hair
falling round her down to the ground. The King would have taken off his
crown to her, if he had not come out without it; but he made her a low
bow instead, and the Green Enchantress began to laugh.
"Dear me!" she said, "why have you come back again?"
"They told me you were the most beautiful woman in the world, so I came
to see if it was true," said the King.
"And now you are here, do you think it is true?" asked the girl in
"I suppose so," said the King, doubtfully; "but I don't know much about
girls. If you were a wild boar, now, or----"
"But I'm not a wild boar!" cried the Green Enchantress; and she was so
angry at being compared to a wild boar that she promptly threw a spell
over the King and tried to turn _him_ into a wild boar. But the King
went on being a king, just the same as before, and he had no idea that
he was expected to be a wild boar at that very moment.
"When are you going to tell me all the things you know?" he asked her,
"I have forgotten what there was to tell," said the Green Enchantress,
sulkily; and she got up and walked away among the trees. The King
wondered what he had done to offend her, and he tried hard to remember
whether he had ever offended any of the princesses who came to court;
but as none of the princesses who came to court ever thought of showing
their feelings, he would not have known if he had.
Meanwhile the Green Enchantress was feeling very cross indeed. "What is
the use of being an enchantress if people refuse to be enchanted?" she
grumbled; and she ran off as fast as she could to find her godfather,
the magician Smilax, for nothing ever put her into such a good temper as
a visit to her godfather. Now, Smilax was the most amiable magician the
world has ever contained, and he lived in an ordinary little cottage
with a green door and a white doorstep and a red chimney-pot, and he did
not look like a magician at all. All the same, Smilax was by no means a
stupid magician, as the rest of the story will show.
"What is the matter?" he asked, when his godchild ran in at the door.
"Do you want me to teach you a new spell?"
"No, indeed!" cried the Green Enchantress. "I am tired of spells; I want
something much better."
"Well, well," said the kind old magician, "let us hear what it is all
about, and then we'll see what we can do."
It was impossible to go on being cross when any one was as good-tempered
as Smilax; so his godchild climbed at once on to the arm of his chair,
and sat there with her little white feet dangling, while she told him
all about the King who would not turn into a wild boar. "Is it not
hard," pouted the Green Enchantress, "that I cannot bewitch the King?"
"Some kings are easier to bewitch than others," remarked the magician,
wisely. "Now, what is it you want me to do for you?"
"I want you to make me into a princess," said his godchild, promptly.
"Then I can go to court and dance with the King! Only think of it!" And
she pretended that the poker was the King and danced round the room with
it, to show how she should behave when she got to court.
"That's easily done," said Smilax. "You shall go to court and dance with
the King, if you like; and I will make you so fine a princess that the
King will not be able to distinguish you from all the other princesses
in the palace!"
"But I don't want to be like all the other princesses, godfather; I want
to be a _real_ princess," objected the Green Enchantress.
Smilax shook his head. "Then I cannot help you," he said. "Nobody can
make a real princess,--not even the Fairy Queen herself. Real princesses
make themselves, and that is a very different matter."
"Shall I never go to court, then?" asked his godchild, with tears in her
"Of course you shall!" said Smilax. "Can you not go to court without
being a princess? There is a back door to the palace as well as a front
one, and any ordinary person can get in at the back door. But you must
give up all your witchcraft the moment you set foot in the palace, for
it is impossible to be an ordinary person and a bewitching one at the
"I don't mind that," said his godchild. "If I cannot bewitch the King I
do not want to be an enchantress any more. I will go to the palace this
And so she did, and that was how it came about that there was a new
scullery-maid at the palace; and, one fine morning, the King met her all
among the vegetables, as he took his stroll in the garden after
breakfast. It is extremely probable that the King would not have noticed
her at all if she had not happened to be wearing a bright green
handkerchief tied over her dark red hair. He felt sure that he had seen
that bright green and that dark red somewhere before, so he stopped and
looked at her.
"What are you doing?" he asked her, with a smile.
"I am picking beans for the King's dinner," answered the little
"How extremely kind of you!" exclaimed the King, who had always supposed
that the beans for his dinner picked themselves. "Will you let me look
She held out her basket, and the King peeped inside and found it full of
bright scarlet flowers.
"Are those beans?" asked the King in wonderment, and he thought he had
never seen anything so charming before.
"I _hope_ so," said the little scullery-maid with an anxious sigh, for
she knew no more about it than the King and was dreadfully afraid of
being scolded for picking the wrong thing. Indeed, she had hardly
finished speaking when the angry voice of the chief cook called her from
the back door; and away she scampered down the garden path.
Every one noticed how absent-minded the King was at dinner, that day. He
talked even less than usual, and when the fifteenth course came round he
turned reproachfully to the Prime Minister.
"I thought I was going to have beans for dinner," observed the King, in
a disappointed tone.
"Your Majesty has just helped himself to beans," said the Prime
Minister, when he had recovered from his surprise at the King's remark.
"What?" exclaimed the King, looking at his plate. "Are these the
beautiful scarlet beans that grow in my kitchen-garden? Impossible!"
"They turn green when they are cooked, your Majesty," said the Prime
Minister, who had never seen a bean growing in his life but could not
possibly have owned such a thing before the court.
"Then let me have my beans before they are cooked, in future," said the
King; and the Prime Minister hastily made a note of it on his clean
There was a magnificent ball at the palace that evening, and the King
had ninety-nine delightful princesses to dance with, but none of them
had dark red hair, and when he had finished dancing with the
ninety-ninth he once more turned reproachfully to the Prime Minister.
"Where is the hundredth Princess?" he demanded impatiently.
The Prime Minister knew no more about the hundredth Princess than he had
known about beans, and he wished he had gone to bed instead of coming to
the court ball to be worried by the King's questions. He was too sleepy,
however, to invent any more answers, so he had to tell the truth; and no
doubt he would have made a much better Prime Minister if he had always
been too sleepy to invent things that were not true, but that, of
course, has nothing to do with the story.
"I have never heard of the hundredth Princess, your Majesty," he said
wearily. "Would it please your Majesty to tell me what she is like?"
He fully expected the King to be exceedingly angry, and he wondered
whether he should be beheaded at once or only imprisoned in one of the
King's dungeons. It was therefore a great surprise to him when the King
burst out laughing and was not in the least offended.
"I never heard of her myself until this morning," said the King. "She
has wonderful dark red hair, and she is so sweet and so kind that she
actually picks the vegetables for my dinner!"
The Prime Minister was so relieved at not being put into a dungeon that
he positively yawned in the King's presence; and the King, for the first
time in his life, noticed that he looked tired and sent him home to bed,
which was certainly a much nicer place to send him to than a dungeon.
And as for the Prime Minister, he went on speaking the truth to the end
of his days.
The next morning, the King hastened into his garden the moment he had
swallowed his breakfast. The chief huntsman met him just as he was
leaving the palace, and asked him what time it would please him to start
for the hunt.
"Hunt?" cried the King, impatiently. "What hunt? I am going to pick the
vegetables for my dinner, and that is ever so much more important!" And
he ran down the steps and across the lawn, as never a King ran before.
The little scullery-maid was wandering among the gooseberry bushes with
a very disconsolate look on her face. "I am looking for sage to stuff
the King's ducks with," she said, when the King came hurrying towards
her; "but I don't know a bit what it is like, and how can I be expected
to pick things when I don't know what to pick?"
"Do not look so distressed," said the King, for her eyes were full of
tears. "I am the King, and I do not mind whether my ducks are stuffed or
"Ah, but the chief cook does," said the little scullery-maid, who, of
course, had known all the while that he was the King. "The chief cook
will beat me if I do not fill my basket with sage. Look! this is where
he beat me yesterday for bringing the wrong beans."
She rolled up her sleeve and showed him a tiny black speck on her dainty
white arm. To be sure, it was not much of a bruise, but when one has
been an enchantress all one's life it is a little hard to be beaten for
not knowing enough. The King was quite overcome with distress, and he
stooped and kissed the little black mark tenderly; and that, as every
one knows, is the only way to cure a bruise.
"Come with me," he said, "and I will help you to find some sage. Then
the King's ducks will be stuffed, and the chief cook will not be able to
So the King and the scullery-maid wandered all over the kitchen-garden
and hunted for sage. And the King knew just as much about it as the
scullery-maid, and the scullery-maid knew as much as the King, and that
was just exactly nothing at all; so there is no doubt that the King's
ducks would never have got stuffed that day, if the pair of them had not
suddenly stumbled upon a bush of rosemary.
"Does it not smell sweet?" exclaimed the little scullery-maid, and she
picked a whole handful of it and gave it to the King.
"Surely," cried the King, "anything so charming as this must be the very
thing we are looking for!"
The angry voice of the chief cook sounded once more from the back door,
so they did not stop to think any more about it but filled the basket
with rosemary as fast as they could; and then away scampered the little
scullery-maid down the path, while the King stood and watched the little
curls of dark red hair that fluttered in the breeze.
The chief cook was far too grand a person to stuff the King's ducks, so
he left it to the little scullery-maid; and the result was that the
King's ducks were stuffed with rosemary. There were only two people in
the palace who enjoyed their dinner that day: one was the King, who sat
at the head of the royal table and had three helpings of roast duck; and
the other was the little scullery-maid, who sat on the back doorstep and
ate the scrapings of all the plates out of a big brown bowl. As for the
courtiers, they never forgot that dinner as long as they lived; but this
was not surprising, for ducks that are stuffed with rosemary are surely
ducks to be remembered.
After that, the courtiers had to eat a good many nasty things for
dinner. Every day the chief cook sent the little scullery-maid into the
garden to pick something for the King's dinner, and every day the King
came and helped her to find it; and although they never found the right
thing and although it was generally very nasty, the King always ate
three helpings of it, and that was all that mattered to the chief cook.
To be sure, it was a lot of trouble to take, just to please the chief
cook, and it would have been far simpler to have cut off his head then
and there; but neither the King nor the scullery-maid thought of that.
After all, it was much nicer to go on meeting each other among the
gooseberry bushes, and it certainly saved the expense of an execution.
Before long people began to wonder what had come over the King. He never
went near the royal forest, and when he was not in the kitchen-garden he
was in the library, looking for books that would tell him the difference
between a banana and a turnip and the best place to find a cauliflower.
The chief huntsman and all the other huntsmen had never been so dull in
their lives; but the wild boars and all the other animals were as happy
as the day was long. Even the rabbits began to pop up their heads above
the bracken, and were quite amazed when they found that no one was
waiting to kill them. "Truly," they squeaked to one another, "the Green
Enchantress must have bewitched the King after all!" And perhaps they
were not far wrong.
Now, the same thing cannot go on for ever; and one morning, when the
King hastened out into the garden as usual, the scullery-maid saw at
once that he had something important to say.
"There is to be a ball to-morrow," he told her. "The Prime Minister says
so! And there will be ninety-nine princesses there besides yourself."
The little scullery-maid shook her head. "I shall not be there," she
said. "I am only a scullery-maid; and no one, not even the Fairy Queen,
can make me into a real princess."
"You are the hundredth Princess," declared the King; "and no one, not
even the Fairy Queen, can make you into a scullery-maid."
"The ninety-nine other princesses have never picked the vegetables for
the King's dinner," sighed the little scullery-maid.
"They would never do anything half so sweet nor so kind," said the King.
"The ninety-nine other princesses," continued the little scullery-maid,
looking down at her crumpled print gown, "have never worn such an old
frock as mine!"
"Nor have they ever looked half so beautiful or so charming," said the
The angry voice of the chief cook sounded loudly from the back door, and
the little scullery-maid turned to run down the path as usual. But,
this time, the King caught her by the hand and held her back.
"Will you come to the ball and dance with me?" he asked coaxingly.
She looked very sad. "I am not a real princess, you see," she sighed.
The angry voice of the chief cook sounded louder than before, and she
pulled away her hand and escaped down the path.
"Will you come to the ball?" the King shouted after her.
"Perhaps!" laughed the little scullery-maid over her shoulder, and the
next moment she was out of sight. It was truly a strange way of
accepting an invitation to the King's ball; but then, she was the
hundredth Princess, and perhaps that made all the difference.
It was a most magnificent ball; and the hundredth Princess _did_ come to
it. For, just as the King finished dancing with the last of the
ninety-nine princesses, a great hubbub was heard in the hall outside;
and into the room ran the little scullery-maid, and after her ran the
chief cook with the soup-ladle in his hand, and after them both came the
Prime Minister, and the chief huntsman, and the Lord High Executioner,
and all the other people who were in the hall because they did not know
how to dance.
"Who are you?" cried the ninety-nine princesses, as the little
scullery-maid stood in front of them all, in her crumpled print gown,
with her green handkerchief tied over her head.
"Who are you?" echoed all the courtiers and all the pages who happened
to be there.
"She is nothing but a scullery-maid," cried the chief cook, brandishing
"She is the Green Enchantress," gasped the chief huntsman.
"You are all talking rubbish," said the Prime Minister, who had
certainly lost some of his manners since he took to speaking the truth.
"Any one can see she is the hundredth Princess!"
But it was the King who really settled the matter.
"She is the Queen, of course," he said gently, and came and took her by
the hand. And no one thought of contradicting him, for, although real
princesses have to make themselves, it is quite certain that any king
can make a queen.
When the ninety-nine princesses saw how charming the little Queen was,
they crowded round her with one accord and gave her ninety-nine kisses.
So they were real princesses, after all! "Tell us," they begged her
afterwards, "are you really the Green Enchantress?"
"Oh no," she said; "I gave up being an enchantress when I found I could
not bewitch the King."
"Why did you want to bewitch me, dearest?" asked the King, in amazement.
"Because you were so fond of killing things," she said.
"Then I will never kill anything again as long as I live!" vowed the
And that is the end of the story, for when the little rabbits heard that
the King had given up hunting, they all gave a great gulp and swallowed
their hearts. And after that, there was no one in the kingdom who was
not happy, for everybody's heart was in the right place.
Somebody Else's Prince
In a country that is so far away that only wymps and fairies ever live
long enough to get there, an exceptional King and Queen once ruled over
their five children, a devoted nation, and each other. Now, the five
children had five gardens all in a row; and four of these belonged to
the King's four sons, and were just as beautiful as gardens cannot help
being, which is surely beautiful enough for ordinary folk. The Princess
Gentianella, however, was anything but an ordinary princess; and her
garden, the one that came at the end of the row, was far more beautiful
than any one could possibly describe. This was hardly to be wondered at,
for, while the four Princes had to work very hard in their gardens
before anything would grow in them, the fairies just came and breathed
on the Princess's garden, and everything that was bright to see and
sweet to smell grew up in it. Even the wymps did not play any tricks
with the Princess's garden; for they had given her their warm little
wympish hearts the moment she was born; so they allowed the sun to shine
on her charming flower-beds as much as it pleased--and, of course, it
pleased the sun to shine there very often indeed.
Now, the Princess's garden was surrounded by a wall. When she was quite
a little girl, the King and Queen had ordered the wall to be built, just
high enough to keep her from looking over it; and every time that the
Princess grew a little more, another row of bricks was added to the
wall, so that, by the time she had stopped growing altogether, the wall
was ever so much higher than she was. She was such a dainty little
Princess, though, that even then it was not a very high wall. Still, it
was high enough to prevent her from seeing what was on the other side;
and this annoyed her so much that all the pretty flowers the fairies
could give her did not make up for the things she was not tall enough to
see. The King and Queen had no idea of this; they loved their little
daughter extremely, and they only thought how clever and how wise they
were to keep her from looking into the world that lay outside her
garden. "She might see something to frighten her, if she could see over
the wall," they said.
The four Princes had no walls round their gardens, and what was more,
they could see over the wall of their sister's garden, too; but they
never thought of telling her what they saw.
"Boys always have all the fun," sighed the little Princess. "I wish I
were a boy!"
Then, one by one, the three elder Princes rode away into the world and
left their gardens to run to seed; and at last the time came for the
King's youngest son to go too.
"It will be dreadfully dull when you have gone away," said the Princess,
who was sitting on the grass-plot in her garden when Prince Hyacinth
came to say good-bye to her.
"Oh no," answered her brother, with a smile; "you can still play in your
The Princess pouted. "_You_ would not like to play by yourself for ever
and ever and ever," she remarked.
The Prince was sure he would not have liked it at all, but then, he was
not a little girl. "It must be rather dull," he confessed; "but perhaps,
if you wait long enough, some other prince will come into your garden,
and then you can ask him to play with you."
The Princess shook her head. "He will never be able to get in," she
sighed. "Only look at that stupid high wall!"
Prince Hyacinth laughed outright, as princes sometimes do when their
sisters are only little girls. "I expect he'll be able to get in, if he
is anything of a prince," he observed. Then he kissed her on both
cheeks, and rode away like the others.
That was how the Princess Gentianella was left alone in the most
beautiful garden on this side of the sun. And if it had not been for the
wymps, she might never have known to the end of her days what the world
was like on the other side of her wall. Fortunately for every one,
however, the wymps are never far off when a charming little princess is
in trouble; and on the very day that the King's youngest son rode away
into the world, one of the nicest and the naughtiest and the wympiest
wymps of all came head first through the sun, and was sitting on the top
of the Princess's wall with his legs dangling, before she had time to
"Come now," said the wymp, "let's hear all about it." His tone was so
exceedingly friendly, and he seemed so unlikely to give her good advice,
which was all that a fairy would have done, that the Princess
Gentianella dried her eyes and told him everything. When she had
finished, the wymp stood on his head to concentrate his thoughts, and
"Will _you_ tell me what is on the other side of my wall?" asked the
Princess Gentianella, as the wymp remained in this remarkable position
without speaking. She did not know that it never makes much difference
to a wymp whether he is on his head or his heels, so she was naturally
afraid that he would make his head ache if he stood on it any longer.
However, the wymp came through the air in somersaults, when he heard the
Princess's question, and he landed in the middle of a bed of scarlet
poppies and twinkled at her.
"You won't like it, if I do," he remarked.
"I am quite positive I shall," declared the Princess; "and you are such
a particularly nice kind of wymp that you surely cannot refuse to tell
No wymp of the right sort could have resisted an appeal like that; and
as every wymp is the right sort of wymp, this particular wymp at once
did as the Princess asked him.
"All right," he said. "There isn't much to tell, though. There are the
usual rows of mountains, and the usual rivers and lakes and islands and
"Don't!" cried the Princess, stopping up her ears with her little pink
"--and isthmuses," continued the wymp, cheerfully; "and volcanoes, and
hot springs and cold springs, and palm-trees and apple-trees and
"I don't believe," interrupted the Princess, indignantly, "that there is
nothing but a stupid geography book on the other side of my wall!"
The wymp looked at her and twinkled more than ever; but when he saw that
her eyes were shining, just as her own flowers might have done at the
time of the dew-fall, he stopped teasing her at once. No one knows
better than a wymp when it is time to stop teasing.
"Hullo!" he said. "What is the matter now?"
"I thought I should see something quite different," said the Princess,
"So you would, my little dear," cried the wymp. "I was only telling you
what _I_ saw. Give me those two ridiculous little hands of yours, and
you shall see everything that I didn't."
This time the Princess Gentianella did say "Oh!" and she said it because
she found herself sitting on the top of her wall, with all the world on
the other side of it lying stretched out before her, for miles and
miles and miles. She did not see very much at first, though, for she
looked no further than the little corner of it that lay just under her
"Why," said the Princess, softly, "there is a garden on the other side
of my wall. And only look, there is a real Prince in the middle of it!"
She turned round to tell her wymp all about it, but the wymp had other
work to do and was already on his way to the back of the sun. So there
was nothing for it but to look over the wall again, and this time the
Prince glanced up and saw her.
Now, Prince Amaryllis had been waiting a great many days for some one to
appear at the top of the wall, but now that some one really had appeared
there and was looking so extremely glad to see him, he suddenly found he
had nothing whatever to say to her. That is what occasionally happens to
the most charming of princes. Fortunately, however, the Princess knew
perfectly well what to say to him.
"I knew there would be something nice on the other side of my wall," she
cried. "The wymp was quite wrong, wasn't he?"
"No doubt he was, if you say so," answered the Prince, who had never
noticed the wymp at all. "But how is it, little lady, that you can see
The Princess opened her big eyes and stared at him. "How can I help
seeing you, if you are there?" she asked.
"But I'm not here, that's just it," explained Prince Amaryllis; "at
least, I am not supposed to be. You see, I have been invisible all my
life, and you are the first person, outside my own country, who has ever
been able to see me. I am very glad you can see me," he added politely;
"one gets a little tired sometimes of being heard and not seen."
"When I was a little girl," said Princess Gentianella, drawing herself
up to her full height, "I was always taught to be seen and not heard.
That was very dull, too. But tell me, why is it that you are invisible?"
"Alas!" said the Prince. "The whole of my country is invisible, too.
Tell me what you can see, Princess, from the top of your wall."
"I can see you," answered the little Princess, promptly.
"But do you see nothing else?" asked Prince Amaryllis.
The Princess shaded her eyes with her hand and looked away into the
distance. "I can see a large flat plain, with no trees and no rivers
and no people and no houses," she answered presently.
Prince Amaryllis sighed. "You are looking right into my country," he
said dolefully, "and it is every bit as full of trees and rivers and
people and houses as anybody else's country. Do you not hear anything
"Oh, yes," said Princess Gentianella; "I can hear the murmur of voices
and the ripple of rivers and the rustle of trees. I have heard those
sounds all my life, but I thought they were in the wind."
"Nothing of the sort," replied the Prince. "They are the sounds that
belong to my country, where everybody is heard and not seen. It all
began with a christening-party, a hundred years ago. My
great-grandfather was King then, and he was the most absent-minded king
that has ever ruled over us, and he forgot to ask the Witch to dance
with him, which, of course, offended her deeply. And it happened that
she was a witch who was always making experiments, so she experimented
on my country at once by making it invisible, and it has been invisible
"How strange!" said Princess Gentianella. "I never remember hearing any
one talk about your country."
"Of course not," sighed the Prince; "you can't expect people to talk
about a thing that isn't there, can you? You have no idea how stupid it
is to live in a place that no one can see."
"But why does not someone disenchant your kingdom?" asked the Princess,
who had read quite enough history to know that kingdoms are always
disenchanted sooner or later.
"That is what I am trying to do," answered Prince Amaryllis. "The spell
can only be removed if a king's son will spend a whole year in this
waste piece of ground and make it into a beautiful garden. But although
I have been here nearly a year, I have not been able to make a single
flower grow. It is a little tiresome," he added with another sigh, "for
it is part of the spell that I shall have to be executed if I fail."
"Dear me!" exclaimed the little Princess. "You are much too nice to be
executed! Won't you let me come and play in your garden? Perhaps I might
help you to make the flowers grow."
Prince Amaryllis shook his head and smiled. "It is not a nice garden to
play in," he said. "I think I will come and play in yours instead, and
you shall teach me the way to make the flowers grow."
So the Prince jumped over the wall into the Princess's garden, and they
walked about, hand in hand, among all the bright flower-beds that the
fairies had planted there. They did not play very much, though, for they
had so many things to talk about; and they talked and talked and talked,
without stopping a moment, for the rest of the afternoon. For all that,
when tea-time came and the Prince went back into his own garden, he
remembered all sorts of things he might have said to the Princess if he
had only thought of them in time; while Princess Gentianella, in the
middle of her second cup of tea, also remembered all the things she
might have said to the Prince, only she had not said them. That is
always the way with princes and princesses who are carefully brought up.
After that, Princess Gentianella and Prince Amaryllis played together
for a number of days. But they always played in the Princess's garden,
because it was a much nicer garden to play in; and as for the Prince's
garden, they seemed to have forgotten that altogether. Then, one
afternoon, when the Princess ran out as usual into the hot sunshine, her
Prince from over the wall met her with a very disconsolate face.
"The year has come to an end," he told her, "and since I cannot make the
flowers grow in my garden, I shall have to go and be executed as soon as
the Witch sends for me."
The little Princess's lips began to quiver, and her eyes grew large and
round and shining. "It is too bad," she declared, "to execute a really
nice Prince like you!"
"Do not be distressed," replied Prince Amaryllis, in a resigned tone.
"Now that I have seen you, little lady, I shall be almost glad to be
"You are talking nonsense," declared the Princess. "Why do you want to
"Because, even if I knew the way to make the flowers grow," he replied,
"my country would not be disenchanted unless I married Anemone, the
Witch's daughter, as well. And, of course, I would sooner be executed
than do that!"
"What!" exclaimed the Princess; "you have promised to marry a witch's
daughter? Do you mean to say that all this while I have been playing
with somebody else's Prince?"
There was no doubt that the Princess Gentianella was extremely angry;
and the Prince could not help thinking that she was just a little bit
unreasonable as well.
"You see, it was part of the disenchantment," he explained. "If _you_
had to be invisible all your life, you would promise anything to get
disenchanted. Besides," he added, as the Princess showed no signs of
being appeased, "they told me that Anemone, although a witch's daughter,
was exceedingly beautiful."
"What difference does that make?" demanded the Princess. "You ought to
have told me before, that you were somebody else's Prince. You haven't
been playing fair!"
"It is true I forgot to mention it," said the Prince, a little crossly;
"but one cannot remember everything, you know."
Princess Gentianella gathered up her train with much dignity and turned
her back on the Prince.
"People who are as forgetful as that deserve to be invisible," she
observed haughtily; and with that she swept up the garden path and into
the palace. She lost all her dignity, however, as soon as she was out of
the Prince's sight; and it was a very doleful little Princess who came
to take tea with her royal parents that afternoon. When she even went so
far as to say that she preferred bread-and-butter to plum-cake, the
King and Queen began to be seriously alarmed.
"What is the matter with the child?" asked the Queen of the King.
"Perhaps she has a sunstroke," suggested the King, who thought that only
illness could possibly prevent a daughter of his from eating her
plum-cake at tea-time. The Queen knew better, but she waited until the
King had gone back into his study before she said anything. Then she
said the very best thing possible.
"What did you see when you looked over your wall, little daughter?" she
"There was a prince on the other side," confessed the Princess
"To be sure, there was," smiled the Queen. "There is always a prince on
the other side; but why should that make you unhappy? Is he not a nice
"He is a _real_ Prince," said her little daughter; "and I should not be
at all unhappy if he had not just told me that he is somebody else's
"Never mind," said the Queen, consolingly; "you will soon find another
prince in your garden."
"But not _that_ Prince," wept the poor little Princess.
"One prince is much the same as another," said the Queen; but she did
not think so for a moment, and no more did the little Princess.
Now, it was quite true that Prince Amaryllis had not been playing fair,
and that his forgetfulness was enough to annoy the nicest little
Princess in the world; but for all that, he was going to be executed,
and it is difficult to be angry for long with anyone who is just going
to be executed. So, when Princess Gentianella ran out once more into the
sunshine on the following morning, she was fully prepared to make
friends with her Prince from over the wall. She was greatly disturbed to
find, however, that there was no one to make friends with; and although
she called the Prince's name several times, not an answer came from the
other side of the wall. Then the Princess Gentianella did what she had
never been brave enough to do before,--she shut her eyes and jumped; and
either she jumped higher than so small a princess ever jumped before, or
else the wall was not nearly such a high wall as she had always thought
it was, for the next moment she found herself on her two little feet in
the very middle of the Prince's garden. She was very close to the
invisible country now, and the people's voices were so loud that she
could actually hear what they were saying. This was not really
surprising, though, for they were all saying the same thing.
"Our Prince cannot make the flowers grow, and the Witch has taken him
away to be executed," was what they were saying.
When the Princess Gentianella heard that, she dropped straight down on
the ground and burst into tears, and her tears rained all over the
garden in showers; and wherever they fell, the flowers began to
grow,--first of all, snowdrops and primroses and daffodils, then red
poppies and blue larkspurs and white lilies, then hollyhocks and
nasturtiums and mignonette, and last of all, roses,--red roses, pink
roses, yellow roses, all sorts of roses. And the scent from all these
flowers was so delicious that the little Princess lifted her head at
last and looked round.
"Oh!" she cried, starting to her feet; "some one _has_ made the flowers
grow in the Prince's garden!"
"Some one certainly has," chuckled a voice from the top of the wall; and
there sat the same wymp as before, looking just as though he had never
gone away to the back of the sun at all. At the same instant, the
people's voices sounded louder than ever from the kingdom close by.
"The flowers have learned the way to grow in the Prince's garden," they
were shouting; "and the Prince will not be executed, after all!"
Princess Gentianella danced for joy, in and out of the Prince's bright
flower-beds. "The Prince will not be executed, after all," she said,
"And he will be able to marry Anemone, the Witch's beautiful daughter,"
added the wymp.
All the laughter died out of Princess Gentianella's face, and she looked
up at the wymp in a very woe-begone manner indeed.
"Oh," she said piteously, "I never thought of that. I--I had quite
forgotten that he was somebody else's Prince."
The wymp fairly wimpled when he saw the poor little Princess looking so
unhappy. "Don't you fret about that, my little dear," he cried. "Do you
suppose the Witch's daughter wants anybody else's Prince, either?"
Princess Gentianella clapped her hands with delight. "Of course she
doesn't!" she cried. "But perhaps she does not know he is somebody
"Then go and tell her so," suggested the wymp; and before she had time
to thank him for his advice he had gone off once more to the back of the
The little Princess did not stop to think about it, but just ran as fast
as she could towards the invisible kingdom of Prince Amaryllis. It might
seem a little difficult to run towards a place that did not appear to be
there, but to any one who was in as great a hurry as the little Princess
a thing like that was of very small consequence. So she ran and she ran
and she ran, until the Prince's kingdom was really obliged to stop being
invisible, for in all the hundred years that it had been bewitched no
one had ever tried so hard to see it before. Besides, it would have been
most impolite of anybody's kingdom to go on pretending that it was not
there, when the Princess was so determined to pretend that it was; so in
the end she suddenly found herself in the middle of a country that was
as full of trees and rivers and people and houses as any other country,
and the particular part of it in which she found herself was a nice
green field full of woolly sheep.
"What a charming kingdom!" exclaimed Princess Gentianella. "How green
the trees are, and how fresh everything looks! Why, there is not a
speck of dust to be seen."
"Of course there isn't," answered a jolly little lamb, who was trying,
as lambs will, to behave as though he had only two legs instead of four.
"Dust, indeed! When a kingdom has not been seen for a hundred years,
naturally it keeps fresher than a kingdom that any one can stare at.
Nothing fades a kingdom like staring at it, you know. However, all this
will soon be altered, for I hear that the Prince has made the flowers
grow in his garden; so all he has to do now is to marry the Witch's
daughter, and then we shall be disenchanted at last."
"Oh no, you won't!" said Princess Gentianella, shaking her finger at him
"Why not?" asked the lamb, standing still for the first time in his
"Because the Prince is _not_ going to marry the Witch's daughter,"
answered Princess Gentianella; and she ran on before the lamb had time
to recover from his astonishment.
Down a curly white road ran the little Princess, between two of the
greenest hedges she had ever seen, until she came to a stile. Now, she
had never climbed a stile in her life, so of course she did not know
what to do next. However, there stood the stile waiting to be climbed,
and there stood the Princess feeling very much inclined to cry, when it
happened most fortunately that an old woodcutter came strolling along.
He was a particularly cross-looking woodcutter, but the Princess was in
far too great a hurry to notice that.
"If you please," she said as politely as she could, "will you lift me
over this great, big, high stile?"
The woodcutter at once did as he was asked, and then was so surprised at
his own kindness that he stood and stared at the little Princess.
"Well, I never!" he exclaimed. "That's the first time in my life I ever
did anything to please anybody. Are you a witch?"
"No, but I am looking for one," said Princess Gentianella. "Can you tell
me where she is?"
"If you mean the one whose daughter is going to marry the Prince, I
think I can," replied the woodcutter, who thought he might as well go on
being kind, now that he had once begun.
"That is certainly not the witch I mean," answered the Princess,
promptly, "for the Prince is _not_ going to marry any witch's daughter!"
And she ran on faster than ever.
Presently she came to a brook that was covered with ice.
"Dear me!" cried Princess Gentianella. "It was springtime round the
corner, and here have I tumbled into the middle of winter!"
A fish popped his head through the ice, and laughed from ear to
ear,--two things that he could do quite easily, for he happened to be a
skate. "The seasons have been mixed up in this country ever since we
were bewitched, a hundred years ago," he said. "It is no use being
particular about the time of year when there is no one to see what kind
of weather you are having. If you stand on tiptoe you will see summer
going on in the next field."
"It must be very difficult to know what clothes to put on, when you take
a walk in this country," remarked the Princess. "But, of course, it
doesn't matter what you do wear when there is no one to look at you!"
"Well, well," said the skate, "things will soon be altered, and the
seasons will have to right themselves again, for I am told that Prince
Amaryllis is going to marry the Witch's daughter, and so the country
will be disenchanted at last."
"Rubbish!" laughed the little Princess, knowingly. "Don't you believe
everything you are told! The Prince is going to do nothing of the
Then she ran away from the skate and the frozen brook, and she ran right
out of winter into the middle of summer; and she might have gone on
running until she reached the middle of autumn too, if she had not been
stopped by an enormous sea-serpent who was lying stretched across the
road. When the sea-serpent saw the Princess, of course he flapped his
fifty-five fins at her, and lashed his tail about furiously, and growled
in a hoarse, fishy voice. But the Princess mistook his fury for
politeness. When one has lived in a garden with a wall round it and
never seen a sea-serpent in one's life, one is apt to make these
"I am very pleased to meet you," she said, with her most charming smile;
"I have often wanted to meet a dragon."
"She calls me a dragon!" groaned the sea-serpent, foaming like the sea
in a tempest; "and I am connected with the very best family of
sea-serpents! What will people say next?"
"I am very sorry," said the Princess, humbly. "You see, I thought, as
you were not in the sea--"
"I was expecting that," interrupted the sea-serpent, bitterly. "No one
ever will believe in me unless I stop in the sea. It is very
"I am sure I am very glad you have come out of the sea," said the
Princess, politely, "because it has given me the pleasure of meeting
you. But does it not make you very thirsty to lie in this hot dusty
"Not nearly so thirsty as stopping in the sea and having nothing but
salt water to drink," answered the sea-serpent. "People do not realise
what a thirsty life a sea-serpent has to lead. If they did," he added
severely, "they would not stand in front of him and ask so many
The Princess laughed merrily. "I do not want to stand here at all," she
explained; "but unless you move your tail a little on one side, I really
cannot get past."
"If you do get past," growled the sea-serpent, "you will fall into the
"That is exactly where I want to fall!" cried Princess Gentianella;
"only you must move your tail a little bit more than that, or else I am
afraid I shall step on it."
It was such a novelty for the sea-serpent to find some one who was not
frightened of him, that he had not the heart to tell her that he was
just going to eat her up. So he moved his tail out of the way, and
Princess Gentianella blew a kiss to him from the tips of her little pink
fingers and ran on as before.
The next person she met was an old woman, who was picking thistles in a
"I wonder why you are doing that!" said the Princess, opening her big
"I am making an experiment, to see if I can find any one with so brave a
heart that the thistles will not be able to hurt it," answered the old
"But does it not scratch your fingers to gather those large prickly
thistles?" asked the little Princess.
"Perhaps it does," the old woman said shortly; "but who do you suppose
is going to gather them for me?"
She seemed rather cross, but the Princess supposed it was because she
had pricked her fingers so much.
"Well, I am in a most tremendous hurry, but I think I can stop and help
you," she answered; and down she dropped on her knees and began to pick
thistles as fast as she could. And when the thistles saw what soft pink
fingers were going to take hold of them, they at once bent back all
their prickles and allowed the Princess to gather as many as she
pleased without giving her so much as a scratch. When she had filled the
old woman's apron for her, she began to run off at full speed, to make
up for lost time. But the old woman called her back.
"Stop!" she cried. "Where are you going?"
"I am going to find the Witch's daughter," answered Princess
Gentianella, looking back impatiently.
"Oh, indeed!" said the old woman. "May I ask what you want with her?"
"I want to tell her not to marry Prince Amaryllis, because he is not her
Prince but somebody else's Prince," said Princess Gentianella.
"Oh, indeed!" said the old woman again. "And whose Prince may he be,
"He is my Prince, of course!" answered the little Princess, laughing
happily; and then away she ran across the field, and into the wood that
In the wood, under a hazel-tree, sat a tall and beautiful girl, weeping
"Oh dear, oh dear!" said Princess Gentianella, mournfully. "How
dreadfully sorry I am!"
"Why?" asked the girl, looking up at her.
"Because you are crying, to be sure," answered the Princess. "Will you
tell me why you are so sad?"
"My mother, who is always making experiments, wants me to marry a Prince
I have never seen, just to see how we should like it," explained the
girl. "And all the while, I am somebody else's Princess!"
"That is very strange," remarked Princess Gentianella. "Now _I_ am sad
because my Prince has got to marry Anemone, the Witch's beautiful
daughter, and I am trying to find her to tell her that he is really my
Prince. Do you think she will want to marry him, when she hears that he
is somebody else's Prince?"
The beautiful girl suddenly sprang to her feet and began to laugh
joyfully. "I am sure she will not," she answered, "for _I_ am Anemone,
the Witch's daughter. So nobody will have to marry anybody's Prince
except her own, and the witch will not be able to make experiments any
"That is settled, then," said the little Princess, contentedly. "Now let
us go and find our Princes. But supposing that I find your Prince first,
how shall I know that he _is_ your Prince?"
"His name is Hyacinth," answered the Witch's daughter.
"How delightful!" cried Princess Gentianella, clapping her hands. "Then
I shall find my youngest brother as well as my Prince. But do you know
where they are?"
Anemone, the Witch's daughter, began to look a little doubtful. "I have
just remembered," she confessed, "that I sent Hyacinth to kill your
Prince, only a few minutes before you came along. Do not be anxious,
however," she added hastily, "for perhaps he will not be able to find
The Princess Gentianella was not at all anxious. "Nobody could possibly
be strong enough to kill my Prince," she observed; "and as for Hyacinth,
he will be quite safe, for Prince Amaryllis is much too nice to hurt any
She proved to be right, for in another minute they saw the two Princes
coming towards them arm in arm. And if this should seem extraordinary,
it must be remembered that it all took place in an enchanted wood, where
a witch had been making experiments for hundreds and hundreds of years.
"There was no necessity to kill him, dearest," cried Prince Hyacinth,
"for he is somebody else's Prince."
He held out his arms as he spoke, and into them ran Anemone, the Witch's
daughter, and of course there is no need to tell into whose arms the
little Princess ran. After that, there was nothing to be heard in the
wood except kissing, until the Witch suddenly stepped on the scenes.
"Cobwebs and broomsticks! What is the meaning of this?" she cried
Three of them turned round and faced her in an extremely nervous manner;
for, after all, a witch is a witch, and they knew fast enough that she
could turn them into any shape she pleased. The Princess Gentianella did
not seem nervous, however.
"Why, you are the nice old lady I met in the field," she exclaimed.
"I believe I am," said the Witch, who had never been called a nice old
lady in her life before, and was not quite sure how to take it.
"I have found my Prince, you see," continued the little Princess,
smiling away as happily as possible.
"So it seems," said the Witch. She was afraid to say more than that, in
case the Princess should find out who she was, and she thought she would
like to be a nice old lady a little longer first.
"And have you found any one yet who has so brave a heart that the
thistles cannot hurt it?" asked Princess Gentianella.
"I think I have," said the Witch.
"Then we have all found what we want," smiled Princess Gentianella, "and
the Witch cannot surely be so unkind as to refuse to disenchant the
kingdom, just because her daughter doesn't want to marry my Prince! Do
you think she can?"
The Witch dropped her thistles and held out her hands to the eager
Princess. "My dear little girl," she said, "the kingdom was disenchanted
the moment you came into it. As for the Witch, there is no Witch any
longer, for she retired into private life as a nice old lady, just ten
minutes ago. Now, as you all seem to have sorted yourselves the right
way, the best thing you can do is to go off home as fast as you can."
No doubt that is where Anemone must have gone with her Prince, for when
the little Princess looked round and found herself standing once more in
her own garden, there was no one with her except Prince Amaryllis.
"_Now_ may I come and play in your garden?" asked Princess Gentianella,
The Prince still shook his head. "I have a much better idea than that,"
he said; "we will pull down the wall and make it all into one garden."
The Tears of Princess Prunella
There is no doubt that the Princess Prunella would have been the most
charming little girl on either side of the sun, if she had not been so
exceedingly cross and discontented. She was as pretty as any one could
wish to see, and as accomplished as all the gifts of Fairyland could
make her; and she had every bit of happiness that the love of her
parents and the wit of her fairy godmother could put in her way. And yet
she grumbled and grumbled and grumbled!
"Can you not try to be happy, just for five minutes?" asked the Queen,
"How can you expect me to be happy, even for five minutes, when every
five minutes is exactly like the last five minutes?" sighed the little
"It is tea-time, your Highness," said the head nurse, coaxingly, "and
there are pink sugar cakes for tea!"
"There were pink sugar cakes yesterday," pouted the Princess. "There are
always pink sugar cakes unless there are white sugar cakes, and I am
equally tired of them both. Can you not tell me something new?"
"Let her go without her tea," said the King, who was rather tired of
having such a cross little daughter. But the Queen only smiled.
"The child wants a change," she remarked. "It must be very dull to play
alone all day."
"Dull!" exclaimed the King. "Why should it be dull? Has not her
godmother given her such wonderful toys that they can play with her as
well as be played with?" This was quite true, for the very ball that the
Princess threw to the other end of the nursery could catch itself and
throw itself back to her; and it is not every ball that can do that.
"What more can the child want?" demanded the King, crossly.
The Queen, however, thought there might be something more. "We must find
her a playfellow," she said wisely.
"Stuff and nonsense!" protested the King. "Why should we bring any more
crying children into the palace? However, you must do as you like, I
The King always told the Queen to do as she liked when he was tired of
the conversation; so the Queen smiled again and issued a proclamation
at once, to tell the whole world that the Princess Prunella wanted some
one to play with, and would be ready to choose a playfellow that day
week, at twelve o'clock in the morning. Now, it is not often that one
gets a chance of playing with a King's daughter, so it is no wonder
that, when the Princess followed her royal parents into the great hall
on the appointed day, she found it filled from end to end with all the
little princes and princesses and all the little counts and countesses
and all the little dukes and duchesses that the surrounding kingdoms
"I never had a more excellent idea," said the Queen, as she seated
herself on the throne and looked down at the crowd of children.
"Prunella has talked of nothing else for a whole week, and she has not
been heard to grumble once."
"That's all very well," observed the King, a little uneasily; "but it is
quite clear that she cannot play with them all, and who knows that so
much disappointment will not lead to a war?"
The Queen did not answer but turned to her little daughter, who stood by
her side. "Do not be in a hurry," she said to her. "So many faces are
confusing at first, and you might regret it afterwards if you made a
But Princess Prunella showed no signs of being in a hurry. She just
glanced over the sea of faces that were turned towards her, and then
looked speechlessly at her mother. The smiles had all gone from her
face, and the big blue eyes were filled with tears.
"Why, they are all exactly alike!" she said piteously. "I cannot tell
one from another." And to the astonishment of every one in the room, she
dropped down on the steps of the throne and began to cry.
"Dear, dear! What is to be done?" exclaimed the Queen, in much alarm.
"It will look so very bad if all the children have to be sent home
"It will certainly lead to a war," was all the King said; and then they
both looked helplessly at their sobbing little daughter. As for all the
children, they were so surprised at hearing how much alike they were
that they said nothing at all; and it is difficult to tell what would
have been the end of the matter, if the Princess had not suddenly jumped
to her feet again and pointed towards the door.
"There is the Prince I should like to play with," she exclaimed. "_He_
is not like the others, for he has a wonderful look on his face."
Everybody looked round at the doorway; and, sure enough, there stood a
boy whom no one had noticed before. "Come here, Prince," commanded the
Princess, raising her voice haughtily; "you may kiss my hand if you
But the boy drew back with a bewildered air and shook his head. Princess
Prunella stamped her foot angrily.
"How dare you hesitate when I tell you to come here?" she cried. At
this, however, the strange boy turned and hastened out of the room
altogether; and a loud murmur of astonishment rose from the children.
The King's daughter had never been disobeyed in her life before, and for
a moment she was too astonished to speak.
"Who is he? What is his name?" she demanded at last.
There was a pause, broken presently by the shrill voice of one of the
pages. "Please, your Highness, it is only deaf Robert, the minstrel's
son," he said.
"Deaf!" repeated the Princess. "What is that?"
"It means that he cannot hear anything, little daughter," explained the
Queen; "so, you see, he would not do for a playfellow at all. Besides,
he is not even a Prince. Can you not choose one of these others
The Princess, however, could do nothing of the kind. "All these are
alike," she said again; "but the minstrel's son has a wonderful look on
his face, and I will have no one else for a playfellow!"
So all the children went sadly back to their homes, and wondered why
they were so much alike; and the whole court was made uncomfortable once
more by the sulkiness of Princess Prunella.
"Your Highness's best wax doll has not been out for two whole days,"
suggested the head nurse.
The Princess snatched the doll from her hands and threw it on the floor.
"If you will not let me play with a boy who is deaf, how can you expect
me to play with a _doll_?" she asked; and although, no doubt, there was
much in what she said, it was hardly the way in which to speak to the
head nurse. Indeed, there would have been a serious disturbance in the
royal nursery the very next minute, if the Princess's cream-coloured
pony had not suddenly trotted round from the stable of its own accord,
and put it into her head to go for a ride.
Now, the Princess's pony was of course a fairy pony; so when he ran away
with her in the forest, that day, it was not to be supposed that he
would run away with her for nothing. He took her, in fact, for a real
fairy ride, all through a fairy forest, that began by being quite a baby
forest and then grew and grew, the deeper she went into it, until it
ended in being quite a grown-up forest. And the pony never stopped
running away until he reached a dear little grey house, that was set in
the brightest of flower gardens, right in the middle of the forest.
The Princess slipped off his back and pushed open the little gate and
walked into the flower garden. Any one else might have been surprised to
find deaf Robert sitting there, in the middle of the trim green lawn,
but after a fairy ride one is never surprised at anything; so the
Princess's heart just gave one big jump for joy, and she ran straight up
to him and took his hand.
"Poor deaf boy! poor deaf boy!" she said softly. Certainly she was not
behaving like a King's daughter, for she ought to have been extremely
angry with him for disobeying her in the morning, instead of which she
spoke as gently to him as any ordinary little girl might have done. But
then, as he could not hear what she said to him, what was the use of
speaking like a princess?
"Poor deaf boy!" she repeated, bending over him; "no wonder you look so
dull and unhappy!"
It was the first time in her life that she had forgotten she was a
princess, and she was quite surprised at the gentleness of her own
voice. She was still more surprised when the deaf boy rose to his feet
and bowed very low and answered her.
"I was only unhappy, Princess, because I could not hear what you said to
me this morning," he explained.
"Oh!" cried the Princess. "You _can_ hear me now!"
"Ah, yes," said deaf Robert; "I can hear you now, because you speak so
kindly. It is only when people are angry and speak roughly that I cannot
hear them. That is why they say I am deaf."
"Have you always been deaf?" asked the Princess, wonderingly.
"Ever since the wymps came to my christening," answered the minstrel's
son. "For when they asked my father what gift he would choose for me, he
chose that I should be deaf to every sound that was not beautiful."
"So that is why you have such a wonderful look on your face," said
Princess Prunella. "I wish the wymps went to everybody's christening!"
Deaf Robert shook his head. "If they had not come to mine," he remarked,
"I should have been able to hear what you said to me this morning."
"Never mind!" said the Princess. "Come back to the palace with me now; I
will never speak crossly to you again, and then you will always be able
to hear what I say."
"No, no," answered Robert, shrinking back. "I cannot come to the town;
it is so silent there, it frightens me."
"Silent?" echoed the Princess. "Surely, it is the forest that is
"Oh, no," said the minstrel's son, smiling; "the forest is full of
sound. Can you not hear them all talking,--the bees and the flowers and
the great pine-trees?"
Princess Prunella listened. "No," she said, shaking her head, "I can
hear nothing." Then she took the deaf boy's hands and pulled him towards
the gate. "Come back to the town with me," she said eagerly. "It is true
that you cannot hear the other people's voices; but you will always be
able to hear _me_, and that is ever so much more important!"
So the minstrel's son went back to the palace with Princess Prunella;
and when the King and Queen saw how happy their little daughter was at
last, they said nothing more about deaf Robert not being a prince, but
got over the difficulty by making him a Marquis on the spot and giving
him the appointment of Playfellow-in-chief to her Royal Highness. A
magnificent banquet was given to celebrate this important event, at
which several speeches were made by the King and several tunes were
played by the band; but as the speeches were exceedingly pompous and the
tunes were exceedingly noisy, the new Marquis, for whom they were
intended, heard neither one nor the other. However, he heard every word
that the little Princess whispered in his ear, and perhaps that was all
that he wished to hear.
Never had life passed so peacefully at the palace as in the days that
followed. The Princess was never heard to utter an angry word, and she
went about with a contented look on her face that cheered the hearts of
all who knew her. It was indeed a happy day for the court when the
minstrel's son came to play with the King's daughter, and every one
rejoiced that the King and the Queen had been wise enough to let their
little daughter have her own way. But all this while no one thought of
the minstrel's son.
Now, anybody might suppose that a minstrel's son, who suddenly found
himself made into a Marquis and Playfellow-in-chief to a Princess, would
be the happiest boy in the world. And yet, although he grew fonder every
day of his little playfellow, deaf Robert was the saddest person in the
whole court. He grew more and more silent as the days went on, until at
last even the Princess noticed that he was changed.
"The wonderful look has gone from your face," she said to him. "Can it
be that you do not feel happy at court?"
Then the boy-Marquis told her the truth. "I am unhappy because I cannot
hear the sounds of the town," he said. "Will not your father go and live
in the forest for a change, so that we can play there together, instead
of in this horrible, silent place?"
"But I don't want to go and play in the forest," objected the Princess.
"There are no people in the forest; and I should forget I was a person
myself, if I had nothing to talk to but the flowers and the trees."
For the first time since they had played together, deaf Robert
remembered that he was nearly two years older than the little Princess;
and he smiled in a superior manner. "That is only because you hear all
the wrong things," he said. "If you could once hear the sounds of the
forest, you would never want to come back to the town."
The Princess turned red with anger, and she opened her mouth to give the
minstrel's son a thorough good scolding, which would certainly have
surprised him had he been able to hear it. But she remembered in time
that he would not be able to hear it, so she sighed impatiently and
answered him as softly as she could.
"You are quite mistaken," she said, putting her chin in the air. "If you
were a real boy you would understand." And with that she turned and left
him. It was certainly annoying not to be able to lose her temper
whenever she felt inclined, but there was nothing to prevent her from
remembering that she was a princess.
That afternoon, the Princess pricked her finger, and the minstrel's son
found out that what she had said was quite true, and he was not a real
boy at all. For, of course, the Princess did what any other little girl
of twelve years old would have done, and burst into tears; while the
minstrel's son, who was quite unable to hear her sobs, only stared at
her solemnly, and wondered why her pretty round face had suddenly
twisted itself into such a strange expression.
"What are you doing, Prunella?" he asked her gravely.
"Doing!" wept the Princess. "Why, I am crying, of course! That is what
you would be doing if you had pricked your finger as badly as I have."
She held out her small white finger as she spoke, but the minstrel's son
only stared at her as solemnly as before.
"Crying? What is that?" he asked. "And why should you do anything so
useless? Surely, it would be better to fetch a doctor or a piece of
Princess Prunella came to the end of her patience. It had been bad
enough to exist for six whole weeks without being allowed to lose her
temper once, but now that she found she could not even cry with any
pleasure, she felt it was more than any little girl of twelve years old
could be expected to bear.
"It isn't sticking-plaster that I want," she said miserably. "When
people cry, they want to be comforted, of course."
"Do they?" said deaf Robert, looking perplexed. "But if I cannot hear
you cry, how am I to comfort you?"
The Princess was far too cross to be reasonable, though she managed to
remember that it was no use letting her crossness appear in her voice.
"That's just it!" she sobbed. "You ought to be able to hear me cry, and
then you would be a real boy!"
And the Princess pitied herself so much for being forced to play with
some one who was not real, that she buried her face in her hands and
wept more than ever. She half hoped, even then, that deaf Robert would
come and kiss her and make friends again, as any nice boy would have
done at once; but deaf Robert did nothing of the kind, and when she at
last took her hands from her eyes, her playfellow was gone.
Truly, the forest had never looked so beautiful as on that day when the
minstrel's son hastened through it on his way to his old home. The
flowers looked their best, and the birds sang their merriest, and the
trees bent their greenest boughs, to give him a welcome; but the boy
with the wonderful look on his face, who had lived among them for so
long, never paused so much as to glance at them, and they only had time
to notice, as he passed them by, that the wonderful look was no longer
there. On he hurried until he came to the little grey house, set in its
garden of bright-coloured flowers; and he pushed open the gate and
walked in, just as his Princess had done six weeks ago.
The minstrel was at home, this time, and he was sitting on the doorstep
in the sunshine. He had just composed a new song, and that always made
him extremely happy; but he sighed a little when he saw his son come in
at the gate, for he, too, had no difficulty in seeing that the wonderful
look had gone from the boy's face.
"What is the matter, my son?" he asked anxiously.
Deaf Robert wasted no time in greeting him. "Father," he cried, "why did
you ask the wymps to my christening?"
"That is easily answered," said the minstrel, soothingly. "It was
because I wished you to hear nothing but beautiful sounds all your
"But what sounds do you call beautiful?" demanded his son.
The minstrel smiled. "Can you not hear my music?" he asked.
"Yes, yes," said deaf Robert; "but what else?"
It had never struck the minstrel that there need be anything else, and
he hesitated a little. "Well," he said at last, "can you not hear the
sounds of the forest?"
Deaf Robert looked up at the pine-trees overhead and down to the flowers
at his feet. "I used to be able to," he said sadly, "but even the forest
has grown silent now." Then he clenched his fists and looked imploringly
at his father. "Must I live to the end of my days without hearing any of
the things that other boys hear?" he cried.
"You are a little unreasonable, my son," said the minstrel. "Are not the
beautiful sounds of life enough for you?"
"Enough?" said deaf Robert. "I want much, much more than that, father.
Why, I want to hear the Princess cry!"
"That is nonsense!" exclaimed the minstrel. "Tears make a most
unpleasant sound, and you would be extremely disappointed if you were to
hear the Princess cry."
The minstrel's son drew himself up proudly. "You do not understand; you
are not real either," he said. "The tears of _my_ Princess make the
sweetest sound in the world, and I am not going to rest until I learn
how to hear it." Then he turned and walked through the gate and out into
the forest once more.
The minstrel looked after him and sighed. "It was the best gift I could
think of," he murmured; "it was the one I would have chosen for myself.
It is true," he added thoughtfully, "that I never wanted to play with a
The minstrel's son wandered aimlessly through the forest,--the forest
that he had once liked so well because it was all his, and that he only
liked now because he had found his little Princess in it; and there he
might have been wandering still, if he had not suddenly met a wymp. This
was not really surprising in that particular forest, for it was just the
kind of forest in which any boy of fourteen might at any minute meet a
wymp; but for all that, deaf Robert was just a little bit startled when
the wymp suddenly dropped in his path from the tree above and nodded at
"Hullo!" said the wymp. "What is the matter with you?"
"I am very unhappy, because I am not a real boy," explained deaf
"Dear me! How is that?" asked the wymp, pretending to be surprised.
"Well, _you_ ought to know," answered deaf Robert. "It is all because
the wymps came to my christening."
"Nothing of the sort!" cried the wymp, indignantly. "It is all because
your father insisted on knowing better than we did, and we let him have
his own way. If the wymps had not been at your christening, you would
not even _want_ to be a real boy. So you cannot hear the Princess cry,
eh? That's a good wympish joke, that is!" And the wymp stood on his head
and choked with laughter.
"It is all very well for you to laugh," complained the minstrel's son.
"You don't know how unpleasant it is to be a boy without being a real
The wymp came down on his toes again and stopped laughing. "Then why
don't you go and learn to be a real boy?" he asked in surprise.
"How can I find out the way?" asked deaf Robert.
"You ridiculous boy!" exclaimed the wymp. "Why, the first person you
meet will be able to tell you that!"
Deaf Robert had no time to thank him for his information, for the wymp
began turning somersaults the moment he had finished speaking, and he
went on turning them until he turned into nothing at all, and there was
no more wymp to be seen. Then the minstrel's son walked on through the
forest; and for three days and three nights he met no one at all, but on
the morning of the fourth day he came to the very edge of the forest,
and there he saw an old woman sitting by the side of a blackberry bush.
"Hurrah!" cried deaf Robert, waving his cap. "Do you know that you are
the first person I have met, and that you are going to tell me how to
become a real boy?"
"I will tell you at once," said the old woman, smiling, "for you come
straight to the point and do not beat about the bush. This is what you
must do, then:--something brave and something kind and something foolish
and something wise. If you are not a real boy after that, it will be
your own fault!" Then she walked round the blackberry bush and
disappeared; and although deaf Robert forgot what she had just said
about him and beat about that bush in good earnest, he never saw any
more of her.
Then the minstrel's son walked straight on in search of a brave deed to
do; and this did not take him long, for there are always plenty of
brave deeds waiting to be done by some one. So, long before the sun was
above his head that day, he came to a castle where a beautiful Princess
was being kept captive by a cruel old giant,--all because he was cruel,
and for no other reason at all. And when deaf Robert saw the Princess
weeping behind the bars of her prison window, he was reminded of his own
little Princess whom he had left weeping on the nursery floor; and that
made him call on the giant instantly to come out and be killed. The
giant laughed a great laugh and came out into the courtyard, not to be
killed, but to kill the minstrel's son instead; but before he had time
to do that, the minstrel's son had managed to kill _him_, and there was
an end of the cruel old giant.
"That is the bravest deed I have ever seen done!" cried the Princess,
when he fetched her out of her dungeon.
"Brave deeds are easily done, then," said deaf Robert; but he was glad
enough, all the same, to hear that he had done the first part of his
task. The next thing he did was to take the beautiful Princess back to
her own country; and that seemed to him a great waste of time, for he
could not certainly do his kind deed so long as he had the Princess on
his hands. But when they reached her country and the Princess told her
father how deaf Robert had come out of his way to bring her home, the
old King was pleased, and asked him what reward he would like for his
trouble. "For," he said, "you have done the kindest deed any one could
possibly think of."
"No reward for me!" laughed deaf Robert; "for there is my kind deed done
without my knowing it!" And off he set once more on his travels.
After that, the minstrel's son wandered about for a great many days; for
neither a wise nor a foolish deed could he find to do. Sometimes, when
he thought he had been wise, the people told him he was cruel, and drove
him out of their country; and sometimes, when he was sure he had been
foolish, they only praised him for his kindness. He grew tired and
footsore, and his clothes became old and ragged, and he almost forgot
that he had once been a Marquis and Playfellow-in-chief to a princess.
But he never forgot how the little Princess Prunella had looked, as she
sat on the nursery floor and wept with sobs that he was not able to
hear. So two years passed away, and still he had not learned how to be a
One day, as he walked along a country road, he came upon a girl driving
"Why are you looking so sad?" she asked him.
"Because I left my Princess crying in her nursery two years ago, and I
have been away from her ever since," answered the boy, simply.
The girl burst out laughing. "Well," she exclaimed, "that was a foolish
thing to do!"
"Foolish?" shouted deaf Robert. "Did you say _foolish_?"
"To be sure I did," laughed the girl. "Could anything be more foolish
than to keep away from some one whom you want to be with?"
"Then I will go back to her this very instant," declared the minstrel's
"And that would be the wisest thing you could do," answered the girl;
and she immediately disappeared, cows and all, which just shows that she
must have been a wymp all the while.
"Well," said deaf Robert, "there are my wise and my foolish deeds done
together, and now I am a real boy!"
Then off he set homewards as fast as he could go; and although it had
taken him two years to come away from home, it only took him two hours
to get back again, so it is clear that the wymps must have had a hand
in that, too. And just about tea-time he stood outside the nursery door
in the palace of his own little Princess.
It is well to remember that the wymps had come to the christening of the
minstrel's son; otherwise it might seem a little wonderful that the
Princess Prunella should have pricked her finger again, on the very day
that her Playfellow-in-chief came back to her. Anyhow, that is what had
happened; and as the minstrel's son stood outside the door and listened,
he heard the softest and the sweetest and the prettiest sound he had
ever heard in his life.
"Hurrah!" he cried. "At last I can hear the Princess cry!" And he burst
open the door and ran into the room, all in his rags and his tatters,
and knelt down to comfort the King's daughter.
"Only look at my finger," wept Princess Prunella, as she showed him her
little hand. Truly, it was impossible to tell which of her small white
fingers the Princess had pricked, but as the minstrel's son kissed every
one of them in turn, it is clear that he must have healed the right one;
and that, of course, was why the Princess stopped crying at once.
Then she looked at her old playfellow and laughed for joy to see him
there again. "The wonderful look has come back into your face," she
said, "but it is ever so much more wonderful than before!"
"Dear little playfellow," whispered the minstrel's son, "I can hear the
forest sounds again, too; but you were right all the time, and the
sounds of the town are much more charming than the sounds of the
"Oh, no," declared the Princess. "There you are quite mistaken, for the
sounds of the forest are more beautiful by far."
And it is a fact that they have been disputing the point ever since.
The Palace on the Floor
Prince Picotee had just built a fairy palace on the nursery floor, and
he sat back on his heels and looked at it with pride. Surely, no one had
ever built so fine a palace before in the space of thirteen minutes and
a half! Not only were there two lofty towers that soared proudly upwards
until they were actually as tall as the Prince himself, but there was a
great arched doorway as well, with a flight of steps leading down from
it away under the nursery table; and there was even a drawbridge, made
of a single big brick and suspended by a piece of string. All this,
however, might be found in anybody's palace; what made the Prince's
palace different from every one else's was just the way the windows were
built. They were not built in rows, like ordinary windows, so that any
one could guess how dull and square the rooms were inside; but they
appeared here and there as if by accident, sometimes at a corner,
sometimes on the top of another window, sometimes under the
battlements, wherever, in fact, the little builder-Prince had felt
inclined to put a window; and the most wonderful thing of all was that,
however much he tried to peep through them, he could not possibly see
what the rooms were like beyond. So the palace he had built himself was
full of beautiful halls and rooms and passages that no one would ever be
able to see.
"No doubt," exclaimed Prince Picotee, "this is the most wonderful palace
that ever was built!"
Just then Dimples, the Prime Minister's little daughter, ran into the
room. "How absurd!" she cried. "Why, it isn't a real palace at all!"
"It is real enough for me," said Prince Picotee. "When I am grown up and
a king, I shall have a palace exactly like this to live in."
Dimples came and sat on the floor by the Prince. "_I_ shouldn't like to
live in a palace that would tumble down directly you pulled out the
bottom brick," she observed, placing her fat little finger on the brick
as she spoke.
The Prince seized her hand hastily. "There will be no girls in my
palace," he said with dignity; "it is only girls who want to pull down
other people's palaces."
Dimples put her head on one side and examined the palace afresh. "How
untidy your steps are!" she remarked. "The top one is shorter than the
others, and there is a join in the middle of the second one."
The Prince felt a little hurt. "It is not my fault if the bricks are not
all the same length," he said. "Besides, those things do not matter.
Only look at my beautiful windows!"
Dimples looked, and burst out laughing. "What funny windows!" she
exclaimed. "Why, you can't see into the rooms! What is the use of having
a palace when you don't know what it is like inside?"
"You don't understand," answered Prince Picotee. "Anybody can see inside
an ordinary palace; this is a particular palace, you see."
Dimples did not see at all; so she changed the conversation. "What are
all those soldiers doing on the table?" she asked.
"They are not on the table," explained the Prince. "They have been
marching since yesterday morning, and they are on the road to my fairy
palace." He then began to station his soldiers on the battlements of the
two lofty towers.
"I suppose you think your wooden soldiers are real, too!" laughed the
Prime Minister's daughter.
"Hush!" whispered the Prince. "If you speak so loud, they will hear you,
and it would never do for them to know that you called them wooden.
_Anything_ might happen to you if you made them really angry!"
"You are only talking nonsense," said Dimples, which was what she always
said when she did not understand what the Prince meant. At the same time
she could not help being struck by the look on the face of the soldier
that Prince Picotee had just picked up. It was the captain of the little
regiment; and as the Prince placed him at the post of danger on the
bottom brick of all, she felt sure that she saw a flush of anger on his
painted wooden cheeks and a gleam of mischief in his round black eyes.
"He is only a toy soldier," said Dimples, tossing her head; but she did
not say it aloud, and it is certain that she felt a little
uncomfortable, all the rest of that day, about the look on the captain's
Now, Dimples had come to stay with the Prince for a few days, and it
happened that the room in which she slept was next to the royal nursery;
and right in the middle of the night--which, as every one knows, is the
time for wymps and fairies to be about--she awoke suddenly with a most
unpleasant start. There, by the side of her bed, stood one of the
Prince's wooden soldiers, shouldering his wooden gun as though he had
never done anything else for the whole of his life,--which was certainly
the truth,--and holding himself just for all the world as though he were
glued together. He was certainly a most military-looking soldier, and if
Dimples had not been a particularly brave little girl, she might have
been decidedly frightened.
"What do you want?" she asked, sitting up and rubbing her eyes.
"Follow me. Prince's palace. Captain's orders," said the little soldier,
in three jerks; and he turned round and marched stiffly towards the
door. His tone was hard; but then, of course, his voice, like everything
else about him, was made of wood. Dimples made no fuss about obeying
him, for she was always ready for an adventure; so out of bed she jumped
without any more ado, and followed him into the next room. It took them
several minutes to get there, because the soldier walked so very slowly;
but this, again, was not surprising, for people with wooden legs cannot
be expected to walk as fast as ordinary folk.
When they reached the nursery, Dimples gave a cry of surprise. It was
evident that the Prince's palace had sprung upwards since the afternoon,
for the two towers were now far above her head, while as for the
drawbridge, by the time she had crossed it and mounted the magnificent
flight of steps, she found herself quite out of breath. "Perhaps it is a
real palace, after all," she said doubtfully.
"Don't mutter. Bad manners. Captain's prisoner," said the soldier in
three jerks, as before.
Dimples did not answer, for at that moment she stepped inside the
Prince's palace and was too breathless with excitement to utter a word.
It was indeed no ordinary hall in which she found herself; it was built
entirely of oak beams of different lengths, so that in one place the
ceiling was low and in another place it was high, in one corner there
were several doors, and in another there were several windows; here an
arch tottered perilously over an opening, and there a solitary pillar
blocked up the whole of a doorway. It was truly a wonderful palace, as
the Prince had said, but it was a little surprising at first sight.
Dimples, however, had no time to think about it, for at that moment a
stern voice was heard coming from below the floor of the hall.
"Bring the prisoner here!" said the voice. Dimples looked through a hole
in the floor,--which was not difficult, as the floor was full of
holes,--and there, on the bottom brick of all, stood the toy captain.
"Come along. Bottom brick. Captain waiting," said her guide; and with
some little difficulty--for it is not easy to jump from beam to beam
when one is accustomed to solid floors--she scrambled after him and
arrived in front of the terrible captain.
"Oho!" said the captain, grasping his sword as tightly as he
could,--which was very tight, as it happened, because his fingers were
glued to it,--"who is the real person now, you or I?"
The question was a puzzling one, but Dimples did her best to answer it
truthfully. "Well," she said, "I suppose you are real, though I didn't
think so before; and I suppose I am real, too; but it is rather
confusing, isn't it?"
"Not at all confusing," said the captain, a little rudely it must be
owned. "It is quite clear that I am real, of course; but as for
you--why, you are not even painted!"
"No," said Dimples, as politely as she could, "I am not painted, and I
don't think I want to be painted, thank you. Why, I should never feel
safe for a moment if I had a face that anybody could wash off with a
At this the toy captain was so furious that he shook with anger from
head to foot.
"Do you know," he said, "that I have only to pull out the brick on which
I am standing, and the whole palace will tumble down on your head?"
"Of course I know," laughed Dimples, who was growing less frightened
every minute; "but if you do, it will tumble down on your head as well
"That is true," said the toy captain, "but I am a real person and I am
made of wood, so it will make no difference to me."
Dimples was obliged to own that there was something in what the captain
said; and as she disliked nothing so much as being beaten in an
argument, she at once pretended not to be listening.
"Oh, dear, how hungry I am!" she said, yawning.
"If you were real and not made up," said the toy captain, "you would
never get hungry at all." However, he called out to a soldier, who was
mounting guard on the top of a pillar just over his head, and ordered
him to bring the prisoner some food. In a few minutes, Dimples found
herself in front of a curious meal, served on round cardboard dishes and
consisting of one red jelly, two raw mutton chops, a bunch of grapes,
and a slice of salmon.
"But they won't come off the dishes, will they?" asked Dimples, who had
fed her dolls for years on the very things that were now placed before
"Of course not," said the toy captain. "They would have been lost long
ago if they had not been stuck on. What more can you want? If you were a
real person, as you pretend to be, your appetite would be taken away by
the mere sight of dishes like those!"
This, in fact, was what had already happened to Dimples, for there was
nothing very enticing about a jelly from which she remembered sucking
the paint only a week ago; while as for the other things, even her
youngest and favourite doll was beginning to grow tired of their
monotony. So she made no objection when the captain ordered the dishes
to be removed.
"Now you have satisfied your hunger," continued the captain, "I will
order you to be taken upstairs to the dungeon."
"Upstairs!" exclaimed Dimples. "What a funny place for a dungeon!"
"Funny? Not in the least!" said the captain, severely. "In a palace of
this kind you must take the rooms as you find them. You will find the
dungeon squeezed between the drawing-room and the kitchen, at the very
top of the left-hand tower. There you will have to stop until the King
"Who is the King?" asked Dimples, curiously.
Before the toy captain had time to answer, the band of the regiment
struck up an inspiriting march. To be sure, there were only two wooden
drummer boys and two wooden trumpeters, of whom one had lost his trumpet
and was therefore obliged to blow continually through his stiffened
fingers; but for all that they made quite a cheerful noise, and in the
middle of it the King mounted the steps and entered the palace.
"Hurrah! The King! It is the King!" shouted the whole regiment in twenty
"The King!" repeated Dimples. "Why, it is the Prince!"
"Don't talk nonsense," said the captain, gruffly. "Do you suppose we
would allow ourselves to be commanded by a mere Prince? This is a real
King, I can tell you, though he isn't made of wood, more's the pity!"
And when Dimples saw the dignified way in which the little King walked
into the palace, she could not help agreeing that he was a very real
King. Indeed, she found it difficult to believe that he was nothing but
her playfellow, the Prince Picotee, for never before had she seen him
look so happy and so triumphant. There was no doubt that the little King
had found his kingdom; and Dimples, remembering that she was really his
prisoner, began to wish that she had not teased him so much about his
toy palace and his toy soldiers. But the King did not even see her; he
walked straight into the great hall and then stood still and drew a long
breath of satisfaction.
"It is the most wonderful palace that ever was built," he murmured to
himself; "it is much, much more wonderful than I thought."
Then his eyes fell upon Dimples, who was trying to hide behind the stiff
figure of the toy captain, on the bottom brick of all.
"What is that girl doing in my palace?" asked the King, frowning.
"Please your Majesty, it is your Majesty's prisoner," answered the
captain,--"she is waiting for your Majesty to decide on her punishment."
"What has the prisoner done?" asked the King in as dignified a manner as
he could assume, considering that he stood on a tottering brick at the
edge of the abyss in which the captain and his prisoner awaited him.
"Please your Majesty, she was heard to say that your Majesty's army was
not a real army, and that I, your Majesty,--_I_ was nothing but a toy
soldier!" said the captain; and he again shook with anger from head to
foot, which, after all, was the only way he could shake, because he was
made all in one piece.
"Send the prisoner here," commanded the King. "It is not safe to keep a
prisoner on the bottom brick--especially when she is a girl."
So Dimples, wishing from the bottom of her heart that the little
playfellow she had teased had not been suddenly changed into a king,
clambered up again into the hall.
"Prince Picotee," she said in an anxious undertone, as soon as she was
near him, "I do think it is a real palace now, I do really!"
"Why, it's only Dimples!" exclaimed the King, and he nearly tumbled off
the edge of the floor in his surprise. Then he remembered that he was a
king, and tried to become dignified again, which, of course, was
exceedingly difficult now that the Prime Minister's daughter was there
to see. As for Dimples, she had not played with the Prince all her life
for nothing, and she quite ceased to be frightened of him as soon as she
came face to face with him.
"If you let that nasty captain punish me, I'll tell them all you are
only a little boy and not a king at all," she whispered; and her round
little face twinkled with merriment.
The King wavered. "I always said I would have no girls in my palace," he
"Will you promise?" persisted Dimples.
The King avoided her eyes. It was very hard not to give in and smile
too, when Dimples looked like that. After all, he reflected, if Dimples
was a girl and did not understand things properly, she made an excellent
playfellow; and the most wonderful palace in the world might grow a
little dull if there were only wooden soldiers to share it with. So the
King made up his mind, and took the prisoner by one hand and waved his
other in a royal manner to the captain.
"I will talk it over with the prisoner," he announced, "so do not let us
be disturbed. And you need not take any more prisoners without
consulting me," he added hastily, for he really feared that his nurse
might be the next prisoner, and then, where would be the fun of being a
king at all?
"Now, let us go and explore your palace," said Dimples, impatiently; and
the captain was left on the bottom brick to get over his disappointment.
It would be impossible to describe how the two children wandered over
the fairy palace that the Prince had built; how they climbed from one
floor to another; how they dropped from arch to pillar; how they wound
their way in and out of delightful passages, finding fresh secret rooms
as they went; how from one window they looked down on the vast nursery
tableland and from another caught a glimpse of the towering
rocking-horse; how they quite forgot they were King and prisoner, and
stood at last, hand in hand, on the battlements of the highest tower and
told each other what fun it was to play in a real fairy palace.
The toy captain, however, had not forgotten anything; and when he saw
them talking in this familiar manner on the battlements--which he could
easily do from his position on the bottom brick, so cleverly was this
wonderful palace built--he felt it was high time to interfere.
"Has your Majesty decided how to punish the prisoner?" asked the toy
captain, holding himself in his very stiffest manner and raising his
voice sufficiently to be heard on the battlements.
The King looked at the prisoner, and the prisoner laughed at the King.
"Well," said Dimples, demurely, "_has_ your Majesty made up his mind?"
"Oh, _don't_!" whispered his Majesty, crossly. "You know I can't behave
like a king if you laugh at me!" Then he folded his arms and looked down
at the captain. "I have decided not to punish the prisoner at all," he
"What!" cried the captain, furiously. "You are not going to punish the
prisoner at all?"
"No," said his Majesty, growing bolder; "and what is more, I am going to
have you beheaded for interfering in the King's private affairs!"
Even Dimples felt a little nervous when she saw the look that crept over
the captain's face.
"Oh, dear," she whispered to the Prince, "that is how he looked
yesterday when I said he wasn't real. Would it not be wiser to make
friends with him?"
But her little playfellow was looking as he had looked when he first
entered his palace. "A king," he said grandly, "makes neither friends
nor enemies. The captain is only my toy, and I can do as I will with
The captain's fury knew no bounds when he overheard this. "That is what
comes of having a king who is not made of wood," he said. "But you have
forgotten one thing, your Majesty!"
"And what is that?" asked the King, smiling.
"The bottom brick," said the toy captain, as he stooped and pulled it
Truly, there had never been such a shatter and a clatter and a tumble as
when the toy captain pulled out the bottom brick of the Prince's palace!
And in the midst of it all the children felt themselves falling and
falling and falling. And louder than it all sounded the mocking laughter
of the toy captain.
* * * * *
"Some people would say it was only a dream," observed Prince Picotee,
the next morning, as they stood over the ruins on the nursery floor.
"It can't have been a dream," answered Dimples, who was always
practical, "because here is the head of the toy captain."
"And here," added the Prince, bending down, "is his body. So he _was_
beheaded after all!"
"I wish," sighed Dimples, "that it could all come over again."
"It will some day," the Prince assured her, "when I am King and have
built another palace like this one."
"But I shall not be there," pouted Dimples, "because you won't have any
girls in your palace."
Prince Picotee kicked the headless captain about the floor thoughtfully.
"Well, I'm not quite sure," he said, growing a little red. "Perhaps I'll
have one girl."
"Will you?" laughed Dimples. "But what if she pulls down your wonderful
"Ah," said Prince Picotee, gravely, "I shall not tell her about the
The Lady Daffodilia
No one in the whole kingdom was so idle, or so careless, or so
thoughtless as the Lady Daffodilia. The only thing she had done ever
since she was born was to grow and grow and grow, so that, although she
was only twelve years old, she was quite as tall as the Countess, her
mother. In fact, she was tall enough to be conceited about it, which, of
course, was extremely foolish of her, for she had certainly had nothing
to do with it herself.
"You are a whole year older than I am, but I am a head taller than you,"
was what she said to Prince Brilliant, when he came to play with her,
one day. She was perched on the garden wall at the time, so she was able
to look down on the little Prince even more than usual.
"Hush!" said the Countess, who was drinking tea on the lawn. "That is
not the way to speak to a Prince."
Prince Brilliant stuck his chin into the air and tried to make the most
of his height.
"I don't care a bit," he said; "I wouldn't have silly long legs like
yours for anything. It's much better to know things; and only think of
all the things I know that you never heard of! You couldn't even say the
exports and imports of Fairyland without looking in the book first; now,
"Hush!" said his Queen-mother, who was also drinking tea on the lawn.
"That is not the way to speak to a little lady."
The Lady Daffodilia stooped a little, and smoothed out the creases in
her black silk stockings, just to show that she had not forgotten how
much longer her legs were than the Prince's. The Prince pretended not to
"What you say is very true," then said Daffodilia, who was always fair,
even when she was most aggravating; "but I am better off than you, all
the same. I can go and look in the book if I want to know all those
tiresome stuffy things you think such a lot about; but all the books in
the world won't make you so tall as I am!"
The Prince was much annoyed, for there was no doubt that the Lady
Daffodilia had the best of the argument. He aimed a most unprincely kick
at a harmless geranium plant, that, like the Lady Daffodilia, had never
done anything in its life but grow; and he turned very red in the face.
"You're only a girl," he said; "and girls think too much of themselves.
That's what my Professor says!"
"If _you_ were a girl," laughed the Lady Daffodilia, "it would not
matter about your being such a little bit of a thing! Is it not very
unpleasant to be so short, when you are a boy?"
The Prince turned and walked quickly towards the garden gate. It was
true that he was a prince, and could not therefore be rude to the Lady
Daffodilia; but he was a boy, too, and if he had stopped another minute
he was quite certain he would have lifted her down from the wall and
given her a good shaking.
"Where are you going?" she cried after him, and laughed more than ever
when she saw how cross she had made him.
"Where are you going?" echoed the Queen and the Countess.
Prince Brilliant turned when he reached the gate, and faced them all
with a resolute look on his small, round face.
"I am going to find out the way to grow tall," he said. "I shall not
come back until I am as tall as the Lady Daffodilia."
Then he went through the gate and slammed it behind him, and marched
away down the hot, dusty road. The Queen and the Countess only smiled,
for they did not suppose he had gone for good; but the Lady Daffodilia
slipped down from the wall and on to the grass lawn, and began to weep.
"I have sent away my favourite Prince," she sobbed, "and I shall never
have him to play with again."
"Do not cry, little daughter," said the Countess, soothingly; "your
Prince will come back soon."
"You do not know him so well as I do," said Daffodilia. "He always means
what he says; and since it is quite certain that nothing can ever make
him as tall as I am, it is quite certain that he will never come back
It seemed as though her words were likely to come true, for the Prince
had not returned by bedtime; and, although the King's messengers rode
out that very night and hunted the whole country up and down for days
and weeks and years, not a trace was ever found of the little Prince who
had gone to learn the way to grow tall. So the kingdom was left without
an heir to the throne, and the Lady Daffodilia was left without a
playfellow. It was not her way, however, to sit down and cry about it,
besides which she had found something really important to do at last.
"If the Prince has gone away to grow as tall as I am," she said, "_I_
will stay at home and grow as clever as he is!"
So she shut herself up in the Count's library with a pile of dusty
books, and tried her very best to learn the exports and imports of
Fairyland. But as fast as she learned one she forgot the other; and she
ended by completely jumbling them up, which was really a serious matter,
for it is quite evident that the things we give to Fairyland are not at
all the same things as Fairyland gives to us. And then, long before the
Lady Daffodilia had grown as clever as the Prince, the people came and
clapped her into prison, "for," they said, "it is your fault that the
heir to the throne is lost." It is true that they did not put her into a
very unpleasant prison, for it was a nice, comfortable old castle, in
the middle of a green plain; but there was no one to play with and no
one to tease, so it was most decidedly a prison. Added to this, the Lady
Daffodilia seemed to have stopped growing at last, for she never grew
another inch after the Prince went away; and as this robbed her of her
only occupation, she began for the first time in her life to long for
something to do. And she grew so tired of looking at the same green
plain day after day, that she determined to make it into a garden for a
change; and the flowers and the shrubs were so proud of being planted by
such dainty, white hands that they tried their very hardest to grow up
nicely and be a credit to her; and the result was that the little lady
in the castle soon became known as the most wonderful gardener in the
Now, when Prince Brilliant ran away from the Lady Daffodilia he found
the road so hot and so dusty that he was obliged to keep near the hedge
at the side; and he had not run very far before he pushed his head
through a very elegant spider's web. The spider was exceedingly cross,
and grumbled; but the daddy-longlegs that tumbled out of her web was
very much pleased with himself.
"Well, my little friend," he said to the Prince, "where are you running
so fast, this fine morning?"
Now, one of the things the Prince had learned from his Professor was the
way to speak to a daddy-longlegs, so before another five minutes had
passed he had told him the whole of his trouble. "Do _you_ know the way
to make your legs grow long?" asked the Prince at the end of his story.
"Well," said the daddy-longlegs, "that is certainly one of the things I
am generally supposed to know; but if I show you the way, do you think
you will have patience to do everything I tell you? It may take a very
"I can wait years and years and years and years," said the Prince, in
his determined way; and the daddy-longlegs had the sense to see that he
meant what he said.
"Right you are," he said. "Then jump straight into that hedge; and the
more spiders' webs you break on the way, the better--nasty, choky,
"What shall I do when I get there?" asked the Prince.
"Oh, you haven't got to do anything," said the daddy-longlegs, with a
chuckle. "Just wait there until I come to you."
"All right; but you won't be long, will you?" said the Prince; and he
tucked his crown under his arm and shut his eyes tight and jumped
straight into the thorny, prickly hedge.
When he opened his eyes, he found himself in a strange new country, that
was all made of rose-coloured dreams, and filled with rose-coloured air,
and lighted with rose-coloured sunbeams. There were no people or trees
or mountains or rivers to be seen; but before the little Prince had time
to notice this, his mind was filled with rose-coloured thoughts, and so
he forgot the Lady Daffodilia and his own crossness and everything that
had made him unhappy when he was in the real world.
"Hullo! Where am I?" he cried.
"You are in the world of dreams, to be sure," said a voice in his ear.
"Where else should you be at your time of life?"
"But who lives here?" asked Prince Brilliant.
A great many voices answered him. "_We_ live here, of course," they
said. "We are really nice dreams, we are; and when children are the
right sort, like yourself, they come here to stay with us until they are
"May I play with you, then?" asked the Prince. In the real world he had
been too fond of books to play much, but here he felt as though he must
do nothing but play all day long.
"Of course you may," answered the dream voices; "that is what you are
Prince Brilliant was soon the happiest boy possible. Some people might
think it dull to have playfellows who could not be seen, but the Prince
thought nothing could be more delightful than to live in the midst of
dreams for the rest of his life. It is true that he was fast forgetting
everything that his Professor had taught him; but this was hardly
surprising, for there is no room in a very small head for serious
thoughts as well as rose-coloured ones.
It is doubtful whether the Prince would ever have wanted to go back to
the real world again, if he had not met the daddy-longlegs one day, as
he was strolling along with his favourite dream.
"Hullo!" said the daddy-longlegs, chuckling. "I see it is time for you
to go back into the real world."
"What, already?" exclaimed the Prince. "Why, you said I should have to
wait years and years and years and----"
"You have been here exactly seven years," interrupted the
daddy-longlegs; "and it is time for you to meet the waking-up dream."
The Prince suddenly began to remember things. "When shall I be as tall
as the Lady Daffodilia?" he cried. But the daddy-longlegs had no time to
do anything but chuckle before the waking-up dream came and seized hold
of the Prince, and he found himself falling, falling, falling--down,
down, down--until he dropped with a thud on a soft grass lawn, and
found himself in the middle of the most beautiful garden in the world. A
little way off stood an old grey castle; and as he lay looking at it the
gate swung open, and out stepped a dainty, winsome little lady.
The Prince sprang to his feet with a shout and held out his arms; and
the Lady Daffodilia ran straight into them without stopping so much as
"How _did_ you learn to grow so tall?" she asked, looking up at him.
"Well," said the Prince, truthfully, "I just went into the world of
dreams and waited till I was grown up. You see, I was a boy and not a
girl, all the time; so I was not in such a hurry as you to get my
growing done early."
"I tried to grow as clever as you," sighed Daffodilia, "but nothing
would stop in my head. I couldn't even say the exports and imports of
Fairyland without looking in the book first!"
"Never mind," laughed the Prince; "I don't believe there are any
imports, for I am sure _we_ have nothing good enough to send there. And
as for the exports, there is only one thing that Fairyland has sent into
this country that is worth remembering."
"And what is that?" she asked anxiously.
"It is something that is not very tall and not very serious and not very
wise," answered the Prince; "but it is sweet and merry and charming, and
it is called the Lady Daffodilia!"
The Kite That Went to the Moon
Jerry had made the biggest kite in the village; and Chubby, the
woodcutter's daughter, had painted a big round moon on it and several
stars as well. That alone was enough to show that it was by no means an
ordinary kite; so it was no wonder that Jerry felt very proud of himself
when he ran on to the village green to fly it.
"Stand back, all of you!" he said, as the girls and boys came crowding
round him. "Now, you shall see my kite fly to the moon!"
No doubt, Jerry was inclined to make quite enough fuss about his kite;
but it is not every day that one has a chance of flying the biggest kite
in the village, especially when one is only seven years old. He felt
very sad, however, when he found that his kite had no intention of
flying to the moon. Every time he threw it into the air, back it fell
again on the grass; and although he tried again and again, and used
yards and yards of the very best string that twopence-halfpenny could
buy, any one could see that something was decidedly wrong with the
biggest kite in the village.
Jerry turned red, and blinked his eyes, and reminded himself desperately
that he was seven years old. It was certainly hard to have spent six
half-holidays in making a kite that would not fly in the end.
"Stupid thing!" he muttered crossly. "If I had the chance, just wouldn't
I fly to the moon! Kites don't know when they are well off!"
But when all the boys and girls burst out laughing, and pointed their
fingers at him and began to tease, it was impossible to keep back his
tears any longer. After all, one cannot go on remembering for ever that
one is seven years old. The children, however, only laughed the more,
when the little maker of the kite suddenly flung himself down on the
ground and began to cry.
"What is the use of a kite that won't fly?" they jeered. "Take it home,
Jerry, and make it the same size as other people's kites! And mind you
let us know what the moon is like, when your kite gets there!"
Jerry started to his feet again and shook his fist at them. "Some day,"
he shouted, "I shall be able to laugh at you instead."
"When will that be, Jerry?" cried all the boys and girls.
"When my kite has flown to the moon," answered Jerry, in a determined
tone; and he picked up his kite there and then, and marched off to the
school to find Chubby, the woodcutter's daughter.
"Hullo, Chubby!" he said, popping his head in at the schoolroom window.
"Haven't you done that sum yet?"
Chubby looked up with a doleful face. After painting a moon and several
stars on the biggest kite in the village, it was not pleasant to be kept
in school just because seven would not go into sixty-three.
"I shall never finish it, Jerry, never!" she said with a sigh.
"Chubby," said Jerry, solemnly, "you've been crying."
Chubby rubbed her eyes hastily with her two fists. "I don't think so,"
she replied in a muffled tone; "it was just three tears that trickled
down my nose and made a smudge on the slate; but that isn't crying. You
know it isn't, Jerry!"
Jerry rubbed his own eyes a little guiltily. "My kite wouldn't fly," he
remarked, and tried to look as though he did not care a bit.
"What!" cried Chubby. "Wouldn't your kite fly? Then I never need have
cried at all."
Jerry clambered on the window ledge and sat there with his legs swinging
to and fro. He wished Chubby would not talk so much about crying. "All
the string got mixed up," he explained with dignity; "I expect that was
"I don't," said Chubby, decidedly; "it was because the tail was too
short. I told you so, all the time."
No doubt there was something in what she said, but reasons are not much
good when you are seven years old and your kite won't fly, and Jerry was
not in a mood to be trifled with.
"If you know so much about it," he retorted, "you'd better come and fly
"I only wish I could," sighed poor little Chubby. "If you'll tell me how
many times seven goes into--"
"Oh, don't," interrupted Jerry, crossly. "How can I do sums when my kite
Then he flung himself down from the window ledge, and started off to
find some one who would tell him why his kite would not fly. Half-way
down the village street, he met a fine black raven.
"Good day to you," said Jerry, who knew that ravens could explain most
things if they chose. "Can you tell me why my kite won't fly?"
"Caw, caw!" croaked the raven. "Nine times, Jerry, nine times! Caw,
"I wonder what he means," thought Jerry, and trudged on a little
farther. Presently he met a sheep. Now, sheep do not know much as a
rule, but they are always extremely anxious to tell what they do know.
So Jerry asked her at once why his kite would not fly.
"Baa, baa!" said the sheep. "Nine times, Jerry, nine times! Baa, baa!"
"Everybody is going mad this afternoon," thought Jerry; and he went on a
little farther. Just at the end of the village, a cockchafer came
buzzing round his head.
"Buz-z-z!" hummed the cockchafer. "Nine times, Jerry, nine times!
"Oh, go away, do!" cried Jerry, impatiently. "What do you all mean by
The cockchafer did not go away an inch, but buzzed closer to Jerry's
head than before. "Buz-z-z," he hummed; "nine times, Jerry, nine times,
nine times, nine times, nine times--"
All at once, the cockchafer's meaning entered Jerry's head, which was
hardly to be wondered at, considering how close his head was at that
moment to the cockchafer.
"Of course it's nine times!" he cried. "Why didn't I think of that
before?" Then he turned round and dragged his kite all the way back to
the school, where Chubby still sat sighing over her sum.
"It goes nine times exactly, Chubby," he told her through the window;
"so now you can come and help me to carry this great big kite."
"Where are we going, Jerry?" asked Chubby, when she had finished her sum
and joined him.
"We are going out into the world, to discover the reason why my kite
won't fly," answered Jerry; and between them they picked up the biggest
kite in the village and carried it out into the world.
"How are we going to discover why your kite won't fly?" asked Chubby,
when they had walked a good way. She had had no tea, to tell the truth,
and was beginning to feel remarkably hungry.
"We will ask everybody we meet," said Jerry, who had had his tea and was
therefore not at all hungry. "There is sure to be some one in the world
who can tell us, and we will not rest until we find him."
"We haven't met anybody yet," remarked Chubby, rather dolefully. "How
long do you think we shall have to go on walking before we find the
"Perhaps for years and years," answered Jerry, cheerfully. "But if we
are quick, we may meet him sooner than that."
He quickened his steps as he spoke, and Chubby had to run a little to
keep up with him. It was beginning to grow dark now, and the country
seemed more and more desolate.
"The world is not so full of people as I expected to find it," said
Jerry, in a disappointed tone. "I do hope we shall soon meet some one
who will know why my kite won't fly."
Just then, he thought he heard something from behind that sounded like a
sob. Sure enough, there was Chubby, wiping her eyes with the corner of
"I'm so hungry," she sobbed. "I want my tea. Can't we go home, Jerry,
and put off seeing the world until to-morrow?"
Jerry looked at her and sighed. If it had been any one but Chubby, he
would most certainly have grumbled at her. As it was, he only propped
up the kite against the hedge and made her sit down beside it.
"I am afraid I don't know the way home," he said; "but if you will wait
here, I will go and get you something to eat."
He was not at all sure where he was going to find it, but he hastened
along the road as fast as he could and hoped he would soon come to a
house. Long before he came to a house, however, he came to a man, a
little old man, who was carrying a large sack on his shoulder. Directly
he saw Jerry, he swung the sack on to the ground and began untying the
mouth of it.
"Well, my little fellow," he said in a friendly tone, "what do you want
out of my bag?"
"That depends on what you have got in your bag," answered Jerry,
"I have everything in the world in my bag," replied the little old man,
"for everything is there that everybody wants. I have laughter and tears
and happiness and sadness; I can give you riches or poverty, sense or
nonsense; here is a way to discover the things that you don't know, and
a way to forget the things that you do know. Will you have a toy that
changes whenever you wish, or a book that tells you stories whenever you
listen to it, or a pair of shoes in which you can dance from boyhood
into youth? Choose whatever you like and it shall be yours; but
remember, I can only give you one thing out of my bag, so think well
before you make up your mind."
Jerry did not stop to think at all. "Have you something to eat in your
bag, something that will please a hungry little girl who has had no
tea?" he asked.
The little old man smiled and pulled out a small cake about the size of
Jerry's fist. It did not look as though it would satisfy any one who was
as hungry as Chubby; but as the old man disappeared, sack and all, the
moment he had given Jerry the cake, it was not much good complaining
about it. So back trotted Jerry to the place where he had left Chubby;
and greatly to his relief her face beamed with joy directly she had
eaten one mouthful.
"What a beautiful cake!" she cried; "it tastes like strawberry jam and
toffee and ices, and all the things I like best. And see! as fast as I
eat it, it comes again, so that I shall never be able to finish it. Take
"Why," said Jerry, as soon as he had taken a bite, "it tastes like
currant buns and ginger-beer and all the things _I_ like best. It is
certain that we shall never starve as long as we have a fairy cake like
this." Then he told her how he had come by it.
"Perhaps," remarked Chubby, "the little old man could have told you why
your kite wouldn't fly."
"Perhaps he could," said Jerry, carelessly, "but I didn't think to ask
him. We'll come along and ask the next person instead."
When, however, they looked round for the kite, it was nowhere to be
seen. The moon came out obligingly from behind a cloud and helped them
as much as it could; but although they searched for a long time, not a
trace could they find of the biggest kite in the village.
"Oh dear, oh dear!" sighed Chubby. "Perhaps I went to sleep while you
were away, and somebody came along and took it. But I did think I
stopped awake, Jerry; I did indeed!"
"And so you did, to be sure!" cried a voice from the hedge; "but you
would have to be very wide awake to keep _that_ kite from giving you the
slip, as soon as the moon came up!"
Of course, no one but a wymp would have appeared like that, just in time
to say the right thing; so the children were not at all surprised when a
particularly wympish wymp came tumbling out of the hedge and perched
himself on a thistle and wimpled at them.
"Do you mean to say you know where the kite has gone?" asked both the
"Look up there and see," answered the wymp, pointing to the sky.
The sky was covered with stars, hundreds and thousands of them, all
twinkling round the moon just as Chubby had painted them on the kite.
Only, she could not help thinking that her stars had more shape and were
decidedly more like stars than the real stars were; but this, she
supposed, might be because the real stars were such a long way off. One
of them was different from all the others; it had a long bright tail
that glittered like a cracker at Christmas time, and it was scurrying
across the sky at such a pace that the rest of the stars had to get out
of its way as best they could. Most of the people who looked out of
their windows that night thought they saw a comet; but Jerry and Chubby
"Oh," they cried, clapping their hands with excitement. "There is our
kite, and it _is_ flying to the moon after all!"
"There's no doubt about that," said the wymp, who was still wimpling at
them from the top of the thistle.
"But why did it not fly to the moon this afternoon, when all the other
boys were looking on?" asked Jerry, regretfully.
"Because there wasn't a moon to fly to, of course!" answered the wymp.
"You shouldn't expect too much, even from the biggest kite in the
village. Directly there _was_ a moon, you see, away it flew."
"Then, if I had painted the sun on it, instead of the moon, it would
have flown away this afternoon!" exclaimed Chubby.
"Exactly so," said the wymp. "Now, what ever induced you to paint a
thing like the moon on anybody's kite, eh?"
"Well, you see, the moon is so nice and easy," explained Chubby. "All
you have to do is to draw a circle round the biggest soup plate you can
find; and then you take away the soup plate, and you paint in the eyes
and the nose and the mouth, and there you are! You can't do much more
than that with three paints and a brush that's got hardly any hairs, can
"Yes, you can," retorted the wymp, "you can paint the sun, and that's
ever so much better than painting the moon--nasty, silly, chilly thing!"
"Oh, but you can't paint the sun when you've only got three paints,"
objected Chubby. "It takes ever so many more paints than that to make it
shine properly; and even then, it doesn't always."
"Shine!" repeated the wymp. "Who said anything about shining? When I say
the sun, I mean the other side of the sun, of course. _That_ doesn't
shine,--knows better, indeed!"
He seemed so hurt about it that Chubby hastened to pacify him. "I'm very
sorry," she said. "Of course, I should like to paint your side of the
sun very much, but it is a little difficult when I haven't ever been
there, isn't it?"
"Perhaps it is," admitted the wymp; "but if that is all, I'll take you
there this very minute. Will you come?"
Chubby looked round; and there was Jerry still gazing up at the star
with the long tail, that was causing so much commotion among the
countries of the sky. Just then, it reached the moon and went straight
into it with a big splash; and Jerry heaved a deep sigh.
That decided Chubby. "If you please," she said, turning to the wymp in a
great hurry, "I think we would rather go to the moon."
The wymp instantly flew into the most violent passion. "What!" he
exclaimed, shaking all over with indignation. "You would sooner go to
the moon than the back of the sun? Well, I _am_ sorry for you."
Chubby was just going to be frightened, when Jerry came and put his arm
round her protectingly. "You see," he explained to the wymp, "it's not
the moon we want, it's the kite. And the kite has gone to the moon,
unfortunately. I suppose I am glad it has gone," he added rather
doubtfully, "but I do wish it had waited to take me with it."
"Oh, well," said the wymp, calming down a little, "if you are quite sure
you don't _want_ to go to the moon, I shall have the greatest pleasure
in taking you there. I'll call a comet at once." He put his fingers to
his mouth and blew a whistle that was long enough to reach the countries
of the sky. "Now I come to think of it," he continued thoughtfully, "it
is a very good thing you did not want to go to Wympland, because we
should have been obliged to wait until the morning."
"Why couldn't we go to-night?" asked Jerry.
"Because there isn't a Wympland to go to," answered the wymp, promptly.
"When the sun goes down it takes the back of itself with itself, and
there isn't a Wympland again till next morning. I shouldn't be here
now, if I hadn't missed the last sunbeam this evening. That is the worst
of living in a place that disappears every night."
"Oh, but it doesn't disappear really," said Chubby, who wanted to show
that she knew a little geography; "the sun is shining somewhere else at
this very moment, only we can't see it."
"Rubbish!" said the wymp, scornfully. "Don't you believe everything
you're told about the sun! Who said it didn't disappear, eh? Has any one
ever gone after it to see?"
"N-no," said Chubby, doubtfully, "but--"
"That proves it doesn't go on shining, then," said the wymp,
triumphantly. "There's plenty of inquisitive people who'd have gone
after the sun long ago, if it hadn't the sense to disappear every night.
It must have some peace, you know, if it's got to come up smiling again
the next morning."
"Do the wymps disappear every night, too?" asked Jerry.
"Of course they do," answered the wymp. "Don't you?"
"I didn't know we did," said Jerry, a little bewildered. "I thought we
only went to sleep."
"Ah, you do that first," said the wymp. "Then you disappear."
"No, we don't," said Chubby, positively. "We shouldn't have dreams if we
"You certainly wouldn't have any dreams unless you did disappear,"
chuckled the wymp.
"Then what about to-night?" demanded Jerry. "Do you mean to say we have
The wymp sighed. "Some people never will know when they're not there,"
he complained. "But here is our comet; jump in, or else we shall be
Down swooped the great shining comet, and there it lay across the road,
waiting for them to mount. The children climbed on to its broad
glittering tail and held tightly to each other, while the wymp mounted
in front of them and stood like the man at the wheel, with his hand on
the comet's head; then up they flew at a terrific pace, right through
the wonderful blue darkness that stretched all round them. Far above was
the great land of light that lay round the moon; but the country of the
stars came in between, and the stars were still so far off that they had
not even begun to look like real stars.
"Afraid of the dark?" asked the wymp over his shoulder.
"Oh, no," said Chubby. "I am only afraid of the dark you get at home
when the candle is put out. This is a nice, friendly kind of darkness,
and candles wouldn't make any difference to it."
"I don't know so much about that," said the wymp; "if you had the
steering to do, you wouldn't mind a candle or two to help you."
"Do you steer by the points of the compass?" asked Jerry, eagerly. Some
one had given him a compass on his last birthday, and he had steered by
it ever since. Indeed, he had arrived late at school several times,
through steering his way by the points of the compass.
"Certainly not," said the wymp; "when you are sailing on a comet, you
steer by the points of the comet, of course." Just then, he gave a sharp
turn to the points of the comet, and it sailed right out of the blue
darkness and took them into the dim mysterious greyness of the country
of the stars.
"They _are_ like real stars," murmured Chubby, for she had begun to have
serious doubts whether the stars she had painted on the kite were not
wrong after all. It was very comforting to find that the stars that were
whizzing past them in hundreds and thousands looked just like the stars
she had been accustomed to see on Christmas trees, and had such sharp
points that it would not have been at all pleasant to run against one of
them by mistake. Indeed, the wymp had as much as he could do to steer
through the country of the stars without coming into collision with
them, although the comet did not make half so much commotion in the sky
as Jerry's kite had done. But then, Jerry's kite had never been trained
to be a comet, and that made all the difference.
It grew lighter and lighter as they came nearer the moon, and even the
stars began to look pale in the white light that was shining so close to
the edge of their country. The stars were growing fewer, too, for stars
naturally prefer to shine in a place where they can be seen, and just
here, at the edge of their country, they could hardly be seen at all.
Then the wymp gave another turn to the points of the comet, and it
glided gently from the country of the stars into the pale white country
of the moon.
"It's like being inside a great flame that isn't hot," whispered Chubby.
Even the wymp had to admit that the country of the moon had something in
its favour. "For those who like light," he allowed, "the moon is all
very well. For my part, I prefer Wympland, where there isn't any light
at all. You can't say that of any other country on either side of the
"I don't want to say it," objected Chubby; "I am very glad there _is_
some light in my country."
"But there isn't," retorted the wymp. "There's only other people's light
in your country! Where would you be, if you didn't borrow bits of light
from the countries of the sky, eh?"
Chubby thought it would be wiser to change the conversation. "If you
please," she said politely, "can you tell me when we shall get to the
"Why," laughed the wymp, "we are in the moon now!"
Chubby looked round her in bewilderment. "But where are the eyes and the
nose and the mouth?" she asked.
The wymp shook his head. "I am afraid," he said gravely, "that you must
have found them in the soup plate. Perhaps Jerry knows where they are."
But Jerry was looking everywhere for something that was far more
important. Some people might want to come all this way to look for the
man in the moon, but for his part he intended to find the biggest kite
in the village, the kite that had taken him six half-holidays to make.
"Do you think we shall find it soon?" he asked impatiently.
Nobody answered him, for just then the comet came to such a sudden
standstill that all three of them were nearly jerked off into the air.
It was not the comet's fault, however, for right in its way was Jerry's
kite; and it was lucky for everybody, that night, that there was not an
extremely bad accident in the countries of the sky.
"Why don't you look where you are going?" asked the kite, in just the
flippant fly away sort of tone one would expect from a kite.
Jerry was so astonished at being addressed in this impudent manner by a
thing he had made with his own hands, that he did not know what to
reply. The comet, however, was a comet of a few words; and all it did
was to put its head down and rush straight at Jerry's kite. There is no
doubt that in another minute there would have been a terrific battle in
the middle of the moon, if a strange, clear voice from beyond had not
spoken just in time to stop it.
"Who is daring to make all this commotion in my country?" said the
"Hullo!" muttered the wymp, suddenly; "I was expecting that. Good-bye,
children; I'm off!" And pointing his hands downward, he took a dive from
the head of the comet and disappeared in the direction of the country of
At the same instant, out from the pale white distance of the country of
the moon glided a tall figure, as white and delicate and shimmering as
the light that surrounded it.
"Is it--can it be the man in the moon?" whispered Chubby to the boy
Then the figure came closer, and they saw that it was a wonderful,
mysterious-looking, white witch-woman.
"I am the Lady of the Moon," she said, in the same clear, cold voice.
"Snow and stillness and space are wherever I go; when I smile, I make
the whole world beautiful, but my smile takes the colour away from the
flowers and the ripple away from the water and the warmth away from the
She looked round, and her eye lighted on Jerry's kite. "What is that
creature doing in my country?" she demanded.
All the impudence seemed to have gone out of the biggest kite in the
village, for it lay there trembling at the feet of the Lady of the
Moon, and had not so much as a word to say for itself. Jerry, however,
summoned up courage to answer for it. After all, it was through him that
the kite was there, and he naturally felt bound to defend it.
"If you please," he said, "it is my kite. I made it, all by myself,--it
took six half-holidays; and Chubby painted the moon and the stars on
"I am afraid," said Chubby, hurriedly, "that the moon is not very much
like the moon, but it was the best I could do with three paints and a
brush that hadn't any hairs. The stars are right," she added anxiously.
The Lady of the Moon smiled contemptuously. "Stars, indeed!" she
observed. "What does it matter how the stars are painted? The moon is
far more important, and you have made a regular muddle of that! And who
told you children that you might come into my country, I should like to
"The wymp brought us," explained Jerry. "He was here a minute ago, but
he has just left."
"No doubt he has," said the Lady of the Moon, with a little laugh that
made them shiver. "Wymps know better than to come in my way. I can turn
their laughter into hoar-frost, and they don't like that. As for you,
unless you want to be frozen tight to the middle of the moon for the
rest of your lives, you had better make haste home again."
Chubby was only too anxious to be off, for she had no wish to spend the
rest of her life with some one who made people shiver whenever she
laughed. Jerry, however, did not mean to have his journey to the moon
"Please, may I take my kite back with me?" he asked boldly. "I want to
show the other boys and girls that it did fly to the moon after all."
"That's all very well," objected the kite, who had stopped trembling and
become impudent again; "but I don't want to go back among a lot of girls
and boys who do not know how to appreciate me. When a fellow has once
been a comet, you cannot expect him to end his days as a common kite."
"Oh, well," said the Lady of the Moon, gathering her mantle closely
round her and stepping away from them, "settle that among yourselves,
only please go out of my country first. For my part, I must go and put
the finishing touches to that hoar-frost of mine before dawn."
She had hardly finished speaking when a faint gleam of pink pierced the
white light around her and touched the edge of her mantle. She gave a
shrill cry instantly, and waved her arms about her in the greatest
"Go, go, go! Dawn is coming, and you will be swallowed up in the setting
of the moon," she screamed at them. "Go, go, go!"
Chubby began to feel tearful, for it is not pleasant to be told that one
is going to be swallowed up in anything. But Jerry had a sudden
"Jump, Chubby, jump!" he shouted, seizing her by the arm and springing
away from the comet. Chubby must have done as she was told, for the next
minute she found herself sitting beside him, on the top of the biggest
kite in the village. As for the comet, it was only too anxious to get
back to the place where it could shine and be seen; so it took a great
dive down into the country of the stars, just as the wymp had done, and
they never saw it again.
"Now," said Jerry sternly to his kite, "you've just got to take us home
straightway without any more nonsense! If you want to stay and be
swallowed up, we don't. You can come back again and be a comet for the
rest of your days, for all I care; but I'm determined that you shall
show the village first that you know how to fly. Now, down you go!"
Evidently, the kite felt that there was some sense in Jerry's words, for
it made no further objections, but sailed swiftly out of the country of
the moon just in time to escape being swallowed up. The downward journey
was much simpler than the one of the night before, for the sun was
rising as fast as it could, and the stars were disappearing so rapidly
that there were hardly any of them left to get in the way. This was a
very good thing, for, as I said before, Jerry's kite had not been
trained to be a comet, and it takes a good deal of steering to get
through the countries of the sky without an accident on the way.
Chubby was hungry enough to remember her fairy cake; and as it was
nearly breakfast time, of course it tasted of milk and porridge and eggs
and bacon. But Jerry refused to touch a mouthful. He was busy thinking
of what the other boys and girls would say, when they saw him come
sailing home on his kite.
The sun was shining brightly, and the birds were singing, and the
children were laughing on their way to school, when Jerry and Chubby at
last reached home on the biggest kite in the village.
"Oh, oh!" cried all the boys and girls, rushing up to them in great
excitement. "Here's Jerry and Chubby been sailing about on the biggest
kite in the village! Where have you been, Jerry?"
Jerry smiled in a superior manner, and waved them all back with his
"What a fuss you do make, to be sure!" he observed. "Didn't I tell you
my kite was going to the moon?"
Then Jerry went home to breakfast; but Jerry's kite sailed back to the
countries of the sky, and it has been a comet ever since.
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